Saturday, 30 October 2010

Another one bites the dust.

Tomorrow night see’s the end of this years British Summer Time. 2am Sunday morning and the clocks go back one hour giving us an hours lay in. With the day’s becoming shorter we will have to re-organise our time to take advantage of the shorter daylight hours.

Since being back in the apartment I have got back into the routine of  the Model railway club and making some kits up for one of the other members. Dot has been into Peterborough twice this week and has now had her annual flu jab. The local council workers have been putting up more Xmas lights which after seeing the poor display around Peterborough, March should have the best display in the county.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

November happenings.

October has all but been and gone so we are looking forward to November. A visit to the Autotrail factory in Grimsby has been booked for the 25th so a rental car will be required. Trying to get there by public transport is damn near impossible in a short space of time. We have been told that our motorhome should be in the dealers yard by mid November but there might be the remotest chance that it will still be in Grimsby. We want to see how Autotrail build their vehicle’s for future reference with regard to repairs and maintenance once we get it to New Zealand.

A few days after this we are off to Cologne to visit the German Christmas Markets. This could be our last overseas trip from the UK. We have been told that the markets are really something special so are looking forward to the trip.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Happy Birthday Brent


We hope you had a fantastic Labour weekend.

Sunday, 24 October 2010


Well we hope that Andrew is happy now he has Granny Buttons close to hand once again. He should have some interesting photo’s shortly as the marina is having a huge bonfire on Guy Fawkes night. We noted that the marina appears to have quite an active social calendar. We will have to see if there is anything planned for Guy Fawkes night around here.

Back on Terra Firma we have now returned to our daily routines of walking and shopping. The first thing we noticed as we ventured into town was all the Xmas decorations and light’s are up. We are not sure when they get switched on but we have been told they usually get a celebrity to do the honours. We will have to venture out one night and take some photo’s when they do throw the switch.

With all this thought of Xmas we will have to decide what we are going to do as this year will be the first time we won’t have family around as Tracey is heading off to South Africa for a warmer Xmas. It could be Xmas dinner at a local hostelry for a change.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Happy Birthday Jenny


We both wish you all the best in your retirement.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The NZ flag will no longer fly.

Granny Buttons NZ 245
Granny Buttons will no longer fly the New Zealand Flag.  She is now safely back home with Andrew and we have returned home to March in Cambridgeshire.  For now!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Granny’s Home

0.68 Miles. Now moored at Mercia Marina.


A total of 89 Miles, and 49 Locks on Granny Buttons.

Granny falls at the final hurdle.

2 Locks. 7.22 Miles. Now moored at Willington.

What started out to be a fairly straight forward day finished up to be anything but. Even though the weather was fine when we started from we could see clouds amassing on the horizon with a full blown rainbow. We headed off in the hope that we would out run the rain but it wasn’t to be. By the time we reached bridge 24A the rain was getting quite heavy.

Granny Buttons NZ 247Burton upon Trent home of Marstons Brewery.

However we took the opportunity to stop here and renew our acquaintance with Geoff and Mags on Nb Seyella. As we had time to spare and the weather wasn’t improving Geoff kindly offered us lunch we gratefully accepted. Thank you both for the wonderful company, sorry we will miss you on Thursday, I will be too busy reading with all the extra reading material from you.

Granny Buttons NZ 260 Geoff and Nb Seyella.

By about 2pm the weather was showing signs of improvement so we took our leave and set off on the final leg of the journey to Mercia Marina. We  hadn’t gone far when I noticed smoke coming from the engine room vent. Dot was hastily summoned from sheltering below deck and a rapid mooring then took place enabling me to turn off the engine. It transpired that a rubber water connection had split and was spewing out steam, this mixed with hot oil vapour made it look like we were on fire. Thank goodness we weren’t.

Granny Buttons NZ 258 This was the old A38 over the river Dove before the new road bridge was built just beyond it.

