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2012 Trip Reports

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2nd April 2012 - Bourne End moorings to Kings Langley
H.C. 9769 - 9774 Distance 5 miles 11 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham

As we arrived at Jannock we noticed Cutweb’s newest member, Helen aboard nb Pippistrelle, passing our mooring heading South. She said she was only going to Winkwell so we didn’t rush to join her in the lock as we needed to load up and get ship shape before setting off. Two hours later we cast off and also headed south, London bound. As I lifted a paddle to empty lock 59 the fisherman, sat on the offside immediately below the lock, caught the largest Bream I have ever seen. He claimed that the flow from the paddles had taken his bait right into the fish's mouth. Winkwell swingbridge was still being worked on so the Galliway contractors had to manually swing it so that we could pass through.

We continued solo down to Apsley where we noticed a Black Prince hireboat moored outside Sainsburys whose crew appeared to be busy re-provisioning. As we passed through Apsley bottom lock they appeared above also heading south. I wish they had indicated that they were soon to depart. We backset the lock for them and waited at Nash Mills for them to join us. The crew were German and enjoying their trip enormously. Brenda commented to them that the weather they had experienced so far was exceptional. They were surprised as they thought that temperatures in the late teens/early twenties and clear blue skies were normal for England in March. We shared down through Kings Langley (slow fill) lock before we moored up for the night opposite the flats built where the Ovaltine factory used to be. There I managed to wash Jannock’s roof and starboard side, to remove the evidence of winter, before it got too dark.

3rd April 2012 - Kings Langley to Springwell
H.C. 9774 - 9779 Distance 8 miles 14 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham

Our overnight mooring was very peaceful being far enough away from the M25 and separated from the railway line by the blocks of flats. We set off at 09:30, the cold being seen off by the sunshine. There were clouds on the horizon though. As we passed yesterdays companions I was sure they’d experience more normal English spring weather today. It was a steady and un-eventful cruise, with a constant stream of northbound craft. Early afternoon we pulled into Rickmansworth Tesco. It was an emergency – I had provisioned for this trip at Majestic last week but then forgot to bring any of the beer I had carefully selected. As we left Tesco it was into the first real rain we’ve seen for a couple of months; we’d had a micro shower or two earlier. We moved on a little further and moored up for the night just as more rain started. A downpour, I remember them, just. It’s all in the timing. Not a long day but at least we didn’t get soaked like the crew of Hyperion who’ve just passed us heading north.

4th April 2012 - Springwell to Willowtree Park
H.C. 9779 - 9785 Distance 13 miles 7 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham

A 9:30 start again, and in bright sunshine; a bonus after the overnight rain. Colder though! No complaints as it seems more northern canals have fallen trees curtailing navigation after high winds and Scotland has more snow than is reasonable for April, especially after their heat wave last week.
We moved down through Coppermill lock to fill up with water and then we joined by another boat fresh out of paint-dock. Brenda felt like she didn’t really want to share locks – too risky for them! but we shared with them to Uxbridge where they were stopping to pick-up some parts that they had ordered – a pleasant arrangement.

We have entered parakeet territory after listening to woodpeckers last evening. As we entered Southall we avoided the greening fronds of a willow tree hanging down over the canal. A west-indian boater moored just past the tree asked if we thought we didn’t need blessing. He explained that going under the willow would have bestowed blessing upon us. Graham explained that getting the bike caught in the branches would have deposited it into the cut.
We moored for the night on the Paddington Arm at Willowtree park – blessings be upon us – and fondly remembered Bill Sybley, who passed away a short time ago, as this was one of his favourite moorings for a BBQ en-route to Canal Cavalcade. We had just made a cuppa when the rain started – it’s all in the timing you know.
Decisions, decisions – roast lamb or steak and kidney for supper? They are both in the slow cooker ready to eat. Mind you, the fab smells here abouts are making us fancy a pile of fresh samosas and some dhal.

5th April 2012 - Willowtree Park to Paddington Basin
H.C. 9785 - 9789 Distance 11 miles 0 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

I was up and out at 08:30 on a very cold morning so Brenda stayed abed awhile. She delivered me a steaming bowl of hot porridge and a hot drink once she had got up, but stayed indoors herself. It was a bitterly cold North wind we were travelling into along the Paddington Arm. Having used our copy of Nich’s as a guide we planned to stop at Sainsburys twixt bridges 11 and 12 for a water-fill. When we couldn’t see the waterpoint we remembered that our old copy was also wrong when we tried to do this same action during our last visit. Just past bridge 12 there is a nice new wharf on the north bank with plush new water and electricity points installed – unfortunately they were not operational. London welcomes boaters.
We did manage to stop for water at the entrance to Little Venice. A small group of Christians were leafleting boats and invited us to attend their Easter services. Brenda explained we were not staying and was asked where we were going. She said we were boating but that was obviously not enough of an explanation. Round these parts boats are obviously not for travelling on.

Then three gentlemen met up on the sani-station steps and started to chat. They were talking about the attempted misappropriation of one of them’s shirt. The tea-leafs reason was that it was a prison shirt and the chap would not need it as he’d be going straight from court to prison again later today. The talk moved on to the merits of sneaking out your prison clothes at the end of a stretch and selling them as ‘souvenirs’ on Ebay. Would you get caught or not? That topic exhausted they moved onto the topic of ornithology. What was the differences between a hen harrier and a gyr falcon, how many ghost stories are really barn owl sightings and the rise of turtle dove numbers in London since the 1950s. I wonder what the lag went down for?

We moored in Paddington basin, under St Marys hospital, opposite M&S headquarters. Then we went walkies; onto the Edgware road and down as far as Marble Arch where we found these Jelly Babies. Then a little walk as far as Selfridges on Oxford Street, but we soon got fed up with the crowds and made our way back to the boat for a cuppa. All of the Persian, Lebanese, Malay and so forth restaurants on Edgware road should keep us fed for a day or two. We’ll no doubt stock up at the ethnic grocers as well!

6th April 2012 - Paddington Basin
London Tourist - Day 1

Crew - Brenda and Graham

The weather forecast for the next few days dictated that our planned visit to Kew gardens must occur today. Just around the corner to the tube, then onto Kew Gardens station and a short stroll through leafy suburbs and there it was, basking in the sunshine.
Our friend Pat from the garden centre at Waddesden Manor had advised us to take the one hour guided walking tour so we signed up for one – leaving NOW! Good advice indeed. We must have walked miles today and seen many hundreds of plants. We ate our picnic lunch in sunshine so warm that the coats and jumpers were off and we sunbathed a teensy bit. It was a very good visit which we thought we’d round off with a pint at the station pub, but all the hand-pumps were off so we came back to the boat for a cuppa instead.

Aching feet rested a bit, we tidied up and went for supper. The Melur Malaysian restaurant on Edgeware road did us proud. Malay cuisine melds Indian, Chinese and Nonya cooking, best of all worlds. On the desert menu was ABC – a traditional shaved ice with syrup poured over. I couldn’t bring myself to order that as the British Army banned me from eating it, on pain of deportation, when I was about 9 years old. Sometimes I do as I’m told.

7th April 2012 - Paddington Basin
London Tourist - Day 2

Crew - Brenda and Graham

One day a year, first opportunity for either of us so it had to be the Varsity boat race today. Not the most exciting prospect on a dull morning – but it got better. Picnic packed we headed off to the Surrey bend. There was a lovely party atmosphere there but we decided that the shorter one of us was unlikely to get a good view and so we crossed Hammersmith bridge and found ourselves a vantage point inside the bend, a rowing club slipway. A crowd joined us, including an 8 year old greyhound celebrating it’s birthday, and a party atmosphere came too. The pre-race race got us all excited, we enjoyed the RNLI, the Police launches and helicopters, even a Goodyear dirigible and then they were off! We could hear the boats approaching by the ‘Mexican wave’ effect of the crowd noise on the opposite bank and then those on the bridge. They swept past with Oxford ever so slightly ahead. And after them came a flotilla of support vessels, the press and dignitaries, and then they were gone. All over in less than a minute.

