Tuesday 31 August 2010

Tuesday 31 Aug 2010 Stourton Junction

DSCF4695Well we had no problems at our mooring by Tesco's last night and  the whole mooring looks one of the best town moorings I have seen, a little further up canal side if the Frankie and Benny's restaurant and they even leave all their tables and chairs out over night. There was no sigh on an DSCF4699 beer cans or needles laying about or even rubbish come to that, all very neat and smart, its a shame its not better used as there are rings all the way along. Just before we left a hire boat moored ahead of us for shopping.

We stocked up with heavy items (beer) milk etc. from Tesco's before leaving at about 10.40 am and made our way up the Staffs and Worcester canal, all the locks were with us and we met boats at most of them. We stopped to chat with Graham and Evelyn at Wolverley as Graham was working on the boat as we passed.There was so much traffic coming our way we even met 3 boats in the flight above Kinver and another just above the lock. I think we only closed one top gate all day.

We have moored for the night just passed Stourton Junction, we finished quite early at 3 30 pm. so I was able to tackle some moor of the rust patches on the roof, I only did 24 today with Kurust, I will prime them tomorrow if the weather is better than that indicated by my weather station.

Monday 30 August 2010

Monday 30 August 2010 Kidderminster

The moorings last night were very quiet after about 11 pm.
We set off this morning in bright sunshine at 9 30 am. Down through one lock and on to Diglis Basin. There are a lot more visitor moorings here now than the last time we came this way. Just as we entered the basin I could see someone at the large lock at the far end, but I don't think they saw us. I tied up to the lock landing and they were still going down, so I helped them out of the bottom gate expecting them to wait for me in the pound between this lock and the river lock. One of their crew went forward to set the river lock while I turned the top lock, they couldn't even wait for us to drop down, instead they went into the bottom lock and dropped down onto the river alone, leaving me to turn that one as well and these are big barge locks not just wide canal locks with very heavy gates. Never mind nb Jude I am sure we will meet again. Because of the weight of the gates on these locks Diana took Harnser out onto the river while I closed up, the only access to board a boat on the river is a pontoon just down stream of the lock, so after picking me up we had to turn round to head to Stourport.
It was a cracking day on the river with very little flow which was surprising as the river had been closed due to high flows on Friday.
I saw 5 Kingfishers as we passed through the wooded sections of the river, I think they have faired better on the rivers than the canals in the big freeze last winter.
At the mouth of the Droitwich Barge canal BW are carrying out piling work in readiness for the reopening of the  canal.
We had to wait at each lock for boats coming down stream, but DSCF4691there is a landing stage above and below each lock if you need it, I was able just to proceed very slowly until the lock was ready,  this turned out to be a good thing as there was a boat moored on the landing below Lincomb Lock, not only that but they had left a fishing rod sticking out over the side.

At Stourport a boat came out of the locks leading to Stourport Basin just before we arrived so the lock was in our favour. I entered the first lock but the second was a bit low but we still had enough water to get over the cill without topping it up. At the second pair of locks the bottom was ready for us but the second of the staircase was empty so we had to top it up before proceeding. Andrew and Sheila were at the lock waiting for us and helped us through before climbing onboard for a ride through the top basin. At the exit to the basin there were 2 pirates working the lock for boaters collecting for charity. 
We stopped above the lock for a bit having a glass of wine and chatting to A&S, after leaving them and making our way up the Staffs and Worcester canal we met 6 boats before the next lock and another 2 before Kidderminster where we have moored for the night right outside Tesco's so we will be able to top up with beer in the morning without the need to carry it miles.

Our river trip today took us just over 4 hours, much less than we expected due to the very water flow.

Sunday 29 August 2010

Sunday 29 Aug 2010 Worcester

Last nights meal at the Boat and Railway was most enjoyable, weDSCF4650 decided on the carvery as we don't have a roast dinner that often. We had a short wait as the chief was just doing a fresh batch of vegetables.There were quite a few people in there but it wasn't crowded, I suspect from the amount of veg used they had been a steady flow of dinners, not forgetting there was also a full menu on.

This morning we set off at 10 am.  just through the bridge to the water point opposite the pub, at the adjoining tap as a Canal Club boat who had been moored bow with us last night, they had been up to Stoke Prior and one lock to wind and were heading back to Worcester. We pulled away just ahead of them but met up at the first lock where I learned that he came from Cromer in Norfolk and had been boating for several years. After this we met boats the next few lock but we caught up with the Brook Line hire boat ahead of us. We saw them out of the lock as a Black Prince boat arrived followed some way back by a Viking Afloat boat. The son who obviously knew what he was doing told dad to keep well to the right and they would get on later. The BP tied his fore line to the bollard on the lock waiting area, then his stern rope. I enquired if he was coming into the lock and the reply surprised me "No we are just going to wait here for a bit, that chap behind can go first", By now the VA was tangling with the BL boat and they were both across the cut, The CC had caught us up and were just above the lock moorings. By now Mr BP had decided that he would come up, as he left the lock he slid into me, he was steering and his wife was operating the throttle/gear change, once away from me he then went into the front of CC and as I locked down he was mooring up to the lock moorings above the lock. I got the feeling that this was probably their first and last canal holiday.

