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2005 Trip Reports

2005 trip page
18th March 2005 Cropredy (Old Mill to Wharf)
Southern Oxford Canal
H.C. 7712 - 7714 Distance 0.25 miles

Crew - Graham and Brian.

Brian caught a fish at Cropredy

Moved up to the wharf on Friday afternoon in order to fill the water tank and re-commission the boat for the 2005 Soddit Cruise.

Brian caught this fine example (by Soddit standards) of a fish whilst we were still moored up at Cropredy Old Mill

19th March 2005 Cropredy to Napton Bridge Inn
Southern Oxford Canal
H.C. 7714 - 7722 Distance 15.5 miles 18 Locks

SODDIT 2005 #1
Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter.

Just as we were setting off another boat overtook us and got to Cropredy Lock first. This set the scene for every lock of the day, no matter how hard we tried to avoid them. One of our crew (Brian) ended up working them down through Napton flight in order to speed them up.
Plenty of fish this trip but unfortunately most were lying motionless on the surface! Probably terrified of us and lying motionless to avoid capture.

Ian steering Jannock
20th March 2004 Napton to Blue Lias, Stockton
Southern Oxford + Grand Union Canal
H.C. 7722 - 7726 Distance 8 miles 10 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter.

Brian awoke having had the strangest dream that he slaughtered his opponents at Soddit last night, 4-0, I'm a bit worried about him.
Yet another Soddit fish free weekend except for the one I caught at Cropredy on Friday evening. This game of Soddit is a piece of cake. Don't know what the other guys are talking about. Must go, my lunch is being served.

25th - 27th March 2005 Blue Lias
Grand Union Canal
The Easter Birthday Rally

Graham and I (Brenda) arrived and moved aboard on Friday morning. Beds were made up, clothes stashed and the fridge filled.
A relaxing afternoon ahead?        No chance.       Graham had volunteered to help Albion up Hatton flight. A quick sandwich, load up the car with Ken, Brian and Diana and off to Hatton. A crew of 7 and no queues makes Hatton a doddle, honest.

The boats moored at Blue Lias
Grebe in Stockton reservoir

Saturday morning continued the exercise theme; we walked around Stockton fishing lake in lovely sunshine. After lunch we installed ourselves in the function room for Graham's Lego-Egg-Race. An interesting afternoon, spent with Lego, elastic bands, hardboiled eggs, a crossword puzzle and origami duck making. Good fun, yes, really.

The great (Lego) Egg Race at Blue Lias
The gathered inventors working hard Another creation under going testing The winning run by Simon

A morning constitutional was taken before we rallied for Sunday lunch in the pub, with birthday cake for pud. I helped Ken and Claudia up the flight, then back to Jannock where 16 of us convened for afternoon tea and yet more cake. Into the pub again for the Sunday Quiz. We won, team 'Cake Unlimited'. Back on board for a single malt nightcap, and cake...

28th March 2005 Blue Lias to Marston Doles
Grand Union + Southern Oxford Canal
H.C. 7728 - 7733 Distance 11.5 miles 19 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Simon.

The day started grey and cold. We slipped our moorings and worked up Stockton flight before any sun peeked out. By the time we got to Napton it was a beautiful day. As I steered out of Napton Top I was asked to come out as fast as possible as Draco needed to be washed into her mooring, a silt bank having built up over winter.I'm told the bows rose out of the water, there was certainly a wake. A gobsmacked woman taking a relaxed glass of wine on the bows of a boat I passed didn't bother to remind me to slow down past moored boats. She just shot upright, paled and muttered 'That was an interesting manoever.' Girl power!
Simon headed back to Manchester, we returned home after a wonderful birthday celebration weekend.

Leaving Blue Lias at Stockton
2nd April 2005 Marston Doles to Cropredy
Southern Oxford Canal
H.C. 7733 - 7741 Distance 9 miles 9 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Margaret.

On a sunshine and skylarks sort of day we brought Jannock back from Marston Doles to her mooring at Cropredy. Margaret, our co-opted crew for the day, commented " Easter bunny, seagull farm and lessons in semaphore. What more could we want?"

14th May 2005 Cropredy to Banbury & return
Southern Oxford Canal
H.C. 7741 - 7745 Distance 6 miles 6 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We have spent the last month doing boat DIY, paintin' and plumbin'.      Oh, and forsakin' the cut for a luxuroius holiday in Dubrovnik. We did manage a boat trip whilst there just to keep the faith, sort of.    And today for our trip down to Banbury in order to turn Jannock around it's cuckoos, bright sunshine, hailstones and...skylarks.

21st May 2005 Cropredy to Fenny Compton & return
Southern Oxford Canal
H.C. 7745 - 7752 Distance 10 miles 9 Locks

Crew - Brenda, Graham, Judy, Margaret, Ian, Cheri, Jessie and Katy, starring another Graham, the Birthday Boy of 70 summers.

Graham steers the boat

A beautiful rainy day for Graham Walker's 70th birthday trip. Champagne drinks at 10.25 am, cheers!
Cocktails were invented: Muddy Towpath, chilled champagne with 20 minutes worth of fresh chilled rain drizzled into the glass. Muddy Towpath in Winter, chilled champagne with 20 minutes of lightly set snow.

Afternoon tea was taken at 5.30, birthday cake with candles, scones and jam and friut cake. Man. Utd V Arsenal went to a penalty shootout and extra time, with the first sending off during extra time in a Cup Final in 20 years, yawn! Arsenal won.

28th May 2005 Cropredy to Nell Bridge
Southern Oxford Canal
H.C. 7752 - 7757 Distance 9 miles 6 Locks Lift bridges 1

Crew - Graham, Lindsay, Alison and Brenda.

Alison. We are no longer canal-boat virgins after a very enjoyable day out. Lindsay's hat got an unexpected wash in canal water. We all caught the sun and chilled nicely. Great food and great company.
Lindsay.The hat has dried and is usable again. Nice day and people.
Brenda.Saw a frolicing calf chasing rabbits at Nell Bridge.
Graham.Leisurely run which had difficult moments due to the strong winds. Ended up moored opposite a fox den with mother and 4 cubs who played and tussled almost within touching distance at dusk. Pity brenda had gone for a walk with her camera when they decided to emerge. By the time she returned it was too dark to get a picture.
Try to spot the foxcub in the picture alongside this section that was taken on the Sunday morning.

