Saturday 28 February 2009

The Time had Come!

0 locks, 11 miles, 1 swing bridge. Now moored at Sutton Stop, Oxford Canal.

With the weather slowly improving it was time to cast off and start heading north. Yesterday we just did a casual run up to Brinklow and today we have had a good cruise up to Sutton Stop (Hawkesbury Junction). We are moored on the Oxford canal side of the stop lock and will remain here until Monday.

It was an interesting day a far as wild life was concerned. First up was a fox which sadly was quite recently deceased . The next was a Green Woodpecker with it’s bright green plumage and red head. The last sighting was just on the south side of the M6 of what I had thought to be a Buzzard soaring over the canal and open fields. The most noticeable feature was white patches on the under side of the wings near the wing tip. However after perusing our guide book of birds it looks as if we may have made a sighting of a rare Red Kite. A shame we were unable to photograph it to verify it.

On the domestic scene we passed a farm with 4 Donkey’s, 3 Shetland ponies and a couple of dozen goats all of which looked to be extremely well fed and in need of losing some weight.

1587 locks, 3355 miles, 57 Tunnels, 44 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday 26 February 2009

Getting organised.

0 Locks, 2 Miles. Now moored at Newbold.

Well there were just a couple of small chores to complete before we left Brownsover this morning and then we were away. Just after casting off we passed another boat heading North which turned out to be Nb Gleemaiden with Richard and Audrone aboard. We were a short distance past when the penny dropped as to who they were, sorry guys its my slow recall. A short cruise down to Clifton Cruisers where we winded and collected our mail from Paul and notified them as to what we were doing between now and December which is probably when we will see them again.

We were hoping that we may have found Nb Gleemaiden moored up but by the time we reached Newbold there was no sign of them so perhaps they carried on to their mooring at Brinklow Marina.

1587 locks, 3344 miles, 57 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Slow Boat to ?????

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

There is no other way to describe today’s little journey which we have done many, many times. It started out when we left Newbold to travel through bridge 50 to the water point where we had to wait as there was already a boat watering up. We also had to travel slowly as a British Waterways work boat with 4 men aboard were trimming overhanging vegetation on the non towpath side of the canal.

Tank full and we were off again through Newbold tunnel up to the winding hole at bridge 48. As we passed the BW guys again we asked how far they were going to which they replied “Coventry” which was good news. Just before we reached the winding hole Nb Matilda Rose passed us heading south.

Graham and Jill on Matilda Rose, hopefully we will meet up again in the summer up north.

After the usual exchange of pleasantries Dot became aware of who we were talking to as Graham called that they were coming down to see us for a cuppa. We had made tentative arrangements to perhaps meet up at some stage as we were in the same area. With a quick shout of “Meet you at Newbold” and it was all on. We winded and headed back to meet Graham and Jill with dog’s Baxter and Muttley who are father and son. Apparently they have been following our blog before they had even bought Matilda Rose. Over the next hour or so and a cuppa we chatted while they filled their water tank. Eventually we had to tear ourselves away as we had not achieved any of the tasks that we had lined up for the day and time was ticking on.

We eventually reached Brownsover nearly 5 hours after we originally slipped our mooring on a journey that would normally only take less than an hour. Such is life on the “Cut”. We got most of our chores done but we still have a couple of things to do tomorrow morning before we start heading North.

1587 locks, 3342 miles, 57 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Comings and Goings.

Over the week-end we have had Tracey come and stay with us which saved her having to travel in and out of London twice as her company had her working in Birmingham on Friday and today.

With the weather improving we have seen quite a lot of hire boats on the move while sitting it out at Newbold. However it has also bought two of our earlier boating contacts back to Rugby. Les on Nb Valerie was the first to arrive and we have had a couple of coffee mornings with him catching up on our trials and tribulations.

Today we walked down to Brownsover and along the way we spotted Pete on Nb Pickles 2 who we first met on the Ashby Canal. We had a quick chat and he is now moored a few boats away from us. He has been busy painting the outside of the boat before the rust got a grip and it looks quite different to what it was in undercoat grey.

Sunday 22 February 2009

Rugby Aqueduct

Situated between Rugby and Newbold it was renovated in 1991

Friday 20 February 2009

A Taste of Summer?

As the weather turned out gloriously sunny and warm (10 deg C) we decided to go for a bit of a hike, so we head back down the tow path to the Newbold Quarry which we have passed umpteen times but not stopped to check it out. The disused quarry is now a scenic reserve and used for fishing and a breeding place for the English White Clawed crayfish which has been under serious threat from the larger American Red Clawed crayfish. Apparently the latter carries a virus to which it is immune but not so with the English breed hence its demise.

Speaks for itself - must have been a hard place to work.

Going by the plaque at the entrance to the quarry it must have been a dangerous place to have worked in. Looking at the surrounding terrain I suspect it may have been quarried for grey clay as there is still plenty of it around.

The quarry between the canal and a housing estate

On our way back we deviated down into the village to buy some fish and chips for lunch at Larry’s Chippin. For £1.99 each we got a reasonable sized piece of Cod and a good scoop of chips, great value in these hard times.

