Well it's not really the Captain's log, as I am not the Captain, I'm just crew - but Crew's log doesn't really sound right, so Captain's log it is.
After three months of working (including every weekend, but with James not working it didn't really matter what day of the week it was) we are back to travelling the canals. I have met some wonderful people in my travels through work and boy did I travel! Some days I was clocking up 180 - 200 miles per day working down in Stratford-Upon-Avon and even as far as Redditch, I was going back and forth twice a day with lots of driving once I actually got there, so glad I had a company car and company fuel card. Other times I was virtually on my doorstep, in Bedworth and Nuneaton. James has been really looking after me during this time, I always had a nice (no make that lovely) lunch to come back to in my break and all the housework (or should that be boatwork) was done as well as him tackling some of the maintenance jobs.
Having been moored up on our winter mooring at the Pumphouse at Sutton Stop it really was exciting to be moving off again. So here's this week's roundup:
Monday 4th - it was my Birthday, Jess was already aboard having arrived on Saturday at Bedworth station and Mum was coming (a 2 hour trip, 4 hour return) just for the day. It was lovely to see her again and much appreciated that she had come all that way. So needless to say, no canal miles were carried out.
Tuesday 5th - Sutton Stop - Coventry Basin 5.6 miles and 0 locks.
Hope you had a good Birthday Keith.
Wednesday 6th - Stayed at Coventry Basin, Jess returned home.
Thursday 7th - Coventry Basin - Sutton Stop 5.6 miles and 0 locks.
Friday 8th Stayed at Sutton Stop.
Hope you also had good Birthdays Donald and Kate.
Saturday 9th - Sutton Stop - Brinklow 7 miles and 1 lock.
Sunday 10th - Brinklow - Bridge 68 near Rugby 7 miles and 0 locks.
Although it's been very cold, and sometimes raining or in today's case snowing, it has been great fun being on the move again.
|At Hawkesbury Junction|
|Made it through and off the Coventry Canal onto the Oxford|
|Perfectly lined up for the lock|
Here's my round up of our weeks cruising, walking and cycling (although no cycling this week).
Monday 11th Bridge 68 near Rugby - Hillmorton 1.5 miles and 3 locks.
Tuesday 12th Walked 3 miles return to get stocked up at the local Aldi in Hillmorton. We had the surveyor visit in the afternoon to carry out the Boat Safety, which, as James has mentioned LJ passed - phew!
Wednesday 13th Hillmorton - Barby 2.6 miles and 0 locks.
Thursday 14th We have always said we must walk up Barby Hill and today was the day. Although very cold out the canal was still iced up at lunchtime we made it being a 4 mile round walk.
Friday 15th Barby - Braunston 3.5 miles and 0 locks.
Saturday 16th We stayed put and James watched all three games of the Six Nations rugby, well he couldn't miss the final matches. This is the first year EVER that he has managed to watch the whole tournament, in previous years work inconveniently got in the way and he always missed some. We ventured out in the evening to the local Marston's pub in the rain and the towpath where we were moored was extremely muddy, at one point the puddles were so deep I thought it would go over the top of my boots. Although we plan to stay in Brauston for a few days we must get moored on a better section of towpath.
Sunday 17th Braunston - a bit further in Braunston 0.75 miles and 0 locks. Yes we moved, waited for the snow to stop before venturing out. I only realised how much snow we had when we passed a hire boat at the water point and they had made a snowman on their roof, only a little one, but still enough snow to make one! We are now moored on a better section of towpath so hopefully it will help keep the mud out of the boat.
TOTALS FOR WEEK 2:
Cruising 8.35 miles
Walks 7 miles
Cruising 33.55 miles
|Setting off for Barby Hill|
|Just starting to go up now - what a clear day, we could see for miles|
|Not far back to LJ|
Not much to report in this week's log with regards to canal miles, but this is how the week went:
Monday 18th March - we got the bus from Braunston into Daventry, it's only about three miles and took all of 10 minutes but cost £4.90, saved us walking though I suppose.
Tuesday 19th March - Braunston - Napton 6 miles and 0 locks
Nothing to report for Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st
Friday 22nd March - met Andrew from Enterprise Car Rental at the Bridge Inn for our hire car to get to Pam and Pete in Wales. Then traveled the long way round avoiding all the snowy weather in North Wales.
Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th March - spent a great weekend in Wales being treated to dinner on Saturday evening and having a lovely home cooked chicken roast on Sunday. We went into Cardigan town on Saturday and into Jess' favorite shop, Yum Yums on the High Street and of course no visit to Cardigan is complete without a visit to the Priory Cafe
TOTALS FOR WEEK 3
235 road miles
235 road miles
Another week's flown by, but as we are sitting waiting near Braunston for 'Freaky Friday' not much in the log this week.
Monday 25th - Traveled back from Pam and Pete in West Wales. As all over the weekend we'd heard reports of bad snow we decided to head off early to make sure we got the hire car back on time. After having my all time favourite cooked breakfast, thanks Pam, we set off just before 8am stopping after a couple of hours at the services for a quick coffee and pee break. It wasn't until we were about at Worcester before we even saw snow, so I think luckily we missed the worst. We arrived back at Enterprise car hire with about half an hour spare so good timing there. After a lift back from one of the guys we were back aboard LJ and everything was ok, James had done a mini drain down in case. I just had to move the couple of inches of snow from the back door so I could get it open. We soon had the fire going and warmed up.
Tuesday 26th - I had my first boat deliver from Tesco and could highly recommend doing it. I often had home deliveries when we were down in Poole and thought it was brilliant, hadn't thought it was possible on a boat, but thanks to Sue on No Problem and her blog I gave it a try. As we were a hundred yards or so down the towpath from the pub car park where I had requested delivery I wandered up and waited for the van. It turned up in the early part of the time slot and the driver couldn't have been more helpful, I had texted James to come and meet me and give me a hand carrying it back to LJ but there was no need. Mr Tesco picked up my three crates and said (well no insisted) carrying them back to the boat, "but we're about a hundred yards down the muddy footpath" I said, but no off we went meeting James on his way to help, he offered to take a crate but Mr Tesco was having none of that and took them all himself. Excellent service. All I had to do was then get everything put away.
Wednesday 27th - We decided to move a little closer to Brauston today, it was bitterly cold and even a hot cup of tea on the go did little to warm us up.
Napton - Bridge 100 near Flecknoe 4.5 miles 0 locks
Thursday 28th and Friday 29th - nothing to report
Saturday 30th - After breakfast and getting lunch cooking on the stove we took a walk in Flecknoe, we took the long way there about three miles, stopped for a pint and packet of crisps in the lovely friendly local and wandered the short way back to LJ, so probably about four or five miles in total.
Sunday 31st - Happy Easter
TOTALS FOR WEEK 4
Cruising 4.5 miles
240 road miles
Cruising 44 miles
475 road miles in 2 weeks
|Our mooring near Flecknoe|
can't believe how quickly time flies by, it's now been five weeks since we left our winter mooring spot at Hawkesbury, we haven't got all that far but soon we'll be on our way to London. We have stayed a bit longer in Braunston than planned but have got a lot done, we managed to get a good mooring along Puddlebanks, one of only two really as for some reason the rest of the section up to the bridge has very shallow water towards the edge and you can't get moored properly. With the good weather of the last couple of days on our side we have managed to get the other side of the boat sanded and painted, only up to the gunnels, the part that gets all scratched and bumped (got a nasty scratch to add to the collection the other day from a hire boat, glad we hadn't just painted it!!) James managed to get one side done whilst in Hawkesbury and now we have matching sides.
Whilst the paint was drying between coats we managed to stock up on some wood, nice oak so we are pleased with that. It was hard work but certainly worth the effort, we'll be able to stretch our coal out for a bit longer now. We've had a few walks up to the village whilst here the main one to collect our post via the Post Restante service that Royal Mail runs, to collect our new licence for LJ, I felt quite guilty as we didn't get to Brauston for the post until the 3rd and our licence ran out at the end of March. Annoyingly though on our walk there I noticed three other boats with expired licences and all from last year - not the couple of days ours was, and all moored close to the CaRT office at the Stop House in Braunston!!
I only have one entry in the log for this week, and that was the couple of miles back to Brauston for Freaky Friday.
Wednesday 3rd April - Br 100 near Flecknoe - Puddlebanks, Braunston 2 miles and 0 locks.
TOTAL FOR WEEK
Cruising - 2 miles
Locks - 0
Cruising - 46 miles
Locks - 4
We have had quite a full week, but not done a lot of cruising again, but hey we're in no hurry!
Before leaving our mooring at Puddle Banks we took a walk along by the River Leam and managed to collect a load of branches which had been cut down and left in piles they were just the right size to fit in the stove and we managed to get enough for a good few days so that saved quite a bit of coal, which seems to be a precious commodity at the moment with the lingering cold weather, Jules Fuels coal boat had problems getting some from their suppliers and we heard Mark on Callisto had to wait for several days at Sutton Stop for his delivery, making him several days behind schedule. Now the weather has warmed up a bit during the day we have been able to leave lighting the fire until evening.
After collecting the new fridge from Midland Chandlers we stopped briefly outside Braunston Marina, James went off to get some more rope to make more fenders and I walked up the hill to collect a few supplies to keep us going, only bread, burgers, bacon bits and rolls, then we were on our way. We were straight into the Braunston lock flight, there are six locks in the flight with a total rise of 35'6". The first lock we were solo so a bit of a pain for James trying to keep LJ in place, but we managed to pair up for the remaining five in the flight making it much easier and it also means after opening the paddles one of the crew can go and get the next one ready whilst one closes up after the boats leave, unfortunately we soon caught up with the pair ahead of us, they were slow going so a lot of hanging around for us.
Once out of the top lock Braunston tunnel was looming in the distance, it didn't feel quite so scarey this time round as we knew what to expect in these long tunnels now. Brauston tunnel is 2042 yards long and was opened in 1796, there are three air shafts and it is just wide enough for two narrow boats to pass, amazingly though the only one we passed was about 50ft from the end so quite lucky there I think.
