Tuesday 5th June
I was up early for a shower and breakfast, as I did not want to miss the bus to the chiropactice. I need not have worried, because I could have walked it in the time I was waiting at the bus stop, except that it was mostly uphill.
Never having been to a chiropractor before, I was rather intrigued as to what would happen. Most of the time was spent filling in forms; first by me and then by the expert after a list of medical questions. Eventually, he got around to some manipulation of the spine towards the end and went through the twice daily exercises that had to be completed. I have to say that I did feel somewhat refreshed at the end of it and walked back downhill to the boat, but it had a delayed effect and when I moored up later, a necessary drink was in order to knock me out. The outcome of the diagnosis is that my spine is rusty and needs loosening up, some of which I put down to having pain from both hips in the past, before any hip operations.
Now that you know what is wrong with me, let us turn to the boat and its problems. Firstly, as I was about to exit Hillmorton Top Lock and put the engine in gear, there was a terrible banging going on down below, as though something had come loose. I thought the worst and imagined the propeller blades were loose, or the rudder had been damaged. I had to bowhaul the boat out of the lock and onto the layby, because there was no propulsion. Fortunately, there were no other boats about at that time. On lifting the weed hatch, what did I find? A one foot long rope side fender and accompanying line, which was wound tightly around the blades. The only way to remove it was to cut it off, but at least it wasn’t serious.
I pulled in outside The Olde Oak and toyed with the idea of approaching Willow Ridge Marina to have a look at my battery charging problem. It was here or Calcutt Marina, so on the spot I went to ask and eventually Sandy came off his tea break with two voltmeters in hand. By this time, I had removed the covers to the batteries and the split charging relay to be ready for him. The first thing he did was to try and twist all the terminals to see if they were tight; this included the relay connections. After starting the engine, he checked the voltages on both battery banks, which were now both reading 14.2 volts amazingly enough. How does that work? We both came to the conclusion that twisting the relay terminals had improved the connection – job done and no charge! Despite that, they could do with being removed and greasing to ensure it is unlikely to happen again.
Later in the afternoon, a couple walked into the pub yard with two bags of shopping, so I asked if there was a shop in the close vicinity, but it was over a mile away. We got chatting over a drink and had a very convivial conversation about boats and how they met, because I thought the woman was about 25 yrs of age and he looked 60 to 65. It turned out that she was 50 and they were engaged to be married. Although she spoke excellent English, she was Danish, which sparked off another conversation about my sister’s husband, who is also a Viking. What a great way to spend an enjoyable afternoon doing nothing.
Once again this pub had only two out of three ales on tap and it is Greedy King pub. I wonder who is at fault here or do the brewery even know about it?
Wednesday 6th June
Up early again for breakfast and then off after having a chat with the hire boaters opposite. Although there was a cold wind, the sun was out and the day was warming up nicely, which made for a very pleasant run to Braunston. I moored temporarily by the turn to made some desperately needed coffee, before finding a spot closer to Butcher’s Bridge and the village for shopping later. I intended stopping here for tonight, but will need a more remote place for a BBQ, without smoking anyone out.
Moving further down towards the marina, I got a spot close to the entrance and moored up securely, which means that two balloon fenders are out and a spring line is attached to the rond anchor at the fore end, This stops the boat from moving backwards and forwards every time a boat passes. Although it is a bit of extra work, all these little things add up to a comfortable mooring, without being knocked about.
It was warm in the sun by now, so off to see the famous village butcher in the village, where I bought a large
pork and onion pie, along with some dry marinade in a packet. I had read of dry marinades, but had never used one, so it would be a new experience for me. Feeling considerably better since the Chiropracter experience, I walked through the village and down Dark Lane, which I knew led to The Admiral Nelson. As good as it would have been to have had a second pint of Bishop’s Finger, I resisted the temptation for another day and walked back along the towpath, sublimating my desires with an ice cream from the gift shop at the next lock.
Thursday 7th June
I strolled around the marina to see if the pump out hose sight glass had been fixed and how. There was now a proper sight glass in place, so it did not take long to fix it, which is good business sense as money would have been lost had it not been.
I also got into conversation with a man named Guy on nb Suzie 2, moored just inside the marina entrance. He was in Pyrford Marina some years ago, but had since sold his house to buy the 70 ft boat and continuously cruise, except that he had broken down and was awaiting repairs to the hydraulic drive system, which appeared to have been a botch up from the word go. He had other teething problems too with the cocooned centre engine overheating. It was a very smart Aintree boat, but with lots of problems.
I let go shortly after this conversation, heading for a quiet mooring where I could have a BBQ to cook this rump steak that I had halved and frozen, as it was getting past it’s sell by date. It seems that the weather made my mind up where to moor for me, as the heavens suddenly opened and I pulled in hurriedly on some piling. Just at that minute nb Lady Grace came around the corner and Richard Heasman decided to do the same.
Richard is the man who put me in touch with the former owner of Stronghold, as his boat was also on the Pelican moorings then; he has since moved to Calcutt Marina. His son Andrew was with him on board, as well as the three dogs. We caught up on a load of gossip over the next hour or so and he came up with a device to relieve the alternator of the initial heavy load when charging the batteries and even offered to fit it for me when back on the home mooring. I did have that BBQ after all, when the rain ceased in the evening.
