Thursday 28 February 2008

The 3 Stones not the rolling variety

0 locks, 6 ½ miles, 2 tunnels. Now moored at Snarestone

It was time to move on while the good weather lasted. The scenery on this last leg of the Ashby is beautiful, just rolling farmland, 3 farming villages Congerstone, Shackerstone and Snarestone and not a motorway or railway in sight. Of course there is a railway line but this is the preserved Battlefield railway and this only operates between Easter and Oct on certain days. We did see a couple of track gangs working on the line in preparation for Easter week-end.

At Gopsall wharf we saw where the last barges were loaded with coal for the domestic market which was bought in by truck until 1981. The site is now a picnic area and carpark. The Snarestone tunnel is a bit of a rarity because of it's curved nature and the roof get's lower as you reach the Northern portal. Part of the village of Snarestone is on top of the tunnel.

At the end of the canal is a BW service centre with toilet, elsan and rubbish and winding hole. The Ashby canal society have a shack on site which I presume they use for promotional purposes and a ramp for launching trailer boats. After filling the water and winding we headed back to Snarestone to meet up with the engineer from Albatross Marine to fit a stop pin in the gearbox. As we approached the tunnel Dot was at the helm and I expected her to relinquish the post as she hates tunnels but to my surprise she remained at the helm and took the boat all the way through. That was a first.


The end of Navigation on the Ashby canal


Ashby canal last winding hole.

After mooring up Dot went for a walk around the village while I waited for the engineer who unfortunately didn't show up but hopefully he will arrive tomorrow.

894 locks, 1251 miles, 38 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday 27 February 2008

Spring Flowers abound.

0 locks, 2 miles. Now moored at Bosworth Wharf


As it was a nice fine morning we slipped our moorings and headed off to Bosworth. Along the way we passed a boat with 3 gentlemen aboard who were electronic fishing, it stuns the fish and they float to the surface. The fishermen then net them and release the good fish and keep the unwanted varieties such as Zander which is an introduced species that is causing havoc.The only other boats on the move were a hire boat and the BW work boat.


Upon arrival at Bosworth we watered up and while we were doing this a boat departed from the 48 hour moorings which we immediately filled. While the fine weather lasted we walked into the town which about a mile away and had a good look round and finding plenty of spring flowers putting some colour onto the landscape.


We had read about the Batter of Bosworth fish and chip shop and seen signs advertising "award winning fish & chips" so on the way home we called in for lunch and we were not disappointed, probably the best fish and chips we have had since being here in the UK.


894 locks, 1244½ miles, 36 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday 26 February 2008

Time will tell!

Still moored at Shenton Aqueduct, Ashby Canal

Today we had an appointment with the guys from Albatross Marine to try and solve the problem of the self emptying gearbox.  Due to the backlog of work while they had been manning their stand at the NEC Boat and Caravan Outdoor Show last week they were unable to get to us until this afternoon, 2pm to be precise. I am glad that I didn't attempt the job myself as I found that there is a trick to getting the old 'O' ring out. Once you have disconnected the cable and the gear shift arm the spring, spacer  and ball bearing come out easy but to get the 'O' ring out you have to start the motor and the oil pressure blast's it out into a rag held over the hole. You have to turn the engine off quickly to avoid loosing all the oil. Once re-assembled, the engineer found that one of the block pins was missing. The pin stops the gear shift arm going too far which would allow the bearing and spring to pop out. The engineer has offered to return and replace the missing pin. When we inspected the old' O' ring it was found to be intact but had hardened with the heat so was ineffective.

As it was after 3pm by the time I had everything back in place so we decided to stay put tonight and move on tomorrow. We only have to let Albatross Marine know where we are so he can come and fit the pin.

Monday 25 February 2008

War of the Roses.

Still moored at Shenton Aqueduct, Ashby Canal

After our busy day yesterday we were a bit tardy in arising this morning so it was late morning before we set off for Shenton Station. This is the southern terminus station for the Battlefield preserved railway on the old Ashby to Nuneaton railway. The line now only runs between Shenton and Shackerstone, a distance of 5 miles and ceased carrying passengers as early as 1931 but remained open as a goods only line until the Beeching closures.


