To all our readers, a very
and a Happy New Year
During our summer cruise this year we decided that we were fed up with not having enough room in the saloon, and, as we rarely have visitors, that we could live without the dinette. It’s all my fault as I first designed the boat with an L shaped dinette. That proved to not be very comfortable to sit at, so, after our first summer’s cruising, Neil changed it for a raised Pullman dinette.
This was the original dinette – lovely to look at but not very comfortable to sit and eat at:
We then changed it to this, comfortable to sit at, but it cut down the space:
So we have now redesigned the saloon without the table and one bench. We have had to leave the other bench as it houses the freezer, and we have decided to keep the table in it’s storage rack under the gunwhale, and refit the desmo socket in the floor. With a new, slightly longer leg, and a couple of folding dining chairs it will still be a functional dining table. We usually eat off trays on our laps whilst watching TV so it will only be used occasionally. The plan was to buy a small drop leaf table with chairs stored inside the centre, but I don’t think that will be necessary now.
We are very pleased with the results of the refit. We have had the TV cabinet moved to the opposite side of the boat, and swapped with the bookcase. We can now sit further away from the TV for more comfortable viewing and both be facing up the boat rather than across – the TV is on a swivel arm inside the cabinet and pulls out for viewing.
It’s given us tons more space, and we now have room to store the footstools beside the chairs during the day, which will avoid us having to try to scramble over them when moving through the boat! All we need now is a slightly larger rug.
If anyone needs any interior work doing on their boat, I’d thoroughly recommend using David Ritson – link to his website >>>HERE<<<. He lives and works at North Kilworth on the Leicester Arm of the GU, and will usually travel within a 30 miles radius to work on a boat – he says that he finds that any further and the travelling costs become prohibitive. He’s done a lovely job adapting the TV cabinet to fit the new space and replacing the flooring where the dinette was – if it weren’t for the fact that the new boards still have the lacquer shine on them you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. The new boards, which I sourced, were ever so slightly thinner than the original, and he re-machined them all to fit. It is fairly obvious what has been moved and to where, as the maple ply is a different colour where it has previously been covered, but we hope that it will change colour to match the rest over the next couple of years.
So, there we go! I’m sure Neil from Beacon would be pleased with the result – if he’d been able we would of course have asked him to do the job. Ally, if you are reading this, please show Neil the pics and let us know what he thinks.
And lastly, a photo of Windsong on her new mooring at Brinklow Marina. At last, a full length pontoon!
On Monday morning, bright and early due to our body clocks still being on British Summer time, we waved goodbye to Gayton Marina for the last time and set out for the short trip to Brinklow Marina, which is to be Windsong’s new home.
A last sight of Gayton Marina on the left through the bridge, and the Northampton Arm of the GU
It was a beautiful morning, if a little on the windy side, and we made good time, sharing the Buckby lock flight with a charming couple who’s boat name escapes me now! We managed to bag our favourite spot at Norton Junction, just past the water point on the Leicester Arm, and moored up just after 3 pm
Our mooring for Monday night
On Tuesday morning, we again set out reasonably early (for us!) with Braunston tunnel and locks ahead of us.
Rog reversing out of the junction
Another glorious day, and again we made excellent time, down Braunston Locks in record time. We contemplated making the most of the weather and cruising on until we reached Brinklow. Just north of Braunston that all went for a bag of rats! Having turned onto the north Oxford, and stopped at Midland
Diddlers Chandlers for a new TV aerial, we rounded a bend and were confronted with this:
Nb Boudica was stuck fast across the full width of the canal, having tried to turn a 65 foot plus boat in an ‘unofficial’ winding hole, only big enough to turn a 45 foot boat!
There were boats everywhere, pulling, pushing and trying in vain to shift her. Apparently she’d been there since 8.30, and it was now heading for 12 noon. The very embarrassed skipper had been assured that it was an official winding hole – he’d had only had the boat since the day before. He’d been trying for several hours to get hold of C & RT and only managed to get someone to answer a phone shortly before we arrived! As you can imagine it was chaos, with one very officious lady trying to direct all the other boats to move backwards by waving her arms at us all. Those of you who know Rog will know how well that went down!!! We couldn’t moor where we were as we couldn’t get anywhere near the bank, so, after about half an hour with no sign of going anywhere any time soon, we reversed back several hundred yards and moored up. C & RT arrived about an hour later, and with the help of a couple of boats moored close by, managed to direct operations and jerked Boudica free. By the time the logjam was cleared – 14 boats heading southwards and 8 heading north, it was about 3 o’clock and as we had a nice mooring, we couldn’t be bothered to set off again so we stayed where we were.
This was the view from our side hatch – the iconic Braunston Church with it’s accompanying sheep – what a lovely pastoral view!
On Wednesday morning we set off in drizzle which soon turned to persistent rain. By the time we reached Hillmorton locks it had stopped though, so I managed to keep dry whilst working the locks. Through Rugby and we reached Brinklow Marina around 1 o’clock – just in time as it turns out. We got moored up on our pontoon, and the heavens opened yet again. We lit the fire and snuggled down for the afternoon.
