Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunshine, Church Bells and a Howling Gale


We left our peaceful Braunston mooring and passed nb Waiouru and nb Stray Away again on our way towards Hillmorton. It was lovely to hear the bells at Braunston church calling the faithful to service as we made our way, closely followed by a hotelNapton Church in the distance pair, onto a very windy Oxford canal.

We felt sorry for the numerous newbie hirers who were struggling through strong cross winds steering a craft they are not familiar with – crash and panic were the themes for their day. We spotted one crew who moored up at 11am to sit it all out. I was having to steer Jannock crab-like up the exposed sections although she returned to normal once we gained shelter from hedge or cutting.

Quote of the day came from Brenda as we were looking at a warning sign in the window of a live-aboard boat moored near Barby – “I don’t know about the dog, it’s the curtains I’d be more scared of”. The mould and soot would do you much more harm than a bark and a bite!

Hillmorton 3 was interesting; our serving suggestion of “ give it some welly!” wasn’tNice cans - luckily the lady didn't take offence taken up by a Napton Narrowboats crew, “softly softly catchee monkey” was the preferred option which left them bow to stern across the canal below the top lock – no harm done luckily.

We continued on and moored up at Brownsover, just before the road bridge. Brenda went and did a bit of shopping while I fetched the car from Weedon and took it to Brinklow marina. I then Di Blasi’d back to Jannock and we continued on to moor for the night on the Newbold visitor moorings just after Green’s bridge. The hotel boats were moored there as well so they must have passed us while I was car shuffling.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Three Cutweb members spotted today.


We arrived at Weedon Bec just after 10am and lugged our ‘stuff’ up the steps to the canal where Jannock was still securely tied up waiting. I then parked the car in thenb Ian village, the lane by the church is a bit of a rat-run so best to put it somewhere quieter. We then untied and set off by 10:45 heading North. As we approached Dodford wharf I spotted nb Ian moored against the field there - I had to take a picture because Ian is the boat that mini-Jannock’s original hull kit was based on.

We had a lunch of bacon sarnies as we approached Buckby bottom lock. Once in the lock, we waited a short while as both the first and second boats following us winded in the marina entrance and set off south again. Luckily the third boat, nb Queen Hatshepsut, came into the lock alongside us and we shared the whole flight with them. They were a nice couple from Devon and we made good time up the locks with only one lock being turned on us by a couple of private boats as we approached the empty lock from below. I was not impressed and told them so.

Up through ‘Bee Bra’ (Buckby Top) lock – named such after Brenda once had a Bee fly down into her bra whilst ascending the lock, much to the amusement of all the peeps sat in the pub garden. Onto the summit where we waved bye-bye to Queen Hatshepsut as they turned onto the Leicester Arm. We passed through Braunston tunnel, passing one boat coming the other way – why is it always at the bendy bit near the northern end?

No-one to share Braunton flight with, but there was a Cutweb member moored above the flight, so having introduced myself we travelled down solo meeting all-sorts coming the other way. At Admiral Nelson lock I found a solitary boat tied up in the lock and a single bottom gate open. No sign of life so I thought the owner had gone in the pub but it turned out that he desperately needed a comfort break and re-appeared from inside the boat shortly after. Once out of the flight, we travelled down to Braunston turn passing two more Cutweb members by the toll house. I turned Jannock round at the junction using all three sides of the triangle and then returned to the sani-station. I then did a pump-out whilst Brenda walked the rubbish down to the skip.

Pump-out complete, we passed nb Waiouru and nb Stray Away again to turn in the marina entrance and then reverse back to the last free mooring before Butchers Bridge to moor for the night.

Another first for Jannock – whilst moored in Braunston we had a visit from a door-to-door salesperson trying to flog dusters and cleaning cloths etc. I sent him packing pointing out that we had everything we needed thankyou. I did point out to him that ‘holiday boaters’ were likely to have everything they needed provided by the boat company and he might get more success trying boats with bags of coal and piles of wood on the roofs  ;^)  We’d seen none along the Braunston stretch during our earlier winding exercise.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

A short run to Weedon Bec


First task of the day – Brenda tried the new shower mixer tap that I’d fitted. She reckons that it’s wonderful! Instant hot water, no fighting with a stiff tap that needed a zillion turns and was such a large diameter that her hand could only just grasp it.WeedonChurch She now wishes that she’s broken the old one ages ago.

