Wednesday 31 December 2008

This morning!

Temperature dropped to -5.5 deg overnight and is only zero deg now.

Wash Day Cruise.

0 Locks, 2½ Miles. Now moored near bridge 69.

Yesterday saw a complete change at Brownsover where it went from being empty except for 2 boats to becoming full by mid afternoon. There were quite a lot of hire boats among the arrivals.

This morning we decided to head off to Hillmorton again for water and do some washing along the way. The day turned out to be a real cracker with the sun finally breaking through. After we winded below the Hillmorton locks we stopped for water and then moved up to our present mooring which is about 300 yards South of the bridge.

After mooring we spotted an agricultural contractor spraying the fields opposite so we closed the windows on that side of the boat in case of spray drift. As it happened the drift was away from us but we could still smell it. After lunch we took advantage of the sunshine and went for a walk into Hillmorton via the Kent road. At the main road we headed south to the church by Hillmorton locks, through the church yard back to the towpath at the locks and then along the towpath back to the boat. Being a housing state there wasn't much of interest except for sighting a nicely restored Morris Oxford with the same body style as the Morris Minor, 1950's era. I hadn't seen one of these for a long time.

1587 locks, 3322 miles, 53 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

View from our backyard tonight

Any ideas as to the colourful spinning ball in the foreground?.
New kind of scarecrow maybe? If it is they dont work!
The birds were having a ball.

Midwinter at Hillmorton Locks

Monday 29 December 2008

Pottering Around

0 Locks, 2 miles. Now moored at Brownsover Park.

After our peaceful stay at Newbold we have to return to Brownsover for Tracey to catch the train on Monday morning to Holyhead and then the ferry to Dublin. Before winding we watered up at the Barley Mow pub and within an hour we were back at Brownsover. We expected to see the place packed out with no spare moorings but too our surprise there was only 1 boat left here. We had passed 2 boats near the aqueduct that had been moored at Brownsover previously but the rest of them had gone.

1587 locks, 3319 ½ miles, 53 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Sunday 28 December 2008

Done and Dusted for Another Year.

Still moored at Newbold.

After a very pleasant Xmas day with very little activity and plenty of feasting Boxing day saw us out and about walking off some of the extra calories. We walked all the way into town, about 3 miles, as there were no buses running. Our main objective was the "Walkabout" pub because Tracey wanted to watch the Arsenal v Aston Villa game on the big screen and we dined out at the same time.

It was quite strange walking into the pub because behind the bar were 4 Maori's (native Kiwi's) which make us feel as if we were back in New Zealand. We had a chat to them and it turned out that only 1 of them was resident in the UK, she had married a Pom and been here 14 years. The other 3 were whanau (family) but only here on a short working holiday from Christchurch NZ.

Well Tracey wasn't very pleased when Arsenal only managed a 2 all draw against Aston Villa because they needed to win by 2 goals to climb the championship ladder. Ah well better luck next time.

Thursday 25 December 2008

Our Christmas Menu!

This year we will have a traditional Christmas fare.

King Prawn Cocktail

Stuffed breast of Turkey with Bacon and Apricots with Cranberry Jelly
Roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips and carrots served with Brussell Sprouts

Steamed Christmas Pudding with Irish Cream flavoured Custard

All this accompanied with whatever beverages take our fancy. Not forgetting the Christmas mince pies and Christmas cake. Where will we put it all? Boy will we be be ready for a nod off after this!

Merry Christmas to One and All

Sunshine, hurray.

0 Locks, 1 Mile. Now moored at Newbold.

With all our Xmas day provisions aboard it was time to move on to Newbold where we hope it will be quieter than Brownsover. The first call was the water point just on the other side of bridge 54 where we finally met Ernie from Nb Ten Bob Note. He was just topping up at Tesco's before heading off down the Barby straight to a quiet mooring that he knew about.

