Monday, October 07, 2013

Journey’s End . .

Sunday 6th October

.  .  .  and back to our home mooring for winter.

Usually we arrive back with our hats and mitts in place, yet failing to keep us toasty – well me at least, as G. has had a day full of locks. Then it’s a hot drink to keep us warm and a quick exit home to our centrally heated house. Today we moored up, sporting tee-shirts, did a bit of gardening at the mooring, had a cuppa to re-hydrate and ate our dinner on board to soak up the last of the sun. What wonderful weather for October. Looking back, we’ve been blessed with a very good summer especially as we are able to count the exact number of times we’ve actually got wet whilst boating this year.

IMG_0153 We set off from Marsworth and climbed the flight solo. Graham found a new best friend at the reservoirs. A delightful old chap who watched us work through a couple of locks and was interested in everything. He was telling me all the things his mum got him to do to make the food go further during the war. The abundance of fruit this year was bringing him happy memories of blackberries as a sauce with rabbit and apples under suet dumplings in albert stews. He stated his favourite is plum cobbler. He reckons he’s had about 15lbs of plums this year. I hope there’s a ‘girl’ at home, that his mum would have approved of, to make jam, pickles or even a drop of sloe gin with the harvest he collects.

We passed nb Minnehaha moored at Tring Station and thought happy thoughts of the late Bill Sibley who used to own the boat. He is sadly missed.

bulbourne At Berkhampstead there was a fishing match going on in the park and I was perversely disappointed that one fisherman didn’t catch a child. Not that I mean harm to the victim, erm, child but it would have proved a point. As boats pass fishermen using long poles take them backwards, horizontal with the ground. Today that happened across a footpath along the edge of the park. They had their pole rests located boatorgardencentre either side of the path. As Jannock approached I got scowled at, poles were pulled back and woe betide anyone using the footpath. A couple of kids, about 7 years of age, came onto said path on their bicycles. Now, they were a bit wobbly and had no idea about fishing so it was no surprise that one poor child nearly got kebabbed as a fisherman put a long length of carbon fibre across the path about a foot off the ground  immediately in front of the bike. Fisherman didn’t look and child was too busy staying on his bike to notice. At the last second his following parents yelled and he fell off – safely. Shame he didn’t land on the fishing pole and break it.

Outside the Rising Sun we met Debbi and Simon. Poor Debbi is on crutches again lowpound having sustained a double compound fracture of her ankle. Getting naughty cats back on board for the night is obviously dangerous.

At Sewerage lock the trusty bike was put back on Jannock and we entered a very low pound indeed, I have never seen it this low before in the seven years that we have moored here. It seems that some-one walked down with a windlass and lifted the ground paddle of lock 50 where the bottom gate paddle has to be left open to keep the level right in the pound above. It was still about 20cm down when we finally locked up and went home at 6pm.


That’s it for now. I’m sure that G. will be along soon with some statistics for this year later. Off to find some more sunshine in the Med. next week.


Saturday, October 05, 2013

Penultimate cruising day 2013

Saturday 5th October

Up and at-em at 9am but no-one to share Soulbury 3 with. Never mind,wonderful weather for October they were all in our favour and folk turned up to come down, as it were, at the top lock. Another day of super weather, especially as in the past we have risen from our bunks on October mornings in these parts to find frost on the ropes. This year’s weather has provided an abundance of picking blackberries from a lock beam.fruits to be foraged. Twice Graham set a lock to fill slowly to allow us time to pick fruit. Blackberries, again, and a fab haul of plums. Jam will be made.

Today we actually avoided what looked like becoming an inevitable crump. As we rounded a blind corner nb Cat’s Whisker came steaming round the other way, on the wrong side, heading straight for us. Much manoeuvring by both of us put a gap of, well,the haul a cat’s whisker between us and their new paintwork remained un-touched. We were told that they were newbies and so we must praise the steerer for the avoiding action he took which complemented our own.

At Marsworth we found ourselves moored under a plum tree and so the short boat hook was put into service to bring down some of the high fruit  much to the delight of the small boy who caught them & he was going to present them to hid nanna.

Chicken korma and keema paratha for supper and then onto the Red Lion for a beer.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Cracking weather Grommet!

Friday 27th September

We arrived at Jannock at dusk and found working boats Northolt (FMC) and Kestrel moored in front of us. We opened up IMG_0109 and awaited our guest crew, Simon & Nina. Once they pair#3had arrived and had a cup of tea Simon and I went off to do a mini car shuffle as they are only with us until Sunday  morning. Brenda was showing Nina the working boats when their owner returned and invited them in to admire the back cabin. Northolt has just been bought back by him, Martin, having been in his family for years. He was brought up on it. He has also restored it to it’s original name, Northolt as it was renamed Sunny Valley, the boat that appeared in the black and white film Painted Boats. He has paired the boats back together and is selling coal again.


Saturday 28th September

Saturday morning was cool and misty and we set off towards Blisworth tunnpair#2el after a ‘French toast’ breakfast (that’s twice in pair#1 two weeks for me as we had that on the Soddit  cruise last weekend) Nina is Swiss and has never been on a canal boat before but her yachting experience showed in her ability to steer – an experienced helmswoman. So, her first UK canal experience was ‘Blisworth tunnel’. It was our first ever run through with no-one coming the other way and not full of choking fumes – excellent! We were planning to stop for water above the locks but as we approached we spotted that the VLK’s were setting the top lock for a solo hireboat so we decided to go down the flight instead. They started to close the gates after the hireboat had gone in so we tooted the horn to attract their attention and they re-opened them again. We shared the whole flight with a willing crew of first timers who were very keen to learn. Brenda instructed their steerer, I looked after the lock crew and Simon and Nina set ahead. We stopped on the water point at the bottom of the flight to fill Jannock’s tank. S & N went for a walk back upadder to the village whilst Brenda went walkabout. I stayed on the boat and managed to rescue a baby adder that was stuck in the canal. It was getting very tired as it could not find anywhere along the high concrete bank that it could use to get out of the canal. After I fished it out with our net and released it in the hedge Brenda returned bearing blackberries and a couple of pears. Once on the move again we did some off-side blackberry harvesting. I placed Jannocks bow into the bushes and held her in place using the boat pole whilst Brenda, Nina and Simon harvested the fruit from the front well deck. Near Yardley Gobion we passed nb Justice and had a brief chat with the ‘Haywards’ as the wind carried us past far too quickly. Kit (their cat), being of good judge of character, didn’t bother to show her face. Onward to Cosgrove where Nina was going to steer through the lock to complete her ‘instant’ training course. When we arrived there was a boat waiting to go in and lots of people hanging about because there was something stuck on the top gate cill and the gates wouldn’t seal properly. CaRT had been called and were estimated to be there in about 3 hours. We put the two boats into the lock and I used our boat pole to clear all I could feel from the top gate cill. We closed the gates and they didn’t quite meet properly in the middle so I had another go and this time they closed and we could use the lock. We moored for the night just below the lock.


