All posts by Chris

Summer Cruise – Day 32

Wednesday 8th July – Day 30

This morning I whizzed down to the Co-op to get some provisions, while Joy made a cake as the main event today was a visit from Joy’s niece Chris who popped in for a ‘socially distanced’ coffee. She came bearing a gift of a lovely jar of homemade gooseberry jam.
Yes! We did find a lighter mooring, next to the (closed) pub garden and waterpoints.

I really think the darkness of these moorings will deter boats stopping at the pub. I met the landlord and mentioned it, he said it was C&RT’s responsibility, but he hoped to open next week when more hire boats were about. I hope it works out for him.

In the afternoon we fired up the generator & did a couple of loads of washing, and got it on the line before the rain came.

Thursday 8th July – Day 31

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Yay! An even better mooring became available this morning, with loads of sky, where we could stay for 2 weeks if we wanted to and it’s opposite an ‘End of Garden/Field’ mooring which we would love complete with sheep!

Joy had her on-line art class this afternoon, a dark sky with the moon and hot-air balloons. The rain persisted down for all the afternoon and evening, good job we hadn’t planned to move.

Friday 9th July – Day 32

Hooray! A sunny morning so we were up and away soon after nine as we wanted to call at Fenny Compton Marina for gas, I’d checked prices the previous day and at Cropredy Marina, it was £35.50 which is apparently Calor’s recommended price! At Fenny, it was £32.50 which was a bit better, back at our marina it was £28.50 last month. I thought petrol & gas prices were falling?

Enough whinging, it was a lovely day and we headed through Fenny Compton ‘Tunnel’. You know you’re on the South Oxford when you see Boundry Lift Bridge (header photo). Before 11:00 we were passing our one-time mooring at Claydon. A lady opened her boat window and (politely) asked us not to take photos (???) I explained we used to moor there but I have no idea why she objected, however, I won’t publish the photo as she asked nicely.

Soon after we were starting the Claydon Five (locks) and to our surprise, there was a C&RT volunteer on duty, who has a nice little base at the middle lock.

Four more locks and we were at Cropredy, a new canalside house has been built since we were last this way (just advertised as a building plot then). At the services, we stopped for water and there was a 48 hour mooring waiting for us almost opposite, between the C&RT workboat mooring and the permanent moorings. Excellent!

I popped over to the village stores for fruit, veg and an icecream each. Joy prepared us lunch, a salad topped with black pudding and a poached egg, been watching too much Masterchef!

That will do for today, 6 miles 4½hours  & 9 Locks.

Summer Cruise – Day 29

Sunday 5th July – Day 27

We left this morning at 8:00am (yes you read it right) and were at Hilmorton Locks just after 9 and motoring away from the top lock  40 minutes later.

Past Clifton Wharf and under the new Houlton Bridge (serving the new Houlton housing development) I think Brutalist might be the school of architecture.
We passed Hillmorton Wharf Marina from where we started our first hire-boat holiday in 1983, then along the Barby Straight, and moored near Barby Wood Bridge to watch the Sunday Service from Rising Brook Church.

Midday saw us on the move again with sandwiches on the go and the wind blowing a hooley.  At the new(ish)  Dunchurch Pools Marina it was blowing across the marina and did it’s best to push us into the off-side bank!

By 1:30 pm we tied up at Braunston Visitor moorings near the A45 bridge. TV reception was non-existent, but there was just enough internet to watch Shirley Valentine on YouTube, amazing to think that was released over 30 years ago.

Monday 6th July – Day 28

After a breakfast of bacon, egg and mushroom to fortify us for the day, at half-past nine, we crept carefully under the London Road Bridge and took a right turn at, um, Braunston Turn.

Immediately we started to emerge we spotted Jules Fuels coming along with a motor and butty so hurriedly had to reverse to allow them to turn the other way.

We travelled past the wonderfully named Braunston Puddle Banks, Wolfhamcote, Lower Shuckburgh, past  Napton Junction to the bottom of Napton Locks; taking the obligatory photo of Napton Windmill (see header), all the while debating whether to stop for lunch before the locks as it kept spotting with rain.

In the end, we started up the nine locks at 12:30 with sheep and buffalo (yes, really, they’re famous around here) in the fields alongside, mooring above Adkins Lock at 2:30 leaving the final two locks for tomorrow.