After leaving Brownsover we passed 3 south bound boats but Ernie had told us that most of the boats at Newbold had left first thing this morning. Sure enough there were plenty of moorings available so we just found a clear spot where the satellite dish could get a signal and here we will stay until Sunday. Since tying up the sun has made its presence felt and its delightful sitting here with the sunshine pouring in through the windows, long may it last.

1587 locks, 3317 ½ miles, 53 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday 23 December 2008

It's been a busy day.

0 Locks, 2 Miles. Now moored at Brownsover Park.

From the time we got up this morning there have been boats on the move, probably the most we have seen for a couple of weeks. Just as we were about to reverse back to the water point one boat came through heading North and while we were on the water point I had heard this distinctive engine sound coming from some distance away. It turned out to be Nb Hadar who we eventually followed all the way back to Brownsover. When we were here on Friday there were no spaces available on the park side but this time there was one just big enough to squeeze our 55 foot into. Adrian on Nb Debdale is now moored on the other side before heading for Braunston tomorrow after Adam arrives tonight from London.

After a quick early lunch it was off to the railway station to pick up Tracey. All the alterations at Rugby station are now nearly complete and the Virgin Pendolino's that are not scheduled to stop here fly through at 125MPH on new track well away from the platforms. Just as well as the slip stream would be horrendous sucking everything off the platform. Once we had Tracey safely in tow it was back to the bus stop. The traffic was bumper to bumper backed up as far as the eye could see but it was about to get worse. An articulated truck (lorry) tried to squeeze his 13 foot cab aerofoil under the 11 foot rail bridge, now I would have thought that the driver would know the dimensions of his vehicle. Luckily he managed to stop in time only inches from the bridge. However cars were now bumper to bumper behind him and he had only 1 option and that was to reverse back to a car park entrance to turn and return from whence he had come. The car drivers just sat there even though they could see the truck was in reverse. After about 5 minutes I couldn't stand it any longer so I got out there and started to direct the traffic, bought back memories of my old traffic police days in NZ. There were a couple of idiot drivers who were only interested in their own personal journeys but I eventually got the artic: truck into the car park with the help of the car park attendant. After letting some of the traffic clear we again held up the traffic to get the truck out of the car park. He had to use the full width of the road but he made it. As he passed me I suggested he get an up to date map book showing bridge limits.

When the bus finally arrived it was full but we managed to get aboard and we found out that due to heavy traffic the buses were all behind schedule so they were just doing the best they could under the circumstances. We saw 3 buses going back into town only about 2 minutes apart so they were well off the timetable.

After a quick cuppa back on the boat Dot and Tracey went off to Tesco's for some last minute Xmas shopping while I took my fuel cans to Tesco's service station for some diesel which is now only 97.9p per litre, most boat yards are £1.05 to £1.15 for propulsion. If I am going to pay top dollar for fuel I might as well get good clean diesel rather than the red stuff, it will dilute what red stuff is already in the tank and perhaps help the engine and central heating unit operate more efficiently. I rang Nb Ghosty Hill, the diesel and coal boat and he will be in Rugby on Xmas eve so we will get some more diesel from him then.

1586 locks, 3317 ½ miles, 53 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday 22 December 2008

Simba's Christmas

Brings back memories from home!

Saturday 20 December 2008

A week-end in the country.

0 Locks, 2 miles. Now moored at Hillmorton bottom lock.

Needing a pump out we headed off to Clifton Cruisers. While there we collected some more mail. We enquired about the diesel only to be told that they were only doing a 60/40 split to simplify the paper work so we declined. If I get stuck I can go over to Tesco's service station where it's 99.9 per litre which in actual fact is cheaper than what boat yards are charging for the propulsion rate. Doesn't make sense to me, I think we might be getting conned somewhere along the line.

After a quiet cruise we winded at the Hillmorton bottom lock and stopped at the water point before moving a hundred yards to our present mooring. We will stay here until Monday morning when we will return to Brownsover to pick up Tracey from the railway station and depending on the mooring situation we may move on up to Newbold.

1586 locks, 3315 ½ miles, 53 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday 18 December 2008

Changing face of Rugby

Still moored at Brownsover.

