Friday, 29 May 2015

South Oxford canal.

Yesterday we moved out of Braunston and on to the South Oxford canal, only cruising for a mile to moor above bridge 100 in between open farmland, not a single house to be seen from our mooring. 

The paint and brushes were out again, I managed to get a primer and undercoat on the starboard side hand rail.

Today has been wet so a few jobs inside were achieved before the sun came out late afternoon to allow a topcoat to be applied, just hope the midges stay at home this evening.

The coach lines will have to be done then port and starboard cabin sides nwill match.

View over the hedge


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Seagull IV Water Purifier.

We stayed in Braunston today, while I fitted the water purifier we bought at the Crick show.

Template to drill tap hole.

The old Whale filter removed from clips at back, new pipe with T-connector made up.

T-connector and pipe in place.

Connected to the Seagull Purifier.

New tap, the water is really drinkable.

The water from the tap will only be used for drinking water and cooking, the replacement cartridges are expensive at £90 but should last about 18 months. We should recuperate this by not buying bottled water, an extra advantage is not carrying water back from Tesco.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Crick Boat Show.

We arrived in Crick at 13:00 hours, another boat had taken our spot which caused a few problems when the skipper refused to move but all was ironed out in the end. We had a good meal in the Moorings in the evening.

The Three mobile network which is reputed to have the best coverage for the canal network has not reached Crick as yet, this left us off grid the whole weekend.

This year we looked at more of the assembled new boats on offer than we usually do, appointments are necessary for most, Integrity a 70 footer from Braidbar Boats was my favourite, it won second in show.

We looked over a few widebeam boats also, the room inside always looks like three of four times the width of a narrowboat instead of just the two they offer.

We ordered a new settee from Elite Furnishings for the saloon and bought a water purification system which I will be fitting in the galley soon (when I get a 3/4 inch drill bit to fit the tap).

We went along to two seminars, the first was on starting a business on a boat. It was an interesting hour spent learning about how to set up a business on a boat, licensing, insurance, the pitfalls and the expense, what came across quite clearly is the passion these guys have for the different products they are selling. The well-attended session had quite a few potential startups who got individual information during a Q&A session at the end.

On Sunday we listened to a fascinating talk by Tracey on what it is like living and cruising on a narrowboat while being blind.  One of the audience asked the inevitable question "Have you ever fallen in the cut" her response was "No, but Tim and Oakley both had"

Sunday evening we went to the Red Lion for a meal, two like minded couples but strangers all the same were seated at different tables, so we joined together to make a table for six, this often happens within the boating fraternity. I have forgotten names now but one couple have been hirers, sharers and are now owners of a lovely Braidbar and the other couple are planning every detail of the boat they will one day own, even down to sitting in their darkened garage testing different lighting options. We enjoyed our meals together chatting about general boating stuff ... loos excluded.

Later in the evening we went along to the Hazel O'Connor gig, I have never been a fan of her music but she can still belt out a number. Our daughter and her friend turned up at 22:30 on route from a camping trip on the south coast to the ferry at Liverpool. A jobsworth on the gate wouldn't let them pitch their tent in the dark for health & safety reasons so they squished onto FL for the night.

Nikita with Jen.

Monday morning we had visitors, Bob & Marilyn came to say goodbye on their way home and Kevin and Lorraine popped in to look at FL's internet setup (shame we had no signal) and a cuppa.

Jen, Sue, Kevin, Bob, Marilyn, Lorraine and Nikita.

Monday, 25 May 2015


We pulled the pins at 11:00 for the short passage to moor in Braunston.

At the Plough we enjoyed an evening with the amiable Barry & Sandra , their blog was one of the first blogs I read when we were thinking about this lifestyle (Barry's photography of the canals on the blog were first class). It was dark when we left the pub, we walked down the hill to the canal, the path illuminated by iphone torches.

We left Braunston via the double locks, it's always nice to pair up with another boat to share the locks with. We shared with NB Dragonfly who has a crew of Kevin, Lorraine, their dog Molly and an eight foot Gnome!

Leaving the Admiral Nelson lock the two boats were being filmed by a BBC3 documentary crew which will be shown around August/September.

After the locks we enter Braunston tunnel, I remember our first encounter with the tunnel here. Today we are veterans of a few transits, and progress is easy passing 5 boats without a micron of paint left behind even though one craft, instead of a tunnel light, had a car spot light which blinded us and left us with stars in our eyes for a few minutes. We moored at Welton Hythe and were joined by NB AreandAre. Our recently purchased bankside chairs had their first outing, beer, wine and tea were enjoyed as the sun's warmth faded, retiring aboard AreandAre to continue an enjoyable evening with Barry and Sandra.

