Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Lovely Oundle.

4 locks, 6 miles, Now moored at Ashton Lock on the River Nene

We awoke this morning surrounded in mist which soon cleared once we got some wind. Around 8.30am we made a start with a short trip to the water point in the pub grounds. We had to breast up to some character who thought it was OK to moor permanently on a water point because as Derek and Christina on Kalimera pulled alongside a young guy emerged from the boat complaining he was late for work. Some people!

After a great day at Wadenhoe we were looking forward to another interesting day. The trip down river produced quite a few swans and geese nesting, some in most precarious places. We had planned on pulling into Oundle marina for Diesel but when we found the place we changed our minds as the entrance was so narrow and facing the opposite way to our direction of travel. To get into the marina we would have virtually had to turn round to be able to negotiate the narrow entrance. We managed to stay ahead of the threatened rain, which we could see out on the horizon, until we pulled into our moorings for the night. We are actually in an off shoot of the main river leading to a control weir adjacent to the lock.

Once settled in for the afternoon we saw that Oundle wasn't too far away and we needed a few bits and pieces so away we went. About 500 yards down stream we found a footbridge leading from Ashton to Oundle. We did ask a friendly local for directions but we really had it worked out as we could see the town's church tower and we just aimed for that. After passing through a new industrial park and a new housing estate we came into the really old town of Oundle. This is another quaint town with no modern shops or malls, just traditional High St shopping. We found a Tesco Express in just an ordinary looking shop on High St as well as a COOP which was just on the edge of town in a newish building but hidden away so as not to detract from the town's ambience.

We arrived back at the boat just before the rain started but as the evening has worn on the rain has become very heavy so we are glad to be comfortably tucked up in front of the TV for the night.

1117 locks, 1440 miles, 41 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Wildlife galore.

7 locks, 12 miles, Now moored below the Church at Wadenhoe on the River Nene

We were up bright and early this morning so that we could reverse back to the water point and pump out facilities before heading off in glorious sunshine. As the weather forecast was for rain from this afternoon until Friday we thought that we would get some mileage under our belts today and then we can lay up if the weather turns nasty.

Along the way we passed narrow boat's No Problem and Moore 2 Life and told them we would catch up with them again later. We stopped below Titchmarsh lock where we had some lunch which was fortuitous as it started to rain albeit for only a few minutes. By the time lunch was over the sun had returned so we decided to head off again, mainly due to the noise of the water pouring over the lock gates like Niagara falls.

The wildlife in this area really came out in abundance today with sightings of a Red Kite, a Buzzard, a pair of Sparrow hawks, a Shelduck who was chasing away 2 mallard ducks and a lone male Mandarin duck. After mooring up at Wadenhoe we went for a walk through this charming Olde English village and at one point heard a Cuckoo. We found the old village mill and where the river ran past the building before rejoining the main river course we saw a huge white Koi Carp which must have been at least a foot long. In New Zealand, Koi are an introduced species and are classified as a noxious pest as they damage the breeding grounds of Trout and Salmon. I would assume that the same applies here.

Another rare find in the village was a huge Dovecote (building) which was built around 1800. It originally housed 650 pigeons and their young in individual nesting boxes around the inside wall. It was maintained to feed the Squire of the manor and his staff during lean times. The way in which eggs or fat fledglings were gathered was by climbing a ladder mounted on a frame that revolved around a central pole, very clever yet very simple. The pigeons were also raised for the annual pigeon shoot, a bit like the way pheasant's are raised for the annual shoot today.

Wadanhoe Dovecote

Interior of dovecote showing hundreds of pigeon holes

1113 locks, 1434 miles, 41 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday, 28 April 2008

Inconsiderate boaters.

Still moored at Irthlingborough on the River Nene

This place has been very busy with many boats passing through and mooring up. A problem arose when 5 GRP cruisers displaying NBC insignia's, which we understand is the Northampton boat club arrived, on Saturday afternoon. As there were no spare moorings 2 boaters breasted up to save space, very commendable but they were adjacent to the service point which meant only very small boats could get in to get water or do pump outs.  During the course of the afternoon 3 narrowboats came along wanting to use the services and when the GRP skippers were politely asked to move their vessels they refused. At least 1 narrowboat skipper went away very disgruntled at this display of what can only be described as ignorance. All they had to do was breast up another 2 boats and then move up 1 boats length and the problem would have been solved. The whole incident was not a good reflection upon the club that these people represent.