This morning we were up and away bright and early for our six monthly checkup with the doctor. After this necessary chore was completed we wandered into town to see what's been happening since we were last here.

I suppose the biggest change is the old industrial site next to the towpath. When we were here last they had just finished demolition of the old factories etc. and levelling the site. The site has been named Caldicott Manor and the first row of about 20 terraced houses has been completed and occupied. These face towards the Tesco supermarket. Probably due to the current economic situation work seems to have come to a stand still.

This is what the site looked like when we were here last

On our way back to the boat we walked through Caldicott park which is under going a big make over with new seating, kiddies play area and changes to the area around the refreshment cabin. A couple of cheeky squirrels came over to see us so we gave them some nuts that we had with us, not that they appeared to need feeding as they were quite plump and had a healthy sheen on their fur.

Caldicott Park always was attractive

Once back on the main road the first thing to catch our eye was "The Peacock" pub all boarded up and covered with For Sale signs. This grand building could be used for a hotel, B & B or guest house as well as a pub of course. Another thought is that there would be space for several apartments nice and handy to town.

Another site under development was on the A426 between the old Great Central railway arches by the Peugeot dealers new showroom to the retail park along side the canal. An extension of the retail park perhaps? Other than a few empty shops and a half empty Woolworths in town everything else was unchanged.

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Back to Base (well sort of!)

0 Locks, 4 Miles. 1 Tunnel, Now moored at Brownsover Park.

The final leg of our current journey took only 1½ hours to Brownsover with a watering stop at Newbold. We were quite surprised by the amount of available moorings at Newbold as every time we have passed through here in the past the place has been chocker block full. One boat we spotted was that of fellow blogger, Ernie on Nb Ten Bob Note. I love that name as it takes me back to my younger days when ten bob (shillings) was a lot of money. Sentimental old fool I am.

Upon arrival at Brownsover we found the park side moorings full of old live aboard boats so we have had to moor on the tow path side. As this situation is unlikely to change, once Tracey arrives we will head up to Newbold and stay there.

1586 locks, 3313 ½ miles, 53 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Back on the Oxford.

1 Lock, 8 Miles. Now moored All Oaks Wood, North Oxford Canal.

Once again the sky was overcast and misty as we set off this morning. First job was the water tank which we filled before turning onto the Oxford and locking through the 6 inch rise of the Hawkesbury stop lock. There are still plenty of boats moored along the towpath around here making it slow going for a while. Once clear of bridge 4 it was plain sailing shall we say.

Reaching Stretton Stop we were confronted with all of the Rose Narrowboat hire fleet breasted up along side the diesel and pump out point so we had to breast up 3 deep. The diesel hose only just reached the boat which was fortunate as we took on another 85 litre's. Due to the cold snap we have been experiencing lately the Mikuni central heating unit has been working its little butt off chewing through a fair amount of fuel. The staff member who served us told us that they hadn't sold much diesel yet under the new pricing regime so were still on a learning curve. Majority of the local boats have been buying diesel at the service station which works out about the same price but being white diesel their engines run better. I don't know if the white fuel would improve the consumption though. As for a pump out, no show, the pump was out of action but they did tell us where we could get it done.

We travelled on for about another mile and moored between bridge's 34 and 35 where we knew  we could moor without being up to 2 feet from the bank. Most of the North Oxford Canal has sloping sides resulting in moored boats having to use their gang planks to be able to get on and off the boat. Tomorrow Rugby where we can visit the doctor for our 6 monthly checkup and then will spend Xmas in the vicinity.

1586 locks, 3309 ½ miles, 52 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday 15 December 2008

Fou(w)l deeds on the towpath.

0 Locks, 8 Miles. Now moored North of Hawkesbury Junction.

Overcast,cold and dry was the order of the day as we set off from Hartshill this morning. We don't usually move on the week-ends but at this time of the year it's a case going while the going is good. We passed a couple of boats on the move and the inevitable hardy fisherman some of whom I think were involved in a competition as there were about 12 of them in a row all with keep nets in the water.

