Thursday, 31 January 2008

Changing face of Rugby

0 locks and 1 mile. Now moored opposite Brownsover Park, Rugby

This morning we cruised up to the Rugby Arm to wind in preparation for our move down to Clifton cruisers tomorrow morning. It's amazing what you can see this time of the year with all the tree's being bare of vegetation. One warehouse we passed had 60 vans parked behind it belonging to Sky Television. They were all gayly painted and sign written with cartoon caricatures. Probably awaiting distribution around the country.

We moored up on the towpath side opposite where we had been moored earlier in front of n/b Dame Kiri. With a name like this we thought they had to be Kiwi's but upon investigation it turned out that Paul is an avid fan of the famous New Zealand diva, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.


Not long after we had moored up we spotted a gentleman in a hi-viz jacket alongside our boat with a hand held computer which it turned out to be a BW worker checking up on the boats on his patch. As we are all legit and above board we have nothing to worry about but it's good to see BW are on the ball and getting to grips with overstayer's and licencing.

As it was another fabulous day weather wise we walked into Halfords, Homebase and Tesco's and along the way we checked out the development taking place alongside us. The old industrial site is being developed into a housing area with 2 bedroom apartments and 3/4/5 bedroom houses. The earth works that are being carried out are huge with tonnes of top soil being dug out and a crusher plant producing tonnes of base coarse to replace it all for a firm foundation. Watch this space as they say.

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893 locks, 1211½ miles, 35 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Here we are again (Rugby)

3 locks and 10 miles. Now moored at Brownsover Park, Rugby

As we wanted to make the most of the good weather while it last's we made a slightly earlier than usual start, firstly by moving up to the water point by the BW office.

Once we got underway the weather improved with even the sun making an appearance for a while. It felt really good to be on the move again. Other boaters had similar ideas as we followed 1 boat all the way to Hillmorton and passed 3 heading south. We noted that bridge 80 is still awaiting repair and another bridge just further north is now in need of repair and has a bright orange buoy floating under the arch.


Bridge 80, see our earlier post here and compare, is there any difference?


Bridge 78 also has a problem, although smaller, both are on Public Footpaths!

At Hillmorton locks we arrived just as a solo boater was setting the left lock, the right hand one was also set against us so Dot set off to fill it. In the meantime the solo boater had wandered off leaving his boat to float away with the wind. I secured our boat and grabbed his centre rope which was just lying on the ground and just about ready to fall into the canal by this time. As he opened the lock gate I  started to pull his boat into the lock until he could take control again. All the way through the 3 locks we helped this guy by opening or shutting paddles or gates for him and did we get a thank you, not on your nellie. We don't mind helping people but a courteous thank you would be nice.

As we had done a load of washing on the way up here we stopped at the Hillmorton water point to top up again before continuing on to Rugby. Along the way we spotted a Kestrel hovering over the hedgerow. It aborted it's first attempt to catch lunch but a couple of minutes later we spotted it again right above the towpath. We watched it as it gradually dropped in altitude and then all of a sudden it did a headlong dive into the hedgerow undergrowth. After a few moments and some wing flapping the Kestrel took off with his lunch, a mouse or vole, firmly grasped in his talons. Its sight's like this that makes cruising through the countryside all worth while. You would very lucky to see something like this in the city.

Arriving at Brownsover Park we hardly recognised the place as all the willow tree's have had a very severe pruning  and on the opposite bank the earth works that are going on in the dis-used industrial site have produced a huge mound of base coarse obliterating any view of the city. They started work on this site at the end of last summer and are still only doing the earth works so it must be a very big project. We will investigate when we go to Tesco's tomorrow. 

893 locks, 1210 ½ miles, 35 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Service day

Still moored at Braunston

Our plans to leave here today were thwarted due to unforeseen circumstances. Among the LED's we purchased from Bedazzled a couple of days ago we found 1 that was faulty. As they come with a 12 month guarantee Richard was only to happy to replace it but we had to wait for him to deliver it to us at our mooring. By the time he arrived it was getting too late in the day to move so we will leave here tomorrow.