Nina has written - “We spend a wonderful weekend on the canal. Meeting film stars, trying not to get wet indoors (in the tunnel), working lots of locks and after that getting rewarded with home made beer and sloe gin. And we had a wonderful family-pre-Simon’s-birthday party with the whole family assembled. Thank you for giving me the experience of canal boating and providing me with a warm welcome to the family. I had a wonderful time and I’m sad that we already have to leave again”

Sunday 29th September

Simon and Graham went off to do another early demi-car-shuffle while Nina and I enjoyed our cups of tea that had been delivered to our beds before they left. When they returned we had prepared a breakfast feast of pancakes and freshly made blackberry, pear and nectarine compote. Yum and loadsa vitamins. After an explore of the Iron Aquaduct at Cosgrove, Simon and Nina set off towards Manchester via the Black Country museum historic boats meet. We set off  towards our winter windgenny moorings taking the whole day to move through Milton Keynes.

Surprise 1 – Not a fishing competition in sight.

Surprise 2 – the weather was just gorgeous and here is photographic evidence.

Puzzle 1 – These wind generators have been on top of these flats at Wolverton for quite a few years IMG_0132 now and I’ve never ever seen them turning.

At Fenny Stratford lock Graham managed to bump the stern of a Wyvern Shipping boat. They’d got into the lock at a jaunty angle and had settled onto one side so that he could  slide Jannock in alongside to ease their boat gently over. Then the Wyvern skipper hit hard reverse and started coming back out at speed. Despite avoiding action the loud crump was inevitable. Sorry Wyvern. Out of the lock and onto Willowtree for our last diesel fill for the year before mooring up and having our dinner. All done in beautiful sunshine.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Time to catch up on.

Saturday 7th September

Brenda and I arrived at Jannock mid-morning and set about doing several jobs that required doing including installing a digital temperature controller onto the Inlander 12V fridge. I had noticed that the fridge kept cycling on and off erratically once it had got down to temperature and I thought it was caused by the internal thermostat. By installing an independent temperature controller that switched the 12V on and off and turning the internal one to max I could see how much power the fridge used when working normally. After the Soddit cruise (reported later in this mega picture less issue) I can confirm the system works very well and the power used by the fridge has dropped by approx 40%. We can also see the fridge temperature displayed permanently on an LED display which has highlighted the fact that the fridge temperature increases by 1.5 degrees whenever the door is opened.

We set off from Hillmorton after lunch and had an un-eventful run down to moor for the night just outside Braunston. Shortly afterwards nb Earnest (yes – that one) appeared and moored up just in front of us.  We then arranged to join it’s crew at the Mill House after we had eaten on-board as they were planning to eat out. On the walk down to the pub we passed a cruiser moored on the 14day moorings blatantly displaying three potted cannabis plants on the roof. Brenda wished she had brought her secateurs with her from the boat as she felt they needed pruning (to about 1/2 inch above the compost). An enjoyable evening was spent with Neil and Linda before the dark trek back to the boats.

Sunday 8th September

A very easy day today as we just need to deliver Jannock to UCC ready for blacking in the dry dock tomorrow. We moved into Braunston and onto the sani-station mooring so that I could do a pump-out. I only had to stop pumping once to allow another boater to empty his cassette – brave soul. We the moved on through Braunston and spotted that the crew of Prairie Crocus II were on board in the marina. Brenda disappeared for a chat with Claudia and I moved Jannock up to moor on the UCC moorings on my own. I then took the di-blasi back to Hillmorton to fetch the car and tried a new route through Barby.

Friday 13th September

We collected a very clean and tidy Jannock from UCC and set off for the Blue Lias  at Stockton ready for the 2013 Cutweb rally. We locked down through the 3 Calcutt locks and the Stockton flight solo as there were no other boats around. Once at the Blue Lias we winded in the entrance to the old arm and moored up outside No Frontiers who was already moored alongside Earnest (yes, that one).

Monday 16th September

I was up early to be one of the 4 strong crew who worked nb Rosy and nb Enseabee up the Stockton flight. Not as fast as yesterday’s run up when nb Loddon and nb Vide Nueva completed the flight in 38 minutes with an 8 strong locking crew. We then returned to Blue Lias and moved Jannock up tied alongside Harnser so that both Brenda and I could assist Diana working the locks. We stopped on the straight after the Rugby road bridge and then returned home having walked back to Blue Lias to collect the car.

Soddit Autumn Cruise 2013

Friday 20th September

The usual crew of Ian, Brian and myself arrived at Jannock having feasted en-route on excellent fish and chips obtained from the Southam chip shop. As we were unloading the car in the dark, Terry Streeter from nb Arun arrived to see us as his boat was moored two boats behind us. We invited him to join us in a few games of Soddit. We actually played 5 games and finished at approx 01:30 on Saturday morning.

