Monday, 29 June 2009

Oxford or Grand Union?

Not a question as to where to go next, I’ve made that decision, but a question as to how to refer to the section of canal between Braunston Turn and Napton Junction. In my Nicholson’s this is included in the sequence of pages on the GU but the bridge numbering follows the Oxford sequence. The canal was owned by the Oxford Canal Company but widened to be consistent with the Grand Union. From all this I would tend to think of it as being more Oxford than GU but then there is the matter of Napton Junction bridge being numbered 17, which would be consistent with staring numbering the bridges from the Stop House in Braunston, which suggests that it was intended for it to be part of the Grand Union. Not that it’s of any real importance, just one of those things that I start wondering about when steering the boat.

We did get moving eventually and headed along this section, stopping for a long break during the hottest part of the day shortly after bridge 102. It was just too hot for my comfort, so I began to worry how Lyra was coping although she didn’t seem to want to go inside for some shade. Managed to find a bit of bank that she was happy to use to get into the canal so she had a short swim, like Katy she seems to only like going into water if she can feel the bottom, but once in is happy to swim. Once it had cooled a bit, and the sun had moved round so that the boat would provide shade to the back deck we carried on to the bottom of Napton Locks. A short day again but I didn’t feel like doing the locks whilst it was still so hot. Hopefully we’ll make an early start tomorrow and get them done before it warms up too much.

Only a very poor GPRS signal here, so I hope I can actually manage to post this. Even with images not displayed it’s taking an age to load any web page.

Braunston Historic Boat Rally

The weather turned bad on Friday afternoon but we wandered back in as I was keen to see the arrival of snb President which was due to arrive about 5.30. Saw Iain of nb Gosty Hill who was about but without a boat and had a good chat and introduced Lyra.

On Saturday morning we walked through the rally site which was much more crowded that the previous morning with boats moored 4, 5 and even 6 deep.

4 5 6We carried on past the rally site and up to the locks as I wanted to see horse boat Elland arriving. Spotted them coming through lock 4 and as I was unsure how Lyra would react meeting a horse moved across to the offside at lock 3 and watched them work through the lock from there.

Horse Boat EllandFollowed them down to  the bottom lock where Elland was to be met by a motor as it wouldn’t have been practical to try to get through the rally using horse power. Lyra met the horse but was a bit nervous of such a big animal. We got back to the marina and watched some of the procession before heading back along the towpath as it was getting towards lunchtime. Met Keith, one of the harbour masters at Brinklow Marina next to one of the bridges so stopped for a while, which also meant that I could have a brief chat with Sarah of nb Warrior who had hitched a lift on one of the boats (nb Victoria I think) which spent a while in the traffic jam. Went back to watch the afternoon procession at the marina entrance.

Sunday morning was much the same, but we headed in along the footpath on the offside where Lyra found somewhere where she could have a paddle in the canal.

Lyra paddling We watched the boats at the marina entrance again.

CactusCactus the 100th FMC motor boat

tug of war  Stour and Kangaroo had a tug of war outside the marina entrance

Manchuria  Manchuria, which would look right passing through Foxwood Lock 

On the way back to the boat we were called over to the Mill House for a beer by Derek & Sheila of nb Clarence fellow Brinklow moorers. For the afternoon we went to the turn to watch the boats turning.

Hadley & Cassiopeia Hadley and Cassiopeia

Nuneaton & Brighton Nuneaton and Brighton

Will be moving on shortly, not sure to where but need to put a bit of charge back into the batteries having been moored up for 4 days.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Getting busy

Took a wander to the marina earlier and there are loads of boats here now.




More are arriving all the time, I’m glad that I’m not going to be trying to move the boat over the weekend.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Timing is everything

Left the mooring this morning to time my arrival at Braunston for about 10, as I thought that this would mean that boats that were only here overnight would have moved off but spaces not filled with new arrivals. Mooring spots got increasingly crowded as I approached the village and I began to wonder whether my timing was out and I’d be carrying on through the village and out towards Napton. But just as I approached a boat moored near bridge 89 they started to untie their lines so I hovered until they left. This was a spot that I had in mind as it’s only just outside the village but should still be relatively quiet, and there are a variety of routes to take Lyra for her walks. The view is nice with the old mill and church up on the hill, the bridge ahead and the farm in the middle.