The time wasn't wasted though as I checked all the battery water levels, put our reserve diesel supply into the main tank and modified the wiring on the bilge pump which I replaced a couple of months ago. The original pump was only a manual model which had to be switched on and off but the new one is an automatic model with a manual override which required an extra positive cable. I have now run another positive cable from the control panel to the pump so it is now fully operational.

This afternoon I witnessed the arrival of a narrow boat by road at the marina. The transporter had the road blocked off for about 5 minutes while the driver reversed the unit into the yard and the crane arrived at the same time so it only took them about 20 minutes to off load the boat and have it back in the water. All very efficient.


The transporter and crane on the right of photo with Vulcan in the foreground.


The longest job was organising the crane. and preparing to lift, lift.


Up and over she goes. and back in the water behind 2 boats on an angle.

890 locks, 12 00 ½ miles, 35 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday, 28 January 2008

Sunny Braunston

Still moored at Braunston


Gypsy Rover moored at Braunston

We have enjoyed a fine, quiet week-end here at Braunston. Today there has been a lot of movements with boats coming and going from the marina on short day trips probably due to the lovely weather.

I have now completed the light change over from halogen to LED's and fitted the diode's across the lighting circuits trip fuses to protect against spikes or power surges. There is certainly a marked decrease in power consumption on the amp meter so this should save us some diesel with not having to run the engine for so long to recharge the batteries.

It is sad to hear of yet another boat builder going down the gurgler and leaving clients high and dry and some times out of pocket, in this case N/b Marmaduke. We hope that the situation is not as bad as it seems and John and Cathy get a favourable outcome. Reading through the November issue of Canal Boat it was interesting to note that 2 boat builders,Jonathon Wilson/ Tim Tyler/ LBM consortium and Narrowcraft Ltd offer no stage payments or 10% deposit with final payment on completion. If these guys can do it why can't the others?

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They grow strange things in Braunston, click on photos to get a better look.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Oh That Tunnel.

6 locks, 4 miles and 1 Tunnel. Now moored at Braunston

'Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day' so the song goes. It was windy and a bit chilly but it was dry. First up was to reverse back to the water point and luckily the wind was directly on the bow so not too much hassle there.

As we entered the Braunston tunnel I could see a headlight way down the other end but when we finally met there was in fact 3 boats in convoy but we passed each other without mishap. The problem arose as we exited the tunnel. The slip that has been hindering the tunnel mouth for months has in my opinion got worse. All the trees and vegetation have been cleared from the hillside but the soil etc; is still sliding further across the canal.


Compare this photo with one taken by Les on N/b Valerie 2 weeks ago shown here

The reason I say this is because we had to go hard over to the left to miss the slip but as another boat was approaching the tunnel I tried to move to starboard to let him pass only to run aground. The skipper of the other boat did nothing to help and just kept going. I could do nothing at this point and as he passed us our stern was sucked around by his wake and came into contact with his boat, what did he do? NOTHING, just kept going. Why are some boaters so inconsiderate and expect everyone to get out of their way? There was another boat approaching the tunnel but she could see that there was a problem and held back until I managed to slide off the mud bank into deeper water and clear the slip area. In my opinion if the slip is not dealt with ASAP the tunnel entrance will silt up and become totally impassable, time will tell.

On the way down the Braunston flight we were just about ready to leave the top lock with the second lock already set in our favour when a male figure came along and shut the gate and start draining the lock. He noticed us exciting the lock and then quickly reset the lock for us. It turned out the this person was non other than Les on N/b Valerie trying to make a speedy trip up through the locks with his travelling companions Andy and Tina on N/b Ynete. They had the boats roped together and Andy was driving both of them with Les going ahead setting the locks.

Upon arrival in Braunston we found a mooring by the marina. After lunch we walked up into the village to make the obligatory visit the butchers shop for various pickles and some veges. We walked back via the Braunston chandlery and picked up the electrical fittings I need to finish fitting the LED's and a new reading light for Dot.

