Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Five Days in Scotland

Monday September 2nd we were up at 4am and on the 5-25 am bus to Nottingham. From there we were picked up by minibus and taken to the coach depot to board our coach to Scotland. There were eighteen of us on the bus and we picked up five more between Nottingham and Sheffield. Our first stop was at Lemming Bar services before heading up the A66 from Scotch Corner to Penrith. Our second stop was at the Woolen Mill in boarder town of Moffet. We finally arrived at the Rob Roy Hotel in Aberfoyle at 16-45. This gave us time to shower and change before dinner. We had a choose of three starters,three mains and three deserts follows by tea or coffee. This was the same each day and the food was excellent. Tuesday we were up and down for a buffet style breakfast at 08-30, consisting of cereals,or porridge followed by a full English or any part of it you wanted. After breakfast we boarded the coach for a tour of the Trossachs and Loch Lommond. Our tour on Wednesday took us to Stirling and Calander where Doctor Finlys Case Book was filmed. Thursday we toured round Crieff and Loch Earn. When we arrived back at the Hotel I walked into Aberfoyle along the old rail track and back a round trip of about two mile. I had run this on two of the other nights before dinner,well you have to do something with all this eating and drinking. Two of the evenings there was entertainment in the bar after dinner. It all came to an end on Friday when it was back on the bus and the drive back home, calling at Gretna Green on the way. We had a great time and the weather was kind with temperatures around twenty degrees and the only rain was while we were on the bus,a short shower. We are back at the Marina and have been doing some walking with the Nordic poles to keep fit. The weather has become some what cooler but then again it is September.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Bank Holiday Monday.

After a quiet weekend we took the bus on bank holiday Monday to Elvaston castle country park. Situated between Shardlow and Alvaston it is owned by Derbyshire County Council. The castle/house is not open to the public but the 200 acres of park land are amazing with paths to walk and a play ground for the kids. Despite it being bank holiday the weather was very warm and sunny. The bus dropped us at the end of the road down to the park, giving us a walk of about a mile to the park gates. On Monday there was a craft fair in the grounds. Among the stalls were a Cookie stall,cupcakes, jewellery,books.and curry mix stalls. Also there was Derby's Dervento Brewery with samples of their unique beers. For lunch we had a burger and a pint(Marlene had water)I was going to have a Wild boar burger but they had sold out,not fancying the Kangeroo burger I settled for Beef. After lunch we walked round the grounds before leaving to catch our bus home,after that mile walk back to the main road. As we approached the main road we watched the bus pass the end of the road,giving us a half hour wait for the next but nothing could spoil the day.

Friday, 23 August 2013

A trip to the Theatre.

Monday 12th August, we decided to take the boat out of the Marina to give it a wash. It was a bright and breezy day so we then made the decision to trip down the Trent to Nottingham. It was a good run down apart from a slight over heating again. This could be remedied by keeping the engine revs down to 1800rpm. We moored Monday night just past Beeston. Next morning we travelled the rest of the way into Nottingham,passing Jennifer and Graham on their boat Best of Friends. We hadn't seen them for over a year. Mooring opposite Sainsburys we washed the other side of the boat before checking out the Waters Edge pub,just a pint to see if we could get a meal the following day after the afternoon theatre trip. As it happens Wednesday was curry night. Our theatre trip on Wednesday afternoon was a great success. The production was Ghost the musical,it was well performed and technically brilliant but very emotional. After the performance we walked back to the Waters Edge for our curry. Marlene had a korma with rice and popperdoms, while I had Bamquet meal which included a Beef Madras,rice,chips,onion bagies,a samosa,spring roll,two nan breads and popperdoms. Both meals included a drink. Great value at £11-98. We headed back to the Trent on Thursday morning,once again passing Jennifer and Graham and once again we had the over heating problem. At Beeston we locked on to the Trent,taking it easy so as not to overheat,however since then the problem seems to have cured it's self. Our mooring Thursday night was on the Erewash where we were to meet Pamela,Archie and Amberley. They arrived in the evening,it took till eleven o clock to settle the kids in bed, where as the grown ups were shattered. Friday we all had a nice day canoeing(including marlene)with and inflatable canoe Pamela had borrowed. Pamela and Amberley went home Friday evening, while Archie stayed at the boat. It was back to the Marina on Saturday for a social meeting about the approaching residential moorings(more about that later)included was a Hog Roast bap.then back to the Erewash Sunday morning. Pamela,Nathan and Amberley came for dinner and some more canoeing. Sunday evening they went home taking Archie with them. I went to the doctors on Monday morning as I had had a cough for some time,she gave me some antibiotics and steroids and sent me for a chest x-ray. This was arranged for the next day,so instead of going down the Soar for a few days we went up to Shardlow where we could get a direct bus to the hospital in Derby. Returning to the boat I did some more painting,this time on the gunnel and down to the waterline,turning round the following day and painting the other side,returning to the Marina in the evening. Did some gardening yesterday,well sorted the pots out,moving some and refreshing the compost. Staying in the Marina for now,on the Ginger beer this weekend because of the Antibiotics. Next week getting ready for our coach trip to Scotland on the 2nd September.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Visiting time.

