Sunday, 30 May 2010

Saturday Crick


My first port of call was the Cotswold Canal stand where they had a box of second hand books, so I picked up a few bargains there. The good ship ‘Lady Lydia’ was passing by, complete with amusing crew and a talking seagull! After a good browse around the show I concluded that there wasn’t quite so many traders or show boats attending. Bottle left at 8.30 to help Fernwood who had a steady flow of people all day through ‘Gone Bush’ and many more quizzing him about all things narrowboaty. I supplied them with hot drinks, boat cake and ginger cake to keep them all going on a cool showery day.

IMG_0004I popped back to the boat with my books and to charge up our batteries for an hour. Next door GC was sitting on his stern wondering if he should get his paws wet.


After our toad in the hole, we headed towards the beer tent for the evening. We joined John and Jill from nb Phoenix and the Cotswold Canal volunteers at their table, then later Graham and Jane came along. Well the band was exceptionally entertaining. They were ‘Dr Busker and the Revolting Peasants’ who sang a variety of folksy songs brilliantly accompanied by an electric accordion, drums and all kinds of improvised weird instruments. The audience knew when a break was coming up as they began singing ‘more beer, more beer, more beer’ and went off to fill their tankards. Anyway, the later it got the nortier the lyrics seemed to became and everyone began laughing, clapping and letting really their hair down (well those who had hair). At the end the lyrics were so norty that everyone was rolling around laughing and enjoying themselves, it was a thoroughly good evening.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Crazy Gang.

Nb Moment in Time arrived so we helped them in, then we moved Oakfield back to breast up on the outside of them. After our snack lunch we heard a whistle blow announcing the arrival of President and Kildare. This made GC prick his ears up as it was a familiar sound to him when he used to be a Railway Cat. So, Graham took him out to watch them manoeuvring the boat and butty into the marina. IMG_0011Expertly done of course even with all the gongoozlers watching. We went over to the showground to help the Fernwood gang prepare nb Gone Bush ready for the show. Julia, Jan and Al worked inside, while Graham, Ken and Keith polished the paintwork outside. Del and I rubbed up the brass work until it was gleaming brightly. It’s funny how females just get on with things, but men need to be well oiled with beer for any action! Some of the gang deserted us for the lovely Heartwood boat next door to look around, but mainly because they had more beer than us I suspect! When all was done we popped back to our boat to top the batteries up, then returned to eat an al fresco meal prepared by Graham, Jan and Julia which was very enjoyable. The gang packed everything away and we moseyed over to the evenings entertainment laid on in the beer tent. We spent the evening catching up with Mr and Mrs Baldock , Graham and Jane, eating chips and more beers. We walked back for coffee on Alnwick and then to bed after a very exciting, but exhausting day.

IMG_0024IMG_0023Del is ideal for reaching all those parts I couldn’t reach on the roof, as he is tall and has longer arms. 

Welford to Crick.

We cruised along cooking cakes and finishing off our cleaning on the way, luvly jubly. If you fancy a bit of ‘Attitude’ this maybe just the boat for you as it is up for sale! The smart painting on the side is of a skateboarding Bart Simpson.

IMG_0015We also spied this little beauty lurking in a rusty corrugated iron shed. It is obviously still earning it’s keep mowing the grass in a little canal side orchard at Yelvertoft.

IMG_0022 YelvertoftWhen we arrived at Crick there had to be a shuffling around of boats as everyone seemed to be in everyone else's allotted spot. Soon after mooring up GC (the Ginger Cat) came  along on nb Alnwick and we helped him tie up, then he popped in for a snack with us and GC tiptoed in to check us out. I went off to the village in search of milk. On returning Graham and Betty had smelt the coffee, followed by Del and Al. Good job we got everything ready before we arrived here, although the boat looks like it’s been to a wedding as it is all covered in May Blossom now.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Foxton to the Welford Arm

After reversing to fill our tank with water, we then set off for Welford doing the cleaning and coffee en route. After mooring up and a snack we meandered off up the Welford Arm, well more of a finger really, as it is only 1 3/4 miles long.

