Monday, August 03, 2015

A day at the Black Country Museum

Monday 3rd August

Plan C version 2 achieved today. We went landside and visited the Black Country Museum in Dudley, a very good day out as the Jannock junior crew found out a couple of weeks ago (scarily one of the museum staff remembered them!)

RightValveTop tip – use Tesco vouchers to buy your entry, get ‘senior’ concessions, and if your vouchers are too much for the entry value (no refunds given) ask for your £3 car park token to be included. The money we saved bought lunch as well. LunchThis went to plan B because although we wanted to have the legendary BCM fish and chips, the queue was so long that we went to the Institute and had faggots, spuds and mushy peas instead. Definitely the tastiest faggots we’ve ever had and no queues. Compare the picture of the street with the F&C shop when we first got to the museum with the later lunchtime picture below.







Graham managed to get a fantastic picture of the sparks emitted when the chainmaker strikes his first blow on the red hot steel.Sparks

G. having failed to take me to the Crooked House yesterday, we went there again on the way back from BCM and it was closed due to a wedding event. Oh well – the visit was obviously not to be.

Once back at Jannock we set off down to Greensforge to get some water. There was a single 48 hour mooring free next to the water point and so we moored up there and filled Jannock’s tank whilst on the mooring.

SunsetThis evening we popped into the Navigation for a quick pint ( a good selection of four ales) before going for a rural ramble. Graham came face to face with a young badger – not sure who was most surprised.


Sunday, August 02, 2015

Plan C version 2

Sunday 2nd August

Compton is a lovely quiet overnight mooring. We awoke to the sound of the ducks and coots going about their busy lives.

Last night. with our brain cells fuelled with lasagne, wine, beer and a movie (OK it was Shaun the Sheep – the movie. Don’t knock it until you’ve Bratchlaughed at it) we find ourselves starting out on Plan C version 2 this morning. We are no longer going up all those locks to Birmingham, instead Graham will fetch the car this afternoon and we’ll do the Black Country Living Museum by car instead. It also means he can take me to the Crooked House Inn this evening – he’s been wanting to take me there for ages.

Some of the locks we did today were not your usual single type. The Bratch is set of three joined locks although technically not a staircase. We just love the architecture of the adjacent pumping station. Botterham, on the other hand, is aPumphouse staircase of two locks. Many years ago I had an altercation with the householder who lives below the locks there. She seemed to think I had no right to wait there on the lock landing and certainly not with the engine running. It seems she’s still there and still unpleasant to boaters. No sign of her today thank goodness.

We stopped for the night at Swindon, just south of the village, and Graham went back to Cross Green on the Di Blasi to fetch the car.


Saturday, August 01, 2015

Hooray–we’re on the boat again!

Saturday 1st August

Jannock having been used for a week during July by son Simon and a Swiss crew, Brenda and I returned to reload all of our junk stuff today ready for a one week Boating holiday. The original plan was to ascend the Wolverhampton flight to visit the Black County museum but we are already on plan C. More will be revealed as the trip progresses.

Having loaded all our belongings, parked the car and eaten a much needed lunch, we set off from Cross Green at 2pm and made our way down the RoachStaffs and Worcester towards Oxley. We had to wait a while before following another boat through the narrows – he had sent his wife ahead to stop northbound traffic but then made a very slow passage through after a northbound boat had exited.

Down one lock into Compton where we decided to Gosportmoor for the night as the 48 hour moorings were empty. We were passed by nb Roach pulling butty Gosport and these were the only photos we took all afternoon.

A quick walk up into Compton in order to get a mobile phone signal revealed a very useful collection of shops at the crossroads. A couple of supermarkets, Spar has a butcher and a post office, eateries include a pub, a chippy and an Italian, there are a couple of pubs and an off-licence (with some splendid deals) and a launderette with a Chinese massage parlour above. Best of all – the off-licence did bottled Bathams. Not quite as good as draught but the first I’ve ever come across.


Monday, June 15, 2015

The Home Brewers Festival weekend

Friday 12th June

We arrived at Market Bosworth and went to the wharf to find Jannock. We then cruised all of 100 yards to the water point and then another couple of dozen, under the bridge,  onto the visitor moorings after filling up.

Then it was a couple of miles to the festival site, at Market Bosworth rugby club, to drop off Graham’s competition entries and contributions to the free bar, sign in and sample a few of the beers available. Our tums began to rumble after a couple of hours so it was back to the boat via the chip shop – Batter of Bosworth – for left over venison and pheasant casserole with  .  .  .  .  chips!  As the rain set in Graham returned, walking the 2 miles each way, for more beer and chap chat.

