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2004 Trip Reports

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20th March 2004 Cropredy to M40 Bridge
H.C. 7468 - 7474 Distance 6 miles 4 Locks

Crew - Simon, Manu, Celine, Renee and Phaedra.

Simon: Wow! First entry in the new log book, and first 2004 entry as well. We're here on a 'getaway trip' from uni. Drove all the way down from Salford to be greeted by rain and gales. Weather better on Saturday morning, and got through Banbury before being blown onto the side. Tried again after clearing the prop, and crawled for another 1/2 mile before the wind got UP and forced us into the side again. Total distance all day, 6 miles, very poor! With a Brit, a Greek, 2 French and a Chinese - big UP for Renee - international co-operation.

Renee: About the canal boat trip: the water was cold (when I checked the propeller). The wind was strong, (it made us can not go ahead). Manu was so naughty, (we try to kill each other :-) I'm joking. Actually it was the most exciting experience I have had. Thanks simon for inviting me and giving me such a wonderful memory.
Ed's note: I get the impression that Renee was prop clearing officer having lost a bet long before the trip, and had taken on the task of prop clearance without any idea of what was involved. Students ... drinking ... what are they like?

The crew in Banbury

Phaedra: So... here we are on our first boat trip in one of the canals of England. Although this day started quite normally it ended up being a bit more adventurous than most of us expected. After a good night sleep in our mini-beds, a nice cup of tea for breakfast, ( bread and nutella for most of us non-English) we decided to start on our trip. Unfortunately the weather wasn't on our side, but despite the pouring rain, head blowing winds and freezing cold, Simon and Manu's Tarzan skills ( with some assistance from Celine, Renee and me) we managed to get to Banbury for a first stop.... and continue to the point we are now. Basically stuck in the middle of nowhere. It doesn't matter though because I'm sure we all had our daily dose of excitement, exercise and of course getting absolutely messy, dirty, and.... (I really can't think of anything else but I'm sure you all know what I mean.) Anyway, before this gets too long I just want to say that it was definately an experience I will never forget.
P.S. I hope no-one gets food poisoning tonight by Celine's and mine pasta bolognese.

Renee does the weed hatch

Manu: After having a quiet Friday night playing cards, eating some After Eight and reading, the canal boat trip can start. But before to leave Renee had to clean the propeller. Then the first lock was pass without any proble, also for the 2 next ones before stopping in Banbury for lunch, and a visit to banbury for Simon, Phaedra and Celine. Shower for me and hairdrying for Renee. One hour later we are ready to g, ne more lock and fill up the water tank. After one hour and a halfwithout any problem suddenly the wind was too strong and we had to stop. Therefore, some tea, some read and other a short sleep (Renee). When the wind come down we decided to carry on. Problem: the propellor was full of plastic, branches.... Simon was volunteered to clear it! After 15 minutes we had to stop again for the same reason but this was the end for today, we have to spend the night here. After a good dinner prepared by Phaedra and Celine, Simon's parents joined us. It wasa good time for Simon to offer strawberry and champagne to his mother, (mothers' day). After his parents left Celine and myself went to bed. This day was excellent on one side, lock teamwork, and on the otherhand I was disappointed because we had to stop due to this ........... wind. Hope tomorrow will be better, fingers crossed.

Celine: I'm writing after Manu who said you all the day story. Therefore I will talk about my own experience. I like driving the boat, sleeping in the boat, spending good evening with good company.... but I prefer to work on the locks with Phaedra. I didn't try to clean the propeller, Renee's task, but that's not a problem. I didn't push the boat when it was blocked (strong man's task) Too, I didn't clean the toilets [do a pump out] thanks to Simon's parents. So I spend a really good weekend to relax and I thank Simon's family for that.

entering a lock
21st March 2004 M40 to Neil Bridge and back to Twyford Bridge
H.C. 7474 - 7477 Distance 6.5 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Simon, Manu, Celine, Renee and Phaedra.

It looks cold heading down to Banbury

Simon: Wind postponed our leaving until 11am, after nice, filling, cooked breakfast. Took advantage of a better spell of weather and pressed on to wind above Neil Bridge lock. Tried to return to Cropredy but were forced to abort by the wind and driving rain, and reluctance to leave the boat in Banbury. Sorry. See you soon Jannock, and well done crew.

27th March 2004 Twyford Bridge to Cropredy
"The Rescue and Recovery"
H.C. 7477 - 7481 Distance 7.5 miles 5 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

This is an ex-bridge

Although the day was grey and murky British Summer Time was being heralded by skylarks. An uneventful cruise into Banbury to source tasteful and expensive prizes for Graham's up and coming party. Pre-birthday lunch for Brenda, then onto Cropredy. I spent a happy 1/4 hour watching a diligent Jenny Wren taking grubs and other wriggly things from the water margins and tree roots to her nest in a tree behind the old barn; I wonder how many beaks she had to feed.

3rd April 2004 Cropredy to Marston Doles
The Fools' Birthday Cruise &
the J.E.T Beginners course for Julie
H.C. 7481 - 7488 Distance 12 miles 9 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Brian & Julie.

Julie: It was a very windy day, sometimes blowing us off course. I did some steering under Graham's instruction. Had to keep remembering to turn the tiller the way I didn't want to go! Only got stuck on the bank once when Brenda and Graham had to take over and rescue me. I helped open and close a couple of locks and, where the locks were close together, I walked along the towpath. I had a guided tour of the boat- it was very cosy! We had a lovely ploughman's lunch and a lovely coq au vin for dinner. I found the strong wind was an excellent way of back-combing my hair!

This is why we love the canals!
9th April 2004 Marston Doles to the Blue Lias
Happy 50th Birthday Graham
H.C. 7488 - 7494 Distance 10.5 miles 21 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda & Matt.

