Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Myst to TV Stardom

Sunday 14th October

Awoke to a very deep mist overhanging the marina which took most of the morning to clear but then the sun shone and it was a lovely day for the journey home.
* Autumn Myst in the Mist

 Tuesday 16th October

Today I took Phoenix to Worcester for her moment of fame for she was to take part in a TV documentary about dogs with 3 other Guide Pups. We arrived there at 2pm and as usual with these filming jobs it went well over the planned time and we ended up leaving about 5.30pm. It was a good afternoon however, but I cannot say any more about it as it is still under wraps.

Phoenix wanted the star treatment with scented candles when she got home and luckily the ones I had ordered on Sunday night had arrived today, what fantastic service.

* Phoenix the Star enjoying the candle light.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Back in the Marina

Saturday 13th October

Left the mooring a little later than normal on a bright sunny if cool day and heading under Kent Road bridge we soon reached Clifton Wharf where the hire boats had been returned and were being made ready for their next trip.

* Kent Road Bridge
On through Rugby where there were only a couple of mooring spaces left by the hire boats which had just set off and on to Newbold Tunnel where we met the Hotel Boats Snipe and Taurus just exiting the tunnel. We had left them last Sunday at the Saltisford Arm about to set off on a 10 day trip of the Warwickshire Ring so they were easily on schedule. They look very nice boats inside and their clients seem to enjoy their time aboard.
Arriving back at our Marina the first job was to have a pump out bringing boat back on an even keel as we had last filled with water a 8 days ago and had been running the water down for winterising, making the boat very light at the bow and heavy at the stern.
The next step was for June to clear the pontoon of duck poo so that I could bring the boat in and moor up safely. That job completed we secured the boat and I went to try to start June’s car. The battery would just turn the engine over but it would not start. Michael on Nb Levick saw my blight and offered to give me a jump start; with which it luckily started first time. I then took the car a good run to charge up the battery and collect the paper and provisions from the village shop.
After lunch we gathered together our clothes and emptied the cupboards loading the car as we went. June did some cleaning whilst I put the engine room to bed until our next trip.
Later Angela and Michael came aboard for G & T’s and to swap tales from our respective trips.

Stats for this Trip:
Miles covered = 244      Locks negotiated = 227
Stats for this Cruising Season:
Miles covered = 703      Locks negotiated = 488

Friday, 12 October 2012

Hillmorton Co-incidence

Friday 12th October
*Overnight Mooring with Braunston Church in the background
After a night of heavy rain we moved off in bright sunshine but still with a cool breeze, passing bridges 80 and 79 where the Waterways Recovery Group were busy restoring these bridges built in the 1770’s and may I say making an excellent job of them. We passed the bridges earlier in the year when contractors were busy repairing the foundations so it was nice to see the great progress which is being made by volunteers.

* WRG at Bridge 80
* WRG at Bridge 79
Although the sign says Men at Work the person in the middle is a young lady making an excellent job of the pointing on bridge 79.
Continuing on under the M45 motorway we came to The Canal Shop at Hillmorton Wharf , Bridge 73, where we filled with diesel at 85p/ltr with self declaration. There is also a well stocked Chandlery. They have only been operating for 6 weeks and sell bread, milk etc and have the popular papers but will get any paper if you call ahead the day before. Telephone 01327 844442 or emailsales@canalshoponline.co.uk website is www.canalshoponline.co.uk . I hope they do well in the future.

Motoring on we passed yet another Broadbeam boat but this time it was moored up, why do they travel on narrow canals, by the look of its hand rails it had scrapped a few bridge holes.

* Another Broadbeam

Just before Hillmorton we spied Nb Laplander an 1830’s Diesel Steam Tug Boat and later in the afternoon it passed us.

* Nb Laplander

We moored up just after Hillmorton Bottom Lock and after lunch I took Phoenix a walk back up to explore the lock area as we have not stopped here before.

