Tuesday 30 March 2010

Woolly gongoozlers…..

We made the short hop from Hawkesbury to Ansty this morning, to drop off Serenity’s visitors.  Dodging the showers, we managed not to get wet.

Not much of interest along this bit of the North Oxford, just a few woolly gongoozlers:

SDC10530 First there was one

SDC10531 Then there were four

SDC10532 But they had a short attention span – either that or Mum told them not to be nosy!!

Tomorrow morning we will make our way to Stretton Stop, and Rose Narrow Boats to fill with diesel and collect Ian and Karen’s other daughter for a couple of days.

Monday 29 March 2010

Friends for the weekend….

On Saturday morning, although we were expecting them, we were surprised to get a text at 8.30 letting us know that our friends Ang and Tony had set off from Kings Lynn to come for the weekend.  8.30!!  Must be some sort of a record!!

We set off up the locks to meet them at  lock no 6 – and at about 11 o’ clock they arrived – armed with wine, cider, fresh eggs from their chickens, bacon, cake and daffodils.  We soon put them to work helping us up the rest of the flight, Ang staying with me to lock Windsong through, and Tony helping Ian with Serenity.

We moored right beside the Anchor just past Hartshill (funny old thing!!) at about 2pm.   Not a very salubrious mooring, and we were a trifle concerned about the the level of local ‘hoodies’ hanging around, but had no trouble.  Needless to say we thought we’d better check out the pub as we had a table booked for later that evening.

We set off towards Hawkesbury on Sunday morning after a hearty egg and bacon breakfast – thanks ‘girls’ the eggs were delicious!  The weather was much better that forecast, and we had a nice run.

SDC10523 On arrival at lunchtime, it was decided that we should visit the The Greyhound! (to obtain the phone number of a local taxi firm to ferry them back to their car) Well that was our excuse, and we’re sticking to it. (Contrary to popular opinion, we are NOT alkies, and don’t visit every pub we pass – just a lot of them!)

We had a great weekend.  Thanks both, for coming all this way to see us – have a good time in Bahrain Tony, and let us know when you hear about the new job.

This morning the weather was foul, Karen and Ian were now expecting guests, their daughter and her boyfriend.  By the time they arrived we had decided to stay put, so here we still are.  The forecast for tomorrow is dry so we will move on then.  The pub has a good offer on tonight – pie, chips and peas, and a pint for a fiver – it would be criminal not to partake!!

Some views of Hawkesbury Junction

SDC10526 The Greyhound


The beginning of the North Oxford – our route from tomorrow


The Junction bridge


This odd little Police Station is right on the junction of the two canals.

A ‘rest day’ on Friday….

Do we have any other sort of days, now we’re retired?!!

We spent Friday moored just below the start of the Atherstone lock flight.  After a night of torrential rain, the towpath was very soggy, but it didn’t stop Karen, Ian and I going out to do some more geocaching.  We found the first and the third on our list, but didn’t find the second, and didn’t even look for the fourth as it was on a main road.  Cassie found some new friends.

SDC10522 SDC10521 who seemed as keen to play as she was.  She dashed into the field and ran around with them, and had to be spoken to very sharply to get her to come out again.  I was afraid of her getting kicked.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Geocaching again…

We spent the day at Alvecote yesterday as we had some time to waste.  Karen, Ian and I decided to go and look for a couple of geocaches that are in the area (Rog’s toe still isn’t up to walking very far, so he stayed on the boat).  After a few false starts we found one of them, but the second eluded us.  The co-ordinates kept showing it on the other side of the canal, although we knew it wasn’t.  We searched all the likely hiding places in the vicinity and came up with zilch, so we had to write that one off.

SDC10498 Karen and Ian with the cache, found in the hole in the concrete block

We had a lazy time for the rest of the day.  Ian tried out his new radio controlled boat, which Cassie didn’t like at all, and barked so much that we had to confine her to the boat.


This morning dawned fairly clear and mild so we decided to make the most of it and head a little further on, to Bradley Green, where we planned to service the boats.  It turned into a lovely warm morning,

SDC10504 The Warwickshire countryside was lovely in the sunshine and by the time we stopped at the water point we all had our coats off.

SDC10505 Breasted up waiting to fill with water

After servicing the boats we found a nice spot to moor a little further on, and Karen decided it was warm enough for a barbecue – is this a record, the earliest barbecue of the season?  Of course it was accompanied by beer and cider!!

