Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Breaking with Tradition

I think it’s easily done – and I’m pretty sure we’re not alone – but, when we cruise canals we’ve cruised often before, we always end up stopping at the same places!  This, of course, has been on the basis that we travel 2-3 hours a day.  However, in order to get to Liverpool for our booked passage fairly comfortably we think we need to do 4/5 hours a day or, sometimes, even 5/6!!  This means by-passing some of our ’we always moor here’ spots and already it has felt quite alien!

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To us The Newbold Tunnel will always be ‘Peanut’s Tunnel’.  Peanut was the most gorgeous little tortoiseshell kitten belonging to son, Ben, and she accompanied us on his n/b ‘April Love’ when we brought it back from Ashwood Marina back in 2004.  We thought it was a rat running along until Ben realised that Peanut had taken the opportunity to ‘jump ship’!!  Back in 2004 the tunnel was not lit.  It was then Ben who ‘jumped ship’ to catch her!  She nearly became a Surrey cat forced to turn feral and live in Warwickshire!

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Lola has been learning how to tow-path-walk alongside the boat.  She wasn’t too fazed by either her first encounter with inter-city trains or the noise of the traffic overhead on the M6.

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I think it now safe to say that I definitely have a new love in my life!  It’s taken a while but we have now established a fairly good routine and ……………. she neither bites me so much nor destroys my things so much!!  She is gorgeous!!



What IS it about mooring on the North Oxford at Hawkesbury Junction?  Every time we have wanted to stop here it’s been difficult in as much as …………there has been very little space available. Today was worse than ever!  There was only one space left on the 7 Day visitor moorings and the rest was taken up by boats – scruffy boats – which looked like they had taken root!  I’m sorry – I don’t want to be snooty about it but, not only were they piled high with junk and looking a complete mess but, this time, even gypsy-type ponies were tethered by them grazing.  Assumptions I know …………. the assumption that these boats are ‘continual cruisers’ and the assumption that these ponies were in some way connected to them.  In any event they were/are monopolising decent moorings in a very popular area.  Perhaps they give good custom to the pub?  I don’t like myself for having thoughts and feelings like this but, today, I’m not in a very politically-correct mood because it made things difficult for us!  When John saw the young ‘hoodie’ walk by complete with his Staffie dog he gave up trying to moor and decided we would take our chance and go through the lock. Now he might be a really decent young man and the dog might be absolutely lovely but ……… that’s just not the translation most of us have is it??  Once in the lock John had to go down the weed hatch to remove two thick sheets of polythene which had obviously been used during some sort of painting task as they were sprayed with gold paint!  Anyway, once through the lock we just managed to moor up on the Coventry side before the rain got heavier!

Tonight we are being joined by my niece, Helen, and her husband (the nephew I never had!), John.  We had given them instructions for Hawkesbury Junction so it was a bit important that we could stop here!  Tonight’s the night to find out what this famous pub is actually like! xxoo 

Monday, 27 May 2013

That ‘ul Teach Us!

We thought we’d be clever and leave Crick today rather than tomorrow.  “They’ll be less boats on the move,” we thought!  We arrived at the top of the Watford Flight at 10.30am to find 5 boats going down, 6 boats waiting to come up and then we would be 5th in the next batch waiting to go down!!   waiting….. and waiting …. and waiting!!!!  Oh well, that ‘ul teach us to go cruising on a Bank Holiday Monday!  We eventually got going just after 1pm.

The Crick Show 2013

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Being moored in the marina whilst the show is taking place is definitely the way to ‘do’ the show.  It’s been really nice being able to drop in and out and what a good show it’s been.  The weather has been lovely and it seems to me that there have been more stalls and exhibiting boat builders than I remember there being in previous shows.  We have really enjoyed it.  We didn’t have a shopping list as such this year but we’ve somehow managed to buy lots of things!   John now has an old klaxon – something he has yearned for ever since we got the boat!!  Some of the craft items were fabulous – there were lovely pictures, some fantastic glass plates and ornaments and brilliant pictures made up of bits of tile, old bobbins etc etc.  Some people are so creative and so clever.  The live entertainment going on in the beer tent was constant, varied and very good.  Bands were playing right up until 11pm and the tent was heaving – really nice for moorers, exhibitors, campers and locals.  Actually, the whole place seemed to be heaving throughout the two days we were there – heaving with people and heaving wThe show 010 (768x1024)ith dogs too!  We’ve never seen so many boats moored out on the canal opposite the marina either.