890 locks, 1200 ½ miles, 35 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Au Revoir Ann & Chas.

Still moored at Norton Junction

The order for the day was another fine but cool and breezy day for Chas and Ann to set off up the Leicester line and Foxton.

We just spent the day doing odd jobs and catching up on photo editing and programme changes on the computer. This evening Richard from Bedazzled delivered some more LED's but they will have to wait until we arrive in Rugby as I need a few more electrical fittings to do the job properly and tidily.

I have now finished the Northampton Railways book and it's interesting that the author notes that over the last 5 years some of the dis-used lines have been re-opened and that one way for this country to reduce its green house gas emissions is to expand and improve the "Green and environmentally friendly" railways. In hind sight he notes that the Beeching cuts back in the 1960's were too severe leading to the traffic congestion of modern times.


Chas and Ann ready for off.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Change of plans

Still moored at Norton Junction

Circumstances beyond our control as the old adage goes bought about a plan change for both us and Chas and Ann on Moore 2 Life. Chas's plan was to move up to the water point and then reverse back to the junction to go up the Leicester Line, a distance of about 500 yards but with a strong wind and no bow thruster he thought better of it and hope for better conditions tomorrow.

We had planned to leave here today but with it being a fine but windy day we decided to stay another day so that we could have  look around the area. This afternoon I made a start on fitting the new LED lights and found a problem that did not arise when I fitted the 21 LED version. Admittedly when I bought the first LED's there was no recommendation to protect them with a fuse and diode. Fitting the new LED's with the fuse and diode meant that the LED's couldn't be mixed with the old halogens as the fuse just tripped out. So we have decided to change all banks of light's to LED's  which meant a phone call to Richard at Bedazzled to order some more LED's which he will deliver tomorrow after work. So we will stay here until Saturday until we have received the new lights, still this shouldn't be a problem as there are no boats on the move around here now.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Word has it!

7 locks and 1 ½ miles. Now moored at Norton Junction

According to the latest towpath telegraph the notorious Mr Finch has given himself up to the Daventry police at the weekend and is currently in custody, for how long who knows. Glad tidings for the boaters in the area that Finch haunts.

After a noisy night we were only too glad to start off up the Buckby flight. The last time we came through here the locks were in a sad state but now they are in what can only be called dilapidated. One lock gate took 2 people to open, another was chained up so that it couldn't be opened being the reason for the wide beam ban through this flight since October 2007. One sluice was blocked and the top lock by the BW workers hut took 5 men to open and close. Luckily the BW guys were just finishing their lunch break so were on hand to operate the lock for us. Hopefully all this will be fixed after the flight closure starting on the 4th Feb.


One of the reasons for the lock closure next week

After we watered up we only had to move the boat 50 feet onto the 48 hour moorings on the end of a line of boats. We had not had time to go for a walk when there was a knock on the boat which turned out to be Chas from N/b Moore 2 Life. After a quick chat we were invited onboard for a coffee and spent the next hour or so having a good old chinwag. We will see Chas and Ann again in the morning before we head off to Braunston and they head off to Foxton on the Leiceister  line.

884 locks, 1196 ½ miles, 34 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Its Gone!!!

0 locks and 4 miles. Now moored below Buckby Locks

After having had a great week-end in Peterborough with Derek's relatives it was time to move on before we get stuck with lock closures. We had done another Tesco order which duly arrived this morning on time. After this we moved up to the water point to fill up and start the washing machine so that it was part way through it's cycle before we finished filling the tank.

Arriving at Whilton Marina we noticed something missing, it was there a year ago according to Granny Buttons, and we photographed it here and Les saw it here on the 16th January this year.  No sign of it at all now, so it has been lifted in the last few days.

It was great cruising weather for this time of year and we passed another couple of boats on the move. We spotted a kingfisher which we managed to get reasonably close to until the camera came out and then we couldn't get within a 100 yards before he took off. Typical!