After this we continued down to Droitwich where we moored to have a look at the restored Droitwich canal. As it was half past twelve we decided that an early lunch in the Eagle and Sun was called for, good job we went there first, we could have a table if we were away by 1-30 pm. The carvery was of the same high standard as the last time we visited with loads of vegetable choices. While we were eating lunch there was a short but very heavy shower that started and ended abruptly but would have  give us a good wetting. Over lunch we though it might be better to abandon our river trip to Stourport as we had heard that the river was closed but as we left the pub nb. Wandering Bark came by and he had come up from Gloucester the day before and said things were improving fast, so the trip is on again.DSCF4654 We had a walk down the Droitwich locks and chatted to a chap adjusting the levels, it hard to say when the canal will be open,at the moment there is a leak in the first pound that floods the road and the third lock has to be left empty with the gates open because there is no safety ladder installed. Looking at the profile of the new section the bed slopes very gradually from the sides and I would think two boats will have to touch to pass. DSCF4653 BW have installed some posts along the towing path with a question on one side and the answer on the other, One said "What can you hear" the answer was reeds swaying and Reed Warblers singing, all I could hear was the cars roaring by on the road behind me. I wonder when they last heard a Reed Warbler there, still it gives BW an excuse to waste more of our money. In Hanbury Wharf marina was a brand new boat from Poland still wrapped in sticky plastic film.

We now had a spell of not meeting any boats and having to turn the locks when we arrived at them, even if we did meet a boat the lock was DSCF4663wrong when we got there, A few miles outside Worcester we passed a canal side cement making yard, not only did they have their own moorings but they also had what looked like a boat loading facility cantilevered out over the canal, it all looked very new,I wonder how often if ever its been used.

After the rain at lunchtime the sky was now bright blue and to end the afternoon we were to start meeting boats at locks again, We moored for the night on the visitor moorings at The Commandery just above the lock tying up a little after 6 pm.

Saturday 28 August 2010

Saturday 28 Aug 2010 Stoke Works

There was quite a convoy of boats passed this morning before we we about, so we made a leisurely start not wanting to be on the end of the queue going down the Tardebigge flight. We needn't have worried as most of them only went as far as the Anglo Welsh hire base just before the Tardebigge flight.

We set off about quarter to ten and it wasn't long before we were in the Shortwood Tunnel meeting a boat coming the other way, it was a day boat full of pirates and with the exception of the steerer they were all sat on the roof, I don't know what affect that would have on the boats stability.
DSCF4639 Then it was past Anglo Welsh hire base and into Tardebigge Tunnel. This tunnel is brick lined at each end but the centre section is just bare rock  and very uneven,however there are no nasty outcrops to catch you out. Its only a short distance from the end of the tunnel and the top of the flight and there was no body waiting. DSCF4644
On the off side at the top of the locks there is a Plaque commemorating the forming of the IWA in 1946 by Rolt and Aickman aboard the narrow boat Cressy

As we expected the locks were against us but at the third lock we met a boat coming up which was a relief, this continued on down the flight and it wasn't until we were about two thirds down we had to start turning locks, not meeting any more boats.
We stopped at the bottom of the flight at 2 30, it had taken us 3.5 hrs to do 30 locks so we decided to go to the Queens Head for a late lunch, however the choice was to sit in the garden or on a bar stool to eat and as their main courses were over £10 a time I didn't feel inclined to take up the offer, so we had a sandwich onboard and set off again. Another 6 locks saw us down at Stoke Prior where we moored just before the visitor moorings at 5 pm. Tonight we have booked a table at The Boat and Railway which is just the other side of the bridge.

Friday 27 August 2010

Friday 27 Aug 10 Alvechurch

Last night moorings were very good. The whole area is behind closed gates with on site security, lights and cameras. We know they work as Diana alerted him walking DSCF4603bMagic round the car park in the dark.  You can easily leave the site if you want to as the security office is by the main gate. The only visitor mooring is now at the very end of the moorings, in front of the offices and is only available if BW are not using it. It would apart that apart from the water point every where else is residential mooring.

This morning we woke to blue sky and sunshine, at 9 am. we moved back about 50 yards to the service point to fill with water and dispose of the rubbish, it was then off up the Aston flight of 11 locks. Things went surprisingly well with good water levels all the way up, the only point that needs immediate attention is the growth of Buddleia on the offside of lock 10, you have to push your way through it as you cross the lock to get to the offside paddle. Email to BW on its way. We completed the flight in just over 2 hours which was not bad with all the locks against us.
We set off up the Farmers Bridge flight at ten to twelve, DSCF4619 at the first lock there is a building that is completely covered in a mural. Here we saw a workman in hard hat and reflective jacket sweeping up, it seems the building is being revamped into student accommodation, at the moment all the windows have been removed and we were told that it will be painted with a new mural when the work is complete.  Just as we entered the second lock we spotted the first boat we had seen on the move today, following us up the flight, we met the second boat of the day coming down, we passed in one of the underground pounds which was handy as there is a good straight offside edge to pull over against to let the other boat through. This flight took us just over one hour thirty minutes and is 13 locks long.

