Monday, 28 June 2010

Oh Dear, How Sad.

Yes, the Brits were cheated out of 1 goal by the referee’s but all in all they were totally outclassed by a very fine tuned German team. Enough said. Here are some more shots from yesterday’s Rally.

Historic Boat rally 014 Demonstration how a Barge and Butty would sometimes travel when empty.

Historic Boat rally 019 A very much converted steam barge Adamant under way.

Historic Boat rally 028 What  the working barges used to look like when running empty.

Historic Boat rally 087 Sorry Sarah!,Completely hidden by the chimney of your new boat Chertsey

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally.

Historic Boat rally 072

Today , which was supposedly the hottest day of the year so far, we caught the bus to Braunston. For the organiser’s of the above rally the weather couldn’t have been better, bringing visitors out in their  hundred’s. We left the boat around 9.30 and got home around 5pm so it was a good day out. No matter where we go we always bump into somebody we know and today was no exception as we met up with Baden (Nb Pania). We also caught up with the lady on the cheese boat who we haven’t seen for over a year. Needless to say we couldn’t leave without buying some of her delightful Welsh Amber Mist cheese laced with whiskey and Pickle Power cheese.

Historic Boat rally 096 

The section of canal between the bottom lock and the junction at Braunston Turn was up to 5 deep in moored boats in places and just enough room for the parade to get through. Unfortunately for a couple of private narrowboats they had come through the Braunston tunnel and down through the locks and either missed or ignored signs to say that the rally was on and delays could be expected. Their progress through Braunston was therefore vey slow.

Historic Boat rally 080Young Working Boaters Society.

Tugs, Ice breakers, wooden and iron hull’s and just 1 steam powered boat (Adamant) were all there for everybody to gloat over. There were 3 coal boats fully laden showing how deep they sit in the water compared to the empty boats sitting high out of the water.With all the various canal trust stalls and demonstrations, rope making, horse harnessing, hot dogs stall and ice-cream van there was something for everybody.

Historic Boat rally 102 Rope maker at Braunston. He was a real comedian.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

It looks great.

0 locks, 2.55 Miles. Now moored at Hillmorton.

The carpet layer (Liam) was on time this morning and wasted no time in getting the carpet down. Even with just the lounge completed there was a complete transformation and a warm cosy glow about it. Approx: 2 hours later and the job was finished but Liam had time for a quick cuppa before heading off to do a bathroom job.

001 Wow, What a difference 2 hours can make

All day today there has been a procession of old working barges going past all heading for this week-ends Historic Working Boat Rally at Braunston. One of them turned out to be Peter on the coal/diesel boat Bletchley. As he was stopping to refuel the boat behind us I took advantage of the situation and had our tank topped up with a meagre 26 litre’s.

A short time later there was a knock on the boat with the comment “Are you the Kiwi’s?” It turned out to be the gentleman who had found Dot’s phone yesterday. As he knew the name of the boat he decided to come down to the canal to see if he could find us and return the phone, bless his cotton socks. It just goes to show there are some good people out there.

With the carpet down and Dot’s phone back in her possession it was time to head to Clifton Cruisers for a much needed pump out. Upon arrival at Clifton Cruisers we found everybody busy sorting out 2 hire boats so I finished up doing the pump out myself to save time. Needless to say I gave the tank a thorough flushing. From there it was a short and very hot cruise down to Hillmorton where moorings were to be found in short supply. Because of this we are closer to the locks than usual.

2233 locks, 4318.97 miles, 94 tunnels, 131 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday, 25 June 2010

That’s quick.

With making alterations to the original layout in Gypsy Rover our carpet has been a real mish mash for the past 2 years. As we have the boat on the market we have been tossing up with carpet tiles or proper carpet. A visit to Carpet Right, Europe’s biggest carpet retailer, got us thinking with them offering 60% discount  and laying within days. After discussing our requirements with a very friendly Scottish salesman we opted to run with carpet professionally laid. Before we signed the deal he contacted the carpet layer to ensure he was happy laying carpet in a boat and when he would be available. The response was yes to the first question and how about 9.30am tomorrow!

