Sunday, 27 December 2009

Slightly Sheepish

The snow and frost seem to have disappeared for the moment, but whatever the weather is like it doesn't stop the sheep from doing what sheep do. They are very hardy creatures and always carry on reward-less.
There are quite a few fields of sheep along the banks of the canal. As we were cruising along towards Braunston the Medieval ridge and furrow mounds were nicely highlighted in the low winter sun.
I think sheep are my favourite animal and are at their best roasted with a little mint sauce!

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas Day

We got up as per any normal day, checked the weather forecast on and it said that there would not be any frost for the next five days.
As we had planned to meet family in Banbury, just before new year, we decided to leave, at about 11:30 we were on our way. it was slow going although the ice had been broken up it still slowed us and with moored boats slowing us even more it took a long time to get to Braunston.

On the approaches we noticed Piston Broke so a quick sound of the horn and two heads popped out, of different places and invited us to stop for a drink. Well never one to refuse a hot drink, especialy after three hours in the cold at the tiller, we moored up.

After tea and coffee we invited them to call in later that evening, we then returned to our boat and had dinner.

A very enjoyable evening was had and it was surprising to find that our life experiences were very similar, so we put the world to rights, like you do.

Just checked the weather again, as the canal is freezing over, now they are talking of rain, sleet, and snow and freezing temperatures, we maybe staying put.
Wish they would make their minds up.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


It's good that we like it here at Hillmorten as we are into out fourth day of the canal being covered with a layer of ice over an inch thick in places. Just one boat has scrunched past us today with most of the paint scraped from it's sides as a consequence. We walked up to the local shops this morning and after a warming lunch settled down by the fire for the rest of the day, reading books and blogs!
This is  Boatswain supervising the coal delivery from his snug little bed on the roof of "Gosty Hill" yesterday, what a sensible little dog.

A nice pair of ducks reflecting on warmer times.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Up early this morning before the sun had risen, no particular reason just the way it is, I wake up and have to get up.
Wozie slumbered on and eventually rose, breakfast was taken and just afterwards a gentle knock was heard, Gosty had arrived during the night, 'coal' was delivered to us and a couple of other boats, time for breakfast and then he delivered diesel, by this time it was late morning and they were behind schedule so we helped them down the locks and saw them safely on their way.
The morning was bright and sunny and no need to rush back to the boat, just enjoy the wild life and the sunshine.

 Well laden

Doesn't he look splendid

One of our neighbours and his bully mate.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Winter Solstice

We were rather desperate for water, as we had overlooked it in making sure we were in the right place last week for Fernwood to visit and then Foxton Boat Services the next day.

Having looked at the weather forecast for the week we decided, last night, that we would get up early and do a quick raid on Tesco and be away to Hillmorten.

Also getting low on diesel so called Gosty Hill, he was waiting for diesel but hoping to be at Hillmorten tonight.
So setting off, with difficulty, we made our way through the ice, it does make a terrible noise and scrapes the paint off, we travelled through the ice but it seemed to be getting worse, we made the decision to stop.

Just as we tied up another boat went through and it seemed to making better headway than us, so change of mind, we decided to follow, it was during this manoeuvre that Wozie slipped on the ice and fell in, after the initial shock she remembered that she can swim and 'doggie paddled' to the side, where I helped her out.

We eventually got to Hillmorten, filled with water and went up the locks, Gosty Hill has not made it yet, will just hope he arrives tomorrow or the next day.

What a way to celebrate the solstice, ah well spring must be on its way and the days will now start to get longer.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Swans on ice

This morning when we woke up and looked out of the porthole to see what the weather situation was we were still held firmly in an  icy grip. Then we saw a pair of swans right outside the boat who were partially stuck in the ice. So Bottle bravely walked along the gunwale with the pole to break the ice up a bit for them. They spent about half an hour preening themselves and warming up, then they looked all sad and hungry.
So we opened a tin of sweetcorn for them. They must have enjoyed it as they ate up every little bit. The chap who is moored behind us on "Twinkle" also came out with bread and dried dog food and they ate that as well.
I wonder why people always seem to come to feed the ducks and swans in the summer but not so much in the wintertime when they need it most.
Yesterday we had a long walk into Rugby as the short cut footpath across the the railway remains closed.
The traffic was horrendous so we were glad to get into the arcade to warm up a bit. After a good wander about and buying a few necessities we had a snack and a coffee before heading back the the cosy warm confines of the boat, luvly jubbly!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Exeedingly good cakes

