Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The end of the summer cruise

Yesterday we moved into Crick marina for our winter mooring.  We have been along the top pound between Foxton and Watford for the last week, cruising on the better days.  John has been through Crick tunnel 4 times over the last few days (by choice!)

Since arriving in the marina, we have, washed, polished and touched up the war wounds of 5 months of cruising, as we have only touched up the paint a couple of times whilst we have been out on the cut.  We now have a very shiny boat!!  (Just like she should be in a marina!) and we have very sore and aching limbs. 

We still have some painting to complete and then we will start packing up for our return home.  If the weather is ok over the next couple of months we may try to get out for a weekend or two before winterising.  
Entrance to Crick tunnel

Exiting the tunnel, Ali was trying to get photos of the bats, but failed miserably

The moon has been fabulous the last few days

Shiny boat!

Foggy morning
We are now debating our plans for next year, north or south, or perhaps east?  Lets just hope for some lovely weather like we have had this year, it makes canal life so much better!

We have completed 965 miles, 704 locks, 44 swing & 18 lift bridges and 24747 yards of tunnel, since leaving Crick at the end of April.  We have met old friends, made new friends and had many a chat with fellow boaters of all persuasions.  The camaraderie of the cut certainly enhances the experience.

Thanks for reading our musings we may post an occasional update over the winter, but we will be back blogging in the spring all being well!

Ali & John

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Busy doing.......Nothing!

Aware of the dire forecast for today, we decided to sit tight. This is a lovely rural mooring, sheltered from the wind and so no hardship.

The day dawned better than than forecast, but as the morning progressed, the decision to stay put was justified. It has rained and rained, not particularly heavy, but miserable to travel in and cold. Now we had more than our share of travelling in the wet last year and as we are coming to the end of the 2013 cruise, we are avoiding getting wet where possible.

So we have for the first time this year I think, fired up the Refleks stove, charged up the battery bank and remained cosy and warm whilst braver (but looking decidedly miserable) souls have cruised past. I have hammered the Kindle whilst Ali has baked. Hard life!

When we moored near Mercia we took the opportunity to pop into Midland chandlers. We have had a sat dish since launch and whilst this is good, it relies on line of sight, not always possible on the inland waterways. Anyway, we bought a Maxview Omnimax at the chandlers with an additional magnetic base. Untill we reached Market Harborough, this remained in the box, but having time to play whilst there I assembled it and connected it up via the signal booster and bingo, good Tv reception without fiddling with a dish on the roof. Now at our rural mooring we have a multitude of telly and radio channels, so looking like a good buy at the moment, fingers crossed! Tuesday evening is a must watch night, Great British bake off for Ali, New Trick's for me.

So No pictures tonight. Tomorrow we head towards our ultimate destination, Crick. Possibly!!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Possibly the last locks of the year?

We have done a 'Manley' the last few days, staying in Market Harborough basin, for two reasons, we like it and the weather forecast for the weekend especially Sunday was appalling, so we thought we would sit it out hooked up to power!  We like Market Harborough and on Friday I met my sister and we had a good look around the shops, Saturday, John & I wandered down, had some lunch and wandered back, it is traditional market town and somehow seems to avoid the recession.

Market Harborough basin

Yesterday the wind was really bad and we felt really sorry for the hire boats trying to return to the basin.  We had to help a couple of them in as they were really struggling, not surprisingly, one chap managed to get the boat parallel to one side of the basin and then to the opposite side, neither of which was where he needed to be, eventually he was within aiming distance and managed to get the stern lined up and reversed, the pontoons are only short and the bow was blown away from the pontoon, we managed to get his centre rope and pull him in and then tie the bow to the next boat, to hold them together, there were three boats tied together and the bows were definitely blowing in the wind!  We spent the evening with Jane & Paul and due to nowhere being open for food on a Sunday evening in Market Harborough (well no where we fancied) we went to Foxton Locks Inn.  

