Friday, 31 August 2007
We'll have some friends with us for the first few days, so the plan is to head to Market Harborough, before dropping them off at Buckby Wharf on the way back.
In the middle of the holiday, we're doing the RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman's Certificate. We've booked a day with Douglas Nethercleft, who's going to meet us at Calcutt Locks. I've spoken to a couple of people who've done the course, who say it's well worth while even if you have a fair amount of experience, as we do. We're hoping to learn some boat handling tricks that you wouldn't necessarily pick up just by trial and error.
The second week, we'll head down the south Oxford. Turning right at Napton Junction will be new territory for us. We're not sure how far we'll get, so we'll keep going until mid afternoon on the Monday, when we'll turn round and start heading back to Stockton Top.
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
Oxford Tobago was steered with a wheel, from a position at the front of the boat. It also had a large sunroof which slid back. However, we quickly realised we'd rather have been on a narrowboat, so our next trip was on the Llangollen Canal, on an AngloWelsh boat called Bluebell.
Bluebell was very small, probably not much more than 35 feet. It was pretty basic inside too. Our next boat wasn't very much different. I don't remember what it was called, but we hired from Severn Valley Cruisers at Stourport (who don't seem to hire any more).
We did the Stourport Ring. The first night was spent breasted up with a large number of other boats on the landing of a Severn lock whose mechanism had failed. We also did the Tardebigge Flight, went through Birmingham for the first time, took the Old Main Line to the Black Country Museum in Dudley, went down the Wolverhampton 21, and did Bratch Locks.
Friday, 24 August 2007
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
The photo was taken a couple of years ago, when we did the Warwickshire Ring aboard the Kate Boats hire boat, Rebecca. I'm not sure why they've chosen that particular picture for consideration. There doesn't seem to be anything special about it. If it had been up to me, I'd have chosen the one below, which was taken about thirty seconds later.
Monday, 20 August 2007
On this trip, Liberty Belle was unexpectedly spotted moored at Springwood Haven, the home of Valley Cruises. Angela and Trevor usually continually cruise, but this summer Angela is writing a book of Warwickshire walks. Unfortunately, neither appeared to be at home as we passed.
Granny Buttons is one of the best known blogs, so I was aware that Granny would probably be back at base. Sure enough, as we passed Streethay Wharf, there she was (although Andrew apparently wasn't).
Later in the week, just before we left our mooring below Hillmorton locks, Snecklifter went past. Liz was at the helm, so we had a brief shouted conversation. Then later the same day, on the Oxford Canal between Braunston and Wigram's Turn, I spotted Gypsy Rover coming towards us. Again it was only possible to quickly shout hello (and again the camera wasn't handy), which was a shame as I'd have liked to hear more about Derek and Dot's weeks stuck on the Thames as Oxford during the floods. We did get a mention on their blog though!
Sunday, 19 August 2007
Friday, 17 August 2007
6 miles, 3 locks.
20 miles, 0 locks (69, 20)
Tuesday 14 August
Excitement in Atherstone. Not at the locks, which took a long while as usual, but at the Co-op. We'd left Fazeley straight after breakfast, and made slow progress in heavy rain through the Glascote Locks, Tamworth, and the Atherstone Flight. It was 4pm before we got to the top, moored up, and went into town in search of somewhere to buy a late lunch. We discovered a big Co-op, complete with a cafe serving soup and a roll, where there'd just been a crash in the car park. It was the talk of the store, and clearly the most exciting thing to happen there for some considerable time!
Back at the boat, we made the decision to stay put and lit the fire to help dry ourselves out. Then of course the rain stopped -- until we decided to go out for a walk in the evening, when we got drenched!
9 miles, 13 locks (78, 33)
Wednesday 15 August
Very wet again today, with torrential rain and thunder. Adrian's turn to try to get round Hawkesbury Junction in one: a better effort than mine, but we still need more practice.
We made a stop at Ansty for lunch, and another at Rugby for water and a dash to Tesco. It was here that the engine wouldn't turn off with the ignition key. A phone call to Guy helped us locate the lever which stops the engine manually. We continued a bit further, mooring below Hillmorton Locks.
25 miles, 1 lock (103, 34)
Thursday 16 August
All the Hillmorton Locks were in our favour, and there only boats we saw were coming down, so we were through quickly. Adrian polished the mushroom vents while we were on the move. Reaching Braunston at about 11am, we moored up before the junction and walked to the Gongoozler's Rest for tea and fruit cake. We bought bread at the shop by the bottom lock, and a tin of grease for the stern tube at the chandlers on the other side of the bridge. Adrian had a lesson from the man in the chandlery on the best way to fill the stern tube, which he did on our return to the boat while I cleaned all the windows I could reach. The sun was out, so we had lunch on the well deck.
We'd only been going again for a few minutes when the rain came down again -- not for long, but heavy enough to bring the waterproofs into action. The rest of the afternoon was a mixture of warm sunshine and heavy showers. We filled up with water at Calcutt, then went down the locks in a huge convoy of boats. We arrived back at Stocktop Top just too late for services, so were asked to moor on the services point ready for the morning. Then it was just a matter of cleaning the outside of the boat, packing up, and loading the car. To avoid the worst of the traffic, we went for a meal at The Boat next door to the marina before heading home at the end of a great week.
11 miles, 3 locks (114, 40)