Saturday 13th June

As it chucked it down all night G’s first task (before I even got out of bed ) was to find where the drips were coming in. A grey, wet and not warm morning with a 40 minute trek to the festival ahead. Lectures started at 10:30 and G wanted to be there. Lunch would follow and I was to join him then.



Market Bosworth has a scarecrow festival this weekend. What a pleasure to see all the scarecrows, some are just cardboard cut-out tableaux painted up so the theme has been interpreted loosely. The theme this year is nursery rhymes, and the entry numbers went beyond 50 that we could see. A great community event.

The two mile wet hike to site wasn’t too bad; but hogroastmy socks got so wet I had to hang them above the hog roast to dry. They can just be seen in the top left of the picture. I hurried to arrive in time for lunch at 12:30. The lunch arrived at 15:00. We met a lot of friendly folk all happy to chat, swap recipes and brewing know how. There was a free ‘help yourself’ bar which seemed to replenish itself as bottles, crates and barrels of beer, cider, mead and wine ran out.

G’s beer won no rosette (there were a lot of entries in each category) but was enjoyed and complemented by many. Best of all, un-solicited praise by the lady who sported the ‘Best in Show’ rosette for her barorange mead. She’d tried G’s Citra and then had a second bottle. The best thing was the ability to put a small amount of something into your glass to try before committing yourself. Next best thing was the ability to blend brews. I settled for a cocktail of home-made mixed fruit wine and home made mixed fruit cider.

Graham did me proud as the evening drew on by producing a half pint of tea. Not the ‘Hogs Back TEA’ but PG tips  sneaked from the rugby club kitchen. As beddy-byes time approached and the ability to focus ones eyes failed us, the rain finally stopped. We called a cab and went back to the boat.

P.S. In the world’s fastest no-nonsense quiz our team, Soup Dragons, did rather well. We felt we needed to investigate “What Oxfordshire village links with David Beckham?” once we’d got home. (Apparently it’s the village of Golden Balls near Abingdon.)

Sunday 14th June

WaterIrisGraham was up and at ‘em, tea in hand, at 8 am. I guess no-one had kept him awake most of the night snoring! The rain had stopped and the sun was peeping through so Jannock set off back down the Ashby to find the Coventry canal again.

We met a few northboundcassiopea boats but apart from that it was a pleasant cruise in reasonable weather  that improved as the day went on. Down to past ‘Apple Tree bridge’ (where we harvested apples during our last visit to the Ashby) to Marsworth junction where we made the easy turn to the right. On through Nuneaton and out past Springwood Haven to Hartshill where we moored on the 24hr moorings. Graham went off on the Di Blasi to fetch the car from Market Bosworth while I cooked dinner. On his return, we ate and then off-loaded our stuff into the car before we moved the boat onto the 14 day moorings and headed home.


Saturday, June 06, 2015

Cold blows the Ashby

Friday 5th June

We arrived at Jannock after a very slow journey from home. A motorway closure, Friday evening rush hour, diverted traffic on the A43 and agricultural vehicles on the A5 made for lots of queues and delays. Triffic!

We had just enough time to dump our chattels aboard before walking up the Hinkley Simla restaurant in the ‘Old Port House’  at Hinkley wharf.

A pleasant meal in the company of the crew from nb Grace. They did a good takeaway business while we were there, good for boaters as it’s only 5 mins away from Bridge 16 on the Ashby.

Saturday 6th June

We awoke to a sunny morning but there was a chill breeze which turneda Chicken home on a Boat into a freezing gale. We travelled up Stoke Golding and Market Bosworth (who built that marina there? It wasn’t there last time we came up here), through Shackerstone to the end of the canal at Snarestone. We were accompanied for some of the journey by the very agricultural smell of muck spreading. When we got to the canal LittlePonyterminus basin we were not able to try out the newly opened section as it does not have a winding point at the end and it was far too windy to try and reverse the length of it. I turned Jannock, with the wind hindering rather than helping, before we moored up just south of the windy hole. During the turn I discovered that having a lift up ‘Black Prince’ rear fender allows youthe End of the Ashby to reduce the length of the boat by almost two feet just by lifting it up with the boathook. Having visited the Ashby Canal Society stores in Burgolandbuildings and then walked up to the very end for a look-see we then made our way back to Shackerstone where we moored for the night.

