Saturday, 7 September 2013

Ghost Boat ?

We are still sitting at Braunston, our engine has now been serviced and Richard the engineer left unhappy as he could find nothing to worry us with! It was good to catch up with him and hear how the folk up on the Shroppie are getting on.
Today was composting loo emptying day ( whoopie ) and Baz was the lucky winner again in the    " who gets to dig " competition, we still have mixed feelings about the composting loo, we do like the freedom it offers us, particularly when cruising, but it carries a few down sides too -  the electric fan ( vent ) is on 24/7 and at night is annoying, we used to love the silence of the countryside at night,occasionally interupted by the cry of a bird or wind in the trees. The fan also dumps the smelly air onto the roof, where it can sometimes get back into the boat via the roof mushrooms, or be smelt while cruising as we stand on the stern, we sometimes worry that others can smell it if they are moored nearby, other than that it's err fine.

Last night we were both woken late at night by the sound of a boat, we could hear the engine getting closer, then a ghostly flickering light could be made out through our porthole, the boat past slowly, by now Baz was opening the porthole ( obscured glass ) to see what bloody fool was boating at this time, as it passed he checked the stern and could see nobody on it ! Ghost boat ! or another silly hire boat with the twit on the tiller bending into the boat for another beer ? We won't know now, perhaps that's a good thing.

Micky Jay seen from the path to the village

A zoom shot showing those solar panels doing their stuff

A boat approaches us

The cut starts to get busy, everybody seems to start moving at the same time

At the waterpoint, this 4x4 and trailer tank fills up with C&RT water, hope it's legal

The main part of the canal trading area at Braunston

Plaque to the Brays at the side of the cut - a real canal family

Well, we have done a silly thing, Ali dragged Baz to look at some vintage boats that are for sale, and of course Baz has now fallen for a trad boat with a 1946 Lister JP2 engine,........ watch this space !

Bye for now,
Baz and Ali.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Fruit for Free

As we sit, slowly cooking on board Micky, Ali first checks the temp, 29 degrees and holding, then for the third time, checks tomorrows forecast, heavy rain and a lot cooler, the sky is a summer blue, how can it change so much so quickly ? Then you remember that this is England, the surprise should be the sunshine today, not the rain tomorrow.

In the early evening yesterday we were passed by a typical canal boat scene, in the bow two men reading their news papers ( both facing the rear, great lookouts ) then as the boat passed, a lady lying on the roof reading a book, at the stern two more ladies in conversation, so relaxing as it slowly went under the bridge, sped up and turned hard right, this was a little unusual, the canal goes straight on ! With still more speed the boat first went into the bushes then an audible thump was heard as the boat hit the side at full revs and stopped. It would seem we are not the worst boaters on the cut, in fact it would seem we never were. We carried on sipping our wine and reading books, paying no attention to the now more than slightly ruffled boaters, as they extracted themselves, and as much dignity as they could find, and hurried away.

Try as we might to ignore the signs of the season changing, it is getting harder by the day, if the man made indicators can be missed ( and we certainly try, we haven't even booked our Christmas lunch, unlike the inmates we met at the marina a few days ago ) Then nature is shouting it all along the canal bank.

A dawn shot

The same shot in the afternoon

Leaves are showing a full seasons wear and tear

Elderberries are plentiful now we are no longer making wines 

Mind you we have started some Blackberry vodka  

And grab a hat full of Adams where we can

Early we know,  but our sloe gin too is done and maturing

We wait in Braunston for Richard to service the engine, and the much promised rain to try and dampen our spirits, It won't of course, we have too much to do, boat to clean, paint work to sort, the list goes on, but we shan't.

