Monday 20 December 2010

Like rats….

we have abandoned ship!! Last month we finally admitted to ourselves and each other that we are wimps, and that living on the boat in the winter is not for us! To that end we have rented a cottage near Northampton, taken our furniture out of storage and set up home ‘on the bank’ again. We are not selling up however, and will do extended cruising in the spring, summer and autumn, and tuck ourselves up for the winter.

We take our hats off to all our brave friends who are still ‘continuously cruising stuck in the ice’, struggling to fill water tanks, empty loos and get fuel for engines and stoves, and hope you won’t think too badly of us for throwing in the towel.

The blog will resume with some photos of our new environs just as soon as I find the camera!


Monday 6 December 2010

Toe Update II

The news is good!!!  Rog’s toe has almost healed.  The podiatrist that he has been seeing at Northampton Hospital has been very pro-active, using different dressings depending on the stage of healing, and it’s done the trick.  No more dressings, and he has started to be able to wear both his trainers as opposed to just one and the ‘special’ shoe (which we have been affectionately, and totally non-politically correctly, referring to as his ‘spacker’ shoe!!)

His visit to St Mary’s at Paddington last Wednesday was over in double-quick time (due to the non-appearance of lots of patients because of the weather) and they have said that unless things change for the worse he needn’t go back  We caught the train back to Northampton two hours before we expected to.

He still has to see the podiatrist next week, and to go to the Foot Clinic at Northampton General in Jan, to be signed off.

So, this will be the last ‘toe update’ unless things change.  Our thanks to everyone who has shown interest and concern, and for all your good wishes.

Monday 8 November 2010

Toe update

As so many of our readers have been enquiring about the progress of Rog’s toe, I thought I’d put an update on the blog to save typing it over and over again!

The news is good, apparently.  The podiatrist removed the black dead bit on the end a couple of weeks ago.  Rog went back to to St Mary’s at Paddington last Wednesday and they were very pleased with it – it seems to be healing at long last.  The infection seems to have cleared up, and it looks very clean, although not very pretty. It will never be what it was, as there is a large chunk of flesh from the end which has completely gone now, but if it heals over it won’t be too bad.  

He has another appointment on Dec 1st, and they will measure progress then, and make a final decision as to whether to leave well alone, or to chop the top off.  So we are still playing a waiting game, but it sounds more promising now.

Watch this space.

Saturday 6 November 2010

A fabulous day…..

Yesterday the long awaited day arrived at last– our son Russ and his fiancĂ© Nat’s wedding day!  We had the most fabulous day imaginable.  We are so proud of them both – Russ’s speech was funny and moving, and, breaking with tradition, Nat also made a speech.  She looked absolutely stunning, and we are so pleased to welcome her into the family.  Our two eldest granddaughters were bridesmaids and behaved impeccably, no mean feat for five and three and a half years old!  Even baby Elizabeth entertained the guests with an amazing bout of hiccups just before the ceremony started!  Nat’s small godsons were pageboys, and were also beautifully behaved.  The photos are just a few of the hundreds taken, we are awaiting the official photos very soon.


   Best Man Rob and Bridegroom Russ


Signing the Register


Me and Rog


With Russ’s ‘honourary’ godparents, Rick and Ann, and daughters Jenny and Karen (our goddaughter)


Karen with Elizabeth, with my 83 year old Mum in the background


The happy couple


Cutting the cake


The first dance

Saturday 9 October 2010

A meal with blogging friends

We went to the Old Plough in Braunston last night for a meal with boaty blog friends, Lesley and Joe (nb Caxton), Jill and Graham (nb Matilda Rose) and Derek and Dot (ex-nb Gypsy Rover, at the moment moving a very famous bloggers boat!!)  A great and noisy evening was had by all, we never stopped talking and laughing.  Thanks for inviting us Lesley, I haven’t had so much fun in ages.  We must do it again sometime.

SDC11182  L-R  Jill, Joe, Lesley, Dot, Derek, Rog and Graham

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Surprise visit…

Just as I was dishing up our evening meal last night the phone rang.  It was Joe and Lesley from nb Caxton –they were moored around the corner on the Northampton Arm and had come to see if we were in - they were at the Marina gate.  We knew they were in the area, but thought we had missed them.  They came bearing wine, so we had to let them in!!