Friday 8th June
Richard and I parted company a little later in the morning and I cruised on to Napton, where I winded and reversed back onto a convenient mooring. At this time of day there were plenty of spaces available on 14 day and 48 hr moorings, but by 3 pm they were all taken. I had a close shave with nb Marie Babette on the way, as they had stemmed up in the mud to rescue a lamb that had fallen in the water and had to be returned to the off side bank. They followed me to the winding ‘ole and the man offered to take a line as I reversed, but I was not going very far back and we got into conversation as I tied up.
A little later in the afternoon, I walked up to The Folly and Gary and Denise were sitting outside succumbing to temptation. I asked if I could join them. Boating tales flowed back and forth, but one rather unusual one was when they were pre-warned about a racing pair of Noddy boats coming round the bend towards them. The hire boats were full of well oiled young males, who then proceeded to jam the boats together in a bridge ‘ole, so blocking the cut for an hour and a half. The boats were so wedged in the hole that one of the protruding bolts on the wooden protecting rail pierced the hull, which would be 6mm thick! The lads were doing even more harm to the hulls in an attempt to extricate the boats and the hire company just did not want to know, until Gary explained to them not only their responsibilities to other people and CRT, but the amount of additional damage the crew were doing to the hulls. After which, they came out in force to rescue the boats and reopen the canal. Fortunately, it was 7 pm and there were not many boats about, but earlier in the day the incident would have caused chaos. It would be most interesting to see how the outcome of this incident was finally resolved.
Another BBQ was in order again to finish up the steak which was far better cooked this time and not so dry as the previous nights meal.
Saturday 9th June
Most boats behind me moved off the 48 hr moorings this morning, so I took the opportunity to pull further back in the hope that the wi-fi would be improved, which it was. It would appear that Napton has village wi-fi, but I do not have the security code for it yet. However, there is a good BT signal here and there was nothing where I was previously, which was only 150 yds away.
The morning was taken up with all those little things that need doing, answering emails and writing this blog. It is amazing how fast the time seems to disappear.
Time soon came round to when my daughter and her man appeared on the towpath bearing gifts and expertise, so after catching up on the nitty gritty, Jim wanted to have another look at the batteries and electrics and it was discovered that they were not charging as I previously stated, which puts a completely different light on the problem. We went off to The Folly for another meal out and were shown to our seats my Mark, the convivial landlord. The meal was not only large, but the quality was unsurpassed and the chips were genuinely home made on the premises. They were peeled, cut, blanched, dried and then deep fried to perfection and we ate every one of them. Normally I do not eat chips in restaurants or pubs, as they are always frozen, but after begging a chip from a neighbouring table first, I knew they were the real thing. The rest of the food was excellent too, by the way!
Sunday 10th June
It was time to go battery charging again on a reasonably long run and although it had been wall to wall sunshine at 6 am, the sky had now clouded over with some wind. Shortly after leaving Napton, I turned at the junction and headed the short distance to Calcutt to collect the BMC rocker box gasket and two alternator belts, all of which they had in stock. I made enquiries as to whether there was an electrician on site, but as it was Sunday, there was not. Although I had gone down one lock with another boat, there was no point staying there, so I returned to the junction for another short stop.
I covered most of the way to Braunston before mooring up in the sticks, but there was a TV signal and enough phone signal to download my emails.
I made several stops to check the state of the battery and the voltage had picked up to 14 volts by the end of the day. To add to that charge I also ran the generator for a couple of hours.
I finished up the Phad Thai that I had from a takeaway and had since been frozen. With some fried cashew nuts on top, it was still delicious. I am now totally out of food, so I will have to go into Braunston again tomorrow to stock up on food, which is no great hardship, except for carrying it back to the boat, but then it is all downhill.
Monday 11th June
It was a beautiful morning with mist on the water, but the sun soon appeared and it was going to be a hot day with no wind. Plenty of boats on the move too, making the best of the good weather.
The batteries were in good form too, reading 12.8 v and 12.6 volts. With all this sunshine the solar panel will have a good effect as well. With this strong sunshine the 50 watt panel will keep up with the demands of the fridge. Although I needed supplies, I was in no hurry to move and could happily have stayed here all day, but needs must and I eventually cast off at 13.00 to make sure of a mooring in Braunston.
I was in good time to get a vacant mooring and pulled in close to Butcher’s Bridge again, behind a boat called Kottingham. I remember reading about fitting out Kottingham way back in the eighties in Waterways World, so I had to verify this with the present owner. Not only was it the same boat, but he was Jack Parker, another member of NBT. The world is getting smaller by the minute!
I eventually got around to walking up to the village to get supplies, but the choice is so limited I just ended up with two bottles of wine and a steak and kidney pie from the butcher. I walked down Dark Lane to The Nelson as before and had a couple of pints by the lock, gongoozling the Noddy boaters going through and winding gate paddles before ground paddles, but then I probably did it when I first started boating.