Action shot of Duck taking off

Matt : Very sunny and err, yep.
Graham : Marston Doles top lock to The Blue Lias pub (Stockton bottom lock) in wonderful sunny weather. Matthew became a lock-keeper, helping other boaters who didn't seem to want to work thier own passage through locks. We shared down Stockton flight with a boat that had been repainted at Rugby (Our destination and purpose) Went home to celebrate Matt's 18th birthday tomorrow.

Brenda: we asked why the pubsign sported a dinosaur, and what is Blue Lias. Blue lias is a local stone, and dino remains were found in quarries in the area.

The boats gathered at the Blue Lias
11th April 2004 Blue Lias
Guy's *0th Birthday gathering
H.C. 7494

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon and Phaedra.

15 boats, plus a caravan with 'west wing' and various foot passengers gathered. We enjoyed a pre-lunch Easter egg hunt, and then an excellent roast in the pub. Simon and Phaedra joined us in time to play with Laplander, a treat all round. Thank-you Sean. Guy held a live-firing exercise from the bridge and discovered why they are called MISS-iles. Much cake eaten and many beers drunk, then onto a quiz night.
Universally Challenged: Brian and Diane (Harnser), John (Black Pig), we 4 and Dave (Raven) came a surprising second, losing only at the tie-breaker. Just as well the boat was literally a short stagger from the pub.......
A lovely day, thanks to Connie and Guy who organised it.

The boats gathered at Blue Lias for Easter Tug of war, Laplander vs Monarch The boys get to play with Laplander :-)
12th April 2004 Blue Lias to Rugby
H.C. 7494 - 7504 Distance 19 miles 16 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon and Phaedra.

Assisting Albion's passage home - injured crew.

Phaedra: Today started as a lovely and sunny day, suprisingly enough. We went through about 8 locks in a row to start with, and I'm quite proud because I managed not to get any grease on me. The canal was quite busy. I never thought I'd see a traffic jam on a canal. Anyway, we continued without any major problems and we're about to reach Rugby, where we are going to stop. Thank-you for having me aboard.

Assisting Albion up Stockton flight

Simon: First suncream application of 2004. Working up the flight sun protection was required, but the sun disappeared within 30 mins of its application. Phaedra became star lock crew addition, and 9 hours and 16 locks got us into Rugby for a Jannock repaint. See you in your new colours soon.

Brenda: How I wish we had time to stop and observe the mayhem: parallel single locks at Hill Morton, we descended and left the left lock empty with gates open and ready. Newbie 1 entered empty right lock and started to rise. Newbie 2, following Newbie 1, saw us pass, decided it was their turn next and sent a swarm of lifejacket-less (grrrr) anklebiters, plus dog, to prepare the lock.
The kids were told to open the bottom paddles to empty the lock..... they ignored our suggestion to enter the lock we'd left ready for them and started to empty the righthand lock whilst Newbie 1 were still in it. They were beginning to wonder why their ascent had been curtailed.... I like to think there was a Bank Holiday punch-up in the making, but I'm just a sadist.

Millie Annie on the Grand Union

Jannock spent the next month at Willow Wren,
Rugby to emerge with a new colourscheme.

Jannock's new colour scheme.

The stern view The new colour scheme The bows

With our hearts in our mouths, we travelled to Rugby to see Jannock's new colour scheme for the first time since we left her at Willow Wren's yard on 12th April. We had designed the colourscheme on computer but were never sure what it would turn out like. Initially it was a bit of a shock but I can honestly say that we're very happy with her new sophisticated look.

28th May 2004 Rugby Wharf to Brinklow
H.C. 7504 - 7506 Distance 4.5 miles 0 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

The new name panel

Graham : Having spent a good few hours hoovering and cleaning all of the dust and muck out of the inside of Jannock we left Rugby Wharf resplendent in a new coat of paint and turned left toward Coventry. Had to wait for 2 southbound boats in Newbold Tunnel, and the new paint seemed to be working as a magnet to trees and bushes whenever a newly hired Rose Narrowboats craft appeared heading south. Finally moored for the night near Brinklow, in a very peaceful setting.

Brenda: quote of the day....' I'm just licking out the wok!' That'll be the Thai stir fried beansprouts then.

29th May 2004 Brinklow to Anchor Bridge
H.C. 7506 - 7512 Distance 15 miles 1 Lock

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Brenda: I-Spy nb Laura first thing. We were still abed, but it was raining.... I-Spy nb Pilgrim who promised to see us in September. (at least we were up for that one!)
As we approached Hawkesbury junction I remembered that Charlie and her Dimmocks did an historical recreation of the lockhouse garden a couple of years ago. It was with anticipation that I looked over the wall; what a disappointment! The orchard was there, the chickens were there, I could see the track of the lavender hedge which partitioned the garden, but everything else was just waist high grass and weeds. Just as well it made good TV as the license payers' money was otherwise wasted.

I made round Hawkesbury in one go without touching :-)

As we approached a 'Towpath Closed' sign the 10 hikers we'd been racing along the canal began to look concerned. There was no obvious way round, so it was a case of 'all aboard who's coming aboard', and Jannock played waterbus.
Today we identified the ubiquitous 'knackered bike pump' bird, so called because its call sounds like a ...... We thought it to be a tit from our Birds of Britain book, but upon actually seeing one we now believe it to be our second choice based upon the description of the call in the book, it is a chiff-chaff.

30th May 2004 Anchor bridge to Hopwas School
H.C. 7513 - 7520 Distance 15 miles 13 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Bridge 35 on the Coventry

Brenda :Something very strange happened today: we saw yoofs pulling rubbish OUT of the cut - a bath to be precise - and they weren't on any scheme. Well done the good guys. A beautiful day. We stopped briefly at the ruined Priory at Alvecote and acknowledged Mr. Hudson's yard at Glascote appropriately as we passed. Checked out the bike-pump bird/chiff-chaff decision on the internet. Jury out again, maybe a great tit after all.

