Thursday, 13 October 2016

Hang the basket!

It's been some time since my last blog post, so here's an update. Last Wednesday, 5th October, we took the boat out of the marina and cruised gently a mile or so down to The Galleon where Jan had a BCF committee meeting.

This is just below Cosgrove Lock looking towards the iron trunk aqueduct.

We had plenty of sunshine but it got cold enough in the evenings for the stove to be lit (hooray!) I'm using up some of the logs I chopped up in April; when they've gone we'll burn coal when we need to. We have a stash of split ash logs but I'd like to season them before burning. (Salt and pepper to taste ...?)

We saw some of Josiah (and Ally and Ben) while we were here. As we were just about to leave the 48 hour moorings on Friday we saw Wendy and Robert on Gerty who had just come down to wind. They stopped and came aboard for coffee; it was good to catch up and share our news. We last (and first) saw them at Etruria in June.

No rope on their tiller arm, oh no. A hanging basket for them!

They were heading for Ely; we're planning to do the eastern waterways some time, perhaps in 2018.

We reversed back to a nice bit of bank where we could knock the pins in and stay a bit longer; we had to go the next day. I did some rust removal and painting on the cabin top and below the front doors. I also sealed round the chimney collar with silicone. Back at the marina we loaded up the car, drained the water from the shower hose, left a fan heater on a low setting and locked up. That's it until - ooh - next month, when we'll be using Jubilee as a stopover as we go to South Normanton for the BCF AGM.

Now we're at home. It feels weird.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Recycling on the waterways? Don't you believe it

At the bottom of Stoke Bruerne Locks there is a "customer waste facility". In this one, as well as the skips for general waste is a wheelie bin marked "Glass only". You would think that this would be for recycling. You would be wrong.

I witnessed a Biffa lorry come and empty the large waste skips into itself; then the operator emptied the bin with the glass in into the same lorry. Now, admittedly, the wheelie bin didn't claim that the glass would be taken for recycling, but that would be the assumption anyone would make. What a waste. It will all go to landfill. CRT should either arrange a separate collection of the glass, or remove the bin or its labelling.

Jubilee is now back at Thrupp Wharf Marina. We got back yesterday; this is Lock 16. We had only four more after this, and then a similar number of miles.

We had been away for so long that we couldn't remember which was our pontoon; fortunately we recognised our neighbour and slotted into position. It felt a bit of an anticlimax coming back, but we've had an excellent time away which many would be envious of.

After checking the car started - it did - we did some packing and I washed the car. We ate with Ally and Ben, slept on the boat and drove to Essex this morning to join the celebrations for Jan's mum's 91st birthday.

I took this photo on the way to Wolverton yesterday.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Coaling up

We called into the well-stocked Whilton Chandlers this morning to agonise over what we could spend our voucher on. We'd won it in a raffle at the IWA Northampton Branch gathering back in the spring (remember spring?). I'd only just bought oil and blue, and we were struggling to think of something useful to buy. We were saved from having to make an immediate decision by the sudden appearance of our friend Tony from Paws 4 Thought who had driven down from Fazeley for some fenders and blue. His purchases came to very nearly £50; our voucher was for that amount, so we paid with the voucher and Tony gave us the cash. I will try to ensure that we buy stuff from there the next time we pass so as to be within the spirit of the voucher.

It was only later that I realised I should have bought coal from Whilton. I was intending to get some from Rugby Boats at Stowe Hill as they had Supertherm at a good price last year. On the way we passed Southern Cross, with Supertherm on board, but no-one was in. I had hoped to top up the diesel as well.

A laden working boat looks good.

Just before Weedon there were major earthworks taking place either side of the canal and railway where they come close together. I wonder if this is to be a bypass road.

Oh yes, there's a boat in the field. More than one, actually.

We stopped for lunch at Weedon, then stopped at Rugby Boats for a couple of bags of coal. They had no Supertherm, a brand I have got used to, and I allowed myself to be talked into accepting Excel. I hope it does. Their diesel price was 60.9 p/l, but I didn't get any as I hoped to bump into another fuel boat. We also stopped at Bridge 32 - Fred Tarry - where I discovered their diesel price was 63 p/l. I bought a bag of Supertherm. All our recent log acquisitions and the three bags of coal should last us into spring next year.

We had a very good, sunny, run down to Blisworth. The countryside is delightful, enhanced by the blue sky and fluffy clouds.

Just before Blisworth Tunnel a large branch had come down on the towpath. It didn't hinder navigation but is a real hazard for towpath users.

Look at the broken-off branch high up. It is completely detached from the tree.

I have e-mailed CRT. I haven't yet had the automated "thank you for contacting CRT; we will try to get back to you in 5 working days" response.

It was good to see Kathryn when we tied up at Stoke Bruerne. She has now had a proper hip replacement and this seems to have gone well. She certainly seems very happy with it and looks much more nimble. No stick!

Tomorrow we have just the seven Stoke Bruerne Locks and a few miles - then we'll be back at the marina.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Delayed at Buckby Locks

We set off from Braunston, knowing that we would be joining the queue for Buckby Locks later on. There was a problem with a bottom gate paddle necessitating the draining of a pound for its repair. We topped up with water and emptied the Elsan just past the A45 road bridge and shared the Braunston Locks with Chris and Jennifer on Pearl, a Wyvern hire boat.

