Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Grand Union Canal.

We have come down Stockton Locks and Bascote Locks sharing locks with some very nice people in order to save water. We moored at Long Itchington and walked to the Co-op in the village. The village pond had been nicely refurbished and the footpath across the fields had been upgraded as a millennium project, providing a pleasant walk. We are now moored near Bridge 33 near a strip of woodland which provides some welcome shade in this hot sticky weather. There is a lovely log swing attached by a substantial rope onto a tree bough. Needless to say we have made the most of our second childhood and had a go on it. The water is quite low and we are sitting on a mud bank at a jaunty angle at times. BW have closed eight locks along the way overnight to try and save some water.

IMG_0002 Bascote Lock Pumphouse 

This is the prettiest little pump house on the Bascote flight.

IMG_0001 No8 The Square

This is just ordinary No8 The Square, shame that such a lovely old timber framed building didn’t have a nice name.


Here is a posher black and white one with a simple cottage garden.


Someone has a sense of humour in Long Itchington then!Tomorrow we will plod on through Leamington and Warwick and up Hatton Locks. We will need a rest after that as there are 21 of them! Hope the little cafe at the top has some jacket potatoes and bacon butty’s on the go.

Dogs afloat.

IMG_0008 little dogThere were all sorts of dogs afloat at the boat show, many were left in charge of boat security while their owners were busy. This little chap had the choice of reclining on the back cabin bed, or meeting his admirers on the rag rug on the counter.

IMG_0029 large,medium and I know my place dogsThese three dogs were on the roof of the chandlery boat. There was a larger one, a middle-sized one and a small one, who knew his place, which was in the small tent on the right.IMG_0025 Chandlery boat 

Here they are posing to attract the customers, ahhh!IMG_0030 Dog with hatThis little dog had a sensible owner who had fitted it out with a sunhat as it was such a hot day.

IMG_0003 Hadar,Keith,Marmite and PaddyPaddy loves his life on board and spends time lying on the back counter leaning over the edge watching the fish!

IMG_0049 waiting patiently


This dog was waiting very patiently  on the towpath to be told when to hop on board.

I must apologise to all the followers of our blogspot for the haphazard postings, as there are places where we cannot get a 3G signal. Sorry!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally.

We moved off from Norton Junction, through Braunston Tunnel down the locks to moor in The Admiral Nelson pound. We were delighted when our daughter brought our little grandson to see us. We spent the day on Oakfield as it was too hot to venture out for lunch. He can walk around holding on to things and spent sometime exploring the contents of the bookcase and the log pile by the fire! Who needs toys when there are so many other interesting things to discover, we were quite exhausted when they left. The next day we caught up with all our jobs washing the boat and laundry etc. We found out that the butty ‘Angel’ was to be legged through the tunnel and then pulled down to the show using horse power on Wednesday, so went to watch. It was Gypsy Queen’s first time at towing a boat and she managed brilliantly, assisted by some very patient handlers. Have a look at if you are interested. While the boat was in the lock there was much waiting around, so the horse grabbed some refreshment while she could.

IMG_0029 breaktimeIMG_0053 rope atachedOne person led the horse, one attached the rope after each lock, while the man at the back had a long pole with a hook for holding the rope above the moored boats as they all passed by. IMG_0065 AngelThe butty Angel reaches the bottom of the locks at long last having been steered down by the tiller girl. 

Tranquility came down to moor behind us so Betty and I took the opportunity to go by bus into Daventry to forage for food, then to Rugby the next day. It is nice to have a mooch around the shops without the men in tow continually asking us, ‘what do you need that for?’

IMG_0019 Coal boats  

We have spent most of the weekend watching the old working boats parading through the marina and up the canal to turn at the junction. There were about eighty working boats and butty's which were moored all along the towpath four abreast in some places. It was amazing how the large seventy foot long boats, some also towing butty's, can skilfully manoeuvre past all the other boats and through the marina without touching them.

IMG_0026 Chertsey  We met quite a few fellow bloggers during the weekend including, Alnwick’s crew, Harnser’s crew, Halfie, Bones and Boots, Keith and Jo from Hadar and  of course Jim and Sarah who brought Chertsey to take part in the twice daily parades.

IMG_0041 chimney down  Adamant is a steam driven boat, I like the way it’s chimney ducks down to pass under low bridges. There is a chap on the tiller steering, a chap on the side for fending off using a long pole. who also relays advanced messages from the steerer to the engine room boy to put the boat into reverse, or full ahead, or to shovel a bit more coal onto the fire.

