Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Hatton today

Wednesday 7th September 2016

No pictures today – I tried several times to get a picture of the Kingfishers we saw fleetingly above Hatton and then got a bit busy for photographs.

After a good night’s sleep G was looking forward to the challenge of Hatton – 21 locks – today. My thoughts are with first-time-locks lady from yesterday as she has to complete the descent at Lapworth before starting to go back up again – so ten more locks than yesterday. She’ll hurt! Fingers crossed we get a share for Hatton.

Five minutes after loosing off from our lovely mooring we came across some hirers all stood around their open engine hatches looking concerned. Problem? How do you know how much diesel you have got left? Don’t worry we replied, hire bases usually ensure you’ve got enough. How long have you been out for? “Only two days” came the answer. No worries. (and where were they thinking of filling up, the next boat yard is their own hire base ;^)

They agreed to share Hatton with us and so started pulling pins. After two locks it was mooted that they would stop at the Cafe for breakfast. I said that they could not do that in the small pounds between locks and got a ‘bossy busybody’ look. I explained, but not as well as the confusion in the fsce of their steerer when he realised that another boat coming out of the lock would need somewhere to go in order for our boats to move locks. I asked him to consider how little room there would be if people stopped for breakfast at the cafe.

The three lads had hired for 4 days to see if they liked living aboard as one was considering buying a boat and living on the canal. So, four days in the summer with no washing to do, no loo to empty and enough engine hours/solar for a phone charger – is this a representative sample? They were bound for the Cape at Warwick – “good pub” said I, “We’d prefer a cocktail bar” came the retort, “is there one?” I admitted the nearest one we knew of was in Birmingham.

They left us after lock 37 as they moored up and walked back up to the cafe for breakfast. The solo boat we had been following had also stopped at the same place so we continued on down the flight on our own meeting several boats coming up. We then went into Saltisford basin where we had booked an overnight mooring in order to be close the nb Uncle Mort as we are sharing the ascent to Blue Lias with them tomorrow.

Once tied up, Graham went of on the Di Blasi for the marathon (30+ miles) rfun back to Alvecote to fetch the car and deliver it to Long Itchington ready for a run home tomorrow to fetch stuff for Cutweb Rally next weekend.

Onto Hirates – I have invented this name for hirers that insist on dressing up as Pirates – there have never been any pirates on the canal that I am aware of.


Tuesday, September 06, 2016

A long day

6th September 2016

Graham was up and off at ten to eight whilst Brenda remained in bed. Just beforeTightSqueeze Bourneville there are bank securing works going on which made a tight squeeze getting under the bridge. There is a new cafe set up bankside since we last passed down this way, the signs placed 100m either side on the canal bank advertise it as a ‘Barge Through Cafe’ although you’d have to seriously go aground to get that high up the bank.

BargeCafeBrenda’s favourite graffiti up until today was “Welcome to ‘wherever’, wear a stab vest!” but today she saw “You’ll have to clean this wall before I waste paint!” Councils take note! There was skilled art on the walls but unless it was Banksy . . . .

Back onto rural waters as we turned at Kings Norton Junction onto the Northern Stratford canal. As we cleared the lift bridge and approached Lapworth top lock a hireboat pulled out in front of us. As we joined them at the lock they explained what was patently obvious, it was their first lock ever. The steerer was nervous that the boat would not fit and that he might damage the gates as his boat was too long. Aged parents were inside, ‘he’ steered quite well but ‘she’ was having difficulty with the paddles and gates. I ended up helping them a bit as it made our passage smoother. She would go ahead and set her next lock while I let their boat out of the current one and turned it for Jannock. She would work her boat through the next one and then walk on down once the bottom gates were open leaving me to close andLapworthHouse turn. The system worked very well allowing a reasonable passage down to Lapworth junction.

It seemed that their plan was to descend to Lapworth to eat out and then return back up the flight tomorrow as they needed to be back at Alvechurch by next Saturday. Towpath telegraph (the crew of a broken down hire baot at the top of the flight – awaiting a new gearbox) that the Navigation was fully booked for tonight so I hope they chose to visit the other pub in Lapworth.

pikeToday we experienced another FIRST! It is the first time that we have knowingly shared a lock with a pike! Quite a large one that hang around the paddle recess until the gates were opened when he dissapeared into the lower side pond. Possibly he’d cleared out the pond above and was in search of new food. We’ve shared with ducks and swans before but never a Pike that we are aware of.