After dinner we enjoyed a walk around this charming village that has the following facilities. One church, one pub, one children’s play park and a preserved railway station. It also boasts the remains of a motte and bailey fortified establishment. We were amused to note the name of the village where the nearest shop is – Newton Burgoland. Never seen that name anywhere before.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Where's Wally

Tuesday 26th May
It’s a Tuesday after a British Bank Holiday weekend and so the sun had to come out today. Not for long of course and the chill wind reminded us that winter was not that long ago and that summer was probably that nice fortnight we had in early April. Graham spotted the third water vole of our trip, a few metres shy of bridge 6 on the Ashby canal. A little further on we spotted these beasts all congregated in the corner of a field and so I decided to Photoshop a Where’s Wally picture.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Quite cold today

Monday 25th May

After a quiet night at Brinklow All Oaks Wood, we set off at 10 under a grey overcast sky. At Stretton, Graham prepared to hop off to swing the bridge RoseSwansbut noticed a pair of swans with their young sat on the offside bank, so he swapped sides on got off onto the towpath. We let a waiting canoeist pass through after Jannock has passed through.

At bridge 19 Graham spotted not one, but two water voles swimming across the cut. He wasn’t quick enough with the camera to get pictures. Two, so close together, suggest a breeding pair. We continued on to Ansty where we stopped for a water fill and were amused by the actions of the horses in the field opposite. A foal was laid on the ground BabyOrseand another pony then went and nudged it to get up. It then found it’s mum and stayed with her.

Later, as we passed the electricity works near Hawkesbury we did see some information boards about water voles. I love a good homophone, but why are CEGB paying good money for spelling mistakes on signage? “Coir rolls help voles get out of the water. And coir roles have a, erm, role to play in establishing a healthy vole population.” Good grief, how many people should have pointed out that error between inception to installation?

We called in to see our friends Christine and Terry, nb Grace, and were invited to join their scheduled visitors with tea and scones with homemade jams. Christine painted the lovely picture of Jannock at Chirk that Graham gave me for my birthday.

They say “one good turn deserves another” and I made a very good (for me) Hastyturn at Hawkesbury Junction. I then let Graham to avoid the chaos at Charity Dock as the steam tug Hasty was being extracted from the dock. In order to get the tug out of the dock, all of the cruisers moored across the entrance were moved into the main canal to make room. Graham managed to squeeze through without hitting anything but the southbound craft that we warned to slow right down, didn’t bother to heed our advice and ended up right in the middle of the shenanigans.

Graham then made a good turn into the Ashby at Marston junction. we continued north for a few bridges and then moored for the night near Bulkington, around which we went for an amble after dinner.

More info on Hasty can be found at


Sunday, May 24, 2015

What a grey day!

Sunday 24th May

Graham set off at sparrow’s a clock to do a car shuffle. I turned over and went back to sleep just to get the full value out of the new, and very comfy, mattress of course. It being a Bank Holiday weekend I have to get ready for shop-fest. All the TV and press ads tell us that we’ll not get through the weekend without gallons of cheap booze, a BBQ (in the drizzle today) and spending the kids inheritance at a super-warehouse or shopping village ( a pub, but no church or school, do they qualify as villages?) Canal life is different.

As we were considering a bowl of wheat-o-popsies, the diesel boat hove into view. Graham downed spoon and had the convenient ‘we bring your fuel to you’ man fill us up. G also had a need for a holiday special from Halfords. Internet, order and we’ll pick it up as we pass the Rugby store today. A changing world where your diesel, coal and wood gets delivered and you can ensure you have the tools for a successful journey to Switzerland will be waiting for you. No active shopping involved – result!

We set off from Braunston at 10 and were at Hillmorton locks by 12. Another quick and easy transit as they were very busy with boats passing through both ways and no queuing for us. We did have one lady turn our lock against us but Graham went and helped the other boat in the next door lock so we were soon on our way through that one instead. It amused him that she was having so much difficulty to open the top gate – that’ll teach her to turn a lock on him, no assistance offered inconsiderate people.

We stopped at Rugby and found that our hoped for, short walk past B&Q to Halfords was out of the question. Most of the retail park was a building site with all access fenced off. Never mind, down to Tescos and across the crossing. It’s not as if we didn’t need the exercise.

Our evening treat, calorie free, is to listen to a program from the complete series of “Cabin Pressure”, an excellent BBC Radio comedy series. Highly recommended, but a little strange to be told the emergency exits are here, here and here <titter if you recognise the allusion>. If you enjoy air travel, hate CheapyJet or just want a good laugh, then look it up – Brilliant!

An acute shortage of pictures today - Graham has discovered that his camera will let him take pictures all day and not save any when he’s left the memory card in the laptop!


Evening out in Braunston

Saturday 23rd May

Late spring bank holiday and late spring weather. The sun finally peeped Strimmingsthrough the clouds layer at 6.30pm and only hinted at what might have been. It wasn’t warm or bright, but was at least  dry – even in Braunston tunnel which was so polluted it made our eyes smart. We had been strimmed whilst moored up near High House Wharf. First time this year.

