Thursday, 31 December 2015

Friday, 27 November 2015

Beacon boat for sale (not ours)

If anyone is looking for a boat, unfortunately due to family circumstances NB Windsong is up for sale.  Have a look at their blog for details Windsong.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

An addendum to the final update!

Well that's it!
Boat now tucked up for the winter. We have spent the weekend doing those last jobs, mainly emptying the cupboards of perishables and other items that we can use at home. Surprising just how much there was!
Ali also completed the treatment of the floor and after letting it dry for 24 hrs, we were back to drain down the water systems. We also managed to fit the under gunwale led lights as recommended by Karen and Ian, which look really good. As ever, I tinkered and fitted a lower profile cowl on the flue, in prep for the new solar panel. This is a somewhat heath Robinson contraption, adapted from a cheap gas cowl, and intended merely as a weather cover for when the stove is out of use.
So hopefully, she is ready for whatever the winter holds.
Thank's again to Jane & Paul for putting us up and a happy first birthday to Noah.
Next visit will hopefully see the new panel fitted and make us a little more self sufficient when we stop for a day or two on hot summer(!) day's. Then the fun swopping the radiators around is due and how I am looking forward to that!
Roll on spring. 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

A somewhat belated final update.

Well that's it for our season, sadly.

We have extended our season a tad due to the fine weather, but finally the time came to pack up, place the boat in a Marina for the winter and go home. We have had a good year and whilst the weather has not been overly hot, it has been largely dry.

I think we last updated when we were about to leave home for a weekend in Manchester to watch England finally win a match! After an overnight stop, we diverted from our return to the boat via , Gnosall on the Shroppie, in order to catch up with Ken and Lynda on N.B. Dionysus.

NB Dionysus (pinched from their FB page!)

I think it is fair to say that their build and launch has suffered from some long and frustrating delays. But they now have a stunning boat which I am sure will give them great pleasure. At least the weather has been kind for their inaugural cruise. Ended up chatting for so long that we forgot to take any pictures!

So back to Crick and the task of washing and polishing the old girl commenced. Hard work, but the results are more than worth the effort. Ali not satisfied with the exterior also scrubbed the floors, then Osmo oiled them. Now looking as good as new, as is the cratch, which she has sanded down and treated. No wonder her back hurts!

Amongst the maintenance  programme, we did find time for some socialising. Going to Isabella's party, seven now, were did those years go? Meeting up with Lizzie for a drink or three and Pip and Rog ( N.B. Windsong}. Great to see you all and sad to be leaving the area. I am afraid living on the boat, in a marina over winter, is not for us. Jane and Paul have as ever supported us and kindly obtained tickets for the Saints game at Milton Keynes for us. A great day out. And Saints won!

Isabella's birthday cake
(made by Ali)

Amongst all this cleaning and social networking we even managed a last few days out. Ok, only to Welford junction and back, but the weather held, the autumn scenery was stunning and the moorings free of other boats. So a relaxing final cruise of the season and one which took us beyond a thousand miles this year.

Fabulous colours and reflections on the canal at this time of year

Now home. As has become something of a tradition, I now have "Man Flu", or as Ali would call it, a cold!

Over winter we have a few jobs to complete on the boat. Some planned for, others forced upon us. One of our radiators has sprung a leak and will need replacing as a repair does not seem possible. Guess what, the model is no longer available, so I foresee some jiggling in order that at least the two in the saloon match. We also want to increase our Solar capacity which is a challenge due to the limited roof space available plus the aesthetics, plus a myriad of other small tweaks.

We will be back on the boat temporarily in a few weeks to complete some minor works and to fully winterize her, but will combine this with visiting family and to coincide with Noah's first birthday.

This year saw us wander mainly in the north. It is still amazing how quiet the northern system is. We have met some amazing people as well. If you see N.B. Twizzel on your travels, pass on our love to this fantastic couple, who made traversing the western L & L such a joy. But tell Sue that Quentin was a bad influence on me!

 Next year, after the Beacon Boat meet on the Soar, we are thinking of heading south. No plan as such, just vaguely south. No agenda is our motto.