We are now moored near the Whilton marina entrance which is not the best of moorings due to the noise as we are between a motorway and the railway but it is only for 1 night. We have visited the chandlery and bought a few bits and pieces for ongoing improvements. We also visited Bedazzled for some more LED light fittings to help reduce the power load. The last lights we bought had 21 LED's  the latest model only has 6 LED's and is significantly brighter. They also come with a modification of a self resetting fuse and a little gizmo to wire in line to protect the light against power surges. Another improvement is that they fit straight into the old halogen lamps without having to remove the reflector.

877 locks, 1195 miles, 34 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday, 21 January 2008

Away from the cut for a while.

On Friday morning we walked into Weedon where we caught a bus to Peterborough via Northampton where we had to change buses. The trip included passing through some interesting villages including Oundle where we saw the state of the recent flooding.

Our reason for going to Peterborough was to visit and stay with Derek's cousin Pam and her husband John. It was also Johns 67th birthday on Sunday which the whole family plan to celebrate in style at the Sessions House restaurant. The restaurant is in the old court house which was also part of the old 18th century gaol.


Saturday the rain held off long enough for us to drive over to Stamford on the Lincolnshire boundary midway between London and York. The town was the furthest downstream crossing of the river Welland, with part of the old Roman road and now the A1 passing through the town On the way we called into the 16th century Burghley House which wasn't open but we could wander around the grounds which are laid out in lines with Lime tree's. Some of the trees are 300 years old and dying off so they are being replaced with new ones.Originally the home of Lord Burghley who was the treasurer to Queen Elizabeth the first, his lordship had quite a big influence over the development of Stamford. This is also the home of the Burghley horse trials which are an annual event of international fame.


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Burghley House and grounds

Walking through Stamford we saw what remains of the old cattle market close to the railway, a huge wooden beam across the main road which used to be the public hanging place and at least 6 churches in very close proximity to each other.


The old cattle market in Stramford

Only 3 of them had spires which can be seen from a distance. As we walked across the park we could see how high the recent flood waters had been but thankfully had receded. The town has not changed a great deal over the centuries with its narrow alleyways and roads no wider than an old horse cart track but it is a very popular place for tourists all year round.


River Welland in Stamford, floods now receding.



The George in Stamford



The old Almshouses in Stamford

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Not so bad!

Still moored at Stowehill bridge no 26 at Weedon

Well the bad weather has not yet hit like predicted.  The satellite dish is down due to the high winds predicted.  Better to be sure rather than sorry.  We will see if the weather man is right or not.  We have had no rain for the last 24 hours although it is overcast but still rather mild temperature wise.

The central heating is still running well with the new glow plug so hopefully will last until winter is over.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Diagnosis correct.

Still moored at Stowehill bridge no 26 at Weedon

As good as their word the guys from Leisure Boating Services rang to say that they were on the way and an hour later they were in the engine hole. After giving them the run down on the history of the unit and it's current problem they set about removing the glow plug which was badly distorted. They then had a clean up around the plug boss and fitted the new glow plug.

Crunch time, will it or won't it, OK switch it on. Primary pump starts up ok, 20 seconds later and away it went. A bit of heavy smoke as surplus fuel in the chamber burnt off but after that it was music to our ears as the heater started to do what it's supposed to do. Once winter is over we will get the unit fully serviced again ready for next winter.

The varnishing in the bathroom is now finished so once dry I will have to silicone seal around the edge of the bath and put up all the fittings again. Back to normality.

It is with some sadness that we have just read that N/b Snecklifter is up for sale. Mike and Liz have realised their dream of touring the country in the slow lane for 4 years which extended out to 5 1/2 years but now they have decided that it's time to return to terra firma. We have been following their website since the beginning and gained a great deal of information from them prior to beginning our own narrowboat adventure last year. Hopefully we will meet up with them again when we get up in the Derbyshire area. In the meantime we wish them well for their forthcoming change in life's great adventure.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

It's broke, just as well its fine.