We were followed into the bottom lock by nb Meandrine and made thelockshare easiest ascent of the Buckby flight ever with them. We changed partners for the Braunston locks, as there was a single boat waiting there. Oncoming boats were an asset for all locks today, although the newly started holiday hirers leaving Braunston threatened to crowd the canal.

A boat was moored in the pound above bottom lock. With two of us needing to pull over, two boats coming out of the lock ahead and another following us down, it was inevitable that she would get bumped. Twice as it happened (but only once by me, honest) She weren’t ‘arf cross, but if you will moor where it’s really a daft idea  . . . . . . .  I suspect worse was on it’s way.

labourexchangeFor most of the afternoon runners passed us, doing the Grand Union run, 154 miles, Birmingham to London. Most didn’t look as though they were enjoying their sport. Many were walking and the shop at Braunston bottom lock was doing a roaring trade in Ice creams. Does Ranulf Ffienes run on choc ices? Loved this sign on the wall of the cottage next to the shop.bracketfungus

We moored just past the junction and has slow roast pork for tea, followed by rhubarb from Grandad’s garden. Yum!

Up to the Admirable Nelson for a meet up with John and Liz for a beer or two followed by a long walk back in the dark just before midnight. We noticed this wonderful bracket fungus on the way to the pub.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Spring Soddit Cruise 2015

Saturday 9th May

We arrived at Jannock for 09:00 and started preparing to set off. It seems funny starting a Soddit cruise on a Saturday morning as we have mostly started on Friday night for too many years to remember. We ascended through Cosgrove lock after a wide beam had come down through it. We then pulled over onto the wharf above the lock to move the rest of our ‘stuff’ from the car, thus avoiding a repeat of the long walk carrying. Once loaded we set off Northbound towards Stoke Bruerne. We had no tight schedules to keep to so it was decided that this could be a relaxing cruise with a bit more fishing time (the Captain had a few jobs to do on Jannock ;^)Handsome steerer.

We decided to have lunch before we ascended the Stoke Bruerne flight and so we moored on the 14 day moorings at the bottom where Ian managed to catch five roach of various sizes. Brian did lunch of a Ploughman’s type meal and we were just thinking of setting off when a Wyvern boat with a crew of six happened along and so we shared the flight with them. It was a birthday celebration seven day cruise of five males and one female, it reminded me of when Brenda and I took our first ever holiday on a canal boat, she was vastly outnumbered on that trip. Just look what it’s done to us! We shared with them all the way up with the two boats moving from lock to lock, side by side, just like professionals. Brian and Ian took turns to set the next lock so it was ready when we left the last. Out of the top lock, in the land of the Gongoozler, and we pulled over on to the water point outside the Boat Inn. Whilst Jannock’s tank filled, we did likewise from the hand-pumps on the bar. Ian was disappointed that they were a free house but only did Marston’s beers. Not good considering the other pub in Stoke Bruerne is a Marston’s tied house.

P1070401 We then entered the south portal of Blisworth tunnel, only to be struck quite hard by a southbound time share boat who refused to move over to his side of the canal. Even though I had almost stopped he still clouted us a hefty wallop. We managed to pass five more boats whilst transiting through without any further incidents. Brian was once again playing rousing music like ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ and ‘the Dam Busters march’ loudly on Jannock’s stereo for the length of the tunnel much to the amusement of boats heading South. It’s not often you get applauded by the crew of a passing boat in a tunnel. Once out of the other end we decided to moor for the night in the cutting as it promised to be a lovely quiet spot and wind free spot with a possibility of some good fishing. Our lock sharing friends passed us an hour later having eaten in the Boat Inn first. Only a single Perch caught by Ian tonight, Brian is not having a good trip fishing wise. After a ‘two pan’ stir fry (bit of a record for Ian, only making two pans dirty) we played four games of Soddit before retiring to bed just after midnight.


Sunday 10th May

After a quiet night, apart from the dawn chorus, it was decided to move off as soon asP1070378  breakfast was finished to seek better fishing. The weather was overcast and the wind was gusting well making it interesting for the steerer when you passed gaps in the hedge. Just after Blisworth we watched a Heron take a big fish from the water and then carry it onto the towpath. Here he put it down, to flap around a bit, while he composed himself ready to carry it off somewhere safer in order to consume it in peace. We continued on past the Northampton Arm until we stopped in a patch of sheltered calm water to try the fishing there. Nothing was forthcoming and so we were soon moving again. We past our lock sharers from yesterday, moored up with all the curtains closed and no sign of life. We greeted them by repeatedly sounding our horn as we passed because they should be up and P1070404about at 11:30, not lounging in their pits.

