About Me

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After thirty years of hiring, I finally bought my own 50ft boat in 2005, which was built in 2001 by Andicraft at Debdale Wharf. I mostly cruise single handed and have no problem with that, although it does take a little longer than with a crew. My mooring is on the Wey Navigation, so I have a choice of routes on the Wey or the Thames.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018. 16

Back Yet Again.

Monday 10th September

Here I am back on board after an angioplasty, which involved inserting two stents into the right cardiac artery, so that should put paid to the angina for some while. After a seamless journey involving four trains, which fortunately all linked up, I started up the towpath and within five minutes, three people greeted me with a wave or hello. It is quite incredible really that this camaraderie exists on the cut and nowhere else and so many boaters remark upon it frequently.

Stronghold was exactly as I left her, all safe and sound and I soon had the gas and power back on, but had to pay a visit to the Co-Op to get something to cook later, via The Old Swan, which is a 16th  century coaching inn; well what a let down: the beer was limited to Banks’s bitter and mild; there was only one small main bar and two other rooms; no food and basic seating, with about six customers.

Tuesday 11th September

A more consistent shopping expedition was now in order to keep me going until I reached Rugby. Unfortunately it was raining fairly heavily and continued until about midday, so I was unable to make an early start unless I got soaked, which I was not prepared to do. There are two outlets of the Co-Op in Atherstone, so I went to the nearest and the smaller of the two, which was of course very limited, but the larger one is not much better. Despite the logo advertising “Good With Food”, it is just not true and I would have fared better in Aldi.

After lunch I did let go, heading for The Anchor again in Hartshill. Surprisingly there were a fair number of boats moored up there, but there always seems to be spaces. I had forgot about Tarmac’s yard opposite, which starts up at 07.00 with a fork lift or similar clanging about and probably loading trucks for delivery.

Wednesday 12th September

I let go for Sutton Stop this morning and arrived in good time to bag a decent mooring just above the water point on the Coventry canal. After a good hot shower, I went to The Greyhound to meet up with Terry and Chris Rigden for a meal in the restaurant. I had previously bought a painting by Chris of Nuneaton and Brighton cruising past their property in Bedworth at the Braunston Show earlier this year and said that I would be passing through at the time. We had a very pleasant meal as always at The Greyhound and I learned more about their boating activities. They also invited me to stop off for a meal when I was  passing next, which I thought was most generous, but it will almost certainly be next year now.

Thursday 13th September

Mostly a day relaxing on board, though I did go foraging for blackberries later. The best of which were to be found along the towpath of the North Oxford. I did eventually pick a pound and a half. I also bumped into John and Myra on Tramper II, who I met initially at Sawley some two years ago. It was they who sold Tramper, their first boat to my mate Colin, thus the initial reason for asking about the name and meeting them.

In the evening I met up with my eldest daughter and fiancé in The Greyhound for the last time this year, but this time it was for drinks only. Another great evening in one of my favourite waterway pubs.

Friday 14th September

Heading off this morning for Newbold moorings, I encountered another boater holding in Papillon and his wife hanging on to her boat. It transpired that Papillon had come adrift at the stern end, so I stopped to lend a hand, which meant driving mooring pins in, because there were no rings. Papillon had been there about six weeks to my knowledge and already had two CRT tickets attached for overstaying the time limit. The stern mooring pin turned out to be a thin tubular steel broom handle, which someone else must have used in emergency, because the steel mooring pin was hanging on the end of the line at the back of the boat and had obviously not been seen. I drove it in tight to the steel piling, hoping that it would not pull out, because the ground was extremely soft at that point and quite unsuitable for mooring there. Whoever moored up originally, quite obviously either did not care or were just ignorant – maybe both. The front door had also been broken into, so it may even have been stolen.

Arriving at Newbold  after about five hours cruising, I moored up and was congratulated by the lady on the hire boat in front about the slick method that I use. There are plenty of rings available here, which does make it easy and I clip on the centre line to a ring, before attaching a tiller string to keep the boat straight which then springs her into the piling. With the boat held in position on tickover and in gear, I can now attach the bow and stern lines and suitable fenders and another spring line from the bow to stop any lengthways movement when other boats pass by.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018. 15

Just Hanging About.

Wednesday 22nd August

It was time to move again, as I had been at Atherstone since Sunday and as I needed to go home again next week, I wanted quite a long time in the town when I was away and I could only moor here for 14 days in total.

I motored up to the top lock where I could wind the boat and water up, which took a considerable time, so I was obviously very low on water. I cruised back south towards Hartshill and The Anchor, which I passed by on the way up, finding plenty of space close to the pub. This place has memories, as it was here some years ago, when I was crewing Nuneaton and Brighton, that I was looking for a leak below the engine header tank. I found it close to the drain plug, so I found a spanner and thought I would tighten it up, only to find that the aluminium tank was corroded around the plug which came away in my hand. We had a meal, then removed the tank, sealed around the hole and covered it almost completely with a baked bean tin, which had been opened up with scissors, wrapped around and tightened with copper wire. We then went to the pub to celebrate a successful repair, which lasted for a few more trips on the pair of boats.

I went in the pub for a pint of Everard’s Tiger and not much had changed, except that the food on the menu is more tempting than I remember.

Thursday 23rd August

This is noisy mooring, because directly opposite is a builders yard, with a lot of trucks in and out and loading or unloading in between, so I think I will move later. There are no other boats moored here either, which is rather strange for a pub mooring in August. Perhaps that is an indication of the popularity of the pub, where there were few customers last night.

Another load of washing was done this afternoon, which took that long, but with the engine running, the batteries are topped up along with the hot water.

Tony Redshaw’s boat came past this morning, with the overpowered 4 cylinder Gardner engine driving the boat fast and he cut the power when he reached my stern, so I was rocked around no end, despite having the lines tight and a spring line out. No bloody consideration for moored boats – selfish bastard! Much later Monarch also came past and there was Sam Noone, who now calls herself Sam Monarch holding little Archie on the gunwale and he is not so little now. They were in their way to Alvecote Historic Boat Gathering, where I would have been had I not had to go home.

Friday 24th August

 A very changeable day for weather with many showers and bright spells. I took a chance between showers and had a walk down to the winding hole, not only to see how far it was, but also on the lookout for Nuneaton and Brighton on their way to Alvecote Historic Boat Rally, which I attended last year on the pair of boats. Shortly after getting back to Stronghold, I spotted them moving at a good pace towards me and got some photos. Howard Williams was steering the motor and Peter Lovatt was on the butty; both greeted me as they passed. The pics went on the Faceache Members Group straight away.

Nuneaton and Brighton passing The Anchor on the way to Alvecote Festival.