I have now changed the water pump on the Mikuni central heating. While I had everything in bit's I re-arranged the exhaust as the new silencer is 4 - 5 inches longer than the original and it protrudes out over the engine bay. In doing this the exhaust fouled the air intake pipe so I had to re-route the latter so as not to melt it. Once completed I was pleasantly surprised as to how neat and tidy it had all become and creating more space. The old pump appears to be leaking from the seal on the main shaft between the motor and the pump and there doesn't appear to be any way to split the two so I have packed it with a non setting jointing gel and will keep it as an emergency spare.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Listing to Port

5 locks, 8½ miles, Now moored at Irthlingborough on the River Nene

Early this morning, 2am in fact I was forced to ease off the mooring ropes as we had a list to port caused by the river level dropping leaving us sitting on a mud bank. At 7am I awoke to find that the list had got worse and it was difficult to walk around in the boat. Overnight the water level must have dropped quite considerably because we had about 4 inches of the hull visible that is normally under water. After easing off the ropes further I found that we were firmly aground mid-ships and no amount of pushing would free us. By this time Ann and Sue had appeared thinking we were leaving but even with their help we couldn't move. Only thing for it was to move the boat forward and as luck would have it we had Kalimera breasted up alongside as they don't have a mooring plank. With all the commotion going on outside Derek and Christina appeared and soon had the engine running to pull us forward into deeper water. Once safely moored again we could at least sit in an upright position and have breakfast.

About mid morning we finally said our farewells to Sue,Vic, Ann, Chas and of course the 3 girls (dogs) They are staying put for another 24 hours but I have a feeling that they will catch us up at our present moorings because we may decide to stay for the weekend.

River Nene 026

I wasn't allowed to take Lucy with me!

The journey today was again full of surprises starting off with the EA river patrol passing us just before we set off. Not long after we started we found a dead cow floating in the water which surprised us that the river patrol guy's appear not to have done anything about it, we would hate to hit it or for it to float into a lock and jam up the works. The river was a test of driving skills going through many, many 'S' bends, a radial lower gate (the only 1 on the Nene) and passing through Wellingborough where the town moorings are handy to Tescos,unfortunately it was necessary to travel just that little bit further to ensure we don't get behind schedule as there is a lot to see and do before we return to the cut sometime in June.

The Irthlingborough bridge was a bit scary in that it has 9 or 10 archways but only 1 is navigable. This archway is also very narrow, low and one way only. You cannot see if anything is approaching from the opposite direction and it is not until you are completely through the arch that you can see which way the river goes and which way to turn.

River Nene 059

I think we have seen more swans in the last few days than we saw all the time we were on the river Thames last year. We have now seen 3 colonies or whatever they are called of at least 50 birds in each colony. We did see one pair doing their courtship dance but were not quick enough with the camera. With all these swan's we have only seen half a dozen sitting on nests so I guess a lot of them must be immature birds.

Wellingborough litter, does no one have any pride anymore?

1106 locks, 1422 miles, 41 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday, 25 April 2008

Guess who we found?

5 locks, 5 miles, Now moored near Doddington on the River Nene



The weather forecast was for rain around midday and while we were preparing for the day ahead the sun was shining but we had not gone far when the rain arrived. It was a case of showers for the first 3 locks before the weather improved. At Earls Barton lock we had a problem securing the winding wheel so we did the honourable thing and rang EA to advise them of the fault. A short while later EA rang back to say that they had the fault listed and it would be repaired in the next day or two. The fault was caused by the usual problem, VANDALS trying to unlock the wheel with anything that comes to hand.

Christina doing the hard work

After seeing a programme on the TV about security and in particular security camera's I think that it would pay both BW and EA to install some camera's at problem locations. The camera's shown on the TV were so small and can be disguised in all sorts of ways that vandals wouldn't even know they were being filmed. Just a thought, what do you think?

After leaving Doddington lock we were on the look out for a couple of moored boats known to be in the area. As we rounded a bend we spotted the boats and 3 people with 3 dogs walking across the adjacent field. We had finally caught up with Sue and Vic on N/b No Problem with their travelling companion's Ann and Chas on N/b Moore 2 Life. It wasn't long before the kettle was on for the obligatory coffee and a long catch up chat as well as an introduction for Derek and Christina and of course the dog's, Molly, Meg, and the famous Lucy. Lucy made weblog headlines about 18 months ago when she broke a leg while out walking and her recovery was closely monitored by many.

