Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Cratch Lawn

Monday we got the Astro Turf and Bottle duly fitted if neatly over the cratch floor. We are hoping that it will catch all the fine grit as we step in to take our shoes off. It is warmer, will be easier to clean, and it won’t matter if it gets wet either. So we can sit out in the deckchair on our own lawn now! We walked into Yelvertoft along the towpath and bought some newly laid eggs from Maisie, returning down the bridleway to Oakfield.


I liked the design of this unusual old house, which may have originally been thatched, unfortunately it didn’t have a name.

IMG_0026 Coniston 

This little boat was bravely fighting it’s way through the wind and the waves. (This is not the one mentioned below) Yesterday I cleaned the portholes and replaced the worn foam that cushions the glass from the frames.

Today we did a marathon walk and bus ride into Asda at Rugby to fill our two trolleys with essentials. Of course we popped into Wetherspoons for coffee and buns to give us the energy for our return trip.

By the way we heard the Cuckoo last week. We haven’t heard it for years and strangely enough we only ever hear it just the once. How about you?

Another ‘Alf Garnet’ of the waterways sped by us in his little canal boat creating huge breaking waves in his wake. Bottle was leaning out of the side doors and asked him if he ever looked behind him? This sparked him off, shouting out his entire repertoire of swearwords at us as he passed. His wife looked on smiling meekly as they  quickly vanished around the bend. It’s a good job we have some of Graham’s tyre fenders to act as buffers between us and the metal Armco edging.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Windy weather.

IMG_0017 Crick Millenium Wood 7.12 acres

We had a walk around Crick Millennium Wood, a seven and a half acre public wildlife space near Cracks Hill. The local people decided that this was a  beneficial project to spend the £6,5000 raised during their millennium celebrations. We think it is nice too and it seems to be used by walkers, with or without dogs, every day. The cows were friendly creatures and one even let Bottle stroke her head. The calves were all queuing up to try the swing in the tree!

IMG_0016 we want to swing

Onwards we went up into Crick heading for The Red Lion for roast Sunday lunch. There is a tiny bar and only four small rooms which were packed with customers when we arrived. The food is served very hot and reasonably priced we recommend that you visit to see for yourselves.  

IMG_0018 Canopus has balls

We admired this boat’s balls, we could do with some of those ourselves, to moor further away from the shallow edge. The pound is very low and Oakfield is a bit lop-sided sitting as it is on the bottom, of soft mud. It is also extremely windy here, I think if we put a sail up we could cruise along without using the engine!

Yelvertoft meander.

IMG_0009 Tudor Cottage     IMG_0013 thatch cat on roof

I set off in the other direction along the Bridleway towards Yelvertoft today. It is nice to explore all the different routes and shortcuts into the villages within reach of the canal. There is one main street through the village which retains it’s Post office Stores thank goodness. I think it may be busier now that Yelvertoft Marina is completed and nearly full of boats. There is a small Butchers shop which only opens three days a week, a Church, Chapel and a small School too. There is a good mix of dwellings with several beautiful thatched cottages mingling in among them. Above is Tudor Cottage and the other one has an ornamental thatched cat on the gable end.

IMG_0010 sun firemark    IMG_0014 Ye Olde Panniers

The left one has a sun fire-mark on the front and the other one, called Ye Olde Panniers has old lettering saying ‘Manning Noted Stouts’ on the front wall. It may well have been a pub in the past. On my return journey I met Auntie Maisie who was weeding her garden. She obviously likes a chat and told me she had been born in the village had been the school cook there. She sells eggs from her hens and gave me a bunch of mint to cook with my potatoes for lunch, how kind. There is small red brick building which used to be a Reading Room, on the front of which is a fine sandstone Sundial bearing the date 1792. Newspapers and books were expensive items years ago that many could not afford to buy. These items would be provided to encourage the poor with their reading, nowadays we have libraries.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Outing, from Crick.

IMG_0002 fieldpath to Crick          IMG_0003 Bridalway to Crick

Yesterday we walked up the long straight Bridleway over Cracks Hill and through the pleasant fields of browsing sheep and cows, into Crick. Twice a week Caterall’s Coaches run a trip into Daventry and we had to be there early to catch it. There were two boaters and several villagers waiting to board, who informed us that we must get the same coach back at 12.15 as it was the only one. Apparently this service is to be cut in July which will be a great pity as about twenty passengers were picked up in various hamlets en route. I was taking Bottle for his approval of some Astro Turf I had seen, that would be a practical cover on Oakfield’s cratch floor. He liked it, so we ordered some, Mark kindly offered to deliver to us next week. We had coffee and bacon rolls in Wetherspoons and drifted around the town picking up a few things we needed. We very much enjoyed the smooth ride on our day out all around the lanes and the sun managed to stay out all day. As we made our way back along the towpath we had a chat with our new neighbours on nb Canopus. We then flaked out in the cratch with salad and a well earned Guinness and Speckled Hen, our favourite drinks.