Finally out of the link lock (20) and onto the G.U. where we passed by the Tom O The Wood  as the M40 and train noise is too high there. We continued on to the cutting just before Rowington Hill Bridge where the background noise level is very much lower – just how we like it. Brenda prepared and excellent stir fry to round off a good day.


Monday, September 05, 2016

We awoke to drizzle–not predicted by anyone.

Monday 5th September 2016

As it had been raining for most of the night, Graham decided to wask Jannock’s DirtyRoof  CleanRooffilthy roof while I went into Walsall in search of bread and milk. If you want fabric or gorgeous ethnic clothing then the Monday market is for you. A couple of stalls sold fruit and veg in pre-determined quantities, all very well if you have a hotel boat but we didn’t need that much. I managed to get all the supplies I needed in Poundland, about 30 secs from the pontoon. The pictures above show before and after. I didn’t get any fruit because weApples remembered a good looking apple tree that we would pass again today.

Recipe – when you have half a tin of haggis left over.  Mix it with a pack of stuffing mix you find in the cupboard, spread into a pyrex dish lid and cook in the oven (cooling from yesterday roast dinner) until firm. If you then add cold potatoes and mushrooms it makes an excellent toasted sandwich filling.

Back down the Walsall canal until we arrived at the apple tree we spotted yesterday. Graham then pulled the bows in close to the tree whilst I harvested apples from the front well deck. Then on to Ockers Hill junction where we went straight ahead instead of turning back onto the Tame valley again. We managed to get lunch eaten just before we arrived at the bottom of Rydres Green lock flight.

Once again this is new territory for us inRydersGreenLocks Jannock – not sure we’ll ever return again. The pound above the bottom lock was very low but we managed to get through OK. At lock 7, the road bridge seems to be a gathering point for all the local drunks, luckily they were relatively pleasant as we passed and were even using a large plastic bag, rather than the canal, as a repository for their empty cans. The White Lightening Award goes to one amiable drunk who told me how ‘they’ should empty all the dirty water out of the canal, filter it and then put it back so that it was better for swimming. I suggested that would cost more than ‘They’ have, how would it be done? After all, a lot of the pollution has laid on the canal bed since the 18 somethings, and added to that there would be autumns detritus to be dealt with every year. He pondered this and then said “why would people swim in LockoftheBeastthe canal when it only costs £1.10p up the baths!  I replied “at least you would know what would kill you up there – drowning!” We hope he didn’t chuck his can in the cut.

We continued up through the lock of the devil and made our way up to the junction at the top of the flight. Now we were back onto familiar territory again as we’d done the Ridgeacre Branch several years ago.

Out onto the mainline and we stayed on this rather than dallying onto the old mainline. Into Birmingham and we stopped at the Fiddle and Bone to explore whatIMG_2706 services are available there now – just anything that Sherbourne wharf can sell you – diesel, gas, ice creams etc. We continued on through Gas St to find the services opposite the Mailbox – these are for everything toilet plus a shower, no rubbish disposal there. A sign did point out that the only rubbish disposal is at Cambrian wharf but we’ll have to wait until Lapworth now.

BrumFlowersBirmingham was pretty damn full and the only mooring we could find was past the mailbox, just after bridge 88. Nice and quiet here even though we are opposite the University College of Birmingham accomodation block. Then into China town for some shopping and an excellent Malay meal. As we walked back to Jannock, the sun finally came out for the first time today.


Sunday, September 04, 2016

Dredging and weed clearance a speciality

Sunday 4th September 2016

Good deed for the day – we recovered a fishing pole from the canal.

Wildlife of the day – herons and kingfishers abound in the quieter bits.

It was nice to drive forwards from Star City Repairsdown to Salford junction although I must admit that my line through the dis-used lock was better going in reverse. As you travel beneath Spagetti junction it is amazing the amount of sheering up that has been done to the concrete structure holding the roads up, they have drilled and installed hundreds of bolts to stop the horizontal beams spreading – scary!

On arrival at Perry Bar bottom lock, I found the pound above completely empty EmptyPoundof water and so let Brenda into the bottom lock while I wandered up and ran water down through the second. With both sets of paddles open it only took about 10 kinutes to get enough water into the pound so I could start filling the bottom lock. Once through both we then had a mile long battle with ever increasing amounts of weed and rubbish to get through.

