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2007 Trip Reports

Lee and Stort navigation
2nd February 2007 Winkwell winding point
H.C.8252 - 8254 Distance 1 mile 6 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Who would believe it was the first weekend in February? The daffs are fit to burst, the catkins are out and birdsong was the sound of the day. Having been primed by a rare accurate weather forecast, we awoke this morning and decided to turn Jannock round ready for the protest at Marsworth in a couple of weeks.
We have two choices for turning when pointing South, 2 hours (ish) to Winkwell or 4 hours (ish) to Hemel Hempstead. Today we chose Winkwell as I had some plumbing that I wanted to do when we'd returned to the mooring. On the way down, all of the locks were set against us (they tend to be left empty around here) but the pleasant sunshine and lack of wind made this no problem at all. Once through Winkwell swingbridge and lock, Brenda waited lockside whilst I went to try and demolish a tree at the winding hole. If you try and turn with the bows in the centre of the Winkwell winding point, then the tree on the Northern edge becomes very attractive to the boat.

Note to self :- remember to aim to the south bank of the winding point next attempt.

Once I'd winded, we returned through the lock and swingbridge and then decided to stop on the 48hr moorings for a spot of lunch. Finally back up through the last 2 locks and moored up again for 2:30pm. Once back at Bourne End, I stripped out the skirting board in the lounge area and installed a stopcock on the output of our water tank. Jannock has always been prone to frost damage as the water stopcock was positioned halfway down the boat and I have never left the water tank full over winter due to the possibility of a freeze dumping 125 gallons into the lounge area. Now with a tap at the front I can leave the water tank filled over winter.

2nd March 2007 Bourne End to Bank Mill
H.C. 8256 - 8257 Distance 1.25 miles 3 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arrived at Jannock just before 2pm this afternoon. The first hour was spent on maintennance including fitting a new starter battery as the 1996 original finally gave up the ghost last weekend. Once this was completed we set off from Bourne End at 3.30pm and headed north. Our target was three locks away so that we are opposite Tiami ready for an early start tomorrow morning as we want to get to Marsworth for the Saveourwaterways protest event this weekend. As usual the lovely sunny afternoon turned grey and cold once we were moving. Finally pegged in for the evening at 4.40pm.

3rd March 2007 Bank Mill to Marsworth Reservoir
H.C. 8257 - 8262 Distance 7.5 miles 16 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Neil A.

We set off at 7am accompanied by nb Tiami and Neil Arlidge lock wheeling on the trusty Brompton. This meant that every lock we came to was set for us with the gates open. This is definately the only way to make good time on the GU. We stopped at the protest site in the pound above Marsworth bottom lock at 11.15am. A very good run timewise, shame about the weather.

Marsworth S.O.W Protest - March 2007

The gazebo and bunting went up, banners were hoisted, MPs and press photographers did their stuff and signatures were gathered as information leaflets were diseminated to the gathered throng. Of the 28 boats there, 20 formed a two tier blockade of the canal with crowds of interested parties waving protest plackards.
We had the support of boaters, walkers, fishermen, joggers, canoeists, cyclists and nature lovers.We also had some friends visit Jannock to represent walkers, nature lovers and fishermen at the protest. These cuts really will affect the whole community, not just boaters. The highlight of Brenda's afternoon was seeing a double rainbow.
Once the evening arrived we moved onto the Anglers Retreat for a lovely supper, a few beers, a couple of bands and a great evening. There was even a lunar eclipse to keep us amused as we walked back to the boats.

We awoke on Sunday morning to poorer weather and found that Jannock's gazebo had been transformed into a collection of bent scrap metal with a stripey plastic shroud. Having dismantled and collected together all the parts ready for the dump, We finally moved down through the bottom lock and moored Jannock until next the weekend when we would continue our journey North.

11th March 2007 Marsworth to Bridge 106, Stoke Hammond
H.C. 8262 - 8269 Distance 10 miles 15 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

The day developed to 'sunny' but with a challenging chill wind. We were lucky enough to meet up with a single-hander going our way, and then another crew joined us at the point he moored. The cross winds at Horton and Church locks were really strong and made steering the boats in very difficult.We managed to share locks all the way with most of them, bar the Soulbury three, set in our favour when we arrived. Spring lambs and baby bunnies abound, soon be Easter!

12th March 2007 Stoke Hammond to Cosgrove
(that'll be Milton Keynes then)

H.C.8269 - 8274 Distance 14 miles 2 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Brenda Rant! Milton Keynes and 120 fishermen! most of whom were miserable and one of whom was foul mouthed and abusive beyond reason. Their problem? Guess. You'd think that when they enter a competition on an inland NAVIGATION they would accept the possibility, nay - probability, that there will be a boat or two. I don't imagine that there were more than half a dozen boats through Milton Keynes all day. Not that the fishermen inconvenienced anyone; with all their equipment strewn across the towpath (another clue there), their poles stacked neatly in racks on the towpath and the constant withdrawal of poles from across the fishing ground and into the hedges and gardens behind them, walkers, joggers and cyclists had no chance.
We slowed down and kept to mid-channel despite a fierce cross wind. Were they grateful? Were they heck; most would only have been happy if the canal had been closed to all other users. It's days like this that
HORSE BOATING becomes very attractive. And next time a competition fisherman is that abusive I will take his peg number and report him to BW, I'm told they have the power to ban individuals and clubs. Rant over.

17th March 2007 Cosgrove to Gayton
H.C. 8274 - 8280 Distance 9.5 miles 8 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Cor blimey! Wot a wind.
It was the strong side wind that convinced me to throw in the towel mid-afternoon. It's disconcerting to go along the cut sideways, especially when a tug overtakes a panicking 'newbie' just as he leaves the bridgehole I was 'aiming' for, he was on the wrong side to boot so I had nowhere to go. I didn't much mind bumping into the moored boats as they had no licences displayed and obviously had no BSS, their tattyness rating was very high.
As our boating costs are increased my resentment factor increases, slap wrist.
Other boaters were making the same dog's breakfasts as me, and also bumping into those boats. I hope the occupants weren't eating their peas off a fork.

New moneymaking wheeze for British Waterways: there was so much water cascading through the roof of Blisworth Tunnel that if revolving brushes were installed it either end, along with a man with a bottle of 'Very Liquid', it could be a very effective boat wash.
Coming home through the village of Gaydon it was a delight to see the grass verges packed with a continuous line of daffodils, so pretty and cheerful. Oh, and snow is forecast; and yes, we had it with a freezing wind for the rest of the week.

24th March 2007 Gayton to Welton Wharf
H.C. 8280 - 8286 Distance 10 miles 7 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We are not best pleased with the Met. Office. 'Sunny' they said, getting warmer with a high of 10-12 degrees' they said. They lied; the reality was grey, thick cloud all day, an increasing wind with drizzle bordering on rain by mid-afternoon, and a high of 7 if we were lucky. The cabin temperature, 'in the warm', only got to 9 after the cooker had been on for teas, coffees and pie warming.
We downed our soup and pie lunch on the move and finished just as we got to the first of 7 locks, Buckby flight. nb Ambling Rose pulled out to join us, hooray. Her steerer was experienced, the crew of 4 was young and fit. We met traffic coming the other way at each lock; wonderful. We had a quick and easy ascent. The boat had just been bought by a newly qualified physiotherapist in order that she could afford to live in Oxford. She'd been waiting for a mooring to become available for months to take delivery of her new (very second-hand) home. All this as the govt. realises that consultants' pay has gone up by 25% this year, with no measurable benefit to the NHS. Is it any wonder that nurses are planning to take industrial action?

We moored up just after 3pm and I attacked the Alde, which was failing to start, before setting off to fetch the car on the Di Blasi. No luck at all with trying to get the Alde lit so we decided to return home for a meal rather than eating on the very cold boat before departing.
Addendum I've just found you can order Alde spares on t'internet so hopefully I should get it sorted next Friday, otherwise we may have a chilly Cutweb Rally next weekend.

29th March 2007 Welton Wharf to Blue Lias
H.C. 8286 - 8292 Distance 11 miles 17 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arrived, unloaded and headed into the tunnel at 10.45. We saw another boat ahead and hoped they would wait for us at the locks. When we got there they had descended, sharing with another boat that was ready and waiting for company. It took us 2 1/4 hours to complete Braunston locks following them. Some of the pounds were very low and the boats in front insisted on pulling to the side and tying up before setting the next lock. As the lock emptied the level dropped further and after opening the gates they would return to the boats, and the surplus crew who had been standing with them, and find that they were aground. Then the heaving and pushing would start, to get them floating properly. I just kept to mid-channel to avoid the problem all together. We were joined by an American couple who'd just bought a boat and wisely invested in some RYA training. Their trainer wanted to take everything very slowly so that she could explain all the whys and wherefores. A very good idea, but we got to yawn factor 3 fairly quickly. Later we ended up having to follow a very slow wide beam boat, until he stopped to let us pass. We has assistance from Ken and Claudia as soon as we got to Stockton flight, and really flew down. We winded at Stockton and returned to moor at The Blue Lias, where the boats were already three abreast.

