Friday, 28 October 2011

Back to Base

Yesterday, whilst moored at Norton Junction, it rained all day!  Today, however, we travelled back to Crick in glorious Autumn sunshine.

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Going under the M1 which was as busy and noisy as ever, none of the road travellers would even have known we were there!

Coming up the Watford Locks there are displayed photographs (taken last August) of the reservoirs which feed the top section – Welford, Naseby and Saddington – and even back then they were incredibly low.

The lock-keeper explained that, in order to keep this top pound in watefinals 008 (800x600)r at the moment, they are back-pumping all the way from the River Swift near Stoke Bruerne.  Due to the fact that Foxton Locks have been closed since the middle of August boat traffic on this section has fallen by 40% this season.  No doubt trade for the shop, cafe and pubs at Foxton has been badly affected.

                                                                                                               Entering Crick Tunnel

Whilst at Braunston we treated ourselves to this month’s “Canal Boat” magazine.  I almost wish we hadn’t!  There’s yet another letter gunning for Continuous Cruisers.  Of course my reaction is defensive!  Even aggressively defensive!!  Yes, there definitely are those who break the rules but ……………?

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For example, is this boat continually cruising?  It might be.  It might be just having a jolly good sort out within the 14 permitted mooring days!

So, by and large Crick will be our base for the next few months.  On the plus side – I have unlimited amounts of electricity!  I will be able to appease my O.C.D. and hoover to my heart’s content.  I will be able to use the washing machine without having to ask permission and …………….. if I want to, watch an old black and white film in the middle of the afternoon ………………. whose to stop me?!

On a more serious note, we have lots of sorting out still to do back in Staines.  Apparently there is a suggestion that it should be re-named Staines-on-Thames.  And why not? Bring it on, I say!

Saturday, 22 October 2011


If only it were that simple but ……….
They do say that two heads are better than one so…………………
Both John and Paul put their thinking caps on to deal with the offending eberspacher.  Yet again it was disassembled.  The suspected dodgy component was identified and given a thorough clean.  Parts re-assembled.  “Try it now”.  “Wr-wr-wr-scr-ee-ch, squ-ea-l, scr-ea-m, gr-in-d, gr-a-te ……………….  “Turn it off. turn it off.  No good.”
Now what?  Two pairs of eyes.  Two pairs of ears.  Two brain cells ………… sorry!  I mean brains!
Grease the bearings!  It’s too clean and dry!!
Now – try again.
Sounding good!  Hot radiators.  Hot water.  Hooray!
The Next Morning………………
Eberspacher set to come on at 7.40am.  7.35am – anticipation mounting.  7.38am – high tension.  7.40am – a buttock clenching moment!
Whirr-irr-irr-irrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr  Exhale.  Great stuff.  Showers and hair washes?  No problem!
So here endeth today’s episode – we’ll see what happens tomorrow!
Saturday 22nd October  Vast numbers of hire boats have been whizzing past us today moored here at Onley. Half term has clearly arrived! The speediest boats definitely come out of Willow Wren being crewed by either a large groups of young girls (they don’t go too fast!) or a large group of young guys (they do!!) or a large group of mixed gender youngsters (they do too!)  We need some means of retaliation!  We get the feeling that the owners of Willow Wren are only interested in taking the money and give insufficient guidance (if any) to their hirers.
Strictly’s on …………… I’m off!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


Since my last entry we’ve spent some very ordinary days, hence my lack of motivation to report!  This is just to pin-point our current location really and to mention a few mundane things:-

  • Cavalry one day, Navy the next!  Completing the last 5 locks on the Atherstone flight I was helped by the crew of the boat following – chaps from the Navy!  The Navy apparently owns 3 narrow boats for their staff to use.  This time, the operation of those locks was ……… easy-peasy!
  • Coming through Nuneaton we got a jacket wrapped around the propeller.  The Navy chaps picked up a matching jumper on theirs!  How DO these sorts of things end up in the canal?  It can’t be by accident?  The mind boggles!

rugby 017 (800x600)  Wood around the prop     rugby 020 (800x600)  and then clothing!

  • Between Atherstone and Rugby we have made ourselves moor up in some different places.  We were finding that we were tending to stick to mooring spots we knew to be OK so, in order to break that predictability ………………rugby 021 (800x600)

                                                                          Moored in the Autumn sunshine near Easenhall.