Mid afternoon and the weather had improved sufficiently for us to venture out for a walk up to the village on the hill above us. Following the public footpath took us across fields of sheep and lambs and a friendly horse. From the top of the hill the view out over the surrounding valley was lovely and we could see huge acreage's of farm land turned over to growing Rape seed instead of more traditional grain crops that it's no wonder this country is having to import so much grain from overseas. Leaving the village we took another path down to Woollaston Lock which was a recommended mooring site. However we could see that all the moorings were taken up by what looked like permanent boats. The house alongside these moorings reminded us of Greengrass's place on the TV show "Heartbeat" with all the junk lying around the place and a 1940's WW2 army Ford puddle jumper hidden away under canvas.

Across another field and we came to what had been an old railway track bed which is now a very well laid out walking/cycling track which took us back roughly opposite the boat where we crossed yet another field full of sheep to get back to the boat, about a 3 - 4 miles hike.

This evening Sue popped in to swap info on all the moorings on the rivers Nene, Ouse and the Fens so we are now set up to be able to plan each days travel knowing roughly where we are going and where we should be. There is a lot to see and do over the next 6 - 8 weeks.

Another storm brewing this afternoon?

1098 locks, 1413½ miles, 41 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Caravans and swan's.

10 locks, 9 miles, Now moored at Cogenhoe on the River Nene

We knew that we were in for a long day today to get through Northampton. The morning started with light rain which cleared up by late morning. The first port of call was just above Northampton town lock on the Nene (pronounced Nen by the locals) for Morrisons supermarket which was only a 5 minute walk away. Once the shopping was safely stowed aboard it was time to try our hand at these Nene locks. Once through the town lock we called in at Becket park to fill the water tanks and use the free pump out facilities.

Northampton 010

Northampton 016

The first couple of locks were strange looking as the gate only extends up to water level and the rest is just open framework which gives the appearance of being able to pass right through the lock gates. Of course the best was yet to come in the shape of the guillotine locks which are something unique to the Environmental Agencies. The top gates are standard gates with the bottom gate being an electrically operated guillotine gate which has to be left open. It just means that going towards Peterborough the locks are empty and against us but they are quick to fill.

Prior to Billing Aquadrome marina there is a huge camping ground which caters for permanent vans as well as normal towable caravans and motorhome's in an area that we both considered to be the biggest motorcamp we have ever seen. From what we could see there were 3 facility blocks in just the casual camping area alone. In the permanent van area contractors were busy expanding the site to take, at a guess, up to another 100 vans.

At one point along the river we spotted some swan's on the river but as we turned a bend in the river we spied a farmers crop paddock literally full of swan's eating and decimating the farmers crop. At a rough count I counted 45 swan's in an area not much bigger than a rugby football pitch.

We finally reached our destination for the day at the open field moorings at Cogenhoe just above the Cogenhoe lock. Early in the evening a hot air balloon was spotted somewhere off towards Northampton.

1093 locks, 1408½ miles, 41 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

We finally made it, just!

13 locks, 2 miles, Now moored below lock 13 Rothersthorpe flight, Northampton Arm

Where we were moored in our rural setting last night we became aware of a Canada Goose sitting on a nest on the opposite bank. During the course of the evening a swan wandered into the goose's territory and the gander had no qualms about chasing the swan away even though there was a size difference. After a while the 2 birds conceded each others presence but kept a wary distance and a watchful eye on each other. Later a Heron flew into the goose's paddock which also upset the gander, so another battle ensued with the Heron taking flight to safer surroundings. During all this, the goose that was sitting on the nest didn't even ruffle a feather and appeared completely oblivious as to what was going on around her.

This morning we set off about 9am for Gayton Junction where we stopped for water and rubbish. While at the BW facilities Dot and Christina wandered off to find the farm selling free range eggs that we had been told about (thanks Sue). A short time later they arrived back with a tray of 2 dozen of the little beauties at £1.30 a doz.

Next port of call was Alvechurch boats for diesel (74p per litre) EA Keys and a visitors licence for Kalimera and her crew. Well we spent the best part of an hour at this establishment as the staff had only been there 2 days and were at a loss as to what to do. Somehow Christina talked the young man into supplying a 2 month visitors licence which she duly paid for. Funny, I thought visitors permits were only for 28 days but hey who am I to argue, cest la vie. After we had left Alvechurch the young guy decided that even though we had a gold licence we still needed to fill out an EA visitors form. Luckily Christina was still there and she knew our details so she filled it out for him. You would think that if a member of staff was to be left in sole charge he or she would be properly trained but hey why should I worry if it's all wrong?

