Friday, 31 July 2009

Catching up

It took a while but we did eventually get back to Brinklow Marina yesterday afternoon. Nothing particularly notable happened on the way. Tuesday ended up being quite a short day as we got to Sutton’s Stop in time for coffee which ended up dragging on into lunch. Eventually it ended up dragging on to mid afternoon and I decided to stay there overnight and then decide whether to make a quick trip into Coventry the next day.

As the rain was hammering down when I woke, and continued pretty much constantly throughout the day, there didn’t seem to be much point in doing anything.

It was better, if a bit breezy, yesterday so we headed home. Since then I have just been catching up with housework and other little jobs.

Unusually I also know when and where we will be heading for our next boat trip. When I was up on the Ashby I dropped in at the Ashby Canal Centre to enquire about the availability of their slipway. I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t really afford a full repaint at the moment, but it’s important to ensure the hull is well protected so I want to redo the blacking. The slipway was fully booked at that time, but a cancellation means that I can get the boat out of the water next week.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Lyra tests her lifejacket

One of the first things I bought for the boat was a Baltic Pet Buoyancy Aid. In fact I think that I got it before I bought the boat. I decided it was necessary as Katy was afraid of water as she had fallen into a swimming pool when she was a very small puppy. She only needed it a couple of times but it became a signal to her that she was about to be a “floating dog” and she got really excited every time I put it on her.

Lyra has now inherited the lifejacket and is begining to learn that it means we are going boating. She enjoys swimming but only goes in if she can walk in and then start swimming, which is good as it means that she has no desire to leap off the boat into the canal.

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Coming through one of the bridges after having come up Atherstone locks I heard a splash and realised that there wasn’t a little dog at my feet. I can only guess that there was something really exciting on the towpath and she slipped off. I looked back and saw an orange object in the water, GSD fur being quite good camouflage when in muddy water. I was sufficiently clear to be able to use reverse to stop the boat. Meanwhile Lyra had got to the side and was trying to climb out but the edge was too high for her to manage. She kept swimming along and trying again but eventually responded to my calls and swam across to the boat. The handle on the lifejacket makes it easy to lift a wet dog back onto the boat.

I removed the front end of the boat from the offside trees and set off again, luckily Lyra’s excursion had occurred at a time when there was no other traffic to be inconvenienced by me blocking the cut. I was worried that falling in might have scared her but she was happy to be out on the back with me and leaning over to see what was going on. In fact I thought that she was going to manage to fall in again when we were passing the fields outside Atherstone as she was so interested in all the rabbits.

Moored back near the Anchor again this evening, unfortunately there are sheep in the field which means that she can’t rush around it like a fool but the towpath should be fairly quiet so that’ll do instead.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Heading Home

No posts for a few days as the internet connection where I was was dire. It wasn’t that it was only a 2G signal, that isn’t too bad as I use Windows Live Writer to prepare posts offline, but for some reason it was unreliable and more often than not it would just give a blank page when trying to load a webpage.

Wednesday morning started well, with a good run through to Glascote locks. As I approached the locks a walked warned me that there was a delay due to a gate problem, and I arrived to find three boats waiting. I wandered up to the lock to find a BW team trying to find and remove whatever it was that was wedged between the cill and the gate. As they had been on their way to somewhere else when diverted to Glascote they weren’t really geared up to address this problem but had called out reinforcements.

DSCN1680 Not being able to do anything to speed the solution, I went back to the boat to give Lyra a walk whilst we waited. Pretty soon whatever was causing the problem was moved and boats started passing through the locks again. By the time I was through the bottom lock there was still a queue of 7 boats waiting to ascend but everyone seemed to be pretty relaxed about the delay. I stopped for lunch, and to decide where to go next, when we reached Fazeley. Heading south towards Curdworth locks won out and soon after I moored up just before the winding hole as I was unsure whether to carry on or turn back.