Once though the tunnel we passed Norton Junction where the Leicester section takes you up to, well Leicester! Not this time, but one day we'll head up there. We stopped off at the water point just before the top Buckby lock and I managed to try out my new hose, bought in the Freaky Friday sale. It's one of the blue flat ones on its own reel and my only concern was am I going to be able to coil it up properly again. Once filled my concerns were gone, of course it went back on the reel perfectly. We headed off down the top lock of the Buckby flight and moored up just before the canal shop at Anchor Cottage by the next lock. We have managed to get a few jobs done here meaning a couple of walks/cycles down the lock flight to the chandlers at Whilton buy some small bit and pieces, a switch for the fridge and some foam sealant for our battery cover which we have been meaning to do for a while as the old sealant was worn and it was leaking slightly. I've also had another Tesco delivery so we're fully supplied again for a while.
We have finished laying down the wiring for the fridge so have been able to everything back in the cupboards and the oven back in place, with the exception of the back cupboard as we still have to get the wiring into the battery bank, nearly there though and at least the rest of the boat is back in order! So half a day was spent dusting, mopping and cleaning windows to get it back in ship shape.
This morning we had a visit from RCR, but I'll let James write about that.
Tuesday 9th April - Braunston, Puddle Banks - Long Buckby, Lock 8
6.5 miles and 7 locks
TOTAL FOR WEEK
Cruising - 6.5 miles
Locks - 7
Tunnels - 1
Tunnels - 1
Cruising - 52.5 miles
Locks - 11
Tunnels - 2
I have always wondered what Braunston tunnel goes through and as we had a spare day on Monday (once Tom from RCR has sorted out our coolant leak) we decided to go back and have a look. I'm glad we did, I have always wondered what the air shafts look like, I had looked on Google Maps but as you are looking down on them it doesn't give you that ground perspective.
On Tuesday 16th we made an early start as we had the remaining 6 locks of the Buckby flight to go through and had spied some logs between the locks which would mean briefly mooring on the lock landing to pick them up. The plan was if we left early there would be only a few, if any, boats around and we wouldn't cause a problem - and the plan worked but we did start off at 6:30am. The Buckby flight consists of seven broad locks (we only had six to do as we moored up after the first one last week), in total it gives a fall of 63ft. I have to admit they are the toughest locks I have done so far, the first few were ok but the last ones were horrendous. I only just managed to get the paddles up on lock 11, being short the windlass was at neck level so not easy to put pressure on them, I persevered and finally got the water out of the lock so James and LJ could escape. It was just after this lock we stopped to collect the wood, we only passed one boat on the whole flight and it was here but luckily enough it just passed straight through and into the problem lock. Continuing on into lock 12, I managed the paddles ok, opened the gates out went James and LJ but could I get the gate closed again - no way it was not budging, so for the first time in our travels I had to call James back to help me get the gate closed. This was not easy for me as I don't like to give in and calling him back meant I had given in!!! Anyway Lock 13 the final one just at Whilton Marina was pretty tough too, but I was determined not to give in twice in one flight. Once back on board I made some bacon sarnies and tea as we continued our journey to Weedon and poor James had to put up with me saying "those locks were really tough, the toughest we have ever done" for the rest of the day (and the next one too, they were that bad!!)
On Wednesday 17th we took a wander to Stowe Hill Wharf where James asked if we bought LJ up could they drill a hole through to the batteries so we could get the fridge cables through. He could do it on Thursday and asked us to be there after 10:30am as he was blacking a boat first thing. With this good news we wandered back to have a brief look around Weedon and a lazy afternoon. In the evening we treated ourselves to a curry at the Indian as on a Wednesday they have a banquet night where you have a starter, curry, side dish, rice or naan all for £9,95 each, not surprising it was really busy in there. I would certainly recommend it if you like a curry and are in the Weedon area on a Wednesday.
Waking up on Thursday 18th the wind was still blowing a hoolie and we had to get to Stowe Hill Wharf, we stopped to top up the water tank on the way and this gave us a taster of what to expect once we arrived at the wharf. The wind was blowing us off the bank and James managed to get close enough for me to jump off with the center rope in hand, I got it round a bollard and tried to pull LJ in, not easy at the best of times but on this occasion James had to resort to using the bow thruster and we got safely anchor to the edge. Once the water was filled the next obstacle was to get LJ reversed into the wharf so the back of the boat was near the workshop door. James managed this relatively easy despite the howling wind. With the hole successfully drilled and grommet inserted it was off to continue our journey towards Bugbrooke. We moored up on a stretch with no other boats as the plan was to get the wood chopped into logs which meant using the chain saw so we wanted a quiet tow path and not to disturb anyone with all the noise. James managed to get the wiring connected up to the batteries as well so now our new fridge is fully working - we just need to get it stocked up,
Friday 19th, we were planning to get the loo tank pumped out at the marina just up the canal from where we were, but after a quick phone call they only offered pump out to their moorers and weren't open to the public, We had passed one a mile or so behind so decided to go back there and get it done. Once that was out of the way and we were moored back in the same spot it was on to tackle the wood pile. We have now got probably the largest collection of logs we've ever had. Yes I know it's getting warmer but we also use our stove for cooking so all that wood will get used, and anyway it is still chilly in the evening. Les and Mea, on Blue Moon, were planning on passing our way at some point today so they would stop so we could catch up again, we only briefly saw them when they visited us at Brauston on 'Freaky Friday'. I had just finished clearing up and putting away after the log sawing session when I got a phone call to say they were about 5 minutes away - perfect timing. So it was coffee and cake on Blue Moon this time, and a quick catch up turned into over four hours, where does the time go. As we parted company Mea and I both said it seems like we have known each other years, but in reality we have been following each others blogs for the last year and only met for the first time a couple of weeks ago.
On Saturday 20th I had arranged to hire a car from Enterprise and they were coming to pick us up between 9am and 10am. We need to get up to Birmingham early Monday morning as James is finally booked in for his gall bladder operation. As we had the car for a few days we decided to pop down to see mum, who lives about 10 miles outside Reading. We went out for lunch at the Cunning Man, a pub on the Kennet and Avon at Burghfield, which is the neighbouring village to Mortimer where mum lives. We just can't get away from canals! We had a lovely late lunch and then back home to walk the dogs and a nice relaxing evening chatting. We didn't leave until about 9:30pm and it took an hour and a half to get back to LJ, we parked the car in the nearest road then walked the three quarters of a mile back along the towpath to LJ, luckily I have a torch in my bag at all times!! It was only when we got back and caught up on reading other blogs that we realised Tom and Jan on Waiouru were moored just down from the Cunning Man.
On Sunday 21st we were planning to move LJ up nearer to civilization as we need to have the car close by for an early start tomorrow to the hospital in Birmingham. We had planned to move up opposite the Wharf pub but there are only four moorings available there so we would have to be lucky to get one. As it turned out that's where Mea and Les had moved Blue Moon up to the day before as they also wanted to be near the road as they needed to get into Northampton, they planned to move on today so we were going to take their mooring, as it happened I got a call from Mea to say the boat in front of them was moving on so we set off and got the mooring at the front. Thanks for the tip off Mea - isn't it great when a plan comes together. So it was goodbye to them again with plans of meeting up on their return journey and our continued journey once James has recovered. We then set off in the car to Northampton to get stocked up with supplies.
Tuesday 16th April, Long Buckby, Lock 8 - Weedon
4.5 miles and 6 locks
Thursday 18th April, Weedon - Bridge 34 Bugbrooke
3.5 miles and 0 locks
Friday 19th April, Bridge 34 - pump out - Bridge 34
3.5 miles and 0 locks
Sunday 21st April, Bridge 34 - The Wharf, Bugbrooke
0.75 miles and 0 locks
TOTAL FOR WEEK
Cruising - 12.25 miles
Locks - 6
Cruising - 64.75 miles
Locks - 17
Tunnels - 2
|Our mooring just before bridge 34 near Bugbrooke|
|Getting to work on the log pile|
|Les and Mea on Blue Moon|
Goodbye until next time
Firstly I would like to thank everyone for their best wishes and enquiries as to how James is doing after his op.
The captain's log this week has not got one entry with movement of Lois Jane but nevertheless it has been an eventful week and I can't wait to get the cruising miles in and the lock count up.
Well lets go back to last Monday 22nd April, it was an early start and we arrived at Sandwell Hospital, just outside Birmingham, at 7:45am James was checked-in on the ward and there started a marathon wait. I was asked to leave the ward about 9am and left to wander the hospital, I managed to find a seating area and grabbed a coffee and sat watching the hospital world go by. I knew James was the last from his bay on the ward to be going under the knife, so at about 1pm I went back up to the corridor outside the ward to await his return. After about half an hour I saw a nurse I recognised from the morning so asked her if James was back on the ward yet, there was always a possibility he had gone and come back whilst I was away. But no, she said he's not back yet - he still hasn't gone! She went and checked with the ward sister and I was allowed back on the ward an hour before official visiting time. James finally went off at about 2:45pm when I grabbed another coffee and headed back outside the ward so I knew when he returned, which wasn't until about 5:30pm so no chance of coming out today then. I made a quick call to Enterprise to extend the car hire and was able to go back on the ward for visiting at 6:30pm. They are quite strict with their visiting but I suppose that's good for the patients as people aren't coming and going all day. After visiting and the hour journey back to Bugbrooke I finally arrived back on LJ for a night on my own.
Tuesday 23rd April - the following morning after pottering around trying to keep busy James text me to say he would definitely be out today but didn't know what time, I headed up the motorway again so I would at least be there where he was discharged and not have him wait an hour for me to get there. So after another few hours wait he was finally out and we were on the way back. I then went to surgery in Bugbrooke to get James registered as a temporary patient as the nurse there would be able to remove his stitches after a week.
Wednesday 24th April - first job was to get the hire car back to Enterprise in Daventry and then they gave me a lift back to Bugbrooke and that was basically it for the day.
Thursday 25th April - whilst pottering around outside and sweeping the front deck, I spotted Festina Lente going by, James has been following their blog from the start and it bought back memories of our search for a narrowboat. Andy recognised Lois Jane and immediately asked how James was doing, all too soon they had passed but hopefully our paths will cross again. By the way if you are reading this Andy, I loved your Sunday lunch opportunities - its just what James would say.