Brownsover 005 Stripped ready for new carpet tomorrow, we will lay the off cuts under the dinette ourselves later.

Well that put the cat among the pigeons as we had to get the boat shifted across the canal to the park side  to start off. Luckily a couple of boats had vacated the area so there was room for us. The next job was to strip out the old carpet and detach any wall unit’s that would be in the way so the carpet layer won’t suffer any delays in getting on with the job. After about 4 frantic hours the job was complete including scraping old glue etc; off the floor  and sweeping it all up.

In all the hustle and bustle Dot dropped her phone but didn’t realise it was missing for quite some time. She has since bought a new phone and sim card. In the meantime I was contacted by Baden on Nb Pania to say he had been contacted by a gentleman who had found her phone. I rang Dot’s phone and the gentleman answered but before I could give him our details the phone cut off. All we know is that he knows the name of our boat and we hope he comes back tomorrow. Time will tell.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

About time too!

0 Locks, 2.73 Miles, 2 Tunnels. Now moored at Brownsover.

We had done our dash at Newbold on the 48 hour moorings so it was time to go. The water point was clear so we filled up the water before doing anything else. A short run up to bridge 48 through the Newbold tunnel to wind in the course of the old canal and then back through the tunnel down to Brownsover.

Hillmorton 015 We passed through Newbold Tunnel twice this morning and considering how many times we have travelled through here we passed another boat in the tunnel for the first time today.

Hillmorton 016

Our journey was at a snail’s pace as there are so many boats heading South to Braunston for the Vintage boats rally this coming week-end. Moorings at Brownsover were again at a premium with at least 3 boats overstaying their welcome and hogging the moorings.

A bit more work on the boat was completed and shopping trips to Tesco’s (food), Halfords,(oil & filter), and Homebase for painting requirements.

While we had a late lunch we watched the Slovakia v England World cup match on TV. OK, the England team won but not very convincingly as far as we were concerned when you compare it to the Italy V NZ match. Still there is long way to go yet before the final.

2233 locks, 4316.42 miles, 94 tunnels, 131 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

What a couple of scorchers.

Summer kicked in with a vengeance yesterday and today. Our boat thermometer was showing 420C outside but a lot of that heat was reflecting off the steel hull. Inside the boat was in the high 20’s so the real temperature would have been in the mid 20’s. Trying to sleep was another thing with the temperature not dropping until the early hours of the morning.

This morning Dot decided to ring the hospital about her cancelled appointment with the Neurologist. Luckily she did because the appointment had been changed to today, the same day as the original but an hour later. After a quick look through the correspondence from the NHS it transpired she had 2 letters which she took as duplicates. If she had read them carefully she would have noticed the hours discrepancy between the appointments, silly girl, should have gone to Specsavers.

The Neurologist was a delightful lady who was very thorough and agreed with Dot’s current treatment. She has requested an MRI scan so that she can see what the situation is with the Trigeminal nerve, the 5th cranial nerve, for future reference.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Well I never. New Zealand 1 Italy1.

After having spent a couple of hours with Baden and Ros (Nb Pania) at the Barley Mow pub catching up on comings and goings and having a very nice Sunday roast lunch, we chilled out afterwards by watching a bit of TV on the boat.

Unbeknown to us the World soccer match between New Zealand and Italy was showing so even though we are not great sports fans we sat and watched a most interesting game. I think the UK could do with borrowing the NZ goal keeper as he was brilliant. The whole team played exceptionally well and being ranked 78th deserved to hold Italy to the final 1 all draw. That could well upset the apple cart when it comes time for the finals.

Man of the match went to a Kiwi defender ( Ryan Nelson) who was well deserving of the title.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Mail run.

0 Locks 4 Miles. Now  moored at Newbold.

Things to do, people to see, time to make a move. First job of course to go and fill up the water tank while the washing machine was doing a wash that way keeping the tank as full as possible. After winding  just below Hillmorton bottom lock it was back to Clifton Cruisers for the mail.