Bye for now,
Baz and Ali.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Full Circle

We are back in Braunston, our last time here was in mid June, since then we have been down to Oxford, spent a fantastic month on the Thames, going end to end, then we tackled the Grand Union, with it's double locks and continuous moorers, along the way we have learnt a lot, met some great folk, seen a selection of fantastic traditional narrow boats.....and managed not to buy one !
We are now a little stuck, do we go back up the Oxford canal or try our luck on the Leicester arm of the G.U. ? We certainly need to put some TLC  Micky Jay's way, we haven't stopped moving all year, and there is a bit of wear and tear ( as we see it ) or major restoration works ( as the boatyards see it ) at least that's how it sounds if you read the quotes !!
We had a relaxing evening at Norton Junction, and to make Ali happy, we started the day with .....another tunnel, she loves tunnels ! not. This one is special, opened in 1796, after lots of problems, firstly quick sands! and a slight misdirection has left it with a S bend, having now gone through it, we can say, we have seen straighter cork screws! Still it was fun, well Baz thought so, seems he is on his own on this.

Another day another dark forbidding hole awaits us

Possible last look at the morning sun !

The pin prick of light is from the other end, it's actually 2042 yards away, still nice to know it.s there

Shot from under a bridge, we are just leaving the lock on a glorious sunny morning

We have been watching the miles come down since London, finally we are here

Tonight's Mooring

Braunston church clearly shows where to find the village

A trip over the bridge, across the fields, takes us to the pub that did the worst meal we have had, we won't be popping in this time. 

We feel very lucky with our mooring this time round in Braunston - the spot we coveted when we were last here was vacant! No over hanging trees, there are lovely open views and hopefully some peace and quiet.
There is only one slight concern - will Richard the engineer be able to park his van and do our engine service here on Friday ?  Hoping so because a few days in this mooring would be most welcome - we'll see.
Once again the temperature in the boat is 28 C - we are making the most of it because friday is forecast wet and cold......time for a visit to Midland Chandlers in Braunston, we have a fire brick that needs replacing. 

Bye for now,
Baz and Ali.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Final Cruise

A sad day for Dom and Becs, they are taking their boat and home to the ABNB brokerage to be sold, Constance has been their home for nearly a year, enough to convince them that living afloat is for them.

So much so that they are on their way to pick up their new boat !  how exciting for them, not  a  such a bad final cruise after all then.  Hakuna Haraka (means - no rush,slowly slowly,take your time)  is sat waiting for them and new adventures, enjoy, and we hope we will bump into you again, not literally with luck!

Hakuna Haraka   sits at Crick waiting

Reluctant to let go, Becs and Dom holding Constance at the locks

Our stay at Weedon was only the one night, the old part of the village is really nice, traditional cottages, quiet streets and good facilities, but wander to the edges and bang ! you are thrown into the mad world of traffic, smells and noise as the A 45 trunk road passes through, pausing briefly at the cross roads, then back to full throttle.

Weedon church, the golden stones shine in the sun

The dogs wait for us, no we are not in the pub ! cheek.

Tonight's Mooring

A super view from the stern tonight

Behind us, in the distance boats can be seen,  on the Leicester section of the G U one will be N.B.Constance as Becs and Dom are moored there, not for us this trip we plod on towards Brauston and a few appointments, all of which have our cheque book trembling nervously in the draw.

We have another tunnel ahead - Braunston - and at 2042 yards it's up there with the other big boys, Ali is already looking forward to it - not!! There'll also be plenty of locks to tackle in the morning, but hey! that's tomorrow, we still have today to enjoy.

Bye for now,
Baz and Ali.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Our arrival at Weedon was not without a little home made drama, caused by map reading issues, or lack of map reading to be more accurate, as we cruised past a collection of mooring bollards, and the much discussed church, Ali announced that this could be it ! By now the boat was half way out of town again, much reverse thrust and just as much cursing, we came to a halt, the wind blowing us to the opposite side of our target spot and of course boats appearing from nowhere,well, we are in, tied up, and smiling.
We had left Stoke Bruerne on Sunday morning, the plan was to get through the Blisworth tunnel good and early, thus avoiding other boats coming through the other way, well that was the theory, almost immediately we entered the tunnel Ali shouted " boat coming towards us Baz " I was of course outraged that others had spoilt a good plan, and were so selfish as to be cruising at this silly time of day -  Honestly !!
We kept to our side, the light was getting closer, but not fast, I thought sod it, I will sit in the middle until we get a bit nearer,  Ali warned me that it was close now, we pulled to the right, it was of course the famous "light at the end of the tunnel " we were seeing, twits, don't tell anyone, ok.