I ran the engine to get hot water and charge the batteries for about an hour, before changing the oil and filter. I am so used to doing it now, it is all over in about 30 mins and a job well done, as it is not a thing I relish.

I now had enough hot water for a shower, before I paid another visit to The Anchor, where I got chatting to another group of boaters, sitting close by.

Saturday 25th August

Continued showers in the morning, but I managed to dodge them again and I went down and turned at the winding hole and motored up to just above Bridge 32, where there were a few other boats moored up.

After a light lunch, I took quite a steep walk up the hill into Hartshill via a busy and fast road with no footpath for a while, to sample one of the two pubs. The first was the Stag and Pheasant, where they had Doombar or Doombar on two handpumps, so it was take it or leave it, the former being the best option. On first impression it was a local drinkers pub only, but on further investigation the other bar was an Indian Resturant called Tiffins. There were about six English dishes also on the menu. The main bar was not very inviting, but the Trip Advisor reviews on the food were spectacular.

Thinking about adding another two pubs to my database, I forged on to The Malt House not far away and what a surprise was in store; the place was humming with people eating in the bar and in the restaurant. It seems that I followed two other guys from the previous pub, who greeted me at the bar and told me that the pub had caught fire last year and had only been re-opened for six weeks, which explained the good order of decoration. There were four familiar ales on tap here and obviously good food to be had.

I walked back to the cut along Apple Pie Lane to Bridge 31, which was a far safer route, despite having no footpath, as there was no traffic at all, either way.

Sunday 26th August

The forecasters were spot on with the weather today – rain all day accompanied by a cold wind, so not a day for comfortable boating, nor a day for a ½ mile walk to the pub. Perhaps I should have stayed at The Anchor? It was also nearly cold enough to light the fire, except that meant digging out the chimney and liner from the fore end in the rain.

I was just making some soup, when I felt a sudden jar to the bow end and another boat had tried to pull in too fast and was being held by the centre line alone to try and stop. Not a wise thing to do where other boats are moored close together and there was no apology forthcoming either. It was fortunate that I was not pouring boiling water from the kettle at the time.

The weather is improving tomorrow, which is good, as I have to move back to Atherstone to get the train on Tuesday.

Monday 27th August

Although it was drizzling at 09.00, it had cleared by 10.00, so it was time to make a move and in an hour I was back on the town moorings, but at the bottom end this time. Not only was there good TV reception, but I had a five bar BT wi-fi signal as well, so a good place to stop. I walked up to the locks to dump the trash and refresh the drinking water, before having a shower and I was thinking of strolling up to a pub.

At that point I had a text from Maggie, who was coming up the locks with Mark. Although I took a windlass with me, I was too late as they were just coming in to the bank. We had a good catch up on Alvecote Festival, before Mark was to drive his car back home. We walked down as far as the station  before Maggie and I went in The Kings Head opposite and had more conversation to catch up on. We then went back to our boats for a meal and bed.

This is the last entry for a while until I return.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018. 14

Greyhound Party and not a lot else.

Thursday 16th August

Well, well, would you believe that I have now been back on board for six days and no blog written up. I have to say that they have been pretty uneventful days, so not a lot to write about.

At Rugby Wharf I settled up my mooring fee, which was only £5.00 per night – the cheapest that I have come across so far. Obviously there were very few boats passing in and out of the short arm and they were mostly hire boats, as this is the base for Willow Wren. I motored back to Rugby to shop and paid two heavy trips to Tesco to stock up, before heading north again towards Sutton Stop.

Just short of Ansty, there were moorings on a bend with rings, between Bridges 14 and 15; not the best place to moor on a bend, but there was little choice. The intention was to pay a visit to The Ansty village club, which was well advertised along the towpath, so it had to be open to the public. The main problem here has always been the lack of moorings closer to this place, where there are positively NO MOORING signs all along the embankment where the houses are, so the village discourages visitor mooring and the club is asking for custom – a dichotomy indeed!

It seems that I haven’t missed much in the past, as the club is fairly sterile with few customers in the bar. Food is served at pub prices and there is a varied menu, but nothing out of the ordinary. Two beers were on tap at slightly more than local pub prices, with a third pump being off. Wi-wi was available, along with Sky sports and a full sized snooker table. There were a few smiles at the bar when I asked for the sparkler to be taken off, so they were aware of where I came from. So in retrospect, I will happily pass it by next time.

Being only just past midday, there were ample moorings to be had a Sutton Stop and I settled just before the stop lock on Armco for a few days. Of course the places filled up as the afternoon wore on, until they were all full.

The next day, I was taking a walk up to The Greyhound for a late lunchtime pint, when I spotted nb Curraghmore coming through the lock. Sue and Mike were very surprised to see me, although I had heard that Mouse had made contact a few days before on the Trent and Mersey, when he spotted their home mooring as being on The Wey. It seems that the ‘Towpath Telegraph’ is as active as ever, but now even faster by mobile phone. After they were moored, Sue and Mike appeared in the pub and we had a good catch-up session of news.

The Greyhound is always busy, inside and out.

Friday 17th August

Getting short of supplies again, so I walked up to the corner shop across the cut in the housing estate to see what they had for a meal. Well, it is a good job that I picked up some salad ingredients earlier in Tesco, because all this place had to offer in the way of food was either frozen or in tins and the choice was abysmal. I bought some tinned tuna to supplement the other fish that I had in a salad.

I had a message from Mouse this morning to tell me that he was on his way back from The Caldon and would be in Sutton Stop by Saturday, so I begged the waitress in The Greyhound to increase the table count to five for the evening meal, which she managed to do with a bit of table juggling. I look forward to it.

I caught up with some basic bits that needed to be done, such as running some of Captain Tolleys Creeping Crack Cure around the Houdini hatch, now that it was dry. Strange how the original Silicone sealant fixed the leak from the end of June and now it has started leaking again. Most likely it is to do with expansion and contraction of the glass, considering the long heat wave that we had.

I also did some refuelling from the 40 litre reserve that I bought at Braunston Hysterics. That will improve my cruising time for another 40 hours. I have to say that the inline pump speeds things up considerably compared with siphoning the diesel into the tank.

A pair of working boats passed by this afternoon and I walked up to the stop lock to see how they did the turn. They were motor Harrier and butty Lyra. Harrier being built in 1999 by Gary Gorton, with a 1946 Kelvin J2 engine. However, Lyra was built in 1935 by Yarwoods. https://www.reveriecanaltradingco.co.uk/
I had a brief chat with the crew of three as they went through the lock and learned that my guess about the Kelvin was correct, although I had only seen a few K2’s before. One of the crew commented on Nuneaton and Brighton’s perfect turn at Sutton Stop a week or so before. They also did it perfectly and got a round of applause from the Greyhound gongoozlers. Both cross straps were in place on the turn and the butty steerer was rowing the tiller like crazy.