These little guys are having their first swim after hatching the day before

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Bargee near Braunston.

The last two days cruising we have taken a battering from the element's. Yesterday it was  very wet, luckily there was no wind to accompany the constant soaking I got at the tiller, welcomed hot tea and coffee passed out of the back hatch kept me going, the truth is I like cruising in the rain, as long as it isn't windy.

We turned off the Coventry at Hawkesbury Junction through the stoplock and onto the north Oxford canal, passing under the M69 then the M6, the canal arc's around the countryside in isolation until we get through the Newbold Tunnel and into Rugby, the river Avon is crossed unnoticed on an aqueduct before we reach our overnight mooring at the golf course by Clifton Brook. I saw four voles along this stretch swimming from the towpath side to the offside, can't be any mink around.

Today was dry as we left the mooring, the first two locks of the three Hillmorton Locks have lock keepers in attendance. C&RT are here in force repairing one half of the paired locks. We made a stop at The Canal Shop's wharf to chat to them about the Airhead composting toilet, we left impressed if all the claims made are correct but still undecided, we will chat with them again at the Crick Show before making a decision.

As we left the wharf the first downpour bounced off FL's roof and my hood. Later it was hail that stung my hand on the tiller, this time it had wind to drive it, then it was thunder. That did it we moored up at Navigation Bridge 2 miles from Braunston.

This afternoon we watched the 1964 film 'The Bargee' starring Harry H Corbett, Ronnie Barker and Eric Sykes which we both enjoyed.

Corbett plays a boatman Casanova with a girl in every town enroute, the boats are superbly liveried British Waterways examples. The main location the fantastically named 'Leg O' Mutton lock is in fact Marsworth Top Lock on the Grand Union. Ironically the 1964 film was around the time the canal carrying companies had all but died off, the big freeze in 1963 being the straw that broke the camels back.

I wondered how many of the old boatman lamented the words of Corbett's character Hemel " To get me off the cut they will have to fill it in"

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Hawkesbury Junction & The Tardis

We didn't plan on doing long stint's at the tiller, especially on a weekend, but the weather was glorious until Sunday lunchtime when it cooled down with the cloud cover.

By Saturday evening we were moored opposite Hoo Hill after stopping in Polesworth for a look around and a glass of Doombar in the Bulls Head.

'Integrity', the latest offering from Braidbar Boats, followed behind for some of the journey, her crew taking her to be shown at Crick, her owners will be inaugurated into the Brady Bunch Family no doubt.

Sunday we were awake early and after breakfast we untied and quietly got under way at 06:30. First obstacle are the eleven locks of the uphill Atherstone flight, the locks empty very quickly but fill boringly slowly even so we were at the summit in a leisurely two and a half hours.

From here the Coventry Canal becomes ruralish until urban Nuneaton makes an appearance from under Tuttle Hill Bridge... we have heard it said do not moor in Nuneaton.. stone throwing ferrule hooded yobs the reason... we didn't see any evidence of these although the arseholes with aerosols have been at all the exposed brickwork they can reach and plenty of rubbish in the canal including 'urban jellyfish' (plastic bags) as Tom calls them.... the canal passes very smart housing estates with an obvious pride in their canal side gardens and a huge area of allotments on the west bank.

At Marston Junction the Ashby Canal branches off on its lockless way to Snarestone while the Coventry canal cuts a path past Bedworth's eastern boundary to Hawkesbury Junction, where we moor just before the junction in view of the Engine House.

A bit of a panic when Sue couldn't get any water from the kitchen tap, checked out the water pump first all appeared fine. After a bit of time I finally traced it to a faulty fuse switch, luckily there are two unused switches in the fuse panel so just switched switches and normal service from the faucet was resumed.

Acre's of poly tunnels, these were keeping asparagus warm.

Fazeley Junction: Very smart, this area looked shabby when we came through last year.

Shot taken at 06:30.


Ashby canal junction

Friday, 15 May 2015

Mucky Duck at Fradley Junction.

Thursday- The weather was forecast to be iffey, so early on we decided we wouldn't move. Actually the worst of the forecast weather didn't arrive but it was still cool and blustery with the odd spot of rain.

Settled in for the day we braved not lighting the stove till midday, we met up with John Plumb from Solar Afloat who fitted our panels in 2013 he came aboard and checked the installation and fitted an upgraded fuse, foc...hows that for customer service.