Cutweb 2007 'Christmas' Rally - March/April 2007

In a moment when common sense had gone for a walk, a group of us decided that for the 2007 Cutweb rally, it would be a good idea to have Christmas again.
We arrived at Blue Lias to find most of the throng assembled. Supper was eaten aboard, socialising done in the pub afterwards.
Saturday morning dawned and we were out putting up our Christmas decorations. With bunting, Christmas wreaths and swags, tinsel, Christmas trees and festive lights, the boats looked suitably Christmassy to the bemusement of increasing numbers of boaters and towpath walkers. Saturday afternoon was planned as a cross between a craft workshop and playschool. We found that we had not got the cracker making kits, and about 40 crackers were necessary for the evening, so Graham had to rush home to find them...... in our attic with the deccies he'd put away after real Christmas. Meanwhile I enjoyed the mulled wine and mince pie party courtesy nb Nuggler. At half-past two everyone turned out to make our decorations. That kept us quiet, apart from the swearing and gales of laughter, all afternoon. Our party room was lavishly decorated and a lovely Christmas tree erected and trimmed. The festive music was cued up and off we went to dress up in our finery.
So, to the main event. thirtyfour of us sat down to the full works; sprouts, puds, crackers, trifle, you name it. Dinner was followed by the loyal toast, then the queen's speech (brilliantly delivered by Andrew D.). This was followed by a visit from Santa who delivered presents to all the good girls and boys before Graham stood up and attempted to become a performance poet whilst the rest of the Panto cast went off to change. Once the poem was complete, and the nod had been received from the wings, he transformed himself into the narrator for the main evening entertainment - the Panto. The Cutweb version of Sinbad the Sailor starred such characters as Kit Crewbucket and her daughter Beta taking on the baddy (Sir Defra) who is finally overcome by Sinbad. The panto finished with an over excited, and overacted if the truth is told, romantic scene. The leading lady, sporting beard, tash and a sturdy pair of hairy legs, leapt onto the hero of the piece, who was obviously a girl dressed up in dashing swashbuckling style, and led to the demise of the only solid prop in the piece: the bed collapsed. Oh how we laughed.There was singing and much hilarity all rounded off with a rousing chorus of "What shall we do with the man from Defra" sung to the tune of drunken sailor. An excellent night was had by all.
Then it was back to Jannock. Cocoa was offered, and made, but rather too much whisky was added by some guests who had to be manoevered carefully back to their own craft.

SUNDAY snuck up on us, as birthdays do. As we got together for the annual CUTWEB charity auction. Simon, Matt and Phaedra arrived to celebrate my birthday. It was so lovely to see them. That was the cue to hand round all the cake I'd made to anyone and everyone. We even managed to auction some of the stuff to the kids. After the auction came Sunday lunch, another marathon effort by the pub staff, especially as it was a lovely spring weekend and all sorts were out taking advantage of the sun, the pub garden and the kitchen staff.
We took a family stroll around the lake to work off our lunches, and then went to gongoozle the hirers and plastic-boaters as they descended the flight in an increasing cross-wing whilst Graham changed the rubber gaiter on Jannock's Aquadrive as the original had split a couple of weeks ago. Matt and Phaedra returned to Salford that evening whilst Simon stayed overnight for onward passage to Grenoble via Rugby station in the morning. Cutwebbers reassembled in the pub for their Sunday quiz, (to be recommended dear reader). Our team only managed a third, but we beat the other Cutweb teams so we were happy. (OK, only by 1 point and we had the largest team.......)
I had a lovely birthday weekend, I am blessed.

2nd April 2007 Blue Lias to Welton Wharf
H.C.8292 - 8299 Distance 11 miles 17 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

The morning started with Graham taking son Simon to the station to start his journey to France. He then left the car at our proposed destination and returned on the Di Blasi.
I had believed that I was bossy until we encountered Regimental Sergeant Major Charles Haughtrey! Ooohhh, what a scary lady. We set off up Stockton Locks sharing with nb Clara, RSM Haughtrey was close behind, trying to catch up by giving us advice as to how we could perform better. Her boat never did catch up as I think we were at optimal work level, so there! We had been delayed at the start of the flight as we had to let a boat come down, but we were soon a slick team of four (plus dog). We continued to share with Simon and Jeanette until Calcutt and so had a smooth run all the way to Braunston. We passed the same slow wide boat, but they were moored up this time.

As we passed through Braunston nb Prairie Crocus was reversing out of the marina, causing everyone to hold back while they blocked the canal briefly. Brenda hollered 'Bl@@dy foreigners!' at our Canadian friend Ken and got an indignant reply from a youth who was walking along the towpath, very much in 'lerve' with his young lady. "I am not foreign I am British!" We couldn't imagine why he thought we might have thought he was- being white, dressed a la middle class youth and all. Paranoia or self-obsessed? Discuss.
We followed a Kingsground boat, Mrs. Thistlemouse?, for the last half mile and shared the locks with them.Their abundance of crew allowed me to go ahead and set the locks. A much better passage compared with last Friday's attempt. We moored south of Braunston tunnel and I found that my new gaiter that i had fitted to the aquadrive had become unseated at one end and the engine bay was once again smothered in grease. I have since learned my mistake was that I didn't clean away the original grease on the mating surface well enough, and so I will have to re-do it.

9th April 2007 Welton Wharf to Bridge 45, Gayton
H.C. 8299 - 8305 Distance 11 miles 6 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

After what can only be described as a week of domestic stress, with dentists, vets, hotel and restaurant cancellations, a houseful of twenty somethings (when we'd expected to be in Manchester celebrating Matt's 21st) who needed feeding when the cupboard was bare, and the need for a full-blown racing-car birthday cake at last minute........ we finally managed a day on't cut. Birthday boy's first job was to clean up the oil in the engine 'ole, flung out through the loose gaiter on the universal joint. That gave me time to potter and listen to spring bird-song. Gaiter refitted and greasy mess removed from engine bay, we left Welton Wharf and headed for the top of Buckby locks. We were being followed by another boat and as we approached the top lock, we noticed someone opening the gate paddles. No, it wasn't a boat coming up (yet) but their lock wheeler had noticed us and set the lock as it was nearer full than empty. A very pleasant surprise considering some of the recent examples of lock grabbing we have witnessed. What a great start to a lovely day. At the fourth lock, I offered to take over from the guy working up on the offside so that he could go ahead and turn the next lock as it had been used since we descended by the boats in front of them. What did he do? He went and sat on his boat! Oh well, you win some and you lose some. The flight was transited in a very quick time with only one lock not being ascended as we arrived to descend. It was the usual bank-holiday Monday insofar as there were plenty of boats about, unusual insofar as the weather was gorgeous and fishermen thanked us for slowing down and keeping mid-channel, (but then they were only casual fishermen, not yer fully paid up professional types). We saw a pair of ducks with 20 babies. They looked like a playgroup outing, all being herded together whilst trying to be as unruly and boisterous as possible.

15th April 2007 Gayton to Cosgrove
H.C. 8305 - 8310 Distance 10 miles 8 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Today we found out where people who get chucked out of choirs go to sing. The couple on the boat in front of us in Blisworth Tunnel were giving it loud, and it wasn't pleasant I can tell you. We decided to take on water at Stoke Bruerne, but as we approached the waterpoint a long and well crewed hire boat wanted to know if we were going down the flight, and could they perchance, share? Many hands and all that, so we prepared the first lock. About 20 small children advised us what was possible, whereupon we advised them what would actually happen. Willing if not so able. We settled into the second lock with them, and then Mum decided that they couldn't manage all 6 locks without a meal break. Hey-ho, we got water at the end of the flight instead.
The day got warmer and scarier. Ne'er cast a clout and all that. Is it legal to sport a bikini on't cut in April, and as for his skimpy Speedos, yeuch. Onto Cosgrove and we met another hire boat who's crew was so taken with G's goggle eye glasses that they lost concentration and rammed into the stern of a moored boat. Two Wyvern shipping boats approached the lock. The girls at the helm of the second were anxious as they didn't think they'd both get in together. I assured them there was 'no problem, especially if you go in one on top of the other'. 'OK, thanks' was the immediate response; only then did one ask 'how does that work then?' They had done 4 locks since the hire base....

21st April 2007 Cosgrove to Stoke Hammond
H.C. 8310 - 8316 Distance 13 miles 2 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Ken and Gladys

Gladys: Today we went from Cosgrove to Stoke Hammond on the Grand Union Canal. We saw a mural on a derelict factory wall, had a walk to Willen Park where there is a lake for skiing and boarding, an area for adventure climbing, and we watched a group of students building a raft. A very enjoyable day, weather good, peaceful.

28/29th April 2007 Stoke Hammond to Bourne End
Soddit Cruise 2007

H.C.8316 - 8330 Distance 19 miles 34 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter

We left Ian's car at Bourne End and then travelled up to Stoke Hammond to find Jannock. A supper of fish and chips from Bletchley followed by 2 games of Soddit saw us asleep just after midnight. The beer this year was a new IPA from Vale Brewery, called VPA, which is a wonderful drop of kit.
Saturday morning, after a full English breakfast, we set off towards the three locks (Soulbury) at 9:15. As we approached the bottom lock the crew of nb Klingon II, who were moored up, asked if they could share the locks. We worked well together so we shared right up until we stopped for lunch just before Slapton lock.
Peter :- As usual most of the maggots were bigger than the fish they caught - a quick left hook from the maggot and the fish had no chance. Not only did I have to cope with all the excitement that goes with watching two proffessionals hauling in a catch, I had to pay for it too. £4.00 yes £4.00 was what the water baliff stung me for! Am I a mug or what?
Graham :-With lunch and fishing over, we continued on and met the Klingon crew just returning from the pub at Slapton and so we shared again. As we left Slapton lock we noticed a single boat following behind and so we changed partners when we caught up another singleton at the next lock. We shared the rest of the locks to Marsworth with Tamora (a Hudson boat built about 3 after Uncle Mort, it's nice to meet a totally happy Hudson owner) who is based in Aylesbury and was returning home.
Once we got to Marsworth, Ian managed to catch a sensible sized Bream amongst the plethora of whitebait the lads reeled in.
Ian :- Being English it seems surprising to me that our other two correspondents have not mentioned the weather at all. There we go! there must be a reason, so I'll cut straight to the fishing. After docking the ship at Marsworth, our intrepid heros, Ian and Brian, set to the task with expectation. As always, expectations were not met. We shared a haul of about eight tiddlers. Just as the Klingon crew were retiring to the pub Ian hooked a beast of an underwater demon. Massive in size, strength of an Ox, it almost pulled me in to the water. Everything was happening at once, Klingon crew telling us fishing was cruel, Brian hurredly assembling the catch net (never needed before) and Graham telling us all where we were going wrong.
As the excitement mounted, Brian was hanging over the side of the boat with the net ready and Moby was splashing us well, conveniently washing off the sweat of the fight. Exhausted, we manouvered Moby into the net, photographs were duly taken and signed copies will be available on The result was a large Bream, about 1 pound. UK record - non, Soddit cruise record - oui! And the weather, hot and windy, perfect conditions for Ian to look like a lobster.