Friday 26th April - I have been trying to get the outside of the boat cleaned and polished this week, but it's proving to be a bit of a nightmare - it hasn't been polished for a long time so it's been quite hard work. I am even trying to get the brass looking shiny again, I have been putting this off for sometime as it has all been lacquered and its horrendous getting it off but the one navigation light that I've started is beginning to look nice and shiny again, it's going to take some time!!
Saturday 27th April - we met up with Les and Mea from Blue Moon again, they popped in to see how James was doing and also drop off a few bits they kindly got for us whilst they were in Northampton. It was lovely seeing them again but quite sad saying goodbye as it will probably be sometime before we see them again as they are now heading off down the Southern Oxford canal before returning to Thailand in June.
Sunday 28th April - This morning I was on the back deck making sure the drain holes were clear and getting the cover off the engine bay when Adam on Briar Rose went by, we had a brief chat and again he very kindly asked how James was getting on.
We have still had the problem of loosing coolant water after RCR came out to us at Buckby so they have been out again - twice - and still every time the engine runs for an hour or so about 5 litres of coolant end up in the bilges, I have been forever mopping them out and refilling the engine. They have finally manged to track it down (I hope) to a leaking hose and will replace it. It means draining the whole system down and until we get to a waterpoint we haven't got the 80 or so litres spare to replace it, we knew we were going to be here a while so have been very careful with our water usage, I never knew I could wash my hair and shower with so little water!!
Anyway enough of my ramblings, James had his stitches out today he's doing much better and even managed the mile and a half stroll to the surgery and back. Maybe we'll be back on the move before too long.
Cruising - 64.75 miles
Locks - 17
Tunnels - 2
Bit late with the log this week, but only a short one this time.
Monday 29th April
Had a walk up to Bugbrooke surgery for James to have his stitches out.
Wednesday 1st May
Bugbrooke - Gayton Junction - 3.5 miles 0 locks
As we had RCR coming to replace a hose in the coolant system we needed to top up on our domestic water so we were able to refill the coolant system, the nearest water tap was down at Gayton Junction so off we went. James got permission from CaRT for us to moor for a couple of days on their Long Term Permits Only moorings as there was really nowhere nearby suitable for RCR to get to us that was also near a road.
Thursday 2nd, Friday 3rd, Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th
Stayed put at Gayton awaiting going up to Heyford Fields Marina so Gary could look at our leak, James and I made good use of the time we were stuck. I finished polishing LJ and painting one of the top boxes and James finished off making the circular fenders, which look fantastic.
Also on Saturday we managed to make it to the Greyhound, must be something about the name as it was another great pub with friendly attentive staff and good food.
TOTAL FOR WEEK
Cruising - 3.5 miles
Locks - 0
Tunnels - 0
Cruising - 67.75 miles
Locks - 17
Tunnels - 2
Yeah, we're finally on the move again and a real log this week.
Monday 6th May
Gayton Junction - Bugbrooke - 4 miles and 0 locks
We moved back to Bugbrooke to be near Heyford Fields Marina for Gary to check out our coolant leak tomorrrow.
Tuesday 7th May
Bugbrooke - Heyford Fields Marina - Bugbrooke - 1 Mile and 0 locks
Well Gary had done his stuff and only time would tell if our leak was fixed.
Wednesday 8th May
Bugbrooke - Stoke Bruerne - 6.5 miles, 0 locks and 1 tunnel
Yes one very long and wet tunnel, the third longest in Britain, as James has already posted.
Thursday 9th May
Stoke Bruerne - Cosgrove - 7 miles and 8 locks
Here starts the locks 8 down, 69 to go!!
Friday 10th May
Cosgrove - Milton Keynes near Bridge 92 - 10 miles and 0 locks
So glad I had the chicken stew on the go when we set off, it was great to stop and tuck into it straight away.
Saturday 11th May
Milton Keynes near Bridge 92 - Linslade - 7.5 miles, 5 locks and 1 swing bridge
The swing bridge goes right across the lock and appears to be just someones driveway.
We were moored right by the Globe Inn, so it would have been rude not to go in, a pint and some chilli peanuts went down very well.
Sunday 12th May
Linslade - Seabrook near lock 35 - 7.25 miles and 8 locks
Timed this just right a few drops of rain at lock 34 but once moored up and tucking into a late lunch it turned heavier. We met wide beam hotel boat Tranquil Rose on their way to pick up some new guests.
So we're on the move albeit slightly quicker than we would normally do, as we are on a timescale to be in London now to coincide with Jess having time off work, we prefer to stick to our 3-4 hours per day and take more days to get there rather than longer cruises and less days. We'll have a leisurely trip back up to see all the places we are just passing through.
TOTALS FOR WEEK
Cruising - 43.25 miles
Locks - 21
Tunnels - 1
Swing Bridge - 1
Cruising - 111 miles
Locks - 38
Tunnels - 3
Bridges - 1
This week seems to have been all about locks, I think I have spent more time at them or walking to them than I have on the boat!
Monday 13th May
Seabrook near lock 35 - Tring Bridge 136
5.5 miles, 1 swing bridge and 11 locks
This swing bridge was very substantial and it was just a footpath, took some persuading to open and close but eventually got there, James and LJ went through and I was just about to close it again when a boat appeared around the corner, I was on the wrong side and couldn't get across and likewise the crew in the other boat couldn't get to me as the bridge was open so they sailed through quite happily, pleased and thankful to be relieved of their duties.
Tuesday 14th May
Tring Bridge 136 - Berkhamsted
3.5 miles and 8 locks
This is where we paired up with Inky, who gave me a lift when James couldn't stop for me as the pound was too low.
Wednesday 15th May
Berkhamsted - Hemel Hempstead Bridge 148
3.25 miles, 1 mechanical bridge and 9 locks
I was not looking forward to the Winkwell swing bridge, I always feel guilty about holding up the traffic. When we arrived and I realised it was only seemed to be a small lane crossing it I didn't feel too bad. The bridge opened, and just as James and LJ were through and I was about to press the button a van turned up, closely followed by a car just as the bridge was slotting back into place, so there was no need for my worry.
Thursday 16th May
Hemel Hempstead Bridge 148 - Cassiobury Park Bridge 165
6.5 miles and 14 locks
Friday 17th May
We actually stayed put today, we wandered up to the Post Office, in the same parade of shops was a chip shop so we treated ourselves and they were the best ever chips! Getting back to the boat we had a bit of a tidy up outside James gave the roof a mop as a few days before the only mooring spot was under trees. We also set too and repaired the three flat tyres on the bikes.
Saturday 18th May
Cassiobury Park - Bridge 165 - Bridge 168
1.5 miles and 3 locks
Didn't travel far today, we wanted to get a bit closer to Watford as there's a Pizza Express there, we had swapped Tesco clubcard vouchers for Pizza Express ones and they expired on 20th, £30 worth so didn't want to waste them. We went in on the bikes and it was a good run back as it was all down hill.
Sunday 19th May
Cassiobury Park - Rickmansworth
3.75 miles and 5 locks
A lot of people had been asking me on the way down if we were going to the festival, James had a quick look on the internet and we decided we would moor up just before to see what it was all about. Unfortunately we couldn't get moored, either all full or bank not suitable, so we continued on. We went through two locks with loads of people watching, embarrassing or what! Luckily the paddles weren't too bad to open and the gates were ok too. We managed to moor shortly after and went back up to watch the boat tug of war - very entertaining.
TOTALS FOR WEEK:
Cruising - 24 miles
Locks - 50
Swing Bridges - 2
Cruising - 135 miles
Locks - 88
Tunnels - 3
Bridges - 3
We've made it to London!
Monday 20th May
Rickmansworth - Cowley
7 miles and 6 locks
We were not the only ones heading away from Rickmansworth, it was very busy with everyone leaving the festival, so we always had a boat to share the locks with.
Tuesday 21st May
Cowley - Kensal Green
15.75 miles and 1 lock
We started off by sharing the lock with Victoria, the fuel boat, when we made our stop at Tescos at Bull Bridge we moored behind her, not much left in the way of moorings as there appears to be a few abandoned boats here, which is a bit of a shame as anyone arriving after us to do a bit of shopping would have difficulty finding a mooring. After a bit of lunch we were on our way again as we knew there were a few miles to cover. As it was getting late we knew we wouldn't make it to Paddington at a reasonable time so stopped off just by Kensal Green Cemetery, we wanted a fairly early start to try and get to the Basin once the early morning leavers had gone.
Wednesday 22nd May
Kensal Green - Paddington Basin
We finally made it and turning into the Basin there only appeared to be one space left, so in we went, James did a good job of reversing LJ in the space, which could have been tricky as it was one on the inside. About 15 minutes later another boat arrived and had to leave as there was no space, after that Chance arrived with Doug and James and again were just on their way out when they spotted the one in front of us getting ready to go, very lucky for them (although they had to wait an age for the boat to get out). Once settled in we set off to get our bearings saying hello to Doug and James first, with a kind invitation to join them on Chance later for a drink. We sorted out our Oyster cards for the week and picked up the bus maps so we could find our way around. Later we strolled the 50ft or so from LJ to Chance and to a warm welcome from Doug and James, it was so good to finally meet after reading their blog (Link) for so long. We had a fantastic evening and hope we didn't overstay our welcome as it was gone midnight by the time we left - times flies when you're having fun.
Thursday 23rd May
It was our 21st wedding anniversary today and Jess was getting the train to us straight after work to join us for a celebratory dinner. During the day we did a few touristy things including Leicester Square, China Town and Covent Garden. We met Jess at Paddington Station in the evening and back to LJ for dinner
Friday 24th May
We had a full day today, we got some tickets for a show in the evening from the theatre ticket office in Leicester Square, it rained most of the day so we made for the Museum of London near St Paul's Cathedral before going to China Town to eat before the show, One Man, Two Guvners at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, we had great seats in the Royal Circle and it was absolutely brilliant, Rufus Hound really made the show and the band were great too.