Saturday 18th August

A lot of the morning was taken up with internet stuff and fortunately I get a good wi-fi signal here from BT broadband in the houses nearby, but for more secure connections, I use a personal wi-fi router.

I went to the pub for one pint of mild and had a text from Mouse to say that they had arrived and were below the water point. I saw him walk over the bridge to the bins and gave him a shout, so next minute he had a pint in his hands too. He had secretly been invited to eat with my daughter later, which was to be a surprise and it certainly was. What a great evening we all had and Toody had even brought a birthday cake for Jim, which was brought to the table at the end of the evening by the waitress.

A great evening in The Greyhound.

Sunday 19th August

Mouse and Karen left rather later than was announced last night, but I was up and waved them goodbye, before it was my turn to leave, with the intention of heading up to Atherstone for the night to do some food shopping, as I was now right out of anything to eat for a meal.

An uneventful trip and passing through Nuneaton was not the best of cruising. I spotted Terry and Chris’s boat Grace, which was obviously moored outside their bungalow, before passing Charity Dock, which is always good for a laugh and a few photos of the mannequins dressed in various ridiculous outfits.

Charity Dock, Bedworth.

No problem finding a mooring at Atherstone in the early afternoon, so I paid a visit to The Angel Alehouse in Church Street, which is North Warwickshire Pub of the Year once again after several years in succession. What an amazing selection of real ales and ciders on handpumps. Being a CAMRA member, there was also a 20p discount off a pint. Recorded music was being played on vinyl on a turntable obviously, which is a most unusual sight nowadays, especially in a pub!

Monday 20th August

A heavy shopping session was in order for today and the only two places to do it were The Co-Operative and Aldi. Although the Co-Op was supposedly a supermarket, it was so disorganised and almost impossible to find some items at all and if you did the choice was abysmal. Had I gone to Aldi, as I found out later, it would have been a far more rewarding experience.

The pub of choice this evening was The New Swan, also in Church Street and although it is a Pubmaster house, all three ales were from Church End Brewery, a favourite in my family. Apparently the pub had recently been refurbished and a family were there to run it.

Tuesday 21st August

Imagine my surprise when I checked the batteries this morning, to see Karen Cook (NBT) moored behind me. Her son James was with her and we had a conversation before they went into town. Then at lunchtime, Andy Belton (NBT) moored in front of me with wife Leslie, so another brief catch up was in order. Andy was previously moored at The Pelican not far from Stronghold, but recently moved house, job and mooring to Nottingham. Also moored close by was a Wey Navigation boat, that I had previously seen at Triggs Lock on The Wey. In all, what a small world it had suddenly become.

A few items were still needed in the store cupboard, or should I say locker? So it was off to Aldi this time, but not before a well needed haircut at Scissor Sisters, a male/female hairdressers in Long Street. As I was now further up the cut, I decided to investigate the train station and a way back along the towpath, which would be a shorter walk than through the town. Being close to The Kings Head, it was an opportunity to see what that was like after many years of closure. It was now refurbished and pleasant inside and out, with a garden and canal side mooring for one boat. Three ales were on and there was a varied menu of food available. The staff were very accommodating, offering to pull another pint before I even asked.

The steerer on this floating allotment cannot see astern and 
has to peer alongside to navigate forwards. Quite a hazardous procedure, surely?

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018.13

Back and Forth

Tuesday 24th July

I had decided that a visit to the Battlefield Line Railway was the order of the day from Market Bosworth, where the terminus was just across the canal, so I let go at 09.30 heading in that direction. I must say that this canal and surrounding countryside is stunningly beautiful and with no locks, that is a bonus.

In two and half hours I reached Bosworth Marina, where there were moorings advertised outside. Strangely enough, Dame du Cane was there too and after I had winded Stronghold, Pat and Sue gave me a hand to moor up behind their boat. We had a walk across the bridge to search out the station and I left them to have a bite to eat back on board. They returned not long after to give me the bad news, which was that there were no trains running for some time due to staff shortages and the possibility of sparks from the loco setting fire to nearby fields, so that was a trip wasted for me, although I decided there and then to stop the night and maybe bus up to the town for a pint later, when It had cooled down a little.

We went on the bus to The Olde Red Lion, where I had been last time, in the centre of Market Bosworth. The beer was Marston’s of course, being a Marston’s house, but the food was home cooked and good.

As we had come on the last bus, we had to walk back, but at least it was all downhill.

Pat and Sue on Dame du Cane were going to stay another night here, but we agreed to meet up again at Sutton Stop on Friday, so they will experience the glory of The Greyhound for the first time.

Wednesday 25th July

Another red hot day was forecast and it has been more or less like this since the beginning of May, so no one can complain that it was a lousy summer. Canals are in trouble in the north and the Huddersfield Narrow is now closed from end to end. I have heard that the Southern Oxford has problems too, so it may be wise to return down the GU.

I let go at 09.30, heading back to The Lime Kilns again and the trip was uneventful although very hot once again. I thought of either stopping at Duck Corner and having a pint in the George and Dragon at Stoke Golding or keep on going to The Lime Kilns; the latter choice was the winner, although I did stop for lunch and to shop at the Bridge 23 Farm Shop, which was rather a waste of time with very little on display as they were about to close.

Continuing on, I arrived at the pub in good time and almost immediately went in to rehydrate, although I did not eat there this time. It is a very noisy mooring at evening rush hour and first thing in the morning, because it is adjacent to the A5 road, but there was ample mooring space above and below the A5 bridge.

I had had problems getting the cold air fan working, so that was taken apart and the spindle was quite stiff, so a little light lubrication was applied to both ends and then it started immediately, which was very welcome in the evening heat. You may remember that I found this 12 volt Road Pro car fan in the Braunston Marina launderette last year, along with the semi-circular table that is in the forward well deck well. Places like this seem to be a clearing house for other peoples’ cast offs, similarly the waste bin compound, where all sorts of treasures are to be had for free.

Thursday 26th July

I was away fairly smartly this morning to get a good mooring at Sutton Stop. All went well and I got to Marston Junction in good time without meeting any boats coming towards me. It was nice and cool at this time in the morning and an ideal time to go boating. I got to the Junction in an hour less than my trip up a couple of days ago. Sure enough, there were loads of empty spaces at Suttons on the Coventry, so I did not need to turn the corner and I picked the closest mooring to the old pump house – pole position for The Greyhound, where I paid a visit straight away.

The afternoon was mostly spent on trying to rehash the horn, using a relay and a separate power source, but it sounded pretty hopeless after a great deal of fiddling about. I think the answer is to either use a motorcycle battery or have the horn at the stern end, where there is less voltage drop.