  • We haven’t moored up where we usually do in Rugby – we’ve gone on a bit further and have moored by the golf course.  Yesterday we cycled into Rugby town centre from there – not far but up-hill all the way.  Oh, for that electric motor!  Coming back though was ………. SIMPLES!!
  • The Bionic Boiler has packed up …… again!  It HAD been behaving itself!  I have now lost all patience with it and want it to be jettisoned but John, it seems, has developed an intimate relationship with all it’s components and it’s mood swings and it appears that he is unable to envisage life without it!!
  • Speaking of not living without things …………………  Those of you who know me well know Rugby A 004 (800x600)of my attachment to all things purple.  What about these then?  My birthday present from my mate, Gill.  Fab-u-lous!    
  • With both Gill and Mick in mind, it seems amazing that it’s half-term next week already.  How quickly one forgets!!
  • The cabin lace up at our windows is literally falling apart.  Old age, sunlight and washing detergent have all taken their toll.  So, I have set myself the challenge of replacing it.  Thing is, I can only ‘dRugby A 005 (800x600)o’ one self-taught crochet pattern!  And, it needs to be made smaller to go up at the windows.  I have been in every traditional wool shop/craft shop I have come across between Llangollen and here and it seems that the recommended yarn (Twilleys no 5) is no longer available.  I managed to get one ball of something that looks promising in Atherstone so the experiment has begun.  For each window length I need to do 14 crocheted patterns so, if I do one pattern a day (MASSIVE concentration required) it should take me …….. 4 months.  Yeah, right!!   Just as well I no longer have a day job!


  • It was Meg’s birthday last Saturday and not a soul out there in Brazil knew it!  We had a really good internet connection where we were moored so were able to talk to her and see her on Skype.  To me it’s like Merlin - just magic.
  • The paintwork needs a polish.  Having read Lynn’s recent blog (n/b Piston Broke) John is out there doing it right now!  Keep a space for us guys – we’ll be with you (like it or not) either today or tomorrow.

Well, I did say mundane!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

“Grande Cassina”

That’s Italian for ‘Big Drama’ or so I’m reliably informed.

And, YES!  Today we were involved in yet another drama and, YES! Yet again it’s because we got stuck on the bottom.

SO …….. there we were having just gone through the first two (or last two depending on which way you are going) locks on the Atherstone flight.  We were expecting the water levels to be low because the operation of the flight has been restricted in terms of usage time for quite a while now.  Attempting to enter lock 9, we ground to a halt.  Then, to make matters worse, something got stuck between the propeller and the skeg and the engine cut out.  We were going nowhere!  A broken boat hook and  mangled rope later, along came another boat.  The owners only picked up their boat, “Adagio”, three days ago!  They very kindly towed us backwards and we managed to get in to the side where John could try to remove whatever it was around the prop.  Well, somehow or other, after a great deal of whacking with a 4” diameter ash bough and getting extremely wet, hot and bothered, John managed to remove a large piece of wedged timber.

By this time another boater had come down the lock and, on hearing of our dilemma, he pulled up behind us saying that we might need some help during our second attempt should we get stuck again.  We got stuck!  Phone call to BW in order then!  Phone in hand ready to make that call, around the bend comes ………….. the cavalry!  Well, a BW chap in a tugboat but as good as.  He got on the phone to his mate at the top of the flight and in no time at all water was being sent down.  Under his tutelage I learned a new technique for flushing down water!!!  A dozen or so surges later we managed to get into the lock.  On our way – no more problems …………… until we got to lock 5.  There we again met “Adagio” who explained that, as water was being sent down to the long pound below lock 9, …………… nobody could go any further that day!  Guilty as charged!  We have since been told that someone had left a paddle up on lock 10 overnight so the pound had fallen by nearly 2'  They should have done something about it earlier but other boats had been getting through OK!

So, here we are, moored at the bottom of the last 5 locks, under the trees, by the A5 and opposite “The King’s Head”.  We’d never been into Atherstone before so this was our chance!  What a lovely high street with an assortment of individual shops.

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And …………….. the new chimney is in place, looking good and working well.



Never a dull moment!!!!!!

