Thursday 29 April 2010

Thursday 29 April Napton

Yesterday evening two fishermen set up shop between the front of our boat and the entrance to the marina for an all night session after carp. We had bit of a chat, they had not heard anything of BW's plan to open miles of canal fishing and thought  good thing until I pointed out that some of those miles not let out to clubs was right where they had set up now and that they would be expected to pay for a permit, suddenly it wasn't quite such a good idea especially as in their opinion BW didn't do anything for fishermen. I called to see them last thing at night to see what they had caught, nothing. When I went to the loo at 5 am this morning there was no sign of them.

We set off a little before 9 this morning as we had an appointment with the BSS examiner at Calcutt at 9 30. or a little after, it was actually a little after when he arrived. It was the same chap who did it last time and we passed with no problem, in fact he felt a bit guilty that I was not getting my money's worth as its a fixed price inspection and we don't have gas, so only take half as long to do. Once done I filled with diesel at 76 p and we headed off up the locks.
It was bit of a squeeze getting away from the service point as another boat with kitchen roll paper in his macerator loo was along side us and two boats had just come out of the top lock waiting to enter the second, plus a boat coming up. One of the boats coming down backed up a bit and I got round and into the lock before the boat below had left the lock. There was a short delay before Diana could start filling the lock as the other boat wanted to deploy his fenders all round. I didn't mind as they were only pipe fenders and Calcutt locks are quite wide so very little chance of jamming up, in fact there was probably the best part of a foot of water between us.
Once clear of the locks we headed down to Wigrams Turn and turned sharp right onto the South Oxford. We had a brief stop at the old brick yards as I had seen some large bore plastic pipe in a yard there and the Dilham Canal Society want some to run a culvert under the canal, so I took a couple of photos and went to find out who owned it. We then carried on the The Folly moorings where we moored for lunch and because it was raining half the after noon. There was a steady flow of boats coming past and when we did set off all the Napton flight was with us, plus we met several boats coming down, so that compensated for the rain. We are now moored below the top lock for the night, we will move up to our moorings in the morning after we have put the dog in the car as its hard work getting the old boy across the gates now.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Wednesday 28 Ventnor Farm

Last night we ate in the 2 Boats,they had a good range of beer on in readiness for this weekends beer festival where all 6 pubs in the village join forces to put a full village festival on. One of the dishes on the specials menu caught our eye, game pie. When it came it was a good sized bowl topped with flaky pastry. It may not be to every ones taste as it was very strong and  gamie with rich gravy and lots of none discript meat. We enjoyed it.

This morning again there were a few spots of rain early on, but this soon gave way to warm sunshine. We took a walk into Long Itchington to the Co-op, its a very pleasant walk across the fields from beside the bridge below the 2 Boats pub.
We finally set off towards the lock and as I went up to set it another boat came into view, so we had someone to share the load with. As they had their dinner cooking in the oven we stopped opposite the Blue Lias for a lunch break. Just as we were about to restart a boat left the pub moorings and went up ahead of us. We waited a short time before setting off and met a boat coming out of the bottom lock, this meant that all the locks were against us but in favour of the boat ahead, even so we quickly caught them up, in spite of them leaving the top paddle up when they left the lock and us having to turn each one.
We had seen Sean at the bottom of the flight and he walked up and set the top lock for us. In conversation he told me that Ravens had been seen in the area in the last couple of years. I'm not sure I could spot the difference between a Raven and a Crow if they were not side by side. We  said goodbye to our new made friends at the entrance to Ventnor Farm Marina where we have moored for the night ready to go just a quarter of a mile to Calcutt Marina in the morning to have our 3rd BSS inspection, hopefully it will pass as they passed it last time. While we are there we will also fill up with diesel and maybe get a pump out.

This is the first place that I have been able to connect to the internet via 3, both Long Itchington and the Blue Lias were no 3G signal areas, although I have got a connection at Blue Lias in the past.

