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2008 Trip Reports

onward to 2009 report
27th January 2008 Winkwell winding point
H.C.8597 - 8599 Distance 1 mile 6 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Julian and Caro

Our annual 'turn round' trip to get us pointing North ready for the off. This year we had Julian and Caro assisting us through the 6 locks and Winkwell swingbridge in lovely spring sunshine (A respite from the winter weather which has been grey, wet and windy)f

12th April 2008 Bourne End to Dudswell
H.C. 8599 - 8602 Distance 4.5 miles 12 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Saturday morning and the day we set off towards the top of the Rufford Arm to be near Preston. I refilled the water system and generally made Jannock ready for the off whilst Brenda went to Hemel Hempstead for some essential retail therapy. On her return, we lunched with Julian before setting off Northbound.
The first few locks on this stretch require emptying once you have passed up through them and Sod's Law dictated that we met Southbound craft immediately after we had emptied the last lock and moved on.

The trusty lockwheeling bike has had a winter overhaul and was used all afternoon. We stopped at Bank Mill for a chat with Debbi and Simon on Tiami before attacking the Berko locks. At Gas 1 Lock (51) some friendly Southbound boater had set a boobytrap which I fell for. They had left the bottom paddle fully up restrained only by the anti vandal lock. I didn't spot that the pawl was not engaged and so it fell with an almighty crash once I had undone the padlock

After Northchurch I cycled ahead to try and find a suitable overnight stop but the combination of the close railway and Dudswell bottom lock being set with a gate open persuaded me to continue through both locks and moor above. Here we found Fairfa moored as well and so we spent a pleasant social evening with Pat and Sheila.

13th April 2008 Dudswell to Marsworth
H.C. 8602 - 8605 Distance 6 miles 9 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

On the Tring summit level we saw 6, or even 7, Kingfishers. It must be spring. Their plumage was the brightest we've ever seen.
We then treated ourselves to a wonderful Sunday lunch at the Fisherman's in Marsworth having passed down the flight at a good rate. No cross winds today!
Heavy showers were forecast for the weekend, the first started as we arrived back at Jannock for a cuppa after lunch. Refreshment taken, the sun returned for our journey home - Perfick.

20th April 2008 Marsworth to Church Lock, Slapton
H.C. 8605 - 8609 Distance 3.5 miles 9 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

As Larry Grayson used to say "What a grey day!". The weather was late autumn whilst nature was doing it's best to get spring started. Trees are in bud, a little blossom is venturing out on some, frogs were bonking and we saw our first duckling brood.
How much do you bet next weekend will be wet and very windy? Soddit cruise.

26th April 2008 Slapton to Gt. Lindford (that'll be Milton Keynes then)
Spring SODDIT Cruise Day1

H.C.8609 - 8616 Distance 14 miles 7 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter

We set off at 9:30 after a short, fruitless fishing session and immediately passed solo through Grove lock. Once through Leighton we did the same at Linslade and then met an ascending, fully laden working pair on exit. At Soulbury top lock we shared with a Wyvern boat that a young couple had hired for the weekend.It was their first lock without boatyard assistance so we worked down through Soulbury and Stoke Hammond with them before we stopped for lunch.

After an excellent lunch we continued on until we finally moored for the night at Great Lindford visitor moorings. Dinner was followed by several games of boule-in-the-park before Soddit commenced.

Ian :- Cap'n Pakwash and his intrepid crew set off for their 2008 spring Soddit and non-contact fishing weekend. Weather is dry and sunny. Cap'n Pakwash is in his element helping two - yes two boats through some locks. What a teacher.
Great catastrophe!! beer box runs out on Saturday evening. Never happened before. It must be 'half pint' drinking too many halves. The Cap'n and crew look very smart in their designer T shirts.

27th April 2008 Gt. Lindford to Cosgrove.
Spring SODDIT Cruise Day2

H.C.8616 - 8617 Distance 4 miles 0 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter

A very short day notable for warm and sunny weather and no fish. The frustrating morning fishing session was abandonned and we set off on the short run to Cosgrove. Once moored we had lunch and then packed away and tidied before setting off on the drive home.

4th May 2008 Cosgrove to Stoke Bruerne.
H.C.8617 - 8621 Distance 6.5 miles 8 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Matt, Simon and Pheadra.

Matt - A frantic start to our Bank Holiday weekend cruise involving map reading that led to the middle of no-where. However the middle of no-where was where we needed to be so it's all good. A very sedate cruise led to a flight of seven locks
These were easily navigated with the 'A' team (me!) being on board. Many of the usual eejits were present today including the Finance Director of British Waterways - mother loves him, believe me.
Moving swiftly on past all the usual eating and drinking antics leaves us at our destination for the day, Stoke Bruerne.
Financial discussions initiated at this point which coincidentaly is the same point that I passed out in the back cabin. An awesome meal was ingested at The Boat Inn, interesting components of which include my snails in garlic butter and an ice cream shambles. mmmmm!
A game of Soddit concluded the day which I won with the last hand ..... and Simon lost. Looking forward to tomorrow.

5th May 2008 Stoke Bruerne to Braunston
H.C. 8621 - 8630 Distance 18 miles 13 Locks.

Crew - Crew - Graham, Brenda, Matt, Simon and Pheadra.

We started the morning by immediately passing through Blisworth tunnel boatwash. We continued on through Bugbrooke, Heyford and Weedon in brightening weather with little to comment on. We shared Buckby locks with an Alvechurch hireboat, Graham steered whilst Brenda and the kids worked the locks. Matt (Yes! he of the 'A' team) successfully trashed Jannock's lockwheeling bike by performing bunny hops on it on the lockside and bending the frame so much that the pedals now hit the ground when you tried to ride it along.
Through Braunston tunnel and down the locks, during which Brenda got a bee stuck down her bra, still sharing with the same Alvechurch crew, who were introduced to the Jannock tradition of cake at Braunston top lock - why break up a good team when you've got one? A social time was had in Braunston meeting John P. and Kate, Malcolm, Barbara, Ken and Claudia.

Phaedra (translated from the entries shown either side ) - The day started early in the morning, around 9am to be exact. We took our breakfast which included the typical ingredients of an English breakfast; toast and butter, bacon, sausages, tomatoes and omelette. After stocking up on energy we carried on with our trip Northwards. Fortunately (for me) there weren’t many locks on the way so we spent most of our time sitting/ laying in the sun enjoying the lovely view. That changed a bit when we had to pass through a long, dark tunnel which kept leaking and dripping on us like a broken toilet at every opportunity. After we found our way out of the tunnel and in the sun again it was time to deal with a few locks. Unfortunately things didn’t start great. As we were making our way towards the first lock a vicious bee decided to sting unsuspecting Brenda - also designated driver – who lost control of the boat and collided with nearby walls, bridges and/or boats. She then had to strip off so that the bee could find its way out of her top, leaving her in a rather undignified position in front of many other fellow boaters…It is time to go now so I’ll end this by saying, everything ended well, we got through the locks and Brenda didn’t suffer any allergic reactions. In the evening we had a lovely dinner and desert with biscuits rice pudding and malteasers

6th May 2008 Braunston to Hillmorton
Northern Oxford Canal
H.C. 8630 - 8633 Distance 6.5 miles

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Lit up tunnel at Newbold

We spoiled a beautiful morning by deciding that a pump-out was necessary, so down to the junction and turn so that the correct side of the boat was presented tow-path side. Pump-out complete and then up to the marina entrance to wind and return whence we came. Then it was sunshine and flowers all the way, a serene cruise punctuated by meeting a newbie hirer at an awkward bridgehole - luckily I was in reverse and in control whilst she panicked and did her best to break the leg of the chap who jumped ship to try and avoid a head-on with the brickwork. We shared our sandwich lunch with a swan who would take a beakfull of bread and let out huge belches under water. Charming! but it could be how the jacuzzi was thought up.

