Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The shortest day

That’ll be Thursday the 22 nd with a long night either side! As Christmas fast approaches we can look forward to those longer days to soak up the vitamin D when the sun shines. The longest day was back in June.
A thought for the day:- Why does the new year start 9 days later? The shortest day should be the last day of the year in mid winter. Then the longestday would be in mid summer. “Anyone care to suggest the change?” I think it was Julius Caesar in Roman times that set December as the 10 th and last month.
Then along came Pope Gregory to add a few more months. If I had my way Christmas day would then be on January 3 rd . The Chasiann calendar perhaps? With those changes since Christ was born who really knows when his birthday was?
The convoy has reached Market Drayton. It was one of those dull cool grey days to endure the 4 hour trip. The thought of hot soup on board Seyella kept us all going! It was midday when we arrived at the top of the Tyrley locks where we all topped up with water. “Yes, the water supply has been restored here.”
Our journey down the locks was assistedby a good Samaritan with a windlass of his own but no boat! A willing gentleman who enjoys helping boaters through the locks, winter or summer. It was quite late when we all gathered on Seyella to enjoy that hot soup and rolls. Our thanks to Margaret for making the soup for us all.
And now for something completely different. Have you noticed that when charging batteries the voltage has increased to 14.7V. Do not worry. It is because the batteries are cold. I find that they do not deliver so much power in terms of Amp Hours either. Charging twice a day now helps to keep them happy.
Tree n gifts

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Deep mid winter

An icy rope 'cheese' at our mooring
Ooo is he on the way already?
Mind how you go on the white grass!

A top up of water and diesel at Norbury Wharf.
As promised the day warmed a bit with some sunshine as we moved through the deep cuttings and along the embankments of the Shropshire Union. We were well wrapped up and had hot soup on the way. All members of the convoy moved off a bit further north and gathered for refreshments on Seyella just past Knighton. Ann had made some mince pies that went down with the tea. Margaret made chocolate cake which also disappeared!
David Moore's art (c) 1976

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy Birthday

It was Facebook that told us that it was Carol's birthday! We had some lovely lamb steaks with mint sauce, roast potatoes and parsnips on board Moore 2 Life. Ann also made a pineapple upside down pudding.

After all that we went for a walk in the sunshine to High bridge and back. Back on board for a cup of tea and a surprise birthday cake for Carol.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A long weekend

Well being retired is like a long weekend off work only better. A boating friend once told me that a bad day on the boat was better than a good day at work. I just mean that we stayed in one place for four days and it happened to include Saturday and Sunday.
We set off from that mooring in the middle of nowhere heading north. The side wind made the bow point northwest! We were the first to arrive at Gnosall to fill up with water. There are two taps here so Rock n Roll got in behind us. There was only just enough room for the three boat convoy so we advised Geoff to grab the first space that we had passed. We backed up into the spaces just by the bridge.
Next day we all got the bus Stafford, a good service here with two an hour. The one we were on got so full that many people were standing. Got some presents, clothes and some lunch before returning to the boat. Geoff moved Seyella up to get water and found a space just before the old railway bridge.
Margaret invited us in for Sunday lunch which was very enjoyable with the wine and mince pies later! Time marched on with us chatting and putting the world to rights that it got dark before we returned to M2L.
The convoy moved off one by one heading for Norbury, not far, only a few miles. We left last as Ann went off to the butcher while the washing machine did its work. Another load got put in for the journey. It took the rest of the day to dry while Ann went off for a long walk with the gang. I finished off writing all those Christmas cards.
Andrew Tidy from Wand Ring Bark gets my vote for offering his services on the Canal & River Trust as a boater rep. There are to be only four boaters to represent our views. I am sure that we all wish him well and can only hope that things will get better.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Moving Onn