Hi there, I bet you thought we'd got lost in Fradley. Since the safety certificate was granted we cruised steadily down the Trent and Mersey back to our mooring at Sawley. In the lower reaches of the canal the water levels got quite low and care had to be taken not to run aground when passing on coming boats. Since getting back to the Marina we have been up to Yorkshire to visit Mum near Castleford, then up to Ripon to visit Richard( our son)Gill and grandson Duncan.then back to Mums and a meal with my sister Jennifer and husband Malcolm, who was celebrating his 65th birthday and retirement. A quick visit to see Marlene's two sisters before heading back to the boat for one night. Next day we caught the bus to Loughborough then a bus to Grantham and on to Colsterworth to visit Pamela,Nathan ,Archie and Amberley. While there we ordered a new fridge as ours had packed up working while we were up Yorkshire. We were at Pamela's for ten days before returning to the boat last Monday. Dinner Monday night was at the Plank and Leggit.The new fridge arrived on Tuesday morning,early(08-30) we then went shopping as we had nothing in to eat.the rest of the week has been quiet,giving us a chance to get our breath back.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

A slow run to Fradley.

Another week gone since my last blog,where does the time go. Last Saturday found us moored outside the Dog in a Doublet pub at Bodymoor Heath. The weather was warm and sunny,time to sit in the garden with a pint or two. When the evening cooled we went in to the pub and got talking to the land lord who came from Sheffield. He told us how he cooked his pies and Lamb Shanks. About a mile further on is Kingsbury water park where we spent a lazy Sunday walking round the lakes. On Monday we came to Fazley Junction where we turned left heading back toward Fradley Junction. We have a week to get there so we can meet up with an examiner who will do our Boat Safety Certificate. We stopped at Sutton Road bridge to shop at Sainsburys and buy a new saw to cut up the logs we collected when Stephen and the boys were with us. We moored at Hopwas that night and took the bus into Litchfield on Tuesday morning. Moving on on Wednesday we moored in a quiet spot(well apart from the railway track)between Tamhorn Park. One night there while we did a little more work on the boat. Thursday and Friday we moored near Fradley Village,then yesterday we moved up to the Junction mooring on the Coventry canal just before the Junction. Last night with the weather still warm and sunny we walked to the Swan and sat out side watching the boats and talking to some local people and another boater while enjoying a pint or two. Today is a lazy day before we meet the boat examiner.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Twenty Seven Locks.

Eight thirty Wednesday morning we headed to Farmers bridge locks,thirteen locks dropping 81ft. Arriving at the top lock we were approached by a man who said he had seen us before,turned out he was from Lemonroyd marine near Methley in Yorkshire. That means he last saw us in 2009,pays to give your boat a name people remember. The Farmers Bridge locks drop down the edge of Birmingham with a couple of them actually under buildings. It took us an hour and a half to get to the bottom lock and that was with some help from a canal trust volunteer. A mile further on we came to the top of the Aston Flight another eleven locks. On from there we got to Salford Junction where we turned right onto the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. Lunch was eaten on the move before arriving at the Minsworth locks,only three this time. We moored just before Curdworth tunnel, five and a half hours and Twenty Seven locks behind us. Thursday we stayed where we were and did some more painting. Later the rain returned,luckily the paint had dried. In the evening we had a visitor,a young man on his way to work when his bike pedal had come loose. He borrowed some tools and soon fixed it. Once again it was waterproofs on before setting off. Stopping at Curdworth to do a spot of shopping. Carrying on we dropped down the first six of Curdworth Locks,mooring at the top of lock seven. The rain didn't last long but it never does when your dressed ready for it.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Wolverhampton locks, closed.

