Thursday, 27 August 2009

Spoke too soon!…..

After the rain had stopped yesterday evening, we were visited by a family of ducks, eight half grown ducklings with Mum – they were certainly hungry! Mum’s just peeping into the photo on the left.  I think that’s the most live ducklings we’ve seen with just one mother.SDC10208

Just as we were preparing for bed, we ran the tap and….. clang, clang, clang went the pressure release valve on the calorifier again!  We tried every which way to stop it, but it just kept going on and dumping water every time the water pump turned off.   Just as we thought it was fixed!!!  Obviously I spoke too soon in yesterday’s blog.  We ended up turning the water pump off overnight and hoping that it had righted itself by this morning.  We didn’t sleep very well for worrying about it and were up early this morning to check it out.  No such luck, it was still doing it.  So, another phone call to Beacon to ask them to meet us at Trinity Marina in Hinckley.  By the time we arrived, the law of sod had been in action and it was all fine again!  Neil and Ali came out anyway and added more pressure to the accumulator tank, hoping that it would equalize the pressure – we await results!!

Our Mr Tesco delivery arrived just fine – the chap didn’t seem at all fazed about delivering to a boat.  It caused a great deal of interest amongst some of the other moorers though – they were very interested to know how it was done.

SDC10212And before you environmentally conscious  bods throw up your hands in horror at all the carrier bags – we didn’t know whether we would have to carry the shopping to the boat or not, so thought we’d better be safe and have bags this time.  We do re-cycle them though – we use them as bin bags, and they are biodegradable! 

One last thing – the folk here at Trinity Marina are lovely – we asked for a mooring within the Marina as we didn’t know whether we might be stuck here for a few days as we had a problem, and they couldn’t have been more helpful.  We wouldn’t hesitate to moor here again.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The Ashby Part II and weekend visitors

Apologies for not blogging for a while, but the Ashby has been so relaxing that I’ve been practically comatose, and haven’t been able to summon up the energy to get out the laptop and plug it in to the sometimes unpredictable internet signal. We are, however, on our way back southwards now with almost bare cupboards and fridge – there isn’t a lot in the way of retail up this neck of the woods! Friday saw us heading for Congerstone. The weather was a bit iffy, and we got soaked mooring up.

SDC10190 It’s sunny now, but… just look those clouds!

On Saturday, our friends Shirl and Andy made a two hour drive just to come and see us. We had planned to meet in the Horse and Jockey at Congerstone – when we arrived on Friday afternoon we took a walk to the pub to check it out, and found that it had closed down. A quick search of the canal guides produced another pub – the Rising Sun in Shakerstone, the next village along and a mere 20 minute cruise away(this time we phoned to make sure that they were open and doing food!), and a phone call to Andy to change the venue, and we were sorted. We chugged up there on Saturday morning, and they duly arrived. We had a lovely lunch and then came back to the boat for coffee.SDC10193

Shakerstone visit to Roger andPip 013 Needless to say, more cider was drunk by the blokes after the coffee, and according to Shirl’s message, Andy slept the whole journey home, even though he insisted he wasn’t tired – funny that!! Thanks both, for taking the trouble to come and see us – we had a great afternoon, and it was terrific to see you both again.

On Sunday we cruised to the end of the currently navigable part of the canal – we needed to water up and empty the loo cassettes. The Ashby gets more and more remote the further north you go



Snaresstone Tunnel entrance – only 250 yards, but very low indeed in some places

SDC10198 The End

SDC10199The Next Bit

SDC10200 Windsong at the end

We returned to Snarestone to moor for the night, as there was good road access and parking, as we were expecting Ali and Neil to come and replace the dodgy valve on the calorifier, and to sort out another couple of jobs.

Valve replaced, diesel leak from the Webasto sorted, and rubber seals around the ports replaced, Neil had a little accident – he was wearing a key chain attached to his belt, and as he lifted himself out of the engine hole, the chain caught on the 12v alternator and it gave off a bang and a puff of smoke! He was unharmed, but it shorted out the fuse so none of the 12v worked. So what was a morning’s work became a longer job as they had to go back to the workshop near Loughborough to fetch another fuse! Still, all was well in the end, and so far, no leaks from the Webasto, no sticking pressure release valve, and rubber seals all still in place –thanks both!