Look carefully and you'll see a fox cub
29th May 2005 Nell Bridge to Heyford (opposite church)
Southern Oxford Canal
H.C. 7757 - 7762 Distance 8 miles 4 locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Somerton deep lock

Graham was up at the crack of sparrows' fart to car shuffle. I snoozed on and woke to see fox cubs yawning and scratching before moving into the wood away from pesky boats and prying eyes. Oh! for a paparazzi camera with zoom lens.
Saw a kingfisher beyond Nell bridge. The countryside has been beautiful today. Buttercup meadows and trees in their freshest spring leaf, horsechestnut blooming and elderflowers hinting at summer fruit and Christmas drinks.

5th June 2005 Heyford to Thrupp
Southern Oxford Canal
H.C. 7762 - 7766 Distance 8 miles 5 Locks

Crew - Graham, Simon, Phaedra and Brenda.

An old yard at Heyford was our starting point for a beautiful day's cruising followed by a late lunch in the Jolly Boatman at Thrupp. The food was good, the portions were huge. Mum created her own doggy bag by wrapping her chicken wrap in serviettes for her lunch tomorrow. In the event it served both her and Matt for lunch with the addition of a little salad, and was equally delicious cold.

10th June 2005 Thrupp to Kirtlington Quarry
Southern Oxford Canal
H.C. 7766 - 7768 Distance 3.5 miles 3 locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Beautiful flowers at Somerton

Having moved the car to Aynho Wharf and returned to Thrupp on the DiBlasi we set off north towards Heyford. The cross wind at Shipton Wier Lock took Jannock's nose toward the Cherwell. The river section is running a lot cleaner than last weekend. We were complimented for slowing past the long term moorers at Gibralter, so it must be a rare event!
We stopped for the night at a dis-used quarry north of Pigeon Lock. What a lovely and peaceful mooring spot. Barbecue by Graham, bonfire by Brenda. This is the perfect overnight mooring for family crews, lots of nice walks, a stone maze and a good barbecue area.
He forgot to mention we found wild strawbwrries, only a few, the abundance of dog roses in pink and white and the fragrant froth of elderflower all mixed in with wonderful birdsong way beyond dusk. Perfick!

11th June 2005 Kirtlington to Aynho
Southern Oxford Canal
H.C. 7768 - 7773 Distance 9 miles 5 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Jane and Ian.

A sunny morning was spent in verdant countryside. A stop was made at Lower Heyford for a bit of paint touch-uppery (I scrape it off, he strokes it back on) and to pick up our afternoon guests.
Ian. a very pleasant afternoon. We only hit the bank once when Ian (me) captained the boat. Lunch was excellent, the all day breakfast rolls were a great discovery, and a good muffin was available with tea. Interesting wildlife including a few old birds on a boat.(That'll be the hen-partiers then!)

Recipe spot!   All day breakfast rolls:     take some bread dough and wrap it around hard boiled egg, cooked and chopped bacon or sausage, add a mushroom and ketchup and form into a roll or can be formed into baguettes. Bake as usual. Eat as breakfast anytime, anyplace, anywhere....

18th June 2005 Aynho to Cropredy
Southern Oxford Canal
H.C. 7773 - 7779 Distance 10.5 miles 8 Locks 1 Lift bridge

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon and Matt.

Matt.admittedly it's been a while since I was on Jannock. The weather was beautiful and I can safely say...... 'I've still got it!'
Cruising from Aynho to Cropredy was relaxing ( more so for some that others) {hey, I was having a deserved rest with a glass of chilled white, it makes a change for me aboard this tub!, Mum.} We arrived at 3.15. Lots of wildlife on the way, alive and dead. All in all a job well done.

Brenda.shame about the constant cacophany of sneezing- 3 hayfever sufferers and one case of sinusitus- disturbing the wildlife.
Took on 2 eight year old apprentices for Banbury Lock and lift bridge. They loved saving me the effort.
Quote of the day from one ' Is that hard or are you just a bit girlie?' I let him try and it was declared hard work.

Lockside flowers


Cropredy Festival 2006
The Cropredy crowd

Having wanted to do it for donkeys' years, OK, since the 70s, we finally made it to Cropredy Festival. All good things come to those who wait.
We moved onto Jannock on Friday morning. Graham said he'd take me out for the afternoon; we spent most of it sat in Cropredy graveyard. Not as bad as it sounds: we had good ale and listened to good music played by the band in The Red Lion's garden. The graveyard was full of festival goers, the residents had plenty of lively company.

Saturday kicked off with Richard Digence proving the oldies really are the goodies. Then Cropredy went for the Glastonbury experience. I spent the next 1 1/2 hours dancing in a field and in the teeming rain to a great reggae band. The music went on, enjoyed in the company of many canal friends, old and new. Refuelling was done frequently, beer by Wadworth's, food by multi-culturalism.

After a tea-time break and a set of dry clothes we returned to the field. The sun went down, yes it did come out for about 1/2 an hour because Kate bought a 99 out of defiance, and the clouds were amazing. A litle more rain fell but it couldn't dampen spirits or stop us singing and dancing to Fairport Convention who brought the proceedings to a brilliant conclusion.


14th August 2005 Cropredy to Adkins Lock, Napton
Southern Oxford Canal
H.C. 7779 - 7789 Distance 14 miles 11 locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

A 9am start found us towing nb Black Pig backwards to the Cropredy wharf winding point. A slightly tricky manoevre as Black Pig is heavier and deeper draughted than Jannock and it was, as ever, windy. 5th in the queue for Cropredy lock, but got under way eventually. The weather was typical for August, a cold wind blew, the clouds were heavy and grey and the rain was a threat rather than a reality.