The actual station building is not the original building as that had rotted away and was unsalvageable. This station building was bought by the Leicestershire City Council for £1 and dismantled it brick by brick and rebuilt it on the present site, that's dedication.

From here we walked over the battlefields to the Bosworth battlefield centre and noted the various points of the battle between King Richard III and his Plantagenet forces and Henry Tudor the exiled pretender to the crown in 1485. There are flag poles over the area marking various points of battle. It appears that Richard bought about his own demise through impatience even though he had the upper hand in regards to troop numbers. Thus ended the long running (80 years) "War of the Roses.

IMG_4360 IMG_4382

Sunday 24 February 2008

N.E.C Boat, Caravan and Outdoor Show. Wow!

Now moored at Shenton Aqueduct, Ashby Canal

This morning we were up and away by 9.15 as we had a date with Lisa at 9.30 at the roadside under the aqueduct. In return for Derek's labour Lisa (of Nb Pickles 2) kindly offered to drive us into the NEC Birmingham. The trip in via this motorway and that was uneventful until we got to within about 2 miles of the centre when we hit, not literately, the tail back.  It took us just as long to do the final stage as it had the previous 15 miles or so. In the end we got Lisa to drop us off at the entrance to the fire station where we could see the queue of people walking from the carpark to the centre and we just joined the flow.

Once inside the show it was a case of OK where do we start, 5 huge halls bulging at the seams with lot's and lot's to see. We decided on the motorhome section where we found the Auto-trail stand and the Cheyenne 840D which we had seen previously and thought that we liked. However as we wandered around all the other manufacturers stands we found  the Autocruise Gleneagle and the Bessacarr E700 series or the Lunar Roadstar 900 series newly released for the show.  The latter 3 were unknown to us up until now but are all on a par with the Cheyenne and are all built on Fiat AL-KO chassis's. The Lunar is also available on a Renault chassis. Well that has certainly given us plenty to think about.

Our only purchase's were some Infinite Aloe skin care, good for rough hands which boaters tend to get from ropes and being out in all weather's and a new gas auto change over valve as our's is on the blink. We went to 2 stands for the gas valve which retails for £44,95, the first was £42.95 and the 2nd was £39.75 so guess which one we bought? After spending 3 hours or so in the motorhome section we headed back to the boat section where there was only 7 narrowboats on display. By this time the queue's to inspect the boats had decreased and we didn't have to wait too long to get aboard. We Inspected the MCC boats, Sea Otter's boats and Aqualine's offerings but nothing got either of us very excited. Amber Boats had 2 boats on display but one was sold and closed to visitors and the 2nd had a very long queue so we didn't get to see them.

We were very impressed with the N.E.C, its covered connection with Birmingham railway station,buses, and airport rail connection. The latter was a real buzz as it is fully automated similar to the Docklands Light Rail but with only small 2 cars in each train. While we watched it the service was operating about every 3 minutes. At 6pm our trusty chauffeur (Lisa) arrived at the railway station to take us us back to the boat. We are eternally grateful to Lisa for driving us around especially as she is busy packing up her home to move aboard Nb Pickles 2 in a weeks time. All the best guys for next week, we know how stressful that packing up is. We hope to meet up again before we leave the Ashby at the end of next week.

No sign of Andy from Nb Khayamanzi who was reported to be visiting today too.

Saturday 23 February 2008

Scarce moorings.

0 locks,   miles. Now moored at Shenton Aqueduct, Ashby Canal

This morning we had to move on as Dot had arranged a Tesco's delivery at Sutton wharf. It was a bit windy but we didn't get the forecasted rain. At Sutton wharf there is a 1 hour mooring alongside the car park but there is a boat moored there and by the look of it they had been there a considerably lot longer than 1 hour. We moved up to the water point instead which luckily has 2 taps and 2 moorings. We watered up and checked out the visitor moorings which are currently closed as the jetty has collapsed. Only one thing for it but to stay on the water point until Tesco's arrived.