We headed back to party central on the opposite bank for a beer - but what’s this? All the Police and St Johns Ambulance bicycle mounted staff , who had cycled back toward the start were returning. Their little legs doing eighteen to the dozen towards the finish line. A rumour that all was not well murmured. We found a TV cameraman , he’d be sure to know, so we asked. He told us that he’d just heard on his headset that the race had been stopped and that there were problems – but NOT to tell anyone else yet in case it was wrong. We continued our meander back across the bridge and found that the 2012 boat race had got exciting. Someone was in the water, that we had seen Police checked and safety checked, and he seemed intent on going in front of the boats. The race was stopped and re-started half an hour later. Then the two boats clashed oars, Oxford had a blade snapped off and were now the Oxford seven against the Cambridge eight. Unsurprisingly Cambridge won. We had the unusual experience of watching the boat race from both sides of the Thames – the finish being shown on a large TV screen in the Furnival gardens on the north bank. An Oxford crew member collapsed and was taken to hospital. Cambridge did the sporting thing and decided they didn’t want to be presented with the trophy there and then. No prize giving – one in hospital – one in custody - boat race boring? Not today! So, one and a half pints of Doombar (official sponsors of the boat race) please.

8th April 2012 - Paddington Basin
London Tourist - Day 3

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

The theme for Easter Sunday has been Trains, Boats and Planes. We started out with a visit to King George V lock so that Graham could see it from the land in daylight – the last time he was here was on a TNC cruise that locked up into the dock with a collection of other narrowboats in the dark whilst sharing the lock with HMS Grafton and associated tugs. As we crossed ‘Sir Steve Redgrave’ bridge (I bet he was under-whelmed with that one ;^) we watched the planes passing immediately overhead and landing at London Docklands airport. Then it became a walking tour of the east end. We went to Limehouse and strolled around the basin admiring the yachts just like we do on more exotic holidays. Bonus of our ‘staycation’ as there were narrowboats and barges too!

The need for lunch led us to The Grapes where we had some good beer and food. The lunch menu was Sunday roast, pork or beef, with apple crumble, bread and butter pudding or ice cream – 3 scoops. The roast was very good served with an excellent cauliflower cheese and the best horseradish sauce I have tasted for years. Graham had the best bread and butter pudding we’ve come across for dessert, fragrant with vanilla, light and swimming in cream. I had ginger and lavender ice creams. As we finished, a local diner told us that Charles Dickens had lived in the building and had probably written ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ in the very room we were eating in. Revolution was in the air again as another diner was spotted with a plate of sticky toffee pudding. She was interrogated by the other diners, us included, as to how she had come by it. It would appear that she had asked what was for dessert and had been offered it as one of the choices. They had forgotten to put it on the menu board. The waitress returned to the room and we reminded her about the fate of Marie Antoinette over a few ill chosen dessert related words.

Back onto the Docklands light railway and up to Stratford to get a good look at the Olympic site before too many tourists, sports fanatics and athletes clog up the view. We spotted why the Bow back-rivers have been closed to navigation. A section has been boarded over as it passes under a bridge in order to create an access path the full width of the waterway.
Then – off to see Westfield shopping centre just because. It was closed to shoppers and no worse for that. Not a place I would ever want to go again (If I need shops like that Birmingham beckons). Back to the tube and then the boat where there’s a cuppa to be had and some washing to be done.

9th April 2012 - Paddington Basin
London Tourist - Day 4

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me . . . . . . . . . . . . Today the weather was true to last Friday’s forecast. It promised it would be raining all day and raining is what we got. Luckily we had re-scheduled our weekend plans accordingly and so today’s entertainment was to be the “British design 1948 – 2012” exhibition at the V & A museum in Kensington. Due to it being Easter Monday and pi$$ing down with rain, South Kensington station and all of the museums close by were heaving as the world, his wife and family looked for indoor entertainment. Luckily most (not all) of the screaming kids were taken to the Science or Natural History museums and not the V & A. The design exhibition was a bit pricey but enjoyable none the less, showing a lot of connections that existed between various iconic designs and how a lot of designs that we thought were fresh when they were introduced to us were actually based on ideas from years before.

Having survived the melee at the V & A we moved on to Leicester Square in search of a birthday lunch in a Chinese restaurant. We decided on Gerrard Corner at the top of Gerrard street. Excellent food but the sesame prawn toasts were not up to the same standard as the Melur Malasian on Edgeware road last Friday night.
We returned to the boat having purchased some cakes from a Chinese baker for my birthday tea. Paddington basin is very windy tonight with quite high waves lapping against the hull and rocking the boat about as if we were at sea.

10th April 2012 - Paddington Basin
London Tourist - Day 5

Crew - Brenda and Graham

Today the plan was ‘no plan’ and very well it worked too. Being moored opposite M&S HQ inspired me to take the short walk to M&S Edgeware Rd. and spend my Xmas voucher. We don’t have one in Thame (Only the W H Smith voucher I got for my birthday to go, we don’t have one of those either).
We did a raid on the local supermarkets for some very un-local treats. We were not tempted by the camel milk, from Holland, but just had to buy a tin of corned lamb! We then took our rubbish for a walk to the skip at Little Venice and wandered back via the office blocks, a small area of green where over-priced sandwiches were being eaten by office workers in the company of annoying pigeons. (If the Tesco next to the bottom of the basin isn’t for you then there is a Sainsburys local up nearer to L.V. The basin also has a Superdrug, Carphone Warehouse and a Post Office next to it as well as all the wonderful shops on Edgeware Rd. which includes a Maplins and a very useful olde worlde ironmongers for emergencies – like when your corkscrew breaks)

It was decided that we should try at least one local pub so after our lunch on board we went to the Royal Exchange in Sale St. Two hand pumps (both in use), a nice cider and the food menu looked rather good. What we saw and smelled was very tempting – going for an English? Then the Royal Exchange is worth a try. It’s almost a theme pub, horse racing.
Edgeware road was our choice for tonight’s meal. We decided on the Fatoush (Express), one of two, Lebanese. Here we had the best meal of our trip so far. We’d picked up a menu from outside their door a couple of days ago so had already made up our minds before we arrived. Only one course as it was early and we had plans for later. We chose the mixed grill with a side salad and a pot of mint tea. All freshly made so we had to wait a bit (not sure where the Express bit comes from?) The salad arrived, big platefuls, and after a while the grill arrived with even more salad and bread and pickles and sauces. Fuschia pink pickled turnip is just wierd. The salad had been a starter really. We have become so used to the practice of only having the main dish itemised and having to order vegetables as extras. (Extras – hardly) that it was a pleasant and tasty surprise. We ate our vegetables, all of them, and went to pay at which point a plate of Baklava turned up. Yum, so dessert was on the menu, as it were. As we finished the meal, the heavens opened with a thunderstorm so we took our time leaving to let it ease off a bit.

In the evening we were due to visit the BBC at Portland Place to see the recording of a radio show and had planned to walk from Edgeware Rd. We got there fairly dry and sat next to a chap who had made the same walk due to a tube cancellation but he had experienced the full force of the storm. We enjoyed chatting to him and his lady friend while we waited. Nice to meet you!
Into the Radio theatre and an excellent show recorded in one take; Tom Wrigglesworth – a Sheffield comedian with hair – his series of ‘letters’ to be broadcast In May 2012, 6.30pm on Thursdays on Radio 4. Catch him if you can. The rain held off long enough for us to walk back to the boat. A very good night at the end of a different day.

11th April 2012 - Paddington to Willowbridge Park
H.C. 9798 - 9802 Distance 10 miles 0 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham

Time to go home, time to go home, Brenda and Graham are waving goodbye! (You’ll show how old you are if you know the tune to that)

We started the day by posting yesterdays blog and checking emails and found a blog comment from nb Mr David, moored just opposite us in Paddington basin asking us to wave as we went past. We set off and winded at the bottom of the basin before stopping again for a chat with David and Brenda who were just on their way out. It’s all in the timing! Nice to meet you both.

Off towards the waterpoint at Little Venice only to be beaten there by an east bound boat so we continued on knowing we could fill up at another before we stopped for the night. We continued on along the Paddington Arm in the sunshine with jealous office workers telling us how lucky we were before stopping at the Sainsburys store at Kensal Green to replenish ship’s stores. As well as much needed groceries I purchased a case of Spitfire as they had it on offer at £1 per pint.

We left there just as the showers started – not so smug, however they were light and caused no problems as they passed quickly and I dried out in the sunshine before the next one arrived. We spotted a huge terrapin basking in the sun atop a submerged branch. It must have been dinner plate sized as the picture shows.
The weather improved as the afternoon passed by and so I washed the port side of Jannock whilst we were filling with water at Black Horse bridge. A little further on we moored for the night at Willowtree park again. Lets hope it’s as peaceful as last week.

