Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A belated ‘home-run’ report.

Saturday 13th October

Now we’re well into autumn weather and so we did an early start from home as the forecast for today was reasonable good.

WolvertonStatue By the time we’d left Cosgrave and reached Wolverton the sun was coming out although the chill wind remained to remove any thoughts of an Indian summer ;^) I do like the new statues that have appeared outside the flats there. I didn’t manage to photograph the train one on the other side of the cut as Brenda didn’t point it out to me before we were too far away. As this one features bicycles I wonder if there used to be a cycle factory here in the past. The run down through Milton Keynes was un-eventful with very little traffic heading North to un-expectantly meet in bridge-holes. The MK area always has the same boats using the 14 day moorings, they just move up and Cannondown between Black Horse and Fenny. On our way north in August we moored next to a wide beam whose owner bragged that her range was Cosgrove to Water Eaton.  We were amused when we passed this novel adaptation of a roof box, it has been fitted with a pseudo-cannon that has a tunnel lamp installed in the end.

We stopped at Willowbridge marina for a diesel fill and three replacement gas bottles. A combination of seven days in Paddington basin as well as letting others use Jannock as accommodation whilst she was at her home mooring this summer has certainly increased the gas consumption this year. I had seen a diesel boat in MK that was a lot cheaper than Willowbridge but not having cash with me meant I had to pay the premium to use a card.

3inalockAs we were leaving Willowbridge, a boat was passing so we thought Hooray, we can share Stoke Hammond lock with them. Imagine our dismay when we approached Stoke Hammond to find one boat going in through the bottom gates and our possible companion about to enter after them. This emotion was immediately replaced by elation when they managed to  both fit into the right-hand side of the lock and allowed us to enter on the left. Three in a lock – looking at the sizes of the boats I would not have imaged it possible. All three boats needed to enter through the left-hand gate and then the shortest one could reverse in behind the right-hand gate and let the other one pull in front of it.

This worked so well that Brenda and I cancelled stopping at Stoke Hammond wharf as planned and proceeded to share all of the Soulbury locks with these two as well. A gongoozler, sat outside the pub at the Three locks with his pint, was so intrigued by what we were doing that he walked slowly up the towpath alongside the locks to observe our procedure. What an interesting end to an otherwise un-eventful day.


Saturday 20th October

A cold and misty start today for the run from Soulbury to Marsworth. We had Margaret, our neighbour, as crew because she needed cheering up after a couple of bereavements during the last week. Luckily there was very little wind and it became quite warm once the sun came out. Guess which fool left his camera at home – Doh!

I was surprised at the amount of free space on the visitor moorings outside Tescos in Linslade, these are usually very busy on a Saturday. The usual collection of parents with small children were there feeding the masses of ducks that gather knowing they’ll get a good feed. Unusually, I did not get the lock wheeling bike off of the roof until we made it to Ivinghoe locks and I returned it there after the Seabrook swing bridge – it’s so much easier when you have an extra member of crew.

We made it to Marsworth in time for me to use the Di Blasi to fetch the car before it got dark. On my return we ate dinner, washed up and then picked our way along a very dark and muddy towpath to go home.

Margaret wrote in the log book “ A very quiet tranquil day – not many people about. The light on the water would have inspired Monet, I think. Plus I have several photographer friends who would have reached for their cameras. It’s definitely autumn! The leaves are turning colour and the nights are drawing in …..    A cold misty start to the day and a cold and very dark end.” Nice to bring a bit of class to this blog.


Thursday 25th October.