Tuesday 27 April Long Itchington

We had a late start today as there were one or two jobs I wanted to do in the engine room and its more comfortable with the engine cold, consequently it was ten to eleven before we got away and we had not seen a single boat on the move.
Between where we had moored and the first lock we met a pair of boats, and the next lock a single was coming down and at the lock after that another single coming our way. At Fosse bottom we met a pair and another pair following them in the next pound. After that it all went quite again. We stopped for lunch just above Welsh Road lock as we are well ahead of schedule, we need to be at Calcutt first thing Thursday morning for our BSS inspection. After a leisurely lunch when I primed some more of the roof where the paint is bubbling off we set of towards Long Itchington. We met a single Ownerships boat above Bascote bottom lock where I tried to find out the latest on the Ownerships sager that is being talked about on the internet without and luck. On the approach to the next lock was a boat moored on the lock moorings, I expected it to be a hire boat but I was wrong, it was a boat from a privately run shared ownership syndicate.
As we left the second lock of the Bascote lock a hire boat was just entering the top of the staircase and Diana went ahead so that we could go into the bottom chamber which was empty before they dropped the top chamber into it. It worked well and we passed in the staircase saving time and quite a bit of water. From here we chugged slowly on the the mooring rings at Long Itchington arriving about 3-30.
As I type this the hire boat that we spent yesterday with has just gone by, they did manage to see Warwick Castle but didn't have time to go in, they have to be back at Nuneaton Thursday night.

I don't know when you will get to read this as this is the first time for months that I have not been able to get a 3 signal, I will post it as soon as I can.

Monday 26 April 2010

Monday 26 April Radford Semele

This morning I woke again to the dawn chorus, if its that good why don't they do it at a reasonable time of day like 7 am.?
We left Lowsonford at 9 am. first away with a good road, CanalTime were not far behind. We met three boats between here and the junction so were able to leave a few gates open. At Kingswood Junction it was hard right and back onto the Grand Union canal heading South. There was next to nothing about and I don't think we met more than two boat between here and Hatton. We were going to fill with water at the top of the flight, but there was already a boat there taking water and the top lock was almost full so we carried on down. The top lock was the only one with us, all the rest were against us.
We carried on down alone through 6 locks until we found a hire boat stopped for lunch on the lock moorings between the two locks. There were 5 of them in an 8 berth, 70 foot Valleycruiser boat. They jumped at the opportunity to join us and we continued down the flight together. We could see a boat moored half way down the flight,but they were making no effort to come up towards us until we started to drop the lock above them. By then it was to late as a pair of boats breasted together had come up from the lock below them and were passing them before they realised what was happening. So at the end of all this they still had the remainder of the flight against them as they followed the breasted pair up to the top.All this gave us a good road down the rest of the flight and with one member from the hire boat working ahead opening top gates we were soon down. Unfortunately the chap working ahead didn't know how many locks there were and carried on to Budbrooke Junction looking for more.
Cape locks were a joy, both top gates were wide open on the top lock and as we locked out, two boats were just leaving the bottom lock coming up. Still requiring water we planned to stop below the lock and fill up, but again there was a boat taking water, as we opened the bottom gates he packed his hose away and made ready to enter the lock, another gate we didn't have to close and we pulled into the water point to top up.
The hire boat stopped for a cup of tea and discussed the possibility of visiting Warwick Castle tomorrow morning. We both set off together with them mooring at Tesco overnight, planning to take a taxi to the castle tomorrow. We continued on to moor at 6 pm. opposite Radford Semele church. We were surprised to find this is still wrapped in plastic following a fire there several years ago.

Sunday 25 April 2010

Sunday 25 April

Last nights moorings were much quieter than I expected them to be. As we were in town we ate out,walking a few hundred yards from the basin/town centre where things were much quieter. We found a nice little Italian restaurant called iL Bertorelli  http://www.ilbertorelli.co.uk/ that had some vacant tables. The service was good and the meals very tasty.
I needed to post some letters but all the post boxes we came across were sealed for the weekend. We found out later that this was because the town was celebrating Shakespeare's birthday. http://www.shakespearesbirthday.org.uk/.