A bit of floating weed, only half the canal width

This morning was still windy but not as bad so we decided to make a move.  We made our way back to Foxton, stopping at the village shop on the way.  We moored in the basin, there were three boats already waiting so I walked up to find the lock keeper.  The news wasn't great, unannounced a team had turned up to jet wash the lock gates, so no-one was going anywhere, the team had already been doing the gates for a couple of hours and had only done two locks.  There were boats waiting at the top and bottom, however once the flight was open we would go up, so we would be fourth.  The lock keepers said that they hoped to have us moving by about 4pm, it was 1:30!  However, as I was chatting to the lock keeper, one of the other lock keepers said he had persuaded the jet washers to go back up the locks, so the flight could be re-opened, so we didn't have to wait that long, we were off up the locks just after 2:00.  No problems with the locks, the boat in front wasn't that quick so I had to keep waiting to fill the lock as they were still in the one above.  We decided to cruise to Welford junction, the wind was getting worse and we had a couple of rain showers but nothing much.  When we got to Welford we couldn't get in on the mooring rings as the three boats moored couldn't have been spaced more awkwardly, not enough room between any of them for us, why can't folks share mooring rings, another two boats could have got in, but no, lets spread out attitude!  We couldn't be bothered to get them to move up, it was too windy to be faffing about and we know there are other places so we kept going and have moored just south of bridge 38, obviously someone's favourite mooring as there is a bird table in the hedge. 

Our mooring tonight
14 miles, 10 locks, Husbands Bosworth Tunnel 1166 yards

Thursday, 12 September 2013

To Foxton and onto Market Harborough

We made our way yesterday to Foxton, fairly uneventful, the rain arriving much sooner than the weather forecast said, but we decided to continue anyway, its a long time since we boated in the rain!  We cruised this stretch when Triskaideka was first launched but we both have hardly any recollection of it.  The locks are independently minded being hard to read and as we were on our own, it was a bit of a white water ride for John at times as the paddles were quite fierce.  We covered the seven locks from Kilby to Newton Harcourt and then the five at  Kibworth, having a bit of a laugh at a couple who said they had had enough for the day after coming down four locks from Kibworth, they were apparently exhausted (didn't look any different to us and about the same age).    There were bats flying around in Saddington tunnel, there are bat boxes on the roof, I tried to get a picture but they were too fast for me!  We are still appalled by the graffiti on the bridges, it has stretched from Leicester and we can't remember seeing it before.

Saddington Tunnel (looks straight)

But is it?

Just one bridge

We managed to moor just before Bridge 62 at Foxton, a bit surprised as we thought this mooring no longer existed with the new Foxton mooring regulations, but it is still there.  We spent the evening split between The Foxton Locks Inn for food and Bridge 61 for a few beers.

This morning we were in no hurry so had a bit of a lazy start and then made our way to Market Harborough, we like this stretch, it was fairly quiet one boat in front of us and nothing coming the other way.  As we went through the footbridge at Foxton, there was a strange noise and as John reversed back to pick me up he said he has something around the prop.  We pulled in on the moorings and discovered we had a towel around it.

Any one admitting to loosing this?

There were three lads on the towpath approaching MH about to throw an old bike into the canal, we tried to stop them both by talking to them and holding up the camera, but to no avail, they ran into the hedge so we couldn't get a photo but as soon as we were hidden by the reeds we saw the bike go in.  

We will stay tomorrow here and see what the weather is like on Saturday before deciding about moving as its not looking good at the moment.

Its getting a bit over grown
Wednesday 11/09  9.75 miles 12 locks, Saddington Tunnel 880 yards
Thursday 12/09 5.5 miles 2 swing bridges

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Sonning Bridge Post Box

You may remember we put pictures of a post box on Sonning Bridge on the blog when we came through in July, and other bloggers have also commented on the mystery of the post box.  The Daily Mail have now picked up the story http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2416812/Postbox-middle-River-Thames-Uri-Gellers-home-Sonning-Thames-stumped-Royal-Mail-letterbox.html  (PS also the DM have a headline of it being in the middle of a canal at Sonning on Thames!)