While at Clifton Cruisers we met up with Baden and Ros on Nb Pania and made a date for lunch tomorrow. We had a quick chat but moorings were at a premium so we didn’t stop for long. Just after leaving Clifton Cruisers we spotted Nb Ten Bob Note moored up and we had a quick passing wave with Ernie who later sent us an email asking if we knew where there was a dental surgery as he had broken a tooth. Luckily we were able to point him in the right direction.

Up to Brownsover for lunch and a quick visit to Tesco’s for the inevitable requirements before moving on up to Newbold near the Barley Mow pub. When we came through here several days ago the place was empty but today we were lucky in finding a mooring which is only a 48 hour mooring, not a 14 day job but that’s life, better luck next time.

Newbold 002 Our current mooring at Newbold

2233 locks, 4313.69 miles, 92 tunnels, 131 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Saturday, 19 June 2010

We are being followed!

Despite moving nearly 7 miles from when the swans first slept alongside us, last night the family slept on the bank just behind us in Hillmorton.  They appear to be the same family as they still have the 8 cygnets (who are growing fast) and came knocking early this morning again for breakfast.

This morning we caught the bus into Rugby for our 6 monthly Doctors appointments and then wandered through the market picking up some fresh vegetables before catching the bus back just as it started to rain.

Unfortunately Dot’s specialist appointment at the hospital next week has been cancelled so we will have to wait around the area until they notify us of another appointment. Oh dear!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Reed Bunting

Hillmorton 027

I was lucky enough to spot this Reed Bunting in the reeds opposite Gypsy Rover this afternoon.

Hot Air Balloon at Hillmorton

Hillmorton 008

Spotted at Hillmorton last evening just before 6pm with a beautiful clear sky.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Night Night

Hillmorton 011 The swan family decided to spend the night alongside Gypsy Rover.

Kent Road bridge.

0 Locks, 2.06 Miles. Now moored below Kent Road Bridge.

With Brownsover moorings full to capacity we decided to move off down towards Hillmorton. On the way we called into Clifton Cruisers for our mail and a chat about getting some carpentry done. Unfortunately they are busy completing 2 new boats so are unable to help for quite some time. While at Clifton Cruisers we spotted another Kiwi owned boat in the form of Nb Pania. Baden and Ros have been to Ireland and left Pania at Clifton Cruisers. We have met up with them on numerous occasions and hopefully we will meet up again over the week-end when they are not working.

From there it was a pleasant but cool cruise down to just past Kent Road bridge where we were iced in over winter. The scene is quite different today with the fields opposite under a good crop of Oats or Wheat instead of snow.

The swan family of 8 cygnets has followed us all the way from Brinklow down to Hillmorton and according to a passing local the parents nested here at Hillmorton. That is quite a feat for the cygnets as it’s about a 16 miles round trip although it would have taken them over a week to complete. The cygnets are really starting to grow and put on weight now since we first saw them.

Brinklow 036 Preening time before a snooze in the sun.

2233 locks, 4309.69 miles, 92 tunnels, 131 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Visitors! some unexpected.

0 Locks, 4.77 Miles, 1 Tunnel. Now at Brownsover.

Yesterday we had a visit from Paul on Nb Waterways Routes and we finally got to meet Christine and daughter Susan. They are on their way to Braunston where they will wind and return to film for a DVD on the Leicester Ring. After lunch aboard their boat Dot got to drive Waterways Routes for a short distance so that Paul could photograph her at the helm of yet another boat. He has photographed her at the helm of other boats except his own and Gypsy Rover.

Brinklow 041Paul on his electric boat Waterways Routes. Susan at the helm.

Today we pushed on towards Rugby with a stop at Newbold for water. The last couple of times through this area we have found the place chocker block full with boats but today there were moorings aplenty.

Brinklow 042We finally got to meet Paul with wife Christine and daughter Susan.

It was a different story at Brownsover where the moorings were full. We were nearly at the end of the towpath moorings when we found a crew about to cast off so we swapped places allowing them to head North.