Graham :-We tried the Red Lion for our Saturday evening meal. A simple, no frills, menu of good quality well prepared food. Beer was good as well but we returned to Jannock for the rest of the evening as the private party in the public bar was quite loud. Three games of Soddit was all we could manage before retiring for the night.

On Sunday morning we attacked the Marsworth flight solo and took about one and a quarter hours to get to the top. As we approached Cowroast we came upon a boat trying to reverse back to the marina for fuel. We tied them alongside and dragged them backwards for the half mile to the marina entrance.
We passed Minihaha and Stewkey Blue moored in Berko. Mary was on SB so I hope she is feeling better now. After passing the Rising Sun, we found Debbi sunbathing on her patio trying to recover from last night's fancy dress party apparently. The bandage on her foot indicated that she has obviously been partying too hard.
Brian :- After all the bullsh!t above, more words to describe the 2007 Soddit cruise are hard to find. Suffice to say the beer ran out too early again, all the fault of HALF PINT MUG! The weather was the best we've ever had and we are all kn@ckered from opening and closing all 250 locks we went through (only about 30 really). Lovely scenery, especially on the bridge in Berkhampstead. Another successful Soddit cruise, with the exception of the Soddit though, I didn't win one game.
Graham :- Finally made it back to Bourne End at 6PM, closed up and headed back to Stoke Hammond to fetch the car.

5th May 2007 Bourne End to Coppermill
H.C. 8330 - 8340 Distance 13 miles 28 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We made very good time from Bourne End down to the M25 at Langley, locking solo. We caught up a widebeam boat and had to follow them at their very slow pace. They pulled in after Cassiobury lock and we were away again. We moored below Coppermill lock, fetched the car and had dinner in the Coy Carp. Brenda went fishing and caught a mountain bike with the sea searcher magnet.
Brenda :- I claim the family magnet fishing prize, biggest catch ever! The bike, which I saw a yob chuck in, was post coded so the constabulary were contacted. Their disinterest was obvious but we persued it if only because they put resources into postcode marking bikes. If the system then works why are they not inclined to follow up and reunite bike and owner? If they don't want to do that why waste the taxpayers' money in the first place? They asked us to take the bike to the nearest police station; we explained we were on a boat, they didn't understand how that might be a problem. They suggested we keep the bike and they'd send someone out in a few days, we explained we wouldn't be there, being on a boat. They suggested we leave the already stolen bike in the hedge and someone might come out and collect it, would that be the police then, or would the bike be back in the cut if not re-stolen? We decided to leave the bike in a secured compound at the pub and told Old Bill where it could be collected from. It was still there on our return a couple of weeks later.
The moral of the story is don't bother to get your expensive mountain bike postcoded in the Thames Valley-ish area, and if it gets stolen don't bother reporting it.

7th May 2007 Copper Mill to Little Venice
H.C. 8340 - 8348 Distance 23 miles 5 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Our holiday began with normal bank holiday weather service being resumed.
In hindsight, it was all down hill from here. Britain had the wettest summer for years; homes were destroyed and there were deaths. Canal festivals and even Beeky's roving GiG were abandoned, flood stoppages held up many boaters on their way to the IWA National festival. As I write this in mid July there is no sign of an improvement, but at least there are no hosepipe bans; there are plenty being used with pumps to try and remove water from where it is not wanted.
Graham got up early to do a car shuffle, he was soaked before he set off. We had a good day's twitching, bird watching to you and me, adding a pair of cuckoos, a peacock and peahen to our I-Spy book of birds - not to mention a terrapin the size of a family steak and kidney pie. We had both got a boater's soaking by the time the weather cleared at 4.30, on the North Circular Aquaduct the wind got very blustery, it was case of 'ang on to yer 'at!
We arrived in Little Venice/Padington Basin half an hour before Canal Cavalcade closed, just enough time for Graham to get a pint at the beer tent. Many friends were there, socialising. Supper and then a walk up the Edgeware Rd. with a compulsory visit to the food shops, after all you can't go on holiday without trying the local jam, falafel and lavash. Our shopping came from Beirut, Sri Lanka, Damascus, Syria and Southall (for the flatbreads). We spent the night moored outside a Japanese restaurant. We could almost read the menu from our saloon.

8th May 2007 Little Venice to Ponders End
H.C.8348 - 8357 Distance 18 miles 16 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

It was windy, windy, windy.
Today we have mostly been doing London. We'd hoped to add some birds to our I-Spy books as we went past the Snowdon Aviary at Regent's Park zoo, I think they all had the day off. We saw no animals on the terraces either. At Campden Lock a German tour guide assured us she had booked her large party for a tour on Jannock and Prairie Crocus and demanded we tie up and show her how best they should board!!! It was quite a task convincing her that no such thing was going to happen and that she needed to find the tour boats' pier. We spent a good half hour IN Old Ford Lock taking on water, that being our only access to the tap. It felt awfully naughty. The lock landing arrea was too full of permanent moorers for us to get to the tap. We went into the lock and 2 chaps came out of the lock building. They explained that it was OK to fill from the lock as long as no-one needed through passage. They brought us adaptors for the non-standard tap fittings, they helped us reel hoses, one even took all our rubbish to the skip. 'How lovely' I thought, 'a good old fashioned lockie and his assistant.' But no! It seems BW rents the premises to the local fishing club and these chaps go there to 'hide from our wives'. They have made themselves comfortable with sofas, a microwave, tables and chairs, all the minor domestics taken care off. And they really help boaters; BW please note!

Along the Regents, up the Hertford Union and onto the Lee navigation for our first time ever, in the company of Ken and Claudia on Prairie Crocus. We moored for the night above Ponders End next to King Georges reservoir.

9th May 2007 Ponders End to Hertford
H.C. 8357 - 8364 Distance 13.5 miles 13 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Prairie Crocus was raring to go when I clambered put onto the back deck just before 9 this morning. I was not too enthusiastic because the weather forecast had been for a dull damp day and it had rained during the night. As it turned out, it stayed dry until we had winded and moored up opposite the Old Barge in Hertford. We had a three course Thai supper aboard Jannock with Ken and Claudia as guests, then onto The Old barge - a Jannock recommended pub, to meet up with Adrian S. for an evening of good beer and debate.

The Official Jannock views on boating the Lee and Stort way :-
A broad deep waterway with a variety of scenery.
Leaving the gates open as you leave a lock.
Having to slow down to 4 MPH to pass moored boats (official sign at Hertford lock)

Following someone else who is also enjoying leaving the gates open.
Very heavy lock gates with loose, cranked balance beams.

Cookery corner :-
I warmed a litre of UHT semi-skimmed milk until it was just-hot-to-the finger. I stirred in a tablespoon of live yogurt. It went into a tuppersealey container and into the engine bay, engine running, for about 8 hours. Result? Lovely, smooth, fresh, plain yogurt. 1 litre for about 50p, bargain.

10th May 2007 Hertford to Bishops Stortford
H.C. 8364 - 8375 Distance 19 miles 19 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Knowing we had a long day as we had set our sights on Bishops Stortford, we set off from Hertford just before 8:30. Adrian hailed us from Onx as we passed heading south down the Lee (or Lea) navigation.
As we cleared Stanstead lock Ken and Claudia agreed to back-empty the Stort locks to aid our passage behind them but that plan was temporarily thwarted by nb Cressie who pulled out between us and also turned left at the junction. Before we left the Lee (or Lea) we saw a giant terrapin basking on a large root at the side of the channel. Brick lock was suffering from metal fatigue as the cranked balance beam had a 50mm split in the steel beam accompanied by a broken weld. I reported it to a BW foreman as I believe it will break off before too many more lock operations.
Nb Cressie pulled over to let is past at Roydon lock and so we soon got a good system going with PC ahead. We passed nb Wren (with Cutweb sticker in window) from Bourne End at Harlow Lock. They were obviously in the pub! (hindsight indicates we were wrong, the boat has been sold to new owners and THEY had left it moored on a lock landing for ages!)
We also met a wide beam charity boat on a sharp bend just above Sawbridgeworth being steered by a list member who has been tracking our progress on the list, sorry but I missed your name.
The afternoon got wetter and colder but I got the blame from Claudia as I hadn't put on my motorcycle oversuit today. Instead I remained in shorts and created minimal wet clothes to try and dry later.
We finally arrived in Bishops Stortford at 6PM and celebrated with a pumpout and water fill before winding and mooring for the night. P.S. Someone has moved Sainsburys!

Brenda's desireable boat collection!

11th May 2007 Bishops Stortford to Ramney Marsh

H.C. 8375 - 8385 Distance 19.5 miles 23 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

After a night of heavy rain, burglar alarms and too many other noises in Bishops Stortford town centre, we set off down the Stort on a journey of discovery.
First we discovered an old Harboro style craft being firmly tied to the lock landing bollards at Tednambury lock. The couple aboard the boat explained that their rented craft had started leaking through the base plate near the rudder tube and the owner of the adjacent marina, in which the craft is usually moored, told them the lock landing was the best place to tie the boat to whilst they went out for the day ????
Next we discovered that nb Wren, resplendent with Cutweb stickers and purporting to be from Bourne End, was still moored on the lock landing/water point at Harlow lock. This means that my assumption that they were in the pub yesterday was obviously incorrect! Luckily Brenda avoided giving them a hefty clout as the wind took Jannock as she was trying to enter the lock. I wonder how the wide beam charity boats cope with her there?