Still moored at Stowehill bridge no 26 at Weedon

When we arose this morning we found that the Mikuni central heating unit had not fired up on schedule as the radiators were cold. We had some trouble with it yesterday but I managed to coax it into life. This time it didn't want to play ball. I checked out everything and found that the fault is in the heating unit, probably the glow plug spat the dummy. I called over to Stowehill Marine but they don't have a resident engineer but they did put me on to Leisure Boat Services.

I gave the guys a ring but they were on the train to the London boat show, wouldn't you just know it. However we discussed the problem and they promised to come and have a look at it tomorrow.  Would be a cold night forecast wouldnt it, never mind we have a nice warm bed if we need to retire early to keep warm.

The bathroom repairs and varnishing are progressing well, a bit slower than I had hoped but it is all falling into place quite nicely.

This afternoon to make the most of a sunny day we walked into Weedon along the road as the towpaths are very muddy due to the heavy rain.  Nice respite today but more wet weather is in the wind apparently.

877 locks, 1195 miles, 34 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Not Floods again!

Still moored at Stowehill bridge no 26 at Weedon

Things are not looking too good for anybody planning on visiting the rivers Severn or Thames by boat with flooding in Tewkesbury again. It was severe flooding in this area that stranded us in Oxford for 3 weeks last summer. We are a lot safer this time round on the canal and not the river. At least this is the right time of the year for heavy rain but you cannot help feel sorry for some of the home owners who have been flooded out numerous times in the past year. I see that the river Cherwell is causing problems on the Oxford canal as well as flooding out on the Fens where we hope to visit in about three months time.

Progress in the bathroom has been good today with it all being sanded down and the first coat of varnish applied. If all goes according to plan I will have everything back in place and up and running by Thursday night.


MAN AT WORK- not the prettiest of sights

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Bathroom repairs.

Still moored at Stowehill bridge no 26 at Weedon

As we plan staying here for another week and the weather has improved slightly I decided to make a start on repairing water damage in the bathroom. I'll be replacing a few strips of  MDF with real timber and then sand the whole bathroom so that I can give it a couple of coats of yacht varnish ready for the forthcoming cruising season.

This afternoon the diesel boat Jubilee called so we filled the diesel tank and bought another container of loo blue.

With the forthcoming weeks weather forecast as wet, wet, and windy I'm glad we will be stationery and not cruising.  Hopefully by next Tuesday the weather will take a turn for the better and we can head for Braunston..

Monday, 14 January 2008

Brickbats and Roses

Still moored at Stowehill bridge no 26 at Weedon

We had an email this morning from one of our regular readers in Brisbane, Australia.  Unfortunately due to our slow internet connections some of our links to our main website are not being updated and are a few days behind.  I have emailed the changes to my son in New Zealand who is our web server and he will try and update for me.  Updating the blog, although a little slow works ok but our main website is on a much smaller and slower server than Blogger.  Our apologies regarding this and hopefully it will be rectified shortly.  Thanks for picking this up  Richard and Denise as well as Jenny and Robin in New Zealand.

I know we are always poking the borax at BW but when I read our invoice for our current Gold Licence I couldn't believe what I was reading. Now we paid for the licence on the 23/11/07 but the money didn't go from our bank account until 1 month later on the 24/12/07. The invoice/receipt was dated 03/01/08 but this was not what really took the cake. The invoice was addressed from BW "The Grange" Watford etc;etc. Now BW head office shifted to 64 Clarendon Road Watford on the 17/12/07 so with computer generated paperwork it is only a few minutes work to correct this. Now having been self employed for over 20 years I find this tardiness unbelievable for any company or institution the size of BW. I don't profess to know the answer but management,leadership, professionalism and work pride are a few words that come to mind.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

All legitimate again.

Still moored at Stowehill bridge no 26 at Weedon

We are now displaying our 2008 Gold Licence, only 12 days late, not too bad considering we are surrounded by boats displaying their old 2007 Gold Licences.  Seems like British Waterways appear to still be behind the eight ball.