A phone call to Andrew and then RCR got a rescue plan underway. At around 6.30pm the RCR engineer arrived to get Granny operational once more. Due to the late hour we will leave our arrival at Mercia Marina until tomorrow, and our landlord will pick us up at 4pm to take us home to March.

A total of 88.32 Miles, and 49 Locks on Granny Buttons.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Sojourn at Sunset.

Last night we were treated to probably one of the best sunsets we have seen for some time. We watched it unfold from the sun disappearing below the horizon to a fiery red glow reflected neatly in the canal.

Granny Buttons NZ 234 A glorious sunset over the canal at Branston.

As we have time to spare we decided that our present mooring was an ideal place to hang out for 24 hours. Mid morning we set out for a stroll around Branston Water Park with a detour down to Tatenhill lock where we helped a hire boat lock up. Chatting to the crew they are planning to buy an Aqualine boat and have already booked a berth at the new Marina in Northampton.

Granny Buttons NZ 240 Off on a trek around a private fishing lake owned by the local brick works.

While down by the canal we trekked off down another track which took us around a privately owned fishing lake. At the end of the bridlepath was a sign stating Monastery and Moorings. We were unsure where this would take us so retreated back to the canal.

Granny Buttons NZ 238Tattenhill lock. No lock keeper here unfortunately. The lock cottage is now privately owned.

As Andrew has now secured a mooring at Mercia Marina we will head in there tomorrow. Depending on what our transport arrangements turn out to be, we will be heading back to March on Wednesday or Thursday.

Granny Buttons NZ 239 Restored BW working boat at Tattenhall Lock

Monday, 18 October 2010

Another one out of the box.

9 locks, 7.85 miles Now moored at Branston Water Park.

It was another Indian summer’s day and this time it lasted all day. Quite a few boats out making the most of the weather which made it easy going at the locks as it was one up, one down with very little waiting.

Granny Buttons NZ 216 Granny Buttons with Rugeley power station in the back ground.

As we left Fradley Junction we saw that Bruce on Nb Sanity Again had left and we caught up with him at Alrewas just as he was heading off on a shopping trip.

Granny Buttons NZ 217 Nice bench at Alrewas on the Trent & Mersey Canal.

At lock 12 the next pound is river section so we checked the river level indicator below the lock and it was well below the green marker, so quite safe. You wouldn’t have realised it was a river and not a canal, it was so calm.

Granny Buttons NZ 220 Weir on the River Trent below Alrewas.

At Branston Water Park we were very lucky to get a nice sunny mooring well away from the road noise of the A38 dual carriageway we had been following closely previously. After lunch we decided a walk was called for so we walked out across the park to Branston Village. From here we followed cycleway 54 towards Burton upon Trent and came out by Morrisons supermarket near Shobnall Basin. After a few false starts we eventually found our way back to the canal and walked back along the towpath from somewhere between bridges 33 and 34.

Granny Buttons NZ 224-1Wychnor church above the River Trent below Alrewas.

A total of 81.1 Miles, and 47 Locks on Granny Buttons.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Who’s this on the towpath?

0 Locks 6.24 Miles. Now moored at Fradley Junction.

Granny Buttons NZ 192Oh what a beautiful morning………………The crops in, just waiting for the plough again.

Considering the heavy over night rain we couldn’t believe our eyes when we woke up this morning, a clear blue sky and glorious sunshine. This was going to be a great day. As we progressed along the canal several walkers along the towpath commented “Where did this come from?” or “Not bad for October”. Obviously a lot of people were out and about making the most of it.

Granny Buttons NZ 197 Fradley Junction. Meeting of the Coventry and Trent & Mersey Canal's.

It was a pretty un-eventful day except that by 11am clouds started amassing on the horizon. A quick stop at Whittington for a few provisions and then a straight run through to Fradley Junction. As soon as we reached the start of the visitor moorings we slowed right down working our way along the line seeing how far we could get before the available moorings ran out. A mooring selected and we started to pull in. But who have we here? A couple of familiar faces! I know, we met them here last time we passed this way, Phil and Sally Bridger no less. They have been following our blog and Phil knew we would be in the area today, so here they were as a welcoming committee. Ain’t that nice!