Friday 27th July

The heat wave continues and I intended to clean up some of Stronghold today, but it has to be in the morning before it gets too hot. The horn was another continuing problem and by chance, I found an electric horn whilst searching a locker for something else, so I tried that out and with some alteration to the adjustment screw, I got it to work OK. It obviously did not require so much current as the 8 amp air horn.

Back to the cleaning business at long last. I had with me a Whale pump that I used in the garden for transferring water from one water butt to another, so I connected that up to a 12volt socket and extended the hose and tried it out. Sure enough it would pump water from the cut to the top of the boat with ease, which cut the cleaning time considerably and saved having to lift water in a bucket. Meanwhile, Pat and Sue were on their way to the pub for an early afternoon drink, so after finishing off the cleaning I joined them.

Back on board, I was tidying up the tools and replacing things on the cabin top, when there was a knock on the boat and I was very surprised to see Vic Wadley standing there with his dog Eric. It appears that he was moored just around the turn and was taking Eric for a walk, when he saw Stronghold. I should explain that Vic became a drinking buddy in The Pelican at Addlestone some long time ago, when he was fitting out his boat to go continuously cruising. That was more than six years ago and we seem to meet up by chance every year somewhere on the cut.

After such a hot job, it was time for a shower and change of clothes to welcome my daughter and fiancée on board and a visit to The Greyhound for a delicious meal in the restaurant and some suitable drinks, which was also very welcome after such a busy day.

Saturday 28th July

This morning was spent answering e-mails and sorting out attachments to be sent to the new editor of The Steerer magazine that I gave up editing a while ago. The internet connection was so annoying when it kept cutting out, or telling me that my e-mail server had gone off line. The BT hotspot was hit and miss too, so how does that work? Sometimes it was there and at others times it had disappeared completely. I discovered by chance that if I used a different USB port, things improved considerably.

Pat and Sue were on their way to the pub for a light lunch and shortly after that Vic knocked to join him at The Greyhound, so after introductions were made, we all sat at the same table and exchanged experiences. I occasionally looked out of the window and saw nb Guilrose about to come through the turn, so went out to surprise Jenny and Mike Moorse, who I last saw at Canalway Cavalcade in May. We had a brief exchange at the Stop Lock, before they went on their way towards Rugby – what a coincidence!

It had begun to rain when we left the pub, which then turned into a thunderstorm and it was the first rain since the beginning of May. By 6pm, the heavy clouds had passed over and the wind dropped to zero, after blowing strongly all day. There is more rain forecast for the next couple of days, which might catch me out on the cruise back to Rugby.

Sunday 29th July

I think it rained all night, but it was much cooler and sleeping was more comfortable. The rain continued throughout the morning and is forecast to carry on until 7pm and then after today it will be sunny intervals, so cruising back to Rugby is looking good.

It was a lazy morning mostly spent reading blogs and writing this one. I was pleased to see that Maffi has started blogging again and rightly has a go at speeding boaters and the damage they cause to banks and wildlife. It really annoys me too when they are so inconsiderate towards other moored boaters and threaten to pull out mooring pins with their speed. If you ask them to slow down a bit, you are often told to “get a life”, so they are also ignorant as well as selfish.

Monday 30th July

I got to Newbold and had to ask a man on a brand new boat if he would mind moving up to the next ring, so that I could get in, which he and his wife obliged and Stronghold fitted in with about three feet to spare. The guy then asked if that was standard practice to moor on the same ring, to which I replied that it was like parking in the street with room for someone else to park as well. From that I recognised that he was new to boating, which he owned up to and he had only had his boat for a week, although he had hired boats previously. When I walked up to The Barley Mow, his wife was there having a drink, so I joined her and he turned up later.

Tuesday 31st July

It was time to move again and before going home, I had enquired about a mooring in Rugby Wharf, which is one of Brindley’s original arms now, although it was originally a part of the North Oxford Canal, before Telford dug out all the straight connections. Mooring was no problem here and I got a bank side position, but with only one ring to tie up to, so had to use a stake as well.

I had a walk to suss out the bus stops and had a pint in the Steam Turbine, a big Hungry Horse pub and you know what I think of them! Sure enough the Abbott ale was off as soon as the barman pulled the handle, so I had to settle for something else.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

summer Jaunt 2018. 12

A Trip up the Ashby and making new friends.

Wednesday 18th July

Well folks, I got back yesterday, which was a week longer than I anticipated. Two friends of mine had reported that Stronghold was securely moored up and safe, which was some relief as I had never left her on the towpath before. I was forced by the heat to have a pint in The Bell and Barge, a Harvester house. Great choice of beers with 3 handpumps, Doombar, Doombar or Doombar!, good beer, but what choice! That indicates what type of pub it is.

Sure enough Stronghold was OK, although a thick layer of dust and cobwebs were abundant. It was good to be back on board and I eventually stocked up in Tesco. Shortly after unpacking the shopping, I noticed a familiar boat moored nearby, so I walked down to have a chat with Jane and David Brixey on nb Rowan. They were most surprised to see me and we chatted for about an hour, just catching up on each others news. They moved off later to tackle the Leicester Ring and I took off for Newbold, where there was a decent pub.

The moorings were all occupied and I asked a few if they were about to move, including Noddy boats. There were immense gaps between moored boats and if 2 or 3 had moored sensibly, I could easily have got in. After passing the water point, I moored just ahead of Bix, who had long overstayed his welcome.
Just after mooring up, a hire boat passed by and through the tunnel – this was one of the boats that I previously had asked if they were moving soon. So now I had the task of untying and reversing a fair way back, before doing it all again.

I should mention that nb Bix was now in a very poor state indeed, which is so disappointing, because she was originally owned by Iris Bryce and her husband many years ago. In my first days of hiring boats, I read many of Iris’s books an cruising the waterways and was even invited aboard, when we were on our first ever cruise. I still have the little cookbook that she also wrote. If Iris is still alive, she would recoil in horror at the present condition of Bix.

The sad state of Bix at Newbold.

Thursday 19th July.

I let go at 11am and set off for Sutton Stop, which took 5 hours from Newbold. Another very hot day, but the slight breeze created by moving was of some comfort.

At the north end of All Oak Wood, I spotted Derwent 6 moored up and gave them a toot on my feeble horn, but either no one heard or they thought it was for someone else, because no one appeared. The strange thing is that I was reading their blog only a couple of hours earlier.

This was an incident free trip, with a sincere lack of watering holes on the way. The only respite would be at Ansty Village Club, but the only moorings to be had there were mostly for permit holders only and very few visitor moorings. There are plenty of No Mooring signs on the towpath, so it is not a village that encourages visitors to their club.

A little further on there is The Rose Inn, with a garden adjacent to the cut, but they don’t provide moorings either and the bridge is some way away. Having been there once for a meal, it is more restaurant than pub.

