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.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Summer Cruise 21

Monday 19th June
I let go at 07.45 and getting well away from the boat behind me before starting the engine. I intended to get to Crick after about 5 hours, but it took six and a half. The day was red hot, with temperatures inside the boat above 30°C. I was stripped down to a pair of shorts and sandals and would really have liked to jump into the water.
At the approach to Husbands Bosworth Tunnel, I could see the white light from another boat inside, but could not tell which way it was heading, so I waited a while, but as it never seemed to move I headed in to the tunnel. When I got there they were moving so slowly towards me, I asked if they were OK – they were, but my auxiliary light crunched against the wall and then went out, so I thought it was smashed. Steering in the tunnel with just a headlight is not my bag as I like to be able to see the wall, which gives me more perspective and better orientation. However, on exiting the tunnel I checked the light and all was OK. It had gone out because the switch hit something and switched itself off. Nevertheless something was loose inside, so it had the full strip strip down later.
I moored up at Crick after six and a half hours from Foxton, which was a bit longer than I thought. This time I was in the shade, nearer to the tunnel. Shopping was on the list in the village, but rehydration was necessary beforehand in The Wheatsheaf – shopping in the Co-Op before more rehydration in the same pub.
Tuesday 20th June
At 07.30 I reversed onto the water point and filled the fresh water container and emptied the rubbish, before heading into Crick Tunnel. The condensed mist inside was like steering through fog and there was no point of reference except for the wall, so I zig-zagged through, overcorrecting the steering every so often. Not until 200yds from the south portal could I see the exit, which was weird and I expected to see Kit Crewbucket, the ghost of Crick Tunnel any minute.
Forty five minutes later I arrived at Watford Top Lock, but there were three boats on their way up, so I had about 45 mins to wait, which turned into an hour. Making the most of my time, I got onto the water point and filled the tank, made coffee, wrote up some of this and assisted two boats through the top lock and had a chat with the lockies. I was let through after the Cheese Boat, while there were now more than seven boats waiting at the top and three at the bottom – busy, busy!
Turning towards Braunston at Norton Junction, there were no boats moving, so no collisions. Through Braunston Tunnel at a good speed with no oncoming boats. This time I clamped the auxiliary light to the cabin top, which was inside the profile of the boat, so could suffer no damage and left one hand free. I wonder why I never did this before.

The simple solution!
On arrival at Braunston Top Lock, I waited for the boat following me through the tunnel. When it failed to appear after ten mins, I let myself through, only to see it approaching a few minutes later, but waited in the next lock for them. The wife was steering, but only because she had hurt her neck and could not do the locks. This is a common mistake in partnerships, because if the husband has an accident, the wife is too timid to take over steering of the boat. They need to take equal turns in doing locks and steering, so that each understands the others part. Very often the husband dominates the wife and refuses to let her steer because she makes a hash of it, but then she refuses to steer because the husband criticises her steering, so there is fault on both parts. Anyway, we got through all the locks in one piece, despite his shouting at her.

Pulling up alongside nb Egypt, I was greeted by John Boswell and the rest of the Cat Herders under the awning alongside nb Joseph, which has a new engine at last. We had a good old chat and eventually Graham Scothern turned up and I was greeted like a long lost friend. After an hour, I moved up opposite the Marston’s pub and got a good mooring there, as moorings are suspended from tomorrow until well after the event.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Summer Cruise 20

Friday 16th June.

Whilst waiting for the Foxton Festival to open tomorrow, I had time on my hands, so I decided to make an amendment to the water cock. Keeping it closed during engine warm up is the usual practice, but when the temp gets over 90°C, I have to lift up the deck the deck and knock the lever to open it further. Obviously this is not an efficient way of doing things when on the move, so I attached a length of string to the lever and brought it up above the deck and attached a large washer to pull on. This made opening the water cock so much easier and I could do it by degrees. A pencilled scale on the deck would make it measurable between fully closed and fully open. All I need to do now is to try it out on the move. As had been said many times, simple ideas are very often the best.

The boat moored in front of me had their family arrive and this is the morning after.
One of them even slept on the floor!

Walking down towards the locks with the laptop, I could hear melodeon music and sure enough Cath Fincher was playing on the towpath, while Alan was changing the engine oil. I stopped and had a very interesting chat as I quizzed her about her melodeon and how she learned to play. I also told her and Alan about reading up on his calorifier problem on CWDF and how it had given me ideas about solving my problem.

I went into Bridge 61 and tried to get on the internet, but no joy there. I then went into the Foxton Locks Inn, but still could not connect, although there were two BT hotspots as well as the pub’s own wi-fi. There is a problem with this PC making connections without the wi-fi aerial, which is strange, even though I rarely use it without now. Finally I had to resort to posting over my personal wi-fi on board, which is akin to watching paint dry here in this wilderness.

