Narrowboats Uccello and Gypsy Rover at Radford Semele, Warwickshire. Grand Union Canal.
Saturday, 30 January 2010
10 Locks, 5.10 Miles. Now moored at Radford Semele.
Another cool clear day to do some more cruising was just what the doctor ordered. First call was at bridge 27 for water, no problem here, which is more than can be said for our next stop at Fosse wharf. Here we were planning on a self pump out straight into the sump. Our plans were foiled as the Elsan and the sump were chocker block full awaiting a plumber or drain layer. This is the third elsan in a row that is currently out of order. The two in Braunston and now this one. Come on BW what do you expect boaters to do? Ok perhaps boaters have plenty of money and can afford to go to boatyards for servicing.
We were soon in a routine with the locks and they quickly slipped by. By the time we reached lock 21 the temperature was starting to drop quite dramatically and there was just a hint of snow. Derek on Uccello told us that if we did one more lock there were some nice moorings below the village of Radford Semele which is where we are currently moored.
Since leaving Rugby we have now been logged by a BW lengthsmen 4 times so it appears that BW are stepping up their patrols. Mind you today’s check was incorporated in with lock structure checks.
2060 locks, 4071.89 miles, 76 tunnels, 130 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006
Friday, 29 January 2010
13 Locks, 3.53 Miles. Now moored at Long Itchington.
What a beautiful day for a cruise, blue sky and sunshine. We weren’t the only boats taking advantage of the weather as we passed another 6 boats on the move.
After negotiating the first lock we pulled into Calcutt boats for diesel as they allow self declaration on diesel fuel. This was tricky as you have to back up to the pump but as there was very little wind it went reasonably easy. By the time we had refuelled Uccello was already in the next lock awaiting our return.
Just before the Stockton locks we spotted Nb Hector. We pulled in to see if Paul and Rosemary were home and as we did so Rosemary burst out through the front doors saying “I want to see you” It was nothing drastic only that she wanted to confer with Dot over the NZ Silver Fern logo that she is incorporating in a rag rug she is making for us. After about 15 minutes we had to tear ourselves away otherwise Derek and Carrie would be wondering where the heck we had got to. We found Uccello awaiting our presence in lock 4 but Derek and Carrie were unfazed by our late arrival.
This afternoon we wandered up into the village to find the local Co-op and were pleasantly surprised by the original village built around a pond in the midst of a large road triangle. A potted history of the pond was found on a large notice board. The pond is one of the few remaining ponds dating back to Anglo Saxon times. Originally it is estimated that Britain had 200 million which over the centuries having dried up or been filled in leaving approx; 1.5million in modern day Britain. The pond had a pair of resident Swan’s for 20 years, unfortunately in 2003 the female was killed when attempting to land back on the pond and her mate died soon after. There were a couple of immature swans on the water but they will be a couple of years away from breeding so may not stay.
2050 locks, 4066.79 miles, 76 tunnels, 130 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006
Thursday, 28 January 2010
0 Locks, 5.72 Miles. Now moored at Calcutt Top Lock.
By the time we set off from Braunston this morning our bird feeders had been well and truly decimated and only a handful of peanuts and some seed remained. The fat ball had virtually been torn from it’s string bag so that was left wedged in the fork of a branch for the birds to finish off.
Our planned route to Birmingham was via the North Stratford Canal. However an emergency stoppage at locks 19 and 20 has caused us to reconsider this route. It will be reopened by the end of February which was no great hassle, it would just mean hanging around Kingswood Junction for a couple of weeks. Due to the inclement weather BW seem to be running about 3 weeks late with their stoppage plans so this may also be delayed.
Derek and Carrie on Nb Uccello are also going to Brum but taking the direct route via the Grand Union as they have to be in Brum earlier than us. As this is double lock territory which is easier to work with 2 boats in the locks rather than one we decided that we would travel with Uccello to Brum and then head down the Birmingham and Worcester Canal to Kings Norton Junction with the North Stratford Canal and perhaps navigate this section North to South rather than vice versa as originally planned.
It was freezing on the back of the boat today and we were both all dolled up in our winter woolies. We were pleased we weren’t travelling too far and stopped above the Calcutt Locks just before the rain arrived.