Not a lot of boating happened on Thursday. I had decided that there wasn’t any real point in ascending the locks this trip as I wouldn’t really have time to go and explore the BCN properly. So as the other boats that had been moored below the locks had moved off I winded and reversed to a better spot nearer the locks. The rest of Thursday was spent exploring Kingsbury Water Park, which deserves a post of it’s own.

I had thought about spending longer at Kingsbury but my fridge was playing up and had failed to keep food fresh so I needed to move yesterday. After a quick stop at Fazeley to resupply with food that doesn’t need to be kept cold, I turned back onto the Coventry and headed back through Glascote locks and on to my present mooring point near Pooley Country Park which is one of my favourite moorings as it’s nice and quiet and has good dog walks right outside the door.

I’m probably going to spend the whole weekend here as the traffic on the cut is much heavier as it’s the weekend, and I have plenty of time to cover the distance back to home.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Rain stopped play

I had considered making an early start to get down the locks before they got busy. When I woke to the sound of rain hammering down on the roof I was really glad that I didn’t bother to set the alarm. It kept looking as if it might clear up, but all too soon the rain reappeared. The waiting about was pretty tedious but it did mean that I finally got around to paying a few cheques in at the bank. It did finally clear up, but that was accompanied by loads of boats appearing from somewhere. eventually there was no queue at the top lock so I untied and made my way to the locks. There was a boat just about to leave the lock so the start of the run at least was good. The rest of the first batch of 5 locks were either against me or with a boat just about to enter the lock so it was a slow run down.

As I was waiting for lock 5, Tony the lockkeeper arrived to tell boats heading up that locks 1 to 5 were closing at 1pm as a family of wasps had taken up residence on the towpath and needed to be evicted. It was short notice but I suppose that was due to the need to arrange the removal as soon as possible. As I headed towards 6 the heavens opened again and as there was a boat waiting for the lock I decided that stopping until the weather improved was in order.

Eventually a bit of blue sky appeared and as I had seen a boat was about to come up I headed off again. The run through the lower 6 locks was much better as I met a boat about to leave the upper lock of each pair, which meant that the lower one would be almost full. I saw a working boat approaching as I was passing the long tem moorings below the locks which turned out to be  Cassiopeia. I always look forward to seeing which interesting boats will be moored at, or in, Grendon Dock and I wasn’t disappointed today with Kangaroo and Kestrel together in the dock. I had wondered where the cabin that is on the side at Charity Dock came from and now know that it used to be attached to Kestrel.

I had planned to moor at one of my favourite spots this evening, but the weather scuppered that plan as the rain returned with a vengeance as I was passing through Polesworth. Unusually there was space on the moorings here so I hastily moored up and took shelter inside.

I wish this unusually hot and dry summer that we were promised would turn up, although, to look on the positive side of the weather we have been having, there is plenty of water in the canal at the moment.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Atherstone

Woke early so was able to make a nice early start this morning. Had the canal to myself on the run to Sutton Stop where a boat was just about to lock down onto the Coventry, with one to come up before it was my turn. There weren’t many boats moving so had a good run to Nuneaton. Sadly the state of the canal trough the town was the usual mess with copious quantities of floating rubbish, although the usual item of furniture didn’t make an appearance.

Stopped for lunch opposite Springwood Haven and introduced Lyra to woods as we have only really walked in fields up to now. She really enjoyed the new environment. As I unlocked the boat so that we could carry on, I proved that padlocks don’t float. The Sea Searcher failed to locate the errant lock.

I ended up in the middle of a queue of boats for a while but managed to find somewhere to let the following boats past me and so regained my solitude. I was planning to stop before the locks anyway so being behind more boats wasn’t a problem. Arrived in Atherstone and moored up, there were about 4 boats waiting to descend the top lock, a situation that continued all afternoon so I was glad that I’m not in a hurry. The hardware shop in the town provided a replacement padlock and I now have enough food for a few days rather than empty cupboards. I considered making a late run down the locks but having walked Lyra down to 5 and seen that they would all be against me I decided against it. Hopefully I won’t end up in a huge queue for the locks in the morning.