IMG_0047 Engine room boyAll was revealed when a lad of about twelve popped out the side door to cool off a bit, he was working hard and enjoying it too!IMG_0035 Pelican Here is an example of ‘little and large’ as pelican gives way for a bigger boat to pass under the bridge. It was a really hot and very busy weekend with plenty of stalls and a beer tent with musicians and of course the Sunday afternoon disaster on the big screen. I didn’t watch it,, and only heard the one cheer unfortunately!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Foxton-Welford-Crick-Norton Junction.

We spent Thursday night at Welford before moving on to Crick where we were met by some bloke waving his arms and saying ‘clear off’. It was of course Graham who was a bit lonely as Betty had deserted him again and gone off on the bus. So we had him in for coffee. I popped up to the Co-op for a few provisions including raisins. I was short of these to go in my boat cake which I had started. After I had finished cooking the dinner I immediately put the cakes in. After coffee and cake this morning, Bottle started a loaf off in the bread maker and we set off for Norton Junction. It is lovely to smell the bread cooking as we cruise gently along. We waited for one boat to come out of Crick Tunnel and we only met one other boat in there. There were rather a lot of leaks in the tunnel roof so we needed our hats and coats on while passing through. On reaching the top of Watford locks we pulled over onto the services to empty the Elsan porta-loo. I wandered into the lockkeepers hut to look at the book swap facility that they have just started up.

IMG_0004 SwallowsI soon realised that I was not alone as these little Swallows were flying into the roof space inside. When we reached the bottom of the locks we were hastily assisted by a chap from a Canalslime boat who was anxiously waiting to complete the Leicester ring with his companion in a great hurry for some reason.

IMG_0007 Watford bottom lockAs Maffi says, why don’t people allow themselves enough time to be able to complete their holiday at leisure? When we arrived at Norton all moorings up to the junction were taken so we moored around the corner. About a dozen boats have now joined us including some old working boats en-route to Braunston Show next weekend. It has been pretty busy with boats passing by all evening.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Hot gossip and Boxaholics..

IMG_0001 Foxton through portholeAfter a pump out and filling up with diesel we thanked John and Carol for making our stay at the marina a very welcoming one. We said our goodbyes to Ray and Sue on Moment in Time and set off in beautiful sunshine early on Thursday. On arrival at Foxton Locks it was so hot we donned our shorts and sun screen ready for working the boat up the hill. While we lounged about waiting our turn, two coaches of gongoozlers arrived. We thought, oh dear, now we will be in for an inquisition. Why is it I wonder, that people ask you so many questions just when you need to be concentrating on what you are doing so as not to have any accidents? Thankfully we arrived at the top to moor up for water and to buy a jacket potato and bacon butty from the busy little cafe.

IMG_0030 Boxaholics playing 7 squeezeboxes FoxtonAs we ate our well earned treats we listened to this lovely little trio.They are called ‘Boxaholics’, as they play seven accordions and squeezeboxes between them and they sing English Folksongs.

Around the boatyard.

IMG_0016 Boat mover

Here is the enormous monster for picking up boats and shifting them around. I don’t think I would like the responsibility of being in charge of one of those big beasts!

IMG_0028 prepaint scrubdownThis delightful little old boat has had a new bottom welded onto it and is receiving a scrub down with a big scrubbing brush prior to being repainted.

IMG_0009 upstairs to bedWe slept ‘upstairs’ for the first time in ages, propped up on two piles of old railway sleepers. It is amazing how many uses these old sleepers are now put to and how long they last with their protective creosote coating. We slept very well here, considering our lofty position. We were lucky with the weather and the paint dried off nicely in the sun and cool breeze.

IMG_0012 SwallowThere were many swallows swooping around doing aerial acrobatics to catch the insects over the water. They seemed to disappear into the boat workshop where they may have been nesting. Buzzards glided high in the sky during the day, and we also heard the t’woo owl calling in the night, but the twit owl was not answering it! The marina was absolutely teeming with fish of all sizes. Debdale is a great place for wildlife as it is surrounded by woods and large open fields.

Rudder mystery!

While the boat was out of the water we took the opportunity to have a close look around her nether regions. We have a ‘fin’ welded along our rudder, which some of the boats on the hard standing didn’t have. Here is our rudder-

IMG_0008 Rudder and prop 18X12 IMG_0013 land srorage 20X14 prop 

This is the rudder of an older boat, I found it fascinating to see all the various different designs while mooching about. So, which is the best design of rudder ,and propeller arrangement then?

Old and new.

