Saturday, 31 August 2013

Ashby Canal

I was out on the bank at 0200 hrs in my underpants checking the mooring pins as the wind had got up. All was OK so back to bed till 0800 hrs.

We left Hawkesbury Junction under blue skies but with an autumnal feel to the air. First I called to Sue for a jumper, then my fleece, hat and finally I exchanged my shorts for jeans, it wasn't this cool at 2am!  We are still flying the Manx flag so other captain's who are still in their vest's don't know I am really a 'southern softie'.

As we start our journey up the Coventry canal we pass through Bedworth but we don't see much of it's urban sprawl, as close to the canal there is pleasant park land with walkers, some with dogs, enjoying the early sun, as well as playing fields and a huge school to port.

As we continue towards Nuneaton we come across Marston Junction where the Ashby Canal joins, we decide to take the very tight turn and explore the Ashby. This is the best thing about our unplanned journey we can afford to take time out on our passage to explore tangents at a whim.  We are rewarded with a peaceful, rural landscape mainly made up of arable farmland. The canal has a natural unkempt feel to it and we have to navigate pass great clumps of foliage that have broken away from the bank side. I chat to a contented looking fellow on his moored boat as we pass on tickover and he tells me the canal is shallow in places and the farm shop at bridge 25 is a good visit. You can manage limited conversation's as you pass other boats. We carry on just nudging a family of moorhens of there floating reed island, on regardless, past mobile homes along the starboard side, some are spectacular in the depth of gardening, patio decking and a few even have conservatories attached. Through more open countryside  and past the unseen medieval village of Stretton Baskerville, I start peeling off the layers to cool down. We pass under Limekiln Bridge and spot a good mooring, as we moor we notice we are directly opposite a pub named after the bridge perhaps or the other way round. As I tie the front rope someone who resembles Charlie Drake pops out of his cratch to greet us. "That pub's not noisey is it?" I say. "It's got good ale" says he.  Enough said.

Charlie Drake naturally funny man. (Video)

The stonework on the Ashby Bridges are very attractive.

Our canal guide book calls this a boat yard I call it a scrap yard


Pylons striding into the distance.

Lime Kilns Inn (Link)

This afternoon we had a walk along the tow path to Trinity Marina and on te way home we picked blackberries to put into a blackberry & apple crumble in the ships galley.
Just under 10oz here, enough for the two of us, we have to leave the rest for our feathered friends.

We will see what delights the Lime Kiln Inn has later.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Hawkesbury Junction

Left our mooring at 0900 hrs in overcast conditions with a few spots of rain. We pass Adam and Adrian who are just readying nb Brair Rose for their onward journey to Manchester. We were going to moor briefly close to bridge 58 to go to Tesco's but it was too busy to stop.

Out of Rugby and through the 250yd Newbold on Avon Tunnel we pass Brinklow Marina to port which marks the point where we sail into virgin water (for this crew at least).

There is open farmland on both sides until All Oaks Wood appears on the port side,

here the canopy covers the canal in shade for half a mile, then it's back to open farmland behind hedging, dissected by the imposing M6 motorway

On the map the village of Ansty looked  a likely place to stop  but we didn't see a single visitor mooring spot, occupied or vacant, perhaps they don't like visitors. Long Term Permit Holders moorings in abundance probably because of it's proximately to the motorway. We stopped about a mile north for lunch then cruised on to moor for the night just before Hawkesbury Junction. 

Our mooring second boat over looked by power cables.

The route we will take on the Coventry Canal

Opposite direction leads to Coventry

Leaving the Oxford Canal left for Coventry right Nuneaton

Lock to the Junction.

Bridges made from British steel were made to last.

Bridge number one of the Oxford canal.

Note the grooves in the steel and masonry made by the ropes of countless horse drawn boats of old.

We had a glass of Ale in  The Greyhound  at the junction.

His and hers Marston Pedigree Ale, the ale is getting cheaper as we head north only £3.05 a pint here .

They had lots of guest beers on sale too

Sorry about the fuzzy picture, I didn't dare try the Church End Brewt Ale at 8%!

Thursday, 29 August 2013


Set off from our mooring in Braunston in short's on, shirt off weather. The scenery from here to Rugby is in the main flat with fields of grazing dairy and beef herds punctated with farmsteads.

Taking the weight of their udders.

 Had just about the whole selection of hide colours in this field

For a second and for some inexplicable reason I want to moor up and push one of these down the hill!

We have noticed a few mistakes on our 2012 Nicholson Waterways Guide the latest appears to be the position of Barby Marina on the chart, but then I do note that they are printed in China now. 

Some of Rugby council's inspired graffiti.

This stretch of the canal has been very busy, the volunteer lockie at Hillmorton lock's was keeping a record of through traffic, she had already locked 35 boats through that morning. Hillmorton locks are paired in that there are two locks side by side, so progress is not held up even when busy. We filled with water at the water point just above her lock, ate lunch and continued towards Rugby where we have moored alongside the Rugby Golf Club. link..

