Monday 30 April 2007

Goslings and cygnets.

10 Locks 8 miles and 1 tunnel, Now moored on the Market Harborough arm.
Total of 246 locks and 283 miles and 13 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

This morning was cold and overcast with a cold wintery wind. Being Sunday we had expected a lot of boats on the move but the inclement weather must have kept them all at home snug in front of the fire, so we didn’t strike any hold ups. This included going through the Husbands Bosworth tunnel alone as there were no other boats about.
The first distraction for the day was another pair of Canadian geese with 4 Goslings which we slowed down for and fed them some bread.
As we neared the Foxton flight we came across a pair of swans with 6 cygnets which we duly stopped to photograph and feed.

It was quite strange in the fact the male was in no way aggressive towards us as they are usually very protective and that he stayed back and let the cygnets and his mate have all the food. He made no attempt to get any of the food at all.
As we had passed along this stretch of canal only a week or so ago we couldn’t recall having seen the swan nesting in the area where we were. When we arrived at the top of the Foxton flight we realised that it was the pair that had nested on the peninsular between the locks and the arm to the inclined plane. Where we saw them this morning was a good half mile away down the canal. Not long after we had moored past bridge 60 the swans turned up again as they had followed us back to the nest site.
We had a lovely lunch of freshly made banana bread and banana muffins before we went for the usual exploratory walk. When we got to the top of the flight we found not much activity at all except 2 boats going down. We originally planned to go down the flight tomorrow but when we found the lock keeper and he told us we could follow them down straight away which we did. By this time the weather had improved and the gongoozlers were coming out in their droves. By the time we reached the bottom lock I had to push through the throng to get to the lock controls and there was plenty of willing muscle wanting to help opening and shutting the gates.
We moored just past Fox Boat services on the Harboro arm and took Jim and Jean back to see the inclined plane and the museum.
Oh dear, Fox boats staff have just returned with their day boat breasted up to one of their hire boats and it was easy to see why, the tiller arm had snapped off and was laying on the deck. Bit hard to steer like that.

Sunday 29 April 2007


0 Locks 13 miles and 1 tunnel, Now moored at Welford junction.
Total of 236 locks and 275 miles and 12 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

It was an early start for us again so that we could get through Crick tunnel before the rush started. Except for another north bound boat ahead of us we had the tunnel to ourselves or so we thought. When we were about 300yards from the northern portal we could see bats flying around catching insects and one of them actually flew across our bow several times picking off insects attracted to our headlight.
It’s been a beautiful cruising day except for the cool wind which has been getting stronger as the day wore on. The bright yellow fields of Rape seed have been absolutely glorious. Along the way we passed n/b Black Bess who called out that they follow our blog. Hi guys, next time perhaps we can stop for a chat.
We were talking about the fact that we had seen plenty of pheasant cock birds but no hens when we turned a corner and here was a pair of pheasants walking along the tow path. The plain brown colouring of the hens is quite a contrast to the brightly coloured cock birds.

Mum, Dad and their four Goslings - the first we have seen.

A few days back I reported seeing a Halifax bomber flying overhead and mentioned it on the blog with an attached photo. Robin, a friend of ours in NZ questioned this and I have since done a Google search which came up with the info that the only flying Halifax is in fact in Canada. This was raised off the bottom of a Norwegian fiord after 50 something years and then loving rebuilt by volunteer enthusiast’s. So the aircraft I saw must have been a Lancaster, sorry about that.
Another apology to Geoff and Gill on n/b Petroc. I mispelt the boat name and this was brought to my attention by Big John of n/b Epiphany who is a friend of Geoff and Gill. Thanks John.
We are now moored at Welford junction along with 5 other boats sitting here blazed in glorious sunshine. We have been watching gliders which have been making the most of today’s wind and fine weather. They were launched by catapult from somewhere close by and then circling in the thermals.

Saturday 28 April 2007

Retracing our steps.

12 Locks 11 miles and 1 tunnel,Now moored bridge 8 Leicester Line.
Total of 236 locks and 262 miles and 11 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

By the time we arose Jean had already walked to Braunston turn and back to work up an appetite.
We eventually set off and did the short run into Braunston where we stopped to show our guests around the marina etc: Around 11am we were on the move again up through the Braunston flight in the company of a hire boat for the first 2 locks then we had a change of company with Petrioc which was a very nice new boat on its maiden voyage. At the top lock we opted to push on through the tunnel and have lunch at the other end which proved to be the right decision as we only met 1 boat exiting the tunnel as we were about to enter and 1 boat at the other end which worked out well.
At the Watford flight we were the only boat so when we eventually found the lady lock keeper in her office at the top of the flight she said that we could proceed all the way to the top. By now Jim and Jean are really starting to get the hang of this locking business and enjoying the experience.

Now a couple of weeks ago when we passed through the flight we reported a Warbler sitting on eggs in one of the lock gates, well we have to report that it appears that the constant movement must have been to much for the bird and she appears to have deserted the nest with 2 eggs in the nest.
By the time we reached lock 6, lock 7 was already set for us and there was a boat waiting in the holding pound waiting to go down so it was a pretty fast trip up through the flight.
We are now moored by bridge 8 which is a very pleasant spot which we have used before. Dot, Jim and Jean then went off to explore the village of Watford. When they returned they said that there police notices up around the village warning people about con artists in the area who lure people away from the house with a distraction and 1 of their mates nips into the house and pinches what ever he can lay his hands on. There was even a sign on the church to say that everything in the church had been micro chipped and recorded.
We hope to get through Crick tunnel early tomorrow before other boats start to move.