At one point when we were in a rural area we spotted a mass of white feathers all along the towpath and at the end of the trail was a cleanly picked carcass about the size of a domestic duck. Looks like Mr Fox or Mrs Mink had been lucky enough to score Xmas dinner early.

At Hawkesbury Junction we pulled in just north of the water point so that we can fill up before we leave here tomorrow. The boat immediately behind us must have Kiwi connections with the name "Tui Mk III" on it, Tui being a popular brand of New Zealand Ale.

A quick walk to the convenience store for an onion for dinner (we don't often run out) we stopped for a chat with Bruce and Sheila on Nb Sanity who are moored a little way south. They are heading for Alrewas for Christmas so we may cross paths again in the new year when we head back up north again.

1585 locks, 3301 ½ miles, 52 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Saturday 13 December 2008

300 Yard Crawl.

Still at Hartshill South of bridge 31.

Once again we found ourselves iced in but by midmorning the ice seemed to be melting as there had been some light drizzle and a breeze had sprung up. However, looks can be deceiving and water was laying on top of the ice concealing its true thickness. It took about 5 attempts to even get off the bank before moving forward. We pushed on through the first bridge hole to the BW yard and water point to fill the water tank. The conditions past bridge 31 were no better so a nice mooring next to the Sea Scout hall look very inviting and here we will stay until conditions improve. If all else fails we can catch a bus to Coventry and then Rugby if need be.

The Remains of Hartshill Castle

Unfortunately now in private hands.

That's Apple Pie Lane Bridge!

Another view from Hartshill British Waterways Yard. You wonder how the Lane got its name?

Friday 12 December 2008

Who's this Intruder?

Winter Towpath Maintenance

Out in force at Hartshill today

Hartshill BW yard

BW cleared the way.

5 Locks, 3 Miles. Now moored at Hartshill.

We only found a light coating of ice on the canal this morning but while having breakfast BW came past with a tug and work boat so they cleared a pathway for us all the way to our present location. Before setting off we made a quick visit to the Aldi supermarket just for change and got just a few bits and bobs to keep us going until we reach Rugby.

We found that there was only one lock set against us as the second and third locks appeared to have self drained and we then encountered the BW tug coming back empty so they had left the last two locks in our favour, bless them.

Hopefully we may be able to get some sleep tonight as last night's mooring turned out to be very noisy, what with 2 roads, the railway and the T.N.T freight depot working all night the noise never stopped. Must remember not to stay there again, shopping stop only.

1585 locks, 3293 ½ miles, 52 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday 11 December 2008

The Remains of Alvecote Priory

Hello, An early start for some!

6 Locks, 6 Miles. Now moored above Atherstone lock 6.

I hadn't been out of bed long and was busy wiping the condensation off the windows when a boat heading North went past. It wasn't until it's stern was level with us that I saw that it was Nb Moore 2 Life. I called out a greeting to Chas who I don't think had recognised us at that stage but he soon pulled the boat into the bank and was moored up with the kettle on the hob. We had only just made a hot drink so we took this along with us for a chat with Chas and Anne and of course Molly the dog.

After about an hour Chas was wanting to get moving again so that they would make Great Haywood in time. I don't think he would have that much of a problem as several boats had already started to move breaking the ice in both directions. However the same cannot be said about their travelling companions Sue and Vic on Nb No Problem who are still out on the recently flooded River Soar. Come on Sue rattle your dag's girl, something about some train tickets kept cropping up in conversation. Ahem L.O.L.

Once we reached the Atherstone flight we were joined by another boat, Nb Utrecht who had followed us for a while yesterday and who also stopped at Alvecote overnight, the crew of which were quite happy to work in with us making locking a bit faster.

