Monday, October 24, 2011

The year’s figures.

During our cruise in 2011 Jannock’s engine ran for 278 hours and consumed 332 litres of diesel.

During that time we travelled 567 miles ( 88 of which were new territory to us ) and passed through 376 locks giving us the rate of 3.4 lock-miles per hour. This is higher than usual due to the number of river miles we travelled having been on the Thames, Wey and Nene.

It was an expensive year due to purchasing a Gold licence, mooring and diesel increases and having to repair a broken window as well as the aquadrive rubber gaiter failing and needing to be replaced but the all-in costs were £4148.47p working out at £14.92 per (engine running) hour.

Roll on spring.


I saw three ships come sailing …….

Saturday 22nd October

Here is a photo of the water levels in  Marsworth reservoir Marsworth reservoir levels.that we mentioned last week. The drop down to the fisher-persons tent is about ten foot.

Yet another glorious day, but almost as cold as mid-October should be due to the wind. As we approached Marsworth flight the crew of nb Vital Spark asked to share with us. We worked alongside them, steerers chatting and lockers grafting, an amiable ascent. nb Vital Spark enters the lock. They were completing their trip to new moorings at Cowroast marina as we were completing Jannock’s seven month trip back to Bourne End.

Along Tring summit I saw my first Kingfisher of 2011, a bit late but better than no sighting at all.

As we approached Bushes lock a little Springer Waterbug pulled out and lead us to the lock landing. There were five adults and a bouncy teenage girl aboard so we were pleased thinking that they’d lighten the load down the rest of the Northchurch locks. I jumped off and opened the gates and both craft entered. There was one lady on the Springer who knew what to do and the rest appeared to be visitors of some sort as the men stood around a lot with windlasses in their hands without a clue as what to do with them. I tried offering advice to get a sequence going but it was all forgotten  by the next lock. I told their captain that I would cycle ahead and get the next lock ready and so left them to sort out the bottom gates. At Gas lock Brenda and I were pleased when they said they were stopping at Waitrose as it would be easier doing the locks without them.

We moved down to the next (bottom) lock and I jumped off and opened one gate for JannockThe springer and it's gas bottle. to enter. The Springer appeared between Jannock and the towpath and declared their intention to come through with us. I set off over the lock and to open the other gate whilst their steerer decided she’d just continue on in through the first gate causing Brenda to hit reverse and do some nifty manoeuvring to avoid crashing into their boat or the still closed off-side gate. Their steerer made some comment about not realising that Jannock had intended to enter the lock on the towpath side so Brenda pointed out that was why I had opened that gate. She was told that there was “ no bl@@dy need to be sarcastic”. The crew just hung about, with windlasses in hand as usual, and left most of the work to me and their steerer. Black looks accompanied my departure, having carried the lock-wheeling bike across the bottom gates, to get Raven’s lane lock ready. Once both boats were in, with the assistance on the towpath side top gate of our local BSC examiner, he then started telling off their steerer for the hazardous state of their gas installation. It was a trip hazard at best as well as being lethal if it leaked. Their excuse was that they didn’t have a cylinder of the correct size for the housing and they had to set off in a hurry. His comment was “the number of times I’ve heard that excuse, still doesn’t stop it being dangerous”.

I continued on down and set Rising Sun lock and left them to complete Raven’s lane. They couldn’t get the offside lower gate fully open due to something being stuck behind it but still wanted Jannock to exit first so that they could pull their boat out and close the gates afterwards. Brenda persuaded them to go back in the lock a bit and then got Jannock out around the obstruction. We sighed with relief when they announced they were stopping at the Riser for a drink so once out of that lock we left them to it.

Just a little further on we stopped alongside Tiami for our regular autumn chat with Debbi and Simon. Debbi injured her foot a while ago and I lent her some Terry Pratchett books, to stop her going mad whilst incapacitated and stuck in the boat, so she returned them whilst we were there. A single hander on a rather old and smoky boat came past whilst we were chatting and so we decided not to hurry to lock share. When we finally set off we found her at Top side lock . Brenda reckons this boat is just a bow and stern welded together.It was set with just a single top gate open but she rushed round and opened the offside gate for us before bringing her boat in. What a difference!  She was only out on her ‘new’ boat for the second day and was keen to learn all the rules and etiquette of the cut. She wanted to become a safe and efficient boater as soon as possible. The company was as good as our first share of the day and far less effort than our second. We continued on through Bottom side and Sewer locks and explained that we’d be mooring up before Winkwell locks.

We pulled onto our mooring at Bourne End and waved a cheery farewell to her and a very interesting cruising season. We left our mooring heading South in April and returned heading South in October and for once have not had to retrace our steps on the southern end of the Grand Union at all.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another cracking day Grommit!

Today we were accompanied for another leg of our homeward run south by neighbours Bob and Diane. Bob has been crew on Jannock before (Tardebigge 2010) but it was Diane’s first trip. not a cloud in the sky We set off from Stoke Hammond at 10:00 in another bonus day of summer. Mid October, us in T shirts (Graham still in shorts) and quite literally not a cloud in the sky all day.

We met nb Earnest (yes, that one) moored for lunch above Church lock and Linda reported that they had woken to a heavy frost and ice on their roof despite the cabin heating being on. I’m sure we won’t cheat autumn for much longer. 

It seemed we were unusual in that we were travelling south, but that meant that most of the locks were set in our favour, top gate leaks not withstanding, although we passed through them all solo. The pound between the two Ivinghoe locks was about 18” lower than it should the Tjalk waits to go downbe with the bottom of the cut being exposed at both sides. This meant Jannock’s steering and progress were difficult although the northbound Dutch tjalk that waited for us to ascend through the top lock must had had even more problems in that pound as he drew 3 foot compared to our ‘less than’ 2 foot. All of the other pounds during our journey were close to normal levels and some of the lock bypasses were running.

Once we had moored up, Graham went to fetch the car from Stoke Hammond whilst Bob, Di and I walked to Marsworth reservoir. Here it was very clear that we have paid for our sunny days with water; and that’s over a couple of years now. The normal reservoir water level was clear to see  some 10 foot above the fishermen who were a little way down the ‘beach’ which has been sufficiently exposed to allow green plants to establish themselves on it.Marsworth locks

It was a surprise to see that the White Lion pub, by Marsworth bottom lock, has closed – but once it had been bistrofied I guess their business plan didn’t meet their customer base and so it was likely to be all downhill. The Red Lion and Angler’s Retreat have both been enjoyed by Jannock crews so it’s not a beer desert in Marsworth yet.

On our journey home we were guiltily amused to see the fire engines, all lights blazing, attending Marsworth’s mobile fish and chip van. They weren’t picking up savaloy and chips for sure. It reminded me of comedy sketches  . . . .  didn’t Last of the Summer Wine use a mobile chippy to remove a dead body from a lady’s boudoir?  Do I remember Arkwright providing Granville with an equally flammable catering outlet in Open All hours? Ah British culture at it’s best and men in uniform. What an end to a lovely day. Thanks to Bob and Di for their company and help along the way.


Sunday, October 09, 2011

What month is it?

Saturday 8th October

09:45 and Jannock’s cabin temperature is the same as outside = 11.5 degrees. How did that happen? Normality resumed I suppose but I’m not so sure. After an un-eventful day in the environs of Milton Keynes we can report hedgerows full of blackberries and their flowers, sloes and plums alongside crab apples and  …….  pussy willow? Heroncropped

We left Cosgrove after chatting to a couple off of another boat who introduced themselves as fellow Cutweb members. They spotted us by our large bow stickers but we would not have spotted them as we could not see any trace of  Cutweb  on their boat as we passed. Brian on Harnser recognises members by their boat names but I’m useless with names, much better with numbers me. The herons on this stretch just sit and watch you pass, no flying off as the boat nears for these tough guys. It was Murial3 good to see the restored mural alongside the track south of Wolverton, and a sadness to see that some prats have already defaced it with their oh so simple minded graffiti.