I continued to Wheaton Aston while the others stopped at Brewood. I got to the top lock and settled down for the evening & occupied myself with the cooking and walking out with Molly. Next day I waved at Margaret through the window as Seyella passed. Geoff set up the lock and kindly beckoned me to take it. He let me down to head for the water point while setting the lock for himself. We both ended up filling the water tanks and then moving on. I stopped opposite Turners while Geoff continued to Little Onn.
Later after picking up a Tesco order and diesel Rock n Roll passed by to catch up with Seyella. Ann came back to me by bus from Stafford bringing with her a bag full of goodies and a pile of post. Despite doing most of our business on line it is staggering how much paper comes to us to deal with. We have decided to get a Gold Licence for next year so we can go down on the Thames. BW sent us a renewal notice for the standard licence but an attempt to convert it to Gold failed on line. Anyway BW charge £7.50 to use a card. “How silly is that?” Now they will have to process a cheque by hand!
On a walk up to the shop and Post Office we discovered a light dusting of frozen snow. No sign of it down in the cutting surrounded by trees. Backed up to Turners to fill up the diesel tank with 130 litres at 75.9 pence a litre. Then it was full steam ahead to catch up with the convoy at Little Onn.
That evening the ‘gang’ came round to our boat. Last year we were all stuck in ice but now we can move about. “So where to go?” Might have gone down to Stourport but the river may be wild. North then to Market Drayton and maybe later to the Welsh canal. It is Christmas on board, then for us a train from Stafford heading south to see the family.

Friday, December 02, 2011

A single hander

No, not some one with one hand, but a skipper of a boat with no crew on board! It is I because Ann has gone home for a week to do Christmas shopping with our grand children. “Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.” Shakespeare? Ann plans to return on Monday.
A convoy of boats have gathered at Gailey and already the occupants have got together for two evenings in a row! No picture taken but it was good company during these cold winter months. Plans for the next move were made and even arrangements for visitors when we get to the destination.
Geoff suggested getting some hot soup ready for the trip and offered his Thermos flask because I could not find ours. I made the soup and buttered some rolls. It was one of the coldest days even though it was sunny and I was well wrapped up for the four-hour journey. Only two locks to deal with, the one at Gailey and one at Autherley junction. Both George and Geoff were there with the ‘windies’ in their hands to lock the three boats through some time after 10.
Although I had Rock n Roll in front and Seyella behind I still felt lonely on Moore 2 Life without Ann travelling with me on board. I managed to get the soup and rolls down my neck during the trip. Molly was let off at one point but promptly got back on without taking advantage of the grass!
This is a 'library' picture from January just to show the convoy.
Having turned on to the ‘Shroppie’ I was the first to arrive at the moorings past bridge 7 and got the fire going. Then we all gathered on board Seyella for a welcome warm drink of tea and a mince pie to eat! Is this the start of the Christmas season? I see that Derwent6 have already started.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another boater arrives

George on Rock n Roll phoned to say that Seyella was on the way up from Penkridge. So George, Carol and I with the two Mollies walked down the canal to help. We had gone over a mile before we saw the boat below Otherton lock. Margaret was the skipper and Geof was busy with the paddles. But then Geof took on the skipper roll to bring the boat into the lock. The rest of us performed the locking process. Once the boat got to the top I grabbed a lift for the mile to the next lock. Then helped a bit with the locking. Luckily the warm sunshine made for a pleasant trip.

Another test using Safari on MAC

This is another test, this time using Safari on the MAC. Previously I have been using Firefox on the MAC and on our old PC. When in Windows on the MAC I used Internet Explorer.

Thanks to all of you offering help. Lets hope that a normal service can resume soon.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

This is a test posting

Well this is an interesting problem. I can now agree with all you PC Window users! I now have a MAC which I am sure you have guessed by now. My last few posting appeared to me to be OK at my end when checking the blog on the MAC.

But you guys out there on PC's started complaining and I thank you for doing so. I forced myself to partition the MAC so I can boot up in Windows. Mainly to keep Memory Map which does not work in the MAC. Unfortunately the Mio Pocket PC does not communicate when connected!

Back to this story that I am writing while in Windows. Now the acid test is if you and I can see the full glory of the blog page after I publish it what goes wrong when I publish in the MAC?

Comments please.

Monday, November 28, 2011


We watched the F1 racing on Sunday, a lively broadcast from Brazil. A wonder of communication taken for granted these days. Beamed up to and down from satellites in space. Who said that was a waste of money? Vetel of course was the champion this year. The cars have travelled far and wide at high speed all year and some have fallen by the wayside. Wheels have come off, tyres have punctured, gearboxes have failed, but it has all happened with a high degree of safety.
Next year a new set of cars will be produced to continue the excitement. The spectacle will be watched half live on the BBC. Sky TV muscled in to show the other half live for a price. But then that will not be the only sport to watch. It will be Olympic year for us to show the world. The Olympic torch will be carried around Britain and will pass by that Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Dudley and Foxton which all feature the waterways.
Mean while back to the present, we wait the arrival of Seyella with Geof, Margaret and Meg on board. Last year at this time in November we were all stuck in the ice. We have been up and down the lock to get water, dispose of the unwanted and load up with a delivery from Tesco.

