Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Tuesday 14th August

Losing the Plot

Last night we went to Rowington Village Hall with my sister and brother-in-law to see the famous Mikron Theatre production of Losing the Plot. If you would like a good laugh and a bit of a sing along I can fully recommend a trip to see this. There were about 75 people present and they all said what a great evening they had had. The cast were so good and very versatile each playing dual roles and different instruments.

You can see their tour venues and dates on their web site at

* The Cast - taken from their website as I did not have a camera

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Tuesday 7th August

Serious Plastic use at Stratford on Avon
* Looking down River from the lock 

June said she wanted to take Phoenix on the bus to Stratford and have a look at the shops. Well as soon as we got off the bus the plastic was on fire in the clothes shops and she came out loaded with bags.

I couldn’t take any more so when June went into M& S I decided to take Phoenix down to the meadow to have a run before we caught the bus back.

Of course I could not resist my fix of the canal and river.
* The Basin at Stratford – still one space left at 3.30pm

* The Basin from the River Lock

Stratford town was not too busy considering the time of year and there was plenty of mooring on the river by the side of the meadow.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sunday 5th August

*Bad Start to the Day

I walked into the bathroom and went to raise the window blind and crash bang I knocked a heavy glass ornament, which I had bought for June’s birthday, off the window ledge and it fell on to the bidet smashing both. June came running in to see what had happened and I am afraid to say the air was a little blue for a while.
It looks as though the house insurance will need to be contacted in the morning.

However things did get better; last night we had a text from Carolanne to say that they had just moored at Droitwich and would be there until Monday if we wanted to see them. We decided coffee with them this morning would be better than fretting over the damage. So I gave them a call and arranged to visit.

Strange how co-incidences happen isn’t it.
This time exactly 12 months ago we took our first trip on Autumn Myst after its launch at Hanbury Wharf and headed down the canal past Hadzor, where my Great, Great Grand father was born on the canal, to moor in Droitwich basin, and here we are sitting on the very same pontoon this year.

John and Jo on Nb Acen are travelling with Autumn Years and they moored next to them so we all enjoyed the morning sun.

* Pontoon Gathering.

Coffee I am afraid went into something a little stronger until the weather changed about 13.15 and we had to quickly go inside the boat until it had eased enough for us to get to the car as June wanted to be home to watch Andy Murray in the tennis final.

We got home just in time for the start having travelled through a heavy storm just outside Droitwich but at home it was still dry.
Great game, a pity he could not emulate it in the mixed doubles but still an exciting game to watch.

* Great Garden Shed

As we left the basin I took a picture of Nb. Alice which is unusual as it has a front butty, which seems a good way of extending your boat without all the hassle. I was told that there only two of this type of butty on the system.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Friday 3rd August

The weather forecast for the afternoon and Saturday was for heavy showers and so we thought we would head straight back to the marina and pack up in the dry rather than get back on Saturday and suffer the wet.
Left the mooring at 7.30am and passed through Bridge 80 where the divers were working on our way up. You can see the work they were doing to repair the under water and water level areas of the bridge. C&RT have issued a stoppage notice to say the bridge will be closed from 5pm to 7pm each evening to enable work to continue.

* Bridge 80

* Water level repairs.
Just round the corner are the Draco Craft boats who seem to have sorted themselves out a nice little pitch on a farmers field. They were closed of course at this ungodly hour so June did not get a chance to spend some more money.

* Craft Boats.
We passed the lovely canal side cottages at the Kilsby Lane Bridge which are now part of a B & B. There is a well at the front with doves drinking water out of the bucket and an old lorry in the back garden.

* Old Canal Cottages
We soon reached Hillmorton Locks and only passed one boat on the way and that was down the Barby Straight where all the boats are moored, strange how you never meet a boat on an open stretch of water.
A boat was already going down the left hand locks so we followed using the right hand set. They are quite quick locks and we were soon through them only meeting one boat coming the other way. Just before the last lock there was a hire boat across the canal who it turned out was try to reverse into the side cutting.
I dropped Phoenix off at the bottom lock and June walked her along the tow path for the usual spending routine. Jobs done we were on our way again.
As we came to the Clifton Cruisers Boat Yard we espied these unusual cattle with horns which ringed their faces.

* Look at those Horns
As we entered Rugby we saw a Kingfisher on a branch, it dived into the water and retrieved a fish which it proceeded to eat sat on the branch and then it was gone in a flash of amazing blue glinting in the sunlight. They are always too quick to catch on camera when you are steering at the same time as getting a shot.
Further on next to the park a lady was walking her cats on long extending lead, one went one way and the other in the opposite direction. She said that they were much worse than dogs to control. Again there were plenty of mooring spaces on either side of the canal.
The traffic now got busier and we encountered several boats at all the tight places on the canal to the marina. The wind had also got up making mooring a little more difficult but the main problem was the duck droppings along the pontoon. When all the boats on the pontoon are out the ducks and geese seem to think it is their domain and we have to scrap their dropping off before we let the dog off or she would have a field day.
We completed the usual activities of cleaning the boat, pump out, fill with fuel ready for the next trip and were about to set off when June notice a Labrador we had seen on our travels. It turned out that the dog, Lucy, belonged to NB Thomas and we had passed and re-passed it since Foxton not realising it was from our marina. The boat belongs to Richard and Jenny and I had a short chat to Richard before leaving for home and the inevitable jobs that have built up whist we have been away.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Thursday 2nd August

Managed a short lie in today and then took Phoenix a walk back along the canal to the bottom lock and then up the hill to the village shop for a paper.
After breakfast I walked round to Midland Chandlers for a look around and bought some varnish with my IWA discount. The guy behind the counter said that the canal had been very quiet of recent due he thought to the bad weather and people not having the money to spend on a hiring. Indeed we heard that boats which cost £1000 for this week were now going for a couple of hundred just to get them out of the boat yard. I can believe that as we have seen so many moored up.
Returned to the boat and picked up June and Phoenix and walked around the marina having a nose at the boats for sale and called in Tradeline Rope and Fenders, a really interesting little shop run by husband and wife who are a very helpful couple. They have a black Lab, like Tucker, so made a big fuss of Phoenix and let them have a little play together.