Uneventful cruising, punctuated by a goodly roast beef luncheon taken at The Wharf, Fenny Compton, until......... at Marston Doles top lock a hire boater went for the lock at warp factor 10, failed to turn his tiller at all, despite needing almost all of 90 degrees. As the engineering bricks went flying and I heard his wife yell 'brace yerselves' to his progeny, he declared that he 'didn't see it'. I wasn't sure if he meant the lock or the fruit tree in the cottage garden that he appeared to have aimed for. They got into the lock somehow and allowed the crew which had just gone up, and the crew which was about to come up do all the work for them.

Jane's garden looking splendid.

They left the gates open at the next lock. I asked, politely of course, if they'd done so for any good reason. Wife apologised and came back to close the gate, although too late as I'd done it, at which steerer and husband got the hump and simply steered off into the sunset abandoning her and the kids. Our offer of a lift was politely refusedand we next met them aground having pulled in to pick the crew up. We had to help them get off the mud. I brought the back end in to pick up Graham, praying I didn't meet the same fate and look a complete twonk. We forgave the weather gods for a poor day as the perfect manoevre was performed with the help of the wind - and that meant we got to overtake them.
red sky at night? Fingers crossed then.

15th August 2005 Napton (Adkins) to Watford
Southern Oxford + Grand Union Canal
H.C. 7789 - 7798 Distance 16.6 miles 20 Locks 1 Tunnel

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Trad boat firmly aground at next 			lock

We woke to a lovelyday, although Brenda pronounced it gloomy. We completed Napton flight with only one problem, a trad boat in front was firmly aground above the second lock and we had to flush him off with a lockful of water. An uneventful trip to Braunston where we filled up with diesel at UCC (45p ppl) and changed locking partners halfway up Braunston flight by catching up a singleton. Bit of a hassle through Norton junction due to a boat coming out of the Leicester Arm without looking or stopping, and then we had to wait at Watford because we were 7th in the queue when we arrived.

When it was our turn, after a 2 1/2 hour wait, the starter motor decided to go on strike so we had to let 2 other boats pass us. They ended up in the do-do with the lockie for not waiting in the lower pound whilst he brought a boat down as we had all been instructed to. We finally set off up Watford having fixed the starter motor and moored for the night just after Kilsby Road bridge on the bend.

How do you improve your vision in Braunston tunnel? Take your sunglasses off halfway through!

Brenda: I am very upset at having my reputation besmirched by a BW employee - I pays mi' license an' all that! The lockie at Watford was looking very tired and emotional when I announced our arrival and intention to ascend. It was hot and he did admit to having just 'chucked' his aly windlass in the cut. I thought to cheer his afternoon with a pint of best squash and a slab of cake, made for Cropredy Festival. On being told it was Festival cake the lockie looked all concerned and asked if it was 'funny' cake. Honestly! Mind you, he ate it in a couple of mouthfuls. Must have been very hungry or in need of a boost.

Oh, and we saw a snake swimming in the canal.

A boat passed and it's steerer yelled to Graham, 'you're that famous boat you know'. He'd had a slice of funny cake I reckon.

16th August 2005 Watford to Foxton Bottom Lock
Grand Union Canal
H.C. 7798 - 7807 Distance 19.5 miles 10 Locks 2 Tunnels

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Today we had not so much a lie-in as a sleep in. Unheard of. Set off by 08.45 though.
An uneventful day through lovely countryside. The sun threatened until 4 o'clock when it came out with a vengeance. It seemed as if Foxton Flight was going to be a heat and tsetsi fly experince until a crew of 20 something hirers ahead of us (that's 5th in the queue) decided not to take up a space on the flight down, only to turn around and take a space on the flight rising. That would make 2 slots available to others making onward passage. Bright lot. That decision meant that to 'experience' Foxton Locks they'd have to crew for another boat - us! We assured them we didn't mind one bit, and with all the extra windlasses it wasn't at all arduous.

Foxton locks as evening draws 			in.

We met them in the pub later to pay their wages in beer, but they insisted we'd done them the favour and reciprocated. This is the next generation of canal enthusiasts.
The pub was described to me as 'BW's first McDonald's pub, except McD's couldn't get away with those food prices'. The beer was good though, and they provided blankets for evening drinkers on the terrace overlooking the cut. We proved how mature we all were by dressing some of the company up as ET and Arabian Beauties, well behaved obviously. Much canal chatter and laughter.
'Cut and Pastery' was road tested today. Beer bread and sausage casserole were declared fit for publication which is just as well as half my books are already sold.

17th August 2005 Foxton to Kings Lock, Leicester
Grand Union Canal
H.C. 7807 - 7816 Distance 15 miles 21 Locks 1 Tunnel

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Spot the Terrapin

An ever later start; and today we breakfasted on bacon sandwiches made with home-made, or is that boat-made, beer bread eaten in warm sunshine as we slid through beautiful countryside. On mornings like this there is quite obviously no great need for the British to holiday abroad; it's nearly all here and without all those polluting airmiles we are increasingly fond of.
Indeed we had to go into Torremolinos mode to day, tying up for a siesta, it was too hot on the water, with no shade. We enjoyed a cooling salad lunch, sitting in the shade of a fieldside tree, whilst watching the proud owner of a new boat oil its roof and then try to cook eggs on it. Needless to say, it wasn't quite THAT hot. And to clean up the mess? He tried to convince his dog to lick up the eggy goo, but it WAS far too hot for canine tongues and paws on the boat roof. So he tried to convince his missus that cleaning up food mess was women's work: red rags and bulls came to mind. Eventually he had to get a cloth and cleared up the mess himself. It all kept us amused. Aint summer wonderful?

And then, as we set off, the starter motor failed again. A 25 minute fix did the trick.
Graham: we set off into the falling sun towards Leicester. This section of the Grand Union has a lot of weeds and rushes floating in it, with mounds of rotting vegetation at every lock. We saw a very large terrapin basking on a rock. We moored for the night just below King's Lock on the River Soar. The anti-vandal locks on this section are hard to operate, and at Whetstone lock the gear had been vandalised so much that the gate paddle racks have been removed.