9th May 2008 Embarkation at Hillmorton
Northern Oxford Canal

Crew - Graham and Brian

We arrived at Jannock late Friday evening and decided to sit out on the towpath in an attempt to stay cooler. You know it has been a hot day (25degrees+) and that your eyesight is getting poor when - you didn't notice that the person cycling towards you on the towpath is :-
a, a man
b, totally starkers - he didn't even have any 'luggage' with him.

10th May 2008 Hillmorton to Springwood Haven
Northern Oxford Canal
H.C. 8633 - 8641 Distance 23 miles 4 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We heard our first cuckoo of the year and ate wild garlic for the first time ever today.
We set off from the top of Hillmorton locks just as the rush hour was starting. No issues passing down the three locks and then had a clear run to just before Stretton where we met a southbound NB Quiddich amongst the landslides. We paused briefly for a quick chat with Will before continuing on to negotiate the swingbridge at Rose narrowboats. We arrived at Sutton stop to find ourselves second in the queue for the lock. Successfully powered Jannock around the tight bend to join the Northbound Coventry canal.

Graham's favourite bridges
Brenda's wild garlic hunt

We proceeded North through Bedworth and Nuneaton and finally moored for the night in the woods just up from Springwood Haven marina. Whilst en-route, between bridges 24 and 27 we were following a tug pushing an empty barge. In order to avoid this pair, a Southbound boat became grounded on the inside of a bend and so we took a rope and pulled him off backwards, much to the disgust of the newly hired Springwood craft that appeared around the corner, following him.

Brenda prepared our evening meal, incorporating the wild garlic she had picked from close to where we were moored, whilst I went off on the Di Blasi to collect our car from Hillmorton. We eat on the front deck and enjoyed the song of an overhead nightingale whilst watching the bats skim the waters surface for their supper.

11th May 2008 Springwood Haven to Alvecote Marina
H.C. 8641 - 8647 Distance 8 miles 11 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

As we moved off we became aware of some heavy duty vegetation management had occurred on the off-side. What a luxury to be able to see around corners without having to peer through willow curtains. How nice to be able to see approaching hazards and not to have to hang onto your sunhat and avoid having your eyes poked out by low branches. Around Atherstone the heavy scents of oilseed rape were replaced by lilac blossom. Delicious!

Oilseed rape in full flower
The ladies en-portage

On Atherstone flight we met a couple of ladies - Brenda named them Dotty and Lettuce because it suited them. They were in portage mode, and having to stop at each lock for something. Two ladies, two cameras so every combination of photo had to be posed for. They had to stop for their 'second breakfast', 'a bit of snap' and also a rest. Maps had to be consulted as well and so it took them a similar time to move their wheeled canoe down the towpath as it did working Jannock through the locks. We presume they finally got waterbourne as we didn't see them again.

Today's weather and countryside was all the ad-men at the English Tourist board could wish for; mind you they never show traditional British sunburn do they?

23rd May 2008 Alvecote to Taft bridge.
H.C. 8647 - 8656 Distance 23 miles 5 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

We left Alvecote and were through Glascote locks in 70 minutes. At the top-lock, a couple from a Canaltime boat, moored just above the lock, were observing the passage of Jannock and the boat ahead of us before trying it themselves. They said they had watched the on board video twice but were still unsure what to do so we gave them some instruction. At the main road bridge just North of Fazely, we saw a Mink who passed under the bridge on the offside, in front of us, before diving into the canal and disappearing underwater.

Jaguar near Alvecote

We turned left at Fradley and followed another boat up through the locks without having to wait at all. I did have to turn all three of them though as nothing was coming South. At Shadehouse lock a young lady was taking lots of photographs of the boat in front of us and so we thought she was to do with a publicity company that was involved with that craft. However she remained there and got upset with Brenda who kept looking towards her camera, and taking pictures of her taking pictures, whilst she was trying to take her photo's. Brenda retorted to her protestation with " this is my planet too!" The photographer became very apologetic after that outburst..

Canals in springtime

On through Handsacre where we passed Granny Buttons moored outside the Plum Pudding restaurant. I hope Andrew obtained their permission for a long stay on their short term moorings. We continued on through Rugely before finally mooring for the night out in the countryside just before Taft bridge.

24th May 2008 Taft bridge to Stone
H.C. 8656 - 8661 Distance 12 miles 6 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

A very early start was prompted by Brenda being a light sleeper. At 7am she heard a strange noise and realised that Jannock's replacement lock-wheeling bike was being liberated from the roof. She yelled out of the window at the thief and sent me out to deal with him, he had obviously had a chemical breakfast. He claimed that he had found the bike, in the hedge, next to the boat. So that'll be theft by finding then! He eventually lost the will to argue his pathetic case and left once Brenda had taken his photograph (in case Rugely Police want it). Although bike security was in place, it has now been beefed up.

Our thief - Chemical Ally

After an early breakfast we set off and passed through Colwich lock without a queue even though we were following another boat. As our journey progressed the Easterly wind became stronger and stronger causing Jannock to crab along the exposed bits of canal. We finally moored up on the 14 day visitor moorings below Stone only two boats away from nb Raven (ex Dave H. a fellow Cutweb member) which now sports a motorcycle under a tarpaulin on the tugdeck.
I did a run to Alvecote on the Di Blasi to fetch the car and found the headwinds sometimes slowed the moped down by as much as 4-6 mph on the flat.

25th May 2008 Stone to Church Lawton
H.C. 8661 - 8670 Distance 16 miles 20 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Brenda :Today I shall tell you about "Nutty Noah" and "Half Nelson"
N.N. turned up at Stone locks. He watched me prepare the lock and acknowledged that Graham was on board Jannock. He then asked if we were going his way and did we want the lock. - ? -
I was given the full shipping forecast when I asked if he thought it would rain. We ascended the lock, with his help, at which point he spotted a Southbound boat approaching. He ran along the towpath to inform to "proceed into the lock that was ready for them and he'd hold his crew back", that's alright then.
Then he was called onto the boat for his breakfast. A lock or two later he returned, the subriquet was confirmed as he was now wearing a pair of ancient flappy wellies, a full length oilskin and astride what was possibly a pre-war bicycle. He then proceeded to regail us with tales of his breakfast : poached smoked cod, sauteed bacon and mushrooms etc. etc. Cornflakes anyone? :^(

Brenda : Half Nelson we first met yesterday!
He's a newbie with 3 weeks of a one month hire under his belt, and a sweet man. He has a gammy eye, knackered knees, walks with an odd gait and admits to 78 years of age. Onboard his hireboat he had his severely disabled wife. He is considering buying a boat. I hope he doesn't as he's a danger to himself, let alone his wife and other canal users.
He'd invited hints and tips from us yesterday, so when I saw him pull out in front of us as I prepared to check/empty the next lock I went on with a mind to help him. He jumped aboard his moving boat, there were no gates open and no chance of me getting there to open them unless I ran. I ran and just got the second gate open as he glided in. I suggested to him that ramming closed gates was a risky strategy. He replied that the boatyard had said he could do it. I asked if he'd been sure that the lock was empty and he said he'd seen a boat come down it some 10 minutes ago : he's not come across a leaky gate yet then.
I pointed out that he had been unable to see whether anyone was lockside. That puzzled him! He replied that "people are kind and help if they are there". And what about any children playing/sitting/standing by the balance beam when he rammed the gate, I asked? Another puzzled look so I suggested that they might get pushed or bumped into the canal, quite a fall, a shock even for a swimmer. He repeated that the boatyard had suggested he go into locks that way.
I asked him if he was a rich man as I could imagine the law suit; he said he only had his pension - so don't let him drown your nearest and dearest, you can't even sue!

working boat near Alvecote Practicing absailing at Harecastle Mink type thing in the water

We both wondered how they'd cope if he fell ill or injured himself once they buy their dream boat. His wife seemed to be boat bound. In a lock accident she'd have no chance. Please don't sell this man a boat!

