Tuesday, 30 April 2013


Had a bit of a lazy morning and then had a 2-mile walk along the towpath to the The Folly Inn at Napton on the Hill a gem of a place with its quirky bric-a-brac adorning shelves, and pictures from a bygone era on the walls. Here  I had a couple of pints of Old Hooky and Sue had J2o's. For a Tuesday lunchtime the place was heaving the food looked great but by the time we decided we were hungry enough to partake the kitchen had closed. We sat by the inglenook fire and in the with the kindling were various old newspapers and leaflets two of which I found quite amusing to be together, I tried to take a picture of them below.
Eye level  techno surgery.

Last night  I removed all the clutter from the roof of Festina to wash her down in readiness for t-cut and polish, this included the sausage bi-cycle which I padlocked to a nearby post. When we went out today the bike was gone new padlock as well but it turned out the marina groundsman (who apologised profusely)  had moved it still padlocked to a holding area as cycles aren't allowed to be scattered around the marina, it is now back on the roof. Won't be doing much polishing today, amazing what a drink at lunchtime does for you.

Sue said if I misbehave she is going to leave me here 

Yes please

Leaving Braunston

Saturday we set off for the  south Oxford canal but missed the turning and had to carry on North for another 6 miles to the next winding hole near Hillmorton which is at the end of the Barby Straight (negotiating this at 4mph in a  narrow boat strangely had me reminiscing of  taking the Cronk Y Voddy Straight on the Isle of Man at 140mph on  Honda Fireblade.)

Having turned we moored for the night just above Rowdykes Bride and had our Sunday lunch which had been roasting in the  Epping for a few hours.

Sunday we are now moored in  Wigrams Turn Marina  on the Oxford canal and will be here for a few days while we deep clean the boat. I want to t-cut and polish the exterior, and touch up some paint as well as service the engine, expect this to take a few days and it will be handy to be connected to the grid and water supply.

We came into the marina in a gale and moored on the nearest berth to the entrance, luckily when we booked in at reception this berth was available so we didn't need to move again or so we thought, we had to turn the boat around as our shore line hook up is at the stern and we were bow in. Turning in the wind  and reversing into the berth took 3 attempts but after about 20 mins we were safely tied up.

We had another scrummy meal (stew) from the Epping that had been cooking most of the day.

The Epping is a fantastic tool for a few lumps of coal it stays alight 24/7 keeping the boat warm and cooks dinner.

Phone coverage is non existent here but the 3 internet connection appears to work.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Staying put

Decided to stay for the weekend in Braunston , sunshine and showers today. After breakfast Sue walked into the village for the paper and had an altercation with the owner of a dog that was allowed to run amok in the park.

We had our lunch of the pork pie and it was delicious, may buy another before we go.

I had a problem with my Three Internet account and had to phone Delhi to get a password sent out ,the conversation went like this.

Me " I need a password to get into my account "

Igbol " you will need your mobile  phone handy have you got it ".

Me " Yes it's on the table,,, oh hang on it's gone missing"

After a few frantic moments looking for it and asking Igbol to hang on...

Me " Sue where's my bloody phone gone "

Sue " Against your bloody ear you fool"

Well that put us into fits of laughter  with tears rolling down our faces I  couldn't speak  any more and had to let Igbol go.

I walked up to the chandlers and bought an  Ecofan to help circulate the heat from the solid fuel stove , expensive but they work really well.

This afternoon I walked into the village to buy some spuds and popped into the 'The Old Plough' for a nice pint of Doombar Ale.. as you do and bumped into Aussie Mick .  Micks good lady is a fellow blogger so I knew of Mick but he didn't know me. "Gooday Mick"says I, a look of apprehension comes across his face. "You are Mick arn't you and married to Elle ". Penny drops "that bloody blog ..... this keeps happening to me!" Well we had a good laugh and  chat before walking back to the boats where we introduced our wives over a beer on PS.
Top couple

Sue only got to eat two of the scones she made .. they were that good. I made up for it by cooking our tea of  sausage leeks and spuds.

Sunday lunch opportunities

Friday, 26 April 2013


We set off at 10 am and no sooner had we untied the ropes  started  to rain, it rained on and off for the next couple of hours.

Through two locks and then we were heading for the Braunston Tunnel at over a mile long with a bend in the middle and only inches to pass other boats. We put our tunnel light on and entered with trepidation just our luck no boats had come the other way all morning now we had 4 to contend with. Problem was  you can see on coming traffic tunnel lights but its very hard to judge how far they are away in the distance,this had me hugging the wall all the way instead of staying more central for longer, consequentially we lost  paint of the gunnel's  and 2 fenders and I wont mention the  heavy bang I had with one vessel. We were both very relieved to be out the other end even if it was raining again.