Lola coped much better with the crowds and noise than we had anticipated. The red boat-dog scarf suited her better than the blue!  She was even recognised by a blog reader so, thank you, Neil, for introducing yourself to us.  It was also really good to bump into Ann and Pete whom we first met on the Buckby flight some years ago when they had just bought their boat Tortola from Braunston marina.

Our friends from Hitchin – Kim and Mark – joined us on the Saturday and then, later in the afternoon Anne and John from Staines arrived too.  We all went to the Red Lion in Crick for a meal that evening and , guess what, it was heaving!!!!!!!!!!  Yes, a large part of the weekend has been spent queuing!  Queuing for alcohol!  Queuing to look at boats!  Queuing for food!  And now, queuing for locks!!  Oh well!

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Anne and John stayed on the boat with us for both Saturday and Sunday nights.  We went round the show together on the Sunday and then on the Monday they came with us as far as Braunston.  In preparation, we moved their car to Braunston on the Sunday evening.  So, like the faithful, loyal friends they are,  they kept us company in the lock queues!!  We finally reached Braunston at about 6pm and John (bless ‘im) cooked us that brunch we had planned to have earlier in the day!  We have had a truly lovely weekend – our thanks to one and all.  Maisie has now been safely returned to Stanwell and her mum.  Lola will miss her!!  So, what now?  It’s off to Liverpool for us!  xxoo

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


We’re out of the dry dock and back on our mooring!  Smile  Confinement in a marina is one thing but confinement in a dry dock within a marina is …… even worse!  However, as far as dry docks for liveaboards go, Crick must be amongst the best.  At least there’s some natural light, all facilities are at hand, some grass is very close by, you can get TV and Internet reception and there’s no noise or mess like ydry dock 011 (1024x768)ou get when it’s all part of a working boat yard.  I’m still very glad to be out of there though and that it’s over for another two years or so.  That’s the accepted recommendation for boats being blacked.  This time our front anodes needed to be replaced as well but they are the originals so have lasted 15 years!  For non-boaters who know nothing of these – they help to protect the hull from electrolysis.  Boaters talk glibly about ‘this blacking business’ because obviously, they know all about it but again, for non-boaters:-  

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Every couple of years or so boats need to be taken out of the water – either by being craned out and put ‘on the hard’ or by going into a dry dock which is like being in an empty lock.  You float in and then the ‘plug’ is taken out so that the boat ends up sitting on supports.  The slime and bits of loose paint or rust which inevitably build up under the water line can then be pressure washed off and the hull checked over.  The hull is then re-protected with at least two coats of a bitumen-type paint.                               dry dock 008 (768x1024)


Noel and Carolyn have recently taken over the running of the dry dock at Crick.  They are a lovely couple and have done a really good job for us.  We have also had the bands at the back re-painted.  John has coated all our rope fenders in cuprinol and ………… they are now definitely a shade of ginger!!!!

Whilst we have been in there it’s all been happening outside in readiness for the big boat show which is taking place this weekend.  Marquees have been erected, grass cutting seems to have been non-stop and boats have been arriving either by water or on low-loaders.  There seem to be quite a lot of wide-beams being exhibited this year.  Is this an indication I wonder that more people are choosing to live on boats as house prices are now so high?  Traders are busy delivering their wares.  I met one guy who said he’d been driving backwards and forwards countless times from Middlewich. Surely he just needed to acquire a bigger van??

Now, I know it’s nearly June and it’s ridiculous but ……. we have re-lit the fire!  It’s so cold!!  I’m beginning to think that traditional English Summers really are a thing of the past. Sad smile  The outside of the boat is really dirty again so now we need to get her washed, polished and generally tidied up before our esteemed guests arrive for the weekend.  Sunshine PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE can you indulge us all and make a significant appearance!  I’m off now to clean windows and sort out plant pots!  xxoo

Friday, 17 May 2013

Two Steps Forward and ………………. No Steps Back!!

