Monday, May 01, 2017

And into Brinklow Marina


Where did April go? With birthdays, Easter and wonderful family get togethers it just flew by!

A short run from Newbold, past Cathiron and into Jannock’s new home. We had to wait for Adrian’s return before being allocated a pontoon to moor on, so sat near the entrance and tidied everyhting up ready for a quick exit.

Just after lunch, Adrian and Eric came over and told us we could moor at the bank end of pontoon 9. We’ve only owned Jannock for 17 years and we’ve travelled many miles in her over that time but today was the first time I had ever tried to get a boat onto a pontoon mooring, between two other boats already moored there, in a strong cross wind.

My first attempt ended with Jannock neatly broadside across the end of 5 pontoons and no amount of engine would move us off. With some hefty shoving by the marina crew I managed to reverse her almost back to the entrance and then try another attempt. Luckily, with the experience of the first attempt fresh in my mind, and a better idea of the wind direction I managed it this time without causing any damage to either pontoons or adjacent moorers.

When we had moored for the night opposite Bugbrooke marina last weekend, I had observed their wind sock and passed comment to Brenda about it. I now fully understand why they have one and what it’s for ;^)


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunshine, Church Bells and a Howling Gale


We left our peaceful Braunston mooring and passed nb Waiouru and nb Stray Away again on our way towards Hillmorton. It was lovely to hear the bells at Braunston church calling the faithful to service as we made our way, closely followed by a hotelNapton Church in the distance pair, onto a very windy Oxford canal.

We felt sorry for the numerous newbie hirers who were struggling through strong cross winds steering a craft they are not familiar with – crash and panic were the themes for their day. We spotted one crew who moored up at 11am to sit it all out. I was having to steer Jannock crab-like up the exposed sections although she returned to normal once we gained shelter from hedge or cutting.

Quote of the day came from Brenda as we were looking at a warning sign in the window of a live-aboard boat moored near Barby – “I don’t know about the dog, it’s the curtains I’d be more scared of”. The mould and soot would do you much more harm than a bark and a bite!

Hillmorton 3 was interesting; our serving suggestion of “ give it some welly!” wasn’tNice cans - luckily the lady didn't take offence taken up by a Napton Narrowboats crew, “softly softly catchee monkey” was the preferred option which left them bow to stern across the canal below the top lock – no harm done luckily.

We continued on and moored up at Brownsover, just before the road bridge. Brenda went and did a bit of shopping while I fetched the car from Weedon and took it to Brinklow marina. I then Di Blasi’d back to Jannock and we continued on to moor for the night on the Newbold visitor moorings just after Green’s bridge. The hotel boats were moored there as well so they must have passed us while I was car shuffling.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Three Cutweb members spotted today.


We arrived at Weedon Bec just after 10am and lugged our ‘stuff’ up the steps to the canal where Jannock was still securely tied up waiting. I then parked the car in thenb Ian village, the lane by the church is a bit of a rat-run so best to put it somewhere quieter. We then untied and set off by 10:45 heading North. As we approached Dodford wharf I spotted nb Ian moored against the field there - I had to take a picture because Ian is the boat that mini-Jannock’s original hull kit was based on.

We had a lunch of bacon sarnies as we approached Buckby bottom lock. Once in the lock, we waited a short while as both the first and second boats following us winded in the marina entrance and set off south again. Luckily the third boat, nb Queen Hatshepsut, came into the lock alongside us and we shared the whole flight with them. They were a nice couple from Devon and we made good time up the locks with only one lock being turned on us by a couple of private boats as we approached the empty lock from below. I was not impressed and told them so.

Up through ‘Bee Bra’ (Buckby Top) lock – named such after Brenda once had a Bee fly down into her bra whilst ascending the lock, much to the amusement of all the peeps sat in the pub garden. Onto the summit where we waved bye-bye to Queen Hatshepsut as they turned onto the Leicester Arm. We passed through Braunston tunnel, passing one boat coming the other way – why is it always at the bendy bit near the northern end?

No-one to share Braunton flight with, but there was a Cutweb member moored above the flight, so having introduced myself we travelled down solo meeting all-sorts coming the other way. At Admiral Nelson lock I found a solitary boat tied up in the lock and a single bottom gate open. No sign of life so I thought the owner had gone in the pub but it turned out that he desperately needed a comfort break and re-appeared from inside the boat shortly after. Once out of the flight, we travelled down to Braunston turn passing two more Cutweb members by the toll house. I turned Jannock round at the junction using all three sides of the triangle and then returned to the sani-station. I then did a pump-out whilst Brenda walked the rubbish down to the skip.