Fashion tips for Late May bankholiday in England - Match your thermal vest with thermal gloves.

We performed a solo passage through Harecastle tunnel during the last window of oportunity for the day. It was like being in a fridge, it was so cold. We passed down the start of the Cheshire locks and moored up at Church Lawton where we spotted another Weasely/Minky type thing swimming in the cut.

31st May 2008 Church Lawton to Middlewich
H.C. 8670 - 8678 Distance 11 miles 28 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Matt & Stotty.

A day of two halves - we travelled quite well from Church Lawton until 12:15 when we ground to a halt in a lock queue. The problem acording to the boat in front was a working boat somewhere in front who had dropped it's rudder in a lock. After a short pause we continued on but a lot slower now as we had to travel at the speed of those in front.
Stotty : My first outing on a canal, can't have hoped for better weather, it's been great. Lots of locks to get used to, just about remember what order to do everything but then again that's only going down, not up.
The work appears to create an appetite which has been well and truly filled with a great sausage sandwich. Hope the weather holds out for tomorrow, been a great day today.

P.S. At night, Matt took a couple of swings at the dark with the bug-zapper bat, must have hit a big one - what a pop, I bet it had just finished snacking on me.

John and Gillian visited us in the evening so a few drinks were downed and the world was put to rights.

1st June 2008 Middlewich to North of Anderton Lift
H.C. 8678 - 8681 Distance 10 miles 1 Lock

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Matt & Stotty.

and Idiots!

Matt and Stotty in the rain

Matt : Rammed by hiring newbies and after asking if he could take a rope for them, Dad literally got a rope thrown at him. All of it! It wasn't secured to the boat at all.
Graham : We cruised up to Anderton hoping to find a 14 day mooring but they were all taken, loads of 48hr moorings free but nothing we could leave Jannock on for a week. On past the Anderton lift and we moored immediately after the road bridge, in the woods. I went and fetched the car, delivered the boys back to theirs, and then drove home. This is getting to be a long journey home now.

7th June 2008 Anderton to Broomedge
H.C. 8681 - 8688 Distance 18 miles 1 Lock

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Brenda : Today we have mostly been going underground through tunnels, and also waiting for our alloted times to navigate them.
A day so un-eventful that even the sun didn't bother to turn up. We met a couple of boats out of marinas, on hire. The first was a dayboat that was all over the cut, forcing us into the canopy of a tree - nothing new there but it appeared news to the crew that they should stick to one side, and pass on the 'wrong side' to the road system. We couldn't work out how they were so drunk being so close to having left the yard.
The second boat met us at their first bridge hole just out of the boatyard. We couldn't work out how they were able to be going so fast, especially as there were moored boats along all of their short journey.
It's a good thing we saw them and took avoiding action. When we moored for the night Simon joined us for supper.

8th June 2008 Broomedge to Booths Town
H.C. 8688 - 8692 Distance 14.5 miles 2 Locks

Crew - Graham Brenda Phaedra & Simon.

Simon : Jannock upset lots of fishermen having a competition by just being there and then entered new territory on the Leigh branch of the Bridgewater canal.
We cruised past the Trafford centre and then across the Barton Swing Aqueduct. The water turned rust red as we passed Worsley mines. Finally moored outside the Moorings 'pub', between Worsley and Leigh, adjacent to a marina.

Sunset at Broomedge.

Brenda : We passed a dayboat full of 'merry makers' after Worsley, as I looked back they were doing their best to right the boat. The skipper had gone for a tight turn whilst all the crew were on one side of the craft. How it didn't capsize I'll never know.
A few metres further along the cut we found the site of their lunchtime BBQ. The charcoal had been dumped in the long grass whilst still alight and was happily burning on. Graham and Simon went into fireman mode, four buckets of water finally put it out. Boating and booze are not a great combination.

Today, in Preston, a group of youngsters were told not to swim in the locks, as it is dangerous, by a policeman. About an hour later a 13 year old from the same group had died - he'd been warned!

crossing Barton aquaduct The lighthouse near Worsley Cruising through Worsley
15th June 2008 Booths Town to Appley Bridge
H.C. 8692 - 8698 Distance 19 miles 7 Locks

Crew - Graham, Matt, Phaedra & Simon.

Phaedra steering Jannock

Matt : The inventor of the Klaxon turned in his grave today! The klaxon was invented for good but today it was used for EVIL!
(and there was a cold wind and Wigan is $h1t!)

(scuse my french. - Sorry Mum)

Graham : I arrived at 8:30 and had the car unloaded by 9 when Simon, Matt and Phaedra arrived. We car shuffled the Zafira to Parbold and then Jannock set sail at 10:15. No locks for the first couple of hours but we did have to wait at the Plank Lane liftbridge for the operator to finish his lunch. During this enforced pause, I rewired Jannock's horn so that the Klaxon Matt gave me for my birthday could be used when plugged in.
As we approached Wigan we discovered windlass operated gates that utilised both gears and chains to open them.

We joined the Leeds and Liverpool canal at Wigan where we passed Wigan pier and then headed West towards Parbold. We ended up stopping at Appley Bridge and moored up on a 14 day mooring.
That evening I was taken out to dinner in Manchester, by Matt and Simon, to celebrate Fathers Day. I returned to Jannock and slept over ready to go to work in Lancashire the next day.

21st June 2008 Appley Bridge to Rufford
H.C. 8698 - 8706 Distance 9 miles 9 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

(Brenda's quote last evening) We must be oop north! It's midsummer day tomorrow, it's 22:15 now, and it's still light.

The first day of summer and it has pee'd down most of the day. After last nights glorious sunset we have decided to re-write folklaw :- Red sky at night, weather will be shite!
Matt and Adam arrived at 9am and we finally decided to set off, in the rain, at 10am. We immediately passed through Appley lock and proceeded on through Parbold.

Matt working a L&L ground paddle.

There was not a lot of traffic moving east until we happened across a group of four boats all at once. Having turned into the Rufford Arm junction we stopped at the Sani-station there to find that self-pumpout was not allowed. We moved on down through the first two locks and it certainly started to rain hard. Our solution was to moor against the roadside railings and hurry into the Ship Inn for a celebratory pint (both Matt and Adam got their degree results yesterday)
After lunch we saw another boat descending Lower Latham lock so we untied and shared with them for the rest of the way to Rufford.

29th June 2008 Rufford

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Brenda :Today was to be a 'make Jannock ready for Matt liveaboard day' - BUT there is a dreadful shortage of places where it is easy to moor for fourteen days with a good vehicle access along here. There are loads of empty 24 hour moorings though. There are also two marinas here, only one of which was open on a Sunday and that didn't have room for Jannock to stay for 14 days and wouldn't do a pumpout for us either. To cap it all, 70mph winds were forecast as 'unseasonable gales' and we got them!

With both plan A and B now scuppered, Graham went for a recce on the bike and returned happy with the area around Sparkes Bridge sani-station as a location suitable for Matt's temporary accomodation. It had both facilites and parking in the BW yard. This meant we could leave Jannock here on the 14 day moorings at Rufford and then move her to Sparks Bridge in ten days time when he wanted to move on.