The run down through MK revealed the same boats on the same towpath moorings with exception of the official BW long term moorings just south of Fenny lock which now seem deserted compared to last year. After all, we’ve been doing this same post-rally run south for 6 years now and I’m amazed how many boats I recognised.

We filled with diesel at Willowbridge marina (95ppl domestic) and as they were selling small trial phials of Fuelset, I purchased enough to treat Jannock’s tank for the winter closedown.  Shortly after leaving there I suffered a sneezing fit.   About 15 minutes later we identified the allergen as a swathe of oilseed rape in bloom – this is supposed to be October!


Sunday, October 02, 2011

2nd day of October ….

…  2nd day of tropical temperatures.

The cabin temperature was 27 degrees by 12:30 and 33 degrees by 14:00. Luckilythe wonderful views north of Cosgrove we only had a short day today caused mainly by staying late for an enjoyable evening at SB. It was a lovely day today with the early autumn colours, the hawthorns heavy with deep red berries and the being passed by a Stewarts tugfarmers preparing the winter wheat fields all looking at odds with the temperature.  Just before noon we encountered our first fishing match of the season and it seems that being warm and dry doesn’t improve the mood of those with grumpy tendencies one jot. I have always put their curmudgeonly demeanour down to trench foot and chilblains but no excuses now. We moored up and had lunch after which Graham fetched the car whilst I tidied and locked up before desperately trying to find some shade in which to await his return. 


If you can’t stand the heat …..

Saturday 1st October

Well here we are in October and needing the factor 30 by 10 am. 28 degrees or thereabouts. Working boats moored outside the tunnel At 2 pm we entered Blisworth tunnel where it was a chilly 17 degrees with frequent drips and deluges that cooled Graham down nicely for the locks. the Home Guard As we emerged from the tunnel it became obvious that their ‘Village at War’ event had been declared and so I searched out my boatwoman’s bonnet and put it on for a while. As we stopped to prepare the top lock Graham was ordered by a clip-boarded warden to move the boat nearer the lock in order for the trip boat to be able to access it’s mooring. He pointed out the fast back pump outfall and explained that if we moved forward into that we’d end up in the pub opposite. That in itself would make getting into the lock difficult enough without the hire boat that was bobbing about in the general hoo-haa also waiting for the lock. Mr warden looked very sheepish and went about his characterisation elsewhere. We shared the whole flight of locks with the hireboat using their crew to work the boats through whilst Graham cycled ahead and prepared the next lock. By the bottom lock I had trained their steerer to stay alongside as we moved the two boats between locks together.

We decided to moor up at the bottom of the flight and walk back up to the village to enjoy the war. Mooring was a bit of a problem, insofar as there were none within easy marching distance but then we noticed nb Justice moored there and so we took advantage and moored alongside. Thanks Steve! (incidentally – Kevin of SB says he hopes you’re OK after nearly getting run over) We met up with Sean (sb Laplander), had a quick recce and a look at the black market (they call it vintage clothing, I call it a jumble sale, only the price breaks are different) before deciding on the pub. The place was heaving with soldiers of all nations (including Germans). The Yanks on the next table The yanks looked like the cast of South Pacific and were augmented by the navy. There was even a gentleman trying to sell corsets and parachute silk directoire knickers. Our cider was attacked by a wasp (told you it was hot) and all this militarism was getting to me. so I killed it! I then flicked it towards the cut but it flew like a kamikaze pilot into some poor blokes beer. Oh how they laughed! I offered to buy him another but he declined. What a gent. The people sat next to us had some rather un-pleasant children and were not really looking after them. I decided to make their lives as unpleasant as they were making ours so I bought myself an ice cream. That made the little darlings whine and plead. Result! The ice creams at the Boat are highly recommended. After more drinks, a meal and lots of chat we wandered back down the flight. Graham had promised me a moon lit night, star spangled as there were no clouds. Just as well that I’d taken a torch as the black-out warden had obviously spoken to the man in the moon. I overhead someone saying it was not a night for a dambusters raid – too dark.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Fun and games at Buckby

Thursday 22nd September

We arrived at Braunston dry dock to find Tim re-fitting Jannock’s front fender Jannock in the drydock prior to letting the water back in to re-float her. He had nothing untoward to report about her hull condition except that the front and rear anodes (fitted 2000) will need replacing when she’s next blacked. We left the dock and made our way to the next lock where a single boat had just ascended. I called to the steerer to try and determine whether anything was coming down and got a ‘Yes’ as the answer. OK, so he now knows we are following him, I wonder if he’ll wait. The answer was no, they continued up through Nelson lock solo. Meanwhile, while we waited for the northbound boat to descend through the lock, another two boats joined us waiting to go up and so we ended up sharing the rest of the flight with an ABC hireboat. However, at the next lock the single boat had decided to wait until they saw two boats coming up together at which point they carried on regardless so we never got chance to offer to share so that the ABC boat could return to it’s original partner. One of their crew did not want to pass through the tunnel, she had walked over the top when they came the other way but Brenda persuaded her to stay aboard the boat. It stopped before the tunnel to let her off but she decided to remain on board and was proud that she had overcome her anxiety.

We arrived at Buckby top lock and Peter the lockie asked us to wait until another boat arrived. Eventually the same ABC crew arrived and so we shared this flight with them as well. At lock 9 their oil warning light and buzzer came on and so they wanted to stop. Knowing that there is better access at the bottom of the flight we breasted up with them and Brenda brought them down through locks 9, 10 and 11 whilst they phoned Gayton marina for advice. By lock 12 the ABC engineer had asked the crew to do some checks on their engine and then declared that the oil pressure switch was faulty and that they could continue using the engine. We separated the boats again and continued the flight independently.

All the time we were descending Buckby flight we were accompanied by a nice old couple who were walking along the towpath alongside us. She was keen to see what was happening and how the water was let our through the paddles and he was carefully explaining everything to her as they went. By lock 13 (bottom lock) I had found out that he had been the Buckby lock keeper for thirty-odd years and had lived in the cottage at the bottom lock. He told me how the blacksmiths Norton Junction forge that used to be behind the building, accessed through the low arch, was where the Buckby windlass was made and that he had been presented with the last one ever made there. I asked if he still possessed it but he said he had given it away years ago. He also told me how when the cottage right beside the lock was sold by BW, they included all the grass right up to the lock edge in the sale. Consequently, when he went to cut it a few days after the new owner had moved in, he was told off because it was not BW property anymore.

Once through the locks and onto the long pound we had lunch on the move and then found a suitable fourteen day mooring to leave Jannock on as I will be away learning how to do sign writing this weekend.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Brenda’s Monday rantette.