Yesterday we continued our way southwards and stopped at Sutton Cheyney. Have remained here today as the weather forecast was awful, but we managed to get a long walk in this morning before the rain hit us. We are now in dire need of supplies, so we have arranged for Mr Tesco to make a delivery to us at Trinity Marina , just outside Hinckley, tomorrow afternoon – it’s the first time we’ve done this, so let’s hope that it works!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Ashby Canal in pictures – Part I

The Ashby is a pretty canal, very quiet and peaceful after the mayhem and madness of the N Oxford and the Coventry.  We are meandering up in slow time, just cruising a couple of hours a day – today we haven’t moved at all.  A few pictures to keep you going

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A picturesque permanent mooring spot – the Barge near Stoke Golding


Gorgeous cottage and out buildings – photo doesn’t do it justice really



Mrs and Miss Duck sporting very fetching hats


Rog  - catching not much of anything!


Speech bubble -  ‘This cruising lark is just too exhausting’

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Junk yard or wharf? – you decide…

We decided not to stay at Hawkesbury Junction as our mooring wasn’t the most salubrious – the boat on the permanent mooring right opposite ran his engine all afternoon and most of the evening, and we had a couple of small motorbikes bearing helmet-less teenagers haring up and then back along the towpath.  Thankfully it had all quietened down by bedtime so we got a decent nights’ sleep.

We had the slowest journey possible to Marston Junction this morning, following a Black Prince hire boat who didn’t seem to know where the throttle was and didn’t understand that it is not necessary to stop every time a boat comes towards you – he caused major problems for the boat behind him who kept having to go into reverse to avoid rear-ending him, which in it’s turn caused problems for us!  Thankfully, he continued on the Coventry and we turned onto the Ashby canal, not before having a good old laugh at Charity Dock – it’s unbelievable!



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There was stuff everywhere – old cars, half boats, even mannequins dressed to the nines all over the place.  Someone must have a sense of humour!

We found a nice quiet mooring spot right out in the country, and went blackberry picking so I’m going to make blackberry and apple crumble for pud tonight.  Rog is fishing, and when I’ve finished this I am going to have a good go at getting the back of the cardigan that I’m knitting for Flo finished.  I need to get on with it so she can have it as part of her birthday present on 19th September, then I will have to knit one for Milly so she doesn’t feel left out, and then I shall need to start on some tiny ones as we are expecting another grandchild in February.  A Nana’s work is never done!!!!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Mayhem and madness on the N Oxford…

Saturday morning saw us leave our quiet mooring just north of Braunston and enter the madness that is the N Oxford on a Saturday in August!  Somebody certainly left the doors of the asylum wide open that day!  We joined a procession of boats travelling northwards, all the time passing another procession going southwards.  We hadn’t gone far before all hell broke loose.  We came round a bend to find all the boats in front of us had stopped.  A Black Prince hire boat pulled over to allow an oncoming boat through, and had pulled over too far and run aground.  He was just reversing off as we came round the bend and he just kept on reversing and reversing!  In the picture we are also reversing at warp factor nine to keep out of his way.


Just after I took this photo he turned a stricken face towards us and shouted ‘How do I stop it going backwards?’  ‘Put the throttle forwards’  we cried.  He did.  Nothing happened, and he continued to come back at a great rate of knots.  ‘You’ve lost your gearbox’, we shouted. We managed to avoid him and he put the tiller over and managed to stop by ramming the boat which was moored up to the bank behind us.  The chap on that boat managed to grab the runaway’s stern rope, and I leapt off and got them to throw me the bow rope, and together we pulled him in to the bank.  Meanwhile, the boat behind us, who had not offered any assistance at all, sailed on by, and another as well!  It made me mad!  There is nothing that riles me more than plain bad manners!   I know the one in trouble was a hire boat, but it wasn’t his fault, and, well, you help someone in difficulties, don’t you.  Well, at least, we do!!  We made sure that he was safe and then after advising him to call the hire company, continued on our way.

SDC10165Safely on the bank

When we reached Hillmorton  Locks a while later, the boat that was directly in front of us apologised for going through in front of us, but he hadn’t seen what had occurred and presumed that we were all just holding a boat waiting to move off.  I told him that it wasn’t him I had been cross with, but the boat that had been directly behind us, and in front of him, who just sat back and let others do the work, then jumped the queue.  And it add insult to injury, he went through the left hand lock at Hillmorton in front of us and his crew member left one of the the bloody bottom gates open when it was obvious that I was standing at the top gate waiting to open the paddles to fill the lock again!  Urghhhh!!!

We met loads of day boats who hadn’t a clue what they were doing, one off which rammed us, and then, when we had finally moored a little way on from Hillmorton, another managed to ram us. 

