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 28 August 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018. 15

Just Hanging About.

Wednesday 22nd August

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

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

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

Thursday 23rd August

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

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

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

Friday 24th August

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

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

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

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

Saturday 25th August

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

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

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

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

Sunday 26th August

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

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

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

Monday 27th August

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

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

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

Thursday 23 August 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018. 14

Greyhound Party and not a lot else.

Thursday 16th August

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Greyhound is always busy, inside and out.

Friday 17th August

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 18th August

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

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

A great evening in The Greyhound.

Sunday 19th August

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

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

Charity Dock, Bedworth.

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

Monday 20th August

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

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

Tuesday 21st August

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

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

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

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Summer Jaunt 2018.13

Back and Forth

Tuesday 24th July

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 25th July

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

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

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

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

Thursday 26th July

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

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

Friday 27th July

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

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

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

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

Saturday 28th July

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

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

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

Sunday 29th July

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

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

Monday 30th July

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

Tuesday 31st July

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

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