Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A belated ‘home-run’ report.

Saturday 13th October

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday 20th October

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

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

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

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


Thursday 25th October.

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

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

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

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


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



Sunday, October 07, 2012

A very misty morning

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



How to get the wife to pay!

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

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

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



Monday, October 01, 2012

Oh No! it’s broke

Sunday 30th September

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

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

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

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

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



On the move again

Saturday 29th September

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

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In praise of Tilley hats

In 2004 Brenda purchased a Tilley hat (type T3) as a present for me and  it has been my ‘boating hat’ ever since. Although not cheap, one of the benefits of the Tilley is a guarantee Basyeyesagainst loss or damage.

In 2006, whilst we were doing the Basingstoke at Easter, I found a pair of googly StdWear eye glasses floating in the cut and ever since then my Tilly hat has sported then on the brim where they attract lots of comments, both complementary and not, from almost everyone we meet whilst boating.

After this year’s Cutweb rally, she (who must be obeyed) confiscated my hat for yet another visit to the washing machine in the name of hygiene. When the wash had finished she was aghast at what she found and then had to break the news to me that my beloved hat had suffered in the wash and now had a large tear just above the head band for about 30% of the circumference.

I decided to check out the guarantee conditions on the Tilley website and found that if I returned the damaged hat to their Cornwall address with a cheque for £5.00p they would replace the damaged item. I could even request that the original hat is returned to me as well. So the hat was posted back to Tilley on Thursday 20th September and lo behold, a replacement arrived on Monday 24th September accompanied by my existing hat which now sported a large letter R indelibly marked on the inside lining.

Tillyeyes Brenda then attacked the old newTilly hat and repaired the damage so that it could still be worn. If you look closely in the picture (left)  you can just see the repair  behind the googly eyes which are now refitted in their rightful place.

A big Well done! to Tilley Endurables for a service better than I expected – definitely worth every penny of the original purchase price and worthy of a Jannock recommendation..



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jannock’s summer trip – days #14 to #17 – The Cutweb Rally

Friday 14th to Monday 17th September

Having been home to do some washing, shopping and collect all the paraphernalia we needed for the Cutweb rally we returned to Jannock and prepared to descend Stockton locks. We waited during which time we had lunch but no-one else appeared travelling Northbound and so we finally set off down the flight solo. No lock wheeling bicycle as I’d taken it home but luckily Ken Kroeker from nb Helmsman appeared and lock set for us so we completed the flight in 1 hour and 10 minutes. We moored up on the outside of a three abreast raft at the end of the Blue Lias garden.

Friday evening we joined the collection of Cutweb members eating in the top end of the bar of the pub where our rally was being held. Their new bar food menu received very positive comments from some of us regular rally attendees. We have themed this year as the ‘Jubilympics’ and so at 22:00 hrs Brian Holt lit the pseudo Olympic torch (converted bird feeder sprayed gold) that he bought on Ebay which immediately went out again. After being relit several times we all retired to bed to prepare for a day of sporting action tomorrow.

Saturday morning arrived with glorious sunny weather which bode well for our planned ‘Jubilympic’ event. We started a selection of games before lunch that continued on through the afternoon. These included Athletic, Equestrian, Sailing, Winter and Raquet sports in which no animals were really harmed at all. They continued most of the afternoon until the Jubilympic steet party started. For this we arranged a collection of the pub’s garden tables into a long line and eat lots of cake, more cake and even more cake. Neil and Julie play for CutwebGold medals were awarded to the games winners at the end of the party. Saturday evenings entertainment came in four parts, Kate Saffin performed her one-woman play Isobel’s War, Neil and Julie Smith entertained us with their own modern take on folk songs, the Queen (aka our club commodore in disguise) addressed us with a side splitting speech and finally a sample of Operatic and ‘last night of the proms’ favourites performed by Simon (a club member) and Camilla, both of whom are training and needed to perform in front of a willing audience. My only regret was that I did not get all of the pictures I’d hoped for because my camera was set to video mode instead of photo.