* Hillmorton Bottom Lock
As I walked back a lady with a 10 month old Labrador came along and Poppy and Phoenix had a great play together. In conversation it came out that Poppy was from the JimJoy kennels run by Mrs Colley of Bewdley. It was these kennels that we had our own Labs. Toffee and Shadow some 30 odd years ago; strange how these co-incidences occur.

* Poppy and Phoenix

An old BW Yard is located at the side of the canal with a small arm entering just above the first lock so I decided to explore it. Tucked away behind what were the stables is a Dry Dock and a Paint Shed with the Old Pump House being used as an Office and Chandlery. I spoke to the current owners David and Deborah Bixter who made a great fuss of Phoenix as they have dogs themselves. It emerged that they do a lot of blacking and other work for boats in our marina and know Adrian well.

* Entrance to the Old BW Yard

* The Dry Dock
* The Paint Shed
In front of the boat yard the buildings have been converted into offices and workshops and a café fronting the canal. This lovely old truck belongs to the café.

* Old Truck
As we passed the Upholsterers I saw a great big black dog who when he saw Phoenix decided to leap over the gate and join us. Mishka as he is called is only 10 months old and very friendly and the owner tells me he is a Russian Black Terrior, one of only 60 pups available in the UK last year. He still has, a lot of growing to do so I dread to think how big he will end up.

* Mishka – Russian Black Terrior

We re-crossed the canal and wended our way into Hillmorton, which has a bus service every 15 minutes into Rugby, and then back to the canal at Kent Road Bridge with it depiction of the old and new canal ages on its walls. We arrived back just in time for tea and home made coffee cake.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

We know where the Herons have gone

Thursday 11th October

We know where all the herons have gone from the cut. They are all in our garden; our neighbours who have been looking after our fish sent us an email of the pesky birds prowling around our garden pond and so Dave has taken the day patrols and Barb the night duty. Many thanks for your efforts guys.

* Herons in the garden
We bid our farewells once again to Angela, John and Maissie and headed off to Braunston before the forecast rain came. We passed lots of boats moored on this lovely stretch of canal over looking the Warwickshire countryside with great views from miles away of Braunston Church and Windmill high up on the hill.

* Braunston Church and Windmill
We winded at the marina entrance and reversed up a little way to moor behind the Candy Boat which was just setting up its racks of sweet jars and umbrellas to keep the expect rain off them.

* Winding in the Marina Entrance
* The Candy Boat
After coffee we walked up the hill to the shop for a paper and some provisions and then headed off to the Rope and Fender Shop to collect June’s new Tiller Tassel. Inspired by this and John’s speed at making a Turkshead for our tiller I purchased some cotton rope to have a go myself. I think I will save it for the winter nights as we don’t seem to have any time whilst on the boat. 
Returning to the boat we headed off passed the Gongoozlers Rest with its delicious smells wafting across the canal and the old Stop House where the tolls were once collected for boats passing between the Grand Union and Oxford Canals.

* Gongoozlers Rest Café Boat
* The Stop House
Once out in the countryside we moored up for the day at one of the many spots on this stretch of canal.
Later I walked Phoenix back into Braunston to explore the delights of Midland Chandlers shelves and thinking do we need this or that. Fortunately I managed to resist too much temptation and headed back to the boat before the expected heavy rain showers.
We spent the night warm and snug in the boat, Yes Doug you will be pleased to hear that I did light the fire for June when we moored up.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Farewell Napton

Wednesday 10th October

After a very quiet night we had a late start this morning as we were only travelling to the other side of Napton Junction.
I took Phoenix a walk up the locks first thing and enjoyed the lovely view of Napton on the Hill from the Bottom Lock.

* Napton on the Hill from Bottom Lock
Several boats had moved off before we winded and bid farewell to Napton just pottering along enjoying the grand views and delightful October weather.

* Farewell Napton
We motored on passed the bobbing heads of the Canada Geese, still in the cornfield and on to the Junction where carried straight on, now on our way home.
At Lower Shuckburgh we could see their little church nestled in the trees just a short way from the canal. It was built in 1864 and is attractive in a Victorian way, with great use of contrasting brickwork inside.