1580 locks, 3290 ½ miles, 52 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Gypsy Rover at Alvecote

We are the second boat back


2 Locks, 6 Miles. Now moored at Alvecote, Coventry Canal.

We waited until a short shower of rain passed through before untying this morning and heading off to Alvecote. It wasn't too bad a day to be on the move but there was still smatterings of ice around here and there. At Fazely junction we turned onto the Birmingham and Fazely Canal to travel a short distance to Fazely Mill Marina where we understood the price of diesel was only 62p per litre for heating and £1.05 for propulsion. The lady at the marina is a chatty sort of person and it took longer than usual just to take on 54 litre's of diesel,say no more.

Back on the Coventry Canal we found another boat going up through Glascote locks ahead of us. Once they had cleared the second lock they very kindly emptied it for us allowing me to go straight in from the first lock.

1574 locks, 3284 ½ miles, 52 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Goodness Gracious me, who's this I spy?

0 Locks, 1 Mile. Still moored at Hopwas.

We again awoke to find a thin layer of ice on the canal but by 10am it appeared to be melting so we cast off. Well after several attempts to get away from the bank we finally got under way, the ice was still a bit thicker than I imagined. As we passed the "Tame Otter" pub we came across 2 moored boats the first of which was bearing the name "Pania". Could this be Baden and Ros we thought, it must be. We had only met them  twice before in the UK although Dot met them through her work in Lower Hutt when they were preparing to move over here. The first time was in Mirfield, Yorkshire on the day "Gypsy Rover" was launched and the second in Guildford when we became live aboards. They travelled by car to visit us as their boat was up North while we were still down South. Baden and Ros come from the same city as us in New Zealand and are known by some of our caravan club mate's, so how's that for a small world.

We stopped and dropped 1 of our cards through the pigeon hole as it was partly open but then decided to give Baden a quick call on the phone. After some discussion and a later text message we finished up mooring up behind them and will await their return from work. There will be plenty to talk about, catching up with the last 12 months happenings over dinner and a beer or the "Tame Otter". Personally I think Dot just enjoyed her birthday lunch there yesterday and wants to go back for another, crafty isn't she!

1572 locks, 3278 ½ miles, 52 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday 8 December 2008

Happy birthday Dot.

Still moored at Hopwas.

As it was Dot's birthday today we decided to stay for a couple of days. To celebrate her birthday we went to the "Tame Otter" pub for lunch hoping that it was a better lunch than we had at "The Star" at Stone. Well we needn't have worried because everything was good, food, drinks and service. We guessed that it might be a good pub because the car park was always full.

We wouldn't have moved today even if we had planned it because we awoke to find ourselves all iced in AGAIN. This is becoming a bit of a worry as we have not struck so much ice previously which makes me wonder are we in for another winter of 63 when the canals iced over for about 6 weeks. Another frost is forecast for tonight so we will have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

Now I have been browsing through the November issue of the "Towpath Telegraph" and a couple of things got me thinking. First of all an item about the Ellesmere Port Museum. The writer advocated leaving the boat at Christleton and catching the bus into Chester or the train to Ellesmere Port Museum rather than traversing the very deep locks at Chester. What is the point of owning a boat if you are not going to travel by water. We travelled all the way to Ellesmere and enjoyed it because if the waterways don't get used they are just going to finish up in the state they were back in the 1960's.

His other comment was about the lack of activities at the museum. Here I have to agree with the writer and like him I can see sense in utilising the stables and having a horse drawn boat as they do at Llangollen. The word that comes to mind is TOURISM, the biggest money maker the world over. Surely there must be somebody out there that would love to keep their "Neddy" in the stables and have him working for his keep. A pony club or riding club or even somebody that owns a suitable horse and would love to keep it in a warm, dry environment. It would attract kids who love nothing more than patting a horse or even a ride. As for the host of sinking vessel's around the site, there are volunteer groups that look after boats like "President" and others. How about "Adopt a Boat" groups who with help can choose a vessel they want to restore. They say kid's these days get into mischief because they are bored, there are plenty of things at Ellesmere for them to sink their teeth into and at the end of the day have something to show for their efforts.