Saturday 21st September

We dragged ourselves into action and breakfasted on sausage sarnies before setting off towards Braunston again. We arrived at Calcutt locks just after a single boat ahead of us had started locking through. They waited for us in the second lock as we ascended the first and then shared the other two with them. We then turned left at Wigrams and found ourselves at the head of a procession of 4 boats. We stopped for lunch and a session of maggot drowning just after the dis-used railway bridge before the puddle banks. Once lunch was finished we continued through Braunston and set off solo up the flight. There were loads of boats coming down the flight but no others going up.

Out through the top lock and into Braunston tunnel where Brian had his CD of rousing music playing at high volume in Jannock’s lounge for the whole length of the tunnel. It was amusing to see the lady in an approaching boat come out of their cabin, carrying her newspaper, into the cratch to see what all the noise was just as the choral crescendo of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ was reached as we passed. The crew on the second boat we passed in the tunnel applauded. It’s nice to be noticed. Once out of the tunnel we continued on past Welton wharf and stopped soon after at a location identified as suitable for another session of maggot drowning. After a dinner of beef stew, that had been cooking in the slow cooker since lunchtime, we spent the rest of the evening playing Soddit until a relatively early night at 11pm.

Sunday 22nd September

A filling breakfast finished, we set off towards the Buckby flight and descended down to Whilton wharf with very little to report. At most of the locks we crossed northbound boats and made quite good time. Once out the bottom lock we ran alongside the noisy M1 until the road and canal parted before the A5 bridge. On into Weedon where we stopped for lunch just before the winding hole and another maggot drowning session was started. The crew are convinced that there are no fish in the Grand Union as the success rate along this stretch is almost non-existent. After lunch we continued on through Stowe Hill, Nether Heyford and Bugbrooke before finally mooring up on a 14 day mooring at about 4pm. I then went and fetched the car from Stockton whilst the crew tidied up and drowned a few more maggots. During this session Ian actually managed to catch quite a nice sized Perch whilst I was away. We finally locked up and set off homeward at 7pm.


Monday, September 02, 2013

Short day on the North Oxford

Saturday 31st August

After a weekend off to celebrate Granddad's 90th birthday we returned to Jannock for a one day trip and met up with our friendly canoe traveller, last seen on the Llangollen canal. Tea and cake was exchanged for her tales. She was blackberrying for her second breakfast, a pastime we joined her in, and it was so necessary to explain to her how to make fruit liqueurs. She reckoned that Rugby Tescos could provide the cheap gin required. We have become used to seeing fruit and coconuts floating in the canals, especially in urban areas where our canals deputise for the Ganges, but today it was an oven ready chicken, sans packaging, we spotted floating upside down near Brinklow marina. One has to wonder .  .  .  .  .

On through Rugby and whilst I was making a cuppa there was a hell of a clonk on the steelwork. No unpleasant kids about so not a stone then. No golf course nearby so not a golf ball. It turned out to be a muck-spreader working in the filed alongside the canal hurling stones as well as muck about. It left a goodly hole in the paint work by the front well seat. Just as well Aldgatehimself at the tiller didn’t get an attack of the wurzels. We stopped by the shops at Rugby as G. wanted some oil from Halfords and I took the opportunity of purchasing some new shelves for Jannock from B&Q.

We ascended Hillmorton locks alongside a Viking Afloat boat whose husband and wife crew decided to only use the left  hand lock no matter what state the locks were set in. G. thought it was great as they ignored the empty righthand locks to use the ones that needed emptying. We passed Aldgate moored above Hillmorton locks where the owner was cleaning all the rust off of the hold floor before painting – what a mucky task. G. fetched the car from All Oaks Wood whilst I tidied up ready to go home. Another trip down to Hampshire tomorrow.


Monday, August 19, 2013

The rain didn’t arrive till late.

Saturday 17th August

A late start today due to domestic matters at home and a gloomy weather forecast – which turned out to be late anyway!

I cast off Jannock and we set off south from Hartshill whilst Brenda was unpacking and preparing lunch inside. Although there was quite a stiff breeze it only affected us when we slowed down to pass moored boats where there was no shelter provided by trees or hedges. The plan was to try and get as close to Hawkesbury as we could before mooring up when the forecast rain set in. On the approach to Nuneaton we happened across a fishing match but unlike the Milton Keynes ones, there were only 9 participants here.

Just after Wash Lane bridge there is a large blackberry bush, on the offside near the allotments, that was smothered with large juicy fruit so we stopped Jannock alongside and harvested as many as we could before another boat came along and we had to move on due to the bows having swung across the canal effectively blocking it. The, long closed, Navigation Inn alongside bridge 14 is undergoing a major renovation but I suspect it is not destined to re-open as a pub again.

We moored for the night, just before Hawkesbury junction prior to the forecast rain starting. We ate most of the harvested blackberries for dessert accompanied by tinned rice pudding – they were excellent. In fact they were so nice we suspected that the bush was originally cultivated stock that has escaped from the allotments next door and not a run-of-the-mill wild bush.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Is this really Atherstone

Sunday 11th August

After a slimmer's breakfast, only half a sausage each and half wholemeal rolls with our egg, mushroom, marmalade and Stella’s Gooseberry and Elderflower jam (purchased at Stafford Boat Club) DuckPlatform we tackled the Atherstone flight. Accomplished in 1 hour and 57 minutes with every lock in our favour, no rain and nothing horrible happened. Finally the Hex has been lifted. The duck platform floating in the side pound alongside the top lock amused me. Not sure where mum was but the ducklings were enjoying a snooze.

Fashion tips for chaps – let us consider the onesie. Not really sportswear or outdoor clothing, so why? This morning we met a wolf! I hope he didn’t get his tail caught in the paddle gear. The onesie, you think you look cool in the dressing up clothes you knew you were to grown up for when you were 9.  At least this one was wearing shoes unlike the last one we saw. Mind you, is there a Hippopotamus one? I have the right figure for it. Pink tutu – Disney’s fantasia. Darcy Bussell eat your heart out.

We moored up and were serenaded by the sounds of an amateur American marching band practicing over the hedge. The marching and flag twirling looked quite professional, shame about the accompanying music. Luckily practice only lasted an hour.