Sunday morning was colder but still dry and we started with a charitable auction of boaters tat and other unwanted items which was followed by an excellent Sunday lunch. In the afternoon we had a completely new event for a Cutweb rally – a boat tug of war with three great participants. It was great to watch although a little un-nerving for the poor guy moored on the towpath opposite the pub garden as well as the occasional passing hire-boat. Late afternoon, Matt (No. 2 son) and Ali arrived as they are taking Jannock over for a weeks holiday when we finish on Monday. The sunday evening quiz, which contained a fresh format, was prepared and presented by Neil and Linda Arlidge of nb Earnest. Our ‘Team Keens’ didn’t win or come last so we were happy.  Some more medals were awarded before we finally gave in and went to bed.

Monday morning was even colder and very wet as it had rained hard during the night. I arose early and moved the car to our planned destination, returning on the Di Blasi, in time for breakfast. We moved Jannock over onto the towpath side of the cut, filled with water and then shared the Stockton flight with Simon aboard nb Vida~Nueva. Once out of Stockton flight we moved on to Calcutt where we shared with John on nb Black Pig during which Ali steered through her first two locks. Left at the junction after which she drove into her first hedge before we pulled over, removed our clutter and waved goodbye to Jannock as she went off towards Braunston. 

On our way home we called in at the Wharf Inn at Fenny Compton for lunch. The place is obviously under new management since our last visit and the food was excellent. We chose two items from the ‘two for £10’ (11am to 6pm) selection and were surprised at the size and quality of what we received. We were so full after just a main course that we decided not to have the deserts that we had already chosen from the menu. Another establishment that now gets a ‘Jannock Recommendation’ as they also have a shop and a launderette. Where else can you sit and have a pint or two whilst your smalls are doing? There was one old local who came in and had a pint whilst the bar maid made up his shopping order for him to take away – a brilliant local service.



Friday, September 14, 2012

Jannock’s summer trip – day #13

Thursday 13th September

Graham was up and out a 6-ish, doing a car shuffle from Banbury lane bridge to Stockton. Brrr – a cold morning. I had a cuppa ready just as he returned and so we breakfasted and were on our way by 9 o’clock.

The sun came out but the brisk wind ensured it was a hat and gloves morning for me. We made our way past the puddle banks and on towards Napton junction meeting about a dozen boats heading the other way.autumn morning

No-one to share Calcutt locks with and no point waiting for a partner as two pairs of boats were ascending to top two locks so we had an easy passage down. Two more arrived at the bottom as we were coming down the third so it was about the easiest we’ve ever done these.

At about 12 o’clock we moored up on the straight above Stockton flight where Graham had parked the car in order to visit our ‘real’ home with two weeks washing and to dump ‘stuff’ so that we can take the Cutweb rally ‘stuff’ back with us.

A few minutes later Bill on nb Rosy pulled in front of us and moored for his lunch followed almost immediately by Ken and Claudia on nb Helmsman.

At home we had Lamb St George for dinner. These were obtained from the butcher at Atherstone and were the size of real faggots but made from lamb mince with streaky bacon wrapped around. They were superb, not a lot of fat and really tasty. At 90p each they were terrific, definitely worth a visit just for these if you are shopping in Atherstone.



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jannock’s summer trip – day #12

Wednesday 12th September

Graham set off at bbrrrrr o’clock and was soon working up through Sutton Stop lock onto the North Oxford canal. When I felt I could get up without frostbite I warmed up chocolatines for breakfast and got dressed ready to pick blackberries. We found some suitable off-side bushes near Nettle Hill bridge and so we held the boat to the bank with the boat hook and picked about 1 kilo of fruit quite quickly. This year, although we were passed by two boats during freshjam this operation, no one complained about Jannock being slightly skewiff on the cut. An American hirer declared our exploits as ‘awesome’. Awesome Jam it is then. Bush to jar in less than 1 hour.

Storecupboard challenge #10 – the jam making sugar was best before July 2010. Additionally, the dried vegetables I put into tonight’s lamb casserole were best before May 2011. The jam was excellent. The veggies were – well – dried veggies.