Friday 27 April 2007

We’ve got company.

3 Locks 91/2 miles and 1 tunnel,Now moored north of Braunston.
Total of 224 locks and 251 miles and 10 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

We left bridge 44 early this morning to travel back to Rugby to meet our visitors, Jim & Jean from the NZ Motorhome Association, who arrived from New Zealand last night.

Seen on the platform at Rugby Railway Station.

We went to Rugby railway station to meet them and while we waited I had a wander around to see what was left of the original station. Half of the old bay platforms had disappeared due to the overhead gantry upright supports being mounted on the old track beds. There are only 2 main platforms now where I feel certain there used to be more but there is new track work and 2 new platforms being built. One thing that took me by surprise was that there were several men on the end of platform 1 who were train spotting with cameras and note books. Now I thought that this practice had been stopped years ago because you had to buy a penny platform ticket ( I know I’m showing my age here,) to get onto the platforms but here anybody can walk up onto the platforms. Once Jim and Jean arrived we caught a bus back to the boat. When they were settled on board Dot and I did a quick trip to Tesco’s for a few extras.
We eventually left Rugby about 2pm and headed off towards Braunston.
It was Jim and Jeans first experience of locking going up through the Hillmorton Locks which was an enjoyable experience.

We have motored longer than usual today to make up a bit of lost time.

Mustn’t forget birthday wishes to my sister Mary and grandson Reece.
Happy Birthday you two.

Thursday 26 April 2007

Got it this time.

0 Locks 3 miles and 1 tunnel,Now moored north of bridge 44.
Total of 221 locks and 2411/2 miles and 9 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

It was another early start to do a route march across town to the Hospital of St Cross. It was hard on the system as we had both had to fast since last night before having blood tests this morning. By 9.30am a bacon n egg Mc Muffin and coffee was looking good even though I’m not a big Macdonalds fan.
On the way back we called into Tesco’s to see if they had any BOGOF specials worth picking up. Well we have to stretch the budget as far as it will go and don’t mind relieving a big conglomerate of some of their excess profit. Better off in my pocket than theirs.

After all this, a change of scenery was called for so we pulled pins and headed north. We stopped at the Barley Mow pub at Newbold on Avon for a drink and watered up at the same time. While maneuvering the boat a familiar face came through the Newbold tunnel in the form of Dave on n/b Gwyniad who we last saw a month or so ago back at Blisworth.

We had a quick chat but he was off to the dentist in Rugby as he had broken a tooth.
As we passed the boatyard of T F Yates at Newbold on Avon I spotted an outdoor model railway track in the garden of the house next door. The way the track was built I suspect that it may be used for real steam model locos. Pity I haven’t got time to investigate this further. We have now moved further north to just north of bridge 44. There are a lot of bridges missing around here, mainly old railway bridges long since been demolished.
We found the local duck family of mum and 9 ducklings and gave them a feed of bread.

While I was standing on the rear deck something caught my eye, I spotted something moving in the water which turned to be a Grass Snake swimming across the canal. He was a beautiful specimen of about 2 feet in length. Dot was frightened that he might get on the boat as he was swimming straight towards us but he just disappeared into the reed bed.
Today has been another glorious day and the weather girl on TV last night said that it has been the driest April since records began and the month is not yet over.

I had just finished writing the blog or so I thought and went up onto the rear deck to stretch my legs when I heard a low flying plane. I turned around to see the Halifax flying past slow and low. I shot into the boat to grab my camera and managed to get just 1 successful picture of this WWII vintage aircraft. What a great finale for the day.

Halifax a WWII vintage aircraft

Wednesday 25 April 2007

Now Anzac Day NZ.

0 Locks 1 mile now moored at bridge 58 Oxford canal.
Total of 221 locks and 2381/2 miles and 8 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

Another damp start to the day but we cannot complain. We were on the go early this morning as we have found the best way to get to see a doctor around here is to be on the doorstep when the surgery opens. Hopefully we have now got our doctor problem sorted out.
We have only moved to do another load of washing and go to Tesco’s for provisions. Tomorrow we will move again as these moorings are very popular and we don’t want to be seen hogging them as 2 other boats are doing. Neither of them has moved an inch since we first arrived here and one of them is on the 24hr moorings.
Other than a hire boat passing through here flying the Australian flag with a bunch of Aussies aboard there has been nothing else startling to write about.

Tuesday 24 April 2007

St Georges Day.

0 Locks 4 miles now moored at bridge 66 Oxford canal.
Total of 221 locks and 2371/2 miles and 8 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

Awoke to see some precipitation falling from the sky. It must be rain; we have not seen any for so long we forgot what it looked like. However it was time for another wee cruise down to Hillmorton locks for a change of scenery and to do some washing.

We were just about to cast off when the guy in the hire boat in front of us came out and spoke to Dot. After a couple of minutes I thought I had better go and see what was happening. Turns out that they left the UK 8 years ago for a 2 year overseas adventure before they settled down to a family.