Eventually we arrived at lock no 1 of the Rothersthorpe flight and guess what, they were all padlocked shut. A sign on the paddle gear stated that BW were letting water down and would be back soon. Well we waited until 12 noon and decided that if they hadn't returned by the time we had had lunch we would have to ring BW. Lunchtime over and still no sign so a phone call to BW who advised us that somebody would be with us soon.

Ten minutes later and sure enough a BW vehicle with 2 workers arrived along with a boat that they had been assisting up the flight. Apparently this boat had been trapped at the bottom of the flight when vandals had completely drained the pounds to locks 14 and 15, the 2 largest pounds in the flight. This appears to have taken place on Friday night but with BW cutting back on costs it has taken them until today to rectify the problem.

Once we started to descend the flight BW again locked the gates behind us and told us that they would let more water down for a while to ensure we had plenty of water. For the first 5 or 6 locks everything was fine but after that we found that the water levels in the pounds were higher than the top gates and we had to wait for the water levels to self balance.

Water cascading over the top gates whilst in the lock

I was forced to go up to 3 locks ahead to try and lower the water levels faster. By the time we reached lock 12 under the motorway the water was surging over the lock sides and there was a waterfall flowing down the towpath ramp under the motorway. As we left lock 12 I had to re-board the boat as the towpath was closed due to a new bridge being built to widen the A43 off ramp from the M1. As we approached lock 13 we passed the bridge building site on our left in which 2 huge pumps were pumping out water that had gone over the top of the new pilings and 4 guys were at the lock with all the paddles open trying to lower the water level. Apparently with all the excess water coming down the flight the site had been flooded and the workers were wondering what the hell was going on, their words not mine. When I explained they were quite happy but I was amazed that the BW guys who had been down at the site twice during the course of the day hadn't warned them what might take place.

Lock 12 is almost under the M1 motorway

By the time we were both through lock 13 we decided we had done enough for the day and moored up on the bollards which still left plenty of room for anybody trying to ascend the flight. A couple of hours later we did see a solo boater approaching so we opened the lock gates to let him go straight into the lock without having the inconvenience of us being moored on the bollards.

1083 locks, 1399½ miles, 41 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

They are back, Swallows I mean.

0 locks, 5½ miles, Now moored at Bridge 46 Grand Union

Having had a restful week-end at Stowehill it was time to hit the trail once more. First job as usual was fill the water tanks on both boats which took ages as there isn't much water pressure here. Eventually we got under way, although the weather was overcast with the sun breaking through occasionally. Along the way we saw our first Swallow of the year so Spring is definitely here.

Over the week-end we caught up with Dick and Jane on N/b The Chequered Flag who we have met at numerous places and found that they are very familiar with the Fens having been out there many times and originally living in Bedford. Dick very kindly loaned us his guide books to the fens and marked on our map where all the good moorings are, many of which don't appear in the guide books. He also told us where to moor for the supermarkets and various other hints and tips to make our visit more relaxing. They are heading out to the Fens mid May so we will catch up with them then and return their books before we leave the area. Thanks guys.

In the meantime we are still nursing the water pump on the Mikuni central heating unit along and hopefully it will hold out until the weather improves and I will be under less pressure should I strike any problems when I come to change the pumps over.

1070 locks, 1397½ miles, 41 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Buckby flight improvements.

7 locks, 5 miles, Now moored at Stowehill

Another early start was on the agenda to get us to Weedon reasonably early and hopefully find some moorings. It was going to be an interesting trip down the Buckby flight to see what improvements had been made since we last passed this way. On our last visit lock 8 had one gate all chained up restricting the movements of wide beams without BW assistance but this was now fully operational. The only problems we had this visit was with locks 12 and 13 where water was spilling over the top of the bottom gates on both locks and yet the water level in the pounds above the top gates was higher there fore making it impossible to open the top gates to gain entry to the locks. After opening the top sluices to lower the pounds to an equal level with the locks did we manage to gain entry. An unfortunate waste of water but unavoidable.

We stopped for a short while opposite Whilton Marina for a coffee break and a few bits from the chandlery. Also a visit to Bedazzled for another LED light for a recently installed reading light. Once refreshed it was off to Weedon with only a few other boats to contend with today. The moorings at bridge 24 and the Aqueduct were all full but there was still room near the water point above bridge 26 where we plan to stay for the week-end.