On through Bugbrooke until the guys decided they had spotted a good fishing place to stop at for lunch. It was just past Heyford Fields marina by the Badger Sett. Ian caught a nice Bream here whilst I was preparing lunch. After we had eaten they continued maggot drowning without success whilst I check the electrolyte level in each of the cells in our four batteries. Once they had got bored we set off again heading towards Weedon. We finally stopped on a 14 day mooring and I went to fetch the car from Cosgrove while they cleaned and tidied the boat before trying more maggot drowning. Over the weekend Ian caught eight fish (three species) and Brian caught nowt. I wouldn’t mind but he says he enjoys fishing.


Thursday, May 07, 2015

May the Fourth be with you!

Monday 4th May

Having moored amongst the members of the Lionhearts Cruising Club and having been told yesterday that they were sharing four to a lock we wondered, as we breakfasted on fried eggs and hash browns, whether we could share the locks with them.  Crews began to assemble on the towpath but seemed in no hurry. Then along came another boat and so we cast off and shared with him instead. We had a happy share with gone cruising him through all five of today’s locks. Even the sun graced us with its presence for a good part of the day.spitting yoofs run away

National Nice Day seemed to morph into Nice Weekend as we chatted with fisherfolk, walkers and boaters. Milton Keynes was doing it’s bit. There were two charity runs going on.

As we passed the Lionhearts base there were a lot of empty moorings – we know why! Everything was lovely until Wolverton. A group of feral  children were on the footbridge, some waved ever so slightly, some spoke and nodded but we could not hear what they said for the noise of the engine. When we replied that we could not hear them they decide the best fun they could have would be to spit on us from above. Not one of them was proud enough of their entertainment choice to stay and have their photo taken. Gits! I expect they aspired to to join the yoofs, the slightly older group – say 14+ – in the park trying so hard to be hidden that their behaviour stood out. Did they not know that drugs smell quite distinctly and that can’t be hidden? At least they caused us less bother than the spitters.

Once moored up and the car fetched from Soulbury, we had to call into Ikea on the way home. Our second bargain meal of the weekend. We chose slow roasted lamb shanks at under £3 each if you show your Ikea family card. Add our free cup of tea and a shared pud, not unlike a ‘millionaires rice krispies’ and we were well pleased. Delicious tender lamb!


Today we had weather!

Sunday 3rd May

When we awoke this morning it was raining so hard that we did not set off until 11:30. Whilst amusing ourselves before starting, we found that we had four leaking windows. They are all on the port side and two Graham managed to fix from inside without getting wet. He has plans to fix the other two apparently.

When the sun came out it was lovely, warm even, but it didn’t stay out for long. Then it was back to heavy rain again but at least we had IMG_1174cleared most of the locks and were on the long pounds near Linslade by then.

At Slapton lock there was a planning notice for a new marina to be built opposite the lock  cottage. It is planned to hold 180 boats and the period of consultation has been extended by AVDC. Ref number is 15/00164. At church lock we met our first boat going the other way. They were members of Lionhearts Cruising Club who were on a Bank Holiday mass cruise. The others had all turned back but this boat was continuing on to Berko. Once through Church Lock there were lots of black lambs in the field alongside the canal. None of the Ewes  were black so it must have been passed on by the ram.

We continued on through the rain and finally moored up early above the three locks at Soulbury. We didn’t fancy working our way down there in the rain. Moored immediately in front of us were the rest of the Lionhearts Cruising club who had tables booked in the pub at 7pm for an evening meal.

Having had a Spitfire fly over us last Friday, today we had a Catalina do the same.

The rain finally stopped so Graham did a car fetch from Bourne End using the might Di Blasi. He didn’t check the speedo before leaving home and the batteries had gone flat so it was not working. Never mind, there were no 20MPH limits to worry about en-route and it’s luckky to get to 30 flat out.


First Kingfisher of the year spotted.

Saturday 2nd May

Today was national ‘Be Nice’ day, everybody that we met was nice and pleasant.

During last night, the two gas bottles in use ran out. Therefore we awoke to a cold boat. I went out and swapped over to the next two and spotted a diesel boat coming down the cut. He stopped to fill the boat moored in front of us with diesel so I tIMG_1172ook the opportunity to replace the two empty 13kg cylinders without having to lug them along a towpath.