The other topic was the ongoing saga of Continuous Cruisers versus Continuous Moorer's. What good is going to come out of BW charging Continuous Cruiser's an extra £150, I suspect nothing except to appease the boaters that pay thousand of pounds for having their boats in marina's. We choose to be CC's so that we can tour the country and see the sight's. We don't want to spend our time penned up in a marina which brings me to another point which is most marina's don't allow full time live aboard's to stay in their marina's.

It's the continuous moorer's that give genuine CC's a bad name and one way that I can see around it  is for genuine CC's to have a log book that they record all journeys and periodically get it signed by a BW staff member or for arguments sake the manager of a canal side pub as proof of their whereabouts' and being continually on the move. What some people overlook is that during the non season month's CC's are still on the move and can be the ears and eyes on the cut being able to report problems to BW that they might not know exist until something major happens like the 2 recent canal breaches bringing everything to a halt and costing million's to rectify. If BW want to charge anybody extra fee's it should be the continuous moorer's who inevitably hog the moorings for weeks on end.

BW/Govt need to come up with a firmer policy on what constitutes a CC which they are able to police and enforce but of course with all the cut backs in man power they probably are not in a position to do so unless they get more of the pen pushers out of the office and onto the towpath where they might get a better understanding of what the canals are all about.

Like it or lump it canal's are very much a part of Britain's heritage of the Industrial age. They spend millions on Stately homes etc; they should be doing the same for the canal's. Here endeth this gripe.

Gypsy Rover at Hopwas on a cold frosty morning

Sunday 7 December 2008

Beautiful Winters Day!

0 Locks and 8 Miles. Now moored at Hopwas, Coventry Canal.

It was too nice a day not to cruise with not a cloud in the sky and quite a bit milder than we have been getting lately. We were 1 of 4 boats that we knew were on the move and 3 of us all finished up at Hopwas, what a coincidence.

Along the way we spotted a bunch of kids enjoying a morning at a pony club putting in some time on riding lessons and the Mum's and Dad's looking on from a distance. I say pony club but one young lady was riding a horse that I felt sure would have been quite at home pulling a barge along a canal, he was a solid looking individual with a broad back.

Close to bridge 80 we found a sunken narrowboat which BW had attached a notice stating that they were aware of it. It was an old boat with what appeared to be a wooden hull and presumably the owner had removed all identification from the boat making it difficult to trace leaving BW with the expense of another mess to clear up.

Just north bridge 80 Coventry Canal

North of Whittington we came across 2 kayakers and as we passed them one followed on in our wake getting a free ride. Probably the most exciting part of his day out.

Great day for kayaking

Once we were moored up it became apparent that the boat in front of us was having trouble getting power to his batteries, it's funny that the cold weather always brings out battery problems because that's about the third boat in as many days we have come across with this problem.

1572 locks, 3277 ½ miles, 52 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Saturday 6 December 2008

It had to happen! Sooner or later

3 Locks, 7½ Miles and 1 swing bridge. Now moored at Fradley Junction, Coventry Canal.

We left Rugeley just before 10am with clear blue skies and a nip in the air. We had 1 boat ahead of us and by the time we reached the first lock there was another following us. The first boat had suffered battery failure and had to wind just before Fradley Junction and head back to Great Haywood for assistance. The lady on the boat introduced herself as Ngaire and told me her father came from Christchurch, New Zealand and that she had been christened with a full Maori name which was a bit of a mouthful so I won't even try to write it.

As we turned onto the Coventry canal Dot had to operate the swing bridge across the narrow entrance to the canal and we pulled into the water point about 100 yards further along. I got off the boat to help Dot on the centre rope and when the boat was close to where we wanted it I went to get the stern rope. Unfortunately as I went to step onto the stern the boat moved away from me and I didn't get a firm enough foot hold and my foot slipped and the next thing I knew was that I was standing on the canal bed up to my chest in freezing cold water. I soon managed to scramble out and had to leave Dot to secure the boat so that I could strip out of the wet clothing and have a quick shower and change of clothing.

