Tuesday 29 December 2009

A quick trip to Pillings….

After a very quiet and restful Christmas at Mum’s in Northampton, we made a quick trip up to Pillings Lock Marina to check up on the boat, and to meet Neil from Beacon to discuss the changes to the dinette.  There was still a lot of ice in the marina, and sight of the ducks standing on top of the ‘water’ made me chuckle.  The boat was fine – we turned everything on again, and checked that water flowed out of the taps, and not all over the floor!  It was freezing inside, so while we waited for Neil to arrive, we lit the stove and turned on the Webasto then decamped to the cafe for a warming latte.  Neil arrived just as we were settling down in the warm, so joined us for a cuppa, after which we returned to the boat, which was much warmer by then.  After much discussion and measuring up, Neil left and we closed up the boat again, and returned to Mum’s.  We will need to go back next week to clear a bit of stuff out of the saloon to make room for Neil to work, and to move the boat to a pontoon nearer to the car park so he doesn’t have too far to carry stuff when he’s working.

We hope you all have a happy and safe New Year.

Thursday 24 December 2009

Christmas Greetings….


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Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a

Happy New Year

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Thursday 17 December 2009

The launch of Singing Hinny…

Today saw the launch of Beacon Boats No 10 – no longer are we their newest ‘baby’ on the system!  Being moored for a while at Pillings Lock Marina, we were in an ideal situation to watch and photograph the launch.  With fingers crossed that it would go more smoothly than our launch, we wandered up to the slip at about 10 o’clock.  The boat was just arriving on the lorry, shortly followed by the crane, and Ali and Neil.

SDC10449 SDC10450

Still on the lorry

SDC10451Mick and Ingrid, the proud owners, Mick nervously clutching his bottle of beer to ‘christen, the boat

SDC10452 Up

SDC10453 Up a bit more

SDC10454 Around

SDC10455 And down

SDC10456 Heading for the water just as it started to snow!

SDC10459 Bottom wet

SDC10460 The moment she was afloat for the very first time

SDC10461 Free at last!

At which point we repaired to the cafe for hot drinks and a full English!!! 

The launch went without a hitch, thank goodness.  Congratulations to Mick and Ingrid on a lovely boat – we hope you have many happy hours aboard.

A spooky experience…

We made an appearance at Beacon’s Open weekend on Sunday – what a spooky experience that was, walking into the workshop and seeing an almost identical boat to ours.



Mick and Ingrid, the owners have chosen what seems to have become Beacon’s signature colours – everyone who sees them likes them so much that they choose the same for their boat!  They also have scrolls the same as ours, but in a slightly different position.  We chatted with some prospective customers, and made the most of the coffee and mince pies – although the wood burner in the workshop was going it was still freezing in there, most of the heat going out of the chimney.

A lovely week with my ‘girls’

Last Monday I went down to Wheeler End Common, near High Wycombe, to spend a few days with daughter Emma, and granddaughters Flo and Milly  (son-in law Ben was away).  On Monday afternoon we took Flo to ballet (Milly was itching to join in as she loves to dance, but she’s not old enough for the 3-5yrs class yet).

SDC10473Flo in her ballet outfit  -  sweet enough to eat!

On Tuesday evening Emma went to work (she’s a Slimming World Consultant) and after I’d put the girls to bed, I indulged in the one thing I miss living on a boat – a long, hot soak in the bath!!!  It was divine!!!

We spent some time sorting baby clothes for the new baby, and then promptly broke the washing machine when we put the first load in – all fixed now though.

SDC10423 Flo and Milly on a walk with the dog


Emma and No3 on the same walk (told you I’d get you back for taking the p**s, Emma!)

We took Flo to Gymnastics on Thursday afternoon, but I got told off for taking photos without permission (none of which came out as they were taken from behind glass!)– do I look like a pervert??  I know that they have to be careful, but it was quite obvious that I was a grandma!!

On Friday, Rog came down to pick me up and we went to the girls’ Pre-school Christmas play – they were both wonderful, singing a little song that Flo made up about Pudsey Bear. 

Monday 30 November 2009

Fame at last!!….