Monday, 10 October 2011

All Systems Go

Well, that’s the intention anyway!
Now that the last of our visitors have been and gone we aim to move every day and get back to Crick by the beginning of November at the latest.
Last weekend our friends Jane and Ron Cole came to find us near Rugeley on the Trent and Mersey.  Our friendship with Jane and Ron goes back to schooldays.  This is THE Ron Cole who featured being interviewed by John Craven on Countryfile a few weeks ago.  Ron was the chap in the O.S. plane so, a ‘celebrity friend’ no less!!
AND …………… we have another!  Our dear friend, Mick, has taught for many years at the now notorious ‘Passmores’ secondary school and appeared in one of the episodes of ‘Educating Essex’.   Fancy that!
 Do you believe in old wives tales?
If the answer is ‘yes’ you need to start preparing for the winter right now!  Replenish wood stocks, procure bags of coal, find those forsaken long-johns, woolly hats and woolly socks because ………….. there are masses of berries on the trees and hedgerows.  I’ve never seen so many holly berries on the branches.  Another really cold winter ahead?

You can always buy some suitable socks!  Enterprising boaters never miss an opportunity!
On our travels today we have seen:-  a very late brood of tiny ducklings(!), moorhens feeding on a high bird table (!), a white hen with feathery feet just like a ptarmigan(!)  and the beginnings of yet another new marina – this one close to Streethay.  A huge hole has been excavated but absolutely nothing else was happening – not a digger in site.  What’s the story there then I wonder?

Travelling between Fradley and Fazeley on the Coventry our mission today was to locate the whereabouts of a boater who makes and sells stainless steel chimneys.  We moored up at Hopwas and then took the girls for a walk along the tow path and by Sutton Bridge – there he was!  Hopefully one of these won’t disintegrate as quickly as the ones we have been using up until now.  We’re collecting it tomorrow as we pass. 

Tomorrow we will move on to either Alvecote or Polesworth.  There are still quite a lot of boats moving around the system - most of them, like us, battling with the windy conditions!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Just in case you were wondering ……..

After saying ‘Goodbye’ to Anne and John at Market Drayton we got a bit of a move on (in the lovely sunshine) to reach Penkridge for the weekend.  (Brilliant Saturday market)  Since re-joining the Staffordshire & Worcester we have noticed how busy the canal is especially with private boaters and, amongst them, there seem to be lots of liveaboards – the piles of wood on board gives it away somewhat!

Our friends, Gary and Joan, came to find us at Penkridge over the weekend.  We were introduced to the latest member of their family:-

Introducing Bailey ‘Boy’ Mealing – only 4 months old but already displaying the high intelligence of a Boarder Collie and the bowels of a typical Mealing! (f**ts that make your eyes water!!)     Bailey 001 (800x600)

Mum was rescued from being shut in a cage most of the time – over in Ireland – and, once over here, promptly produced a litter of pups.  Both mum and all the pups have now got good homes.  Bailey is gorgeBailey 005 (800x600)ous – he has some tummy problems though which need to be resolved …… for everybody’s sake! 

We met a chap with a Pyrenean Mountain dog whom, he said, little children have mistaken for ‘a real live polar bear’!  Bless!  

We are now at Tixall and have bumped into Sharron and Ken (n/b ‘Janus’) whom we met two years ago at the Evesham River Festival.  It has been so good being able to catch up with them and hear all their news.  Just as John is ‘Generator Man’, Sharron is ‘Generator Woman’ or will be when ph-ph-Phil finally gets around to ph-ph-phitting it for her!!  She ought to have an award for patience.

Talking of patience, we had an e-mail from Sue and Rob (n/b ‘Patience’) whom we haven’t seen for three years.  They are back at Great Haywood so we are really looking forward to seeing them tomorrow.  Will Murphy-dog remember us …..?

Today some important jobs have been tackled.  Our fire would like to report ………

“I’ve had a brand new brush shoved where brand new chimney brushes get shoved, my cling-ons have been knocked off, my glass cleaned, hinges lubricated, bricks replaced and I’ve been promised a new chimney complete with hat when we get onto the Coventry.  Lots of wood has been cut up thanks to the borrowing of Ken’s log-sawing-horse so now I’m well ready for the forecasted onset of much colder weather.

We have today met some boaters who have just done the Ribble Link to get to the Lancaster Canal and also went into Liverpool.  They were full of positives.