Monday 19th September

Whilst we were waiting above Braunston bottom lock, I assisted crews at the lock to pass the time. A new hirer appeared and his boat entered the empty lock soon afterwards. I held back from shutting the other bottom gate as another boat was approaching. “That’s nice” he said ”it’s pleasant courtesy to share a lock I suppose”  I explained that it was not courtesy but the current rules and pointed to the BW notice on the balance beam that stated that boats should wait, for up to 1 hour, for another sharer to come along before starting the flight. He read it and said it couldn’t apply to hire boats as they had paid for their holiday and would not want to waste it hanging around. Once the bottom gates were closed he went off to open the top paddles regardless of any steerers readiness. Apple bobbing sprang into my mind so as we chatted I slipped in that it was a courtesy to check that both steerers are ready before adding water to a lock. “Why?” was the response so I then explained the dangers involved and that people can get hurt.  “Oh no” he said very gently “we don’t want to hear about things like that. We are on holiday. You are just joking …… “ I assured him that I was not and explained last year’s fatality at Cropredy. He really didn’t listen any more. It was only after they had gone into the second lock, pretty well sideways, that G and I heard  that we had only just missed another boater being taken off by Air Ambulance after falling off her boat that very morning and their boat was tied up outside UCCs office at the end of the lock landing. I bet Mr Newby takes more care about his choice of lunch sandwich than his crews safety! We should all take care to support our Air Ambulances charities.


Cutweb Rally 2011

Friday 16th September

En-route to Jannock we stopped at Lee Sanitation and collected the ‘manual pump-out repair kit’ that I had reserved for collection earlier in the week. After loading all our stuff aboard Jannock I set Brenda off towards the top of Stockton flight and I drove the car to park it in the little car-park opposite the Boat Inn. I then walked to the top lock and had it ready when Jannock arrived. This is the first time we’ve approached the rally at Blue Lias down the flight without a horde of helpers that have walked up from the bottom to assist. We completed the flight in 1 hour and 15 minutes which we thought was good. On exiting the bottom lock we found eight boats already in attendance and we winded in the arm and moored alongside Lord Toulouse, third out from the bank. Having assessed the mooring situation we decided to shuffle a few boats around and then moor Jannock in the ‘buffer-zone’ (the mooring right outside the Blue Lias terrace immediately in front of the bridge) which made more space available for the fifteen boats expected. The rest of the afternoon and evening were spent catching up with people we hadn’t seen for about a year and me collecting everybody's money to pay for the rally.

Saturday 17th September

A lazy start was followed by an overhaul session with our self pump-out equipment to replace the perished bellows and prepare it for our return journey through Braunston on Monday. The weather was threatening to rain in the afternoon when it was planned to have a boules tournament on the lawn so I opened up the Blue Lias function room and set up Brenda’s Wii so that we had an indoor alternative. This turned out to be an excellent insurance policy as the Beeky Boules competition passed without any of the threatened rain interfering with proceedings. Tea and cake on the lawn, that followed, was moved into the function room due to the rain clouds finally arriving and an impromptu Wii ten pin bowling competition started.

Our evening entertainment was provided by Life an Times who sang the songs from their production Where the working boats went. During the intermission a poor attempt was made at devouring the Ploughman’s buffet which saw quite a few French sticks being returned to the kitchens un-eaten. The evening was rounded off with Cutweb Infinity Raffle.

Sunday 18th September

The booking in time for items to be included in the morning auction was 10.00 and so no laying in bed this morning. I had obtained some un-labelled Vale VPA beer in presentation boxes of 3 bottles and had made up new labels identifying it as Bowthruster, Cutweb Pale Ale. These seemed to sell well in the auction with one pack reaching a whopping £10. Unfortunately for the purchaser, he wasn’t there so he’ll have a pleasant surprise when he gets the bill ;^)

After the auction a roast beef sunday lunch was served to all who required it with Sunday afternoon being Free Time. I took the opportunity to take my car to UCC at Braunston bottom lock as that was where we would be heading on Monday in order for Jannock to be placed in the dry-dock to be blacked. I returned on the Di Blasi in time for tea ready for the evening quiz which was organised by Brenda and myself as we were part of last years winning team.

Monday 19th September

There were six Cutweb boats wanting to ascend the Stockton flight at about 8am on Monday morning and we were first off the blocks partnering nb Uncle Mort. We breasted Jannock against U.M. once in the bottom lock and let Andrew use the power of his Lister JP3 to move boat boats while Brenda, Sheila and I did the locking with Barney supervising. Luckily the first 4 locks were set for us with bottom gates opened by crew members from the other boats behind and so we completed the flight in 45 minutes. On then to Calcutt locks where we met a pair of boats leaving each lock as we were ready to enter and so we passed up that flight quite smoothly as well. Thanks to the crew of Hampshire Rose and all the other boats through the year that have called out to say they enjoy Jannock’s blog and the website content. We’re tempted to say “get a life” but that would be rude and also a complete antithesis of how pleased we are that our (Brenda’s) rantings brighten someone's day.

A Wigrams we turned left towards Braunston and started the slow slog across the level pound meeting lots of on-coming craft and eventually becoming pig-in-the-middle of a procession of eight boats until we reached Braunston turn where most of the ones in front of us turned left towards Rugby. We stopped at the Braunston sani-station again and this time I managed a complete pump-out due to not having a perished pump. Brenda made a snack dinner which was rapidly eaten as we made our way towards the bottom lock. We ascended this lock and then pulled over to moor up whilst awaiting the previous user of the dry dock to leave so that we could reverse in. We then loaded all our stuff into the car and left for home.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Autumn Soddit Cruise – Day 2

Sunday 11th September

We decided last night that I would get up early and set off as a strong wind was forecast for later in the day and I wanted to wind in Braunston before it got too strong. Consequently I was up and away at 7:30 whilst Brian and Ian had a more leisurely start. There was sunshine, blue skies and little wind as we made our way down into Braunston. We passed Virgo, setting up the self pump-outmoored up just before the A45 bridge, which was sporting an enormous HF aerial attached to the rear of the boat. Guy appeared at the front doors complaining about us being up and on the move whilst he was just getting up.

At the Braunston sani-station I set up the self pump-out equipment only to find that the pump had sprung a leak as one of the diaphragms had perished. So I put it all away again and we then winded in the marina entrance to set off toward Wigrams turn and the Grand Union towards Stockton.

Once we had crossed the puddlebanks (and P1010369noticed that the old BW house at the turn is up for auction) we found that most of the offside trees and hedges between Wolfhampcote and Flecknoe have been removed and so the strong wind blew across the canal and took Jannock with it making steering very difficult. Luckily there were not so many boats about  today so we didn’t keep having to wait at bridgeholes.  At Wigrams  we turned under the bridge and arrived at Calcut locks just as nb The Angels Share caught us up  so we shared the flight with them. They were a newly delivered boat that was having it’s first long trip down to Stratford-on-Avon and back. Once through the locks we moored up for lunch and more fishing so I went and fetched the car from Brinklow using the Di Blasi.

At the end of the weekend, Ian had caught all the fish (eight in total), Brian won at Soddit  and I negotiated a deal for some special Cutweb beer to be sold at the charity auction next weekend. Result!



Autumn Soddit Cruise – Day 1

Saturday 10th September

Last night we arrived at Jannock having visited the excellent fish and chip shop in Brinklow. Newbold tunnel They were definitely the best I have had since I visited Busy Lizzies in Skipton during 1995. We then loaded our provisions etc. aboard, cracked open the beer and the Soddit began and continued on till well past our bedtimes ;^)

Saturday morning dawned bright and far too early so we breakfasted and then departed almost immediately. This was un-usual because neither Ian or Brian set up their fishing rods prior to us setting off – they usually have a breakfast session before the off. Are they losing interest? During transit of the Newbold tunnel, Rule Britannia was played at full volume much to the amusement of a Black Prince hireboat that we passed mid tunnel. The family that were walking through using the towpath were not so amused though. We stopped near bridge 58 to fill with water whilst Brian nipped across to Tescos. Once on the move again we immediately passed Linda aboard nb The Busker and Sarah-May on nb Shelley-Anne. I called hello but Sarah-May only appeared as we had moved farther away and so a brief shouted greeting occurred. They are both en-route to the Cutweb rally next weekend as we are.