* Lower Shuckburgh Church
We planned to moor up just after bridge 103 on the nice mooring there with lovely views over the Warwickshire countryside. Approaching our intended spot we came across Nb Ellen and shouted good morning as we passed. John and Angela popped their heads out so June said we were stopping and would they like to join us for coffee. As we moored up Angela had the kettle on and so we went aboard Nb Ellen for coffee and a great chat. John showed me around their lovely boat and his engine room with its Gardener Engine all shiny with sparkling copper work.

* Nb Ellen
* Sunny Mooring Spot
June scrubbed the mud from the cratch and aft deck whilst I touched up the scratches of the last 6 weeks on the hull.
June had mentioned whilst chatting that she wanted a Turkshead for the tiller and would have a look for one at Braunston. Whilst we were working the very talented John had made one and brought it over and even fitted it on the tiller for us. What a lovely and most unexpected surprise for us. It is so nice to make such generous friends on the cut.

* Turkshead Present
Later Angela and John came in for afternoon tea and cake and more great chat about all sorts of different topics.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Chance Renamed

Tuesday 9th October
* Napton on the Hill Windmill
This morning we had to bid our farewells to Doug and James on Chance. They have been great company over the last couple of weeks and introduced us to a new way of life on the cut. We will really miss you guys and hopefully we can meet up next year.
It has been so quiet since they left that June said she could hear my stomach rumble and Phoenix has been quite miserable without Doug.

Whilst June washed and polished the boat I helped Chance and Dolce Far Niente up the first 7 locks of the Napton flight as it was a rare opportunity for me to work the locks.  Thanks Jayne and Stephen for letting me help, look forward to meeting you in the future, have a good trip with the boys and keep in touch.

* Dolce Far Niente
Graham and Carolann you really will have to order that new boat!!!!

We think Chance should be renamed:

* Chance Renamed

Which Way to Turn

Monday 8th October

We had a lie today as we did not have far to travel and ended up chatting to Angela, John, Doug and James on the towpath beside the boats and then had coffee and Doug’s chocolate cake on board Autumn Myst as the weather had begun to deteriorate.

* Chatting on the Towpath
Eventually we said our goodbyes to the lovely crew of Nb Ellen and headed off about 11am in the mizzle towards Napton Junction. Just up the canal we passed Queen of the May, but again nobody was about.

* Queen of the May another Sandhills Boat
Negotiating the next two locks we passed the Blue Lias pub and there was only one boat there, The Beez Neez who Nb Ellen were to meet up with later in the day.
We sailed through the Stockton Flight and just beyond saw this unusual boat. I have seen it before but this time a young gent was on board and I was thus able to ascertain that its unusual shape is based on one of the hulls of a Polynesian catamaran.

* Unusual Shaped Boat
Just beyond I spotted this nice garden Shed attached to a narrowboat.

* Hebe The Garden Shed
At the Calcutt locks we spied Godfrey and Penny on Nb Halcyon just leaving the water point and we had a mad phase of waving to one another as they disappeared up the cut..
At Napton Junction we had planned to leave Chance and head towards Braunston but Doug and James invited us to continue on to Napton and meet up with Nb Dolce Far Niente and go for a meal at the Folly so we turned right and followed them passed a field of bobbing heads which turned out to be Canada Geese in a corn field.  The picture is not very good because of the awful wet weather.

* Bobbing Heads of Canada Geese
We moored up on the visitor moorings which have been extended beyond the winding hole and joined Doug and James onboard DFN for tea and some of Jaynes delicious muffins.
Later we went aboard Chance for pre-dinner drinks and then onto the Folly for a lovely meal. Doug and June were their usual noisy selves but this time we did not get thrown out of the pub.