12th April 2012 - Willowtree Park to Coppermill
H.C. 9802 - 9809 Distance 20 miles 5 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham

T’was a cold night, so we were pleased to set off this morning in bright sunshine although heavy and cold showers were forecast as the day went on. We made good progress so decided that we’d take a trip up the Slough arm – new territory for Jannock. As we made the turn into the arm, urban canal turned into something much more rural. The sides are too shallow to consider mooring before the first winding hole but then the proximity of the M25 means most peeps are unlikely to want to do so anyway. After this point the banks are good and the edges dredged and so mooring is not an issue. We winded after bridge 9 as we wanted to make Coppermill tonight so we didn’t go all the way to the terminus. I went inside to make lunch just as the first shower of the day passed overhead. Graham was amused as a pedestrian making his way along the towpath with umbrella up was surprised by a very close clap of thunder, he then questioned the sense of holding a metal object above his head in a thunderstorm, closed the brolly and rapidly headed back the way he had come. Graham made good use of his new(ish) short boat hook by retrieving some items we had passed, floating in the canal, on our way up, a bucket and a screwtop plastic pot complete with lid.

On our return to the mainline all went well until we arrived at Denham deep lock. I took Jannock into the lock and Graham noticed a mother duck and seven ducklings swim in behind. He alerted me so I kept the boat well back and over while he filled the lock as slowly as possible. So far so good until the stupid mother duck decided that the level had risen sufficiently for her to jump up onto the lockside. Her babies went crazy, calling for her as they were unable to make the jump or even see her from within the lock. She came to the side and called but they were unable to get up the wall no matter how hard they tried. Then a drake flew in and decided he fancied his chances of procreation. Mother duck was not interested but he was determined. We could see that she was likely to be drowned during his attempts so Graham chased him off. A dog walking family arrived lockside and were a little upset to find Graham harassing ducks so we had to explain the scene. At that point Jannock started moving across the lock such that the ducklings were sure to get squashed. The dog walking lad took a rope to hold the boat back whilst mum and daughter shooed the ducklings to safer waters. Mother duck recovered her dignity, remembered her parental responsibility and jumped back into the lock. It was full by now so we took Jannock out expecting her to bring her brood out after us. Oh no! The mother duck then jumped up onto the top beam of the bottom gate and all her ducklings followed her. She then jumped down the 11 foot to the lower level where she’s started out from. The babies went frantic again, one had the courage and took the leap after her but the rest just stood on the top beam of the bottom gate and cried. There was no way they could climb out of the lock and they wouldn’t swim away from mother and out of the open top gate. The dog walkers couldn’t get to help them either. As we left a Southbound boat arrived so we explained about the distressed stranded ducklings on the bottom gate . They went into the lock slowly and seemed intent on rescuing the ducklings. While all this was happening the heavens had opened and we had got drenched – thanks mother nature, you certainly took your eye off the ball.

A little further on, and in glorious sunshine again, two lads of about 13 were happily feeding a couple of moorhens and swans. They waved and assured us that all was right with the world as there was nothing better than feeding swans on a beautiful sunny afternoon. We gritted our teeth as we passing still dripping from the drenching. Their dad added that during the little (huh! deluge) shower they had just nipped inside his boat. Widewater lock was set for us, just as well as the lock landing was full of moored boats visiting the pub there. We were aware of a boat following us so we waited, and waited, then turned the engine off and waited some more. Fifteen minutes later, just as Graham was walking back down the towpath to chivy them up a bit, they turned into Harefield marina. Sods law that is!
We had supper in the Coy(sic) Carp. All was well until the Dessert’s menu (sic) was offered to us. We were discussing the surfeit of appostrophies when the waiter, possibly Portuguese or Spanish by his accent, came over. We’d asked ourselves why anyone would put an apostrophe in “Dessert’s”, he replied “because they are badly educated” He added that English was not his first language “but even I would never do that!” Perhaps that is why there are so many foreign waiters.

13th April 2012 - Coppermill to Kings Langley
H.C. 9809 - 9816 Distance 10 miles 16 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham

What a lovely day weatherwise!

We set off from the Coy Carp just in time to find two boats descending Coppermill lock and leaving it in our favour. We, again, passed through every lock solo today although while we eat our lunch moored below Cassio Bridge lock we espied another Northbound boat approaching so asked them if we could share the lock with them. “We are just winding below the lock” came the reply. Is it us? Do I need to shower a bit more often?
We had stopped for gas, diesel and a pumpout at Bridgewater boats and had witnessed the first of the Olympic water-buses being craned into the water at the P&S yard. It then filled with diesel, once we had vacated the wharf, and set off towards London. It was the first of 15 we were told. Maybe they are what all the empty mooring pontoons at Limehouse basin are for.
Passing up through Cassio bridge lock we found a grey boat moored up on the lock landing with his nose partially blocking the lock exit. It was a good job that the new widebeam waterbus was heading South and not North.

As we ascended Iron bridge lock in Cassiobury park the usual gaggle of on-lookers gathered. Two young mothers with their kids stood lockside. A child asked “ Mum, why is the water going up in that thing?” The mother looked at her friend and said something like “how the duck should I know!” She then turned to her child and announced, very confidently, because the man said so! The child was happy with that explanation. No need to teach physics in our schools any more then.
We continued on through Cassiobury park to Kings Langley where we found Linda on Earnest (Yes, that one) moored up above the lock so we moored up adjacent to her and should have a micro-GiG tonight once she’s been for her evening meal.

Restaurant revue for Woody’s vegetarian establishment at Apsley from Linda – a limited menu of mainly crepes and pizzas with two specials, it was very busy lunchtime and evening with a great atmosphere and good service at about average prices. Very good for an organic establishment. Linda had received a recommendation from another boater and would heartily recommend it to anyone else.

14th April 2012 - Kings Langley to BourneEnd
H.C. 9816 - 9820 Distance 4 miles 11 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

We started the morning by assisting Linda through Kings Langley lock as I suspect this lock in almost impossible to work by a single handed boater due to excessive leakage through the bottom gates that make the top gates very difficult to open unless you can apply force to both gates at the same time. We waved farewell to her and then set off northbound ourselves. The locks were all with us, due to no other movement this early in the day and having had all night to empty themselves, until we reached Apsley. The first lock was full to weiring level and whilst checking to ensure no southbound boats were round the corner I spotted a pair of boats ascending the next lock ahead of us. We are not sure where they went because by Apsley top lock there was no evidence of any boats travelling in front of us. Above the top lock here Graham found a message in a bottle floating about in the detritus that gathers above the top gates. We opened it up and it contained a treasure map that sadly has no Pirate identification upon it. Shame! We are unable to find out whether they want to split the booty or even need rescuing from brigands. I think I may try and use Facebook to find the Pirate who created this map. After Fishery lock we found the rest in our favour and had a smooth run home to Bourne End.

We have had a really lovely ‘summer holiday’. We’ve not been more than two hours car travel from our house, but since we decided to become tourists we have enjoyed it all as if we’d been abroad. We’ve eaten exotic foods, met interesting people and heard so many different languages; but the good old British weather has kept us guessing. Vive la staycation. And finally, for the first time in over 30 years, no cats to welcome us home ;^(

Spring Soddit (non) Cruise 2012
Didn't move at all.

Crew - Graham, Brian and Ian.

As we approached Hemel Hempstead by car the rain started to clear so we unloaded the stuff onto the boat before venturing into Berkhamsted for fish and chips. These were obtained from the Berkhamsted Fish Bar located at the railway station (as it happens, a short walk from the canal) and were excellent. The fish was good and relatively low fat whilst the chips were of the ‘twice cooked’ type. It was raining when we returned to Jannock and that was how it stayed for most of the weekend. The ale selection for this trip was Vale VPA and Vale Red Kite. Six games of Soddit later we retired to bed vowing to decide whether to move or not in the morning.

Saturday morning arrived and it was still raining so after breakfast we started playing cards again. Late morning Ian and Brian decided it had eased off enough to try a bit of fishing. Quite successful as it turned out with them catching a total of 5 fish each. Ian won the prize for biggest fish with a good size bream. The afternoon was spent fishing or playing cards with the main session commencing after Brian’s excellent evening meal of Thai green curry. It should be noted by keen Soddit cruise followers that this is the first time that Brian has ever prepared the Saturday evening main meal and he was so determined to get it right he even went and had cooking lessons at the Rising Sun Thai restaurant in Thame before the weekend. The evening Soddit session saw another 6 games being played before we retired after midnight.

Sunday continued much the same as Saturday had. Alternate sessions of fishing and playing Soddit until lunchtime after which we tidied up and set off home again - the boat not having moved an inch all weekend (apart from up a down a bit with the level of the water in the canal)
In summary then – not so much a Soddit cruise as a Soddit stationary with some added good fishing. I was surprised because less beer was consumed than on other trips when we have been moving. All pictures supplied by Ian’s camera.