At about 23.00 a popping sound was heard. It was rather late and rather wet for it to be fireworks in the distance; we decided on the unlikely concept of 24 hour birdscarers and thought it a little wasteful. One beer to many led to our final conclusion, that they enjoy a bit of clay-owl shooting in these parts.

31st May 2004 Hopwas School to Kings Bromley Wharf
H.C. 7520 - 7525 Distance 10 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Graham :The lovely blue sky deserved an early start. 5 minutes into our journey through the Hopwas Woods and the 'Military Firing Range' signs killed our theory that the bangs last night were the locals doing Clay Owl Shooting. We joined a procession following a very slow Challenger boat who soon pulled over to let us all through.

Footbridge over the Coventry canal

After Whittington (no sign of Mary!) we joined yet another queue behind a very slow boat that seemed to have 'summat round t'prop.' She pulled over approaching Fradley, and we turned left at the junction to become 3rd in line for middle lock. We continued through Shade House and Woodend locks before finally mooring up outside Kings Bromley Wharf.

4th June 2004 Kings Bromley Wharf to 'away from the road'
H.C. 7525 - 7525 Distance 1/2 mile 0 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

An evening cruisette in the dark to get away from the busy road.

5th June 2004 Kings Bromley to Stone TopLock
H.C. 7525 - 7535 Distance 21 miles 10 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Brenda :Today's weather forecast - wall-to-wall sunshine. The sun came out, with azure skies, at ten to eight in the evening:-( Just in time to eat supper on the sundeck then! What a grey, tho' warm and dry, day.

Wild Iris growing in the bank

In the interests of marital harmony we decided that since we can't agree whether the 'knackered bike pump' bird is a chiff-chaff or a great tit it shall be known, henceforth, as the chaffin' tit-tat. We saw, and agreed upon, grey wagtails collecting grubs and insects at a lock side weir.

Look, there might be bread on this boat!

Graham lent the sea-searcher magnet to a boater who had dropped her windlass. A successful retrieval was made by her husband. Painting window frames and mending was achieved with the help of a very good bottle of wine.

6th June 2004 Stone TopLock to Barlaston
H.C. 7535 - 7537 Distance 2.5 miles 4 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Graham :After a double car shuffle and a trip to a car boot sale we finally set off at 10:40.
Herself had just prepared breakfast when we came upon the first lock, I'd told her it was about 30 minutes away, oh well. Then a quick run to Barlaston where the car had been left this morning. Steak and salad lunch, and home.

Meaford locks, near Stone Meaford locks, near Stone Meaford locks, near Stone
12th June 2004 Barlaston to Church Lawton
H.C. 7537 - 7543 Distance 12.5 miles 12 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda & Simon.

Brenda :We had an hour wait before passage through Harecastle tunnel. Tea and sympathy was dispensed to a Dad who had borrowed a mate's boat to take his 8 and 10 year olds for a weekend trip. ' It's flat water and only 6 feet deep. How dangerous can that be?' He was very unnerved after his tunnel passage, having never steered a narrowboat before. He was very upset after having nearly sunk the boat in a lock. Friend had not thought to train this novice crew, Dad had not thought to read the front part of his Nicholson's. He had been advised to keep well back in locks, but had not been told about the cill when descending. As boat was teetering on the cill Dad yelled for sons to drop the paddles. One complied, the other threw his windlass away because he misunderstood. The weld on the rear fender fixing gave way which saved the boat which dropped off the cill, but at the expense of ripping the back out and leaving a hole in the diesel tank. The Dad fell on the deck, bumping his head as he went. It was at that point he realised how much danger he had been in, and what he could have put his little boys through. It seems it's not only the hire fleets that allow poorly trained crews onto the cut! I assured the Dad that, as I saw it, his friend was as much to blame for the damage as he was as he should have ensured they had enough information to stay safe.
Rant over!

Approaching Harecastle from the South

Simon :Arrived to inspect Jannock's new coat and assist with northwards migration, and I couldn't miss out on the Harecastle Tunnel Experience. The cloud of moisture which rushes at you when the ventilation fans are switched on is definately an experience to convince the ignorant about ghosts or boggits, as is the 'surprise' in the alcove 450m from the north portal. Spooky! I came in useful as we started down 'Heartbreak Hill', to be continued at about 5.30 am tomorrow if Dad gets his way.

Brenda :Simon and I visited the churchyard for our constitutional. What a beautiful place to await eternity. It seemed such a happy spot, full of loving families. There was one grave worth a mention here; the inscription is :-

Hugh Lanyon's gravestone!

'In memory of Hugh Lanyon of Truro
in the County of Cornwall
He died at Lawton on the
15th of June AD 1846;
aged 41 years.
He was an Assistant Surveyor to the
Trent and Mersey Company.
As a record of his Zeal in the
discharge of his duties, the
company have raised this stone.'

13th June 2004 Barlaston to Hassall Green
H.C. 7543 - 7546 Distance 3 miles 8 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda & Simon.

Brenda :A beautiful morning, the countryside looks gorgeous. A continental breakfast was served to compliment the weather. We met a breakfast chef ( in nightie) whose gas had run out; she was frying eggs and bacon on a barbecue. What's wrong with cornflakes in such circumstances??? Simon DIDN'T go fishing and caught a fish to rival anything caught aboard Jannock so far, about 2 inches long. As we moored up I understood why we had previously met a crew who had given up trying to sleep here and had left their Hassall Green mooring at 5.30 in the morning. Motorway noise!

Hassall Green locks
26th June 2004 Hassall Green to Middlewich
H.C. 7546 - 7550 Distance 8 miles 18 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Phaedra & Simon.