Here is our picture of those leaves. (Getting familiar with the new technology).
I am sorry for those who seem to be having problems getting this blog.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Another change

Publishing this blog, updating our website, emails, music, maps……… All this is achieved using a computer machine and a mobile Internet connection. Things we do and use every day. A miracle of maths and science that we almost take for granted these days.
We have been travelling with George & Carol on Rock n Roll. When invited on board for tea n biscuits it is like being transported into the future of communication and information technology. All these wonders are available now in this 21st century. It seems that even two years is a long time holding on to technical equipment.
It was many years ago that we met up with Sue n Vic on a boat called No Problem. We were encouraged to get on to the Internet but it proved to be a struggle at that time. Determination and persistence was required. Mobile Internet was new and slow.
Our new MIFI dongle is so much better. And so is changing from a Personal Computer to a Multi Access Computer! It is taking some time to get used to the new ‘Lion’ operating system, which is why the blog is late. I-tunes is the one familiar application that plays all our music. I-photo is new to us and has yet to be mastered so apologies for the lack of pictures. The transfer of all our folders and files from the external hard drive was easy. Switching on the MIFI and the MAC simply got us on line and we were reading all our friends blogs, including Sue’s one from an ocean liner. Now ‘aint that amazing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

All changed

We missed the bus because it passed through Great Haywood at 10 minutes to the hour not 5 past as before. We got the 10 to 11. When returning from Stafford do not miss the 20 past 2 because the next is at 4 pm! We had to rush about the shops to get things done.
The farm shop has a smart new building and is expanding with a good selection of vegetables, homemade produce and a butcher. The marina has a new owner and is full up so no room there if we needed it. Last year we had booked in for Christmas but could not get there due to the ice.
The other major change on the horizon is of course BW to CRT. The Canal and River Trust will take over in April next year. It will affect us all who have boats on the waterways. Perhaps now is the time to make suggestions through NABO, RBOA, and other boating organisations like all those canal societies. Hopefully we will be able to communicate more directly with people who know a bit about the waterway system. After all if we are to pay a bit more for our wonderful life on the waterways we should at least have some effective input.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cannock Chase

We stopped a while at Rugeley. The town seems to have recovered from the shock of loosing Woolworths. While some shops closed down many more have opened. We found the bus station and were lucky to jump on one that was about to leave! It took us on a pleasant journey through Cannock Chase to Stafford. We got off at the train station and got our pre booked tickets to get down south after Christmas.
Our access to the web has been through a ‘Web n Walk’ dongle connected using a USB lead and has served us well. But now the new Multi Access Computer does not like it. George on Rock n Roll suggested getting a MIFI device which works much faster.

Passing through Cannock Chase
Now we have moved on to Great Haywood. Got some diesel, water, disposed of the rubbish and cassette contents. Then moved back to an available space for the weekend.

Friday, November 04, 2011

We got past the locks

The canal crosses over the river Tame after going down a few locks having passed by Tamworth with their pretty gardens. We approached a low road bridge, the A5 Roman road called Watling Street. "Quick, lower the Biminie." You may wonder why they build some bridges lower than others. We had to crouch down to avoid hitting our heads! We topped up with water at Fazeley and stopped at Sutton where Rock n Roll caught up.
We all went to the large new shopping complex nearby. More room for cars than shops, almost. This is why the old town centres are closing down. We do not have a car so find these places within walking distance of the canal.

We were on our way next day with new goodies and got to the northern end of the Coventry canal. Let's just say that those new goodies present a technological and cultural challenge that George is helping me with. That evening we went to the 'Swan' for dinner. Local boaters know it as the 'mucky duck'.
The locks at Fradley are to close on Monday so we have to turn left at the junction on to the Trent and Mersey.

While doing that I just had to get this for my collection.

There are only three locks to get up but each has its own problems. The first was OK this time because there was room to wait for a boat to come down. The second has a gate that is reluctant to open without help and the third has a gate that opens as soon as it is closed! The moorings at the top were too short for both boats so we continued on the extra mile to Kings Bromley. It was sunny when we moved but after tea on Rock n Roll it rained as forecast. Ann and Carol went for a walk between the showers.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Moving on a mission

New galley cupboard doors are now fitted and varnishing in progress. The priority now is to get past Fazeley before the locks close in November.

This bridge at Ansty no longer provides access to the other side.

