Monday, August 27, 2012

Shared every Stoke Bruerne lock

Monday 27th August

As we arrived at Jannock a boat with a very  similar colour scheme was heading for the bottom lock. Are you going up the flight I asked? Yes, but we’re filling with water first. Excellent – that gave me time to replace the oil seal on the gearbox selector shaft before we needed to set off.

Top tip of the week for a PRM/Newage box – To remove the old O ring, Select either forward or reverse and then remove the gear selector lever making sure you do not drop the ball bearing in the bilge.  Pull out the stop lever and crank the engine over on the starter motor. Out pops the old seal with a bit of oil pushing it. Remove old seal, fit new seal and reassemble selector lever not forgetting ball bearing. We now have an oil tight gearbox again and Brenda can operate the morse control without damaging her wrist as the temporary second O ring I fitted last week made the lever very stiff.IMG_0134

We pulled out and joined them in the bottom lock once they’d finished filling with water.

Shock of the day – out of control spinning windlass to the gentlemanly crotch area 8^(    (luckily not mine G.)     Brenda admits to yelling a rude word, not quite appropriate thank – effin – goodness. Blokey heard her call and stepped back away from the spinning windlass, almost tripped over his flip-flop (no, not that – I mean un-suitable footwear)  but continued the billing and cooing on the phone, which is why he wasn’t holding the windlass. Durr! He told his ladylove that he’d have to go. He recovered his composure and then his windlass and looked at Brenda and declared that men shouldn’t multi-task. Multi-task? – try being stupid enough to make phone calls whilst locking. Mind you, it could have been fun trying to explain the injury to the lady in his life though , when he came out of hospital that is.

IMG_0136Our partners decided to stop in the long pound for breakfast. Breakfast???? it was now 11:15! The was a singleton working up the flight ahead of us so I cycled up and asked if we could share with them instead. Up through lock 15 into ‘gongoozler world’ that is Stoke Bruerne top lock. How fantastic to find a blacksmith now occupying the old leggers hut at the tunnel entrance.

Is it ‘wiki-tunnel’ or ‘tunnel-leaks’? I asked Brenda to go for’ard and blow the whistle to let me know when to dodge the water pouring out of the roof of Blisworth tunnel as I generally get about 10 secs warning of needing to dodge that way. She insisted on me assuring her that her ‘whistle blowing’ would not result in her having to go and live in Equador. Not that she’d mind giving Equador a go, but not permanently.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

A full English

Sunday 19th August

Despite the tropical temperatures we indulged in bacon, eggs, mushrooms, toast and marmalade for breakfast this morning MooringSB and so only set of at 10am. Up through Cosgrove lock to the sani-station for water as it was the first time we have ever found it un-occupied. It wasn’t long before we had another boat tied alongside us with a second waiting on the moorings next door. The tap at Cosgrove is not the fastest I’ve ever used but even our heat-addled brains could detect the failings in Mr ‘3rd – in – lines’ proposition that if we fitted his splitter onto the tap then two boats could take water at the same time and it would be faster for everyone. Nice try sir! I had spotted that his splitter was capable of turning a 3/4” thread into another 3/4” thread and a hose-lok connector. Guess whose hose was fitted with the hose-lok connector on the end then?Obey

Brenda asked me a question last night as we sat under a starry sky trying to cool down, “what stars are above us during the day?” The rest of the universe is obviously out there even if we can’t see it but what are the constellations and planets that we don’t see during the day? The ‘Sky at Night’ is all very well Mr Moore, but what’s the rest of the story?

Having filled with water we left the other two to sort themselves out and set off north until we decided we’d had enough of the heat and moored up on a 14 day mooring. I went and retrieved the car from Stoke Hammond, we loaded it up and set off home in the comfort of air conditioning set to flat-out. I loved the ‘Obey’ sticker we spotted that someone has fitted to the 48hour mooring sign at the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne flight.


Chillax at Newlands

This morning we woke up in a foreign country – Summer!. Mid 20s before breakfast. We hope the warmth lasts through the StokeHammondLock autumn as there are many families of teeny fluffy ducklings and moorhens not long out of their eggs. It’s mid_August …….