2037 locks, 4063.26 miles, 76 tunnels, 130 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Two Blue Tit’s having a feast of Peanuts. (sorry about the quality of the photo taken through our secondary glazed window)
As we are moored alongside a hedgerow we bought some new suet balls and seed to hang up in the hedgerow. Along with a feeder full of stale peanuts we hung them out with no birds in sight. It didn’t take long before 2 Robins arrived for a feast and the word must have spread fast around the bird community after this because within half an hour there were Blue Tits, Great Tits, and House Sparrows on the baskets. Even a few Blackbirds looking for tit bits on the ground arrived. After 2 days the baskets are now half depleted but with 30 or 40 birds on the job it’s not surprising. It’s quite comical watching the birds queuing up in the bushes awaiting their turn at the food.
The old steam driven Pump House at Braunston.
This afternoon we went for a walk to stretch our legs and find Derek and Carrie on Nb Uccello for a chat and a cuppa. We then walked up into the village to the Butchers for some fresh meat and home made pie’s.
Monday, 25 January 2010
3 Locks, 10.47 Miles. Now moored at Braunston
We hadn’t planned on leaving Rugby until Monday but today turned out to be a good day for a cruise not to be missed. After hibernating in the boat for the last few weeks it was good to spend the day out in the fresh air despite the temperature. Quite a lot of other boaters had the same idea.
Lunch of soup and toast was taken on the run due to clouds gathering to the North giving a slight urgency to our reaching Braunston ASAP. As it was we had some light drizzle about 30 minutes before we reached our destination but nothing too serious. Two mooring sites were trialled before we made satellite contact for TV reception. Nearby are Paul & Lynne on Nb Piston Broke who we will pay a visit some time tomorrow.
Reading Mo and Vanessa’s blog of Nb Balmaha it sounds like their brains are vegetating with all this hibernating. Might we suggest a Nintendo DSI machine for keeping the brain alive. We bought one for Xmas and like a lot of this computer gadgetry it left me cold to start with but a few quiet sessions I have finally mastered it AND learnt how to do Soduku which has been a complete headache up until now. It has certainly helped while away the hours while we have been unable to do anything else.
Saturday, 23 January 2010
During the last couple of days all the moorings here have filled up since boats started moving again since the thaw. At this rate hopefully we will be on the move again Monday weather permitting.
Today amid rain showers the coal boat Gosty Hill finally got through 3 weeks behind schedule. Iain gave us the low down on how they had had to tip the boat over to be able to weld a patch over a hole in the stern below the water line. Due to the age of the boat and thickness of the metal it was no easy job with the welding gear continually blowing holes along the weld.
It was a busy time for Iain as every boat moored here wanted coal, diesel or bits and bobs from him. It was an hour to an hour and a half before they eventually got away.
As for our own trial and tribulations,a radiator sprang a leak which turned out to be a loose connection, easily fixed. A check on the state of the batteries revealed that after 3 years and 3 months they were still in reasonable condition but 2 cells are showing water discolouration indicating a break down of the plates. We will just keep them going until they show serious signs of failure. Have to start saving the pennies as replacement costs will be around £1200. I have looked at cheaper alternatives but none fit the bill unfortunately, insufficient amp hours or space to fit more batteries.
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
0 Locks, 2.5 Miles. Now moored at Brownsover
With the ice broken and another day of the thawing process underway we took the plunge and headed back to Brownsover. Conditions were pretty good with only a few thick sheets of ice making manoeuvrability difficult.We called into Clifton Cruisers to pick up some mail and get a pump out. Hillmorton Locks are still a no go area as the middle pound is very low and frozen solid and the ice is still very thick on the canal towards Braunston although we hear Braunston is now clear of ice!
Arriving at Brownsover we found a mooring next to Nb Uccello once more. A BW workman was busy at bridge 58 pulling supermarket trolleys out of the canal. This is a never ending job at this particular bridge but it wasn’t Tesco’s trolley’s this time, it was a couple of flat bed trolley’s from Homebase.
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
0 Locks, 0.7 Miles. Still moored at Hillmorton.
Well the good news is that the thaw is well under way and Derek on Uccello has broken the ice between Hillmorton bottom lock and Brownsover. We followed him down to the winding hole where we winded and pulled onto the water point to fill the tank again. After this we decided just to move a couple hundred yards, stay overnight and then head up to Brownsover tomorrow when hopefully the ice will have thawed some more.