A pair of Tufted Ducks at Newbold Quarry Park

Back on the tow path by the Barley Mow pub we came across a BW worker who had just completed a check on boat licences and what boats are moored where. We had a long chat about the “Cut” and how BW are reducing the amount of on line permanent moorings as more marina’s open. Hopefully leaving more mooring spaces for genuine cruisers.

Some good news came out of our chat in that another boat (wreck) has been removed from the water on the South Oxford and another 8 boats will be removed very soon.

Thursday 19 February 2009

Ryde to Portsmouth Hovercraft

Last remaining passenger hovercraft in the UK apparently.
Years ago we travelled from Dover to Calais on a hovercraft and a really exciting trip it was too.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Whoop's that wasn't Supposed to Happen

Recently the water point at Newbold was in the process of being moved as it was alleged that the present one was linked to the Barley Mow pubs water meter and the present owner was unhappy with this situation.

A new stand pipe has been erected just south of the existing one and the pipe run around the side of the pubs car park down to the road awaiting connection to the mains. This task has been in abeyance since before Xmas but this morning on our way to catch the bus we found the road had been reduced to a single lane and a trench dug half way across the road with a huge heavy steel plate over the top of it. When we got closer we found that the steel plate was there to stop a fountain of water shooting up into the air as there was water gushing out from under the steel plate all over the road. It appears that the contractor dug a little too deeply when digging the trench and severed the water main.

After being in town for a couple of hours we returned to find that the situation was unchanged and the water had not been turned off. The towns water supply must have gone down quite dramatically in that time. In New Zealand the leak would have been sealed off a lot sooner safe guarding town water supplies. Perhaps they have bigger reservoirs in the UK and don’t need to worry about these things, its only water after all said and done.

Tuesday 17 February 2009

Some sunshine at last.

0 Locks, 2 Miles, Now moored at Newbold.

Well it was time to move again and it was a lovely sunny day so it made a pleasant change from all the snow and cold weather we have had recently. As it is mid term break for the school’s there are more boats on the move, mostly grandparents with the grand children from what we have observed. It won’t be too long now before we head off up North in our quest to cover as many of the canals as possible.

The towpath here at Newbold is not as muddy as it was down at Brownsover so that’s a bonus. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Nb Gosty Hill on Wednesday as our fuel tank is quite low. With the extremely cold weather lately the Mikuni diesel fired central heating unit has been working very hard hence our fuel has gone down very rapidly. I have been down to the Tesco’s petrol station to refill our emergency supply so we won’t run out. Mixing a small amount of regular diesel in with the red stuff seems to improve the performance of the Mikuni unit.

1587 locks, 3340 miles, 55 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday 16 February 2009

I love these hedgerows

There's a real art in building these hedgerows
The remains of the snow alongside Rugby Golf Course in front of the new hedgerow.

watched an interesting article on TV this week showing how it was done.

Gypsy Caravans!

Bit different from our caravan club ones back home! Feel like a change guys?

Sunday 15 February 2009

Time to move again.

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

Yesterday we moved up to the water point to take on a full supply of water as the washing was starting to mount up. By the time we had filled the tank one load of washing had been done. We stayed at Hillmorton overnight and this morning we did another load of washing while cruising. Due to an overnight frost the canal was once again frozen so we waited until 5 other boats had passed through before setting off ourselves.

Upon arrival at Brownsover the only mooring available was on the towpath side which after all the recent snow was extremely muddy. However lady luck smiled upon us because while we were tying up one boat weighed anchor and left from the park side which has a tar sealed footpath, so a quick change of plan and we moved across the canal to a better mooring.

When we were here last time the resident swan’s still had a cygnet in tow but on our way here this morning we spotted two cygnets, one on it’s own and the other unfortunately deceased, so we are unsure as to whether the male has just chased the cygnet away or killed it. Either way there is one cygnet here that wasn’t around here a month ago.

1587 locks, 3338 miles, 55 Tunnels, 43 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Ryde to Portsmouth

The Solent Cat twin hulled catamaran that we crossed the Solent aboard.

The British Navy’s first iron warship "The Warrior"

Sailing ship figure head. Compare the size with Derek standing in front of it.

Statue of Antarctic explorer Robert Scott after whom Scott Base in the Antarctic was named with his faithful Terrier.

Saturday 14 February 2009

Isle of Wight Car Ferry

We travelled from Portsmouth to Ryde on the Isle of Wight on this car ferry.

Thursday 12 February 2009

Godshill Isle of Wight

While on the Island we visited one of the villages with their thatched roof cottages overlooked by All Saints Church at Godshill. Perhaps so named as the church sits on the top of the hill overlooking the village.

Out for an early morning ride

Note the Kangaroo on the roof - some Australian connection here?

Our first sighting of daffodils for the season just below the church

Beautiful thatched cottages.

Of course the well in the middle of the village.

Wednesday 11 February 2009

A Nocturnal Pair!

The thaw has started but we still have a lot of snow here.