DSCF4627 We turned hard left at Old Turn junction into Gas Street. There is now a services boat called Away2service that offers pump outs and sells diesel and gas at competitive rates.

It wasn't until we had gone through Worcester Barr that we saw another boat on the move,after this  as we passed the new Cube buildingDSCF4631 they came thick and fast, I think they must have been held up by the single file diversion where they are building a new aqueduct and have big bundles of tyres to make gabions. I had heard reports of some boats having problems getting buy them but we had no problem so I can only assume they have modified things.

We carried on to Kings Norton Junction where we went straight ahead onto the Birmingham and Worcester canal and into the 2726 yard Wast Hills tunnel, once back out into the sunshine we started to look for somewhere to moor which was easier said than done, much of this canal is very rural with soft banks which makes mooring with an old dog quite difficult. The first spot was by the Hopwood House pub but it was quite busy so we thought we would push on a little bit, the little bit turned out to be past Alvechurch marina where we found a short length of piling with just one boat moored,so we pulled in here for the night at about 5 30 pm.

Thursday 26 August 2010

Thursday 26 Aug 2010 Cuckoo Wharf Birmingham

Yesterday evening it rained, it was raining when we went to bed and it was still raining when we got up, it stopped for a bit at about 9 30 this morning when we took the dog for a quick walk  but had started again before we set off and its rained most of the day since then.

Our first port of call was Fazeley Marina for a pumpout £15 andDSCF4597 to fill with diesel, Its a long time since I last paid this price, 64p/lt and self declaration. The only thing to note is they close all day Wednesday. There were hundreds of geese on the stubble fields a short way from the marina.
DSCF4598 We met several boats in the Curdworth flight but none of them in really helpful spots, we were ether waiting at the bottom of a lock as they approached the top or they had not seen us and just turned it.  At one lock a boat was coming down a lock as we were coming up the one below on a pound less than quarter of a mile long. We each left the lock at the same time but the other boat not only closed the gate behind him but I had to wait until he cleared the lock moorings before I could enter, needless to say we left the top gate open ready for him.DSCF4602
It would seem that BW are now using so much plastic meshing, commonly know as DEFRA rash they are now buying it in company colours,i.e. Blue. This is being used rather than carrying out the repairs needed, in some places its been there for well over 2 years and even been renewed after it has disintegrated with time.
I managed to catch the leading edge of the handrail as I exited Curdworth Tunnel, I had forgotten about the bid bump that just lines up with the handrail, looking at the brickwork so have many others and the bump will soon be smoothed out at this rate.
The Kingsley Pub still looks to be closed as it was last year when we were this way, it looks all ready to open again if required, it even has the lights on. 
In the first pound of the Minworth flight there is a cruiser sunk right under a bridge, I am sure that BW must be aware as its tied up with blue string to the same type of post that the orange/blue mesh is attached to. We carried on meeting a surprising number of boats until we turned left at Salford Junction to moor for the night at Cuckoo Wharf. Most of the wharf is now residential mooring but there is a small length at the end reserved for BW boats but may be used by visiting boats if it is still vacant at 1800 hrs, we arrived a 5 pm so we are hoping that no BW boats arrive in the next half hour.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Wednesday 25 Aug 2010 Fazeley Junction

DSCF4577 Last night we ate in The Anchor and I would be quite happy to recommend for both eating and drinking. We both had meals from the special board, I had Faggots and mash while Diana had Trawlerman's Pie which was quite large and fresh vegetables. They also had 4 Everard's bitters and a guest bitter on, ranging in price from £2.60 to £3.20 a pint.
Again it was a very fine night with a good moon, but thankfully a bit warmer than the night before.

DSCF4581 This morning we again woke to sunshine but at about 8 am. work started at the quarry/yard opposite. We were on the move by 9 am. and met about 5 boats before the BW yard at Hartshill. I guess they must have decided to set off at 9 am. as well. We arrived at the top of the Atherstone Flight at 10 am. to find we were third in the queue. It looks as if there may now be a new lock keeper on the flight, or maybe not one at all. All the notices giving days to Christmas, weather forecast etc have gone as have the legs sticking out of the fake well. The locks all seemed in good order with everything well oiled/greased. We had quite a slow run down meeting several boats coming up and it took us 3 hours to complete the flight.
We pulled over to the off side to fill with water at the bottom of the flight, this also allowed the boat we were following to pull away.


There were a nice row of working boats moored outside the  Samuel Barlow pub at Alvecote and lots of room now that Canaltime have departed for pastures new.