We passed the Cheese Boat just before we moored and it looked like they were doing the same so we may walk back down the towpath and sample some of their wares...... I bought two cheeses Amber Mist which is a mature cheddar laced with whisky and Perl Las which is a blue veined mature cheese.

This evening we had lamb shank which had been cooking most of the day in one Mr D's eco friendly thermal cooker.  The lamb was cooked to perfection. 

One small job that got done was to rivet on  a couple of failed cratch cover studs. The day is ending overcast, Sue has a hook and maggot in the water and I'm going to read after publishing this. We haven't bothered with the TV now for a few weeks, have been listening to Smooth Radio which plays mostly 70's stuff and no rap nonsense.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Took Betty back to Somerset yesterday evening and returned this morning a 336 mile trip, I think she might of liked to stay but she had other family coming to take her out today ;). We had time in the day's car hire to go to Morrisons, B&Q and Screwfix to get some stuff.

Tomorrow we continue our journey northwards on the North Oxford canal to Hawkesbury Junction(click here for video) then picking up the Coventry canal to the Trent and Mersey.

By the time we get up to the Trent and Mersey we may have changed our minds about a winter mooring, because of their good boatyard facilities Aston and Tattenhall are both in the frame.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Admiral Nelson

This morning we winded FL at Braunston marina and moored on the water point. While she was filling I ordered a bacon banjo from the Gongoozlers Rest, which was delivered to the waterpoint by one of Avril's crew. We moved on to a 48 hour mooring where I enlisted the help of the silver haired visitor to polish the starboard side.

Working so fast she is a blurr

Not a lot of elbow grease going on here me thinks

Both side's are finished now and FL is looking good apart from below the gunnel where there are numerous collision scrapes but I have decided to paint that area at the end of each year, rather than get the paint and brushes out frequently.

I walked into the village and had a glass of lager in  the Wheatsheaf  (now I have frequented all 4 establishments in Braunston) While there Sue texted me to say she was on her way to the Admiral Nelson with Betty in tow. So I met up with them there and we sat in the garden watching the lock traffic.

At The Admiral Nelson

Strange name for a pub on the Grand Union canal, I'm pretty sure Horatio was long dead before the canal was built and I shouldn't of thought  HMS Victory or any of his fleet would fit in the lock.

Going to pop back to the Wheatsheaf to watch the Manu v Chelsea game.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Butcher of Braunston

Sunday started off a bit iffy but by midday the sun was out. I managed to get a few jobs done, first was fitting the  LED light fitting and  then replacing a faulty valve on the cassette loo.

After a sunday roast of Manx Beef bought from the Braunston Butcher (sounds like a character from Sweeney Todd or Jack the Ripper).  I set about washing the roof and polishing the starboard side. This time I used Auto Glym, I think it was Aussie Mick who recommended it and it has done a first class job.

Wasps seem to be everywhere this year I was under the impression that the harsh winter would have done for them, but no, they are at every spot we stop, they also hover around in  mid channel as we go along. I have bought a wasp swatter and now they have no escape, Sue whacked one straight out the saloon and into the drink, a cover drive that Kevin Pietersen would be proud of .

Got the silver haired visitor to walk down to the Admiral Nelson this afternoon, from our mooring that's a round trip of  3 miles with four bridge's to climb, very good  going for a lady of a certain age   who less than 7 months ago had a Pneumonectomy.

Post box on a tree

Good looking tree

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Mercia Marina

We didn't go through any locks yesterday as Sue didn't sleep well and because of safety I didn't want tired crew operating the locks, so we pulled in before Coventry Road bridge 109 almost opposite Napton Narrowboats.

We are moored behind a strange looking craft, this is the stern, viewed from the bow it is identical apart from the entrance. I always marvel at those that can see past a vessels built for purpose and
transform it into a home.

I had my first crew knock at the side hatch and say they read the blog. They have started this same journey in March, in my excitement at actually meeting someone new who actually reads the blog we didn't find out their names until the  following morning. Richard and Valari  on NB Stardust all the way from Colorado USA  "It was nice to meet you if only briefly, hope this chapter in your lives is as fulfilling as ours, we will have that red wine next time we meet".


The hills are grey in a misty morning as we set of for Braunston, we are actually in traffic three boats in front and two behind, that's a first for us. Coming the other way are numerous hire boats going back to there bases in Wigrams and Napton, one has a little bit of trouble getting into the narrow cut into Wigrams and I hold back until he has safely negotiated the turn. I think about mooring a mile out of Braunston but a shout to a passing boat tells me there are plenty of moorings in Braunston further along a shout again and it's changed to rammed packed there. We carry on regardless and as we make the Braunston turn, there is one space for us on the 14 day visitor moorings.
We will be hanging around in Braunston  until Wednesday as we need to hire a car on Tuesday to take Betty home to Somerset and I know Enterprise will pick us up from here.