Eventually I reached Sutton Stop and the approach was wall to wall boats and no spaces, so around the turn I went to investigate the Coventry Canal moorings, where I found a convenient spot close to the water point. A dire visit was needed to The Greyhound after a light lunch and I at last could rehydrate on a pint of mild or two, which is much more available in the Midlands than ‘daan saarf’.

I could pick up a very strong wi-fi signal here and it was only when in Rugby that I discovered that the digital TV aerial (Moonraker) had to be redirected to pick up a horizontally polarised TV signal, so that was good too. To determine which is which, have a look at local TV aerials. Horizontal bars indicate a horizontal polarity and vertical bars indicate vertical polarity. Obvious really, but the instructions do not mention this basic fact.

Digital aerial in horizontal polarized position.

Friday 20th July

Catching up on e-mails and writing the blog took up most of the morning – where does the time go? I was still online at 3pm – give it a rest! So I went into the Greyhound for some more mild and it was very full at that time. The favourite pastime here is gongoozling boats coming around the turn and one 60ft hire boat surpassed all others by having to make three attempts at it. There is no doubt that experience counts here; the secret being to turn up the wick to full speed as you push the tiller far over.

Although I intended to do some washing and fix up the better horn, neither jobs were done. The boat is still covered in towpath dust and a light shower made it look even worse.

Saturday 21st July.

I was surprised to see nb Dame du Cane pass by this morning from the Wey Navigation and gave them a welcome smile and comment. They are also going up The Ashby Canal, so we will probably meet up there.
After watering up on a very slow tap, I set off about 10.30 and once again had to smile at the mannequins on parade at Charity Dock.

After an hour of cruising, I turned at Marston Junction onto the Ashby, having been up it once before on Stronghold. I reached the outskirts of Hinckley after 3hours from the junction and it was time to stop for some lunch and there were good moorings opposite The Lime Kilns pub, to which I paid a visit after a snack. Well what an excellent pub this is; there were five ales on tap from different breweries and the food looked to be very reasonably priced and all home cooked. In fact it was so tempting that I ate there in the evening and had  lamb in blueberry gravy with vegetables, which was superb. I shall stop here in the way back, without a doubt.

Sunday 22nd July

I tackled the rocker box gasket this morning, having decided to stay here awhile and possibly have a pint with the couple on Dame du Cane at some point. The rocker box was not easy to get off, as there was a Jubilee clip in the way, which had to be loosened and turned 180 degrees first. When it was removed, one of the washers dropped beneath the engine, which delayed things for a while, but eventually it was completed with some adjustment to the retaining strips which were not wide enough for the gasket initially.

During this time Pat and Sue from Dame du Cane came along the towpath for a chat and we agreed to meet in the Lime Kilns for a pint after lunch, which consumed most of the afternoon, but how pleasant it was to have a conversation with fellow boaters.

Eventually, the washing was done and I was surprised that this little twin tub could cope with washing a Guernsey sweater and spin it very adequately.

Monday 23rd July

I was up reasonably early and set off at 09.30 after a light breakfast. It was going to be a very hot day at 30deg C in the shade and after one and half hours I reached what is known as Duck Corner, just north of Stoke Golding, where there are good moorings on the off side and within easy reach of the village along a footpath across the adjacent field.

Before I walked up to the village, I researched opening times for the George and Dragon, the tap house for Church End Brewery and an excellent pub, where I have been a few time before. Unfortunately, it closes on Monday, but there were another two not far away, so surely they couldn’t all be closed. They were, but I was not to find out until I actually got there, so I retraced my steps in the heat and returned to the boat for a tinny, with the cooling fan at full blast. The alternative was the Dog and Hedgehog in nearby Dadlington, which I knew was open from midday, but by that time it was too late and anyway, it was siesta time.

After a very welcome warm shower, I had a light salad and took a walk up to the Dog and Hedgehog, which I have to say was a really pleasant pub with 3 ales on tap and a fair selection of restaurant food. The view from the car park of the surrounding countryside was magnificent.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018.11

Getting Nowhere Slowly

Monday 25th June

I planned an easy day ahead. It was going to be another hot one from the outset. I wrote up the blog in the morning and finally got it published – 15 days since the last one! Wi-fi in Braunston has improved no end for me here with a very strong BT signal. Previously it was Marina wi-fi only and that was a non starter for most people outside the marina.

Later I went up to the village to get some beer tokens (£20 notes) at the Post Office and some bread. Passing the hairdressers, I decided that I had better get a trim before I went home looking like Tarzan, then being such a hot day, it would be good sense to pay The Plough a visit, where it was nice and cool inside.

In the afternoon I stripped the bed and washed all the bed linen in the launderette, because this is probably my last chance for quite a while and it is too much to go in the twin tub. All in all, it took four hours out of the afternoon! Call this a quiet day?

Tuesday 26th June

After breakfast, I walked around to the marina office to see if they could pressure spray the inside of my waste holding tank, as the capacity had diminished from 10 weeks to 3 weeks over the years, which is a vast difference. I though initially that Pyrford Marina pump out was only working at half capacity, but now I realise it is the tank that is the culprit. Despite another marina moorer telling me that they could pressure spray it, Graham said that it was not possible and the only way was to fill the tank with water and roll the boat about, which is going to be a long drawn out process and involve a great deal of pumping out. There is no inspection hatch on the tank, so it really is down to some chemical or biological method. I think a call to LeeSan might be in order as the next step. Another problem is that I agreed to have a large dose of Elsan Blue added to the tank at Clifton Cruisers, where I had the last pump out – a big mistake I think, as that all has to go before I can use any sort of biological product again.

It was time to move on up the cut, so I said goodbye to the Cat Herders that were left and motored up the North Oxford as far as Bridge 85 to a nice quiet spot behind nbTawny Owl, belonging to Richard Powell of Primrose Engineering, who was demonstrating at the Braunston Show. From that point on I did not intend doing a thing, so I didn’t, though I did consider walking across the fields to The Rose Inn at Willoughby, but I didn’t do that either.

Wednesday 27th June

The day began very overcast, but it was forecast to improve later and by 11 am the sun had appeared and eventually it was wall to wall sunshine with a welcoming breeze to keep the temperature down.

After the spending the whole morning online answering e-mails and researching various things, I decided to walk to The Rose Inn, however things were not to be and I got lost across the fields. It was only at that point that I decided Google maps was the way to go, but by then it was getting too late as the pub closed at 3pm, so I wound my weary way up the road back to the boat, which was easier than taking the short cut, which was all long grass.

Time to move on a little further tomorrow.

Through the side hatch.

