Monday 29 June 2009

Just chillin’….

Saturday 27th June

We decided to stay where we were as it was a lovely peaceful spot, and have a day just relaxing.   We took Cassie for walks, caught up on the house (boat?) work, and emails. Photos below are of our mooring, the bottom one is Rog trying to be artistic with the reflection on the water.

DSCF0006 DSCF0004


Sunday 28th June

When we awoke we decided to move on to Foxton (after previously saying that we were steering clear of Foxton at the weekend!) as we needed water.  It was just as manic as ever!  We each thought that the other had taken some photos, but obviously not, as when we downloaded from the cameras there weren’t any!  After we had filled up we went to Bridge 61, and partook of their lovely cold cider, and a burger from the unfortunate chef who had drawn the short straw and was barbi-ing outside.  Poor chap looked fit to drop it was so hot!  We got chatting, as you do, with a lovely family who were on their boat – Water Impulse, who were heading down the arm later that day, and said we’d see them tomorrow.  We returned to the boat, needing a siesta before our booked meal that evening in The Locks.  I have to say that it was mediocre at best – we both had roast beef.  The beef was tough and overcooked, the Yorkshire pud, although large, was dry and tasteless, and everything except the roast potatoes was only luke warm.  The pud made up for it though!

Monday 29th June

We made a quick trip back to Debdale Wharf this morning to fill up with diesel so we could get an idea of how much we were using.  What lovely friendly people they were, even the ducks were friendly!

DSC00120And what a lovely quiet marina – if ever we decide to have a permanent mooring we will definitely look there.  The diesel was reasonably priced too, 52p a litre. After refuelling we returned to Foxton and headed straight up the arm to Market Harborough.  We came in the car to look at the basin on one of our ‘canal fix’ trips last year, and loved it. 

DSC00123Water Impulse at Market Harborough – didn’t get their names, but will look out for them again.

DSC00125 Windsong entering the basin

DSC00132 Rog executing a tricky reversing manoeuvre

DSC00134 Windsong moored just outside the basin – in the shade!

We will stay here tonight and tomorrow and head back to Foxton and up the locks on Wednesday.  We plan to have a good old rummage around the town tomorrow.

Friday 26 June 2009

An easier day….

Grand Union Leicester Section – 5 miles – 12 locks – 6 hours

After doing the usual water, rubbish and loo cassette chores this morning, we left Kilby Bridge for a nice easy cruise up the 7 locks to Newton Harcourt, where we planned to moor up for the weekend, and go to the Wistow Rural Centre tomorrow.  How wrong we were!!  There was nowhere to moor!  We found a lovely quiet spot, only to discover 10 minutes later that the railway line ran about 3 yards away up an embankment – we soon moved! The only 4 spaces on the next stretch were already full, but we had a nice suprise when we spotted nb Balmaha.  We stopped, mid-cut, to have a chat, and promised to wander back when we had moored up.  Unfortunately, we ended up having to go through another 5 locks before we found a spot, so never did go back .  It was lovely to meet you both, and we will catch up with you again sometime. We got soaked to the skin (new waterproofs are in order methinks!) and finally moored up on the summit near Fleckney Bridge.  We will decide tomorrow whether we will carry on to Foxton, or stay here for the weekend.


Bandit Country…..

Grand Union Leicester Section/River Soar – 14 miles – 17 locks – 10 hours

On Wednesday evening, while we were moored up at Watermead Country Park, nb Trundle came by.  Trundle is owned by the Manager of Raynsway Marina – it was nice to meet you both, sorry we didn’t get your names, but here is the promised photo on the blog.DSC00117 Yesterday morning we left our mooring nice and early so that we could get through Leicester before mooring up again.  However, when we reached Thurmaston lock, there was a BW work boat in the lock entrance, putting up a new bridge to enable wheelchair access. “30 minutes”they said.  However, this was a BW ‘30 minutes’ – an hour later we started the engine again!

What can I say about Leicester that hasn’t been said before?  Not a lot, but it certainly was ‘Bandit Country’!  The approaches were very pleasant, but as we got closer, the canal got dirtier, and smellier.  The only bit worth taking a picture of was the floating pontoon at Castle Gardens, and that was full up with boats. DSC00118

17 locks (all but one against us!) and 10 hours later, knackered, hot and sunburnt, we finally reached Kilby Bridge, our stopping place for the night.  We went to the Navigation pub for some food, then put the news on the telly – we were both asleep before it finished.  10 hour days are definitely too long for us these days!

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Going solo…..

