Monday, August 31, 2009

Funny name or not?

It was not bank holiday weather today, neither was it summer. Mediocre but dry is the best description. Graham was up and at-em at eight o'clock whilst I laid abed until my brain functioned. A full english breakfast was taken on the move so we were fed ready for the Atherstone flight. We whistled through the first two but then slowed right down due to all the slowcoaches and lock-hoppers that were about. Hey-ho!  At lock 4 we met a fellow blogger who introduced himself once he saw the boat name rising up in the lock. Alas G. got his boat name but then left it on Jannock. He also had to pose for a photo sat astride the trusty lock-wheeling bike. Sorry for not mentioning your blog but I can't until I get the boat name ;^(  On the subject of boat names this weekend:- I can see how a boat comes to be called 'Kazi Minghi', some just are, but 'R Swipe'?


Yet another queue of eight plus more.

The day started out promising but traditional bank holiday weather prevailed after all, cold wind, then drizzle into wet drizzle and then real rain for the last hour of cruising. When we arrived at the first lock (Wood End) we were eighth in line to descend and at Fradley top lock we were ninth. That soon put paid to a couple of hours spent chatting to some interesting folk, boaters since the 1940s. Mid morning we snacked on Simon's blackberry muffins and we shared with the boat in front in the queue cos we were brought up proper. Our reward was a big bag of plums from the same boaters garden. They made a lovely crumble. Simon decided his new found baking skills so satisfying that Jannock was yet again found in a tree on the offside while we gathered more berries. They are to be holiday gifts to his friends and neighbours in Salford, again in muffin form. We arrived at Glascote locks in the rain and once through, Graham stayed out to complete the journey to Alvecote while Simon and I retreated indoors to avoid the downpour. There were so many boats 'out' but moored bankside that progress was well below 2 MPH for most of the day. After dinner Simon took Graham back to Stafford to collect the car and then continued home to Salford.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bank Holiday Queues

We collected Jannock from Stafford Boat Club in fairly good August Bank Holiday weather – a little sun and a cold wind, but dry. We experienced no problems up to Great Haywood and turned right onto the Trent & Mersey. At Heywood lock we were 6th in the queue to go through and so were dreading Colwich next. We were 8th in line, the longest queue I have ever been in, there. Simon put the waiting time to good use and picked blackberries from the towpath hedge as we shuffled towards our goal.

We stopped at Bridge 58 (Handsacre) and moored for the night and he knocked up an excellent batch of blackberry muffins. We planned to have them for desert, however our plan was foiled by getting three portions of haddock and chips from Michael’s Fish Bar – just over the bridge from the towpath. The portions were so big that we didn’t have plates large enough. Some of the chips had to be eaten before mushy peas or beans could be added to the meal. The batter was tasty and crisp and the fish was fresh and delicious, chips were cooked until brown and not the anaemic beige that we are used to. If you are ‘Hungry of Handsacre’ then we recommend you go and see Michael and his lovely missus.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My sincere apologies .....

... to all my regular blog readers.  Due to an error made by me when trying to delete all of the spam out of my Blog inbox, I deleted the whole Blog content - Doh!

I have re-entered all of 2009 so I am sorry if feed takers have received them all again.

Any fellow blogger who has linked to any of my pages (e.g. Waterways Routes) may need to check that their link is still valid. Sorry yet again


Graham goes swimming.

Friday 21st August 2009

An early start under an undecided sky. By 09:00 the heavens had decided and it became monsoon season. Each drenching was interspersed with glorious sunshine . Graham decided to take his shower between Shutt Hill lock and Deptmoor lock so that he's arrive at the GiG all fragrant. Instead he took a bath! He saw a fat and fruity scone floating in the canal by the lock gate and to show his devotion to me thought to fish it out of the water as he knows I enjoy a nice scone. That was fine until he slid on rain soaked green goo and ended up in the canal. I had just untied Jannock and so ran away from him - rubbish wife I turned out to be! I retied the boat and went to his aid. Luckily Diana was already there and was wise - she dropped the paddle to stop G. being sucked in. She and I then helped haul G. out just as Brian arrived to assist. He was hauled out safe and well . Thank you so much to the crew of Harnser. That whole episode was bad enough but he was absolutely gutted to find that he'd lost his 'goggle-eye' glasses off of his hat. We looked in and beyond the lock to no avail. All that could be found floating in the vicinity was the scone that started the whole episode. We arrived at Stafford Boat Club mid afternoon and moored bankside ready for nb Justice to come alongside when it arrives.


R.I.P. Googly Glasses 2006-2009


During my accidental immersion yesterday the only real casualty were my beloved Googly Eye glasses that normally adorn my hat. I found them floating in a lock on the Deepcut flight (Basingstoke Canal) on 17th April 2006.

They always caused a bystander to smile and generally started a conversation by people who admired them. I was once accused of being blind by a group of women who I met on the Northchurch locks who then had to retract the statement when I found and returned their BW key they had left in an anti-vandal lock.googly2

They have even been worn by esteemed visitors to these shores (aka George Pearson of Canals List fame) as well as appearing in the photographs of many bystanders who took pictures of Jannock working through locks.

Alas they were lost in Shutt Hill lock on Friday 21st August 2009 when I took my sudden and un-expected submersion above the top gate.

What puzzles me is that I found them 'floating' in a lock but they was no evidence at all of them floating at Shutt Hill.

The end of an Era.


The Jannocks do the Bratch

Thursday 20th August

A long day today. I got up and refilled Harnsers water tank from ours using our water hose and the galley tap. We set off at 9 am and it started raining before we reached the first (Hinksford) lock. As we approached Swindon lock I asked a passing dog walker for directions to the Post Office and then went and posted my dads birthday present which Brenda had pre-wrapped and stamped but would not fit through the common-or-garden post box slot. As we approached Wombourne we met the "Blue Moonies" (fellow BCN explorers) heading South after a night out with Gerry and Murial (nb Moonstone) at Compton.

20082009(010) At the Bratch, Harnser got through but we had to wait for three southbound boats to pass before we were allowed to ascend. I have looked at a painting of these locks, on our chimney breast at home, for more than 10 years but this is the first time I have been here. We caught up Harnser, taking tea and cake aboard Moonstone, at Compton. We continued on to Cross Green where we moored alongside a golf driving range and had another curry evening on Jannock. It would seem that some of their golfers need more lessons. You'd need a good physics degree to work out the parabola and angles achieved such that golf balls bounced off our roof.


