Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Which route would you choose–Wednesday 23rd September

What a change from the last two days, we awoke to the sun shinning followed by a short rising mist and then glorious sunshine so we made an early start to make the most of the lovely weather.


As we went through Braunston passing the Toll House, Gongoozler Cafe boat, and the marina entrance there was hardly a stir from the moored boats so we carried on up the first of the 6 double locks.


At the 3rd lock we met up with a Canadian couple who were just about to start off after mooring in the pound overnight so teamed up with them for the remaining 4 locks. They were in a Black Prince hire boat and were doing the Leicester Ring in a couple of weeks so have a few long days ahead of them. We met boats coming down the remaining locks so the crew had an easy time of it.  We negotiated Braunston Tunnel without encountering another boat coming the other way. I had forgotten how you can see the other end of the tunnel but encounter some interesting twists in it which make sure that you keep your mind on steering the boat.


We turned left at Norton Junction onto the Leicester Arm of the GU, passing under the new foot bridge which I saw being made last year in the C&RT yard next to the junction. Looks a good sturdy job. Today we saw another Kingfisher our second on this trip where earlier in the year we never saw one in 6 weeks.


We were soon at the bottom of the Watford Flight of locks which comprise 2 single locks, a staircase of 4 locks, and a final single lock. The staircase has side ponds to save water and you have to ensure that you open the Red paddle before the White otherwise you could be in trouble. We just had to wait for one boat to come out of the bottom lock then followed another boat up the flight. At the top there were 6 boats waiting to come down. Normally they allow 6 boats up and then 6 boats down to avoid boats waiting too long.


We moored up for the day just beyond the locks and enjoyed the afternoon sunshine. Later Tiana and I went for a walk back down the canal to get a paper from the M1 Watford Gap Services.

Here there are 3 modes of transport which go through the gap and are all within 100yds of one another. WHICH WOULD CHOOSE TO BE ON!


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Rain Rain - Tuesday 22nd September

Yet again the weathermen got the forecast wrong. Yesterday they said today would be nice but after a good start the rain showers came along, although there were a few nice spells and the evening turned out to be sunny. Anyway before the rain came Tiana and I went to get a paper from the local store and came back via the locks where we came across the Parish Church.  Although the outside needs some attention the inside is quite large and in excellent condition although I gather the roof needs attention. They have a service every Tuesday morning at 8.00am and the parish is one of the largest in the Rugby area extending out to the A5. It will grow of course when the 600 or so houses are built on the old radio station site. The Church was cut off from the main village by the railway over 100 years ago but is still thriving.




During one of the dry spells we decided to set off and it promptly started raining again but we stuck with it and kept going. We were most surprised to see that there was only one boat moored at the popular Onley moorings near the prison. Indeed as we neared Braunston very few boats were moored in the usual popular spots.


At lunchtime we moored up about 1 mile short of the village and as the forecast for the afternoon was dry we decided to walk into Braunston after we had eaten. We had a nice walk in but as we climbed the hill to the Church the clouds rolled in and the rain started and did not stop until we got back to the boat.

We purchased a few items from the village store and a nice cauliflower from the Butchers plus a  steak and kidney pie although this turned out to be a disappointment and not half as good as we get from our butchers in Knowle.

On the way back we called in at the C&RT visitor centre in the old Toll Office which controlled the traffic between the Oxford and the Grand Junction canals. Tiana was a hit with the staff there and received lots of fuss from both the volunteers and full time staff.

Monday, 21 September 2015

A Ray of Sunshine–Monday 21st September

After early morning rain we had a brief dry spell so I was able to take Tiana for a walk and buy a paper. Then it turned damp with heavy showers so we decided to stay put and carry out a few jobs on the boat and sort out why I could not get Live Writer to update the blog. The afternoon was spent reading and crafting.