The good weather stayed with us until about 2 pm. when the rain started and continued for the rest of the day sometimes quite light but others quite heavy. We stopped at Tamworth to visit the Tesco Convenience store to buy some bottled beer, never again, we had to use the DIY checkout even though there was some one behind the other tills, the adjoining DIY till continuously called for an assistant and when we had completed out purchase we still had to wait for an assistant to come over and accept out purchase as we had bought restricted items. I will never use one of these machines again. No assistant operated till, no sale. We caught up with a boat at Glascote top lock so had to turn it but by the time they left the bottom lock there was a boat coming up so we were able to leave the gate open when we left the first lock and wait some time for the approaching boat to negotiate the bottom lock. We carried on to Fazeley Junction where we turned left onto the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and moored at 5 pm.about 200 yards from the junction.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Tuesday 24 Aug 2010

Last night the sky was very clear with a full moon and abundance of stars, it was also very chilly dropping down to 6.5 deg, autumn is certainly on its way.

This morning it was wall to wall sun shine and we were on the move a few minutes past nine. DSCF4571 Just a short way from where we were moored BW are repiling the bank and were there in force with a dredger piling machine, flat full of piling, flat with a cement mixer and a collection of tugs. In Rugby Tesco had there magnet switch on again which dragged us to the side just passed the water point. There were only two boats moored by the green and none opposite on the towing path, there were only 3 on the visitor moorings where we stopped for shopping. We continued on through Newbold,again there were visitor moorings free.DSCF4574 Once through the tunnel we passed Steam Boat Laplander with Sean working on the burner it get it firing properly. Moored directly behind it was what looks like another steamer called Trevor.
At Hawkesbury Junction again a lot of the visitor moorings were vacant, why does this never happen when we want to stop.
Hard right onto the Coventry Canal, here there were a lot more boats moored, one of them being Dragon Lady where we exchanged words with Terry and Sal. Not long after this it started to rain on and off, turning quite heavy as we passed through Atherstone following a very slow boat. Once through the the town the boat ahead pulled over and waved us passed which was very good of him. The weather improved as we approached Springwood Haven and stayed fine until we moored up for the night outside the Anchor pub.

Monday 23 August 2010

Monday 23 Aug 2010 Hillmorton

Last nigh we still had boats passing in the dark, as the last one went by, a Wilderness towing what looked like a sailing yacht it started spitting with rain,so I closed the engine room doors before going to bed. Good move as over night we had torrential rain hammering to the boat roof.

This morning it had all gone and the day looked very hopefully, we set off down the flight a few minutes before 10 am and with a steady flow of boats coming up had a fair run to the bottom where we stopped for water. While the tank was filling I returned a JJ Memorial banner that I had removed from the lock to Graham as well as giving him a CD of all the photos that I took over the weekend. It was then that I learnt the sad news that the Folly was now closed as the Landlady had given up the tenancy on closing Sunday night.

Once full of water we headed off in the sunshine towards Braunston and that is how long it lasted, Just on the puddle banks the heavens opened and poured its contents on to us, we continued as far as Willoughby before pulling over and heading inside into the dry, it was not long before the sun was out and we were off again, we had taken the opportunity to eat lunch.
DSCF4551 The Barby marina is coming on well with a few holes in the ground and lots of mud about, they will still be pushed to open in the autumn.  
We carried on north and as I approached Moors Bridge No. 73 a large Willow Wren boat come through, these boats are renowned for having parties of youngsters onboard so I always treat them with caution. This one came through the bridge and pulled well over towards the towing path, he then shot straight across towards the offside right into my path, I gave it full astern but he still hit me a glancing blow on the front cant and with his bow being far higher than mine removed some gloss paint. I am glad I stopped and not tried to steer round him or he would probably made a right mess of the cabin side. 
A short run from here and down through Hillmorton locks which were not without interest, the middle lock has been repaired and when I arrived the crew of a boat coming up had drained it and had the bottom gates open, the boat ahead of us had just entered the towing path lock and was going down. The boat below the lock decided that it wouldn't use the lock its crew had just prepared but would rather wait for the other boat to come down and use that one. So we had to turn the right hand lock and drop down in that, we were still away before the boat coming up had entered the left hand chamber.

At the bottom pair a boat was about to come out of the right hand lock, so I left that for the other boat coming down who had stopped under the bridge and Diana opened the left one for me, she found it a bit difficult as water was flowing over both the top and bottom gate, so she was happy to accept some help from the crew of the other boat going down.

DSCF4566 We moored for the night on the Hillmorton visitor moorings which are almost empty about quarter to six. As I look out of the back doors there is a full moon sitting right in the middle of the radio masts

Sunday 22 Aug 2010

What a different day,we woke to warm sun and after listening to the Archers and running the engine for a couple of hours we made our way down to the Folly arranging to meet Guy who was coming over by car for an hour. We partook of a couple of Buffalo burgers while we waited for him and then joined him in having a very good vegetarian meal and fresh coffee. We only saw one act on the stage before Guy had to leave us. Once on our own we bought a couple of pints of beer and because the next stage act wasn't to our taste went to sit by the lock to drink it.
There we found a chap assisting boats through the lock collecting for the JJ memorial fund, so I started to lend a hand, shutting gates and rattling the collection tin. It soon became obvious that I also needed a windlass, so Diana walked back to the boat and picked mine up for me. We then spent the rest of the afternoon working boats through, Diana shaking the tin. We carried on like this for 4 hours and in all that time there was a boat waiting at one end of the lock or the other. Most of them were going up with only a few coming down.When the last one had gone through at about 6 pm Diana walked back to the boat to feed the dog while I went and collected all the "No Waiting" cones that we had put down Folly Lane into stacks ready to be collected.
We spent the evening onboard as I was some what tied and couldn't be bothered to walk back down the flight.

