Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Not a lot to report today. We had a quiet day yesterday, and today moved back up the Coventry onto the Ashby. It has been a fine sunny day, after a mild frost overnight. We passed an angler who had just landed a 3lb chub, and a BW work party checking out a canal culvert. A few boats were moving in both directions.

There was space on the mooring at Bulking Road bridge, so we pulled in here for the night. Not a long day, we left Hawkesbury at 11:15, and were tied up again at 13:45.

We’re planning to move on to the Battlefield moorings near Shackerstone tomorrow, about 12 miles of travelling. Should take around 5 hours.

Locks none, miles 4.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A good day today. On the way back from my early run, saw Ian on NB GOSTY HILL loading fuel at the wharf at Hawkesbury. Arranged to take 6 bags of smokeless from him later.

Had a walk with Meg, and she gained a fan club of a large brown labrador, and a staffs bull terrier. When we went back on board, they sat on the towpath waiting to see her again.

Fan Club

To their disappointment, we shoved off down to Coventry. We winded at bridge 7 and did a good shop at Tesco.
Then stopped at the services at Hawkesbury for water etc. So our stores are well replenished.

Back up past the junction, and moored up for the night beyond the 7 day moorings.

The “Greenway”, as the 5½ miles of canal from Hawkesbury to Coventry Basin is known, is a linear park, looked after by the local authority. It has canal artworks along its length, and probably the highest concentration of dog waste bins per mile in the country! They work though. Considering the number of dogs walked on the towpath, there is very little poo.

Canal Art

Locks none, miles 5.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Moved from the battlefield moorings on Friday, down to Trinity Marina. Stopped at Ashby Boats at Stoke Golding on the way down, and ordered a spare cassette for the loo, and a sheet of oak faced MDF to make some more cupboards for the kitchen. Any surplus will go towards some shelves in the bedroom.
We’ll have to go back on Friday to collect.

The ice was a lot thinner today, very little south of Stoke Golding. The weather is a lot milder, and set to stay this way for a while.

We stayed at Trinity till today, taking advantage of the laundry to get the bedding done, and then catch up with the rest of the washing.

Trinity Marina

Had an 8 mile run this morning, and a small shop at the local Londis, before leaving at about noon. Down the remainder of the Ashby, with a pause at Burton Hastings to remove a load of plastic from the prop, and turned left on to the Coventry.

Off the Prop – Meg taking revenge

Pylons on the Ashby

A gust of wind took the Treadmaster mat off the counter, and I could only watch helplessly as it sunk below the surface. You’d think they’d make it bouyant as it is sold for boats. I had a grope about with the boathook, but to no avail.

Stopped just short of Hawkesbury at about 15:15.

Locks none, miles 9.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ice on the canal again this morning, but not too thick so we decided to shove off anyway. Off at 11:00, through the thin stuff and hit the ½” thick stuff just after the 1st bridge! Nearly reversed back, but decided to press on. Encountered sections of frozen canal all day, some thicker than others, though they became less frequent after Market Bosworth.

A beautiful sunny day, warm in the sun, but considerably colder in the shade.

Stopped for the night at the Battlefield Moorings near Shenton at about 15:30. The longest day’s cruise for some time!

Locks none, miles 8.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Had a good afternoon on Monday with the visit from Dad and Ann. A chance to catch up on the news, and get the mail from the last 5 weeks. It took a couple of hours to sort out! I’d ordered some bits from Maplins to wire in the remote control for the inverter, and was looking forward to fitting it. Unfortunately, we only received the plugs, and not the wire to go in between! They’re chasing the delivery with the Post Office.

The weather has turned a lot colder, with hard frosts at night. We’ve had a thin skin of ice on the canal these last 2 mornings. Snow showers as well last night. Meg was a little confused at the change to the path this morning, having never seen snow before. But she soon got into it, chasing about as usual. She is designed for this sort of weather.

Snow and Ice at Snarestone

Meg introducing herself to snow

Carol from NB CORBIERRE, who we last saw at Market Harborough, was intending to join us here on the Ashby. But she has managed to get booked in to Jannel in Burton for bottom painting (the boat’s, not hers!), so she’s passed Marston Junction on the way up to the T&M.
We’ll probably meet up again later in the year.

We’ve enjoyed being here, talking to the “neighbours”, Meg playing with Jack the whippet from NB HYPERION, but we’ll be moving on tomorrow. Not sure which way yet, but north up the Coventry canal for a start, we think.