Graham : We started from Hassall Green in light drizzle. During the next 10 locks it varied from drizzle to no rain to heavy rain and so on. The side winds caused Brenda a few problems steering but she coped well. Stopped at Wheelock Wharf for water and to inhale the Italian restaurant kitchen exhaust whilst eating our lunch on Jannock. Finally stopped at Big Lock, Middlewich.

Bucks Fizz for breakfast to celebrate two degrees.

Phaedra : So, here I am again. Simon's parents came this morning and we started moving the boat. It was raining most of the time but the locks weren't that many so we didn't have major problems. We are now stopped for the night and we will probably go out for dinner later.
P.S. Euro 2004: Greece 1 France 0 !

Brenda :A 'good++' meal at The Big Lock celebrating Simon and Phaedra's graduation. Steak stuffed with brie, spinach and garlic, followed by Bailey's creme brulee was wonderful. Wobbly Bob my beer of choice, yum. The crew of FMC boat Alder congratulated Phaedra on the quality of 'the match', Greece took France out of the footie.
P.S. 08.00 Sunday, Alder chugged past with cheerful announcement that they had sustained Wobbly Bob damage, one of the crew had taken a dive! Ho ho, Wobbly Bob, the beer that does what it says on the tin.... except there isn't one.

27th June 2004 Middlewich to Anderton
H.C. 7550 - 7554 Distance 9 miles 1 Lock

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Phaedra & Simon.

Brenda :Weather much more amenable for cruising today. As we progressed the memories of the Anglo-Deutch cruise of 1991 came flooding back to me. After we disembarked we went along to the Anderton Boat Lift. In '91 it was a rusting wreck, yet still impressed Jost. He'd be amazed to see it restored and working. Sad to see the Lion Salt Works derelict as we spent a happy educational afternoon with the children there in '91.

Simon : A beautiful stretch of scenery, with the odd chemical works thrown in, in glorious sunshine. All the while sipping champagne to celebrate our graduation. Beware low flying herons.

Swans like Ryvita.
3rd July 2004 Anderton to Anderton via Northwich
H.C. 7554 - 7560 Distance 14.5 miles 2 Locks

Crew - Graham Brenda & Simon.

Brenda : We got ourselves onto the first downward passage of the day on the Anderton boatlift. What amazing engineering, and interesting to learn that the 2002 restoration returned the lift to the original 1875 hydraulic system. Onto the Weaver and into Northwich as we saw their carnival advertised. A good dozen or more carnival queens and princesses from miles around drove through in posh cars, a twirl of majorette troops paraded, dance schools strutted their stuff through the streets to the accompaniement of a couple of bands. Then nobbut 3 floats! Yes, 3. One church, a youth club ( beautully costumed, made up and rehearsed) and and the doughty ladies of the Samaritans. Shame on you citizens of Northwich, is that the best you can do? A pleasant cruise along the Weaver, down and up Saltisford lock, and moored for the night on the holding moorings for the lift ready for another go first thing tomorrow morning.

Plenty of room for Jannock in Saltisford lock Northwich swingbridge passing the Salt Works on the river Weaver at Anderton
4th July 2004 Anderton to Preston Brook
H.C. 7560 - 7564 Distance 7 miles 1 Lock

Crew - Graham Brenda & Simon.

Brenda : The shame.....I got seasick going up the boatlift. Saltisford Tunnel was very crowded, there was us, a family of ducks and a flight of bats.

Simon : Another day winding around the contours. A fine, pleasant day not withstanding occasional short showers. There was 1 almost pointless lock to put us onto the Bridgewater Canal where we stopped just short of Preston brook tunnel, another bendy one, ready for lock-free cruising into Manchester next week.

The Anderton boat lift Weaver view from the lift Looking up at the machinery in the top of the lift
11th July 2004 Preston Brook to Oughtrington
H.C. 7565 - 7568 Distance 8.5 miles 0 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon & Matthew.

Graham : Drove upto Preston Brook delivering Simon's car to Hassall Green en route. Moved down opposite the hire base to off load loads of luggage from the Zafira. Finally ready to castoff at 14.15, and the drizzle stopped. The run up through Moore, Stockton Heath and Grappenhall to Lymm was very busy with boat traffic. We had to let nb Stork pass us as we were too slow for his Bollinder. I was disappointed as I wanted to see the work going on under the Thellwell Viaduct, but the Bridgewater Canal passes under a different part of the bridge.

Brenda & Matt : We took an evening constitutional to Oughtrington Church and could see all the way to Manchester, the Pennines and Warrington. Ah, the romance of twinkling lights in the distance.

Oughtrington Church
12th July 2004 Oughtrington to Castlefield Basin
H.C. 7568 - 7572 Distance 12.5 miles 0 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon & Matthew.

Brenda : An uneventful cruise into the centre of Manchester. Graham and I were last here on our very first canal trip in Nineteen Seventy Something! What an improvement.
Once moored up, Simon went to deliver a kettle and Matthew went shopping. The olds spent the whole afternoon in the Museum of Science and Industry, now free. Wandering through the sewers of Manchester, hand in hand was quite romantic, NOT. We intended to return on the morrow to see the rest, but it was not to be. Another trip needed...

entering Castlefields basin
the Cattle of Britain

Brenda : We all enjoyed the Cow Parade, an art exhibition all around the city, finding 3 cows within mooing distance of Jannock. Matt had a cookery lesson, but he and Graham were disgusted to actually find the peas that I'd 'left out' of the paella he cooked. A crime has been commited.
A quiet night was not a prospect with trams and trains, but there was no evidence of life from the bars and clubs.
Tip of the day: visit the Warehouse exhibition at the Science Museum.

13th July 2004 Simon's Graduation Day

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon and Matthew

Graduation BBQ in Castlefield basin

The sun came out for the graduands. Off we went to the Lowry centre, another visit needed there I think. What a proud family we are. BBQ in the evening, Scout Camp style, on the 'towpath' at Castlefields. Friends and their families joined us for a happy evening of drinks and chat in at least 4 languages.