4th August 2012 - Bourne End to Bulbourne
H.C. 9824 - 9829 Distance 7 miles 13 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

We moved back onto 'hotel Jannock' today and ran away so that no-one else can move in.
As we were about to cast off nb Great Britain came out of lock 59 so we were able to share a couple of locks with them until they decided to pull over and watch the 'Wolrd Sports Day' athletics in preference to boating. Exiting Sewerage lock we decided to leave together as there was a widebeam boat waiting to come in so we had no need to close gates etc. We couldn't see that the top gates would not fully open and so both boats got wedged in. We both went into reverse to unstick ourselves and leave singly. It was as we were doing this that Mr Bombastic, from the widebeam, informed us of our folly and a new law of physics. He told us that narrowboats never come out of a lock together, NEVER! It's because they get stuck. He then went on to explain that two boats moving out together caused a magnetism that prevents them from leaving the lock. Nothing to do with gates that wouldn't fully open then? Now, call me stupid but if two boats are held together by magnetism than surely they should fit through narrow gaps easier. But there again, his theory might be correct because his widebeam had difficulty getting into the lock even with two blokes rocking on the balance beam.

We tested his theory again at bottom side lock and were unable to prove his hypothosis. A steady run solo after that, no Olympic congestion here and no evidence of boats taking up BWs offer of special bankside moorings at Berko and Tring that could be used by boaters visiting the Olympics - not one! Not surprising really considering the price they believed they could charge. Especially when any 14 day mooring could be used that would cost nowt!. We moored for the night at Bulbourne and a pint (or two) at the Grand Junction Arms ended the day nicely.

5th August 2012 - Bulbourne to Marsworth
H.C. 9829 - 9831 Distance 2 miles 7 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

The mystery of the Wol strangler!
As himself was making 'pain synge' for breakfast we discussed the relative merits of leaving Jannock here for the week. The ladycrew was muttering mutiny because of the rain and the sodden state of the towpath but staying here would result in multiple treks from the car carrying stuff next week and then having to move it on before we set off. The discussion then progressed to the quietitude rating for Bulbourne. This morning we had been woken by a family of swans bashing the hull to demand feeding, with menaces. Not your normal duck-weed-nibbling interface that we are used to. The pigeons had been a-flapping and cooing since dawn, not that they made any less noise slipping into the sky at stupid o'clock. What we hadn't heard was the owl that had been hooting for England as we wandered back from the GJA last night - not a quiet drink due to the lack of soft furnishings and a vibrant CD collection. I declared that I would have to think about shooting said owl if it carried on like that. Another hoot and then . . . the strangest sound a wol ever made. It could only be described as a strangulation in progress. We heard no more from the wol that night so please keep us informed if you hear the Bulbourne Woods owl or find an Owl Strangler creeping around on the towpath at night. (or do I read too many murder mysteries?)

We finally set off down the Marsworth flight once the weather had cheered up a bit and moored up at Marsworth on the 14 day moorings.
In a society that is too afraid to let it's children play in the street for fear of kidnap or abuse, finds the game of conkers too risky without protective goggles, fails to immunise same children against killer diseases on the say so of poor and discredited science for the fear of autism, why the heck are little ones of two and three allowed to wander over back decks or wander about freely on moving boats without life jackets? If you love your children make them wear a life jacket - Be a responsible adult!

11th August 2012 - Static @ Maffers
Didn't move at all.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

No boating today as we have a ‘training day’ planned for tomorrow. We arrived at Jannock mid-afternoon. Having unloaded our stuff onto the boat I went and moved the car to our planned destination for tomorrow and then returned on the Di Blasi. I then carried out a bit of maintenance (battery levels and water pressure switch) before tea. Once we had eaten we took the opportunity for a walk around the reservoirs. We’ve not seen them so full for a very long time but there’s still room for a little more water so perhaps we have more rain yet to come.

As we came back towards the village I spotted that the fish & chip van was parked up near the Anglers so I told Brenda I’d treat her to a meal out. The last time we stopped here the van was on-fire as we went past on the way home with attendant fire brigade (see ) so we decided we’d better try it this time before that happens again. Whilst we waited to be served Brenda spotted the County sign that someone had modified – obviously a very frustrated individual – plus the fact that the van did both Spam AND Corned Beef fritters. I was very restrained and just shared a single portion of chips with Brenda. The vinegar was ‘spritzed’ with a spray bottle instead of being poured. They were excellent quality as only chips out of paper can be.

12th August 2012 - Marsworth to Stoke Hammond
H.C. 9831 - 9837 Distance 12 miles 15 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Matt and Ali.

Matt and Ali arrived just after 9am having had to be guided in to the Red Lion by phone. We were soon sorted and set off behind a newish Kingsground boat with whom we shared the first two locks. They were pleased as we had four crew to their two so were able to set ahead. Just as we passed Pitstone wharf a day-trip boat pulled out between us so we ended up sharing Seabrook, Ivinghoe, Horton and Slapton with them until we caught a solo boat at Church lock and so changed partners once again. Our new partner was pulling into the new marina at Grove so we waited for the day-trippers to join us in Grove lock. Having gone down through Grove lock they then decided to stop at the pub and then return to base from there, why they didn’t do this ABOVE the lock I do not know, and so we continued on solo through the last four locks of the day. During all this time Ali was being coached in both steering and working the locks as it was her first visit aboard.

She wrote in the log book “ I had a lovely day on Jannock today, it was the first time I’ve been on the boat. We had fantastic sunshine and great company. I had to drive the boat and was surprised how well I got on with it. Opening and closing locks was a good experience, really hard work and almost a little ‘work-out’ ”

At Soulbury we were third in the queue for the top lock. The two boats in front of us were descending through the top lock to wind in the top pound and then return up again so we switched the engine off and patiently waited for this manoeuvre to complete. Once we had started to descend the C&RT lockie was concerned as the water level in the first (pub) pound was too high and if the middle lock was emptied too quickly then the seating area on the towpath would flood so we descended very slowly and had one of the slowest passages through the three locks that we have ever experienced.
Onto Stoke Hammond and as we were mooring up I noticed an un-usual craft messing about on the other side of the bridge. It resembled a childs go-cart frame fitted with large black plastic wheels that not only provided flotation but also had paddle webs built in to provide propulsion. It did appear to move the craft forward OK but made a lot of splashing in the process.

18th August 2012 - Stoke Hammond to Cosgrove
H.C. 9837 - 9842 Distance 14 miles 2 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Gladys

Wildlife of the day - Herons , standing on boat roofs and on low branches, bold as brass, lots of them.
This morning we woke up in a foreign country – Summer!. Mid 20s before breakfast. We hope the warmth lasts through the autumn as there are many families of teeny fluffy ducklings and moorhens not long out of their eggs. It’s mid_August …….

By 12 o’clock we decided that sunstroke was a possibility and so moored in the shade at Newlands Park – conveniently close enough to hear the screams of small children being frightened stupid in a safe environment (tee hee). Lunch was taken and then Brenda dozed in the shade whilst I investigated an oil leak from the gearbox. Paul of Waterways Routes fame cruised by whilst waving and pointing out the paucity of Jannock blogging this year. Apologies dear readers but a small local event, the Olympics, has impinged on our non-sporting lives. That and Jannock being used as an accommodation block. Now the Olympics are over, I can have some leave and so we are back onto the water getting the boat into the start position for our summer holiday in two weeks time – and blogging again.

Supper was fish and chips as an attempt to use up some of the store cupboard items that have sell by dates in the last century. Yes- really, so Brenda opened a tin of carrots, heated them up to accompany said F&C, and served them. I found it best to place a small pickled onion atop each slice of carrot to make them edible. Brenda simply got the local fish to eat hers . She has vowed never to replenish the stores with tinned carrots ever again.

19th August 2012 - Cosgrove to Stoke Bruerne
H.C. 9842 - 9845 Distance 7 miles 1 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Despite the tropical temperatures we indulged in bacon, eggs and toast for breakfast and so did not set off until 10am, as far as the waterpoint at Cosgrove sani station. By then it was so hot that brains failed to understand Mr 3rd-in-line-for-the-tap's proposition that if we used his splitter connected to the already painfully slow tap then two boats could fill at the same time and it would be quicker for everyone. It might have been faster for him but it would slow everyone else down. After my question to Graham last evening as we sat under the stars to cool down, my brain now hurts. That question was "what stars are above us during the day?" The rest of the universe must be out there even if we are unable to see it but what constellations and planets do we not see during the day. We moored up at the bottom of Stoke Bruerne flight and went for a walk up the flight in the evening.