More new territory covered.

Wednesday 19th August

We left our peaceful overnight mooring (with useful built in 7 o'clock alarm from the scaffold yard opposite) at Brettel Lane Bridge by 9am and made our way to the top of the Stourbridge locks. 19082009(005) I used the trusty lock wheeling bike to set locks in front as well as behind for Brian and Diana on Harnser. At lock 3 I met the first set of bottom gates that would not stay shut for re-filling. After running back and forth a couple of times I opened a top paddle before returning again to close the offending bottom gate. Although I did manage this lock on my own I had to enlist the help of a woman walking her dog to get the bottom gates of lock 16 to close even with all the top paddles up.

Above lock 9 there was a BW work boat (reg. no. 4000001 - what a cool number) that was blocking the canal. I climbed on and managed to pull it back across to the offside where I found that the padlock tethering it to a tree had been bolt-cropped. I re-secured it using ropes I found laying around and then had to be rescued from the off-side by Brenda on Jannock who had been worked through lock 8 by Diana. I phoned BW to advise them that it required urgent attention to it's mooring security. Down through the clear waters from Wordsley Junction to lock 17, there were a group of kids jumping and swimming in the canal. As we slowly passed I enquired of them if they were aware of Weil's disease (Leptospiral Jaundice) and then explained to them what it was, how you got it and then wished them good luck. As we left they were busy re-dressing themselves. At lock 17 the local trip boat "the Blackcountry Man" was tied to the lock landing whilst all the customers were partaking of their lunch. Very useful!

Down to Stourton junction where we turned right onto a section of canal that neither Brenda or myself have ever travelled on before. We moored for the night at Hinksford bridge, only after I had reversed across the canal to harvest ripe plums from an overhanging tree before tying up. We are dining aboard Harnser tonight before going to try out the Old Bush up the road.


Fond farewells

Tuesday 18th August 2009

Our explorer cruise is over - shame. We met new friends and had a great time travelling along this route:-


We bade farewell to our fellow explorers as we/they/both went on their ways. Our first weedhatch visit was in the last lock of the Oldbury flight - and so the day went on.

All proceeded in a normal fashion until Merryhill. Brenda had convinced Diana ( nb Harnser ) that a slow cooker was a good galley aid. In Sainsburys they got several models out of their packaging mid aisle. A choice was made so they can't moan. As we returned to the boats a group of people were admiring them and photographing each other with one as if they were the proud owners. They walked to the Delph flight alongside us and were genuinely interested in the whole process. After one lock Brenda asked if they'd like a ride down a lock. They piled aboard, all 6, and stayed for 2 locks. One of their party got more and more involved and crewed for us for 6 out of the 8 locks. He weilds a mean windless now! Thanks to our Irish tourists we worked two boats down the 8 locks in just over 1 hour.

After we'd moored for the night a hire boat steamed past us with crew on the roof. They were swigging red plonk straight from the bottles. That probably led to the near miss we witnessed. The steerer didn't account for the very low raod bridge, the roof toppers didn't bother to get out of the way. Only some very rude words suggesting the steerer engage reverse gave the roof passengers time and space to avoid losing skin at the very least.

Brian and Diana came around for an evening meal before we all decided to call it a night early as we were all suffering from an early start this morning.


BCN Explorer Cruise - Day 7

Monday 17th August 2009

Today is the last day of the cruise organised by the Birmingham Canal Navigation Society and most boats set off eager to reach sBCNday7their HQ building in Oldbury Pumphouse. We moved across the canal and into the basin at Wolverhampton so that Brenda and I could take a shower in the BW Sani-station. This objective successfully achieved we then reversed out again and set off down the Wolverhampton level with Harnser towards Oldbury junction and the 6 locks up to the pumphouse. Not long after starting I had to make a visit to the weedhatch to clear some plastic and rope off the prop. As we passed Factory Junction a permanent moorer congratulated us for slowing down nicely "unlike those others in our group"- Ooops. The water in the old BCN mainline was not as clear as the last time we passed down it, must be something to do with the number of passing boats. When we arrived at the bottom of Oldbury locks we were 6th in the queue and so Brenda occupied herself picking blackberries while we waited our turn. Out of the top and we continued up to Titford Polls where Harnser attempted to go up the Causeway Green Branch whilst we winded at the junction. We then retraced our route back down the branch and moored opposite the old maltings.

Our final evening of the trip involved a communal BBQ in the clubhouse with presentation of certificates and awards followed by some in-house entertainment from members of the cruise. Brenda received an award for her Perry Bar shower episode on day 3 whilst Jannock and Harnser both achieved certificates for reversing along the Tame Valley canal to the M5 aquaduct.

Many thanks to Brenda and Brian Ward for organising this great week exploring new canals for us, they will be doing the same next year but it will be in June and not August.


BCN Explorer Cruise - Day 6

Sunday 16th August 2009

We had a leisurely start today and actually set off from Pelshall Common behind Brian and Brenda who have been 'tail end charlie' for this trip. There were still two more boats behind Harnser and Jannock and so we were not last. sBCNday6Brenda had the slow cooker on today with beef for us and lamb for Brian and Diana both cooking together. Todays route map shows why the Wyrley and Essington canal is known as the "Curly Wyrley". It is the subject of many tales of what people get wrapped around their propellers when traveling along it. Before long we had the engine slow right down and the usual burst of reverse and then into forwards again did not clear it so it was down the weedhatch to investigate. I pulled out a large waxed type waterproof sheet which had securely wrapped itself around the prop and shaft. Once on our way again we had no other trips down there until we arrived at Wolverhampton. It appears that some of our party took the wrong turning at Birchills junction and so we do not have a full complement of boats here. After a wonderful roast beef dinner we then went and tried the GWR public house which came highly recommended by our guides. A Holdens house with a great selection of beers that kept us amused for the rest of the evening.


BCN Explorer Cruise - Day 5

Saturday 15th August 2009

Another short easy day with a shopping stop.sBCNday5

We set off from Anglesey basin once the five boats that were moored offside of us had departed and followed Harnser down the arm to Brownhills for a provisioning stop. There were plenty of boats moored outside Tescos so we tagged onto the end. As we slid in towards the bank something under water guided us in and wedged us so tight that we could have safely left the boat there without tying off any mooring ropes at all. When supplies had been procured we had to reverse out the way we came in order to leave the side.