The weather forecast for the coming weekend looked poor and we’re only one day away from the home mooring so I took the time off work and we persuaded Margaret to join us again for the day. Autumn

Autumn happened last night and this was what we found when we arrived at the boat.  The Marsworth yard development has started with most of the old concrete works now gone, at least they’ve got to leave the old office building intact in the new planning permissions. The bottom lock at Marsworth was set Marsworth in our favour, and having waited for a while, we set off solo up the flight. Once through the bottom lock I was working ahead on the bike, setting the next lock as Brenda brought Jannock into the last. I’d then return and work her through before doing the same again. A passing dog walker warned me of a boat coming down the flight being assisted by volunteer BW lockies. I had left the bottom gate of lock 43 open whilst we worked up through 44 only to find the one of the BW ‘lockies’ had turned 43 when we came round the corner to use it. There was no sign of the northbound boat as it wasn’t even at lock 42 yet. He offered to turn it again but the water level in the pound above was so low that it would be a silly move so we just tied Jannock onto the lock landing and waited …. and waited …. and waited until they arrived. I even had time to drink the cup of tea that Brenda made whilst waiting before they were through the lock. One of the volunteers offered to help us up the rest of the flight but I said that wasn’t necessary as all the locks were now in our favour. “I know these locks” he replied “they’re Trees very leaky”. I assured him that I was certain that they leaked more through the bottom gates than they did through the top and we carried on alone with no troubles at all, each IMG_0334bottom gate swung open without a paddle needing to be lifted and Margaret closed up the gates after Jannock had passed through whilst I went ahead.

Once across the summit, through a very autumnal Tring cutting, we then had two swans who decided they would like to share Cowroast lock with us. Then out came the bike again for the rest of the journey down to Bourne End. I do like this section as the locks come frequently and it gives me a good exercise. As I arrived at Raven’s Lane lock there was a single hander setting it so we shared that and Rising Sun locks  with him before he stopped at the water point by the garage below. The towpaths down to the mooring from Berko were very wet and muddy so I had to be careful where I put the bike once we were at Sewerage Lock. It’s funny when people say they are going boating and then spend most of the trip on a bicycle – but I enjoy it.

Once securely tied up at the home mooring, I went back to Marsworth to collect the car whilst Brenda cooked a spaghetti bolognaise to be eaten on my return. We didn’t manage to get Margaret to write anything in the log book this time ;^(


Oh, and the other bit of news – as we reached the top of Marsworth flight, Jannock’s engine hour counter clocked 10,000 hours. That’s almost a year and a half with the engine running during her sixteen year life. Go Jannock!



Sunday, October 07, 2012

A very misty morning

Stoke Bruerne in the mist After quite a cold night, this morning everything was shrouded in mist when we awoke. I took my time preparing to set off down the Stoke Bruerne flight in the hope of someone coming along to share the locks with, but no-one came ;^(

We finally made our way into, and down, the top lock just after 10am and passed through the second lock solo as well. After the long pound I arrived on the bike to turn the next lock and noticed a single boat passing down through the lock ahead of us – they had pulled off from the 24 hour moorings in the long pound. Due to a boat coming up the flight, they back set lock four and waited for us to join them in the next. We then shared the rest of the flight passing northbound boats in every pound.

At the bottom of the flight, on the offside there was a signShutHappens that asked the question “ What if the ‘hokey cokey’ really is what it’s all about. That amused us. Between the bottom of Stoke Bruerne flight and Cosgrove we passed three separate  fishing competitions. The two smaller ones had about 7 or 8 cheerful anglers taking part whilst the other had about 20 or more split into two groups by a bridge in the middle. It was noticeable that those sat north of the bridge were a miserable lot whilst the rest, south of the bridge, were smiley and happy to chat. We commented on this to one of the smiley anglers who said he would mention it on their return journey home tonight. Oooooooooops, I hope we haven’t caused any hassle.

Baxters Boatfitting Services at Yardley wharf was closed but we liked their sign on the gas compound fence – it read ‘Shut Happens’ which caused yet more amusement to the Jannock crew. We passed through Cosgrove lock on our own and then continued on to find a suitable fourteen day mooring before locking up and heading home.



Never go through a tunnel within 24 hours of Laplander passing through.