While this one enables the cows to go for milking.
We arrived at Hawkesbury in sunshine, stuck the pins in and put the washing out to dry before it rained. Milly M had got here first and Maffi was on his way back after filling more black bags clearing another site of rubbish.

We have been lucky to travel all the way to Atherstone in sunshine before the rain came. We stayed a day to finish the varnishing, do some shopping and get a flu jab. We had to pay for it at Lloyds Pharmacy because the Medical Centre only provides it for the locals.
George and Carol led the way down the locks the next day. George was kind enough to lift a paddle when required to refill the lock for us. There were many boats coming up which also helped progress during another sunny day. The water level is a bit low at the bottom heading for Polesworth so we stopped short of the town.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Boating friends

We moved on passed those twin locks at Hillmorton and stopped at Clifton. Not much water saved by BW closing one of the twin locks. The amount of water used just depends on how many boats pass through. Water would only be lost if a lock is filled or emptied without a boat in it. On the way we stopped for tea alongside Valerie. Good to see Les and Jaq enjoying their time together this side of the pond.
We took the bus into Rugby from Clifton which is now the No. 10 from Daventry. There seems to have been many changes to the bus routes this year. We were back on board when Rock n Roll passed by and later Milly M did the same. "Sorry Maffi, I had my head in the computer sorting out my huge collection of historic boat pictures." It is work in progress towards a major update on our web site at www.moore
We moved up to Brownsover when Rock n Roll moved off and left a space for us near Milly M. A chat with Maffie resulted in some volunteer activity. There was so much rubbish floating about and dumped in the hedge row that Maffi filled no less than four black bags with it. It was all on the other side of the canal so Ann threw a rope across and pulled them back. Then I put them all in the skip at the entrance to the carpark.
Milly M moving north

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Seven days or so

We came in to Braunston from Calcutt after a walk round the reservoir. Mo n Van passed through and stopped for drinks and a chat about our summer adventures. With the Foxton locks closed due to lack of water they are obliged to travel the long way round to get to Leicester.
The lock keeper at the bottom lock in Braunston is controlling boats going up. A single boat has to wait up to an hour in the hope that another boat arrives. The lock keeper told us that BW is concentrating on maximising water supplies to the canal system. While many reservoirs are nearly empty the feeders are now being dug out. A feeder is usually a spring and ditch which drains water from the fields into the canal.
It was a surprisingly warm sunny day in October when we walked the two miles to find George n Carol on Rock n Roll.

On our way we saw the sad sight of this sunken boat. Apparently BW have been sinking our money in old boats! Surely this one is passed its use by date.
It was good to see our friends again and talk about our adventures south of Braunston.
It got cooler as we made our way to Wharf House for our engine service and new fridge. The fire is now being lit mornings and evenings but won't be long before it stays on for the winter months. The engine now has fresh 'red' long life antifreeze put in and the fuel system serviced, thankfully all quite clean with little sign of black bits.
Our washing machine got moved sideways to make room for the new taller fridge. The plumbing for the machine proved less of a problem to alter as first thought. Next day after drilling holes in the floor the fridge was put in and switched on. It required a hard pull to get the door open to find that the light was on! It was not long before the contents were transferred to the new quiet fridge.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More changes

The secret is out! British Waterways is not to be a Charity as such but a Trust. So not a Waterway Charity (WC) but Canal and River Trust. The problem is that there is not much trust in those 'men in suits' at the top level of so called management. A serious change in attitude must happen if the canals and rivers are to retain their navigations. It is no good blaming the problems on the lack of rain.
We have a week before things get done in the boat in Braunston so we have moved to Calcutt. The reservoir here looks quite full. A new farmer has been busy cutting down trees and bushes and ploughing his fields. The canal is now a bit more exposed so some moorings are less cosy.

BW have been doing their bit beefing up the towpath edge. Plenty of space there to dump some dredged mud out of the canal! If only they could do the same on the other side then the dredged material could be put back where it came from.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Warm days in Autumn

But for how long? Ann came back to me with our friends who took her home and back in a hire car from Enterprise. Then we set off to get diesel and gas in the marina and filled the water tank on the way to the tunnel. It was a warm sunny day when we joined a short queue for the Watford locks. Two boats on the way up and then we follow another going down. Despite the lack of rain Crick tunnel was still dripping wet as usual and we met several boats in that bent Braunston tunnel. Then we stopped at the top lock for the night. Remarkably one boat came up that evening in the dark despite requests to save water.

