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.