Granny Buttons NZ 198 Bruce and Sheila’s Nb Sanity Again at Fradley Junction.

Well as they had gone to all this trouble the least we could do was make them a cuppa. Just as well they drank tea cos that’s all we have at present. Poor Dot is reduced to drinking Ribena until she can get some more coffee.

Granny Buttons NZ 200I have a model of this 1954 Fordson van. Side valve engine with 6v electrics. Top speed 50 MPH.

Yesterday’s blog mentioned working boat Dove. Well this morning we had a comment on our blog from Andrew and Andrea Hoyle on FMC Dove. The FMC stand’s for Fellow’s, Morton and Clayton Ltd the company that ran Dove as one of their fleet. Nice to make your acquaintance even though briefly.

Granny Buttons NZ 202 Toadstools

The last couple of days we have noticed a lot of toadstool’s around and the occasional mushroom but the latter are always out of reach.

Granny Buttons NZ 203 What a shame these weren't found earlier. Bacon and mushrooms!

Granny Buttons NZ 204 Dragonfly seating at the lake by Fradley Junction.

Granny Buttons NZ 206 Is it a boat, is it a van? The chandlery at Fradley Junction has a neat way of advertising.

Granny Buttons NZ 209We wandered up to the Middle lock on the Trent & Mersey Canal before returning back to Granny Buttons to try and avoid the rain.

A total of 73.25 Miles, and 38 Locks on Granny Buttons.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

No Room at Hopwas.

2 Locks, 9.09 Miles. Now moored near Whittington.

While enjoying breakfast we watched the crew on an original BW working barge named Dove moored opposite. The boat had an original engine that had to be cranked over, no electric start. Well the engine was not going to start easily, first a few puffs of smoke, then the odd Pop Pop as it started to fire but fizzled out. Eventually after a good half an hour swinging on the crank handle the brute finally decided to cooperate and fire up. The poor guy on the crank handle looked quite shattered at the end of it all.

Granny Buttons NZ 184 More empty BW moorings at Peels Wharf. I don't think their tender system is working in their favour.

We struck lucky at Glascote locks with the top lock being in our favour and a boat coming up through the bottom lock so we were through in no time at all. At Sutton bridge we met another acquaintance, Dave on Nb Anon. He said that he knew we would be passing through and was hoping to catch up with us. Good to see you Dave and we wish you well. We had planned to stop at Hopwas for lunch and make a decision on further travel afterwards but there were no moorings available so it was lunch on the run.

Granny Buttons NZ 187 Want a canal side residence?  The Laurels a new canal side redevelopment near Fazeley Junction.

We carried on for about an hour when the wind started to get quite blustery and cold so we decided we had done enough for the day and moored up. By about 4pm it was starting to get really cold so I fired up the Alde central heating. It went for a short while and then went out. I  re-lit it a couple of times but with the same end result. A short time later Dot lit the oven for tea and complained it wasn’t running properly. A quick trip into the gas locker to change bottles and we were back in business. Hopefully this was all that was wrong with the Alde but I will wait until tomorrow to find out, the boat it quite warm enough now with the oven going.

Granny Buttons NZ 191 Canadian Cedar?

A total of 67.01 Miles, and 38 Locks on Granny Buttons.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Gypsy Rover I Presume?

11 Locks, 6.97 Miles. Now moored at Alvecote.

What a cold damp miserable day it has been. Dot managed to keep warm doing the locks and I dug out a thermal top to keep the cold at bay.

Granny Buttons NZ 158

BOB The Branching Out Bus. A combined Warwickshire County Council / Citizens Advice Bureau mobile office reaching out to people in country towns and villages.