As we approached All Oaks Wood we followed a kingfisher down the cut for about 15 minutes. We called into Lime Kiln marina for diesel but John said they had run out. He was expecting a delivery today and it usually came first thing in the morning so he’d ring the supplier to find out exactly when it was due. We waited for about 15-20 minutes during which time another boat, who wanted gas, went on past because we were blocking the entrance. We got fed up waiting as time is short and John hadn’t returned to tell us what the oil suppliers said so we left and continued south.

Comong through Newbold 14 day moorings we met a northbound hireboat on a bend who immediately went into reverse and lost control of his front end so we had to stop smartish too. Brenda commented about all of the cans of Strongbow the crew were consuming and so a new superhero, Ciderman, was born. His task is to ensure world peace by going round saying “ I bloody love yousunset!” to everyone he meets.

We made a slow ascent of Hillmorton locks as only one lock of each pair was in operation. Round the corner we met Brain and Diana on nb Harnser closely being followed by Ian and Ann Street on nb Copperkins. They told us that Ken and Claudia on nb Helmsman were waiting for our arrival in Braunston.

And today we had rain, it was mostly light and on and off all the way  from Hillmorton to Braunston until we stopped at the sani-station for water and a pumpout when the heavens opened for the whole time it took to pumpout. Graham got a good soaking. It stayed raining heavily like that until Graham had moored Jannock in the space immediately outside the marina that Ken had thoughtfully reserved for us by parking his boat in it until we arrived when he moved back into his berth. Once tied up it stopped immediately and we had a lovely red sunset.

Hello’s to Mike and Christina nbs Draco and Success and Andrew nb Toulouse who we passed in Braunston but saw no-one aboard.



Jannock’s summer trip – day #11

Tuesday 11th September

Jannock was loosed off at ten past seven this morning. My tea was delivered to my bed and despite the return of sunshine and blue skies I remained there. After four days in holiday mode Jannock is once again a ‘fly-boat’ eating up the miles through long days. Tonight we’d like to make it to Sutton’s Stop. Last night’s rain awoke me from an Alice in Wonderland type dream where however fast you travel, your destination keeps receding. All that rain last night means I’m aware of the slipperiness for the single handed boater so I’d better get up rather than just laying here getting anxious.

lookingbackdownatherstone What is it with the British weather, too hot to be wearing clothes on Saturday evening and two fleeces and a need for gloves Tuesday morning. And then we got to Atherstone!

Up to lock 6 from 11 we flew, graham on the bike and me steering Jannock until ……. Graham received a text message from the Halifax advising him that the new telephone banking security number he had ordered had been sent. What????? On the phone immediately to find out what’s going on, are we about to have our account raided again? He finally managed to get the new number disabled as he hadn’t ordered one at all.

After lock 3 we had to wait for a digger good 30 minutes whilst a BW/CaRT tug and lighter sat in lock 2 so that the machines clearing the silt out of the side pond could load it up. A mini-digger in the pond removed the reeds and silt and pushed them towards the larger digger which lifted them into the lighter. At one point the mini-digger driver was ferreting around in his pockets for his cigarettes loading up and dropped a bag of ear-plugs into the mud. Graham pointed this out to him so he bent down out of the cab to retrieve them and immediately dropped his smart phone into the slime as well. Ooooooops!

Once through the flight we moored up and walked down into Atherstone for supplies. We found it to be far less depressing than on our last visit. We found the super butcher near the market square, by the church. Then we wandered down to the end of town to visit the big new Co-op. However we spotted Aldi opposite so went shopping there instead – BIG mistake because Graham came out with a new toy, a router table as a holiday souvenir. The market seemed to consist of just three stalls – fruit and veg, clothes and household goods of the kitchen and scullery type (well, I remember sculleries)

Storecupboard challenge day #9 – lunch was hot-dog sausages in warm crispy rolls. The tinned hot dogs were best eaten before 2003. They tasted none the worse for being 9 years out of date, but 6/10 was all they’ve ever scored so 6/10 it is now.