We have had a message from Paul on Waterway Routes to say that the new DVD on the Caldon Canal has been released and we have a few moments of fame, moored at the end of the Leek branch – we must buy a copy!!  Look out for us if you watch the DVD.

Full Circle

We set off on Saturday morning in the hope that boats were still being let through the stoppage at Sawley flood lock, and yes, we got through ok.  Then on to the Trent, which was high, but ‘in the green’.  The Trent in November – we must be mad, it was freezing!!

SDC10409 Sawley Lock



The Trent

We were planning on getting to Kegworth, where we knew there were decent moorings above the Otter, but we were so cold by lunch-time that we stopped a little short, just above Kegworth Deep Lock.  We had just got ourselves sorted when we found that we were surrounded by rowers!  They were everywhere, doing time-trials, and we found out that there was a big race going on a little further up-river, so it’s a good thing that we stopped when we did!  They crews were mostly university students, but there were a few ‘oldies’ and also a few youngsters too.  They all looked freezing as they queued alongside us waiting their turn.  They were all good natured though, we could have flogged hot soup through the side-hatch and made a fortune!

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We continued on to Loughborough on Sunday morning.  After some heavy rain first thing, it became a beautiful morning and the Soar was looking at it’s best.

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Our friends Karen and Ian on nb Serenity moor at Kegworth, and they were standing at the rivers’ edge to wave as we went by.

We stopped in Loughborough to do a quick shop in Sainsbury’s and then continued on to Pillings Lock Marina, where we launched in June,  so we have come full circle.  We will be resident here for the next two or three months.  The work is due to start on the dinette in early January, and then, in early February I shall be going down to High Wycombe to help out with our two granddaughters when Emma goes into hospital to have the baby.

There won’t be many posts over the next few months I’m afraid – there won’t be much to blog about, but I will do one from time to time to let all our fans out there know that we are still alive and kicking.

Friday 27 November 2009

Beacon Boats Open Weekend

Beacon Boats will be holding another Open Weekend at their workshop on Saturday 12th and Sunday the 13th of December, between 10am and 4 pm both days. They will be showing 'Singing Hinny', their most recently completed narrowboat, before launching the week after. All welcome, and please note this is inside the workshop, on dry land, so will not be adversely effected by any bad weather. 'Singing Hinny' is a 57' Semi-trad, reverse layout, fitted in Maple and Oak. Come and have a look at her, meet the builders, and also Mark Clamp, (Of Stem to Stern Narrowboat painters) and take the opportunity to talk about your requirements if you are also looking for a boat in the future. Previous and present customers are usually available to talk with also.   The address is:

The Outbuildings

147 Melton Road

Burton on the Wolds

Leicestershire LE12 5 TQ

Tel. 07949 984656

Email enquiries@beaconboats.co.uk

There is a GoogleMap on Beacon’s website for those who need it – link on the left of Windsong’s blog page.  We look forward to seeing you there.

three_boats_large Beacon Babies – from left to right  - Windsong, Merryweather, and Serenity

A quick update….

It was a lovely morning so we decided to make our way to Shardlow in the hope of finding a mooring, and to be close to Sawley Flood lock for when it opens.  We had a nasty moment when we met another boat (I think the boat name was nb Sapphire) who is also bound for Pillings Lock Marina.  They were going the opposite way, searching for a mooring where they could leave their boat for a week as BW had told them that the stoppage would be on for a further week!!  When I had scraped Rog off the ceiling, I phoned Dave, the Sawley Locky, who told me that it was a load of rubbish, and BW didn’t know what they were talking about!!  The lock would be open to boats this afternoon, and the Trent was down!  I leapt off the boat and ran (well, almost ran – I don’t do running!) back down the towpath and caught them up and gave them the good news, and Dave’s phone number.  They immediately turned around and headed back through Shardlow.  They also took our phone number and promised to call us and let us know how things stood when they got there, which they have just done.  Hoorahhh – it’s all systems go!!!  Although the work hasn’t finished, they are letting boats through as they turn up.  Another instance of BW not knowing their arse from their elbow!!!  We are nice and cosy in the boat now, all snuggled up for the rest of the day, so we will continue through the flood lock tomorrow – keep you fingers crossed, everybody, that nobody does a rain-dance tonight and brings the river levels up again!

