Saturday, May 26, 2012

Oh boy, hot, hot, hot

We moved slowly to Fenny Compton before it got hot. The Wharf Inn has a tap outside so we took on water. Then we noticed a Launderette. The Inn also has a small shop inside which sells milk, bread and other items useful for boaters and the campsite. Much of our winter kit, clothes and bedding, have now been washed, dried and packed away. “We do of course have our own washing machine but the big commercial unit took it all in one go for £6.”

The five locks at Claydon are open between 10 and 5 each day. We got there to join a queue of two going down. Several boats were on the way up, which made for an easy trip. There are a further three to get down to Cropredy but with no other boats it took longer. Four hours travelling is enough for us so we settled for the first set of ‘visitor moorings’. “Not ideal with a soft edge and rocks below!” BW issued a ‘Customer Service Standards’ document a few years back but as yet have not been able to achieve it. Perhaps C & R T will refer to it for guidance. It is unreasonable to assign a visitor mooring where a boat cannot stop without problems.

After relaxing over a late lunch we were able to move on to better mooring when a few boats had moved away.

We walked down to the local Spar shop for provisions. We are sad to report that the Post Office at Cropredy has closed. The next is at Banbury.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Napton locks

Next stop for us is near the bottom lock at Napton. During the afternoon we walked up the hill past a few locks. One top gate had been left open and because the bottom gate was leaking the pound level was very low. When we shut the gate the lock emptied quickly! The shop near the bottom lock is worth a look. They sell canal ware, provisions, books, cards, stamps, sausages from the local butcher and even Calor Gas! Apparently the Folly Inn does food now and is so good you may need to book a table.

As we approached the bottom lock a volunteer was opening it. So I just carried on in after Ann had jumped off. The volunteer told me that the pumps were already pushing water back up to the top. He also mentioned that he read this blog. There was a boat going up in front and several behind us heading up.

 Just as many boats coming down made for an easy trip with locks being ready for us to enter. The restrictions are less severe now with only the top two locks at Marston Doles being locked at night.

“When you get to the top you see a TV transmitter mast in the distance.” The canal twists and turns so much that you loose sight of the mast that is near the moorings we are heading for. Although the water level is normal it is still quite shallow and slow going. “Keep to the middle or you may get stuck on the bends.” There are some protest signs against the High Speed Rail Link that may pass over the canal near bridge 128. That is near the mast and the moorings.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Back in the water

It was after the weekend that the boat got pushed back down the slope. It is on top of two four wheeled trollies one at each end that run on rails. Once on the move the boat entered the water stern first, going in quite deep till buoyancy lifted it off. Then we got on, started the engine and moved away to a mooring. We stayed a while in Braunston waiting for post and doing some shopping.

The number 10 Stagecoach takes us to Daventry every hour but it does not follow the old Geoffrey Amos route. When returning to Braunston get off at the Marina or Church because it goes on to Barby heading for Rugby. It does not pass by the Boathouse!
While we stayed in Braunston I monitored the output from that solar panel fitted by ‘Solarafloat’. Over a period of four days not moving the average output was just over 4 amps. The maximum in sunshine was 8.7 amps. During those four days we had one sunny day. We did not run the engine on that sunny day. For the other 3 cloudy days the engine was run for just over an hour. It is certainly capable of keeping the fridge and radio going most of the day. The only problem is the lack of hot water when not running the engine! 
Other pieces of roof furniture is this ‘Parosol’ base from Argos, just the thing to hang the aerials on and our flower boxes made by a friend at Market Drayton.
Oh my was that a struggle getting this new 'improved' blog editor to do what I want!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Getting a blacking

 We finally got to Braunston after a Tesco delivery at Willoughby. Quite a bit of room for more boats and we found a space near Butchers bridge. Several boats are going up and down the locks. Next day we moved on to Braunston Boats at the bottom lock and waited. A boat is still on the slipway but is not yet ready to go back in the water. Recent rain delayed progress with the painting. We have made preparations by putting loose and breakable items safely on the floor.

While we wait Mike Allen came to check our boat over for its third Boat Safety Examination. After many visual checks and a thorough test of the gas system we were given a pass.

The boat got pulled out a day later than planned and was immediately pressure washed in the morning. A very thorough clean which took at least an hour. Justin recommended that we have it painted with International ‘Intertuf’ which is compatible but a bit thicker than the standard bitumen blacking. Thankfully the sun came out to dry the boat off so painting started in the afternoon.

I looked at the colour bands at the back and realized they needed a make over. Encouraged by sunshine I donned my work clothes, gathered tools and set about scraping loose paint and rust off. Then it rained. “Don’t know if I am happy or sad now!” The sun came out the next day so I managed to get the first coat of colour paint on. The next day after a light rubbing down the second coat went on. “Now I am happy.” Justin applied the second coat of blacking.

Over the weekend while the boat stayed out of the water we sampled the local public houses. Much has changed over the years and the Mill House became the Boathouse under new management. While The Old Plough kept its name it had recently changed hands. We had often enjoyed the family atmosphere at the Plough and found the Mill House too crowded.

We went to the Boathouse on Saturday with our friends Terry n Myra and really enjoyed a good variety of food with the offer of two meals for one! In reality we ended up paying a normal amount for each meal! On our way out we had a chat with Bob n Jane who were also eating there. I have to say that when we went to the Plough on Sunday we were disappointed with the food and the place has become quite run down. We sat out side with our friends Dave n Lyn and Molly under the table among the long grass.

Monday, May 07, 2012


It is almost unbelievable that we have moved over 80 lock miles in 5 days passing many of our usual stops. After Fradley our stops were at Alvercote, Atherstone, Hawkesbury, Hillmorton and Willoughby. As you can imagine we are wacked and resting a while. The weather was variable but we pushed on regardless. Ann took the helm for a while most days.

The flight of locks at Atherstone were climbed in the dry with only the last three locks being ‘taken’ by no less than three boats coming down. “Send the lock takers back to Coventry!” A local lock keeper is no longer in attendance to control the use of those locks.

As we approached the locks at Hillmorton a boat came out and promptly turned round in front of us. The temporary lock keeper just let the boater go back up! There are twin locks here but one is shut to save water. “No comment”. One of the middle pounds was very low because apparently a boater had left a paddle up! There was no keeper at the top lock to control boats going down. Boats were still passing through ‘after hours’.

We consumed our ‘mucky duck’ eggs while on the journey.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

On a mission

I got back to Ann, Molly and the boat at the end of April. On my journey back by train I saw that the river Cherwell was in flood all over the fields. Once at Great Haywood we saw that the river Trent was also well up and flowing fast. So nature balances out to provide our average water supply. As a Nation we do not seem to save enough of it when it comes in a rush. Modern houses do not have hot or cold water tanks these days. Running the hot tap takes time before the water gets hot! On the boat we have to carry all our water in a tank usually at the front. Another tank near the back contains water heated by the engine, which provides almost instant hot water at the tap.

We had previously arranged to get to Braunston for boat blacking in plenty of time. But because I was obliged to take a week off it is now just doable with some long trips. George n Carol on Rock n Roll has joined us and also needed to get a move on. The first moving day was wet but we achieved twice our average distance by getting to Fradley. We all dried out and had dinner at the Mucky Duck.

George n Carol had planned to get down on the river Nene but now it is closed to navigation due to flood conditions. With no need to rush about they have decided not to continue their journey south. There are many reports on the boater’s blogs about the difficult conditions on the rivers at this time. The Environment Agency is advising boaters to stay put for at least a week. We left Rock n Roll behind to continue our journey south. After two long days we have got to Atherstone.