Friday 28 January 2011

Fri 28 Jan 2011 Napton

Last night was interesting in more ways than one. We went to the Wharf as planned and when we arrived we found they had a function on. It was a talk and tasting session for Bombay Sapphire Gin including using it in cooking. The had take up the canal side end of the dining room. To demonstrate the use for cooking they had a portable gas ring,Unfortunately they had chosen to place this directly under the fire detector, luckily for them it was not a sprinkler, just a very loud alarm. So we had free entertainment for the evening. Since last night I have been thinking about the food we had, steak pie and game pie served with mash potatoes and peas. After a lot of deliberations I must say I think they were the best pies that we have had for a very long time, not only that but the mash potato was very good as well. O and we were drinking Hooky.
We returned to the boat and toddled off to bed, but not for long, Magic decided at 4 am that he was hungry and wanted his breakfast, this was followed at 6 am when he wanted a drink, after that it was under our bed and off to sleep.

We set off this morning at 9-50 to a bright but cold morning. A chap filling his water tank and extra containers told me that the new water point at Marston Doles was out of use, BW has only recently fitted a new tap stand so the information may be out of date.
DSCF5334 We encountered the first ice at the winding hole and then broke very thin ice for about half our journey home. We didn't see a single boat all the way back to our moorings, once there we unloaded the dog and dirty washing to the car and then drained down the water system again, because there is still plenty of time for a lot more cold weather.The journey had taken us exactly 3 hours.

In the past 13 days we have done 130 miles and 26 locks clocking up 59 engine hours

Thursday 27 January 2011

27 Jan 2011 Fenny Compton

Last night we didn't get back to the boat from my sons until after 10 pm and the temperature had dropped quite a bit, as we had not changed the heating setting the front of the boat was quite cool where as the boatman's cabin was cold. The wind had picked up and was hitting straight onto the back doors forcing its way in with us. The engine room was cold as the engine had been shut down from about 1 pm. so a hot water bottle joined us in bed. I think the wind must have gotten up to a full gale overnight and was enough to wake us up.

This morning was a late start, it was quarter to eleven before weDSCF5332 left heading south. A boat had come down the flight but one had also gone up so we were more than a little surprised to find the Marston Doles locks both empty for us. We only met one boat all morning and the only ones we passed were long term moorers even if they weren't all on long term moorings.

We arrived a Fenny Compton Wharf at quarter to one and winded in front of the pub, this was followed by filling with water and then backing up passed a couple of moored boats to moor for the night.

I have just been looking at the forecast and the numbers -5 show for early next month for this area so make sure you keep those water tanks full and also keep warm.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Wed 26 Jan 2011 Napton

Last night as planned we slipped across the cut and moored outside the door of The Boathouse, but even that close I was unable to pick up their WiFi in the boat. We went in for a meal and a drink and were quite impressed, still two main courses for the price of one, waitress service taking our order at or table and bringing our drinks over, the food was tasty and everyone very friendly. I think the other pubs in the area need to watch out.
DSCF5325 I took a quick walk round to Midland Chandlers before pushing off at twenty to ten. The large building between MC and The Boathouse is now vacant with workman hard at it inside and on the canal side they were busy cutting back some of the trees.

DSCF5328 Peter Boyce looks as if he is starting a collection of working and ex working boats, he now has one moored outside his yard completely wrapped in plastic, both hull and top sides, so I assume it must leak a bit. At Braunston Junction we turned left under the bridge towards Wigrams Turn. We only met a couple of boats and the weather was quite chilly with rain showers.

DSCF5333 At Shugbrough bridge a boater has found he needed to moor with his bows almost in the bridge hole forcing boats to take a trip into the bushes to avoid him, there are miles of empty towing path on the other side of the bridge, its not exactly wall to wall boats this time of the year.