Supper (and overnight mooring) was courtesy of Terry and Christine, nb Grace. Their boat is away being worked on so we moored at the end of their garden and were treated to a very good chilli ‘n’ nachos. Christine showed us some of her watercolours that she’d done, they are lovely. Thanks for a good evening of chat and laughter. We hope to find some lyrical wax soon.



Monday, September 10, 2012

Jannock’s summer trip – day #10

Monday 10th September

I was up and at-em at 7:30 this morning and had completed my FIRST EVER solo lock passage (Tattenhill) by 7:50. I then honed my process during passage of the next two locks before Brenda surfaced as we passed through the river Trent section before Alrewas.

 AlrewasOlympicMurialAs we passed through we noticed Allan aboard Pengallanty moored up and shouted hello as he is a fellow Cutweb member. Further on there is a wonderful Olympic themed mural under the bridge by Bagnall lock. It even shows the Queen parachuting into the opening ceremony. We continued on the Fradley services where I filled Jannock’s water tank whilst Brenda went to use the shower. Having inspected the facility she decided to use the one on the boat as the BW/CaRT item was too much hassle to use due to very poor design.

At the junction Brenda completed a very tricky manoeuvre of exiting Junction lock and turning left onto the Coventry canal whilst one northbound boat hovered outside the Swan public house whilst another was coming out of the junction. Once through the swing bridge we continued on to the Plough at Huddlesford where we stopped for lunch. The beer was fine but the food was reasonable typical pub grub.

As we rounded the bend at the top of Hopwas woods we met nb “Hoo Mill”, another Cutweb member according to the sticker in the window which amused Brenda and I a great deal. We know Hopwas woods as “hooty wol woods” (See www.jannock.org.uk – 30th May 2004) and so to meet Hoo Mill was amusing.

On through Fazely to Glascote where we found both locks set against us. I was surprised to see a barge shell in Hudson’s yard. I wonder if it has false rivets?

Passing on through Amington we found a small child in a back garden trying to retrieve his football from the canal so it was ‘Jannock to the rescue’ yet again. Having recovered the ball and returned it to it’s owner we then had to encourage him to say Thankyou. We moored for the night opposite the golf course just before Alvecote marina.

Storecupboard challenge #8 – UHT milk with a best before date of 2011 which was totally correct, the fat had started to separate out even though it still tasted fine – score 6/10



Jannock’s summer trip – day #9

Sunday 9th September

When we surfaced this morning we found that not only had Linda left early toStensonLockQ head back to London but also Neil had set off south down the Trent and Mersey solo. We set off at 9am and made our way to Derwent mouth lock where we found a Canaltime boat that had just entered and were waiting for us to join them in the ascent. Once through the lock they decided to pull over to have their breakfast and so we continued on to Shardlow lock alone and then shared with another Canaltime boat with an Australian crew, once we had made our way to the front of the queue.

We changed partners several times during our passage through all the double locks but each one involved yet another queue to get in. One Canaltime boat had a French crew who appeared to speak no English. Their reputation went before them on the towpath telegraph and luckily we managed to overtake them whilst they were taking on water above Weston lock.

We continued down through Burton, past the wonderful mural under the bridge at Dallow lock, with the sky becoming cloudier and the wind increasing until we finally stoburtonmurialpped for the night at Branston water burtonmurial2park.






Today I have realised the foolishness of agreeing to share three short journey days with Neil and Linda on Earnest. Those missing hours plus the time lost in queuing today is making our schedule a bit tight which is not what either Brenda or I really wanted on our holiday. I feel a couple of early starts coming up in order to try and make up some time and get back on schedule.

Last Thursday evening Brenda picked a load of nice blackberries in the country park at Birstall. She made some blackberry muffins yesterday and tonight we had an excellent blackberry fool for desert.



Saturday, September 08, 2012

Jannock’s summer trip – day #8

Last night’s dinner out was very good! We all enjoyed our choices. Look up ‘the Basin’ on t’internet. The food is Chino-Japanese with a hint of Thai. The drinks were not overpriced. The only bad mark was for the noise levels which were probably outside acceptable limits for health and safety. No soft furnishings mean that the noise just rattles about. I expect it is fine when they are not busy but on a Friday night it was like trying to have a conversation and a quiet meal on the trading floor of the New York stock-exchange. We then crossed the road to the Swan in the Rushes and enjoyed a driFireBrigadenk in a real pub. As we left there we looked at the Ossie Bar and Lloyds bar opposite and knew we were connie sewers.