Saturday 17th June

I was awake really early, the sun was up and the sky was wall to wall blue, so it was forecast to be a hot day, but there is hotter to come in the next couple of days. I ran the engine about nine o’clock and the water temp was easily controlled with the string. I did research in line water thermostats, but at £88 each for an experiment that may not work, I will not bother.

Later in the morning I had a walk around the festival site. There were the usual bric-a-brack stalls, CRT volunteers, lots of dog and cat stalls selling animal treats, clothing stalls, mostly for women and a waistcoat stall selling the obvious hand made waistcoats in all sorts of differing materials – now this was something that I needed as my own came from a long gone friend and was probably as old as me, so the silk lining was in shreds and it was really too small. Choosing from a selection in my size, I chose a velveteen maroon material and bought it there and then. There was a food court and beer tent with only three different real ales on offer. As it is considerably nearer than the pubs, I shall go there later.

I drove one of these Fergusons when I was about 14 yrs old on a farm.

Apart from the boiler, the guy built the rest in 4 yrs.

I walked to the beer tent later, expecting to meet up with Danny and Janice and after a while, when they didn’t appear, I took a walk down the locks to Bridge 61, but they were not there either, although Cath and Alan Fincher were, so I joined up with them and we were later joined by the Glass Barge peeps and those from The Art Boat, so good boating conversation took place until I left at 10.30.

Even by that time I had not eaten anything after an upset stomach, which could be caused by cloudy beer in The Foxton Locks Inn the previous evening. Normally I would ask for a replacement, but there was such a long queue for the bar that I didn’t bother – big mistake!

Jim and Sheila on the Coffee Boat. 
I took them some Stilton Cheese Puffs later.

The Coffee Boat.

Other Boating traders.

Lots of gongoozlers down the locks.

Nutfield and Raymond were there too.

Sunday 18th June

It is going to be yet another hot one today and although the boat is shaded up to midday, it is hit by the sun all afternoon, so gets very hot indeed. I strolled down to see Danny and Janice on nb Mozark this morning and got his e-mail address, as Janice had expressed an interest in painting roses and castles and as I had written extensively about the subject, I offered to send her as much info as possible.
This afternoon decided to make the Stilton cheese puffs a la Nigel Slater, that my daughter made a while ago, but having the oven on in this heat was akin to suicide. Never mind, it was now or much later in the week when I got to Braunston, as there would be little time on the way there. Having never worked with puff pastry before was a bit of a nightmare, because of the heat (27°C inside), so I am thinking of hiring an igloo for the next batch. Although they were a bit of a mess, they certainly tasted very good. Next thing is to put the washing in soak, but don’t know when that is going to be washed, rinsed and dried.

Stilton Cheese Puffs cooked it the heat, but they tasted excellent!
Most crews here are sitting out on the towpath in the shade of the tall bushes, but there is very little wind to cool them down. The boat is cool if the draught blows through, but then all the flies come in to annoy me, so it’s got to be a compromise.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Summer Cruise 19

Thursday 8th June

Not raining at 07.00 but it does not look promising outside. Thinking I might survive the chilly morning, I put off lighting the fire until about 08.30 and eventually succumbed.

Thinking about going to the bottle bank and paying a visit to Helen later, she turned up about 12.00 for a cup of tea, a chat, and maybe a warm up by the fire; company is always enjoyable. We exchanged phone numbers, just in case of wanting to get in touch later. I should have done that yesterday, as she asked me to look out for her boat, which I did at 4pm while she had a hospital visit.

Once again we had a splendid meal at The Greyhound. Not only was the bar full to capacity, but the restaurant was too. Staff there are attentive without being overly so and the restaurant and bar staff seem to be here, there and everywhere, so the service is second to none. We thought that the chef had changed since we had been here last, because the menu was far more imaginative than before and if you go to a restaurant, you usually want to eat something you would not cook at home.

Back in The Greyhound at 6pm for a pint and Helen joined me shortly afterwards and bought me another one. She explained the problems that she had had with the rudder on her boat ever since it was replaced last year. I promised to look it up on CWDF and also look out the photos of my boat in dry dock.

Friday 9th June

The sun was shining again early this morning, but unfortunately it clouded over later. Chances are that the weather will improve from here on and the forecasters promise sunshine and hot weather.

I found the pics of my rudder and sure enough the proportions taken from the photograph were 1 part ahead of the rudder stock and 4 parts behind it. Researching on Canal World Discussion Forum, the verdict was about the same, so it sounds as if she has been sold a pup. Some bastard taking advantage of women boaters again! I messaged Helen the news and she later phoned to thank me. Apparently she likes to go to Braunston Hysterics and so we might meet up again there.

I let go at 11.10 heading back towards Braunston,  following a hire boat through the lock, but soon caught them up. Instead of passing, I stopped to make coffee and then caught them up again; this time they let me pass – always frustrating when a boat is going really slowly. Not a lot to relate on the trip, except that I passed nb Lindy Lou, with Vic and Linda aboard, heading for Northwich – not much chance to say anything, but then Vic is a man of few words anyway. Vic helped me through locks on the Oxford last year, when my hip was giving me hell and he used to drink in The Pelican on the Wey Navigation.