We joined a boat next day to go down all the way and found a volunteer lock keeper in attendance. He was controlling the queue of several boats going up. Luckily we found a space by Butchers Bridge and had lunch. Braunston for us is where we start and end our journeys and where we get things sorted for the boat. The engine has done 6,000 hours and I have booked Justin Green to check things in the engine 'ole. He recommended that the antifreeze should be changed for one thing and I asked if he could check out the fuel system. He is so busy that we are obliged to wait a week before he can start. Our Lec fridge is as old as the boat and now the door fails to seal properly. A new Shoreline is an inch taller so may not fit without some changes in the galley!

The Geof Amos bus has been taken over by Stage Coach and it now takes three busses to get to Banbury from here. Ann needed to get home again and is on the way but had to wait an hour in Daventry having just missed the connection. The next bus now goes to Southam and another to Banbury, then a train to Southampton. Let's hope the other connections work out better.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

I am 'home alone'

Ann is down south staying with grand children and visiting friends and family. She plans to get back on Sunday with our friends Terry n Myra who took her home by car. I have Molly to look after and take me for walks twice a day! While it has been so hot I am thankful for the tree shade.
I occupy my time between GCSE Chemistry and sorting my historical boat pictures. (must stop taking them) Chemistry is a subject I never knew about when at school so I find it hard to absorb. It is answering the questions I had but it seems to generate more questions! Many of those boat pictures are to be found in our web site already but a major update is 'work in progress'. I just find it so interesting finding out about their history and the hard working families who drove them all over the waterways. The lorries of their day in the 1930's. Back in the 1700's the boats were pulled by mules or horses. Pure manual labour required to load and unload the cargo. Many of the boats have changed hands since they were built for the old canal carrying companies.

Here is one seen at Braunston
Have you seen that Petition on Narrowboatworld? It is a protest against BW Directors paying themselves bonuses for doing nothing and losing money. Please think about signing it like I did.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reflections at Crick

We have been east of Braunston tunnel travelling the wide Grand Union canal. It has been six months since we left Crick to head south for London. What a trip, what memories and pictures we do have. Now we are wondering where to go for the winter months. Here we are a bit limited because Foxton Locks are closed to save water and it is not known if they will open in the winter. There are friends here which made it feel like a home coming.
We have been keeping track of our boating friends during the summer as they travelled about the waterway navigations and elsewhere. Some have been down south on the Thames, the Wey and Kennet and Avon. Another has been east in Anglia on the Nene and Ouse while another has been up north and done the Great North Run! Yet another friend went to America, got married and returned to the boat with his bride.

Different boating at Oxford, 2007
We have decided to get a Gold Licence which allows us to navigate the rivers and canals next year. It has been a long time since we have been on the Thames. Not since 2007 in fact. There is a certain lack of water on the south Oxford so we may not be able to get down to Banbury. It would have been quick and easy to jump on a train to go home for Christmas, a short journey from there and family may have come up to see us. So we are considering a trip north to Great Haywood again. Whichever way we go we need to get past the winter stoppages at Watford, Napton or Fradley locks that are shut in November.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

At least it was sunny!

We eventually got to the Buckby flight of locks and joined a boat in the double lock. The boat was called Monarco, a hire boat from Napton. Most boats were coming down two in a lock as they should be. Then there was one because the other had stopped half way down the flight. When arriving at the top lock we were obliged to wait with three boats in front. The lock keeper was waiting for another boat to join the one already in the lock to come down. The queue had already been waiting half an hour. Two boats were being allowed through every half hour. We ended up waiting an hour and a half before being allowed in.
We found a space at the top and set about placing an order with Tesco. We logged in through 'Quidco' a site that offered cash back and discount codes. The connection was a bit slow and unreliable so had to shut down and reboot the computer. "That's better now." Unfortunately the discount code was rejected by Tesco. At least the goods arrived next day. We moved to a mooring half way to the locks and could not get a satellite signal due to the trees. We do have an alternative aerial and 'digi' box but Channel 5 and others were not yet available at this location. Strange because the system did list the other channels but there were no pictures. Wonderful technology is it not at times!

Next day we headed up the Watford flight.