River Soar – Loughborough to Thurmaston – 6 hours,  11 miles and 5 locks

After a fond farewell to Ali and Neil after I had fed them last night (at least that way I know that they have had a decent meal for once!) we set off on our own this morning for the first time (in this boat!).  We cruised to Barrow on Soar where we used the ‘felicities’ at Barrow Boating -  got rid of the rubbish, filled the water tank and emptied both loo cassettes in preparation for a days’ cruising through Leicester tomorrow.  The Soar is lovely along this stretch, and we couldn’t have had better weather.


DSC00112  The ‘Climbing Tree’ featured in an earlier post when we walked to it with our grand-daughters – but this time from the river!

DSC00114Tonight’s mooring at Watermead Country Park

DSC00115Cassie decided where we should moor – she just flopped down and went to sleep!

Tomorrow we will make an early(ish!) start to get through Leicester, heading for Kilby Bridge – I must unpack my muscles before we set off as we have about 17 locks to do!

To Sawley, at Sawley, and back again….

Thurs 18th – Sun 21st June

We cruised to Sawley on Thurs 18th in company with Les on nb Merryweather, another Beacon boat with a permanent mooring at Pillings.  Cassie proceeded to fall in off the back of the boat before we had gone half a mile!! 

I was even brave enough to take the helm on the Trent – there was a lot of water – even waves!!



Friday was spent cleaning and polishing the boat ready to be ‘shown’ at Sawley’s Summer Festival

On Saturday morning we were joined by nb Serenity, Beacon Boats No 6 – and met Karen and Ian.  Karen is ‘Boatwoman Extraordinaire’ and executed a perfect reverse to moor alongside Merryweather.DSCF0065

DSCF0067 Ali’s 3 babies

We had a very exhausting time doing nothing while the general public looked over, and admired Windsong – we were very proud and had some lovely comments.  We also got re-acquainted with Mick and Ingrid, who are having No 10, and Keith and Diane from Bristol who have a slot booked for No 11, and met Jeff and Barbara (No 3) and Ali and John who are in line for No 13 (or No 14 if they decide not to use 13!) A great time was had by all, the beer tent was well frequented – and this writer got ever so slightly tiddley on Haymaker cider!

On Monday we made our way back to Loughborough, again in company with Merryweather, this time having been joined by Les’s wife Susan, where we remained until this morning so that Neil could put a couple of shelves in cupboards for me.  Les and Susan carried on a little way so we said our farewells – many thanks go to them both for their company and generosity.

DSCF0080Susan and I working hard

DSCF0078Cassie is not quite sure yet whether she likes this boating lark or not!

Proving cruise…

 Mon 15th June

We took Ali and Neil out on a proving cruise to Loughborough and back, and had lunch in the Swan in the Rushes – great food and a proper old fashioned atmosphere.  It looks a beautiful day in these photos, but we had a terrific thunderstorm while we were in the pub.  At least we didn’t get wet while cruising.  We moored in Loughborough basin – not very inspiring – it could have been a lovely feature, but has been totally spoiled by the student accommodation that has been built around it. It is not a safe place to moor overnight as you are likely to be rained on by beer cans or worse!



A rare photo of Ali – she was so intent on her phone that she didn’t know Rog had taken it!  Hehehe

Weekend voyages with friends

Sat 13th June

On Saturday evening our friends Shirl and Andy came to visit and we took them out on our maiden voyage out of the marina, towards Loughborough and back.  We then had a lovely meal in the Marina restaurant.

Maiden Voyage 010

Sun 14th June

On Sunday morning Rog  set off to collect Tony and Ang from Kings Lynn. They have bought our car, so Rog went to get them so they could spend the day with us and then take the car home with them. Sunday lunch in the Marina restaurant (the diet has really gone for a burton now!) and a trip out on a glorious afternoon – what more could any sane person want!DSCF0052

At about 7 o’clock we waved bye-bye to the car for the last time!

Moving on…..

Wed 10th June

We arrived at the storage container with the van - ‘Oh my God, we’ll never get it all in the van’ we thought – but we did - just!



When we got to Pillings Lock Marina Ali took one look at the van and asked if we’d like her to start building us a butty!


We then proceeded to squeeze it all into the boat – it all fitted – just!

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Still Alive & Kicking

Sorry, not really had any chance to blog lately, we have been so busy with moving on and Beacon finishing off the 'odd' jobs that needed doing.

Windsong is fantastic and we are now starting to feel settled in (we can actually see the floor now!!). We will be at Sawley for their open weekend this coming weekend (2o/21) so if anyone is around you would be very welcome to pop in and see us (the odd beer might be on offer).

Cheers for now

Saturday 6 June 2009

A photo that I forgot yesterday….