20th August 2012 - Stoke Bruerne to Banbury Lane bridge
H.C. 9845 - 9849 Distance 5 miles 7 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Shock of the day - Out of control spinning windlass to the gentlemanly crotch area. I'll admit to yelling a rude word , not quite appropriate thank - effin - goodness. Blokey heard my call and moved away from the spinning windlass, almost tripped over his flip flop ( No, not that - I mean unsuitable footwear ) but continued the billing and cooing on the phone, which is why he wasn't keeping hold of the windlass in the first place. Durrr! He told his lady-love that he'd have to go. He recoverd his composure and then the windlass, looked at me and declared that men shouldn't multitask. Multitask? - try being stupid enough to make phone calls whilst locking. Mind you, it could have been fun to explian the injury to the lady in his life though ;^) When he came out of hospital, that is.

Is it wiki-tunnel or tunnel leaks?
Graham asked if I would go forward and use the whistle to tell him when to dodge the water coming in through the tunnel roof. I asked him for assurances that if I was whistle blowing he would not make me go and live in Equador. Not that I wouldn't mind giving Equador a go, but probably not permanently. How fantastic to find that a blacksmith is working in the old leggers hut at the southern end of Blisworth tunnel.

1st September 2012 - Banbury Lane bridge to Norton Junction
H.C. 9849 - 9855 Distance 10 miles 7 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

OK, so we’re starting our summer trip on the first day of autumn but I can’t help that – blame the Olympics.
We arrived at the boat late-ish last night so just loaded our stuff on and decided to retire early, however, the first task was to refit all the secondary double glazing panels due to our mooring at Banbury Lane bridge being very close to the West Coast main line. This morning my first task was to transfer the contents of the jerry cans I had brought with me into Jannock’s diesel tank. I then locked up the car and we were off to join the Northbound procession heading towards Weedon. We passed this boat heading south with the row of three contented passengers sat across the front tug deck. We originally titled them ‘Tug Boat Grannies’ but then noticed one was a fella when we got closer and was possibly not old enough to be a grannie. Later we met nb Laura travelling south still bearing the names of Michael and Angela Faull on the side even though they sold her ages ago. We were also reminded of the fact that we are finally having our summer holiday in autumn by the site of a boat load of coal heading down the canal for sale to boaters to keep them warm in winter.

On our arrival at Wilton bottom lock we were seventh in the queue to ascend. We started our wait moored south of this bunch of trees that protrude from the bank. If you look carefully it would appear that they are actually growing in an old fibreglass cruiser that had sunk against the bank. The boat we partnered up the flight was en-route to a new mooring at Brinklow marina. The owners have only had it since February and had moored it at Oundle marina on the Nene but the combination of drought restrictions followed by flooding have forced them to move it back onto the canal system so that they actually get to use her.

One of Brenda’s objectives this trip is to use up all the old provisions stored in Jannock’s cupboards and so we have decided to score each of them as we use them up. You may remember the tinned carrots that scored 0 (zero) on Saturday 18th August (see above) so here goes:-
Store Cupboard Challenge - Day #1 = Chira chicken meatballs in tomato sauce. These were given a grudging 4/10 as they were far too sweet (and obviously designed for kids) We had them with pasta and home grown runner beans – guess which tasted the best? The runner beans of course!

2nd September 2012 - Norton Junction to Welford
H.C. 9855 - 9861 Distance 7 miles 8 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

Store Cupboard Challenge - day #2 = 10 year old homemade chutney which we used to enhance our lunchtime sandwiches having rejected the dehydrated mango chutney that resembled Baltic Amber and was equally inedible.

Breakfast today was inspired by a picture on Mike Askin’s facebook page. Graham cooked an excellent eggy bread and bacon.
Watford flight was a pleasure to behold, beautifully kept, flowers in planters and all the flags and bunting out to celebrate the Paralympics. In our waiting time we filled with water, washed one boat side and the roof, washed up the dishes and had a coffee break. Brenda exhibited her prowess at working BW taps by getting right royally soaked. Having completed the flight and seen the poster showing the certificates available from the staff, Brenda made the mistake of enquiring of the lock-keeper what sort of misdemeanour, sinking the boat or drowning possibly, warranted the award of a failure certificate, and was promptly issued her own ‘Pigs Ear’ certificate. He must have spotted her clipping the stonework as she entered lock 2 (the dodgy bend mid-flight in her terminology) The lockies at Watford are a credit to CaRT.

Top tip for dog owners – If you have two dogs and want them to stay together but you are too busy lockside to keep them under control on leads, just join them together with about a yard of lead or even string. That way, when they get excited, running in opposite directions doesn’t work, and if they make a break for it – passing either side of hoomins stops them in their tracks. Their string/lead interface makes contact with the human at about knee or calf. Hopefully the hooman has two feet firmly planted on terra-firma – I did or else I could have been in the lock with the boat.

Jannock entered new territory today, the Welford Arm. Short and sweet with good moorings plus full services at the end. We saw our first Kingfisher of the year, skimming along the arm and flitting into the bushes. It’s colours were as bright and iridescent as in springtime.
We moored up at 18:15 and walked a few yards to the Wharf for supper. The menu was at the upper end of ‘Pub Grub’, well cooked and plenty of it with the best bit being their excellent selection of real ales and cider that ensured we were both happy.

3rd September 2012 - Welford to Foxton
H.C. 9861 - 9865 Distance 9 miles 1 Lock.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

Wildlife of the day – well …. wildlife ….. and lots of it. Butterflies, Swifts, Dragonflies, Damselflies and best of all, Kingfishers, plural. We saw about 4 individual Kingfishers, one of which escorted us off of the Welford Arm, flying just ahead of us to see if we herded any tasty morsels in front ahead of us.

We started the day with a stroll into Welford. There is a very useful shop and Post Office in the village. If the Wharf Inn was not to your taste then don’t bother walking up to the Elizabethan as that’s unlikely to be either. Between the Wharf and the village is Welford’s ‘pocket park’. The Buddleia was teeming with butterflies, mostly Red Admirals of course.
Graham winded expertly in a confined space and we left Welford in beautiful sunshine and moved back up the arm in wonderful countryside.

In Husbands Bosworth tunnel we met a Canaltime boat who was not as tight into the side as we’d have liked and so we stopped immediately after, at 13:00 , under the shade of overhanging trees so that we could sweep off the brickdust and repaint quite a length of the roof edge where a protruding section of tunnel roof had removed all of the paintwork. This is the second time that Jannock has required major touching up of paint after this tunnel and in the pub later, we found that this is not an uncommon procedure. The washing was put out onto the towpath so we spent lunchtime watching both the washing and paint dry.
Then onto moor for the night above the top lock at Foxton. Graham did yet more engineering techery whilst I went and took photos in the sun. Then I prepared a dinner of pork chop, potatoes and vegetable chilli.

Store cupboard challenge – Day #3 = Stagg vegetable chilli (best before July 06) 6 years too late but who’s counting, but scoring an impressive 9/10. Graham would have awarded the extra point if it had contained some meat!

4th September 2012 - Foxton top lock to Foxton via Market Harborough.
H.C. 9865 - 9871 Distance 12.5 miles 10 Locks.

Crew - Brenda, Graham, Jennie, Chris and Monty the pup.

Today we had visiting crew, Jennie, Chris and Monty the pup. We were up early ready for our visitors who arrived just as I was moving Jannock down to the lock landing at Foxton top lock. Having completed the Welford arm yesterday it is planned to do the Market Harborough arm today.

Jennie has written - We arrived in lovely sunshine after a goodish run from Bromsgrove. After a much needed cuppa we set off down Foxton locks. This was Monty’s first trip on a boat – the first of many we hope! After Foxton. Brenda and Graham took us down to Market Harborough where we filled with water and moored for lunch. A splendid spread was provided by Brenda. Then we headed back to Foxton where we moored up. We went to recover our car and on our return tea was waiting for us. Dinner was in the pub and then we headed home. It has been a wonderful day – a very big thank you to both for a fantastic day. It was great to meet Brenda again and to meet Graham for the first time. As for Monty – how did he do – I am glad to say very well indeed.

Well, another bit of the system marked off of our map having been to Market Harborough. When we returned to Foxton we found nb Earnest (yes, that one) moored up and so had a chat with Neil and Linda who also appear to be traversing the Leicester ring at the same time as us. The food at the Foxton Locks Inn at the bottom of the flight was good, with my gammon steak being one of the thickest I have ever had to eat, although the red cabbage served with Brenda’s fish pie tasted a bit funny.

Store cupboard challenge – Day #4 = We’re sorry about any disappointment this may cause but no old stock item was eaten today because we had guests and we ate out in the evening, back to normality tomorrow.