I had washed my all wool Guernsey overnight, so rinsed it out this morning, but do little more than gently squeeze out the water. I put it on the slide with a towel beneath and imagine my surprise when the sun dried it by the end of the trip – that is faster than at home.

After five hours, I arrived at Newbold and found a tight place on the 14 day moorings. No consideration though from a hire boat as I was trying to moor up, so the bow of Stronghold was pulled out by the speeding boat, so both collided. Just another mark to be touched up along with the many others.

Saturday 10th June

I let go about midday and made Rugby moorings an hour or so later. As I passed beneath the main road bridge, Ryan Dimmock and another boater working for Jules fuels on nb Bletchley, met me at the path end having shopped at Tesco. I asked for gas and although Ryan did not have any, the other guy did. I followed them along the towpath to their boats, which were moored up a long way from the bridge. Having settled the bill, I then had to look out for a winding hole to go back to the bridge to get to Tesco and shop. The winding hole was at Clifton Cruisers, so that took a while, but it saved a long walk back to get to Tesco.

Having shopped for a lot of food, I was too tired to start cooking and went to the local Harvester pub for a beer and a meal – OMG I went to eat at a Harvester!! Actually, it was not too bad, despite the hand pumps having Doombar, Doombar and Doombar on the three of them. I settled on three starters together, so at least I had my choice of food and not a compromise.

Reading my e-mails there, I realised that the Foxton Festival is next weekend, so I had better not hang about any longer. Looking at Canal Plan, I can do it in just over 3 days at 5 hours each day, which sounds reasonable and might even give me a chance to go up the Welford Arm on the way.

Sunday 11th June
I untied just after 07.00, winded in an abandoned arm by the pub and headed for Clifton Cruisers, because I needed a pumpout desperately. Having lifted the toilet lid this morning, it was obvious what was needed. I got there just after 08.00 and although there was a note on the office door to say that the man was somewhere in the yard, he wasn’t. The office door was open and I called out, only to be startled by a barking dog on the loose in there. Fortunately he was not aggressive and came to me and licked my hand. Eventually a van drew in and I asked for a pumpout, but had to wait until 9 am, because he did not have the keys, so I made breakfast instead.

I moved on from Clifton to Hillmorton Locks and tied up below to pay another visit to the Canal Chef cafe, this time with camera in hand. 

Hillmorton Bottom Lock.

Canal Chef with Badsey and Angel outside.

The shortened version of Nuneaton!

Back cabin seems true to form.

What a fascinating collection.

There were still some peeps sitting at the window table, blocking my view of Nuneaton, so I had a coffee and waited until they had gone. The lady owner was reading a copy of one of the books by Iris Bryce, who used to cruise on nb Bix many years ago and whom we met up with on our first ever boating holiday in 1979.  I have all of her books at home and must read them again. I should point out that Bix was moored up just behind me, but the owner was not on board. I could take photos at will with the owner’s permission and the table in the bay window now clear. There are several models of narrow boats displayed, one of which is Nuneaton. I remember this being seen by an NBT member a couple of years ago and now it has been bought by the cafe owners. Something about it was not quite right, but could not put my finger on it until the cafe owner pointed out that it was not full length and one of the “rooms” had been left out, also the forehatch is not true to life. I was assured that the model is remotely controlled when in the water.

The first lock was operated by a lone volunteer, but the next two were left up to me. In both cases I did my usual trick of stepping off the stern as the boat went slowly into the lock, waiting for it to get about 10ft from the top gate before drawing half – in this case a whole paddle. Although the boat stopped exactly at the top gate, both bottom gates were so well balanced that they closed of their own accord – easy. I had spotted Rodney walking down the towpath and we exchanged insults as is usual between us. Valerie was steering nb Hazel Nut and Chris and Terry were in the other lock on nb Barleytwist, so there was little chance of conversation as we passed by. I should explain that they are members of the Byfleet Boat Club, of which I am also a member.

I reached Braunston after five hours cruising and as I went past Midland Swindlers, someone shouted out my name. It took a few seconds to recognise Karen Cook on nb Stella on the 14 day moorings. I did eventually get her phone number off Barry, so left her a message that I was going to The Nelson at 6pm, but there was no reply. She told me later that there was no signal where she was.

I did another load of washing in the marina launderette and eventually got to the pub at 6.30, but no sign of Karen. She and James (her son) eventually appeared  and we had another drink and a good old chat. She is waiting for the new marina to open at Dunchurch Pools, where she has a new berth. www.dunchurchpoolsmarina.co.uk

Monday 12th June

Although I was up early in the sunshine, it soon gave way to cloud and made for chilly boating weather. I went up to see the Braunston Butcher after talking to a CRT volunteer lady called Lynn Doyle on the towpath, who asked if I really came from the Wey. It transpired that she spent her childhood there around the New Haw area and knew of a man called Richard on a boat with Grace in the name, which was of course Richard Heaseman on nb Lady Grace. It seemed that he recognised one of her locomotive paintings when he went into the Stop House at Braunston. I should explain that Lady Grace used to moor at Pelican Wharf.