Thursday 28th June

When the canal was clear of traffic, I let go and as soon as I was adrift three boats came from one direction and one from the other, so all of a sudden it was like Piccadilly Circus. Without a line to the bank, things were difficult to control, although I did not hit anyone. Eventually I got away towards Hillmorton and the dreaded Old Royal Oak!

There were two boats that had been there a long time. I know because I asked some punters sitting outside. One of them was a glass fibre cruiser loosely tied up; some people have either no idea, or they just don’t care. It was a difficult place to moor alongside the outhouse, with a high bank at one end and no rings, so I had to rely on mooring pins, which I drove in alongside the wall. At the same time other boats were passing by, some at speed and had no consideration for what I was trying to do, which made it even more difficult. I did wonder if the mooring pins would hold, but after half an hour of other boats passing, it seemed to hold OK.

After a spot of lunch, I went in the pub and ordered a pint, which was crystal clear for a change. I could also use their wi-fi to watch the You Tube videos of the Braunston show, but none of them showed me hitting the point, which is most unusual as one of the cameramen is normally stationed there. Maybe I scared him away with my actions. A different pint was needed to rehydrate and that was clear too, which is so unusual. I returned to Stronghold, which was still securely hanging on the to the pins. I trimmed the nettles with the garden shears (a must on board a boat), which made it so much easier to get along the outside.

Later I was i need of more lubrication and returned to find that England were playing Belguim in Russia, so that was a must. At the end after another pint, I returned to cook the calves liver – delicious!

Friday 29th June

I let go about midday and my mooring place was in demand by two canooists and a Noddy boat, so I do not know who won. Once again the leisure batteries were not getting sufficient charge, so I moored up just south of Hillmorton Locks to try and sort out the problem. Despite wriggling all the relevant wires about, there seemed to be no change, so I started the generator and ran on that for some considerable time, before reverting to the engine. By now the voltage had risen to 14volts, which seemed to be the limit of the alternator. I think there is a device that can boost this, so further investigation ir required,

In the meantime, I partook of a bit more washing in my new machine, so that took a while, but so much easier than by hand.

Saturday 30th June

I let go about 11am and soon arrived at the locks, but there were tow boats waiting and nowhere for me to moor, so I attempted to hold station in the middle, but what with the north wind from one side and the back pumping outfall on the other, I was on a losing wicket. At one point I was between the two waiting boats and one guy thought I was trying to jump the gun and said so vehemently. I spoke to him when he got in the lock and he apologised, not understanding my position.

The bottom lock had a volunteer on, so that was a great help. The wild orchids are now in full bloom pn the lock island and the lockies are doing all in their power to keep the mowing grunts away that cut them all down last year. As I passed my intended moorings there were no boats there, so I changed plans and decided to stay on the long term moorings in Rugby, where there are plenty of rings and usually some space. I filled up with water first and emptied the rubbish in the car park container, which was about to   overflow.

I watched a Girl Guide boat come around the bend heading for a moored boat; the steerer altered course at the last minute, but by that time there was nowhere for the stern to go, except into another moored boat, the owner of which went ape on the towpath, shouting and swearing at them as they moored up. She also took a photograph, which I found out later she was about to put on Face Ache. Later I walked down to commiserate with her and to ask if these were 14 day moorings; she was very animated over the whole thing and I reckoned that she was either drunk or stoned. While we were talking I noticed the cannabis plants growing on the cabin top in full view for all to see, so the answer was obvious.

Sunday 1st July

I planned to spend an easy day, with a quick visit to Tesco, but I spent most of the morning down the engine ‘ole again looking for clues on the low charge rate, but nothing was evident and I reverted to the generator to get the battery voltage up to nearly 14 volts. Each alternator is only pushing out 14.2, so there is no possibility of getting much above that voltage.

I get no watchable TV here either, so considerable time was spent retuning this to different transmitters – all a waste of time.

It was another scorching day and surprisingly I moved the boat from the shade of a big tree into the sunshine when an opportunity occurred; this was so that the solar panel would get all day sun when I was away from the boat.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018.10

Braunston Historic Boat Rally and other things.

Tuesday 12th June

The village butcher had promised that some calves liver would be in today, so it was time for another shopping trip. Sure enough they did have it in and I bought enough for a meal, which turned out to be enough for two meals. I cooked it in the frying pan as normal, before removing it and deglazing with cider vinegar and then adding the double cream to make the sauce. Along with new Liecestershire potatoes, it was the most succulent and best ever liver that I have tasted and I have cooked it many, many times from various sources.

The Wheatsheaf was closed, so I returned via All Saints  church and churchyard. There were very few obvious grave stones in the area around the church, but there was a separate graveyard across the road at the back of the church, where there were many more. I was looking in particular for graves of old boaters, but all I could find were those of the Nurser family, of which there were many going back several generation. Upon thinking about it, probably the boaters’ families were too poor to buy headstones.

Two of the Nurser graves in All Saints churchyard.

I was not going anywhere today, so I was at leisure to talk without hinderance to anyone and everyone. When I returned from the shopping trip, there was an American guy talking to my neighbour and he was there for a good hour after I returned; I reckoned he could talk for America. Even his dog was bored by the look of him! Another gent stopped to admire my water cans and knew several of the boaters from the past, as well as Kathryn Dodington.

Wednesday 13th June

It had been a windy night and the cabin top was covered in debris from the trees. It was time to move again, as I had some serious shopping to do in Tesco preferably and I had also arranged another appointment with the chiropractor for Saturday. Although still very windy, it was a good cruise up to The Olde Oak at Hillmorton, where a Noddy boat just beat me to a decent mooring outside the pub. I had no option but to moor beyond the bridge for a quick pint of cloudy ale. This time it was Doombar served up cloudy, but it was drinkable this time. I really must complain to Greedy King about this place. I did complain to Fullers about the lack of refund at The Grove Lock and they were sympathetic and promised  said refund of £15. Once I had an email in reply, I could send an attachment of the card receipt, which was proof and something that they could use in the finance department. I received the money about a two weeks after complaining to the brewery.

Deciding that this was a noisy  place to stay the night, I moved on to the top of Hillmorton Locks, where there was plenty of room to moor up. This time I BBQed one of the butterfly lamb chops, which was delicious with the last of those new potatoes.

Thursday 14th June

Time to move on again to Rugby, but there was a problem – no moorings available! Most unusual here, as people usually stop to shop and travel on, or they stay on the 14 day moorings and go home, or wherever. Once past there, there was no turning back, so I carried on to Newbold, where there were numerous empty spaces.

Opposite the boat was a moorhen on the nest with two chicks just hatched out. She eventually flew up onto the cabin top and was strutting around looking for food. Later I fed her some sweet corn, which she took one at a time to feed her chicks.

At midnight, there was a bumping and crashing on board, which woke me up. Looking out of the rear doors, I could see the air horn lying on the deck and reckoned it had been dislodged off the steps by the cheeky moorhen in the dark.