15th July 2004 Castlefield Basin to Lymm
H.C. 7574 - 7580 Distance 14.5 miles 0 Locks

Crew - Brenda & Simon.

Brenda : If you need to make time to read 'War and Peace' go fill up with water at Castlefields. Whilst there I pondered the possibility that the diving competitions at the Manchester Games might be held from the gantry over the performance area and into the cut... perhaps not. As we passed Old Trafford, Simon suggested he could have arrived at last night's summer ball by boat, how very Venetian, but they didn't have to scale security fences in a dinner suit.

Salford Quays

Brenda : We stopped briefly at Sale for milk and luncheon chips. Simon took over for the PM steering stint and got rather wet! At 5 o'clock rain stopped play. Simon has finally appreciated the centuries of research and development, with extensive field trials, that has led to the modern PVC sou'wester, his chapeau of choice today.
My evening constitutional, taken through the pretty village of Lymm was accompanied by bell practise, the brass band brushing up their selection from 'My Fair Lady', the fragrances from the many eateries and warm sunshine!

16th July 2004 Lymm to Bridge 175
H.C. 7580 - 7589 Distance 25.5 miles 1 Lock

Crew - Brenda & Simon.

Brenda : Is there a meteorological term for horizontal, misty drizzle? If not we can provide a few. It started as we cast off, and lasted until lunchtime. Warmish and sunnyish by teatime, so we kept going. Ducks had abandoned the canal and were swimming in the towpath. Many towpath bunnies too.
A fellow boater hailed us with 'I can see Jan' (moi?) 'but where's Nock?' I explained that Jannock was a Yorkshire/Lancashire word. 'I'm from Barnsley' he retorted 'and I can assure you it's not, 'cos I've nivver 'eard of it!' So that's that then, we need a new name for our boat.
We pondered this dilemma over a pint of Wobbly Bob at The Big Lock having run the gauntlet of the socially sidelined liveaboards who were fetched up there and had very obviously run out of 'you know, thet German wine as we drank this morning!'

17th July 2004 Bridge 175 to Hassell Green
H.C. 7589 - 7596 Distance 9 miles 19 Locks

Crew - Brenda & Simon.

Brenda : An earlyish start, one lock and into Middlewich for fresh veg. I walked towards the town and turned left. Big mistake. I realised I was in the wrong direction when the Victorian terraces had gone, the 60s was over, and the late 20th century miniscule detached was turning into 21st century neo-anystyle housing. Navigation by architectural history. I had to kidnap a local child to point me toward a supermarket in this town twinned with the Marie-Celeste. Found the cure for scurvy and decided not to risk pneumonia so we stayed moored up in the rain, and filled out our applications for the Namby-Pamby Boaters' club. Made a dash for it , got through the Middlewich turn-around mayhem and wimped out in the rain again. 14.15, let's try again. Eventually, a lovely afternoon . . . .

Simon : except for the 19 locks I had to do on my own. (Is he getting at me?) That's 57 gates pushed and 76 sets of stiff as He77 paddle gear. Now my back aches...I need some dinner - smells wonderful - and a beer.
On our evening constitutional we caught numerous Rampant Cows about to escape into the Romping Donkey carpark. Then we proceeded to investigate the pink corrugated iron church, nicknamed St. Barbie's by mum on account of it's loud electric pink paint. It's foundation is splendid stonework, inscribed 188something. Any information as to it's history would be welcome.

St. 'Barbies' , Hassell Green.

The church that is now St. Philip's started life as St. Mary's Alsager. In 1883 it was moved by horse and cart to it's present location in Hassell Green. It is the daughter church of Christ Church, Wheelock and the original idea is that it would be staffed by a full time Reader. To facilitate this a house was built by the then Vicar of Wheelock, Rev Millward for any future Readers, and is still in use today. The church is painted pink and is known for miles around as the little pink church! It is also referred to affectionately as the Tin Tabernacle. The church is very close to the Trent and Mersey canal and is an ideal choice for a Sunday morning service whilst on a boating holiday.

1st August 2004 Hassall Green to Church Lawton
H.C. 7596 - 7599 Distance 3.5 miles 10 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Brenda : A strawberries and Pimms afternoon, with the glitter of swallows and the swish of haymaking. How fortunate that all but one lock were set for us.
Graham : Today I met the ultimate bimbo. She was with her husband and small son watching Jannock work through a lock. Hubby asked how far it was to the next pub along the cut. I replied 'about 1/2 a mile'. Her next question to me was ' how does that compare with the distance from my house to Red Bull?.....' (Red Bull is a flight of locks on the outer edge of Kidsgrove.)

Bridge 73.
2nd August 2004 Church Lawton to Barlaston
H.C. 7599 - 7606 Distance 12.5 miles 12 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Brenda : As I started my shift lockside I had a feeling 'summat was oop'. Eventually I twigged it; the nail polish adorning both fingers and toes was definately not de rigeur! Added to which there's diamante on my knickers. None of this held me back as I managed to set the second pair of locks for the boat following us whilst working Jannock through. The Dad thanked me warmly, announced that most of his crew were dopey and would Graham swap me for 2 fit and healthy young men to complete the locks. The offer was declined as they were still abed. Later we realised how right Dad was; the boys were literally 'dopey', sneaking off for a quick smoke whenever possible and drinking lager. They were fast becoming a danger to shipping, starting out by smashing the bottles they hadn't thought to remove from the balance beams before moving them. Glass underfoot!.

Jannock awaits her passage through Harecastle tunnel

An all-girl glee club crew, of a certain age, exited Harecastle Tunnel proclaiming loudly that when they went in they had all been 21, and most of them had been sober. Hhhmmm, no boggit today, but a good time was had by all. After last year's debacle when we had to pay salvage fees, for Jannock, in rosemary, we got our own back by rescuing a radio controlled boat. The salvage fee was paid in toffee.