I did actually manage to leave the moorings at 10.15 and got to a queue of boats at the bottom lock. Two pairs went up and I hung about waiting for another boat, but after a while decided to go. As soon as I was at the next lock, another boat was coming up behind me, so I waited in the lock for it. Again it happens to be a small world, because the boaters on board were from Rodmell, which is very near to me at home. Their boat was called Sundowner and they passed me later at Foxton, heading north.

Arriving at Norton Junction I waved them goodbye and turned off towards Leicester, mooring close by for a bite to eat and write this blog.

Pressing on towards Watford Staircase, I passed another boat and the steerer told me that there was little traffic on the flight and sure enough, there were no boats waiting when I got there. I walked up the flight, as requested and had a word with the lockie, who said I could go up the first two locks and wait in the second pound to pass a boat coming down the flight. These locks were not part of the staircase, so that was no problem. The trick of stepping off the boat and letting it go in on its own did not work here. The boat slowed to standstill in the centre of the lock and I had to go down the ladder and walk it further in. We passed by OK with good comments from the two lockies and the flight went like clockwork, as I stayed on board and the lockies did the work, so all done in record time.

Blind bend moorers - they wouldn't do this in a car.

No other boats were coming through Crick Tunnel, so that was easy and I reached Crick soon afterwards to moor up. With hindsight, I should have moored close to the tunnel mouth, but took a chance to go further onto the moorings with less trees. This did not pay off and I ended up well past the three marina entrances.

I had a walk into Crick to try The Red Lion, for the database of course! After a pint in there, I walked across the road to The Wheatsheaf and who should be sitting outside but the peeps moored behind me, who were also on their way to Foxton. I bought a pint and went outside to join them for a good old natter about boats – what else?

Tuesday 13th June

The day dawned bright and sunny, but as a lady told me once “It is like all men, all promise and no delivery!” Not that I would agree of course. It did cloud over later and was cloudy all day, but warm, so it was a pleasant four hour cruise along the summit to the Welford Arm junction, passing very few boats on the way. The last lap to Welford took an hour, so I arrived at 02.30.

I winded the boat and moored up alongside The Coffee Boat,    FB @ FlavoursafloatCoffeeEmporium   and as soon as I was alongside I said “ Here I am moored up very close to my two most favourite beverages – beer and coffee!” so that broke the ice immediately and we had a good chat about the types of coffee that they sell. Jim and Sheila are also going to Foxton and further chat ensued in the pub later.

Meanwhile, I was cooking a fish pie by instalments. Yesterday I cooked the mashed potato; this morning, I cooked the fish in milk in the oven; this afternoon, I made the white sauce and assembled the whole dish; in the evening, I put it in the oven. I had previously done this dish at home from a Delia cookbook, but did not have the recipe with me, so I looked it up online and found a Jamie Oliver version. While I was in The Admiral Nelson, I photographed on my mobile the Delia version from her cookbook in there, so now I had two versions. I should explain that The Nelson has a myriad of cook books on view in the bar for anyone to read. I shall have to put both versions together, as the dish turned out to be amazing and I would like to cook it again.

The other two are in the fridge.

Wednesday 14th June

I had cleaned up the mud marks from the mooring at Suttons from the port side, so now that the Coffee Boat has left, I can move across to the right hand side and use the spare tap to clean the other side and the cabin top. The day was very warm and sunny and the cleaning took me all of three hours, but then the top had not been done for well over a year.

Fuel boat Callisto appeared during the afternoon and winded in front of me, so I asked for diesel and he came alongside to fill my tank. He would only take cash and bank transfer for people that he knew, so it had to be cash, which cleaned me out, so a trip to the Post Office was due shortly. By four thirty, I knew I had to go there and then, knowing that Post Offices have very strict hours of 9 to 5. When I walked in, someone else was drawing cash, so I asked what time she closed and she replied, “Right now!” so I had just made it in time. I asked what time they opened and was told 04.30 in the morning! That of course is the shop, but the  the Post Office, opened at  09.00 of course. After the rush to get there, it was time for a relaxing pint in the pub and by this time I felt that I deserved at least one, or maybe two pints.

Perfect mooring with all facilities close to hand.

A gauging weight used to weigh down the boats 
and record the dry side for load carrying purposes when first built.

Thursday 15th June

It was time to move on towards Foxton and I let go at 08.30 if only to get ahead of a hire boat watering up.
The day was sunny and starting to get warm by then, but it was to be short lived as the wind came up and the clouds formed just after reaching the junction. I passed by Nutfield and Raymond moored up at North Kilworth, where they had some school children on board in high viz jackets. Yet another marina is being constructed there, which is owned by the same guy that owns Debdale.