Although the weather was fine all day with Sunshine the barometer was falling back fast and no way could I get an internet signal, which is why this is being sent a day later.

Saturday 21 August 2010

Saturday 21 Aug 2010

Last night the wind dropped and the sky cleared to give a clear starlit  night.

This morning we woke to thick drizzle that lasted all morning but cleared just before lunch when we walked down to The Folly to enjoy the afternoons entertainment. We had a couple of light showers but nothing to much and some very good acts includingDSCF4467a a skiffle group, but the highlight was a dance group  of youngsters that just flew through the air, they were a mixture of sizes from about 4' maybe a little less to 5 ' 6".


DSCF4513 Then at 5 pm the sky just opened  and the rain hammered down, the band continued to play and most people headed for the beer tent. When the rain stopped we headed up the flight back to the boat to find quite a bottle neck. The Coventry Canal Society boat had got stuck in the second lock as the pound was so low, first he was wedged then on the cill, once clear he was stuck in the bridge hole and Nick Wolf was there letting down water and we ended up assisting.
Around 6-30 we headed back to the Folly to enjoy the evening entertainment, luckily the weather was much kinder to us all and we heard some good music.

Friday 20 August 2010

Friday 20 Aug 2010

It was a good job I moved the car down to near the boat yesterday afternoon as the rain just got heavier. We drove down to The Bridge Inn where we met Chard and Caroline for an enjoyable meal, two of us having buffalo burger, one vegetarian and one Sea Bass. followed by apple crumble,bread and butter pudding and cheese cake. This with two and a half pint of bitter, two pints of Guinness and two soft drinks came out at £72.
After the meal we retired to nb. Bruizer for coffee before returning to Harnser, again parking by the bridge.
Before turning in for the night I had to slacken our ropes and push us away from the side so we were afloat again.

This morning we woke to sunshine but unfortunately it soon changed to cloud but not rain. We took the car down to Napton Post Office and then the Folly where we were asked if we would set out all the "No Parking" cones down Folly Lane, about 40 of them. We then took the car back to the moorings and walked back to the boat for an early lunch.

We wandered back down to the Folly in the afternoon to see if we could assist with anything but Graham had it all well under control so apart from carrying a few odds and ends there was nothing for us to due.

The event opened shortly after 5 with a bugler followed by a few words from JJ's mum and an opening speech by the local MP to is very favourable to the inland waterways and BW moving forward or sideways.

The entertainment was in 50 minute slots and this format will continue through the weekend with onsite catering which included a veggie stand,Napton Buffalo burgers and Buffalo ice cream, Hog roast and Chilli bar.We had one shower of rain just prior to the opening but the rest of the evening stayed fine.

Thursday 19 August 2010

Thursday 19 Aug 2010

We didn't arrive at the boat until about 4 pm this afternoon as we had to make a couple of diversions. First a call from my mum before we left home saying her TV had packed up last night and could we drop our portable in on the way. We actually took her the one out of our lounge, well we are not there to watch it. Then as we approached Napton we called friends who we new were in the area and it turned out that they were moored outside The Bridge, Napton, so we called in there for a cup of tea and a chat. Whilst there we arranged to meet this evening and go to The Bridge for a meal.

We moved the boat to the towing path side and loaded up from the car, Magic doesn't do lock gates any more, just as well we are not going to the IWA National, he would never cross 4 other boats now to get ashore, he found it hard work last year.
Once loaded we moved down the canal 3 locks and moored up for the weekend, from hear we can easily walk down to the Folly for the Folk and Beer weekend. While Diana packed everything away I walked back to the moorings in the now steady rain that was falling and moved the car down to bridge 115 ready to drive to The Bridge Inn later this evening.
I was surprised to be able to get a mooring here as it is a popular spot for the continuous cruisers as it convenient to park on the side of the road by the bridge.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Not my normal blog

The Folly Charity Folk n Boat n Beer Weekend takes place over the 20th, 21st and 22nd August 2010 in aid of JJ's Memorial Fund, a locally based charity dedicated to raising money to help injured paratroopers and support the families of those lost in combat.

The Event is taking place at The Folly, Folly Lane, Napton, CV47 8NZ

It is essentially a FREE event but aims to raise as much money as possible for the charity so please dig deep into your pockets for this worthy cause.

The Program: (subject to change)

FRIDAY 20th August, Evening:

The event, commencing at 5pm on Friday 20th August, presents a varied and professional line-up of musical artists mainly from the world of folk.