Miles 21.


Engine hours 3123
Total mileage covered 1003
Locks 668
Tunnels 41
Moveable bridges 98
Major aqueducts  10

Route Covered
Leicester Line - Grand Union
Grand Union - Main Line
Oxford Canal - northern & southern sections
Coventry Canal
Birmingham & Fazeley Canal
Trent & Mersey Canal
Bridgewater Canal
Leeds & Liverpool - Leigh Branch
Leeds & Liverpool Canal
Aire & Calder Navigation
Calder & Hebble Navigation
Rochdale Canal
Wardle Canal
Shropshire Union - Middlewich Branch
Shropshire Union
Shropshire Union - Chester Branch
Llangollen Canal (Shropshire Union)
Staffs & Worcester Canal
River Trent
River Soar

and finally - a bit of video if you want of the autumn on the Leicester Line

Friday, 9 October 2015

Home... Well for a couple of days.

Sometimes, reality gets in the way. We have had to return home for a few reasons. Shifting cars, the dreaded M.O.T and then sorting out insurance being just a few. Then there is the Rugby. We have tickets for the England game in Manchester. Evening kick off so staying overnight.

So, home it was. It is strange to be back, albeit briefly. On Sunday we return to the boat in order to start all those jobs that need attention. That is, if the weather allows. But there again, if its good, we may well go back out.

Anyway, back to the final bit of our cruising, enjoying the stunning weather, we left our mooring at Stowe hill and made our way south. A late start, so not too far. At Gayton junction, we made use of the services, then stopped to chat with Geoff and Julie on Willow Too. It was so quiet that we were able to hover under the Bridge to chat. Then it was to Blisworth tunnel!

This one place always strikes fear, as it was here, on our maiden voyage through Blisworth tunnel,  that we were rammed! Fortunately, no such experience on this occasion, but we passed several boats in what seemed a convoy heading north. At Stoke Bruene, we dropped down the top two locks and moored in the long pound. Quite busy and lucky to get a mooring. As a reward, we went that evening to the Indian restaurant, Spice of Bruene I believe. Now as not a lover of Indian food, surprisingly, I loved the food! Well recommended.  The next morning we started down the rest of the flight, half way down the first lock of the day Willow Too appeared, so we waited in the next and shared the rest of the flight with them.  We left them at the bottom as they wanted diesel from the fuel boat.

After this we bimbled in the autumn sunshine as far south as Cosgrove. This is a lovely section of canal, broad and deep. The canal side hedges were dripping with Sloes and Crabbe apples. We were now in Wyvern shipping hire boat country, most of which appeared to be on the move. We managed to wind above the lock and moored opposite some new builds, nearing completion and quite in character for the area.

Then the return. We were on a loose agenda, having to collect a car and ready for the Rugby trip. We were in luck at Stoke Bruene locks, sharing with an American family on a Wyvern boat, consisting of middle aged son and wife, elderly Dad, and his girlfriend! Must say, with no traffic descending, we managed rather well, leaving the locks together, then entering in the same manner. It made the flight so easy. After a quick shop stop, Blisworth tunnel was passed with ease, although very busy and somewhat smokey, thanks to a couple of trad boats. The pleasure of ingesting ones exhaust fumes at face height, as well as the noise, is beyond me At Gayton,a stop enabled Ali to touch up a few war wounds below the gunwale on the port side, then a hop to Bugbrooke, enabled her to touch up the starboard. After all the effort, she deserved a drink and meal out, so off to the pub went we.

We topped up the fuel at Rugby boats, at a very reasonable 59.9ppl, by a good way the cheapest in the area.

The following day it was up the Long Buckby flight. Not a boat in sight so alone went we. Using our trusted single gate, single ground paddle method, we ascended with ease, albeit rather slowly. The day ended with us back on the Leicester line, moored in rural isolation. Just the hum of the M1 for company and oh, the odd train in the distance.