We made the most of a fine sunny day by walking into Weedon  to collect some mail at the Post Office which had been sent Post Restante from Tracey in Wimbledon. Luckily the weather had improved so although cold it was sunny. Even if this is only temporary respite according to the weather forecast, and as I write this it is starting to rain again. 

From the village we walked up to the main road to catch the Daventry Dart  D1 or D2 bus into Daventry to collect our prescriptions from Boots and any other shopping we needed which we did at the Aldi supermarket just for a change.

Last night I thought I had better check the engine hours and found that time has caught up with me again as the engine was over the 250 hours recommendation. This afternoon I took advantage of the fine weather and got down the engine hole and changed the oil and filter. The air and fuel filters are OK for the time being.

Looks like John and Fiona are getting bored, having to make up new games.  Don't interrupt the children at play.  Me thinks they need to start cruising more to keep them busy.

877 locks, 1195 miles, 34 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Rain and lots of it.

Still moored at Stowehill bridge no 26 at Weedon

Today was a stay indoors day because of the persistent rain We were going to catch the bus to Daventry but we will leave that until tomorrow when the weather is supposed to improve. We have had a quiet day reading, cross stitching and sewing.

The book about the Northamptonshire railways I mentioned the other day is a real gem. It not only covers the history of  Northamptonshire but all the small companies that gradually combined leading up to the big 4 amalgamation in 1923.  It was also interesting to learn that Tom (LTC) Rolt was a railway historian as well as a canal stalwart for which he is usually associated. 

Looks like BW have got their stoppage alerts sorted at long last if the two notifications we received today are anything to go by.

Friday, 11 January 2008

That's Right - It's in the mail

Still moored at Stowehill bridge no 26 at Weedon

At last our new BW licence arrived in London today and hopefully we will have it here tomorrow. A total of 48 days, and they are talking 15, someone got it very wrong. But at least by the weekend we shall be legal by displaying a current licence.

Last night was a wild noisy night, what with the high winds, the railways must have run every noisy clapped out loco they own with no silencers, at least that's what it sounded like.

Our Tesco order duly arrived but it wasn't a total success as a can of soft drink was punctured and leaked over several other items which were rendered useless The delivery man took the damaged goods away saying that he would credit them back against our account.

Today has been housework day or is it called boatwork, vacuuming, dusting and general cleaning. Surprising how dusty everything gets with the gale force winds we have had. We always have windows open for ventilation even in mid winter.

We are considering staying our allocated 14 days here visiting relatives in Peterborough for a family birthday while we are close, as long as we move on the following week we will be through the Buckby flight and on to Rugby in plenty of time for our appointment with the Boat Safety Examiner.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Never eventuated.

0 locks and 7 ½ miles. Now moored at Stowehill

Last nights storm fizzled out not long after I took the satellite dish down. This morning was nice and fine but a very icy wind. As the weather was supposed to turn bad later this afternoon we decided to make the most of it and move on. First stop was Gayton Junction for water and rubbish. The wind was coming in from the wrong angle making it a bit tricky reversing onto the services mooring but we got there.

On the way we had a look at the new  British Waterways Blisworth Marina and the Heyfords Fields Marina. The latter is very nicely laid out and they are just put the finishing touches to the landscaping. Both marina's are only half full so there appears to be plenty of berth's available for anybody that's interested. There is certainly a lot less boats moored along the towpath in the area now.


British Waterways Blisworth Marina


New Heyford Fields Marina - more upmarket with lovely surroundings

As we headed North we could see that we were heading into bad weather but the rain held off until after we arrived at Stowehill and got ourselves settled. Dot has now organised a Tesco delivery for the morning as we are very close to bridge 26 and the main road.


Spot the Kingfisher, boy are they hard to photograph

877 locks, 1195 miles, 34 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006


Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Rough night ahead.

Still moored at Blisworth .