9th August 2004 Barlaston to Aston Bridge
H.C. 7606 - 7610 Distance 4.5 miles 8 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Matt & Rosie.

Rosie : Started our day with a crew of four, not the six we were expecting but I'll mention no names. Beautiful weather to start but it's turned now , is very humid and getting windier by the minute. My driving seems to be improving slowly, I only bumped the sides a couple of times. A fairly decent day all round apart from the rowdy, drunken men on a stag do in Stone, standing and sitting in the most inappropriate places possible at the lockside. Thanks for a nice day, at least I'm trained and ready for our next chance of a boat holiday.

Fradley Yard.
14th August 2004 Aston Bridge to Fradley Junction
H.C. 7610 - 7619 Distance 20 miles 7 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda & Margaret.

a Grebe with it's catch.

Margaret : A lovely day, no rain and a little sun. Lots of wildlife including a squirrel, a heron and a grebe with a fish looking for it's brood to feed. A convention of 'L' drivers was out, all aiming for us or the bank. ( Brenda: some of them were quite accurate and managed to hit their targets. I took pre-collision avoiding action and was in reverse at each impact, but an oak tree wasn't so lucky. Big bang theory, what's that all about?) Moored up with Joe and Jackie Jones, off the Llangollen, and Mike and Hazel on nbs Will Crooks and Tess of Wooton, en route to the GiG. Went to the pub for supper and got talking to a couple from San Francisco. He was in search of 'the full english breakfast' but didn't grasp that it's available all day although not usually before 9ish unless in an urban area. He usually buys his US of A breakfast at 7 am. Ended the evening watching 2 women and a child in a rowing boat trying to catch a duck - don't know why or if they succeeded, but they seemed quite determined!

15th August 2004 Fradley Junction to Barton Turns
H.C. 7619 - 7624 Distance 4.75 miles 9 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda & Margaret.

Brenda : We took a leisurely breakfast in order to fully appreciate the sunshine and birdsong; that's our excuse and we're sticking to it. The deathwish steerers were replaced by the 'let's take locks very slowly' school of boating, so progress was very slow. At Alrewas we were watched by a well to do, elderly couple. She: 'this canal seems awfully narrow and rather difficult, why don't you go to another one where it's wider for you?' He: ' you've just made all that effort to empty the lock, why on earth are you bothering to fill it up again!?' I explained that we needed it full to enter it in order that we could descend and proceed, but he just couldn't see it. Final mooring just around the corner from the Barton Turns Marina - the 2004 GiG site.

Pub-wall art in Alrewas.


The Great Internet Gathering 2004
20th - 23rd August 2004

Brenda : Friday morning we took a mini-cruisette into the marina and 3 abreasted up to Uncle Mort and Albion. We settled in and the rain started, we got stranded in the beer tent! Fish 'n' chips was followed by the main feature in our on-board cinema. Toasts were made to Matt's A level success, and entry to University.

Saturday dawned, and remained, dry. Julian and Caro arrived in time to visit the Burton Brewing museum. It was enjoyed by us all. We finished the visit off with our free beers in the bar and decided to stay for a good lunch and a mini-beer-tasting. The spudfest for supper was very good , being followed by music by Rusty and friends that was very loud indeed.

Sunday started with a communal breakfast twixt us and Uncle Mort. We've never had our beans in slices before, and certainly not accompanied by breakfast quiche. Yum. David Dickinson eat your heart out; the GiG auction was great fun and raised loadsa money for charity. Chinese and Indian for supper, followed by a fun quiz which quickly disintegrated into a gherkinfest. Any smart remarks or protests attracted the forfeit of eating a large gherkin, and after a curry this was indeed a penalty. Tom Kitchen played a mean fiddle for us and the bar had a sale, all pints down to a 1. Foul weather overnight, Jannock springing 2 drippy leaks. The GiG clearing up crew worked swiftly and efficiently despite mud and general sogginess. Farewells were made. How the committee managed a 2 day fine weather slot this summer I'll never know. Someone has got a painting in the attic methinks!


23rd August 2004 Barton Turns to Alrewas
H.C. 7629 - 7631 Distance 3 miles 2 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Brenda : I had to do some nifty manoevering and reverse parking in order to get water whilst still within the confines of wind swept Barton Turns marina, and then another set of same to get diesel (rude not to at 25ppl). We managed to start after the worst of the rain had abated and stop before the afternoon deluge. Luckily the Trent was still running slow enough for traffic to pass South. We moored in Alrewas as Will offered to Jannock sit.

29th August 2004 Alrewas to Fazely
H.C. 7631 - 7638 Distance 12 miles 5 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Graham : A lazy start saw us in second place for all 5 locks to Fradley Junction. We finally turned left at Fradley Junction onto the Coventry canal at 12.30 and decided to stop for lunch just after bridge 90. We picked blackberries apres lunch and then I steered in the rain whilst Brenda showered. We pressed on through Hopwas Woods ( Hooty Owl country ) and went onto Fazeley. The last few miles were in very strong winds which made navigation rather difficult. We stopped for the night on the 14 day moorings just before the centre of Fazely and were puzzled at first as to the source of all the screams - we soon realised how close we were to Drayton Manor Park.

30th August 2004Fazely to Polesworth
H.C. 7638 - 7641 Distance 6 miles 2 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

this is what it's all about

Brenda : Just like yesterday, we had lots of weather today; typical Bank holiday stuff, a chill wind, a strong wind, heavy and blustery showers and a sprinkling of bright sunshine. We met a boater who'd been born at Alrewas, so we asked her for the definitive pronunctiation :-
         OL as in ''aul(d)' RE as in re(gards) WOSS as in moss.
She told us that she remembers the older folk of the village calling it Alderwash when she was young, she's currently late 30s.... She believes that was it's original name.