They had finally come back to the UK to empty and sell the house. Where have they been in the last 8 years? Eastbourne, Lower Hutt,New Zealand of course (our hometown).
They like it so much that they bought a house there and now have 2 Kiwi sons. They are just having a last minute 3 week holiday on a narrowboat while they wait for all the legal stuff to be sorted out and for Gramps to see the grandchildren before returning to NZ.

While cruising we checked out the swan who was still sitting on her nest. Hopefully there might be some cygnets next time we pass.
Dot checked out the progress of the duck family of mum and 12 ducklings we had seen here previously and they are all present and accounted for and doing well. The duck family at bridge 58 are not fairing as well as they are down to 3.

The mural on the bridge wall is one of several in the area. The mural on the opposite wall was all about the game of rugby but the graffiti artists had defaced it.

We can also now confirm the presence of bluebells in this part of the country.

Monday 23 April 2007

Ancient and modern.

0 Locks 0 miles still moored at bridge 58 Oxford canal.
Total of 221 locks and 2331/2 miles and 8 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

It’s been another lovely warm day here in Rugby. We wandered into town for a bit more of a look
around and on the way spotted 2 convertible cars at both ends of the spectrum.

The old - a baby Austin Convertible

The new - A Mini Cooper Convertible

The first was a circa 1930 baby Austin in very good condition and the second was the latest model BMC Mini Cooper. Quite a difference in 70 odd years of car manufacturing.
While wandering around town we were looking at the brass plaques inset into the pavement commemorating various notable events and players in the game of rugby. We have not succeeded in finding them all but did come across this one for Sean Fitzpatrick.

A New Zealand link with Rugby

Dot had read about the oldest building in Chapel St so when we got there we had a look and it wasn’t too hard to spot plus the accompanying plaque.

The canal has again been a hive of activity with many boats returning to their base moorings and more hire boats presumably doing the “Ring”.
On the subject of the railways around Rugby, a comment was made to me the other day that no matter which road you use to enter or leave Rugby you will pass under or over a railway bridge regardless of being in use or not.
I am very much inclined to agree with that person because wherever we have been there have been anything from single arch bridges to multiple arched viaducts and you don’t have to look far to see one.

Sunday 22 April 2007

Another quiet day.

0 Locks 0 miles still moored at bridge 58 Oxford canal.
Total of 221 locks and 2331/2 miles and 8 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

Last night we not only had other boats moored here but a couple of young lads arrived in Elliotts Field Park opposite us and pitched a tent and stayed the night. This morning we were quite impressed with the way they organised themselves with breakfast and breaking camp. They were obviously seasoned campers.
We stuck to the rules today about not moving at week-ends and did some more work on the boat. At 3000 hours on the engine it was time to reset the tappets. Working down the engine hole would be a lot easier for a double jointed midget but the job had to be done. It worked out easier than I had expected except that 1 adjuster nut refused to undo and when it did loosen my finger slid along the very sharp edge of the engine casing causing me to swear and loose some of that vital red stuff in our veins. OUCH.
After this I did a bit more work on the outer back doors in preparing and varnishing various pieces of timber ready for assembly.
While I was doing all this Dot took herself off to town and visited the Saturday market and a few other places. On the way back she checked out the railway station as we have people from New Zealand joining us on Thursday. She returned complaining of sore tired feet. She might work it out one day what causes it.

Market Day in Rugby

Boat movements today have been the busiest we have seen and not just hire boats. There have been many very tidy private owners out and about probably for the first time this year.For the last 2 nights at about 10pm we have had boats go through here travelling north. They had headlights on but that was about all. Tonight’s boat was a bit suspicious as it had no name on it, the 4 man crew were all dressed in dark clothing and they were towing what looked to be a very old wreck of a boat. It made us wonder why they would need to move at this time of night, I’ll leave that up to your own imagination.

Saturday 21 April 2007

Odd job day.

0 Locks 0 miles still moored at bridge 58 Oxford canal.
Total of 221 locks and 2331/2 miles and 8 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

Today was to be a quiet day to catch up on small jobs that can build up if you don’t keep on top of them.
We again spoke to the Hawkes bay couple (Jane and Hugh) and found out that their boat although not sign written is called Poetry. They had thought of calling it Tukituki, a Maori word until they found out the definition of this name was Demolition so they thought better of it.
The boat is a Probuild hull with a private fit out and will be up for sale again in 6 months time as they are only allowed to stay here that long.
Other than feeding the remaining 3 ducklings, there were originally 9, and the odd swan the only other excitement was a visit to Homebase and Tesco’s.

Friday 20 April 2007

A little cruise.

0 Locks 6 miles moored back at bridge 58 Oxford canal.
Total of 221 locks and 2331/2 miles and 8 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

After yesterdays walking marathon we decided that we would move the boat closer to places where we wanted to go today. So we had to go up to the winding hole by the Rugby arm. On the way back we passed n/b Balmaha moored a couple of hundred yards south of where we had been but the boat was all locked up so Mo and Vanessa must have been in town shopping. Sorry we missed you guys.

The hallowed rugby football fields of Rugby

We moored up at bridge 66 and walked into a different part of Rugby. After a short visit it was back to the boat for lunch and as we were moored opposite Clifton Cruisers I called in to see about getting a gasket for the engine. Unfortunately Isuzu will only deal with recognized traders and not private individual owners. After a quick phone call to Isuzu I was assured that a gasket was not required after all. While talking to Paul of Clifton Cruisers I asked him about the old bridge abutment opposite his yard. He told me that it was an old LNWR line from Rugby to Clifton upon Dunsmore and the viaduct just to the south went to the same station from Hillmorton. The track formed a triangle with the main line and the railway used this track as a way of turning trains as well as a branch line. We then cruised on down to the winding hole at Hillmorton locks.

