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, 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.


Charlotte F. said...

Congratulations on your award - very well deserved, I'm sure! I wish we'd been able to stay and join in the fun.

Oakie said...

Thanks Charlotte. I didn't even know there was any competition. I will have an article from Tim Coghlan about Trevor Maggs shortly. You can cheery pick what you want about Braunston Hysterics from my blog. Are you happy with that? It does save me rehashing it for The Steerer. Ray

Reply to ray.oakhill@virgin.net rather than Yahoo.