Saturday 25th May
Today we had a walk through the markets at Portobello Road, the rain held off and it was really busy. It was interesting looking at the various stalls and things for sale although we made no purchases. We went back to LJ for a relaxing afternoon before heading out to St Paul's Cathedral to join a 'Walk for London' ghost tour, which started at 7:30pm. We left at 6pm thinking this was plenty of time, however the traffic was horrendous and we had only made it as far as Leicester Square at 7:30pm so unfortunately there was no way we would be able to join the tour. Instead we went along the Embankment and ended up in the Templers Knight, a Wetherspoons pub, just as the UEFA final was finishing.
Sunday 26th May
We had a fairly early start this morning as we were joining the subterranean 'Walk for London' tour and we didn't want to miss it. The tour started outside the Embankment tube station at 10:30am and this time we arrived early, it was just after 9am. So we went for a stroll along Embankment to see all the German fans from the yesterday's football final waiting for their coaches home. In the afternoon was our planned moved from Paddington Basin along the Regents Canal to the Canal Museum mooring. Being a nice sunny Sunday afternoon it was quite busy going through the zoo, lots of people walking and cycling and a few trip boats out. On the approach to Camden Locks we couldn't see the lock for people, I have never seen so many people round a lock and I thought going through the Rickmansworth Festival was busy, it was nothing compared to this. Poor Jess, these were her first locks, just as we got into the lock a plastic boat arrived so we were able to pair up down the four locks, which meant Jess and I could work the same side. As we were a little early for getting onto the mooring at the Museum, they had a trip boat out til 5:30pm which needed to get in before us, we moored up at the King's Cross moorings briefly and had a wander round, getting into the Museum just after 5:30pm, once settled we took a short stroll down near the station to where there are a few Indian restaurants and had a good curry.
TOTALS FOR WEEK
Cruising - 29.25
Locks - 11
Tunnels - 1
Cruising - 164.25
Locks - 99
Tunnels - 4
Bridges - 3
Still in London.
Monday 27th May
After our overnight stay on the museum moorings we had to be out early as the trip boat was operating today, being a Bank Holiday. So we moved all of the few hundred yards back out onto the King's Cross moorings. We then hopped on a bus and headed for Camden Market. In the evening we went over to Trafalgar Square as the London Symphony Orchestra were putting on a free performance .
Tuesday 28th May
We had a bit of a lazy day today, partly because it was pouring with rain most of the day and also Jess was heading back home. So the fire was lit and a few games of chess played before having an early dinner and heading for Waterloo station for Jess to get the 7:35pm train back to Winchester. After saying our goodbyes to Jess, James and I decided, as it had turned out to be a fairly nice evening, to head over to Knightsbridge and look at Harrods all lit up, we had a lovely stroll before heading back to King's Cross and having a bite to eat before getting back to LJ gone midnight.
Wednesday 29th May
King's Cross - Paddington Basin
4 miles and 4 locks
Fairly early start this morning as it was dry first thing with showers forecast later, also we needed to be off our mooring as our 48 hours were up. After stopping to top at the water at the first lock it was off through the Camden locks and this time hardly anyone around. As we approached the bottom of the Camden locks I headed off to empty the lock when I realised the pound above was virtually empty, the lock wasn't even half full and it was the same level as the pound, so I let James know and we headed up to the next one to let some water through. At this point CaRT were aware and they opened a sluice gate and let water flow through, it took about half an hour to get the water up to a level where we would be able to get through. We passed through the second lock with no problems and then at the top one I couldn't get the gate closed, there seemed to be something jamming to open, as the CaRT guys were doing some clearing of trees just below the lock I head down to them for some assistance. After a bit of wobbling and forcing we finally managed to shut the gate and continue on our journey. We arrived back at the Basin and managed, again, to get the last but one mooring space, which coincidentally was right next to the one we had last time.
Thursday 30th May
Today we mainly stayed around the basin and were lucky enough to see the bridge being curled up, this usually happens on a Friday but today they were doing some maintenance to it and therefore it was curled and uncurled several times. (Can't think of another way of describing this - could it be lifted??) Later in the evening we got the bus into Leicester Square and had a wander round the various street acts going on before heading back to LJ, at yes gone midnight again!
Friday 31st May
We headed out this morning to the markets just round the corner from the Basin at Church Street and ended up walking along Regents Street and into the park, we bought a sandwich and some chips and sat in Regents Park and watched the world go by. On deciding to get back to LJ we thought we would find the canal and head along there for a pleasant walk away from the traffic, we got to the bridge over the canal and looked down only to see Doug and James on Chance heading back to the Basin, we missed a lift back as we had a busy road to cross and then down the steps to the canal. We invited Doug and James over for coffee once they had settled back in and were sorted but it turned into slightly more as we got the cheeses out and picky bits and then of course coffee wouldn't go with that so it turned out to be wine and port, then followed by coffee.
Saturday 1st June
Thought we'd try to get a bit of exercise today and got on the bikes and went through the parks, starting with Hyde Park, then onto Green Park and then St James. We visited Princess Diana's Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park, which we hadn't been to before. Then it was off along Embankment and we ended up in the Indian YMCA for a very good authentic curry at £7 each, what a bargain.
Sunday 2nd June
We had an early start and went to the East End markets at Brick Lane. There was lots of fascinating things for sale and many potential bargains to be had.
All in all a very busy and enjoyable week again.
TOTALS FOR WEEK
Cruising - 4 miles
Locks - 4
Tunnels - 1
Cruising - 168.25
Locks - 103
Tunnels - 5
Bridges - 3
Monday 3rd June
Paddington Basin - Kensal Green
2.5 miles and 0 locks
Time to head out of the basin again for a few days, this time up to Kensal. When we stopped at Kensal a couple of weeks ago James had noticed that the bank sides were quite low so therefore would be good for touching up the scratches we had acquired going through the locks. Whilst there we also managed to get our other roof box painted so now we have matching grey boxes.
Tuesday 4th June
Today we headed up to Westminster Abbey to see the Royals arrive (and depart) for the 60th anniversary Coronation service. We arrived just after 8am so we could get a good place for spotting the Royals, when we arrived we had a choice of either right at the front of the barrier or a place on the wall on the other side of the pavement. We opted for the wall as it gave us a slightly elevated view and we could see more of what was going on, glad we did too as we spotted Doug and James walking through the crowds so we shuffled up to make room for them. The Royals arrived, the service happened and then the Royals left, shame none of them came over to the crowds but I suppose it was a formal service after all. As we waited for the crowds to lessen a bit the BBC were doing a live broadcast and Doug and I had very short interview which apparently appear live on TV and Adam (Briar Rose) very kindly managed to get a clip for us. After a drink in the Westminster Arms with Doug and James we went our separate ways with us ending up relaxing in St James Park.
Wednesday 5th June
Stayed at Kensal continuing with painting and getting 'ship shape'.
Thursday 6th June
Kensal and return
4.5 miles and 0 locks
A trip to the winding point to turn LJ round to get the other side matching.
Friday 7th June
Kensal Green - Paddington Basin
2.5 miles and 0 locksWe were heading back to the Basin ready for Mum to arrive tomorrow. We must be lucky as managed to get a space again, and on the same pontoon as Chance. Just as we were getting the ropes tied James (from Chance) called over did we want coffee? That sounded a great idea, so once we were secure we headed over and sat out as the sun was out, so we started with coffee and chocolate biscuits which then was followed by baked Camembert with bread and nibbles and the wine kept flowing, and finishing with tea, by this time we had moved inside as there were a few drops of rain. We had a lovely and very unexpected afternoon in excellent company.
Saturday 8th June
After a quick trip to Leicester Square to get tickets for a show tonight we headed to Paddington Station to meet Mum off the train, then back to LJ for lunch of quiche and salad as we had decided to eat after the show. We headed off to the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus to watch The 39 Steps, it was very cleverly done as there were only four actors and was very funny. After the show we went off to China town and had a very good buffet.
Sunday 9th June
It was off to the parks again on the bikes, Mum got a Boris Bike but as she preferred riding mine I used it and thought it was great. You pay a £2 access fee per day and then up to half an hour is free and an hour is £1, if you have it longer than that it starts to sound a little expensive. You can change bikes as many times as you like during the day but there must be at least 10 minutes after dropping one off before you can pick another up, so we made sure we only had one for half an hour so only costing £2. We stopped off at Hyde Park and came across the biggest dog show in London "Hyde Bark" so stayed around a while watching the competitions and parades, then it was off to the cafe for coffee and cake. We then went off through Green Park to Buckingham Palace and then cycled down The Mall. Time was now getting on and we were getting worn out so after dropping off the Boris Bike we folded our bikes up and got the bus back to Paddington Basin.
TOTALS FOR WEEK
Cruising - 9.5 miles
Locks - 0
Tunnels - 0
Cruising - 178.25
Locks - 103
Tunnels - 5
Bridges - 3
Monday 11th June
After a leisurely breakfast James, Mum and I headed off to the Tate Modern along the river. We got the bus to St Paul's Cathedral and walked across Millennium Bridge and into the Tate. After a quick wander round the ground floor part by the shop we headed up to the sixth floor for coffee with a fantastic view over the Thames. After a short rest it was off to look at the exhibits in the Tate then getting the bus back to Paddington Basin and relaxing before heading to the station for Mum to get her train home.
Tuesday 12th June
This was the day when we headed out on the tidal Thames on 'Chance' with Doug and James. We had a fantastic day and enjoyed every minute of the ten hours we spent with them. James and I left them at Hampton Court and got the bus into Richmond and then the tube, with a change at Earl's Court, back to Paddington, arriving back at LJ just gone 1am. Thank you Doug and James for a truly fantastic day.
Wednesday 13th June
Paddington Basin - Kensal
An early start for us as we had to be out of the Basin by 7:00am due to a charity Dragon Boat race. We left just before 7am and were nearly the last boat out (apart from the one we think security use for storage, and another broken down one!). After stopping off at Little Venice to top up the water (with an inconsiderate moorer on the water point) we headed back to Kensal for a restful afternoon.