SDC11176 We had a good old natter and catch up as it’s a while since we last met and had a look around Windsong.

While I was walking Cassie this morning, I met them again purely by chance, along with Jill and Graham on nb Matilda Rose. Lesley and Jill were on the towpath walking their dogs. I was on the way back, but turned around and accompanied them back a little way and we all had another good old natter.

Great to see you all, have a good winter and we’ll try and catch up with you next year.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

An extra wedding in the family…

Seems like Russ and Nat’s wedding on 5th November isn’t the only one in the family this year.  Granddaughter Flo’s reception class at school are learning about weddings in Religious Studies, and they had a ‘pretend wedding’ this morning in the church, complete with vicar, bridesmaids, ushers, guests – the lot!!  Flo was the bride (might have known!!) 


The rings


The Bride and Groom

63364_10150279852995414_868990413_14999619_7136450_n Great fun was had by all, and vast quantities of sausage rolls were consumed at the ‘reception’ afterwards

63364_10150279852990414_868990413_14999618_2389369_n The Bride’s mother cried, and so did the Bride when she realized everyone was looking at her!

NB – I have deleted the original post with the un-cropped and un-blurred photos because Emma reminded me that I hadn’t got the permission of the other parents to publish photos of their children.  Sad world, isn’t it!

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Objective achieved…

Yesterday morning we made the short hop from Stoke Bruerne to Blisworth Marina – through the Blisworth Tunnel and on to Gayton Junction where the marina is situated, arriving about midday.

SDC11174 Blisworth Marina

SDC11173Gayton Junction looking down the Northampton Arm of the GU – just the other side of the bridge from the marina entrance

As marinas go, it’s one of the nicest we’ve been in – most of the boats are on leisure moorings and not lived on much of the time so it’s quite quiet.  There is a railway line and a main road close by, but don’t they bother us much.  Everyone we have spoken to is very friendly, and we are moored over on the far side, with a large bit of rough grass between us and the canal, good for Cassie.  I can’t say that the thought of living in a marina for the next few months fills me with enthusiasm, but we really need to get Rog’s toe sorted out and we need to be able to get to and from St Mary’s in Paddington easily by car, whatever the weather.  He also needs to rest his foot a lot to allow it to heal.

Mum lives only a 20 minute car journey away, so if and when we get a bit stir-crazy, we can de-camp to hers for a little while.

Russ is picking Rog up tomorrow and taking him back to Willowtree to collect the car, so at least we will be mobile.  We think we might try and have a day out somewhere we’ve never been once a week to keep the boredom at bay.

I will do the odd blog now and again when there is anything to blog about, but they won’t be very frequentso TTFN to all our readers!!

Sunday 19 September 2010

Strange night-time goings-on at Stoke Bruerne!…

We went for a curry last night at the Spice of Bruerne restaurant, and very good it was too.

SDC11172 Spice of Bruerne, right beside the top lock

As we let Cassie out for a last wee before bedtime last night we could see torches and hear voices and the rattling of a plastic tarpaulin in the nature reserve just over the other side of the fence from the towpath.  Very suspicious – it was pouring with rain and not the sort of night that nature lovers would camp out to watch the wildlife, also they were far too close to the path to have seen anything much anyway.  After watching for a while we shrugged and went to bed, although Rog said that sometime later her heard what sounded like a shot, or a firework going off.  This morning there was a blue plastic tarpaulin rolled up and tied into a neat bundle just by the gate into the reserve, but no sign of the owners.  Our guess is a vagrant or two, but why leave their tarpaulin behind?  It remains a mystery – we’ll see if it happens again tonight.

This morning, to escape the inevitable result of Rog eating curry last night that was permeating the boat, I took Cassie for along walk along the horse-path over Blisworth Tunnel.

SDC11169 Stoke Bruerne wharf

SDC11170 The entrance to Blisworth Tunnel from the horse-path

SDC11171 The bank giving way just short of the tunnel entrance

Saturday 18 September 2010

Stoke Bruerne again…

We were last here on August 9th 2009, and that was for the second time last year.