By 12 o’clock we decided that sunstroke was a possibility and so moored in the shade at Newlands Park – conveniently close enough to hear the screams of small children being frightened stupid in a safe environment (tee hee). Lunch was taken and then Brenda dozed in the shade whilst I investigated an oil leak from the gearbox. Paul of Waterways Routes fame cruised by whilst waving and pointing out the paucity of Jannock blogging this year. Apologies dear readers but a small local event, the Olympics, has impinged on our non-sporting lives. That and Jannock being used as an accommodation block. Now the Olympics are over, I can have some leave and so we are back onto the water getting the boat into the start position for our summer holiday in two weeks time – and blogging again.

Supper was fish and chips as an attempt to use up some of the store cupboard items that HeronTreehave sell by dates in the last century. Yes- really, so Brenda opened a tin of carrots, heated them up to accompany said F&C, and served them. I found it best to place a small pickled onion atop each slice of carrot to make them edible. Brenda simply got the local fish to eat hers . She has vowed never to replenish the stores with tinned carrots ever again.

Wildlife of the day – Herons, standing on boat roofs and on low branches, bold as brass, lots of them.



Monday, August 13, 2012

Good weather for Training

Matt and Ali arrived just after 9am having had to be guided in to the Red Lion by phone. We were soon sorted and set off behind a newish Kingsground boat with whom we shared the first two locks. They were pleased as we had four crew to their AliSteerstwo so were able to set ahead. Just as we passed Pitstone wharf a day-trip boat pulled out between us so we ended up sharing Seabrook, Ivinghoe, Horton and Slapton with them until we caught a solo boat at Church lock and so changed partners once again. Our new partner was pulling into the new marina at Grove so we waited for the day-trippers to join us in Grove lock.  Having gone down through Grove lock they then decided to stop at the pub and then return to base from there, why they didn’t do this ABOVE the lock I do not know, and so we continued on solo through the last four locks of the day. During all this time Ali was being coached in both steering and working the locks as it was her first visit aboard.

She wrote in the log book “ I had a lovely day on Jannock today, it was the first time I’ve been on the boat. We had fantastic sunshine and great company. I had to drive the boat and was surprised how well I got on with it. Opening and closing locks was a good experience, really hard work and almost a little ‘work-out’ ”

At Soulbury we were third in the queue for the top lock. The two boats in front of AquaGoKartus were descending through the top lock to wind in the top pound and then return up again so we switched the engine off and patiently waited for this manoeuvre to complete. Once we had started to descend the C&RT lockie was concerned as the water level in the first (pub) pound was too high and if the middle lock was emptied too quickly then the seating area on the towpath would flood so we descended very slowly and had one of the slowest passages through the three locks that we have ever experienced.

Onto Stoke Hammond and as we were mooring up I noticed an un-usual  craft messing about on the other side of the bridge. It resembled a childs go-cart frame fitted with large black plastic wheels that not only provided flotation but also had paddle webs built in to provide propulsion. It did appear to move the craft forward OK but made a lot of splashing in the process.


Static at Maffers

Saturday 11th August

No boating today as we have a ‘training day’ planned for tomorrow. We arrived at Jannock mid-afternoon. Having IMGP3513 unloaded  our stuff onto the boat I went and moved the car to our planned destination for tomorrow and then returned on the Di Blasi. I then carried out a bit of maintenance (battery levels and water pressure switch) before tea. Once we had eaten we took the opportunity for a walk around the reservoirs. We’ve not seen Chippythem so full for a very long time but there’s still room for a little more water so perhaps we have more rain yet to come.  As we came back towards the village I spotted that the fish & chip van was parked up near the Anglers so I told Brenda I’d treat her to a meal out. The last time we stopped here the van was on-fire as we went past on the way home with attendant fire brigade (see ) HertsSignso we decided we’d better try it this time before that happens again. Whilst we waited to be served  Brenda spotted the County sign that someone had modified – obviously a very frustrated individual – plus the fact that the van did both Spam AND Corned Beef fritters. I was very restrained and just shared a single portion of chips with Brenda. The vinegar was ‘spritzed’ with a spray bottle instead of being poured.  They were excellent quality as only chips out of paper can be.