Over the past couple of weeks we have seen less than half a dozen hire boats about and lots of vacant visitor moorings, however the hire boat we saw this morning still found it necessary to to moor across the winding hole by The Bridge pub even though there was only one other boat moored there.
All the Napton Flight were with us which eased our journey and unlike when we went out there were quite a few boats moored by The Folly, I think there was only one here when we came down last week. We moored almost opposite our home mooring at just after 1 pm.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Tuesday 25 Jan 2011 Braunston

It was reasonably bright first thing this morning, but by 10 am when we were ready to set off it was very fine drizzle, over the course of the morning this got worse and by the time we left Hillmorton locks it was raining. BW were hard at work in the bottom lock, there biggest problem seemed to be pumping the chamber dry and sealing the top gates by throwing hand fulls of ash or dust in to close the gaps, the bottom gates are still missing and they had two pumps running in the lock.
DSCF5310 The tree by the long term moorings in the top pound now displays a lovely growth of fungi on its trunk.
The moored boat that was above the first lock has now gone as has the shared ownership one from the top lock, I think it was the same one that we saw outside The Boathouse at Braunston when we arrived, they have since left and we may move over into their spot..
Refurbishment work has started at The Royal Oak, Hillmorton with the painters hard at work painting the window frames on the outside and in the rain!

There was no sign of activity or progress at the DSCF5316new Barby Marina, but this could just be due to them waiting for the land to settle, but there is still a lot of work to do before it becomes a working marina open to boat. There is still the entrance to cut and the pontoons to build, let alone filling with water and leak testing, I don't know their latest proposed finish date but I would guess its still several months away.We met several boats on the move between here and Braunston. At Braunston Turn we branched to the left and carried on into the village, turning in the marina entrance.
The elsan disposal facilities and water point have now reopened with a brand new cast iron water point to replace the taps that were screwed to the wall, I would imagine this is to discourage people using the water point to flush their elsan equipment after use and improve hygiene as they would have to unlock the stand to use it. 
DSCF5321As we passed the waterpoint a Buzzard landed in the bush next to the canal in the grounds of Braunston Manor Hotel. I have never seen one so close to the village before. We carried on under the A5 bridge and have moored opposite The Boat House, as we are planning to eat in there this evening I may just slip across and moor right outside the door.

Monday 24 January 2011

Mon 24 Jan 2011 Newbold

Today we not only dumped the rubbish at the Hawkesbury Junction recycling point, the news paper/cans had not been filled with general rubbish but I also removed the stuff that had been picked up yesterday coming back from Coventry. The "stuff consisted of about a meter of bright red 6 mm polly rope which was well wound round the prop shaft intermixed wit carrier bags and some heavier polly material.  
We set off at 11 am with a few boats on the move, what did surprise me was last nights temperature, it fell to 0.4 c some time overnight which was quite low when you consider it was still about 5 c when we went to bed.
There is a notice on bridge 9 saying it is half a mile to The Elephant and Castle pub that now does food, I would estimate it to be a least a mile by canal.DSCF5304
We passed the golf course that is situated both sides of the canal, on the right hand side they have a "driving range" and use a small 4X4 pushing a contraption that gathers all the balls. 
As we passed Rose Narrowboats The air ambulance flew over us and then as I we approached  All Oaks Wood I heard a police car with blues and twos, I finally spotted him doing all of 30 mph and crossing the canal by Rose Narrowboats heading north.
We stopped at Lime Tree marina  and just across the canal from them was the Air Ambulance and police cars. We pulled into the marina to fill up with diesel at 77 p lt. Speaking to the owner he is installing a boat lift this season so that he will be able to lift boats from the water to the hard for blacking, repairs etc. Just as we finished taking almost 150 lt of none bio, low sulphur diesel the air ambulance took off and headed off which just left the flashing light of the emergency services and the vehicle recovery trucks.DSCF5307 As we approached Terry Yates's yard we thought he was firing up a steam boat, but it turned out to be a bonfire at the bottom of the garden which obliterated the canal with smoke. We stopped at Newbold outside the pubs, they are now both open and The Boat doing food, to fill with water, Di tested the tap and it was just a trickle, but the other had a very good flow, once full we carried on through the bridge and moored at 3.30 pm on the almost empty visitor moorings.