18th August 2005 Kings Lock to Millers bridge (34)
River Soar
H.C. 7816 - 7824 Distance 18 miles 13 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Brenda willingly got up at 06.30 this morning and we were underway by 07.15. We travelled through Leicester accompanied by pedestrians and cyclists en route to work. (The idea was to get through the city before the summer holidaying yoof were awake, had had their fill of kids' TV and were out looking for amusement.) I have decided that the Soar is the last resting place for the world's footballs, or that Leicester City fans offer them to the water as a religious token.

Happy teambuilders

Brenda decided that the grafitti artists of Leicester are not ornithologists. We passed a factory; sitting on the roof next to a golden orb, looking very majestic as he spread his wings to catch the early morning sun, was a heron. Graffiti'd in large letters on the wall directly underneath him was ' Do you fancy a shag?' Surely anyone can tell they are very different birds!
Shag - plalacrocorax aristotelis and Heron - ardea cinerea. Honestly!

On leaving Bellgrave Lock we ground to a complete halt and had to have our first weedhatch visit. I removed a complete pair of swimming shorts from the prop. We stopped at Mount Sorrel at 13.40 to go shopping and sit out the hottest part of the day in a pub. The Waterside got the thumbs down, ( too many gongoozlers, fretful anklebiters and chips with everything), but we found the Swan Inn up on the main road. Food good, beer superb and staffed entirely by nubile young women, some of whom were in a flapdoodle because it was A level results day and they had better grades than expected and new decisions to make for the next academic year. Bless.
We asked an ancient local, in a raincoat and hat despite the heat, where we might find a supermarket. She told us there wasn't one, so we enquired after a small food shop....
She told us how to find Budgens, with offie, bakery, butchers and a petrol station. I'd hate to see the size of what she considers a supermarket.

19th August 2005 Milers Bridge to Bishop Meadow Lock
River Soar
H.C. 7824 - 7826 Distance 2.5 miles 1 Lock

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

A good start, but after the torrential rain last night we could not proceed onto the river which was in full flood. A maintenance and washing stop then. The best we could manage was to go walkies to post some cards to announce our arrival/delayed arrival in Lincoln. At that point a postie arrived to COLLECT our post from the canalside. How's that for first class service, and only second class stamps.
We did the tea and cake thing, and a lovely newbie in her late 60s gave me the recipe for:

Elderberry/blackberry/raspberry vinegar. I was told it was traditionally served with Yorkshire pud as a first course, or taken as a medicine for a chesty cough. A quantity will be made later in this trip as elderberries are plentiful.
Take 1 lb of the fruit you choose, rinse it gently and drain.
Add to this 1 pint of vinegar, malt will do, but you can go upmarket with cider or wine vinegar.
Leave this to steep for between 3 and 10 days.
Then drain off the vinegar, squeezing as much juice from the fruit as you can.
To each pint of the vinegar you now have add 1 pound of granulated sugar.
Dissolve and slowly bring to the boil.
Simmer for about 10 minutes, until it goes syrupy.
We found it to make an excellent salad dressing and is very good neat with lamb and duck. Rather good on pancakes too.

We found a great restaurant in Loughborough, The Thai House, which served the best coconut rice we have ever tasted. Hoping for a green light tomorrow so that we can continue our trip along the Soar.

20th August 2005 Bishop Meadow Lock to Hazelford ferry
Rivers Soar + Trent
H.C. 7826 - 7836 Distance 34 miles 12 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Having vowed and declared that I did not want early starts on my HOLIDAY I was glad to be underway at 08.00. We heard our next berth neighbours, who'd been at Cropredy too, start their engine, saw we had a green light and got ourselves into gear, pleased to be off and lock sharing. We said farewell to nb Musicweaver about noon. We've been leapfrogging since Cropredy festival. Phone numbers were exchanged and we've promised them first refusal for our mooring at Cropredy for next August.

Soar wier

We alternated between river and canal all day. The river sections have been beautiful and teeming with wildlfe, and domesticated life, at the water's edge. It's been like the Thames but without the gin palaces or the volume of traffic. At Nottingham we saw a riverboat wedding party, and raised our glasses to the happy couple. All those stiletto heels looked a liability as the boat rocked. We enjoyed a quick glimpse of the loonies at the National Watersports centre, all teeny boats, RIBs and getting drenched. We refuelled for tums at Sainsbury's, next to Castle marina and took our goods to a mooring on the Trent. We enjoyed Poulet sur Pontoon for supper.

Out of the wind and in evening sunshine it was a lovely place to end the day. The entertainment was watching waterskiers, can't do that on't cut. The lockies in these 'ere parts are unfailingly helpful; they phoned ahead to get charts for us, ensured the next lock would stay open for us and radio'd ahead to make sure we could find a peaceful mooring.

21st August 2005 Hazelford ferry to Muskham ferry
River Trent
H.C. 7836 - 7840 Distance 11 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We awoke to a stunning morning. Pure turquoise sky, a wisp of cool air and the sound of waterfowl billing and cooing. As Jannock bobbed at her mooring, at one with the lovely scenery, we decided we couldn't have done better if we were sailing in the Greek Islands. Indeed, as the river flowed past the motion induced a little mal-de-mer. Fry-up for breakfast then! We stopped for water and blackberries at Hazelton lock; wonderful berries, at 09.30 they were still dewy and warm to the touch. They will be delicious.

The band concert An old building in Newark Newark castle

We went into Newark for a wander around, starting with tea and cake in the folk museum. It was then our pleasure to find a shopping centre that was, for the most part, actually closed on a Sunday. Onto the well kept and vibrantly planted castle gardens to find a brass band concert was about to start. People were gathering with deck-chairs, picnics, flasks and wine-coolers. A couple of enjoyable hours were spent listening to a good and varied selection of music, and eating ices. Further entertainment was provided by a 9 year old who decided to take a small, but ill-advised, jump from a low wall of the castle. Notts Ambulance service are very prompt.
Newark seems to be a bikers' haven on a Sunday afternoon. Graham declined the opportunity to get the DiBlasi out and promenade. Can't think why.
We pulled into Muskham Ferry for the night and the starter motor packed up again.