This afternoon Dot got a phone call from Paul Balmer of Waterway Routes enquiring as to our present whereabouts and if we were happy to accept an uninvited visitor to which we said "Of course, we'd love to". Paul was on his way from Northampton where he had just helped N/b's No Problem and Moore 2 Life down the 13 Northampton flight locks. He was actually on his way to North Wales to visit his mother but can never resist a chance to get out on the cut. Paul's business is making DVD's of the canals and rivers of Britain. Thank you Paul for our complimentary copy of the Llangollen DVD and it was great to make your acquaintance at last.

Next week weather permitting we will be down those same locks onto the River Nene ourselves.

1070 locks, 1392 miles, 41 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday, 18 April 2008

Bitterly cold wind.

6 locks, 4½ miles and 1 tunnel , Now moored at Norton Junction 

We were up bright and early this morning for a 7am start on the Braunston locks and tunnel. The weather was overcast and dry but a bitterly cold wind that necessitated some extra warm clothing, it was back to winter rather than spring. The sun did try and break through a couple of times but was soon covered in cloud again.

After a good run up the locks the tunnel approach seemed narrower than when we last came through here. Derek on Kalimera ran aground and had to have a second go and as we entered the tunnel I felt that there was definitely only room for 1 boat at a time through the gap unlike last time when 2 boats could JUST squeeze past each other. That is definitely going to become a problem area come summer with more boats on the move. We were not the only early birds on the move as we passed 2 boats inside the tunnel.

After a short break for a much needed hot drink at the Welton end of the tunnel we carried on to where we are now moored for the day. Here again we were lucky as no sooner had we tied up when 5 other boats came along looking for moorings and there were only 2 spaces left. Tomorrow Weedon.

1063 locks, 1387 miles, 41 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Underway again.

3 locks and 10½ miles , Now moored at Braunston

Our first job of the day was a trip to the Rugby Wharf arm where we winded the boat to head back down South. Derek and Christina on Kalimera were already facing the right way so they took off to get diesel at Clifton Cruisers which was our next port of call for diesel, water and hopefully a new water pump.

We had no sooner moored up at Clifton Cruisers when our parcel was delivered to the boat, that's what we call service. Another 80 litre's at 70p per litre and we were on our way to catch up with Kalimera at Hillmorton where they were going to water up after doing 2 loads of washing along the way. We struck lucky going through Hillmorton locks with on coming boats making locking easier.

There was surprisingly a lot of boat's on the move considering it was mid week but most were hire boats. At Braunston we were lucky in that we found a couple of moorings below bridge 91 opposite the pub. Several hours later it was a different story with lots of boats looking for moorings that were in short supply along here.

The Mikuni water pump may have to wait a few days to be fitted as the new pump is a different shape to the original so some modifications on its mounting are on the cards. In the meantime I will just keep topping up the header tank and emptying the bucket under the leaking pump, I will have to ensure that I have plenty of time to do the job so we are not left out in the cold so to speak. Never a dull moment with this boat maintenance business. 

1057 locks, 1382½ miles, 40 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Wouldn't you know it, Murphy's Law

Still moored at Rugby

After a trip into town to see the doctor this morning it was time to catch up on some more chore's. In the course of my work,a visit down the engine hole was necessary which was just as well as I discovered that the water pump on the central heating was leaking. It was OK up until yesterday. I tried to cure the problem without success so after a phone call to Mikuni I found that the pump is not serviceable so had to order a new one. Another £123 plus freight but it will be at Clifton Cruiser's by Wednesday. In the meantime the heating is working and I have a bucket under the pump catching the drips, I will just have to keep topping up the header tank.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Congestion at Braunston Turn.

3 locks and 14 miles , Now moored at Brownsover, Rugby

Napton 015

It was a beautiful morning as we set off, having only seen a couple of other boats on the move we thought that it would be a quiet cruise being a Sunday. It wasn't long before that idea was blown out of the water as a constant stream of hire boats started to appear, some were quite a long way from their home base. Needless to say we found ourselves in convoys of up to 5 boats at a time and depending on the lead boat as to what speed we maintained, sometimes painfully slow.

Not your usual towpath walkers!

At the Braunston Turn we only had 1 boat ahead of us but as we negotiated the "T" junction we found ourselves having to merge in with boats coming from Braunston on our right. From the junction to bridge 90 the moorings were full and there were 2 boats on the BW service moorings restricting the channel to barely 1 boats width, just as well there were no wide beams about. With 2 oncoming boats and 4 boats heading North it was a matter of tactics to pass through the bottle neck until we cleared bridge 89.