Sunday 23 January 2011

Sunday 23 Jan 2011 Hawkesbury Junction

Last night we ate at Weatherspoons, this was not our first, second or third choice but as the others were all heaving with people standing waiting for tables it seemed a good bet. As before the food was fine and both food and drink a reasonable price.
This morning I did a few jobs on the boat and then we visited The Herbert Museum http://www.theherbert.org/ which like a lot of places is now free to enter and has a nice cafe attached where we had lunch.DSCF5302
We got back to the boat at 3.15 pm and set off for Hawkesbury Junction, I picked up something on the prop, forward/reverse made things better for a bit but then things went down hill, I didn't want to stop as I knew that we would only just reach the junction before dark, then suddenly as I left a bridge hole the boat accelerated and I was able to drop the revs back to our normal cruising speed, what ever was there must have gone and we were on track again. There was only one boat moored on the Oxford just through Sutton Stop so we pulled in ahead of them at just on 5 pm with the light going fast.

Saturday 22 January 2011

Sat 22 Jan 2011 Coventry Basin

Last night the temperature dropped to almost -6 but when we got up this morning it was just above freezing point and the ice was melting.
10 AM and we made a move down to the water point, the pressure was very poor but we needed water badly so persevered, I walked down to the refuse disposal point at the junction, BW have recycling bins here as well as general refuse but people have just dumped their general rubbish in the bottle recycling bins so they are not proving very successful. When I returned to the boat the water flow had improved greatly so I can only assume the stand pipe had ice in it. It was just on 11 am when we left and made our way past Hawkesbury Junction straight on toward Coventry City Centre.
My memories of this stretch of canal are crystal clear water with the fish flashing about under the boat, being able to see all the weed that grew so well in the clear water and all the rubbish laying on the bottom. Now the water is as murky as the rest of the system and has obviously stifled the plant growth, the rubbish is still there but you just cant see it. There was still a covering of ice in some places but no particular thickness.DSCF5296 On several of the bridges there is a silhouetted map of the canal mounted high on the parapet wall made of quite thick steel, anything less would have succumbed to some of the lowlife that seam bent on destroying all in their path. We passed the old Club Line hire base at Swan Lane Wharf which is now a "not for profit" project. Entering the basin there was only one boat moored there which is good because the swing bridge is closed preventing access to the end of one are, its "No Mooring" along the front of the shops and services and the other arm has room for about 3 boats against the island and one the other side. The canoe club are out in force and we are getting constantly rammed as we are opposite their base, I don't mind if its the canoes hitting the black but I wont be amused if I find paddle scratches on the gloss.
A majority of the shops and offices around the basin are now displaying large "For Sale" or "To Let" signs and only the hairdressers and one shop are open.

Friday 21 January 2011

Fri 21 Jan 2011 Hawkesbury

Last night the temperature dropped to below -5 so when we got up this morning the canal was covered in ice but by the time we set off at 10 am it was quite a bit warmer, only -3 in bright sunshine. The ice around the boat was about 6 mm and  a bit further along it doubled to 12 mm, whereas in some places it was barely a skin on the surface. We broke Ice for an hour, the only spot giving any problem was the bend at Stoke Golding with boats moored all the way round it, travelling slowly passed the moored boats I just didn't have the momentum to swing the back  out and get round the bend, having to back up and take a second bite at it on a different angle, some of the looks we received from a few of the occupants as we passed said DSCF5274we should not be boating in such weather but others gave us a hearty wave.
Just beyond Higham Bridge some good Samaritan had been moored the night before, left before we arrived and had cut a nice clean channel all the way to the Coventry Canal at Marston Junction, this made the majority of our days travel much easier. thank you John.
 DSCF5284 At the junction someone has placed a posy of silk flowers in the piling, I don't know what dreadful deed has happened at this spot in the past that someone has marked it with flowers.
Once on the Coventry canal we turned hard left  still following the broken ice, a short way passed the now decaying Navigation Public  House we pulled over and had an enjoyable cup of tea and DSCF5294chat with Terry and Chris, before we knew where we were it was 4 pm. so we said our goodbyes and headed off to Hawkesbury where we moored for the night a little short of the visitor moorings under a bright red sunset.
Apart from being cold out of the sun today the weather has been absolutely stunning with bright sunshine and blue sky's, I expect we will pay for it tonight with very low temperatures again.