5.00 -   5.30 Show opens
5.30  -  6.00 African Drumming 
6.00  -  6-50 Red Shoes
7.00  -  7.50 Maggie Coleman & Three Men In A Boat
8.00  -  8-50 Neil & Julie Smith
9.00  -  9.50 Linda Watkins/Mike Moyse
10.00 - 11.00 The Woodshed Band

SATURDAY 21st August:

We commence the Saturday morning with breakfast served at The Folly between 8.30 and 10.30 am for boaters and campers, and anybody else who feels the need, to start the day with a fabulous range of locally sourced food supplied by Skylark Fields Farm Shop, Staverton.

A varied selection of Stallholders will open from 10.00 including homemade crafts and fare.

The afternoon will be crammed packed full of music along with the stallholders. The Pig Roast, Buffalo Burgers, Hot Dogs will be sizzling throughout - with Vegetarian options from "Birds Nest".

Saturday Evening sees another highly respected group of musicians, most of whom are giving their time and talents for free to enable us to raise as much money as possible for JJ's memorial Fund. Please give generously.

                  Tim Howes and Helen
1.00  -  2.00 Tom The Tale Teller - Traditional Tales From Around The Land
2.00  -  2.50 Washboard Bill's Jug Stompers
3.00  -  3.50 Lucifer & Gabriel
4.00  -  4.50 One Night Stand
5.00  -  5.50 Bill Bates (compare)
6.00  -  6-50 Tinkers Cuss
7.00  -  7.50 Life and Times
8.00  -  8-50 Martin Ledner
9.00  -  9.50 Scarecrow
10.00 - 10.50 The Red Hills
11.00 - 12.00+ The Fins

SUNDAY 22nd August:

To aid recovery from the excesses of the previous evening, breakfast will once again be served at The Folly from 8.30 until 10.30. An opportunity then exists to revisit the stalls or take a look around the local area.

11am sees the start of the Sing-around session. Everybody is invited to join in with instruments and vocals

The stage will then come alive again in the afternoon with more performances  from

1.00  -  2.00 Badger 
2.00  -  2.50 Ella Kenrick
3.00  -  3.50 Two Giraffes

4.00 Raffle draw and Auction

And to end the event performers and audience are invited to re-convene in the Folly to continue the Folk sing around session.

Saturday 7 August 2010

Saturday 7 Aug 2010


Last night we were treated to a wonderful  sunset with clouds red in every direction, not just in the western sky. I took a few few photos but they don't really give it full Justice.
The strange thing is there are no navigation lights on the mast at all.
About 10 pm we took Magic out for his last walk, by now it was pitch dark, but in the distance I could hear the thump of an engine and a bright light could be seen across the fields in the Braunston direction, eventually an old working boat came under the ladder bridge, it was Mike on Victoria. As he passed the row of moored boats the engine beat dropped back to a gentle tick over, but once passed the beat picked up again to a strong throb heading off into the night.

This morning there were boats everywhere, I don't know where they came from as we saw very few yesterday, we set off aboutDSCF4414 10 AM and after negotiating the big bend by the farm we came across a sheep who had just swam across the canal and climbed out on the towing path, given a quick shake and commenced feeding on the hedgerow. As we approached the end of the field she had just left I spotted a tractor working in the field behind them, as luck would have it the bank was piled so I pulled over and walked across the sheep field to the tractor to inform him about his escapee. Its been a sheep week, the day before Diana spotted a ewe on her back with her legs in the air, his is normally only a problem when they have a big wet fleece but this one had been shaun, but she was laying in a hollow and looked as if she may have been in lamb, again I was able to get off onto the field and go and roll her back on her feet.

We arrived at Marston Doles Top Lock to find a queue of 5 boats, luckily two of them were able to share a lock, I bet BW weren't expecting that when they stuck there silly notices on the beams telling you to share locks to save water. We arrived back at our moorings at about 12 30 to unload and lock up before heading home

Friday 6 August 2010

Friday 6 August 2010

Last night there were a lot more trains and the noise from them more intrusive than I remember from when we have moored there in the past.

This morning we set off at about 9 30 AM arriving at Claydon bottom lock just after a boat had exited and there was another in the pound above waiting to come down, this luck continued all the way up the flight and we didn't turn a single lock, I don't think we even closed one on leaving. DSCF4388
We met very few boats as we headed north and at the moorings opposite the feeder and bridge 142 some one has mown an interesting pattern in the grass.
DSCF4391 We had a clear run through Fenny tunnel but met a boat right on the bend by Fenny Marina services which were in use which made life interesting.
The visitor moorings at Fenny had a couple of vacancies but there would have been a lot more if the rest of the moored boats had been moored closer to each other instead of leaven large spaces between them. 
We stopped at Fenny to fill the water tank, while we were there both the vacancy were filled. We moved on to moor for the night DSCF4393by the Decca Radio beacon mast at 1-30 in the afternoon.

Once moored I set to cleaning the boat roof, not so I had a pristine clean roof but so that I could see where the next batch of rust patches were breaking out, its a lot easier to spot the small spots when the roof is clean. They wont get tackled this trip because the weather is very unsettled with rain threatening, we have only had light drizzle but that could soon change. While I was doing this Diana was painting the remainder of the woodwork in the lounge area.

