Friday, 30 May 2008

Rothersthorpe Locks

Last Saturday's sun at Crick didn't last, and it was raining heavily in Northampton by Sunday morning. But we decided to go to have a look at the Rothersthorpe Locks on our way home in spite of the weather.

The water levels were pretty high, and the by washes would probably have made getting into or out of the locks quite bumpy.

Having got soaked walking down a few of the locks, we got back in the car and continued along the back roads to Blisworth, passing the back (or front, despending on your preferred mode of transport) of Gayton Marina and Blisworth Marina. At Blisworth, we turned towards Stoke Bruerne, passing one of the tunnel air shafts on the way. Stoke Bruerne was very quiet, and we sat in the museum cafe with tea and coffee, watching the rain come down. We saw two moving boats, both Wyvern hire boats, plus a family who were determined to take out the day boat from outside the Boat Inn despite the rain.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

More bloggers

I've added quite a few bloggers to my blog roll recently, and thought some of these new additions deserved a proper mention.

In Fade to Scarlet, Amy and her boyfriend James are about to take ownership of the boat they've bought. Soon they'll be moving Lucky Duck from Birmingham to Cambridge the long way round.

Caxton is the story of a new build. The Reeves shell is due to be taken to Barnowl Narrowboats for fitting out next month.

Finally, Martlet is a superbly written cruising log. Martlet has been on the water since 1999, but has only been in the blogosphere since April, its owners inspired by meeting Derek and Dot of Gypsy Rover.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Bloggers at Crick

We spotted a few familiar names on the tow path at Crick. Sanity was there, of course (we'd been shown around this year's Braidbar Boat, Kala, by Sheila of Sanity). A bit further along was The Maisibert, a boat which had a shaky start in life, and was rescued by Heartwood Narrowboats.

Further along, near the bridge which takes you up onto Crack's Hill, was Alnwick, which we last saw on its home mooring at Cropredy at Christmas.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Twenty Questions

Following the example of Sarah of NB Warrior, and on the suggestion of Andrew on Granny Buttons, here are my answers to Canal Boat's Twenty Questions:

1. What's your favourite canal? The Leicester Section of the Grand Union.
2. And your least-favourite?
I don't actively dislike any, but as a fan of locks I find the Northern Oxford slightly dull.
3. Who would be your ideal cruising companion? My partner Adrian. We make a good team.
4. What was the last book you read? Currently reading On Beauty by Zadie Smith. If we're talking waterways book, it would probably be the first Narrow Dog, but that was a while ago.
5. What's your favourite time of day on the waterways? A warm summer evening.
6. What irritates you most on the waterways? Inefficiency at locks. It's not about getting through quickly, but faffing about, wasting time, and wasting water really annoy me.
7. When would you most like to have lived? Now (but without having to go to work).
8. When did you last fall in? I haven't yet. But there's still time.
9. What did you want to be at 12? A journalist. So that worked out OK.
10. If I didn't have narrowboating I'd ... ? be very bored at work, as I wouldn't have dozens of blogs and websites to catch up with.
11. Narrowboaters are ... ? generally willing to talk to anyone.
12. After a day's cruising I most look forward to ... tomorrow's day's cruising.
13. The waterways need ... ? to be properly looked after.
14. If you met the Waterways Minister on the towpath, what would you say to him? The waterways are part of our heritage, so what are they doing in DEFRA?
15. Windows or portholes? Windows for the front half, portholes for the back.
16. Pumpout or cassette? Pump out.
17. Canals or rivers? Canals.
18. Where will you be when you are 70? Afloat (I hope).
19. What do you think is your greatest achievement in life? It's too early to say.
20. What would your superpower be? The ability to know what superpowers others have.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Sunny Crick

We spent Saturday at the Crick Boat Show. We left home early, and arrived at the show just a few minutes before the gates opened. We were glad we'd bought our tickets in advance, as our queue moved quickly once we were allowed in, while the enormous queue of people without tickets moved much more slowly.

It was much sunnier than we expected, although there was a strong wind which kept blowing signs off the roofs of boats.

