Monday, 20 October 2014

Up and down staircases gets us onto the glorious rivers

Our 2 week holiday is over but here is a short run down of the two weeks starting with days 1-5.
Day 1.  We left Napton promptly just before 2pm, having loaded all the gear we might need for 2 wks on a boat during the autumn (full wet weather kit, winter layers, sun cream, shorts T-shirts, you get the picture).  We'd even had a cup of tea before the yards man came to show us the workings of the boat.

After 1½ hours cruising we came to Braunston where we were soon negotiating the locks, sharing with another boat we made good progress, they had crew so I went ahead to set the locks ahead, whilst helping an older couple. Despite tales of very low levels in the pounds the previous day everything was good for us.  We stopped just before Norton Junction for the night.

Day 2.  An early start, Watford Locks were the first for today, having booked in we were told to proceed, making light work of them we stopped for breakfast overlooking the fields above. A wonderful sunny day and we finished by descending Foxton Locks, and an evening walk to the Shoulder of Mutton for a well earned Chinese meal.

Day 3.  We had a later start (late for us) we planned to get to Kilby Bridge, a wonderful hot sunny day again, and the one thing we hadn't packed we could have used - sandals.  We waited and shared the double locks with another hire boat, we were surprised to learn from them amongst other things that they hadn't been informed of what the cill was in a lock, or the importance of keeping forward of it, we shared some knowledge with them.  An easy day for us and an early finish, which we celebrated with a pint in the Navigation.

Day 4.  A long day so an early start, with the aim to get past Thurmaston at least. At Aylestone met a single hander just leaving the lock, so I asked him to wait for us at the next lock.  At Aylestone meadows the single hander  was indeed there as well as a local canal enthusiast who helped us through the next three locks.  We don't generally stop in cities, being country types we usually try and just get through them, we could've stopped though as Castle moorings were empty.  At lock 40 we were slowed up, having taken the tiller I found I couldn't steer the boat, suspecting a fouled prop I threw a line to Martin and we (he) opted to pull the boat in then out of the lock before investigating the problem, a white T-shirt being the culprit and rather luckily it came free very easily, this is the first time in the years of boating  we have had to venture down to the weed hatch, lets hope we don't become too familiar with it. We enjoy these river sections especially given the late summer weather, and reached Thurmaston later afternoon, having tried the Hope and Anchor past the water park last year we thought we'd like to try and get somewhere different, so Mountsorrel was to be our destination. At Silby lock we were starting to run out of good daylight, so having spotted NB Seyella moored I dared to knock for some advice from Geoff, after introductions Geoff kindly helped us through the lock and we were on our way, a short (quick) while later we were mooring up above the lock at Mountsorrel, and rewarded ourselves with a hot shower and a wonderful meal in the Waterside Inn.

Day 5.  A misty start but full of promise.  This is our river day and a day we enjoyed so very much. We'd gone past the Plough Martin was busy taking photos, so at 11.30 the time was right to have a coffee and use the free Wi-Fi, the stay turned into a lunch break too, with idyllic weather we could savour the day, bliss. We made our way off the Soar and onto the Trent, at Sawley Locks we were the first of three boats, I checked the locks to so if either was empty and then tried to get the BW key into the slot, no luck for me! no matter what I tried I just couldn't get the key in, a climb down the ladder and see how Martin can fare, needless to say he only tried the once, the gates were opening I was steering into the lock, a short while later we were approaching the moorings in Shardlow by the pubs, with a space just the right size, lovely, and help given by another boater to bring us neatly into the space.  A perfect end to a perfect day, two days ahead of where we got to on last years holiday, a restful second week perhaps?

Saturday, 30 August 2014

A canal fix

Having taken the week off and planned to spend some time with Martin during his rest days from work, unfortunately the rest days turned into work days, so yesterday I decided to go for a cycle ride, the longest cycle ride I've made for quite a number of years! 28 miles.

The route took me along the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal, the weather was lovely and soon I arrived at Standards Lock looking lovely in the sunshine and the picnic tables would have been tempting if it was anywhere near lunchtime.
Standards Lock No 5 Bridgwater & Taunton Canal
The views along the way were really lovely
A view along the way - Pill Box to the right of centre
The canal is still lined with Pill Boxes.  During the Second World War the line of the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal, the Chard Canal and the River Axe became a major defence line in the South West of the County to restrict Hitler’s movement to strategic docks should he invade.  All the iron bridges, which were melted down for the war effort, were removed and replaced with wooden structures that could be destroyed quickly.  Pill Boxes and Tank Traps, which can still be seen in place on the canal, were built along the whole length of the defence line. The British Transport Commission took control of the canal in 1947 and in 1962 the canal became the responsibility of British Waterways. The canal became one of the first canals to commercially carry water when Wessex Water needed more capacity during the summer months in Durleigh Reservoir.

On the way home I travelled under the M5 again and took a little delight in seeing the gridlock above, it was still gridlock when I cycled under the M5 near Bridgwater.  Nobody was walking, cycling or fishing on my return trip, peace and quiet and birdsong were the order of the day, and the rain stayed away till I'd made a cuppa at home.

Gridlock on the M5 near Taunton

Friday, 15 August 2014

Disguised as de-cluttering

I’ve been looking through some old photos (disguised as de-cluttering), these shown here are over 10 years old.

Here we are moored on the water point by the Barge Inn on the K&A with our friends boat Icarus (thank you Andrew, can’t wait to share the boat build journey with you!)  We think Icarus is now on or around the Thames, as I came across these photos on flicker recently.
Moored opposite The Barge Inn on the K&A
Waking up to a very early knock on the boat to be told that all the water was gone by a hire boat crew…umm we were afloat, but a walk down to the bridge below and our route back to the mooring revealed that we weren't going anywhere. 
Low pound and our intended direction of travel
Sorry about such a poor quality photo, in my defence it is a pre-digital camera, combined with a very early morning and now scanned.

No use hurrying breakfast then, but a leisurely start to the day after lowering the paddles on the bottom gates of the lock in the pound below us, a phone call to British Waterways who had their depot at Caen Hill, and then walking a couple of locks back to get water on its way down to fill the empty pound, before British Waterways took over the task.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Sonia Louise

So this is the start of our blogging journey mainly so that we can document our boat build which is due to start in spring 2016 and we feel it is now within reach.

This year we have booked a build slot with our chosen boat builder, Bluewater Boats Ltd a big step indeed.  We have also booked a mooring spot with the new marina at Bosworth Marina.

Next year will see the design process move forward with Bluewater Boats Ltd and spring of 2016 should see the start of a long thought about and awaited project.

This weekend we met up with some other like minded people at a boaters' welcome morning in the marina, it gave us the opportunity to chat to several people including Sue and George who now own Caxton which will be moored on the next pontoon to us. George thank you for the push to get a blog started!

I don't intend to do a daily blog, as working full-time and reading other blogs makes time busy enough, we do intend to blog when we have something boaty to write about, and when the boat build starts in ernest I'm sure there will be plenty to write about.

Me just checking out our mooring pontoon