Lunch time Betty treated us all to a meal in the Admiral Nelson and a glass of Timothy Taylor's Ale.
On the way back to the boat Sue and Betty walked up the Hill to the village to the butchers and I went down the hill to Braunston Chandlery . I must be a chandlers proprietors dream customer as I go in with a purpose to buy one thing, in this case a replacement LED light fitting and come out with several items  I didn't know I required, the more time I spend looking the more I notice things I haven't got, might need or would like to try out.

We have decided we will winter at Mercia Marina mainly because we visited it when we were looking to buy a boat and liked the look of the place. Plus out of all the marina's I emailed they were the only one who gave me direct answers to my questions. The others just pointed me to their web site.
Seems strange thinking about the winter already but this year is going so quickly, feels like we have only been on the boat a few weeks instead of 4 months!

Friday, 23 August 2013


No blog today so I wrote a poem.

White seeds of the hawthorn softly blown.
Yellow is the Water Lilly now fully grown.
Reflected bricks in the water arch.
Joyful tunes of the Skylark.

Rolling hills to the tall tree
Red Kites soaring so carefree
Reeds in the water dancing,waving.
Fry at the surface hiding,darting.

Swans confident and serene poise.
Quiet and still no mechanical noise.
Moorhens nodding chasing coots.
Nettles hiding a pair of pixie boots.

Ten balls of fluff need protecting.
Twigs and leaves busy collecting.
Flashes of blue the King is fishing.
Herons standing looking, waiting.

Pedalling slowly a new beer.
Ratchets rattling in lock gear.
Water rushing through openings narrow
Where next Windsor maybe Barrow.

Painted steel majestically rising
Through walls of damp are so enticing
Crews winding as they chatter
After you, it does not matter.

Great doors of oak open to the light
First the left and then the right
Engine murmurs below the deck
Bump the side but what the heck

We creep ahead to another pound
All this on the canal we have found.
Another day over and into the night
Knowing that this is all so right

Thursday, 22 August 2013


The weather was overcast with the odd spit of rain this morning but still warm. We did a few boat chores before going to the Folly Inn to meet our visitors. At midday the sun was out and feeling quite hot. We found a decent table in the pub where Sue showed how efficient she is at wasp eviction. I ordered the Steak and Ale pie which was delicious and so full of meat that I couldn't finish it. Glass of ale of the day was 6X only because the Old Hooky barrel was empty. After lunch we all walked up the towpath, which was very busy with craft going through the locks, to have a cup of tea on Festina Lente.

Today's garden.

Visitors for today were my sister Yvonne from Wisconsin her beautiful daughter Jacqui with her 
young son James. It was lovely  to catch up with Yvonne and Jacqui and a pleasure to have such a well behaved young man aboard although I understand he's not always quite this good.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Thieving scumbags

We passed the new Cropredy Marina yesterday,  I must say that now it is getting very near completion for mooring at least.

Pontoons being faced.

Getting the perimeter path laid.

The facilities block !

Although the forecast was for overcast sky's and light showers we have had brilliant sunshine all the way. We passed narrow boat Georgina Lou that had broken down, well they had come to a stop, but the reason was that they have become the victim of scumbags who have stolen their diesel. We arranged to meet up with their crew Rob and Jo for a drink at the Folly Inn later and it transpired that they filled up at Aynho, they had 2 night stops in isolated country spots and it must of been during the night the thieves struck. We have a locking fuel cap on Festina which is fiddly to open and close and I was thinking of dumping it but I shall keep it now.

Today  the pounds were low on water, I wondered if this was because the new Cropredy marina was now full of water.

Anyway we are now moored in the Napton lock flight pound, we will stay here to meet our new visitors tomorrow. No phone signal here but good Internet signal.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


Good sunshine today when we set off. Broadmoor Lock was the first lock we encountered and we were third in the queue to go through in front a crew from Copenhagen on a hire boat, behind us a Kiwi crew on their own boat which they have continuously cruised for the last seven years.

The Danish captain asked me for tips on reversing, a narrow boat is notoriously difficult to get to go backwards in a straight line, but I do know the technicality's of doing so, so I'm very happy to give my european cousin this information. "plenty of revs in reverse with the odd forward pulse to keep the bow in line " I proffer. In practise this has never worked well for me, maybe I should of said  "ask those Kiwi's behind me" or " bow thruster helps".

European cousins

The grey haired wrinkly one has been walking the tow path between locks and helping pushing lock gates open, yesterday she even wound a paddle up, this is all very good therapy for her even though some of those muscles will ache in the morning.
Lock gate opening

Walking between locks

Fenny Compton Tunnel

This bridge is called The Wedding Bridge but I haven't found out why.

Fenny Compton was busy with no mooring spaces available so we cruised on in a very shallow pound for three miles and are now moored above Knotts Bridge (130).