Sunday, 31 March 2013

Moving on.



As the weather looked promising we donned all our thermal gear and set off from our mooring early at 8am. There was a thin layer of ice over the canal in places, but no other boats on the move. The bottom lock was against us, but luckily all the others  were in our favour.

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I popped into the Boat Shop while Oakfield rose in the lock just outside it. I got milk and a freshly baked loaf which was still warm, mmm. We passed through the crooked cottage lock and could hear the squawking crows across the field in their newly constructed nests.


Some hire boaters who were moored above the top lock popped out to untie their boat to get into the lock as we came out, so we left the gate open for them. This smart plaque commemorates the opening of Braunston Tunnel in 1796.


This was the view from the kitchen porthole en-route while I was washing up and making coffee. You don’t get these wonderful changing views to enjoy if you live in a house, do you?

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When we were approaching Norton Junction we saw this girl dancing about on the top of a hire boat, she must have been freezing cold! Anyway we turned left and carried on, taking turns at steering the boat. At Watford Locks we were able to go straight up after booking in with the volunteer lock-keepers. There were two of them on duty to give us a hand and chat about boating on our way up the locks. The M1 was then in close proximity to the canal for a short distance here, and the Watford Gap Services were very busy. The constant traffic noise was as loud as a large plane when it is taking off. Passing through Crick Tunnel was just like having a shower with all the rain and melted snow still filtering down through the brickwork. Luckily we had both tunnels to ourselves, which is just how we like it! The tunnel exit was adorned with some very thick, long icicles which looked quite pretty against the daylight as we came out. A ‘Perfick’ cruising day for us.

Saturday, 30 March 2013


IMG_2896We waited for Mark to come by on Callisto to fill us up with diesel before we moved off. He must have the best behaved little dog on the system, who quietly keeps an eye on him from the rooftop.

IMG_2837 duckMrs Duck was looking for a nice quiet spot to lay her eggs. She will be nicely camouflaged if she chooses this spot.

IMG_2853 ducksHere she is snuggled up with her mate keeping warm.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Walkabout Braunston.


IMG_2820 Oakfield

This is the view from the junction bridge showing the huge lake that has formed in the adjoining field. It drains out across the towpath and into the canal in quite a stream. The Canada Geese, Ducks and Seagulls have moved in to enjoy it there anyway. I took some books that we had read to the marina swap-shop and picked up a couple of Canal Boat Magazines to peruse. Some books I took to the Boat Shop and bought one of their freshly baked crusty loaves for tea, yum.

IMG_2823 Crooked Cottage

This is the back view of the Crooked Cottage that overlooks a lock with a Shepherds Hut in the garden similar to  the one at Norton Junction. The Admiral Nelson was pretty busy on the afternoon that the Rugby was on TV.

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There are plenty of lambs in the fields hereabouts sometimes cuddling up to each other to keep warm. Some nights have been quite frosty with quite a cool breeze during the day too, the sun has peeped through though, enough to melt the frost pattern on the cratch window.

IMG_2862Plenty of icicles hanging under the bridge on the junction, but the canal has not frozen over.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Narrow-boat for one.


On one of my circular walkabouts I came across this tug style boat being craned into  Braunston Marina. Later on all the boats were moved around to make way for the share boats to come in for their annual weekend show/gathering.


A few days later I noticed it moored up with a for sale notice on it and thought of you Dave!  It is called ‘Kinver’, 37 feet long, BMC 1.5 L engine, an Epping Range and it is  in your favourite colour too. It does not give a price, but says it is suitable for refitting and upgrading.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Woolly Jumpers.



These new lambs have had to grow their fleeces quickly in the freezing weather that we are having.

IMG_2857Some of them were huddled up in small groups to try to keep warm. Consequently there were not that many gambolling about playing in the sunshine like they were at this time last year.

Viking Snowman!



We had a bit of snow overnight and the ‘Vikings afloat’ were preparing to leave their mooring!

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Luckily they managed to construct the snowman on the roof of the boat without falling into the icy waters beneath!


After several attempts with an icy wind blowing they managed to steer the boat under the first bridge without incident. They were definitely enjoying their holiday, come what may! On their return journey, the next day, surprisingly the snowman was still intact!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Working Boats.



        IMG_2817 Victoria Archimedies

Victoria and Archimedes paused for a rest together midweek, before continuing northwards to deliver fuel, gas and coal to their live-aboard customers. Archimedes was en-route to Ellsmere Port we think.

IMG_2821 Tycho

This strange looking British Waterways boat No 93 called “Tycho” was moored alongside Braunston Wharf. It seems to have a long piece of metal protruding at the front!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Porthole pics.


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I like the big bold colourful panting on this boat.


There have been quite a few boats on the move through Braunston Junction and the moorings are almost full at the moment.

Friday, 22 March 2013

The Merchant’s Inn.


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A nice old pub in the backstreets of Rugby.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

By Barby.


IMG_2808It was nice to see that this once derelict row of stables and cottages had been completely renovated and back in use. An idylic setting right by the canal, isn’t it?