This morning we woke not to the sound  of the dawn chorus or as I expected the mechanical street cleaners, but to the sound of rain on the roof at about 6 am. I don't know how long it lasted but it had cleared up before we were up. The Canaltime that had followed us down yesterday set off at 8 am so they were due a good road from all the locks they left yesterday. There was no point in hurrying away and chasing them up the locks so we left at a few minuets after 9 am. We just left the basin into the canal as a hire boat  was setting the first lock to go up, so we were still right behind some one. The did offer to let us passed but we told them to carry on.  As we left 4th lock the pound was well down and I was soon on the bottom, just being able to move of tickover. This is quite a long pound and I caught up the the hire boat in front stuck in the bridge hole about 150 yards before the lock, Diana had walked up and even though the boat ahead had dropped a lock full of water she ran some more down and soon had them afloat, I was going nowhere for a bit and then I slowly started creeping forward to the sound of the base plate scraping the debris on the bottom. The 5th lock No. 65 is adjacent to a wide road bridge forming a tunnel into the lock mouth, I had to bowhaul through this.
Once up the lock the next pound was just on weir with nothing flowing down the bywash. We were a bit short of water so stopped at the old Stratford Court Cruiser base to top up, but the tap was so slow we settled for half a tank. There is a notice in the window of the closed offices saying that Valley Cruisers hope to open up there with full services shortly, unfortunately the notice was not dated so I don't know how old it was.
We caught up with both the hire boat who had stopped for water and the Canaltime boat who had broken down at bridge 63 which now gave us the good road. The Canaltime pulled out behind us and followed us up the next 3 locks. We had bit of a problem at lock 47 and invited the Canaltime boat to pass, as they were mob handed the back set for us all the way up the flight to lock 40 which was as good a being in front. We didn't see them again after this as the long pound is quite shallow and limited our speed greatly.
We met a few boats between here and Lowsonford  so apart from leakage the locks were all with us. The weather managed to behave its self until 6 pm when it started to rain which continued right until we moored up at quarter past in almost the same spot as we were in 2 nights ago.

Saturday 24 April 2010

Sat 24 April 10 Stratford on Avon

Last night we ate in the Fleur de Lays. The food was well up to its normal standard and luckily I had the foresight to walk round when we first moored up and booked a table, because by 8 pm it was packer. The baked cod went down a treat with a bottle of house white.

This morning was not so bright but still warm and pleasant, we pushed off at ten to nine, just as the CanalTime boat ahead of us were poking their heads out. The left just behind us and caught us up at the last lock before  Stratford Basin. They had extra crew join them for the weekend and they walked ahead setting the locks. We started off with all the locks in our favour and pulled away from them, we only met one boat all day but after lunch we started to hit empty locks and a couple on bikes told us that there were 2 boats going down ahead of us and we followed them all the way.
We had a slight upset in one of the locks when Harnser hung up on a brick ledge on one side of the lock making her tip sideways quite dramatically, By the time I had realised what was happening and run to the front of the lock to drop the paddle she dropped free. The dog didn't even wake up, but I did.
There were a couple of spaces in the basin when we arrived and a boat who we did the BCN explorer cruise spotted us coming and waved us into the spot. I spun round and slipped in backwards without touching boat or pontoon, I just wish someone had videoed it.
We moored up at 4 30 pm and since we have been here the CanalTime have arrived and 4 boats have left going out onto the river making a bit of space for any late comers. So far the area has been quite noisy with drunken youths on the other side of the basin, but our side has been quite peaceful.

Friday 23 April 2010

Fri 23 April Lowsonford

Last night we were moored up with slack lines and hard aground but during the evening the pound rose by a good 4 inches so by the time we went to bed we were on an even keel. While we were eating dinner a boat came down the flight which set the locks in our favour. It wasn't the quietest of moorings with background traffic noise, the odd train and this morning a mixture of the dawn chorus and vans on the industrial estate opposite.
This morning we were away in reasonable time at ten to nine, we didn't want anyone slipping by and turning all the locks. We were almost half way up the flight when we met a single hander coming down, so at least he had half the flight with him. He told us that he had met two boats who had moored half way up the flight over night so we only had a few more with us and he was right. After turning a couple of locks we saw two boats coming down by the BW Hatton works, so at least we could leave gates open.
As we passed the steerer of Button End called out that he had been following our blog. We now had the locks with us and a couple of gates open right up to the workshops. Things changed on the bend and again it was turning locks but then another boat started down the flight  which set us up to finish. The weather was just about right for working the flight, bright and clear with no wind, nice and warm but not to hot. It had taken us just over 3 hours of steady plodding along.
Once clear of Hatton we started to discuss which way to go and decided that Stratford would be our destination. As we passed the WDYC I noticed that they still has several narrow boats sitting on the hard following blacking.
I failed to turn left into Kingswood in one go, but I blame it on the boat moored near the mouth who was running his engine in gear sending a flow across the cut.  Once on the Stratford Canal we found the locks all with us and we even met about 3 boats coming towards us.
We have moored for the night opposite the Fleur de Lays at Lowsonford at about four thirty pm.
Once moored I set to patching up some more of the flaking roof in the warm afternoon sunshine.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Thursday 22 Warwick