Sister marina to Debdale at North Kilworth.

I had arranged to arrive at Foxton Festival on Friday, so had to find a convenient mooring today and write this up. I hate mooring beneath trees, not only is it dark, but the roosting birds shit all over the cabin top, and having just cleaned it, I had to be out in the open, so here I am just north of Bridge 50. Being out in the sticks is all very quiet and peaceful, but there is no internet connection by mobile or hotspot, so posting this will have to wait until tomorrow. There is no TV signal either here, so It’s reading or reading – good job I have a good book. Oh yes, there is no pub either!

My friend Barry has just phoned to let me know that I will be steering the motor in the opening parade of the Braunston Historic Boat Rally, which has really made my day. I did steer last year in one of the parades, which was very successful, so I know what is involved. I was also on board when Tom Lapworth did it and all eyes were on him to pick up tips. On board to open the show will be Timothy West on Nuneaton and Prunella Scales steering the butty, along with Richard Parry, CEO of CRT, Tim Coghlan, boss of Braunston Marina and several members of CRT apparently. The good thing about opening the show is that Nuneaton will have a clear run up to the turn – not so good will be the return trip if others are following, but then they might not be for the opening ceremony.

Later I phoned the harbourmaster Andy at Foxton, who said that there was plenty of space to moor and that I was welcome to join them. I passed all the boats moored up there already and winded above the locks, ready for the return trip. Andy Ruck was on hand to guide me to a suitable mooring, which was not too far from the festival field. Again there is no wi-fi, except for my mobile, which has a better signal now than this afternoon, but still not strong enough for posting this. The only other alternative is to take the laptop to the pub to connect. for some inexplicable reason, this did not work either.

I hope you readers out there appreciate this, because I have loaded it on to a phone connection and it is like watching paint dry, but ..........never again!! 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Summer Cruise 18

Monday 5th June

When I got back to the boat, there was a note on the steps inside, which had been pushed through the gap under the slide. Thinking to myself, what can this be about, I read it to find that it was from Jane and David Brixey on nb Rowan, who had moored right behind for a lunch stop when I was away – that is just bad luck
Nb Rowan is moored at Pyrford Marina on the Wey Navigation and is the boat that I towed half the length of the Basingstoke Canal when their engine broke down some years ago. They are on their way to the Russell Newbury Rally in Stourport, which they go to every year.

Towing Rowan.

Not up as early as usual, but lay there listening to the news until 7am. It did not look like rain at that time of the morning, but things were due to change shortly. Heavy winds and rain were forecast the previous day for most of the week and as I have no deadline, I will stay here for a while on the 7 day moorings. I wonder if I moor up around the corner on the Coventry Canal, do I get another 7 days?

I think I must have spent nearly all day on the internet after having breakfast, writing up this blog and researching things that go with it. Another strange thing happened today with the blog; yesterday I tried to put in pics from my mobile and was instructed to do all sorts of weird antics to do that. Today though, I tried it and all was fine – how the hell does this work? I have changed nothing.

Sure enough the wind blew a hooley and the rain came down gradually at first then very heavily by late afternoon. The boat was being rocked from side to side, yet the wind was coming towards the front of the boat. It was also cold and I finally succumbed to lighting the fire, but I noticed that I was not the only one – in the first week of June?

Many boats went through the stop lock this morning, quite a few Napton Narrowboats moving in the rain – there were four in a queue waiting for the lock at one point, trying to stay still because there was no room on the lock layby. Interesting watching for me inside a warm boat. One boater actually moored up on the centre line and left his boat in gear, exactly the same as I do, when waiting for the lock. I had a word and he was from Holland, where he had his own boat and that is what they do there too.

Tuesday 6th June

I awoke to rain falling from the sky, so it looks like another day to stay in. It is also chilly, so might well be another fire day. A hire boat from Kate Boats moored up in front of me last night, with two elderly ladies aboard. I told them about the Greyhound and asked if they had done a lock yet, being virgin boaters, to which they replied that they had not. I volunteered to show them how if they wanted me to. At 09.00 no boats had passed through the stop lock, which is not surprising considering the weather – no sign of the ladies on the boat ahead either. It seems that they had slept in late, as they had such a busy day yesterday and finally they let go about midday to the water point first. I suggested that they go and watch a boat coming through the lock to see how it works whilst they were watering up. Then it was their turn and of course there was not a lot to do, as another boater drew the top paddle for them. They were away now to go up the Ashby Canal and I recommended The George and Dragon for beer in Stoke Golding, then The Three Horseshoes Indian restaurant for food nearby.

Back on board briefly, Helen came by and stopped for a quick chat on the way to her car. We met briefly at Newbold, where she was moored behind me.  

After filling my drinking water can, I popped into The Greyhound to book a table for Wednesday evening and it would have been rude not to have a pint of Sadler’s Peaky Blinder, which is almost a lunch in itself. I went back to the boat in the rain, but true to the forecast, it started again with a vengeance at 5pm and blowing wild with it.