I went for a walk to check out moorings further up by bridge 35 which is close to the road and thought that they were OK but when we moved up there we found them too shallow to be able to moor. We then moved up to Shenton Aqueduct which is also close to the road and found a suitable mooring. There is 1 problem, we are unable to get a satellite signal due to tree's so we have had to revert to the old TV aerial but it still does the same job, just not as much choice. Ho hum, such is life.

894 locks, 1242½ miles, 36 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday 22 February 2008

Grafting and Twitching

Still moored at Bridge 22 , Ashby Canal

The first job this morning was clean the glow plug on the Mikuni central heating unit as I had noticed that it was smoking on start up Not a problem, only a 5 minute job but when I went down the engine hole  I was greeted by a bilge full of oil AGAIN. Yes the gear box had divested itself of all its oil BUGGER! At least this time I was able to ascertain where it had come from. After a few phone calls I found an engineer who was familiar with PRM gearboxes but he is unable to do anything until Monday as his boss is away at the Boat, Caravan and Outdoor expo at the NEC. After explaining what I considered to be the problem he told me that there is an 'O' ring behind the gear lever and its renowned for leaking. I considered that it was too fiddly a job and I would be better getting a professional to do it.

As we had decided to stay here for another day to meet John & Elizabeth (another kiwi couple) on N/b Helen Louise tonight I decided to give Pete some more help once I had finished my chores. Between us we finished running out the 12 volt wiring, trimming the last of the insulation overspray and putting 10mm packing on the wall battens to save many, many more hours of trimming overspray, luckily the ceiling wasn't as bad as the walls for overspray so it only needed trimming.

Pete's wife Lisa called to pick up Pete at the end of the day and inspected our handy work and passed it as satisfactory , you know what these foremen are like, L.O.L. While chatting we told Lisa that we planned to visit the National Boat,Caravan & Outdoor show at the NEC at the week-end and she has kindly offered to take us there by car as recompense for my labour over the last 2 days. Thanks Lisa that will be great.

While I was slaving away Dot has been bird watching. She has 3 bird feeders hanging up in the hedgerow and she was rewarded by visits from a Green Finch, Long-tailed Tit and a Great Spotted Woodpecker who unfortunately decided to hide when the camera came out, but beautiful to look at.


A Kestrel sitting watching from above


Two long tailed tits with pink breasts unfortunately not showing in the picture

Thursday 21 February 2008

Fitting out.

0 locks,   miles. Now moored at Bridge 22 , Ashby Canal

Last night Dot had an email from Pete on N/b Pickles 2 telling us he was at bridge 22 and would be working on his boat and give him a wave as we went past. He also said that they were hoping to move aboard in about 10 days which we thought might be a big ask.

There was still a thin layer of ice on the water this morning but very little frost when we slipped the moorings and headed up to bridge 22. When we arrived we found Pickles 2  OK and just as we were tying up Pete arrived. After a chat I said to Pete "Come on we can't stand around talking we have work to do" where upon we both boarded Pickles and set about cleaning up the overspray on the foam insulation before fitting the ducting for the wiring. By the time Pete left for home we had all the ducting up and run the 240v ring main, needless to say Pete was chuffed that between the 2 of us we had achieved about 3 days work had he been working alone. Just a bit of Kiwi hospitality mate. I must admit I enjoyed doing it.

894 locks, 1238 miles, 36 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday 20 February 2008

Family History confirmed.

0 locks,   miles. Now moored at Bridge 19 , Ashby Canal

Last night I received an email from Athena Beckett the Chairwoman of the Buckingham Canal Society thanking me for an article I have written for their newsletter and telling me that in looking through their archives they had found some photo's sent in by the Canvin's of Deanshanger. When I had a look at the BCS website I found the picture below which shows quite clearly the name of Canvin on the side of the barge cabin. Who is the young man in the picture, one of my relatives perhaps?


The boat is listed as being at Leckhamstead wharf and on the cabin wall is the wording C or G Canvin which creates a mystery. If it is "C" it could be Charlotte because in 1897 Charlotte BOWEN the wife of Mathew Henry CANVIN gave birth to Florence Annie CANVIN and the place of birth was given as The Wharf, Leckhampstead being on the 'Buckingham Arm'.   In 1919 a Government Survey of the Nation's Canals recorded a Mrs CANVIN as a 'Canal-boat owner' on the Grand Junction Canal. Who was she, was it Charlotte? On the 1881 Census George James CANVIN entered himself as 'Boatman Captain'  so was it his boat?