This morning at 9 o’clock Rog got a lift into Rugby, caught the train to Northampton and a taxi back to Gayton Marina and collected the car. He was back at Brinklow by 11.20. Meanwhile I played host to David Ritson who is going to do our saloon alterations starting mid November. He came to check that the flooring we had found would be a good match with what is already there, and ended up taking all the skirtings off before he could check the thickness! But it’s all good, so now we just have to order it.
So, that’s it for this year’s cruising, folks. See you next year.
30 miles and 16 locks
Yesterday we had a pleasant trip down Buckby Locks, sharing with a lovely trio on a share boat. We moored near Nether Heyford for our last night on board for a while. This morning it only took us a couple of hours to get back to Gayton Marina. A bit depressed, we packed up the car and set off home. We arrived to find the lawn had turned into a hay field, so this afternoon was spent strimming it all down and raking it up. It will take weeks to recover. Next time we go away, we’ll have to arrange for someone to come in and cut it.
So, that’s all folks, for the time being. We will hopefully get out again in September.
12.5 miles and 7 locks
Total Trip Stats
341 miles and 190 locks
A pleasant run into Braunston this morning. A little misty, but that soon burnt off and it became very hot.
A lovely pastoral scene – sheep in the field with the spire of Braunston church behind.
As we approached the junction with the GU we wondered who we’d see that we knew this time. No sooner had we spoken than we came across fellow bloggers on nb Epiphany. We said hello and had our photo taken.
While we waited we had a front row view of nb Yarwood and her new steelwork – looking good. Unfortunately we were not able to see Lesley and Joe as they are away visiting family.
Just needs a few coats of paint now.
By the time we entered the bottom lock 45 minutes later, there were at least another 6 boats behind us.
The locks seemed like hard work today, it being so hot – we were sharing with a couple who were not too keen to converse.
Three down and three to go
By the time we got to the top we were looking forward to the cool of the tunnel. It was a welcome relief, but not as cool as we expected. We continued on to Norton Junction where we are now moored, just into the Leicester Arm, our usual mooring spot. It’s a shame, but a lot of the boats here now seem to be ‘continuous moorers’, with their accompanying paraphernalia spread all over the towpath. We felt lucky that we managed to squeeze into the spot just before the water point. We decided that lunch in the New Inn was a good idea, not least to get out of the dust from the harvesting that was going on in the field adjacent to the towpath.
7.7 miles and 6 locks
A slow trip through Rugby this morning and on to Hillmorton Locks. It was fairly busy there today, with two lockies on duty, one at the bottom set of locks and one at the top. Traffic flow was hampered by one of the middle locks being out of action, with a C&RT workboat in it, re-pointing masonry around the lock ladder. But, nevertheless we we through reasonably quickly.
Just exited the bottom lock – one in the other lock coming up and one waiting below
We continued on for about an hour and a half and are now moored between Bridges 80 and 81, about an hour north of Braunston, where there are long stretches of good mooring. Working boat Monarch came by earlier, and has just come back and picked up a small boat, just behind our mooring, towing him to Braunston.
We are hoping to meet up with Lesley and Joe on nb Yarwood tomorrow in Braunston, where Yarwood is undergoing some alterations.
11.1 miles and 3 locks
Having got thoroughly bored sitting out the rain yesterday (and it really did rain!) we were determined that whatever the weather, we were moving on a bit today. We set off under heavy overcast this morning, still hot and very humid. We filled with water and emptied loo cassettes and rubbish at the junction then through the stop lock onto the North Oxford. We made fairly good progress for a while until we caught up with a Valley Cruises hire boat. They only seem to have 2 speeds – very fast or very slow! We had a hard job staying behind them, we kept having to come out of gear and just drift, they were so damn slow. And a good job we did as they didn’t seem to be able to judge whether they were closest to a bridge, or to narrows or whether a boat coming towards them was closer. Twice the boats coming towards them had to take rapid evasive action as they just kept on crawling through. How they got away without ramming something, or having a boat ram them, I’ll never know. There were plenty of places where they could have pulled over and let us go by, but they steadfastly refused to make eye contact or acknowledge in any way that we were almost up their arse! After an hour and a half crawling along behind them we were getting really pissed off. They then pulled in far too early for the Rose Narrowboats swing bridge, and just sat there! Nobody went down to the bridge to open it, consequently 4 boats came through in the opposite direction. I was just thinking of getting off and going ahead to open the bridge, but due to the stones at the bank we couldn’t get near enough, when they cottoned on and moved. Thankfully, they then discovered the water point and pulled in again, which allowed us to pass them and go through the narrow bit – we even had the bridge opened and shut for us by a couple of Rose Narrowboats chaps. Result! We continued on a little, through the cutting and found that the visitor moorings at All Oaks Wood were practically empty so we decided to stop for the day.
A very pleasant mooring
8.6 miles and 1 lock