Jannock on 14 day moorings.
4th July 2008 Rufford to Sparkes bridge
H.C. 8706 - 8708 Distance 1/2 mile 0 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda
(Brenda as Cap'n & crew really, Graham opened the bridge)

We arrived at Jannock at 11am and found a 'nasty-gram' from BW. The patrol officer had ticked the box that said we'd overstayed on 24hr visitor moorings. This tick had been crossed out and written in was that Jannock had 'overstayed on the Rufford Arm'. We were actually on the 14 day moorings at the end of the visitor moorings and had been here 10 days. Now what's that all about?
A phone call to BW later, it was agreed that there has been no problem really and it was OK for us to moor Jannock for 14 days at the Sparks Bridge Sani-station. The suggestion was made, by the BW mooring person on the phone, that Jannock could stay for 14 days on the 48hr moorings by the tidal lock at Tarleton further up the arm! We rejected that suggestion as those moorings are likely to be required by craft awaiting a passage up the Ribble link. Ho hum!

Jannock moored on 24hr moorongs' supposedly.

We moved up to Sparkes bridge, with Brenda steering and me on the bike working the swing bridge, and then did a pump-out and waterfill ready for Matt to move onto Jannock for his last two weeks at University in Preston. (He'd had to move out of his termtime accomodation even though the course hadn't finished)

Once we had loaded up more of Matt's excess stuff we set off on our journey home again. A soft ice-cream van at a sunny viewpoint near Parbold beckoned so we stopped for an ice-cream ; what joy. They do things differently 'oop North', I was asked "do you want sherbert?" At home I would suspect that I was being asked if I'd like the opportunity to, eerm, well, self medicate! I didn't call the drugs squad I just replied "whatever you've got" Our ices were handed over, now a fine shade of electric blue, with what looked like rhO+ve dripping from them. Good old fashioned sherbert and raspberry sauce, why don't we get that darn Sarf?

16th July 2008 Sparkes bridge to Sparkes bridge
H.C. 8710 - 8712 Distance 2 miles 0 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon and Phaedra

After a day in suits and best frocks for Matt's graduation, we left him in Preston to paint the town red and returned to Jannock. The weather was nice so we decided travel to Tarleton to wind and return here ready for the start of our holiday tomorrow and the journey back South again. As we approached Bank Bridge we happened across a very wide bit of canal that served as a full length winding point and so our trip to Tarleton was truncated.
We winded and returned to Sparkes Bridge. After a very nice lunchtime celebratory meal in Preston, Jannock's kitchen was turned into a burger bar using up Matt's BBQ leftovers before Simon and Phaedra returned to Salford and we visited Burscough Tescos to re-stock the larder.

Matt, alongside the car they built, at the graduation.
17th July 2008 Sparkes bridge to Crooke
H.C. 8712 - 8718 Distance 11 miles 9 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Oh how it rained! I'm so glad we had a nice day for Matt's celebration yesterday. We've discovered a few leaks in Jannock's windows that we didn't know we had. The morning was spent 'housekeeping', the jobs one never gets around to whilst cruising. There was little extra to do considering that Matt and various friends had been aboard for a couple of weeks. Well done son! The BW shower block was well used and we convinced ourselves that the weather was improving so we finally set off, at midday, in the rain.
12:30 found us tied up again at Rufford avoiding another downpour. Talking to a local boater, it seems that the source of our spurious 'nastygram' may have been a local resident whose home backs onto the canal who doesn't enjoy the view of moored boats at the end of their garden.

Approaching Parbella on the L&L.

We walked up to Rufford Old Hall in a last ditch attempt to visit ; Closed on Thursdays and Fridays.
At 2pm we gave in to the weather and set off regardless. Surrender was mutual and we didn't get wet. We travelled up to the top of the arm and turned onto the Leeds and Liverpool canal. We then travelled back through Parbold and Appley Bridge before stopping for the night at Crooke.
Scent of the day - Fields of camomile doused with organic semi solid fertilizer that smelt just like the socks worn by rugby players for a month.

18th July 2008 Crooke to Castlefield Basin
H.C. 8718 - 8726 Distance 24 miles 6 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

The weather forecast for today was a dry start turning to rain later. They lied! It rained on and off all day. We set off from Crooke and immediately found the first lock set against us. This was to be the pattern of the day with 5 of our total of 6 locks in that state. I must admit that having Simon, Phaedra and Matt assisting me through these locks last Father's day meant that I did not realise what hard work they were, especially the new bottom gates at Wigan.
Scent of the day - on cruising past a bakery , freshly baked Lardy cake and Chocolate Muffins. Mmmmmmmmmmmm! Nice!

The rest of the journey was relatively un-eventful. We didn't even have to wait for Plank Lane bridge to be opened as the keeper arrived just as we did so he waved us straight through. On our arrival at Castlefields Basin, we moored in exactly the same place as we did in July 2004 when we attended Simon's graduation at Salford. The only difference we could see was that the restaurant that we smoked out with the BBQs during our last visit has now been demolished.
We met up with Simon, Phaedra and Matt and went to Kosmos, a Greek Cypriot restaurant. We recommend it highly, and if you come a cross a Greek wine named 'Thisbe' give it a go. We then moved onto Simon's local, the Cresent, a multi-year award CAMRA pub. What a selection of beers. Brenda loved the Belgian draft Strawberry beer. They have recently started serving cocktails, mostly with names that Phaedra was much too well brought up to ask for. They are delivered to your table with no fuss, just plonked in front of you in a pint pot! Must be Northern style I presume, and better for all that. We got a taxi back to Jannock as the day's rain turned torrential as midnight beckoned.

19th July 2008 Castlefields to Piccadilly Basin
H.C. 8726 - 8729 Distance 1 mile 9 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Matt, Phaedra & Simon.

A rare thing aboard Jannock, a lie in until about 10am; mooching around Manchester until noon. Then Graham and Matt walked into Salford to get Simon to do a mega-car-shuffle.

Matt steers into the Rochdale

We left Castlefield Basin at 15:30 for a run up to Piccadilly Basin; Wow! If Terry Streeter did these locks solo then he has my admiration. Our crew of five struggled due to wiering locks and bl@@dy awkward gates. Brenda could not find the pedestrian access to lock 7 and was even offered a bunk-up over the wall by two gay gentlemen whilst trying to do so. We were also visited by two totally tooled up Policemen whilst passing through Piccadilly lock but Brenda sent them packing.

Pheadra pushed so hard trying to open the bottom gates of the first lock that she broke a filling in her tooth. The lock was filling, over the top of the top gate, quicker than it was emptying through the open paddles, so it was only the help of a brawny passer-by that allowed us to open the gates.
Whilst Brenda was 'lock-wheeling' she came across a pair of dubious characters and so she returned to join the rest of the crew on the grounds of safety. All life is there on the Rochdale 9! Bunny Girl Bouncers (security/door staff) to druggies, two 14ish year old boys keen to understand how it all worked to a dad and his sons visiting Manchester to celebrate Grandpa's 80th birthday. It was the security cameras spotting them going into a 'tunnel' and not coming out that had the police mobilised to visit the area in a child protection role. Brenda had already obtained said families life story and so could assure the Bill that they were a lovely happy family.

We finally moored up just past the junction with the Ashton canal, having reversed into the mooring ready for tomorrow, with a towering block of flats one side and a derelict car park on the other. The 'kids' went off to the cinema and then Matt returned to Jannock and a peaceful (if floodlit) night ensued.
Matt, Simon and Phaedra were stars today, we could not have done the Rochdale nine without them.

Piccadilly overnight mooring.
20th July 2008 Piccadilly Basin to Romily.
H.C. 8729 - 8734 Distance 12 miles 18 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Entering the Ashton canal

We awoke to a bright sunny morning, which turned to showers the minute we cast off at about 9. We turned onto the Ashton and another long drag of locks. Two BW guys reckoned we'd do them in about four hours, three if we missed a couple out. We took 3 1/4 hours to the top lock.
Just before the last lock there were some kids canoeing. I slowed to allow their instructors to get them safely to the side. As I passed kids of no more than 12 were shouting abuse at me, some declaring that as they had paid for their canoe session, I should refund the money for their time I had wasted! Bleedin cheek! Their minders did nothing about the disgusting language at all. I suggested the kids send me their names and addresses and I'd refund them ....... only the canoe instructor twigged the sarcasm there, and smiled when a child asked for my address - just post it to the boat!