Back at the boat I thought I might have forty winks, thinking that someone would wake me up with a phone call or similar. Imagine my surprise when a boat horn sounded as nb Yum Sing went by with Betty and Ian on board. I rushed up to catch them at the stop lock for a quick catch up of news, before they moored up around the corner on The Coventry. I should explain that they are also members of Byfleet Boat Club on the Wey Navigation.

In The Greyhound later for another pint of Peaky Blinder and Helen turned up for a drink too, so we grabbed a table while the going was good and had a good conversation about boating. I explained centre line mooring with a tiller string on and single lock working as per John Jackson. Even though she had been on her boat for 21 years, she knew nothing of these methods of working a boat single handed, which surprised me.

Wednesday 7th June

I decided that as there was to be no rain today, I might take a short cruise up to Marston Junction and back. As I am meeting up with my daughter again tonight back here, I cannot go up the Ashby - maybe later, after  I have been home and back.

I gave Helen a knock to see if she wanted to see how I moored up on the centre line, with the engine on tickover. All went fine, but before I could demonstrate, she had to return to her boat, because it was still unlocked. Around the corner on the Coventry Canal, I stopped and had to wait to fill with water. Just after that another boat moored in front of me and it was nb Seyella, who I had read about in nb No Problem’s blog for quite a long time. Geoff knew who I was, as he had read about me over the years in Sue’s blog. We were almost like old friends meeting up and chatted away merrily whilst waiting for Stronghold to fill.


I eventually met up with Geoff and Mags on nb Seyella.

Now he will read my blog and I will read his. Photos were taken to commemorate the occasion and after I filled up, we parted company. I was going on a short trip to Marston Junction and they were off up the Ashby.

The scenario is always different at Charity Dock.

It was a pleasant trip, although still very windy. I moored up for lunch just above the junction with the Ashby, having to reverse above three moored boats. After that I set off south again, deciding to stop for a pint at The Navigation Inn at bridge 14. Having passed the moored boats there, I reached Bridge 14, but had to reverse back to get a reasonable mooring behind them. Once I was moored up, I set off for The Navigation Inn across the bridge; imagine my surprise at finding that it was now a house! I asked a local guy, who confirmed that it was, so back to the boat and off again back to Sutton Stop.

Once upon a time this was The Navigation Inn ......

 ..........now it is a very large house!

Yet another sunken continuous moorer's boat that someone wants
 to get shot of and waste our licence money having it raised and scrapped!

Fortunately I found another pole position mooring close to the engine house at the front of all the moored boats.

It was almost time for another good dinner at The Greyhound yet again with my daughter and partner – it’s going to be good once more.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Summer Cruise 17

Friday 2nd June

I spent the morning doing those odd jobs that seem to occupy all boaters at one time or another. The first was having a chat to my next boat neighbour, who had the same wi-fi aerial as me, but had constructed a homemade external reflector made out of aluminium foil and a 2 litre PET bottle – next project for me! I altered the throttle settings so that the gear lever went into neutral far easier and tightened up one of the alternator belts, before sweeping up the seeds in the well deck. I intended sweeping the cabin top too, but it started raining before that.

Instead of that I settled on making some cheese scones that I had read about in the blog of nb Waka Huia, who I passed yesterday. Anyway, they turned out amazingly well, seeing as they were only the second lot of scones that I had ever baked in my life!

My daughter and partner arrived in good time to have a beer before we went into the Greyhound restaurant, where we had a delicious meal and more beer. Because I can’t get mild ale ‘daan saaf’, I made the most of it once again.

Saturday 3rd June

I was up early again and added a bit more to this blog. After breakfast I walked the length of the moorings on the Coventry Canal, which starts just around the corner. Noting two hens in a cage on the towpath, I stopped on the way back and had a word with India, who owns nb Suzy Q, named after Suzy Quattro of course. The hens were called Thelma and Louise and I asked where she put them when cruising. Built into the stern of the boat is their hutch, which doubles as a seat under the pram hood. When moored up in the sticks, she lets them run free on the towpath where there is no danger of dogs, yet there were four Chihuahuas on board.  she owns seven dogs in all and I think she mentioned a llama too.

Further along the moorings was a man polishing his JD Beta engine, which had a brass rocker cover – is that usual? He was a widower and had finally got the boat that was his heart’s desire with centre engine and boatman’s cabin. Athough the boat was named WOL, he was also nicknamed that too.

After completing more jobs this morning, I was picked up outside the pub to go to Coventry and had a very pleasant afternoon catching up on news and cooking, as my daughter was making Stilton Puffs that she had been making for ages and something that I was bursting to taste. I have to say that not only were they delicious, but also very time consuming although very easy to make. As I will pass back through Rugby, the ingredients are already on my shopping list!

Later we went into the city for a pint of delicious mild ale brewed at The Twisted Barrel Ale Brewery in Fargo Village. https://www.twistedbarrelale.co.uk/  

Twisted Barrel Tap House.