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I’m quite surprised, but actually quite pleased, that the old factory is still derelict. It seems unchanged, though probably has more broken windows, since my first visit back in 2003 when I was helping a friend move his narrowboat. It looks to me to be a prime candidate for conversion to flats. I would like it if it could remain much as it it now with nature gradually reclaiming the site, but expect that it will one day end up being demolished and replaced.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Boating again, heading towards somewhere

Spent several hours today pondering whether or not to come out again. The weather was changeable and according to the Met Office going to get worse. Sometime after lunch I decided that I might as well leave as otherwise I would probably have spent most of tomorrow trying to make the same decision. It was very windy and there were occasional heavy showers which probably was why it wasn’t excessively busy. Lyra really couldn’t decide where she wanted to be today and seemed to be constantly moving from the counter to my bed and back again. Only a short day today and have moored between bridges 13 and 11 on the Oxford. Stopping here was a good move as shortly after the promised heavy rain appeared. It has now cleared up and turned into a lovely evening, hopefully the weather will be better from now on. Tomorrow I should be turning right onto the Coventry, where I’m actually heading is still undecided as I think I need to be home at the end of the month which will limit how far I can go.

The Dogs Trust open day last weekend was good, Lyra enjoyed meeting so many new friends. Unfortunately her sister wasn’t there, I’m sure that she would like to see her again. Her visit to the vets was also a success, she has got up to the weight that the vet wanted her to be, we have to go back again in a month to see the vet rather than a nurse.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Braunston Historic Boat rally photos

Have posted some photos from the weekend at http://picasaweb.google.com/Andy3196/BraunstonHistoricBoatRally2009#

Must add cleaning, or more likely getting someone else to clean, the CCD on my camera to my list of jobs to be done.

Back at Brinklow

Made an early start yesterday as I was awake so early and had a pleasant run in the cool conditions meeting few boats on the way to Hillmorton locks. there was a boat just leaving the middle locks so opened the gates of the empty top lock and waited for it. Apart from that lock and a couple of boats following me, there was no one else about. After a coffee break below the locks we continued our journey home. There were more boats about by that time, but still much quieter that I would expect on a nice Sunday morning in July.

Stopped at the service point at the marina to empty the holding tank and refill with diesel. This was the first time since the introduction of the new rules. In the absence of monitoring equipment and an extensive series of tests, there is no way of determining what the fuel I use actually gets used for so am content to stick to the “default” declaration.

Now back on my home mooring so can catch up with chores. There are a few non boat related things to do before I can get out again. One of which is the Dogs Trust open day for the centre that Lyra came from next weekend. This isn’t actually at the centre so she won’t think that she’s being sent away again as did happen the first time she was rehomed. I wonder if her sister will be there.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

My dog is a wuss

Took Lyra for a walk up the flight on Friday morning. Seeing that all the locks would be in our favour I decided to make an early start. As we were getting back to the boat a boat passed us heading for the locks, so we ended up following it up. Very kindly they drew a paddle as they left each lock which made life so much easier for me. Lyra stays inside on her bed for locks but comes out once I open the back doors, but on seeing that there was light drizzle promptly turned round and went back to bed. It’s quite sensible of her to go in when it’s really hot so she has some shade but evidently she doesn’t like getting rained on either.

The summit pound, which had been very low when we came through before, had recovered to a good depth so had a good run across, stopping for breaks at Fenny Compton and Marston Doles.

Descended the Napton flight, in improving weather, with every lock against me except one where a boat had just left but which still needed me to stop and partly refill it due to leakage. I was intending to cruise on to the home side of Braunston, expecting there to be lots of traffic on the Napton to Braunston section on Saturday morning, but a shaded mooring below the locks was too good to miss, it having got hot again.