After breakfast we set off and followed a pair of boats up through Berkhamstead lock.  As we were leaving another single boat arrived to ascend so I told them we would wait for them at Gas 2 so we could share the Northchurch flight. They stayed with us all the way up to the summit where they pulled over to visit the chandlery whilst we ate our lunch and travelled on to Bulbourne.

We arrived at Marsworth and waited a bit before setting off down the top lock solo. As I was working Jannock through, Keith the friendly volunteer lock keeper arrived at the second lock down and started setting it ready for us. When we arrived there he introduced himself, enquired what our names were and then used them in every conversation with us to the bottom of the flight – almost wore them out he did! A foreign family (Dutch?) were watching with interest as we passed through the first couple of locks and assisted with some gates so we invited their two children to sit in the foredeck for a trip through the lock. They were then replaced by a Dad and his two year old son for the next lock. All the time Keith was setting ahead whilst I worked Jannock through and managed the gongoozlers. When ever we caught Keith up he warned Brenda about the cross winds on the flight. She assured him that she had coped with worse at this very location and she would be fine. She was and Keith got a bit sheepish. Not that windy at all today. I offered him a beer to take home at the bottom lock but he announced that he was tee-total. With a total lack of wind, a good lock setter and no other boats on the flight that was the best passage down Marsworth that we’ve ever had.

We continued past Marsworth and down another four locks before mooring for the night, out in the sticks, below Seabrook locks. Lovely and quiet here.


The 2015 cruise starts here.

Friday 1st May

This morning I had to do an airport fetch from Gatwick, Matt and Alice were returning from their honeymoon. Once back to Thame, we loaded the car and set of for Bourne End to finally loose Jannock from here mooring. A very late start this year but we should still make it to our first destination, Husbands Bosworth, in time for the Home Brew Beer Festival in June.Sharing the locks with a works outing.

As we were prepping for the off, a solo boat ascended through lock 59 and so we asked if we could share with them. They were going to Berko and so that suited us. It appeared to be a works outing. The boss wanted to move his boat up to Berkhamstead for a wedding at the weekend and so he closed the business for the day and the staff had a day out helping move the boat. The management even provided the beer and food – result! I wish I had a boss like that.

We shared with them up, to Raven’s Lane lock where we pulled over to moor for the night – a perfect mooring exactly half way between the fish and chip shop and the Rising Sun. They continued through the next lock to moor near Waitrose. I had Best fish and chips I've ever had.promised Brenda a fish and chip supper as she has never tried those from the Berkhamstead Fish Bar which is located at the railway station. Debbi from nb Tiami popped in on her way to the Riser and so I went to join her  and Simon for a swift pint whilst Brenda remained aboard the boat, she was still getting over her lurgi and not feeling up to being social. I then went and fetched our Rock Salmon and chips before returning to Jannock. As per MY previous visit, the quality of the fish and chips was superb. I do believe this is the best supplier for F&C that I’ve ever found.

I then spent the rest of the evening trying to top up my 3 data SIM without success. Hence the lateness of these posts. The ‘Verified by Visa’ part of the process always fails if you try to top up over the mobile networks. Never had a problem on the home broadband though. I retired to bed weary after my first session of locking and cycling for 2015.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hernia repaired and well on the way to recovery

I thought I might copy Sue from  No Problem and post a Wassat!    However then Brenda said that people might not want an un-announced view of my groin as they may be of a sensitive disposition or be eating and so I’ve posted a picture of my operation scar on the website at . It’s about 3 inches (75mm) from end to end – view at your own risk ;^)


I’ve got to take it easy and not lift anything heavier than about 5Kg for a few weeks but I’m returning to work (light duties) tomorrow and really looking forward to next years (pain free) boating.


Our plans so-far for 2015 include the Ashby in June and the Avon and Droitwich later in the summer.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pointing North again

Sunday 26th October

Using the extra hour, we arrived at Jannock bright and early and set off for a two hour cruise to turn her round. This was needed to achieve three objectives.

A. Warm up the engine for a service.

B. Get the pumpout fittings bankside.

C. Get the cruiser stern away from the overhanging tree because the berries it drops keep blocking the self drain holes.

We moved across and dropped down through lock 59 once I had extracted the bike from within Jannock. Just before we left the lock a couple appeared and were interested in watching what we were doing. I explained that it was all over here but if they walk down to lock 60 they could see it all again. I cycled off and they joined us just as Jannock entered the lock and so Brenda invited them aboard to experience the transit from on the boat. Once through 60 I cycled down and opened Winkwell bridge with our passengers still happily enjoying the ride.