IMG_8468  As I don’t often moor using pins, I dithered around at the boat for a while to make sure that my placement would cope with passing boats. I’m now a fan of using a spring along with the normal couple of mooring lines. I was treated to my own private boat show as various working boats made their way to their moorings.

After lunch we went for a wander up to the church and then back down to the canal and along to the locks. After walking up to the top lock we had a pause for a quick drink at the Admiral Nelson, a pint of Spitfire for me and the water that she had brought with her in her backpack for Lyra, who was very interested in the turbulent water when the lock was emptied. Her backpack did get quite a few comments during the walk. We then returned to the boat, pausing for another drink for Lyra at the water point as she spilt most of the one she had at the pub. There are loads of working boats here already and nowhere free to moor in the village so I’m lucky to have found my spot. Hopefully the weather will stay nice for the weekend, the forecast doesn't look too good at the moment but hopefully all the rain will get used up on Wimbledon & Glastonbury.



Lyra has also found something to bark at, apart from a couple of nights when she’s had a “I’m a big dog and protecting my owner but I’m actually quite scared” bark, she doesn’t make any noise at all but she decided that the canoeist who came past earlier needed to be shouted at.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Where was I?

Well, I suppose I could blame being out in the middle of nowhere with no signal for the lack of posts for a few days, or I could just be honest and admit that I didn’t get round to it.

The weekend was rather disrupted by little cars going round in circles at high speed. After a bad nights sleep I woke late on Saturday and so only did a couple of hours before mooring at Market Bosworth to watch the qualifying session. Moved on afterwards to moor for the night near to Dadlington. By the time I woke on Sunday there wasn’t really enough time to justify moving, so stayed put to watch the GP. I’m fairly pleased with the result as it hopefully shows that there will be more competition, but am disappointed that they still haven't managed to work out how to introduce some overtaking on the track. I was in a nice spot and do tend to avoid weekend boating anyway. Despite the good weather it was still very quiet on the Ashby.

A reasonable start time on Monday got us off the Ashby, as I nosed out of the old stop lock, the third boat in the queue stopped and let me out, I assumed that they were off up the Ashby but it was just a bit of considerate boating. I would have preferred to be at the back of the the queue as I would then be free to find my own pace. Turned onto the Oxford and decided to carry on for a while, but at bridge 4 Lyra started to get restless so stopped soon after on the straight before bridge 5. I wouldn’t have chosen it as a mooring spot normally but it proved to be a pretty nice spot and the motorway wasn’t that intrusive.

Tuesday was just a short run back to Brinklow Marina as there were things that I needed to do which were easier by car. It also meant that Lyra could meet Fletcher & Floyd before they head off for the summer.

Woke early this morning, well more ended the falling asleep in front of the TV episode, and spent a long time wondering whether or not to come out again. Boating won out in the end and we headed off up the Oxford again. Stopped in Rugby as I needed to do some shopping as I had no food. The moorings were unusually quiet. I also wanted to get something to try to address the problem of the boat getting hot in the summer. I had looked into the reflective sunscreens that are available for cars, but the price and the lack of important details like size on a certain car spares company’s website put me off that idea. I then remembered about the stuff used behind radiators in land boxes and thought that that would do the job. So I dropped into the DIY shop and got a roll of the stuff. It is about the right size for the windows and seems to work. I’ll know more after living with it for a while as I only cut it to size this evening after stopping for the night between bridges 80 & 81. Lyra seems much happier with locks now, she stayed inside and just went and laid on her bed, so that seems to be how we’ll do it from now on.

This field of poppies near Hillmorton was wonderful, though the photo doesn't really do them justice.

DSCN1599 The plan for tomorrow is to find somewhere to moor in,or at least near, Braunston as I want to be around for the boat rally this weekend. It’s only about an hour away so I’ll have plenty of time to find somewhere. Then I’ll work out what to do until Saturday. I can’t remember how early I arrived last time I went back in 2005, so I’m hoping that there will still be space to moor.