I also discovered the name of the Canals List reading charity boat skipper who hailed us yesterday. Nice to meet you and have a chat across the lock.
By the time we had rejoined the Lea the weather had deteriorated to heavy showers intersperced with ever shortening periods of sunshine. We finally moored for the night at Rammey Marsh having traversed the last two locks in continuous heavy rain.
Our final discovery of the day was that the Rosemary picked from the lockside at Spellbrook lock made our roast lamb dinner taste superb

12th May 2007 Ramney Marsh to Paddington Basin
H.C. 8385 - 8393 Distance 20 miles 16 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

By eck it were rough!
We set off south from our overnight mooring, below Rammey Marsh lock, in haste as someone was coming down through the lock above us. Enfield lock was followed by a good chat with the old lockie at Pickets lock. At Stonebridge lock there was absolutely no sign of life in the electrickery dept. so we had to hand crank through on the other side. Boy! I now really appreciate those Thames wheels after turning that very low geared hydraulic equipment for what seemed an age. Luckily someone was waiting to come up so we didn't have to close the gates, as we left, for the boat behind us. Travelling through Hackney Marsh was like a weird arcade game, there were so many skulls and canoes afloat who didn't care where they were going or what they turned across in front of.

Onto the Hertford union and the sky was clouding over. By the time we had cleared Acton's lock on the Regents canal, the rain was coming down hard and we were following a day boat from the local yard. When they reached Sturts lock, hoards of small kids in lifejackets swarmed off the boat and so PC held back so that they could work the next lock sharing with us. Chris, the master of the day boat explained that they would be turning before City Road lock and so we would be on our own again. Camden locks (Kentish town, Hawley and Hampstead before I get pedanted) were heaving with obnoxious articles that can be vaguely described as modern youth, I find the Goth fashions are not appealing and when associated with drink/drug abuse, quite offensive. We finally made it into Paddington, winded in the wind tunnel that is described as a basin with the aid of the brick wall, and then moored for the night opposite Minnihaha and Stewkey Blue. We had dinner on PC followed by a mini-GiG with Bill and Anne when they were shown the DVD of the Xmas Rally.

13th May 2007 Paddington to Cowley Peachey (via Camden)
H.C. 8393 - 8399 Distance 23 miles NO Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We were up and left Paddington Basin at 8:45 Sunday morning, back down to the Camden visitor moorings as Brenda wanted to DO the market. In there at 9:30 just as it was opening so most of Goth-life was still in bed :^)

Shopping finished we winded and returned through Maida tunnel and then set off towards the Grand Union. The rain persisted down all day! The only thing that varied was the rate that it fell. By 1:30 we were passing through a thunder storm which was very close judging by the lack of time between flash and bang. Brenda chose this time to appear and inform me it was my turn to eat and so she got really drenched during her short spell at the tiller. I think it was Neil A. who stated that the Paddington Arm was his least favourite bit of canal, I must admit it became more tedious the longer it took and the wetter I got. Onto the Grand Union and we were soon at our destination. Once Jannock was moored up, the rain stopped meaning that my trip to Bourne End on the Di Blasi was performed rain-less. It was the floods and puddles that made the trip interesting. Back to Jannock by a quarter past six and home in Thame by eight o'clock.

All in all, a very busy week described by Brenda as "always travelling but never going anywhere". Maybe the whole Lee and Stort in three days is a bit ambitious, especially if you like sightseeing on foot as she does.

19th May 2007 Cowley Peachey to Croxley Green
H.C. 8399 - 8405 Distance 11 miles 12 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We set off from Cowley Peachey at 10.30 and headed North through Cowley lock. As we passed through Harefield lock another boat set off from the marina just as we were leaving. I said we would wait for them at the next lock but when we got there we shared with a narrow dutch barge who was just entering as we arrived. They stayed in the lock as we departed having received a phone call from a friend of theirs who was behind them.
At Coppermill lock we met a group of girls who were completing a practice for their D of E expedition. We managed to leap frog with them all the rest of the afternoon. As we were leaving the lock the ex-Harefield boat arrived and I promised we would hold the next lock for them. When we arrived at the next lock we met Barry Holland who was removing the remains of a keepnet from around his prop. We shared the next 2 locks with him but he was planning to try and sell his boat at the Ricky festival. We had a full smoke flypast by the Red Arrows who obviously had the festival on their flight plan today. We passed Debbi and Simon manning a SOW stall on the towpath and then had to pause by Rickmansworth Tescos whilst a tug of war occurred across the cut.
At Common Moor lock we caught up with the D of E girls again and so Brenda offered the use of Jannocks facilities as they were in desperate need. It is so much easier for boys on treks like this. Finally stopped just before Cassiobury wharf for the night having bid farewell to the girls. Although we have to go home tonight, we'll continue our journey tomorrow as the weather is looking promising.

20th May 2007 Croxley Green to Bourne End
H.C.8405 - 8412 Distance 9 miles 21 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arrived back on Jannock at 10am on Sunday morning and set off up through Cassiobury Bridge lock. I spent some time chatting about radios to the guy who lives in the lock cottage much to Brenda's amusement. At Iron Bridge lock we found a boat moored immediately above the lock awaiting the arrival of their daughter for a day visit. She had arrived and they we ready to set off just as we cleared the lock and so we shared the next thirteen locks with them working well as a team. Bill and Babs (can't remember their boat name) come from the Lea and Stort and are off touring the system for the summer. They decided to call it a day just before we reached Hemel Hempstead and so we continued on our own making it back to Bourne End just after 5pm. Very little else to report really, the weather was great, the Di Blasi run to fetch the car was uneventful and we had enjoyed good company for most of the trip. Lots of maintenance planned for the coming bank holiday weekend.

6th July 2007 Bourne End to Tring
H.C.8412 - 8418 Distance 8 miles 13 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We left Bourne End. under an overcast sky, not the bright sunshine the BBC promised. We had to pass through the locks on our own with the added disadvantage of following a pair of narrowboats working ahead of us. After the third lock they both stopped for lunch and so the road became easier.
At lock 56 (can't remember the name) there was a BW employee doing an inventory log on his tablet PC. I asked whether he was able to access licence information on it and he said he could, but he would only do licence work when he was accompanied by another staff member as they had problems with threats of physical violence on this stretch before. At Berkhamstead lock, we met a BW contractor operating a power mower very badly. This earnt him the nickname of
'Mixed Ability-Brown' from Brenda. Two locks later we met his younger brother 'Little' who was operating his strimmer in a similar way.

Once onto the summit above Cowroast lock and the dark clouds gathered above us and the wind got stronger.
We turned left at Bulbourne for Jannock's first ever trip along the Wendover arm. We finally arrived at the limit of navigation at 4:45 and moored for a very sunny and peaceful evening just after the winding point. I set the Crayfish net to see if I could catch anything.

9th July 2007 Tring to Slapton Wharf
H.C. 8418 - 8424 Distance 7 miles 15 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Do I look ready for a blue rinse and a crimplene frock? No, don't answer that!

We left our peacefull overnight spot and arrived at Marsworth top lock intime to watch a pair of Wyvern boats, engaged in a team building exercise, decending. We waited and then shared the flight with another boat that contained a young pair who were 'managing' the exercise. She (J) was lockside whilst he (T) steered.
Come elevenses time I got cake for us and as I am well brung up, gave them a slice each. I pointed to the cake on their slide and said to J "you have cake". "yes" she replied " we have cake" (sounds like a Serbo Croat language lesson) " do you need some my dear?" she added " I can get you some"
I informed her that what I had said was a statement and not a rhetorical question "oh!" she added " I did think it was a but odd" then she realised that I had given them cake and was sooooo pleased.
As the locks were passed through, she got all excited as normal procedure was followed - " its like team building world on the canal!" she said.
We left them at Marsworth and continued north, passing Allan Cazally at Pitstone wharf and made our way to Slapton wharf where we filled the water tank and washed 4 weeks of grime off of Jannock. Winded and then moored up for the night. Graham caught 3 crayfish last night which we eat for a starter with our tea.

8th July 2007 Slapton to Marsworth
H.C.8424 - 8427 Distance 3 miles 8 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Having had a peaceful night in a quiet location we awoke to glorious sunshine with the promise of a lovely day. We set off south and worked through Horton lock to meet Bruce aboard Sanity heading North. As we approached Ivinghoe locks another boat pulled out from their mooring on the offside and shared with us through the rest of the locks to Marsworth. The new (to us, an old cast off in reality) folding bike came into it's own with me speeding ahead to prepare lock or swing bridge before the boats arrived. I think I've had more exercise this weekend than all of the last 4 weeks put together. We arrived at Marsworth and found a spot to moor whilst our lock partner went down to wind at the entrance of the Aylesbury arm. They were going to the Red Lion but I had to fetch the car from Bourne End and so could not join them.
Altogether a great weekend in surprisingly good weather considering what we've suffered from recently.

14th July 2007 Marsworth to Broughton, via Aylesbury
H.C. 8427 - 8432 Distance 7 miles 19 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We set off from Marsworth and turned left onto the Aylesbury Arm. The staircase pair was set against us indicating that we had another boat preceding us down the arm. Imaging my surprise to find locks 3 and 4 in our favour before returning to normal. I will admit to preferring the Oxford style of gates that have the walk across ledge set below the top of the gate as you cannot cross the gap from a single open gate on the Aylesbury style of lockgates. The folding pushbike certainly proved it's worth again although the towpath is some places is downright dangerous. We stopped for lunch between the two Puttenham locks before continuing on the the basin at Aylesbury.

Having winded (badly) and moored up we went over to the Aylesbury Canal Society as I had been meaning to join for some time. They were so glad to see us that they threw a tea party (No, we had happened to arrive on the day of their annual tea party and barbeque event). Brenda was well impressed with four types of tea, six types of sandwich, scones with two flavours of jam as well as more cake than you would know what to do with. Matt, No.2 son, was at Silverstone with the Uni. and came to visit us bringing Jo with him. Jo, being Portuguese, has never seen a canal boat and so we left the basin to give her a trip up through the first lock so that Matt could explain it all to her. They walked back to their car whilst we continued up through Broughton lock to moor in the countryside above. A late supper, due to an excess of cake etc, was accompanied by the most amazing sunset.

15th July 2007 Broughton to Marsworth
H.C. 8432 - 8436 Distance 5 miles 13 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We awoke to find Sunday fair after a very peaceful night. Set off towards Marsworth at nine o'clock and found we were being followed by Brian Holmes of 'In the Pink'(Narrowboat World) fame. I back emptied every lock as we progressed as I was using the bike and he was single handing. We had a very quick run up from Aylesbury with no hassles at all until we arrived at the staircase. Here I managed to overflow the bottom lock by not closing the middle paddle as we moved into lock 1. My fault entirely but I was being distracted at the time and I soon sorted the problem once I was aware of what I'd done. It's amazing how easy it is to make simple mistakes like that when you are not fully focused on what you are doing. Ooooooooops. Reversed Jannock northwards from the junction, moored, cleared up and arrived home just as the rain started.