We stopped for lunch before Hillmorton locks and the fishists (well Ian) even managed to catch a few roach although he Here come the swans seemed to lose a lot of hooks in the trees opposite our mooring in the process. No queueing through the locks so a quick ascent was made using a lock  recently vacated by a northbound boat each time. All the time the wind was gradually increasing to I was glad to clear the locks and get up some speed again to fight theP1010348 side wind.

On the Barby straight we passed Draco and Success moored up. I spoke with Mike as we passed but did not stop as I had just got past a very slow and unpredictable boat that had been ahead of us and I didn’t want him to pass me again. We finally moored up for the night in the shelter of a large hedge just past Willoughby Wharf. Ian cooked the dinner and then another evening of Soddit commenced finally giving up at about 12:30. There was a big full moon which kept it quit light all night.


Monday, August 29, 2011

If it’s August, why are my fingers and toes numb?

Monday 29th August

An un-eventful days cruising in disappointing weather. The highlight of which was a concerted effort to get as many cooking apples as possible from the tree adjacent to bridge 3A.   Graham made a collecting device from his new bucket and the broom using a couple of cable ties to join them together. Initially he dislodged the apples using our short boat hook whilst attempting to catch them in the bucket as they were well out of reach. This was only partly successful and so he then used the bucket/broom to collect those he’d not managed to catch from the water where they had landed. During this activity we were passed by steam nb Tixhall, heading up the Ashby, who had a trail of three boats queued up behind him. All crews smiled and approved heartily of our scrumping activities. What is the adult world coming to? We should have had our ears boxed and given a severe talking to ;^)

Onto the Coventry canal and we travelled to Hawkesbury where we turned onto the Oxford through Suttons stop with no queues. We continued south meeting lots of northbound craft proving that the water shortages further south were encouraging people to try the north Oxford instead. After a couple of hours we tied up on a suitable 14 day mooring and Graham fetched the car whilst I prepared dinner. A tidy up and home ready for Graham to go back to work tomorrow.


You need a road name.

Brenda rant 29/8/11

Efficiency ; discuss- imagine you find some poor soul wandering through unfamiliar rural lanes not a million miles from a village, a small town and then a fairly well known city we’ll call Coventry.  You remember your first aid learnt in the volunteer sector so that’s a bonus for the tax payer, and assess his condition pretty accurately, not going to be violent, walking wounded; but not walking far enough for help not to be necessary. Help appears, ahh, the volunteer society again, it happens despite governmental policy gurus. Poor soul is delivered quite near to his place of safety, he just can’t remember exactly where he lives, whether or not he’s got to work tomorrow or even when his birthday is. He can, however, remember how to use his mobile phone to show us the picture of the scan of his baby-to-be. Ahh, sweet!

It’s time for the public sector to take over – thanks guys, you were great; all of you. The paramedic in his car, the three policemen in their two cars and the ambulance crew of two who came when the paramedic was able to concur with the cut on the head and concussion diagnosis – had it been worse than we’d thought he’d have needed - - - -  oh, an ambulance anyway. I presume the Police turned up to make sure that no crime had been committed; no crime was reported or even suspected. I bet someone somewhere was reporting their suspicions and being told that no Police could be made available until a crime actually happens as they are very busy. The police left once they had ascertained that no crime had even been thought about.

Now the daft thing is this – after dialling 999 all that rapid response, high tech professional and expensive help depended on one thing. It was close run; we needed a road name so that computer aided help could be dispatched. We knew which town we were in, we knew which pub and retail outlet car park we were in, we even knew which supermarket chain had it’s sole representative in that town just across the road, but until Graham ran around the area whilst on the 999 call, we had no idea of the street name. You see, if there hadn’t been a spare kindly passerby to do a quick local geographical survey they would not have been able to send a paramedic and two police cars to the aid of a poor bloke, covered in blood with no idea of what planet he was on, let alone where his mates had gone or even which way was up.

So if you plan to need an ambulance just be sure you know where you are on the map or get help from someone local who knows where they are. This has special relevance to us ‘canal users’. “We just passed the water treatment works outside the village with the fabulous church spire, after lock 3 but before you reach bridge 48”just ain’t gonna help in this efficient age.

Rant over


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jannock to the rescue – again

I got up and set off towards Snarestone at 8 am this morning whilst Brenda was still in her bed. By 9am we were passing through Bosworth Wharf which is the furthest we have been up the Ashby before and so we were now clocking up more new territory again – we’ve done well so far this year.

Shackerstone was busy with all the reserved moorings filling up before the festival next weekend. We continued on through Snarestone tunnel and up to the canal terminus where we winded to return through the tunnel and moor at the southern end in order to take Sunday lunch in the Globe Inn. An excellent roast dinner washed down with Brains S.A. and followed by home made plum crumble (that even had real stones in ;^)  This establishment gets a Jannock recommendation although their kitchens will be closed between the 6th and 12th of September due to staff holidays.

After lunch we returned through the Shackerstone chicane where we passed Nuneaton and Brighton moored in the reeds and even had to follow a reversing boat for about 1/4 of a mile as he looked for his mooring. We had one really heavy rainstorm during this exercise which lasted until we reached Market Bosworth again.

Upon mooring for the night at Dadlington wharf we decided to go for an evening constitutional around the village. It was at this point that the fun started. Having completed a walk around the village green we then headed down the Stoke Golding road hoping to find the canal in order to return to Jannock along the towpath. Halfway down the hill we came across a young man who was covered in blood and exhibiting signs of concussion. We persuaded him to sit on a bench seat and use my handkerchief in order to try and stem the bloodflow from a large gash above his left eye. It would appear that he had been riding an off-road motorcycle with a couple of mates and he’d fallen off. There was no sign off his mates now and he was wandering around looking for them. At that point a lady stopped her passing car and offered to help. Alex, the patient, said he lived in Hinkley and so she offered to take him home if we accompanied her. On arrival in Hinkley it became obvious that Alex could not remember where he lived and as all of our attempts to contact his girlfriend using his mobile had failed I decided it was time to dial 999 and get him some professional help. We were parked in the car park between the Windmill Inn and Halfords. The emergency services operator insisted on me giving a road for where we were. I had no idea as I’m not familiar with this area at all and so I ended up having to run out to the  main road in front of the pub in order to find the road name.

A paramedic arrived quite quickly closely followed by two police cars. It was decided that Alex required hospital treatment and so an ambulance was summoned. During all this time Alex spent his time either asking us who we were or else apologising to Brenda, me and the medic for inconveniencing us. By the time the ambulance arrived so had Alex’s missing mates, their mum, his girlfriend and even his dad almost filling up the car park. The manageress of the Windmill pub came over to explain that they did not have any CCTV cameras panned on the car park and so could not provide any evidence on what had happened to Alex. We re-assured her that the incident had occurred else where. At one point the paramedic said he needed to check Alex’s blood sugar levels. After searching through his pockets and scanning the contents he’d removed Alex admitted to the medic that he did not have any sugar on him.

Once Alex was inside the ambulance everyone seemed to just disappear and so the nice lady returned us to Jannock at Dadlington wharf in her car. What an evening!


and onto the Ashby

Saturday 27th August

We set off and immediately ran straight into a Bank Holiday traffic jam, 4th in the queue for Sutton stop lock. Progress through would have been faster but for the two 60+ foot boats moored inside the turn outside the Greyhound pub (which we didn’t visit last night due to the persistent rain). They gave very little room for those needing to manoeuvre to ascend the lock. I think words were ‘had’ as the hire boat that seemed only to be there for fishing moved off all in a dither.