IMG_0019 Welford JunctionWe saw Canada Geese with their five growing goslings and plenty of wild flowers. The Hawthorn or May trees were covered in blossom and created a sort of white corridor along the side of the canal. We photographed plenty of wildflowers sheep and horses. A pair of swans also visited us with their cygnets. Just before the shallow lock there are the remains of a little rustic lift bridge which was used for farm wagons to cross over the canal.

IMG_0042At Welford Wharf there are the remains of some red brick lime kilns. The useful information boards describe how the lime was burnt in the kilns using coal. The end product was used in fertilisers, insecticides, in building supplies and various other things. I remember my father saying that he used it to make mortar and lime wash houses inside and out in the past. I like this picture of the local baker in the early 1900’s, he made pork pies and cooked the villagers Sunday roasts for 1d.

Monday, 24 May 2010

A Grand Day Out

IMG_0007  It has been extremely busy around  Foxton Locks as the sunshine has brought the people out in droves. I wonder just how much food drink and ice-cream has been devoured over this weekend? We noticed these fluorescent blue Damselflies were hovering about in abundance along the disused canal arm.

IMG_0011The trip boat ‘Vagabond’ was in great demand taking visitors along towards Debdale and back.

I have what may have been an insect bite on my hand which has developed into a hot red swollen patch on my hand so we took the bus into market Harborough to get it checked out. The medical centre were extremely kind and helpful. I was able to see a doctor and get some Antibiotics prescribed and collected there. We then walked into town and bumped into Graham and Betty. They kindly invited us up to their boat in the Union Wharf and after a snack lunch we cruised back along to Foxton with them. 

Sunday, 23 May 2010


This being Sunday and a day of rest, smile_wink we have just taken it easy and been ‘gongoozlers’ for a day.

This boat was unbelievably slow going through the locks, it was obviously brand new, they pushed it away from the sides when ever it seemed it would touch. The metalwork on the back we think was for a motor-bike and to top that, there was a barbecue, lit, sitting on the gas locker.


Do not think I would want that stern coming towards my boat.

In the arm that goes to the Inclined Plain there are hundreds, maybe thousands of small fish but there is also one big one(that we saw).


Back on the boat for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Moving to Crick Show over the next few days, have a mooring booked, so if you see us do say hello.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Movers and Shakers.

Today has been rather hot so after doing our boaty chores and washing the cool side of the boat we shook a leg and went whoming about. The breeze has been blowing the fluffy seeds from the Crack Willow hereabouts, giving the illusion that it has been snowing. As we strolled through the ‘snow storm’ we felt like we were in one of those water filled Christmas domes we had as children. You shook them and the snow swirled around inside, do you know the ones I mean? It seems that we cannot pass go, Bridge 61, without stopping for sustenance, sitting in the sun, people watching around the Foxton Basin. The Matts family form the hub of the Wharf as they run the shop, cafe, Bridge 61 pub, the trip boat ‘Vagabond’ and generally keep the whole area shipshape. It is also the home of Foxton Boat Services.


There is plenty of seating outside overlooking the canal basin or in the shady garden

IMG_0001 Bridge  61

This is the view from the interior with the windows slid back, cool eh? very often there is a singer with his acoustic guitar in the bar, today he was singing in the garden with the birds.

IMG_0006 Moorhen nestOn our walk along to the village we saw this Moorhen sitting on her nest, I expect she was rather warm. We didn’t know that Moorhens are good at climbing trees, hope the babies are good at jumping!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Ducking and diving


As it was so warm Bottle was sat out in the cratch having his breakfast when Mrs Duck thought she would join him and flew up onto the bow. She seemed almost tame and allowed him to touch her. We have had the Fudge Boat moored next to us doing a roaring trade and we can recommend that you try their chocolate orange fudge, yum! On Sunday afternoon we all went down for a drink at the pub and sat outside doing a bit of gongoozling in the sunshine. On Monday we helped Graham and Betty down the locks and through the lift bridges, then had a rest and rehydrated when we got back to at Bridge 61.