Outside view.

This place exists in an old warehouse or workshop and The Tap House  is only open on Friday 5pm to midnight and Saturday.12.00 to midnight with about 6 or 7 ales on tap. I also learned about their pressurised containers, which were transparent plastic with a plastic bag inside. The beer is put inside the plastic bag and pressure is applied between that and the inside of the rigid container, so the gas, which can be compressed air, never comes into contact with the liquid beer. It is approved of by CAMRA, so it must be OK – well it tasted OK to me! https://www.keykeg.com/

Views of Fargo Village in Coventry.

We walked to Habibi Moroccan restaurant and were ushered through the front, past the kitchen and into the garden area at the back. Again this was a conversion of an ancient building as could be seen from the well worn brick steps. The walls and ceilings were decorated with Middle Eastern hangings  and drapes and the floor was stone chippings. Cushions were provided for the steel basic garden chairs and the very extensive menus were handed out. It would be difficult to describe the menu or the names of the dishes on it. The majority of dishes were vegetarian, but there were also some lamb and chicken dishes. We chose what we wanted, which was far too much, but doggie boxes were provided when requested. Very different and enjoyable, but far too much food. Eyes bigger than bellies comes to mind!

Habibi - the interior.

Sunday 4th June

We were watching the aftermath of the London Bridge terror attack on TV this morning and I think it is coming home to the population just how close this can be to home or work after three actual attacks and several foiled plots.

Around midday my daughter said to me,
“If the answer to the question is 'Does the bear shit in the woods?' then what is the question?”
I answered, “Would you like to go for a pint?”
Which was of course the correct answer, or should that be question?

It was a pleasant experience in the nearest pub eventually, which was Marston’s.house. I say eventually, because initially there was no one serving and secondly there were only two ales on tap. I suggested going elsewhere, but there was no elsewhere within walking distance. It transpired later that the manger had not put on any more ales, because he wanted to get rid of the existing Banks’ bitter and IPA, but on being pressurised by the punters, he agreed to add Pedigree to the existing collection. We played several games of pool, despite not knowing much about the game, but we soon picked it up. I am used to playing snooker on a full size table, but this was so different, but enjoyable all the same.

Back at the house I collected my belongings and was returned to The Greyhound, where I was led astray once again, it being good weather and being able to sit outside on the patio overlooking the junction. A very enjoyable couple of days.

A technical point:- A friend pointed out to me that they could not comment on my blog and the comments section was probably embedded. I searched through the settings, which up to now I had never known existed and put it right, so you can now comment.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Summer Cruise 16

Wednesday 31st May

Having edited the last post, you may have missed this piece of news:-

I have just had really good news and that is that Nuneaton and Brighton are coming to Braunston and have been asked to open the Rally, captained by my friend Barry. If I can get some time off from marshalling, I may have the opportunity to steer Nuneaton again, as I did last year in the parade. I should explain that both boats are at Brinklow Boats for serious and expensive repairs after a thorough survey, but I am assured that they are fit to travel if treated gently.

It’s off to Rugby now for some serious stocking up at the big Tesco store. All went well, with easy cruising and only three locks at Hillmorton. Although I stopped at Hillmorton, I missed out on a photo opportunity, so I will blog that later with pictures. I sussed out some good mooring places to leave the boat for a while close to Rugby rail station.

Shopping done, I pulled the pins and headed for a quieter place to moor up until I came to Newbold, where several boats were already moored. The Barley Mow had not been entered on the NBT database, so that was next on the list and was far better than I remember from previous visits.

Thursday 1st June

There is still a mystery surrounding the calorifier and hot water. After travelling for 3 to 4 hours, the temp suddenly rises from 80°C to 100°C and thinking about it, I reckon that the cold water in the hot water tank that was previously cooling the engine water had reached the same temperature as the engine and was no longer cooling it. I will try opening the skin tank cock a little more today and see what happens.

Just to prove my point, the temp rose very quickly to 90°C in half an hour, so I kicked open the cock completely to full skin tank cooling and the temp sank to 80°C and stayed there for the rest of the trip.

It took five hours from Newbold and I reached Sutton’s at 15.30. After getting securely moored up in pole position, which is the last mooring before the stop lock, I walked up to empty the rubbish and made a snap decision to go in The Greyhound for one pint. Whilst sitting in the bay window, three other guys were discussing the article on Alice Lapworth in Towpath Talk. I was looking at them and listening to what they had to say about her and the family, when one of the men asked me to come and join then on the bench seat. I said that I knew her and had invited her over for a drink at the pub. The man next to me introduced himself as Dean Harrison and the surname rung a bell with me. I asked if he was related to Jeanette Harrison and he was. It turned out that his father was on the boats years ago and he knew a great deal about the old boaters and their families. He bought me another pint of mild and the conversation continued, until it was my turn. Dean’s son and daughter also joined us, by which time the other two guys had left for home. Later another of his friends turned up with his wife and more conversation about boats continued, until glasses were empty and although I refused a pint but agreed to a half, it turned out to be a pint anyway!