21st July 2007 Marsworth to Bourne End
H.C.8436 - 8441 Distance 9 miles 19 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We chose to move Jannock on Saturday as the weather looked more promising. On arrival at Marsworth, Brenda grabbed a bag from the back of the car and set off towards the towpath whilst I extracted the Di Blasi from its case to wheel it to the boat. When I arrived at Jannock Brenda was nowhere to be seen so I unlocked and started to get the Di Blasi aboard. She finally arrived a few minutes later having turned left (North) on joining the towpath rather than right (South) where Jannock was moored. As we were preparing to set off, two southbound boats passed who offered to share the flight with us as they were small enough to get in nose to tail. We made good time up the locks with me cycling ahead to set the next lock whilst the crews from the other boats worked the current lock. Once out of the top and onto the summit we came across a 52 peg junior fishing competition that ran all the way past Tring station bridge. On arrival at Cowroast lock, we shared with a single narrowboat because our previous companions were stopping for the night as they had done enough locks for the day. Some of the manoeuvres into and out of locks caused Brenda some concern during this partnership. At Northchurch, our new partner decided to stop for shopping and so we continued on alone. Two locks down, we met two boats coming up whose female crew were making disparaging remarks about my 'google eyes' that I have on my hat, and calling me 'foureyes'. Lucky for them that I had foureyes as I saw they had left their watermate key in an anti-vandal lock at the next lock down, which I managed to return to them and still get the next lock set before Jannock arrived. I really appreciate my new (to us) folding cycle. At this lock we met SS Irwell single-handedly heading North to York. According to Julian who was a witness, he had nearly come to fisticuffs with another boater at lock 59 earlier in the day.
Why is it whenever Jannock gets near Tiami it always pi$$es down? Having had a dry trip, as we left the lock at the Rising Sun, the heavens opened and we got drowned. It was the same in that pound both in November and March for the SOW protest runs. I know I should not be complaining when I consider what Andrew, Wendy and all the other people affected by the severe flooding on the rivers are currently enduring but I'm sure, in our case, it must be something to do with Tiami and the Mill Wharf pound. I do believe it didn't rain when we passed through whilst they were away cruising so it must be Tiami and not the location. No sign of Debbi or Simon aboard though. We arrived at Bourne End just before 5pm and then Julian kindly gave me a lift back to the car so I didn't need the Di Blasi after all.

11th August 2007 Bourne End to Marsworth
H.C. 8445 - 8452 Distance 9 miles 19 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arrived at Jannock on Saturday morning just in time to find Parglena returning from a short trip to turn round. Having helped Julian moor up, we then set off Northbound yet again (3rd time this year) to try and position the boat ready for the one week holiday I have managed to book for September. Having waited to enter Sewerage lock, I spotted another boat approaching and so we waited. They declared their intention to share with the boat following them and so we continued on our own. Up three locks and we passed Debbi and Simon aboard Tiami whilst IT WAS NOT RAINING! This means that my earlier posting on this subject was false and I apologise profusely. Having successfully managed to manoeuvre through the very dangerous overhanging Willow tree below lock 55, I was amazed at the number of cigarette butts all over the path and grass outside the Rising Sun. Obviously the new law may have made the inside of the pub more habitable but only at the expense of the environment immediately outside.
We passed through Berko and continued up the locks working solo. My trusty bike allowing me to have the locks ready for Jannock with minimal delays. My reputation is such that I have been requisitioned next Saturday to lock wheel Parglena down towards London. In order to meet Brenda's desire not to rush everywhere whilst boating, we stopped for lunch just below Dudswell bottom lock and had a very pleasant 90 minutes in the shade. A solo narrow beam Dutch barge arrived just as we were thinking about starting off again and so we shared with them up to Cowroast where they stopped for diesel and a pumpout.

At Bulbourne there was some sort of cycling/boating event occurring which made life difficult for Brenda navigating through the mêlée' into the top lock. We completed the Marsworth flight with few delays and had to travel all the way to the northern end of the 14 day moorings to find a free spot big enough for Jannock.
Having moored up, another 62 footer, heading South arrived and so I advised them that there were no spaces further up, so they moored in front of us. This was a group of four girls who had borrowed a friends boat for a long weekend and so were still learning fast. Having helped them tie up I also lent them my sea-searcher because they managed to drop their padlock into the canal. They asked for advice about the best place for food in Marsworth. We told them about the Anglers Retreat having tried it and enjoyed the food during the November SOW protest. After dinner we went to the Red Lion where I enjoyed the company of the Rev. James whilst Brenda stuck to the Vale Brewery VPA.

12th August 2007 Marsworth to Slapton
H.C.8452 - 8454 Distance 3 miles 8 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Sunday morning started with a rain shower that quickly stopped and the ground soon dried up. A bevvy of beauties came out of their boat, onto the towpath, for the early morning fag. I didn't know Janet Raeger did a range of pink wynciette jim-jams and sludge green hoodies! In your dreams boys- ONLY in your dreams! It appears they arrived at the Anglers at 8:55 and were refused food as the kitchen had ceased serving. They decamped to the White Lion where they received very slow service and overpriced, poor quality, undercooked food. They were not a happy bunch.
Having breakfasted we set off northbound and managed to catch up another boat, named Butty Blue, by the second lock. This typical mass produced 57 footer had started life without motive power and the new owners had fitted an engine once they had purchased the boat from it's previous owner. We shared with them all the way to Slapton wharf where we stopped for water. We finally moored up and then I went home on the Di Blasi to fetch the car. I had a dry run home but was surprised to find myself driving back along wet roads and deep surface water puddles. I don't know how, but it appears that I had missed a very heavy rain storm that passed across during my car shuffle.

25th August 2007 Slapton to Stantonbury Farm
H.C. 8454 - 8462 Distance 18 miles 8 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Well that was a turn-up for the books. Jannock took advantage of the nice weather and continued her trip north(ish).
When we arrived at Slapton, it was obvious that two separate occurrences had left Jannock in a very filthy state. Firstly the towpath had been strimmed and so her port side was now camouflaged and secondly a passing boat must have come very close and had deposited what looked like a full throttles worth of the canal bed all over the starboard side, in through the engine vents and across the rear deck. To add to this, the alarm system activated once I stepped onto the rear deck which impressed me. The PIR sensor must have detected my body through the small gap in the top hatch. Having opened up and silenced the alarm, we started the engine and prepared for the off. We were able to immediately join another Northbound boat to share Slapton, Church and Grove locks before they pulled over in Linslade. We continued on through the remaining locks on our own even managing to meet southbound boats in every lock at Soulbury. After Stoke Hammond lock we stopped and filled up with diesel at Willowbridge Marina for 49ppl. It was good to see that most of the dangerous offside willows through Milton Keynes have now been trimmed back to allow improved vision for navigating craft, they were positively dangerous earlier this year. Our trip through MK was very un-eventful and we finally pulled over for the night between Great Linford and New Bradwell, a nice quiet rural mooring. We eat out and then enjoyed the sunset on the towpath until it became too chilly for Brenda when we moved back inside.

26th August 2007 Stantonbury Farm to Gayton
H.C.8462 - 8469 Distance 13 miles 8 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

I was on the road at 6am to fetch the car from Slapton and move it to Stoke Bruerne. I got horrendously lost trying to get back to the boat as I am totally unable to form a cognitive map of Milton Keynes. Even having taken care to observe prominent features on the way out did not assist the return journey. Luckily I finally made it back to Jannock before Brenda started worrying. We set off after breakfast and made the bottom of Stoke Bruerne locks a little before 1pm. There was a queue in which we were 5th and so we were happy when another boat happened along to share with. At the third lock up, I managed to get the speeding bike front wheel jammed in a hole in the grass and throw myself over the handlebars landing hard on the stone towpath. Ouch! That smarts. With my knees and elbow dripping blood we continued up the flight, leaving our partners to moor for the night in the long pound. As she was entering the top lock, Brenda was asked a question by a lady walking along the towpath to which she replied that she could not hear her question due to the engine noise and was very busy negotiating the overhanging willow tree to try and get into the lock without striking the masonry. Once we were ascending Brenda was about to ask the lady to repeat her question but stopped when she heard the same woman complaining to another how rude Brenda had been to her and that she was going to make a complaint about her. This made us wonder to whom the complaint would be made - are boaters passing through Stoke Bruern supposed to be part of some Disney-eske tourist attraction run by the museum or the pub? We mused this matter as we continued on through a very smokey tunnel with water cascading down from above at the vent holes. Through Blisworth and onto the 14 day moorings near to Gayton. I then used the Di Blasi to fetch the car from SB as we had made such good progress. Back home on Sunday night to feed the cats and even managed 3 games of Soddit up the local with the gang.

27th August 2007 Gayton to Welton Wharf
H.C. 8469 - 8475 Distance 10 miles 7 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We returned to the boat to continue, but had to wrap up as the northerly wind that accompanied the overcast sky was quite chilling. On through Bugbrooke and Welton with the weather improving all the time and then stopped for lunch just after the A5 bridge south of Wilton. Brenda had been complaining that the throttle control was getting very stiff and was hurting her (already damaged) wrist so I stripped the unit to grease it whilst she prepared lunch. When I disconnected the throttle cable I noticed that it did not really want to be re-aligned with the lever and so I investigated the engine end and found that the cable, which had been fitted during the 2003 blacking visit to J L Pinders, was not aligned correctly. Having disconnected the engine end, I reconnected the lever end and then adjusted the cable to fit the injector pump better. My, what a difference that has made! The lever moves easily and all of the previous rough running of the engine has gone away. Jannock now has an engine that is smooth as a very smooth thing. Pity I didn't identify this some time ago as I might have saved the expense of a new drive plate. As we approached Wilton locks, the number of boats moored on the lock landing lead me to believe we had a long wait ahead, however there was no-one waiting for the locks. Whilst preparing the bottom lock, another boat came along and so we had someone to share with again. At every lock we met another boat (or two) descending and so it was a very speedy ascent. Our partners were stopping above the top lock for a drink in the pub but we continued on to our chosen mooring for this week. The car fetch on the Di Blasi was made in good time with the machine topping 36mph along the A5 at one point. I do believe it is almost run in now. Boat secured, we headed home with another pile of washing. Roll on next weekend.