We moored at Romily for the night and Graham took Matt back to Simon and Phaedra's for a long soak in the bath and his journey home. He worked hard today, and tomorrow is the first day of the rest of his life - M Keens B.Eng (Hons)
Fruit of the day - we picked wild raspberries for our dessert.

Aston-side development.
21st July 2008 Romily to Bugsworth Basin
H.C. 8734 - 8741 Distance 10 miles 16 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Smell of the day - caramel, fruit sweets, liquirice, aniseed, parma violets and sherbert. We cruised past the Matlows Swizzels factory. Yum. The fragrance of childhood.

The morning passed quickly as we did 16 locks in two hours and forty minutes. Sadly, we met no-one coming down the flight at all. The Marple flight is very pretty and then the views open right out over the countryside. It was all the better because the sun came out today, no rain at all.

crossing an aqueduct
Marple flight = Peak Forest canal

Once on the summit the only boats we met coming towards us were at the swingbridges. We took the right-hand option at the junction and went into Whaley Bridge for water. We retraced out route and stopped at Tesco to restock the galley including Staffordshire Oatcakes - a real treat. Then back to the junction and turn right again for Bugsworth basin to moor for the night. Apart from the noisy road this is a super overnight stop. It is pretty as well as historic, with plenty of grounds to walk and explore. Our evening walk took us somewhat higher than the 158m ASL of the basin. As we came back we realised how high Jannock has risen as we passed a Mountain Rescue landrover. Into the Navigation for a pint - a free house once owned by Pat Pheonix (if you are old enough to remember black & white Corrie!)

more Marple flight the Swizzells factory Bugsworth
22nd July 2008 Bugsworth to Bollington
H.C. 8741 - 8747 Distance 14 miles 0 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

A later start this morning due to a domestic/engineering session. I fitted the new stern rail bike rack whilst Brenda had a cleaning session.
We moved along to Marple where we went for a wander around the town. In the car spares shop I managed to get some rubber bump strip to fit around the engine covers to stop them rattling. As we turned through the junction at Marple, Brenda was congratulated by the 'Top Lock Trainer' for going to Jannock's bows and checking for oncoming boats.

After Marple, I went for a shower during which time Brenda met (queue Harry Hill music) 'Boating Moron of the Week' in a bridgehole. Once past that obstacle we had a quiet run out to Bollington where we moored between bridges 28 and 29 adjacent to Kerridge Boatyard. A lovely quiet mooring out in the countryside.

the lovely scenery on the Peak Forest canal
23rd July 2008 Bollington to Hockenhall Bridge (81)
H.C. 8747 - 8755 Distance 15 miles 12 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Graham got up in the middle of the night and did a car shuffle, returning at 8am (that'll be 2 hours then!). We moved off towards the Boseley flight. At Royal Oak swingbridge we first met 'Miss Bossy Tigger' (hereafter refered to as MBT) , she wore a stripey top and bounced around like a Tigger (you know - the wonderful thing about Tiggers .....) She held the swing bridge open and then hurried the 'flotilla' of four boats through before closing it again.
A queue formed at the top lock as a hotel pair came up through. With boats going up and down, MBT came up to Brenda and told her when she must go down in the lock and where her boat should wait in the pound below. Brenda told her that she was not from the boat she was locking through and so MBT proceded to explain all to the Eurohirer who became quite perplexed by it all. Brenda then explained to MBT how we WOULD be doing it all based on her years of experience; MBT being about all of 14 years.
MBT then 'showed' Brenda how to lift a paddle but gave up on stiff gear. "These aren't as easy as they look" she explained. Yes they are!

It took us 3 hours and 30 minutes to descend the 12 locks, with the benefit of boats ascending as well. It's all that good advice that slows one down. One of the 'flotilla' were pulled over at Congleton as we went past. Just as well that we slow right down to pass moored craft as they had forgotten to tie up at the front of their boat. Don't Panic Cap'n Mainwaring!
We chose a very quiet rural spot for the night, so 2 tractor combo's started gathering in the hay in field beside, the sheep opposite called a riot, just down the cut someone was out shooting and to cap it all a Hercules made three low passes. Ssssssssshhhhhhhh!

Snipe and Taurus pass our mooring
24th July 2008 Hockenhall Bridge (Maccy) to Norton in the Moors (Caldon)
H.C. 8755 - 8762 Distance 15 miles 4 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Another lay-in and a cooked breakfast meant a later start. We stopped at Sherbourne Wharf marina and filled with 146 litres diesel. Then on through Hall Green lock where we managed to pick a generous pint of raspberries from the offside whilst Jannock sat in the lock tail. Across the aquaduct and turn right back onto the Trent and Mersey canal.

passing down through Burslem.
The Cherry Tree at Bedford Rd lock

In a re-run of Plank Lane bridge, we timed our arrival at Harecastle tunnel spot on, we didn't even stop before entering and completed the H&S requirement on the move. We stopped at the pottery visitor centre that fronts the canal in Burslem and then continued on down through Stoke to join the Caldon canal. On arrival at Bedford Road lock Brenda spotted a cherry tree laden with fruit alongside and so we gathered our second batch of fruit for the day. We the continued on through the park and outskirts of Stoke to moor for the night just before Engine Lock at Norton in the Moors.

25th July 2008 Norton in the Moors to Froghall
H.C. 8762 - 8769 Distance 11 miles 14 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

I was meant to be back at work today but my appointments have been cancelled and the boss has allowed me to extend my holiday - Hooray! We set off sharply as we heard Engine lock being emptied as we were finishing breakfast. On through two lift bridges before finding all bar one of the Stockton Brook locks set against us. We decended Hazelhurst locks and then stopped at the Hollybush for lunch. The beer was great, the cooked food was good, the salad was rubbish and the establishment was in the process of changing management. The rest of the afternoon was spent meandering down through Cheddleton to the canal terminus at Froghall. We did not fit the tunnel guage at the last lock and so we winded and reversed into a mooring before the tunnel.

Lock sculpture on the Calden.

During our evening constitutional we met a guy who was driving his 1950 Bedford lorry into the carpark at the limekilns. Chatting to him we learnt that his grandmother used to run a local hostelry and during a big freeze in the early 1900s, she had started a soup kitchen in Froghall to feed the starving boaters. He said that they all stayed loyal to her and would even visit and pay for a drink even if they didn't want it to show their gratitude. Graham did a car shuffle from Bosley locks to Cheddington this evening ready for our last day on holiday tomorrow.

Passing Consall station Froghall basin 1950 Bedford lorry
26th July 2008 Froghall to Longton
H.C. 8769 - 8774 Distance 5 miles 8 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Jannock just in the shade

We departed from Froghall and headed back up the Caldon hoping to see and photograph the occasional passing steam trains as it was a Saturday. Sure we heard them but everytime one past us the tree screen was too thick to get a good look or photo. On past the Hollybush to Hazelhurst Junction where Brenda executed a perfect turn onto the Leek branch. We moved down to the end where we winded in the lagoon before Leek tunnel as, although we fit the profile guage on this one, Nich's indicates that we are too long to turn right at the very end.

Brenda : It got so very hot this afternoon that I 'demanded' we moor up in the shade of a large tree for a siesta. After an afternoon in the shade the cabin temperature was still 28 degrees at supper time. We went a walking in the evening but didn't visit the Holly Bush again as the bar queue came right out the front door onto the towpath.
Jemima D looks good with her new metal roof.
Decided to leave Jannock here as we're going home tomorrow morning, we'll be back in a fortnight.