Brinklow 045Bring that boat back. Dot heads off on Waterways Routes.

After lunch it was off to Tesco’s to stock up the pantry and upon our return we found Paul, Christine and Susan had just moored up after filming Braunston to Brownsover. From here they will be heading up the Ashby Canal so if you see them en route, smile as they go past, you could become famous. A short time later we had another unexpected visitor in Peter on the coal/diesel boat Bletchley. We flagged him down to top up the fuel tank. He surprised us by saying “ The last time I saw you was at Hemel Hempstead.”  This was true but that was back in 2007, so Peter has a good memory.

Brinklow 049Time for a preen and afternoon nap.

2233 locks, 4307.63 miles, 92 tunnels, 131 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday, 14 June 2010

Change of pace.

Over the past 3½ years we have cruised the country from the Kennet & Avon in the South to the Leeds & Liverpool in the North and only missed a few sections of a couple of canals. We have achieved what we set out to do and loved every minute of it.

Our plan over the next few months is to travel down to London via the Grand Union Canal but at a much slower pace spending as much time as possible at certain moorings where we can catch up on painting and varnishing so that the boat is in tip top condition for who ever buys our floating home.

As we have various commitments in Rugby over the next 6 – 8 weeks we will spend the time between Rugby and Braunston until these have been finalised. Then we will be off through Braunston tunnel with a small detour up the Leicester Line and down the Foxton flight to Market Harborough as this would have to be one of our favourite places we have visited.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Out in the countryside.

1 Lock, 7.76 Miles. now moored at Brinklow.

Brinklow 004Meet the Coot family. Dot feeding them pellets kept their attention.

We said our farewells to Paul and Lynne on Nb Piston Broke as they are heading up to Fradley Junction before returning to Hillmorton to get their boat streeeetched. Rather them than me but Paul loves a challenge. So we will meet up with them again very soon.

Brinklow 006 A real old Gypsy caravan actually being lived in near Hawkesbury Junction.

With the Soccer world cup about to start we thought it might be wise to head out into the countryside for the week-end. It won’t matter if England wins or looses there will be a fair amount of drunken behaviour around any town or city, celebrating or commiserating.

Brinklow 009 This little fella isn't very old.

It appears that we are not the only one with this idea because we have passed lots of boats moored well away from civilisation all along the way.

Brinklow 017 Well fed Moorhen chicks at rest.

2233 locks, 4302.86 miles, 91 tunnels, 131 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday, 10 June 2010

High Tide.

When we arrived at our present mooring 2 days ago the water level in the canal was low. The overflow weir behind us was as dry as a bone with the water level a good 6 inches below the overflow. With the recent rain which didn’t appear to be that heavy the water level has risen to the top of the overflow. Paul on Nb Piston Broke told us that there was some heavy rain at 5am this morning but we obviously slept through it. Again this evening we had a heavy downpour which only lasted about 15 – 20 minutes but will ensure water levels for the near future, together with a thunderstorm it is still raining now.  Hope it is not like June 2007 when we were stuck on the Thames at Oxford for three weeks.

The four of us took a bus into Coventry today for a look around and got back before the heavy rain that was forecast arrived.  Tomorrow it is off on the bus again to the large Tesco Extra that is supposed to be the largest in Europe, we will see.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Hawkesbury Junction.

0 Locks, 8.90 Miles. Now moored north of Hawkesbury Junction.

With the weather forecast for the next 5 days not looking too brilliant we opted to push on to our present location. First job was to top up the water tank at the BW yard at Hartshill.

Hawkesbury 003 Beautiful displays of Poppies like these seem common place this year.

There were no surprises with the amount of boats on the move except for 1 Rose Narrowboat hire boat. They were travelling so fast we saw the wash they were kicking up before we saw them. As we passed each other they had slowed down and I commented that the speed limit was 4mph. There was a bit of banter back and forth and then we were present with Churchills salute in reverse from a middle aged woman who will never make a lady as long as her a*** points downwards.

Hawkesbury 001 TV on the towpath near Nuneaton miles from any road. It was either carried a long way or off a boat.