P.S. If any regular readers use our Jannock at lavabit dot com email address then please delete it as Lavabit have stopped operating after an argument with the American authorities about releasing email contents.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Winner’s rostrums in Hademore

Saturday 10th August

We moved onto Jannock last night and awoke this morning to the sound of very noisy ducks. They were running along the surface of the canal, very similar to swans trying to take off, whilst quacking very loudly. I wondered whether this is a new sport in the ‘Duck Olympics’ that they were practising for.

That apart, nothing much happened today, but in a good way. At Hademore, Graham noticed some odd concrete contraptions alongside the new road that passes over the railway via a new bridge. What are they? His guess was that they were medal awarding platforms left over from the Olympics as they seemed to be three concrete blocks formed into a 1 – 2 – 1 step format. Brenda thought they were viewing platforms, with handy handrails, to allow railway enthusiasts a better view of the trains. further along the canal and another set were spotted, this time with a road sign that made it all clear. Health and safety on the roads – they are equestrian mounting blocks because horse riders must dismount and lead their horses across the railway bridge. Wouldn’t want litigation after someone gets thrown by a horse frightened by a Virgin.

MaidofFibreBest dressed boat of the day was at Fazely, the Maid of Fibre, a cruising advertisement – it was clad in brightly coloured balls of wool. Must be warm in winter.

At Alvecote marina there was a lovely row of working boats all moored end on to the wharf. Must be a rally happening soon.WorkingBows

It’s been a long time since Brenda commented on fashion tips for chaps – but today the debonair boater was wearing a top hat and tattoos. Quite a look.

We continued on to Bradley Green bridge where we stopped and Graham did a car shuffle on the Di Blasi. On his return we ate dinner and then moved up and moored close to the bottom of Atherstone lock flight ready for tomorrow mornings ascent.

Oooops we forgot the 28th July

Sunday 28th July

It rained for 7 hours last night to our knowledge, hard and fast with thunder and lightening. We assume there was more but we fell asleep to the constant drumming on the roof. So, it seemed counter intuitive to awake to find G drilling holes in the floor. Noah did stuff with doves and ravens, not holes in the floor. But Noah didn’t have a fridge that struggled for cooling air in an unusually hot summer. We hope it will now be able to pull cool air from within the bilges and settle down, especially at night. A fridge in a fit is a noisy thing.

Sunday, Fradley junction, hassle! The volunteer lockies were at middle lock, ensuring folks an easy and quick passage into mayhem. We turned onto the Coventry and stopped to fill with water as soon as we were through the swing bridge. Jannock shooting across into a vacant water point threw the approaching boat into a bit of a panic – calm down dear! We the continued on under the A38 bridge and past the nice house at Brookhay which is due to be sold during 2014 (so the sign outside says) – too near the main road and a railway line for  our taste. The mini arm cut into the front lawn looks ideal for a mooring though.

We finally moored up at Huddlesford with the plan of eating at the Plough before we set off homeward. Car shuffle completed and boat tidied and locked up, we arrived there at 3:15 to find that they stopped serving food at 3pm. We noticed Andrew Denny aboard nb Granny Buttons moored on the 48hr moorings there so we stopped for a chat and catch-up before heading south in the car in search of dinner.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Racing the rainstorms

Saturday 27th July

We arrived at Stafford boat club at 8:15 on Friday evening and decided that the air in Stafford was so much cooler than home until  .  .  .  .  we opened up Jannock. The inside of the boat was like a sauna, every surface was warm to the touch and even clothes, hanging in the wardrobes, were warmer than the air temperature.

We spent the rest of the evening on the clubhouse terrace enjoying the company of friendly club members and the cool evening air.

This morning we set off up the Staffs and PiratesWorcester canal to Tixall Wide. A ParaMotorparaglider with a backpack mounted engine flew low overhead and waved to us as he passed. We also passed two day boats heading south, the first was full of juvenile pirates who were obviously enjoying a special birthday trip on the canal. I have always wanted to moor for the night in the widest part of Tixall wide but today we stopped under a shady tree so that I could carry out a 200hr oil and filter change on the engine. The shade  only covered the front half of the boat so I rigged the sunshade over the engine bay to keep me comfortable during my labours. What a pretty maintenance dock. Tixall ViewOil change completed we sat in the shade for a while before setting of towards Great Heywood junction where we turn right onto the Trent and Mersey. At the first lock, Heywood, we went straight in as it was set ready in our favour. Then at Colwich lock another boat was coming out as we arrived so we went straight into that one as well. In the thirteen years we have owned Jannock that is the first time we have not had to queue at either of these two locks. As we passed Shugborough it was obvious that a big event of some sort was happening in the grounds, it turns out that it was the Shugborough Game and Country show.

We continued on through Rugely and Armitage and then it started to rain (which was forecast) and so we stopped and moored up for the night just before bridge 56 (Tuppenhurst) at 6:30pm

A lazy evening reading books and listening to the rain hoping that they’ve had some at home because the garden desperately needs it.


Monday, July 22, 2013

July Holiday – Day #9 – Time to go home.

Sunday 21st July

We loosed off after the early morning rush had quietened. A much cooler and greyer morning. I wore long sleeves and trousers for the first time all holiday. Time to go home then. We thought we might moor up at Acton Trussel (or is it Stackton Tressel ladies?) but there were no obvious places to park the car amongst those manicured lawns, abundant veg patches and hanging baskets. One phone call later and Stafford boat club made us welcome as temporary AWCC moorers. nb Badger

Then the summer mizzle started and we resorted to the British holiday horror that is macs and sandles, no socks, to pass through the last lock of our trip. As we approached a hotel pair had just locked up through and so it was set in our favour. The boats looked very smart with all the guests sat at the front of both boats – could that be us in our dotage?