I took Cassie’s bandage off today, as she seemed to be limping a bit worse and I wanted to see if there was any infection in her foot.  It looks fine to me.  There is still a little bit of claw left, so she must have split it rather than pulled it completely out, and it’s been chopped off right near where it enters her paw.  I think the bandage must have been pressing on the raw end of her claw, because the limp has completely disappeared now.  I’m sure it will heal quickly now the air can get too it.  Not sure whether it will grow again – we shall have to wait and see.

Thursday 26 November 2009

A week later!!…….

Last Saturday Ali and John, who have booked a build slot with Beacon for boat No 13 (!) came over to visit. We had lunch in the Bubble Inn, and a lovely afternoon gossiping and discussing the plans for their boat. The weather was foul when they left at about 5 o’clock, and they didn’t have a very good journey home. On Sunday, Karen and Ian from nb Serenity (Beacon’s No 6) came over to see us, and again we had a very good carvery lunch in the pub. The Bubble Inn is a converted barn, and is very large. Unfortunately it was almost empty every time we went in, apart from Sunday lunchtime when there were a few more people. The food, each time we have eaten there has been first class, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it closes before too long. Just a few little things that add up to the fact that it may be in trouble financially, apart from the fact that it is almost always empty. Items on the menu not available, the gas had run out and not been replaced on the coke/lemonade thingy, the central heating oil had run out so it was cold, and ‘technical difficulties’ meaning that they were only accepting cash and not debit or credit cards! It will be a shame if it does have to close as the staff were all very friendly and as I said, the food was very good.

We had some drama on Monday – Cassie ripped out a claw! She clambered up the steps to the temporary bridge in the photo, despite being told a definite ‘NO’, and then, as it was so steep, made an extremely fast, uncontrolled decent.


She scampered off quite happily and we continued our walk, and it was only when we got back to the boat and I attempted to clean her up a bit (she was horrendously muddy) that I discovered her paw was bleeding and one of her claws was hanging by a thread. We knew there was a vet back at Willington, so we phoned around the taxi companies until we found one that would take us, and off we went. Twenty quid for the taxi there and back, and £110 for the vet to sedate her, remove the claw, give her an antidote to the sedative and an antibiotic injection, dress her foot, and 5 days worth of antibiotic tablets, and we were back on the boat with a ‘very sorry for herself’ wounded soldier!

SDC10401 She’s still very sorry for herself and keeps showing us her paw – unbelievably the bandage is still in place, only a little nibbled at the top. I think she’ll be happier when I can take it off, tomorrow or Saturday probably.

Our son Russ arrived for a few days on Tuesday, (if only Cassie had waited until then, we would have had a car to take us to the vet!) and immediately took us to Asda to do a big shop (there aren’t a lot of shops along this stretch of the T & M.) We didn’t cruise far, as the weather was still foul, just back to Willington yesterday to service the boat, and back to Stenson again.

SDC10407 Russ treated us to lunch in the pub yesterday and he and I went into Derby in the afternoon for a look around the shops, but all we bought was some Christmas cards. He left just before lunch this morning, and we decided that as it was not a bad day, weather-wise, that we would move on a bit – we were getting fed up with the scenery at Stenson, as we’d been there over a week. We are now moored on the visitor moorings at Swarkstone. The stoppage at Sawley Flood Lock is due to finish tomorrow, so we will head for Shardlow and wait around there as the Trent is in flood, and closed to navigation. We spoke to Dave, the Sawley locky, today and he says that the water level is 8 inches into the red, but going down, so hopefully, as long as we don’t get too much more heavy rain over the next few days we should be able to get to the Soar over the weekend, or early next week. Will keep you all posted.

PS - Yes, I know I said the weather was foul, and I've just noticed that the sky behind Russ in the photo is bright blue! Take my word for it - it had been raining heavily just before we set out, rained again not long after the photo was taken, and the wind was icy!!

Thursday 19 November 2009

Foul weather boaters?….not if we can help it!!!!!