1st September 2007 Welton to Gibralter (Stockton) Farm
H.C. 8475 - 8481 Distance 8 miles 9 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arrived at Jannock just before 10, opened up and moved her up to the bridge to load the Di Blasi and Ken's generator. Set off into the tunnel following a very slow boat and met four southbound boats within.
Arrived at the top lock to join a queue of three boats and so waited our turn. Ken was already there operating the bottom gate paddles and Claudia arrived as we entered the lock. The passage down the flight was slow meeting southbound boats in every lock and having one lock turned on us. Once through the bottom lock we were hailed by John on Black Pig as we passed and promised to meet up with him when we arrive for blacking in one months time. We then unloaded Ken's generator and invited them both aboard for lunch with us.
Set off down to the junction and turned left across the puddle banks. There were no vacant moorings in Braunston at all as we passed down through. A steady run to Wigrams was followed by a fast transit of the Calcut 3 sharing with a Sea Otter. Finally moored and went to fetch the car from Daventry before heading home to feed the cats.

8th September 2007 Gibralter (Stocton) to Radford
H.C.8481 - 8485 Distance 6 miles 17 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We had a late start from home because we had to help Matthew with a catering problem. He wanted some crayfish for a BBQ that he was going to tonight (Sat). He borrowed a couple of nets from my friend Ian, baited them and placed them in the river Thame, and brought home more than 90 crayfish this morning. Consequently we didn't arrive at the boat until after 12.
We set off down the Stockton flight, passing solo through every lock and completed all 8 in 50 minutes. Stopped opposite the Blue Lias pub and filled with water from a very fast tap. If only all waterpoints had that sort of pressure available.
No-one home aboard Virgo when we passed. We shared two of the next eleven locks by catching up the boat in front of us. Finally moored for the night alongside the woods between bridge 33 and Radford bottom lock. Predicted highlights for tomorrow include Tescos in Leamington and Hatton flight before meeting up with Niel R. in the Navigation at Kingswood in the evening.

9th September 2007 Radford to Kingswood
H.C. 8485 - 8492 Distance 13 miles 24 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Today we have mostly been working locks!
We set off at 9 am and immediately passed through Radford bottom lock. We then meandered through a sleepy Leamington with only the meeting with Terry Streeter and Chris on a southbound Arun breaking the monotony. We stopped at Tescos for a bottlebank and provision stop before continuing onto the Cape. We stopped for lunch prior to entering the bottom lock at Hatton at 12:50. We completed the flight solo in 3 hours exactly and so stopped for tea and cake above the top lock to celebrate.
Continued on through a very wet Shrewley tunnel and moored just past the junction at Kingswood. After a very good meal at the Navigation we met with Neil Ratcliffe to collect a new copy of Nich's volume 1 that I had ordered on t'internet. A very good day and I am very pleased with our Hatton time. Tomorrow we are entering new territory as Jannock has never done the Southern Stratford before.

10th September 2007 Kingswood to Wilmecote
H.C.8492 - 8498 Distance 9 miles 18 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda
Fruit of the day - Damsons

After an enjoyable evening spent in the Navigation Inn, we were dismayed to awake to cold grey skies this morning. We reversed back to Kingswood junction and turned left towards the Stratford canal. I eased Jannock through the narrow ex-lock and then swung her right round to moor up at the water point to fill the tank. We then set off down through the 18 locks passing through some very pleasant countryside, what a delightful canal, especially as the sun had come out and was very pleasant. Shame about the strong wind that accompanied it, this became Brenda's excuse for the occasional bump when entering locks. She returned from her trip to the Lawsonford rubbish skip loaded up with damsons. The closeness of the locks enforced a lunch break in a pretty sunlit wood. It made sandwiches taste all the better.

Some of the barrel roofed lock cottages have been converted into very desirable residences along this stretch. At one of the locks near Preston Bagot a duck waddled up to the lock wall adjacient to where Brenda was stood on the rear deck and started quacking at her. She engaged it in conversation and it kept quacking back as if it understood what she was saying.
We stopped just after Wooton Warren aquaduct and picked some off-side blackberries for our tea. Another excuse for the poor quality of steering was a prop full of fishing line which G. spent ages untangling. It caught all of the early autumn fallout. We finally moored for the night in the countryside between 57 and 58. We should make it to Stratford tomorrow.

11th September 2007 Wilmecote to Stratford upon Avon
H.C. 8498 - 8503 Distance 4.5 miles 16 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda
Fruit of the day - Yellow Plums

We left our peaceful rural overnight mooring and travelled the one and a half miles to the first lock of the day where we were second in the queue to descend. We then started the 16 lock descent down into Stratford and I soon found that I was helping both the boat in front as well as the one behind.
When we passed the Stratford Court base I was amazed at the number of craft not in use.
We arrived at Bancroft basin and tied up on a pontoon mooring and immediately had a drink with the crew of Blue Moon, the boat that had been travelling down the locks in front of us. We amused ourselves by spending most of the afternoon watching the tourists trying to climb onto the boats to have their photos taken. We went shopping in Stratford this afternoon and went for an Avon bank walk this evening.

Jannock was here!
12th September 2007 Stratford to Wilmecote
H.C. 8503 - 8507 Distance 3.5 miles 15 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda
No fruit today as we are still inundated with the last three days worth.

We awoke this morning to the sound of boats departing from the basin. Brenda went off to do some more re-provisioning in Stratford whilst I did an oil and filter change on Jannock.
When she returned we invited our neighbours in for coffee before deciding to head north again to Wilmcote. We set off up the first three locks with me cycling ahead to set the next whilst Brenda brought Jannock up the current lock. As we left the second lock I found that a South African hire boater had closed the paddle and turned the next lock against us, not very friendly as it was almost empty when I had opened the paddle. I explained to him about the importance of checking that no one was approaching before turning a lock and got an appology from him.
On arrival at Wilmcote we walked down past Mary Arden's house and used Mary Arden's village shop as well as testing Mary Arden's pub and decided to return to the latter for an evening meal. No fruit today as we are still inundated with the last three days worth.

13th September 2007 Wilmecote to Preston Bagot
H.C. 8075 - 8511 Distance 6 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda
Fruit of the day - Blackberries and Apples

Last nights meal in the Mary Arden Inn was superb. Consequently we awoke late this morning and had a very leisurely start after inventing the traditional boaters breakfast of 'scumbled eggs'.
Brenda decided that feeding the toast she burnt, whilst preparing said breakfast, to the ducks actually reduced our carbon footprint because we were locking up said carbon in said ducks!
We finally set off at 10:15 and almost immediately stopped to pick apples from an offside tree. They we obviously cooking apples as they didn't taste as good as they looked so the hunt was then on for some blackberries to accompany them. We were passed by two other boats as we harvested blackberries from another offside bush.
We continued on to Wooten Warren where we stopped for a pumpout at the Anglo Welsh base. Not cheap at £16.00 but I have not found anywhere suitable for a self pumpout on this stretch. The AW lad who serviced our needs was excellent and told us that they used a Swarfiga product to clean the boats. He then let is have a sample as we didn't want any blue added to the tank.

After visiting the very disappointing craft farm there, we left Wooten Warren and headed north to Preston Bagot where we stopped above the second lock. I then cleaned Jannock's roof with the recommended product and was well impressed with the result, so much so that I then proceded to completely repaint the roof as well due to there being plenty of sunshine and no wind or overhanging trees. Meanwhile Brenda created a superb apple and BlackBerry pie for dessert after our dinner. I have placed the baited crayfish net into the river that runs beside lock 37 to see if I can catch any. Might have more local produce for dinner tomorrow night if we're lucky. Visited the Crabmill this evening, expensive posh food but an excellent local beer, UBU by the Purity Brewing Company at Wooton Warren. Superb!

14th September 2007 Preston Bagot to Kingswood
H.C. 8511 - 8516 Distance 4 miles 15 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Well, I must have discovered the only river in the UK that doesn't have any crayfish in it! Oh well, better luck next time. This morning we awoke to our first really grey day. We set off towards Kingswood and it even started raining for about 5 minutes, not long enough to get really wet but we did don coats believing it was going to last longer. The journey was fairly un-eventful making it to the Navigation 14 day moorings by 2 PM. Brenda created lunch, a veritable feast of last nights leftovers, before I spent a couple of hours `ackling`. I did a Di Blasi run back to get the car and then, whilst we were eating our evening meal, we were treated to a wonderful flying display by a whole squadron of bats immediately outside our window. Day trip to Warwick tomorrow before going to Blue Lias in the evening.

15th September 2007 Kingswood Junction
H.C. 8516 - 8517 Distance 0.5 miles NO Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We awoke to a fine sunny morning and so after breakfast we went to Warwick in the car. Did the market and hit Sainsbury's on the way back and returned to Jannock for lunch.
After lunch I reversed Jannock the 300m to the winding point, winded and then reversed back to the mooring we started from. This was to give me access to the starboard side for paint maintenance purposes.
We went to Blue Lias this evening to attend the GiG there. A great evening as usual, with another play wot Bill wrote acted out by true amateurs. He brought the house down by announcing that he had to go and rescue "pissy up a true." They don't write em like that any more.