Once underway again we moved onto Pelsall Wood where we turned into the Cannock Extension Canal to knock another one off the 'to do' list. Up to the end where we winded in the entrance of the dry dock and then reversed towards the end of the arm to visit the farm shop on the main road there. Welcome back to reality with cars rushing past in both directions at great speed. After purchasing one of their ice creams we sat on the seat located by the canal to eat them in the sunshine.

Back down to the junction again in order to eat at the Finger Post public house.


BCN Explorer Cruise - Day 4

Friday 14th August 2009

A shorter day with no locks today. We bade sBCNday4farewell to Longwood boatclub and set off North. After about 40 minutes we pulled over and went for a walk around the village of Rushall and enjoyed the nice sunshine and an icecream. On arrival back at Jannock we pulled the pins and set off again and found ourselves immediately in front of Brenda and Brian, the trip organisers, who always bring up the rear of the convoy. The trace for today's route is shown on the right. We continued up through Wallsall Wood into Brownhills where we got the bows stuck in a bush whilst trying to turn at the junction and became totally wedged blocking the cut. A little reversing by Brenda combined with shoving by me up the front got us going again. We pulled over again and wandered down into Brownhills for some shopping. New sandals for me as the old ones were written off in Wednesdays rain and some food for the BBQ tonight. We found some Ostrich steaks in Aldi so got them to give them a try. Onward into Anglesey basin where we moored against the bankside and soon had five other narrowboats breasted out from us. A sociable even was spent BBQing and chatting. The Ostrich was excellent and Brenda complemented me on my marinade and cooking.



BCN Explorer Cruise - Day 3

Thursday 13th August

The route we have covered so far:-


Brenda decided to visit the Perry Bar sani-station for a shower this morning but due to a series of problems took about an hour and still failed to shower. We'll try and document her troubles in a separate posting as she has written four pages in the log-book about it.

We set off and headed towards Rushall Junction but I wanted to do a detour. For more years than I can remember, I have driven up the M5 and passed underneath the Tame Valley Canal aqueduct without ever seeing a boat on it and so I wanted to go there on Jannock. As the official route was not planned to pass across it Harnser and Jannock winded in the junction and reversed back the half mile to the aqueduct so that we could say we'd done it. After tea and cake we then retraced our path back to the junction and set off north towards Longwood Junction and it's boat club where we are stopping tonight. Once through the top lock we moored outside two other boats before the bridge. We had fish and chips on the towpath outside the clubhouse on a nice sunny evening before being entertained with a few songs by one of our fellow boaters.



How many BW staff and how long does it take to not take a shower!

Or  -  how I came to be walking along the towpath with no knickers.

For various reasons I decided not to have a shower on Wednesday evening, preferring to have the luxury of plenty of room and lashings of hot water in the BW shower block at Perry Barr top lock on Thursday morning. He and I had already had words because G was under the misapprehension that we’d be starting out at 09.30 and it was at 09.30 that I took the rubbish and my washbag and marched off to the shower block. Rubbish was skipped and I entered the sani. station with joy in my heart and shower gel at the ready. The ‘his’ and ‘hers’ loos were freshly painted and were unavailable just as the highest number of boats in one visit turned up; they say timing is everything. My needs were immediate so I entered the disability enabled loo. It was very dark in there. I patted the walls about the door hoping to feel my way to a light switch: there was none. I checked outside the door: there was none. I went back in, and in the gloom I could just make out a pull cord on the far wall. So I pulled it.

There was no light, but all Hell broke loose on the alarm bells front. I had pulled the disabled persons’ emergency alarm cord. Well how was I to know? It was dark. What I do know is that despite there being a BW staff meeting two rooms along, some 7 souls, no-one came. I knocked on the office door and asked for help. Help came. We all looked about for a means to stop the flashing and ringing. Phone calls were made, button codes were suggested, tried, and then just invented in desperation. All to no avail. Eventually I looked to the heavens and my faith was rewarded as I espied a switch marked ‘Disable alarm’. I suggested a 6 footer try it out. Peace at last. I made fulsome apology, much to my embarrassment, for having disrupted BW’s meeting. The good folk went back to it apart from the lass who said that since the light was now on did I mind if she just nipped in and used the loo. Since it was now occupied I went outside to tell our cruise organiser that the emergency was now over, as she had been concerned. After all, I figured, it is she who will get the bill for the disruption of the meeting and wasting BW’s time.

I went back in and started over. I was not about to pull that cord a second time, but there was no light on in the loo again and I still could not find out how to switch one on. So I yelled for help pronto. The BW lass came out of the meeting and explained that the toilet lights were actually automatic and would come on as one entered the room. ‘Just go in and the light will come on’ she explained. ‘Show me’ I suggested. She opened the door wide, went in and was as much in the dark as I was. She thought maybe you had to go right up to the loo pan. She did, and was still in the dark. It turns out that you have to open the door, fumble your way (in the dark) to the loo hoping that the door stays open enough to let a little light in and then put your arms in the air and wave them about as if you are at a rock concert or some such. Then, let there be light! If you are in a wheelchair, well your guess is as good as mine.

Now after half an hour, the shower I came for. I knew to press the button on the box outside the shower room which was signed WET PAINT because Graham had told me so. There was nothing else to say that that was what one did that I could see. Nothing that I saw to indicate that the box or button were anything to do with the shower come to that. The was an instruction sheet on the wall above the box, but it was in small print that I’d have needed my reading glasses to read, and I tend not to take them when all I need is a shower. Anyhow, it turned out they were out of date and referred to the now defunct payment cards and a price rise. I pressed the button, went in, got naked, stood under the shower, switched on the hot water and....nothing whatsoever happened. I pulled a towel about my person, grateful that I had a large towel with me, went back to the foyer and pressed the button again with more positivity. I returned to the shower, got naked, stood under the faucet, switched on the tap and you know the rest. Up until that point it had seemed quite funny. But now I was upset. I pulled on trousers and tee shirt and went outside to see if our organiser or anyone else could help. I was far too embarrassed to ask the BW people. Our organiser was elsewhere and no-one else had a clue. So, nothing else for it but to disturb BW again. The poor chaps must have been losing patience with me by now. They came and showed me how to press the button, proceed to the shower, turn on the water, and you know the rest.