We tootled off into Rugby on Sunday morning, and stopped to do a huge shop at Tesco, as the cupboards were very nearly bare, and, worst of all, we had run out of cider and chocolate!!  We continued on a little way and, wonder of wonders, found an empty space at Newbold where we spent last night.

Today we have had an uneventful trip from Newbold to Hawkesbury Junction where we have moored for tonight -  we may stay here tomorrow as well, we will make that decision in the morning.

SDC10167 All Oaks Woods at Brinklow

Friday, 14 August 2009

Glad it was only the 13th and not Friday as well!….

Not been much to blog about until yesterday.  We left Windsong at Bugbrooke overnight on Monday and returned to Northampton to visit our doctor an get new prescriptions.  We returned to the boat on Tuesday lunchtime and bought lunch for Mum and June (Mum’s friend), to say thank you for running us around.  We cruised up to Whilton on Wednesday and moored, (sandwiched between the M1 and the railway – very noisy!), as we were expecting someone to come and see why our Boater’s Phone aerial wasn’t working.  Graham Scothern from Really Friendly Business Solutions (acting as BPC agent) managed to effect a fix – thanks Graham.

After a very noisy night ( I didn’t hear the traffic and the trains – I wear earplugs!) we set off a few hundred yards to fuel and empty the cassette at Whilton Marina.  Then disaster struck!  The water pump suddenly came on and stayed on, and the next thing we knew was that the bilge pump was working overtime and the whole of the engine bay was full of water!  We turned off the water pump and pulled onto some moorings outside the marina and made a rapid phone call to Beacon.  It was clean water, so at least we knew that it was the water system that had sprung a leak and not the canal flooding in.  It turns out that the pressure release valve on top of the calorifier had stuck in the open position, and had dumped most of the contents of our water system into the bilge.  Unfortunately there was so much of it that the bilge pump couldn’t  pump it out as fast as it was going in so consequently it all flooded over into the other compartments of the engine bay.  Neil at Beacon talked Rog through freeing the valve on the phone, and then we got on with pumping the water out of the engine bay – luckily we had a little battery pump, but it still took hours, we finished up soaking it up with old towels.  With our fingers crossed, we re-filled the water system, and turned on the engine – the valve remained firmly shut!  Phew!  Rog will now turn the valve on and off a couple of times every day to make sure it remains free – we think that it was probably lime scale.  Anyway, so far so good, touch wood!!

After our fraught morning we did what we had intended to do earlier and then set off to climb the Buckby flight, only to be hailed by someone coming out of the bottom lock,on a hire-boat shouting ‘Haynes, you ugly b*****d’!!  Taken aback, we focussed on the person doing the shouting, and realized that it was our old friend Tim Owens whom we hadn’t seen for donkey’s years. (Tim and his wife, Jules, came with us to give an opinion when we were buying our very first boat, back in 1996).  Unfortunately, we couldn’t stop and chat as we were just about to enter the lock, but will try and find out his email address and contact him that way.

Meanwhile, Rog had managed to pull a muscle in his calf while making a dive to get back on the boat it tried to get away from us in a fierce undertow as the lock emptied, so it was down to me to work the seven Buckby locks as he could hardly walk.  Luckily we were sharing the locks with Jane and Paul on Serendipity (a brother and sister team) all the way up so it wasn’t too difficult.  Again we were lucky as we got to the top of the locks, two moored boats pulled away in front of us so there was room for us both to moor.  We all swiftly repaired to the New Inn as it was definitely cider 'o’clock!  We also went back to eat – both had toad-in-the-hole, delicious! 

We said goodbye to our new friends this morning as they were turning up the Leicester section, and we were carrying on to Braunston. It was a beautiful morning with lovely countryside, and we were glad to be away from the noise of the motorway

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                                                                                    Braunston tunnel pics

Rog’s leg was a little better this morning, but I decided to work all the Braunston flight, although he did offer to swap over half way.  Better to rest it today or else it will be bad for a week!  We were hoping to moor for the night at Braunston, or at least long enough to visit the village and go to the famous butchers (huh, fat chance!!)  No room at the Inn, (actually there was room outside the pub, but it was no good for the dog)  but we did spot Les on nb Valerie, and stopped for a quick chat.


Shortly after that we spotted nb Piston Broke, another blogger, but I didn’t manage to get the camera out in time.  We turned onto the North Oxford, and found a nice quiet mooring spot where we will stay until tomorrow.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

President and Kildare at Stoke Bruerne

On Saturday morning we made the short trip up the locks to Stoke Bruerne and managed to moor almost exactly where we did on our way southwards.  We arrived at about 12 and decided that, as it had been very hot work up the locks, it was definitely ‘cider o’clock ‘. So we tied up one boat and headed for another - ‘the Boat pub’!  After a drink or two to lay the dust and a sandwich we were ready for a busy afternoon doing nothing!