By 4.30pm the sun had come out and it was a completely different day. On a walk back down the canal to Kent Road bridge I noticed the Bull Rushes growing on the offside, they were several metres deep well beyond the canal bank and several hundred metres long right up to the winding hole. They make lovely show.


Whilst the boat was moored in the shade we had a great views over adjacent fields with lovely blue skies all evening.


The Ray of Sunshine is Tiana our latest Guide Dog Pup. She is a black Standard Poodle from outside breeding stock and thus an unknown quantity as far as guiding is concerned. She loves being on the boat and is very well behaved until she spots another dog to play with, so this is an area we are working on. Poodles have completely different traits to Labradors and so we are on a steep learning curve, its seems very strange not to have a dog who gulps the food down but one who eats very daintily.



Meeting with Ecco–Sunday 20th September

This morning we had a lie after a very hectic few weeks and watched 8 boats go past towards Hillmorton before we set off slowly hoping to be able to dovetail with boats coming down the locks.



We were lucky and the Volunteer Lockie told us that 12 boats had gone up and only 2 had come down, a complete reverse from yesterday.

There was plenty of space above the locks so we moored up and walked back to the Canalchef Bistro at Badsey Wharf for coffee and cake. It is the first time that we have found the time to call here and were amazed at the canal memorabilia which they have on display.




After lunch I took Tiana a walk along the canal to Hillmorton Wharf and up onto the Crick Road where you can catch buses to Northampton or Rugby.

Back on the boat I decided, as it was such a nice day, to polish the starboard side and as I was doing so Sam and Harry arrived with Ecco and Pepper. Ecco was our last Guide Dog Pup who developed a serious blood condition and had to be withdrawn from the scheme. We rehomed her with Sam a couple of weeks ago and we know she is in very good hands. We had a lot of fuss with Ecco but when the time came for her to leave she walked off with them without looking back so we know she is happy with her new family.


Whilst polishing the boat I heard the distinctive sound of a steam powered boat and along came Nb. Laplander


After dinner I walked down the locks with Tiana and met a lovely couple from the USA who were on a boating holiday, they had been to Coventry and were on their way to Warwick.

Autumn Cruise - Saturday 19th September

This morning we left home in bright sunshine but soon encountered mist over the motorway and surrounding fields. We were heading for Sherbourne Church Flower Festival near Warwick. The home of the Smith-Ryland family and where June’s great aunt used to live. The festival was based on Classic Books and included Wind in the Willows, The Railway Children, and Treasure Island. It is a magnificent church built in 1864 and has a jewelled font as well as ornately decorated organ

After the visit we headed for the boat and arrived about lunch time. We had taken most of the clothes and supplies to the boat yesterday, buying the food from the local supermarket in Rugby. After checking over the boat and filling with water we headed off around 2.30pm towards Rugby. The canal was very busy with boats travelling in the opposite direction but when we arrived at Rugby there was plenty of mooring so we stopped so that I could go to Tesco for some fire lighters, it looks as though the evenings could get colder according to the forecast.


We motored on through Clifton upon Dunsmore where at the boatyard they were just starting up a steam powered narrow boat with clouds of steam billowing across the canal. Passing the allotments, which this time unusually looked a little uncared for we spotted this apple tree which was laden of lovely bright red apples.

Apples - Copy

We moored up next to Rugby Golf Club and had some fine views over the course. Several golfers stopped and chatted across the fence as we all enjoyed the lovely weather. Later I took Tiana a walk up to Kent Road Bridge and back but the towpath was quite wet which shows that they must have had more rain here than we had had at home.