4th September 2004 Polesworth to Sutton Stop (AKA Hawkesbury Junction)
H.C. 7641 - 7649 Distance 15 miles 11 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Brenda : Summer has returned now the kids are back at school. And since it's Saturday the yoof of Polesworth are out improving their football and Thelwellery.

Graham : Brenda got Jannock stuck (on a piece of concrete 'exposed' due to shallow pound) whilst I was lock-wheeling up the Atherton flight. I came back to find her being rescued by 2 old ladies and a jogger. Having executed a perfect turn around Hawkesbury Junction, Alan from Willow Wren at Rugby appeared waving his arms and asking if we'd seen one of his Viking Afloat fleet. He told us that after Jannock's paint job had been completed at Rugby he has had his own boat repainted in a similar colour scheme. He and his wife were responding to an emergency call out by a Viking Afloat hire crew. They had realised they had no means of making icecubes on board!!! Some emergency.

5th September 2004 Sutton's Stop to Hillmorton
H.C. 7649 - 7655 Distance 16 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Brenda : Graham took advantage of a wonderful morning and no locks to rekindle his flyboating aspirations. I stayed in bed awhile. A real cruising day with only the 3 Hillmorton locks before we moored in the shadow of the soon to be felled Rugby radio masts, soon to be only 2. We moored behind nb. Slim, whom we've been leapfrogging for 2 summers now. A chat ensued and a techy appointment was made for when Jannock passes his next proposed mooring point at Braunston.

Back cabin of nb Slim
11th September 2004 Hillmorton to Napton (Adkins lock)
H.C. 7655 - 7662 Distance 14 miles 7 Locks

Crew - Graham & Simon.

Simon : Don't these early starts concern anyone? I thought this was supposed to be a boat of holidays and relaxation! Dad had the engine on at 07.00. 37 secs this morning, forcing me to get up. Long cruise had me driving so dad could wash the roof, then the sides, then the front, all before arriving for water at Napton. We joined the motorway queue for Napton flight. Final mooring was just past Draco and Lexa above Adkins lock, with 2 inches to spare between us and the next boat, and all before 2pm. Home for Matt's farewell dinner later; he's off to Uni. in Preston tomorrow. To be fair, the early start worked, we'll be there in plenty of time.
Right, I'm going back to bed now, grumble, grumble, grumble.......


17th - 19th September 2004
Cutweb Gathering 2004
Uncle Mort with lit up 'copper tube' tree The Badger Set string quartet getting 'un-knotted' The boats moored below the lock

Brenda's report : An excellent weekend, with friends old and new. Beeky treated us to a curry supper at Friday kick-off. We served so many cuppas on Saturday that I began to feel like a theme caff. The Saturday B-B-Q became a movable feast as we finished up in the marquee due to rain. The band was very good, and we won T shirts and fleeces in the raffle. Hurrah.
More cuppas served on Sunday. We enjoyed the 'solution' session for the picture quiz, slick MC and yards of heckling. We won the top prize in the main quiz with the brains from Albion and Enceebee, hurrah, hurrah.
We then learned that this give us the 'opportunity' to set next year's quiz. Hhmm. Next came first prize in the raffle, amazing.
Monday morning was spent dismantling and avoiding the rain, with a little light blackberry picking and photography.
A fun time was had by all.

The BBQ before the rain The BBQ after the rain Rumpus shot whilst it passed through Napton

20th September 2004 Napton (Adkins lock) to Braunston
H.C. 7665 - 7670 Distance 8 miles 7 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Graham : I was up at 7.30 to assist Albion down Napton flight, then helped some newbies on a navy boat back up again. Took down the rally lighting and assisted with marquee dismantling. We went to Southam, in the car, for supplies before winding Jannock in the engine arm and setting off down Napton flight again. Water and rubbish were sorted at Napton bottom lock and we set off towards Braunston. It was very windy which caused problems when we slowed down to pass moored boats. Finally we moored just past Butcher's Bridge, behind Prairie Crocus, the PC crew came to dinner.

Brenda : As Ken tucked into his dessert he announced that I would be sent to Hell because of it! Fresh blackberry and apple sponge with orange zest and a splash of cream. Was that a compliment or not? Answers on a postcard....

21st September 2004 Braunston to Stockleys Bridge (31)
H.C. 7670 - 7678 Distance 15 miles 12 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Looking back from Watford flight to the bottom lock

Brenda: Today's weather: dry and sunny, blue skies for the most part, temperature 18 degrees, wind chill down to -4 !!! Crick tunnel sent freezing drips down our collars, so meteorologically speaking the most pleasant place was inside Braunston Tunnel out of 'THAT' wind. We moored for the night surrounded by dozens, yes truly, of pheasants. We saw the first and only kingfisher of the year just North of the tunnel.

Graham: Did a DiBlasi run from Welton Wharf to Bryco in Daventry to purchase some oil filters. Changed the engine oil in Jannock's kubota once we'd finished for the day.

22nd September 2004 Stockleys Bridge (31) to Foxton boatyard.
H.C. 7678 - 7683 Distance 10.5 miles 10 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Brenda: Rain threatened, but that's all it did. The wind increased as the day went on. This was basically a rural cruise with 2 staircases to finish with. Graham returned to fetch the car from Napton after we had tied up at the boatyard. I cleaned up and thought to visit the shop. Entering Foxton flight was a BW workboat, the steerer sent to take it to the top of the locks; but no-one had the boatkeys. Therefore he had no engine or windlass. Using a poor, knotty length of rope, his hands, the lock-keeper and me on gates, he got the boat to the top. A private boater who had not consulted the lockie before entering the flight, as per BW orders, was most indignant when asked to pull over to one side in the middle pound to let the workboat pass unimpeded. He was even more cross when the wind and current pushed the boat onto his shiny new paintwork and did not accept the argument that he shouldn't have been on the flight by rights and so it was his own fault. Ho hum. It took me an hour and a half to get to the shop, 5 minutes to get back.
Yesterday I lied, it wasn't the only one of the year, I saw another kingfisher this afternoon.