IMG_0015 chair collapsingHere is Bottles rather sad looking worn out chair, it must be about twenty years old now, cost £5, and only hanging on by a thread! We like the design because it is so comfy and folds up neatly to fit into our ‘shed’ at the front. Although we have looked at endless bargain chairs they are narrower and more upright, so the sides dig into your legs and you can’t lounge back either. Any suggestions for a source for some new ones would be much appreciated.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Black Bottom

Do you remember a few months ago, we were all iced in, and that we had to move. Obviously this was traumatic for us and the boat, as some of the original blacking was removed.

We decided then to have her blacked when the warm weather arrived, today is that day. We have probably picked the best days to have this done, warm and dry.

The lift

2010_0616BlackingDebdale0012  Oooo! what a dirty bottom

2010_0616BlackingDebdale0014That tickles


Up and Over

2010_0616BlackingDebdale0021We are now up on blocks for the night, it is very strange as the boat does not rock.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Hot and cold weekend.

IMG_0005 Tubbs

To our surprise we saw a crow swoop into the canal and come out with a small fish in its mouth which it swallowed whole. We know Heron and Kingfishers do so but is it an unusual occurrence for crows? Mrs Duck has become so friendly she joined Bottle in the cratch to preen herself whilst he was on the phone. On Saturday our own hairstylists cut our hair as it was such a hot day. It has generally been very hot during the day with rain at times cooling things down. So it’s on and off with the shorts at the moment. It’s been a busy week down in the basin and today we met up with our friends Mike and Gerry on Tubbs for roast beef at the Foxton Locks Inn, with coffee on their boat afterwards. We played with Bonny (their little dog) who has been shorn ready for her summer cruise.

IMG_0004 Oakfield Here is Oakfield sporting it’s new smiley face.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Hot and steamy.

As Sunday was warm and sunny we had a lazy day reading, chatting and watching boats go by. We thought the name of a plastic one called ‘Vino Callapso’ was quite amusing. We had a thunderstorm overnight and just as we were about to move off to another mooring in the morning we spotted water voles on the opposite side of the canal so just had to stop and watch.

2010_0607Vole0002aaThere seemed to be more than one, but this one was swimming along seeking out greenery to nibble for breakfast. We then moved on up near B58 where little bunny rabbits were out nibbling the grassy towpath. I hope that their numerous burrows aren’t undermining the canal though. Tuesday morning we moved on along to moor at the top of Foxton Locks. We had another great downpour of rain with thunder in the afternoon which cooled things down a bit. The sun came out and created a rainbow and later there was a spectacular sunset. The canal and surrounding fields looked quite eerie as they were literally steaming as they warmed up after the storm!

IMG_0005We had days out foraging for food on Thursday and Friday to Market Harborough, catching the bus which stops about a mile up the road. The hunt is now on for some new folding chairs to replace our old ones which look like they may collapse very soon with old age. We need something that is comfy, lightweight, robust and very compact when folded up as space is minimal. Any suggestions would be very welcome, please? 

Saturday, 5 June 2010


A quiet day, the ‘girls’ decided to go to Hinckley for some retail therapy and the ‘boys’ stayed at home.

Graham sorted his box that had all the things that may come in handy one day but do not. We discussed many things, like you do, the world is a much better place now. smile_wink

A canoeist made the mistake of trying to come past this fellows territory.


Not a good idea when he had the Mrs. with him and the six youngsters.

The ‘girls’ returned, without to much therapy and Graham then decided to fish and with just a small piece of bread caught this.


Eat you heart out Paul.

Friday, 4 June 2010

It’s a wildlife on the canal.

Well we have already changed our 4.5 tog winter duvet over to our 1 tog summer one as things are hotting up now. The shorts have come out, well Bottles have been out for sometime, but it has to be really hot for mine to get an airing!


We have now reached one of our favourite mooring places near the Welford Arm and spent most of the day enjoying the sunshine reading books and pottering about. We are next to Tranquility and Graham has been fitting his new calorifier as the old one sprung a leak at the seem. Luxury, tonight they are enjoying their first showers for sometime. We no longer have to sit downwind of them, only joking! I went along to sit on the plank seat at the junction and spotted two small blue butterflies, I haven’t seen any of those for ages. They are difficult to photograph as they flit among the wildflowers so haphazardly. The fields and pathways hereabouts are flourishing with buttercups, clover, vetches, and other herbivorous loveliness. Does anyone know the name of these white flowers? There are quite a few little Reed Buntings busying themselves amongst the reeds opposite us too.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Hot cruising

We had showers and wandered up to the Co-op for a few things. I treated myself to some strawberries which were grown in Hereford. We like shopping in the Co-op as many of their products are locally sourced and grown in this country. Also they are a good supplier of Fairtrade goods. There was much activity over in the marina and the scaffolders were busy dismantling the temporary bridge over the canal. By the time we set off the sun was warming us up nicely. Every morning while we were at Crick when I opened the side doors this little Moorhen would leave her nest and swim over for a tit bit to take back to share with her two growing chicks.