After a peaceful night opposite Bugbrooke marina, we set off in the sunshine and pootled along past Nether Heyford and Stowehill until we moored on the church moorings at Weedon Bec – Jannock’s home until next weekend.

I went and fetched the car whilst Brenda prepared lunch. On my return we ate, washed up and headed home. A short day, I know, but a relatively safe place to leave a boat un-attended.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Welcome to Gongoozler World


Another nice sunny day but oh, that wind is chill. We set off at 11:30 after a lateSwans in oilseed rape field start and passed up through Cosgrove lock before eating lunch on the long slog through Yardley Gobion to Stoke Bruerne bottom lock where we entered and waited  for a partner to join us. The first two boats winded below the lock and returned towards Cosgrove but finally nb Serenity joined us and we made a quick and easy ascent of the flight into Gongoozler land.

The number of people watching times the number of boats manoevering should have equalled dismal mooring skills as we went into the water point outside The Boat Inn. Luckily we got it just right and so in celebration Graham took two glasses into the pub. It took about the same amount of time to fill with water as it did to get a couple of beers. Off we went into a very wet tunnel that rinsed off the paintwork where we had done Duck Poo removal at the waterpoint.

William in top lockOnward, still in the sunshine, until we moored outside Bugbroke marina where Graham felt the need to wash the otherside of Jannock whilst I prepared Kippers for tea.

So, what’s the story? Whilst we were kippering, three yoofs sauntered by on the tow path. Hoodie was a distance in front of Baggypants and Allinblack and trying hard to look as if he wasn’t with them. General demeanor suggested there were hot dates waiting in a cold pub, lager prices what they are lead to pre-loading of course. A hundred yards or so beyond of us they all got very interested in the hedgeline. Lots of firkling about and brow knitting went on and then they re-grouped as one and legged it back pronto.

Answers on a postcard …….


Sunday, April 09, 2017

Happy birthday to me ;^)

Just after we left our peaceful overnight mooring weIMGP4993 passed nb Frog, the boat we shared all the locks with yesterday, moored up near the Globe Inn ready for the Boaters Market next weekend – talk about prime spot, it obviously pays to get there early.

On the long stretch before the top of Soulbury locks, Brenda spotted her first ducklings for the year. We entered the top first ducklingslock and descended them on our own with no-one coming up either. Once through the flight it was a short cruise to Stoke Hammond wharf where we moored up for the week.

I then returned to Marsworth on the trusty Di Blasi to fetch the car. On my return to Jannock, we had lunch, washed up and went home.


Saturday, April 08, 2017

Boating after a world record Balloon attempt.

Yesterday, Brenda and I assisted the Ballonatic84 crew to enable them to enter theTheTeam Cross Channel Ballooning Record attempt. They didn’t have any-one to drive their recovery vehicle across to France to fetch the balloon back so I volunteered at the 11th hour and took Brenda along for the day out. She was not impressed with the 01:15 start as I had said it would be early but hadn’t explained quite how early. There is an excellent video at

IMG_3077Back to boating, another weekend and another celebration cake. Happy Birthdays to me, Alice and Matt. All we need now is to be able to celebrate a new Guinness World record attempt yesterday.

If we had seen it last weekend – we’d have thought “April Fool!” – a chap skiing down the towpath on wheeled skis. Looked damned hard work.

We shared all of today’s locks with a short (30’) narrowboat named Frog and at Ivinghoe Top Lock, where we caught up an equally short singleton, we managedIMG_3080 three boats in one lock. The steerer on Frog was suffering from a broken toe but we soon set up a routine of using a single gate to exit that make progress good.