Photo of the beautiful gardens in Caldicot park in Rugby

Arriving at the 2 water points prior to the winding hole we found 2 boats moored. The first boat had been supposedly taking on water at the first tap but his hose was not connected. The 2nd boat was just moored by the 2nd tap and the couple aboard just locked up and left. Now how inconsiderate is that. We managed to squeeze in between 2 boats by the first water point and after about 20 minutes a guy popped his head out and apologized for being on the water point but he had fallen asleep while his boat filled up. The only trouble was that his hose wasn’t connected to the tap and he thanked me for taking it off the tap to which I responded that it was already off when we got there.
The next problem was boats moored in or too close to the winding hole. A gentleman waiting to go up through the locks offered to hold my bow rope on the tow path side while I swung the stern around under power. This was alright until I came very close to a moored boat which I suspect was an unmarked hire boat or ex hire boat and breasted up to a BW working boat. I was unable to use the rudder as I was hard up against this boat by now so I had to push Gypsy Rover around by walking along the other boats gunnels until I had enough space to use the rudder again. Again more mutterings about inconsiderate so called boaters.
The trip back to Elliots Field was slow as there was quite a lot of boats on the move considering that it’s only Thursday.

Different view of the gardens

This evening we spoke to a couple walking back to their boat, and guess what, more flipping Kiwis. They are from the Hawkes Bay, have only been here 2 weeks and bought a second hand boat to cruise the country with.

Thursday 19 April 2007

Weary walkers.

0 Locks 0 miles still moored bridge 58 Oxford canal.
Total of 221 locks and 2331/2 miles and 8 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

As we were moored on a 24 hr mooring last night we had to move over to the towpath side of the canal which doesn’t appear to have any restrictions.
Mid morning and we headed off to town. We followed a path down behind Tesco’s thinking it would be a short cut to town. Going past what I think may have been old railway workshops we saw huge mounds of earth with concrete entranceways. I suspect they were air raid shelters left over from WWII and they have never bothered to remove them. Due to the engineering nature of the workshops similar to the car factories in Coventry they were prime targets for German bombers during the war.

The theory of the short cut was right but at the end of the path was an old footbridge which originally went right over the old railway yards. The steps leading up to the bridge were there but they were fenced off as the bridge has been dismantled. There was a sign about rebuilding the bridge but it was out of date and well past completion date so who knows.

Luckily the locals have beaten a track alongside the railway embankment out to where a road entered part of the old goods yard and then out onto the main road.

As we walked along this road there were old bridge abutments with a railway embankment atop. I scrambled up the embankment to see where the embankment led from and to. On one side are the current coal sidings and on the other I could see what had been a branch line or private siding leading off into the distance.

As we got closer to town we walked under another old railway bridge with 11 arches. This bridge is all fenced off a both ends and used to be part of the Great Central Railway prior to amalgamation with the London North Western Railway and finally with the London Midland Scottish railway. The GCR was eventually closed down completely but there are plans to try and reopen it. There is a trust that has 20 miles of track in use at Loughborough

Rugby used to be a very big centre in the days of steam trains prior to the Beeching cuts in the 1960’s. Over the years it has been served by 3 or 4 different railway companies, some sharing each others track and some having their own. The GCR actually crossed over the top of the LNWR which ran parallel to the LMS.

There are disused railway embankments and bridges all around the area where all the surrounding towns and villages used to have services from Rugby and Coventry. The photo in yesterday’s blog of an old signal gantry appears to be an old LNWR line.

The amount of land covered by the railway prior to 1960 was huge as the engine shed which had over 20 tracks took up many acres as did the goods yards and station.

Another huge part of Rugby is Rugby school, the home of rugby football. It all started in 1823 when William Webb Ellis decided it would be more fun to run with the ball instead of kicking. They call it a school but its more like a university campus and it’s very similar to Victoria University in NZ in that it owns just about every building in the suburb in which it stands. All around Rugby there are brass plaques set in the footpath commemorating various rugby events or personalities over the decades.

The photo of the mural etched out of a brick wall depicts the things that Rugby are renowned for, the canals for moving coal which was taken over by the railways and the home of the jet engine developed by Frank Whittle who was himself a Coventry lad. Other monuments were a statue in the grounds of Rugby school of Thomas Hughes QC MP and author of “Tom Browns school days” and another commemorating Frank Whittle and his association with Rugby. On the base of this monument is a map of the world denoting what the jet engine has done for the world.
On the way back to the boat we walked through Caldecott Park with its beautiful flower gardens and band rotunda. I wonder if they still have Sunday concerts where band rotunda’s still exist.

Caldicot Park in the centre of Rugby

In a small paddock alongside the railway embankment near the station are 3 wire sculpture donkeys called William, Webb and Ellis. No prizes for guessing where those names come from.

Wednesday 18 April 2007

Changing places.