Thursday 14th June
James and I headed off to Greenwich late morning and due to some diversion we couldn't get our connecting bus so we went the long way round taking nearly two hours! We had a look round the exhibitions there but decided not to go into any of the places that needed paying for as we didn't really have the time to appreciate them before closing so we headed down to the Maritime Museum and had an interesting look around there, followed by a stroll to the Cutty Sark and then into the pedestrian tunnel under the Thames. Once the other side we hopped on a bus into Leicester Square and watch a couple of comedy acts in the Leicester Square Theatre. At only £5 a ticket it was excellent value. Afterwards it was yet another trip into China Town and then a couple of bus changes to get back to Kensal.
Friday 15th June
A quiet day pottering around the boat.
Saturday 16th June
We decided not to go to Trooping the Colour but instead watch it on telly. It was amazing watching the RAF do their fly past on the telly as a couple of minutes later the planes were passing us, so we got to see them twice. Glad we decided to stay on LJ though as there had been some very heavy rain showers during the afternoon.
Sunday 17th June
Today it was off to Marylebone Summer Fayre. We got the bikes sorted and set off stopping off on the way past Little Venice to say hello and goodbye to Elly and Mick on Parisian Star, they were just on their way off to the Canal Museum Moorings. We continued off to Marylebone where we locked the bikes up and started to look around the many stalls, unfortunately the weather wasn't on side and as usual at this sort of thing the rain came. We managed a large hot dog and sat in the park watching the live bands, then out came the waterproof coats and we decided to call it a day returning back to LJ at Kensal just as the sun decided to come out.
TOTALS FOR WEEK
Cruising - 2.5 miles
Locks - 0
Tunnels - 0
Cruising - 180.75
Locks - 103
Tunnels - 5
Bridges - 3
Monday 17th June - Thursday 20th June
Had a nice relaxing few days at Kensal, James did some more outside painting on the boat, this time the rear rail, it had got quite a few chips so he did a thorough job of sanding the whole lot down and repainting, it's looking good - just needs another top coat. Whilst he was busy doing that I was pottering inside getting everything clean and organised again. We had a couple of trips to Sainsbury's as it was so close we didn't need to stock up and a trip to Kensal Green Cemetery which was massive. We were also getting together all the tools we may need for our trip back to Poole and getting our little rented house back.
Friday 21st June
Kensal Green - Paddington Basin
Oh dear, we are starting to look like 'bridge hoppers' but this was a must as we had to be in Poole and didn't want to leave LJ unattended just anywhere, we had already arranged a possible overstay with CR&T as we weren't sure 7 days would be enough.
Saturday 22nd June
Off it was to Victoria Coach station to get the Megabus to Reading where we would be staying the night at Mums before borrowing her car and setting off to Poole on Sunday.
Sunday 23rd June
We were in Poole at 11:30 as arranged and finally managed to gain possession of our house - oh dear what a state!!
Monday 24th - Sunday 30th June
Well this week all rolled in one of very early morning starts and late finishes with not a lot of break time in between. We were busy cleaning, decorating, taking up carpets and generally getting the house back to being in a rentable condition.
Monday 1st July - Friday 5th July
Much more of the same, but this week it was starting to look like a home again.
Friday 5th July
Headed back to Mums to take her car back, we were very grateful for it as it would have cost quite a bit for a hire car for the time we had it, but it was very missed by Mum.
Saturday 6th July
At Mums it was her village fun day, so off we went to have a look around the stalls and at a couple of events going on, it was mostly the youngsters doing their dance routines (never had anything like that when I lived there!) but the things that were of interest to us was the Quack Pack, a couple of sheep dogs herding Indian Runner Ducks, and a display by the search and rescue dogs. After a late lunch at Mums it was back to Reading on the Megabus to Victoria and a hot and tiring trek across London with all our tools and luggage to Paddington Basin.
Sunday 7th July
Paddington Basin - Southall
It was great to be back on Lois Jane after two weeks away, the longest we have been away from her since January 2012. The solar panels had done their job whilst we were away and the fridge still going quite happily with the batteries at 81% when we arrived last night. We had stayed our maximum at the Basin, along with the authorised overstay and were grateful to CR&T for allowing it. It was time to leave and set off along the Paddington Arm stopping off for water at Little Venice and Sainsbury's at Kensall Green.
Monday 8th July
We stayed put by the lovely fields at Southall and as we have now got nice weather James made a start on sanding down the front doors which were in desperate need of varnish.
Tuesday 9th July
Southall - near Iver on the Slough Arm
We had invited Doug and James over for dinner so they made a slight detour down the Slough Arm on their way back into London. We had a lovely evening with them, as usual, and it was good to catch up again.
Wednesday 10th July
Doug and James were off this morning, but as the canal was very weeded up at this point it did make getting back onto the main Grand Union a bit tricky. We stayed put as we had a great spot with the bow in the shade of a tree most of the day but the rest of the boat in the sun for the solar panels, a great combination.
Thursday 11th - Saturday 13th July
We carried on getting the front doors and frame sanded and varnished and then moved on to getting the mushroom vents back to their former glory - all hard work, but certainly worth it. We did take time off to go for a little stroll through the nearby park to Little Britain Lake.
Sunday 14th July
Near Iver - Harefield
8 miles and 3 locks
It was time to leave our peaceful mooring along the Slough Arm, not much in the way of boat traffic and as the towpath was still closed ahead not that many people going by. We were moving on as Mum is visiting tomorrow and we need to be relatively close to a road and parking. It's good to be back on the move again and doing our first lock since the end of May.
TOTALS FOR THE WEEKS
Cruising - 28 miles
Locks - 3 locks
Cruising - 208.75
Locks - 106
Tunnels - 5
Bridges - 3
Monday 15th July
Mum's visiting today and arrived shortly after 10am, I met her up by the Horse and Barge where we would have lunch later. We had a lovely relaxing day mainly eating and drinking and taking shade by the trees next to us.
Tuesday 16th July
Harefield - Br 164 near Cassiobury Park
8.5 miles and 12 locks
Our plans for an early start to Cassiobury Park were slightly delayed, I needed some extra sleep! We set off at about 10am and as there was a lock just ahead I set off to get it ready for James and LJ. There was a boat coming down so James hovered for a bit until it was his turn, As he came in he said there was a boat behind us so we waited to let them join us in the lock, I couldn't believe it when I saw the distinct blue bow of Chance appear with James and Doug, we knew they were back on the Grand Union and heading North but as quite a few boats passed us early this morning we thought we may have missed them. We worked the next few locks with them before we stopped for water (and them at Tesco), we then decided to moor up and walk up towards Cassiobury Park to see what moorings were available as the IWA festival is on at the weekend. We hitched a lift on Chance and were treated with some Pimms and nibbles along way. It was soon time to say our goodbyes and stroll back to LJ. After an hour or so rest we then headed up ourselves to the moorings just north of Cassiobury Park.
Wednesday 17th July
We spent the day on LJ chilling out and relaxing in the lovely weather.
Thursday 18th July
Headed off to IKEA to get a parasol and some wooden outside chairs that we could also use inside when we have visitors, our current chairs and just a little too big to have them inside. We also got a rug for the living area , it makes it a little more homely now and will be better in the winter than just the wooden floors.
Friday 19th July
Another day chilling out, we needed to after our 2 mile hike back on the train from IKEA with all our purchases!
Saturday 20th July
We went off to the IWA festival. Again we had lovely weather, although the festival itself was a little disappointing. James had been trying to get onto the button making class by emailing in advance but heard nothing back, he later found out that the guy taking the class had cancelled and wouldn't be going so a bit of a shame really. It was ok if you were looking to get a new engine or batteries, loads of those types of stalls, but unfortunately not one of the chandlers had made an appearance, we were hoping to be able to get a few bits and pieces. However, they did have entertainment all day, which was well organised and some of the acts were very good.
Sunday 21st July
Another visit from Mum, we had some post that we really needed and rather than send it to us Poste Restante, she very kindly drove it over herself as we were still within an hours drive. Thanks mum, it was really appreciated.
TOTALS FOR THE WEEK
Cruising - 8.5 miles
Locks - 12
Cruising - 217.25
Locks - 118
Tunnels - 3
Bridges - 3
Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd July
Spent a couple of days at the boat relaxing and also sorting out paperwork.
Wednesday 24th July
Today we headed off on the tube into London again, it was our afternoon tea day and lovely it was too, although I was soooo full up.
Thursday 25th July
Br 164 Nr Cassiobury Park - Hemel Hempstead
6 miles and 12 locks
Time to move on today, it started off quite cloudy and muggy but the sun soon broke through, I managed to get some shade at the locks by the overhanging trees which was very welcome.
Friday 26th July
We headed off to Staples in search of some more ink for the printer, which has been working overtime recently, so glad we manged to find space to bring it with us. We then went into Hemel Hempstead town centre, it really lacks character. There were all the usual high street shops though, according to our Nicholsons guide book it's "a developing, well planned new town with excellent shops, built around a charming old town with attractive streets". Well we certainly saw the new part but didn't come across the old town and its attractive streets. We stopped and had an iced coffee at Starbucks by the little river that runs through the town, shame more isn't made of that feature but at least it hadn't been put in a tunnel underground like some towns have done.
Saturday 27th July
Hemel Hempstead - Berkhamsted
3.5 miles and 10 locks
Didn't travel far today, but it still took a while. We were on our own in the locks up until the swing bridge and then after that we were joined by a 30ft and 40ft, so then there were three of us. This was very good for water conservation, but not so time efficient as we then had to wait for three boats to get in and out.
Sunday 28th July
James had decided to make burgers for dinner so I went in search of chips to go with them, unfortunately the couple of chip shops in Berkhamsted were closed on Sunday, and after having walked up and down the High Street I finally went and got them from a Chinese take away. They were certainly worth the hassle and walk and the burgers were lovely too.
TOTALS FOR THE WEEK
Cruising - 9.5 miles
Locks - 22 locks
Bridges - 1
Cruising - 226.75
Locks - 140
Tunnels - 3
Bridges - 4
Monday 29th July
It was into Berkhamsted this morning to visit the solicitors, we then picked up a leaflet for the Berkhamsted Heritage Walk and started our tour.
Tuesday 30th July
After raining nearly all day we ventured out late afternoon to complete the Heritage walk.
Wednesday 31st July
Berkhamsted - Cow Roast
3.25 miles and 8 locks
Just a couple of small showers along the way, but as they weren't heavy it was quite refreshing when doing the locks.