Then someone’s penny dropped. ‘Oh, there was trouble with one of the outside taps yesterday. Perhaps the water has been turned off!’ Out came a phone. Someone had indeed turned off a tap but had not thought to install an out of order sign. A man had obviously been sent for as it was suggested that I could finally take my shower if I waited for about fifteen minutes as someone could then restore the water.

Well, you remember those words that Graham and I had had about leaving at 09.30; well that was an hour or so ago. So I politely declined the offer of a shower, grabbed my rubber duck, thanked everyone who had tried to help and walked back to the boat with tears of frustration and embarrassment welling up in my eyes, and no knickers on.

How many BW staff, about 5

How long, about an hour

And all I got was a wee and a cuddle from a kind stranger who was about to embark on her first canal boat trip to celebrate her birthday. She had seen how upset, embarrassed and frustrated I was by the whole affair.

Back to Jannock for a lukecold shower in a cramped bathroom. Oh, and I broke a nail!


BCN Explorer Cruise - Day 2

Wednesday 12th August 2009

The complete route so far:-


As we had stayed up near the Uni instead of finishing in Digbeth basin we had to set off 1 hour earlier than our allotted start time to ensure we were at Digbeth at the right time. It was raining for most of the morning so we followed nb Misty down Ashted locks getting wetter as we went. Once clear of the locks Brenda went inside to dry off and I took the helm. Round through Digbeth Junction t'other Brenda (the organiser) was awaiting under the bridge to count us past. Down to Bordersley Junction where a warning blast on the klaxon reverberated around all the tall building magnificently. We turned onto the Grand Union heading back towards Salford junction and met a queue of 5 boats at the top of Garrison locks. Whilst waiting Megapixies Curry House turned into a tea-bar. Down through Salford turning left onto the Tame Valley Canal brought to the first 2 Perry Bar locks. This canal has far more rubbish in it than we have seen elsewhere and I had to assist Misty to get a carpet off their prop. We overtook them at this point but we later learnt that they picked up a bucket on their prop as well a bit further on. The Tame Valley Canal appears to be frequented by grumpy fishermen who do not believe that boats should be allowed along it at all. One miserable git, who wasn't even fishing at the time, vociferously described us as "a bunch of w@nk$rs coming along here and ruining the locals fishing spots". We finally moored for the night above the top lock in a wonderfully quiet cutting, which in itself is amazing considering how close we are to a main road and the M6. There is a water point and sani-station here so we filled Jannock's tank and later I wandered down and used the nice shower there.


BCN Explorer Cruise - Day 1

Tuesday 11th August 2009

We started at our allotted time of 9:30 under an overcast sky. On arrival at the first lock we were third in line and that set the scene for the rest of the day.


I traced the route we took using a GPS, the red arrows on the trace indicate direction and not locks.

At the second lock we met Aiden who was out helping the boats work through. He mentioned that he's found our blog via Andrew's Granny Buttons site. Once through the third lock we continued down to Salford junction and turned under the second bridge into the Aston flight. Once again slow progress was being made due to the numbers of boats and a couple of pounds were a bit short of water. We made the top just after 4pm and turned onto the Digbeth Branch. We were supposed to continue down the next 4 locks to Digbeth basin but there were a group of boats moored by the University who said the basin area was pretty busy and so we stopped at the Uni as well. Not a quiet mooring due to the number of busy roads and seagulls in the area but a pleasant evening was spent on the towpath.



The explorers gather.

Monday 10th August

We set off from HopwIMGP2202as Woods in the drizzle at 9:30 in a boat covered in leaf-drop, the price you pay for a peaceful mooring in the woods. As we approached Fazely the showers ceased and the sky started to brighten up. At the junction we turned right into the B & F canal, yet more territory that Brenda and I have never done before.

On arrival at Curdworth bottom lock we were 5th in line with Brian and Diana on Harnser just entering the lock at the head of the queue. We were following a charity boat from Maypole that had a completely novice crew and skipper. We assisted to work the locks whilst trying to ensure they were safe. Not an easy task but they were very appreciative of our help. We stopped and filled with water at Dunton Wharf and then joined the group of boats moored at Minworth for the BCN Explorer Cruise. Brenda opened "Megapixies Curry House" on Jannock and 8 people sat down to a delicious "Basingstoke Airfreshener Curry" and rice. During the evening we also consumed a whole box of Vale VPA. We are scheduled for the 9:30 start slot tomorrow.



I want one of those.

Sunday 9th August

A late start today as we'd planned tomorrows timing to suit a slow cooked "Basingstoke Airfreshener" curry for when we arrive at Minworth for a pre-arranged pre-BCN Explorer mini-GiG. Past Kings Bromley marina and then joined a queue of three for Wood End lock. On down the next two and turned right at Fradley junction onto the Coventry where we immediately moored up for lunch,IMGP2196 to skip the rubbish and a walk around the nature reserve before continuing our journey south. We stopped for the night in Hopwas (Hooty Wol - see previous trip on website) Woods and then went for a walk around Hopwas where we discovered St. Chads church.This is one of the more unusual and most pretty churches we've seen. Dedicated in 1893 it's, as far as Brenda's limited brain power can deduce, mock Tudor or Arts & Crafts - possibly both.It looks like a cross between a church and an olde worlde village hall. We'd have loved to have a look inside.

As for the title of this blog, as we walked down the towpath into Hopwas we heard the strains of a fairground organ.  Round the bend came nb Marden. It was the source of music to make you smile. The steerer was about 80 years old and sprightly. He had an organ mounted in the foredeck of his boat. The music may have been from a cassette or CD but it doesn't matter a jot. There was an organ and there was music, smiles all round.




Returning Jannock to normal

Saturday 8th August

We set off at 8am from home with a loaded trailer & car. All our junk plus enough extra for a fortnight cruise ending in a GiG needed to be re-installed aboard. We met the holiday crew exactly as planned and they helped manhandle the trailer, topped with the car contents, down the towpath so we could unload and reload in one. They had everything ready to go home and so G had a quick turn round. Back to Thame for a trailer dump, bike and Di Blasi collection and return to Jannock. then onward to Stafford boat club to stow the car and return for the off. The equivalent of a few hours hanging around departure lounges at least.

I shoe-horned everything aboard. I then read last week's log and was glad that as much milk and eggs had been left for us as we had brought. Jonny - I'll be making pancakes.