3 Locks 8 miles moored bridge 58 Oxford canal.
Total of 221 locks and 2331/2 miles and 8 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

I t was a nice rural overnight mooring but we needed to move closer to civilization for supplies etc.
I t has been another beautiful day although slightly windy.
Along the way we were running parallel with a disused railway line of which there are plenty around this area. On the other side of a farmer’s field I spotted an old signal gantry still standing and only missing signal arms. A quick photo stop and we were under way again.

We stopped for lunch at a delightful mooring directly opposite a nesting swan. When we moored the cob (male) was sitting on the nest and the hen was swimming around feeding.
Shortly after our arrival they changed places with a display of courtship and the cob spent the next 15 minutes pulling up more nesting material from the surrounding reed bed and placing it on the side of
the nest and she pulled it closer to the top and re arranged it to her liking.

This was 1 of 2 nesting swans we saw in our travels today. Up until now we have only seen ducks with ducklings.
There was also some resplendent narrowboats along the way, some of which I managed to photograph along with a circa 1950 ambulance converted to a motor home.
We are now moored by Elliots Field which is actually a park in the suburb of Brownsover, Rugby. We remembered mooring here on our maiden voyage in March 2004. The BW facilities here have all been boarded up due to vandalism which is a bit of a pain. Brownsover Hall is the place where Frank Whittle worked on developing the Jet engine. Today the Hall is now a pub. Of course Rugby is the renowned birthplace of the game of rugby. It was started in a school here in 1823. One overpass over the canal has a mural painted on it depicting the historic dates and names of rugby events. Some of the names also bear the signature of the player mentioned.

Tuesday 17 April 2007

Unexpected arrival.

0 Locks 2 miles moored just north of Braunston.
Total of 218 locks and 2251/2 miles and 8 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

Our time limit on the 48 hour mooring was up so it was time to go. We waited until about 11a.m. because yesterday a gentleman had shown interest in buying our old inverter but he never eventuated. We had just had a coffee and sticky bun when a boat approached from the direction of the GU/Oxford junction whom we recognized as Milly ‘M’ and Maffi. He stopped and moored behind us and we had a very long chat catching up with all the gossip.
After some considerable time we all decided it was time to go as it was now past 1 pm. Another boat travelling in the same direction as Maffi came passed and Maffi tagged along with them to go up through the Braunston flight. Being a single handed boater it made sense as the flight is double locks and done easier in pairs.
We moved up a short distance to the water point to refill using our newly purchased tap fitting. The fitting went on the tap OK and the snap on fitted the hose reel OK but as soon as I turned the tap on the snap on blew apart. I tried everything to no avail; the only thing for it was to stand there and hold the connection together. Three quarters of an hour later with a cold wet hand, Dot announced that the tank was full and I could let go of the tap.
From here it was another short trip to Midland chandlery where they have their own customer mooring right outside the door. We purchased a couple of new brass cabin hooks to fit on the rear cabin doors because now I have put a little bit of grease on the hinges they swing backwards and forwards quite freely whereas before, they used to stay open without moving. Funny that Eh!
As it was getting late and we got stuck behind a boater who thought 2 mph was quite fast enough, (I kept catching up to him with the motor just on idle) we moored up on the first suitable site we came across which is only a mile or so out of Braunston. Tomorrow hopefully Mr Slow coach will be well out of our way and we can move on.

Monday 16 April 2007

Vulcan & Raymond.

Still moored at Braunston.
Total of 218 locks and 2231/2 miles and 8 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

When we arose this morning you couldn’t see the opposite bank because of fog.
By mid morning the sun had finally burnt through the fog and the temperature has been climbing steadily to 23 0C. Another good day for sanding and painting. The stern deck and rear hatch have now all been tidied up and looking good again. During the course of the day numerous events have taken place. The boat behind us, n/b Hector which is a tug design with a genuine tug 6 cylinder Lister 5 litre engine. The owner, Paul couldn’t start the engine due to insufficient charging time yesterday. Like us he has a bank of 6 volt batteries set up for 12 volt but until 2 days ago he had insufficient power in the alternator dept:
He now has a 160amp/hr alternator but has not had the time for a good run. He then had to visit Braunston chandlery that open on Sunday to get a spare 12 volt battery that he intended to buy sooner or later.
While all this was going on Paul’s partner Rosemary showed Dot through the boat which is all set up with a traditional boatman’s style cabin. She now knows what boatmen of old used to have to contend with as far as living conditions were concerned.

The other event of the day was the preserved narrowboat Vulcan with preserved butty Raymond in tow. They were only moving Raymond to another part of the marina but had to come out onto the canal to do it. The pair of them looked resplendent especially Raymond after just recently coming out of the paint shop with a complete make over.

An apology is due to Del and Al who we mentioned a few days ago on nb.Thema. We made the same mistake as others and mistook them for the names on the boat. Just shows you don’t always believe what you read. They are in the process of taking the plunge as we did and getting their boat Derwent6 built so they can live the life we live. What a fantastic life it is too. May we meet again on the cut in the future.

The last photo is the end to a beautiful day – more predicted to follow this summer.

Tomorrow we move on towards Rugby.

Sunday 15 April 2007

New Zealand “T” shirts.