Through lock 61 and I left the offside bottom gate open and hopped smartly onto the foredeck when Brenda took Jannock out. We always try to use the offside gate here as when you are re-entering on the return journey it allows you to take the river flow into account and not clout the gate hard. At the winding hole I was able to indicate how close she was to the bank as she winded and she did a perfect manoeuvre which really impressed our passengers. Once turned it was back into lock 61 to retrace our route back up to the mooring.

Our passengers got off once we has ascended 61 as their car was parked in the pub carpark. We continued back through the swingbridge and up the last two locks back to our mooring. Once there I immediately did and oil and filter change on the engine and also extracted and replaced the gearbox oil. Brenda spent the couple of hours tidying up our patch of garden which had been neglected since April.

After lunch I joined her doing gardenny things like cutting off the remains of the branch that the wind broke down last weekend. Our little trip ahs increased our yearly totals to 688 miles and 485 locks for the year.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Oooooops – just got told off by Brenda

When I calculated our total mileage and locks for the year I missed out the extra run from Abingdon down to the Plough at Long Wittenham and back on Monday 26th May whilst we were waiting for the slow cooker to finish the dinner for our guests.

That makes the year totals 686 miles and 479 locks. I can add that the Di Blasi folding moped has done 501 miles this year.


Monday, October 20, 2014

And back to Bourne End

Monday 20th October

07:00 - and Graham is up and off to move the car from Soulbury to the mooring.

09:15 – and we start the last day of 2014’s cruising – quite a long year 12th April to 20th October is 6 months and a couple of weeks-ish. We’ve done 673 miles and 475 locks this year (and I suspect we’ll turn round before Christmas so that’ll be another 6 locks and 2 miles ;^)Autumn

The weather has been kind but a busy winter ahead with one thing and another, maintenance and family to fill the short days. Plans for 2015 – there’s a home brew festival up the Ashby in June .  . 

We had an easy run to our mooring – we caught up nb Picot again at Dudswell locks and shared again all the way to Berkhampstead. He was Kingfishercomplaining that he had left our company yesterday and joined up with “an inefficient crew”. His words, not ours. We also gave a trip through the lock to another couple of children who were out with Grandad walking the towpath. Passengers At Berko he had three clients to empty and so we left him and did Berko and Ravens lane locks solo. At Rising Sun we caught up nb Gloria, who was single handing down to Apsley , just in time to feed him a cup of tea as well.

Treat of the day was being watched, as we passed, by a Kingfisher sat on a branch on the side of the Tring summit. Graham even managed to stop Jannock, and then reverse back so that I could take this picture – shame we haven’t got a good SLR camera with a zoom lens.

Beer of the weekend was Elderflower Ale. Commissioned by me and brewed by Graham. It’s delicious, refreshing and lowish alcohol and WILL be made again next year ;^)


Penultimate day

Sunday 19th October

Past the middle of October and a super day. Mostly warm sun and cardigan temperatures, but we could have done without the winds that are supposed to be the lead in to a hurricane crossing the Atlantic. This made the steering quite difficult at times.

We shared most of the locks with nb Picot. Nice bloke, but a load of sh1t. Yes – literally, he’s a roving trader IvinghoeLock who’ll turn up and take away your toilet tank contents for a fee. We made very good progress, although he was a single hander he did his full share of lockside work leaving his boat alongside Jannock in locks and then shutting gates as we left. As Graham was using the lock wheeling bike we found it worked really well if both boats used the single gate.

A family watched us go up the first Seabrook lock and so we offered mum and kiddies a ride up the second. They were delighted and it seems to have sealed the deal – a canal holiday is being considered for next year. We later met the trip boat from Pitstone wharf at Marsworth locks, the passengers had disgorged and were doing a great impersonation of ants as Japanese tourists (Racism alert) over and around the lock. Quote of the day from a fresh faced teen: (Ageism alert) He’d had a good peer in through Jannock’s windows and announced loudly “oh those poor people – they haven’t got a television!” Just MarsworthYard as well he couldn’t see inside Picot’s back cabin – sleeping bag and single gas burner camping stove. The houses are certainly coming on at Marsworth – as they seem to have metal extensions out over the canal I wonder whether they are balconies or roofs? This could mean the properties will come right up to the waters edge and so affect the mooring for the services there.

Monsieur Picot had a cup of tea and a piece of cake from us and then he went and joined the single boat in front when we caught them up on the Marsworth flight. Typical bloke (sexism alert ;^). Actually it made sense at the time – but it all went wrong, after he left us, for a couple of locks in the flight. The wind was quite fierce and gusty across the reservoirs. I tried my best to accommodate a couple of fishermen who were FISHING ON THE LOCK LANDING and Jannock got pushed into and awkward bankside corner. I did my best to get past the fishists but ended up clouting the lock entrance which made a couple of bystanders jump. As I entered the ReservoirLevellock, having made my excuses, Graham asked me to hover by the bottom gate while he fetched out the sea searcher magnet from the engine bay. He’s managed to drop his windlass off of the balance beam and into the cut. The bystanders opinion of us was restored as he fished it out second cast.