IMG_0001 the grass is always greener      IMG_0005 new cratch cushions

The grass is always greener on the other side so they say, and this cow was risking her neck over the barbed wire for a munch. I have finished sewing the covers for the cratch cushions and we are very pleased with the way they look.

Two more reasons to be on the canals.


The peace and tranquillity

2011_05_19_0435aaNew life

The moorhen chicks were about the size of a cotton reel. Parents were protective, one of them taking on two swans and winning.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Watford Gap.

Early on Monday morning we got underway towards Crick ready to go to the boat show at the end of the month.

IMG_0001 Watford bottom lock We arrived at Watford Locks with the M1 buzzing with traffic nearby, to join a small convoy going up. Bottle went to book in with the lock keeper who sent us straight in so no time wasted waiting around. The new volunteer lock keeper had just started this season and said that he was enjoying it, so far. I commented that the bottom lock cottage was looking good with all the white rendering removed to expose the lovely original brickwork. He said they had been told to re-render it as no planning permission had been obtained. We shall have to wait and see if the new owners win their battle with the council on this issue.

IMG_0003 Canada goslings The Canada Geese were proudly escorting their four fluffy goslings around the pound as we passed by into the staircase lock. This flight has side water storage ponds so none is wasted.

IMG_0007 Watford top lock When we reached the top we pulled over for water. The little hut was decorated with flags put up for the Royal Wedding and with the colourful flowers was quite a picture. I noticed some runner beans and tomato plants too, giving quite a homely feel to it all. Luckily we didn’t meet any boats through Crick Tunnel and we thought we were lucky to find a mooring place just below Bridge 12 near the show site that had not been reserved for boats attending the show. Anyhow on talking to the people on the boat in front of us they had paid £90 for their space and reckoned that ours was pre-booked too, although there were no signs up saying so. To be sure of a space for two weeks we decided to push on northwards. All moorings between Bridge 12 and 13 are reserved, despite a stretch being closed last year because it was Water-vole habitat. I wonder if they have moved out, or has this fact been overlooked? Anyway due to narrow towpaths and shallow canal edges we have ended up near Yelvertoft Marina now. It is a long way to walk to the shops, but on the plus side we have got good signals here!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Norton Junction


IMG_0009 Avarest

Today we took a leisurely stroll down Buckby Locks to Whilton garden centre for coffee and a browse around. They do a delicious toffee sponge cake which we just had to try. As we started to walk back up the locks we met Tim and Jenny on their boat Avarest who were sharing locks with  a Swedish couple holidaying on an Alvechurch boat. We helped them with the heavy lock gates chatting all the way up to the New Inn. Then we sat outside the pub and they kindly bought us a drink for our efforts. The crew of Kanab, whom we had met last year, were also there with their newly acquired Alsatian called Leyla.

IMG_0011 Leyla  She is a beautiful dog, but was a little nervous of us at first, but soon made friends. After the eight of us had rested and finished our drinks we were invited aboard Avarest for coffee and cake. We eventually returned to Oakfield for our roast dinner at about five o‘ clock having had a most enjoyable day out.

IMG_0002 Buckby mpOur exact location at Norton junction is on the milepost.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

This ‘n’ that

IMG_0008 swans 6 chicks

A pair of proud swans have hatched out half a dozen eggs and they brought the little grey fluff balls along to see us. They were very protective of their cygnets and paddled their feet to raise themselves up in the water to look bigger.

IMG_0001 Dreamsong

We liked this well loved, highly polished, boat that came gently throbbing past us, it is well named as Dreamsong. We have recently seen quite a few aptly named boats, The Kids Inheritance, Noah’s Ark, Nice Butt, and my favourite one, Travellers Joy.

IMG_0052 nb Annie Wright

The busy season has now started with boats streaming in all directions at Braunston Junction.

On Thursday we said goodbye to Lynne who was going away for a family weekend. Paul and Mick came round for farewell afternoon tea and cake with us.

Friday was the thirteenth so we took things steady as we set off to attend to all our tanks. Luckily we found a spot to moor overnight below the locks. We strolled up to the shop for some milk and bumped into Graham who had brought Alnwick up to get her bottom blacked at the Wharf House. So he joined us on board for a chat and we polished off the last of the boat cake with tea. It was lovely to see you Graham and learn about your recent exploits.

Saturday, we set off early in bright sunshine up the locks and through the tunnel. Turning left at Norton Junction we slid into the last available mooring spot. It’s funny old weather, although the sun is out the cold breeze stops it’s warmth coming through to us. Hadar has just passed after doing their own bottom blacking and having a specially made Crowther propeller fitted at Welford. They said they are very pleased with its performance already.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Working Boats

IMG_0050  As we approached Braunston two BW boats caught us up, so we let them overtake us. The push-tug and barge clipped the bridge ’ole, while his mate was watching him he ran aground!