Foxton basin with THAT workboat

Foxton flight
Soddit Cruise 2004
9th October 2004 Foxton boatyard to Welton Wharf
H.C. 7683 - 7693 Distance 23 miles 16 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter.

Reversing to Foxton water point

Graham: To get an early start up Foxton I rallied the crew at 06.30 hrs to get water before tackling Foxton locks at 07.45. Ian surprised us all by-
1) Establishing the record for the earliest drink of the day at 06.45, a challenge if ever there was one, beat that Brian.
2) Showing a natural aptitude for steering the boat, he even took it through Husband's Bosworth tunnel.
3) Falling asleep DURING the live radio coverage of England vs. Wales after bleating on for so long about how he didn't want to miss the game

Once we had cleared Foxton locks, we settled down to a peacefull run across the summit level to the Watford flight, pausing only briefly for lunch and a spot of un-fishing. At Watford we had to wait whilst 4 boats came up the flight before we could descend. Between Watford and Norton junction , Brian's hat was whisked from his head by a tree and deposited in the cut. A quick bit of reversing saw it returned to it's rightful owner - albeit slightly soggier. We search the banks for a suitable mooring spot once we had turned Norton Junction and finally settled on a spot opposite a moored workboat. Still no sign of a fish :-)

Peter: Weekend scores.
            England 2 Wales 0
            Haddenham 4 Thame 1 ( Soddit games won )
            Hats 1 Fish 0
EEC regulations now require all future Soddit cruise to be monitored for CO2 emissions.

Ian: Me thinks he means methane!

the top half of Foxton flight
Soddit Cruise 2004 - Day 2
10th October 2004 Welton Wharf to Napton
H.C. 7693 - 7698 Distance 10 miles 6 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter.

Ian: Fishing, to use the well worn euphamism for standing by a canal with a long stick, commenced just before 8 am. After a short break for an excellent kedgeree, rustled together by Cap'n Pakwash, the worm danglers stared into the waters once again. We obviously moored on a bank where it was :-
a) previously, totally and utterly fished out.
2) an Exon Valdise type disaster had polluted a small stretch of water.
last) the fish were smarter than Pete and Brian could imagine.
Make your own minds up!

Braunston tunnel was such a restful environment that I drifted off into the arms of Morpheus and imagined adventures worthy of 007, myself in the starring role. The dream (fully documented elsewhere, but too hot for a family website! ) was shattered as Jannock left the tunnel ( of lurve it would seem! ) to duel with a Dayboat.

Brian: What on earth is Ian on?
Cruise almost over, Cap'n Pakwash and his merry band of pirates have made the journey from Foxton to Napton in one piece although a Navy ship did ram us in Braunston tunnel. We fought off the boarders as they were in fact 2 OAPs. Catch of the week was a 7 3/8 hat, alas no fish but that is the norm for Soddit / fishing weekends. As always the cruise was excellent but methinks that someone is going to walk the plank before too long. Roll on Soddit 05.

Do they really know what to do with a windlass?

17th October 2004 Napton (Bridge Inn) to Cropredy
H.C. 7698 - 7706 Distance 15.5 miles 18 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Ian and Jessica.

Jannock ascending Napton flight

Brenda : Saturday evening was spent at The Bridge inn as a result of our having won a voucher for a dinner for two in the raffle at the Cutweb rally. And what an excellent meal we had, in pleasant surroundings, washed down with well kept Cornish Knocker Ale.

08.20, Ian (he of the delusions) and Jessica joined us for fresh baked croissants and a day sur l'eau. A steady cruise back to our winter mooring enhanced by Jessie's obvious delight with her mode of travel. Everything was 'cool' especially dancing on the roof. After lunch mum was phoned, it seems the family could possibly be taking a canal holiday next summer, brochures on order... Jessica declared Wormleighton tower magic as it moved from front to back of us, left to right of the cut. Ian was perplexed to see Napton windmill ahead of us some hours after we had left it behind. Maps were consulted.

Big thanks to Ian for the gift of a super set of saucepans and frying pans for Jannock's galley. Detatchable handles mean that 4 saucepans and 2 frypans all stack in the shelfspace of 1 frypan. And they all go in the oven, so act as casseroles and baking dishes too. Fiendishly clever Tefal, just the job for boats and caravans!
We were welcomed home by John of Toad's haul and then did a car shuffle to fetch the Zafira from Napton.

Jessica on Jannock's roof

5th December 2004 Cropredy to Cropredy (via Banbury)
H.C. 7706 - 7711 Distance 7.5 miles 8 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Richard, Joanne and Raj.

Richard and Raj working us up a lock

Richard : We had a great day, lots of fun and even managed to navigate a lock!! Thanks a lot.
Jo : Thankyou for inviting us. It's been great. Lots of memories about Rosie and Jim were stirred. Sorry about crashing into the tree.

Raj : What a great day! Everyone agrees that I'm clearly the best driver. Many thanks. Cap'n Jack Sparrow.

Brenda : This has got to be better than spending a December Saturday Xmas shopping, not least because a kingfisher was about. It's always good to enthuse comparative youngsters about their canal heritage. The weather was dry and, at 10 degrees, great for December. Not much about so the lads didn't have to fight each other for a 'go' on the lift bridge. Raj was indeed a natural steerer, but all declared it an awful lot harder than they imagined. Cruising was declared the perfect way to relax, and holiday hire was mentioned.

The crew at Hardwick lock

Here endeth 2004 :-(

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