We have been reading Sue's blog on n/b No Problem and note the windy and wet conditions they are suffering. During the evening the wind has been getting stronger around here and about 9.30pm we had some heavy rain. Like Sue we have been loosing our satellite  TV reception on and off so we have now switched the TV off and  in between showers I have taken the satellite dish down for safety as the overnight forecast is not good. While taking the dish down I had my headlight on so I could see what I was doing and there were what I suspect were small snowflakes  passing through the light beam. Nothing to be of any consequence but definitely not rain drops.

Phantom Fisherman.

Still moored at Blisworth .

Nothing much happened around here today except for a walk into town for some basic essentials.

At some time this morning a camping chair with 2 plastic containers and a fisherman's keep net appeared just ahead of our boat. The keep net was suspended in the water but at no stage have we seen a fisherman or fishing rod. These objects were left in place all day until about 7pm when they disappeared. I think a neighbouring householder dislikes boats mooring beside his house and puts out the bogus fishing gear to deter any boaters from mooring there. What a weirdo.

Well Gypsy Rover is almost 4 years old. As our boat safety certificate is due to expire soon I thought I had better organise something. I made contact with Clifton Cruisers at Rugby and found out who they use as we will be in that area soon. I have now made an appointment with Andrew Phasey at Clifton Cruisers for the 31st January. Hopefully as the boat is only 4 years old with very few modifications it should pass muster.

877 locks, 1187.5 miles, 34 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Rather draughty.

0 locks and 1.5 miles and 1 tunnel. Now moored at Blisworth

Yesterday, while having a browse through the Museum shop I came across a book about the Railways of Northamptonshire by David Blagrove  published by Wharfside Publications. I have purchased the book and have found very interesting reading. It not only covers the railways but the canals and the  working relationship between them.

I have found 2 amusing anecdotes in just the first 2 chapters. The first was regarding the building of the Braunston and Crick tunnels where the navvies struck serious problems with quick sand. Decades later the railways came along to build the nearby Kilsby tunnel and they also struck the same problem which trial bores had failed to detect. The canal company knew what the railway engineers might find but kept quiet. All's fair in love and war so they say. The tunnel eventually over ran the budget by £2m which was big money in those days. It doesn't end there though. Another generation later and the M45 motorway was being built nearby and LTC (Tom) Rolt the canal historian who had already researched the building of the London/Birmingham railway for his book about George and Robert Stephenson's lives as railway pioneers was asked to document the construction of the motorway. At a point where the motorway crosses the Kilsby tunnel  and the engineers struck the quicksand, surprise, surprise. Apparently the engineers were blissfully unaware of Stephensons problem at that point and were amazed that Rolt knew of the presence of the quicksands. Sounds like somebody failed to do their homework in both cases.

The other amusing thing was that the railways initially were only interested in the carriage of passengers and clean freight. It was noted that the London and Birmingham railway had little desire to carry coal insisting that it be shipped by barges on the canal. If coal was taken through the Kilsby tunnel for transshipment at Weedon or Welton  it was discreetly covered. It was reported that the Superintendent of Traffic had been reported as saying " What, coal by rail,they will expect us to carry dung next"!  He would turn in his grave if he could have seen the hundreds or even thousands of  coal wagons on the railways over the decades.

Some other interesting facts about the Kilsby tunnel is that it is 2423 yards long and took 3 years to complete. It killed or bankrupted 4 contractors, numerous navvies lost their lives.  Robert Stephenson was eventually put in charge of the project and by using 13 beam engines pumping 1800 gallons (8100 litres) a  minute for 19 months he eventually succeeded and the first train passed through within hours of the final brick being laid. Water has been an ongoing maintenance problem and was not resolved until 1957 prior to electrification of the line.

Last night the weather turned extremely windy making it difficult to sleep with things crash, banging around outside. By this morning the wind had eased and it was reasonably fine so we set off through the Blisworth tunnel.  Narrowboats Valerie and Ynete also followed us through. We had just arrived in Blisworth and started to moor when it started to rain. The rain was only brief and we have been getting sunny intervals  with occasional wind gusts all afternoon .