Cheeky moorhen looking for food.

Friday 15th June

Travelling through the Newbold Tunnel, I reckoned on winding at Falls Bridge, where one of Brindley’s old arms came out to avoid the tunnel when the canal was first built. When I got there, another boat was about to pull off a mooring, so I indicated left and instead of waiting for me to turn into the bridge ‘ole, he pulled out and came towards me. He passed on my right hand side, which meant that I had to reverse under the bridge and possibly into shallow water. Another bird brained boater with no patience! It was a difficult manoeuvre and I just grazed the tiller under the sloping side of the bridge, but I did eventually get round.

Once again, most if not all the moorings at Rugby were occupied, but I spotted one just short of the water point on the offside and tied up. It was a very sunny day and the boat was in full sunshine for most of the morning and afternoon.

After all these years boating, I have finally found the easy way to shop. Take the wheeled trolley, which is lightweight and folding, in a knapsack to the supermarket. Then load the knapsack with the shopping and strap it all on the trolley to wheel back to the boat – simples! Why had I not thought of this before? So I spent the afternoon doing two trips to Tesco and B&M in between. I did not realise just how cheap the food is in B&M, some of it being branded goods too.

I had another appointment with the chiropractor tomorrow, so it was wise to move as close as possible just south of Clifton Cruisers, where there were ample moorings.

Saturday 16th June

I was kept awake in the early hours by bubbling from the toilet and upon lifting the lid it was filled up again, so for the first time the Porta Potti was brought into use. Normally the pump out loo will last for about three months, but the period between pump outs has been reducing over the last couple of years and there is obviously a build up of solids that are not dissolved and getting pumped out. The only place to go was Clifton Cruisers, but that was about 500 yds astern of me and I had two choices – reverse back under a bridge ‘ole, or go the winding hole at Hillmorton. The latter being the easiest and probably the safest, so that was the way to go. I mentioned the problem to the guy at the yard, who recommended using a high dose of Elsan Blue and filled my container with it for nothing. The cost of the pump out was £15, which makes Pyrford Marina seem cheap at £10. On the other hand, Calcutt Marina is £20, which is even more than Braunston Marina, where you would expect it to be top price.

After a shower and breakfast back on the same mooring, I walked up the hill to the practice. It was a far shorter experience this time, with no forms to be filled in, so consequently it was not so expensive. It was also not so effective as the initial treatment.

It was a ‘do nothing’ type of day from then on, so not much to report, except for the usual batch of speeding boaters. Lines were tightened after a few passed by.

Sunday 17th June

I left Clifton to head back towards Braunston and after locking through Hillmorton flight of three locks, I pulled in at The Old Royal Oak and had a pint of clear beer for a change, but the wi-fi was still out of order. Cruising on, I found a quiet spot just south of Bridge 78 with two other boats, where there was Armco to moor up to, because most of the bank was sloping stone slabs similar to the Shroppie Shelf. It was a windy night and the aerial was creaking all night, but I slept through it with no problem.

Monday 18th June

The other two boats pulled away early and after a shower and breakfast, I did the same, heading for Braunston which was about 30 mins away. If I got there too early, it was unlikely there would be spaces, so I had to time it right. Anywhere between 11am and 2pm would be about right.

As I approached Braunston Turn, I took the opportunity to dump some rubbish and pop into Midland Swindlers to get some Elsan Blue, which was on special offer. Whilst in there, I met up with Mike Askin, who told me he had bought a butty boat, which was having work done at Glascote and due for collection. He had a girl in tow, which may well explain the reason why. She probably wanted space of her own instead of being cramped up in the motor, but I am only surmising that.

In the services enclosure, there was a twin tub washing machine between the bins, which I inspected carefully. There had been a notice taped to it, which had been torn off, although there was one word left in the corner with the word “working” just visible. The thought had crossed my mind recently about buying one of these, but I was concerned about how much room it would take up on board, however a free one was different and if I decided it was not for me or not working, I could then pass it on to another boater by the same means. I lifted it on board quite easily as it was all plastic casing and motored off to find a mooring.

A free washing machine that works.

There were abundant spaces available and I motored down to the marina entrance and was greeted by John and Graham from nb Joseph, moored as always just inside the marina. To familiarise myself as to any changes, I went through the marina and returned under the ladder bridge to a mooring opposite the Boathouse pub, where not, long after John and Graham came along the towpath fixing mooring restriction notices on the way. We had a bit of catching up to do, even though I had seen them both at Cannie Cavalcade. After they returned to base, Chris and Linda came alongside on nb Mars and more gossip ensued between us, until they could move onto a recently vacated mooring ahead of me.

Later in the afternoon I ran the engine and gave the washing machine a dry run. All seemed to be in order, so I shifted it into the bathroom and filled it with water and dirty washing, spending the next two hours slaving over a hot tub. As expected, it could only cope with small amounts at a time and despite being Mickey Mouse, it saved me a great deal of back breaking work over the sink or at a convenient water point.

About this time Gary and Denise appeared and their boat was moored very close to the turn for comfort, but a boat behind them had room to move back, but no one was on board and he did not want to move it. Jack Reay was with me at the time and suggested that we move it in an official capacity and the owner could blame it on The Cat Herders instead of Gary. All was accomplished with the assistance of another boater and I don't suppose the owner even noticed when he returned.

Tuesday 19th June

Most of the day was spent sorting out and drying washing and all the other myriad little jobs necessary on a boat. Thinking about couples who go boating, there are always two of them to get these things done, but being a solo boater, one person has to cope with all aspects of housework as well as navigating, so is it any wonder that it is time consuming. Another consideration it that whilst travelling, only one person needs to steer while the other can catch up on chores inside the cabin.

Later in the afternoon I walked along the towpath to HQ and had a chat with John and Graham. In passing it was mentioned that Tim Coghlan, owner of Braunston Marina, was giving a talk about the life of David Blagrove in the village hall at 7.30pm. In his later years I got to know David reasonably well and had been boating with him on one occasion, so it was something that really interested me.

I had a fairly swift meal and walked up to the village hall, which I always thought was the village school. It was definitely worth the visit, as not only is Tim a very eloquent speaker, but the talk was interspersed with slides, videos and live music from two guys who played melodians and sung David’s songs, to which we all joined in. It was a totally absorbing experience and I am so pleased that I went along. I discovered that it was not universally advertised as it was intended for the local history society, but it was well attended none the less.

Before returning to the boat, John and I went into The Plough for a pint and I was greeted by a shout of “Hi Ray.” There in the corner were the crew of the NBT – Helen, Charlotte and Howard, having had a meal and drinks served up to them. We were all so pleased to see each other and I met Howard Williams for the first time, who is the newly appointed Captain on this trip. There was a great deal of banter and boating tales over the next hour as can be imagined.