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Magnificant Views - Sunday 7th June

We awoke to a lovely sunny morning with not a breath of wind so we were up early and I took Ecco a walk across the fields and up the hill where there are lovely views across the Warwickshire Countryside to Coventry in the west.IMG_6612

Rugby and the cement works in the east.IMG_6614

and the wind farm near to Hillmorton locks in the distance.IMG_6616

Down in the valley on the other side of the hill the church and village at Church Lawford.IMG_6613

We walked down the hill into Kings Newman as I could see an unusual tower and wanted to investigate. It turned out to be St Laurence's church which was built in the 12th century, and partially demolished in1795–97, leaving just its mostly 16th-century tower now no longer used.A

Walking back along the lane we came to these fishing pools with a public footpath running through them. The path is part of the Shakespear’s Avon Way, an 88 mile route which follows the course of the River Avon as closely as possible using existing public footpaths, bridleways and a few minor roads, from its source at Naseby to its confluence with the Severn at Tewkesbury. The main towns it passes through are Warwick, Stratford upon Avon and Evesham. Naseby, Tewkesbury and Evesham were the sites of decisive battles.IMG_6624

Returning to the top of the hill we could look down on the marina nestled in the corner of a large field and screened by trees from the access lane and main canal.IMG_6628

To the west across the corn fields is All Oaks Wood which was thinned out last year but which has now grown back and seems quite dense as you drive or sail through it.IMG_6610

Brinklow BBQ with Fly Past - Saturday 6th June

This afternoon we travelled to the boat for the weekend to attend the BBQ at the Marina. A short while after we arrived we had an impromptu low level fly past by a Gloster Meteor jet, T7 WA591, from Coventry Airport. It gave us quite a display with several passes over the marina, so low you could see the pilot in the cockpit.


Once we were sorted on the boat we went across to the marquee and BBQ area and joined the others cooking our beef burgers and sausages. Ecco had a wonderful time playing with Ted, Arthur, and Kane all evening and we did not hear a peep out of her for the rest of the night as she was well and truly worn out.

Eric was joined this year by a young boater from the marina on electric base and later on guitar for a great evening of music and songs which we could all join in with. The earlier strong wind died down and we were able to enjoy the lovely summer evening as it was light until late on.


Monday, 25 May 2015

Early Bath and Brass Plaques–Monday 25th May

We had an easy run back to the marina this morning passing just a few boats on the move, mainly hire boats returning to Clifton Wharf and Rugby Wharf.

Whilst June busied herself with the inside of the boat I did a little maintenance on the outside and whilst adjusting the offside fenders slipped into the marina. Now Brinklow is at least 10 foot deep and I went right under but fortunately did not loose my glasses; so it was a quick swim to the shore passing June looking out through the galley window thinking “my word that’s a big fish!” I went into the shower and my clothes into the washing machine in double quick time.IMG_6598

On completion of the BCNS cruise we were presented with this delightful brass plaque of the canals we had explored.


At the Titford Rally those boats who made it to the Titford Pools were presented with this round plaque. In future anyone who navigates the pools on their own can apply to the BCNS for a similar plaque


Spring Cruise Stats: we have travelled 194 miles

                                  Negotiated 166 Locks

                                                        5 Tunnels

                                                        3 Swing bridges

                                                      53 Small Aqueducts

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Camera Shy Dog and Last Locks - Sunday 24th May

Ecco made a friend of the 5 yr. old spaniel on the next boat called Buttons but he was a little camera shy or perhaps besotted with her.IMG_6583

It was as a lovely morning so we set off at 6.30am heading for Braunston. It was slow going to complete the 2.5 miles as there were boats moored almost along the total length. Still it is perhaps the busiest weekend of the year. The picture shows the boats moored between bridge 100 and 101.2

Spotted, the 35 ft long Tug Beeston, which is a replica of a tug built by Yarwoods of Northwich in the 1930`s. It was built by David Harris.IMG_6587

As we neared Braunston the familiar sight of the church and windmill on the hill came into view and then we were turning left under the Horseley Iron Works Bridge onto the North Oxford. We had not seen a boat on the move and everything was still quiet in the village.3

We moored up just outside and had breakfast and waited for Midland Chandlers to open at 10.00am as there were a few things I wanted and there is 15% off this weekend. Ecco and I walked back to get them and as soon as we got back to the boat we were off. Everybody must have woken up at the same time as the canal was just like the M1 with boats going in all directions. When we reached Hillmorton Wharf we stopped for diesel and who shoukld turn up but Nb Lady Hester and Nb. No Can Do from Brinklow Marina. A short chat whilst we hovered in the centre of the canal and we were off to the locks. Boats were coming up at each lock so we had an easy ride down although June thought that the paddles and gates were heavy despite them being the most used locks in the country.