Tuesday 7th July – Day 29

 

Today’s journey

This morning we were away at a quarter to nine, both locks were against us as another boat left before us, but it was easy enough and we were soon on our way across the twist and turns of the summit level. All was going swimmingly, despite the low water level, until we rounded a corner and a boat was just pulling out and we, plus three hire boats, followed it at tickover for the next hour and a half until they moored near Wormleighton Radio Mast.

 

We passed Hill Farm Glamping with it’s wood-fired hot tub, and less attractively spoil heaps concerned with HS2

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We arrived at Fenny Compton Wharf by 12:50 pm and found plenty of room to moor, unfortunately, the hedgerows have been neglected and they have grown so high it’s very dark here at the moment, maybe we can find a brighter spot later.

Summer Cruise – Day 26

Friday 3rd July – Day 25

The best-laid plans, etc. An early start was planned, but the weather was in an indecisive mood, so it was delayed until 10:30 ish when it decided not to rain too much. Off we went and soon were at the outskirts of Nuneaton, not our favourite town to boat through, as it always looks so down-at-heel. It’s a shame because there are lots of allotments & public land next to the canal which looks so neglected on the plus side some householders make an effort to make their gardens look nice.

Just past the chicane of moored boats at Boot Wharf we stopped to let a faster boat past and clear the propeller of rubish that had wrapped itself around it.

Off we went for another hour when the rain properly started to come down so we tied up just short of Charity Dock and had lunch, a concoction of hard-boiled egg with noodles & black pepper sauce, it should have been curry sauce but I got my packets muddled up! I thought it was fine, but Joy wasn’t so sure.

We got going again at 2pm and took the obligatory photos of the crazy stuff at Charity Dock, just another hour took us to Hawkesbury Junction where we squeezed into a mooring right opposite the Old Engine House.

 

Hawkesbury Engine House

I crossed over the footbridge & found my way to the convenience store for milk, bread & cake.

Sausage, mash, carrots & peas with onion gravy for tea and an early night as I was falling asleep in front of the telly.

Saturday 4th July – Day 26 – Onto The Oxford

Up and away by half-past nine, after walking to look for the rubbish bins twice, I swear they used to be in a compound but our neighbour, with a little wooden cruiser, told me they are inside the facilities building! So under the junction bridge we went, negotiated the 360-degree turn perfectly, past the Greyhound Inn who were preparing to reopen later today and through the stop lock, something of about a foot rise and we were on The Oxford Canal.

We passed another boat who was also leaving, past the electricity substation from which pylons radiate in all directions (there was a power station hereabouts in the past) past the Wyken Colliery Arm (now home to the Coventry Canal Society’s Moorings) and on to Ansty where we met Rick on Auriga the fuel boat once again.

The going seemed to get slow after that but we soldiered on until we just had to pull in and see what was the matter. What was the matter? An Aldi ‘bag for life’ was wrapped around the prop along with other detritus including the remains of a rather heavy-duty bra!

Spotted our first hire boat

The boat who had been following us for several hours stopped to see if we were OK then went on ahead, we followed on making much better progress with all that removed. We soon arrived at Rose Narrowboat’s Swing Footbridge and thereafter had an uneventful journey, starting to meet a lot of hire-boats and leisure boaters who have had the green light to start cruising today.

Newbold Tunnel

Through the Newbold Tunnel and we arrived at Rugby Visitor Moorings at just about 3 pm and met our travelling companions once more. After tieing up I walked down to Tescos for some shopping, my goodness that slope up to the road feels even steeper with a backpack full of shopping, or is it just Anno Domini catching up?

Summer Cruise – Day 24

Sunday 28th June – Day 20

Another day at Grendon, the weather wasn’t promising and of course, we had to wait for the tyre delivery tomorrow.

More on-line church today, this week we sampled Rising Brook Community Church, which is Stafford based but has several other centres.

In the afternoon we had a visit from our ex-neighbours Deborah & Jon who live in the house adjacent to the mooring we had here.
It was good to hear their news and later in the evening, they dropped off a bag of cherries,  picked from the tree in their garden. They were delicious and we enjoyed them fresh and in a crumble later.

Monday 29th June – Day 21

Waited all morning and no sign of the tyres, so after several phone calls to the supplier, they eventually admitted that they hadn’t been dispatched on Friday due to a mix up with the address.
We eventually got a tracking number from them, but a day had been wasted.