There was more traffic than I’ve been used to yesterday but it was not as busy as I was expecting. Found a convenient mooring in Braunston so stopped to do a bit of shopping. Found nb Gleemaiden moored and stopped for a chat, with Lyra getting a lot of fuss. I was moored too close to the A45 to consider staying where I was, so moved on, it started to get very busy as I approached the moorings near bridge 80 so decided to stop here.

Fell asleep before getting round to posting the last couple of days, but woke up ridiculously early this morning so have time to do it now.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Wrong, wrong, wrong

Locking up towards the summit today, the writing on this balance beam amused me somewhat.

DSCN1659 Unfortunately it’s not very legible in the picture, but it reads “Little Burton”. I guess what they meant was “Little Bourton”, but anyone who knows the Oxford canal will realise that this is Hardwick lock.

DSCN1662 Of course it could be argued that it should have read Bourton. The corresponding new top gate at Little Bourton lock did read Hardwick. These gates were made at the Stanley Ferry rather than the Bradley workshop.

DSCN1667It’s good to see new gates and these have been hung well and are a pleasure to use, but some of the bottom gates really need some urgent attention, both to address the leakage and to the paddle gear which is so stiff that I ended up digging my long throw windlass out. A lick of paint wouldn’t go amiss either.

Today started heading south through the town centre before winding and a trip to hell on earth the supermarket, as the fridge was looking empty. This delayed things a bit but we were soon off though the town and back into the countryside. Our now normal long lunch break was below Slat Mill lock and we have ended up below the Claydon flight this evening.

Finally a word of advice. When you are in a canoe and intend passing a narrowboat it might be of benefit to try to attract the attention of the narrowboat steerer rather than relying on him happening to glance behind him and therefore be able to make space between himself and the moored boat. It’s actually more usual to pass to the left of the boat you are passing anyway, and it’s generally considered the steerer of the boat being passed who decides when and how a passing manoeuvre is undertaken. Please remember that in the event of contact, it is likely that the small fibreglass vessel will fare worse. The use of the words “thank you” when someone has taken action to assist you is also considered good manners, rather than a stony stare both at the time and when you have turned round and are about to make your return trip.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Where are all the boats?

Here I am on the South Oxford in July in glorious weather and wondering this, I was expecting massive queues at all the locks and having rouble finding anywhere to moor. I had no trouble finding a place to moor below Napton locks, and could have had the pick of most of the moorings further back at the Bridge Inn as there was only 1 boat there. Met very few boats coming down the locks so had to turn virtually every one. There were plenty of spaces available at Fenny Compton, and would have been even more if people had shared rings and space for the night above Claydon locks. Arrived in Banbury this evening and dived onto the first space I saw, just after bridge 163, as Banbury is always packed. It’s actually a pretty good spot as it’s shaded and next to the park. Walked Lyra through the park and into the centre and found it totally deserted and it looks empty below the locks as well. It’s probably tempting fate to comment but I’m surprised at how quiet it is at the moment.

My cruising pattern seems to have changed due to the heat, we now make a fairly early start and then start looking for a nice shady spot about 11 and sit out the hottest part of the day before carrying on for a while. We also find somewhere for Lyra to cool down, yesterday it was one of the overspills so she was not only wet, but muddy as well. Today I managed to get her to have a swim in the canal.

DSCN1651 Yesterday ended up being a long day as I stopped to say hello to Iain and Alison of nb Gosty Hill which ended up being a long chat in their garden whilst Lyra made friends with Bosun. I also met another friend whish out with Lyra after mooring and so by the time I had done everything else it was just too late to get the computer out.

I think I will be turning round tomorrow and heading back towards Brinklow as I have things to do early next week, not that I’m too sure what day it is. I did remember that today was the 1st and that I needed to put my new licence in the holders, which was fortunate as BW were out checking as I left Claydon bottom lock.

 
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