Going down the Atherstone flight and I was set to exit lock 3 while Dot moved ahead to lock 4 as there was a boat coming up. Upon arrival Dot was greeted with “Gypsy Rover I Presume” not “where’s Andrew?” as before by the sole occupant of this other boat. He didn’t strike either of us as a blog reader so was it the towpath telegraph working as usual or did we come to the wrong conclusion? We cannot recall the boats name but we think it was Welsh.

Dot seemed to be standing talking to this guy for ages while I cooled my heels in lock 3 but it turned out that one of the top paddles was missing and it took ages for the lock to fill. There were a few other boats in the flight so we made reasonably  good time.

At Polesworth we stopped for lunch and then went for a walk. We had been told that the original part of the village was pretty and as we had never stepped foot in the place previously we thought we should as we may never pass this way again. It was then back aboard for the hour or so run up to Alvecote.

Granny Buttons NZ 157  Polesworth Tithe Barn very much modified.Granny Buttons NZ 156The Polesworth Dove Cote where in medieval times pigeons where housed for winter food and fresh eggs. No windows, just a door.Granny Buttons NZ 161  Tudor style in Polesworth.Granny Buttons NZ 163 The archway was built in 1343 as security for the Abbey. The part to the right was added in 1535.Granny Buttons NZ 169Polesworth Abbey Church.Granny Buttons NZ 167 Milled timber was not as we know it in those days.Granny Buttons NZ 165 Still some thatched properties in Warwickshire.Granny Buttons NZ 180 Lovely floral display this late in the year at Polesworth.

A total of 57.92 Miles, and 36 Locks on Granny Buttons.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Next stop Atherstone.

1 Lock, 11.15 Miles. Now moored above Atherstone top lock.

Granny Buttons NZ 132 Yoohoo anybody home?

A cool overcast morning again to start off. The weatherman predicting fine after lunch which turned out to be well after lunch and only for a short while. Ah well such is life. There wasn’t much in the way of boats on the move either, just a few private owners and half a dozen hire boats heading back to their bases.

The wild life was starting to get interesting with a pair of Jay’s with acorn’s in their beaks. Possibly making a winter stock pile of food? The other was a low flying Kestrel. What a beautiful graceful bird they are.

Granny Buttons NZ 150 What no telephone cables!

We passed a couple of boats who enquired about Andrew but we didn’t get either their or boat names, sorry about that. After mooring up next to the Cheese Boat where we bought a flavoured cheese (Brandy and Apricot) not yet tried. It was a walk into town for a couple of 19 Gales pies, what else when you’re in Atherstone? However these will last until tomorrow as we opted for Fish & Chips as there is a chippie close by. The order was 2 Haddock and Chips, it came out more like 2 Whales and chips, they were enormous. Needless to say the left over Blackberry and Apple crumble will have to wait until tomorrow.

The scenery here in Atherstone has changed with Rothens coal yard now closed by the top lock. They are operating from elsewhere but we did see their boats moored a couple of miles back on the non towpath side.

A total of 50.95 Miles, and 25 Locks on Granny Buttons.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Bus Pass Validity?

Today we planned on catching the bus into Coventry. Not a big deal you might think but due to extensive road works in the area the bus route had been changed which we didn’t realise until nearly the final minute.

Granny Buttons NZ 138No, not steam powered but a big 4Lt engine.

Upon boarding the de Courcey 778 bus we scanned our bus pass only to be told it was invalid. After some discussion with the driver that the passes were genuine he pushed the override button to allow us passage. This is the 2nd time this has happened recently when we boarded a Geoff Amos GA02 bus. This company had only recently installed scanners and that didn’t recognise our passes either. Later travel on a Coventry city bus we had no problem whatsoever. Is this a sign of things to come with the bus passes?

Granny Buttons NZ 139Pavement artist in Coventry town centre. He was actually doing it with pastels on paper not the paving.