The lock keeper does the gardening as well. And may it continue.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Batten down the hatches

We had stopped at Blisworth for the weekend. Oh that wind does blow all day! It is bad here but must have been much worse in the USA where the storm raged earlier. Wind generators get some welcome power but TV aerials do wave about so. Rubbish bins that have just been emptied get blown about like the leaves from the trees. Take care walking under those trees for they wave their arms about like the 'Womping' tree that J K Rowling wrote about. Un latched garden gates open and close on their own. Most boaters have stopped moving and those that try cannot leave their moorings or travel sideways if they do.
A few days later it was calm enough to move so we headed for Bugbrooke. On the way we stopped for water at Gayton Junction. It got busy when at one time six boats were either leaving or arriving at the facilities! It was still a bit windy on the way and there seem to be more boats on the move now.

Friday, September 09, 2011


A single boat coming down got the rudder stuck on the cill. The lady operating the paddle was struggling to get it up let alone lower it in a hurry. She was using one of those ratchet windies that had to be reversed. The boat took on water at the front, leaned over and went down leaving the back end up. Everything inside was crashing on to the floor! Ann happened to be walking Molly past the lock at the time. She came running back to get me to ring BW. The emergency number is 08004799947 and is printed on our licence holder. "There is a boat about to sink in a lock", "Which one?", "Second one down from Stoke Bruerne", "What canal is that on?", "The Grand Union", "How do you spell Bruerne?"
A while later BW rang back wanting to talk to the owner. By the time I had got up to the lock a BW man had already seen the situation and actions being considered. Our friend Ray had got up there to help and the centre rope had been tied up to a bollard to prevent the boat doing further damage. An attempt to refloat the boat only resulted in more water going in so the bottom paddle had been left up with the lock empty. It was quite distressing to see such a sight in reality and I told the owner that I would not take pictures out of respect. By this time Rose had made cups of tea and sandwiches for the owners. Ann gave their 20 year old cat some tuna to eat.
It was decided to lower the pound between lock 15 and 16. This would enable the boat to be pumped out. By now the top and bottom locks had been padlocked and a stoppage notice issued. Several boats including ours had to go down the previous lock and some went down a few more. The water was flushed out of the pound which went down by about 2 feet.
Both the gas bottle and well deck scuttles were blocked with wood. With several ropes and many men pulling on them with the lock paddle opened the boat was refloated and the people watching all cheered and clapped. Once the lock was filled the boat was pulled out backwards.

The emergency had kicked off at about 9:30 and by 2:30 in the afternoon we were able to continue our journey through Stoke Bruerne and the tunnel.

Wot! No locks

We were at Fenny Stratford the other day when our friends on Plaidy caught up with us. We were just north of that lock with a swing across it and they had stopped just south of it! While the girls went off shopping, the boys set off for a walk to Caldecotte Lake with Molly.
As you may realise, we had travelled up and over the Chiltern Hills and down the northern side. Now we can enjoy a long stretch of water all the way to Cosgrove. That is 11miles going past Milton Keynes. We were having breakfast when our friends went past us on their way early at just after 7 am! We left at 9 and with nothing else to do but drive and walk with Molly the time seemed to drag. Half way through the journey we stopped at Lynford Wharf for water and get rid of the 'unwanted'. At the end of the journey just before the lock we set off for a walk to find that our friends on Plaidy had gone even further than us.
Next day we set off heading up for Stoke Bruerne. But first a quick visit to that handy camp shop to get chips and peas to go with our fish that night. When we arrived at the bottom lock we were joined by Jenny Wren, a boat which was just behind us. After three locks Rose and Ray came down to help.

They live on a boat called Maddy Rose and invited us on board when we stopped below lock 15. We watched boats going up and down the lock sometimes one by one.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Housing on the canal?

It has been quite noticeable that there are more boats being used to live in, presumably due to the shortage of affordable housing. They tend not to be in comfortable marinas but congregate in mile upon mile on the canal. British Waterways have tried and failed to discourage this trend. I met a Captain Jennie from the Waterways Ministry. The Salvation Army are very concerned about the poor state of accommodation available in boats as an alternative to proper housing. A boat permanently sat at a mooring usually has no direct access to water or mains electricity, let alone the ability to dispose of waste products. Water has to be delivered to the boat by container or hose pipe. Diesel or petrol is required to generate power. This is often collected in containers and poured into the boats tank. This practice can present an environmental hazard.
Our friends are on the move again but got stopped at the top of the Marsworth finding the top lock padlocked shut in the morning. A British Waterways operator explained that there was a shortage of water but let them through. As yet we have not seen any restriction in operation at Marsworth posted on Waterscape. Although there are reports that the Foxton flight of locks is closed and there are timed restrictions elsewhere.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Sharing locks?