5th September 2012 - Foxton to Kilby Bridge
H.C. 9871 - 9875 Distance 10 miles 12 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

Graffiti of the Day = Willbeck’s Dad, Stan is a bomb disposal expert! No – we didn’t understand what it meant either.

We untied at 08:45 and followed Earnest north past Debdale wharf. Saddington tunnel is excellent, 1/2 mile long and dead straight all the way through so that you can see the other end when you enter. It’s also quite dry which helps and I’m pleased to say that we didn’t lose any paintwork in it either.

At Kibworth top lock I got the trusty lock wheeling bike off of the roof and set ahead all the way to Crane’s lock. We had a ‘good road’ and I only had to turn one lock with all the others being set in our favour.
Between bridges 78 and 79 there is a solitary church to the south west of the canal which is marked on the map as the “site of old Wystone medieval village”. It has to be assumed that this was the church for the local estate although there are no other buildings around it.
At Newton top lock it was ‘on yer bike’ again for the last seven locks before Kilby bridge, our chosen overnight stopping place before Leicester.

Store cupboard challenge – Day #5 = six year out of date batter mixture which made perfectly good onion yorkshire puds and so was voted 8/10

We used the shower facilities at Kilby bridge sani-station even though the panelled wooden door had large gaps between the planks. If you do not want any-one seeing you shower then take a big towel and a couple of pegs to hang it onto the inside of the door to protect your modesty.
After dinner Neil and Linda came onto Jannock to discuss trip plans and drink my home-brewed beer.

6th September 2012 - Kilby bridge to Birstall lock
H.C. 9875 - 9882 Distance 13 miles 15 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

Wildlife of the day – A really angry swan who kept chasing eleven other swans off of his territory only to have them return just as fast once he turned his back.
It was very cold when we awoke this morning – nice and sunny but lots of mist rising from the canal due to the cold air.

We set off from Kilby bridge at 8am. At Kilby lock I mounted the lock-wheeling bike and went ahead to set Double Rail lock. Then Linda took the bike and went to set Ervin’s lock and so we melded into the practice of alternating who took the bike ahead to set the next one until the chain came off and jammed between the sprocket and the frame. I managed to sort this out so that we could continue on to Freeman’s.

Our target was to get through Leicester without stopping but in the end we stopped in the middle, by Mill Lane bridge (1), for lunch and shopping. Here there is a selection of shops in a newish block that include Tescos Express, Sainsburys local, a pharmacist, a booze shop and a pizza house – all obviously designed to serve the student accomodation in the area. There is also a childrens play area in the park behind the shops – an ideal stopping point for hireboats.
At Limekiln lock the CaRT workmen were repairing the lock landing stonework and were having trouble getting the broken blocks of stone out. Having failed to free it using a pneumatic jack-hammer they then took to bashing it hard with the digger bucket in frustration.

When is it art and when is it graffiti? – I believe this wall at Frog Island should be classified as art.
We moored for the night immediately before Birstall lock in Watermead country park. The outlook is slightly more pleasant than below the lock. The country park is good for walking and exploring. Go up past the White Horse pub and then up to the village for Co-op, doctors and take-outs etc. The post box is at the top of the lane.

What is it about Jannock and Leicestershire? When we did the Ashby we had the issue of concussed man and the Police. Tonight it has been the Police and their helicopter looking for a missing old lady. We even had a policeman board Jannock and question us. Ho hum! It wouldn’t be so bad but the East Midlands police helicopter has been apparent in the skies over us every day this week. At least whilst they are whizzing back and forth on their bicycles this evening they are more or less silent with only the flashing lights and reflective stab vests to un-settle us.

Store cupboard challenge Day #6 – we are increasingly confident that out of date food does not kill that we invited guests for supper. The ‘best before’ 2010 curry mix was superb, the ‘best before’ 2007 boil-in-the-bag-curry was fine, the tinned tomatoes were best before 2010. Everything went together and achieved a joint score of 10/10 – even the guests scored it so.

7th September 2012 - Birstall lock to Loughborough basin
H.C. 9882 - 9886 Distance 11 miles 7 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

Last night was very quiet after all the searchlights and tracker dogs had gone home to their beds. It was even quite warm as well so the heating will not be needed overnight after-all. We awoke to a cloudless clear blue sky and found the boat surrounded by swans and ducks.

As we travelled north, through the long section between Cossington and Sileby locks, I took a shower and left Graham at the tiller. Coming the opposite way was Ann and Ian Street on board Copperkins and Graham managed a very quick hello as we passed at speed.
At Barrow Deep lock we felt proud to be British. A fit looking bloke with his off-road cycle and a wan looking girl watched on from the bridge as we worked the ‘single hander’ ahead of us through the lock. As hard as I tried I was unable to shift the bottom gate. Did British manhood help? No only the young girl was man enough. As Al Murray says – Shame on you!

Store cupboard challenge Day #7 – part baked baguettes only a few months out of date. The bread surface had adhered to the inside of the plastic packaging . Once baked, the bread was excellent and the roughed up crust was simply extra crispy. Not a product to leave beyond the ‘best before end’ date but 10/10 for all that. And 12/10 for the weather that we’ve had so far, it has shown the lovely countryside off to it’s very best.

As we approached Loughborough the grassy moorings were as full as we’d been warned earlier. There was, however, loads of space because there seemed to be about 15 to 20 feet between each boat moored there so you could theoretically fit another half dozen boats in if they’d all moored considerably. Just as well that we were heading for the basin. With a wide beamed boat on the water point and another forward of that, waiting to fill up, Graham and Neil had to do some slick manoeuvring to wind in the limited space and then reverse onto the finger pontoons.

We booked a table for dinner tonight at the Basin Restaurant, not fifty paces from our mooring, and then went into town for supplies and a post box – the latter was inside the front door of Tescos opposite the basin. We passed a launderette between the basin and the town mooring, near Lloyds Bar (Wetherspoons) if you need somewhere to wait whilst your washing is doing. Graham also noticed a Castlerock pub, the Swan in the Rushes and so we decided to try and take a pre or post dinner drink in there this evening.

8th September 2012 - Loughborough to Sawley bridge
H.C. 9886 - 9891 Distance 10 miles 7 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

Last night’s dinner out was very good! We all enjoyed our choices. Look up ‘the Basin’ on t’internet. The food is Chino-Japanese with a hint of Thai. The drinks were not overpriced. The only bad mark was for the noise levels which were probably outside acceptable limits for health and safety. No soft furnishings mean that the noise just rattles about. I expect it is fine when they are not busy but on a Friday night it was like trying to have a conversation and a quiet meal on the trading floor of the New York stock-exchange. We then crossed the road to the Swan in the Rushes and enjoyed a drink in a real pub. As we left there we looked at the Ossie Bar and Lloyds bar opposite and knew we were connie sewers.

We left Loughborough and enjoyed the gloriously sunny weather on our trip north. Just outside the town the Fire Brigade were playing with a tanker, some water reservoirs and a petrol portable pump in an industrial estate. Luckily they averted their hose when Jannock passed as Brenda had hung the washing out on the front well deck.
We continued on through Normanton and Zouch where the people, bunting and tents in a field below the lock indicated that we had found a Dragon boat racing competition happening in the river adjacent to the boat club. Their safety boat was moored against the far bank to act as starting point. I expressed concern about them getting very dusty as a large combine harvester was working in the field nearby and so they moved their boat tether to the other bank to try and avoid the large dust cloud that was following the machine around.

On through Kegworth and past the large cooling towers of the power station until we reached the river Trent where we turned left towards Sawley. At the Scout outdoor centre Brenda observed the job of her choice in action. An instructor was placing three cub/scouts at a time into a Canadian canoe and then capsizing it and throwing them into the river. She quite fancied that as an occupation!
Sawley cut was bristling with activity. Boaters wanting services from the marina, new hirers starting their trips and marina users returning to their berths after a grand day out.

We moored up at Sawley bridge, not a very quiet mooring, being so close to the M1, but essential as Linda needs to get the the railway station to go home tomorrow morning. I tried dismantling and greasing our control lever and oiling the throttle cable as Brenda is finding it very stiff when needing to adjust the engine speed slightly. When re-assembled it was just the same so it must be worn and in need of replacing soon.
At 6:30 this evening a Spitfire made four low passes over Sawley cut, possibly part of the event that was happening at the Derby Motor Boat Club further back along the cut towards Sawley locks. It was the most exciting thing Brenda has seen for ages, and heard, and felt, because it was so low and immediately above Jannock. It then went off somewhere else and returned overhead 45 minutes later on it’s way back home and gave a farewell salute by rocking it’s wings as it passed over the boat club.