22nd September 2007 Kingswood to Br.10 Dickens Heath
H.C. 8517 - 8522 Distance 8 miles 19 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arrived at Jannock after 10am and then moved her round through the Lapworth link lock into lock 19 where we ascended using a single paddle whilst I unloaded our stuff and the Di Blasi from the car in the adjacent carpark. Once loaded we set of up the Lapworth locks following "the Andrew" (now in private hands having been decommissioned by the Navy) We were tail end Charlie of a group of 5 boats heading up and we only met 2 boats descending the flight. I managed to say hello to Neil R. as we passed his boat.
At Warings Green we met a hireboat whose crew wished to moor for a visit to the Blue Bell Cider House, it was a pity that we were actually in the place they wanted to moor and they did not appear to understand that they would have to move out of our way before we could grant them access to their desired mooring place. Their steerer successfully got his bows to miss us but forgot his stern and subsequently gave us a hefty clout. We suspect from all the cans and bottles evident on the boat roof that a visit to a hostelry will only make matters worse.
We finally moored for the night near the winding point before Shirley ready for an early passage through to Kings Norton junction tomorrow and dined on a beef stew created in the trusty slow cooker.

23rd September 2007 Shirley to Hopwood
H.C. 8524 - 8527 Distance 8 miles NO Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We rose early and set off just after 8:15, immediately passed through the Shirley lift bridge and then breakfasted on the move in two shifts. The beauty about cruising this stretch early on a Sunday morning is most of the local oiks are still abed. However we did pass through all manner of flotsam and jetsam between Shirley and Kings Norton which served as evidence of their existence. Passed Blue Moon moored at Lions boatyard, obviously occupied (unlocked) but no sign of life. We turned south at the junction and headed for Wasts Hill tunnel. The damp state of the Northbound craft prompted me to don my waterproof jacket and Brenda to take up her normal position in the bows armed with a whistle. We have a system, you see, when there is a lot of water coming from the roof she blows the whistle from inside the open front door and I then take avoiding action so that I do not cop the lot whilst stood prone on the rear deck. It works well and generally takes about six seconds after the whistle for the downpour to appear at the blunt end.

We met two Northbound boats inside the tunnel, the first had his solid fuel stove working that filled the tunnel with thick acrid smoke, I'm glad I wasn't steering his boat as the draught would have been blowing it all in his face for the entire tunnel. When we appeared out of the southern portal the sky was a lot darker than when we'd entered 30 minutes beforehand.
We took on water before the bridge at Hopwood and then decided to visit the Hopwood Arms for lunch. This establishment has been completely re-furbished since my last visit having no separate bars any more and concentrating on being a food pub instead. It was heaving with customers today. Luckily Brenda found an empty table whilst I got the drinks, so we ordered our food soon after we sat down. It was almost an hour before the food arrived but it was very well prepared for pub grub, Brenda said that it was the best cooked steak she'd had for a long time. On completion of the main course we enquired of the waitress how long a dessert order was taking until delivery and she replied 10 minutes. Ok, so we ordered a dessert but got up and cancelled the order after waiting for 25 minutes, I paid for the main course and we left. The waiter accepting payment stated "I've just been into the kitchen and we're two chefs short today". That's funny because I'd just spent almost two hours watching him go in and out of the kitchen since we'd arrived.

29th September 2007 Hopwood to NIA Birmingham
H.C. 8527 - 8529 Distance 8 miles NO Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

As we boarded the weather began to improve dramatically.
A short, quiet chug took us to central Birmingham. We moored outside the National Indoor Arena. For supper we went along Broad St. and had a delicious meal at Bombay Mix. The breads were so light, and fruit cocktail in the rice was delicious, believe it or not. We did wonder what the cuisine would be like at Bombay Mick' s. Then onto the Tap and Spile for a restorative pint and a sit down. We needed it after having negotiated the crowds in party central: the pink fluffy cowboy hats, the deeley boppers, killer stilettos, star spangled hotpants and a Union Flag tutu.... hang on, that's all girls! We weren't much impressed by the many stretched limos and the pink humvee, BUT we rather fancied the vehicle operated by The Red Hot Limo. Co.
How cool to be delivered to an event by a disco-fied fire engine complete with hunky crew? Now, about that sit down...

30th September 2007 Doing some BCN
H.C. 8529 - 8537 Distance 21 miles 6 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We set off after breakfast along the mianline towards Smethwick junction where we locked up the three locks with the assistance of a local who brought his own windlass. He advised us against taking Jannock down the engine branch as he said the residential moorers down the end were not very visitor friendly. We continued past the pumping station, through Summit tunnel and then under the M5 towards Oldbury junction.
Note to self :- remember this route for when it's raining as you spend a lot of time under the canopy of the motorway and it is far less boring than the new mainline.

As we continued along the old mainline I was amazed at how clear the water is. You can easily see all the fish, shopping trollies, motorscooters, bicycles and sometimes the canal bed as you are passing along.
At Tipton junction we turned into the Blackcountry museum but soon reversed out again as there was a boat rally there and the arm was full. Down to factory junction where we turned right and descended the 3 locks onto the new mainline. At Pudding Green junction we turned into the Wednesbury Old Canal and then forked right into the Ridgeacre branch above Ryders Green locks.

The water up here was a vivid green colour with black and orange sludge fetched up as we passed. It got very narrow and shallow before Swan bridge but we winded at the head of navigation and returned along a very much smellier canal. Good job Brenda has got a 'Basingstoke Airfreshener curry' cooking in the slow cooker in the rear cabin, it did exactly the same job with the Ridgeacre smell as it did with the Basy last year.
We arrived back at the NIA at 5pm ready to receive visitors in the evening.

1st October 2007 Doing more of the BCN
H.C. 8537 - 8539 Distance 3 miles NO Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Don and Pat

Our guests stayed the night and so we planned today as a guest entertainment sort of a day. We set off around the Oozells St. loop and then followed that with a trip around Icknield Port loop (can you see the Heron in the photo, right) followed by the Soho Loop. As we were completing the last, Brenda and Pat commented that they liked the stately home in the park, until we pointed out to them that they were looking at part of Winson Green prison, then they changed their minds. Back into Brum to moor once again and walk to China town for a wonderful 'eat as much as you like' lunch for under a fiver a head.

Then the girls hit the market and came back with the EEC beef and lamb mountain. Luckily, our guests agreed to take the haul home with them and freeze it for us until we arrive back. Setting off towards Braunston tomorrow ready for blacking next weekend.

2nd October 2007 NIA (Birmingham) to Catherine de Barnes
H.C.8539 - 8545 Distance 10 miles 25 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Today has been a mixed bag which has got worse as we get nearer the bottom.
Graham reversed out of Oozells St. loop with great panache and we moved onto the water point at the top of Farmers Bridge. The tap was so slow that I was emptying the tank, by having my shower, faster than it was filling.
We followed a couple of other boats down the flight. The chap in front was half raising a top paddle before his wife had moved the boat out of the lock and before the bottom gate had been closed. Graham questioned why he was doing this and was told that it helped 'flush er out' and then when she bumped anything he could bo€€ock her for fun. (G. had better not try anything like that on Jannock!)
As Graham prepared a lock next to a building site, he noticed the builders had an LPG generator running inside the building to boil their kettle. He commented to a couple of the workers about the danger of CO and was shown the missing glass panels where the wrong size windows had been fitted. As Jannock passed through the lock a sliding window was opened and the generator was moved close to it.

Ashted tunnel was our next event. The water level was very high which made the tunnel roof low. Despite my best efforts paint was scraped off of about half of the length of the boat. A chap at the southern portal was sawing bits off his cruiser in an attempt to get through. He looked non-plus'd when Graham suggested he lowered the pound level by letting some water out.
Then the horrid event at bridge 88E (Small Heath - Acker Trust Basin) where 4 youths who were hiding under the bridge on the non towpath side started pelting the boat with stones. Graham took a picture and they scurried up on top of the bridge and continued shouting abuse and hurling large pebbles at him. Although most of their aiming was rubbish they still inflicted more damage to the paintwork. We have raised a minor crime complaint with West Midlands Police and obtained a reference number so that we can send in the photos he took.
We moored for the night in Catherine de Barnes and when Graham got the paint out to start repairing some of the damage it started raining. Let's hope tomorrow is a better day, Hatton in the afternoon.

3rd October 2007 Cath. de Barnes to Radford
H.C. 8545 - 8555 Distance 19 miles 28 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We started out under gloomy grey skies and drizzle. Fortunately the latter ceased by the time we made it to Knowle locks. Lunch was taken on the move after Shrewley tunnel so that we could immediately attack the descent of Hatton.
Brenda steered Jannock whilst I used the bike to ensure the locks were set ready. We finished the flight in 2 hours and 50 mins travelling solo all the way and only meeting one boat ascending. I fancied stopping overnight at the Cape as I have never been to that establishment but all of the visitor moorings were full, mostly by boats we recognised as still being there from when we last passed almost one month ago. We passed through Lemington and moored for the night out in the countryside just before the winding point at Radford.
While Brenda prepared dinner, I switched on the BlackBerry and was totally shocked to learn of the death of Mike Stevens. What a terrible end to an otherwise satisfactory day. Our thoughts are with Wendy and the family.

4th October 2007 Radford to Birdingbury Wharf (Stockton)
H.C.8555 - 8560 Distance 5.5 miles 20 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We loosed off quickly as we realised another boat was heading lockwards and we'd be able to share. They had locked alone when we arrived and so we shared with another that arrived whilst I was prepping the lock. The next lock saw us sharing with boat #1 until they pulled over at the Two Boats. Here another boat pulled out from the mooring and shared with is to the top of Stockton where we pulled over early so that I could repair the Ashted tunnel damage to the paintwork whilst the weather was kind. Once the painting was completed, I went and fetched the car from Hopwood and moved it to Braunston ready for tomorrow.
Whilst I was away Brenda, having completed her chores, took her book out onto the front deck and enjoyed the sunshine until it went down behind the small trees opposite. When she returned inside the cabin the thermostat was reading 24 degrees. After dinner we wandered down to the Boat for a drink and admired the wonderful artwork atop the bar showing a map of the Grand Union - the best canal map we've seen for quite a while.