Pump-out complete, we passed nb Waiouru and nb Stray Away again to turn in the marina entrance and then reverse back to the last free mooring before Butchers Bridge to moor for the night.

Another first for Jannock – whilst moored in Braunston we had a visit from a door-to-door salesperson trying to flog dusters and cleaning cloths etc. I sent him packing pointing out that we had everything we needed thankyou. I did point out to him that ‘holiday boaters’ were likely to have everything they needed provided by the boat company and he might get more success trying boats with bags of coal and piles of wood on the roofs  ;^)  We’d seen none along the Braunston stretch during our earlier winding exercise.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

A short run to Weedon Bec


First task of the day – Brenda tried the new shower mixer tap that I’d fitted. She reckons that it’s wonderful! Instant hot water, no fighting with a stiff tap that needed a zillion turns and was such a large diameter that her hand could only just grasp it.WeedonChurch She now wishes that she’s broken the old one ages ago.

After a peaceful night opposite Bugbrooke marina, we set off in the sunshine and pootled along past Nether Heyford and Stowehill until we moored on the church moorings at Weedon Bec – Jannock’s home until next weekend.

I went and fetched the car whilst Brenda prepared lunch. On my return we ate, washed up and headed home. A short day, I know, but a relatively safe place to leave a boat un-attended.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Welcome to Gongoozler World


Another nice sunny day but oh, that wind is chill. We set off at 11:30 after a lateSwans in oilseed rape field start and passed up through Cosgrove lock before eating lunch on the long slog through Yardley Gobion to Stoke Bruerne bottom lock where we entered and waited  for a partner to join us. The first two boats winded below the lock and returned towards Cosgrove but finally nb Serenity joined us and we made a quick and easy ascent of the flight into Gongoozler land.

The number of people watching times the number of boats manoevering should have equalled dismal mooring skills as we went into the water point outside The Boat Inn. Luckily we got it just right and so in celebration Graham took two glasses into the pub. It took about the same amount of time to fill with water as it did to get a couple of beers. Off we went into a very wet tunnel that rinsed off the paintwork where we had done Duck Poo removal at the waterpoint.

William in top lockOnward, still in the sunshine, until we moored outside Bugbroke marina where Graham felt the need to wash the otherside of Jannock whilst I prepared Kippers for tea.

So, what’s the story? Whilst we were kippering, three yoofs sauntered by on the tow path. Hoodie was a distance in front of Baggypants and Allinblack and trying hard to look as if he wasn’t with them. General demeanor suggested there were hot dates waiting in a cold pub, lager prices what they are lead to pre-loading of course. A hundred yards or so beyond of us they all got very interested in the hedgeline. Lots of firkling about and brow knitting went on and then they re-grouped as one and legged it back pronto.

Answers on a postcard …….


Sunday, April 09, 2017

Happy birthday to me ;^)

Just after we left our peaceful overnight mooring weIMGP4993 passed nb Frog, the boat we shared all the locks with yesterday, moored up near the Globe Inn ready for the Boaters Market next weekend – talk about prime spot, it obviously pays to get there early.

On the long stretch before the top of Soulbury locks, Brenda spotted her first ducklings for the year. We entered the top first ducklingslock and descended them on our own with no-one coming up either. Once through the flight it was a short cruise to Stoke Hammond wharf where we moored up for the week.

I then returned to Marsworth on the trusty Di Blasi to fetch the car. On my return to Jannock, we had lunch, washed up and went home.


Saturday, April 08, 2017

Boating after a world record Balloon attempt.

Yesterday, Brenda and I assisted the Ballonatic84 crew to enable them to enter theTheTeam Cross Channel Ballooning Record attempt. They didn’t have any-one to drive their recovery vehicle across to France to fetch the balloon back so I volunteered at the 11th hour and took Brenda along for the day out. She was not impressed with the 01:15 start as I had said it would be early but hadn’t explained quite how early. There is an excellent video at

IMG_3077Back to boating, another weekend and another celebration cake. Happy Birthdays to me, Alice and Matt. All we need now is to be able to celebrate a new Guinness World record attempt yesterday.

If we had seen it last weekend – we’d have thought “April Fool!” – a chap skiing down the towpath on wheeled skis. Looked damned hard work.