I must acknowledge my thanks to the BCS and my cousin Phyllis Barber and her family who are collating the Canvin family tree for the above information.

This morning was another lay in bed morning as it was white and crisp all around again. Late morning and 3 boats went past breaking the ice so after checking the weather forecast for the next couple of days which predicts freezing fog we thought that it might be wise to move closer to civilisation just in case things turn bad. Just before we slipped our moorings we were visited by these 2 characters on the opposite bank.



At Lime Kiln bridge we stopped for water but had to wait for a GRP cruiser to back away from the water point. He was moored on the water point getting some repairs done and it was handy to the carpark so they didn't have to carry tools etc: too far. Probably thought that nobody would be moving this time of year.

While filling up we spoke to a nice young lady who told us where the best moorings are outside the marina. She said that there is a sign stating $5 per night but they never come out to collect it. The only 2 moorings available were right next to the road bridge (too noisy) or right in front of the licensed restaurant next to the marina office, (like being in a gold fish bowl with everybody gawking at you) so we opted to carry on a bit further to where we are now by bridge 19 behind the Triumph motorcycle factory.

894 locks, 1236½ miles, 36 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday 19 February 2008

New territory.

1 lock, 5 miles. Now moored at Bramcote , Ashby Canal

Another cold frosty morning which didn't encourage us to leap out of bed too soon, only -5 degrees!  There was a good sheet of ice on the canal so we waited to see if any other boats would clear a path for us. We didn't have to wait long before 2 Clifton Cruiser's hire boats came through heading south. The first boat, "Mey " was struggling coming in off the Coventry canal to the Oxford so I grabbed his centre rope and helped him negotiate the turning through the sheet ice.

About 11.30am we slipped our moorings and crossed over to the water point. Here I did my bit for BW by spraying WD40 on the waterpoint cover so that it would open fully and we could turn the tap a full 45 degrees.

Once through the lock and the junction we found that canal contractors had also travelled up the Coventry canal with their work boat further smashing the ice. The contractors are repairing the towpath from the junction North for about a mile.


Lovely new towpaths at Hawkesbury Junction 7 day moorings on the Coventry Canal


The journey was uneventful until we reached Charity Dock and boat yard. Here we came across a South bound boat  travelling in the same channel of broken ice as we were.The skipper on the other boat was having trouble steering his boat into unbroken ice but we managed  to get past each other safely. The boatyard was more of a scrap metal yard with at least 4 old dilapidated working boats lying around and a huge pile of scrap metal in the yard. There were some old boats moored alongside and there was a sign advertising a dry dock  and diesel at £1-60 a gallon, I don't think so, but I got the feeling that boats take 2nd place to scrap metal.

At Marston junction we managed to negotiate the entrance onto the Ashby canal which is at an oblique angle as you approach from the South without too much trouble. We were joined by N/b Northumberland who had been moored just North of the junction on the Coventry Canal. We travelled to between bridge's 6 & 8 ( bridge 7 is missing) until we found a sunny mooring opposite the Bramcote hospital for the elderly. Once we were set up we walked up to bridge 8 where we walked up Mill Lane to the village of  Burton Hastings.  This typical farming village is basically untouched except for a few modern houses. The village boasts a 14th century church, St Botolph's, which is a grade 2 category listed building. While walking around the church grounds reading the head stones I found 3 Thomas Gilbert's, Gilbert being my mothers maiden name, who had died in 1829, 1848 & 1869. Grandfather, father and son, I wonder?


After we got back to the boat the weather was still glorious so I decided to give my new fishing reel a go. The reel was good but it didn't bring me any fish, still it's early days yet.

894 locks, 1233 miles, 36 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday 18 February 2008

Another cold one, -6.3deg c Brrrrrr!

Still moored at Hawkesbury Junction

Another heavy frost overnight minus 6.3 degrees but a beautiful day to follow.  This run of weather is amazing, temperatures have dropped since last week but how long since we had rain?  I can't remember.  We are hoping to head off again in the morning so hope the frost is not so heavy tonight.