5th October 2007 Stockton to Braunston
H.C. 8560 - 8563 Distance 7 miles 3 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arose to a lovely autumn misty morning, after a very cold night under clear skies, and set off towards Calcutt. Just before we arrived at the locks I got a phone call from Roger at Braunston Boats asking whether or not we were bringing Jannock in for blacking. I explained where we were and that we had been told to be there by Friday afternoon, ready for the work to be done on Saturday and Sunday. I said that we should arrive there by lunchtime. He explained that they would have liked her there this morning and he'd see us when we get there. As we ascended the lowest lock at Calcutt, the boat ascending the next lock up indicated that another was descending the top lock and so left his lock with the top gates open and manoeuvred into Calcutt boats service area only too be followed in by the descending boat. After a few minutes waiting with little happening in front of us, I walked up to learn what had happened and then closed the top gates and turned the lock. Don't you just hate it when things like that happen when you have a target to meet?

Up through the locks and we turned left at Wigrams and set off towards our appointment. We took turns steering whilst we packed all of our belongings ready for a quick unload as we passed the car which was parked by the road bridge in Braunston. Even though we had a deadline, we always slow to tickover for moored boats but this did not stop one miserable old g!t who was moored on the puddlebanks having a shout at Brenda as we crawled past. He annoyed her so much that she decided maybe the next compilation album, after Cut and Pastery, should be a collection of stories about meetings with miserable boaters entitled 'Grumpy Old Canals'. I volunteered the Calcutt lock episode as the first contribution. Once unloaded, Jannock was delivered to Roger for blacking and we walked back to the car pausing only to eat lunch in the sunny Stophouse garden, chat to the Anglo+Canadian couple aboard Festina Lente' who were interested to hear about Cutweb and also speak to Pat aboard Fair Fa only to learn that Sheila has just come out of hospital after an operation and was not aboard. We hope you are better soon Sheila.

13th October 2007 Braunston to Blisworth
H.C. 8563 - 8571 Distance 18 miles 12 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Margaret

We arrived at Braunston accompanied by Margaret, our neighbour, and undid all the packing away that we had done before delivering Jannock for blacking. We then started up the Braunston flight following a pair of boats that had just beaten us to the bottom lock. As we were leaving this lock, another single boat approached and so we waited for them at the next. Out of the top lock in 105 minutes because Brenda had walked ahead setting them ready. We found her stood on the bridge, below the top lock, engaged in conversation with the local BW supervisor. He seemed to share her views on the effects of BW pricing increases on the popularity of the canals as a leisure activity because the senior management are not considering the importance of the network as an historical artifact.
Through a very dry tunnel and then shared the Wilton flight with another boat as our Braunston partners turned onto the Leicester route. We passed Shepherd Moon moored just below the top lock with no sign of life aboard. Lunch was taken, on the move, once we had completed the locks whilst travelling alongside the M1 which reminded me that I have spent far too much time travelling up and down it recently. Roll on next Friday (19th) when I officially become a Vodafone pensioner as I am taking early retirement as part of my redundancy.
We passed Nackered Navvy moored up at Bugbrooke, again no sign of life aboard. Might be tonight's rugby having this Marie Celeste effect. Our favourite 14 day moorings, near Gayton before the Northampton arm junction, were full of continuous moorers who appear to have been moved off of their previous offside position just south of where they are now so we had to continue on to find another location. I used the Di Blasi to do a car shuffle, meeting John P. (nb Black Pig) for a chat at Braunston in the process and then we all headed home in the car to find our dinner was cooked and waiting for us when we got there.

Margaret wrote :-
Weather - Fine
Food - Wonderful as usual. Nice dish of Pain Brule'
Wildlife - Kingfishers
Fellow boaters - a 'swift' Whirlwind was overtaken at a snails pace
Experience of the day - No doubt about it, the tunnel
Boating tradition re-visited - Cake (Braunston top) lock with muffins all round, fellow boaters very appreciative and promised to keep up the tradition. They did have a story about drinking pink champagne on their boat, a new tradition?
Sport of the day - England v France this evening. We passed a boat load of England supporters heading for a pub where the game was being shown. They were already getting into the spirit!
Religious significance - Eid today but no sign of anyone celebrating!

20th October 2007 Blisworth to Cosgrove
H.C. 8571 - 8576 Distance 9 miles 8 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Margaret

As yesterday was my last day working for Vodafone, I awoke this morning feeling great and immediately set about making Brenda’s breakfast. It felt unusual strapping the Di Blasi into a Zafira instead of the Touran, all of the lashing points are in different places. We took our neighbour, Margaret, with us to the boat again today as she loves going through tunnels and having done Braunston with us last week, she didn’t want to miss Blisworth.
Jannock was very cold inside from last night’s frost but soon warmed up once we had all the curtains and doors open. What a lovely sunny, wind free day today has been. As we approached the northern end of Blisworth tunnel, there was a boat moored just outside. When I enquired if all was OK the steerer commented that they had tied up to avoid following a very slow day boat. Once into the dark, we could see the lights ahead and very soon became tail end Charlie on a procession of three very slow boats. On clearing the southern portal we discovered that it was not the dayboat at the head of the queue holding us up but an Alvechurch hireboat. The dayboat was happily moored at the lock having cleared the tunnel well before the rest of us appeared. We stopped and did a water fill outside the Boat Inn and then passed down through the top lock on our own, following the dayboat and the Alvechurch craft who were sharing very slow locks ahead of us.
After the second lock down the dayboat decided to turn and go back up so the Alvechurch boat waited for us to catch-up and share the next lock. They were complete novices with a loose child but we soon had them in training with me going ahead to prepare and Margaret and Mrs Alvechurch working the boats through the locks. Out of the bottom of Stoke Bruerne flight and they stopped for a water fill whilst we had lunch on the move. Although it was still a glorious sunny afternoon it was starting to get a bit cold in the shade of the trees by the time we reached Cosgrove lock. A lot of boats were moored out in the countryside with their occupants busy rigging satellite dishes and TV aerials ready for the rugby tonight. (South Africa have a 9 point lead as I type this) We passed through and then found a suitable place to stop. I did a Di Blasi run back to fetch the new car and then we locked up and headed home.

I am in disgrace as I have cancelled the Autumn Soddit cruise in order to have a between-jobs holiday in the Canary Islands.

31st October 2007 Cosgrove to Stoke Hammond
H.C. 8576 - 8581 Distance 13 miles 2 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Jannock has 3 days cruising to get back to her own winter mooring and as we have utilised all of our cat-feeding resources, we have decided to complete these as individual days out.
It was a cold start today, at least much colder than we‘ve been used to whilst we’ve been away, and so we arrived at Cosgrove and opened up a very chilly boat. All was shipshape aboard with no unexpected surprises and so we were soon off heading south through the MK level. Very little traffic coming the other way, we only met 3 other boats moving. As we approached Great Linford we found a diesel boat selling coal and gas to the moored boats just before the bridge so we pulled over and took on diesel at 55ppl. I managed to round it up to £100 by putting 20 litres into a jerry can for topping up when we get back – Ouch! More evidence of the rising costs of boating. As we passed Willowbridge Marine, which is usually the cheapest diesel in this area, I was pleased to see they were the same price as the diesel boat had been. During the last hour travelling, the sun was becoming very low in the sky and steering was becoming difficult and so we stopped at Stoke Hammond.
Returned home via IKEA in MK, a small penance to pay for a great day boating.

1st November 2007 Stoke Hammond to Marsworth
H.C. 8581 - 8588 Distance 10 miles 15 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Gary

Today we had Gary as extra crew. We started the day with the three locks at Soulbury and then spent the rest of the day slowly working our way up the individual locks towards Marsworth. Another wonderful day for boating, with slightly less wind than yesterday, marred only by the low sun in the afternoon making south westerly travel very difficult. Once through Horton lock, the trusty bike came out for the rest of the run to Marsworth. I must try and remember to get back onto the boat after the Cheddington swing bridge as that is a long bumpy cycle ride to Seabrook locks. I do believe I am now learning the intricacies of all of these GU locks having been up and down them several times now. I am learning which paddles can be used and which are better left alone to give Jannock a smooth ride up staying against the side of the lock without ropes. I am also developing that knack for knowing the right time to drop the offside paddles and cross over to open the single gate without having to wait for the levels to equalise. We finally moored for the night at Marsworth, one boat away from Pengalanty although there was no sign of life aboard. Home via Tescos tonight. Slowly getting sorted at home and hope to be back at Bourne End for Sunday evening.

4th November 2007 Marsworth to Bourne End
H.C. 8588 - 8594 Distance 9 miles 19 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

After two days at home sorting stuff, we finally made it back to Jannock for the last part of our homeward journey. On arrival at Marsworth we found that Jannock was now immediately behind Pengalanty as the other boat had moved off. Had a chat to Allan who appears to have damaged some ribs by snapping a windlass and falling onto a balance beam – Ouch! I don’t think 2007 has been a very good year for your health Allan, I hope you are recovered soon.
The trusty bike came out for the Marsworth flight with me going ahead and setting the next lock whilst Brenda manoeuvred Jannock into the current one. Once out of the flight I was expecting to see all the Bulbourne 14 day moorings full of winter moorers but it was totally empty. Maybe that is an indication of the reluctance to pay the increased BW mooring rates. When we arrived at Cowroast lock I was amazed at the clarity of the water, you could see the bottom clearly for about ¼ mile either side of the lock. I believe BW are extracting water from the spring there to make up for the lack of water coming from the reservoirs due to another blight of blue-green algae. As we continued down through Dudswell locks it became obvious that the boat ascending Cowroast that we’d had to wait for was totally ignoring the BW requests to leave certain locks empty. What was more surprising was the gent cutting the hedge alongside his ex-lock cottage hadn’t noticed they had left his lock full either and he’s the one who’ll end up with a flooded cellar.
Down through Northchurch into Berko without stopping, only pausing whilst the boat descending lock 53 winded and came back up before we could enter the lock. He was turning as they’d just learnt about lock 60 being closed for repairs. Finally arrived back at Bourne End about 3:30pm to be greeted by Julian and Caro and treated to a nice cup of tea before being given a lift back to Marsworth to collect the car.
The two weeks since I finished at Voda-ville have really flown by, have to report to the new job tomorrow. Oh well, freedom over, back to the grindstone.

Here endeth 2007 - Back next year!

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