We shared all of today’s locks with a short (30’) narrowboat named Frog and at Ivinghoe Top Lock, where we caught up an equally short singleton, we managedIMG_3080 three boats in one lock. The steerer on Frog was suffering from a broken toe but we soon set up a routine of using a single gate to exit that make progress good.

We moored for the night between Leighton Lock and the Globe, a nice quiet mooring if you stay near the Eastern end of the sewerage works on the opposite bank. It seems that the West End is the noisy end. Brenda had brought a container of “chicken casserole” out of our freezer at home for dinner tonight. When she opened it she found that it contained Apple, Rhubard and Plum. So, at last we got to try the Army rations we bought at Milton Keynes market several years ago. A chicken curry, a lamb curry and a vegetable biriani. All needed to be warmed in boiling water and then the pouches opened and poured onto the plates. They were really tasty and we washed down with a couple of beers – excellent!


Sunday, April 02, 2017

A long wait!

About one hour of today’s two hour trip was spent tied up above a padlocked Marsworth top lock whilst the bottom pound, where the Aylesbury arm goes off, was rewatered. The CaRT staff believed that both lock 38 and Marsworth No1 lock had their top gates left open all night and junction pound was almost emptied with boats sitting on the bottom. We hope that those boaters we have seen holding onto IMG_20170402_102846the ‘tradition’ of leaving the exit gates open when they leave the lock were amongst those inconvenienced today.

Once the padlock was removed, we shared the flight with a crew of hirers who have fallen in love with canal boating in just two days flat – just as well it hasn’t rained at all ;^)

We moored above the bottom lock, just along from ‘Engagement bend’, and left Jannock there for a week. There were plans to restrict mooring at Marsworth but I’ve not seen any new signs indicating the changes yet.


Saturday, April 01, 2017

Happy Birthday to Brenda!

Saturday 1st April 2017

Berkhampstead to Bulbourne

We polished off the cerials left on-board over winter, a soggy breakfast, and were ready to leave at 9:45. The last boat to pass us was a widebeam that had left the top gates open at both Raven’s Lane and Rising Sun locks. Once through our first lock, we joined another single narrowboat waiting for the widebeam to clear Gas 2 lock so we shared with him all the way to Cowroast. The pound above Gas 1 was very low and the widebeam was struggling. I managed to cycle past them and have the next lock open and ready for them when they finally arrived. The steerer was complaining bitterly about the lack of water so I took great delight in pointing out to him that leaving top gates open causes problems like that. He was not impressed!

If you value your children do not put them in an inflatable canoe immediately outside a lock where two narrowboats are coming out, and you are occupying the lock landing area by the water point. Then when you are asked to move said child and canoe please don’t scowl and make a dramatic performance of dragging her 6 foot towards the water point – and then putting a second inflatable canoe where the first had been. Then as our boat starts leaving the lock and comes towards you, please don’t ask f it’s OK for us to wait while you get yourself sorted. And when told that the second boat in the lock will be stopping on the water point, don’t ask “what boat?” It’s the big heavy steel thing bearing down on your child that has no-where else to go. More scowling will not help – narrowboats are big and heavy compared with your little blow up canoes. They also have no brakes and oh, by the way, why aren’t your young children wearing life jackets? Are their lives not worth the price of one?

Photo0098Once onto the tring summit it was lunch – with Shrimp Banana cake for Brenda’s birthday. Second day of 2017 cruise and we see a brazen kingfisher sat on a branch, bold as brass and didn’t even move. Why did I leave the camera at home! You bet he wouldn’t have hung around had I got it in my hand.

We cruised right up to the Wendover Arm junction looking for a Bulbourne mooring for the night. We know it’s been a short day but we’d got a table booked at the Grand Junction Arms. We turned and then cruised back to the next winding point where we turned again and reversed into a spare 65 foot gap on the piling. That’ll do, just a short walk to the pub. Matt, Alice and Felicity joined us for a celebratory dinner at the GJA and Felicity charmed everyone in the pub. I wish we could all go out to dinner in our jim-jams-a’ la’ Stella McCartney outfit. We had a lovely meal, the menu was varied and interesting, something for all tastes and well cooked.

Having said farewell to our guests, we retired to Jannock and watched the first three episodes of “The Flower of Gloucester”, nothing like a 1960’s kids TV series (and another birthday) to make you feel old.