It’s 2 months to the day since Lyra came to live with me. She has settled in completely and is a wonderful boat dog. She now gets impatient to go boating and when she’s ready will wait for me by the back doors.

Friday, 19 June 2009

The end of the line (almost)

Woke up this morning and decided that sorting problems out can wait and cruising is more important. Set off nice and early (for me) in pleasant weather and had a good run to Sutton Cheney where I tied up to the plastic as I had some rubbish to get rid of, it was about the right time for a coffee and there is a nice field that Lyra really enjoyed having a run in. Short stops like this seem to take at least an hour but Lyra usually seems to need a walk every couple of hours or so. Another couple of hours cruising  and we stopped for lunch at Congerstone. As it’s a nice quiet bit of towpath she could have a good run about with her favourite toy, a Kong Wubba. lyra at congerstoneAfter lunch we headed off to complete the last bit of the Ashby. As I used to moor on the Ashby I had come to think of the first 6 miles little more than the route to use when actually going somewhere, and tended not to use the rest much as it doesn’t go anywhere, but it really is a lovely canal.

I knew before I started that I wouldn’t get to the end of the canal this time as I received the latest copy of Spout just before coming out, but am really pleased that I couldn’t. Coming out of the tunnel, the signs start indicating that something is up.Canal closedAs you approach Bridge 61 it’s clear that it isn’t possible to get right to the end of the canal at the moment.bridge 61 viewIt’s taken a long time, and an Act of Parliament to get to this stage, but the work on restoring the link to the true end of the canal is underway. This stage is only putting in a stop lock, along with the much needed reprofiling of the winding hole. There is also a nature reserve going in that was a condition of the Act. I always liked the end of the canal and think that the nature reserve add to the area, but do look forward to the day that it’s no longer the end and I can cruise through Measham and onto Moira.overview of site A water point has been provided near to the temporary winding hole immediately after Bridge 61, and the rubbish skip is still next to the elsan disposal point which is accessible down the towpath despite the “Towpath Closed” signs. I assume the elsan disposal is in use, but didn’t feel inclined to look too closely. The Ashby Canal Association stall is operational as normal but relocated to just south of Bridge 61 where Terry & Linda are moored whilst the works are in progress.

I have posted a few more pictures at

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Boating again

I wanted to get out boating again yesterday but the weather was foul, a pretty strong wind that was joined later in the day by showers, so decided to put it off. This morning it was far more pleasant so headed out of the marina and towards Sutton Stop again. There was a regular stream of oncoming boats but most appeared at convenient passing places. Sutton Stop itself was packed with moored boats so passed through without stopping and turned right at the junction to head up the Coventry. Stopped for lunch and dog walking near bridge 14.

Turned onto the Ashby and had an uneventful run to just past Hinckley. The recent rain has been of benefit and progress was pretty good. Only met a handful of boats and am moored in a spot that I have used often in the past as there is good dog walking here.

My plan for tomorrow, which was to get up to the top end of the canal, might have to change as a problem has appeared that I need to try to resolve. It’s nothing too important really and wouldn’t in itself prevent me from boating, but I might need to stay in an accessible place for a short while. I have got a rough plan of what I’m doing but one of the things I love about the canals is that things can be left flexible and changes in plans are easy to accommodate. 

Friday, 12 June 2009

Messing around with unnecessary technology

I was interested in nb Willawaw’s recent posts about GPS and navigation as it is something that I have also been experimenting with. When I got the boat it was sensible to use the Garmin GPSIII+ that I already had to see how fast I was travelling and have rudimentary routes to follow, the routes being little more than waypoints at junctions and locks. I could also look back at the track logs from trips on Memory Map as I have had this since it was released. I get round to using the moving map feature of Memory Map on the boat until very recently, partly as I didn’t want a collection of cables littering the roof, although I had been using it for other purposes for a while, so the GPS used to sit on the roof on its own.


Things have moved on a lot in the decade since I started playing with this technology. In a package little larger than a box of matches I now have a GPS, camera, music player etc, in the form of a Nokia N95 – it even makes phone calls! My other new toy is a netbook computer.