We took a look at the new Polish-built OwnerShips boat, and decided that we prefer Debdale! The new boat has slightly more headroom, but we couldn't see the point of a couple of strange-looking skylights in the saloon and dinette. There's lots more storage in the galley, but the oven is now under the worktop rather than at eye level. In the bathroom, the bath has been replaced by a shower cublicle, but the frame is so low you'd have to duck to get inside.

Other boats we looked at included 4EverMoore, which we liked, and a Reading Marine boatwhich had some clever ideas but also some strange choices, such as having no rear hatch. Sheila from Sanity showed us around this year's Braidbar boat, which had a beautiful Gardner engine and a botman's cabin. We also like the Louis and Joshua boat, which we have a good chance of seeing out on the cut as it's to be based at Calcutt Marina. But our favourite was the Heartwood boat, Alma Jean. There were many things about the boat we wouldbn't have chosen (such as the reverse layout and the walkthrough bathroom), but the quality of the fitout was superb. The woodwork was particularly good, showing a high level of craftsmanship. One disappointment was that we didn't get to go on board the Fernwood boat, Whitefield, built to be a yacht for the canals. Their appointments were fully booked, so we only managed a look at the outside, including the unusual cratch cover.

Before we left the show, we took a walk along the canal and up to the top of Crack's Hill, from where the scale of the show was clear. There were boats moored as far as we could see, so some people must have had a long walk to the show.

UPDATE: I hear that the show has been closed early today, because of high winds.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Crick boat show

This time next week, we'll be at the Crick boat show. The tickets arrived while we were away. I ordered them online, not because it was cheaper (only a 50p saving, thanks to the internet booking fee), but because last time we went we stood in a very slow-moving queue for what seemed like hours. Meanwhile, all the people with pre-booked tickets walked straight in.
The last time was two years ago, and it rained virtually all day. We were used to it, as we were on our way back home from a fortnight afloat, during which we'd got wet virtually every day. With a bit of luck, this year's weather won't be so bad.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Bloggers at Cavalcade

There were a couple of familiar boats at the Canalway Cavalcade over the May bank holiday weekend. Sanity was moored along the Paddington Arm, along with the boats of other workers. we bumped into Bruce and Sheila on the other side of Little Venice pool. The last time we'd seen them was back in September when we were going in opposite directions on the Grand Union, so it was good to have a chance to speak this time.

Moored further down the arm was Hadar. I was expecting to find this fantastic looking boat here, as I'd been reading the blog. There was no sign of Jo or Keith as we passed though.

I should perhaps explain why it's taken so long to post about Cavalcade. We dropped by on our way to Heathrow, and a few hours after sunning ourselves at Little Venice, we were on a plane for Cape Town. Internet connections aren't that easy in South Africa, so posting had to wait until we got back.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Debdale sighting

Paul on Waterway Routes has posted about a sighting of Debdale on the Stratford Canal near King's Norton Junction.

These owners are the Jaspers. One of the nice things about Debdale is that there's a diary on board, and every owner writes an account each day of where they've been. It provides a good few hours of reading (particularly if you've not been on board for six months), and often includes good advice on where to go and where to avoid.

Thanks to Paul for permission to re-post his photos.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Canalway Cavalcade

It seems like a long time ago now, but on 3 May, the Saturday of the bank holiday weekend, we went along to Little Venice to have a look at the Canalway Cavalcade. It was a lovely sunny afternoon, and there were plenty of boats and plenty of people. We watched the decorated boat parade, and had a go on the human fruit machine. It was also nice to bump into Bruce and Sheila of Sanity.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Stourport's re-opened basin

There's lots of building work going on in Stourport, much of it around the re-opened basin. A new bridge has been construsted to take Mart Lane over the entrance to the new basin, and Barratt Homes are building flats and houses.

There seems to be surprisingly little information online about the Mart Lane basin. Even the official website doesn't say when it was filled in. The google map below must be fairly recent, though, as the basin is shown in water, although the building work hadn't begun. It's clear to see that the new basin is quite a lot smaller than the original one.

View Larger Map

The other place where there's work going on is at the former Tontine Hote, which faces the River Severn. It dates from 1788, but has been closed for a long time. It was threatened with demolition in 1977, and closed as a pub in 2001. There are more details of its history here. Now it's being converted into eight townhouses, and the grounds in front are being landscaped.