As Graham fetched the car I indulged in a lovely chinwag with Ann from nb Margarita, a fellow Cutweb member) and swapped notes. She was very complementary about son Matt and his pals who joined them in the SBC clubhouse for the Friday evening the last time Jannock visited here.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

July Holiday–Day #8

Saturday 20th July

Whilst we were sitting in the bows last evening a 70’ narrowboat slowly chugged past and started to turn in the winding hole. At the stern, in sole charge, was a lad of about 14. With a great degree of skill and no little amount of technique he made the turn with only a couple of feet to spare. As they passed us again we told his grand/parents, who were sat in the bows of their boat, that they should be proud. They are. We then made the same complimentary remarks to the lad as he passed. “Oh No” says he “I’ve been doing that since I was little!” We pointed out that he should be even more proud in that case as he has a great skill. He looked quite bemused, said he supposed so, thanked us for our kind words and chugged off.

Now, if he had sort of skill for, say, keepy uppies or computer games I’m sure he would not have been so reticent. I wonder if it will appear as a personal achievement on any of his school records. Kids, be proud even if no-one much cares about what it is that you do well. A short while later the Norbury Wharf Party boat appeared and winded in the same place. That manoeuvre involve a lot more engine revving and propeller thrashing  than the lads turn did.

Heron on the towpath

Our first sighting of a Kingfisher in 2013 occurred near the aquaduct above Wheaton Aston. We stopped for diesel at Wheaton Aston. When one refuels at motorway services there are a myriad of shoppertunities – check out Rod Giberts views on the subject. What I have never seen for sale at other refuelling stops are a set of drain rods or a chimney sweeps brush. So, should you find that your life lacks either, get along to Wheaton Aston. It’s on the way to Audlum transport rally next weekend. We passed the working boat ‘Scopio’ en-route to Audlum – with the heat we’ve had recently we decided it should be re-named ‘Scorchio’

Down to Autherly Junction with very little to report apart from meeting numerous working boats heading North, not too dissimilar to our C&Ctrip back down the Ashby the week before the rally up there a couple of years ago. Brenda turned Jannock north onto the Staffs and Worcs with a little help from the centre rope used as a pivot point.

Today we found that Gailey is mis-named. Between us, Brenda and I managed to upset about four people without really trying. As we approached Gailey lock a Viking Afloat boat crew were being instructed on boat handling by moving the craft in and out of the wharf adjacent to the lock. Brenda held Jannock back to give them room while I walked up to prepare the lock. I spotted a working boat approaching the empty lock so I started opening the bottom gates for them. Having opened the first I was just about to step across to get the other when it was rammed open by the boat. The female steerer took offence when I pointed out that she could not see if any-one was stood by the balance beam and so her action was very dangerous. As they ascended, the Viking Afloat boat with tutor, emerged once again and lined up ready to enter the lock. Tutor was not happy when I pointed out that Jannock had been waiting and was to be next through.Butty Barnes

Once we were through Gailey lock, he turned it against a boat approaching from below even though we had told him that they were there. At Brick Kiln lock the top gate was wide open and the lock full as we approached. A lass appeared from below and was about to lift the paddles to empty it when she noticed that the top gate was wide open. As she walked towards that end I called to let her know that we were about to enter. She said that they were there first but I explained that the lock was ready and in our favour so she should not turn it. She strode off back to her boat swearing about having to wait another 30 minutes. Excuse me, we are not that slow locking down!Chips

Onward through four more locks to Penkridge where we moored for the night just below Filance lock. During our walk around the pretty village of Penkridge I noticed that a Chip shop in the centre sold not just chips but also "’battered chips!’ Against all of Brenda’s protestations I had to try some but they had run out of the special coating that they use.  The proprietor explained that it is a very light batter that is similar to tempura.


Friday, July 19, 2013

July Holiday–Day #7

Friday 19th July

It didn’t cool down at all last night so another early start to get through the Tyrley lock flight in relative coolth. The first thing I did was to drag Jannock through the bridge hole on the centre rope to get a water fill. Brian Holmes (who used to do a column on Narrowboatworld) was there painting the water posts. We last met him a few years back as he followed us up the Aylesbury Arm and I back-set all the locks for him as he’s a single hander.  As a member of S.U.C.S. he has done a wonderful job painting all the fixtures and fittings on the Shroppie as he travels along on his cerise steel cruiser Thursday’s Child.Tyrley Locks

He assured us that Pheonix (of the bow wave debacle yesterday) is a hire boat that operates out of Norbury. That’s a relief although it is not sign-written as such and so no one is able to give the extra consideration and help due to new crews. Also the lack of sign-writing meant that we were unable to ring and report the degree of ineptitude and near vandalism that was being displayed by their hirer. Hmmmmm!

Pretty Lock Cottages

We had ascended Tyrley locks by 9:30 and went into the wonderfully cool cutting beyond. A couple of recent rockfalls and landslips were evident but only once did we ground on the results in the cut. The effects of the by-washes when you try and ascend all of the locks in the Audlum, Adderley and Tyrley flights has convinced us that it best to traverse the Shroppie from South to North and return via the T&M. The air has been scented with lime blossom (always bringing Brenda fond memories of her mum) and honeysuckle.Knighton

12:30 found us mooring up under a nice shady tree conveniently close the the Anchor at High Offley – rude not to really ;^) 14:10 saw us leaving the pub, returning to Jannock to sit out the rest of the heat under said shady tree, after having a pleasant drink in the garden. There was us, a couple who had been boating since 1976 and the local fender maker who’d been a working boatman. Very interesting conversation. the ex-boatman was telling us how a group of them got a bus from Croxley Mill to see the film ‘the Bargee’ when it first came out in the 60s. It appears that they enjoyed the story and the acting but barracking the screen was the order of the evening due to the inaccuracies the film contained.