Thursday 1st August
We went off on a lovely walk through Cow Roast and up onto the King Charles Ride part of the Ridgeway, into Tring and they back to the canal for a couple of miles back to LJ.
Friday 2nd August
Cow Roast - Nr Linslade/Leighton Buzzard
10.75 miles, 18 locks and 1 swing bridge
This was a long day for us and loads of locks. We met a couple just through the swing bridge on Damsel Fly a very unusual wide beam Dutch barge. I went off to help them through leaving James tying up LJ, As I got up to the lock the guy on Damsel Fly said this was their first lock - well we all have to have a first and I'll never forget ours - I was lucky it was the stop lock at Hawkesbury junction. They were soon down and on their way only for us to keep catching them up just as the lock they were in was emptying, I wish I had asked their names but there were too many other things to talk about as we were opening and closing the gates before saying goodbye again. We also had paired up boats following us down who kept catching us up as we were nearly ready to leave. The cottage at Slapton Lock has a little herb garden by the sign where they invite boaters to help themselves to herbs, so I did - what a lovely thought. We finally called it a day after Grove Lock (28) and tucked into Chicken Curry which James had been cooking whilst waiting at the locks.
Saturday 3rd August
We had a relaxing day recovering from the locks - mostly reading, before heading off into Leighton Buzzard in the afternoon to have a quick look around the town.
Sunday 4th August
Nr Linslade/Leighton Buzzard - Milton Keynes
12.5 miles, 6 locks and 1 swing bridge
Not many locks today so I had time to be able to make some biscuits and cook the cakes James had prepared before setting off. We have been playing leap frog with Fair Fa all week, which is also a Sandhills boat (number 3).
TOTALS FOR THE WEEK
Cruising - 26.5
Locks - 32
Bridges - 2
Cruising - 253.25
Locks - 172
Tunnels - 3
Bridges - 6
Monday 5th August
Went back into Milton Keynes and the market.
Tuesday 6th August
Stayed at Milton Keynes
Wednesday 7th August
Milton Keynes - Bottom Lock, Stoke Bruerne
13.5 miles and 1 lock
Thursday 8th August
Bottom Lock, Stoke Bruerne - Gayton
4.75 miles, 7 locks and 1 tunnel
Friday 9th August
Had a visit from Mum, we walked down to Gayton Junction and did some gongoozling, watching the new hire boats leaving Gayton Marina and coming to the junction, it always seemed when a boat got to the junction the wind picked up making the turn challenging, it was interesting seeing the different ways people got around this.
Saturday 10th August
Off to Blisworth festival today, it was free entry and well organised.
Sunday 11th August
James has been busy polishing LJ and finishing off the varnishing the front doors, he gave the side doors another coat too.
Monday 12th August
Stayed at Gayton.
Tuesday 13th August
Gayton - Bugbrooke
3.5 miles and 0 locks
Wednesday 14th - Sunday 18th August
Stayed at Bugbrooke. James has been busy varnishing and polishing LJ. We've had a couple of strolls into Bugbrooke village itself and to the little local shop to get essentials. On Saturday we took a Tesco delivery as supplies were getting low and it is miles to anywhere with a supermarket. I went out for a walk across the railway bridge and the miles of farmland to Pattishall Church and then followed the stream all the way back to the canal near LJ.
TOTALS FOR BOTH WEEKS
Cruising - 21.75
Locks - 8
Tunnels - 1
Cruising - 275
Locks - 180
Tunnels - 4
Bridges - 6
Monday 19th August
At Bugbrooke getting a few more jobs done and also exploring the wonderful countryside here.
Tuesday 20th August
We went to the Bugbrooke Community Cafe for breakfast this morning, it was nice to see it really busy. The cafe is run by volunteers and is open 9 - 12:30 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 9 - 4 on Saturday. If you are in or passing through Bugbrooke it really is worth a visit, good food and very reasonably priced, it's only a short stroll from the canal at The Wharf. I had the full breakfast of sausage, bacon, egg, beans and toast for only £2.95. The large version with 2 of everything was only £4.75 and with tea at 60p a mug you really can't go wrong, but then I do love a cooked breakfast.
Wednesday 21st August
We walked along the canal as James had arranged to get some hardwood from 'Good Timber'. A most amazing place that sold hardwoods of all description, they had a huge workshop where they cut timber to your own requirements as well as off the shelf blocks for creating bowls, pens, guitars, etc.
Thursday 22nd August
Bugbrooke - Whilton
6.5 miles and 0 locks
Friday 23rd August and Saturday 24th August
It's a lovely spot with fields both sides and nice outlook, unfortunately though beyond the field one side is the M1 and to the other is the main railway from London to Birmingham along with all the Virgin trains whizzing by, although on Sundays there are hardly any. James has been continuing improving the outside of LJ, this time the back deck got the treatment, he also managed to order some more paint through Whilton Chandlers so using the last of the slightly light paint for the first coat.
Sunday 25th August
Today started off raining, so it was a bit of a lazy morning, Adam and Adrian past us on Briar Rose on the start of their Big Trip. An hour or so later the rain cleared so we took walk up the Buckby flight to see if Briar Rose was still around. We caught up with with them at the top lock and had a brief chat whilst they stopped at the water point. It was good to meet Adam and Adrian at last as the few other times our paths have crossed it's just been a shout across to say hello.
TOTALS FOR WEEK
Cruising - 6.5 miles
Locks - 0
Monday 26th August
Today was a Bank Holiday so again very few trains going by.
Tuesday 27th August - Thursday 29th August
Our Beta Marine engine is housed in a big white box, over the years the tray at the bottom has been collecting oil, maybe from previous oil leaks and when oil changes have happened, James decided it would be good to get it clean again! He got the Pela pump out and the majority of it was sucked out, but the pump is no good for the last bits - so guess who got the job of doing that!! I though my time of getting close and personal with the engine had ended but no, I got even closer to the big lump. Using nearly a whole kitchen roll I managed to clean the rest of the tray and amazingly it is white, before looking down from the top of the engine it was just black at the bottom now it is gleaming white.
Friday 30th August
We were collected from the entrance of Whilton Marina and taken to Daventry Enterprise to get our hire car - heading for Mortimer (Near Reading) for my appointment at the Doctors. All went well with the doctor saying he would refer me to the Audiology Department at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and that I should get an appointment within about six weeks. It was back to Mums for a lovely dinner before heading down to the South Coast to Poole and see Jess and Lee.
Saturday 31st August
We had promised Jess last time that on our next visit we would get the outside of the house painted at the back, so it was a trip to Inexcess and B&Q to get some paint. Back at the house James and I got to work painting and we were rewarded with a lovely lunch of various sandwiches and a huge selection of cupcakes with different flavoured icings that Jess had been busy making. After lunch it was off to the fabric shops to find some material for our curtains and port hole bungs on LJ. In the evening it was off to our favourite Chinese restuarant, Mac's Garden, which unfortunately has new owners and isn't quite as good as it used to be.
Sunday 1st September
There was some major football match on today involving Manchester United and as Lee is a huge fan we went off to he pub to watch the game having lunch and a drink whilst there. In the evening Jess and Lee made mussel risotto which was very nice.
Monday 2nd September
We had a fairly early start as we needed to be in Daventry to get the car back on time. We we got back to LJ and Hadar was moored in front of us so we said hello to Jo and Keith (fellow bloggers) who said they are taking a blogging break at the moment.
Tuesday 3rd September
Whilton - Bridge 3, GU Leicester Section
2.75 miles and 7 locks
It was time to face the Buckby flight again, it had been tough going on our way down back in April so I wasn't looking forward to it - I think I must have gained some muscles since then as it didn't seem as bad this time. Just as we were ready to set off a boat passed so we followed on to share the locks. They were a lovely couple, Peter and Julie on Molly May and we made good timing up the flight saying our goodbyes at top where we stopped for water.
Wednesday 4th September - Saturday 7th September
Our mooring spot is in a lovely position and really peaceful and quiet (I did ask James if it was as quiet, have made the mistake of saying it's quiet when we have been fairly close to a motorway - well it was quiet for me!!) so we decided to stay put until Sunday when our visitors were arriving. I got the curtains made and hung much to James' surprise, previously it would take me a while to complete any sewing jobs, but then I was working full time and had a house to keep up when not working. We also managed to get some more logs for the fire too, James got the chainsaw out and cut them it small pieces for storing neatly on the roof until he needed to split them.
Sunday 8th September
Bridge 3 - Crick
4 miles, 7 locks (including 4 staircase) and 1 tunnel
Our visitors arrived this morning, Lyn, Lee, Dad and Celia. We had a lovely day and the weather was good apart from a very small shower, which wasn't enough to get the waterproofs on.
TOTALS FOR WEEK
Cruising - 6.75 miles
Locks - 14
Tunnels - 1
Cruising - 288.25
Locks - 194
Tunnels - 6
Bridges - 6
Monday 9th September
It rained on and off nearly all day with some really heavy showers. We got out though and had a stroll along the canal, through some fields and back through Crick. There are a few pubs, Co-op and a post office.
Tuesday 10th September
I had my hospital appointment with the Audiology Department at the Royal Berks today, it has only been 10 days since the referral from my GP and that includes two weekends so I'm very impressed as I was expecting at least six weeks before my appointment. All went well and I have an appointment on 23rd September for hearing aids to be fitted, so it will then be 22 days since my initial GP appointment, that is so different from when I went to my GP when living in Poole over four years ago, I had been going back and forth to Poole Hospital for nearly two years and nothing being resolved, but I suppose some of the ground work had been covered as I was told I had Otosclerosis though the ENT Department as they don't really have an Audiology Department to speak of. We then went to Mum's in Mortimer and went out for dinner in the evening to Spice Oven in Caversham, what a great place and right near the Thames. It was getting quite late by the time we left Mum's and didn't get back to Crick until after midnight.
Wednesday 11th September
We had to get the hire car back to Daventry and stopped off at Tesco to stock up before Enterprise dropped us back at Crick.
Thursday 12th and Friday 13th September
We went for a walk to the nearby village of Yelvertoft doing a circular walk through the fields and back by the canal.