Still moored at Braunston.
Total of 218 locks and 2231/2 miles and 8 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

It was amazing just how quiet it became around here after dusk. No boat movements, no towpath walkers, just dead silence. We even went for a walk up into the village about 8.30pm last night for a look around and there was not much stirring there either.
This morning we went back into the village to see what the butcher had on offer. He is more like a general store really as they sell homemade chutney’s, pickles and sauces, fresh veges although some looked past their best, home made pies and pasties, kebabs, specialty sausages, bacon as well as meat. We took home some Chinese style chicken kebab for tea which were delicious as well as Apricot chutney, mint sauce, bacon and a homemade pork pie for tomorrow.
I returned to the boat and Dot went off with the camera to photograph the church and a building that was once a windmill. At the church she found a wedding about to take place and the bride arrived in an old Bentley.
Checking out the history of the windmill it appears that a man was repairing the sails when wind caused the sails to move and he fell to his death. The building is 80 feet high and the domed roof is not the original roof and in the photo you can see the hole where the spindle would have once protruded for the sails.
It is now a private residence.
Back at the boat it was time to don the overalls and pull the rear doors and hatch off to do some sanding and painting. Among the usual interruptions from gongoozlers came several very unexpected interruptions. The first was 2 couples who stopped to chat and one lady was wearing a “T” shirt emblazoned with the word “Wellington” across the top with the Wellington (NZ) cable car amongst other things pictured on the front.
It turned out that the first couple were from Dunedin (NZ) and lived in the next street to Dot’s Aunty Joan. If that wasn’t enough the second couples daughter lives with the first couples son in Wellington (NZ). Well that dispensed with a good half an hour of idle chat.
Later in the day while having a break another couple happened along and it was not hard to see the lady was wearing a “T” shirt emblazoned New Zealand. Me being my usual cheeky self said “And where did you pinch that T shirt from” and it turned out it was a present from a brother in law. After another half an hour of idle chat it was back to work. With the long daylight hours now I am really getting on top of the jobs that require attention which is good.

Saturday 14 April 2007

Early bird got the worm.

13 Locks, 61/2 Miles, 1 Tunnel and now moored at Braunston.
Total of 218 locks and 2231/2 miles and 8 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

We were up earlier than usual so that we could get to the Watford flight before things got busy. Well we timed it perfectly as the lock keeper had just finished letting water down to the bottom pounds as they drain out overnight due to leakage. He allowed us to proceed all the way through as there were no waiting boats. On the way down at the 3rd lock he pointed out a bird nesting in the lock gate behind the steel plate only a foot or so above the water line. I’m sure he said it was a Yellow Warbler but from the photo that Dot took it doesn’t look quite right for a warbler. From what we can see in the photo my bird I.D book leads me to think that it is a Grey or Blue Headed Wagtail but I stand to be corrected. Apparently a bird nested in the same place last year but got frightened off and abandoned the eggs due to the gate constantly opening and shutting. This bird appears to be more determined.

Almost unbelievable but true,
look carefully and you will see mum sitting on her eggs
on one of the very busy Watford Gap lock flight gates.

After completing the flight we were making good time so decided to press on towards Braunston. We kept a look out for a good overnight mooring but found nothing by the time we reached Braunston tunnel so on we went.
Going through the tunnel was a new experience due to the fact that we passed 4 oncoming boats and we only bumped one boat at a point which must have been barely wide enough to get 2 boats abreast.
As there was a lot of boats on the move we again struck lucky going through the Braunston lock flight with just about every lock being in our favour. The only hold up was waiting for 2 boats at lock 2. The lock seemed to take for ever to fill. After about 10 - 15 minutes I went and had a look and found the paddles on one of the bottom gates still half open so I shut it in a very pointed manner because the 2 guys on the boats were so busy talking and not concentrating on the job in hand. The problem was 4 teenagers on one boat were doing the locking and more interested in skylarking around and the parents just ignored what was taking place and whether they were doing things properly or not. As the boats finally left the lock I got a very lame apology which left me thinking that some people should stay home in the comfort of their armchairs.
We finally reached the great Mecca of Braunston where we again came up smelling of roses by managing to find a 48 hour mooring between the 2 marina entrances. Moorings are very scarce here because we only found 1 other free mooring along about ½ a mile of towpath. Dot always said that Friday 13th was her lucky day.
We visited both the chandleries and bought a few bits and pieces and then wandered around the marina looking at boats for sale comparing them with “Gypsy Rover” in age and price. A Mr Whippy ice cream van was on site trying to drum up some business so we made it worth his while and had an ice cream each. We will stay put for the weekend, do some painting as the forecast is great again and set off for Rugby on Monday morning.

Friday 13 April 2007

Fog in Crick Tunnel.

0 Locks, 7 Miles, 1 Tunnel and now moored at Bridge 8 Leicester line.
Total of 205 locks and 217 miles and 7 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