Luckily Dot had a saviour on the next boat who came and gave her a hand. When I spoke to him later he said "Welcome to the club, you are not a boater until you have fallen in" The last time he fell in the canal it had an inch of ice on it. Other than a grazed shin I'm still in one piece.

1572 locks, 3269 ½ miles, 52 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday 5 December 2008

Snow, what snow?

Still moored at Rugeley.

Well last night's prediction of snow came true in the North but it didn't seem to extend any further South than the Manchester area so all we got was wind and rain.

We spent last night here all on our own but there have been quite a few arrivals over the course of the day and we are now 1 of 6 boats spending the night here. Majority of the crews went off to Morrison's for supplies as this is the last supermarket for quite some distance.

This afternoon Nb Hector with Rosemary and Paul who we met in Braunston 18 months ago pulled in to replenish their larder before heading north again.  Rosemary showed Dot through their boat and the many improvements they have made since we saw it last,  A quick chat with Michael and Geraldine of the Cheeseboat on their way past heading for Great Hayward before returning to Fradley Junction for christmas.

Tonight's TV news had photo's of Robin's which viewers had sent into the TV station and this reminded me about yesterday when a little Robin landed on the rear cover a mere 2 foot in front of me while I was waiting to enter a lock. He sat there chattering away for a couple of minutes before flying off. They certainly are not shy. Tomorrow we will head towards Fradley Junction on our way south.

Thursday 4 December 2008

Ice breakers a plenty.

2 Locks, 5 Miles. Now moored at Rugeley.

Again we were ice bound at breakfast time but by 11 am plenty of boats had passed through breaking up the ice sufficiently for us to be able to reverse back to the Anglo Welsh yard for diesel and a pump out. We eventually got under way about 12.30. after taking on 95 litres at 72p per litre. The Mikuni diesel fired central heating unit has been working pretty hard lately.

It was cold and crisp but we had a clear blue sky as we headed off to Rugeley. Even if the predicted snow does disrupt our travel tomorrow we are only a couple of hundred yards from a Morrison's supermarket so we won't run short of supplies.

1569 locks, 3262 ½ miles, 52 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Another improvement.

The canal was covered in a slushy mixture of ice and snow this morning but plenty of boat movements have dispersed this during the day.

We had thought of moving but we had to wait for the courier to deliver our new shower pump which didn't arrive until after lunch. No time like the present so I had the old pump out and the new one fitted with a minimal amount of modification. The new pump is quite clever in that the pump mechanism can be rotated on the electric motor to fit any situation and is actually quieter than the original. I will service the old one at my leisure and keep it as a spare or an emergency bilge pump.

Hopefully there will be an improvement in the weather tomorrow and we should be able to get under way again after we fill and empty the relevant tanks at Anglo Welsh.

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Iced in.

Still at Great Haywood.

Our plans have been some what disrupted in that we awoke to find ourselves iced in. There have been a couple of boats on the move but they all gave up after a short while battling the ice.

In some ways it is rather fortuitous as our shower pump needs overhauling and as we are next to Anglo Welsh  I have ordered a service kit from Cleghorn Waring (Jabasco) to be delivered to Anglo Welsh. I have also ordered a new pump which has been designed for easier servicing. The old one will be overhauled and kept for standby purposes.

Monday 1 December 2008

Time out in Great Haywood

Along with a greater proportion of the country we spent yesterday severely fog bound with visibility reduced to several hundred yards. We did manage to get out for a stroll to re-acquaint ourselves with the town.

This morning the fog had lifted but we were blessed by a heavy frost which has since thawed as the sun has finally broken through the cloud cover. With it becoming milder as the day wore on there has been quite a few boat movements, more than we have seen in the last 2 weeks.

Our Internet signal has not been the best here and Dot has been busy trying to put up some piccie's without success. These will be uploaded when internet is more stable. Tomorrow we will continue on our way south but we are in no hurry as we only have 33 miles and 10 locks to do before we reach the stoppages at Atherstone which hopefully will finish on Friday 5th. Once through the Atherstone flight we should make good time to Rugby.