We spent yesterday on our mooring in the middle of nowhere, and set off for Stoke Bruerne this morning.  It was another lovely morning, with the wind easing a little.  Got here about 12.30, having ascended the first 5 locks alone, but meeting 2 boats going down at each lock, so at least they were ready for us.  We  decided that it was cider o’clock, so we went to ‘The Boat’, and had lunch.

We will stay here tomorrow and then head for Blisworth Marina on Monday morning, and that will be the end of our travels for 2010 – apart from maybe the odd few days out during the winter.

Thursday 16 September 2010

The middle of nowhere

We left our mooring at Cosgrove this morning, planning to moor just half an hour along at ‘The Navigation’.

SDC11161 Pretty Cosgrove Bridge

However, we had to bypass that as the building of the new Thrupp Marina has meant that several mooring spots on the opposite bank have been sacrificed as they are directly opposite the entrance, which left only space for about 4 boats, all of which were taken.  But, hey-ho, not to worry, it was a nice morning so we decided to press on a bit and look for a spot in the countryside.  We soon came across a nice stretch of Armco, just big enough for one boat – so we nabbed it.  Not a moment too soon, as what had been a lovely sunny morning 15 minutes before became a howling, gale and threatening sky.  We had timed it just right for a change, and got inside before the heavens opened!

SDC11162 Just about to chuck it down!

The sun came out again before long so Cassie and I went for a walk.  There are a great many berries on the trees and in the hedgerows again this autumn – does that mean another hard winter, do you think, or is it just another old wives tale.

SDC11164 Hawthorne (I think) and rosehips in abundance

SDC11166 Our mooring in the middle of nowhere – lovely and quiet!


Later on in the afternoon we spotted this bird patrolling the towpath beside the boat several times. After looking in our ‘What’s This?’ book we think it was an immature pheasant but whether it was a male or a female, we couldn’t tell -  we also think that it might have lost it’s Mum.  If anyone knows different, please let us know.


Yesterday morning we set out for Cosgrove.  It was raining and we considered staying where we were in Fenny Stratford, but we were half on the 24hr moorings and half on the 14 day moorings.  The mooring warden had been along earlier, as Rog was letting Cassie out for her morning wee, and made it clear that he expected us to be moving along!  So move along we did – but we were very tempted to tell him to move get the BW work boat moved off the 24hour moorings and we’d think about it!  They could do with him down on the K & A!!
An uneventful mornings cruising saw us at Cosgrove about 2 o’clock.  Cassie and I went for a walk and re-discovered the river walk beside the Great Ouse, down past Cosgrove Aqueduct – not so ‘Great’ here, more or a meandering stream.
The Great Ouse from Cosgrove Aqueduct
Cassie decided to go walkabout this morning, down a very steep bank to a stagnant pool below – 20 minutes later we managed to get her back – covered in muck and slime!  I think we might move on a bit tomorrow, as I’ve only just managed to stop her sneaking back for another go twice today.  There is a nice pub about half an hour up the canal, the Navigation, by Bridge 64.  We visited there many moons ago in our old boat ‘Teasel’ – maybe it’s time to try it again. (Has anyone counted how many canal side pubs called ‘The Navigation’ there are – it would be interesting to know!).

Monday 13 September 2010

Old Linslade – Fenny Stratford

We moved today to Fenny Stratford, 6.5 miles, 5 locks, 3.5 hours.

I took a walk into Fenny this afternoon to go to the Post Office and found that it had closed down, as have a lot of the shops and some of the takeaway places, although the Napoli Fish & Chip shop is still there – we decided not to have fish & chips from there this time, because although recommended to us last year, is was horrendously greasy and we both felt very sick afterwards.  So bangers and mash tonight.

Moving on to Cosgrove tomorrow where we will probably stay for a few days. We have arranged with Blisworth Marina to arrive early next week, a bit earlier than we had planned.  Russ will be travelling back from Lincoln to Northwood on Wed next week, and will pick Rog up and then take him to Willowtree to collect the car.  It was too good an opportunity to miss, and will save him having to get taxis, trains, underground etc.  We have a bit of hanging around to do over the next week as we don’t want to arrive too soon and be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no access to transport.