Wednesday 20th June

Although the day began with bright sunshine, it soon clouded over and was somewhat chilly in the wind. I typed up the events of the last 24hrs and then took the bus into Daventry to get some essential items, which are just not available here in the village. Getting the bus from Braunston was no problem, but it seems that I misread the timetable for the return trip and had a long wait at the bus station.

There was little going on for us to do today anyway, so we are just awaiting the arrival of the historic boats, although a few appeared later in the day.

I walked up to the village later and bought some more calves liver, which is the best that I have ever tasted and I have eaten quite a considerable amount in my time.

Thursday 21st June

It was much the same as yesterday, but more boats were turning up. I was asked to move Stronghold further back towards Bridge 91, where I was closer to Jack Reay on nb Cumberland. It was also closer to the parade team HQ, so less distance to walk.

Once again the parade team spent most of the time just chatting at HQ and the day went slowly. Hopefully things will hot up tomorrow.

Friday 22nd June.

From the briefing at 09.00 now things got busy. Jack and I were asked to move two boats in the marina that were up for sale. No problem with the first one, but the second had a pram hood covering the stern and that had to be partly removed before we could even begin. It convinced me that this is not the thing to have on a narrow boat.

The historic boats were also repositioned and I was asked to move Nuneaton and Brighton to a new mooring through Butcher’s Bridge. Nick Hill was consulted as to whether the pair would pass through the bridge breasted and he said that he had tried some years previously and the answer was no, so they had to be singled out on cross straps. By this time Howard Williams was on board, unbeknown to me, so he was able to carry out the manoeuvre with me and Graham steered the butty for the first time in a few years.

It was a tiring day, so Jack and I relaxed at the Boathouse after his suggestion of motoring across the cut to an empty mooring outside the pub, on Stronghold.

Saturday 23rd June

Quite a stressful day this was to be. To begin Tim West and Pru Scales were on Nuneaton and Brighton respectively to follow Nutfield and Raymond through the marina with David Suchet opening the event. I only found out at the last minute what the route was to be. Setting off from below the marina entrance and picking up the butty, we progressed to the entrance, but it was a tight 130 degree turn, which was impossible to get around in one go, as I found out as I hit the bow on the point between the arm and marina in front of several hundred spectators. The pair were now jack knifed and I had to reverse to correct that, after which it went well with Tim steering the straight course through the marina. I took the pair under Ladder Bridge, keeping well to the left hand side and  managed to get round in one go, except for the pair of boats breasted up immediately beyond the turn, where the butty rubbed against their stern fenders. Tim and Pru were dropped off back at our mooring and we tied up ready for the next parade at 2pm. In the meantime a beer was urgently required.

Entering the marina at the opening of the show.

About to single out on the afternoon parade.

Although we were due to go out again at 2pm, Graham got a phone call from the marina at that time and I was requested to go to the office for a presentation of a cheque for £1,000 contribution to NBT from the marina by David Suchet. After considerable waiting in the office, they were ready to do the business and we all assembled at the marina point, which I had struck shortly before. After the handover, we all went our own ways, mine being back to the pair, where I was due to mentor Howard on the parade route.

All went well and we winded at Braunston Turn with the help of a stern line from the butty, which made it so much easier and quicker. We even got a round of applause from spectators on the bridge. The return to the marina was very slow as is usual going against the stream of boats coming the other way. At the entrance the butty pushed the stern of the motor round too far and some correction had to be applied. There was no bowman on this occasion, so it all had to be done with the engine. Through the marina and out through Ladder Bridge, which went well with very little shafting and so back to the mooring, where Howard, Stephanie and I analysed the trip, discussing how it could be improved next time.

I was delighted to meet up with Dave Moore on the towpath and I bought him a beer and put the world to rights. He has sold his boat as he just wasn’t using it enough. He also offered to drive out to meet me on the Stourbridge Arm, when I got there and bring his paint box to show me a few tips for painting roses and castles, which is something I would very much appreciate. How generous of him!

I met up with Karen Cook in the beer tent and we talked about events and NBT related things with Ben, her partner. Later I returned to my boat for a rest before changing to go up to The Admiral Nelson for a pre-booked meal with Jack and Jaqui, which was very enjoyable. It is a long way to trek after such a busy day and we were all flagging on the return, although Jack decided to stop off to listen to the music. Personally, I went straight to bed.

Sunday 24th June

It was to be another very hot day and wearing boaters’ Sunday best was not at all the dress for the occasion, with corduroy trousers and a waistcoat, but today there was to be filming for the marina and Tim Coghlan was keen for me to dress up.

At 11 am the boats left the mooring breasted as far as the Stop House, where Tim and Pru, Tim Coghlan and various other guests boarded, along with the camera man with a very large Panasonic video camera. I thought the era of these enormous cameras was long gone, but it seems not so. It was Howard now who steered having had the practice yesterday and we singled out to tow on cross straps. Of necessity it was slow going and the gear rod was mostly the only bit of engine control needed. We winded at the turn, with Stephanie doing a fine job of steering the butty and then slowly returned to the Stop House to drop off the guests, where we had to breast up. Howard had more confidence in Tim’s steering than I did, but then it was mostly a straight run. We singled out again to pass through the marina back to our mooring and that was the end of the show for us.

The parade was now virtually finished, so I had done very little in the way of marshalling and appeared to be here under false pretences. Before I went off to slake my thirst, Graham informed me that Ryan Dimmock was to get the prize for Best Boat of the Show and that I was to be there to add a bit of colour in the photo of the prize giving. I was completely taken in, because after Ryan was presented with the water can, I was called upon to receive Best Steerer in the Show, much to my utter surprise. It was not a bottle of champagne, but a bottle of beer and only 3.9 ABV at that! Only joking, because it was a great accolade by Graham’s Cat Herders, who awarded it. On the other hand, it could have been a booby prize for striking the point in the marina earlier.

I was mooching around in the artists’ tent earlier and spotted a painting of Nuneaton and Brighton by Christine Rigden. I could see that Barry was sitting on the cabin top, but was unable to see who was steering. I met Mr and Mrs Mouse later and he said that I was steering in the picture, so I made it my business to go and buy it later. Although that was the only picture that Christine sold during the show, she did sell some cards. That must be very disappointing to have spent a whole weekend in a hot marquee and no one made a purchase, except me.

Christine's painting of the pair at Bedworth.

Later Linda served up her delicious Pasta and Pimms and we all wound down at the end of the day until it was time for bed. An extremely tiring day for me; not physically, although there was quite a bit of walking to do, but stressful in an attempt to get it right and not make more of a cock up than I already had done. I am sure it will make for good YouTube footage when it is shown.

The end of a very busy weekend.