At the ever delightful Watford flight, after a short wait above the lower two locks, we shot up the remainder. At the top waited N.B. Panda, with Lizzie and Carolyn starting their autumn adventure. Ali chatted, whilst I emptied the bog! Then back to Crick through the tunnel. We spent that night, temporarily, rather uncomfortably, on a 50ft pontoon. But moved on to a somewhat longer one for the winter. As ever, telephony at Crick is awful. The mifi refused to connect and the phone signal was abysmal.

So after visiting the family in Northampton, home we came. Somewhat strange. A busy couple of days with the washer hardly pausing for breath. But we are nearly there now. Cars shuffled and mot passed, insurance sorted. Nice to switch on a tap and not think of topping the tank up and to flush away your waste though!

Manchester over the weekend, then back to sort out the boat and just maybe a little trip, weather permitting.

45.5 miles
28 locks (21 Broad )
7640 yds of Tunnels.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Rugby, more Sloes and big locks again.

On Tuesday we set off late morning from Harborough. Quite a nice day. It certainly brought out the resident kingfishers, which are rather abundant in this area. Perhaps they are more boat tolerant than many, but one in particular hardly moved as we passed.

Also saw Maffi making his way into town and of course, had to pass him on the narrowest, most overgrown section, but we coped.( rather, I did!)

Foxton was again quiet. We ascended with little delay and moored just past the first bridge. It was our intention to go for a walk, but once again, the weather had other thoughts and over the next few hours we were treated to what could only be described as monsoon like downpours. By early evening, these had cleared, so we had a walk followed by a few pints in Bridge 61. No sign of Sam (Matts) though!

But there was next morning when he came to sort out a problem on a boat moored behind us. Job done, got them sorted and a short chat.

We were slowly making for Crick in order to arrange to collect the car in readiness for the Rugby. We had also arranged a night out with Lizzie. (N.B. Panda). We had spotted a tree loaded with Sloes on the non towpath side, on our way up. Seemed rude not to harvest the bounty, so with a bit of jiggling, we got the boat up to it, a tad shallow though! It did cause a bit of consternation from two boats passing, but all for a good cause. Ten minutes and we had 1.5 kilo's of fruit!

We arrived in Crick and spent a few days car shuffling, shopping and socialising. Had a great night with Lizzie at The Moorings, then Saturday saw us shooting up the M1 to Leeds and Elland rd, to watch Canada v Italy. Great game and Canada nearly got a win, but were pipped at the post by the more experienced side. Then a problem free journey back to the boat, if you discount the many, many miles of roadworks with 50 mph restriction. Don't know why we rushed, England threw the Wales game in the second half, but fair play to Wales, the better side on the day.

It has turned into an Indian summer. Cold nights, a misty start, but glorious days. On Sunday we left and bimbled down to Watford. Again, very quiet boat wise, with only eight boats passing through the locks the previous day. We thought, given the forecast, many more boats would be on the move, but seemingly not. We were soon down Watford and then down the Buckby flight. Wide locks once again and the problem with one of the gates was sorted well before our arrival. They are hard work however and due to the scarcity of other boats, we tackled them all on our lonesome.

It was a glorious afternoon and so we carried on until Stowe hill and moored enjoying the late afternoon sun. The Narrow boat was within sight, so rude not to visit. A lovely meal, but I do wish southerners knew what Gravy is! A dribble of "Jus" is just not the same!

Last night, at 0245 hrs, our alarm went off!

Ali had set it in order that we could witness the super moon/lunar eclipse. A fantastic,clear cold night to view it. A bit difficult to photograph from a boat that rocks, but I think she did rather well.

Then back to bed!

A late start today. We are moored next to a water point, so washer on for a clothing cleaning fest.

So we continue south on the G.U. for a day or so, before returning to Crick to collect the car once again. Next match a bit closer, in Leicester.

Miles 34
Locks 24 ( 7 broad )
Tunnels 2694 yds
Moveable bridges 2

Monday, 21 September 2015

There, back again and beyond!

Well, I have been somewhat remiss with the blog of late! So time for a bit of a catch up...