The Anchor opens most lunchtimes and after 7pm in the evening. The landlady has been there 35 years, alone as her husband died some 30 years ago and she is 80 next year. Definitely worth a visit as it is a very unique place to drink. NorburyWharf

By 4pm we had set off again, down through Norbury Junction and Gnosall Heath to moor for the night near bridge 25 at High Onn.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

July holiday–Day #6

Thursday 18th July

Last night we heard the most wonderful tale from a volunteer lockie at Audlum: the subject under discussion was new paintwork. He had come across a woman laying down towels on the lock walls. I had visions of beach towels on deck chairs. She wasn’t reserving her place though, the towels were to protect her boats new paintwork from damage – bless!

4:30pm – cabin temperature after 3 hours moored in the shade was 34 degrees – Scorchio plus!

We set off at tweet o’clock to complete the rest of the Audlum flight in the relative coolth.Audlum Flight


Then up the Adderley five as well before an early siesta, with bacon sarnies, above Adderley wharf bridge.

We relaxed in the shade of the trees and read until we heard the water moving along the cut and saw our boat start to move for no apparent reason. Then we noticed that the boat that had moored on the top lock landing for over an hour, to the detriment of other lock flight users,  had moved off and started to plough a furrow up the centre of the cut. Talk about a bow wave, even his bow wave had a bow wave! As nb Pheonix passed where we were moored he opened up the throttle. to our disbelief he had actually slowed down to pass the moored boat. It is the first time that we have ever been able to hear the wash making more noise than the engine. Jannock was left bobbing about for at least twenty minutes after he had passed. Because of their ages we assumed that the boat was borrowed. Please dear owner, if you get your boat back unscathed, please don’t lend it again to the the guy with two kids who looks like Lee Nelson without a stiff talking to first.

Then on to Market Drayton where Graham went off to do a car shuffle and I did the second wash of the day – great drying weather.

After he returned we wandered into town in search of an evening meal – Graham said he’s take me out!  The Crown, is a Marston’s pub – renowned for being a food chain – stopped serving food at 5pm. There was sport on the TV and ‘garage or techno’ style music playing on the sound system. Not surprisingly it was empty.

We moved on to the Chinese restaurant and had an excellent meal but Sandbrook Vaultsdecided we had to try the Sandbrook Vaults which advertised the fact that they sold Joule’s Ales which are now brewed in Market Drayton but were last brewed in Stone in 1978. Graham tried the Blonde (brewed using Saarz hops) and the IPA. They were both very good.

The barman informed us that there was a Wetherspoons in town – Graham was disappointed because he had a wallet full of CAMRA 50p discount vouchers and I insisted we visited Asda on the way back to the boat instead ( a short walk down Stafford Road from bridge 63. We also found a home brew supplies shop in the town centre – good job they were closed.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July Holiday–Day #5 Bye bye Llangollen canal

Wednesday 17th July

We started today with our good deed, taking a cuppa to the lass in the camping canoe who had moored for the night at the end of our moorings. We offered her use of our facilities but she declined. Then she returned our mug and asked if we’d mind filling up her thermos with hot water as it would save her having to get her stove out etc. We got a bargain! While we waited for the kettle to boil we had an interesting chat. She is an explorer The most beautiful skip nature, a traveller, she spends half her life that way. She goes about the world on foot, by bicycle and is now travelling the UK canals. She started from Leighton Buzzard, in May, in an inflatable canoe. It proved too stressful as she was well aware that anything floating or overhanging were potential boat-busters. A long term friend in Luton mentioned that he had a Kayak and his dad had a canoe. She could chose which she borrowed. Familiar with England ( she has a German/Nordic accent) she has become entranced by the canal system. She says it is like another country hidden within, different places and different people> She was going to Nantwich today to meet up with friends before heading across the Middlewich arm – destination the Peak Forest canal. She asked about travelling on the River Trent by canoe, we suggested she did some more research and even contacted CaRT before going to play with the gravel barges.

We proceeded through the five locks left before reaching the Hurleston flight where we went straight into the top lock with me steering and Brenda working the gates.  Has our voyage been too long? Have we been in too much sun? Once onto the Shroppie we headed for the nearest big tree for a siesta and a Seaplane flew over head!Nantwich Horse

Once on the move again we passed Arun, belonging to a fellow Cutweb member, moored on the side. No sign of life but all looked well. We got to Hack Green locks at 5:30. The sun was starting to go down but the temperature was still rising. Now 35.5 degrees in the lounge area. Despite nubile young women in itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny- we’re on a narrowboat- hot bikinis it occurred to Brenda that Bobby Goldsboro could never have sung his oh so evocative song “summer, the first time” on the English canals – Scorchio!Bridge work at Hack Green

By 6:30 the weather began to cool, so we decided to ascend two locks into Audlem, leaving the other eleven for tomorrow. Brenda mucked up the entry into the second lock. Having allowed for the outlet of an energetic by-wash she didn’t notice the out-pouring from where the by-wash had partially collapsed beyond with more water rushing out – CRUNCH – Ouch.


July Holiday–Day #4

Tuesday 16th July

After a peaceful night the sun was up and at ‘em early. We, on the other hand arose and breakfasted ready for a 9:30 start and a leisurely cruise

Whitchurch liftbridge

through the four lift bridges to Grindley Brook. We filled with water and then moved up to the locks. It was very busy in both directions, with the lockie letting three boats go in each direction in turn, so waiting was the order of the day; except for one westbound crew who should have known better. They re-opened the bottom gates of the lower lock and tried to enter

Grindley Brook Cafe

(4th in a row) against the lock-keepers instructions. Flea was inserted in ear and they had to reverse back onto the waiting area where they sat uncomfortably. We were second down in our batch and there was still huffing and puffing when Jannock came out of the bottom of the staircase. Brenda chose to  sit and wait in the bridge-hole below the locks until the next lock, out of sight around a corner, was ready. With one more boat coming down behind and three already waiting in the pound to ascend it seemed the best option (plus it was in the shade ;^) Oh how she huffed!

It had got very hot by the time we had cleared the last three single locks and so it was ‘shady tree time’. A suitable candidate was identified and lunch and siesta time were taken.