Not so cold last night and several planes crossing the sky. I had to slack the mooring ropes and push Harnser from the towing path to try to get us onto an even keel.
One boat passed before we set off at 10 am this morning however after he had gone a boat came up the locks and moored just ahead of us, giving us one good lock. Later we met a pair of boats coming up and in the next pound we met the steam Narrowboat President and her butty Kildare coming towards us breasted up, luckily we met them in a gap with no moored boats so we were able to pass with no one going aground.
Lunchtime saw us moored in Leamington Spar and after a bite to eat we walked into town. Here we visited the gardens and the towns museum in the old Pump Rooms which was free. Several of the paintings on display were loaned by Councillor Albert Holt JP, I must check if we are related as there were some expensive pictures on display.
Mid afternoon and we were away again in the bright sunshine, real T shirt weather. Delta marine were putting the final touches to the paint work on a new Dutch style barge.
Until now we have been dropping down at every lock since we left our moorings, now we started to climb with the two Cape locks which we did alone, just like all the rest we have done today.  Tomorrow we have the Hatton 21 to look forward to as we climb the hill out of Warwick. For tonight we are moored just by the Budbrooke junction opposite the Saltisford Arm.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Wednesday 21 April 2 4 1

Today you have 2-4-1 Tuesday and Wednesday.

We left home just after lunch on Tuesday, Once we had got by all the tractors, skip lorries towing trailers and even Iceland, well that what it said on the back of an artic that only did 40 mph we had a reasonable run,all this was between Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds. The A 14 was no problem.
We arrived at the moorings at 5 30 pm and moved the boat straight down to the lock, this was to save getting Magic across the lock as he is getting decidedly doddery on his pins. As we left the moorings a LNBP boat was coming up the lock, they were on a training exercise with new crew onboard and they display a large notice telling you they are training so other boaters are aware of what's happening. As soon as they cleared the lock we went in and started loading up from the car,we had almost completed operations when a second LNBP boat approached the lock,so we had to carry the last box from the car to below the lock. Thy were only going as far as the Engine Arm to wind and then moor up for the night. We continued down the flight to moor in the bottom pound, from here it was an easy wander to the Folly for dinner. When we went in the lady behind the bar explained they only had a very limited menu as the chief was in Fenny doing a charity bungee jump, so I settled for ham, egg and chips while Diana had scampi and chips plus a couple of pints of Hooky.

This morning we woke to a clear,bright frosty morning and set off just after 9 am, we had already had several boats pass us. As we passed the moorings below the Folly we saw a duck with 17 ducklings only a few days old. Again there were boats moored right across the winding hole which would have made life difficult for anyone wanting to turn.
We continued on passed Napton Narrowboats, they had most of their fleet out which must be a good sign this time of the year. At Wigrams Turn we turned sharp left towards Calcutt, luckily we were stopping at the top of the flight for water as two boats coming up turned the lock as we approached, they had no idea we didn't intend going straight down.
While Diana topped the water tank up I went to the marina to book a BSS examination for our return journey, I now have to wait for a phone call confirming they can do it when I want it. Once filed with water we went into the top lock, closed up and waited until a Calcutt hire boat had finished maneuvering below the lock before drawing the paddles, Just as Diana drew the first paddle a boat appeared behind us, so paddle down, top paddle up, gate open and wait a few minutes for them to arrive. It turned out that the people onboard also came from Suffolk and were in the process of changing marinas from the Blisworth arm to Ventnor Farm so we didn't share for long.

We moored up for lunch just passed Stockton Top Marina on the long term moorings, most of which now appear to be vacant. Having just finished lunch a boat came by and I enquired as to whether he was going down the flight and could we join him. Before he agreed he asked if I was single handing, as there was a single hander waiting above Calcutt who when he joined them didn't do a stroke of work in any of the three locks.
We had a pleasant trip down to The Blue Lias where they stopped for the night, meeting only one boat half way down the flight.

After saying goodbye we continued alone hoping to buy an ice cream  at Shop Lock, but Tim was closed. We met another boat leaving the next lock and then two more single boats before Bascote Staircase. At the staircase there were three painters working on the top chamber gates, each had a windlass as well as a paint brush and they set the top lock for us. I had already dropped Diana off so she went and emptied the lower chamber, I do wonder if any of them would have gone and done it if Diana hadn't. Once we were clear of the lock they drained the top chamber into the bottom one so they could open the intermediate gates again. If they did this after every boat they must have wasted many lock fulls of water.
We moored for the night just below Welsh Road Lock at about 4 30 pm.