Better news was that while phoning Leigh and Malc, they volunteered to come and help us do the Atherstone Locks tomorrow, what good friends they are!

Tuesday 30th June – Day 22

The courier’s website showed they had our parcel but the delivery was not scheduled until 1:45-3:45! Our friends arrived at 10:30 and we were able to go and get some shopping from Aldi, but on our return, we decided to leave, as Deborah had volunteered to take in our delivery.

We made good progress up the locks with Leigh, Malc & the dogs walking ahead and setting the locks for us although there was drama at the bottom lock. A duck and ducklings swam in, in front of us, mother duck promptly abandoned her babies and we had to fill the lock very slowly keeping the boat against the bottom gates while Mumma Duck quacked frantically. All was achieved with no squashed ducklings.

Halfway up we had a call from the courier to ask where we were, fortunately, he met one of the other moorers and he took custody of the goods. Joy kept us all going with sandwiches as well as steering the boat through the locks.

Lock Crew Recovery

At the top lock, some volunteers appeared and ran some water down as some of the pounds were very short of water indeed.
We found a mooring and while Leigh & Malc were revived with coffee and cake, I jumped on my bike and cycled back down the locks and retrieved my parcel & Malc’s van.

We took our leave of our friends and in the evening ordered a takeaway from the Raj Mahal as we were too weary to cook!

Wednesday 1st July – Day 23

It was a wet Wednesday, so we hunkered down and prepared to move off on Thursday, but… about 3pm the weather changed and we set off, we passed Hartshill Maintenance Yard and the new Marina being built. We were headed for Springwood Haven where we wanted to get a pump-out but they had just closed when we arrived so we tied up and spent the night there.

Thursday 2nd July – Day 24

As soon as the marina opened we got our ‘pump out’ done and moved through the bridge to moor where the light was better, important for artists don’t you know. It being Thursday Joy had her on-line art class with Barry this afternoon.

We had a video call with our friends Esther & Jos and were introduced to their son Yarrow who is now four months old, seems no time at all since we met his mum when she was little more than a toddler.

The weather was changeable throughout the day ranging from sunshine to torrential rain.

 

Summer Cruise – Day 20

Wednesday 24th June – Day 16

Our Sainsbury’s delivery arrived OK last evening which is more than could be said for another Amazon order,  being delivered to Fazeley Post Office, which it transpired was coming from Spain, so without any firm news about that we decided to head off to Polesworth.

The two locks at Glascote were soon upon us, we met NB Free Spirit who also write a blog and we had some help from another boater who set the second lock for us. We moored briefly at Anchor Bridge where I visited the Co-op which used to be the Anchor Pub when we first started coming this way.

After a  quick lunch, we were on our way again, through the village of Ammington where there are lot’s of houses with moorings at the end of their gardens (#jealousy!) on past Alvecote Marina & Pooley Hall Country Park and found the last mooring free at Polesworth Visitor Moorings.

Thursday 25th June – Day 17

Miners Poem

We planned to stay at Polesworth today as we had good internet for Joy’s art lesson this afternoon.

Around 10 a.m. I had a message to say my package was now at Fazeley Post Office so I got the electric bike ready and set off to travel the 4 miles back. Unfortunately, I hadn’t got half a mile when I got a puncture and had to push the bike back.

A change of plan was required and as the temperature was rising, I broke out the bus pass and face mask went via Tamworth to Fazeley by bus. It took much longer than it would have on the bike, but the job got done & I didn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes for any connection.

During the afternoon while Joy was doing her artwork I fitted a new inner tube to the bike (of course it was the back wheel which houses the motor to make it all a bit complicated) and all was back to normal.

That all done, when it became just a little cooler we boated the short hop, less than three miles to Bradley Green (Grendon) where we used to have a mooring and tied up opposite the service area.

More goodies from eBay were waiting for me at Atherstone Co-op so I got the bike out again and rode up the towpath, unfortunately, the tyre went down again but I managed to get there and back, blowing up the tyre several times. I met Tony & Jacqui on NB Timewarp along the way who we know from our days in Heyford.

Friday 26th June – Day 18

Today I was surfing the net trying to find some new tyres, I found a suitable tyre, a Continental Ride Tour which is a proper bike tyre rather than the pushchair tyres fitted as standard. After several blind alleys where the advertised item was not in stock, I found some in Aberystwyth which I hope to be delivered by courier on Monday.