We left Loughborough and enjoyed the gloriously sunny weather on our  trip north. Just outside the town the Fire Brigade were playing with a tanker, some water reservoirs and a petrol portable pump in an industrial estate. Luckily they averted their DragonBoat hose when Jannock passed as Brenda had hung the washing out on the front well deck.

We continued on through Normanton and Zouch where the people, bunting and tents in a field below the lock indicated that we had found a Dragon boat racing competition happening in the river adjacent to the boat club. Their safety boat was moored against the far bank to act as starting point. I expressed concern about them getting very dusty as a large combine harvester was working in the field nearby and so they moved their boat tether to the other bank to try and avoid the large dust cloud that was following the HeronOnAStick machine around.

On through Kegworth and past the large cooling towers of the power station until we reached the river Trent where we turned left towards Sawley. At the Scout outdoor centre Brenda observed the job of her choice in action. An instructor was placing three cub/scouts at a time into a Canadian canoe and then capsizing it and throwing them into the river. She quite fancied that as an occupation!

Sawley cut was bristling with activity. Boaters wanting services from the marina, new hirers starting their trips and marina users returning to their berths after a grand day out.

We moored up at Sawley bridge, not a very quiet mooring, being so close to the M1, but essential as Linda needs to get the the railway station to go home tomorrow morning. I tried dismantling and greasing our control lever and oiling the throttle cable as Brenda is finding it very stiff when needing to adjust the engine speed slightly. When re-assembled it was just the same so it must be worn and in need of replacing soon.

Spitfire At 6:30 this evening a Spitfire made four low passes over Sawley cut, possibly part of the event that was happening at the Derby Motor Boat Club further back along the cut towards Sawley locks. It was the most exciting thing Brenda has seen for ages, and heard, and felt, because it was so low and immediately above Jannock. It then went off somewhere else and returned overhead 45 minutes later on it’s way back home and gave a farewell salute by rocking it’s wings as it passed over the boat club.

Store cupboard challenge day 7 went un-remarked. The tuna and mayo paste sandwiches, that we ate whilst moored for lunch, were tasty with some cress added for health purposes and scored 10/10. The fish paste should have been eaten by mid 2007.



Friday, September 07, 2012

Jannock summer trip – day #7

Last night was very quiet after all the searchlights and neighbours tracker dogs had gone home to their beds. It was even quite warm as well so the heating will not be needed overnight after-all. We awoke to a cloudless clear blue sky and found the boat surrounded by swans and ducks.

Store cupboard challenge day 6 – part baked baguettes only a few months out of date. The bread surface had adhered to the inside of the plastic packaging . Once baked, the bread was excellent and the roughed up crust was simply extra crispy. Not a product to leave beyond the ‘best before end’ date but 10/10 for all that. And 12/10 for the weather that we’ve had so far, it has shown the lovely countryside off to it’s very best.

Heron As we travelled north, through the long section between Cossington and Sileby locks, I took a shower and left Graham at the tiller. Coming the opposite way was Ann and Ian Street on board Copperkins and Graham managed a very quick hello as we passed at speed.

At Barrow Deep lock we felt proud to be British.  A fit looking bloke on with his off-road cycle  and a wan looking girl watched on from the bridge as we worked the ‘single handeLoughHouser’ ahead of us through the lock. As hard as I tried I was unable to shift the bottom gate. Did British manhood help? No only the young girl was man enough. As Al Murray says – Shame on you!

As we approached Loughborough the grassy  moorings were as full as we’d been warned earlier. There was, however, loads of space because there seemed to be about 15 to 20 feet between each boat moored there so you could theoretically fit another half dozen boats in if they’d all moored considerably. Just as well that we were heading for the basin. With a wide beamed boat on the water point LoughBasinand another forward of that, waiting to fill up, Graham and Neil had to do some slick manoeuvring to wind in the limited space and then reverse onto the finger pontoons.