Brenda & Graham

Friday, March 31, 2017

Farewell Bourne End Moorings

Friday 31st March 2017

And we’re off!

11055 on the hour counter, 13:50 on the sundial and 15 degrees (ish) on the thermometer. We left our Bourne End mooring for the last time heading for pastures new.Sewerage lock

The blossom, particularly Magnolia and Camelia is superb this year. Boating past back gardens means we have had a lovely display, set off by swathes of Daffodils and Primroses.

We have cruised through Berko many times – since the 1970s ! ! ! – today we arrived. The aim was to dine on Fish and Chips from the chippie at the train station. MagnoliaWe chose to walk the long way round in order to see a little of this historic town. History is written in it’s buildings. Our first stop was a diversion, away from the town centre. Go under the railway bridge and you come to Berkhampstead Castle, hailing from 1066 & all that. It has a very early canal connection, the moats was big enough to house many narrowboats and the Black Prince was a visitor. Or is that hunger talking? If you need a nice walk or have crew with too much energy – go visit! You could even take a football with you.BerkoCastle

Then into the town and back via the station to pick up excellent Fish and Chips. Add a tin of mushy peas and a pickled onion and dinner for two is served. Once eaten, back down the towpath to the Rising Sun to wash it all down – especially as they have a beer festival all weekend. They are one of those rare pubs that give a 50p discount on production of a valid CAMRA membership card – RiserHeronexcellent. The beer selection was good, the cider selection extensive, there was free nibbles and the clientelle many and lively. We left quite quickly as they turned the Muzac level up too loud people had to shout to converse, – not conducive to an enjoyable evening. The more shouting and the louder the music became until it reached an un-pleasant level. Shame, as there were a couple more beers we’d like to have tried.

As we left the pub there was a very bold Heron sat on the lockgates right outside who appeared to be happy to pose for photos.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

A quick turn round to end the year.

Saturday 22nd October 2016


The sad news is that we will be leaving this mooring in the spring, the mooring charges have been increased by a sizeable sum and so we feel it is time to move further north to get away from the ‘London Effect’. I was especially peeved that we did not learn of this increase until two weeks into the new mooring year, otherwise we could have stayed further North and not had all those Grand Union locks to deal with.

Brenda and I arrived at Jannock and immediately prepared her for a quick run down to Winkwell to turn her around. Although it would have been nice to share the locks we ended up going solo with Brenda on the boat and me locking (& bridging ;^)

Once through Winkwell bottom lock I hopped onto the bows of the boat just incase she needed some help to wing as the winding point at Winkwell has a nasty tree stump on the north side and can sometimes cause a problem. Luckily, my services were not required during that manouvre so I hopped bank opnto the lockside as we re-entered the lock and went back to working us back up the locks.

Once back onto the mooring, I then gave the engine a 200 hour (203 actually) service, emptied the water system and generally prepared the boat for winter. We’ll be researching where to move to over the winter months.


Sunday, October 09, 2016

Autumn Soddit Cruise- Day #2

Sunday 9th October 2016

After a peaceful night at the end of the Wendover arm we set off back towards the mainline after breakfast. If it wasn’t for the planes going into Luton airport this would be one of my all time favourite overnight moorings.


There were some fishermen gathered by Tringford pumping station, it’s a bit like shooting fish in a barrel here as the water is clear and all the fish gather to enjoy the freshly oxygenated water that has been pulled up from the reservoirs. The corner by the mill was bit bit more tricky going this way but we made it round OK. Then along the summit to Cowroast lock to start our descent towards Bourne End and the end of our summer cruise.

No dramas this trip with the run down being shared with several other boats as well as a few locks done solo. Once back at our mooring, I left Ian and Brian to tidy up the boat (and do some fishing I expect) while I went back to Slapton to fetch the car ready for our trip home.


(posted a bit late as I’m trying to catch up)

Autumn Soddit Cruise–day #2

Sunday 9th October

We awoke to a cold but sunny morning and set off back towards the main line asIMG_2765 soon as breakfast was finished. The first hour and a half had no locks to do so they crew relaxed before the hard work of the day started.

At Cowroast we shared with a very short narrowboat who was just passing down to the next pound. Therefore we did Dudswell and Northchurch solo. We were following a pair of narrowboats who inturn were following a very slow widebeam boat. Luckily, the latter decided to pull over and moor up after Dudswell bottom lock so things got better after that. We decided to stop for lunch after Bushes lock but the bank was shallow and we grounded as we moored. The crew started fishing while I prepared lunch but as time went by the boat was leaning over more and more. Obviously the water level in the pound was going down so we moved further along the pound to find deeper water.