It was another fine but hazy start to the day. The haze unfortunately didn’t clear until lunchtime. While preparing breakfast I spotted a pair of Hare’s on the horizon of the field opposite. I went out onto the stern deck with my camera and they must have heard me as one laid flat on the ground and the other just sat there motionless. I took some photos but had to return to the galley as the kettle was boiling. I glanced up to where the Hare’s were only to see them disappearing into the distance at a great rate of knots. They must have sensed that I had gone and it was safe to move. Dumb animals, yeah right.
After pulling the pins we set off for Crick and along the way I spotted a swan sitting on her eggs and her mate spotted us and immediately went on the attack. He tried to attack my ankles so I moved and he then attacked the stern rope button until I threw some bread out to him which distracted him for all of 2 minutes when he came flying back at us again. I sped up to try and lose him but he just kept pace with us so I threw the last of the bread to him and finally got away from him. While this fracas was going on I noticed a Canadian goose sitting on her nest but didn’t get the opportunity for a photo.
At Crick we needed to get a few necessities’ from the coop store which is about 15 minute walk from the canal and then had lunch before going through the Crick tunnel (opened in 1814 and is 1528yds long).
As we entered the tunnel there was a bit of haze as several boats had passed through in the previous half hour but this cleared fairly quickly. I could see the southern portal although it was a bit murky but by about a third of the way through it became very foggy. The headlight could not penetrate the fog and I could see it swirling around the front of the boat. The southern portal just vanished. Dot thought it was diesel fumes but there was no smell to it and there was no blue haze that you would get from diesel. After about 5 minutes the fog evaporated and I could again see the other end. A weird phenomenon, that’s for real.
We are now moored just north of bridge 8 in a lovely rural area. As it was still reasonably early and the weather was good we pulled the rear hatch cover off along with the stainless steel strips it slides on to get rid of the rust and start preparing it for painting. I feel certain that I read somewhere that if you put steel and stainless steel together it creates a chemical reaction causing excessive rusting. Hopefully somebody can correct me if I’m wrong but I intend to put plenty of paint between them this time. Then hopefully I will get all this finished over the week-end.

Another photo of the ducklings - I think they look so cute.

Thursday 12 April 2007

They were beauties.

0 Locks, 91/2 Miles, 1 Tunnel and now moored at Bridge 27 Leicester line.
Total of 205 locks and 210 miles and 6 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

The first beauty of the day was a large (2-3lb) Perch. I was just about to give up fishing for the morning when I lost sight of the float so I gave it a tug and low and behold a fish. I tried to land the beauty but without a landing net the odds were against me. Dot heard the splashing and commotion but unfortunately did not make it in time to take a photo.
Memo: I must buy a landing net.
The second beauty was the weather. If this is spring what’s it going to be like in summer? The temperature has been around 23deg ‘C’ with clear skies. It has been picnic mode all along the towpath with boats moored up and the picnic tables and chairs out everywhere. Reminded us of the caravan club back in NZ all gathered around in the sunshine.
At lunch time we moored just south of the Welford arm on what are probably the best moorings on this canal. It is actually the aquaduct over the river Avon which at this point is no more than a stream. There is concrete edging with mooring rings and deep water, no mooring on an angle. I decided to investigate the stream closer as it was clear and fast flowing so I thought there may be a trout or two but unfortunately not. While I was climbing the grass bank back up to the towpath I saw something move just in front of my boot. On closer investigation I found myself eyeballing a
Grass Snake which took off in to the long grass before I had chance to catch it.
I then did a bit of rust removal and under coating while Dot prepared lunch. After lunch we decided that as it was such a good cruising day and I had to wait 2 hours for the paint to dry we would push on towards Crick.

When we reached our present position we decided to moor up for the night as good moorings are hard to find along the Leicester line, at least with sufficient water not to be sitting on the bottom on an angle.

Other things of interest seen along the way were a couple of Partridge in a field of some sort of grain crop and plenty of Pheasants. We also watched a pair of Hawks soaring on warm air thermals probably hunting for food.

Wednesday 11 April 2007

Foxton flight on Wahine Day.

10 Locks, 4 Miles, and now moored at Bridge 51 Leicester line..
Total of 205 locks and 2001/2 miles and 5 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

Today is the day for us to start heading south so a reasonably early start saw us head a mile up to Debdale wharf to top up the diesel. However we nearly came unstuck because they had worked Good Friday and Saturday so they had today off in lieu. Luckily Barry lives on site and I found him around the back and he very kindly offered to fill us up. Thanks again Barry.

On our way back to Foxton flight we spotted the Canadian geese that lost one of their mates to an undetermined predator last week. It looks like the predator now has a liking for goose as another of the geese has been badly savaged around the head and neck. It is alive but obviously in some degree of discomfort as it cannot groom itself properly.

An about turn and it was off to the Foxton flight but our timing was not good. As we arrived one boat was just exiting the bottom lock and another was waiting to go in. I reported to the lock keeper and he said there were 6 boats that had been waiting since 8am to come down so when the next boat exited the bottom lock we could proceed up to the passing bay half way up.

After about half an hour we entered the bottom lock and with the help of 4 youngsters who were keen to operate the gates we made very good time up to the passing bay. However we were too fast for the descending boats because they had not even started to move by the time we reached midway. So we had to moor up and wait about 45 minutes while the 6 boats came down. One of the boats coming down was Mo and Vanessa on n/b Balmaha and we exchanged greetings and snapped each other as we passed. Once we got the all clear to go we wasted no time and with the help of the youngsters again we made good time to the top. Thanks Mo for answering my question we did wonder if it was oil seed rape. Safe journey.

We then cruised down to just before bridge 51 where there are about 6 boats already moored up and joined them in a very pleasant spot. The first job was to wash the boat because where we had moored at the flight the towpath was very dusty and with all the crowds wandering up and down the boat finished up looking like it had been dragged through a desert. After a few other chores it was fishing time to no avail. As the sun set the fish went crazy catching flies and insects on the surface as if there was no tomorrow but were they interested in my bait, not on your Nellie.