We booked a table for dinner tonight at the Basin Restaurant, not fifty paces from our mooring, and then went into town for supplies and a post box – the latter was inside the front door of Tescos opposite the basin. We passed a launderette between the basin and the town mooring, near Lloyds Bar (Wetherspoons) if you need somewhere to wait whilst your washing is doing. Graham also noticed a Castlerock pub, the Swan in the Rushes and so I expect we will take a pre or even post dinner drink in there.




Thursday, September 06, 2012

Jannock’s summer trip – day #6

Thursday 6th September

Wildlife of the day – A really angry swan who kept chasing eleven other swans off of his territory only to misty have them return just as fast once he turned his back.

It was very cold when we awoke this morning – nice and sunny but lots of mist rising from the canal due to the cold air.

Our target was to get through Leicester without stopping but in the end we stopped in the middle, by bridge 1, for lunch and shopping. At Mill Lane bridge there is a selection of shops in a newish block that include Tescos Leicester Express, Sainsburys local, a pharmacist, a booze shop and a pizza house – all obviously designed to serve the student accomodation in the area. There is also a childrens play area in the park behind the shops – an ideal stopping point for hireboats.

We set off from Kilby bridge at 8am. At Kilby lock I mounted the lock-wheeling bike and went ahead to set Double Rail lock. Then Linda took the bike and went to set Ervin’s lock and so we melded into the practice of alternating who took the bike ahead to set the next one until the chain came off and jammed between the sprocket and the CaRTier frame. I managed to sort this out so that we could continue on to Freeman’s.

At Limekiln lock the CaRT workmen were repairing the lock landing stonework and were having trouble getting the broken blocks of stone out. Having failed to free it using a pneumatic jack-hammer they then took to bashing it hard with the digger bucket in frustration.

When is it art and when is it graffiti? I believe this wall at Frog Island should be classified as art.

murial We moored for the night immediately before Birstall lock in Watermead country park. The outlook is slightly more pleasant than below the lock. The country park is good for walking and exploring. Go up past the White Horse pub and then up to the village for Co-op, doctors and take-outs etc. The post box is at the top of the lane.

What is it about Jannock and Leicestershire? When we did the Ashby we had the issue of concussed man and the Police. Tonight it has been the Police and their helicopter looking for a missing old lady. We even had a policeman board Jannock and question us. Ho hum! It wouldn’t be so bad but the East Midlands police helicopter has been apparent in the skies over us every day this week. At least whilst they are whizzing back and forth on their bicycles this evening they are more or less silent with only the flashing lights and reflective stab vests to un-settle us.

Store cupboard challenge Day #5 – we are increasingly confident that out of date food does not kill that we invited guests for supper. The ‘best before’ 2010 curry mix was superb, the ‘best before’ 2007 boil-in-the-curry was fine, the tinned tomatoes were best before 2010. Everything went together and achieved a joint score of 10/10 – even the guests scored it so.



Jannock’s summer trip – day #5

Graffiti of the day - Willbeck’s Dad, Stan is a bomb disposal expeGraffitirt!       No – we didn’t understand what it meant either.

We untied at 08:45 and followed Earnest north past Debdale wharf. Saddington tunnel is excellent, 1/2 mile long and dead straight all the way through so that you can see the other end when you enter. It’s also quite dry which helps and I’m pleased to say that we didn’t lose any paintwork in it either.

At Kibworth top lock I got the trusty lock wheeling bike off of the roof and set ahead all the way to Crane’s lock. We had a ‘good road’ and I only had to turn one lock with all the others being set in our favour.

Wystow Church Between bridges 78 and 79 there is a solitary church to the south west of the canal which is marked on the map as the “site of old Wystone medieval village”. It has to be assumed that this was the church for the local estate although there are no other buildings around it.

At Newton top lock it was ‘on yer bike’ again for the last seven locks before Kilby bridge, our chosen overnight stopping place before Leicester.