Leaving Gas Street on Friday morning we moved to a mooring on the main line where it should be quieter on an evening. Walking into the City Centre so I could get my perscription filled,was probably a mistake the place was a mad house after the quiet of the canal. Checking the weed hatch I found a length of rope and part of a jacket wrapped round the propellor,this may have caused the over heating problem. Heading up the main line on Saturday morning we elected to take the old line at Smethwick junction. The three Smethwick locks lead off to the right of the main line. It's an interesting journey with the canal running under the M5 at times. It was made more interesting with the wind and rain on Saturday morning. We had intended to moor along the old line that night but arrived at The Black Country Living Museum without finding somewhere suitable,the mooring at the museum is a secure mooring with a locked gate on the towpath. It was like stepping back in time when we entered the Museum on Sunday morning. All the buildings have been rescued from their original positions in the black country and rebuild in the museum creating a canal side village complete with mine,workers institute,chapel,shops and of cause a pub. Most of it is set in the 1930s,with a AJS motorbike selling for £37-10s,I wish. It was a lovely day and dispite the rain the time flew by. This morning we should have been going through the twenty one locks at Wolverhampton and on to the Staffs and Worsceter canal,however,last night we found out that lock twenty had serious safety issues causing the whole flight to be closed. so, today we returned to Birmingham down the main line and once again moored on the main line near the National Indoor Arena and the National Sea Life Centre.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Over heating engine.

Tonight we are moored in Gas Street in Birmingham. Last Wednesday we walked into Warwick and looked round the church,then had lunch in the local Wetherspoons. We were surprised how small Warwick town centre actually was,in it's defence it still has a lot of independent shops with just a few of the chains of shops you see in most towns. Thursday we did the Hatton flight of twenty one locks,climbing 146ft 6ins this took us three hours forty minutes. The locks are large locks holding two boats and we were lucky to share the work with another boat crewed by Tim and his Mum who had just moved on to their boat. The weather was kind to us until just before we found a mooring and the heavens opened. By the time we got moored we were soaked. Mooring on the link between the Grand Union and the Stratford and Avon canal we had a quiet day(well not that quiet as we were moored next to a railway bridge). Saturday we walked over the fields to Baddesley Clinton a National Trust property it was a nice warm sunny day until we arrived back at the boat when the rain came. At least our timing was better this time. It cleared in the evening and we went for another walk. Fourteen locks on the Lapworth Flight kept us occupied on Sunday morning leaving the last four to do another day. Cleaning and washing were the order of the day on Monday,boring but it has to be done. We visited another National Trust house on Tuesday,this time Packwood House. The gardens here are great. In the afternoon we did the last four locks of the Lapworth flight. After we had topped up the diesel tank we were planning to moor at Hockley Heath for the night,however just before the lift bridge on the approach to Hockley Heath the engine over heated,so we moored quickly where we were. I don't know what caused it to over heat as I check oil and water every morning and they were fine that morning. Yesterday and today we completed the Stratford canal and took the Worcester and Birmingham canal into Gas Street.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

We finally have Television.

We finally made the decision to move at 4 o clock on Saturday. It was rather late in the day to start a journey which included ten locks. The first two of these were a staircase. We arrived at our destination at 7-30 in the evening. I'd put tea in the oven so all we had to do was eat it. After showering we felt a lot better and by nine were in the White Lion at Radford Semele,just out side Leamington Spa. Sunday morning we promised our selves a quiet rest day,however by the afternoon we were ready to go for a stroll. Heading down the A425 toward Leamington when we spotted a footpath off to our right it turned out to lead to Newbold Country Park,with a river side walk and woodland tracks. We were out for an hour and a half and enjoyed every minute. It was Tuesday before we moved on stopping to have a look round Leamington Spa. The Jephson gardens were just being planted with this years bedding plants so will be better later in the season. While there we also went to the Royal Pumphouse and Baths which houses a nice museum and art gallery and a very welcome coffee shop. Back to the boat we carried on up the two locks at the Cape,then moored for the night. I then set up the set top box I had bought in Leamington Spa. We finally had television,however,we had some interference so later in the evening we moved further up the canal and moored outside the Saltisford Arm(a short section of canal with moorings on the edge of Warwick)here we had great reception. Today we are walking into Warwick for a look round,hopefully the sun will stick around for the day.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Lazily following the contours.