Ice patterns on the cratch windows this morning


Ice was quite thick after being broken up by an early boat.

As it was a fine day I decided to get another couple of outside jobs done, that was until I went down the engine hole to get something. Greeting me was a pool of oil in the engine bay bilge, bugger! (I'm not trying to compete with Bones, Honest!)  It didn't take long to ascertain where it came from, the gearbox AGAIN! This is the 3rd time this has happened in the last 18 months, roughly every 6 months and I have checked the gearbox each time only to find nothing. The only thing that I can think of is that the gearbox is somehow pressurising itself and blowing the oil out through a seal. I notice that Newage who make PRM gearbox's are here in Coventry so I will ring them in the morning but if there is anybody out there who has had the same problem I would love to hear from you. While cleaning up the mess using Kitty Litter (commercially known as Mop and used by all oil companies) to soak up the oil I sliced my finger but it was so cold I didn't realise what had happened Immediately. It wasn't as bad as Dr Bones requiring stitches but I did get rid of a  bit of bad blood and nurse Dot bandaged it up fine.

Saturday 16 February 2008

Cruising on.

0 locks, 9 miles and 1 swingbridge. Now moored at Hawkesbury Junction

Overcast and cool was the order of the day as we set off again at 10am this morning. We were not alone today as we passed 6 or 7 other boats heading south. At Stretton Stop Dot had to open the little swing bridge (footbridge) where the canal splits Rose Narrowboats yard. The chandlery and office on 1 side and the maintenance yard on the other. Other than this little interruption it was plain sailing all the way.

By the time we reached Ansty another load of washing had been done so we stopped for water and I took the opportunity to wash the roof as it was getting a bit grubby.

The only other stop was at Aldermans Green where there is an excellent fishing tackle shop right alongside the towpath. I needed a new reel and a few odds and ends so that I am now all set for another season. We will stay here at Hawkesbury Junction or Suttons stop as it used to be called for the week-end. Suttons stop came from the name of the first lock keeper employed here who along with his son looked after the lock and junction for 70 years between them. That's what you call devotion to duty which you would be hard pushed to find these days.

893 locks, 1228 miles, 36 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday 15 February 2008

Uh oh, we spoke too soon!

0 locks and 3 ½ miles and 1 tunnel. Now moored outside Brinklow Marina above bridge 38

What a bummer, the glorious weather we have been experiencing has vanished as we prepared to leave Rugby and head North. At least it is dry and not too cold. First stop for the day was Newbold wharf ( Barley Mow pub) where we got rid of the never ending rubbish and watered up as we had done the washing along the way. Here we had a short delay as there was already a queue for the sole water tap.

Earlier on in the week we contacted Andy Edwards, N/b Khayamanzi and arranged to meet up with him as he is off work (school teacher) on half term break. Just past the entrance to Brinklow Marina where he is moored we found a suitable mooring on the North side of bridge 38. Andy came out to meet us with his trusty side kick 'Simba' and we walked back to his boat for coffee and sticky buns, Yummie. While at the marina, Andy, who is one of the resident 'Harbourmaster's' looking after the establishment was met by the local Police community services officer regarding a canal watch scheme being set up. We were then joined by John, another 'Harbourmaster' who, not only being another boater is the electrician for Blue Water Boats.



Brinklow Marina has been built on part of the old Oxford canal which was cut off when the canal was straightened to reduce travelling times and get coal delivered faster. The cast iron bridge over the entrance has some interesting grooves in the hand rail which appear to be machine cut but are in actual fact they are grooves worn by the ropes of the horse drawn barges as the horse went over the bridge and the boatman had negotiate the tight bend and bridge hole.


893 locks, 1219 miles, 36 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday 14 February 2008

Really unseasonal.

0 locks and 0 miles. Still moored at Brownsover Park, Rugby


While lying in bed waiting for the boat to warm up this morning we could hear a strange tickling noise. It turned out to be ice on the canal that was cracking as the boat moved. Needless to say we finished up with another cracker of a day.