Dean took my phone number and we finally parted company at 7pm. It is amazing sometimes how serendipity works and turned out to be very enjoyable. Fortunately the mild ale is not very strong, as I had to go back and cook a meal. 

I just tried to get these pics side by side, which happened only when I added titles. Is there any other way of achieving this? Comment please.

Dean and myself in The Greyhound.
Notice that no beer is visible!
Part of the bar interior.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Summer Cruise 15

Monday 29th May

It rained pretty hard during the night and brought down even more hawthorn seeds off the overhanging trees to cover the boat. I saw Southern Cross approaching at 7am and he apologised for early start, but wanted to get back to his home mooring before it got too busy. Ryan knew John and Jenny Jackson well at Awbridge and had even worked for him during his holidays, transporting coal on his boat. We also reminisced about good times at The Bell in Trysull. Having been previously awarded the Coal Boater of The Year last year, Southern Cross is one of the smartest boats I have seen so far. Diesel was 71p/litre and the gas was £29.00

Ryan is in the blue tee shirt.

The remainder of the morning was spent scouring the internet for places to moor and close to a rail station, but that is over a month away, so plenty of time for that. Rugby seems like a convenient place and within walking distance. Whether to moor in a marina or just online is another choice that has to be made. Jaq came in for percolated coffee, so we had another good chat. She has a coffee percolator on her boat, but has not used it, yet she has ground Kona coffee too, some of which she gave me later.

The afternoon was spent changing the bed and making a visit to the marina launderette, where there is a free book and video exchange, which I took good advantage of, even though I had nothing to swap at the time. The interior of the boat is still littered with drying washing, although I did  put the bed linen through the dryer, as that had to go back on the bed immediately.

On collecting the tokens in the shop, there was only Tim Coghlan there (Bank Holiday Monday). He looked at me as though he recognised me and addressed me as sir, to which I replied, “Please don’t call me sir, I’m Ray Oakhill, editor of The Steerer for the NBT.”  It was then that he remembered me from last year and all the emails that I had sent him asking for copy to go in the magazine. I was ushered into the office to look at some old black and white photographs given to him by an old retired boater; two of them featured butty Bude, which was owned by my friend Barry and paired with the motor Stamford at the time. I asked Tim if I could feature his latest story of Alice Lapworth in The Steerer and he was only too delighted, but only after I ask Alice first of course. I shall probably see her in any case at The Greyhound, Sutton Stop next Saturday.

Looking across the cut a little later, I spied a blue balloon fender and asked Jaq if she wanted it, to which she replied, “Is it a blue one?”  It turned out that she lost one during the night, so it was hers anyway. I volunteered to punt the bow of Stronghold across to try and retrieve it, leaving the stern still tied to the bank. I have seen it done before and is often far superior to using the engine and moving the whole boat. Fortunately, there were no other boats passing through at the time.

Tuesday 30th May

We had both decided to move today - Jaq was going to water up and then move to the Oxford to hopefully meet up with friends, although there was no evidence of them coming. I was going to start making my way up the North Oxford towards Sutton Stop eventually, stopping at the Old Royal Oak where I knew I could get a very strong wi-fi signal from the pub. I passed by Waka Huia on the way and told them that Jaq was in Braunston on the water point, so they will meet up somewhere close by.

As I was leaving Braunston, I stopped by Midland Swindlers to see what I could spend money on that I didn’t know I wanted, but they did have a rotating sock airer and even a fly swat! Moving on, I spotted a piling hook (aka nappy pin) that someone had left behind and stopped to retrieve it, just before another boater moored up close by. So along with the double windlass that I found a while ago, I am doing well for spare parts.

Another marina being constructed about 3 miles north of Braunston. 
This will annoy someone close by.

Cruising on, I came to the Old Royal Oak, but both moorings were full right outside the pub, so I moored up opposite on a bend – not the best place to moor, but I was hoping it would just be until one of the other boats moved on. I was so busy on the internet that I did not even notice one of the boats leaving, so I quickly let go and moved across. The remainder of the afternoon was spent trawling the net. The wi-fi here is so good, I can watch YouTube with ease and no breaks in streaming.

I should also mention that President is in the dock here at Willow Ridge Boatyard and I walked over to the yard to have a closer look. I was welcomed and asked if I wanted to see what was being done and sure enough she is just starting to be repainted., not before time either. I understand that she is having a new boiler fitted, but not at this yard. I was reassured that she was going to the Braunston Historic Boat Rally this year and will have to be towed there, but can’t see her opening the Rally.

I have just had really good news and that is that Nuneaton and Brighton are coming to Braunston and have been asked to open the Rally, captained by my friend Barry. If I can get some time off from marshalling, I may have the opportunity to steer Nuneaton again, as I did last year in the parade.