I forgot to put this photo in yesterday – it’s one of Rog christening the Windsong with a bottle of Blacksheep ale – well, a drop of it anyway! Not too much as I didn’t want to be washing too much sticky beer off the bow, and Rog said it was too good to waste, so everyone had a swig until it was finished!

We are going to go to Sawley on Monday to the BW office to hand in the application form for the licence as we now have the RCD – of course we will have to make a detour to Pillings to see how things are coming along! More photos then.

Friday 5 June 2009

'Houston, we have Liftoff'....

Yesterday - 4th June 2009

Well, the great day had at last arrived, and we were up early to get to Beacon in time to see Windsong loaded onto the crane for her journey to Pillings Lock Marina to be launched. The previous evening, Ali had sent photos of her emerging into the daylight as they pulled her out of the workshop (sorry, photos are on the phone, and the lead to connect to the computer is packed in the boat storage container - doh!) She came
out of the workshop like a dream, apparently. The crane and lorry arrived bright and early, and by the time we were supping our first coffee of the day, they were ready.

Waiting for the crane

We have lift off - teaching Windsong to fly

Loaded onto the lorry ready for her journey

The lorry has to go a very long way round as it would never get through the village, taking over half an hour to do what we can do in ten minutes, so we decided that rather than follow it we would go straight to Pillings Lock Marina and have breakfast while waiting for it to arrive.
Unfortunately, we were at least 45 minutes to early for the cafe so we just waited around.

Windsong arriving at Pillings

The crane set up ready to lift her onto the trolley as soon as Ali and Neil arrived (the next boat had arrived on the same lorry and they first had to push it into the workshop). The drill is that the crane and lorry do whatever the 'slip manager' tells them to. Big mistake in this case, as the normal chap had been called away on an emergency and 'someone else' (no names!) on the Marina's staff had taken it upon themselves to do the job. Unfortunately, he insisted that the boat would be OK on the trolley, to go in the water bow first. We all thought that this was strange, as we knew she should go in stern first, but, as I said, you have to do what the slip manager says, and we all assumed that they knew what they were doing.

This same 'nameless person' also insisted that he drive the tractor that pushes the trolley down the slip into the water. After about 50 goes at getting it straight, in she went, bow first, and went, and went!! By this time I was covering my eyes and holding my breath as the bow well filled with water. Eventually all our shouting at the driver to 'STOP', got through. The Marina manager managed to get on board, and said that the water was within an inch of flooding in through the bow doors. They lifted the hydraulics on the trolley and got the deck drains out of the water. By this time Rog was threatening to yank the bloke out of the tractor cab and lay one on him, but then saw sense and walked away! Ali and Neil were fuming by this time, and Ali put her foot down and said 'no more' - and insisted to the Marina manager that they get the boat out and turn her round. Ali had to phone the lorry driver, and ask him to come back as it was impossible to crane her round as there wasn't enough room.

Almost drowned - the bow well flooding!

At this stage we were all so tense that we decided that as the lorry was half an hour away, we would go and have a belated breakfast, to try to calm down - Rog was still fuming. The Marina manager was full of apologies and explanations, but I still had to keep Rog away from him. Regardless of the reasons, this 'nameless' staff member should not have been allowed anywhere near a boat! In due course, and after a smashing breakfast, we were all in a better humour - the coffees and teas were on the house! (to my mind the whole breakfast should have been - but you can't have everything!)

Windsong now facing the right way, ready for the trolley to be reversed underneath her

Neil saying "piss-ups and breweries spring to mind"

Teaching Windsong to swim - in the water, the right way round! The tractor was driven by the Marina manager this time.

Swimming at last

After Sam, the engine man from Foxton Boat Services had tightened down all the engine mounts and the prop shaft, we took her for her first trip around the Marina to her mooring. She handled beautifully, and Rog made a great job of reversing her into the space - we were all impressed. Considering that he hadn't been at the helm since the boat handling course last September, and it was a strange boat, with new paintwork, he was brilliant! We then went and had something else to eat (cake!) as it was by now well past lunchtime. We spent another hour admiring her, and showed one couple around who had stopped to admire her paintwork. Eventually, we had to leave her in Ali and Neil's capable hands to do what they had to do with adjusting the ballast etc, although there wasn't a lot of that to be done as she was pretty well level in the water (well done to Neil!) There are a few little jobs still to be completed, so we will let them get on with it over the weekend and go back over on Monday. All in all it was an exciting day, and we were all exhausted by the time we got home!

Today, we severed the last of our links with the RAF, travelling back to RAF Wittering to hand over our Married quarter - as we left, Rog said "Now I'm retired!" We look forward to our new life with great anticipation.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Launch Day

Launch went well today. Too tired to properly blog tonight, need to sort out all the photo's, so will post a launch blog tomorrow.

Happy days.