SDC11160 Fenny Stratford Lock, only a couple of feet deep with a swing bridge across the middle, giving access to the cottage and the BW office on the left of the picture

Sunday 12 September 2010

Old Linslade

Thursday evening at Horton was a bit of a trial – I was just starting to cook the dinner when the boat took on an alarming list to port.  Legging it outside to see what was happening, we discovered a boat in the lock  - the two drunken blokes on it had been trying to fill the lock for ages, with the bottom paddles still up!  It had taken over a foot of water out of the pound and we were sitting on the mud at the edge.  I sorted them out and decided that I’d better hike up to the next lock (one or a pair close together) to let some water down.  Good job I did because they got stuck on the mud!  I a managed to let about 2 locks full down before I became worried at the level in the pound above, but I heard a boat was coming down the 1st lock of the pair so I closed up the paddles and hiked back to the boat.  We were still on the bottom, but by the time that boat had come down, and then the drunks had gone up we were a little more level.  However, we did wonder if we would wake up during the night crumpled at the bottom of our cross-bed!  But all was well, and by the time we got up in the morning the pound was only a few inches down. It was raining so we decided to stay where we were and have a day off.  Rog got the tidying bug and tidied out a couple of cupboards.

On Saturday morning we left Horton and headed for Leighton Buzzard and Tesco.  Just after lunch, full of water and provisions and empty of the other stuff (!) we travelled a little further on and moored at Old Linslade.  Today we went for Sunday lunch in the Globe Inn, and very good it was too.  Might just have to go and sleep it off in a minute.


Thursday 9 September 2010

Marsworth - Horton

A short trip today, only 3 hours, 4 miles, and 8 locks.  We started out in glorious sunshine, a perfect cruising day, but we knew that there was rain coming later. 

Something I forgot to put in yesterdays blog – as we were arriving at Marsworth, we were hailed by a couple - “We read your blog”.  It was a nice surprise as we do this to other people all the time, but it’s not often done to us, we don’t believe our blog is very widely read.  They found it through the Beacon Boats website, they had been there looking for boat builders, but unfortunately Beacon didn’t have a build slot available until late 2012 so they were forced to go elsewhere.  The boat is to be called nb Yew Tew, and should be ready sometime in October.  Really sorry both, but I can’t remember your names (I’m rotten with names!). Good luck with the launch, and I will look forward to reading your blog – you know you can do it!!!

Before we left Marsworth this morning, I spent some more of Rog’s pension – we saw a mobile smithy at ‘The Globe’ at Linslade last year (photo from last year’s August blog – ‘Introducing Nat to Boating’) and I tried to get a couple of his planters made from old gas bottles, but he wasn’t around.  Well this time we struck lucky, he was moored just a few yards along the bank from us, so this morning I trotted along and bought 2.  I have to paint them myself, but I’m happy with that, and they are so heavy they won’t blow over in the wind.


SDC11157 My new planters

SDC11149 SDC11148 Perfect weather, lovely countryside

SDC11150 Proof-positive that BW do grease the lock gear – a man with an oil can, a bucket of grease and a paintbrush, and when I worked the next lock which he had already done, I got covered in lock-grease!

SDC11151 Ivinghoe Beacon

SDC11152 Seabrook Lock Cottage

SDC11153 Rog getting soaked just as we were looking for somewhere to moor!  I disappeared inside - he he

SDC11155 Rog caught a nice carp this afternoon – it gave him a bit of a fight though

SDC11158-1 Nice rainbow across the other side of the canal

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Northchurch - Marsworth

This morning dawned very grey and dismal with cloud so low that it was almost raining.  We set off with another boat and shared the two locks to Cowroast, where we emptied what needed emptying (!) and filled what needed filling. The diesel was a bit pricey at 81p and £1.30, but we needed to top up the tank.  At least they were happy to accept any split, so we did our usual 30/70.