Into the main section of the flight and the weed was worse, Brenda had a difficult jobWeedPile keeping the prop clear for long enough to transit between locks. The higher up the flight we went, the worse it got. Finally we made it out of the top lock by 1pm and so pulled over to the sani-station. There is a lovely collection of weed here that has been removed from above the top lock. The last time we were here on the 2009 BCNC Explorer cruise, Brenda had an incident with the shower that is related just after the 13th August entry on This time the shower worked fine and we both took advantage of plenty of space to get clean. We also had lunch, I did a weedhatch visit and filled Jannock’s water tank whilst we were there.

M5Then onto Rushall Junction where we had to continue on as the Rushall lock flight is closed for urgent gate maintenance. Once we had crossed the M5 we were in new territory as we have never been further than the aquaduct before. Verdict – the Tame Valley canal is boring, dead straight for most of the way with very little to see. Luckily we were soon at Ocker Hill junction where we turned right onto the Walsall canal. This is a much more interesting canal with lots of dis-used arms going off both sides into tree linedOckerHillJnctn ditches or bricked up factory entrances. We passed under the M6 and then at Pagetts Bridge, a couple of Sikh gents stood on the bridge enquired where we were from. Once told they invited us into the adjacent Gurdwara for a drink but unfortunately we didn’t have time to join them.

At Walsall junction we turned into the town arm and made our way to the basin at the bottom. It has pontoon moorings that are right next door to the High St and so a wide variety of shops are very close by. Of course, they were closed by the time we arrived on a Sunday evening but that didn’t stop us having a wander around the town centre to admire some of the old architechture that still remains amongst all the modern development. The railway station is very close to the basin as well although you cannot hear the trains due to the tall buildings that surround the moorings.


Saturday, September 03, 2016

A really eventful day

Saturday 3rd September 2016

It was up and at ‘em this morning – Brrrr!  yup it’s Autumn. An early start wasIMG_2670 required to get through the lock flight before the rain that was expected to arrive approx midday. Consequently, two very soggy boaters had completed the locks and were happy to pull over to get out of the rain at 11:30. We passed this old lock keepers refuge near the Dog and Doublett. Our progress had been very slow as we were following a single hander – accident – waiting – to – happen. A 73 year old New Zealander who has been out for two weeks IMG_2675in his newly aquired boat having decided to live the boating lifestyle. Are Timothy, Pru and John Sergeant shown in the antipides? The chap admitted being deaf and having eyesight problems; he was certainly of bent back and hobbling gait, but that could have been brought on by two weeks of solo locking. If NZ doesn’t have a reciprocal health agreement with the NHS I hope he’s got good health insurance.

DSCF2354After we had sat out the rain, doing jobs like re-installing all the double glazing panels, G decided to set off again as it had finally stopped raining by 2pm. As we approached the Cuttle Bridge Inn, which had been dis-used and closed when we did the Explorer cruise 7 years ago, we could see wedding photos being taken on top of the bridge next to the Inn. A waitress rushed along the towpath towards us, tasked with asking us if we DSCF2358would mind stopping to be part of the background for the wedding pictures. After an engagement aboard at Tring reservoir, how could we refuse. We pulled in and the Bride and Groom stepped aboard for their photos to be taken. The bridesmaids all stood alongside. The smiles were because the rain had finally stopped.

It turns out that the groom is an airman based at RAF Benson. When we mentioned visiting there last week for families day he said that they had missed it because they were moving into their married quarter that day. That must have beenDSCF2356 the removals lorry we saw as we made our way to the car park then. Mega coincidence then, we have the Groom’s permission to publish photos on the internet. We hope he returns from his tour of Afghanistan safely. We were waved off with a bottle of vin du Nuptuals in our hands and continued our journey towards Salford Junction.

At Troutpool bridge, just after the big warehouse that straddles the canal, we did another thing that we could never have predicted would happen. Hop Picking! G spotted a whole hedge of hops so we pulled IMG_2677over and tested them – Yes they were proper hops with a flavour similar to Fuggles.We then harvested loads. (700gms wet) so should be enough for a couple of brews. They will be dried in a pillow case in the engine bay until we get home when they’ll be finished in the airing cupboard. He says he’ll call the beer Troutpool.