Then on to Wrensbury closely followed by a woman in a canoe. We’d first seen her at Ellesmere, filling up her bottles with drinking water. To paddle all that way with no portage at locks, a true Amazon. We moored near Starkey’s bridge, next the the boater that Brenda had been discussing the merits of Nepalese curries with at Grindley Brook. Our curry du jour was made in the slow cooker. We also didn’t want any extra heat in the cabin and so the Peshwari nans, Mr Tescos finest, were heated up by wrapping them in tin foil and putting them on top of the engine for the last half hour.

After dinner Graham checked the water levels in the batteries and did boat polishing until it got dark. At least Jannock doesn’t look like a hay stack any more having been strimmed three times in as many weeks on the Llangollen.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July Holiday–Day #3

Monday 14th July

We started the day by boiling a kettle of water for our ‘quiz buddies’ whose gas had let them down. We then waved them farewell having taken their rubbish aboard to dump along with ours in the skip at the sani-station on t’other side of canal. Into the arm at Ellesmere and Graham did a car shuffle while I went into Tesco to re-provision.

Having seen other boaters go past with laden trollies, I did the polite thing and asked at customer services – knowing that there was a magnetic strip gizmo at Tescos perimeter to stop trollies leaving. A very sour faced lass informed me that I could not take a trolley to my boat. She said that she could look after my shopping while I did several delivery trips. In 30 degrees I thought not! I told her there was no way that I would be able to carry a case of wine (implication only dear reader) but she just shrugged and muttered “Oh well”

Back to Jannock and I engineered my own trolley from our folding sack truck and a laundry bin. Back to Tesco where I asked Ms Sour Face if she would keep an eye on it as I couldn’t manage ‘techno-shopper’ and a Tesco trolley around the store. She looked about her and then said that there wasn’t really room  . . . . . but you would have looked after a larger trolley full of purchases hun!

So – if you want a big shop at Ellesmere Tesco then take :-

a. A big enough trolley of your own

b. Some strapping crew.

c. As I suggested to Ms Sour Face, arrange a home delivery on line and a Tesco employee will deliver it to your boat. (OK, I know that costs extra)

When Graham had returned and we were preparing to leave – another shopper came past pushing a laden trolley. You can make up your own moral to this tale.

Ellesmere is a lovely little town and well worth a visit, other supermarkets are available for the smaller shop. The butcher and bakery come highly recommended, as does the Red Lion a little way out from the centre of town towards the Mere. Their food was very good – a huge mixed grill was considered to be enough for the next 2 days by our quiz buddies. A tenner I believe.

We winded at the top of the arm – just, Blake Merethanks to the boats moored at the turning point, and then made our way to Blake Mere. We have often thought that it would be a lovely place to stop-over but it has always been full in the past. Today it was just for us for the most part. We set our tables and chairs in the shade and had lunch followed by a stroll around the Mere. Lovely steam launchThe sky started to cloud over so we set off at about 2:30 and continued on to Tilstock Park where we moored for the night on S.U.C.S. 48hr moorings at 5:30. Near Bettisfield we spotted this lovely little steam launch moored outside a chalet – lovely!

The fridge appears to really appreciate the new ‘high capacity’ wiring Graham installed on Saturday as the amount of power it uses overnight has halved.


Monday, July 15, 2013

July holiday–Day #2

Sunday 14th July

A thought – the Montgomery canal is environmentally sensitive. It is headlined as a linear nature reserve. We were surprised to find Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam doing very well thank-you along one stretch. The Owl boxes were good to see though.

Our breakfast viewA breakfast of eggs and bacon and we were off. An early start as we needed to be at Frankton locks at 12.00 for our booked passage through. We could have stayed another day on the Montgomery and enjoyed the peace and tranquillity. It’s an excellent place for walking and exploring off tow-path, but we had already made the lock bookings and luckily it’s been far too hot for walking.

It was a cool start Where's the towpath?but the sun had burnt it’s way through by 10:00 and the heat built. I was surprised at the amount of vegetation that grew between the towpath and the cut. All small trees that will create severe problems if they are not kept in check. We got to the locks for 12:00 and were 7th in the expected queue of 8 boats so we had to break out the beers in holiday resort mode whilst we waited our turn. No hankies on heads here though. We’d finished the full Monty locks and were back on the mainline at 2:30. Like yesterday we found the nearest shady tree on the towpath and pulled over for lunch and a deserved cool down.

Jannock approaching Ashton top lock.Once the heat started to drop we set off and headed towards Ellesmere. We knew we were too late for the Tesco's Sunday opening hours but planned to moor outside the arm and wait for Monday morning when Graham will do a car shuffle whilst I replenish ships stores.

We moored up next to Pride of Sawley, the boat crewed by Brian, Ann and the two girls, the Shetland family, who we had followed through Frankton locks both times. They had identified a pub quiz occurring at the Red Lion and so we volunteered to join them. The good news is that we did not come last. After a good evening we visited their boat for a night-cap before returning to Jannock.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

July Holiday–Day #1 - All is revealed

Saturday 13th July

Bird of the day – Sacred Ibis

The sight that greeted me outside my window this morning was more male stripper than Calista Flockheart. It would appear that last night’s  ‘young lady and her minders’ were the Groom and Groomsmen – a two boat stag party of whom the advance party of five had arrived early by car. And didn’t we know it from about 01:30 onwards. A night cruising boat with three crew came along the canal and prompted the start of the stag party noise which continued on until about 3 am.

Two more early morning boats passed us by about 7am  and the next movement was from the stags. I looked out my window to be greeted by (Sexism Alert!) a pair of hairy thighs and a pert bum in red pants. It seems I could well be Cleopatra, it’s all gone a bit odd.

The crew of one of the boats had set the other adrift, not realising :-

a. The Llangollen canal has a steady flow.

b. The keys to that boat were currently missing.

Chaps in pants were trying to rescue themselves. Red pants did make an effort to cover up – last seen sporting a comedy captains hat and red pants. So, where’s the Ibis?

Keys found, they set off after offering apologies for this morning’s noise and thanking us the small attempts to help them we’d made. Some rowdy stags are much better behaved and more pIMGP3837olite than others, even at 08:30.