We are moored quite near to this lovely roundabout featuring  cup cakes which are made mainly of sedums and evergreens. Mr Kipling has been serving Rugby since 1987 and this floral tribute was created in 2008 celebratiing 21 years. Quite an attractive and unusual landmark, I wonder if any of the motorists notice it as they whiz past?
Sam from Foxton Boat Services managed to negotiate the snowy conditions to carry out our oil and filter changes this morning. Well done Sam!
We are stoking up the Sqirrel and managing to keep it going day and night as it's a bit nippy now.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Our "My Newt" deed for the day.

We went down to Tesco (Rugby) to stock up with festive food and drink. Just along the path from the canal we saw two of their trolleys tipped over and discarded in the bushes. Remembering that Maffi  said that we should all do our bit we took them back to the store with us. They would probably have ended up in the canal otherwise.

Other things that we are doing are, putting our ashes in the holes on the canal-banks, trimming some of the overhanging hedges back, freeing the lock ground-paddle water intakes of debris, and tidying up all dry deadwood and moving it onto our boat.
If we all do a good deed every day, however "My Newt" it will make a Big difference!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

It Seemed a Good Idea

Monday we decided to move to Rugby, as we have Fernwood and Foxton Boat Services visiting this week and access from the 'park' is ideal.

We set off at a leisurely pace and went through the three locks, all against us, on leaving the last one, a voice was heard, 'we are coming up' but no boat, in sight, on the move.
It was Lynne from Piston Broke, they were just leaving the water point and that was where we were going, could not have been planned better, quick chat and hopefully we will meet them at Braunston for a seasonal drink.

After filling with water, it took 45 minutes, we moved on at a leisurely pace, stopped at Clifton Cruisers (Bridge 66) for a pump out, excellent service and the best pump out we have had so far.

Arrived at Rugby and squeezed the boat into a sixty two feet gap, our boat is sixty feet.

The rest of the day was spent at leisure, after a trip to Tesco.

Today, Tuesday

We needed to turn as the problem that Fernwood are dealing with will be accessed easier.
Set off for the turning point, not far and with ease turned and returned to the same spot.

It seemed a good idea at the time to take a dip in the canal, the water was wet but not that cold.
Lovely as it was I decided to get out.
A quick shower, fresh clothes, the ones I had on washed and now drying.

This is only the second time, in all the years of boating, I have had a dip, I never plan it, It just seems a good idea at the time.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Cosgrove walkabout

Here are some more photos from our previous travels.
While we were moored at Cosgrove we walked back to the aqueduct and, down the steps and through the horse tunnel underneath. From here we could see a church peeping over the hill in the distance and decided to walk towards it. The church had this very unusual pink clock with two carved stone faces either side.
Then nearby we found this information board describing the Medieval Settlement of Old Wolverton. There had been a Castle, Manor House and peasant houses and crofts. The site was very well maintained and we could see all the ridges and mounds where the streets and enclosures had been. This is designated as an Ancient Monument and protected by law.
We are also fascinated by the many fields around Braunston that were used for ridge and furrow agriculture, but they do not show up very well on our photos.

Today, as Badsey's Sunday lunches are so good, we thought we would just pay them another visit, just to remind ourselves how delicious their roast dinners are! Absolutely brilliant, we supped our beer and browsed through their latest Canal and Waterworld magazines while we waited for lunch to arrive.

Saturday, 12 December 2009


As we have only been doing boaty chores today I thought I would post a couple of images from our previous cruise. This very long mural brightens up a wall which was restored by the IWA in 2005. What a good idea, it is near Wolvercote and the painting was done with the help of Jewsons.
Many bridges have murals painted inside them, the ones near Rugby, of the game that was first played there, are very well done. I remember seeing some lovely mosaics somewhere on the GU, but where?

Friday, 11 December 2009

A Cold and Frosty Morning

The weekend began yesterday evening for us, as we could get a good signal for the TV.
So we stoked the squirrel up and settled down with a glass of Old Specked Hen to watch QI.
Tonight it is the Victorian Farm with the handsome Peter, clever Alex and incredibly talented Ruth.
Tomorrow it is HIGNFY. We haven't watched much TV for months as there isn't really much worthy of watching, or we couldn't get a signal.

