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 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.