Saturday 14th September
Crick - Bridge 29 Elkington
We were stayed on in Crick for a few days longer as it was the Crick Feast this weekend and we wanted to have a quick look around before moving off, it is an historic event in the village and I think started off as a large scale Harvest Festival. At various locations around the village were different kinds of stalls and exhibitions ranging from classic cars, vegetable shows, history of Crick exhibitions, vegetable show, wood turning and blacksmiths. After our stroll round in the morning we got back to LJ and after getting diesel and pumpout at Crick Marina (unfortunately we just missed Mark on the fuel boat Callisto) we continued our journey towards Debdale.
Sunday 15th September
Bridge 29 Elkington - Bridge 59 near Foxton
12 miles and 1 tunnel
We had a very early start to miss the bad weather that was forecast.
TOTAL FOR WEEK
Monday 16th September
Had a wander down to the Foxton locks and also to look a the site of the inclined plane.
Tuesday 17th September
Bridge 59 near Foxton - Debdale Wharf
2 miles and 10 locks (2 x 5 staircase)
We arrived at the top of the locks and stopped at the water point, whilst filling I went off to find the lock keeper. The locks were quite busy with lots going down, the lockie told me there were a couple of boats that had been waiting at the bottom for some time so we would have to wait. We had a wait of about two and a half hours as the boats going down had to finish and the two at the bottom, which was now three, had to all come up.
Wednesday 18th September
Today was the day when LJ would be lifted and blacked, this was the first time we had seen her out of the water as when we bought her we didn't make it in time when she was out for the survey.
Thursday 19th September
Dean at Debdale was busy getting LJ blacked whilst I was making the most of the shore power and made a huge roast.
Friday 20th September
Debdale Wharf - Bridge 5 Foxton Village
2.25 miles and 2 swing bridges
Time for LJ to go back in. We then headed off back towards Foxton as we had another hire car booked for the weekend.
Saturday 21st September
Enterprise in Corby came and collected us from the swing bridge at Foxton village and took us back to their office where we picked up our car, this time they had very kindly given us a free upgrade from Class A to C. We then headed off to Mums in Mortimer where Jess was meeting us for the weekend as well.
Sunday 22nd September
The weather was kind to us and we had a lovely day, I mowed mum's lawn and we managed to replant a tree which was growing in a pot and needed a helping hand out! We also went out for a walk with the dogs that mum looks after.
TOTALS FOR WEEK
2 swing bridges
Monday 23rd September
It was an early start as we needed to be at the Royal Berkshire Hospital for my appointment at 8:45am which meant making our way across Reading in the rush hour, as we left early we missed most of the traffic and arrived at the hospital just after 8am so we went to the cafe for tea and toast. All went well at the appointment with the hearing aids being fitted and adjusted. It was only afterwards, when reading a leaflet I had be given, that I realised that Reading has one of the largest Audiology Departments in the UK and trials all the latest equipment. We made our way back up to Foxton and LJ stopped off briefly to pick up some shopping, after this was all put away we made the most of still having the hire car and went to visit Les and Mea at Hinckley before they return to their island living in Thailand.
Tuesday 24th September
Bridge 5 Foxton Village - Market Harborough
This is a lovely rural part of the canal with only a couple of road bridges and nothing else until you nearly get to the basin itself where we turned and moored on the stretch just outside. In the evening we cycled down to the town where we got a Chinese take away and then headed back to the basin to eat it al fresco.
Wednesday 25th September
Market Harborough - Foxton visitor moorings
5.5 miles and 2 swing bridges
We walked back to Market Harborough for a look around, it's only about a 10 minute walk from the basin, it quite a sizable old market town with some lovely historic buildings. On our walk back James manged to get pooed from a great height, by a pigeon I think! Back at LJ we decided to move off and made our way back to Foxton.
Thursday 26th September
We had a lazy morning with a stroll up to the locks and the little shop at the bottom of the locks. In the evening Adam and Adrian from Briar Rose joined us for a curry followed by cake which Adam had made. We really enjoyed the evening with great company.
Friday 27th September
Foxton - Aqueduct near Bridge 77
6 miles, 5 locks and 1 tunnel
Saturday 28th September
Aqueduct near Bridge 77 - Kilby Bridge moorings
3.5 miles and 7 locks
Again it was a lovely day with the sun out and quite warm. We had a bit of a wait at our first lock, Newton top lock, as the pound below was drained, apparently the last boat through the night before had left one of the paddles open, it wasn't too long before we were on our way again. James spent the afternoon starting the touch up work on the side and gunwhales where we've managed to get a few scratches.
Sunday 29th September
We staying put a Kilby whilst James is taking the opportunity to continue the painting, it's another sunny day although the wind has picked up a bit today.
TOTAL FOR WEEK
2 swing bridges
10 swing bridges
Wednesday 2nd October
Kilby Bridge - Birstall
11.5 miles and 19 locks
After our lovely evening with Doug, James and Birgit it was time for us to head off and tackle Leicester. We were ready to set off at 8am but it decided to start raining again so a short delay whilst we got into our waterproofs. I took Doug's great advice and set off on my bike to the first lock of the day, just around the corner from our mooring. I arrived to find the lock empty (we were going down) and the bottom gates open, it took a few attempts to get the gates closed but they kept opening by the time I had got round the other side, anyway after running around the lock a few times I managed to get them shut and the lock filled. At our second lock of the day the same thing lock empty and bottom gates open. Just as I opened the gates and James got LJ in a hire boat came round the corner so at least I wouldn't have to close the gates on leaving. The lady came up and helped open the gates for us to leave and told me there was a boat a few locks ahead also heading down, then I knew all locks would be against me! The next one was ok as the hire boat had been up, but the rest ALL the way to Leicester were empty and with the bottom gates left open, the lazy gits we were following weren't bothering to shut the gates. I know some gates don't stay closed but apart from our first one at Kilby I had managed to close them all, it's a good job we didn't catch them up!! We had a quick stop when the rain began again quite heavily to have tea and toast then it was on our way again, with me on the bike. I eventually got onto the boat at Aylestone Mill Lock after about 7 miles, with all locks against us and bottom gates open. We continued onto Birstall going past all the weirs of my nightmares. Needless to say by the time we arrived I was a bit worn out and tired, I slept well that night.
Sunday 6th October
Birstall - Junction Lock 47
3 miles and 1 lockAfter a lovely relaxing stay at Birstall, along with a trip by bus into Leicester we were off, just a short hop this time and an overnight stay in a lovely rural location.
TOTAL FOR WEEK
Monday 7th October
Junction Lock 47 - Loughborough
8.25 miles and 5 locks
James was up and about early this morning, as usual and I was soon up when James had said there was a hire boat stuck across the lock just ahead of us. After watching them we realised that they were well and truly stuck and may need a hand, so off we went. What we think happened was that when they opened the paddles to fill the lock the boat got dragged over and then as the pound level lowered the rear end got stuck on a ledge, with the front wedged by the gate. After closing the paddles and three of us pushing the boat it eventually came free. It wasn't long after we started our journey towards Loughborough stopping just short of the junction down to the basin.
Wednesday 9th October
Loughborough - Basin
We decided to move into the basin to carrying on with a little painting, it was ideal for getting to the back where we wanted to get the tunnel bands done. We ended up staying two nights, the first it was full with another three boats coming in after us and the second night we were alone. We had no problems there and it was quiet, but we were told it can get noisy at the weekends.
Friday 10th October
Loughborough Basin - Zouch Lock
3.5 miles and 2 locks
Not a pleasant day weather wise it was intermittently raining and drizzling and the wind was blowing a hooley, but we wanted to move from the basin.
Saturday 12 October
Zouch Lock - Sawley
6.5 miles and 6 locks
Fairly early start again this morning just after 8am and headed for our first lock which was just the other side of the bridge we were near, so I set off walking and got the lock ready for James and LJ to get in, when the couple of the boat near the lock raced out to join us. We had company, with Frank and Jane all the way to Sawley which made the lock operating a bit easier.
TOTAL FOR WEEK
10 swing bridges
Monday 14th October
Sawley - Weston-on-Trent, Bridge 9
5.4 miles and 5 locks
We set off in the pouring rain, the flood lock had been closed since yesterday so that was the first one of the day, the level was at the top of the green just into the amber. Then we were passing by the final weir and going against the flow of the Trent. Next was the crossroads with left continuing on the Trent, right being the un-navigable River Derwent and straight on, where we were heading, onto the Trent and Mersey Canal and shortly afterwards into the lock, where the level marker hadn‘t even reach the green! We were hoping to stop off in Shardlow but with full moorings we continued on. At our next lock we were joined by first time hire boaters who were a bit reluctant to share the lock as they weren’t sure they would fit in, but in they came and we did the rest of the locks with them until we stopped just after bridge 9.
Thursday 17th October
Weston-on-Trent, Bridge 9 - Willlington
7.5 miles and 2 locks
We had glorious sunshine this morning, a big difference to when we set off on Monday. The boat that had been moored behind us overnight was just getting ready to set off as well so we let them go first and followed on a few minutes later. I got our brekkie of tea and toast and went up to join James. In was indeed a wonderful morning and with the sun on our backs we were quite warm. At our first lock we just missed the boat that had set off in front of us, they had just lifted one paddle to fill the deep lock of nearly 11ft so it was quite a wait, by the time the lock had filled there was a boat waiting to come down then finally it was our turn. Once through we continued on our way through the lovely Derbyshire countryside and now the clouds were beginning to appear. We reach the second (and final) lock of the day, this time the boat in front had about half filled the lock and this was another deep lock with a rise of 12ft 4in. I had to raise the paddles slowly in this one as it was quite ferocious and throwing poor LJ around, it was slow going but we got there. On our approach into Willlington just as we were passing Mercia Marina down came the rain, just a few minutes more and we would have been ‘home and dry’.