Dot caught the bus into town to do some shopping and I walked down to Clifton Cruisers to pick up some wood plug's that they offered to cut for me. I had the right tool but not the necessary power tool to operate it so Paul cut them for me. He did say that before he could do the job he had to sharpen and reset the special drill bit  because it didn't have enough bite and was blunt, not good when it was brand new and virtually unused.

While chatting with Paul he told me that he had a booking for a hire boat in September from people on Waiheke Island in New Zealand. You never know we might bump into them some where on the cut. Paul also said that bookings were good so if there are any more Kiwi's out there thinking about booking a boat don't hang about, get on and book it. We can personally recommend Clifton Cruisers as they are a family run business who really look after their customers. The boat yard is easy to reach from London, a train from Euston to Rugby and then a number 2 bus from the station to the yard at Clifton. Easy peasy.

Getting back to my walk I decided to walk along the Oxford canal walk on the west side of the canal. This turned out to be a circuitous route that didn't actually follow the canal very far but turned out to be a pleasant walk all the same. I came across another couple of old dis-used railway bridges that are abundant in the Rugby area. The track finally bought me out at what used to be the Clifton upon Dunsmore old railway station where I had about a half mile walk to the boat yard. The return trip was a lot quicker straight back along the towpath.

Wednesday 13 February 2008

Ron Chippindale RIP.

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

It was very early this morning that we woken by a text message from Dot's sister in New Zealand informing us that a dear friend of our's, Ron Chippindale, had been killed in an accident. During the morning we have received more information about his demise.

Ron was a very health and fitness orientated person and his first job of the day was his morning walk regardless of weather. Apparently he was heading home from his morning walk when a youth lost control of the car he was driving and drove across the footpath hitting Ron killing him instantly.

We first met Ron through the caravan club of which we were both members. He was always a perfect gentleman and had a great sense of humour. His favourite tipple was 100 Pipers whiskey and the standing joke was "How many pipers left Ron?" to which he would reply with a number of the approximate (pipers) liquid left. At this time he was the Chief Air Accident Investigator for New Zealand but even after his retirement his expertise was sought from all over the world.

Ron will be sadly missed not only by his family and friends but by many, many people worldwide.

Quote "Chippindale's death a huge loss

Transport Accident Commissioner Jefferies says Ron Chippindale had high standards and his death a huge loss.The death of Ron Chippindale is being described as a huge loss on both a personal and a public level.
The former chief inspector of air accidents was killed yesterday morning when he was struck by an out of control car while walking along the footpath in Whitford Brown Ave in the Wellington suburb of Porirua.
The 75-year-old was best known for his work investigating the aftermath of the Air New Zealand DC10 crash at Mt Erebus in Antarctica in 1979, but Transport Accident Investigation Chief Commissioner Bill Jefferies says Mr Chippindale had invaluable skills teaching maritime and rail investigators aviation investigation techniques. Mr Jefferies says Mr Chippindale was known for his consistently high standards and practical approach to everything he did.
Last year, Mr Chippindale was awarded a New Zealand Special Service Medal (Erebus)."

893 locks, 1215½ miles, 35 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday 12 February 2008

Glorious sunshine.

0 locks and 1 mile. Now moored north of bridge 68, Rugby


We arose to a crisp frost this morning which heralded another beautiful day. As our water tank was very low the bow was sitting high out of the water which gave me the opportunity to black the area along the water line that was stripped clean when we were travelling through ice last month. It's only a stop gap measure but better than nothing.

Later in the morning we moved up to the water point and filled up. The blacking is supposed to dry for 24 hours but it shouldn't do it too much harm. Afterwards, we winded just below the lock and then moved about a mile up to just past bridge 68 alongside the golf course. My reason for mooring here was to walk across the golf course after the golfers had finished for the day and get some close up photo's of the old railway viaduct across the golf course. The viaduct only carried a single track which was a line from Rugby to Clifton upon Dunsmore which was part of a triangular set of track work by which loco's could be turned without use of a turntable. Unfortunately I was unable to cross the viaduct as it's fenced off at both ends.


893 locks, 1214½ miles, 35 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday 11 February 2008

Has Spring sprung early???