* The Folly
* Jayne, Stephen, Doug, James, June and Bob enjoying their meal
We all returned to Autumn Myst for coffee after a lovely evening together.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Champgne Again

Sunday 7th October
Champagne again last night – we could get used to this life style.
Crept out of Saltisford Arm at 8.30 passed the hotel boats turning right down the GU heading for Cape locks where we saw Queen of the May, another Sandhills boat, but did not stop as all was quiet on board.

* Phoenix Watches the World go by
Chance stopped at Tesco on the Emscote Road Bridge and we carried on over the River Avon aqueduct to Lidel  near bridge 44. Just as we were moving off Chance caught up with us and we motored passed Guide Dogs Training Centre and on to Radford Bottom Lock in lovely warm, bright sunshine, although it was still a little chilly in the shade.

* Doug and James Following along the GU
We soon reached Bascote Staircase lock where we stopped to pick apples on the adjacent tree; good job James is 6ft 4in as he was able to reach the best fruit high up in the tree. Later Doug made an apple crumble for their pudding.

* Bascote Staircase Lock
* James in the lock
* Lovely LocksideVirginia Creeper
Looking for a good mooring where June could get TV, James and I sent June and Doug ahead to see what the mooring was like around the corner before we passed a potential spot. They called us on and we moored up next to Nb Ellen with Angela and John, not forgetting little Maisie.
After lunch I watched the last part of the Formula 1 while June washed the boat.
Later D & J invited us all into Chance at 5.30pm for pre dinner drinks and we had a very sociable couple of hours chatting and laughing and I am afraid drinking a little too much. June was too merry to cook the dinner and we ended up with Beans on Toast cooked by myself. Doug really IS a bad influence on June!!!!!!

* Ellen, Autumn Myst and Chance moored near Long Itchington.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Flying Down Hatton

Friday 5th October

The weather forecast had changed from rain to just cloudy so we decided to leave the mooring and head for the Saltisford Arm. As we left the mooring and made our way to the Junction of the Grand Union and the Stratford canals two Kate boats came out in front of us and then as we were on the junction a young couple on an old boat shot out without looking, luckily we were only going slowly otherwise it could have been nasty. We were thus in a convoy of four boats moving at just over tick over pace.

* In a Queue
We passed The Cock Horse Inn in the valley below the Rowington Embankment. This is where June’s grandfather and father would hitch on the cock horse to get there wagon up the steep hill when he was taking produce to Tyburn in Birmingham from Barford just outside Warwick. It seems strange that this was really such a short time ago.

* The Cock Horse
We motored on and just before Shrewley Tunnel another boat pulled out in front of us, so now we were 5th in the queue to go down the locks.

* Shrewley Tunnel Entrance
* In the Tunnel
Just before we reached the Locks we spied Sue walking towards us on the towpath. She had volunteered to help us down the Hatton Flight and we had taken so long to get there following the other boats that she had decided to see where we were.
We reached the locks and the two hire boats went down followed by the older boat which shut the gate on the next boat. It seemed strange but we were not too worried as it meant we could go down with them.
June and Sue went to set the lock and we joined Nb Halcyon to proceed down the locks. At the second lock we found James and Doug who had walked up from the Saltisford Arm expecting to find us half way down. So now we had a crew of 5 to help us down the locks and we overtook the old boat and caught up the hire boats and were down at the bottom in about 2 hours. It was more like a party going down the locks with everybody chatting and swapping stories, indeed Godfrey and Penny on Nb Halcyon said that it was the best time they had had negotiating locks.

* A Hatton Lock
* Nb Haclyon and NB Autumn Myst in a lock
Nb Halcyon is a lovely boat with a Russell Newbery and its domestic batteries have lasted for ten years so far. Both boats moored in the Saltisford Arm with us breasting up with Nb Chance as the arm was full.
In the evening we went aboard Chance to enjoy an Indian Take- away.

Saturday 6th October

A day of shopping and looking around Warwick. James and Doug joined us for dinner in the evening aboard Nb Autumn Myst

* Warwick Market
* A Warwick Street
* Warwick Castle from the River Bridge
* Warwick Castle where we attend the Christmas Carol Service
* They have large Swans in Warwick