Willington - Mercia Marina
We made our way down to the winding hole and thankfully the boat that had been moored opposite it all night had just left which gave James a little more room to run LJ round to head off to try out Mercia Marina. We moored up on the Midland Chandlers mooring and headed for Reception where we were made to feel welcome, handed over our money, collected our pedestrian entrance zapper and given our berth number along the Avocet pontoon. James did a great job reversing in and once tied up and the shore power connected the washing machine started working overtime. Mercia is a lovely marina and would be our number 1 choice for winter moorings - maybe next year as we’re booked into Cambrian Wharf this year.
TOTAL FOR WEEK
10 swing bridges
Monday 21st October
Mercia Marina - Shobnall Fields
5.25 miles and 1 lock
We delayed our departure from the marina, it was raining hard and very windy, by late morning the rain had stopped but the wind was still blowing well but off we went. It was difficult to make the left turn from our berth out of the marina so instead we turned right and tuned in the middle of the open part of the marina and made our way back to the canal. It was on and off raining all the way and the only lock was our first narrow one, I went to heave the small bottom gate and it flew open, I’d forgotten how easy they are or maybe I have acquire some muscles from the big gates of the double locks!!
Wednesday 23rd October
Shobnall Fields - Wychnor
6.3 miles and 4 locks
After stopping off at Shobnall Marina for diesel and coal we caught up with an Aqualine hire boat at the lock, it was their first time out and for only one night to see if they liked it as they are thinking of buying a boat. It was another windy day which made maneuvering in and out of locks tricky especially at Branson Lock 8 as there is a very open stretch just after it which kept trying to pin us to the bank. We had a quick stop just before Wychnor Lock to check out the river section and the weir, also to see if the bank was suitable for mooring after the lock. The notices for the river section were on amber and with the wind blowing the wrong direction we were a bit reluctant to do the river section today and the forecast was no wind in the morning. Yes good mooring spot after the lock just before bridge 44.
Thursday 24th October
Wychnor - Alrewas
1 mile and 1 lock
We walked up to check on the state of the river section this morning, it was slightly higher than yesterday, but still within the amber section and the flow seemed slightly more but no wind at all. Three boats came down with the flow and one up so we walked back to LJ and started off. We didn't travel far as we wanted to stop off in Alrewas and check out this lovely old village. So on arrival at Alrewas the sun was shining and quite warm so we had a late brekkie on the back deck.
Friday 25th October
Alrewas - Fradley
2.25 miles and 4 locks
There were volunteer lockies at the Fradley locks to help us through, we just did the first two one of the lockies said there was plenty of room to moor either side, so we opted for the new pontoons but unbelievably couldn't get in as it was too shallow so we reversed up and went the other side instead. Can’t believe new pontoons have been installed but you can’t get alongside them!!
Saturday 26th October
Fradley - Rugeley
7.4 miles an 4 locks
We headed off fairly early as we wanted to get settled in Rugeley, we had decided to sit the storm out there. After the junction with the Coventry Canal we were on familiar waters again, as we had done this stretch up to Hayward Junction on the second boat we hired two years ago. As we were leaving the second lock a boat was just leaving the lock ahead coming down so it was a quick changeover and saved me opening/closing a couple more gates. We passed through Armitage with their stacks of loos and basins awaiting collection and then onto the Armitage Tunnel which had its roof removed in 1971. There are large signs here to send a crew member ahead to check it was all clear so off I went with a two way radio in hand, we didn't expect to see a boat as we had only passed one all day, but typically there was one on its way and no one getting off to check it was all clear. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought maybe he was single handed, I could understand that, but no as he passed by there was little wifey sat there all comfortable, so I said him it was a good job I had come to check before coming through, his response was a laugh and ‘yes it is’. When he passed James at the other end he did say thank you for waiting and mentioned ‘it would have been a bit tight’ was he having a laugh it’s tight for one boat going through, that’s why you have to send someone to check.
Our guide book says there are pleasant moorings just before bridge 66, I couldn't really see what was so pleasant about them that the guide book had actually mentioned them, we continued on just pass the bridge and found a few mooring rings just after the 48 hour section. We knew there was a fairly new Tesco right near the bridge and had a wander over, they have now pedestrianised the bridge and area near Tesco, apparently it has not even been open a month so really new then. Over the course of our stay we stocked up on all the heavy things like tins and flour and I ordered a vacuum cleaner to be delivered there using Tesco Direct, which is a fantastic service and keeps you fully informed by text as to where your order is. Lucky for us we didn't get much of a storm it all happen ‘down south’. We also had a wander around Rugeley town.
Totals for week
Miles 22.2 miles
Tuesday 29th October
Rugeley - Shugborough Hall
4.25 miles and 1 lock
Again it was a fairly early start, we had passed about seven Anglo-Welsh hire boats from Great Hayward so it seems they are keeping busy. When we got to the only lock of the day a boat was just leaving so we went straight in, I jumped off just before and headed up to close the gates but no need there were quite a few guys doing all that, it turned out there were eight boats waiting to come down the lock, I haven’t seen such a big queue at locks before even in the height of summer! Did they all know something we didn’t!! We arrived at Shugborough and headed off for a quick walk up to Hayward Junction, we met Ian, Irene and Jade on Free Spirit moored only a couple of boats ahead of us and spent along time chatting drinking coffee and eating biscuits. It was lovely to meet them all.
Thursday 31st October
Shugborough Hall - Tixell Wide
0.75 miles and 1 lock
After a couple of days and a lovely early morning walk we did the short journey onto the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal and moored up at Tixell Wide.
Sunday 3rd November
Tixell Wide - Stafford Nr Bridge 98
4 miles and 1 lock
We had an early start leaving Tixell Wide and with nothing about James couldn't resist doing the complete 360 turn, after all it must be the only place on the canal system that this can be done. It’s a shame I didn't think about it before as of course I was on the boat but it would have made a great video from the bank! After that we were on our way - in the same direction., we spotted a kingfisher just sitting on the reeds but as usual as soon as we were close enough for a photo he flew off, I did see again further up but not being too skilled in photography I couldn't get a good shot, never mind practice makes perfect, well I’ll never be perfect but the practice will help. Again we only had the one lock to do before we arrived at our destination of the nearest bridge to Stafford.
Total for week
10 swing bridges
Wednesday 6th November
Stafford B98 - Lock 42
1.5 miles and 1 lock
The centre of Stafford is a straight walk from bridge 98 (the A34) and is about one and a half miles. There are some lovely old buildings there and on a Monday morning it was very quiet and we virtually had the whole town to ourselves. We returned to Stafford on Tuesday as the museum that I wanted to visit was closed on Mondays. The museum is housed in Ancient High House which is the largest timber framed house in England, it is Elizabethan and was built around 1594. Unfortunately on the day we went there was also a school trip and as is was around lunchtime the kids had taken up a number of the rooms to eat their lunches, never mind we got a good impression of the place in the rooms we could get into, it’s well worth a visit and free too.
We headed off in the pouring rain stopping at Staffordshire Boat Club to get a pump out. I don’t normally mention the emptying of our tank in the log, but the service here was excellent and only £12 so deserves a mention. The Club is run by volunteers and when we arrived James went off to find someone to assist and there they were laying tiles in their newly built clubhouse, the guy that came to do our pump out was the Harbourmaster and the Commodore was assisting with the tile laying. We were told if passing again to stay overnight as they nearly always have a space or two and the charge would be £7.50 or just buy a few drinks in the volunteer run bar in the evening.
We went through Lock 42 Deptmore Lock, this is on CRT’s winter stoppage list from 11th November so our target was met. We moored up just after in a nice rural stretch in pouring rain.
Friday 8th November
Lock 42 - Penkridge
3.75 miles and 3 locks
After a couple of days in the middle of nowhere it was time to move off and head for Penkridge. It started off being a lovely morning with bright sunshine only for it to change to cold and raining. We stopped before bridge 86 and Penkridge locks as it was 14 days moorings on this stretch but above the lock its only 48 hours and we intended spending a few days here. There is a great bakery in the village, Jaspers, we went there twice during our stay and both times lovely warm freshly baked loafs and a couple of their rock cakes.
On Saturday we went along to look at the outdoor market and noticed a banner there was advertising the Penkridge firework display later that evening, so along we went, it started at 6pm (8pm LJT). The massive bonfire was lit at 7pm with the fireworks starting at 7:30pm.
Sunday was Remembrance Sunday and we headed up to Penkridge Village to watch the parade and join the wreath laying at the war memorial outside the church.
Total for week
1 swing bridges
Tuesday 12th November
Penkridge - Gailey
3.25 miles and 6 locks
Another sunny but cold morning as we left Penkridge, stopping just after Penkridge lock to fill the water tank and get rid of the rubbish, then on our way with a few locks to do to keep me warm. At one point on this stretch the M6 runs parallel to the canal for about half a mile, we soon heard the sound of chainsaws and both looked at each other with hope, our log supply has run out and we are now just using coal. There were a few workers out clearing the trees between the motorway and canal, but unfortunately it was too shallow on that side of the canal to get anywhere near the bank, I'm sure the workmen would have let us take a few bits off their hands as they seemed a friendly bunch giving us a nice wave and taking a photo of us taking photos of them. Never mind it wasn't to be, I doubt if there will be another opportunity to collect wood before getting into Birmingham. We stopped shortly after Gailey top lock where for quite a stretch it is 48 hour moorings - why what is there that's so popular? We passed a canoe club just after the lock and at about 7:30pm a few of them passed us in the pitch black, not my idea of fun.
Wednesday 13th November
Gailey - Bridge 5 Shropshire Union
9.75 miles and 1 lock
It was pretty chilly when we left this morningi, we had been sheltered by the big oak trees but out in the open there was a thick frost. This part is very twisty and we could see one of the buildings, with two huge chimneys on the industrial estate for about an hour and then it was only about half a mile away. James even allowed me to do some steering, he pop inside to light the fire and make a cup of tea, when he came back out and said "well what do I do now?" "Just stand and look around" I said, he doesn't like just standing and has to be doing something, that's why I don't get to steer much. Anyway as we were approaching the narrow Pendeford cutting I was pleased for him to take over. We were hoping to stop just before Autherley Junction, but they wasn't really anywhere suitable so we did a detour and turned right at the junction onto the Shropshire Union, went up and winded just after bridge 5 and then moored up in the middle of nowhere, this will probably be our last rural mooring for sometime.
Totals for week