No doubt I’ll regret saying that but, uncharacteristically for us, things seem to be working out fairly smoothly.

When we came back into the marina we had what seemed to be quite a daunting list of ‘things to get sorted’ and, bit by bit, getting sorted they are!  Main things:-

*The problem we were having with the heater did indeed seem to be due to the leak in the lift pump.  The seals were perished but Dave of DR Marine has been great and has sorted it all out for us.  High recommendations for him if you are in the area needing mechanical help.

*John has been busy re-varnishing some of the woodwork in the boat.  She’s now 15 years old and the woodwork is in need of being freshened up!

*We’ve been back to Staines to have two more trips to the tip and do a day’s gardening and it didn’t rain!

*Rodney and Gill came up for a visit and Gill brought up her carpet cleaner for me to borrow so ……… all the carpets on the boat have been cleaned.  The dirty water!  For one with a self-confessed OCD about carpets, I felt such shame!!  Sunday lunch in the Red Lion was as good as always.

*Last weekend our friends Gary and Joan came for the day – their two dogs + Maisie and Lola  = a pack!  Bailey didn’t take to Lola very well but their younger dog, Poppy, was well up for a rough and tumble.  Maisie and Lola are getting along much better together… Maisie is more tolerant and Lola more respectful of age and experience!  Lola is rapidly losing her baby teeth now and getting her adult teeth.  No wonder they hurt if she nips you!

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*Here in the marina things are starting to happen!  Boats are being moved around and all gaps are being filled at our end of the marina in order to empty the other end ready for show boats to arrive.  One exhibitor is bringing 7 boats!  It seems to be organised chaos!  Plans change on a daily basis!  We are due to go into the dry dock for blacking later today and will be coming out on Wednesday.  It now seems that we will be coming back to our usual mooring but we will see!  (That’s plan P!!)  Today there’s a team of workers busy laying roadways in the field for the car parking.  No doubt things will get busier and busier over the next few days.  It will be interesting just to sit back and see how it all comes together!  We haven’t been to the show for the last few years and have never been  moorers here whilst it’s been taking place so we’re looking forward to it.  We just need some sunshine!!!!

One last thing – today Al of n/b “Derwent 6” is another year older!  Happy birthday, Al.  Just remember – to us you are simply ‘a whipper-snapper’!! xxoo

Monday, 6 May 2013


Is it something we said?

Is it something we did?

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We’ve not been in the marina at this time of year before and there has been a notable exodus of boats.  The car park here is heaving!  It’s really good to see moorers arrive and go out for a cruise or stay and wash, polish and preen their boats.  If the same thing has happened at Yelvertoft marina, and most of them have headed off towards Foxton, it will be chaos out there!

AND ………….. what glorious weather!  It’s a rare and well-deserved thing when us Brits actually get sunshine over a Bank Holiday.  The garden centre at the entrance to the marina has been really busy with people buying plants.

We have been joined for the weekend by Megan, Jeff and Maisie-May.  Maisie has been much more tolerant of Lola this time.  Just as well as she’s going to stay with us while Meg & J go on holiday.  Having the steady company of  another dog will be really good for Lola.  Maisie, however, might not agree!

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Hard to believe I know but ………………. we’ve been having a problem with our heating system ……………. yes, the new system which was installed just over a year ago!  To be fair it’s not the Hurricane itself – that’s been serviced and is fine but air is somehow getting into the fuel system and causing the heater to billow out white smoke every now and then.  Perhaps that’s why everybody left!  Anyway, the lift pump on the engine is under suspicion because it’s developed a fuel leak and we’ve been told that this is quite likely due to the seals having been deteriorated by the bio fuel which we all now have to use.  We will see.  It’s that old can of worms thing isn’t it?  You open the can to get rid of the worm you know is there and find it’s got company!

Ken!  Gertie!  (Gertie is the little old banger we bought ourselves to use over the winter and we’ve taken lots of teasing about her.)  We took her for a get-ourselves-organised-looking-ahead MOT and she passed with flying colours!  The mechanic said ‘she’s as solid as a rock’ and if she was up for sale, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing!!!!!  There you go then!

Hope everybody else has had a good weekend and long may this sunshine last.  xxoo