Last night I mentioned n/b Thema, well I did get the name right as we saw them again while waiting to ascend the flight. It was nice to meet Keith and Pat, even if it was only a passing acknowledgement. Hopefully we will meet again on the cut.

Something else from last night was the ducklings which sadly have all but disappeared. I was told by the lock keeper that the drakes quite often kill the ducklings themselves to get the female to mate again. We have often noted the imbalance between male and female mallards which is often 5 – 1 against the females. The males certainly need to culled.

PS. Wahine Day commemorates the sinking of the ferry Wahine on 10th April 1968 in Wellington Harbour with a loss of 51 lives.

Tuesday 10 April 2007

Lloyds’ lost their horse?

0 Locks, 6 Miles, and now moored at Bridge 63 Leicester line.
Total of 195 locks and 1961/2 miles and 5 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

Sunday morning and it was time to move as our 48 hours were up so we decided to move up to bridge 14 where we had moored once before. Fat chance, firstly it was Sunday and that means fishermen and secondly they were having a contest which meant wall to wall fishermen.
We eventually moored between bridges 7 and 8 where BW had done some dredging and mooring was easy. While there Dot hung out her bird feeders in the hedgerow and they were frequented by Blue and Great Tits. A chaffinch also took advantage by cleaning up what the Tits dropped on the ground below.
Monday morning and we decided to move down closer to the Foxton flight. Along the way I spotted something strange in the air which Dot managed to photograph and it turned out to be a Helium filled Black Horse balloon and it looked just like Lloyds bank UK or the National bank NZ symbol.
As we passed Foxton Boat services we had to slow right down due to 3 oncoming boats and moored boats breasted up leaving a very narrow passage.
As one boat passed (n/b Thema I think) the lady aboard called out “Hey are you Dot and Derek, I read your blog.” What a surprise, if the lady in question would like to contact us and confirm the name of her boat we will correct any errors.

Just past the Foxton flight we moored up for water and then moved forward to clear the water point for others as there are a lot of boats moving around this afternoon. We have also seen our first ducklings of the year. Two ducks have been seen with 30 ducklings between them in close proximity and the ducklings keep getting mixed up causing the female duck big hassles. We understand from a local that the ducklings only hatched out a few days ago

The above photo is one of many fields full of yellow blossom.
We are not sure what it is, perhaps one of our regular readers can enlighten us?

Saturday 7 April 2007

Is it a bird?

0 Locks, 1Mile, and now moored at Market Harborough
Total of 195 locks and 1901/2 miles and 5 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

This morning we moved closer to Union Wharf and town. We are back on the 48 hour moorings just outside the basin. Our timing proved to be spot on because since mooring up this morning there has been a steady stream of boats both coming and going leaving only moorings vacated gradually by Tillerman/Canaltime boats in the basin available.
Tillerman/Canaltime boats have been leaving in a steady stream all day and there are now no boats available. Last week Mo on n/b Balmaha and myself commented about these boats and 1 in particular on our blogs. Well today I observed Tillermans procedures when hiring a boat out and I can confirm that the hirer is given a thorough briefing on use of a narrowboat and that every boat that went out today had an instructor aboard for at least the first 15 minutes of the journey out of the basin.
I spoke to one of the instructors on his way back to the basin about our experience with 1 of their boats last week. I gave him a rough outline as to what had taken place and he must have checked up on the outcome of that particular hire because about an hour later I saw him again after taking out yet another boat. He told me that the boat in question had been bought back in a damaged condition and the hirer had been financially penalized for their troubles so it appears that it’s not a case of blaming the hire company but the individual.


Hot Air Balloon

While varnishing a wall unit on the rear deck I saw 2 strange flying objects which I was lucky enough to photograph. See attached photos. The other photo may appear to be a mistake but look between the timber and the top left corner of the concrete block. I feel sure that it was a Wren looking for insects; it even went behind the timber at one point.

Spot the Wren

Talking about looking for insects I forgot to mention yesterday that just on dusk I was sitting quietly on the back deck with Stella Artois and I spotted a bat flying inches above the water hunting for insects. I must have watched him for 15-20 minutes before he disappeared out of sight. Since starting this adventure we have seen many things that the average man in the street will never see in his lifetime, let’s hope it continues.

Friday 6 April 2007

Law of nature

0 Locks, 6 Miles, and now moored at bridge 14 Mkt Harborough
Total of 195 locks and 1891/2 miles and 5 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

After 2 nights at a very pleasant mooring just nor
th of bridge 70 it was time to move on. On the way we called in to Debdale wharf for diesel at 46p per litre.
On our journey north last week we had seen 4 Canadian geese in a farm field however today on passing the same spot we noticed only 3 geese. It wasn’t until we had travelled another 100 yards or so when we spotted grey feathers in several places followed by the grim discovery of the mutilated carcass of goose number 4. It must have fallen prey to a fox or a mink because the carcass had been well and truly stripped clean.
As we were cruising along very slowly we were not stirring up the mud which meant occasionally we saw fish in amongst the reeds including a jack pike looking for his lunch. Even our presence did not seem to worry him.
We stopped at the water point near the Foxton flight before carrying on to our present mooring. We will see what moorings are available nearer the basin in the morning and decide on staying put or moving.
The following two photos were taken alongside the canal between the Foxton Lock flight and Union Wharf at Market Harborough.

Gypsy horses and foals

Beef on the hoof.