After the dreadful rain through the night we were blessed with a beautiful sunny day and a good crew to share the Buckby Buckby flight with. They were just descending the top lock, outside the closed Navigation Inn, as we arrived but waited at the second lock for us to catch up. As we descended the bottom lock we espied an ABC hire boat approaching and so we left one gate open for them and set off towards Weedon. It being their first lock they had more than a little trouble entering via one gate, but then it hadn’t occurred to them to put some crew ashore to open the other gate. Once in the lock nothing happened for quite a while, until eventually we could see a figure climbing the lock ladder. Again nothing appeared to happen apart from the second gate being opened again. As we lost sight of them they were reversing out of the lock again. We passed another boat travelling towards the lock so we hope they got some help.

Just after Bugbrooke we passed Laplander in full steam, looking splendid in the sunshine. We later found out that they had passed through Blisworth tunnel that day as it was like a London smog in there. Mind you, we’ve passed through there in the past when the atmosphere was clearer yet our eyes were streaming and throats were sore by the time we reached the other end. Laplander isn’t asthma inducing; very smutty but no heavy breathing. As we left the tunnel to find an overnight mooring at Stoke Bruerne we spotted a fellow Cutweb member and good friend, J P, on the tunnel trip boat. Now that was a surprise but when he visited for a chat after we’d moored up and before he returned to Braunston, he explained that he was there for the CBOA AGM.

Graham used the Di Blasi, now newly fitted with a replacement frame section, to return to Welton to fetch the car before a roast chicken dinner that I had been cooking all afternoon in the slow cooker.

Today's store cupboard challenge was a pack of Wrigleys chewing gum that I found during my mega-cupboard tidy yesterday. Graham tried one stick and it was horrible with a lumpy rubbery texture, score 0/10 and not even food.



How to get the wife to pay!

As Jannock was in need of a new morse lever unit, which was going to cost almost £150, I took Friday as leave from work and we went to the boat via Midland Chandlers at Braunston as they were having one of their ‘Freaky Friday’ 20% off days. They had a Teleflex Ec-301 in stock and it worked out at £111 – Excellent. However we left the chandlers, after Brenda had paid the £411 pound bill, with a new cooker for Jannock’s galley as well – result! The old cooker had been installed when Jannock was built in 1996 and suffered from poor cosmetic condition as well as needing the gas jets looked at soon, a warning given at the last BSS examination.

We then went on to Welton wharf where I fitted the new morse lever whilst Brenda sorted out some of  the storage areas that contained items that hadn’t been touched for ages. Once the maintenance was finished we tidied up and went to the White Horse, up in Welton village, where we spent most of the money we had saved today on a drink and supper. Doh! Good beer, friendly atmosphere and good food. Brenda had Spaghetti Carbonara followed by Eton mess whilst I had the Chicken Tikka and a hot fudge chocolate pudding. It was all excellent and we recommend this establishment to anyone who is happy to walk the three quarters of a mile up into the village from the canal. At least it’s down hill on the way back.

During the night it rained and rained and we discovered why it is NOT a good idea to be moored under overhanging trees. The rain drops falling from the branches are a lot bigger than unadulterated rain and a lot noisier as well keeping us awake for most of the night.



Monday, October 01, 2012

Oh No! it’s broke

Sunday 30th September

During my early morning car shuffle, just as I was approaching the car park at All Oaks Wood, the Di Blasi went all funny as if it had a rear wheel puncture and became un-ride able. Luckily I wasn’t going too fast and managed to stop easily without Fracture1 falling off. On inspection, a part of the frame had fractured causing a mega-wobble when loaded with my weight. I pushed it the last 100 metres to the car and then re-planned our weekend journey during the drive back to Braunston to ensure I could walk back from our final destination.

As we were preparing to set off the crew of the boat moored behind us were doing likewise and so we shared with them, joining the end of the queue for Nelson lock. Good choice as otherwise we would have shared with a crew of Dutchmen on a Rose narrowboat who were full of enthusiasm but very short of understanding or technique. One poor chap was up to his ankles in mud as he hung onto a mooring rope, wearing only flip-flops and socks on his feet – yeuch!