Sunday, August 05, 2012

The mystery of the Wol Strangler

Sunday 5th August 2012

As himself was making ‘Pain Singe’ for breakfast we discussed the relative merits of the overnight mooring with a view to leaving Jannock here until next weekend, the lady-crew was muttering mutiny because of the rain. However the towpath is sodden with loads of puddles and it would mean multiple treks in the mud to vacate the boat. We moved on to discuss it’s quietitude rating. This morning we were rudely awoken by a family of swans bashing the hull to demand feeding – with menaces. Not your usual duck-weed-nibbling interface. Pigeons had been a-flapping and cooing in the trees opposite since dawn, not that they didn’t also make loads of noise attempting to get airborne out of the trees at stupid-o’clock. What we hadn’t heard was the owl that was hooting for England when we returned from the grand Junction Arms – not a quiet drinking spot due to a lack of soft furnishings and a vibrant CD collection. I declared that I’d have to think about shooting said owl if it carried on like that all night. Another hoot and then .  .  .  .  the strangest sound a wol has ever made. It could only be described as a strangulation in progress. We then heard no more from it all night! So, keep us informed if you hear the Bulbourne woods owl or find an owl strangler creeping about the towpath at night. Or do I read too many murder mysteries?

In a society that is too afraid to let it’s children play in the street for fear of kidnap or abuse, finds the game of conkers too risky, fails to immunise some children against killer diseases on the say so of poor 05082012(002)and discredited science for fear of autism, why the heck are little ones of 2 or 3 allowed to wander over open back decks or be freely moving around on moving day-boats without life jackets. If you love your children make them wear a life jacket. Be a responsible adult.

We descended solo down the Marsworth flight without having the opportunity to wait  for a partner due to two boats awaiting to ascend the full top lock when we arrived. Only two things of note during our descent. First was the enormous dead mirror carp that we shared one lock with and the second was the amazing bit of manoeuvring that Brenda did in order to enter lock 41 having had to wait on the offside for an ascending boat. The crowd of gongoozlers were very impressed.

Jannock is on the move again.

Saturday 4th August 2012

We moved back onto hotel Jannock today and ran away so that no-one else can move in. As we were about to cast off from the mooring nb Great Britain was coming up through lock 59 so we were able to share a couple of locks with them until they decided to moor up to watch the World Sports Day athletics rather than continue boating.

Ascending Sewer lock we decided to exit as a pair since there was a widebeam boat waiting to descend so we had no need to close gates and pick-up crew. Neither of us could see that the top gates would not open fully and were a little surprised when both boats got wedged. We went into reverse to un-stick ourselves and then left the lock singly. It was as we were doing this that Mr Bombastic from the waiting widebeam informed us of our folly and a new law of physics. He told us that narrowboats never come out of a lock together, never! It’s because they get stuck. I must admit that it is a phenomenon I have never experienced before, but it obviously had nothing what so ever to do with gates that wouldn’t open fully. No. Mr Bombastic went on to explain that it was because the two boats moving close together at the same time created magnetism that prevents them from getting out of the lock. Now, call me stupid, but if boats are closer together due to a magnetic attraction surely they’d find it easier to get through a narrow gap. But then again – he must have been correct because his one widebeam boat found it difficult to enter the lock, after we’d left, even with two men rocking on the balance beam.We tested his theory at Bottom Side lock. We were unable to substantiate his hypothesis.

A steady solo run after that, no Olympic congestion here and no evidence of the multitude of boats taking up BW’s offer of Olympic moorings conveniently close to a station to make attending easier – not one – not surprising at the prices they thought they could charge for Berkhamstead and Tring.  We finally called it a day at Bulbourne and finished with a pint (or two) at the Grand Junction Arms.

Sorry – no pictures as Graham left his camera in the work kit he was using Friday ;^(