At the Braunston 6 locks flight we met our first lock keeper volunteer, what a smashing  knowledgeable young man, he helped Sue with the paddle gear and opening the lock gates and as he was on his way to lunch he helped at all 6 locks explaining how things worked and how the volunteer force operate and  gave us some literature on  C.A.R.T. So if you are ever in the vicinity say hello to Courtney he's pictured  on the front of the C.A.R.T  'Get Involved' brochure.

We have moored for the evening at Braunston  where we walked into the village for supplies from the butcher among other items a rather mouth watering  Chili and Stilton pork pie made it into the basket.
A quick stop at the chandlers to replace the lost fenders 3 in all because I lost one in a lock yesterday also.

Back on the boat and Sue is baking scones and they smell as good as they look some fruity and some cheesy.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

First Lock day

Woke to another sunny day with just a light breeze.. so ideal. I volunteered for breakfast duties so only cereal today. Got going about 0930ish passed nb Lois Jane moored near Bugbrooke village. Sorry we didn't stop and introduce ourselves properly guys but it was good to learn from Debbie that James is recuperating well.

After a stop to fill the water tank and another stop for lunch and a look around Heart of the Shires we pressed on to Whilton and our first lock, we moored up 300 yds before the lock and walked up to have a look, Nb Cider and Rose was just entering the lock and after a very quick chat around the lines that we were lock virgins their crew quickly volunteered to show us through the lock not only that but Mr Cider and Rose walked down the tow path to the next lock to make sure we were happy 'top bloke'.  Every one is so friendly on the canal, be it boaters, fishermen, joggers, walkers or commercial people  all have acknowledged us as we pass by.

We have now negotiated 6 locks and have moored below Buckby top lock for the night. We have a good internet signal here but no TV reception.

Our first lock on our own.

Sue working the paddle gear
Catch of the day

Tiller Girl

We both feel really knackered now.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Moving along

Today we left Weedon Bec and made our way to Gayton Junction where we could have turned left and gone north through Northampton or straight on towards Milton Keynes, we stopped to use the C.A.R.T facilities turned the boat on the ropes and went back the way came (just getting used to the way the boat handles at the moment you see). Was an easy run of about 8 miles in cloudy skies with an occasional blustery wind, the boat handles as it should  and we had no problems.

We are now moored  close to the village of Gayton, Sheppard's pie in the oven, Sue is fishing (caught a dace earlier) and I'm doing this blog. It's very peacefull here apart from Tricky Dickys inter city trains in the distance

Have some photos but my connection is poor and the blog wont upload them.

Tomorrow we should make it to Braunston and our first lock.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

First outing

Woke up to glorious sunshine which has lasted all day . We set off down the canal and moored up at the water point and filled the tank then we  continued to the winding hole to turn the boat, during this manoeuvre I managed to hit the bank 3 times, Sue and I will have to get our hand signals co-ordinated from the front to  the back or should that be bow to stern of the boat.
                                                        Filling the tank with blue water hose

We moored back where we left 2 hours before but facing the other way  So that was our first outing under our belt not very exciting for blog readers but exhilarating for this pair of novices.

This afternoon was spent having a look around Rugby and sorting out new UK phone contracts £6.90 a month with 200 free voice mins 5000 texts and 500 mb of data on the 3 network. Wont get a tariff like that back home with Manx Telecom.

Be setting off for real tomorrow ..locks and all!

Monday, 22 April 2013

More shopping

Did manage to get to the pub last night for a couple of Bombardiers.

Been shopping to Northampton Argos, Homebase and Sainsburys to get more bits and pieces this took most the morning. Its about a 200 yard walk from where we have parked the car to the boat so we were glad of the folding sack truck we brought along with us.

This evening I've been for a short cycle ride along the towpath to see what's round the next bend in the canal ....it's another bend. Spoke to the guy who I hired to give us some tuition on the phone today but his wife is still very poorly and he won't be available for another couple of weeks at least. Ah well how hard can it be we'll set off tomorrow and see how we get on.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

On board

Good luck cards and pressies on board  from our friends 

We had a good night in the Narrowboat Inn and awoke to glorious sunshine we ordered  ' The Works' breakfast which consisted of bacon, sausage, black pudding, poached eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns toast, orange juice and tea. We were going to need it it would be a very long tiring day.