I also set up the new Bluetooth speaker and invented a way to mount it above the bed, we’re very pleased with it as it has a good sound and the controls are much simpler than our previous one. It also can be linked to the TV, but that’s a job for another day.

Saturday 27th June – Day 19

Today we saw several of our old neighbours from the moorings to chat to across ‘The Cut’ and in the afternoon Pam & David, who Joy knows through art classes at Witherly visited for ‘socially distanced’ coffee & homemade sponge cake which Joy had made. They also kindly asked if we needed any groceries and brought us some basics from the Co-op.

I did a factory reset of Joy’s tablet as the memory was getting full and went from 93% full to 30% which was a good result, the only struggle was getting Words with Friends to behave as she wanted because it installed an update which introduced a lot of stupid features like rewards and other nonsense!

Summer Cruise – Day 15

Saturday – Day 12

I was up early this morning ready to meet Rick on Auriga who arrived just after 8am and dispensed about 80 litres of diesel, to top up our tank.

We had breakfast and were under way soon after, well about 10 am, passing through the villages of Whittington and Hopwas (with it’s wood & army firing area) before mooring in Fazeley before 1pm next to a wide grassed area and opposite our friends Peter & Chris’ house. They soon spotted us and called across to greet us.

Rare family shot with them all looking relatively sensible!

 

Jeremy, Louise, Morley & Iona came by for an early Father’s Day visit, on the handy grassed area. They had already had a busy day collecting an Argocat, from near Nottingham, for a friend and were happy to chill out and share their news with us.

 

This is what an Argocat looks like (Library Picture)

 

They came bearing gifts of beer and a voltage regulator for the boat alternator! Later we enjoyed takeaways as Fazeley is well blessed for choice.
They departed reasonably early as they were all tired!

Sunday – Day 13

Sunday morning I fitted the voltage regulator to the alternator and that should improve the charging regime for the new bowthruster/IT battery back.

We joined Gas Street Church for their on-line Sunday Service again and were impressed with the relevance of the preaching to modern life and the current situation linked to biblical truths.

Later in the day Peter & Chris popped over for tea & cake on our ‘lawn’ but after an hour or so the sky darkened and they beat a hasty retreat before the rain came.

Monday – Day 14

Today I did some carpentry, yes a shock to those who know my skills in that department! Just a shelf really but the timber-yard which backs onto the canal supplied a piece of hardwood, cut to size for a princely £4 and while I beavered away, Joy blitzed the kitchen and front room, you might guess she is feeling better but I have to remind her to take it steady.

 

As I shut down the laptop a message came up saying something about a memory issue advising to empty the trash bin! On doing that the thing froze and refused to restart… I went to bed a decidedly unhappy bunny.

Tuesday – Day 15

Guess what? Most of today has been spent rebuilding the Linux Mint operating system, I’m nearly there.

Joy did some polishing of the boat and then read a book out in the sunshine.

We are now waiting for a grocery delivery from Sainsburys, we hope they find us okay. So we can move on tomorrow, we’ll try for an early start as the forecast is for the hottest day of the year so far.

Summer Cruise – Day 11

Thursday -Day 10

Thursday was err.. WET!

Joy had her on-line art group again to occupy her, today’s subject was ‘Sunset over The Dolomites’.

We stayed put until nearly 7pm when the weather changed and I made an executive decision to head for Fradley!

I took to the tiller, while Joy, bless her, fell asleep on the settee, she had a a rough day with sore ribs! I managed to get all the way to Wood End Lock (about an hour’s journey) before she woke up.

I had the boat in the lock when she came out still half asleep, of course I sent her back inside & locked down by myself.

It was a pleasant evening and tee-shirt weather even at that time of day.
The gloss was taken off the trip by the appearance of a little red LED which signalled that there was water/gunge/diesel-bug in the Fuel Guard filter.

The engine wasn’t complaining so I soldiered on to Shade House Lock where we were debating whether to drop down the other two locks to Fradley Junction when the weather decided it for us, as the rain started again, so we tied up.

The phone & internet signals weren’t great and there was nothing worth watching on TV but there was just enough internet for social media & word games but not enough for streaming catch up TV, so early to bed!