From Fenny Compton we traveled the summit on it's twists and turns as it follows the contours of the land. Until finally arriving at Napton Top Lock. We moored before the locks so I could paint some more of the roof. Next morning we watered up then approached the top lock of the flight of nine that will take us down to Napton on the hill. The drop from top to bottom is 49ft 1in. At the bottom we decided to move on to Napton Junction before mooring for the night. At the Junction we turned left on to the Grand Union canal,there were no good moorings before we arrived at the first of three wide locks at Calcutt,so we dropped down these lowering another 16ft 2ins. In the end we moored about a mile from the top of the Stockton flight of locks. Staying here for two nights I finished the roof painting. Yesterday we dropped the 54ft 7ins in nine locks then one at Itchington another 6ft7ins. We moored for the night and walked into the village of Long Ichington for some shopping. This morning we are relaxing and speaking to family on the phone. We will move on this afternoon if we feel life moving, if not? No worries we will move tomorrow. Still enjoying this good weather,don't say too much.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Grapes,Cabbage and Duck Eggs.

First thing Friday morning we called at the farm shop across the canal from where we had moored. It was an interesting place with an old MG sports car and an A35 van. That took me back to when I was fitting Carpets,as I drove one then. As well as the farm shop it was also a camp site and had a lovely view of the country side over the canal, only slightly spoiled by the M40. We didn't stay long but bought grapes,cabbage and some lovely large Duck Eggs. Our mooring Friday night was in Banbury which as a large water front next to the Castle Quay shopping centre. Staying till lunch time on Saturday we had a look at the Banbury Cross, which is not really a cross but more of a monument. The original Cross was pulled down in 1602 and today's is a 19th century replica. It was only a short trip to Cropredy where we stayed Saturday night and had a night out in the Brazenose Arms. It was a good night with good beer(Adnams Broadside)and a blues group The Dave Rapheal Band. Cropredy is only a small village but it's claim to fame is the annual Folk Festival in August, the largest in Europe apparently. This has been going on since 1979 when Fairport Convention held their farewell concert there. Sunday was spent painting the boat roof and taking a couple of walks round the local footpaths. Moving on this morning we did eleven locks lifting the canal 55ft 1ins to it's summit. We are moored tonight at Fenny Compton. This is our fifth day off warm sunny weather, could summer be here at last.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Rain and yet more rain.

After lunch on Tuesday we decided to brave the rain and move the short distance to Thrupp to use the service point. By the time we arrived there we were absolutely soaking. After mooring up and using the service point we had a nice hot shower and settled down for the evening. Leaving Thrupp on Wednesday morning it was soon on with the waterproofs and settle down for another wet journey. All went well the rain was heavy at times but not all the time. Just north of Pigeon lock the boat hit a submerged object causing it to rise up out of the water(not a nice feeling)and some awful noises. We finally called it a day at bridge 207 at Lower Heyford. This turned out for the best as the rain became heavy and continuos well in to the night. It was overcast this morning but no rain. As a precaution we put on the waterproofs anyway,however the rain was only light and showery. Most of the morning we were along side the River Churwell which looked rather fast flowing. On Wednesday we had done a short stretch on the Churwell and it had not been too bad. This morning we had Aynho weir lock, where the river crosses the canal,as we left the lock the currant hit us and pushed us into the barrier protecting the weir,again not a nice experience. Coming off that section at Neil Bridge Lock we moored just passed the lift bridge. Marlene had done some washing which is now drying at the back of the boat on the rotary dryer. I am pleased to say it is looking much brighter.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Bank Holiday with the boys.

Stephen and the two boys(Harry and Max) arrived on the five o clock train,I met them at the station and showed them the way to where we were moored. We had traveled into Banbury that morning and moored near Morrisons to do some shopping. After we had eaten dinner we took an evening cruised down to Twyford Bridge before mooring for the night. The weather was good on Saturday morning and we carried on past Kings Sutton to Aynho Bridge where we topped up the diesel and some smokeless fuel as Friday night had been chilly. Moving on we picked up Dominic at Allen's bridge lock,he had caught the train to Lower Heyford and walked up the canal to meet us. Mooring near to the village of Lower Heyford we chopped some wood we had been collecting on the way down then went to the Bell for a couple of drinks. Oxford being our destination we Carried on down to Dukes Cut, at the lock was a sign saying boats over 52ft should turn here or they wood have to go on to the Thames to turn. We turned the reversed into the 48hr mooring. Stephen took a walk Sunday evening to see where we could get a bus into Oxford Monday morning. As luck would have it a short walk down the canal then over the bridge and past the Plough Inn up to the main road found us on a bus route into the city. So yesterday morning we all went into Oxford. Marlene and I took Harry and Max to the museum for a couple of hours while Stephen went to a cafe so he could do some work on the Internet,Dominic caught the train home. We met up with Stephen at lunch time and had lunch before him and the two boys caught their train home, Marlene and I caught the bus back to the boat. Leaving Dukes Cut we traveled to Kidlington Green lock before mooring for the night. We had had a lovely Bank Holiday weekend and even the weather had been good and hadn't needed a fire on the evenings since we got the smokeless fuel and wood. Today we are still at Kidlington lock and it is raining,I suppose we were lucky to get a fine weekend.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Repairs at Napton.