The water levels in the reservoirs look very low, almost as low as during the water shortages in Spring 2013. We made it out of the flight by 5:30 and so tied up for the night just South of the water point and winding hole. Supper – last of the boating year – was a store-cupboard challenge Malaysian recipe mix – best before 2004. Yum! This challenge has now finished it’s second year and still the store cupboard has out of date stuff in it’s deepest recesses. Roll on 2015 ;^)


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Soddit Cruise Autumn 2014

Friday 10th October

We travelled up to Jannock via the Fish and Chip shop in Towcester, eating F&C en-route to the boat on a Friday evening has become something of a tradition for Soddit cruises now.  The food available from this takeaway was excellent – I suspect it was the best bit of F&C shop fish I have had for ages. It didn’t look too big because there was a very thin layer of superb batter coating a nice sized piece of fish. It was not too greasy for eating by hand and the chips were good too. Shame Towcester is such a long way from the canal. Once we were unloaded onto the boat we started to play Soddit and managed 6 games before retiring at 01:30. The beer this cruise was VPA and Fall Back, which is Vale’s special for October.

Saturday 11th October

Blisworth Ian made scrambled eggs for breakfast and then we were off heading South towards Blisworth tunnel. Knowing how Brian likes to play ‘good LiteEndTunnel British music’ whilst travelling through tunnels I had thought to bring my battery powered PA system along to save the speakers of Jannock’s stereo. This system worked really well as I had pre-loaded the tracks from his favourite CD onto an SD card. We entered the tunnel to the sounds of the 633 squadron anthem, as we passed the only boat we met mid tunnel their steerer was singing along to ‘Land of Hope and Glory’. As we approached the southern portal we could see human forms looking into the tunnel mouth trying to identify what was coming through. Just as we made it to the end of the tunnel Queen started playing ‘God Save the Queen’ – the timing could not have worked out better and we emerged into the daylight to a round of applause from a group of bystanders.

We arrived at top lock just as another boat was entering so we shared the whole flight with them. Ian worked the lock whilst Brian walked Seedingahead to set the next. As we were leaving the penultimate lock in the flight, the lady from the other boat commented about how lucky we were that some nice stranger had set ahead for us all the way down – I hastened to point out that Brian was a member of our crew, she just hadn’t spotted him at the top lock. We stopped below the bottom lock for lunch and fishing at 12:30.

Once on the move again, we passed this enormous tracked tractor seeding a field for next year. Being a home brewer, I hope it’s barley ;^) On to Cosgrove where we passed through the lock solo and continued on to New Bradwell where we stopped out in the countryside for the night. I did a chicken and stir fried vegetable evening meal before we settled down to another 6 games of Soddit.

Sunday 12th October

LeapTugI was up and had the boat on the move at 08:00 and Brian brought me my bacon sandwich breakfast at the helm a little later. We have been  playing ‘leap Tug’ with this lovely Stewarts and Lloyds tug most of the weekend so far, she had passed us last evening and was now moored just around the corner from our overnight stop. On through Milton Keynes with little to report apart from the eventual arrival of ThereIsASun the sun to brighten up our trip. Not many other boats were on the move until we got to Fenny lock where the tug, who had caught us up again, shared the lock with us. He left first as I was aware that he was travelling faster than us and so we missed out on sharing Stoke Hammond lock as he went up with the boat already there. We followed after turning the lock.

Ian had arranged for his daughter, and grand-daughter, to meet us at the Three locks for a short trip on the boat at 3:30. We were early and so stopped for fishing, just after a fishing match, at Visitors Stoke Hammond. I went of on the Di Blasi and fetched the car from Gayton before we set off again towards Soulbury. Once at the bottom locks we waiting for a while. No sign of either someone to share with or Ian’s daughter so we set off solo. This worked out OK as they met us  halfway up and the next boat along was a pair. We completed the flight and said goodbye to our temporary passengers before continuing on to find a suitable 14 day mooring.IansFish

This was a very unusual Soddit cruise as the Friday night meal was not the only fish we saw, both of the fishists managed to catch fish from the canal.  Ian’s beauty (pictured) was caught at Stoke Hammond. Good job the fishermen in the competition were around the corner and could not see.

Brenda and I should be able to get Jannock back to the mooring on Sunday & Monday next weekend.