Friday – Day 11

First job today was to clean the ‘decontaminator’ an easy enough job but on bleeding the fuel system I dropped the bleed screw under the engine and some contortion was needed to retrieve it. Joy soon told me that my bald spot was well greased and I needed to apply hand cleaner to my pate and have a shower!!

The next job was to fire up the generator and do a couple of loads of washing, oh, and I lit the fire, just to dry the washing you understand.

By half past one the rain had stopped and the sun appeared, so we descended the locks and turned right onto the Coventry Canal where we replenished with water and disposed of rubbish.

On we went, with dry but windy weather, in about an hour and a half we were alongside the noisy A38 approaching Streethay Wharf, just after 4pm we were at The Plough (Huddlesford) where we decided to stop for the night as we have a rendezvous with Auriga the coal & fuel boat early tomorrow.

This isn’t the quietest spot as the West Coast Main Line passes nearby, but it’s only one night and we can’t afford to oversleep in the morning.

 

 

Summer Cruise – Day 9

  • Day 9?
  • Where, gentle reader, have we been?
  • Have we fallen down a black hole at Wolseley Bridge?

No, pleasant as it is there we had to move off to the fleshpots of Rugeley on Monday morning to pick up another tablet from the Amazon lockers in Morrisons, but first…

Sunday – Day 6

Today was chilling out and watching the service from Gas Street Church Birmingham on YouTube.

We made a steak & ale casserole for tea and very good it was, though we sez it as shouldn’t.

Monday – Day 7

We departed at 10am and arrived in Rugeley at 11am and I hot-footed to Morrisons to get some shopping and just by scanning the barcode sent to me by email the relevant Amazon Locker sprang open as if by magic and I was able to pick up my package without touching anything but the package.

On returning to the boat I unpacked the tablet, installed the Alpine-Quest App, with the Waterways Routes maps and joy of joy it recognised precisely where we were. What a relief!

Screenshot of today’s route -Waterways Routes

After lunch I went to the Post Office to send the other tablet back and on the way back visited Home Bargains & Aldi.

Afterwards I rested my legs & spent more time setting up the tablet before leaving town at twenty past three and travelling the 2 miles to Spode House and filled up with water.

 

Our friends, Linda & Cookie, have a mooring there so they treated us to a cup of tea & a salad and persuaded me to look at the charging system on their neighbour’s boat.

Tuesday – Day 8

I diagnosed a faulty alternator and damaged wiring so replacements were sourced & that kept me busy for some hours, making it look tidy and working properly. I recommended fitting a Voltage Sensitive Relay to replace a Splitter Diode and one was ordered for tomorrow.

Wednesday -Day 9

Cookie picked up the relay after lunch so I fitted it but annoyingly it was faulty, but the original system was working as well as possible so I left it there, said goodbye & departed at 3:30pm. Joy walked ahead to check for oncoming boats through the Armitage ‘Tunnel’ which is single width and we arrived the Crown Inn at Handsacre just before the rain.

We treated ourselves to tea from Michaels Fish Bar just a few yards away

 

Summer Cruise – Day 5

Saturday

Unfortunately I found that the new tablet did not have GPS although it was advertised as having it, making it useless for my boating ‘Sat-Nav’ system. So I had to arrange to return it and order a replacement, which should be waiting for us when we arrive in Rugeley.

This morning was spent checking the new batteries were charging okay and cleaning, disinfecting and airing the recesses of the back cabin where the ‘nasty niff’ still lingered a bit. Such joy, but I think it’s defeated now!

Joy has started a new jigsaw puzzle this afternoon and I’m.. well I’m writing this blog.

 

 

Summer Cruise – Day 4

Friday

Not much of a lie in this morning as I set to making a shelf for the bathroom cupboard to protect the toilet tank but by lunchtime my parcel had arrived at the post office so I took a stroll up to collect it. When I returned our kind personal couriers, Leigh & Malc had arrived with a package of art materials Joy had ordered.

We rewarded them with coffee & apple pies from the shop which we ate on  the bench next to the boat. Whilst we were there our son rang to say there had been a change of plan and he wasn’t having the kids this weekend, but could he and Louise call on us that night instead.

Of course we said yes, then decided on a short cruise down to Wolseley Bridge tempted by the prospect of the nearby Simla Palace where we got a delicious takeaway later.