2nd August 2008 Longton to Trentham
H.C. 8774 - 8781 Distance 16 miles 14 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

the old wharf.

We arrived at Jannock about lunchtime and immediately set off on an uneventful trip back towards Etruria junction stopping only to take on water at the sani-station near Hazelhurst junction.

Lock sculpture.

Once back onto the Trent and Mersey we followed a line of Southbound boats down through the locks. Highlight of the day was meeting a working pair coming up, it was Roger Fuller's boat Azalea pulling a loaded Ilford

Ilford leaves the lock
3rd August 2008 Trentham to Stone
H.C. 8781 - 8786 Distance 6 miles 9 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

I was up and out by 6:15 to fetch the car from the Leek branch. Back by 8:30 and so we breakfasted before setting off from Trentham. We were third in the Southbound queue for Barlaston lock with four boats waiting to ascend. This set the scene for the whole trip down to Stone as we were following the same Black Prince boat all the way down until they moored up before Star Lock. We continued down onto the new 5 day moorings and then paid a visit to Morrisons to re-stock the larder. Re-provisioning complete we moved on to longer term moorings before locking up and heading home.

21st August 2008 Stone to Aston Bridge
H.C. 8786 - 8787 Distance 1 miles 0 Locks

Crew - Graham

Due to house moving duties followed immediately by a family bereavement, Jannock has sat on a 14 day mooring for 16 days. Although I had arranged an overstay with the relevant BW office, today I found myself in the vicinity of the boat with a couple of hours to spare so I decided to move her to another 14 day mooring to give us the time we required to sort things out.
As I arrived, the heavens opened and it rained so hard that I had to sit in the car for 20 minutes waiting for it to stop before daring to run to the boat. It lessened a bit and so I let myself into the boat and donned waterproofs ready for the move. Once outside again, the sun came out and I started to get very hot clad in a full waterproof suit. Once the ropes were untied, the heavens opened again and I cruised south for 30 minutes to another 14 day mooring. All the time I was securing Jannock to the piling at her new home it rained and rained so I decided that I would brush down the roof, to clean it whilst there was a free rinse available, before locking up and heading home. Consequently as I tied the last rope the sun came out and shattered that plan.
As I walked back to find the car the heavens opened and drenched me yet again. Whatever happened to summer this year?

6th September 2009
They're coming back to the water.

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Now that the family hassles had all subsided, we travelled up to Jannock and had lunch in Stone Morrison's whilst provisioning for our weeks holiday. The weather has been raining almost constantly and the road immediately beside the mooring is flooded with a car, complete with family, stuck in the middle. They were removed with the assistance of a friendly land rover. In the evening we attended a performance of 'They're coming back to the water" given by Benny and John at St. Michaels church in Stone as part of the church's anniversary celebrations. The guy's gave a great performance to a very appreciative audience. We all retired to the Star public house for a natter before we returned to Jannock for the night.

7th September 2008 Aston bridge to Gt. Heywood
H.C. 8787 - 8791 Distance 7.5 miles 4 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We set off from above Ashton lock later than planned due to continuing persistant rain. When we arrived at Sandon Lock we found we were 13th in the queue waiting to pass through. British Waterways had stopped Southbound boats entering the next pound as they wanted to regulate the water level there due to the heavy rains. The whole of the Trent valley was flooded with fields emptying across the towpath into the canal. Whilst we waited for the lock to open, I did an oil change and engine service to pass the time. At 4:30pm we passed down through the lock and made our way to Great Heywood where we stopped and moored for the night opposite the new marina. We sat down to our evening meal feeling rather jealous as we had just heard that Matt had caught and eaten over 100 crayfish at home yesterday.

flooded fields flow across the towpath
8th September 2008 Gt. Heywood to Fradley
H.C. 8791 - 8797 Distance 14.5 miles 4 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Will the stately home survive?

In praise of regional food - Lunch, Staffordshire oatcakes or that beef pudding from Bury (Lancs) market? I decided on the latter, assuming it was prepared like a black pudding also famously sold at the affore mentioned market. Wrong! It was exactly what it said on the packaging - a suet pudding with beef in it. 15 minutes in the steamer and a salad quickly thrown together and bliss. If you ever find yourself in Bury, get to the market and buy some beef puddings, they freeze well too. It'll be oatcakes tomorrow.

We set off from Great Heywood and continued on down the Trent & Mersey towards Fradley as we have decided to take the 'fewer locks' route due to the weather we have been forecast for this week. We were second in line for the 1st lock but met no serious problems until Woodend lock. We stopped at Rugely for a shopping expedition, it seems to have most of popular shops and we managed to obtain everything we required, and more. Apart from that I found the town relatively un-inspiring. Once back on the move, we continued through the Armitage tunnel with me walking ahead with a radio to ensure the passage was clear. On down through the locks to Fradley junction where Brenda earnt a standing ovation from the occupants of the outside tables for managing to avoid a northbound boat whilst negotiating the turn into the Coventry without touching any of the craft moored around the junction. We moved further down the canal before stopping for the night as the farmer was just starting to harvest the field adjacient to the Fradley visitor mooring. I asume this will continue all night looking at the state of the crop and considering tomorrows weather forecast.

9th September 2008 Fradley to Polesworth
H.C. 8797 - 8803 Distance 14.5 miles 2 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

We pass Emily Anne (steam narrowboat)

A late start due to persistent rain. I finally got togged up in waterproofs and set off South towards Whittington in the heavy rain.
I was recently in discussion with someone (I can't remember who), an internet boater I believe, about Monarch's motive power. I can confirm that Monarch is powered by diesel as we passed her near Fazely. I also observed that the all new H&S approved BW workboats still appear to be issued with bailer twine for mooring purposes. It's a pity that the H&S guys don't specify what ropes to use.
Having done a water fill at the BW offices in Fazely, we experienced a pause in the rain whilst we ascended Glascote locks, luckily meeting Northbound craft in both and then the heavens opened again once Brenda was safely tucked away inside again. We stopped for the night on the Polesworth visitor moorings and tried the Spice Cafe, behind the hotel in Foster's Yard, where we had an excellent evening meal. The hotel is a bit shabby but the food quality and selection are second to none. Having recently eaten in Manchester's curry mile this is a well deserved complement.
P.S. they will also deliver a takeout to your boat if you ring the number on the sign opposite the moorings. Look out for the combination meals - two small portions of different itmes per meal, and a triple nan bread with three separate fillings.

10th September 2008 Polesworth to Coventry
H.C. 8803 - 8811 Distance 15 miles 11 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

I arose early and rode the Di Blasi back to Stone to fetch the car, back aboard Jannock just after 9am and we set off at 9:45. Nice sunny spells today but the wind increased in strength as the day went by.
At Atherstone flight we met a boat at every lock and heard tales of the long queues and frayed tempers at the top. A crew aboard a Canaltime hireboat, who Brenda christened the 'grumblies', had a whole new set of requirements for hireboats including hospital silencers, bow thrusters and boats less than 5 years old. Possibly they shouldn't have hired from Canaltime then. One of their female crew was complaining about private boaters who do not move when it's raining and then come out to occupy the lock flights when it's dry. Funny that. We were finally through the flight by 12:45, our quickest passage yet, and lunch was then taken on the move.
The wind became colder and stronger as we passed through Nuneaton and Bedworth and at Hawksbury junction we just kept straight on. This is another new bit to cross off Jannock's map. We are covering a lot of new ground this year.
Finally arrived in Coventry basin at 17:45, winded and reversed onto the moorings near the offices. Going for a walk around now.