IMG_0011We like Foxton very much as there is a lovely circular walk that we discovered the other evening. We walked down the locks past the pubs over the bridge returning up on the opposite side where the old inclined plane and Museum are and along the arm that leads to it. This is now a quiet backwater for wildlife where the swans are nesting on the bank and there are some big fish along there. When we were coming back over the road bridge at the top we saw this lovely pair of horses pulling a cart. I also did a bit more fishing with the magnate and found three more treasures to add to our collection. Tuesday saw us down the locks and going along to Debdale Wharf for diesel at 64p per litre (domestic), then off to Market Harborough for food shopping. We moored up, abreast nb Tranquility for the night as there were no spare places. Wednesday we all walked into town and did our own things. On the long haul back up the hill we called in to Wetherspoons,  Sugar Loaf, for refreshments. We then idled away the afternoon in the deckchairs sipping drinks and chatting.

IMG_0006The linear moorings in Market Harborough are nice as there are several taps alongside and the birdsong from the overhanging trees goes on all day long. Today we set off early to meet Sam for our service on the generator. We are now moored at the top of the locks recovering from a long hot day of hard work!IMG_0013 This sign stands at Foxton Junction.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

On top of the world

We are moored near B59 on a contour overlooking a patchwork of green and yellow fields stretching across in the direction of Market Harborough. It is beautiful quiet spot with hardly anyone walking the towpath hereabouts, with horses and rabbits grazing in the fields below. Last evening the squirrels entertained us with their acrobatics gathering young shoots from the ends of the branches to munch on. This morning was frosty and the sun was up early warming the frost into a thin mist rising up eerily from the canal.

IMG 0003 tip truck used FIP  1898-1900 Straight after breakfast we walked down to Foxton Locks. I was fascinated by the little horse drawn tipper wagons displayed outside the museum. They were used in the construction of the Inclined Plane Boat Lift from 1898-1900. This was a counter-balanced lift where boats were contained in two large tanks (or caissons) running on tracks up the hillside. They were hauled by a thick steel cable powered by a 25 horsepower steam engine. As one ascended the other descended and the boats were contained during transit by guillotine gates which held the water in. Needless to say it was not a great success and closed in 1911.

IMG_0010 B61 and shopWe sat outside Bridge 61 Pub/Cafe and enjoyed a coffee in the hot sunshine. I wandered around the little shop which is packed with all kinds of gifts, food and useful boaty things. This picture was taken from the little bridge spanning the bottom lock. Note the lovely domed enclosure that houses the cast iron mooring bollard.There aren’t many interesting little details like this being installed along the canals these days. We returned to the boat and sat outside for the afternoon with our friends chatting.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Cruising on from Crick

IMG_0006 Yelvertoft tapAs we were up early and the sun was shining we decided to move off, so we donned our warm gear against the cold wind whilst cruising. We saw our first heron and baby Canada geese today. Whilst we were filling up with water at Yelvertoft we saw this beautiful cottage go gliding past. We passed under a duel carriageway where the traffic had ground to a crawl, slower than us anyway. Farther on we spotted nb Tranquility  basking on the side and a quick hoot on the Klaxon brought Betty rushing out in her pyjamas for a wave. We had planned to moor and explore North Kilworth village but the only moorings that were available had dredgings of soft deep mud on them! So we carried on and stopped just after Husbands Bosworth Tunnel.

IMG_0022 Husbands Bosworth Tunnel Soon afterwards nb Tranquility emerged out of the darkness to join us. When we had finished our snack we collected a lot of dried wood and sawed it up for later. Then we walked up around the village which was very quiet with only one pub and a tiny hairdressers shop. The towpath here was rather high up and we were in a shady cutting so we opted to move on to a sunnier spot with some armcove (?) to attach ourselves to. It’s been a funny old day, although the sky was deep blue with white fluffy clouds, someone kept turning the sun on and off.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Crick Walkabout

Yesterday we walked up to The Red Lion in the village for roast dinner which was served piping hot with fresh vegetables. Their portions are just right and very reasonably priced too. They start serving food at 12, so we thought we would be early, but when we walked in at 12.10pm the place was almost full! Not surprising really as it is a very welcoming, homely little place with low ceilings and open fireplaces. There are three pubs and two useful shops, a Post Office Store and The Co-op. We sauntered around the lanes to discover that there used to be many thatched cottages which have been either tiled or sport corrugated roofing now. Quite a few still remain in their picturesque thatch though, including the pub.