We have also had a comment on the blog asking us to contact someone at the BBC about it today!  Obviously slow news at the moment, its been there to our knowledge since the middle of July!

Lovely Leicester

We were up a little earlier than expected this morning, so a quick trip to Annie D to let them know we would be ready earlier than we had anticipated, we had agreed to share the locks through Leicester with them yesterday.  We gave Doug & James a knock on the boat to say goodbye, Doug had just got out of the shower and James was on the loo!  They did manage to get outside before we were away, although James was in his dressing gown.


James  (sorry James for disturbing you!)

Space Centre
We made steady progress through Leicester sharing the locks with Rebecca & Robert, although experience boaters they have only just collected Annie D after buying her a few weeks ago and are travelling to their home mooring of Crick.  At Kings Lock they stopped for a while and we continued on our own.  We have only passed four boats all day.

Leicester has not changed at all, some thing really should be done to encourage boaters, they have a huge expanse of water and water front, which could be a lovely resource, but it is disgusting. All the bridges are full of graffiti, the rubbish in the river/canal is appalling, the towpath is full of litter, cans, bottles and dog poo. That all the boaters we saw today had made the trip from Kilby and were not stopping in Leicester, tells its own story.

and finally

The temperature dropped this afternoon and
 John donned his new 'Beacon Boats' fleece!

We made it to Kilby and on Doug's recommendation we went to the Navigation for 'curry night', very nice it was too.

14 miles 17 locks

Weekend Gathering

Saturday morning saw the arival of QEIII.   The weather was much better than forecast.

Saturday afternoon a number of the Beacon Boats owners who were unable to attend by boat and prospective owners arrived and we showed a steady flow of people arround Triskaideka.  Ken & Lynda who will soon be planning their build probably are more confused than ever having looked around the four different boats, and now probably don't have a clue what to have!

Beacon had arranged for a photographer so we did a bit of a boat shuffle to get the four boats breasted up across the river for some photos.  A bit of synchronised boating!

Left to right QEIII, Windsong, Serenity & Triskaideka

From the other way 

Karen & John

Ian, Rog & Liz

the 'gathered' on the bank

Liz & Rog

In the evening we retired to the Soar Bridge Inn for an evening of chat, food and the odd beverage.  It was great to catch up with people we knew and meet other owners as well as matching people to boats that we knew of.  I think everyone really enjoyed the evening.

Sunday, Ali went off to a family birthday gathering in Northampton and John and others went back to the Soar Bridge for Sunday lunch.  If you are passing this way we would really recommend the Soar Bridge, the food is really good value and they have a great range of beers.

Today we said goodbye to Pip and Rog on NB Windsong followed by Karen & Ian on NB Serentity.  We left shortly after, we headed for the service point and whilst doing so, said we would have an alcohol free day.

Whilst waiting for the water tank to fill, we had a phone call from Doug from NB Chance, we knew Doug and James were heading our way, and very kindly they decided to have a longer day today so we could meet this afternoon at Syston.  (Bang went the alcohol free day then!).

We cruised along the River Soar, it is a lovely stretch of water, making a short stop at Mountsorrel for milk and then at Sileby Mill for diesel. As we exited the lock at Sileby we had a prop foul, managing to get onto the lock landing we discovered a brand new fender with a bit of blue rope, well and truly wrapped around the prop, oh well I am sure we can use the fender!

Prop foul

We also passed two further Beacon Boats today who were unable to make the gathering over the weekend.

NB Merryweather in the background

NB Seventh Heaven
We moored up and were just sorting a few things out when John said that Doug & James were mooring up behind us.  We have spent a lovely evening with them and as always enjoyed excellent company, just sorry it was such a short meeting.

NB Chance & Triskaideka 

Doug, James & John

Doug & James

5.5 miles 4 locks