22nd August 2005 Muskham ferry to Lincoln
River Trent + Fossdyke Nav'n
H.C. 7840 - 7848 Distance 27 miles 2 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Yesterday I used the weather forecast facility at Newark Tourist Information office ; Sunday and the week ahead. It promised at least another 2 days of lovely weather, so imagine my surprise to wake to rain and leaden skies. They lied! Or they could have failed to change the info. sheet from the week BEFORE! Bah humbug, Aegean Cruising Company anyone?

Mustn't mess with the big boys

We set off at 10.30, himself in motorcycle waterproof suit and sandals, singlehanded 'cos I claimed my hair was still wet after my shower... 14.20, goodness it's getting choppy, waves even, that'll be tidal then. We arrived in Lincoln, and whilst washing the dishes after only 1 glass of a rather good garnacha the water began to slop as Jannock rocked violently. 'Slow down for moored boats' I thought as 8 canoes barged past, the paddlers all lycra clad hoodlums man and older man. Swans scattered in all directions.

23rd August 2005 Lincoln to Lincoln
Witham Navigation
H.C. 7848 - 7853 Distance 14 miles 2 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Sue, Ron, John, Della, Kyle and Jasmine.

Sue : We boarded Jannock at Lincoln Wharf and cruised through the town centre, under the half-timbered building built over the navigation, then under the Millenium Statue (which Sue and Ron's daughter Kathryn had a hand in). We extied the navigation onto the River Witham by the gullotine lock barrier at Stamp End. This was built in 1952. A very friendly boater on board Rumboogie Came through Stamp end alongside us.The weather is glorious and hundreds of swans, ducks and geese are on the water. Kyle had a go at steering once we were clear of Lincoln. Ron and John had a go at winding the lock gates while Brenda wore the Captain's hat.

Brenda : Wow, posh or what? Luncheon al fresco tied up to a pontoon which wasn't on the charts. Very quiet and peaceful, we had it to ourselves. (We took Jannock's dining table out onto the pontoon so that we could all sit comfortably and, in the case of the children, safely leaving no gap twixt seats and boat side, securely close-moored to the pontoon.) We even had a table decoration in the form of beautiful orchids. A few boats cruised past, none dining as well as us. Loads of bird and fish life around. The children, big and little ones, went kite flying at the side of the river.
Instead of going through the next lock and then turning round we had room to turn where we were and sailed homeward. Smallest ankle-biter climbed aboard the double bunk and had a badly needed sleep in comfort. The Red Arrows and AWAKS flew over on a number of occasions.

Lunch on a mooring pontoon.
Lincoln new statue.

Back onto our mooring outside Lincoln University student accomodation blocks; quiet as the students are down. Our visitors disembarked taking a week's washing with them. They'll never know how grateful we are! We had a lovely day with very special old friends, can't be beat. We were able to show them another side to their city, so Sue and Ron promised to be our tour guides tomorrow.

Spending the day with such well behaved and well mannered children was a treat for us. Small children aboard can be a great worry safety wise. None of it, lovely.
As Kyle (6) approached Jannock Granny asked if he could read the boat's name. 'J-j-j- junk' he announced, and looked most confused as gales of laughter broke out. His expression was one of delight later as he and Dad succesfully fished for, and landed the fork that Grandad dropped into the river at lunch. Well done sea-searcher magnet.

24th August 2005 Lincoln
Today, we had a day off

Today we had a day off from boating. Simon joined us so it seems that it's no good running away to sea to lose the kids. They come and find you and join up too.
We were picked up at 09.30 and whisked off to Sue and Ron's house to spend a special day eating, drinking tea, and eventually when the torrential rain had stopped, touring Lincoln Cathedral. We were told we had just missed Tom Hanks, amongst others, who has been filming 'The DaVinci Code' there.

25th August 2005 Lincoln to Newark
Fossdyke Navigation & River Trent
H.C. 7853 - 7862 Distance 30 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Simon.

Simon : at about 07.30 dad was heard getting up. A quick doze later and we were off.... with 2/3 of the crew still in their bunks. Eventually we hauled ourselves up to glorious sunshine and to partake of tea and croissants on the sun deck. However, the day was to be an all-weather day, showering on and off. The umbrella was kept o permanent stand-by and at the first sign of rain dad was abandoned to steer alone in the wet until the shower had passed.
We were overtaken on the Trent by nice gravel barges and nasty plastic p'whales-on-speed, the latter of which must have had about a thousand horsepower and roared past at a good 20 mph trying to fill our boots with wash. After uneventful locks we arrived in Newark. Here I'll eat dinner and then disappear back off to Lincoln on the train; much quicker.

Being overtaken.

Brenda: and onwards to Salford after Ron picked him up at the station to return him to his car. Tonight's dessert: the American Muffin recipe in Cut'n'Pastery, (there may be a few copies left at 3 as you read this, contact Megapixie) made with the last of the blackberries. They were very purple and renamed fungus muffins by an ungrateful son who, nevertheless, took some home. I hope we'll have time to pick more blackberries on the return trip. I think these newfangled train things will be the death knell for the canals and river transport. What took us all day on the water took Simon 30 minutes by rail.

26th August 2005 Newark to Holme Lock
River Trent
H.C. 7862 - 7869 Distance 20 miles 5 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

After a visit to Newark market we set off. The weather had improved from Octoberesque and grey, to blue skies with a chill wind in the hour we were ashore provisioning.
We tied up at Hazelford Lock for a sausage sandwich, a beer and , of course, blackberrying. We have voted Hazelford Lock BW's Best Blackberrying Lock 2005, but don't tell anyone or they'll all be there next back-end. We picked about 4pound (2 pound last week) and I've started on the blackberry vinegar.

Those bl@@dy barges

Graham: The cold wind was mostly blowing from ahead; at Gunthorpe Lock there were 2 sand barges moored up at the entrance and a combination of that wind and a strong current meant that Jannock was pushed onto both of them on our way into the lock. What a clanging sound, but no damage apparent on Jannock. We made the last passage through Holme Lock and moored for the night in the last available space immediately beyond.
Brenda: we took an evening constitutional and found that a few mad souls were out at the national Watersports' Centre whitewater course in the dark. They provided an evening's entertainment for us, and it was free.