This morning we hopped on a bus to Tesco’s which was a bit of a long winded trip. The reason being they are the only stockist’s of Dot’s favourite Coffee Mate and we had completely run out.We opted to walk back to town for some exercise so that we could drop off our repeat prescriptions at the doctors.

Back at the boat our neighbour on Nb Panacea pointed out a Long Eared Owl sitting in a bush opposite his boat which he had been observing since mid morning. I took some photo’s and downloaded them onto the computer. While observing the bird from the kitchen window I suddenly realised that in fact there were two of them roosting in adjacent bushes so I got out my tripod in an attempt to obtain better photo’s. We were also told to keep a look out for a Water Rail which he had seen. Apparently they can be mistaken for immature moorhens and are quite shy so we will have to wait and see if it is going to show itself again.

Sorry about the quality of the photos but you get the general idea.

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Day 8 of the Big Snow.

Since our return to Gypsy Rover there has been no sign of a thaw and last evening it started to snow again depositing another 2 inches of the white stuff on top of what is already here. In the early hours of Saturday morning the temperature dropped to minus 11 degrees, a record for us. Needless to say we are frozen in once more and will not be moving for quite some time. The forecast is for more snow tonight and ice for the coming week. Yesterday 3 boats passed through here breaking the ice which was inches thick and when that freezes over again will become even thicker.

Hillmorton 002-1

Note the BW enforcement gentleman in the background logging the boats

We are close to the water point  here at Hillmorton but not close enough to use the hose so we have to ferry it using 5 litre containers. With another 100 litres or so extra on board we were able to use the washing machine, its surprising how you always come back from holiday with a pile of dirty laundry.  Still it’s not that bad as it gives us some exercise and keeps us warm. As for the diesel we are thankful that Iain and Alison on coal/diesel boat Gosty Hill are providing an excellent fortnightly service and keeping us fully operational.

The towpath and country lane are both still passable so we just crunch our way up to the main road to catch the #3 bus into town and frequent Sainsbury’s or Iceland instead of the usual Tesco’s.

Monday 9 February 2009

Osborne House Isle of Wight

Country home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. We were lucky with Osborne House because we had been told that it was booked groups only this time of year but on talking to the rep at the Tourist Information office he told us to ring and book. This we did and got a reservation on the last guided tour of Thursday. Back at the hotel I announced my findings to all our travelling companions over dinner and finished up with 6 other couples joining us. We travelled out by a local bus and of course we all had our bus passes so that was a freebie. When we checked in at Osborne house we were asked “Party of 14 is it”? to which we replied “Yes” and promptly got 15% off the concession rate. Nice one! The tour company we were travelling with had an optional tour of a winery on the same afternoon at an extra cost of ₤9.00 which was cancelled due to lack of interest. I wonder why?

The original entrance to Osborne house has now been rebuilt to become the entrance to the garden.

Osborne House with Queen Victorias private entrance, the guest entrance is on the right.

The rear of the house with the beautifully landscaped gardens leading down to the private beach. Unfortunately a lot of the statues were covered due to our out of main season visit.

Closer view of her majesty's private entrance behind which is the grand staircase.

If you are interested in learning more on Osborne House watch BBC1 at 9pm on 22nd February.

Sunday 8 February 2009

Our Tour Coach!

Outside the Royal Esplanade Hotel

Snow on the Isle of Wight

Everywhere we looked we could see snow

The Esplanade in Ryde

Railway tracks along the esplanade were closed by snow

Emergency Rescue Hovercraft

On the Esplanade at Ryde on the Isle of Wight

Saturday 7 February 2009

Royal Esplanade Hotel at Ryde on the Isle of Wight

Our accomodation on the esplanade overlooking the hovercraft, pier and railway with Portsmouth on the horizon (depending on visibility).

Nice Timing!

Still moored at Hillmorton.

The reason that only pictures have been appearing on our blog recently is because we took ourselves off to the Isle of Wight for 5 days. It worked out quite well leaving the boat on the day the snow started and spending the next five days of winter snow in a hotel on the sea front at Ryde overlooking the Solent. We did get our share of snow on the Monday and Tuesday but after that it was ok. Our hotel overlooked the railway/bus station and the Hovercraft terminal. The railway was a surprise with it’s ex London Underground rolling stock which still run out to the end of Ryde Pier.

Gypsy Rover in the snow when we left early on Monday morning.

Gypsy Rover in the snow on our arrival back this evening. Note the heavier depth of snow now.
More on our trip to the Isle of Wight over the next few days.

Friday 6 February 2009

A Victim of the Credit Crunch!

I see that the recession has hit a waterways based business with the floating hotel at Northwich on the River Weaver calling in the administrators. I don’t know what they could do with this floating palace except perhaps cut it up into smaller units as floating homes or sell or rent them as is, as apartments or flats. Even shifting the place is going to prove to be problem as it is or even cut up.

Floating Hotel in Northwich on the River Weaver photo taken while we were there in September. Rumour has it that BW are interested. We look forward to any developments.

Monday 2 February 2009