The bad news is that the diesel boat Gosty Hill is still stuck at Sutton Stop. . Just to keep us going I went down to Canalbreaks above the bottom lock and collected another 85 litre’s of diesel which has just about filled the tank and will put us in good stead for a couple of weeks. Hopefully Iain will be back on the job by then.
Monday, 18 January 2010
Our social Calender has been busy again with a visit from fellow kiwis John and Elizabeth from Nb Helen Louise on Friday for afternoon tea. It turns out that we have both booked our flights back to New Zealand for a holiday and will be back home at the same time before returning to enjoy a wonderful summer cruising. Last evening it was our turn to put on Dinner for Derek and Carrie. Mind you it turned out to be a combined effort with Derek cooking some delicious battered Prawns.
Today the sun has been shining and all the snow and ice on the ground has gone but it will take a few more days for the ice on the canal to become thin enough to crunch our way through it. Derek on Nb Uccello is contemplating trying to move tomorrow so we will see how he gets on.
Word has it that the diesel boat Gosty Hill is still trapped at Sutton Stop and the ice is still thick enough to walk on. Talking to other boaters it would appear that Ian and Alison are going to be very busy when they finally do get under way again.
Friday, 15 January 2010
We have just returned from a couple of days away in the Capital where weather conditions were ever so slightly better until yesterday morning. We awoke to find that it was again snowing and by the time we left to catch a train back to Rugby there was another 2 inches of snow on the ground. Despite serious transport disruptions in South and West of London we managed to get back to Rugby without too much hassle. The only problem at Euston was that an overhead power cable had been bought down earlier in the day. By the time it was fixed there was an hours back log of of trains to sort out and get back onto schedule.
Travelling backwards and forwards to London it was interesting to see where the canals were frozen and where they were not. The Grand Union appeared not to be as heavily frozen as the Oxford Canal but there are a lot of streams and by washes that flow in and out of the Grand Union keeping it ice free in places.
As the diesel boat is still ice bound at Sutton Stop I had to head off down to the boat yard for another 40 litre’s of diesel to keep ourselves operational. I will return tomorrow for another 40 litre’s and that hopefully will keep us going until the diesel boat arrives. At the boat yard I saw the results of staff trying to move boats around in the ice. They had managed to get 1 boat out into the main canal channel by a mere boat’s length which took over an hour of backwards and forwards ramming into 4 inch thick ice. After moving just 2 boats in the yard they gave up as the whole exercise was proving pointless.
There are signs of the thaw beginning but we feel that it is going to be at least a week before conditions improve sufficiently to be able to move. Even then we will probably just wind and travel back to Clifton Cruisers for a pumpout and Brownsover to restock the pantry. We cannot see ourselves doing any serious cruising before the end of the month at least.
Thursday, 14 January 2010
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
Monday, 11 January 2010
We received this today from a friend in Australia. Said he thought of us when he read it. Great for a good laugh.
“December 8 - 6:00 PM. It started to snow. The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven. It looked like a Grandma Moses Print. So romantic we felt like newly-weds again. I love snow!
December 9 - We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Can there be a more lovely place in the Whole World? Moving here was the best idea I've ever had. Shovelled for the first time in years and felt like a boy again. I did both our driveway and the footpath. This afternoon the snowplough came along and covered up the footpath and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again. What a perfect life.
December 12 - The sun has melted all our lovely snow. Such a disappointment. My neighbour tells me not to worry; we'll definitely have a white Christmas. No snow on Christmas would be awful! Bob says we'll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I'll never want to see snow again. I don't think that's possible. Bob is such a nice man, I'm glad he's our neighbour.
December 14 - Snow lovely snow! Eight inches last night. The temperature dropped to -20. The cold makes everything sparkle so. The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shovelling the driveway and footpath. This is the life! The snowplough came back this afternoon and buried everything again. I didn't realise I would have to do quite this much shovelling, but I'll certainly get back in shape this way. I wish l wouldn't huff and puff so.