We came out of the Wendover Arm turned sharp left and entered the open top lock and waited but no boat came. A boat was on the way up so we went down on our own. After dealing with six locks we stopped for lunch. There we saw that Marsworth reservoir was also very low. After another lock we found ourselves following a boat called The Long Wait.
When we reached the next set of two locks with a short pound between we hovered for a while waiting for a boat that never came and finally stopped for some time. A wide beam trip boat in front of us had gone down both locks turned round and proceeded back up after letting a single boat up. When that had cleared the lock we both went in. As the trip boat came up the lower lock we went down. The short pound was a bit low so we had to be careful not to run aground passing the wide boat. We stopped in the afternoon and watched several wide beam trip boats going past in both directions.
What, we wondered would happen next.

Well next day we got no less than three boats in one lock! Us and two short day boats hired from the local boat yard. They were all on a learning curve in the lock. One family had life jackets while the other with very young children had none. They looked the part though with their 'skipper' hats on. We all managed to get through six locks without incident in the sunshine.

A Lion on the hill near Horton

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

At the Summit

Despite the threat of rain we felt the need to move on up. The first two locks were done on our own while boats were coming down. Then we waited in a lock for a boat to come up. It was magic to get the help, the boat being called Merlin! But then it started to rain! Some of the pounds were a bit low as we progressed up through the seven locks to the summit at Cowroast. We read about some boaters who have no idea how to operate locks. They are going up and down one by one at the wide locks when they could help each other and not waste the precious water.
However at this summit the pumps were working overtime and there seemed to be enough up here. We had intended to head for the Wendover Arm but after taking on water we found another 57 foot gap to more in. By then we had had enough of the damp conditions. Unfortunately a boater started up his noisy smelly petrol generator so we had to shut all our doors and windows. Thankfully it was only on for one evening! A few days later we moved on down the Wendover Arm. It was a bit shallow in places and as we passed a boat coming out we ran aground. The fishermen where we turned at the end were not happy to see us!

We stuck our pins in just round a bend out of sight of them. The fishermen left when another boat turned up.

A walk to the Wilstone reservoir found it to be very low. Next morning the waterlevel in the canal went down a few inches.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Climbing up the Chilterns

We had got to Cassiobury and walked off Iron Bridge Locks up into the woods on clear wide paths. It was busy with walkers, runners and cyclists. The route we took went across the golf course several times so we had to look out for flying balls.

A lock cottage
Back on board we were watching TV in the evening as you do, when the boat started to lean over! Looking out we could see the water moving towards the lock. We had to slacken off the ropes and push the boat off the mud but it was still leaning over. Went to check the lock and found the bottom gate open. The top gates were leaking badly so shutting the bottom gate solved the problem once the lock filled itself. All paddles were down as they should be.
We set off for Kings Langley in the morning and arrived in time for lunch. We travelled on our own for a while till Roman Lady joined us. Going up these wide locks is always easier with two boats and also saves water. The shops at Kings Langley provided us with bread, milk and veg. "What is it about those bright orange carrots that shrivel up as soon as you need them?"

A few days later we continued up and up the Chilterns. We were soon joined by a boat called Midnight this time. They wanted to go all the way to Berkhamsted so we agreed to stay with them as it was a sunny day. We managed to do all of 17 locks and 6 miles. The water levels were very low in many pounds between the locks.

The previous pound was lower!
Most boats were going up and down two by two and we were lucky not to run aground in the shallows. One advantage of having a 57 foot boat is it being a popular length. We were lucky to slot into a mooring gap which was just the right length. Now the moorings between locks 52 and 53 are completely full.
British Waterways 'bean counters' are silly. They employ people to do maintenance but do not let them work because it costs too much! But now many have to control the use of locks and restrict navigation to save water. Now it is raining so maybe we will be able to continue up and down the system. Our future plans this year is to head for Staffordshire so hopefully once the August rush is over water levels will rise.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

We are now heading North

The other end of the Grand Union canal seems a long way, all of 165 lock miles. We would like to do 10 a day but our average is less than that. It may well be September before we reach Crick. Our friends have left their boat at Harefield Marina so we travel on our own.