We enter the tunnel, are you sure two boats can pass in here ?

Lots of water seems to drain into the tunnel, you hear it and wonder if you are about to be soaked, as not all of it enters like this, some comes down like rain  Big Rain !!

We say goodbye to the entrance

Air vent tunnel, often accompanied by water !

Water brings an interesting finish to what is a brick wall, with time

Nearly out

Evening at our nights mooring at Bugbrooke Downs

Today's Water Road

Looking back as we pass Nether Heyford

Open views so welcome

We are now at Weedon, we need to stock up on fresh goodies and start to plan the week ahead, so a quiet spot for boat admin, that will allow Richard to get to us on Friday to service the engine. 

Bye for now
Baz and Ali

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Stoke Bruerne and The Blisworth Tunnel

Stoke Bruerne although a busy boating place, was pleasant and quiet by the the time the tow path tourists had gone home or to the pubs.We can only stay here two nights, new rules have come into play, the aim is to keep boats moving and allow other boats to moor in this pleasant spot, really this will help the hire boats find a spot to moor as they plod up and down with deadlines to keep, usually only spending a night at any town.
We have to go through the Blisworth Tunnel tomorrow, the third longest navigable one on the system, taking about 30 mins, with the added fun factor of two way traffic.The Grand Union canal had been open and running for 5 years before the tunnel was finally finished and open, forcing boats to unload their cargoes onto trams  for the journey over the hill and then be reloaded at the other side, hardly ideal.
The first boats were poled through the tunnel, later they used leggers, men would propel the boats by foot as they lay on the boat, a hard job, not without accidents and fatalities, they were finally replaced by a steam tug to speed things up as the tunnel traffic increased.

N B Hadar shows us the way things were for leggers

All in a days work, some jobs best left in the past

Stoke Bruerne, behind the bridge is the wharf and a lock

One drink in here was all we managed before being driven away by wasps, Pest Control has gone down hill since my retirement

The wharf, the large three storey building was once a corn mill, now a museum 

Seen from the lock bridge 

It's time to plan to have the engine serviced again - it almost got overlooked because we don't run the engine when we are moored thanks to the solar power. Baz spoke to Richard who has done most of our servicing and even though he's up at Gnosall (Shroppie) he's agreed to come and meet us at the end of the week to give Micky Jay the once over - great service!

Bye for now
Ali and Baz

Friday, 30 August 2013

Caution....Elderly Ducks Crossing !

We are at last starting to see open, uninterrupted countryside, it's a real treat and literally a breath of fresh air, we are now about 20 miles from Braunston, on arrival there we will have completed a circle taking us a couple of months, The Thames being the high and the beginning of the Grand Union the low points of the journey.
Today was a pleasant cruise for me and a six lock struggle for Ali, after yesterdays accident, health and safety have been uppermost in her mind, so much so that she tried to fill a lock with the paddles still open, while being far safer as the depth was kept shallow in case of emergency, the boat wasn't going up to the next level, so after what seemed like an hour, caution was thrown aside and the paddles closed ! We did feel a pair of twits, we blamed the gongoozlers who kept distracting us.
Stoke Bruerne is the  village to have our company for a night or two, Ali's initial reconnaissance has located Two Pubs ! and an Indian takeaway !! so with that and the Waterways Museum we will be ok.

Sign seen close to a marina

Getting back to more ornate stone bridges

Some thought and love went into this one

Not a sign Ali wanted to see really 

The water road ahead is a bit lumpy

Moorings at Stoke Bruerne

To the front the church tower can just be seen

To our rear the locks, behind is best thinks Ali 

So we are in Northants. fairly close to where one of Ali's sisters and partner lives. Tomorrow we'll meet up with them at either The Navigation or The Boat. We are moored close to a nature reserve so will explore that later. There are new mooring rules being introduced here because it's a popular spot, so we can stay for 2 days and after that it's £25 a day, at the moment it's us and one other boat on the moorings but that's likely to change later today with people making the most of good weather and the last few days of the school hols.

Bye for now
Ali and Baz