Storecupboard challenge KilbyBridge Svsday#4 – six year out of date batter mixture which made perfectly good onion yorkshire puds and  so was voted 8/10

We used the shower facilities at Kilby bridge sani-station even  though the panelled wooden door had large gaps between the planks. If you do not want any-one seeing you shower then take a big towel and a couple of pegs to hang it onto the inside of the door to protect your modesty.

After dinner Neil and Linda came onto Jannock to discuss trip plans and drink my home-brewed beer.



Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Jannock’s summer trip – Day #4

Tuesday 4th September

Entertainment of the day – a very amusing puppy getting used to life on a narrowboat.

Foxton from the top lock Today we had visiting crew, Jennie, Chris and Monty the pup. We were up early ready for our visitors who arrived just as I was moving Jannock down to the lock landing at Foxton top lock. Having completed the Welford arm yesterday it is planned to do the Market Harborough arm today.

Jennie has written “ We arrived in lovely sunshine after a goodish run from Bromsgrove. After a much needed cuppa we set off down Foxton locks. This was Monty’s first trip on a boat –  the first of many we hope! After Foxton. Brenda and Graham took us down to Market Harborough where we filled with water and moored for lunch. A splendid spread was provided by Brenda. Then we headed back to Foxton where we moored up. We went to recover our car and on our return tea was waiting for us. Dinner will be in the oub and then we head home. It has been a wonderful day – a very big thank you to then both for a fantastic day. It was great to meet Brenda again and to meet Graham for the first time. As for Monty learning about locksMonty – how did he do – I am glad to say very well indeed.”

Well, another bit of the system marked off of our map having been to Market Harborough. When we returned to Foxton we found nb Earnest (yes, that one) moored up and so had a chat with Neil and Linda who also appear to be traversing the Leicester ring at the same time as us. The food at the Foxton Locks Inn at the bottom of the flight was good, with my gammon steak being one of the thickest I have ever had to eat, although the red cabbage served with Brenda’s fish pie tasted a bit funny.

We’re sorry about any disappointment this may cause but no old stock item was eaten today because we had guests, back to normality tomorrow.



Monday, September 03, 2012

Jannock’s summer trip – Day #3

Monday 3rd September

Wildlife of the day – well …. wildlife  ….. and lots of it. Butterflies,Butterfly Swifts, Dragonflies, Damselflies and best of all, Kingfishers, plural. We saw about 4 individual Kingfishers, one of which escorted us off of the Welford Arm, flying just ahead of us to see if we herded any tasty morsels in front ahead of us.

We started the day with a stroll into Welford. There is a very useful shop and Post Office in the village. If the Wharf Inn was not to your taste then don’t bother walking up to the Elizabethan as that’s unlikely to be either. Between the Wharf and the village is Welford’s ‘pocket park’. The Buddleia was teeming with butterflies, mostly Red Admirals of course.

Graham winded expertly in a confined space and we left Welford in beautiful sunshine and moved back down the arm in wonderful PassingInTunnel countryside. In Husbands Bosworth tunnel we met a Canaltime boat who was not as tight into the side as we’d have liked and so we stopped immediately after, at 13:00 , under the shade of overhanging trees so that we could sweep off the brickdust and repaint quite a length of the roof edge where a protruding section of tunnel roof had removed all of the paintwork. This is the second time that Jannock has required major touching up of paint after this tunnel and in the pub later, we found that this is not an uncommon procedure. The washing was put out onto the Bridge61 towpath so we spent lunchtime watching both the washing and paint dry.

Then onto the top lock at Foxton. Graham did yet more engineering techery whilst I went and took photos in the sun. Then I prepared a dinner of pork chop, potatoes and vegetable chilli.

Store cupboard challenge – Day #3. Stagg vegetable chilli (best before July 06) 6 years too late but who’s counting, but scoring an impressive 9/10. Graham would have awarded the extra point if it had contained some meat!

We visited Bridge 61, the alternate pub at the bottom of the flight and had an excellent evening chatting to the locals. We were even introduced to Tom, the celebrity retriever who has achieved almost 250k hits on YouTube as the Helter Skelter dog, as well as being a TV celebrity in the UK and the USA.