The convoy continued all the way to Hillmorton locks where there was a sudden absence of South bound boats whereby the locks had to be re-filled each time before accommodating the next boat. Once through the locks we stopped and filled the water tank and the first rain of the day arrived so that was well timed. Even on this last leg of our journey we found ourselves 3rd in a 4 boat convoy all the way to Rugby.

The first ducklings we've seen this year.

As luck would have it we found N/b Kalimera on the towpath side of the canal and the mooring directly in front of them was vacant so we are now back together with our travelling companion's once more. Hopefully we will be under way again by the middle of the week and will get back into the old routine of not travelling on week-ends.

1054 locks, 1372 miles, 40 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Busy, busy, busy.

10 ½ miles and 23 locks, Now moored near Bridge 108 Grand Union Canal

Other than being woken at 3am by a couple of drunk's our stay at Leamington Spa passed quietly enough.

This morning we had only planned to do about 5 locks to put ourselves in a good position to attack the Stockton flight tomorrow or Monday. Things changed initially when we got a phone call from our friends on N/b Kalimera who are at present moored at Brownsover in Rugby and secondly when we met up with N/b Dawn, which was originally the motor vessel of the hotel narrowboat pair, Dawn and Dusk. We had done a couple of locks solo when we caught up with Dawn who locked through with us to the pub at bridge 25 where they planned to stop for lunch. As we approached lock 13 N/b Angonoka was just leaving the self same pub so we teamed up with them through to Kate boats at Stockton where they planned to stop and refuel. This took care of the Stockton flight beautifully with them having a 4 man crew plus ourselves.

At Calcutt locks we did the first 2 solo and then teamed up with N/b Kingfisher on the last lock so all in all it was a good days work without anybody having to break into a sweat. Once we had cleared Napton junction we started to look for a mooring as the weather was starting to look decidedly unfavourable. Since mooring there has been quite a succession of hire boats and a few private ones passing by. The last one was N/b Angonoka who has caught up with us, we thought they were heading down the Oxford but apparently not.

Now N/b Dawn had passed us at Warwick about a week ago paired up with the butty Dusk. When we left Warwick we spotted the butty moored at Delta marine all on it's own. It turns out that the pair were sold off at the end of last season and the new owner has on sold the butty separately as he is not going to operate as a hotel narrowboat.

We also had a very interesting time chatting with the crew of N/b Angonoka the skipper of which is a Thames lock keeper. When we enlightened him to the fact that we had been on the Thames last July/August at Osney lock during the flooding it turned out that the Osney lock keeper at the time,Ray, is a work colleague and a distant relative by marriage. Apparently, Ray was runner up in the last years best Thames lock keeper (best kept lock) competition and that he had been invited to a function put on by the Prime Minister for work done during the flood's. I presume that everybody involved in the floods was included, not just Ray but he deserved some recognition for the work and hours he put in during that trying period.Well done Ray, keep up the good work.

Tomorrow we are off to Rugby to meet up with Derek and Christina and a doctors visit before we all head for the Fens..

1051 locks, 1358 miles, 40 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Saturday, 12 April 2008

We're on the move

2 miles and 2 aqueducts, Now moored at Bridge 40 Leamington Spa

About mid morning we cut our tie's with the land based power supply and moved up to Kate Boats service area to pick up a new gas tank and settle our account. Before we left we had a good chat with Molly, the office receptionist and thanked her for their hospitality and enquired about the companies mode of operation, i.e sponsorship boats and boat building.

leamington spa 005

After reversing back to the winding hole and winding the boat we set off for Leamington Spa and wouldn't you know it, the sky opened and the rain arrived. We only travelled a short distance to the moorings alongside the Tesco's supermarket where we re-loaded the pantry to last us until we reach Rugby. After this short intermission we carried on to Leamington Spa where we are now moored between bridge's 40 and 41 along with 3 other boats.

leamington spa 010

Mid afternoon and the weather improved so we wandered up town for the obligatory visit and sight seeing. This town has an uncanny resemblance to Bath in it's architecture but it does have a very nice park alongside the river Leam which even on a cold day like today was very much in demand. After wandering through several stores looking for a new, hard to find, whistling kettle we finally found one in Robert Dyas.

Since returning to the boat we have had 3 people banging on the boat, 1 teenager and 2 drunks so I hope that this does not carry on throughout the night. Needless to say we will be leaving here tomorrow for somewhere quieter.

1028 locks, 1347½ miles, 40 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006