Thursday 20 January 2011

Thursday 20 Jan 2011

When we went to The Rising Sun last night the grass was already frosty and after a very good meal, a place to be recommended we walked back in a hard frost. Overnight the temperature dropped to -4.8 and was still below -2 at 10 am. this morning and there was a very thin layer of ice on the cut.
DSCF5242 We didn't set off until 10 30 am as John and Madeline who live just up the road from us came by on nb. Maximus and stopped for a chat. We head off in bright sunshine passed the long row of boats that moor at Shackerstone and out into open countryside again. The frost hung in the trees shining in the bright morning sun and there were a few walkers enjoying the day. The light as we entered Snarestone was quite enchanting with the sun still low in the sky, reflecting down the canal and straight into the tunnel mouth illuminating the inside of the tunnel for half its length. What did surprises most was that between bridges 60 and 61 the canal was covered in ice about a quarter of an inch thick and we left a clean channel down the centre.
We winded at the old head of navigation, moored up and went for a look round. There is now a pedestrian swing bridge where the head of navigation use to be over what will be the stop lock gates. This is locked in the closed to navigation position.  Beyond this bridge there is a wide concrete channel with both sides marked at 48 hr moorings.
mooringsThe interesting thing is these are Leicester Council moorings, not BW or Ashby Canal Trust and the wording states they are 48 hr moorings for continuous cruisers. On one side there are a row of old "company" boundary markers which I take are to be used an mooring bollards, but the other side there is nothing, only a concrete edge and a hard path. We made our way back along the canal in the bright sunshine and at the tunnel portal it was impossible to see the entrance until we were right against it due to the bright sun and haze, if conditions were like this on the roads its no wonder there were lots of accidents, visibility towards the sun in some circumstances was zero and we were only doing 2 mph not 70.
As the afternoon progressed we started to look for a nice spot to moor for the night, the battle field moorings were discounted as they were shady and still icy, a boat was already moored by the old disused railway bridge, 2 boats had settled in on the open section opposite the wood, we could have got between them but why spoil there solitude, next was the visitor moorings by the visitor centre, the same boats here now than when we passed yesterday plus one had squeezed in between a narrow boat and a cruiser and had 5 foot of his bow rubbing the bows of the cruiser, one had a notice saying it was an allocated mooring and the rest looked as if they had been there some time so we continued on past the visitor centre and then the long row of long term off side BW moorings to moor a little after 4 pm on the towing path just beyond the last boat.DSCF5270 
A  few minutes after getting tied up a Chinook helicopter came over very low and a few minutes later an aircraft flying high leaving a vapour trail that turned into smoke rings before fading away in the clear blue sky.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Wed 19 Jan 2011 Shackerstone

Walking the dog last night and the grass was all frosty exceptDSCF5223 where we had moored, I think we were sheltered by the hedge. It was just about a full moon last night so was quite light all night. This morning when I checked the max/min the temperature didn't quite make freezing on the bow of the boat, but the puddles on the offside fields were all icy.
We made an early start to beat the rush, five to ten and the sunny start to the day was just changing to 100% cloud cover, damp and cold, this lasted to about lunch time when things picked up.