In Coventry we headed off to IKEA for Dot to purchase a computer lap tray. Now this IKEA store is enormous,all 6 floors of it and about 20 checkouts. Of course what we wanted was on the 6th floor so we rode in one of their freight style lift’s which would probably hold 30 or more people. After finding our required purchase it was then a case of follow the arrows on the floor to the checkouts which would have taken us through close on 50% of the store. Talk about encouraging impulse buying. On our way to checkout who should we bump into but Lynne from Nb Piston Broke along with Betty from Nb Tranquility. You can’t go anywhere without being spotted.

Granny Buttons NZ 143 Model gypsy caravan in the Transport Museum at Coventry. You can hire these for holidays in Ireland.

Once finally out of IKEA we walked back up through the covered market where Dot bought some ribbon for a lace plate she found recently in a charity shop. It was then onto the Transport Museum for lunch and another browse around this amazing museum. Basically it covers all forms of transport built in the Coventry area over probably the last 150 years or more. From horse drawn vehicles to push bikes to land speed record holders they have the lot except for the like of Vauxhalls, Leyland’s, Bentley and Rolls Royce but with just the odd Ford sneaking in which were all made down South.

Granny Buttons NZ 147We met this boat with a different crew a couple of years ago. It is a share boat owned by a Scottish, Kiwi, Welsh consortium.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Acquaintances old and new.

11.4 Miles, 0 Locks. Now at Hawkesbury Junction.

Well it was a beautiful day for cruising but the wind felt like it was coming straight off the Arctic circle. Not so many boats on the move today.

Granny Buttons NZ 114The biggest swan clutch we have ever seen. 12 cygnets.

Other than seeing the largest clutch of cygnets from one pair of swans there wasn’t too much else to catch our eye. Upon arriving at Hawkesbury Junction the first familiar sight was that of Iain and Alison on coal/diesel boat Gosty Hill servicing the permanently moored boats. We had a good chat with them before they headed off in a Southerly direction.

Granny Buttons NZ 125 Our old diesel supplier, Iain and Alison on Gosty Hill.

We had a late lunch and then went for a walk to see if Nb Lazydays had arrived. At this stage there were still plenty of moorings available. With no sign of Alan and Frances we walked back to the boat via the local convenience store.  About 5pm we thought that we should go for another stroll. We had no sooner left the boat when we walked past a couple going in the opposite direction. I casually remarked to Dot “Do we know who we are looking for” to which the response was “No”. With this we turned to look back at the couple we had just walked by and they did likewise and we all burst out laughing as it was Alan and Frances.

Granny Buttons NZ 137 Alan and Frances of Nb Lazydays with us at the Greyhound pub Hawkesbury junction.

They had not long been moored up but where there had been plenty of moorings 2 – 3 hours earlier they found themselves having to moor some distance away. We then retreated to the Greyhound pub for the next 3 or 4 hours chatting on all sorts of subjects. It was a pleasure to meet you both after all this time.

Granny Buttons NZ 117

Bridge 15 at Ansty on the Oxford Canal as mentioned by Kev and Ann on Nb 4Evermore yesterday. We reported this to BW 12 months ago and received a reply that as it was private property they could do nothing until it collapsed. I hope there is no boat under it when it does.

Granny Buttons NZ 119A total of 39.80 Miles, and 24 Locks on Granny Buttons.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Granny Amusements!

Granny Buttons NZ 109 How to pass the time on Granny Buttons? Have Granny races of course.Granny Buttons NZ 113When one pair of Grannies get tired you get out a more agile couple!

Re-arranging our schedule.

1.43 Miles, 0 Locks. Now moored at Newbold.

We are certainly having an Indian Summer with today being absolutely brilliant, no clouds and all sunshine, glorious.

We had sort of made some loose arrangements to take a bus into Coventry as Dot wants to go to IKEA for a computer lap tray which we had seen in use by John on Nb Epiphany. First up we were going to stay at Brownsover but that would mean a change of buses in Rugby. Then we opted to move up to Newbold where we could catch the Coventry bus with no changes. We have now moved up to Newbold but our plans have been altered once more.