A quick stop at Springwood Haven Marina for a pump out and some nic nacs including a new mooring chain to replace a mooring hook that mysteriously disappeared from our front cratch at Atherstone.  As we passed under the last bridge before Hawkesbury Junction we decided it would be wise to grab the first mooring available. Ahead of us was a boat also preparing to moor up which I recognised by the cap the skipper was wearing as Paul and Lyn on Nb Piston Broke who we had planned to meet up with for a bite and a pint.  How was that for timing?

Hawkesbury 004 No, not a NZ State house but probably a council house in Nuneaton. You can see where the New Zealand design came from.

After mooring up bow to bow we wandered down to The Greyhound pub for a Ploughman’s lunch washed down with an ale. Back at the boats it was time to sort out the TV reception with the high hedgerow interfering with the satellite reception but we now have a reasonable picture.

Hawkesbury 005 Watch out for the giant Green Monkey.

2232 locks, 4295.10 miles, 91 tunnels, 131 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Vintage caravans.

This blog is dedicated to our caravanning friends back in New Zealand. These photographs were snapped during yesterdays travels and show that there is life in the old dog yet. I can remember holidaying in one similar to the larger caravan back in the late 1950’s. Geez, showing my age there a bit.

Atherstone 009 Camping with a difference, Vintage 20th century caravans and 21st century vehicles.

Atherstone flight.

11 locks 8.76 Miles. Now moored near Hartshill.

With another fine but humid day ahead of us it was time to set off and surmount the Atherstone locks. For about half of the locks we struck lucky with another boat coming down as we went up. For the rest of the time there were 3 boats in convoy all heading up the locks so water had to be wasted. Not that this was a problem as there had been a lot of activity through the locks earlier and many of the pounds were very low. Some of the bottom gates were leaking badly also which didn’t help when we were trying to fill the lock. It meant leaving the paddles open until the top gate was open.

Atherstone 002 Mum arrives with 1 free loader.

In one lock we found 3 dead ducks and 2 ducklings that looked as if they had been trapped by a boat and crushed and killed. Totally unnecessary in our view.

Atherstone 005 Atherstone lock keepers cottage. Guess who he supports?

At Atherstone we stopped for lunch and then walked into town for some shopping. No visit to Atherstone would be complete without visiting 19 Gales for some fresh pies and produce, roll on tea time. Another surprise was the disappearance of Somerfields supermarket. We knew they had amalgamated with the COOP  but this store is now NISA extra, part of the Mills Group, one we haven't come across before. Shopping done we headed off towards Hartshill, one bridge short of the BW yard.

2232 locks, 4286.20 miles, 91 tunnels, 131 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Mum’s taxi!!

Alvecote 004Now be a good girl and go to bed like your brother.

Alvecote 009 I don't need a lift, I'll swim thank you.

Alvecote 007 Move over Horace and let me on.

Great summertime cruising.

2 Locks, 6.59 Miles. Now moored opposite Alvecote Marina.

Despite the brilliant weather the canals are not as busy as we would have imagined which I suppose is a bonus, not too many boats to contend with. Passing two fellow bloggers boats at Fazeley Junction we saw Nb Granny Buttons and Nb Chicheemaun, no sign of the owners though. Even when we called into Fazeley Mill Marina for diesel they commented on how quiet it was with very little passing trade.  Of course we were the second kiwi boat in the last few days to visit, the other being Barry and Sandra on Nb Northern Pride on their way north to Birmingham.

Yesterday Mike on Nb Guelrose posted a picture of 4 cygnets riding on their parents back at Hopwas. Unless they slipped past us going north during the night the only swan’s we found were a pair with only 3 cygnets about 5 miles south of Hopwas. If this was the same pair they have sadly lost 1 cygnet.

Fazeley 002 One thing that always amazes us when passing through Fazeley Junction is the long line of boats on the 48 hour moorings (often overstaying) and not one on the 7 day moorings.  Anyone have the answer here?

2221 locks, 4277.44 miles, 91 tunnels, 131 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday, 4 June 2010

Lovely sunshine.