After lunch we finished the Northchurch locks and caught up the short narrowboat, that had passed us as we lunched, at Raven’s Lane lock. We shared Rising Sun with him as well then he stopped for water by the garage. Down the last three locks to Jannock’s home mooring at Bourne End where we tied up and I went to fetch the car from Slapton whilst the guys tidied up and did more fishing.

A good weekend with no visits to casualty.


Saturday, October 08, 2016

Autumn Soddit cruise–day #1

Saturday 8th October.

Well, the trip to the boat on Friday evening was a new experience for us, it’s not often you have to chase your dinner around country roads for a few miles ;^) We had planned to use the Fish and Chip van that is advertised as being at Ivinghoe from 3 till 8:30pm on a Friday. When we arrived at 7:30 we found it just moving off down Station road towards Cheddington so we gave chase. On arrival at Cheddington Green we joined a queue of about eight people already waiting for the van to arrive. The wait was worth it as the food was excellent. We then went to Slapton wharf and loaded all our stuff aboard Jannock before opening the barrel of XT3 and playing five games of Soddit.

IMG_20161008_121733Saturday morning was cold and misty with occaisional drizzle as the intrepid crew made ready for the off after a breakfast of bacon sarnies. I started the morning by walking back towards the winding point and re-attaching a loose boat to the bank. One mooring stake was missing but i managed to secure it by using a large branch out of the hedge banged into the ground. Once on the move the drizzle stopped but it remained cold in the wind. We passed up through Horton, Ivinghoe, Seabrook and Marsworth locks before stopping for lunch near the Red Lion at Marsworth. Fishing was done whilst lunch was prepared with a few poor examples being caught.IMG_2764

Then into Marsworth bottom lock to start our solo ascent up the flight. We then had to wait at the second lock whilst northbound traffic descended and again at the penultimate lock. Finally out the top and a sharp right turn into the wendover Arm. This arm is quite shallow in places but the water is so clear that you can see all the shoals of fish swimming alongside the boat. It’s only when you see this that IMG_20161008_181523you realise that boat traffic does not scare the fish population.

Right down to the current end of navigation where we turned round and moored for the night at the very end. Ian caught a decent sized roach here although most of the fishing activity would best be described as ‘whitebait’.

Once dinner was done with we had another six games of Soddit before calling it a night and going to bed just after midnight.


Sunday, October 02, 2016

And on to Slapton Wharf

Sunday 2nd October

It was still raining when we awoke but managed to stop before we set off. Straight into Linslade lock and then past Wyvern Shipping to moor outside Tescos for more essential re-provisioning.

We had planned to use Aldi but just inside the door we found that they were out of stock of the breakfast cereal we wanted so we reversed the trolley back into the trolley park and went to Tesco instead.

We then travelled through Linslade out to Grove lock where we had to wait for a boat to descend before going up ourselves. Above the lock, a hire boat pulled out in front of us so we shared Church lock with them. It was only their second lock since they left the Wyvern base so they were grateful for some advice on how to work it efficiently.

We then travelled on to Slapton lock where we shared with them again and re-enforced the learning. The lady was keen to learn and soon picked up what was required. They planning to stop to visit the Carpenters Arms for lunch so we both moored up on the piling just beyond the winding hole. They managed to use their piling hook for the back of the boat but were confused as to why they couldn’t get it to work at the front. The piling had finished and the concrete edging had nowhere to fit the hook. Once I had pointed this out they soon found a mooring stake to use instead.

I then went to Soulbury on the Di Blasi to fetch the car whilst Brenda tidied up ready to leave Jannock for a week when the Autumn Soddit cruise will occur. Hopefully there will be no nasty accidents this time.


Saturday, October 01, 2016

Disaster averted

Saturday 1st October 2016

G got up at ‘sparrows’ and did a double car shuffle from Lower Heyford to Soulbury. Disaster was averted as he brought some tea bags back with him when he returned to Jannock – we were running out and not sure if ten would last us for the whole weekend. Luckily this was all accomplished before it started raining which it did for most of our trip through Milton Keynes.

