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.