They have been doing a grand patching job on the eroding towpaths using small bags of cement topped with large sharp grey chippings. This seems to be in vogue for laying on the towpaths now, but it is not very pleasant to walk on.

          IMG_0056 Yaht


The lovely yacht is supported on a special platform outside the marina workshop waiting to be attended to.


IMG_0054 Nuneaton Brighton 

Nuneaton passed us with butty Brighton in tow, they looked beautifully maintained. The two of them negotiated the bend at the junction without touching Chertsey and the other big barge moored behind it. They went on to moor abreast just by the marina entrance.


IMG_0048 Hampton Hadar

This is ex-working boat Hampton passing by Hadar which was moored outside The Boat Inn for lunch.

We are in the process of making some seat cushions for Oakfield's cratch area. We looked around for some high density foam and eventually bought a small mattress which we cut in half and trimmed to fit. Now we have found some nice blue/green check material in Dunelm, so all I have to do now is masses of hand stitching as there is no sewing machine on board!

With this hot sunny weather, mixed with a few showers, the greenery has all burst forth and the ducklings seem to be multiplying. I think Spring and Autumn are our favourite times of the year because everything changes so much in those two seasons. I have made boat cake and we are enjoying Lynne and Paul’s company when they come along to help us eat it.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

New town planned for Hillmorton.

When I walked up to the Co-op I saw a planning application notice on a post. Apparently the proposal is to build 6,200 new houses, with schools etc on the old Rugby Radio Station site. If so, this idyllic mooring spot will be overlooked by it all one day. What a great shame that will be. If you are interested in looking at the plans for it go on,  and look for R11/0699.

IMG_0050 Badseys

The morning was mainly spent shopping up at the Co-op then getting my hair cut for a tenner in Stylerz. After a snack I strolled down the locks and noticed that Badsey’s Bistro has won  gold awards over the last five years for their excellent food. This is all beautifully prepared by the Canal Chef who works alone in the kitchen. They are very friendly place and chat endlessly to all their customers. I like the little old green Austin truck that is parked outside. Btw the cafe is named after their liveaboard ex-working boat Badsey which is moored just outside. Another lovely sunny, but cool, breezy day we have enjoyed.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


IMG_0042  Hadar Jo Keith


We spotted Keith and Jo Lodge moored outside the Boathouse on nb Hadar sporting their new darker blue paintwork which they  did themselves. They will soon be off to do their own bottom blacking too. In the afternoon they joined us for a drink and long chat on all things boaty. It is a real education meeting up with others who live on their boats. As Keith and Jo are also traders they meet up with many other live aboard boaters who are customers for their coal delivery between Crick and Market Harborough. Among other things on their website they have some rather nice rag rugs for sale which they have made themselves. Earlier our friends John and Jill (nb Phoenix) paid us a visit which was nice because we hadn’t seen them to chat to since Crick Show a year ago.

IMG_0040 Duck 4chicks

This is one of our ducky neighbours who roosts opposite Oakfield, she used to have six duckling but now only has five.

IMG_0041 Duck 15 chicks

This mother duck amazingly has reared fifteen ducklings! Is this a record we wonder?

As our time was up we decided to have a detour along to Hillmorton so that I can have my hair cut. It was a lovely sunny day again and we met quite a few oncoming boats along the way, including Bella. We noticed that there were chaps doing some surveying inside the new Barby Marina, so maybe things are on the move again there. We have never seen so many boats moored above the locks here near the old radio station. Could it be that there are good strong signals for tv, phones and computers here, I wonder?  It would be nice and peaceful here with only the sound of passenger trains whooshing by, but there are also long heavy goods trains thundering past!

Monday, 2 May 2011


IMG_0001 Marionette

What about this one then Dave? Is this the smallest narrow boat you have ever seen on the system? It is called Marionette and the great advantage of it is that it came sneak into locks with other boats with ease. We have seen some very strange things on roofs of boats, but we really liked the vase of flowers on the front.

IMG_0007  We watched ‘Percy’ chug beautifully out of the lock and admired his lovely shiny engine.

IMG_0004 Percys Lister engine

Can anyone recognise what make of engine this is?


Sunday morning was spent as usual talking to various members of our family on the phone. We then went along to The Boat Inn for one of their roast dinners. We sat outside in the sunshine and didn’t have to wait long to be served considering that it was so busy. We took up their two for one offer at £11.95. The beef was very tasty and tender, accompanied by three types of vegetables, roasties and Yorkshire pud, the meal served was nice and hot.

On our trip into Rugby Mick asked us to buy him some braces. We tracked down two pairs at £15 and £10, but were recommended to go to Peacocks where we got a pair for £5. A visit to the Farmers Market saw us stocked up with their delicious Cornish pasties and a Lemon Cake. I seem to be getting a bit lazy, and it is too hot to be cooking cakes here on board really!