Store cupboard challenge Day #8 – The tuna and mayo paste sandwiches, that we ate whilst moored for lunch, were tasty with some cress added for health purposes and scored 10/10. The fish paste should have been eaten by mid 2007.

9th September 2012 - Sawley bridge to Branston
H.C. 9891 - 9899 Distance 19 miles 8 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

When we surfaced this morning we found that not only had Linda left early to head back to London but also Neil had set off south down the Trent and Mersey solo. We set off at 9am and made our way to Derwent mouth lock where we found a Canaltime boat that had just entered and were waiting for us to join them in the ascent. Once through the lock they decided to pull over to have their breakfast and so we continued on to Shardlow lock alone and then shared with another Canaltime boat with an Australian crew, once we had made our way to the front of the queue.

We changed partners several times during our passage through all the double locks but each one involved yet another queue to get in. One Canaltime boat had a French crew who appeared to speak no English. Their reputation went before them on the towpath telegraph and luckily we managed to overtake them whilst they were taking on water above Weston lock.
We continued down through Burton, past the wonderful mural under the bridge at Dallow lock, with the sky becoming cloudier and the wind increasing until we finally stopped for the night at Branston water park.

Today I have realised the foolishness of agreeing to share three short journey days with Neil and Linda on Earnest. Those missing hours plus the time lost in queuing today is making our schedule a bit tight which is not what either Brenda or I really wanted on our holiday. I feel a couple of early starts coming up in order to try and make up some time and get back on schedule.
Last Thursday evening Brenda picked a load of nice blackberries in the country park at Birstall. She made some blackberry muffins yesterday and tonight we had an excellent blackberry fool for desert.

10th September 2012 - Branston to Alvecote
H.C. 9899 - 9909 Distance 22 miles 11 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

I was up and at-em at 7:30 this morning and had completed my FIRST EVER solo lock passage (Tattenhill) by 7:50. I then honed my process during passage of the next two locks before Brenda surfaced as we passed through the river Trent section before Alrewas.
As we passed through Alrewas we noticed Allan aboard Pengallanty moored up and shouted hello as he is a fellow Cutweb member. Further on there is a wonderful Olympic themed mural under the bridge by Bagnall lock. It even shows the Queen parachuting into the opening ceremony. We continued on the Fradley services where I filled Jannock’s water tank whilst Brenda went to use the shower. Having inspected the facility she decided to use the one on the boat as the BW/CaRT item was too much hassle to use due to very poor design.

At the junction Brenda completed a very tricky manoeuvre of exiting Junction lock and turning left onto the Coventry canal whilst one northbound boat hovered outside the Swan public house and another was coming out of the junction. Once through the swing bridge we continued on to the Plough at Huddlesford where we stopped for lunch. The beer was fine but the food was reasonable typical pub grub.
As we rounded the bend at the top of Hopwas woods we met nb “Hoo Mill”, another Cutweb member according to the sticker in the window which amused Brenda and I a great deal. We know Hopwas woods as “hooty wol woods” (See – 30th May 2004) and so to meet Hoo Mill was amusing.

On through Fazely to Glascote where we found both locks set against us. I was surprised to see a barge shell in Hudson’s yard. I wonder if it has false rivets?
Passing on through Amington we found a small child in a back garden trying to retrieve his football from the canal so it was ‘Jannock to the rescue’ yet again. Having recovered the ball and returned it to it’s owner we then had to encourage him to say Thankyou. We moored for the night opposite the golf course just before Alvecote marina.

Store cupboard challenge Day #9 – UHT milk with a best before date of 2011 which was totally correct, the fat had started to separate out even though it still tasted fine – score 6/10

11th September 2012 - Alvecote to Bedworth
H.C. 9909 - 9918 Distance 16 miles 11 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

Jannock was loosed off at ten past seven this morning. My tea was delivered to my bed and despite the return of sunshine and blue skies I remained there. After four days in holiday mode Jannock is once again a ‘fly-boat’ eating up the miles through long days. Tonight we’d like to make it to Sutton’s Stop. Last night’s rain awoke me from an Alice in Wonderland type dream where however fast you travel, your destination keeps receding. All that rain last night means I’m aware of the slipperiness for the single handed boater so I’d better get up rather than just laying here getting anxious.
What is it with the British weather, too hot to be wearing clothes on Saturday evening and two fleeces and a need for gloves Tuesday morning. And then we got to Atherstone!

Up to lock 6 from 11 we flew, graham on the bike and me steering Jannock until ……. Graham received a text message from the Halifax advising him that the new telephone banking security number he had ordered had been sent. What????? On the phone immediately to find out what’s going on, are we about to have our account raided again? He finally managed to get the new number disabled as he hadn’t ordered one at all.
After lock 3 we had to wait for a good 30 minutes whilst a BW/CaRT tug and lighter sat in lock 2 so that the machines clearing the silt out of the side pond could load it up. A mini-digger in the pond removed the reeds and silt and pushed them towards the larger digger which lifted them into the lighter. At one point the mini-digger driver was ferreting around in his pockets for his cigarettes and dropped a bag of ear-plugs into the mud. Graham pointed this out to him so he bent down out of the cab to retrieve them and immediately dropped his smart phone into the slime as well. Ooooooops!

Once through the flight we moored up and walked down into Atherstone for supplies. We found it to be far less depressing than on our last visit. We found the super butcher near the market square, by the church. Then we wandered down to the end of town to visit the big new Co-op. However we spotted Aldi opposite so went shopping there instead – BIG mistake because Graham came out with a new toy, a router table as a holiday souvenir. The market seemed to consist of just three stalls – fruit and veg, clothes and household goods of the kitchen and scullery type (well, I remember sculleries)

Store cupboard challenge Day #9 – lunch was hot-dog sausages in warm crispy rolls. The tinned hot dogs were best eaten before 2003. They tasted none the worse for being 9 years out of date, but 6/10 was all they’ve ever scored so 6/10 it is now.

Supper (and overnight mooring) was courtesy of Terry and Christine, nb Grace. Their boat is away being worked on so we moored at the end of their garden in Bedworth and were treated to a very good chilli ‘n’ nachos. Christine showed us some of her watercolours that she’d done, they are lovely. Thanks for a good evening of chat and laughter. We hope to find some lyrical wax soon.

12th September 2012 - Bedworth to Braunston
H.C. 9918 - 9927 Distance 23 miles 4 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

Graham set off at bbrrrrr o’clock and was soon working up through Sutton Stop lock onto the North Oxford canal. When I felt I could get up without frostbite I warmed up chocolatines for breakfast and got dressed ready to pick blackberries. We found some suitable off-side bushes near Nettle Hill bridge on the North Oxford canal and so we held the boat to the bank with the boat hook and picked about 1 kilo of fruit quite quickly. This year, although we were passed by two boats during this operation, no one complained about Jannock being slightly skewiff on the cut. An American hirer declared our exploits as ‘awesome’. Awesome Jam it is then. From bush to jar in less than 1 hour.

Store cupboard challenge Day #10 – the jam making sugar was best before July 2010.
Additionally, the dried vegetables I put into tonight’s lamb casserole were best before May 2011. The jam was excellent. The veggies were – well – dried veggies.

As we approached All Oaks Wood we followed a kingfisher down the cut for about 15 minutes. We called into Lime Kiln marina for diesel but John said they had run out. He was expecting a delivery today and it usually came first thing in the morning so he’d ring the supplier to find out exactly when it was due. We waited for about 15-20 minutes during which time another boat, who wanted gas, went on past because we were blocking the entrance. We got fed up waiting as time is short and John hadn’t returned to tell us what the oil suppliers said so we left and continued south.

Coming through Newbold 14 day moorings we met a northbound hireboat on a bend who immediately went into reverse and lost control of his front end so we had to stop smartish too. Brenda commented about all of the cans of Strongbow the crew were consuming and so a new superhero, Ciderman, was born. His task is to ensure world peace by going round saying “ I bloody love you!” to everyone he meets.
We made a slow ascent of Hillmorton locks as only one lock of each pair was in operation. Round the corner we met Brain and Diana on nb Harnser closely being followed by Ian and Ann Street again, still aboard nb Copperkins. They told us that Ken and Claudia on nb Helmsman were waiting for our arrival in Braunston.

And today we had rain, it was mostly light and on and off all the way from Hillmorton to Braunston until we stopped at the sani-station for water and a pumpout when the heavens opened for the whole time it took to pumpout. Graham got a good soaking. It stayed raining heavily like that until Graham had moored Jannock in the space immediately outside the marina that Ken had thoughtfully reserved for us by parking his boat in it until we arrived when he moved back into his berth. Once tied up it stopped immediately and we had a lovely red sunset.
Hello’s to Mike and Christina nbs Draco and Success and Andrew nb Toulouse who we passed in Braunston but saw no-one aboard.