We had to move from opposite Mercia Marina yesterday as we were getting desperate for water and to empty the loos so we retraced our steps twenty minutes back to Willington.  It was a foul morning, driving rain and high winds, but, needs must.  We also popped down to the little Co-Op to replenish a few supplies, although their shelves were not what you would call ’well stocked’                                                           

We also needed to top up with fuel so after shopping we winded the boat and returned the way we had come, just about 45 minutes eastwards.  We stopped at Stenson’s Boatyard and filled with diesel.  By this time we were both wet through,cold  and fed-up, and there was a mooring spot just opposite the Marina so we grabbed it.  We rewarded ourselves with a bacon and egg bap and a latte for lunch in the cafe beside the lock, which lifted our spirits, and then lit the fire and snuggled down for the afternoon.

SDC10399 This morning we were undecided as to whether to move  on to Shardlow or not, as the weather, although windy, was dry.  A phone call to Dobson’s Boatyard later, the decision to stay where we are was made.  Shardlow visitor moorings are chock full to bursting, probably due to the stoppage at Sawley Flood Lock.  We popped over the canal to Stenson’s and were told that we could use their Elsan, and could fill up with water if we need to, so we are set to stay here, at least over the weekend as the weather is set to be foul again tomorrow and Saturday.  So, Ali and John, if you are reading this, we are at Stenson Lock, if you still want to come out and visit us on Saturday, and Karen and Ian, there is a pub here for Sunday lunch, but will speak to you all on the phone before then.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Extortion or what!!….

While in Willington over the weekend we thought we might take the train into Derby for a look around.  It’s only a 10 minute journey.  We looked up the times on the internet, and discovered that there is only one train that stops here on a Saturday, and that’s at lunch time, then we looked up the price.  Eight quid!!  Yes, you heard right, eight quid.  Well, that decided us, no way were we paying eight quid each for a 10 minute journey.  And while we are on the subject of train fares, we’ve been looking up how much it will be for me to get down to High Wycombe to go and keep daughter Emma company while Ben is away in December.  That one is £75!!!  I know it’s been  a while since I had to travel anywhere by train, but I had no idea that fares had gone up so much.  We managed to get the price down to about £41 by looking on a site where you book early, but can’t do it yet as I don’t know the exact dates yet.  I’m not surprised that people don’t want to use the trains.

We have been moored just outside the entrance to Mercia Marina since Sunday, and we went to have a look at it yesterday.  Although huge, it seems very well appointed.  There is a shop which sells a small amount of provisions, plus chandlery, gifts and newspapers, sweets etc, and a small cafe, where we had a really nice latte.  There is a building being built at the moment which will house Midland Chandlers, and there will be a pub built beside that before too long.  All the normal services are available, diesel, water, pump-out etc, plus there is a boat-fitter on site who will do alterations.  Also there is a nature reserve just outside the Marina for dog walking.  We were quite impressed at the set-up.

We will go back to Willington tomorrow to fill with water and empty loos, and then move on a bit and go to Stenson’s to fill with diesel, then moor up and head on to Shardlow on Thursday or Friday.

Next week we will return to Willington to collect No1 son (Russ), who is coming to spend a couple of days with us.  There is a good car park there where he can leave the car.

Friday 13 November 2009

I feel a rant coming on…..

Two more examples of BW incompetence have become apparent over the last couple of days.  The first was yesterday when we moored up on the visitor moorings at Willington.  We then discovered that from Oct to Mar they were ‘Permit only’.  Plenty of space, so we thought we’d just do the right thing and ring BW and ask permission to stay over the weekend.  I was given a mobile number to call, and a message said that the ‘Moorings Manager was unable to take the call, but to leave a message and she would get back to me asap’.  Have we had a call back – have we hell???  Anyway, we have decided to stay here for the weekend unless someone asks us to move.  Well, at least we tried!!