IMG_0001  Today we washed the boat, had Graham and Betty in for  a farewell coffee, then decided to walk along the canal up to ‘Cracks Hill’. On reaching the top there was an obelisk informing us that this is a glacial outcrop. A large metal beacon which can be filled with wood and set alight stands nearby. There are lovely views across to Crick and Yelvertoft and their marinas. Crick has 270 moorings and Yelvertoft advertises 150 spaces initially, although it looked much larger by comparison and work is still ongoing.

IMG_0006 Crick from Cracks HillThis is Crick from Crack’s Hill, we have discovered many delightful footpaths between the canal and the village around the fields. We passed Crick Millennium Wood, a 2.5 acre enclosure on the hillside with a wide variety of trees planted by the local people. On returning to the boat I cooked lunch and did the washing, then we relaxed for the rest of the evening doing our own things.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Norton Junction to Crick

IMG_0007 It was delightful mooring in the cutting above Braunston Tunnel as the birdsong echoed all around and the fresh new green leaves were adding some welcome spring colour.

IMG_0020 At Norton Junction we saw this little living wagon in the garden of the cottage where we turned left and moored in another fairly quiet spot. We set off this morning after coffee and were first in the queue for Watford Locks so we went straight up to use the services at the top. Once clear of the buzz of the traffic we were back into the lovely lush countryside. Unfortunately it became rather windy as we approached to turn into Crick Marina for a pump out, so that was fun. Bottle did well and managed to manoeuvre us around without hitting anything. Luckily we have good signals here for all the electrical gadgets and with the fire alight we are thawing out.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Wild about life

We left Braunston and went up the locks with Tranquillity, sadly leaving Piston Broke behind.

We continued uneventfully through the tunnel, with no on-coming boats and moored just outside. A quiet night but this morning…… I opened the side hatch  to be greeted by two Muntjac deer looking at me across the canal.


Later whilst talking, on the tow-path, it was noticed that something was in the water between our boat and the piling, lots of splashing. It was a young Squirrel, I offered it the boat pole and it clung on.


We thought it would just scamper away but the water was running of it and it was obviously exhausted. It just gently slipped of the pole.

We got a towel and gently dried it and then let it rest still in the towel, it eventually recovered enough to get itself out of the towel and rest under some twigs.


Whether it will survive we will never know but we did give it a chance.

After all that excitement we moved onto Norton Junction and turned left towards Foxton.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Moving on

IMG_0009 Tudor House

This is the delightful, though neglected, Tudor House in Braunston’s main street and I am pleased to say that it has a sold sign on it. It was last in use as a hair salon and with loads a money and tlc I think it could become a pretty desirable little cottage. The variety of different types of houses and cottages is what makes Braunston so interesting don’t you think?

IMG_0001One resident has disguised the central heating oil tank in their garden with this painting, what an ingenious idea. Anyone know what it is? Sadly we will be leaving all this loveliness behind  tomorrow, but no doubt we will be returning sometime!

Sunday, 2 May 2010


IMG_0006This was the view from our 48 hour mooring spot and as our time was up we practiced reversing back past the junction, round the corner via the services to moor by Bridge 90 onto a 14 day place. We needed to be near the road as we are awaiting a diesel leak to be fixed. The reversing went well as no other boats came past and luckily the wind had dropped too. Paul and Lynne came by for coffee and Paul flung himself on his hands and knees to look under our chair. No, he wasn’t throwing a wobbly as we thought, but later explained that his swivel chair had collapsed and he was pondering buying two new ones. Having health and safety instilled in us all by Big Brother we spotted some fluorescent tennis balls in the local shop. These are now atop our mooring pins to warn walkers of a possible trip hazard.

Saturday morning started with us having breakfast whilst listening to our weekly fix of ‘Sounds of the Sixties’ on radio2 with Brian Mathew. Then it was on the bus passes to Daventry to forage for food to stock up the freezer and fridge. Bottle made bread and Betty and Graham came to share some drink and nibbles.

Today the winter weather has returned so we have lit the fire again. We saw that a man had somehow fallen into the canal from his boat moored on the service point wondering how to get out. Then some  bright spark lowered a chair into the water and he climbed out on that. Happy Birthday Betty, thanks for inviting us round to celebrate with coffee and cakes. We climbed the up the hill to The Old Plough Inn for roast lunch, and pudding, which was as delicious as usual. This afternoon I have made Boat Cake and the gang are coming round to help us eat it tomorrow.