877 locks, 1187.5 miles, 34 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday, 7 January 2008


Still moored above lock 14 Stoke Bruerne

Don't worry Sue, we are also members of TUBA (Technically Unlicenced Boaters Association) despite personally presenting ourselves for a new Gold Licence on 22nd November at BW headquarters at the Grange in Watford. We were told that our application would be forwarded to Leeds and that our licence would take 15 days to issue, yeah right, it wasn't direct debited from our bank account until the 24th December and is still in the post so they say. As of today's date a total of 44 days and still no licence. However do they keep track of it all? Surely in this modern age of computers it should be easy to keep a database and follow it all through. Motor Registration can do it on the spot, why not British Waterways?

British Waterways ready to go tomorrow

This afternoon we made the most of another fine day and went for a walk back along the canal towards lock 20. All the boats in the pound below lock 15 have now gone leaving everything set ready for the closure tomorrow. On the way back we deviated off to where there had been an old clay quarry which had it's own brickworks that had supplied the bricks to build the locks and possibly the Blisworth tunnel. The site originally had its own connection with the canal and is now a nature reserve. A mole had been very active in the reserve and in his diggings we could see lots of brick chips. Prior to the locks and tunnel being built a tramway was used to transship freight up to Stoke Bruerne and then over the hill to Blisworth.

Site of Stoke Bruerne brickworks, now a nature reserve

877 locks, 1186 miles, 33 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Tricky Locking.

7 locks and 1 mile. Now moored above lock 14 Stoke Bruerne

A back drop of a beautiful sunny day saw us set off up through the Stoke Bruerne locks. Locking turned out to be slow and tricky and we soon became aware of why the locks are being closed on Monday for repairs. The first problem arose at lock 18 where the pound up to lock 17 was very, very low. Luckily another boat was coming down through lock 17 so that let some water down, however I could see that there was barely enough water over the cill to get the boat out of the lock. Sure enough the boat grounded 3 parts of the way out and only got through with some excess power.

At lock 15 the bottom gates had a huge gap between the 2 gates and were leaking badly.The same problem at lock 14 meant that we were in the lock for the best part of 30 minutes with all paddles open waiting for the lock to fill. Within an hour of leaving the lock it was empty again so there is a lot of water being wasted. BW have most of their gear and work boats on site ready to start on Monday.

We thought with the impending stoppage there would be a lot more boats on the move but surprisingly there were only another 2 boats other than the 1 we passed at lock 18. This was Les on n/b Valerie and his travelling companion Andy on n/b Ynete. We met them coming up lock 15 as we were about to go for a walk so we gave them a helping hand through both 14 and 15.

While on our walk Dot decided to go via a bridlepath which was OK to start off as it was all short grass. Once we had reached the end of the pathway we crossed a farm field which had been sown with a spring crop. We started off by following a tractors track into the next field where we then followed the path of a dis-used railway line between the 2 fields. Even though we followed the hedgerow around the edge of the field it was sooooo muddy that our boots were becoming so heavy with the mud that it was becoming hard going. The farmer came along in his little all terrain buggy saying we should have followed the tree line on the other side of the field as that is where the bridlepath went. (The trouble with some of these pathways is the signage is not always visible and it takes a bit of guesswork) Unbeknown to the farmer we had spoken to his game keeper last time we were here and we knew that probably the real reason he wanted us to walk on the other side of the field was that the old railway track bed is his pheasantry where he raises up to 500 pheasants each year for his annual pheasant shoot and he didn't want us upsetting any remaining pheasants. Must be a good little money spinner for him.

By the time we reached the track down to the towpath by the Blisworth tunnel our boots were a real mess. Back at the boat I spent a good half an hour cleaning and washing our boots so we can wear them again. I think we will leave the bridlepaths until they dry out in the spring before walking them again.

877 locks, 1186 miles, 33 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006