Once we were up and about Graham spotted that the batteries were down to 12% capacity due to the fridge not liking the hot weather and the original wiring to it being too small to pass sufficient current. We started the engine while we IMGP3835breakfasted to put some charge back in before we took a trip in the car to visit Whittington to look at the remains of the castle and the lovely Italianate village church.


On our return we set off in the boat towards Frankton junction and very soon we actually spotted the Sacred Ibis, in afield of sheep. Unfortunately it was too far away to photograph. Shortly after that we pulled over and Graham started running a pair of heavy duty cables through the trunking to provide a higher capacity feed to the fridge. By 12 am the cables were run so we continued on to Frankton Junction for our IMGP3845booked passage down the locks onto the Montgomery canal. We were last in the queue and had a long wait with no shade at all. As the temperature rose through 30 degrees the wait became longer as the lock keeper had to ‘call a man out’ to remove a car tyre from the cill of the bottom lock. The family on the boat in front were from the Shetland Isles and were really suffering from the heat. They had brought lots of wet and cold weather clothes with them for their fortnights hire and were surprised that summer had arrived.

Once through the locks we headed for the first bit of decent shade on the towpath, just past Graham Palmer lock where we had a bit of a siesta to IMGP3847cool down. At 5pm it started to cool down so we continued on through Queens Head and the three Ashton locks and arrived at Maesbury Marsh services at 7pm. We ate tea, filled with water, pumped out the loo tank and both showered in the very nicely kept shower room there. Then we continued on to the end of navigation, turned round and moored upon a 48 hour mooring at 9:30. After a much needed brew it was almost bed time.


July holiday–day #0

Friday 12th July

We arrived at the boat, moored at Hindford at 7pm. We had a table booked for a meal at the Jack Mytton Inn so off we wandered once we had unpacked and settled in. Monday to Friday they do a small selection, two courses from a choice of three, for a tenner.We ate very well and the real ale selection suited us too. We chose to sit outside in the very pretty courtyard on a lovely warm evening.

We suspected another diner was a person of fame, if not necessarily fortune, after an odd conversation between some chaps and mine host. We saw five of them yet fifteen were booked to eat. The other ten must have come in through the back way as we had sight of the entrance. On leaving the pub we found two hire boats had tied up between Jannock and the pub. Everyone was out, presumably having snuck into the restaurant as there is no where else to go. Earlier, when we had been preparing to leave Jannock to go to the pub two chaps, in shorts and T shirts as befits the weather and place, had walked past the boat. They had cameras with quite long lenses attached. We spoke with them; they explained that one had seen a Sacred Ibis earlier in the day. I replied “ and I’m Cleopatra”. How rude! Sacred Ibis? Anyhow, off they trudged down the towpath to photograph their bird. Now . . . was that bird the “young lady and her minders” that mine host had been overheard talking about to the five young chaps? How exciting! Yes, I must get out more.

We ended the evening sat out on the back deck watching at least four bats skimming above the water for a light supper.


Monday, July 08, 2013

St. Numpty’s day ……

Sunday 7th July

… celebrated by boaters who enjoy a bit of mayhem and scratched paintwork. (Take note Pippa!)

And a wedding day – the bride was going to be suitably late as her wonderfully decorated boat was still moored outside The Poacher whilst her guests were gathered at the Lion Quays waterside hotel Pontcysyllte shadow of Jannock waiting. Joyous – we suspect she was still in the pub having a shot of courage.

As we passed over the Pontcysyllte aquaduct for the second time this weekend Gladys sat in the front well of the boat and enjoyed the views. We then stopped at the car and off-loaded some of the stuff ready to go home before continuing on through Chirk.

Gladys on the Aquaduct, railway behind As we exited Chirk tunnel two day boats, teensy ones, were moored across all of the lay by where you wait until the aquaduct is free, two narrowboats were already clinging onto what was left. We asked them to budge up, which they did after a conference,  so that we could make space for the two boats following us through. There we two boats coming across the aquaduct – narrowboat sardines!

At New Marton bridge we found ourselves 5th in the queue for the top lock so we had lunch. A crew of Hungarian first timers drew up oblivious of the queue for the lock, even though a boat was just coming out and the first boat was pulling out to enter.  They pulled back into the bridge hole without realising that the boat leaving the lock now had no-where to go. After an exercise in bi-lingual tact they eventually got sorted out more-or-less by moving to the offside and holding the boat there out of the way. Hungarians obviously have no Elfin-Safety in their genes. No shoes on, leaping yard wide (sorry metre wide) gaps whilst the boat was still moving, a 10 year old rushing around lockside on a scooter oblivious of ropes and bollards. Then the kids went off to play at the top of the lock by-wash, jumping about in all the slippy weed. My stress level was rising, wondering where an air ambulance could land. The lad walked up the incline of the by-wash and only just pulled his foot back as he was about to step over the edge into the cut whilst the lock was filling with the top paddles open. St. Numpty obviously approved of Jesus’ ability to walk on water.

Once through both locks we moored up under some trees! Needed just to stop us melting whilst tidying up ready to go home.


The kindness of strangers :- When at Grindley Brook last weekendBravery award from Grindley Brook Shop I went into the wonderful shop and cafe’ and chose a couple of postcards of “that aquaduct”. Chatting to the proprietress I explained that they were to mount to give to an ‘older’ friend who would be crossing it with us next weekend, sight unseen as she is a worrier. The lady was quite taken aback that we’d pull  a stunt like that, sneaking such altitude and no parachute on the un-suspecting elderly. She explained that she was so nervous of it that she hadn’t plucked up the courage. I was given a box of lovely fudge and another card with all the info about the aquaduct to give to Gladys if she went through with it. It was a bravery award, and well deserved as she walked and cruised Pontcysyllte, then the two tunnels as well as Chirk aquaduct without turning a hair! The ladies of Grindley Brook shop are as lovely as their stock is vast and their food smells delicious.