On to Salford junction where he thenIMG_2681 reversed Jannock back up the Grand Union to the mooring pontoons at Star City. This location has been recommended by Brian and Diana on Harnser so we thought we’d try it. G also remembered that they had mentioned an Indian street food establishment inside Star City so we went and tried that as well. It may all be vegetarian food but we had enough to bloat us with drinks as well for £22. What an excellent find. Thanks B&D!


An omen for the start of our holiday.

Friday 2nd September 2016

As Graham did a day and night shift yesterday, finishing at 02:00 this morning, he knocked off work early and we were able to be aboard Jannock by 13:00.

We knew things were not going to go right as we spotted three snow ploughsheading South on the M40 sign written “Mission Christmas” - be warned!

IMG_2665As I was stocking the fridge with all the stuff we brought from home I realised that tonight’s supper, a whole chicken I had cooked last night and then quartered ready for our trip, was AWOL. Panic – we didn’t want to get home in 10 days time to find it walking around the kitchen. Thank goodness for good neighbours – crisis avoided. I had been top of the class in food hygene and had stored it in the fridge ready for packing. We hope Gladys enjoys it.

Instead I opened a tin of delicous haggis, procured while we were McBoating. We set off from Alvecote and were immediately overtaken by another boat that didn’t like our idea of slowing down to pass moored boats. This meant we were behind them inIMG_2667 the queue for Glascote top lock. Through them and onto Fazely where we turned left onto the Birmingham and Fazely canal. We last came this way in 2009 prior to joining the nBCNS Explorer cruise but I didn’t recognise a lot of the places we passed.

Much of the journey was through Middleton Lakes, an RSPB site on old gravle pits. A lovely place to walk, watch birds and general wildlife. They say they charge ‘for facilities’ so carpark, loos, the IMG_2669hides? Maybe a walk is free.

We moored for the night at Bodymoor Heath opposite the wharf. After our haggis dinner we wandered up to the Dog and Doublet. It’s a good old fashioned pub. The specials on the menu board were faggots, chips and mushy peas etc. The beer was good too and the bar was full of chaps who’d been harvesting and had come in to quench their thirst.


Monday, August 29, 2016

A short trip on Bank Holiday Monday

Monday 29th August

Today we passed another boater who knew what Jannock meant! His dad used to use the word – can you guess the accent?

IMG_2654A sunny morning with a hint of autumn in the air, we did a quick run through Polesworth to Alvecote where we managed to drop into a mooring that had only been vacated 15 minutes earlier. We found this out when the boat that had vacated the mooring passed us on his way to Shackerstone having winded just beyond the marina. The working boat rally on at Alvecote meant that bankside mooring spaces were in very short supply.IMG_2662

Monday is washing day so I changed all the bedding whilst Graham went and fetched the car from Hartshill yard. Once he was back we wandered over to the marina for a chat with Mike and Krystina on Draco and a look at all of the boats.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

An easy run down Atherstone flight

Sunday 28th August 2016

An easy day today, we set off just before 10am and had completed the first five locks in the Atherstone flight in one hour. They were all set in our favour and we met two boats coming up the flight. We moored up just after the bypass bridge as weIMG_2648 wanted to pop into town for some essentials.

Atherstone had a 10k run, sponsored by local company Badger, today and the last competitors were heading for the finish line to the support and clapping of a jolly band of enthusiastic supporters. When we were out of sight the applause sounded like the competitors were all running in clogs.

We shopped at Aldi but didn’t come away with as much general miscellany as usual. Then back to Jannock for lunch before setting off down the last six locks. At lock 8, whilst waiting for a boat coming up the flight, I passed the time picking nice ripe plums from the trees alongside the lock – our first plum haul of this year. I didn’t get enough for jam but sufficient for us to eat as they taste lovely.

IMG_2649At lock 10 there was a rope jammed under the footboard on one of the bottom gates, it was really jammed in tight so I suspect it is evidence of thumblining gone wrong. There are a lot of working boats about at present because it is Alvecote gathering this weekend and Shackerstone next weekend.

Out the bottom of the flight and onto Bradley Green services where we stopped for a water fill and to dump our rubbish in thIMG_2653e skip. The local moorers there were busy erecting a new security fence and gate. It would appear that the old one was demolished when it jumped out in front of a passing boat, well that’s what the boater told the moorers apparently.