As the holiday makers left for home I was a good tour company rep and encouraged them to book for next year. No promises, or even hints, as to when they could borrow Jannock, but they seemed keen. No evidence of scurvy, but the B vitamins and yeast in beer failed to stop the biting bugs. I made sure G brought some extra anti-histamines from home.

As I bobbed in and out to the bow deck, whilst stowing stuff, two passing boaters told me how lovely the roses painted on the cratch table are - well done again Terry.

We then set off and moved out into the countryside, near bridge 56, for a peaceful night.


Today we got our boat back.

Matt and his crew had a good time and wrote the following in Jannock's logbook:-

Sunday 2nd August  Calf Heath to Black Country Museum.

Once Graham dropped us off at the boat we had a cuppa and set off. The weather was unusually dry compared to the last week or two which made a nice change and a great start to our holiday. After cruising for a couple of hours we thought we deserved some food so stopped off at a nice pub for lunch (Fox and Anchor? Ed.) nearly got beaten by the wasps so we had to move inside. Sustenance gained  we felt ready to tackle the Wolverhampton flight of locks. We were lucky to have most of the locks ready, but as a team we soon started working them efficiently. We made our way to the Black Country Museum where we had to turn due to lack of mooring spaces but found a good spot nearby.

Monday 3rd August B. C. M. to Cambrian Wharf.

Up and at-em around 9:30am, we have breakfast and head into the Black Country Museum where we are to meet E.J., the remaining member of our band of 6 canalboat holiday goers. The museum was quite interesting with lots to see, mainly the sweet shop, pigs and the fish and chip shop - which was everything we'd hoped for. I (Ben) was first to make use of the on-board shower - cosy!

We finally moored up for the night in Central Birmingham outside a pub called 'the Flapper & Firkin', quite a nice spot and after cooking we went and had a drink to end the evening.

Tuesday 4th August Cambrian Wharf to Bodymoor Heath

Captains log, stardate ..... um ..... 1 (Jonny has always wanted to write that!)  The day started out well! I got to make a massive mess in the kitchen whilst making a healthy amount of pancakes, bacon and honey. After filling our bellies it was though best for the greater good that we should probably get cruising.  We made progress for a while until we encountered a vicious set of youthful locals who threw plums. Matt was wise to the happening and had already started running towards the reprobates ready to dispatch some justice. Unfortunately they ran faster than him and got away :^(

The lovely roast dinner that Matt and Rosie were planning was foiled by the chicken smelling of death. This was probably the best thing that could have happened, call it fate. We had to find some other food so we happened on a lovely pub called the 'Dog and Doublet'. They serve good portions of amazing food, with a friendly welcome/exit/general chat. Strongly advise experiencing the atmosphere for yourself.

Finally, I'm here writing this log, as I finish Matt informs me of many things that I  have left out and for this I am sorry  ...  but pah!  Love and kisses, Jonny

Things Jonny left out :-

1. Angry Dutch people insisting we pass on the right (non towpath side) rather than my proposed manoeuvre of pulling into the left on centre rope between the locks.

2. Angry fishermen trying to feed me some bull$h1t about a 2mph speed limit past fishers despite us having already slowed down.

3. How amazing Jonny's pancakes really were.

4. Boat getting stuck in a lock due to faulty gates wedging the fenders - all resolved peacefully.

5. How we're working as a team and I've (Matt) finally fully relaxed.

Wednesday 5th August Bodymoor Heath to Hilliards Cross

After the usual round of tea in the morning and some toast we were pretty quick to head off. After a slightly drizzly start and the two locks the sun decided to appear raising everyone's already quite jovial holiday spirits. Out of the city the countryside becomes more and more beautiful and the canal banks and tow paths more wild. We had a short stop in Whittington to gather from the Coop food for on board meals and because of the good weather BBQ munchies. A couple of miles after, at about 3:30 we moored up in a lovely quiet spot and decided to stay for the rest of the afternoon with lots of drinking, eating and card playing going on until late. A very lazy and lovely day.

Thursday 6th August Hilliards Cross to Great Haywood

We got up late this morning knowing we are in easy reach of our destination. After a delicious breakfast of scones with butter and honey we set off at about 11:30. It's a lovely sunny day perfect for a relaxed cruise through the beautiful countryside. After we turn onto the Trent and Mersey canal at Fradley Junction the locks become a lot more busy. For the first time on this holiday we have had to queue for the locks. By 3 oclock we had reached our final destination for the holiday but since we still had another full day left we continued past to see how far we get. We made it to Great Haywood where we turned onto the Staffs and Worcester canal. We found a nice spot a short way down and moored up for the night. Matt and Rosie cooked roast chicken and vegetables in the slow cooker which was incredibly tasty. We finished the evening in a similar vein to previous evening with music, drink and cards.

Friday 7th August Great Haywood to Armitage wide.

Today was a super relaxed cruise to get us back towards our final destination. We left Great Haywood and stopped almost immediately for water and a pump-out at the Anglo Welsh base. With a breakfast of "Round 2 of Jonny's pancakes"this time with icecream served at around midday, we carried on leisurely until Rugely where we stopped for booze at Morrisons. We had a spot of lunch and then carried on slightly further down and ended up mooring straight onto a pub's beer garden. You can figure out the rest of the evenings antics from that plus we had a delicious spaghetti carbonara courtesy of EJ and Jonny.

All that's left to be said is that this week has been fantastically relaxing, hilarious and best of all cheap. I'd recommend any of my crew for further hire.  Skipper out!

Where's me buccaneers?

Saturday 26th July

We set off North and winded at Brewood wharf. Then back down the Shroppie to Autherly junction where Brenda executed a nice tight turn onto the Northbound Staffs and Worcester again. An uneventful day, unless you consider that it didn't rain. Something of an event this week - however it still wasn't much to write home about. Certainly not as photogenic as last weekend when I snapped a heron on the finger post sign at Autherly junction, all azure sky and white fluffy clouds. The Beeb were asking for weather photos so I sent it in on Monday. On Wednesday lunchtime news my photo was broadcast to introduce the met-report. Was I proud? Heck no! I was at work and didn't see it. Bah! We only learnt about it when Graham received a text message from Yorkshire.