10 o'clock we met with Steve and Diane who were the previous owners of Festina and they showed us around the intricacies of the boat this took us till midday. Then we unloaded all our belongings out of the car and onto the boat at first we didn't think we would get it all in but Festina is full of nooks and cranny's and we haven't used all the storage space yet. I then spent about 2 hours putting together one of the chairs that had been sent flat-packed to the brokerage by Debenhams for us.

Had a  slight worry when the loo wouldn't flush but one of the guys from the brokerage identified that one of the stop cocks hadn't been turned back on so panic over (I'll be learning for a while methinks)

After filling with diesel and water we reversed across to the other side of the canal to moor, well I say reversed but it was a bit like a jerky sideways crabbing sort of motion but we made it all 20 feet of it.
Then of to Tesco to get bedding, cutlery, plates, cups, saucepans and a frying pan, got back on board at 2030hrs to late to cook so back to the Pub for a steak and sparkling water for Sue and tender pork loin and Bombardier ale for me.

Had a good night sleep on board Sue made us a bacon sandwich and the rest of the morning was spent putting all the  Tesco goods away and building up the second chair. Then a trip into Birmingham to pick up a generator I purchased on eBay. Pork chops for tea were excellent and it's 2000hrs and  I'm just about to suggest to Sue we go for a drink in the pub. I wonder if we will!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Almost there

Went for a 'bon voyage' drink or two with a few good friends last night in the Artisan a posh bland sort of bar in Douglas with no atmosphere but the company and beer were excellent.

Last day at work over so I am now officially retired/unemployed.

Car is packed and we are just waiting to go down to the ferry at 1400hrs looks like a nice quiet day for a crossing , should be in Liverpool by 1730hrs and in the B&B by 9ish...........

Arriving in Liverpool

......... Got to the Narrow boat pub/B&B at 2030hrs they serve Bombardier Ale here so would of been rude not to partake of a beverage, just the one mind as I want a clear head tomorrow when we meet the previous owner of Festina who will walk us through the systems and hard ware used on the boat.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Change of plan

We wont be going over this weekend, I have changed my leaving date to 19th April.

 So ferry booked and we will be starting our life aboard Festina on the 20th.......   CAN'T  WAIT.......

Ferry is booked as well as a first night B&B booking in the Narrowboat at Weedon Bec.  Link  (we will be able to see our boat from the pub window) as the ferry is due to dock in Liverpool at 1800hrs and its a 3 hour drive to Weedon.

I am thinking about installing two 100w solar panels to help keep the batteries topped up, this firm is quite reasonable LINK but they drill and tap the roof for the brackets where as other company's bond them on.

I'll perhaps wait until I am part of the canal community and get some informed pointers.

Thursday, 11 April 2013


Have got somebody coming round to tidy the bushes and lower some trees in the garden for me so the neighbours dont' complain while we are gone and our daughter  has kindly offered her fella to cut the grass in my absence.

Strange thing is I have lost any enthusiasm for any jobs around the  house and garden since we started on our nb buying journey, all I can think about at the moment is Festina Lente and jobs I will have to do on  her which I am sure I will enjoy more.

Sunday, 7 April 2013


Parcels seem to be arriving daily at our door as we collect all the things we ' think ' we will need to be able to live aboard Festina Lente comfortably, it's a bit like furnishing a small flat. Amazon and Lakeland are our two main suppliers, I gained some useful tips from forums about the tool kit I will need and I have engine servicing spares  oil/fuel filters plus another impeller  and  a few 'just in case' items to boot. Sue has been busy ordering all the kitchen utensils we will need for the galley.

People who know me will know I like hoover's and hoovering (some call me hoover man) as well as a ball Dyson I have their first hand held so I plan to just take this on board and see how we get on (it's a storage or should I say stowage issue)

I found an oil seal removing tool in my garage bought 'just in case' 10 years ago  and guess what I was right, I have sharpened it into a prop clearing tool, I'm bound to need that.

I have a few days leave to take before my finishing date of the 26th so plan to go over next week end and possibly move the boat into a local marina for a couple of weeks while I finish my notice period.

Ordered a couple of leather swivel recliners from Debenhams (we have two at home and find them ever so comfy) These will be delivered straight to Rugby boat sales and they will look after them until we arrive.


Friday, 5 April 2013


Got the surveyors report today and everything is good, so we can now consider ourselves boat owners once the money has transfered across accounts.
Have sorted out the insurance and just need to arrange the license and all systems will be go.

She is out of the water and will be having her bottom blacked over the next few days.