Out past Grendon Wharf and on o a nice quiet overnight mooring, just where the railway line passes behind a small hillock.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Thunderstorm stopped play

Saturday 27th August

You know it’s going to be an ‘interesting’ day when you start it playing top trumps using the nutritional information on our cereal packets. As we tidied breakfast away and prepared to set off from the Bridge 5 moorings on the Ashby, it started to rain. The BBC weather app said the rain would stop at 10 am so we waited and sureIMG_2642 enough, it did!

Down towards the junction with the Coventry canal and we picked up a passenger who happily wandered around Jannock’s roof until the shadow of the next bridgehole frightened it to flight. At the junction we met an Ashby hire boat trying to enter the canal as we were leaving, It’s not very wide here as it used to be a stop lock but luckily the hire boat skipper knew what he was doing, he went slightly past the junction to allow us out before reversing to make his turn onto the Ashby. Well done Sir, you made a tricky manouvre easy.

IMG_2643On up through Nuneaton where the offside blackberries that have escaped from the allotments looked very big and juicy. Having harvested from here before we know they are a cultivated breed that has spread onto the canal bank – we didn’t stop today as we didn’t need any. We also spotted a St Johns Ambulance tardis – is it more Doctor than Who?IMG_2645

After Welford Haven we passed the Hook Norton boat – we were glad it was sign written with the brewery name as it stopped dead our discussion as to whether the boat was named Maris Otter after the barley strain or the potato. As it turns out the spud is Maris Piper.

As we approached Hartshill yard we decided to stop on the 7 day moorings for lunch and then I took did a car shuffle. Whilst there we heard the guy from the cottage playing his banjo on the bridge, it reminded us of the time he showed us around his little undercroft.  Once back on Jannock we then continued North to Mancetter where the heavens opened and the rain was accompanied by thunder and lightning. We peeped through Taveners bridge to see the Atherstone moorings were all full up so reversed back and moored IMG_2647for the night alongside the playground between bridges 39 and 40. The bank is cordened off here where the stone edge is collapsing into the cut but we managed to fit in a gap between the DEFRA tape.

Once the rain had stopped I did a quick wipe-down of Jannock’s paintwork as she was looking very dirty, checked the weedhatch but we had managed to throw off whatever it was that we picked up in Nuneaton and then refilled the stern tube greaser. After dinner we had planned to go for a wander around Atherstone but the heavens have opened again so the TV aerial was rigged instead.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Today we say Farewell to David Blagrove

Friday 12th August

We arrived at Jannock Thursday evening ready for a three day weekend on the Ashby. ALongWayFromHome

We left Sutton Lane bridge at 9am and continued North towards Snarestone. At Sutton Wharf we spotted Griffin moored on the visitor moorings, a long way from home (like us) as they moor at Cowroast.

TreeDownA bit further on we had our first encounter with the fallen tree. This has obviously fallen recently and some kind soul has removed the top to allow the passage of boats between it and the bank. Unfortunately it is very shallow at this point and even Jannock started dragging the bottom. At Bridge 40 the WRGies are having a summer camp, repairing a bridge, all doing clever and technical stuff in the WRGBridgesunshine, having had a lovely week weatherwise. A WRGies week with no wind or sleet involved – well done folks.

Once past Shackerstone, we tied up for a siesta in the shade of bankside trees. Once G had sat quiet for a short while he then set to cleaning the starboard side of Jannock. Having finished that task we then continued on through wonderful countryside, in lovely weather, through Snarestone tunnel and into the last full length winding hole on the canal. If you are 50foot or less you can continue on down the ShadySpotnew stretch and turn at the very end. We pulled onto the services wharf and Graham filled Jannock’s water tank whilst Brenda mooched in the jumble sale disguised as . . .  a jumble shop. Treasures bought and farm made icecreams stashed in the freezer compartment for our supper we turned Jannock and headed south again to moor in the cutting immediately before the north end of the tunnel.

We walked back up to the very end of the canal to see the new bridge that has beenBridge 62 built since we visited last year. As we approached the bridge site we spotted a very large terrapin, about the size of a dinner plate, basking at the surface but it disappeared before I got chance to get a picture.

GlobAfter dinner (followed by icecream – a rare treat on Jannock) we ambled up to Snarestone, saw the tail lights of a traction engine disappearing down the hill that we’d heard but not seen from the canal, paid a visit to the lovely St Bartholomews Church. Then up into the village where the history of it being wealthy in days of yore was made plain by some fabulous old houses.