Thursday 5 August 2010

Thursday 5 August 2010

Last night we wandered into town to eat and ended up in an Italian restaurant that we have used before near the top of the town called San Carlo, its quite a large establishment so its usually possible to get a table without booking during the week.
We returned to the boat and wondered about moving because of  the noise from the factory opposite, but as it was 10 pm and getting  dark we decided to stay put. Once we were in bed the noise wasn't to bad and we heard little noise from the lorries until early morning. In addition to this Magic was back to his old self and didn't cause any problem.

Sovereign had a delivery of diesel this morning at 9 30 so we reversed across the cut and filled up at 70 p/lt and even got 4 bantam eggs thrown in on the deal.  It was probably 10-30 AM but the time we left and when we arrived at Hardwick Lock we were forth in the queue. Bourton was a bit better with only one boat ahead of us, we had been going at slightly over tickover.  
Things were about to take a dive and the queue at DSCF4384Slat Mill Lock was a bit more impressive. The wait was an hour and a half. The reason for this was that BW had been working at the lock to fit a new Babbie. Not only did we have to wait but as I moved the boat along using the centre rope I didn't notice a wasp sitting on the rope and drew it into my hand resulting in a sting to the base of my left thumb.

Cropredy has even more boats moored waiting for the festival, I don't know if BW have turned a blind eye but some of the boats on the 24 hr moorings were there when we went down. We made the very slow passage passed all the moored boats to Cropredy Lock where there was only one hire boat sitting waiting to go up, The only problem was they were just sitting, no one had gone up to the lock which was vacant but full,so Diana drew the paddles which got them into action. At Varney's Lock the traffic ahead vanished, we arrived just as the boat ahead was leaving which just left us to turn it and go in, the same happened at Elkington Lock and we moored for the night at 1630 just below Claydon Bottom Lock. There have been a few hire boats go by while we have been here, one of them a Rose boat that has to be back at  Stretton on Fosse first thing Saturday morning. Just after they had gone there was a bang and a boat that eventually moored ahead of us rattled down our site, I don't know why because the canal is wide,there was nothing coming the other way and the gap he was trying to get into was about 150 long.

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Wednesday 4 August 2010

His lordship Magic played up again last night,he normally sleeps under the bed and apart from scratching, kicking and snoring we don't hear from him all night. However last night he got up and took himself off to the lounge to sleep,which was not a problem, but when he woke up he started barking so I went and had a firm word with him, some time later he started again so another firm word. over the course of the night he let out a few more barks but I ignored him until 7 am. when Diana went to see him, thought he must be hungry so gave him his breakfast. What did he do, took 1 sniff, came down the back cabin, under the bed and went to sleep, he still hadn't moved when we put the bed away.
As well as getting up to the dog I also had to get up and close the side doors because it started raining which carried on until lunch time.

The pond was up a bit this morning, only a couple of inches but every time a boat passed we went against the bank and the leaned over. We set off in the pouring rain and headed to Banbury, on the way we managed to pick up a sleeping bag, luckily it caught the rudder and not the prop so I was able to remove it with the shaft, if I had have engaged reverse it would just have dragged it round the prop as well as the rudder and cutting that off wouldn't have been fun. First we stopped at Morrison's mainly for dog food and then on to the water point below the lock to top the tank up and dump the rubbish, including the sleeping bag. by the time we had finished the was a queue of 4 waiting for the lock, I think it was because the rain had stopped and boats started moving again. Moorings in Banbury were at a premium and the small boat in front of us had to ask a hire boat to move back a bit so they could get in. We made our way to Sovereign Cruisers to top up with diesel, we arrived about 1 30 so he was closed for lunch, however when he returned at 2 PM. he gave us the good news that his tanks were empty and he was waiting for another delivery. We decided to stay in Banbury overnight and have moored opposite his yard, we may move a bit later as the mill is quite noisy. Since we have been here we have already had a Napton Narrowboat run down the full length of our off side at one of the widest points of the canal.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Last night started well, we went for a meal at The Bell, Lower Heyford which was as usual good value and a high standard.We wandered back to the boat and as I had not slept well the night before we decided on an early night.
Just before 2 AM Magic woke and started barking so I put some cloths on and took him out. It was a glorious night, half a moon, dark sky and the stars so bright they looked like lights in the sky. We had only been out a few minuets when I heard the church clock strike two. I brought him in again but he would not settle so I sat in the lounge with him, still he settle, sitting right by me and only laying down while I was touching his head. After a bit he indicated he was hungry so I gave him his breakfast and went to bed to the sound of crunching. The barking started again, he wanted a drink so I went and showed him his water and back to bed, after a bit Diana got up to him and took out again. We were up and down until 6 AM when he finished his breakfast and went to sleep, we just went to sleep. The result of all this was we didn't set off until twenty to twelve this morning.

Just before we left a chap knocked on the side of the boat and asked if he could stand on our boat to fend off a boat being towed backwards to the boatyard for repairs, it was a boat we have seen many times called "Oodunit"  (whodunit). The method of tow could have been better, a long rope from one rear stud, round both rear studs on the towing boat and back to the second rear stud of Oodunit, which resulted in the rope sliding on the towing boat bollards and so towing Oodunit crab wise.