We did the late night tourist thing around Coventry. We found that Oliver Twist's - superb eatery of this parish - is no more!
We visited this during Jannock's first ever cruise with us as owners. What a shame!

bridge at Hawksbury
11th September 2008 Coventry to Brinklow
H.C. 8811 - 8816 Distance 15 miles 11 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Coventry Basin proved reasonably quiet and very safe for overnight mooring. We left once I had visited Machine Mart, over the bridge, to get a new welding mask and the only rain of the morning had finished. The weather was then kind to us for the rest of the day but it did rain again once we had moored up at Brinklow.
We paused at the Tesco Extra store on the canalside just North of Coventry and re-stocked Jannock's larder. This was followed by sessions gathering ripe apples and lovely blackberries from off-side trees and bushes. I used the boathook to hold us in and move Jannock forwards and backwards which allowed Brenda to do the gathering from the front well.

Patricia Faulkner 1927 - 2008

Once stopped at Brinklow, Brenda created a lovely blackberry and apple pie whilst I fetched the car from Polesworth.

With fond memories of wild fruit gathering and other skills she was taught as a child, Brenda has dedicated today to her mum who died unexpectedly three weeks ago.

12th September 2008 Brinklow to Braunston
H.C. 8816 - 8820 Distance 9 miles 3 Locks
Oxford canal.

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

We arrived at Braunston and pulled over to the Sani station to do a water fill and self pumpout. Then the rain changed it's mind and became a hacking freezing mountain type of rain. We woz wet!
Finally finished that, winded in the marina entrance and reversed into a free mooring spot just before the footbridge to the village. Had a quiet evening in until 10pm when I walked up to the Old Plough to meet John P. for a beer.

13th September 2008 Braunston to Stockton
H.C.8820 - 8824 Distance 10 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

The sun shone on us today, all warm and nice with little wind and just the occasional cloud to get in the way. A steady chug from congested Braunston across the puddlebanks and on towards Wigrams where we turned right towards Warwick. Uneventful except for numerous displays of indecision and mind changing concerning bridges, locks, waterpoints and diesel fills.
We descended the top lock at Calcut and left it set with the gate open for the boat currently ascending the second lock. They decided they were going to fill with diesel at Calcut boats, even though their crew had joined me at the top lock, and so I turned the top lock to allow a Viking craft, who had appeared above the top lock, to descend to join us in the second lock. As the levels were equalling, they decided they would use the waterpoint above the top lock instead of descending, so they untied and went across to that instead. We continued solo meeting craft ascending at each of the other two locks. We finally moored up above the Stockton locks so that we are ready to attend the Cutweb rally next weekend.

19th September 2008 Stockton to Blue Lias
H.C.8824 - 8827 Distance 1 miles 8 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arrived at Jannock late morning and unloaded the car and phoned Brian Holt. He and Diana had volunteered to help us work down Stockton flight to the Blue Lias at the bottom. When we arrived there we were the sixth boat there so moved onto the last mooring space bankside. We later shuffled back alongside Harnser when another boat arrived that required dog access to the bank. With no formal activities planned for Friday, we greeted friends, old and new, as they arrived and finally adjourned to the bar for a meal and social evening.

Photo courtesy Nigel Burrows

20th September 2008 Cutweb Rally 2008

Photo courtesy Karen Kendall

The sun shone on the 15 boats and 4 camping units gathered at the Blue Lias. The teams went off to do the treasure hunt I had set along the towpath between Southam road bridge and the top lock. Brian was also running a fender throwing competition at the same time. All competitors returned safely and tea was taken on the grass alongside the boats. To be honest, we spent most of the weekend occupying the lawns outside the boats as the weather was so good.

Photo courtesy Nigel Burrows

The evening entertainment this year was a duet, Jane Rouse and Tim Christian who had us singing along to numerous canal favourites including one that most people knew all of the words to, London to Birmingham in four and a half minutes. After a morning spent collecting fees and organising things, this was my first chance for a good sit down (even though I was folding raffle tickets). Their excellent performance was followed by the legendary Cutweb raffle which took almost an hour to distribute all of the donated prizes. As ticket picker, I was getting hoarse by the time they had all gone.

21st September 2008 Cutweb Rally 2008

The task of booking in the donated lots for the charity auction started at 10am and it looked as though the auction may run over into the planned Sunday lunch, fortunately the two didn't clash and so we all sat down to eat on time. During lunch the legendary Bill Davies arrived to visit along with Fanny the Woof. After eight years cruising around the continent in his narrowboat, Rosy, he has returned to the UK and the rigours of getting a BSC on her. He joined the communal lunch before heading back to Calcutt where Rosy is moored at present. The Sunday evening quiz at Blue Lias no longer occurs and so we had to hastily organise our own which Glen lead for us.

Photo courtesy Karen Kendall

It's only afterwards that we realised that we were too busy doing rally things to take any pictures. Thanks for the permission to use yours Nigel and Karen.

22nd September 2008 Blue Lias to Stockton
H.C.8824 - 8827 Distance 1 miles 8 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Not much clearing up required after the rally so we said our farewells and started up, crossed the canal for a water fill and then headed South again up the Stockton flight sharing with John P. on Black Pig. We made a good time and said farewell to him when we stopped above the locks to moor up ready for next weekend's Soddit cruise.

26th September 2008 Stockton
Soddit Cruise 2008 #2

Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter

I arrived at Jannock early and so got a few jobs completed before travelling to pick up the rest of the crew. Once all of the food and luggage was aboard, fish and chips were collected from Southam and the Autumn 2008 Soddit Cruise officially began. We had two different Vale beers on board this trip in an attempt to make them last for the whole weekend. Four games of Soddit were played before retiring to bed at about 1am.

27th September 2008 Stockton to Norton Junction
Soddit Cruise 2008 #2

H.C.8829 - 8834 Distance 12 miles 9 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter

Breakfast was cooked by Ian and we set off from Stockton at 9:15. Another boat arrived to share Calcutt locks with us and we were following two other boats up. As I was setting the middle lock, the water started wiering over the top of the gates. I looked ahead and saw that the boats in front had opened the top paddles of the top lock whilst the bottom paddles were still up. I shouted but was ignored and so started running (much to my crews surprise) up the towpath. Meanwhile a Calcutt boats employee had heard my hollering and run across, chastised them and the flooding ceased. Once through the flight we turned left and had the 'Piccadilly Circus' experience that appears to happen between Braunston and Napton at a weekend. At one bridge we slowed to let an approaching boat through and had to wait for a further two to pass before we could even attempt to get through, much to the disgust of the fourth boat in the procession (shouldn't leave so much gap then).

We stopped in Braunston for lunch and a trip to the shop for milk. During our ascent of the Braunston flight we had the unusual experience of changing partners at one lock only to return to sharing with our original partner at the next and subsequent ones. Never done that before. We transited the tunnel with a selection of classical music (Jerusalem, Rule Britannia, 633 Sqn and the Dam Busters march) issuing at full volume from Jannock's cabin stereo whilst the crew made shadow puppets on the tunnel ceiling. Never done that before either. We finally moored for the night just before Norton Junction where Brian successfully caught a couple of very nice Perch (another first, picture above) before the evening meal. We managed four games of Soddit before total exhaustion set in, possibly because the beer barrels were getting much lighter.

28th September 2008 Norton Junction to Blisworth
Soddit Cruise 2008 #2

H.C.8834 - 8840 Distance 12 miles 7 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter

A lovely sunny morning found us sharing locks down the Buckby flight but following another two boats immediately ahead. We only met three boats coming the other way so had to turn four locks. Once through, an event celebrated by finishing the VPA (so we had to start rationing the Gravitas), Sunday papers were bought at the marina shop and we continued on through Weedon until stopping for lunch (and fishing) just before Stowhill bridge. The weather had held all morning but grey clouds were approaching fast. Once we were all fed the long uneventful trip through Nether Heyford and Bugbrooke found us all taking turns steering whilst personal possessions were packed and cleaning duties performed ready for disembarkation. An excellent weekend enhanced by the weather and the company.