When we passed later they were moored up again, just up the Coventry canal, past the 14 day moorings and the rods were out again. The lads sat on picnic chairs on the roof were unhappy about taking their lines in as other boats passed so Brenda warned them about the risk of getting their tackle caught round a propeller – were they bovvered?

We moored up against Grace at the rear of the Rigden villa and went in for tea, cake and catching up. We were also treated to a scary movie that someone had taken of their attempt to enter the Great Ouse.

Then off up the Ashby and our first harvest of the year. The joy of scrumping apples and there is a great tree full of nice cooking apples on the offside at bridge 3A. Within one hour (i.e. 3 miles) they were stewed so think of the food-miles!

As we approached Stoke Golding we found ourselves tagged onto the end of a funerial procession of two cruisers following a very slow narrowboat. By the time we reached Bradfield Bridge the number of boats in the queue had increased and so we pulled over to moor for the night. Intelligence gained on Sunday showed that all three boats at the head of the queue were together and the narrowboat had an engine problem.

We spent an excellent evening on our quiet mooring glued to the television. Serial episodes of Last of the Summer wine' followed by the comedy prom on Beeb2. All in all a day of sunshine and heavy cold showers which required the cape.


Friday, August 26, 2011

A very grey day

I took today off work to have a 4 day bank holiday weekend. We left home in the pouring rain hoping it would improve as the day went on. It was still raining when we arrived at Jannock and so we got wet unloading the car as well. We decided to have lunch before setting off and the rain stopped and the sun tried to come out whilst we were doing so, it dried up enough for me to be able to move the car to a safer parking place and return on the Di Blasi without getting wet. We set off heading North with the intent of doing the Ashby this weekend. I jumped ship as we approached Stretton stop so that I could walk ahead to get the swingbridge. Mean while Brenda had to pass a southbound Viking Afloat craft on the wrong side and wait whilst a narrowbeam barge was moved onto the slipway before she could move on. Both tasks were hindered by the Rose hireboats being moored two abreast between the railway bridge and the arm junction. Once passed Stretton the rain started again and so Brenda disappeared inside whilst I took the helm. We had passed through Ansty (including stopping at the water point and filling up) and were alongside the M6 before she re-appeared having fallen asleep on the sofa. She is still blaming the general anaesthetic she had ten days ago but I think that excuse is getting a bit weak now ;^)  We moored for the night on the visitor moorings before Sutton Stop so hopefully we will wander down the Greyhound later.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What queues at Hillmorton?

Sunday 14th August 2011

When we arrived above Hillmorton locks last weekend (see Braunston was busy (and wet!) )  there were long queues to descend as one of each pair of locks had been closed to conserve water stocks.  This action has pro’s and con’s as far as I can see as you are less likely to have to turn a lock if both are in use but the queues of boats indicate that less water is being used as progress through the flight is much slower. In any case, we moored Jannock up and went home leaving the locks until our next planned day on board.

This Sunday we were accompanied by Gladys, our neighbour who feeds our cat for us when we have weekends and holidays away, and we arrived allowing plenty of time to get through the obstacle. As I was preparing to set off two boats passed us heading for the locks and when a third appeared further back along the cut I hastily cast off to join the queue. What queue? Both locks of each pair were in use and we just had to wait one boat before we could enter a top lock. It would appear that after the complaints received, BW were operating both locks between 09:00 and 16:00 at weekends and reverting to single lock operation for the rest of the time.

At each of the remaining two locks we entered a ready lock after an ascending boat had departed and so a good run down the flight was made. Brenda did have a steering issue exiting the second lock as were on the towpath side and the boat waiting to ascend insisted on parking himself right outside the lower gate giving her no room at all to get out. She finally persuaded him that moving out of her way would allow him to enter the lock quicker than just sitting there. Out of the bottom lock and both taps were in use and so we didn’t stop for a water fill. On through Clifton and Rugby with no problems until we were passing through Newbold tunnel. A hireboat approaching from the other end decided not to enter the tunnel but go into the offside bank just outside the northern portal. They managed to go aground effectively blocking the canal due to having two boats following them that now had no where to go. We stopped and waited whilst they got themselves unstuck and then informed them that the tunnel was wide enough to pass in.

As we approached Lime Farm marina a boat was coming out through the bridge so we stopped mid channel again and waited for them to finish their manoeuvre. Unfortunately as the bows came round to point south, their stern went aground on a large submerged obstacle that is against the piling at the north side of the marina entrance, and they found that they were unable to move at all. The marina staff came out and assisted getting them afloat again and off they went. I decided I’d take the opportunity to fill Jannock’s tank and so I reversed her into the marina. They take self declared tax splits here and so I put 100 litres of 60/40 in at £117.00p.

We said farewell and managed to get out without encountering any submerged obstacles and moved on until we found a suitable 14 day mooring. I then fetched the car from Hillmorton whilst Brenda and Gladys picked blackberries from the hedgerow. After dinner we cleaned up, locked up and headed home in time for my regular Sunday evening Soddit session.


Monday, August 08, 2011

Braunston was busy (and wet!)

Sunday 7th August

We arrived at Jannock later than anticipated due to the queues of Fords that were completely blocking the A43 whilst trying to get into Silverstone. Their refusal to move over and queue in the left hand lane added 25 minutes to a 1 hour journey.  Simon and Lois were already on-board, having arrived some when after 3am and so the boat was open and ready on our arrival – however Simon and I did a car shuffle first as we had two vehicles available.

We set off at about 11am and went into Braunston tunnel which was remarkably dry considering the rain we’ve had recently. I got the impression we were following more than one boat through and we met seven coming the other way. Lucky for them this wasn’t a Soddit cruise with DJ Brian on board playing Jerusalem and the Dambusters march at loud volume during our passage.

We arrived at the top of Braunston flight to find ourselves fourth in the queue to descend. We paired up with nb Owl and shared the top lock after two lockings of ascending craft had passed.  In the next pound the two boats in front of us were waiting whilst more ascending craft were coming through their lock and it stayed like this for the whole flight.  Brenda  overheard   a woman walking up the towpath telling her friend that she was suffering from “water can envy” after she had observed the nicely painted cans on Owl’s roof.

We parted with Owl at lock 4 as an earlier singleton had broken up another pairing and so every-one was changing partners. The place alongside us as we descended lock 4 was taken by a Willow Wren hire craft with a 10 strong hen party on board – two of which seemed to know what they were doing whilst the rest just watched on in a bemused fashion. We were told that the ‘bride to be’ was still in her bed and was unlikely to surface before the bottom of the flight.  Seventy percent of the crew were still imbibing and getting worse, lock by lock. I’m glad I wasn’t at Hillmorton when they attacked those locks.

Above the bottom lock we found four boats waiting (and a moored butty) and so were unable to move out of the second  lock until two of them had moved into the bottom lock to go down. This also meant that the two ascending boats wanted to get into the lock we were still in. After the WW boat had moved out, one of the ascending pair came in beside Jannock so that the chain could move and Jannock could get out – you know, like one of those puzzles where you have to move the squares around inside a frame.  We then had to change partners again and the hen party went down with Owl who was now a singleton and we were joined by yet another partner – a bit like country dancing I suppose.

Whilst we waited above the bottom lock, the heavens opened with a really heavy rain storm so Simon and Lois rushed inside whilst Brenda and I got us down through the lock. By the time we were out, Brenda was completely soaked below the waist and so I sent her in to get changed and I took over the tiller. After all, I was in shorts and sandals below my waterproof coat so it didn’t matter about my lower half getting wet. I steered us past the junction and onto the North Oxford canal where we found ourselves ahead of a group of three boats.