Still moored at Hillmorton, Rugby

What a fantastic week-end we have had weather wise. Not surprisingly there has been a lot of boats out and about but hang on a minute this is only February isn't it? I thought the cruising season started about Easter time which incidentally is March this year. If the weather stays on track and not a repeat performance of last summer (flooding) it will be great.

Yesterday we went for a walk down the lane away from the village and through the railway bridge into the Hillmorton suburb of Rugby. From where we are moored this patch of suburbia is totally hidden by the high railway embankment. We didn't know that there was this much housing so close to the canal in this area. For all intents and purposes you would swear blind that we are miles out in the countryside but here we are only about half a mile from civilisation.

The following pictures are of the dry docks I mentioned on Friday. The first is of the bridge over the entrance to the first dock. The second is the open dock just after 2 boats had been removed.The last is of the covered paint dock with 2 boats awaiting repaint just visible through the doorway.

Today we had a change of neighbours as n/b Uccello set off for Rugby and n/b Maximus which we understand to be a shared ownership boat, arrived. While I was replacing a broken aerial pole bracket on the front cratch frame the skipper on Maximus, upon seeing our satellite dish asked if we had an problems with it as they also had one but couldn't set it up. Well this was right up Dot's alley, give her a problem like this and she's like a dog with a bone. I did my little bit with aligning the dish but without success so I left Dot to it while I carried on with fitting a security bolt on the rear doors. Over an hour went by and still no sign of Dot.

Ah well, get the fishing rod out but half an hour and no bites later it was time to batten down the hatches as the evening dew was starting to descend. Eventually Dot returned triumphant saying that the coaxial cable hadn't been set up properly and the digital satellite receiver box had not been set up with the English TV stations either. They have an identical system to our's but obtained theirs from Lidl's which was probably why all they could get initially was German channels whereas our's came from Maplins and set up for the English market. Initially Dot could only get German programs but eventually managed to tune the box into the English system making skipper and crew very happy chappies

Fantastic sunset tonight

Saturday 9 February 2008

Peace and tranquility.

Still moored at Hillmorton, Rugby

We have passed through Hillmorton many times and never stopped to have a look around. Well we have been missing out on a brilliant mooring location which combined with today's fine sunny weather made it seem like paradise. The village is very small with as many business premises as there are residential and only takes about 15 minutes to walk around the whole lot.

We walked up to the local boatyard and chandlery where we picked up a few things. The actual boatyard is tucked away at the end of a small arm not visible from the canal. The buildings on site are the original Oxford canal company offices and dry docks dating back from about 1830. The dry dock is unusual in that there are 2 docks which are interconnected. The first dock which is open to the elements holds 2 boats and is used for hull blacking, propeller/stern gear jobs and welding etc. The second runs off the end of the first and is inside a building. This one also holds 2 boats and is used for re-paints. As a re-paint generally takes 6 - 8 weeks the turn around through both docks is not too much of a hassle but does involve moving quite a few boats in the docks and in the arm which is generally full of  moored boats.


Alongside where we are moored is the outflow from the canal overflow sluice. There is a pond of about 15 -20 feet diameter flowing off into a little creek which in summer time probably dries up to a mere trickle. Having an adventurous streak in me I decided to get the fishing rod out and see if there was anything in the pond. I wasn't disappointed  as I pulled in a Chub of about 1 pound in weight which is now residing in the canal.

Friday 8 February 2008

"Waterways World" or "Locks & Quays"?

0 locks and 2 miles. Now moored at Hillmorton, Rugby

After a quick visit to Tesco's we set off to Clifton Cruisers for a pump out, diesel, water and a helping hand. As usual Paul and his family were very helpful solving our problems without a second thought. These guys know what customer service is all about and we would recommend them to everybody.

Once we had serviced the boat we took a quiet cruise down to Hillmorton where we plan to stay until after the week-end.

Tonight we have the usual dilemma of what to watch on TV. As we have a satellite dish we can pick up both ITV Central showing 'Waterways World' or ITV Granada showing 'Locks & Quays'. Both of these programme's have a canal and narrowboat segments as well as other waterways interest's Decisions, decisions. Is a remote for swapping back and forwards between two programmes?

893 locks, 1213½ miles, 35 Tunnels, 40 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006