Our entertainment ...  ... for the evening ..... ... continued till it got dark

27th August 2005 Holme Lock to Shardlow
River Trent + Trent & Mersey canal
H.C. 78692 - 7877 Distance 13 miles 7 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Today has been a day of good boaters and bad boaters.
I was good; between locks I converted a kilo of blackberries into jam.
Graham was bad and got his revenge on a shandy palace that double-overtook us just before a lock ( there was room for 3 abreast on the water ) and stole our lock!
Graham: I was being overtaken just before the lock. He was wide, so we couldn't share. He said his length was 32 foot, the lock was only 76 foot. As he went into the lock another fibreglass cruiser joined the queue so I told him to overtake the waiting narrowboats and join 'Mr. Jumped-Up' cruiser in the lock, knowing full well that Mr. J-U would not enjoy that at all. They did have fun squeezing them both into the lock ;^) Not!
We had some Canal(First)-timers set off behind us as we passed Sawley Marina and so we have been 'trying' to teach them lock practise. It doesn't help when the majority of the crew are well lubricated.

Sea Cadet boat near Nottingham.

Post-pub P.S.: .. in our opinion... when in Shardlow and in need of beer or pub grub, avoid the canalside pubs; cross the Watchmakers Warehouse car park, turn left, and follow the road (apparently out of the village) until you come across what we are told is a very good Indian restaurant on the left and the Shakespeare Inn opposite. They keep a good pint and do 3.50 lunch specials. We ordered our beers, because I was unsure whether to partake of mine Cap'n's choice, St Austell Tribute, I was presented with a 1/4 pint taster of another brew. When going for the next pint Graham was presented with his pint, about 1/4 pint of the same as it was the first through the pipes but shouldn't go to waste, and about 1/4 pint of Hatherton's (?) Gold for our approval. On his return for his third we were asked to try a glass of Marston's Ashes. So, I bought myself a half and drank at least a pint.
The kitchen staff amused us too. As her order was taken a lady asked if she could have her starter without the salad, no problem madam, and could they leave out the bread and butter? 'Shall I just plonk a prawn on a plate?' was the riposte with a grin.
When they chuck you out of the Shakespeare Inn, and the notices say they will if you use bad language, do they say 'you're bard'? I'll get my coat.

28th August 2005 Shardlow to Willington Bridge
Trent & Mersey
H.C. 7877 - 7883 Distance 11 miles 4 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Nice paint job!

A late start, in part to let the Canaltimers who have just started out or are returning to their base have first crack at it! More likely, to enjoy bacon sarnies, made with Mr. Strangeberries' best baguette, at our leisure, it being Sunday.
We had easy passage though the locks as there were queues of up to 10 boats coming t'other way; their crews were eager to help us on our way and out of theirs.

We pulled into Willington Sani' station to 'cure Jannock's list'. (This obviously a euphemism when you understand that our sanitation holding tank is on one side of the boat.) Whilst we were there we were given a goodly slice of birthday cake by yesterday's first timers in appreciation of our help and the birthday card we 'magiced' up for Ms. 50. What a great birthday surprise she had, a canal weekend. We moved just out of Willington to bridge 24a where we thought it was the furthest away from the main road on this stretch. It was a very peaceful overnight mooring.

29th August 2005 Willington Bridge to Alrewas
Trent & Mersey
H.C. 7883 - 7888 Distance 11 miles 6 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Rant on - Over the last few days we have seen many Canaltime boats with rather outrageous names; I mean, Crazy Frog? (readers of this tome beyond about 2006 will not remember the pop abomination that was 'The Crazy Frog', lucky you.) I've decided that the company should face a corporate charge of crimes against British heritage. Ok, so privateers have silly names too; if a charge is made all the owner has to do is justify the name. So- Canaltime's 'Pansy Potter' we'll allow as old comic book characters are part of our heritage, but all those ScoobyDoo-s? I don't fink so. Rant over.

On our approach to the aquaducts near Burton we saw what was most likely an albino heron. It was with another heron and heronlike in every way but colouration. It matched nothing else in our bird-book.
We thought to take luncheon at 'The Bridge', in print in Nicholsons guide as a pub serving ale from the cask behind the bar and good traditional food. It had been done up. The Pedigree smelt of sulphur and was thin flavoured, their menu was only pizza and pasta with exotic ices for pud. We drank our poor pints quickly and left to partake of fresh baked cheese and onion scones with a ham salad on board.
Jannock was moored for the night at Alrewas and we went in search of supper. This was taken in The Smoke Room at The George and Dragon, no smoking as it's now the dining room. We has a very good meal from the good and varied menu. The staff were very accomodating about 'altering' the grub for diners. Currently our fave Alrewas pub.

Fradley Crane.
30th August 2005 Alrewas to Bradley Green Bridge
Trent & Mersey + Coventry
H.C. 7888 - 7897 Distance 21 miles 7 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We did a narrowboat ballet at Fradley Junction today. 3 boats approached the junction simultaneously and left the junction with each boat taking the exit to its left. Smooth.
Whilst moored at Bradley Green Bridge for a peaceful night a Sea Otter approached, headed for Fazely. The friendly fishermen started standing to clap and shout greetings to the crew, a honeymoon couple with their boat decked out with all the normal going away decorations. (Think of the savings on the traditional 'going away outfit'. That'll be jeans and an old fleece then.)

Stark tree

Fashion Tips for the mature Gent No.48:
This season a greasy tweed flat cap and khaki aertex Y-front pants, accessorised with DMS boots with no laces is not considered a good summer look. (If you want to complete the picture, and I don't recommend it, add Albert Steptoe carrying a few extra pounds.)
Fashion News for the younger chap:
Chavvy haircuts start just south of Fazeley. How far further north before Christmas?
Music Scene:
... well, heard really. Heard on a boat today, Mozart played on the bazooki. Unusual to say the least.