Mid afternoon we met two pirate boats heading South. The crews were all thigh booted, tri-corn hatted, jolly rogered and be-wigged. It began to look like Panto season! Oh no it didn't! (ed)


Four times past Oxley Marine

Saturday 18th July

Today has been mostly spent getting Jannock ready for the holiday season. Matt will be borrowing her for the first week in August and then we'll be taking a fortnight immediately afterwards. The biIMGP2180ggest problem with lending her to Matt is that we have to clear out all of our accumulated rubbish to make room for his crew to store their stuff in. We set off from Penkridge at 9:15 and headed south. The sky was overcast but it didn't rain all day. Through five locks got us  past Coven, where Brenda fancied joining the aptly named 'Coven Boat Club' , and onto the summit at Gailey. Then on through the narrows to Autherly junction.  I wanted to do a pumpout and fill with diesel so we went down to Oxley marine. I called across to ascertain that they were open and a bloke there suggested we wind at the bottom of the Wolverhampton flight so that the pumpout connector was on the right side. Having winded we returned and Orph did a pumpout before he pointed out that he could not fill our diesel tank as we were facing in the wrong direction. So we went up to Autherley junction and winded there to return pointing south again. 135 litres of diesel later I paid the bill and we set off to turn at the Wolverhampton end again - hence the title Four times past .......

We passed through the stop lock onto the Shroppie and headed North. Once we were tied up near Brewood I fetched the car and we filled it with crates of tinned food and other stuff that would not be needed by the Matt cruise. We then headed home and met our first rainstorm of the day.



Three little problems

Sunday 5th July 2009

I was up at 5:45 to do the early morning car shuffle. The track from the towpath up onto the A34 at Stafford Boat Club was seriously muddy after last nights rain and so great fun was had slipping and sliding up to the road. On my return, the off-road section was down hill which made it even worse that the earlier passage due to the tendency of the wheels to lock when I applied the brakes. Just after my return to the boat , with the Di Blasi safely stowed away, the heavens opened for another short deluge. As we were preparing to set off, an Anglo Welsh boat with a Norwegian crew aboard passed us heading the same way. We had exchanged greetings with them last night just after our encounter with the gobby fisherman. At the next lock we caught up with them and I enquired about whether they were pleased with their boat. They were but had a problem with the boiler which would not stay alight to heat the water. It was an Alde Comfort, like Jannock's, so I had a look. It lit OK with a nice clean blue flame but would go out after about a minute. I suggested that the thermocouple was shot and told them to ring Anglo Welsh to get a service engineer to fit a new one. We caught up with them at every lock until Penkridge where they stopped just past the water point to meet the engineer. Later when we were moored up they passed us again and proclaimed the new thermocouple a success. After lunch we took Simon back to his car at Aston and then had to return to Jannock to resolve three little problems:-

1. We'd left all the frozen food in the freezer section of the fridge that we had switched off.  Doh! 

2. We had forgotten to remove the rubbish bag from the kitchen bin. Doh!

3. Remote interrogation showed that the alarm was not operating correctly and so needed re-setting. OK, that one's worth it.

It's amazing what happens when normal routine is amended to cater for additional crew.


Apparently, we're not supposed to cruise after 8pm.

Saturday 4th July 2009

Simon, having stayed on the boat overnight, took Jannock up to Stone and winded to return to the mooring in Aston. We arrived at 12:30 after a late start from home, loaded our things aboard and then set off down the Trent and Mersey retracing last Sunday's route to Gt. Haywood junction. I refilled the water tank whilst Brenda and Simon paid yet another visit to the farm shop opposite, this time in search of strawberries. We then turned under the bridge onto the Staffs and Worcester canal and started exploring a section of the system we have never travelled on before. It was hoped we could moor in Tixall wide but as it was after 2pm there was not a spare 60ft mooring available. We passed nb Waterways Routes as we continued on to the next lock and Paul hailed us and asked if we were "the blogging Jannocks"? How rude! Nice to finally meet up if only briefly due to the impending storm.

We had decided to moor for the night just past Tixall bridge. Just before the bridge the heavens opened. We continued on passing two walkers sheltering from the heavy rain under the bridge. I noticed the train tracks veering towards the canal after Tixall bridge and so went into reverse to moor back where the nice piling was just prior. We passed the two walkers again, backs bent to the curve of the bridge arch slowly developing goose pimples as the temperature plummeted, so we felt that the only decent thing to do was to invite them aboard for a cup of tea lest dowagers hump and frostbite set in. The heavy storm lasted as long as it takes to brew and drink a cup of tea whilst setting the world to rights. They departed once the rain stopped and so we then had dinner followed by the wonderful strawberries that Brenda had purchased from the farm shop. They were the best tasting ones we have had, including those from our own garden, for years. After dinner we decided to continue on and moor opposite Stafford Boat Club as it was a long way from the railway.

At about 8:50 pm we passed a fisherman who gave us a "look" and pointedly looked at his watch. He got no reaction from us so he started tapping it. We looked puzzled so he explained that it was after 8 o'clock. We said we knew that so he explained that we were not allowed to be boating after 8 o'clock. We pointed out that the sun was still out, visibility was 100% and our licence says nothing about day shifts only. He remained un-convinced so if you wish to boat after 8pm - get a late licence.

The leak is mended.

Saturday 27th June

We collected Simon from Stone and then drove to Whittington to find Jannock. Once we were shipshape we set off towards Fradley passing nb Nackered Navvy moored outside the Plough Inn at Huddlesford near the junction with the L&H canal. We then preceded to meet an on-coming boat at every blind bridge or narrow section of canal all the way to Fradley. Through the swing bridge we turned left onto the T&M and had a nice run up through middle and top lock meeting Southbound boats at both. At Armitage tunnel we waited behind a Black Prince hireboat while two craft came through and then followed it through and all the way to Rugeley where they moored up near the town bridge. At the Taft we found Terry and Chris aboard Grace, moored up alongside 'Maid of Oak' , where they were changing her 'covert' status by applying vinyl signwriting for BW number and Owners name. We stopped alongside for a quick chat before moving onto Colwich (just below the lock) for a quiet overnight mooring. I fitted new gearbox hoses and a relay into the starter motor circuit whilst Simon and Brenda went for an evening stroll around Colwich.