As we exited the top lock we met the queue coming the other way. At the tail end were another two boats with all male crews, bedecked with beer bottles and under very little control. One was doing a sterling job of coming down the canal sideways even though it had to straighten up every time a southbound  boat wanted to pass it. In the tunnel we passed another similar crew, on a Viking afloat craft, who showed no signs of over indulgence – however once they had passed us (luckily without touching) a very strong smell of beer filled the air. Shortly afterwards we heard the very loud crash as they hit the boat behind us, our partners up the flight, who suffered quite a bit of damage to the paintwork. They were upset as they had borrowed the boat from friends.

Lunch today was another ‘store cupboard challenge’ – Balti sauce combined with MoreWBscold lamb left from yesterday – only 3 months out of date though so nothing for a curry really. Once we’d moored up I set off for the walk back to Braunston to fetch the car, it was easy until I had to climb over the top of the tunnel. I now know why the southern end of Braunston tunnel is always so drippy. It has a stream running across the top. The first part of the path was very narrow and muddy but once across the main road it changes to a dry metalled lane down to the towpath which is still a quagmire in places.

I returned to the boat, we closed up and headed home just before the rain started – excellent timing yet again. I do believe I’ve seen almost as many working boats in Braunston this weekend as during the show – it’s just there was no parade ;^)



On the move again

Saturday 29th September

Today we saw all the usual suspects – Kingfishers, pirates, Spitfire, Hurricane and other Cutweb members.

We un-pegged and Brenda set off solo southwards whilst I moved the car down to All Oaks Wood where it’s much easier to unload all of our stuff from the car into the boat. That’s the trouble when you let others borrow your boat – you have to give them room to store their clobber. Jannock appears to have taken a hefty clout whilst moored at Stretton for the week, The fridge had moved so far that the door would not close and the stereo had popped out of it’s ISO mounting bracket.

We continued on down through Rugby with no hassles to speak of and ALL of the locks at Hillmorton were operational and BridgeRepairs so we fair flew up them as well. We passed BridgeRepairs2 nb Floating Asset moored outside the Royal Oak at bridge 73, no sign of the crew though so they must have been inside the pub. The repairs to bridges 79 and 80 are coming along a treat, they’ll soon be fully open again I reckon. Just before Willoughby wharf we had a ‘speed mini-GiG’ with two other Cutweb members. Mike and Krystina aboard Draco and Success passed us at the same time as we were passing moored nb Rosy belonging to Bill and Fanny the dog. She was keeping an eye out of the open back doors but there was no sign of Bill so he must have busy inside.

Just past Braunston turn the Narrowboat Trust were loading with coal. Brenda enquired whether their load was a whole Nuneaton Loaded Up ‘minefull’ and was told that it was actually Braunston being mined from beneath the canal through a hole in the bottom of one of the boats. It was also pointed out to her that Gnomes do all the mining in Northants.

After a waterfill and a self-pumpout at the sani-station it was ‘no room at the inn’ as far as the visitor moorings in Braunston were concerned so we passed up the first two locks in the flight and moored in the Admirable Nelson pound. Dinner was roast lamb that had been cooked to a treat in the trusty slow cooker for most of the afternoon followed by lemon cheesecake.

Since we were moored so close, and since it is open for business again, we felt it would be rude not to try out the newly re-furbished Admiral Nelson. It’s a very different pub from when we last visited. The decor is fresh and modern, food appeared to be more restaurant than bar snacks, with 3 beers on handpump although the Dizzie Blonde was a bit cold when served. The pub was heaving with a birthday party for 75 people going on so there wasn’t even room to bring a cat, let alone swing it! They do advertise Fish and Chips, eat in or take out, which could be useful to boaters as it’s an easier walk than up the hill to the chippie in the village. Mind you, £7 a portion – you decide!