The melting snow and rain this afternoon have made the paths mushy again, but the forecast 4 or 5 degrees of frost should stiffen the mud up.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

We stayed on the mooring near Congerstone until today, then moved the last 5 miles up to the (current) end of the canal at Snarestone.

A bright, dry day, but the wind seems a lot colder. We’re due for a cold spell.

Up through Shackerstone – lots of boats moored on the offside – and past the station on the Battlefield Line. Shame there is no trains running at this time of year; I’d like to have had a shot of a steam engine alongside the canal.

Shackerstone Station

Through Snarestone tunnel, and came across a tree floating in the canal at bridge 60. Managed to push it into the bank and squeezed past. Another casualty of Thursday’s storm.
I went back after we’d moored and managed to get it a little closer to the bank, but it was too heavy for me to lift out on my own. A job for BW, methinks.

Tree manoeuvring

Linda from the Ashby Canal Association has kindly lent me a key for the gate to their car park, so Dad has somewhere close to leave the car when they visit tomorrow.

Locks none, miles 5

Friday, January 19, 2007

We finally moved off from Sutton Wharf today. We should have moved on Wednesday afternoon, but that was when the service engineer was available for the engine. And then yesterday was a day of gales, some gusting up to 60 mph. Not narrowboat weather! The ducks enjoyed the surfing, though!

Anyway, I had the opportunity to have a good look around the battlefield area, and learn a bit more about the actual battle. Interestingly, Richard was betrayed on the field, which led to his death. If Stanley had stayed on his side, he should have carried the day. Then the Tudors would not have been the sovereigns for the next 118 years, Elizabeth I would not have recognised the need for supreme sea power and developed a modern navy….. I wonder where we would have been after 2 world wars last century without that navy?

King Richards Well, near to where he is reputed to have fallen.

The engine service was fine, no faults to report. But the storm on Thursday did some damage in Ambion Wood, fetching several trees down.

Fallen trees

Our TV aerial finished up in the canal (again), so I moved it to inside the cratch cover, with little loss of reception.

Today dawned bright and dry, still with a legacy of yesterday’s winds, but a lot calmer. Emptied the loo and rubbish, filled with water and set off further up the canal. No definite goal for today, we decided to see how we went.

Change from yesterday…

The canal and surrounding area is looking really rather good for the time of year, as if the rain and wind has washed and blow-dried the land! A really enjoyable cruise today, with water voles peering at us from the banks, pheasant whirring up out of the hedges, and a warm sun on the aft deck.

We stopped at Market Bosworth wharf, at bridge 42, for lunch. Surprised to see no boats on the visitor moorings. Then pressed on a bit further, and pulled in to a likely looking spot between bridges 46 and 47. The towpath is fairly dry, and we can get digital TV reception. Since I repaired a damaged connection in the aerial, we have had good analogue reception, but the difference in picture quality is worth having. Anyway, having spent about £150 on the dish and cabling, I want to get my money’s worth!

We’ll stay here tomorrow, and move to Snarestone on Sunday. We want to be moored at the terminus on Monday, as Dad and Ann are coming across to see us.

Locks none, miles 5.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Not a bad weekend, weatherwise. Heavy rain on Saturday night undid all the good work the dry wind did during the day. Had a couple of good road runs, and took Meg for several long walks. Still very mild for January. Meg snagged her left front dew claw while playing with another dog, it bled a little for a start, but soon dried up. I put a bandage on it to keep the mud out while out walking.

Feeling hangdog.

Moved off heading north at about 11:00, not planning to go so far, but needing diesel, gas and water, and to empty the loo. We stopped at Ashby Boats for the fuel, and asked about a service for the engine. Although they do their own servicing on the hire fleet, they are not approved Isuzu agents, so they recommended a visit to Ashby Marina, just up the navigation. From here I got a phone number of a mobile engineer who will do the service for us. Just waiting to hear from him regarding when and where.

We carried on up to Sutton Wharf, which is the next BW sanitary station, in a freshening cold wind. Did the necessary, and were able to get on the end of the plastic pontoon just up from the wharf. We can get off without stepping into mud! It seems such a small thing, but makes a huge difference if you’ve a lively, extremely hairy dog who needs to get off half a dozen times a day!

Trip boats and cafe at Sutton Wharf.

Plastic Pontoon

We’ll stay for a couple of days, and I want to have a good mooch around the Bosworth Field battlefield site. This is were the War of the Roses effectively ended, with the death of Richard III, and the coronation of Henry Tudor (Henry VII).
We passed Crown Hill earlier today, which is reputedly where the coronation took place.

