Monday, April 13, 2015

All Oaks Corner to Barby time lapse

Now we're back home, I've had a bit of a play around with the new GoPro camera. Takes ages to download, upload etc, but I'll get used to it. Sadly the battery ran out at Barby, but I believe you can get longer lasting batteries for it, so will have to investigate that. Anyway, here's the first effort.
The link direct to YouTube is here

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Onto the South Oxford and a strange mooring.

We've had a couple of busy days as we head for our temporary mooring at Cropredy. Having left our mooring at All Oaks Corner early on Friday morning, we headed towards Rugby, passing through the now unlit Newbold Tunnel. We remember the purple and green lights that used to illuminate the tunnel, but sadly, no more. 
Towards Rugby on a lovely morning

Rugby itself was unusually quiet, but we didn't need to stop this time, so continued on to Hillmorton Locks. These locks are duplicated, but unfortunately today one lock out of each pair was not open, so a bit of queueing was required. At the top lock we briefly met Richard and Ruth from Nb Comfortably Numb 

It was supposed to be the hottest day of the year according to the weather people, but as we approached a busy Braunston, we were subjected to a good sharp shower. We managed to hop onto the last mooring before the junction and I popped round to Midland Swindlers as it was 'Freaky Friday' and 20% off everything and a new bow thruster battery was the order of the day. 

With battery quickly installed and the sun back out, we rounded the junction and headed to Flecknoe where our good friends David and Sarah on nb The Hodma'dod were waiting to meet us. We moored next to them and then it was time for a proper boaters afternoon of catching up whilst sitting out on the towpath with wine and beer. How awful. 

We all went for dinner at The Old Olive Bush which was a very pleasant (although uphill) twenty minute walk from bridge 102. What a lovely pub this is and well worth the walk. If you intend to eat, then booking is very much recommended. Flecknoe itself is a lovely village and the pub is clearly the heartbeat of it. Very friendly and engaging staff, a good meal and good company as always.

The Old Olive Bush
The forecast for early this morning was for rain, and it arrived as planned. We waited for it to pass over and by mid morning the sun was back out. We had a chat with David & Sarah before pulling the pins and setting off towards Napton. It's a few years since we were along this stretch of canal, and we really enjoy it. The windmill at Napton was soon in view, although under a bit of cloud and the wind was getting a bit troublesome too. 

Napton windmill

We enjoy Napton Locks and they were pretty quiet. We met a few boats coming down, mainly hire boats heading back to their bases at either Napton or Calcutt. We arrived at the top lock at Marston Doles just after 2pm in lovely sunshine.
Marston Doles

The summit level was quiet although the wind strong. This contoured canal twists and turns and at times seems to go nowhere, but is very pretty and at times shallow. We came across this unique 'mooring'. What on earth is going on here. I presume the farmer has dug a hole in a field, breached the canal bank, put a boat in the hole and then filled in the bank. So, should it be licensed, and I wonder what CaRT are going to do about it. All very bizarre but if nothing is done about it, then such moorings could spring up all over the place. I see Maffi has posted about this recently here too, so I'm presuming it is quite a recent 'addition'

We eventually moored up above Claydon Locks in a lovely spot and not another boat has passed us since we did. Tomorrow morning we will drop down the locks and into Cropredy Marina. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Nuneaton and the North Oxford

Another glorious day for cruising. What a shame it had to be through Nuneaton !! We got away from our mooring around 9am this morning and headed into what can only be described as a rubbish dump. It started off with collections of plastic bottles both in the canal and on the banks. Then the odd chair, shopping trolley, bicycle, push chair, tyres, telegraph pole, television. 
All the 'T's'  Tyres, telegraph pole and television. 
How some of it actually got there is nothing short of a mystery as it often seems so inaccessible, but there it certainly is and the folks of Nuneaton should either be ashamed or embarrassed. Why do people do it in their own backyard. For boaters it just encourages us to keep going and therefore the town doesn't profit from any passing trade etc etc. Does anyone actually moor up in Nuneaton ??