We moored up for the day a short way from the locks and who should pass us but Nb Annie who moor next to us in the marina. Later I took Ecco for a walk up to Clifton upon Dunsmore where there are fine views over Rugby and Brownsover.


Saturday, 23 May 2015

145 Mile Run and even more - Saturday 23rd May

It was a lovely warm morning when we left the mooring and started the Long Itchington Locks and our luck was in, they were set for us. The old narrow locks can be seen on the left, now used as an overflow weir. Just before the locks are the Two Boats Inn and on the opposite bank the Cuttle Inn.1

The Warwickshire Fly Boat Company has its base at the top lock and down the Kayes Arm. The Company has a long history of specialising in the repair and refurbishment of working narrow boats. Latterly a number of new boats have been constructed incorporating the shape,character and good swimming and handling characteristics of the originals. Needless to say that the majority of the boats on their moorings reflect this.2

At the bottom of Stockton Locks is the Blue Lias Inn. The inn was originally an 18th century farmhouse. It is said to be haunted by the ghost of a red-haired farm labourer who was killed by the enraged farmer who returned from market one day to find his wife in bed with the red haired farmhand. It first became an inn when the early canal travellers stopped for evening refreshment and overnight stabling for their horses. The Blue Lias Inn is named after the limestone/clay which is quarried locally and used in the production of cement. These rocks date from the early Jurassic period (just over 200 million years ago) and stretch in a band from Dorset on the South coast of England (where the blue lias cliffs are famous among fossil hunters), to the Cleveland hills in the north east. As well as canal side moorings the Inn has a nice caravan site with small lake.3

We were again lucky with the Stockton flight being in our favour and we passed a couple of boats coming down.4

At the top lock is a bench with a doorway in the backrest made to look like the stern of a narrow boat and inside is a dedication to Charles Pearson Brownlee of Nb Auld Areakie who went through his last lock on 7.2. 94 aged 62 years.

“May his happy spirit speed you on to a peaceful mooring, to a bright a morning and to many years of companionship of the Cut”

Erected by his friends and family with fond memories and love.5

At Stockton marina Andy and Rose stopped for a pump out whilst we had a coffee and waited for them. We then motored on passed Willow Wren’s new Training Centre at Nelson’s Wharf, looks very smart indeed, and then passed the old working boats and the ex BW Tug Ruislip which has a Lister HR3 and can be seen in a battle with a similar tug, Slough, to see which boat is better at the Braunston Show.6

On reaching Calcutt Locks we followed a single boat up and waited for two coming down the second lock. Two more boats behind us decided to come up so at one stage there were 6 boats in the first pound making for interesting navigating. The second pound was very low and a mud island could be seen between the main channel and some moored boats just waiting to catch the unwary boater.7

At the top lock we said our goodbyes to Andy and Rose and we turned left towards Braunston as they went into Wigrams Turn Marina. Thanks for a lovely couple of days in your company.8

All the way from Stockton we had seen runners on the towpath and support groups at the road bridges and it turned out that they were doing  a Birmingham to London Run along the Grand Union Canal all 145 miles of it in a maximum time of 45 hours with many doing it in around 30 hours or so. Supporters would run with them at night to keep them company and out of danger.9

I met a couple on Bridge 102 who were a support crew and they were going to do the running at night but Stuart with a partner was going to do an even more dramatic run in Scotland which will cover 680 Miles and 44 Munros over 34 days starting on the 13th July in aid of “Funding Neuro” and can be viewed on their website at where their is a link to a just giving site to help support the charity.