This morning we woke up to a beautiful misty frosty morning. Even the sheep had steam coming from their noses as they chomped on the frozen grass. The fire stays warm overnight and just needs jollying up a bit to bring it back to life again. Thank goodness we built up that store of dry wood back in the dry weather!
On Wednesday we went down to Badseys Bistro for celebratory 'Birthday' lunch, mmm lovely. The syrup sponge with custard was delicious, but it was such an enormous helping that we could hardly stagger back up the locks to the boat. We like the friendly atmosphere in there and everyone joins in the conversation. It is a bit reminiscent of Bridge 61 at the bottom of Foxton Locks.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Thursday 3rd.
We moored up at Whilton near the marina, with the railway on one side and the M1 on the other this was quite a noisy place to spend the night really.

Friday 4th.
It was cold but sunny again when we set off for for Braunston. We managed 11 locks and the tunnel before mooring up at 5pm at Braunston. We managed this by  travelling non stop all the way and having snacks and 'drinks on the hoof' ! As it was getting dark Bottle attached his magnetic light to the side of the boat so that we could see to moor up. We walked down the tow-path to the newly refurbished Mill House, now called the Boat House, for an evening meal. Although the interior was warm and welcoming and they do two meals for the price of one, the food was average. They do however provide high-chairs, and toys and games to occupy children.

Saturday 5th.
Our daughter and grandson came to visit so we went for lunch up at The Old Plough in the village. The staff are friendly, they serve good food and real ales too, so we can recommend this one.

Monday 7th.
Bottle walked along to Midland Chandlers for two bulbs for our navigation lights which had both blown, but they didn't have any in stock. I washed the boat and sorted the laundry to put away. I walked up to Londis for some supplies and into the butchers opposite for eggs and some tasty cheddar cheese.

Tuesday 8th.
While going through one of the locks we had caught the cratch cover and torn a small hole in it. As the makers A J Canopies are now based in Braunston Marina we took it along to their workshop. It was mended within the hour, for a very reasonable cost.
As it was such a beautiful day we cruised along as far as Hillmorten.

Wednesday 9th.
Today is Bottles 60th Birthday, so after breakfast he unwrapped all his presents, two single malts, canal DVD,  book on Gloucester Docks and quite a lot of Toblerone! A new peaked cap as his beloved old Guinness one blew off in the wind and sank in the canal.
Whilst having coffee and thinking of contacting Gosty Hill (Coal boat) an engine was heard looked out the porthole and lo and behold it was them, a quick scamper to the  back of the boat we managed to stop them.
Four bags of Taybrite now safely on-board.

Has anybody an idea as to what this flower trough at Buckby, originally was.

The best photo of a Kingfisher, so far, on the lock gate number nine, also at Buckby

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Non Stop Boating.

We travelled for eight hours, non stop, as we did yesterday. We do need to adjust our estimations of the amount of distance we can travel, do not know where we are going wrong as when we hired, for all those years we were always ahead of our selves.
We did come across a boat (Meet On The Ledge) across the cut, a first for us, so we had some 'fun' getting it to the side and re-fixing its pins.
Now moored at Whilton and will meet with our engineer here and then hopefully move on to Braunston, we shall see.

Anyone would of thought it was cold and wet, Wozie doing some steering.

This was taken within Stoke Bruerne/Blisworth tunnel, can you see anything.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

A later start than would have been ideal  but hey ho, that's boating.
It was bright with blue sky with sunshine, the day went fairly well except for the fishing matches, that slowed us but they were a cheerful lot. Complemented on the quietness of the boat and at one point they asked me to put some power on to stir the bottom, apparently the fish were not biting.
We made it to two locks below Stoke Bruerne, had to stop because it was to dark to do the last two.
Another early start again tomorrow, need to be in Braunston for Friday morning, our printed circuit board, if you remember it is required for our Victron combi, has arrived and the engineer will be able to fit it then.
The next update may be not until we have left Braunston as the phone signal is atrocious.

The windmill at Milton Keynes

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Parking space was limited at Tesco's                  

Ducks at breakfast

We set off from Leighton Buzzard on a cold and frosty morning, but at least it was dry and calm. I noticed several ducks speeding by us while we were filling up with water. Just up the canal we found that they were going to Tesco for breakfast. This is a favourite duck feeding place for anyone who has small children.
It has been a beautiful days cruising  today, we only met four other boats on the move, I hope that this is not the only lull between the storms!