Sunday 28th June

After breakfast we joined a small queue for Colwich lock and then made our way to Great Heywood where we stopped for a waterfill whilst Brenda fetched some milk from the farm shop. It was only on her return, when she commented about their stock selection, that I told her how quite a few fellow bloggers recommend their pies. On past the marina to join a queue for Hoo Mill lock. We then managed to arrive at each lock as a the boat in front of us was leaving with a Southbound boat descending so we had a good run up past Weston and Sandon. There were a lot of Southbound boats from Sheffield and so we reckon it was an organised cruise by a club or society. They all seemed a jolly bunch from the banter we had as we passed them, so I bet their evening stops are fun. We stopped before Stone and returned to Whittington to collect the car and head home.


Rigden-o-GiG #2

I left Jannock at 6am and went to do a car shuffle from Hillmorton to Whittington. On the return journey, the diblasi decided to stop near Hopwas. I pulled onto the path, stripped and cleaned the carburetor and all was OK again. Once back and breakfasted, we set off and almost immediately lost all propulsion from the boat engine. The gearbox had dumped all of it's oil into the engine bilge via a split cooler hose. I tried a temporary fix but the fact it had not worked was shown when all drive was lost again. I then placed an empty margarine container under the hose to collect the spilt oil and repeatedly poured it back into the filler hole to refill it again. We stopped immediately before Glascote locks and I fashioned a better repair from an old water hose and a jubilee clip. That worked!

On through Fazely where we met a highly offensive female live-aboard who decided to wind in front of us without signaling or indicating in any way what was about to happen. In Hopwas, as we approached the bridge past crowded pub moorings, a determined southbound boater refused to give way and barged (sic) his way through even though he had plenty of space to manoeuvre on his side of the bridge.

We finally made it to Whittington where I had left the car and so I took Simon back to his so that he could return to Salford. Brenda and I had a joyless search for pub food around the village finding one pub with no electricity and another with an Anne Summers party in full swing but no food so we finally settled for a chinese take-away eaten on Jannock. We then joined Terry and Chris on Grace again for the rest of the evening.


A day of passing without stopping.

Friday 19th June 2009

We arrived at Hillmorton, unloaded the car and set off towards he locks, Brenda steering Jannock and me riding the bike. Down through the three locks following a port, starboard, port formation in cloudy but nice weather but with a strong wind. The weather today is like April, but with end of October winds. Graham remained steadfast in his shorts but we both needed a coat or fleece - yet the cabin temperature remained at 25 degrees with no heating and the hatches open.

Just south of Rugby we passed nb Rosie. I believe it is Bill’s Rosie (intrepid explorer of Billy Bubbles fame) because of the SSR number on the side. No sign of life so we continued on. As we passed Brinklow we noticed Brian’s boat Kyle moored up also with no sign of life.

At the bridge before Stretton stop I  leapt off to run head and get the swingbridge only to be greeted by Terry Rigden who was on a covert Grace moored immediately after the bridge having her electrics ackled. A quick greeting was all I had time for unfortunately as there was no where for Jannock to stop.

We moored for the night just before Sutton Stop feeling very cold and windblown. After tea we wandered down to the Greyhound to see if it has improved since our last visit. Then it was very smokey, now that was outside and inside was very noisy. A swift pint of Robinsons was followed by a walk back to the boat to get the new free Three dongle working. Et voila!


New ropes from Braunston

A very uneventful cruising day. It was decided that Braunston lock flight was much more pleasant when :-

a. it's not raining and cold.

b. there are plenty of boats coming up when you are descending.

At the top lock we introduced yet another boat to the Jannock tradition of 'Cake Lock' and then shared the flight down with them.

Flower of the day - the dog rose.

We stopped on the 14 day moorings above Hillmorton flight where during our absence, tending to a terminally ill pussycat, the local ducks used Jannock's roof as a latrine. Duck poo is so hard to remove when it has been sun dried that I am certain - if you run out of araldite then squeeze a handy duck.


More coaching

Sunday 31st May 2009

Another lovely day. Graham got up early and did a car shuffle from Cosgrove to Welton. He then set off solo as we had a way to go before any locks. We pulled into Wilton Marine in search of new centre ropes and then left empty handed to share the locks with a hire boat. It was a challenge to get into the lock as he'd got more or less sideways on as I made our approach. Knowing he'd only picked up the boat yesterday I was philosophic. After the Buckby flight, throughout which I coached him and offered hints and tips he said that he and his chum had been having a week on a boat every year for ages. I am now less than philosophic. He said " all this is the best of boy's toys". "All what I asked?" "These lock thingies, terrific game!" I pursed my lips like Minnie Caldwell (yes, I am that old) and suggested that the boy's toys had in fact facilitated the industrial revolution and changed world history.


Strappy sandals at Stoke Bruerne

Saturday 30th May 2009

Perfect boating weather, absolutely perfect. When we arrived at Stoke Bruerne locks we shared with another boat and had an easy passage. Outside 'the Navigation', whilst waiting for a southbound boat to pass through the top lock, Brenda was engaged in light chat by a couple of 20 something lads. Both were quaffing pints and smoking - lads in every respect but one; they were very very badly dressed in women's clothes - all except the black socks - in strappy high heeled sandals. They asked for a lift. I asked where they were going. 'The flower show' was the reply. There was no evidence of a flower show. there's now't so strange as .......

Out of the top lock and onto the water point outside the 'boat'. Brenda decided she owed me a pint so in she went with her purse and two glasses (so that we didn't have to hurry our drinks) and she was declared a professional by the clientele. She reckons she's been called a lot of things in her time.

We stopped just past Bugbrooke immediately before the new marina in a nice shady section near the bridge.


Whitsun Trip Day#4

A lay in and a leisurely bacon sandwich and then we were off through the last bit of Milton Keynes onto a 14 day mooring at Cosgrove just in time for 11'ses. This left plenty of time for some ackling to be done before returning home.


Whitsun Trip Day#3

After a peaceful night we set off towards Soulbury and 60% of the locks we were likely to encounter today. On arrival the top lock was empty and a single hander was rising through the second lock so I opened the gates and waited for him whilst Brenda held Jannock on the lock landing. Whilst waiting her turn, Brenda witnessed a couple of fishermen pull a 15 3/4 lb Mirror Carp out of the canal after a mighty struggle. This is the second large carp we've seen landed this year. We passed solo down the three locks passing one other boat mid-flight. We then passed through Stoke Hammond and Fenny locks as well before starting the long drag through Milton Keynes. I must admit the MK environs are far more pleasant in the balmy summer weather that we have experienced this trip. It was getting so warm that we pulled over into the shade of some trees whilst we were circumnavigating Stantonbury Park Farm and then decided to remain there for the night. This must be something of a record for Jannock, three nights on the G.U. using pins every night. We normally end up using piling hooks for overnight stops on this stretch of the system. After an evening meal eaten on the cratch table in balmy tropical weather Brenda dragged me off for another meadow walk to explore the ruins of St. Peter's Church which lies just north of the canal near bridge 75.