President and Kildare were moored up so I went back to take a photo or two, only to find them trying to turn above the locks, outside the museum.  It became swiftly obvious that they were about ten feet too long!



Not long after that they came by our mooring spot on their way to the winding hole, so I followed with my camera as it isn’t often you get to see them manoeuvring, especially breasted up.   The story in pictures follows:

SDC10135As they came by, President, as usual, towing Kildare

SDC10136Just before they breasted up to make the turn

SDC10137 Breasted up now and starting the turn

SDC10138 Bows into the bank

SDC10139Almost halfway, puffing hugely with a fresh load of coal

SDC10140 Halfway round

SDC10141  Working hard on the tiller

SDC10143Still working hard

SDC10144  Almost there

SDC10145 Phew – made it!

It was very impressive – the chap in the tiller on President certainly knew what he was doing.  They had a large audience and received a round of applause afterwards!

We went back to The Boat for a meal last night – good pub grub – Rog had steak and chips, and I had Chicken Bruerne and chips – chicken breast stuffed with caramelised red onions and bacon, topped with melted goats cheese – delicious!  I must have a go at making it sometime, it looked very simple.

After a leisurely breakfast of bacon and egg (it was going to be just toast, but then Rog smelt the bacon cooking on the boat behind us, and the decision was made!)  we set off towards Blisworth tunnel and beyond, Gayton Junction to fill up with water and empty the loo.

SDC10146Windsong entering Blisworth Tunnel 

After the domestic stuff was done, we continued towards Bugbrooke and found a nice mooring about 45 minutes away, so no rush in the morning – we’ll tootle up there to be picked up at midday by June for our doctors appointments.  Will stop the night with Mum, and June will bring us back to the boat on Tuesday lunchtime or early afternoon, so no more blogs until at least Wednesday, or possibly Thursday.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Onwards again, but only a little way

We left Cosgrove yesterday morning in glorious sunshine, what a change from the miserable wet weather that we’ve had recently.  We stopped briefly at Baxter’s boatyard to change a gas bottle, where we had a nasty experience.  Rog held the boat in while I nipped off to find someone and ask if they had any 6kg gas bottles, and was told that someone would be with us in 5 or 10 minutes.  I went back to tell Rog and tie up the boat but the chap was hard an my heels and obviously in a hurry so I took the centre rope from Rog, and he went on board to get the old bottle out – in 20 seconds flat the chap had dumped the new one on board and disappeared into his little hut.  Rog went to get his wallet and followed, leaving me still holding the centre rope.  Meanwhile, the chaps little dog had decided to put his front paws on our gunwale to have a look at Cassie through the side hatch.  I could see what was going to happen but was powerless to prevent it – the boat drifted out a little and the dog fell in!  All I could do was yell and hold the boat away from the wharf so it wouldn’t drift in and crush the poor little thing.   The chap came dashing out and hauled the dog out – obviously very annoyed as he muttered ‘should have tied the boat up then’!  He then proceeded to stomp off in a huff!  If he had stuck around I would have told him to keep his dog under control, (especially as there is a sign asking customers to keep their dogs on board).  He was probably right that we should have tied up, but he hardly gave us the chance!  To add insult to injury, the price of the gas was at least a couple of quid more expensive than anywhere else!Anyway, it quite ruined my morning, and I brooded on it for ages after. I hate it when things like that happen. We won’t be using Baxter’s again on principle!

We had been heading for Stoke Bruerne, but decided to stop short as there were a lot of boats heading that way and we thought we might not get a mooring.  We found a lovely sheltered spot between bridged 57 and 58, with just sheep for neighbours.

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It proved to be a wise decision – the sun was blazing down when we moored.  Rog got out his fishing tackle and I got on with making some lunch.  Within half and hour the clouds had come over, and in another half an hour it started to rain –and rain, and rain!  We had a huge thunderstorm which went on for ages, and even when it had passed over, it still continued to rain.  It didn’t stop until just before we got up this morning, and we have had a lovely day today.  We decided to stay here for the day, and will move on to Stoke Bruerne tomorrow morning in the hope that we can moor for the night, as I want to go into the gift shop at the museum to buy a present for someone. 

Rog got out his fishing tackle again this morning, but caught nothing by crayfish all day (unfortunately, the crayfish kept letting go when he tried to land them, otherwise we would have had a tasty meal tonight – oh well, it will just have to be pasta!)