The rain stopped and the sun came out again and funnily enough so did our crew ;^) and so it was time to teach Lois to steer Jannock. For a first timer she did quite well, only getting wobbly a couple of times when instinct says push the tiller when she really needed to pull it.  She appreciated my ‘New steerer top tip’ – point the wooden end of the tiller bar towards what you want to MISS!

We ended the day, after mooring up, with a nice hot curry that had been cooking away in the slow cooker all the time we were moving. A quick wash-up and lock-up before we took them back to Simon’s car and said farewell. They were heading back to Manchester and us down to Oxford.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Jannock does the Nene – Day 13

Red sky at night …. is possibly a load of old twaddle!  Another red sky as we walked back from Little Houghton last night, another grey, cold and damp morning – Ahh high summer.

I reversed elegantly from our overnight mooring and fell in behind nb Toad of Toad Hall. We had been warned when we met Brian this week  that they were en-route between the Middle Levels and the Canal system. They were a pleasure to share with all the way today. We pulled onto the service point at Midsummer Meadows today hoping for a pumpout, but despite everyone's efforts no effluent was going anywhere. The pump appeared to be working OK and investigation beneath the Carlsberg mass keggery man-hole cover above the sani-station showed that the drains were blocked because the man-hole was full up to the brim. We phoned Northampton council, as instructed on the signage, to let them know but they’d obviously all popped to the loo!

We went past the Carlsberg mass keggery to possibly the best smell in the world, spent hops and malt. It reminded us of our school days in Alton, Hants when there were three breweries active in one town.

The lock 14 Yeti We were pleased that nb Toad of Toad Hall went first up the Northampton Arm as they were 3 crewed and back-set all of the locks for us which made our passage that little bit easier.  At lock 14 we had to drag a ‘Yeti’ out of the way before we could open the gate.  nb Melaleuca warned us yesterday of low levels between locks 7 and 5 – Thanks.   Luckily, even though they appeared lower than when we came down, we had no problem as we don’t draw much which is why the wind blows us around so often.

Up to Gayton we went as we are going home one day earlier than planned. Due to the Aquadrive gaiter surrendering during our trip, Graham had ordered the repair kit on the internet and we need to fix it. Whilst I cleared up and made dinner, he went down in the engine hole and removed it in order to carry out the repair in the comfort of his shed tomorrow. He hopes to refit it to Jannock later tomorrow while I do the best part of two weeks washing.

To sum up – a busy two weeks, friends old and new well met, beautiful countryside, lovely villages and towns visited, disappointing weather – but then we didn’t get really wet as we stayed inside during the deluge at Elton. Wind burn rather than sun burn ;^)

Tree of the trip – Lime, the scent was gorgeous and reminded me of my mum.

Bird of the trip – the Terns were a real pleasure to watch, and a bit of a novelty.

Animal of the week – Matt’s kitten Mooshie who has had a car accident while we’ve been away and has had to have the top of his femur removed. Get well soon Puss!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jannock does the Nene – Day 12

After a very peaceful night pegged to the bank just before Wollaston lock we set off at about 10 am. As we rose in the lock another upstream boat arrived and so we agreed to wait for them at the next lock. We had seen this couple aboard their anonymous boat at Aston lock last Saturday. At Doddington lock we settled inside the empty lock and waited for them to catch up with us. As we waited a down-stream boat arrived to pass through but the crew agreed to wait on the lock landing for our potential partners to arrive. This boat was an ex-Viking afloat boat on it’s way to Willy Watt marina for blacking  and I had a long chat with it’s owner about the stern fender as it was similar to the Black Prince style fitted to Jannock. Our partners arrived and we worked through the lock together. As we were leaving another up-stream boat arrived to share with the boat that had waited and so it all worked out OK in the end.

Graham moving the weed At Whiston lock there were lots of large weed clumps floating about in the entrance to the chamber and they prevented Jannock from entering alongside the other boat. I had to man-handle them out of the lock using the long shaft before we could get  in alongside the other boat. We took it in turns to stay and turn each lock as we passed through except for the two locks where we met boats going the other way – which definitely makes life easier.

We bade farewell to our partners at Weston Favell lock, just after the Northampton Boat and Shed club,  as they were N B & S C continuing on to Morrisons in Northampton whilst we moored up opposite the Washlands again for the night. I used the nice pontoon mooring here to allow me to remove the middle bedroom window and re-install it in order to fix the leak we discovered during the heavy rain last Saturday. I’ll do the two on the other side of the boat later on this week.

This evening we walked across the Washlands to the village of Little Houghton, explored the village and finished off with a very nice pint in the Four Pears (NOT Red Lion as stated in the Imray guide) which appears to be an up-market gastro-pub, so up market that even the local vicar looked under dressed.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jannock does the Nene – Day 11

Last night we spent a very enjoyable evening with Terry and Olympic duathaleteChristine aboard nb Grace catching up on the three years since we last met. They left the Denford mooring at 9:30 this morning and we set off in the other direction at 10:00.

Near Woodford we passed this Olympic athlete in training for the “Duathalon”. He had just completed the “Trudging with a heavy load” course and was about to start the fishing coarse!

After Upper Ringstead lock Brenda went inside for a bath whilst I remained at the tiller, passing time watching all of the fish in the perfectly clear water in this stretch. I spotted a couple of reasonable size pike within a couple of hundred metres of each heron2other.

A flight of seven powered gliders flew overhead in something that loosely resembled a formation, obviously Air Cadet aircraft being dispersed to RAF stations ready for the impending Summer Camp season.

At Irthingborough lock it started to rain heavily and so once through, we tied up on the Rushton and Diamonds visitor mooring for lunch. The rain passed and so we continued on to Wellingborough where we stopped for water and a quick trip to Tesco.

Back on board, and still solvent, we continued up through Upper Wellingborough lock and then moored for the night against a bank just before Wollaston lock.


P.S. Hello Simon from nb Melaleuca, sorry I was late posting tonight. Had to wash up first ;^(

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jannock does the Nene – Day 10

The volume of rainwater coming downstream means that we are now experiencing the ‘windlass free lock’. The lower guillotine gates do not require one and the amount of water spilling over the top gates means that there is no point winding up the paddles as the lock fills quite quickly without doing so.

As we approached Thrapston we found the big E.A. weedcutter  descending Islip lock. The crew were trying to move it downstream below Islip Mill footbridge, which is the lowest on this part of the navigation, before the levels rose too much. The driver reckoned he might have about 1-2 cm to spare Low WeedcutterHigh Weedcutter

despite the funky  rising cab it is fitted with. Their technique to get it under the bridge was to shift all of the harvested weed on the conveyor forwards towards the cutters which made the front of the craft dip into the water. They then lowered the control cab to it’s lowest position and as they inched under the bridge they used the conveyor to move the weed load towards the rear at the same time as accelerating to dip the stern. They just got through. as we left Islip lock we were warned that the river levels are increasing and to be careful.

The truth about Rushton and Diamonds – straight from the E.A. The water and power to the services at R&D were cut off when the football club went into liquidation. The E.A. have not been able to get anyone to restore them and latterly have been refused access to the facilities. The E.A. is trying hard to be able to re-instate electricity, water and management of the facilities.

Islip bridge and waterpoint Lunch stop was the Woolpack in Islip in the company of nb Harnser’s crew, Brian and Diana, who turned up on cue as the coffee and cake was ready for us and the E.A. man. Two more cups please! A pleasant lunch was had by all. And then Brian exited the awkward mooring and went through the bridge in one go with much aplomb.