Crown Hill. The farm probably wasn’t there in 1485!

Locks, none, miles 3½.

Friday, January 12, 2007

After our morning walk, Meg was almost as dirty as last night, but I got away with just washing her lower bits off. I went off to get some bread and milk, and then we untied and set off at about 12:00.

Picked up 6 bags of solid fuel from NB GHOSTY, and kicked myself for not topping up with diesel at 48p/lt.

BW was out, cutting back the reeds on the edge of the navigation. Very laudable, but the tractor was tearing up the already poor towpath surface. Maybe it could have waited till later in the year…?

Reed cutting.

Big fields, big skies.

The wind was not as strong as yesterday and gave us little trouble on the way up to Hinckley. We need to stop here to visit B&Q for some drawer runners at some point, but there was no room on the nearest moorings, so we pushed on to bridge 22 and moored. We’ll stop here for the weekend.

Locks none, miles 6½.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Well, we’re finally here on the Ashby Canal. We didn’t get away from our mooring the other side of Hawkesbury till gone 11. I had a 6 mile run, and then we waited for the rain to ease and (hopefully) the wind to drop a little.
The rain did, but the wind didn’t. but we had to move on as we had a full loo, rubbish to get rid of and a water tank to fill.
So we set off, sometimes straight, sometimes sideways, and wove our way down to the service point, the lock and the 180° turn onto the Coventry canal. It was the last I was concerned about in the wind, but as it turned out, I executed it with precision. Where are all the gongoozlers when you want them? I suspect the horizontal rain may have kept them indoors.

Anyway, shortly afterwards the rain stopped and the sun came out, and with the wind from the stern, I dried out, Meg lay out on the deck, and we made good time up to Marston Junction and the Ashby.

Near Charity Wharf

Entrance to the Ashby Canal

Turning right, eastish, left the wind on our stern quarter making holding a straight course difficult again, so we sidled into a suitably sized slot between 2 boats moored at bridge 5. Had a little help from Peter on NB JAYAR to get in.

Peter and Maggie have been living aboard for 5 years, and are staying around this area for the winter.

The towpath is very muddy, so this evening Meg and I diverted onto the adjacent fields. Big mistake, Meg returned blathered in clay coloured mud from top to tail. The easiest solution was to pop her in the shower, which she accepted with equanimity. So we now have a nice clean fresh smelling pup, at least until tomorrow.

Locks 1, miles 4½.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Although bright, it was very windy yesterday, so we stayed put. There were still 3 or 4 boats moving, but struggling in the strong westerly.
I went for a 5 mile run in the morning, then we settled down and watched a film in the afternoon.

Away this morning at about 10:20, heading towards Hawkesbury Junction and the Coventry Canal. Early rain cleared before we left, but the wind, although lighter, is still with us.

Through All Oaks Wood . Can you spot the Ent on the right?

Past flooded fields

And the railway
A very steady run to just past the Coventry Cruising Club moorings, where I’d had enough of fighting the freshening wind. We moored in the lee of the M6 embankment, and will sleep tonight to the gentle murmer of traffic buzzing along 200 yards away.

In the lee of the M6

Meg enjoyed the morning, lay out on the counter in the sunshine.
Mags was busy baking inside. Tomato soup and apple pie for lunch when we stopped at 13:20.

Locks none, miles 8.
Away from Hilmorton at 11:15. We were ready to go, then 2 boats came along to go down the locks, so we waited for them to get through.

Hilmorton Locks
35 minutes to the bottom of the flight of 3, then a further 55 minutes to Bridge 58 in Rugby. Only just managed to get moored, a popular spot adjacent to a Tesco store.

Did a shop and had a quick lunch, then on the way again at 14:30. It had been damp in the morning, but cleared up before we left.

Pulled over for the night just past bridge 38. A bit exposed to the fresh wind, but the luxury of a dry towpath, and good TV reception (to watch the 2nd half of Waking The Dead) makes up for the boat rocking a bit. Tied up by 15:45.

Windy mooring

Locks 3, miles 6.
Had a steady weekend at Braunston, pottering about and good walks with Meg. I resisted the urge to visit either of the chandlers in the town. Quite pleased with myself, really. We intended to move off on Saturday, but the weather was pretty awful, so pushed the limit on our 48 hour mooring till Sunday. There was plenty of space, anyway.