We tackle most of the wide locks without the company of another boat. There are plenty about at those permanent moorings but they do not move much.
While travelling we read about boating activity elsewhere during the August holidays. At least one boat has sunk in a lock which British Waterways managed to crane out while boaters waited. At another location a boat hit a lock gate and knocked it off its hinges! Navigation has been restricted at summit levels due to lack of water in the reservoirs. The low water level is not just due to lack of rain. Sadly lack of maintenance and leakage at locks are another cause. At some popular flights, B W asked volunteers to help ensure safe and proper use of locks. The locks are often being locked shut at the end of the day. Some boaters are not helping the situation. We have had to shut a lock after a boat left it open and full. There was a notice on the gate asking for the gates to be shut and the lock left empty with a paddle up!
We leave London behind and the sights we have seen but keep the wonderful memories together with many pictures. We now have a chance to stop again at our favourite moorings. As we move the back log of washing is being dealt with. Some wet days required the fire to be lit to assist the drying process.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Web site is OK

Only found one file damaged so I over wrote it.

These green birdies were seen near Southall.

Got filled up with diesel from Hyperion at 80p a litre.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Time in London, 3

The next three days were spent with our grandchildren and their parents, staying on board at Little Venice while the sun shone. It had been suggested that we visited the Planetarium now at Greenwich, the Tower of London and get a ride on the London Eye. Tickets were pre booked on the internet so we could 'fast track' past the queues. Our Underground tickets were purchased each day in order to get a discount using our Senior Rail cards. We got two Oyster cards for our guests while the children go free.
Our family arrived at Paddington by train and the first thing to do was to find Paddington Bear. We just had time for sandwiches before setting off for Greenwich. Our visit was booked for two thirty so we got down through the tubes and on the Dockland Light Railway. The Bakerloo Line was noisy, hot and full. We actually got a seat on the Jubilee Line which was cleaner. We got off at Canary Wharf and were very impressed how new and modern it all was.

The DLR got us to Greenwich where we climbed the hill to the Royal Observatory. We all learnt about how the planets were formed and how different they were. Also saw a live demonstration creating an asteroid.

Next day we all set off for the Tower after a cooked breakfast. When we arrived we watched a contest between two Knights using swards and axes and then spent the rest of the day exploring the tower and the grounds. It has been a very long time since we have been touring the capital and must say how well all the sights have been cleaned and restored.

Although the London Eye was the most expensive ride it was well worth it for the views. The structure is simply huge and impressive. We had time during the day to get to see Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus on the way back to the boat. Our guests returned on the train from Paddington while we recovered.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Web site is off line

It has been reported that our website has been hacked. We are taking steps to restore it to safe operation. The link has been removed from this Blog and will return when it is safe to do so.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Time in London, 2

There are cycle lanes, walking lanes and fitness apparatus. People are power walking and riding bikes. Many seem to speak a different language while on their mobile phones. Take care where you walk and listen out for those cyclists. Even the canal path is not safe for although the rule is no cyclists, they do!
We went on the Big Bus Blue Tour of London. Molly stayed on the boat while we picked up the ride near Paddington Station.

Piccadilly Circus
We saw most of the sights while sitting on the top deck of the open top bus listening to a commentary on earphones. It was sunny and warm then.

Horse Guards

London Eye

Tower Bridge
A cruise on the Thames was included so we took to the water at Tower Pier after crossing Tower Bridge. We found a seat inside the boat and then it rained! We ate our sandwiches while watching the tidal waters rush by the bridge piers. "I must say that sightseeing was better on the bus."

Big Ben is inside the tower
We got off at Westminster and hopped on another bus to continue our tour. The weather was not kind to us. Out came our so called waterproofs. There was no room inside the bus. Police cars, vans and ambulances were rushing about in the traffic and making a lot of noise. Those riots were apparently kicking off in Tottenham. We think that our bus was diverted. We were told to get onto another bus to continue back to Paddington. By then the sun had come out and we got back to the boat in the dry.
We are so lucky to be able to walk safely from the canal to Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and Regents Park. So we decided to visit Regents Park this time by walking along the Regents canal. There is no path through Maida Hill tunnel so we followed the road over the top and nearly got lost trying to find the other end. We eventually crossed a bridge over the canal into the park.
Molly was able to run about again on the grass among the trees. Then it was back on the lead to walk by the lake which was full of natural wild life.

A duck with bill stick!

There we saw Whooper Swans, lots of pigeons and a great variety of ducks and geese.

A courting couple

It was a sunny day and we enjoyed seeing the flower gardens before walking back to the boat.
We have to reassure our readers that we feel quite safe at Little Venice while the riots are continuing to spread across London.