I believe we last updated on the South Oxford, near Tackley. A beautiful section. Our next stop was Thrupp, indeed, this was as far south as we intended to go by boat this year. Another pleasant hop, navigating the river Cherwell section and through the odd shaped lock back onto the canal, saw us at Thrupp. After topping up at the really clean and pleasant services ( how often can you say that!), we found a mooring right outside The Boat P.H., oft featured in the Morse series.

Settling in, we became aware of a high revving engine and looked out to see a shortish hire boat helmed by an elderly American lady.  They spotted the space behind us then somehow managed to ram the concrete bank, bounce off, then repeat the process. By this time Ali was out and assisted them in. Seems they had booked a cruise on the Oxford, expecting waiter service and staff to cater for their every whim. Having to do it all themselves was something of an eye opener!

A short time later, a familiar looking boat hove into view, the distinct N.B. Merryweather. They were looking to moor up, so we said that we would be in the Boat later.

So after dining in the Boat, we met up with Jo & Greg from Merryweather, had a few drinks in the pub, then retired to our boat for a few more! Not an early night...  Lovely to meet them.

The next day we caught the bus into Oxford and did some sightseeing including a visit to the botanical gardens. Fantastic place. Returning to Thrupp, it would just be damned rude not to visit the Boat again, so we did! We had reasoned that as next year we are heading for the Thames, taking the boat into Oxford would gain nothing and we rather like Thrupp anyway.

So then we began to retrace our steps. Reversed back under the lift bridge, visited the services and away. We have a sort of agenda as next Saturday we are off to a Rugby world cup game in Leeds. In order to do this we need to collect the car from Northampton. The original idea was to visit Warwick before heading for Crick, but we thought this may be pushing it somewhat. Change of plan, head for Market Harborough.  So we bimbled back up the Oxford, ensuring we had TV for the opening England game. A pleasant few days cruising saw us at Flecknoe. The forecast for the next day was dire, so after collecting blackberries, we sat the next day out, only for it not to rain until the evening!

Then onto Braunston, we didn't think we were going to have a problem obtaining a mooring as there was a constant stream of bots heading out, including NB Willow Too. We needed a few essentials, so the shop and butchers were visited. As we were about to set off, a wide beam bimbled past and then went to the water/Elsan point. We went past them and on to use the water by the stop house. Walking back with the Elsan revealed the point was blocked, so that's both in Braunston out of service. I duly reported this to the office, but no concern shown!  We did get a notification that evening.

Merryweather passing us in Braunston

Then it was up the locks. A bit of a shuffle here, but we ascended in good time and had no traumas through the tunnel. Likewise at Watford locks, no real wait and rewarded by topping up with fuel from fuel boat Callisto as he descended the locks. We moored in a pleasant spot half a mile or so above the locks. Hard to believe that you are so near the frenzy that is the M1, with  a meadow grazed by sheep being our outlook.

What was to be a quick stop at Crick to visit the co-op, lasted a tad longer after stopping to chat with Lizzie on N.b. Panda. So we moored for the night between Yelvertoft and the A14 in a spot were the Sloes were plentiful and collected a couple of kilos.

Yesterday we thoroughly enjoyed bumbling along the rest of the top pound in really pleasant weather. We did however forget that it was Sunday! Arriving at the top of Foxton saw us third to go down, with the first just starting. So our timing in this respect was good. But the Gongoozlers were rampant! Luckily for me, I was somewhat insulated from them on the boat, but Ali took it all in her stride with aplomb.

As we descended, who should we see walking up the flight but Dave & Angie off N.B. Lady Esther. Only chance for a quick hello unfortunately.  

Our passage down was smooth and once down and through the swing bridge we moored up. Checked TV, all ok so Ali could watch Downtown later, then off to the pub for a Sunday roast and a pint or two.



Today the weather forecast was again dire, but we needed shopping and so we set off for Harborough. Not too bad initially, but then the heavens opened. So mooring up in the basin saw me especially, a little damp!

So tomorrow, we once again retrace our steps towards Crick. The autumn is now really with us, the leaves turning and falling. Thoughts turn to going home for the winter, but not quite yet...

86 miles.
60 locks ( 6 broad )
4 moveable bridges
4736 yards of tunnel