As we rounded the first corner after loosing off we found a floating tea shop. Such is modern life that not only was the craft registered as a floating trader but also proudly displayed a top notch food hygene certificate in the window. 10am is too early to go for tea and cake.

A little further on at the Lionhearts Cruising Club, they were preparing for their MacMillan coffee morning event and we were invited to stop and join them. It was still too early at 10:30 as they were not going to start until 11am so we declined.

We saw on Facebook that son Matt made a cake for his work MacMillan coffee morning event yesterday. He won the Best Baker award (we took the proud parents award, even though it is not a real thing)

We stopped at Willowbridge marina during a brief break in the rain for our annual ‘last fill up with diesel before home’ and their base rate was 70ppl.

As we approached the bottom lock of the Soulbury three we were pleased to see a boat casting off to enter the lock. We were not so pleased to find 6 or 7 assorted kids watching, getting in the way and playing lockside outside the pub whilst their parents ignored them. One took to running up and down the side of the lock jumping on and off the bollards. One slip of the foot and smashed teeth would be a better outcome than falling in alongside two boats. When asked to move out of the arc of the balance beam, one wise guy (7-9 ish) commented it was all right as he could swim. So that’s OK then – ‘No Parent’ families!

Finally stopped for the night just after the Globe Inn having travelled the last hour in drizzle. No sooner had G tied Jannock securely to the piling than the heavens opened for a very heavy rain storm.

Sorry, no pictures today as the weather was not conducive to using a camera.


The big ship sailed down the Alley Alley OOO ….

Friday 30th September

… on the last day of September – what was that all about? Does anyone play the game any more? Are we history? Discuss!

Today we made good progress in a good amount of sunshine – but it was a two fleece day for me. Through Blisworth tunnel with ease and onto the lock mooring above the top lock at Stoke Bruerne as one boat came up and another joined us for the trip down the flight. After a few minutes of some of the silliest questions I have ever been asked (outside of infants class) about canal boating I offered four tourists a ride down through the first lock. “What time does the trip boat go?” as they were looking at it. “I dont know” I replied. “Why not” came the response. “Because we have just arrived here. ”Arn’t you a trip boat too?” “No, it’s my home!” “Can you take us for a trip?” “No, I’ve my own journey to get on with and we wouldn’t be insured!” “Why are you holding that rope?” “To stop my boat floating away” “Why are you just stopped here?”  I’m waiting to go into that lock but it’s occupied at present” “How many bedrooms?” led onto “What freight do you carry! Perhaps I should have said “Coal – we keep it in the bath!” (Slap wrist) The offer of a ride in the front well deck, down through the top lolck was met with “ but how will we get back?” The response “It’s about a 1 minute walk” was met with real surprise. They got on, had their trip through the lock and got off again and just left – no thankyous. Obviously rude as well as daft!

IMG_2753We shared the whole flight with a lads week hire boat from Wyvern Shipping – what an interesting bunch. The steerer was a New Zealander over for 3 months and the reason for the trip. The old fella who stayed within the cabin for the whole flight has apparently just ordered a brand new narrowboat – I assume he’s just going to live on it in one location as he wasn’t keen on assisting with the locks. The other two worked hard and we gotIMG_2755 down the SB flight in good time passing a few other boats on their way up.

Below the flight we came across a fallen tree that was right opposite a moored boat – typical. The combination of the two caused a severe navigation restriction. Shortly after that we saw a whole ‘gaggle?’ of pheasants who were IMG_2756not sure what to do about this approaching blue steel monster and so just ran along the towpath in front of us.

Today has been another Kingfisher day – I think we’ve seen more this year than ever before. Supper in the Black Horse at Linford – not cheap but very good quality.


Friday, September 30, 2016

3 months to Christmas day–get the sprouts on!

Sunday 25th September

We set off at 9am with the prospect of the Buckby flight ahaed. As we approached ‘Bee bra’ (top) lock another boats was waiting on the lock landing while the lock was prepared. For the second time in tow days we were able to share the flight with a crew who helped to make the task a light and pleasant one. The steerer was perplexed as yesterday he had offered to share Braunston flight with another boat. The offer had been refused quoting they we waiting for another boat. The thing was, it turned out there was no other boat. Our companion could not work out why they had turned down the offer to share.Sadly a reason occured to Graham, could it be that they we on a hire boat, newly out of the yard. He asked if the refusers were hirers or private, it turned out it was the latter. Oh well, it was their loss as the hire boat crew were experienced boaters and a pleasure to share Buckby with. We hope they enjoy their fortnight down through Milton Keynes and on to Aylesbury.