This garden shed took my fancy though

The turn onto the Ashby Canal at Marston Junction was oh so tempting. We love it up there, but it will have to wait for another day unfortunately. 
Marston Junction
More rubbish as we passed Charity Dock and then on to Hawkesbury Junction, turning easily at the 180 degree junction and into the stop lock before taking on water and getting rid of refuse. 
Hawkesbury Junction
We then enjoyed an afternoon cruise down the North Oxford. Not the most picturesque stretch of water it has to be said, but nevertheless enjoyable. We've moored for the night at All Oaks Corner with plenty of other boats, having a quick chat with the folks on nb Achernar and Tony and Jacqui on nb Timewarp with their collection of tiller pins - just a shame he doesn't have any chrome ones. 

At 5pm, Louise cracked open a bottle of bubbly to celebrate my official retirement.....Cheers !!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Frustrating delays but finally on our way.

Well, it's finally here. Retirement has arrived. My last 'working' day was last Thursday and at 5pm tomorrow it will be official. In all honesty the last day was quite underwhelming and it all feels very strange knowing that the routines of the last thirty years are going to alter considerably. Louise has her 'to do' list waiting for any spare moments I may get over the coming months, although I'm struggling to see the words golf and fishing on it at the minute. Maybe they've slipped her mind

Anyway, enough of this 'work' talk. We're back on the water after spending Easter at home with the family which was nice as both boys were home. However, the boating has been a little frustrating so far this week. Folks always say 'There's always something' with a boat, and so it's proving to be. 

We are planning to get the boat to Cropredy this week in readyness for our Thames trip later in the summer. I have recently noticed the stern gear starting to drip. Ours is the Vetus water lubricated type and it shouldn't drip, so I booked a slot in the dry dock at Fradley first thing Tuesday morning for a seal to be replaced. 

Whilst waiting to play musical chairs with boats to get into the dock, we were really pleased to see one of our old shared ownership boats 'Marbury' coming up through Junction Lock with Julie & Graham on board who were original owners with us way back in 2008. 

Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it sounds, a one hour job and three hours later we're still in there....blood pressure rising. Eventually the new seal is fitted and yes, you've guessed it, it still flippin' drips. Bugger it we say, we'll have to live with it, and get it sorted later in the year if it gets worse. It could be a whole host of reasons as to why, but the situation is more than manageable, and so that's that for now. 

So, with a much lighter wallet and a few hours behind schedule, we depart Fradley towards Fazeley on a lovely summers afternoon. We caught a glimpse of Blue Moon at Kings Orchard Marina as we passed. Nothing much to report really other than a steady stream of boats towards. As we approach a bridge beyond Whittington, with a row of moored boats on the approach, the customary oncoming boat appears. Into reverse I go and to keep the boat straight, just a blip of the bow thruster....blip of the bow thruster ?? Nothing, not a bloody peep. It worked perfectly well when we came out of the dry dock. Damn you Vetus I now hate you !! Blood pressure now back on the rise and Louise decides it's a good time to walk the dogs. 

We decide to carry on through Fazeley despite there being plenty of room to moor and get through Glascote Locks. These are notoriously slow to fill, and the added problem today of one of the top paddles being taped off due to a tyre being wedged in the sluice. The best part of fifteen minutes to fill the bottom lock using just the one paddle. It gave a bit of time to reflect though as we looked out across the almost empty basin that used to be the home of Hudson boats. How tragic that a life can be taken so suddenly and so early. It made me realise that a dripping stern gear and a dodgy bow thruster aren't really problems at all...just inconveniences.
How very sad.          

We moored for the night approaching Alvecote. Out of curiosity I try the bow thruster again and it works !! Can't explain it but at least it's an inconvenience less to worry about.

Today has been glorious. We set off about 8am through Alvecote and Polesworth. Following a bit of inspiration from Nev on nb Percy, I've gone and bought a GoPro camera to capture some our Thames trip and so today it had its first outing / trial. I've not downloaded it all yet, but the signs are encouraging. Boys and their toys !! 

Half way up Atherstone locks we met nb Nuneaton and butty Brighton with folks from the Narrowboat Trust. I had a chat with some of the team of lock monkeys about the trust and it may well be a way of spending some of my 'spare time' but keep it quiet as it's not on the 'list'....yet. Although not really busy, there were some very low pounds in the flight which made navigation a bit tricky in places.
Louise at the helm

Jasper making use of the bollards

Tonight we have moored near to Springwood Haven before the assault on Nuneaton tomorrow morning.