Within an hour of mooring up we had questions such as “Is that the REAL Granny Buttons”? Or I must get a photo of Granny Buttons. Kev and Ann aboard Nb 4 Evermore went past with some jovial banter but as fellow bloggers they knew that it wasn’t Andrew aboard, just us ole Kiwi’s.

Alan and Frances on Nb Lazydays (fellow bloggers again) are at Hartshill travelling south to venture up the Ashby canal. They have sent us 2 messages to say they will be at Hawkesbury Junction tomorrow so we have now opted to travel up to Hawkesbury tomorrow to meet them and we will catch the bus there into Coventry later. Who said retirement was going to be easy?

Another surprise email came from New Zealand acquaintances, Charles and Annie Scoones who travelled the cut in Nb Water Gypsy as a hotel narrowboat. They sold Water Gipsy 2 years ago venturing off to the canals on the other side of the Channel. Like us Annie found the sale of Water Gipsy hard and is still missing the lifestyle. They tell us that they are currently re-furbishing a cruiser in preparation for further European cruises. We wish them safe travels and hope their new venture  satisfies their cravings.

A total of 28.40 Miles, and 24 Locks on Granny Buttons.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Fly tipping and familiar territory.

9 Miles, 3 Locks. Now moored at Brownsover.

Last night we had a brilliant evening at The Plough pub up in the village. A bloggers get together where the food and drink were good and the company exceptional with plenty of chit chat and light hearted humour.

Granny Buttons NZ 098 Bloggers get together. N/b's Caxton, Matilda Rose, Wind Song, and ex Gypsy Rover. From the left Graham,Pip, Lesley, Joe, Derek, Roger and Jill. Dot was behind the camera as usual.

As we had a few things to do today we set off around 9am. First stop was the water point at Braunston Turn. The water point here is easier to use  than the one’s around Rugby.

It was a reasonable sort of day and there were plenty of hire boats on the move, probably taking short breaks over the week-end. Just below bridge 79 we found a couple of youths trying to pull something out of the canal. It turned out to be a large TV. When they finally retrieved it I suggested that they put in the hedgerow but when last seen they were carrying it away. Between bridges 78 and 79 we found no less than 5 TV’s bobbing around in the water, all old large cumbersome style models. We came to the conclusion that a TV service person must have stopped on bridge 78 which is a road bridge and deposited all his unrepairable rubbish in the canal. There was no way that anybody else would need to get rid of that many TV’s in one go. Shame on you who ever you are!

Granny Buttons NZ 099One of 5 TV's in the canal within 100 metres near Bridge 78, Oxford Canal.

Just after this we found a cow jogging along the towpath heading towards Braunston. We spoke to a farmer a little while later but he reckoned it wasn’t his. Anybody want a pet cow?

Granny Buttons NZ 100 I don't think so! They haven't even finished the earth works yet.

Passing up the Barby Straight we saw the earth works of the new proposed marina which according to the signs was supposed to be open this Autumn. I think that was wishful thinking on somebody’s part because it’s more likely to be Summer 2011. From the deck of Granny Buttons the earthworks looked very very deep and there are no signs of any pontoons yet unless they plan on using floating pontoons. Either way it doesn’t look to be a child friendly sort of place.

Granny Buttons NZ 104 Barby Marina. Looking at the earth works it's going to be a deep marina.

After working down through Hillmorton locks we moored up just past the water point and walked back to the Hillmorton boat yard where we knew we would find Nb Piston Broke after being stretched enough to fit a proper engine room. Paul was busy with a paint brush while Lynne was supervising the operation. Once completed it will look very good.

After lunch we moved on up to our present location of Brownsover to visit Tesco’s and possibly a trip into town in the next day or two. Passing by Clifton Cruisers, Paul was surprised to see us saying “I thought you had gone back to NZ?” We told him that they were stuck with us for at least another 9 months or so yet.

Remember the apple’s we picked yesterday? Well today we found some juicy blackberries to go with them so Blackberry and Apple Crumble for tea tonight. Can’t wait.

A total of 26.97 Miles, and 24 Locks on Granny Buttons.