We have never seen Weedon so busy before. All of the usual boats were there, plus a long line moored up just short of the winding point at the old wharf. As we approached an onmcomer decided to wind at the wharf with no signals or indications to us to warn us to stop. Piccadilly circus or what?

Still no pics ;^)


Heading home–day #1

Saturday 24th September

A reasonable run to start our trip home. We were blown about a bit as we entered Calcutt locks. We only had a brief time to say Hello to Barbara and malcolm who hailed us from their mooring in the marina there. Luckily the wind moderated by the time we turned at Wigrams and continued on the Braunston where we stopped at the sani station for chores. Then onto the Braunston locks where we shared the flight with a brand new boat being delivered from Clifton Wharf to Crick Marina. The solo lad admitted that his boating knowledge was limited but he was agile and willing to take instruction so the ascent was easy. As we observed our ‘cake lock’ tradition at the top of the flight it was lovely to hear him praise his mum’s baking skills and tell us that his wife had learned from her and was also really good.

We enquired whether he’d done a tunnel before – only Crick so never a long one. He was a bit put off by the fact he couldn’t see the other end as he entered. Braunston tunnel, and missing the on-coming traffic, was a bit of an achievement for him. He was not phased by the bright headlights and having to push off from the magnetic sides.

As we moored for the night on the summit pound the sun came out and lit all the autumn ploughing furrows and the hawthorne berries. The grass lush again after rain and the trees bright green before the colour fades.

Sorry, no pictures as G left the camera at home.


Monday, September 12, 2016

That was a good rally - that was!

Monday 12th September

This year we had a three buffet rally. We had a communal lunch buffet on the Saturday lunchtime that was very well subscribed as can be seen in the picture. Our evening session includes a buffet supplied by Blue Lias which far more than we could eat. During Sunday evening’s quiz, most people brought what was left over from Saturday lunchtime so we had a third buffet then.

Below are some pictures from the weekend.


Saturday lunchtime buffet.


Assembled boats.


Saturday afternoon Liz taught us to Morris dance.

We were very lucky as the weather held for the whole weekend, just. Blackberries were picked and jam made to be auctioned off for charity. We played ‘shooting arcade’ and in the evening we were entertained by Bruce Peckett singing a selection of canal and sailing themed songs. We nattered with old friends and new but mostly we ate and drank. Another excellent Cutweb gathering.

Monday morning we travelled up Stockton flight, ably assisted by Brian and Diana fron nb Harnser, to leave Jannock at the top ready to visit my parents next weekend. We’ll continue back towards our mooring the weekend after that.


Thursday, September 08, 2016

And onto Blue Lias

Thursday 8th September

We left the Saltisford Arm following nb Uncle Mort. Between the two Cape locks there was a Willow Wren hireboat on very dodgy pins (they had not been banged in all the way and so the leverage action on the pins was not good for security) By the time U.M. had passed, nb Wagtail was fully adrift and floating across the canal. I managed to get onto the boat and grap the centre rope, I then pulled it back into the side but could not peg it back in as the pins had fallen into the canal. I pulled the boat onto the lock landing and tied it onto the bollards. We then left a note for the crew to expalin what had happened and continued on through the bottom lock. (when we met them again later they thanked us for rescuing their boat)

IMG_2714We continued on through Leamington to Radford Bottom lock where we started the ascent with a solo hire boat following us all the way to the Blue Lias. At Bascote locks, with both Uncle Mort and Jannock in a short pound and the next lock emptying, there were two tupperware moored on the lock landing. Brenda attempted to keep Jannock in the small space available but as the water flow moved her backwards she could not help but touch the back of one of them. A head appeared from within one of them muttering “sorry, I broke down!” She asked whether both boats had broken down “Yes, I am towing one and now both are broken!” came the reply – what a co-incidence, but looking at the state of both boats, it could be predicted. Both were light enough to be pulled into the longer and safer pound below the lower lock. That would have been better for all canal users.

We arrived at Blue Lias to find that we were the first Cutweb boats to arrive – this is a Jannock first as we usually arrive after most other boats. We pgged Jannock to the bank lust off the end of the mooring and then tied U.M. outside. I then went back to Alvecote on the Di Blasi to fetch our car before we went home to fetch all the rally things that we had left prepared at home.


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!