Whitsun Trip Day#2

We pulled the pins at 9 am and headed for Marsworth top lock. We shared the whole flight and the following locks to Seabrook with Jarrah, a fellow member of Aylesbury canal society. We also met Peter from nb Ghecko (a fello Cutweb member) several times on the Marsworth flight as he made his way from Bulbourne down to the Marsworth sani-station and back again. Peter mentioned the BCN Society's Summer Explorer Cruise which I am going to try and take part in as I want to do all of the BCN when possible. We moored for the night at the Globe Inn having completed the rest of the locks solo and stopping in Leighton Buzzard for a quick trip to Aldi.

After an excellent steak meal in the Globe Inn, Brenda decided to follow the Greensands walk that starts from bridge 111 and took us through water meadow and oak woods to the outskirts of Leighton Buzzard and back onto the canal towpath via Riverside walk. Yet another nice quiet mooring for the night.


Whitsun Trip Day#1

Today was to be starting out North day. There was only one problem - we were pointing South. So we travelled down to the Winkwell windy point ( 6 locks plus the swingbridge twice) turned and arrived back at Bourne End in order to empty the loo tank. We were accompanied during this short trip by Iris and Terry, our friends from Aylesbury. DSCF0003After lunch we waved them farewell and set off North through Burko and Northchuch to finally moor for the night in the cutting on Tring summit.  As we approached Cowroast lock there were four 'civilians' talking to a boater moored below the lock who assured Brenda, who was hovering waiting for the lock, that there was no point proceeding as there were no mooring spaces available above the lock. She asked them for how far and they said that they had walked for 3 miles and no spaces. She thanked them for their advice and assured them that we were travelling further before stopping for the night and then ascended through the lock when I had it ready. Once above the lock it became apparent that there was indeed no problem with mooring spaces which left us wondering what that advice was all about.

We finally found an extremely quiet mooring in the Tring cutting, between bridges 135 and 134, which was also very dark due to the tree cover.


Spring Soddit Cruise 2009

Friday 8th May

The gang gathered in Haddenham and then set off to deposit one vehicle in Bourne End. We then returned to Aylesbury via the Blue Dolphin fish & chip shop, loaded our belongings onto Jannock and then retired to the Hop Pole Inn (Aylesbury's permanent beer festival) for a pint or two before returning to the boat to start the card playing.

Saturday 9th May

An early rise saw the papers fetched and Jannock easing out of her temporary berth by 9 am. The first three locks north of Aylesbury are fitted with anti-vandal locks but that did not slow the progress at all. By Red House lock we found ourselves following a single hander and so Pete went ahead to assist him to speed our passage. After a couple of locks he returned with feedback that the guy then let him do all the work and just stayed on his boat so we decided it would be a good time to stop for lunch and the first period of non-contact fishing. Whilst lunching (or fishing), John Pattle on NB Brentford passed us heading North. Fishing over still without contact and we were just setting off when Ian received a telephone call from his boss at Vale Brewery. They had a spare 20 litres of Hadders Spring Gold 4.6% prepped for a customer who didn't show, could we use it if he delivered it to the boat? Now that's what I call service (and a silly question), we already had Vale VPA and the first sample of the new Vale Castle on board in mini-pins but now there was no chance of us running out. We followed Brentford up the staircase at the end of the Aylesbury arm and then shared the Marsworth flight with them. Once again Peter went ahead to assist the two boats we were following and so we made a reasonable time up the flight. Having said our farewells to John and his son at the top of the flight and then we turned into the Wendover arm for a peaceful evening mooring. At 5pm the fresh beer supplies were delivered just as the Castle Ale ran out and a tasty Basingstoke biriani was followed by some more non-contact fishing until the cards started at 9pm. We collapsed into bed around midnight.

Sunday 10th May

We were up and breakfasted by 9 but let the fishists play until the proposed 10am departure time. During this session a modicum of success was witnessed with Ian bringing in a DSCF0046middle sized Roach which beat anything Brian could catch. While all this was going on, Peter and I were around the corner, nearer the winding point, where a local angler was trying to bring in a large Carp on fragile gudgeon tackle.  I took this  picture for Dave as he had no camera with him and this was a fish worth showing off.  I have promised to email it to Tring Anglers for him. Out of the arm and along the summit to start the descent down the 13 locks to Bourne End. At Dudswell lock (47) yours truly almost came a cropper by mis-judging the speed of the boat and almost falling in the lock. Just a wet foot up to the ankle and a few scratches luckily.  We found ourselves following a pair of boats down these locks and having to turn every one as there was no Northbound traffic. We stopped for lunch after Bushes lock but the fishists decided to continue onto Bourne End before trying their hand again and so we were soon on our way again. We passed the two boats we had be following when they stopped for water below Rising Sun lock. Unfortunately Tiami appeared empty as we passed and so we could not off-load any beer to Debbi and Simon. The last three locks down to Jannock's mooring were soon passed through and we finally tied up at 4pm. More non-contact fishing then ensued whilst the boat was tidied and belongings packed for the journey home. I was given the left over VPA to take home as the guys know that  Brenda likes that one. A great weekend in good company with great weather. What more can I ask for.




A Late Turn-round

21st March 2009

Having finished the paint repairs to the handrail closest to the bank, today was turn-round day to access the other side. Brenda and I were joined by my Mum and Dad as well as my brother Dick and his wife Irina.  In sunny, but a little cold, weather we travelled down through eight locks and a swingbridge to Apsley where we moored opposite Sainsburys for onboard lunch. After that we turned around and headed back to Bourne End against a wind that was getting stronger (and colder) all the way. By the time we were moored up again the beef stew in the slow cooker was ready and so we eat a hearty meal and then abandoned ship for home. Although I normally use this blog to display what has been written in Jannock's logbook, Irina completed her report of the day in Russian so you've got my interpretation instead. That is seven different foreign languages we have had entered in our logbook now :- French, German, Czech, Italian, Greek, Chinese and Russian.