December 15 - Twenty inches forecast. Sold my van and bought a 4x4 Landrover. Bought chains for the wife's car and 2 extra shovels. Stocked the freezer. The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I think that's silly. We aren't in Iceland, after all.
December 16 - Ice storm this morning. Fell on my a** on the ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like hell. The wife laughed for an hour which I think was very cruel.
December 17 - Still way below freezing. Roads are too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for 5 hours. I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should've bought a wood stove but won't admit it to her. God I hate it when she's right. I can't believe I'm freezing to death in my own living room.
December 20 - Electricity's back on, but had another 14" of the damn stuff last night. More shovelling. Took all day. Damn snowplough came by twice. Tried to find a neighbour kid to shovel, but they said they're too busy playing. I think they're lying. Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower and they're out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they're lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the council will have it done and bill me. I think he's lying.
December 22 - Bob was right about a white Christmas because 13 more inches of the white crap fell today, and it's so cold it probably won't melt till August. Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to pee. By the time I got undressed, peed, and dressed again, I was too tired to shovel. Tried to hire Bob who has a plough on his truck for the rest of the winter but he says he's too busy. I think the a**hole is lying.
December 23 - Only 2" of snow today. And it warmed up to 0. The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning. What is she, nuts?! Why didn't she tell me to do that a month ago? She says she did but I think she's lying.
December 24 - Six inches. Snow packed so hard by snowplough, l broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack. If I ever catch the SOB who drives that snow plough I'll drag him through the snow and beat him to death with my broken shovel. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shovelling and then he comes down the street at a hundred miles an hour and throws snow all over where I've just been! Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was too busy watching for the damn snowplough.
December 25 - Merry *&%*#@ Christmas! Twenty more inches of the damn stuff tonight. Snowed in. The idea of shovelling makes my blood boil. I hate the snow! Then the snowplough driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel. The wife says I have a bad attitude. I think she's a bloody idiot. If I have to watch "It's A Wonderful Life" one more time, I'm going to stuff her into the microwave.
December 26 - Still snowed in. Why the hell did I ever move here? It was all HER idea. She's really getting on my nerves.
December 27 - Temperature dropped to -30 and the pipes froze, plumber came after 14 hours of waiting for him, he only charged me 700 pounds to replace all my pipes.
December 28 - Warmed up to above -20. Still snowed in. THE B**** is driving me crazy!!!
December 29 - Ten more inches. Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in. That's the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he think I am?
December 30 - Roof caved in. I beat up the snow plough driver and he is now suing me for a million pounds---not only for the beating I gave him but also for trying to shove the broken snow shovel up his a**. The wife went home to her mother. Nine inches predicted.
December 31 - I set fire to what's left of the house. No more shovelling.
January 8 - Feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep giving me. Why am I tied to the bed?”
Saturday, 9 January 2010
Ice bound in Hillmorton.
Well last night wasn’t quite as cold as the night before but only by about 10C. Normally our central heating unit shuts down at 11pm and comes on again at 8am but it’s been working overtime again starting up 3 or 4 times during the night every night for the last 4 nights.
Because of this I took the 2 x 20 litre jerry cans down to Canalbreaks for another refill of diesel. This should keep us going until the middle of next week when I will pay them another visit, because I cannot see anything moving on the canal for at least another 10 – 14 days unless we have an unseasonal heat wave. Well, dreams are free.
We have had another visit from some local youths who thought they were bullet proof by having a game of soccer on the ice. Derek on Uccello pointed out the error of their ways and told them that if the ice broke and they fell in, by the time the emergency services arrived they would be dead. With this in mind they departed. I know that the ice is between 2 and 3 inches thick in places but this is not uniform right across the canal and there could be weak spots unable to take much weight.
This afternoon Derek and I decided to work off some excess calories by collecting some water from the water point which is about 500 yards away. He did 3 and I did 4 trips which gave both of us about 70 litres each. Enough to keep us going for a few days. While we were busy doing this Carrie was busy baking and made us some glorious cinnamon bread and boy is it yum. Aren’t we spoilt? Oh, the joys of Winter Continuous Cruising.
Friday, 8 January 2010
Last night the temperature dropped to –8.70C and we had the central heating unit working for a lot longer than usual. There has been no more snow, just frosts which are on the cards again tonight.