IMG_0028 Moorhen President and Kildare came by us, so did the little steam powered icebreaker Laplander.

IMG_0020 LaplanderI used up the rest of our water doing the washing as we went along as we stopped to fill our tank at Yelvertoft. We saw nb Derwent 6 and nb Thema en route and I sounded our Klaxon as we approached them. A chap working a digger over in the new marina shouted out ‘it’s a bit early to have the horn out dear’. We were quite concerned when we saw a hire boat approaching and the chap at the helm was steering with one hand and holding a toddler on his shoulders with the other.  Bottle shouted to him that this could be dangerous, but he took absolutely no notice.  We wondered what would happen when he went under low overhanging trees, or a bridge, or even just went for the throttle to slow down! Could it be that people are thick, or just do not value their children's lives?

IMG_0002 President and Kildare passing ‘Oakfield’ and ‘Moment in Time’, moored near the marina entrance. Well it’s been quite a hot day today so we pulled over to moor up after a few hours cruising as we were both feeling hot, tired and in need of refreshments. Are we in for another hot spell I wonder?

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Sunday Crick

Bottle went off to help with Fernwood’s viewings of ‘Gone Bush’ from 8-6. I stayed on board to tidy things up and showed two couples around our boat. Thanks for your kind comments left on the blog Mark and Corrine, David and Lisa, it was nice to chat to you all and to enable you to pick up some ideas for the fit out of your future narrow boats. It is also nice to hear that several people read our blog and it makes it more interesting for us to read your feedback. I had a wander around the show and spent my ‘pocket money’ on a leather hat to keep the rain off me glasses and kept Bottle supplied with refreshments.

IMG_0001 nb Gone BushThe weather was a bit better as it was brighter, but was a little too windy for some of the tents! In the evening we joined John and Jill over in the marquee for the quiz which was quite fun. Then the disco started and we were joined by Ray and Sue, (nb Moment in Time) later followed by Graham and Jane. We left when the ‘music’ crept up to such a pitch that it made our ears throb and we could only communicate using sign language. We walked back over with Ray and Sue for coffee and chocolates and had a conducted tour of their lovely new boat. It is absolutely stunning inside and out, with many useful space saving ideas. Kevin the Seagull came cruising past us in good cheer, in his other boat, which was a Gondolier.

IMG_0006Monday Crick.

Bottle scuttled off early to help set things up ready for the last day of the show. I went over to the beer tent at lunchtime for the Canal Forum members banter.

IMG_0008 Dr Bradley and Peter RDr Bradley (nb Dr Bradley’s Linctus) and Peter R ( nb Andante)were chatting with Graham and Jane. John from nb Epiphany popped in briefly to say hello followed by James and Amy (nb Lucky Duck)

IMG_0009 Amy and JamesThey had been splashing the cash on paint and a new front fender for their boat. It was nice to meet you all but it would have been nicer if Bottle could have come too, but he was far too busy and couldn’t tear himself away. We met Mike and Gerry (nb Tubs) who were over for their day out. In the afternoon Graham and Betty came to our boat with large box containing their new calorifier pushed on a trolley that came free with it. We sat on the towpath for coffee and cake to make sure it didn’t wander off on it’s own!  IMG_0017 Betty and GrahamThe show finished at 5pm, everything was neatly packed away, the tent was dismantled and all packed safely into the big van.  We said our goodbyes to Graham and Jan (nb Huff ‘n’ Puff), Bev and Alan (nb Gone Bush) and Ken and Julia, I think we are all rather tired after a very long weekend. Geoff (nb Green Matters) had to travel back to Essex so he came over to Oakfield for a break before setting off on the long journey home.

IMG_0025 Geof Keith Graham Here are the exhausted ‘A’ team who very much enjoyed working together. We had a very late dinner aboard, then onto nb Alnwick for a farewell coffee. We also sampled their Alnwick Rum which was so delicious that we just had to try it a second time.

Tuesday Crick

Alnwick left early so we quickly slipped into their place to moor next to the towpath again.

IMG_0024 Ray and Sue came on board for coffee, cake and a chat and to look around the interior of our boat, before setting off back towards their marina. It is fascinating to see that every fit out by Fernwood is unique because they always design each boat to suit the customers requirements. So, it’s a bit of a tradition to have a look around each others boats and spot the differences.

IMG_0018 Ray and SueAfter seeing them off we wandered up to the PO Stores in the rain for a few necessary supplies. You won’t believe this, Graham and Betty returned from making good use of their bus passes to Northampton and called in and finished off all our cake!