31st August 2005 Bradley Gn. Bridge to Bramcote Rd. Bridge
Coventry & Ashby
H.C. 7897 - 7904 Distance 12.5 miles 11 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We planned an early start to get through the locks before it got too hot today. Graham locked and after the 1st four locks had been all set ready for us announced 'we have a good road!' At that point a boat pulled out in front of us. We set into Barry Hawkins' yard for diesel and found the rest of the locks were agin us until the last 2, and it was Brenda's turn to lock. Bah humbug.
Into Atherstone to restock the galley and to revisit the excellent butcher near the Market Square. Himself has promised me a B-B-Q as it gets too warm to cook aboard of an evening.

As we approached the Anchor at Br 29, and I was in the shower, himself yelled 'we're going to the pub.' He'd seen and made plans with our landside next-door-but-2 neighbour who just happened to be on a canal holiday and was mooring their boat there. A couple of pints later and off we went in different directions.
Off up the Ashby, we thought to moor at Br. 12, but at about Br.6 I decided 'let's stop here'. We moored up and the rain started, the thunder grumbled loudly and the lightning began. Good call, but no B-B-Q. He's cooking in the galley as I write.
I made up some blackberry vinegar today. The smell promotes a desire for chips. I'll try the elderberry next as it is very good.

Coleshill Yard Crane.
1st September 2005 Bramcote Rd. Bridge to Battlefield moorings
Ashby Canal
H.C. 7904 - 7910 Distance 15 miles 0 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We set off in good time in order to meet a lunch date with Ken and Claudia at bridge 30.We passed nb Nexus outside The Limekiln Inn and said our good mornings to fellow boatclub members, then we passed nb Shepherd Moon and would have repeated the exercise but the crew were ashore somewhere.
We met nb Prairie Crocus as arranged and had an enjoyable lunch and catch up before continuing onto Market Bosworth Wharf to take on water and explore the town. It's a very pretty town with most things a passing boater might need, including a very good chip shop, although not a large supermarket. This could be a blessing as a major restock would need carrying back the mile to the canal. (We were told the buses are regular and frequent, but chose to spend our busfare on some chips and walk off the calories.)
We winded and returned to find a peaceful mooring. As we approached Br.40, on a tight bend, I heard a steam whistle. I realised the sound came from the right whilst the steam railway line was to our left. Engine smartly in reverse, I managed to stop Jannock just as Adamant appeared through the bridgehole!
We moored for the night just as the heavens opened, again. This is getting too regular.

Adamant passes by

Brenda : having never heard of it before this trip, and having brewed up my first batch only yesterday, we found blackberry (and raspberry) vinegar in a bijou grocer's shop in Market Bosworth. The batch I made turns out to be vinegar at posh wine prices.
I walked down to the field where Richard III met his end; from here one can also get to the Battle Visitor Centre by Shanks' pony. We are told it's a good visit, especially for kids.

2nd September 2005 Battlefield moorings to Ansty
Ashby, Coventry & Oxford
H.C. 7910 - 7917 Distance 18 miles 1 Lock

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We chose not to cruise all the way up the Ashby as there was to be a rally at Shackerstone, moorings were reserved and manoevering was at close quarters. Having winded we were rewarded today with a wonderful parade of working boats passing us. Much better to see them going about their business rather than as static exhibits.
As we came to the end of the Ashby I must remark on the restoration of the entrance to same. When we passed last year the bridge was in such a poor state that it looked ready to crumble into the cut. It made the Ashby look quite unappealing. Now though, a wonderful restoration job has been achieved and it was resplendant in the sunshine.
After mooring up himself did paint touch-uppery and herself went off for MORE blackberries.

Cassiopeia passes.
3rd September 2005 Ansty to Hillmorton
Oxford Canal
H.C. 7917 - 7922 Distance 12 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We started out and promptly turned Jannock into one of them thar factree ships wots ruinin' the environment by plundering the planets natural resources. OK, not quite, but we used the roof as a platform and with secateurs managed to fill a bucket, and then some, with elderberries. More preserves me 'arties, no scurvy on this ole tub.
And then the fridge mutinied; so it's a diet of bully beef, salt, cod, pickled limes and condensed milk for us. Pass the hard tack. Good thing we're going home!
North of Rugby we met nb Will Crooks, delayed by nocturnal cat wanderings, and were able to wave at Ian C. who'd come to provide taxi service for them.
Newbold water point: lost the will to live. S---L---O---W or what?.
I dropped Graham off at the entrance to the Rugby Arm to walk up to Willow Wren to fetch the car. Whilst there he bought some mooring rings for a winter welding project and may have found a good deal on a new fridge. Picked him up at Br 69 so that we could navigate Hilmorton Locks, moor up and tidy away as out first ever long-term cruise comes to an end.

10th September 2005 Hillmorton to Napton Bridge Inn
H.C. 7922 - 7926 Distance 12 miles 0 Locks
Oxford canal.

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

After a week back in the real world, well a parallel universe that gets chores done and bills paid, we are back aboard with our new fridge purring away. The old one sort of chugged so it's music to our ears. Thanks for your help 'Alan at Willow Wren'.
I have to report that blackberry and elderberry vinegars have been made; the blackberry has the fruitier flavour. All morning the weather was dull and humid with short drizzly showers until....himself set off. At that point it hissed down for 4 hours. Welcome back to t'cut!
The Royal Oak looked like a good lunch stop, we were waved at by numerous ankle-biters as we passed.
I spent the afternoon 'in' listening to a radio murder set in Limehouse basin, Silver and Speed doncha know, all down to incest and religion. Just the thing for a September afternoon.
15.30 hrs. Got into a dogfight with a squadron of Black Princes supported by Canaltimers at the rear. They must have all taken off together and kept in tight formation. Napton narrowboats acted as rear-gunners. Quite a few bushes took direct hits from the larger craft.
Graham described today's journey as being like 'driving down a very long one-way street the wrong way, with the oncoming drivers all being a bit drunk'.

11th September 2005 Napton Bridge to Adkins toplock
H.C. 7926 - 7930 Distance 2 miles 7 Locks
Oxford canal.