4th October 2008 Blisworth to Cosgrove
H.C.8834 - 8840 Distance 8 miles 8 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Margaret

Having seen the weather forecast for the weekend and assessed my weekend jobs list, we decided to have a single day on Jannock today. We set off from Gayton at 10 o'clock and headed towards the Blisworth boatwash tunnel. The passage through was as expected, wetter than outside, although we did not meet any oncoming boats this time. We had our tunnel loving neighbour, Margaret, as extra hand today so we were looking forward to an easy trip down the Stoke Bruerne flight. What we weren't expecting was to emerge from the tunnel into the 1940s. Stoke Bruerne had a 'village at war' event on and there were period soldiers, airmen and working boats everywhere. The AFS were even setting up a fire pump by the top lock. We had to wait for passage through the lock and so found ourselves waiting with nb Marni B, a fellow Cutweb member. They graciously let us hang alongside them outside the Boat inn whilst the pair in front prepared the lock and passed down through it. Jannock was not behaving well in the strong cross winds and so Brenda had her work cut out manoeuvring. With some difficulty we finally got Jannock onto the lock waiting area once the boats in front had gone in.

Whilst we turned the top lock, Brenda was approached by the crew on nb Holly who she thought was after the chocolate cake ( a whole month's coupons) she was about to eat but they told her how they appreciated our trip reports. Thanks folks. A spiv then approached her and offered her some nylons, luckily the wind then blew his hat into the canal so the deal was never completed. Once through the top lock we found a Wyvern Shipping single boat had just entered the next one so Marni B went in and shared with them. Jannock followed after we'd turned the lock until we also paired up with another Wyvern hireboat when we entered the third lock (16) At each subsequent lock, I went ahead to turn the next one whilst Margaret and the crew from the Wyvern boat worked the pair through. During my excursions ahead, I had mentioned to the crew of the hireboat now sharing with Marni B that it would be easier for them to wait in the lock until the next lock was ready as the wind was blowing them all over the cut. Brenda and the steerer of Jannock's partner were now travelling between locks, side by side, like a pair of old pro's achieving scores of 9 and 10 from the appreciative lock crew.

When I went ahead to the next lock (18) I found Marni B and partner sitting in the lock waiting. "We are doing as you suggested" said the steerer of the hire boat "it's much easier waiting here". It might have helped if they had sent someone ahead to prepare the next lock so off I cycled and set it for them. On my return I then turned the lock for our passage through. Not a lot of Northbound traffic up the flight today.
Finally out of the bottom of the flight and I found myself alone on the stern whilst Brenda and Margaret prepared lunch. It kept threatening to rain but the main problem was the side winds. As we reached gaps in the trees lining the bank Jannock would lurch off towards the bank and drastic action was needed tiller-wise to recover. It is at times like this I wish she was a little deeper in the draft.
We finally tied up at Cosgrove fourteen day moorings and I headed back to Gayton on the Di Blasi to fetch the car. Then home via Wickes in Aylesbury and a Chinese EMAYL (Eat As Much As You like) restaurant.

11th October 2008 Cosgrove to Stoke Hammond
H.C.8845 - 8851 Distance 14 miles 2 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

The weather is good so we set off from Cosgrove and headed South across the aquaduct. We were only planning a single day cruising so not a lot of food or luggage to load onto Jannock prior to departure. The way was good until we happened across a South bound broad beam narrowboat type thing below Great Linford. I know that this description does not ring true but how else can you describe these bloated cruisers? They slowed to a crawl for every bridge hole as well as rightly slowing to pass moored boats. Luckily for us they pulled into the bank and moored up near Newlands and so we could continue at our own pace again. As we passed Peartree we noticed that Thorn and Persephone no longer appear to be moored offside here. Down through Fenny Stratford lock with some willing assistance with the offside gate by pub-goers enjoying the garden in the sunshine. At Willowbridge we stopped and replaced two gas cylinders and refilled with 133 litres of fuel at 81ppl. Ouch !
When we passed the long road layby North of Stoke Hammond we found Thorn and Persephone plus another tug all painted in a smart light and dark Grey colour scheme. Through Stoke Hammond lock sharing with a Wyvern Shipping hirer who assured Brenda that she (Brenda) would soon get the hang of working these locks once she'd done a few - I'm glad I wasn't within earshot to hear her reply ;^} and then onto bridge 106 at Stoke Hammond where we moored up and I went and fetched the car. We also picked some nice blackberries before heading home which we ad for us tea!

12th October 2008 Stoke Hammond to Horton Wharf
H.C.8851 - 8857 Distance 8 miles 7 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Matt.

The second day of summer heralded a complete change of plans and we found ourselves back aboard and still heading South, this time we had Matt as crew as well. The run from Stoke Hammond to Slapton lock was shared with another boat so we got into a system through all the locks. The only problem was the speed at which we could travel was limited because we were following nb Fulbourne and butty Angel who were heading back from the Stoke Bruerne event last weekend. At every lock I arrived to assist them working through and then closed the top gates before having to turn the lock for our pair. This meant that our target of Marsworth had to be moved to Horton so that we reached there in time. The fishing persons just below Slapton lock were once again using the lock landing as place of preference and then getting very grumpy when these nuisance boats wanted to drop off crew to set the lock.
The highlight of the day came when I returned to Stoke Hammond to fetch the car. Chatting to a fisherman there, who was loading his paraphernalia into his vehicle, I found out that he had just sent the water bailiff on a long walk towards Soulbury as neither of them recognised my car and they thought it belonged to a non-club member who might be fishing in their waters. I hastily loaded the Di Blasi into the car and set off before the bailiff returned.

17th October 2008 Horton Wharf to Marsworth
H.C.8857 - 8859 Distance 3.5 miles 7 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Having finished work early, we went and moved Jannock from Horton up to Marsworth. All seven locks were transited solo but we did pass several craft heading North. The weather was warm and sunny with little wind which made for a very pleasant afternoon cruise (even though I did cycle most of it).

18th October 2008 Marsworth to Bourne End
H.C.8859 - 8867 Distance 11 miles 21 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Manda, Tom and Rosie

Today we had very special visitors on Jannock. Rosie and Tom are our neighbour's children and they came with their mum for a trip. Rosie had previously expressed amazement when she learnt that our boat had beds and a cooker inside and so we decided a visit was in order.
We set off from Marsworth and they helped us up the flight of seven locks up to the summit level at Bulbourne. They worked the gates and Tom had a go at lifting a paddle although he needed help to start it off.
As we approached the top lock of the flight we found that once again we were following Fulbourne and Angel. Onto the summit and we pulled over and then had a hot snack, cooked in the oven just for Rosie.

They then left us to walk back down the flight to their car as Rosie had a birthday party to attend that afternoon and we needed to continue South towards our home mooring. The cutting down through Tring was full of floating autumn which meant a lot of reverse shifting to clear the leaves from Jannock's propeller. Cowroast and Dudswell locks were passed through solo as were all of the Northchurch flight and guess who we caught up here?

As we were waiting to pass through Berkhamstead bottom lock another boat arrived and so we shared the rest of the locks down to Sewer lock with them.
Fulbourne and Angel pulled over for a well deserved pint at the Rising Sun and so we then found ourselves following the breasted pair, one going forwards and one going backwards, that Fulbourne's skipper had been complaining about when we caught them up. Not really a day for getting a shift on then.
We arrived back at Bourne End just after 5pm and then Julian took me back to Marsworth to fetch the car. F & A passed our mooring just before we headed off to spend a very pleasant evening in the White Horse with Julian and Caro.

Here endeth 2008 - Visit the Blog for 'as-it-happens' reports!

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