SDC10512 SDC10511 Unfortunately the weather didn’t last long, and it soon clouded over and became chilly, but not before we had had our lunch.  It’s raining now!

We will stay here tomorrow, and then head up the locks on Saturday morning, in time to meet our visitors at Atherstone .

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Playing catch up…

I haven’t blogged since last Wednesday, as there really hasn’t been much to blog about.

Serenity’s visitors arrived on Thursday morning, and we had a nice morning’s cruising to Alrewas, where we moored and had a walk around the village.  A taxi picked up the visitors and took them back to their car at Branston.

Friday saw us making haste towards Fradley junction where we were to spend the weekend.  On the way, Serenity had a problem with their electrics, so a phone call to Beacon was made with Neil promising to come out the next day, along with Sam from Foxton Boat Services to service our engine.  On arrival at Fradley we were disappointed to find that we couldn’t moor in our usual spot just around the corner on the Coventry as it was all full!!  How dare they!!!  We were stuck at the bottom opposite the cafe, by the road which wasn’t good for the dog, but needs must.  We then decided that as it was about lunch time, the Swan was a good idea.  Several pints of Mucky Duck and a few ciders later we sauntered back to the boats for an afternoon nap!  And this was the pattern for the weekend.  The food was just as good as ever, and the beer even better.

Serenity’s problem proved to be a faulty bowthruster battery charger, which Neil removed, and when our engine service was completed, we managed to secure a mooring up around the corner on Saturday afternoon – good job as we needed water, and the lower water point has been fenced off for repair.  Serenity followed us up on Sunday morning when another space became available.  They were photographed coming up through the lock by Canal and Riverboat magazine, and told that they would be on the cover of the May edition, so keep your eyes open for that.

We cruised to Hopwas yesterday, stopping for fuel at Streethay Wharf on the way.  Not a very nice morning, weather-wise, but we managed not to get too wet.

A beautiful morning greeted us when we awoke this morning, so we decided to make the most of it and cruise to Alvecote where Neil was too meet Serenity with a new bowthruster charger. 

SDC10485 On leaving Hopwas we passed this bench, decorated with daffs


and the first daffs we’ve seen in bloom on the bank outside the Tame Otter


Both boats appearing around the bend in Hopwas


Windsong in hot pursuit

We are now moored just past  Alvecote Marina, in a good spot to sit out the weather that is due tomorrow, and Serenity’s bowthruster is fixed, much to Karen’s relief!  We don’t have to be anywhere until Saturday morning, when we need to be at Atherstone to meet some friends who are visiting for the weekend.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

We met a blogging legend….

Further to my post yesterday, blogging legend Andrew Denny of nb Granny Buttons came and met up with us in The Green Dragon, and helped us with the pub quiz.  Our team didn’t win, but we scored a lot higher than we might have done, due to Andrew’s input.  Unfortunately, there won’t be any photos of us in Canal Boat mag, as they needed sunny ones with leaves on trees, suitable for the May edition.  No sun this morning, and certainly no leaves on the trees yet, although we did see evidence of pussy willow buds and catkins this morning as we made our way through Burton to Branston, where we are moored beside the water park, awaiting visitors to Serenity tomorrow.  It was lovely to meet you at last Andrew, and we hope to meet up again at some point in the future.

We became separated from Serenity at Dallow Lane Lock in Burton, and when we caught up half an hour later at Branston Lock, we found Karen and Ian waiting with the lock all ready for us. Ahh, how kind  - I could get used to service like that!   Below is photographic evidence that Karen does actually know how to work a lock, although Ian says she needs a bit more practice.  Dream on Ian, and don’t hold your breath!!!!


Tuesday 16 March 2010

Calling Granny Buttons….

After a lovely mornings cruising, in gorgeous spring-like weather, we arrived at Willington about 2.30 this afternoon.  We were sustained at lunchtime by bacon cobs from the cafe at Stenson lock.


Windsong and Serenity in Stenson Lock, our last shared lock until the Thames

We passed under  Bridge 20 at Stenson that has been re-built during the winter.  They have done a grand job, but not sure that it was worth a quarter of a million that it is reputed to have cost!