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

The newt found swimming in Napton flight

After an excellent meal in the 'Bridge' and a very quiet night we set off towards the bottom of napton flight. We found ourselves 4th in the queue and so we decided to fill up with water. We only had to let one boat overtake us before we were off up the flight with a full tank. I spotted a newt swimming above lock 2 but I won't tell anyone, except you lot, ssshhhh, because we don't want English Nature closing the flight. Out of Adkins at 12.00 and moored ready for Cutweb rally next weekend.

16th - 18th September 2004
Cutweb Gathering 2005

Look at the sky, will it rain? I'll grate the cheese! Isambarde played an unusual gig

Graham's report : Cutweb gathering 2005. Friday was build-up day and I assisted Guy with setting up the lights etc. Brenda went to Prairie Crocus for stuffed cabbage leaves. The traditional Friday evening take away was accompanied by Nash who brought along lots of musical instruments for us to play with whilst he entertained us with his brilliant sitar playing. Saturday started with brighter weather and a trip to the vets for a poorly pooch. The Saturday evening entertainment was provided by an excellent 3 piece band called Isambarde who admitted it was the wierdest gig they had done and asked to come back next year. (we hadn't the heart to tell the lead singer that she had been stood in a cowpat all evening). The Sunday evening quiz was our task (we won last years ;^) and we managed to keep everone quiet for a couple of hours. The whole event was a great success thanks to properly working marquee heating and provision of a portaloo on site. Our thanks go the the event organisers for a terrific weekend.

24th September 2005 Napton (Adkins lock) to Summit level
H.C. 7930 - 7933 Distance 4 miles 2 Locks
Southern Oxford canal.

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Sean comes past with Laplander

We started with a car shuffle, a quick lunch, then off.
We followed a 'mature-newbie' couple up the 2 locks. As I helped with the top paddles at the second it dawned on Mrs. M-N that I'd have to empty the lock as soon as they were up. 'Why don't we save time for you?' she suggested brightly. 'You open the thingies at the bottom to start letting the water out while we wait to get this gate open.' I pointed out that the lock could not fill enough to get the gate open if we let water out while trying to fill it. Her expression told me she was not convinced by my reasoning. She did not fel the need to shut the top gate after they left the lock to help my cause either.
A little later a bloke fell in getting from lock to boat. Not a good year for Marston Doles Top lock in our experience! Good blackberries though.
Fish and chips, mushy peas, strawberries and cream for supper; we stayed in for an English.

25th September 2005 Summit to Cropredy
H.C. 7933 - 7940 Distance 10 miles 9 Locks
Southern Oxford canal.

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Whilst cooking breakfast I thought to rush to the bows as we approached Griffins Corner. As we nudged through there was, of course, a boat coming at us. Much arm flapping on my part ensured that reverse was the gear of choice for both craft.
Quote from Graham, 'The bloke on the other boat said there was no-one following him. You'd have thought he'd have noticed a boat load of blondes!' Hurrumph. But then it was the twit who fell in yesterday!
Lets hear it for set aside: sunflowers around field margins are a joy to behold on a sunny, autumnal, Sunday morning.

8th October 2005 Cropredy to Banbury
H.C. 7939 - 7943 Distance 5 miles 5 Locks
Southern Oxford canal.

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Today we have mostly been making up songs! ...... Don't ask.
Grey skies but no rain. We had a relatively uneventful trip down through a very busy Banbury to Tramway winding hole and back through the town to moor at the first available spot, just past Sovereign wharf. Shopped after lunch, but only looked at the Italian market, too pricey.
We met nb Clara at Town Lock which begged the question 'does a meeting of 3 crew in a bus shelter constitute a micro-GiG?' Just in case it didn't count, Simon, Jeanette and Rosie the dog joined us for a tea-and-cake-o-GiG.

9th October 2005 Banbury to Cropredy
H.C. 7943 - 7945 Distance 4 miles 3 Locks
Southern Oxford canal.

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We mooched around Banbury Canal festival, finding the beer tent to be a beer gazebo with added Fox FM karioke, which explained the lack of crowds there. Hookie beer good though.
Dave and Janet arrived as we were about to lunch, so joined us for tea and cake. Two cake-o-GiGs in one weekend then an uneventful cruise back to Cropredy in the sunshine.

29th October 2005 Cropredy to Fenny Compton
Southern Oxford Canal
H.C. 7945 - 7949 Distance 6 miles 9 Locks

SODDIT 2005 #2
Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter.

We played our first, and a record breaking, game of Soddit before we settled down for the night on Friday. Ian got a total score of 143, no-one has achieved that before!
Stop press * as I'm writing this Ian has caught another tiny fish.
We left Cropredy at 10.15 after brekky and a papershop run. We followed another boat up he first 4 locks before stopping for lunch by Clattercote Farm.

The happy fishers Ian's prize catch The happy crew on Claydon flight

Peter : Ian has caught yet another fish - cannot now take the *?!# now as fishing has become mildly successful. I'll have to quickly think of something else to mock.

30th October 2005 Fenny Compton to Cropredy
Southern Oxfordl
H.C. 7949 - 7953 Distance 6 miles 9 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter.

Brian : Crew now totally confused. Are we on old money or new money? (methinks the clocks went back. ed.) What time is it? Where are we?
Bacon sarnies for breakfast; even managed to please the awkward crew member who wanted his bacon crispy, his tea fairly weak and the spoonful of sugar in the right quantity. What a pain in the xxxx he is.
First beer of the day at 11.15 old money just after doing 5 locks.

Ian : 'Pain in the xxxx' actually has strong tea and 3/4 sugar, no wonder it is not as good as Wiggy's (Peters)
Lunch - - Pie 1.00 45 mins
gratin dauphinois 1.15 30 mins
peas boil 1.30
Yorkshire pud 1.40 4 mins
No ketchup with this masterpiece - heathens!

Friday...143, did not go down. So why did skill desert me on Saturday?

Peter : Il pleut - crew slightly damp, but did it matter as we had a 'Metal' masterpiece to look forward to? All crew hungry and weak but survived OK.

descending Claydon flight

Here endeth 2005 :-(

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