* Tradeline Rope and Fender.

* Inside View.
Walked around the other side of the marina and came back onto the canal next to where the Boat Café Moors. The smell of bacon cooking wafted across to us and made us feel very hungry. If we had not already had breakfast I am sure we would have been tempted.

* Café Boat

* Braunston Marina.
Back to our boat for coffee and then decided to move off to the country side 2-3 miles outside Braunston where we moored up for lunch. As we went through Willoughby Bridge we met 2 boats coming the other way and it was a tight squeeze to get between them and the boats moored both sides of the bridge. The first boat warned us that a Broadbeam was following them, yes a Broad Beam on a narrow canal.

* Broad Beam Boat on Narrow Canal
It was true for as we came to the next bend there it was, fortunately we had plenty of room to get through, the boat who was following some distance behind us met him just through the bridge and managed to squeeze in between two moored boats otherwise there would have been a problem with one of them having to reverse a distance to find the space to pass. The steerer on the broad beam said he had scared the S - - t out of other skinny boats he had encountered so far and though it was great fun. He will certainly have a problem getting through the last few bends to Braunston Junction and the safety of the broad canals.
* Braunston Junction
Not long after we moored up Emily Jane a very unusual boat came past with it large Chimney and Wheel Steering at the stern. They nearly collided with a boat coming the other way, I guess because it caught the wind and wheel steering is not as positive as the tiller.

* Emily Jane

* Emily Jane Wheel Steering Position
The weather took a turn for the worse in the afternoon and we had a few very heavy showers and a couple of rumbles of thunder but fortunately it cleared up to give us a nice evening.
This was only spoilt by the number of boats who don’t seem to know what “SLOW whilst passing moored boats” means. The culprits were both hirers and owners and the last one got the sharp end of my tongue as he passed with a bow wave which you could surf on. I am afraid I called him one of Graham’s terms “A Tosser”.
It is strange but for the last ten days we have never had a problem but they all seem to be out today on the North Oxford. Even the Mallard Mom was concerned to get her chicks to safety when these boats came by. 
* Mallard Mother protecting her chicks opposite tour boat.

We turned on the TV the other night to watch the Olympics and were just in time to see of our neighbour scoring a goal for the Ladies GB Hockey Team. It was particularly unusual because Sally Walton is actual a back and not normally expected to score goals. Lets hope that is an omen and they go on to win.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Wednesday 1st August
We left the overnight mooring in a slight shower which soon disappeared and made our way to Crick where it was so quiet we had the pick of the moorings and pulled up next to the bridge.

* Quiet Crick
We locked up the boat and walked into the village to find the local shop. It was much closer to the canal than we had thought and the lady who runs it loved dogs so made a great fuss of Phoenix, They have a Shar-Pei and we were able to introduce them to one another.

* Shar-Pei
Having bought the paper and a few provisions we wondered back to the boat and spotted the Shetland ponies in the field next to the bridge. They are cute little things and in the USA they use similar small horses as Guides like our guide dogs. I am not sure I would like to take on such an animal and I am not too sure how useful they would be. Still it is America and anything seems to go there.

* Shetland ponies
After coffee we meandered our way through the 1528 yd Crick tunnel on to Watford Locks and arrived just as a boat was coming up the staircase. The Lockie said that it had been very quiet and lo and behold another 3 boats suddenly turned up behind us, including the hire boat we had followed up Foxton.
We were soon through the locks and stopped for lunch opposite the Weltonfield Marina. We had moored there when we had done the Leicester ring about 5 years ago and was still marked as a mooring spot in our Guide Book although there are now BW No Mooring Signs along most of its length.
After lunch we continued on to the junction and turned towards Braunston. The boat in front of us called us through as they said they were trying to moor but it was very shallow. They must have given up and proceeded to follow us towards and into the 2042 yd Braunston tunnel. We encountered 2 boats coming the other way, the first stopped and waited for me to pass him but his bow drifted out from the side as he had no forward motion and clipped our bow. Fortunately I was only moving very slowly and no damage was done.
We reached the Braunston Top lock which was full and a lady from a boat about to come up called us into the lock. I moved over as I assumed the boat behind would follow us into the lock but they just moored up, so we carried on by ourselves. This time we were lucky as at each locks there were boats coming up so we were through them in no time.

* June trying to cadge a Pint in the sun at The Admiral Nelson
In the pound between locks 5 and 4 there was a boat aground and it appeared that somebody had offered to help them through the locks and damaged their rudder so they had to wait there until an engineer could come and sort it for them.

* Leaving Braunston Lock No3 with that strange yellow disc in the sky.
We moored up outside the marina and took Phoenix a walk in the lovely evening sun. The towpath was very busy with walkers, dog walkers and cyclists but there were still a few mooring places. Boats however continued to go up the lock until quite late.
So it looks as though things are starting to get busier.