DSCF5230 The first 10 miles of this canal have been easy going, averaging 3 mph. including slowing down for lots of moored boats, but the bit between the 10 and 14 mile markers was different with the bottom to close to the top. We only just managed 2 mph. on this section, stirring the mud all the way.
All the visitor moorings at Stoke Golding have been turned over to winter mooring and were all full.DSCF5231
Due to the slow progress we decided to stop at Congerstone and eat at The Horse and Jockey, we moored up at quarter to three a bit earlier than planned, the last couple of miles were easy going again and Diana took Magic for a walk down to the pub to see if they were doing food tonight. What she found was the pub was not only closed but had been sold, if it will reopen as a pub I don't know. When she returned to the boat we decided to carry on to Shackerstone to The Rising Sun, there was room for a couple of boats on the visitor moorings when we pulled in at quarter to four and again Diana went to investigate the pub.
On her return I found out that the pub does food from Wednesday to Sunday, so that's OK and all these moorings are also winter moorings, so we are just waiting for a knock on the boat from someone returning from the water point or something.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Tues 18 Jan 2011 Ashby Canal

Last night the noise from the passing trains was quite intrusive  which was strange considering how far the railway line is. Over nightDSCF5217 the temperature dropped into the minus figures once more.
This morning was still and sunny, I started the engine at 10 ready to push off but the boat a short way behind had the same idea and as I came up the hatch he was dropping his ropes off, it seems that 10 am is a popular start time and I think I will try to change ours when moored amongst other boats, anyway I gave him 15 minutes and set off, It wasn't long before the wind freshened slightly and it turned quite cool but stayed dry.
Approaching Ansty there were 4 BW chaps with 2 ropes and grappling hooks, I saw one of them returning to his van and enquired what they were after. It seems that a dog fell through the ice during the recent cold spell and the owner wants the body retrieved, needles and haystacks come to mind. We met Bill on Rosy tied up in Ansty doing an oil change so had a few words before pushing on, If anyone is interested in narrowboating on the continent they should read his web pages at http://www.billybubbles.demon.co.uk/ . One thing I noticed was that all the long term moorings opposite The Rose and Castle were vacant, I wonder if this is because BW can't let them or they are not trying to.
Loads of vacant visitor moorings at Hawkesbury Junction, just as we were leaving the lock a boat arrived from the Coventry Canal to lock up onto the Oxford and I have to admit that I failed to make the turn onto the Coventry canal in one ending up close in by the new houses just before the old pump house.
We carried on along the Coventry Canal until we reached Marston Junction. Between bridge 15 and the junction there was an interesting little aluminium cruiser owned by BW which is used for hydrographic surveys, once past it we turned very sharp rightDSCF5221 into the Ashby canal, by now the weather was quite pleasant so we carried on for about 2 1/2 miles where we found some convenient Trench Sheet piling to moor to, the time was a few minutes past three.

Monday 17 January 2011

Monday 17 Jan 2011 All Oaks Wood

We were ready to set off just after 10 am this morning, the wind had died away to nothing and there was not a ripple on the canal. Just as Diana was going out of the front doors the boat moored ahead of us pulled away so I gave him bit of a start before we set off also heading towards Braunston.

  There is now a second boat sunk at Braunston about 100 yards south of the one that has been there for well over a year now.DSCF5193 I am surprised they are having so much problem lifting the one that has been there for so long as her gunwales are above the water, she must have some  seriously large holes under the water. BW have a large pump on a flat at Napton that they used to empty the Napton locks, I am surprised they don't bring that down and try to pump her out as that would move large amounts DSCF5187 copyof water and may be able to overcome the inrush. The second sunk boat, also a wooden motor but with a full length cabin is close to the bank and sitting much higher in the water so should not be such a problem to get back up.
At Braunston Turn we carried on round to the left north along the Oxford Canal. Just beyond the first bridge we stopped for a chat with Mike on Draco, by now it was quite overcast and spitting with rain. There was still no sign of any activity at the new Barby Marina and still a lot of work to do before it will be open for business. We pulled over at Hillmorton opposite The Royal Oak to post a couple of CIBC membership cards as there is a post box just at the top of the steps, just the other side of the bridge we met Trevor on NB. Wyrd, he was about to set off and followed us to the locks where we back set for him.
Why do we always find boats moored on the lock moorings at Hillmorton, today there was a shared ownership on the lock moorings below lock 4, I wonder if the owners know its moored there when they are probably paying for a berth and then a private boat moored above lock 2 making it impossible for a single hander coming up to close up behind them. and if going down gives them a long walk to set it.
By now the rain had stopped but it had turned quite a bit cooler so we though we would stop at Newbold but by then the sun was out and it was quite pleasant so we continued on just passed All Oaks Wood where we moored for the night at about 4 PM. Just DSCF5207copy before we moored we had a 4 engined plane fly over us with a boom arrangement looking like a crop spraying boom under its fuselage, I managed to get this photograph of it.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Sunday 16 Jan 2011

