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.