Despite the temperature barely climbing to a plus factor we caught the bus into town around midday and what an adventure that was.The bus into town had apparently been stuck at the bottom of a hill for an hour so was well and truly off his timetable. The return trip was even more hair raising because the driver had to explain to all the passengers that he was having to deviate from the usual route and where best for passengers to alight. That was fine until he took a wrong turning off the deviation. We finished up at the end of a Cul de Sac which was down hill and had not been gritted. Luckily there was a turning area which was only just big enough for the bus but then he had to crawl back up the hill on ice to the main road where he found the correct deviation. We were quite expecting to having to get off and push the bus back up the hill.
Back at the canal Derek and Carrie on Uccello told us that some youths had just gone past walking on the ice in the middle of the canal. Carrie was concerned for their safety but if they are stupid enough to pull a stunt like that they deserve everything that they get. If they don’t drown they would die of Hypothermia in these freezing conditions.
Thursday, 7 January 2010
Like the rest of the country we had our fair share of snow this morning but no where near the amount that some Counties have received. By lunch time the snow had stopped leaving us with a fine but cool afternoon. This is of course a good indication of a frost tonight and as I write this the outside temperature is –6.50C so it could get colder yet.
Due to the diesel boat Gosty Hill being iced in at Sutton Stop we are not likely to be getting a delivery in the foreseeable future. I emptied a couple of jerry cans into the main tank and then traipsed off in the snow to Canalbreaks at Hillmorton locks for a refill. This will keep us going for 3 or 4 days by which time I will have to make another visit for a further refill.
In the afternoon sun we spotted another unusual bird in the hedgerow which turned out to be a Fieldfare, another Winter visitor from Scandinavia.
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
0 Locks, 2.06 Miles. Now moored at Hillmorton.
After a week-end of fine sunny days and overnight frosts there was no sign or hope of the canal becoming ice free in the very near future. With a not very favourable weather forecast, an empty water tank and a very full toilet tank we had to bite the bullet and head off to Clifton Cruisers this afternoon. Derek and Carrie on Nb Uccello lead the way which was reasonably easy going as Nb Hero had already broken the ice for us. As they took off they were pushing large sheets of ice in front of the boat, the two swans who have kept us company for the last two weeks decided it was time for a ride. With the two of them standing on the sheet of ice being pushed along was a comical sight. Unfortunately Dot couldn’t get the camera out quick enough.
Once our business at Clifton Cruisers was concluded we set off towards Hillmorton.We got as far as bridge 68 where we caught up with Uccello as they were trying to moor up. Apparently Derek lost momentum on the previous bend and ground to a halt just before the bridge. He just couldn’t get through the ice. As we still had some speed up we attempted to carry on because this location is miles from anywhere or anything. It was certainly a battle as we were pushed around by some very thick sheets of ice. Derek on Uccello opted to follow us now the way was clear but we nearly came to a halt at Kent Road bridge where the ice pushed us completely off line to negotiate the bridge hole. At the very last moment the ice became thinner and we were able to carry on. We only travelled another 500 yards before deciding to call it a day and moor up.
While mooring up, which was again a battle with all the ice between the bank and the boat, a young couple walked past stating that we were the first boats they had seen travelling in this area for over a week. Our next concern will be if the diesel/coal boat “Gosty Hill” can get through on his scheduled visit tomorrow. On average he is about 10 ton heavier than us so he should be able to get through assuming he managed to get off the Ashby Canal which we understand has been heavily frozen and impassable beyond Sutton Cheney.
Monday, 4 January 2010
This was taken at Paekakariki, New Zealand almost exactly 12 hours earlier by our friends Robin and Jenny. What a coincidence?
Saturday, 2 January 2010
New Years Eve was spent in the company of Carrie, Derek and friend Ann aboard Nb Uccello where Carrie had prepared a feast fit for a king. After an evening of card games we turned on the TV at 11.45pm to watch the festivities and firework display down on the Embankment in London. Eventually we had to drag ourselves away back to Gypsy Rover, well it was 2am after all said and done, but we had seen in the New Year in style.
After a lay in we arose to a beautiful clear sunny day and a frozen canal once again. Let’s hope that it is a sign of good times ahead.