We were away shortly after this and were surprised to encounter queues coming towards us, three at Somerton Deep and another three boats above Nell's Bridge lock and a couple in the pound about to catch them up.DSCF4376

On the way down I spotted a strange machine parked behind one of the boats on the long term mooring at Aynho, so I made a point of taking a photo of it as we passed this time.
(you need to visit the Blog to see it  http://nbharnser.blogspot.com/ ) Also at Aynho I managed to photograph a train crossing the viaduct, something I had been after for some time, shame it wasn't a steam loco.DSCF4373

Water levels were pretty good until we came through Grants Lock where the top gate was leaking very badly and then they were down by a good 6" so we are sitting here moored above bridge 172 with our bum sticking out about 3' into the cut, we arrived here at about 5 30 pm and went right to the end of the piling which was lucky because as I walked back later I saw a wasps nest in the grass by the piling about half way to the bridge.DSCF4378

Just before we moored up we had a visit from this little iridescent green chap who I photographed sitting on our stern rope.

Monday 2 August 2010

Monday 2 Aug 2010

We left the mooring about 11 am and made our way through the lift bridge to the water point and topped the tank up. Just as we started taking water a boat came down the cut heading south and when he got to the right angle bend just before the bridge crashed straight into the concrete bank, The steerer was heard to shout to his wife who was telling him to stop, that he couldn't see which way he was supposed to go.I would have thought it better to have stopped under the circumstances than just carry on straight into the bank.

While we were filling with water Maffi came onboard for a coffee and a look round, well the tap was a bit slow. Just as we were about to leave another boat came through the bridge and then dropped the bridge right in front of the boat that was following him causing him to do an emergency stop. Putting his boat hard into reverse sucked a car tyre off the bottom of the canal and wound it round his prop, so he was not best pleased, but he did appreciate it when we invited him to join us in Shipton weir lock even if it did mean he had a longer wait at Bakers lock.

When we came through Bakers Lock on Friday I noticed that the bottom paddle gear was faulty, as it was still the same this afternoon I rang BW to inform them of the problem.
Between Bakers and Pigeons Lock the pound was down by a good 6" which made life interesting when meeting a boat or getting slightly off the line.

As we approached Northbrook Lock a boat that had been moored just before the lock moorings for lunch  rapidly packed everything away and set off in front of us, this was with a boat just entering the lock to come down. When the left the lock they left the top gates open, like wise at Dashwood Lock. We passed them at the water point at Lower Heyford where they were filling up and we haven't seen them since.
At 4 PM. we moored for the night in Lower Heyford a short way before the aluminium lift bridge,DSCF4367 opposite a boat that is fully covered over and has not moved for as long as I can remember, there is no sign of a name, number of license, but of course that doesn't mean there isn't one.

Sunday 1 August 2010

1 August 2010

Last nights moorings were very quiet, this morning we planned to move about 10 AM. but first we got talking to a fellow boater who told us how her dog fell over the stern of the boat, got hit by the prop and cost £1500 in vets bills. Following this a couple asked if I was the owner of Harnser and did I "Twitter". It turned out she was Jane Gordon-Cumming the author of "The Haunted Bridge" and other strange tales of the Oxford Canal. which I just happen to be reading at this very moment, I never thought to ask her to sign my copy for me, next time.

We finally pushed off at about 11 AM and soon had two canoes following us all the way to Isis Lock, I got chatting to them as we moved slowly passed the moored boats and it turned out that they live on a boat on the arm beyond the lock, as a parting comment they suggested I tried the arm, you have to reverse out as it only has a 30' winding hole but it has about 160' of 48 hr visitor moorings, so we gave it a go. DSCF4337
The Very end of the South Oxford Canal

There was one other boat moored up there right in the middle of the moorings but we were able to get in just ahead of him. From here you are right in the city, we spent almost a couple of hours wandering round the streets and alleyways before returning to the boat and  reversing back to Isis Lock.

There is a winding hole above the lock but its only 50' anything longer has to lock down and wind below the lock and then lock back up. By the end of the month British Waterways intend to install a landing stage below the lock as there isn't one there at present. I cant help but thing the shape of the walls below the lock are like that for a reason and wonder what impact a walkway will have on navigation.

Once back up through the lock and heading towards Thrupp again we passed the old Jericho boat yard where BW evicted all the boats a few years ago and sold the site to developers for housing.

 DSCF4347 A high wooden fence was erected to stop the boats coming back and "No Mooring" buoys installed to keep the boaters away. 1 boat has returned mooring to the wall and one of the buoys, I wonder how long it will be before he is moved on. I wasn't long before we had a group of canoes catch us up and overtake, DSCF4353

I was passing moored boats! We followed them all the way to The Plough at Wolvercote, where they stopped off.

At Wolvercote lock there was a volunteer working boats through the lock, we never did find out why he was volunteering but thanked him for his help before continuing on our way.

We moored for the night a little after 5 pm on the 7 day moorings at Thrupp, there was just one space, but we could have got in right in front of the Jolly Boatman, but we find the road a bit noisy.