Then into the pub and a selection of draught, sorry Daft spellings. We presume ‘The Glob’ is a joke but the advertising of their summer music event is appalling (sic). Sally Barker was indeed staring at us from posters within the bar.MusicFestPoster

And back to Bulkington

Saturday 13th August

A grey drizzly start moved along nicely to reveal a temperate day. We pulled the pins, passed through Snarestone tunnel and joined an increasing level of southbound boats. The shallow water and silted edges made passing some Northbound craft quite difficult if you wanted to avoid going aground.DSCF2322

I think the WRGies are using the CaRT workboat as a buffer zone to protect their scaffolding – doesn’t do much to help hirers get through the bridgehole though.

As nb “famous mattress maker” approached us, G moved as close to the towpath as possible as he was aware that the offside was very silted at this point. nb Mattress continued on determined to give a good eight foot gap between us. The obvious happened and they grounded at the bows. Because he was still going quite fast, the boat tipped right over as it went fully onto the mud and we heard crockery hit the floor. G offered to take a rope and pull them off but with a scowl that appeared to say “That was your fault” the offer was refused.  We were happy that they were fully floating again before we lost visual contact. We are not aware of our status as a ‘plague ship’ but casn imagine no other reason for needing to leave ConsiderateMooringsuch a large gap between passing boats.

Nice to see the Ashby day boats tied up and locked up on the Battlefield waterpoints blocking all access. That’s considerate.

We passed nb Waiouru again today. They informed us that a car was submerged by the entrance to the Ashby canal and so they were staying put for the weekend so CaRT could clear it. Other northbound boats we passed said that it could be passed with care as it was not fully blocking the junction. Since we travelled up the Ashby nb Earnest has returned to it’s mooring after Neil’s trip on the upper Thames.

DSCF2326We moored on the end of the 48hr moorings at Bulkington bridge (5) so that we could return home Sunday morning – we have a very important kunch date with our Grand-daughter (and her parents)

Sunday 14th August

G did a car shuffle on the Di Blasi while I tidied and packed up ready for going home. Jannock will be here for two weeks as we’ve got an important family birthday to deal with next weekend – G’s dad is 93.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Ashby is very shallow.

Sunday 7th August

Wildlife of the day – Watervoles

We awoke to another lovely day. Just like yesterday but with an increasing breeze, nice and cooling, but the short sharp bursts were enough to put Jannock’s bows where you didn’t want them, especially as the Ashby canal is so shallow in the lower half.BoatClub

At Hinkley wharf we passed nb Waiouru, where Tom was busy erecting their rotary washing line on the back deck. We passed the time of day as we continued on but didn’t get chance to stop. As we passed Hinkley Marina, the local model boat club were out in force entertaining the patrons of the Watergate next door.

On past Stoke Golding and Dadlington to bridge 32 where we tied Jannock onto the bank and then went home for another week at work.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Only one very shallow lock today

Saturday 6th August 2016

Having arrived at Jannock on Friday evening, we awoke after a lovely peaceful night to glorious weather.

Observation of the day – ying & yang, plus and minus, positive & negative; so it’s innevitable that there is an opposite to the boater who rushes past moored boats with little regards for peas on knives, soup in laps, slack ropes or mooring pins in soft ground. As we set off, gathering speed to almost warp factor tick-over, we were yelled at in fluent fish wife to “Slow Down!” Any slower and we would have stayed level with her side hatch and we’d have been able to discuss Einstein’s laws of motion – if he had any. The gent pottering on the rear deck appologised for her stating that she shouts that at every boat IMG_2621that passes regardless.

We cruised North on a lovely summers morn, and it stayed that way all day. It’s how cruising should always be I reckon. At Ansty, a tree has fallen across the canal almost blocking passage, luckily we didn’t meet someone coming the other way.  G. got round Suttons Stop with a degree of elegance that didn’t hint at two boats in the basin waiting for the lock, a tricksy quarter wind, another boat coming South through the narrows and a pub-patio full of gongoozlers.

IMG_2625We stopped at Grace’s mooring and left gifts of a plant and beer for Terry and Christine. G and I had a discussion entitled “Coventry or the Ashby” and so G had the job of navigating around another tricksy corner onto the Ashby. Just as well there was no wind here as nb ‘Muppet’ had moored between the bridge and the junction reducing the manouvring area as well as the ability to see if anything was coming out of the junction.