SDC11137 Cowroast Lock – mostly downhill from now on

SDC11136 Cowroast Marina

Thereafter, I had a longish stretch without having to work any locks, as we were on the Tring summit until Marsworth Locks

SDC11138 Tring Cutting

SDC11139 The old BW yard at Bulbourne, now used as a steelworks to produce large steel sculptures for the home and garden

SDC11140 Bulbourne Junction – the start of the Wendover Arm, we did this bit last year

SDC11142 Approaching the middle lock of the Marsworth flight of seven

SDC11143 We are now moored beside Startops Reservoir

SDC11146 Just ahead of fellow blogger Les on nb Valerie – we had a good old chat to catch up as we haven’t seen him since this time last year, moored at Braunston.

SDC11147 Rog did a bit of fishing from inside the pram-hood, caught a good fish on his first cast, but nothing else so he packed up.

May stay here and have a day or two off now as we are making good time.  There may not be a great deal to blog about from now on as we did all this part of the GU last year, but if I can find something different to say and some different photos to take I’ll do a post.

Tuesday 7 September 2010


Yesterday we made the short trip from Hemel Hempstead to Winkwell, just 3 locks and a swing bridge, but it still took us the best part of a couple of hours!  We shared the locks with a single-hander (the same chap who was ahead of us the day before) so I still did all the work!!  We went for a meal in the Three Horseshoes, but not a good night to choose as they had a Comedy Night later on, but as we didn’t want to stay for it we ate in the bar – we both had Moules Mariniere, but I couldn’t finish mine, and felt very sick during the night – I won’t be risking shell-fish again unless I’ve cooked it myself!  There can’t have been anything wrong with it though as Rog finished off mine and he was fine.
Feeling fine again this morning, we set off towards Berkhamsted, 10 locks, about 5 miles, 4.5 hours.  We shared most of the locks with a lovely couple on nb Indulgence.  It was nice to share with someone who knew what they were doing, and were happy to chat along the way.  They have gone on to moor at Cowroast for the night, but we may catch them up tomorrow.  We got totally soaked in a very short heavy shower just as we were coming into Berkhamsted, but as we had planned to stop for a few bits and pieces at the lovely Waitrose in Berko, it didn’t matter.  I was disappointed that it wasn’t as lovely as it was 10 years ago – the serve-yourself part which used to have beautiful salads, pasta salads and fresh fruit salad had gone – I was reduced to buying some pre-packed fruit salad, but of course you have to put up with what they decide to put in it rather than choosing the fruit yourself – what a shame – I suppose they are all too worried about whether some psycho might add something nasty to it if it is just in open bowls.  The sun came out as we moored, but as soon as we set off again an hour and a half later, the heavens opened yet again!
We are moored for the night now just near Northchurch, a nice quiet spot apart from the occasional train.  We plan to make Marsworth tomorrow, and maybe stay for a day or two.
SDC11134 Berkhamstead Totem Pole
SDC11135 Plaque on Bridge 141, commemorating the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater

Sunday 5 September 2010

Cassiobury Park – Hemel Hempstead

We had another slow day today, only 6.5 miles in 6 hours, and 13 locks.  Again we worked most of the locks alone, trying all morning to catch up with the boat just ahead of us who were leaving all the top gates open (!) which of course made more work for me!  We finally caught them up at lunch time, but then wished we hadn’t.  They were a couple in their seventies, bless them, who seemed to be on another planet, with a daughter who did no work, and her novice boyfriend, who sort of helped, but was then told that it only needed two of us and he should get back on the boat.  After sharing for a few locks, we stopped for water and they went on ahead, sharing with the single-hander who was in front.  We are now moored for the night in Hemel Hempstead, just below Boxmoor Lock, with a fine view of the cricket ground.

SDC11128 The Grove Bridge – very pretty

SDC11130 New development between Kings Langley and Apsley, consisting of houses, apartments, shops and a new Marina - very posh, compared to the old factories that used to be here 10 years ago

SDC11131 Guarding the lock

SDC11133This evening’s entertainment

A short day tomorrow as we plan only to cruise to Winkwell, where we will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary in the Three Horseshoes – one of our favourite canal-side pubs.