Screenshot0009Adding Nokia Sports Tracker to the N95 gave me a way of displaying GPS data and logging trip details. The log from this program can be exported to display in other software including Google Earth or uploaded to the Sports Tracker site. The speed log of the day we cruised to Braunston does show the limitations of GPS receivers, I’m certain that I didn’t manage to get a narrowboat up to 40mph.

Digressing slightly, photos taken on the N95 can have location data written to them automatically. I wish that I was able to do this before as I have many pictures that I only have a vague idea where they were taken. With the data recorded with Sports Tracker it is also possible to Geotag pictures taken with other cameras.


I wanted to be able to use the live GPS data with Memory Map which meant that I needed to be able to export via Bluetooth. This is done using ExtGPS. I did have to force some changes in com port numbering on the netbook as Bluetooth ports are numbered, by default, outside the range that Memory Map uses. mm2This might not be necessary with current versions of MM, but I have never seen much point in upgrading from the original release that I have as licensing limitations would require me to purchase new map data. Forcing the changes in numbering doesn’t seem to have caused me any problems with the computer. Memory Map gives a good overview of the area and is useful to identify possible walk routes.

ge2 The latest version of Google Earth will accept GPS data but an internet connection is needed. I have a reasonable data allowance as I only have mobile internet, so I’m not too worried about the amount of data that Google Earth will be transferring. There is a lot of information available through Google Earth to identify interesting places to visit, but I have found a couple of additions that make it more appealing. Firstly the route of the canal can be overlaid by downloading kmz files from Tony Blews’s Google Earth Canal Maps site, which also shows routes of disused sections of canal. The other kmz that I have added is from which shows and links to details of caches. I haven’t started seeking caches yet, but plan on doing so, so can’t really say how useful this would be yet. It’s not the easiest file to find as it doesn’t seem to be linked directly from their site anymore, but there are instructions for how to find it in the comments on the blog post here.

I like my gadgets, and it’s been interesting getting all of this working, but I’m not convinced that any of it is particularly necessary. There are times that I wouldn’t consider using any of it, locking through an urban area or when it’s raining spring to mind, and even when I do have it all working I still have my Nicholson’s guide next to the computer. Maybe it will prove more useful once I start cruising unfamiliar waters, at the moment I tend to have some idea as to where I’ll end up.

I haven’t tried out either Water Explorer or Google Latitude yet, I’m not sure if I want to move forward to broadcasting my location rather than just using GPS to provide information whilst cruising, but I suppose I’m tagging posts with my mooring location anyway so this wouldn’t be a huge leap.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Home Again

A couple of uneventful days found us arriving back at Brinklow Marina yesterday afternoon. Lyra seems to now be really happy about boating and rushes to the back door as soon as I pick up her lifejacket, maybe she will learn that she should wait to put it on first. She then settles down and watches whatever is going on around her. She is a very calm dog and doesn’t reply when other dogs talk to her as she passes, in fact she hardly barks at all which surprised me as she had spent a lot of time in kennels.

We moored at Sutton Stop again on Thursday which was a good place to see how well she would behave if allowed to lie on the towpath with people passing. This was successful with her staying still and just looking. She even just looked at the cat that was on the next boat along.

04062009357 Yesterday was just a quick trip back to the marina. Lyra was really happy to be back at her field.

Lyra has another appointment at the vets on Monday, which is why we have come home.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


I was today, but more of that later.

It was hot last night so was difficult to get to sleep, so an early start didn’t happen. Left the basin about 10 and stopped almost immediately to fill the water tank. Good pressure from the tap, almost too good as the hose kept escaping from the filler and I hardly had time for a cup of coffee before it was time to move off. Met a few boats heading into the centre. My arrival at Sutton Stop coincided with lunch time so moored up.