At 2pm we decided that getting out of the sun was a healthy option and so we found a shady tree and pulled over to rest and cool down. G did not fancy a siesta and so did a little paint damage repairing before going off to do a car shuffle. It appears that our stern has taken a hefty clout from another boat whilst Jannock has been moored up somewhere in the last couple of weeks IMG_2630and a large chunk of paint had become detatched from the steel. G said that speeding along at 30mph on the Di Blasi was a good way to keep cool.

Then on towards Hinkley, however we moored for the night, out in the sticks between bridges 11 and 12, before we got there. A dinner of Chicken Tioli (Take It Or Leave It) was taken in the front well seated at Jannock’s cratch table.


Friday, July 29, 2016

A short cruise to move to another mooring

Friday 29th July

An easy day today in order to find another 14 day mooring. We have a family commitment this weekend and so I took Friday off work to ensure that we do not contravene our cruising license. Sorry no pictures as I left the camera at home.

We cast off from above Hillmorton locks and then passed down through them using a right, right, left sequence. The voluntary lockie was only assisting at the bottom lock to meet the new hirers and also get his lockside gardening done. Out of the bottom lock and on towards Rugby.

As we passed Clifton Cruisers, the boats at the wharf were three abreast and so only left about 8-9 foot to get through – not too bright when the wharf is located on a bend. About halfway through we found another boat approaching us from the other direction. Luckily they were quite short and so could pull into a small gap between moored boats while we passed.

On through Brownsover and Newbold, where the ‘Tunnel of Light’ now appears to have been fully extinguished. As we approached Yate’s yard we found Brian and Diana aboard nb Harnser just pulling out, having filled up with diesel. After a quick chat with them we then pulled into the space they had created and filled Jnnock’s tank with 110 litres. Brenda spent the re-fuelling time having a Brexit chat with the guy working the diesel pump.

We then moved onto to All Oaks Wood where we managed to get half of Jannock tied onto the piling for her next session moored up. On the way back to Hillmorton, to fetch the car, the trusty Di Blasi clocked up 4k miles. Considering I bought it new at the 2006 IWA National at Beale Park that works out at 400 miles per year on a tiny 49cc folding moped.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Nobody wanted to share

Saturday 16th July

With Buckby and Braunston flights to do Graham was very happy. As we leftIMG_2608 Weedon we spotted this unusual craft, a home made hull housing a full shipping container. Not a lot of ventilation or windows fitted yet but it appeared to be work in progress. I bet it’s fun at some of the bridge-holes.

We arrived at Buckby bottom lock just as a pair of boats was entering. Another couple then came down and as weIMG_2610 prepared to enter the empty lock a boat appeared in the distance so we sat and waited. Another couple of boats were waiting to come down so we asked them to wait a while. Then the approaching boat tied onto the lock landing and announced they only wanted the chandlery. We set of up the flight on our own. Luckily there were plenty of boats coming down the flight and so we didn’t need to turn many locks.

After Scotland, seeing this number of boats on the move is novel. We even met six coming the other way through Braunston tunnel fortunately without hitting any of them. There were a couple of on-coming boats who made that very difficult; their headlights were obviously a trillion candle power and aimed straight ahead so all vision in the gloom was lost for a few minutes once they had passed. Quote of the day from G – “ when you are eating custard whilst steering through a dark tunnel it’s best to use the right side of the spoon”

Braunston flight was not just busy – it was busy with hirers getting used to their new craft. It was also windy and a couple of pounds were lacking in water. As we were leaving the Admirable Nelson lock, we came across much bobbing about in theIMG_2612 breeze with one in-experienced skipper hard aground on the offside and all his crew waiting at the lockside for him to arrive. Everything he tried seemed to make matters worse. We said we would take a rope and try and pull him backwards off the mud but the stern just dug in deeper. Another hire boater then came up offered to take a bow rope and pull him off the mud right into the lock. It looked to have been a success as we rounded the bend.

We went through Braunston three times. Firstly, down to the turn where we reversed back onto the mainline and headed south again to the sani-station. A pump-out, water fill and dumping the emergency ‘bucket and chuckit’ contents were required. Once all that was done it was down to the marina entrance to turn again. As we passed a couple of moored boats for the third time in an hour they wondered if we were watching them.

After a quick visit to Midland Chandlers for some self adhesive foam rubber strip, for the bottom of the cratch, it was then out into the countryside of the North Oxford canal to find a peaceful mooring for the night. Happily, once tied up, dinner was served as a beef curry had been in the slow-cooker all day.