Set off at 11:00, around the corner at Braunston Turn and topped up with water etc. Then a gentle run through the occasional light shower took us to Hilmorton, where we stopped above the top lock. Couldn’t get a satellite signal, and the TV reception was poor from the aerial.

Braunston from the North Oxford.

A pleasantly rural stretch of canal, with evidence of a long history of cultivation.

Ridge and Furrow cultivation near Bridge 87.

Decided I need to get back in shape, so had a gentle 6 mile run into Rugby and back. The 1½ miles of towpath nearest to Hilmorton were extremely muddy, the rest OK. I’ll see how I go with the training, and probably enter the Liverpool ½ marathon in March.

Locks 3, Miles 6

Thursday, January 04, 2007

We’d arranged to meet up with Pat and Peter on NB Molly May II and share the 6 Braunston locks. They were behind us in the queue at Watford yesterday. So after a long walk with Meg, we set off behind them at about 11:10.

10 minutes to Norton Junction, and the right turn onto the Grand Union Main Line, heading towards Birmingham. We had an easy passage through Braunston Tunnel, no traffic coming the other way today. The last time we came through in September we had a collision with one of the 8 boats coming in the opposite direction. (see 15th September)

MMII entering the tunnel.

Although most of the locks were against us, we still passed through them fairly quickly, and were moored up in Braunston by 14:00.

We’ll probably stop here until Sunday, giving me a chance to have a couple of trips to the shops to top up the larder. Unfortunately, the chippie is shut until the middle of January, so we won’t be able to sample their excellent F & C.

The Braunston locks are due to be closed in the middle of January for a gate replacement on lock 5, these at Norton Junction are probably the new ones.

Miles 4½
Locks 6

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A late start today after a shopping trip up to Crick Co-op. The day started with showers, so the delay allowed the weather to clear. The westerly wind is still with us, though.

Just 5 minutes took us to Crick tunnel, 1528 yards of being dripped on!
I don’t remember it being quite this wet last time. Must be the time of year.

Crick Tunnel north end.

Another 1½ miles and we arrived at Watford locks. Emptied the loo and got rid of the rubbish, but couldn’t top up the water tank as the taps had been turned off due to a leak. Planned to top up at the bottom of the flight instead.

I had a walk down the flight to see if anyone was coming up and met Brian and Barbara on NB Sam Gamgee coming up through lock 1. So we came down lock 7 and prepared to wait for them to clear the flight. I should explain, coming up, locks 1 & 2 are individual locks, as is 7. 3 to 6 form a staircase, that is one chamber runs directly into the next. So boats can pass in opposite directions between 2 and 3, and between 6 and 7. But not in the staircase.

Anyway, when we were secured above 6 I walked down to help them lock up, and found they were unable to close one of the bottom gates on lock 2. A call to BW sent George out, who fished someone’s bow fender from off the cill. He then helped the crews up the flight to clear the queue of 2 boats in each direction. Thanks, George, for the quick response. I wonder who lost the fender? They must have known. We’ll keep an eye out for a naked bow for a couple of days.

Watford Locks

Seyella in Lock 2

Topped off the water when we cleared Lock 1 and finished the day moored between bridges 3 and 2 at about 16:00. ½ mile will take us to the Grand Union Main Line and a right turn to Braunston.

Locks 7, miles 4½.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Today dawned fine and dry, but with a brisk westerly wind. Untied and off at about 10:45.
This is a very quiet section of the canal, not just in terms of traffic, but bankside as well. The navigation winds through arable land, avoiding the local villages. Still very attractive even at this time of year, with the leafless trees etched sharply against a grey sky.

Grey Skies

We were chased by the rain all day, occasionally being caught by a few spots, but never amounting to anything.

This rainbow arches over the village of South Kilworth.

We had intended to moor at Crack’s Hill, but the water was too shallow to get close enough to the bank.

Cracks Hill and Shetland ponies.

So we continued on to Crick, past a couple of hundred yards of empty designated winter moorings on Crick Wharf. Finally stopped just before Crick Tunnel, at about 15:15.

Locks None, Miles 10.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year to All Our Readers (sounds a bit like the Beano…)

I hope you’re not suffering too badly this morning. We had a quiet night apart from the battering by the wind.
It’s bright and sunny, but breezy today here near Welford on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal.
We’re just chillin’ today, watching the boats go past.

Lots of love to family and friends.
Geoff, Mags and Meg.

Maureen, Thanks for the comment. We started out from Northwich in August, so have passed Barton Turns a couple of times. What’s your boat called? We’ll keep an eye out next time we’re up that way.