IMG_2809Not much progress at Barby Marina  since we passed by it last year. No pontoons have been added to the anchor points sticking out of the water, but quite a few boats moored around the perimeter. We waved and spoke to the crew of nb Horus as we passed them on their  linear mooring at Barby straight. We had befriended them when we became iced into our mooring spots next to each other about a year ago. They seemed quite happy and contented to be there.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Full measures!


IMG_2829 Ws £2.15

We met up with our friends in Wetherspoons and fancied a pint of the above which is only £2.15, but only on Mondays, perfick! It was so good that some of us even had two.

It was interesting to note that the Food Standards agency had awarded a food hygiene rating of five stars to Wetherspoons Lawrence Sherriff and also to the Canalchef at Badseys Wharf.

Saturday, 16 March 2013


IMG_2794 Badseys Wharf

While we were waiting at the bottom locks of the Hillmorton flight I noticed that Badseys Cafe Bistro was open, so we decided to walk there for our lunch once we had found a mooring spot for Oakfield. We also chatted with C&RT volunteer Pete Gray who was working with a small group on the side of one of the lock chambers.

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On entering the cafe we saw that it had been newly refurbished, but still had all the interesting canal and old working boat memorabilia on display all around. Although it was called a cafe Ian cooks the most wonderful lunches in addition to coffee and home-made cake etc. I had the tender tasty roast beef and himself had steak pie both beautifully presented with fresh vegetables. Of course we also had drinks, a Strongbow for me and a Guinness for him.


On a shelf above the bar Lesley had her lovely collection of painted canal-wear on show. Badsey no longer sits alone on the wharf outside, but has a companion butty called Angel for company. The two of them make a very nice pair, although Angel will be repainted in her original colours.

IMG_2793It was really busy here considering that it was mid-week, but we didn’t have to wait too long for our meals to be served. If you are passing on your narrow-boat, do call in and enjoy the company as we did. 

Canalchef cafe, Badseys Wharf, The Locks, Hillmorton, Rugby. 01788 567600. They are now open from 9am-6pm and later on Fridays  .

Friday, 15 March 2013



It was just the most beautiful sunny day for a cruise, not too cold, wet or windy either. Just look at that wide blue sky with it’s white cotton-wool clouds! There weren’t many boats moored in and around Grantham's Bridge as I walked by with my windlass, but plenty  were moored above Moors Bridge 72, with only one gap left that luckily we managed to squeeze into.

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These are the artworks carved into the oak balance beams on the topside of the middle lock. There were several boats on the move today but unfortunately none of the locks were in our favour. We were in no mad rush anyway and were happy to ‘lollop’ about in the sunshine for a change.

Thursday, 14 March 2013



Now that we are back on the move again we shall have  something to blog about for our followers we hope. The housing estate along by Masters Bridge 58, which leads up to Brownsover, has almost been completed. Thank goodness for that, because it means boats will no longer be covered in cement or brick dust when mooring there. The only downside to mooring there now is the continual noise of the traffic passing so nearby. We took our trolleys and stocked up with victuals at the nearby Tesco supermarket and I also caught the No 12 bus to Sainsbury’s for some of our favourite foods. Bottle still has some effects of the ‘man flu’ to contend with, aw!


Just before we left our mooring by the park six chaps came along to trim the bushes back from the towpath. two had hedge-trimmers, one had a long reach brush-cutter, one with a garden fork, one pushing a shredder and of course following on behind was the man with the blower! They did seem to be making a neat job of it all anyway.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


IMG_2020 Braunston  After continuously cruising the waterways for just over three years aboard Oakfield we now realise why we like this way of life so much. The canal system is just like one big floating village where you can meet up with other boaters to befriend which is great. At least most people speak to you and we will help each other out if anyone happens to have a problem or get into difficulties. Also it is nice to socialise occasionally in the nearest pub over a nice meal with a few drinks, putting the world to rights.

IMG_1830 We can moor right in the middle of big cities as we did here in Birmingham for fourteen days, which was brilliant. A couple of live-aboard folk got married while we were there which meant that there was a great gathering of boaters. Many of them we already knew from meeting up on the cut, or at the various ‘Banters’ that we had already been to, which was fun.

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Or we can choose a peaceful countryside mooring with footpaths leading off to new places to explore. The only drawback is chugging slowly past the garden gnomes on the towpath on tick-over. This is a bit of a nuisance when there is a fishing match on and there may be loads of fishermen as far as the eye can see. So we usually try and stay put on Sundays when there are fishing matches going on during the summer.

IMG_1801So, we can be as this boat-name suggests ‘the cat who walks by himself’ on the remote country moorings for up to 14 days or in the popular shopping/bus route hotspots for 2 days, or 24 hours depending on what mooring restrictions are in place. Anyway if a place is too noisy, or we don’t like the neighbours we can take out the pins and move along somewhere else. We don’t generally stay in one place for too long before we get the urge to be cruising again.

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Anyway whether we are negotiating sharp narrow bends, or avoiding other boats, steering the boat through narrow bridges, locks, and dark tunnels we need to concentrate. This and cruising along in the open air tends to clear our minds and free us from all the worries of life, most of the time, which is a good thing.