SDC10403 Before (in November)

SDC10481 And After (today)

On arrival at Willington, we found the lady from nb Bobcat waiting for us (sorry, can’t remember your name)  She said that Andrew Denny of nb Granny Buttons fame had been waiting hours for us to appear so he could photograph both us and Serenity in convoy for Canal Boat magazine.  But he’d got fed up waiting and gone home (he lives in Willington).  So Andrew, if you are reading this, we are both here, and will be leaving between 9.30 and 10 tomorrow morning if you still want a photo opportunity.  If you feel like saying hello beforehand, we will no doubt be in the Green Dragon for a meal tonight (or one of the other pubs if the GD is not doing food).   You will recognise us from our disreputable appearance, in company with Karen and Ian from Serenity who will not look disreputable at all, I’m sure!!

Monday 15 March 2010

Oh, the shame of it!……

We left Pillings at about 10 o’clock yesterday morning.  The sun was shining and it was very windy, but we were well wrapped up so we didn’t feel the cold too much.  We had soon passed Loughborough on our way to meet up with Karen and Ian on nb Serenity, and had planned to stop somewhere before the hitting the Trent..  At one stage we were being chased, and then passed, by a canoe!  They were going faster than us, so what could we do but slow up a bit more, pull over a bit and let them past – but, oh the shame of it!!

SDC10475 Being chased


And overtaken!

We were so glad to be on the move again we decided to press on as the sun was still out.  The Trent had breaking waves, but the sun was still out, and it was no windier than parts of the Soar had been.  We were soon through Sawley Lock and heading towards Shardlow although we planned to stop above Derwent mouth Lock and then carry on to Shardlow today.  But we were in for a surprise – on texting Serenity to let them know where we were, we discovered that they were also moored there.  They came and helped us through the lock, and we went on board for a welcome cuppa.  So ‘the ‘twins’ are back together again for the summer.  This morning, we worked our first wide lock together, the first of many, I’m sure, considering that we will be doing the Kennet and Avon!  Although we spent a week together last September, all the locks were narrow ones.

After getting Karen sorted with her blog  we travelled a couple of hours up the Trent & Mersey canal, and are now moored above Weston Lock. Will probably move on to Willington tomorrow as we will be in need of the services and some top up shopping by then.

Friday 12 March 2010

Back on board….

SDC10474Sunset over Pillings Lock Marina on Monday evening

We moved back on board last Friday, and spent the weekend washing and polishing the boat in preparation for leaving for our summer cruise down to the Kennett and Avon and Bristol.  We have also turned out all the cupboards and got rid of a lot of stuff that we thought we couldn’t live without, but haven’t needed since we moved on board last June.  We have also had a duvet chucking out session as we bought a new one on Monday – the old winter one wasn’t warm enough. 

We made a quick trip back to Mum’s for a couple of nights as Rog had a follow-up appointment at the hospital.  What a total waste of time – the consultant didn’t seem interested in the fact that his toe is still very painful and still obviously infected, and also in the fact that he now has another sore on the outside of his foot – just shrugged and said that it was probably caused by a small embolus that was loosened when he had the angioplasty.  The toe and the sore will heal in their own good time, he says, within 2-4 months!  So Rog just has to grin and bear it for the moment!

We are now all set to start our journey on Sunday – the marina bill is paid, the tanks full of diesel, and all the washing done!  All that has to be done now is to return the hire car tomorrow, fill the water tank and empty the loo cassettes on Sunday morning and we will be off, meeting up with Karen and Ian on nb Serenity at either Sawley or Shardlow on Monday or Tuesday. 

Can’t wait!!!!

Thursday 4 March 2010

Before and after….

The dinette alterations have now been completed..

pic_6 Before



and after

Although it has visually cut down the size of the ‘living areas’ of the boat , we have actually now got an extra nine inches on the saloon (and you girls out there will know how important those few extra inches are!).  The back of the new bench is removable, and we have a frame which fits onto the end when it is to be made into a bed which brings it back to the original 6ft 6in size, which meant that we didn’t have to have new cushions made.  We have also had the floor between the benches raised a few inches so my feet aren’t dangling in thin air.  And with the bigger table it will be a lot easier to feed 4 people without having to drag extra chairs out of the cupboard (where they are always buried under everything else!)

All things being equal, we are planning to move back onto the boat tomorrow.