In Braunston Tunnel we encountered a boat with its tunnel light pointing straight in front and thus dazzling oncoming boats. If this wasn't bad enough the boat had come to a complete halt, although - fortuitously - staying on its side. Pearl, following us, reported that they had the same problem, only the back end of Boaty Dazzler had drifted across, leading to an inevitable collision. Apparently the boat had even switched off its engine!

Just before the bridge at Norton Junction we joined a boat at the back of the queue for Buckby Locks. Hearing that it could be up to two hours before the flight reopened we had lunch. Then I got my bike out and cycled down to Lock 8 where the problem was to see what was going on.

CRT was just rolling up the orange netting having completed the repair.

With the lock refilled it's impossible to see the repaired paddle frame; it's the other side of the gate, anyway.

Another view of the scene.

Withe the paddle frame repaired, and the lock filled to check it would be all right, it still took a while for the pound to be refilled. We eventually started our descent at about 1630, behind a dozen or so boats. We shared with Thetis. Rob was on his way to Ely, having bought the boat just 11 days ago. For someone who claimed never to have done any boating before he was a very competent single hander.

At the bottom we tied up for the night and I went back to help a couple of lock-loads of boats down the bottom lock.

Some boats had been delayed for more than a day; we were fortunate in being held up only for four hours. The original plan had been to get to Weedon; tomorrow we'll get to Stoke Bruerne and be back at the marina on Friday.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Nice idea, but will speeding boaters take any notice?

Fixed to Bridge 97 on the shared Oxford/Grand Union is a sign "borrowed" from the road network.

It made me smile - "Try your brakes" is a variation on "Slow down" I hadn't seen before. I don't suppose it will make the slightest difference to the speed of passing boats.

Earlier we'd had a good chat with Julie from Heaven Sent. We came alongside and she came on board for coffee. We stopped for lunch just below Calcutt Locks, where I started chopping the logs from the Worcester and Birmingham. This might just be our last boating al fresco meal of 2016.

The house at Napton Junction has a curious excrescence on a wall.

Is it foam cavity wall insulation which has oozed from a crack? Or a weird decorative feature?

We tied up for the day on Braunston Puddlebanks. I expected there to be space opposite The Boathouse pub but that is always gloomy being overshadowed by trees. We enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine, which imparted a warm glow to the scene.

I lit the fire for the first time since - ooh - July as it was beginning to feel a bit chilly. We walked to the pub for a good meal; on our return to the boat we had to open all the windows/pigeon boxes/front door to let some of the heat out!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Apple bobbing

I thought it was supposed to rain this afternoon, not this morning. It actually rained most of the day. Still, as we'd got up earlyish we set off - in the drizzle - before 0900. At coffee time we spotted Chrissie tied up above the Bascote locks, so we pulled in. It was good to see Rob and Jill again. After coffee on their boat Jan and I returned to Jubilee for our lunch, leaving them to their online search for a winter mooring. They had promised to share locks to the top of Stockton with us as long as it had stopped raining; in the event we went on our own.

Ally and Ben came to visit with Josiah; they parked by Birdingbury Wharf Bridge 21 opposite the Boat pub and walked down the flight to meet us. Ben steered while Granny and Mummy looked after the baby; I did my usual lockwheeling.

We tied up by the bridge, a familiar location from our days with Shadow when it used to be moored at Stockton Top Marina. A pair of swans were trying to eat an apple which kept sinking and which they kept retrieving by plunging their heads into the water.

When our visitors had gone we moved on half a mile to tie up where we weren't under trees, opposite our friends Steve and Julie on Heaven Sent. We exchanged brief greetings then got in out of the rain.

It is beginning to feel like our six months afloat for 2016 is coming to an end: we are on our way back to the marina. We shall be there by Thursday or Friday - less than a week! I shall have to calculate how many miles and locks we've done.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Waterways-themed wallpaper

After going to Saltisford Church this morning (good sermon on Mission Impossible) we went to the Cape of Good Hope for lunch. In my change I got my first plastic fiver. Not sure if I like it yet.

The wall in the gents is papered with pages from old copies of Waterways World.

And here's the five pound note.

After lunch we set off down the Cape Locks, stopped for Lidl (and Morrison's) at Leamington Spa and tied up above Wood Lock. All the locks were in our favour, unlike Hatton where I had to turn nearly all of them. Did I mention that on Friday we did 38 locks?

Approaching Leamington Spa was a tug ...

... towing GWR Butty no. 65.

The rain forecast for tomorrow seems to have been put back until the afternoon, so we'll try to get the remaining locks to Wigram's Turn done in the morning. An earlier start than usual is called for, methinks.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

A proper Dutch boat

We stayed at Warwick today, on the 48 hour moorings above Cape Locks. Ally and Josiah came to visit; we walked round the town and took Josiah to Little Monkeys Fun House for an hour or so.

At the moorings was this lovely Dutch boat.

Kokanje was built in 1910 as a sailing barge to carry tulips; in 1968 a Mercedes diesel engine and the superstructure were fitted. The boat was transported from the Netherlands to Shepperton Marina in January this year; Ken, a former narrowboat owner, bought her in March and is absolutely delighted with her.

I got talking to him on the towpath as he was carrying a bundle of Celotex insulation; he invited me on board for a look round. He likes the fact that there's plenty of headroom and, for a shortish boat, it feels spacious. The 9' beam helps in this regard. The Celotex was for the roof lining, a job he has already started. Ken intends taking the boat to Ireland next year (by lorry).