Last night we ate onboard with an Indian takeaway from Southam which was quite enjoyable and not to oily. The night was very blustery and we both woke several times, the only one to get a good nights sleep was Magic who spent the night down the lounge. We were nice and warm as the BMC stove was still burning when we went to bed.

We set off this morning a little after 10 am in sunshine and wind, but quite pleasant, a boat had come up just before we set of but even so nearly all the locks were against us, we did meet a hire boat half way down the flight, they pulled into the lock moorings as we arrived at the top but showed no interest in locking up, eventually they walked up the lock with their dog but no windlass, so Diana turned the lock, when the lock was a little over half full one of them went back for their windlass and then they watched as we locked down chatting to Diana, they indicated that they had not had any lock instruction at all. We left the lock and they made there way up. As some walkers had told them we were on our way down they had not only left the gates open on the next lock for us, but also all the paddles up.

We stopped at The Folly to fill with water, so now we can shower in the morning and not use canal water to flush the loo. There was only one boat on the Folly moorings, I think that is the quietest I have ever seen it. We carried on to The Bridge where there were no other boats moored at all and stopped for Sunday Lunch, it was still early at 12-30 so they only had another 3 tables taken and some people in the bar but it probably picked up later.

We just came through Nimrod Bridge 108 and caught up with a boat going at slightly over tick over speed, a short way ahead of him/her was another pair of boats, one towing the other on about a 50 foot line but with no one on the boat being towed so it was going everywhere. I followed these 3, they were all together an tickover speed to just past bridge 103 where they met a couple of boat and all ended up on the bank, I took this opportunity to pass them as the obviously had no intention of letting me by. Shortly after this we had very light drizzle for a bit. We continued on to moor at what felt a slightly more sheltered spot just through bridge 99 at 3-15 pm.

BW have made what looks to be a good job of repiling in the Napton flight and also in front of The Bridge Inn almost opposite the winding hole, the end of the piling had been sticking out here for some time and could have caused serious damage to a plastic boat.

Saturday 15 January 2011

Back onboard 15 Jan 2011

Well we are back onboard arriving early this afternoon. My first job was to fit a new accumulator, although it was the same make, size, colour as the old one it came with a different plumbing fitting on the end. The easiest thing would have to changed the fitting, but I am very wary about giving anyone a chance to wriggle out of a guarantee so I modified the plumbing to suit. Next job was to refill the domestic water system and pressure test everything, it all looks OK. The only problem now is that we have used virtually all our supply of water refilling the system. Following getting the water in the system I was able to light the Dickinson stove. I always find this burns a bit on the low side until the diesel warms up a bit so I have to run it a couple of notches higher for a day or so. I then moved to the Boatman's Cabin and lit the stove in there, good job is only small as we are almost out of coal as well, but we will probably meet the coal boat this week so I will get another bag off them.

I had a quick look round the engine and it fired as soon as I turned the key and at about 4 pm we were off. A boat had just passed going down the flight so we expected the lock to be against us, what we didn't expect was for the bottom gates to still be open and both paddles up. As the boat laid in the lock we loaded up from the car and got the dog aboard, he is to stiff and unsteady to cross the lock gates now to get to our moorings.
Once loaded we dropped the lock and just cruised to beyond the lock moorings to stop for the night, we would have gone a bit further but we wanted to walk back up the moorings and thank Graham and Carol for moving Harnser back to her moorings after the ice thawed last weekend.

Tomorrow we should be heading off towards the Ashby with a bit of luck and a fair wind