Continued up the Coventry after lunch and hardly recognised Marston Junction as all the offside vegetation has been dramatically cut back since I was last there. The whole section to Nuneaton, which was where BW had got to last time I passed, has had the same treatment. It certainly improves navigation but looks a little barren at the moment. It should be really nice next year once the vegetation has re-established itself. Seeing this clearance and thinking about my last trip along this bit of the canal made me realise that I am following the route of Katy’s last trip, but in reverse. Decided not to follow it exactly, but moor at one of my favourite spots which is just before the Anchor at Hartshill. A favourite not just for a pleasant pub but also for the nice field that is good for dogs to have a run in when there aren’t any sheep around. Someone is already moored in “my” spot so I’m moored slightly further away. By the time I had got through all the dog walks, dog feeding etc I decided not to bother with going to the pub.

So to the con merchants. We got back from one of Lyra’s walks and there next to the boat was a poor little destitute duckling. It spent ages calling out for it’s family but was clearly either abandoned or an orphan. I’m not a great fan of feeding ducks, particularly as bread isn’t too good for them, but I made an exception for this poor little thing. No sooner had the first piece of bread landed in the water than the co-conspirator appeared. Yes, mum had been hiding out of sight behind the boat. they also refused to allow the moorhen which also turned up to share in their ill gotten gains. I managed to get a photo, so be warned if these two appear near you.

03062009349 They are still hanging around now at 10pm, evidently still considering me a soft touch.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Coventry …. Totally by choice

Monday 1st June

I didn’t get round to posting yesterday but we did get out on the boat again. A late start as seems to be becoming the norm found us turning left out of the marina and heading towards the north end of the Oxford Canal. Approaching All Oaks Wood I spotted boats and people that I know from the marina so had to stop and have a chat with Pip of nb Hetty Pegler and Audrone of nb Gleemaiden, who were pleased at how well Lyra has settled into being a boat dog. After a chat we headed onwards to Stretton Stop where we were fortunate to follow another boat through the swing bridge, we then moored for lunch and for me buy gas from Rose Narrowboats. I was pleasantly surprised that the RRP has come down a bit.

Once refreshed and resupplied it was only another short cruise to Sutton Stop where I had decided to head for as I wanted to introduce Lyra to going to the pub and couldn’t think of a better place to start than The Greyhound. Still being hot, a pint of mild was the order of the day. The visit was a success with Lyra settling down next to the table outside the pub and watching everything that was going on, it looks as if she will turn out to be a good pub dog. It was only a short visit and we returned to the boat to watch fall asleep in front of the TV.

Tuesday 2nd June

Managed to have what I now consider to be a lie in this morning, still being in bed at 7.30 and after the morning routines was ready to move off at about 10. Despite the late start the canal was deserted. Today’s mission was to actually do a reasonable amount of food shopping as the cupboards only contained puppy food. The most convenient location for this was the huge Tesco near to bridge 8. Since the shops and football stadium were built a lot of rings have been put in to provide moorings south of bridge 9 but these aren’t particularly convenient for the shops, there is some piling on the towpath side opposite the Tesco but the one time I tried to get into the side there I found the bottom, but that was only one spot and I can’t comment on the depth all along that section. My preferred mooring for the shop is the old wharf on the offside where there are a couple of old and well used rings, a pin is needed for one end of the boat but it considerably shortens the walk back to the boat with shopping.



The rest of the run down to Coventry Basin was uneventful as usual, but it did feel like a bit of a slog, the water level is down a bit and it’s not the deepest bit of canal at the best of times. The basin itself is busier than I have seen it before, but still with plenty of space. It’s not the ideal mooring in terms of dog walks, but the towpath isn’t far away and there’s a nice short route over the new footbridge. I like this section of the Coventry, I suppose it’s the closest thing to my home canal as I lived in Coventry for many years and crossed over bridge 4 every day during my 1st year at what was then the Poly (well every day during term time that I wasn’t too hung over). My real home canal would have been the Croydon but that disappeared long before I was around.

It’s seemed very quiet on the canals this week, I only passed about 6 boats yesterday, and just a single one this morning. Of course every one was at an inconvenient spot, bridges or between moored boats. Why does it always seem that you meet boats where passing is difficult?

I think I know where I am heading for tomorrow, and according to the weather forecast it’s going to be a bit cooler with a chance of rain. It’s been a bit too hot for me really so as long as the forecast is accurate I'll be happy.

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