0 Locks, 6.60 Miles. Now moored at Hopwas.

Hopwas 001

Gypsy Rover moored in a favourite spot at Hopwas.

After a peaceful overnight mooring it was time to push on.  We didn’t want to leave too late in case the moorings at Hopwas were full by the time we reached there as there are so many boats now on the move.  From a misty start to the day the weather just got better and better culminating in brilliant sunshine and a moderate breeze.

Except for a Canaltime hire boat rounding a blind bend completely on the wrong side of the canal and then losing control completely it was a pretty straight forward cruise.  Wildlife sightings included an abundance of ducklings, quite a few Moorhen chicks and just 2 cygnets near Streethay Wharf.

How the seasons make things change, when we have moored here previously there were lovely views of the River Tame and Tamworth in the distance, today with the the growth alongside the towpath we could see nothing. This afternoon we have just blogged out and Dot has spent the afternoon with her head in a book.

2219 locks, 4270.85 miles, 91 tunnels, 131 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday, 3 June 2010

It’s here now after a slow start.

3 locks, 8.63 Miles. 1 Swing bridge. Now moored at bridge 90 Coventry Canal.

Fradley 001 One of the latecomers

Yesterday was not a great start to Summer with it being cold wet and miserable all day. It got so cold in the afternoon that we fired up the Mikuni diesel fired central heating. After nearly 7 weeks of inactivity the unit fired up first pop which was a blessing. Needless to say we didn’t go anywhere, just spent the time updating the computer and making a quick trip to Morrisons.

Fradley 004 What! another new marina, even if it is small

This morning was overcast but dry when we set off for Fradley Junction. A couple of intending boaters (Phil & Sally) had contacted us asking if we could meet them at Fradley junction for a chat about living aboard a narrow boat. Despite the usual traffic jam around the 3 locks above Fradley junction we made a mooring on the Coventry Canal by 1pm where Phil & Sally found us shortly afterwards.

Fradley 005 Much appreciated help

After a couple of hours of canalia chat they had to head home and as we were listing badly to starboard and unable to get TV, we decided it was such a beautiful afternoon even though it was 4.30pm (very late for us to be cruising) we could afford to cruise for a bit longer to find a more suitable mooring near Fradley village.

Fradley 006 Look Richard, here’s one for you - Napier

2219 locks, 4264.25 miles, 91 tunnels, 131 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

We’re cruising again.

2 Locks, 5.23 Miles. Now moored at Rugeley.

Friday we had a surprise email from Derek and Carrie on Nb Uccello to say they were in the area. Next day there was a knock on the boat and they had moored just below Great Haywood lock. Since parting company at the bottom of the Wolverhampton flight they had completed their trip down to Gloucester docks returning via Stratford upon Avon and were now heading North back to the Llangollen Canal (all this while we were gallivanting in New Zealand). Carrie had made a large Lasagne and invited us over for supper to catch up on all our travels, theirs and ours. It was great to see them and Bungie the dog again.

After a couple of days to recuperate from all our recent travels, Monday arrived all too soon and it was time to head off towards Rugby. After last years adventures up on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal where we virtually had the canal to ourselves except for the odd occasion where we met a fellow boater, it was a bit of a shock with so many boats on the move. Being a Bank holiday week-end and school holiday didn’t help with all the hire boats around.

We encountered the usual delay at Colwich lock with 3 boats on either side waiting to pass through. I don’t know why there is always delays at this lock except that it is a slow filler. Arriving in Rugeley it was wall to wall boats but we did manage to find a mooring down near the railway viaduct.

Not long after we had moored up our friend’s John and Elizabeth arrived by car from Trinity Marina in Hinckley. Like us they had taken advantage of the Air NZ special offer and had a month back in NZ arriving back in Blighty the day before us. There was plenty to talk about over coffee on the boat and later dinner at Weatherspoon’s in Rugeley. We may finish up cruising with them for a while depending on medical appointments for Dot and John.

2216 locks, 4255.62 miles, 91 tunnels, 130 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006