After our night out we went through Sutton Stop lock and on toward Rugby. We called in at Rose Narrowboats to buy an oil filter,then carried on into Rugby where we stopped to buy oil from Halfords. Mooring outside rugby at bridge 66 so Marlene could dry some washing. While it was drying I did a long overdue oil change on the engine. The weather was good all day and I even managed to wear shorts and a T-shirt all day. Moving on Monday morning we climbed the three locks at Hillmorton by 9-30. Cruising down to Braunston Junction we turned right toward Napton. As usual Braunston was busy at the junction with moored boats on one side of the canal and boats moored at the service point on the other side, leaving hardly enough room to get through. We had trouble with the engine again loosing power on and off through the day,so we moored for the night just under the bridge from Napton Marina. Tuesday turned out to be a rest day,we set off at 8-30 but we lost power every time I typed to accelerate. We couldn't carry on like this so we turned just before Napton locks and went back to our over night mooring. I then walked round to Napton Marina and explained the problem to them,however they could't have a look at it till Wednesday morning. At 8-30 Wednesday morning we took the boat into the Marina as we needed a pump out by then. The problem turned out to be a dirty fuel filter which they changed and by 10-15 and we were on our way. From Napton we climbed the nine locks in the flight then a steady cruise to Fenny Compton where we moored for the night. Today we have done eight locks in sun and heavy showers to finally moor at Cropredy for the night. Tomorrow we have a short trip into Banbury where we will shop and meet Stephen and the boys.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Eleven locks

Carrying on down the Coventry canal we cruised through some lovely countryside down to Fazeley Junction then up the Glascote locks, just the two. We spent the night at Alvercote we could still not get a signal on the satellite. Friday found us approaching the Atherstone flight of locks. Eleven locks climbing about 80ft. We were following at single handed boat(Cheese and Crackers)he was heading to Crick boat Show. At the top we moored for lunch and did some shopping. Saturday morning we cruised down to Hawkshead Junction. We moored for the night. To our surprise we managed to get a signal on the satellite.at least that is not going to cost me a new satellite dish. Tonight is Eurovision night, so we went to the Greyhound pub for a night out. Now I'm writing this and waiting for the voting to start, sad but what can you do.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Monday 13th May, I had walked over to the post office to post a parcel and arrived back around 9-30. At 10-00 o clock I turned the key to start the engine and nothing happened, the starter battery was flat. By the time I had walked over to the Chandelry,bought a new battery and fitted it then topped up the Deisel and Gas it was 11-30. We were on our way heading up the Trent to Shardlow. There are six wide locks at the start of the Trent and Mersey on the second third and fourth we locked through with another boat on the rest we were on our own. Having not moved since last July I had forgotten how heavy these double locks are. The weather had been kind not raining until we were mooring just before Willington. Marlene and I both ached from steering and locking. Tuesday morning we left our mooring at 9-30 it was sunny but the forecast was for more showers. From Willington there are no locks until Burton on Trent. By the time we approached Branston(one of our favourite moorings)it was looking a bit dark, however we pushed on toward Barton Turns. Of coarse the heavens opened before we got there. Should not have pushed our luck. We moored for the night below Barton lock. Couldn't get the tele to work so we watched a Couple of DVDs. We decided to get an early start on Wednesday morning, so at 7-15 we entered Barton lock,the plan was to have breakfast at Alrewas. Things were going well when I suddenly started to loose power. Stopping along side the A38 I looked in the weed hatch to see if we had something fouling the propellor, I could only find a few bits of string. We set of again and it was ok, I can only think that what ever was on the propellor had freed it's self while I was mooring. As we approached Wychnor lock it started to rain heavy,we put on our waterproofs and carried on to Alrewas and breakfast. We set off again at 10-00 and found ourselves in a queue the lock leaving Alrewas. We were third behind two hire boats. This remaind the same to the junction at Fradley where we turned left down the Coventry Canal. We are now moored at bridge 89 and the sun is shining between the showers. I have not managed to get signal for the tele again, I am beginning to think my satellite dish may be on the blink.