We moored for the night between Leighton Lock and the Globe, a nice quiet mooring if you stay near the Eastern end of the sewerage works on the opposite bank. It seems that the West End is the noisy end. Brenda had brought a container of “chicken casserole” out of our freezer at home for dinner tonight. When she opened it she found that it contained Apple, Rhubard and Plum. So, at last we got to try the Army rations we bought at Milton Keynes market several years ago. A chicken curry, a lamb curry and a vegetable biriani. All needed to be warmed in boiling water and then the pouches opened and poured onto the plates. They were really tasty and we washed down with a couple of beers – excellent!


Sunday, April 02, 2017

A long wait!

About one hour of today’s two hour trip was spent tied up above a padlocked Marsworth top lock whilst the bottom pound, where the Aylesbury arm goes off, was rewatered. The CaRT staff believed that both lock 38 and Marsworth No1 lock had their top gates left open all night and junction pound was almost emptied with boats sitting on the bottom. We hope that those boaters we have seen holding onto IMG_20170402_102846the ‘tradition’ of leaving the exit gates open when they leave the lock were amongst those inconvenienced today.

Once the padlock was removed, we shared the flight with a crew of hirers who have fallen in love with canal boating in just two days flat – just as well it hasn’t rained at all ;^)

We moored above the bottom lock, just along from ‘Engagement bend’, and left Jannock there for a week. There were plans to restrict mooring at Marsworth but I’ve not seen any new signs indicating the changes yet.


Saturday, April 01, 2017

Happy Birthday to Brenda!

Saturday 1st April 2017

Berkhampstead to Bulbourne

We polished off the cerials left on-board over winter, a soggy breakfast, and were ready to leave at 9:45. The last boat to pass us was a widebeam that had left the top gates open at both Raven’s Lane and Rising Sun locks. Once through our first lock, we joined another single narrowboat waiting for the widebeam to clear Gas 2 lock so we shared with him all the way to Cowroast. The pound above Gas 1 was very low and the widebeam was struggling. I managed to cycle past them and have the next lock open and ready for them when they finally arrived. The steerer was complaining bitterly about the lack of water so I took great delight in pointing out to him that leaving top gates open causes problems like that. He was not impressed!

If you value your children do not put them in an inflatable canoe immediately outside a lock where two narrowboats are coming out, and you are occupying the lock landing area by the water point. Then when you are asked to move said child and canoe please don’t scowl and make a dramatic performance of dragging her 6 foot towards the water point – and then putting a second inflatable canoe where the first had been. Then as our boat starts leaving the lock and comes towards you, please don’t ask f it’s OK for us to wait while you get yourself sorted. And when told that the second boat in the lock will be stopping on the water point, don’t ask “what boat?” It’s the big heavy steel thing bearing down on your child that has no-where else to go. More scowling will not help – narrowboats are big and heavy compared with your little blow up canoes. They also have no brakes and oh, by the way, why aren’t your young children wearing life jackets? Are their lives not worth the price of one?

Photo0098Once onto the tring summit it was lunch – with Shrimp Banana cake for Brenda’s birthday. Second day of 2017 cruise and we see a brazen kingfisher sat on a branch, bold as brass and didn’t even move. Why did I leave the camera at home! You bet he wouldn’t have hung around had I got it in my hand.

We cruised right up to the Wendover Arm junction looking for a Bulbourne mooring for the night. We know it’s been a short day but we’d got a table booked at the Grand Junction Arms. We turned and then cruised back to the next winding point where we turned again and reversed into a spare 65 foot gap on the piling. That’ll do, just a short walk to the pub. Matt, Alice and Felicity joined us for a celebratory dinner at the GJA and Felicity charmed everyone in the pub. I wish we could all go out to dinner in our jim-jams-a’ la’ Stella McCartney outfit. We had a lovely meal, the menu was varied and interesting, something for all tastes and well cooked.

Having said farewell to our guests, we retired to Jannock and watched the first three episodes of “The Flower of Gloucester”, nothing like a 1960’s kids TV series (and another birthday) to make you feel old.

Brenda & Graham