I did a couple of jobs, firstly resealed the shower door as we have noticed a small discolouration of the wood surround. Cleaned the rear step boards which cover the engine, with car dashboard cleaner.

Friday - We were moving by 07:30. only boat with life on was Two Jays where Joan waved us off. At the junction I reversed back on to the services where we filled the water tank and simultaneously washed the starboard side of the boat, bird poo seems to set like concrete on FL's paintwork.

It was a very good cruise, by midday we were in T-shirts, lots of young wildlife on show, ducklings, goslings, cygnets and dabchicks. We enjoyed the journey and the warm sun so much it was a longer cruise than normal, 9 hours including stopping at the services and stopping in Rugeley to visit Tesco.

At Fradley Junction we turned off the T&M and on to the Coventry Canal mooring at 16:30 and walking the short distance back to the Swan Inn for a glass of Old Hookey.

Swivel Bridge! .....I don't think so.

Daring Haywood Lock.

Early morning stoves lit.

Colwich Lock

Egg box under the bridge 

Six of the best

Rugeley power station.

Perfect rows.

Woodend Lock.

The Swan at Fradley Junction - aka the Mucky Duck

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Tixall Wide

Good cruising weather today the wind was gone and the warming sun was a bonus. We planned to cruise to Tixall Wide which is a mile short of the junction with the T&M at Haywood. Lots of boats on the move on this section of the canal, we stopped of at Stafford Boat Club briefly to check on the progress on NB William, Rob had her hauled onto the hard standing to do the blacking.

William being blacked by Rob (phone photo)

Having done FL's bottom earlier in the year I now consider myself a bit of an expert a know all in these matters. Yes, a very good job was being done, the only point I noted and kept to myself .. how come Rob is still clean and not splattered in the stuff like I was!

We carried on to moor at Tixall wide, we are now only 9 miles from where we started this years cruise in March. Jim & Joan, NB Two Jays, popped in for a cup of tea and a catch up. 

Roseford bridge

Deptmore Lock

Green pastures.

Another bridge named Walton.

Tixall Lock.

Tixall Wide from the side hatch.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Acton Trussell

The wind kept things interesting during todays cruise. We left our Boggs Lock mooring at 08:30, through the lock and FL is in the slow lane with the M6 closely running parallel with the canal for a mile, at Otherton lock the canal diverts northish away from the motorway to the town of Penkridge. We moored before Penkridge lock to use the excellent butchers, bakers and Co-op. From here it was a short run up to Park Gate lock where Sue kept FL in the lock while I visited the adjacent Midland Chandlers for some shackles to fix the new fenders to bow and stern.  I also bought an omni directional aerial as our satellite dish rusted away from it's mount making it all but impossible to get a good signal. 

We have moored for the night above the affluent village of Acton Trussell adjacent to Ivy House farm.

Tonight's Mooring

The new aerial.
I haven't been a fan of these aerials in the past, not sure why, probably read on a forum somewhere that they had limitations, where we have moored today it has given us 102 channels to choose from..... we will be watching Bayern Munich v Barcelona playing tonight.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Penkridge nearly.

After leaving Brewood yesterday we moored about two miles out of the village below Hunting bridge. A nice spot adjacent to a vast heady field of rapeseed where we washed clothes and boat. 

We had planned to get up early today and make our way to Penkridge but best laid plans and all that, we woke at 9:00 and got going at 10:00. It was a threatening sky on the way to Autherley Junction where once FL is through the 6" stop lock we turned left onto the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal, the sun came out and the jumpers came off.. A very narrow cutting where you pray you don't meet oncoming traffic is passed before we duck under the M54 motorway an east/west route in & out of north Wales. 

The canal continues on the level (without locks) snaking around the contours of the landscape to Gailey where we fill the water tank and dump what needs dumping. Here is our first lock for a while then a second and third ... that will do for today ... we are insight of Boggs lock, which will be the first lock for tomorrow, two miles short of Penkridge.


Hayfever sufferers beware.

Moored below  Hunting bridge
Waiting for Autherley Junction stop lock

Blossom on the water.

Deepmore Bridge.

First goslings of the season.

I have been researching how Devils Garden on the river Weaver got it's name, the best explanation is from Frodsham's Brewery who also make an ale using the name....must try it!

"It would seem that Devils Garden is a name the locals have given to an ex marl quarry in Kingsley. When the quarry closed it became a marshy area and it is reputed that animals including dogs and even people have fallen in NEVER to be seen again!"