Example number two – the stoppage at Sawley Flood Lock.  The original stoppage list said 16th – 27th October.  So we planned accordingly.  A month later we had an amendment email – the dates were now 9th-20th Oct.  Hooray, we thought, a week early, not so long to hang around.  Rog started getting suspicious yesterday when we started seeing Canaltime boats heading back towards Sawley (the other side of the stoppage!).  We managed to ask one today where they were leaving the boat, and discovered that the dates they were given for the stoppage were 16-27th Oct.  We checked the Waterscape website – 9th-20th, also Canal Boat magazine had 9th – 20th.  A million and one phone calls to BW then ensued, being passed from pillar to post, nobody seeming to know.  Eventually someone got hold of the Project Manager who confirmed that the dates were definitely 16th – 27th!!!  AGHHHHH!!!!  Why then was an amendment sent out, and if it was amended back again, why wasn’t another one sent???  That’s another two weeks we have to hang around a few short miles of canal.

Now, I know we aren’t supposed to get in a lather about these things, as we aren’t really in a hurry, but the sheer bloody incompetence really gets me down!  The chap I spoke to at BW was going to get on to Waterscape and ask them to send out an amendment, (bit bloody late, a week after the stoppage was supposed to start!) but I bet the blithering idiot who cocked it up won’t even get a slap on the wrist.

And to top it all, it’s Friday 13th, my laptop had gremlins today and it took a while to sort it out, and now our T Mobile dongle has stopped working as has been deemed knackered by ‘the boss’!  We shall have to share the ‘3’ one now, which is bound to  entail many arguments, until we can get it replaced!

Anyway, rant over – we will put up with the noise of the trains over the weekend and have a slow bimble towards Shardlow next week, where we will have some visitors, then probably retrace our steps till mid week, and return to Shardlow to await (hopefully) the re-opening of Sawley flood Lock on or before 27th.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Christmas dinner….

We arrived at Horninglow wharf in Burton On Trent just before lunchtime on Friday, and, after we had watered and loo’d, we reversed up a bit to moor for a day or two.  Not the loveliest of moorings, but at least safe for Cassie.  We took Cassie to the local vet to have her blood test, to check the levels of her Epilepsy medication, the results of which we will get by phone in a week or so.

Rog was drooling as we came into Burton – past all the breweries – there was a yard just full to bursting with kegs of Marston’s Pedigree, but I was too slow to get a photo before it disappeared behind some trees.


We got the bus into Burton town centre on Saturday morning, as I needed more wool for my marathon baby-knitting spree, and were pleasantly surprised.  It is a nice town, with a full range of shops and three shopping centres, although we only went into two of them.  We found a great knitting and sewing shop where all the assistants knew their stock, and I came out with a pattern for an all-in-one suit which Emma had intimated that she’d like for the new baby.  Just got to fathom the pattern out now, as it looks a bit complicated for my basic knitting skills!!  So far I’ve completed two cardigans – it would have been three, but I made a boo-boo with the amount of wool, and the third is short a sleeve!!! Never mind – I might make it into a sleeveless cardi instead.

We didn’t feel like moving today, so we’ve had a domestic day instead.  I got the vacuum out and we can now see the floor again.


We had some visitors today – we fattened them up for Christmas dinner!

Will move on a bit tomorrow, probably to Willington, will need to water and empty the loo again before we leave, that’s if the Shakespeare Line hire boat has moved off the water point that it’s been on since yesterday afternoon!

Thursday 5 November 2009


We stayed at Alrewas on Tuesday, and spent the time doing a few jobs, and going for a walk.  It’s a pretty village, and we found a bungalow that we’d like to buy for when we are too decrepit to go boating any more.  Unfortunately, the £599,999 price tag might as well be 5 million as far as we are concerned, it’s so far out of our reach!! It had a huge conservatory overlooking the canal, which we fell in love with, and also a little summer house.  Oh well, dream on!!!


SDC10382 Bridge leading to the village

SDC10383River Trent

SDC10384 Alrewas Lock


Cassie trying to make a new friend, but he wouldn’t play!



Two benches with pretty carved backs

SDC10389 We left yesterday morning, and travelled about 5 miles to Branston

SDC10390 Lovely morning, shame about the traffic on the A 38

SDC10391 We pulled into Barton Turns Marina to fuel-up and empty the loo – it’s all very posh, with a new development of designer shops.

We are now moored at Branston, just beside the Water Park, another nice place to walk Cassie.  We will move on tomorrow as far as Horninglow as she has an appointment with the vet there for another blood test to check the levels of medication are correct.