After that we set off for Denford moorings for another rendezvous. Kettle magic again – just as the tea had brewed the Rigdens pulled into the moorings behind us on nb Grace.

nb Melaleuca hoved into view a good few minutes after we’d heard his Lister engine. Honestly there is no pleasing some people. He asked if we were the Jannocks who blogged,  we agreed we were. “You’re going the wrong way then” he replied. – Readers, please keep up to date! we write this rubbish, the least you could do is read it on time ;^)  Joking apart, “Hi there Melaleuca crew, we may see you later as we’re now heading in the same direction”


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Jannock does the Nene – Day 9

Graham’s grooming tips :- never perform your Sunday morning ablutions so vigorously that you get cramp in your neck and it gets stuck under your armpit!

At 08:30 I awoke enough to realise that Graham had gone on a goose rescue mission. A canada goose had got in a right pickle with cramp or some such. It was floating down the mill cut with it’s head stuck behind it’s wing and was fading fast. Nothing Graham or the fisherman on the opposite bank did allowed them to catch it and help. Eventually, just as it looked as if it’s goose was cooked, one last flap and kerfuffle saw the head pop out from under the wing. Goose paddled slowly off with a visible crick in it’s neck, now able to stay the right way up, breathe and feed. Phew!Rose and Crown, Oundle

Name that bird - please? Last night it was delightful to hear, at 05:30 this morning I wanted to shoot the bl@@dy thing. It sings from the treetops, loud short bursts of song, each repeated two or three times, each different and melodious. A warbler of some description? Unfortunately our Birds of Britain book doesn’t do audio snippets.

We strolled into Oundle and had elevenses (whilst sheltering from the rain) in a very nice coffee shop. It’s a very pretty town with most necessities. There is a decent Co-op as you enter or leave using the Ashton path. As we walked through the fields we were in danger of joining a ‘trudging team of the third age’. Later as we travelled up river we witnessed the extended sport, a duathalon of trudging (inc. hauling heavy trolleys and bags) and fishing. Surely a good bet for 2012?

Titchmarsh Mill The sunshine and showers turned to windy and heavy showers so I found it convenient to keep popping inside to wash and rinse the laundry whilst Graham remained doggedly at the tiller. We moored for the night on the 48 hour moorings below Titchmarsh lock in a howling gale and watched the water pour over the top gates of the lock. Telecommunications with Mr Holt of this parish informed us that the river was high enough further upstream to prevent narrowboats going under some bridges without damage, so an early stop gives a chance for the water levels to subside as long as it doesn’t rain more.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Jannock does the Nene – Day 8

The Crown Inn at Elton proved to be an excellent pub last night, Elton Mill go past the mill from the moorings, across the meadow and into the village. It’s down Duck Street to the left.

the view out the window this morning This morning we awoke to mizzle and breakfasted as the rain increased. By normal setting off time we chose to listen to classic FMs best, read Terry Pratchett, start and immediately get wrong an epic-strength cross stitch and check out the window leaks that became apparent during the downpour. Graham got cabin fever despite the activity and chose to prepare lunch – another historic meal; we are using up ye olde shippes provisions at a goodly rate. We also haven’t died of new fangled best before dates yet either. To ward off scurvy we opened Iris’ wonderful nutty and fruity cake, especially provisioned for the voyage.

We upped pegs and set off at 13:30 hours, our meteorology report having been phoned in by one Mr Holt, currently of this parish, who informed us that it had just stopped raining in Northampton. We met a group of very be-draggled young canoeists. They looked no more cheerful than the all England wet-weather under 18s trudging team who passed by whilst we were moored up after obviously camping out last night. That Duke of Edinburgh has got a lot to answer for.

nb Gower nb Gower was leaving Elton as we did so we asked if they were happy to lock share. They said that they’d be winding before Warmington lock so we went on through only to have them turn up at the lock landing when we were halfway through because they’d changed their minds. When we arrived at Perio lock we sat and waited for them to arrive and shared. As we arrived at Cotterstock lock, a couple of cruisers crewed by some 20 somethings, beers in hand, were about to descend. We were about to pull onto the lcok landing but were pleased when they left the lock in our favour. In we went, they were even prepared to wait for Gower to arrive. We’ll admit we had to examine our predjudices. After waiting with no sign they decided to start the locking process but then Gower rounded the bend and so they raised the gate again and Gower slipped in beside us. Thanks, much appreciated.

After passing through Ashton lock solo as Gower moored up in the meadow near Oundle, we pulled into the mill stream and moored for the night in the same location as last Tuesday. Our second favourite mooring of the trip and luckily not restricted to 24 hours like our favourite.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Jannock does the Nene – Day 7

Out of the seven boats moored on the 24 hour moorings in IMGP3205 Overton lake last night we were the last to leave. I took the opportunity of having a full length pontoon to polish Jannock’s paintwork. I then pushed her over to the next vacant pontoon and did the other side as well. Once I had finished then we set off and rejoined the river, turning up stream.

At Alwalton lock we brought Jannock in and two cruisers arrived on the lock landing. One was too wide but the other did not want to join us either. Just then another narrowboat (nb Tane Mahita) arrived and was waved past the cruisers to share with us. They were obviously disappointed not to over take the pair of us before Water Newton lock as they had to follow us through that one and did not even come up to the lockside until after we had left.  The next section was a lot longer and they were determined to overtake us so they despatched the fastest cruiser, with a single crew member on board, as soon as the lock gates opened and he overtook us just after Wansford Station. The other cruiser with the rest of both crews on board came steaming past just after Pat Buckles yard. We found the pair of them waiting at Wansford lock whilst yet another narrowboat was working through.

IMGP3222Brenda spotted her first Kingfisher of the year at Wansford today and also her Amarylis, which she bought with us from home, has opened two lovely flowers.

We moored for the night just above Elton lock where we have had to use our gangplank between the back seat and the bank. Brenda is grateful to the ‘Beale Park Woodpecker’ as we have had to pin the plank to the bankside to stop it slipping off.

Right, off to explore the pubs of Elton.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jannock does the Nene – Day 6

River Canal Rescue saves the day – Last night I found that the gaiter Grease Guard fitted around the Aquadrive universal joint had split and that it had sprayed the engine compartment with Molybendum grease. I cleaned up the best I could and then I fabricated a ‘grease guard’ from out of date RCR brochures which was the only source of stiff card I had and some parcel tape. This did the job of preventing it re-covering the engine bay whilst we continued to Peterborough.

We left Wansford station at 10 am and shared the next two locks with nb Great Escape but arrived at the 3rd lock to find another boat had just entered and so we bade farewell to Gt. Escape and shared with the new partner instead.

Alwalton Mill We continued on into Peterborough where we turned round and moored at the services on the Town Quay. I filled the watertank and did a pumpout before we moved to moor on the embankment and go shopping. If you need the rubbish disposal point here it is around the back of the building with the pumpout switch fitted on the wall. You’ll need an EA key to get at the bins and the door is not signed.

Brenda was not impressed with Peterborough market but the mains shopping streets have all the things we needed. Visit the cathedral and the old city square and shops before going on to Asda where we did our main food shop. There is also a Majestic wine warehouse at the rear through the car park.

At 4pm we left Peterborough and set off upstream to find a more peaceful mooring. We popped into Thorpe meadows for a look-see but decided we would not moor there for the night as the smell of chips from the Boathouse pub adjacent to the mooring was too much to bear. We passed up through Orton lock again and went into Overton lake where we have breasted up next Public garden in P'boroto nb Bill Badger. Nb Great Escape failed to escape as we have them on the other side of us.

Oh dear. Brenda purchased ‘oven bake’ Spam fritters at Asda which  has really made my evening. They were so good I was grinning like a Cheshire cat for quite a while. After a fritterful dinner we took a walk around the lakes at Ferry Meadows park. It was lovely to see so many families out enjoying it at 7:30 on a Thursday evening. There were three groups of Guides, Brownies and Scouts having their ‘end of term’ parties, much laughter. As the evening drew to a close we wondered if it was a sunset we could see or the Brownies BBQs getting a little out of control.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jannock does the Nene – Day 5

Wildlife of the day – The Fotheringhay green woodpeckers.  We’ve seen more today than in a year at home and we have some nesting there!

Weather – Bah humbug Grey with a chilly wind causing more hassle.

As we left Ashton cut a boat had just arrived at the lock landing; goody a share.Cotterstock Hall Wrong! I prepped the lock whilst Graham reversed Jannock out of the mooring. Older chap took his boat into the lock, younger chap helped me. His dad (on the boat) said he was a squaddie on leave. I was impressed with his battle fitness as he took no time at all to raise a paddle. Both boats were in and Graham went down to raise the guillotine gate. Deja vous as the tiller thumped me again as the rudder was forced over by the water rushing in through the still open paddle. Squaddie had managed about 1/4 open whilst impressing me and then carried on opening it when it was time to close them again. Orders were barked, he can at least take orders. At the next lock I got Jannock in, despite the wind, but older chap got in a real pickle and ended up across the river with a tendency towards the direction from whence he had come. That was the point he decided he was giving up and returning. Squaddie was having a muddlesome time throwing me knitting thinly described as rope but he eventually made their boat safe, pointing back up-stream, so that older Fotheringhay Church chap could walk the dogs. His dogs were attached to frayed poly rope and out of control. The rope got wrapped around Graham’s leg at one point and he has rope burn now. It seems that older chap has spent three years fitting out his boat and it went into the water for the first time this morning. It seems he took none of that time to actually try boating and acquire some skill. I decided that the Army is a safer place this week, because a certain squaddie is on leave.

Later we caught up with nb Great Escape and spent the rest of the day and the locks with them. TheirNene Valley Railway experience was very handy in the increasing wind. Moorings being few and far between, unless you are happy to pay £4 at Fotheringhay – no wonder Mary Queen of Scots lost her head – we found one boats length free at  Warnsford Station pontoon and so moored up two abreast just in time for the gents to get excited about seeing the last train of the day puff past.

There have been many lovely churches to see from the river over the last couple of days.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jannock does the Nene – Day 4

You know your are rural when the spray-can graffiti on derelict walls goes thus “ UHT, use it when you like, it’s still milk”

Today we moved from the Nene (pronounced Nen) to the Nene (pronounced Neen) without needing our passports or having to pass through immigration!Middle Nene Cruising Club

We set off from our delightfully rural mooring, on the offside just  downstream from the Middle Nene Sailing Club, at 10am. As we approached Titchmarsh lock (and the Middle Nene Cruising Club) we passed nb Lexa’s empty mooring as Bernard and Sandy are off Waddenhoe church and sundial doing the Thames. At Waddenhoe we stopped on the Kings Head moorings  and explored the village, including the church and the dovecot, before having an excellent lunch back in the pub. Beers were Norfolk Wherry and Cocky Blonde – result! The food was very good as well.

Down through Waddenhoe lock and the head wind was getting up making outer garments essential. We saw two cock pheasants having a stand-off in the field alongside the river. Unfortunately the fight was over before we managed to get a photo. At Upper Barnwell lock, Brenda held Jannock on the lock landing whilst I set the lock. When ready, as soon as she loosed off the wind took Jannock’s bows straight across the river and all her attempts to counter it failed. The stern rammed into the bank and the tiller shot round and tried to knock her off of the back of the boat. With sheer effort she managed to stop it and then I was able to heave the bows back into wind to allow her to enter the lock. She was fair shook up by the experience and now has painful shoulder and ribs as a reminder of how close she came to being knocked into the river. A local boater waiting to ascend the lock told Brenda that this lock is an “accident black spot” in windy weather with many boats ending up across the stream. He said the locals didn’t pass through if the wind was up.

We called in to Oundle marina to see if they stocked Engine stop cablespeacocks at Ashton but they didn’t so we untied and continued on. We finally moored for the night in Ashton cut and walked up to the village for a look around. Nigel on nb Goosander said that the path to the village was blocked by a fallen tree last Thursday but it has been removed now, in fact we are moored in the exact spot that it fell – anyone want any free logs?

The Chequered Skipper in Ashton has 3 real ales on and offers two  meal courses for £10 Monday to Thursday (lunch & evening) and Friday lunchtime. Having eaten in the Kings Head at lunchtime we were tempted but resisted. The food being served looked good and we might try to stop for a meal on the return journey. The wonderful ambience of the village, built in 1900 by the Rothschild family, is enhanced by the number of Peacocks (& hens) strutting around.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Jannock does the Nene – Day 3

All these wildfowl nature reserves are a bad influence on Graham. He was up with the lark today; he’d prepped breakfast, tidied away weeks of his “stuff” and finished washing the heronroof before I surfaced. To make matters worse he worked out how to secure the new washing line so that gravity is no longer a problem. I wouldn’t mind but I’m not even the ‘owl’ to his ‘lark’.  The heron in the picture here was just over the bank from our mooring.

We coasted into the Rushden and Diamonds FC moorings to find that the services are still closed as the football club has gone into administration. No, I don’t understand that either. The Doc Martins factory shop is also closed – manufacture moved to China. Onto the lock when Graham’s phone rang.  He was listening intently and looking negative. I assumed problems at home and cut the engine so that he could hear better. When it was time to re-start – no go! I went through the drill, No go! Much to my astonishment the engine stop button broke off in my hand. We pulled Jannock from the lock using the rope and lock wall chain and Graham went into the engine bay. The earth wire to the starter solenoid had broken, the problem and I’d just made it so that we could neither stop nor start now. Good thing Graham is an engineer because he held the earth wire to chassis and the engine started.

Oh, the phone call? The Environment Agency were letting us know that the dead fish were due to the weed cutting de-oxygenating water with already low oxygen levels. “One of those things, sadly” We were thanked for our call, the only one about the incident, the officer wondered how many people had seen the situation and done nothing. At Upper Ringstead lock the pollution plot thickened. Graham asked some E.A. weedcutters, taking lunch, if they knew of a chandlery and explained how our stop knob broke. They were most upset at weedcutters being implicated in the Piscicide as they routinely check Oxygen levels before cutting and knew that the small cutter at Whiston Lock to be less of a problem than their huge one. He demonstrated that the Oxygen levels could cope and asked us for our Incident number in order to check out the situation. He suspected sewage pollutants.

dukeduchess We stopped at Thrapston for water and provisions, a useful little town with most things you might need including a vet. Post Office on the river side of town, large Co-op and chippy at top end. Banks etc. are there to. We had to reverse into the Thrapston mooring in order to breast up to a boat already there. Frank and Sheila made us welcome alongside and put up with Graham fixing the starting and stopping mechanisms whilst the water tank filled. When I returned from the shops the beers had been broken out.

At Islip lock a rather tatty cruiser approached as we entered. We waited for them to come in and had to wave them alongside. Their refusal to share was based upon the advice given when they picked up this, their first boat. Never share with a narrowboat, they will crush you. We put them right, they joined Jannock and lived to tell the tale.

We moored for the night at another nature reserve which gave us the view shown below from our outside dining area (the fold down cratch table)

dining blogger