13th September 2012 - Braunston to Stockton
H.C. 9927 - 9931 Distance 9 miles 3 Locks.

Crew - Brenda and Graham.

Graham was up and out a 6-ish, doing a car shuffle from Banbury lane bridge to Stockton. Brrr – a cold morning. I had a cuppa ready just as he returned and so we breakfasted and were on our way by 9 o’clock. The sun came out but the brisk wind ensured it was a hat and gloves morning for me. We made our way past the puddle banks and on towards Napton junction meeting about a dozen boats heading the other way.

No-one to share Calcutt locks with and no point waiting for a partner as two pairs of boats were ascending to top two locks so we had an easy passage down. Two more arrived at the bottom as we were coming down the third so it was about the easiest we’ve ever done these.
At about 12 o’clock we moored up on the straight above Stockton flight where Graham had parked the car in order to visit our ‘real’ home with two weeks washing and to dump ‘stuff’ so that we can take the Cutweb rally ‘stuff’ back with us.
A few minutes later Bill on nb Rosy pulled in front of us and moored for his lunch followed almost immediately by Ken and Claudia on nb Helmsman.

At home we had Lamb St George for dinner. These were obtained from the butcher at Atherstone and were the size of real faggots but made from lamb mince with streaky bacon wrapped around. They were superb, not a lot of fat and really tasty. At 90p each they were terrific, definitely worth a visit just for these if you are shopping in Atherstone.

14th to 17th September 2012 - Cutweb Rally 2012
H.C. 9931 - 9937 Distance 1 miles 16 Locks.
14th September 2012 - Blue Lias
Cutweb Rally 2012 - Day 1

all rally pictures © Andrew Dyke - Thanks

Having been home to do some washing, shopping and collect all the paraphernalia we needed for the Cutweb rally we returned to Jannock and prepared to descend Stockton locks. We waited during which time we had lunch but no-one else appeared travelling Northbound and so we finally set off down the flight solo. No lock wheeling bicycle as I’d taken it home but luckily Ken Kroeker from nb Helmsman appeared and lock set for us so we completed the flight in 1 hour and 10 minutes. We moored up on the outside of a three abreast raft at the end of the Blue Lias garden.
Friday evening we joined the collection of Cutweb members eating in the top end of the bar of the pub where our rally was being held. Their new bar food menu received very positive comments from some of us regular rally attendees. We have themed this year as the ‘Jubilympics’ and so at 22:00 hrs Brian Holt lit the pseudo Olympic torch (converted bird feeder sprayed gold) that he bought on Ebay which immediately went out again. After being relit several times we all retired to bed to prepare for a day of sporting action tomorrow.

15th September 2012 - Blue Lias
Cutweb Rally 2012 - Day 2

Saturday morning arrived with glorious sunny weather which bode well for our planned ‘Jubilympic’ event. We started a selection of games before lunch that continued on through the afternoon. These included Athletic, Equestrian, Sailing, Winter and Raquet sports in which no animals were really harmed at all. They continued most of the afternoon until the Jubilympic steet party started. For this we arranged a collection of the pub’s garden tables into a long line and eat lots of cake, more cake and even more cake. Gold medals were awarded to the games winners at the end of the party. Saturday evenings entertainment came in four parts, Kate Saffin performed her one-woman play Isobel’s War, Neil and Julie Smith entertained us with their own modern take on folk songs, the Queen (aka our club commodore in disguise) addressed us with a side splitting speech and finally a sample of Operatic and ‘last night of the proms’ favourites performed by Simon (a club member) and Camilla, both of whom are training and needed to perform in front of a willing audience. My only regret was that I did not get all of the pictures I’d hoped for because my camera was set to video mode instead of photo.

16th September 2012 - Blue Lias
Cutweb Rally 2012 - Day 3

Sunday morning was colder but still dry and we started with a charitable auction of boaters tat and other unwanted items which was followed by an excellent Sunday lunch. In the afternoon we had a completely new event for a Cutweb rally – a boat tug of war with three great participants. It was great to watch although a little un-nerving for the poor guy moored on the towpath opposite the pub garden as well as the occasional passing hire-boat. Late afternoon, Matt (No. 2 son) and Ali arrived as they are taking Jannock over for a one week holiday when we finish on Monday. The sunday evening quiz, which contained a fresh format, was prepared and presented by Neil and Linda Arlidge of nb Earnest. Our ‘Team Keens’ didn’t win or come last so we were happy. Some more medals were awarded before we finally gave in and went to bed.

17th September 2012 - Blue Lias to Lower Shuckborough
H.C. 9937 - 9940 Distance 5 miles 11Locks.

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Matt and Ali

Monday morning was even colder and very wet as it had rained hard during the night. I arose early and moved the car to Lower Shuckborough which was our planned destination, so that Matt and Ali could continue on their holiday, and returned on the Di Blasi in time for breakfast. We moved Jannock over onto the towpath side of the cut, filled with water and then shared the Stockton flight with Simon aboard nb Vida~Nueva. Once out of Stockton flight we moved on to Calcutt where we shared with John on nb Black Pig during which Ali steered through her first two locks. Left at the junction towards Braunston after which she drove into her first hedge before we pulled over. Brenda and I removed our clutter and waved goodbye to Jannock as she set off towards Braunston.

On our way home we called in at the Wharf Inn at Fenny Compton for lunch. The place is obviously under new management since our last visit and the food was excellent. We chose two items from the ‘two for £10’ (11am to 6pm) selection and were surprised at the size and quality of what we received. We were so full after just a main course that we decided not to have the deserts that we had already chosen from the menu. Another establishment that now gets a ‘Jannock Recommendation’ as they also have a shop and a launderette. Where else can you sit and have a pint or two whilst your smalls are doing? There was one old local who came in and had a pint whilst the bar maid made up his shopping order for him to take away – a brilliant local service.

16th September 2012 - Lower Shuckborough to Rowdyke bridge
H.C. 9940 - 9942 Distance 6 miles 0 Locks.

Crew - Matt and Ali

After mum and dad had departed we only cruised for a short while until we moored for the night. We favoured a nice relaxing evening over cruising until later on. We cooked ourselves steaks and decided to try the red wine that we had bought . . . .

The steak was blue
the wine was red
we drank so much
by nine we're in bed!

17th September 2012 - Rowdyke bridge to Holly Hill Bridge
H.C. 9942 - 9948 Distance 15 miles 3 Locks.

Crew - Matt and Ali

After drinking ALL the red wine we aimed to get to the Tesco store at Rugby. We arrived at about lunch time so we nipped in for lunch at the Harvester (another steak for Matt) before crossing to Tescos to stock up with more wine. We set off again and our goal was a pub marked on the map that no longer existed. So we cooked risotto, drank wine and watched the Avengers on the DVD player.

More steak was had-ded
more wine was needed
you're charged with gluttony
how do you plea-ded?

18th September 2012 - Holly Hill Bridge to Limekiln bridge
H.C. 9948 - 9953 Distance 15 miles 1 Lock.

Crew - Matt and Ali

After bacon sarnies for breakfast and the last lock completed we arrived at the Greyhound pub at Sutton Stop to sit and watch the boats manouvring around the tight bend. Matt ate yet more steak and more wine was consumed whilst a crazy guitarist played us a tune. After a few hours cruising we stopped for the night at a quaint pub and had 24oz steaks ( big surprise! :-)

Canal boats were turning
creating big wash
after more steak and wine
again we got sloshed.

19th September 2012 - Limekiln bridge to Battlefield moorings
H.C. 9953 - 9957 Distance 15 miles 0 Lock.

Crew - Matt and Ali

Feeling fairly bloated from the steak-age we carried on up the Ashby. Cruising was slow due to many moored boats and it being extremely shallow. It was sunny again but still chilly due to the breeze. At Battlefield moorings (or just beyond) we tried to moor but were unsuccessful ... too shallow to get near the bank. Just around the corner was a winding point so I decided to turn. We moored up half against the bank and half *Ahem* NOT. Tomorrow's aim - get off the Ashby.

20th September 2012 - Battlefield moorings to Holly Hill bridge
H.C. 9957 - 9965 Distance 15 miles 1 Lock.

Crew - Matt and Ali

Friday it rained all day. By 11am Matt was head to toe in waterproofs looking slightly like the Michelin man. It was definately a day for sausage sarnies and plenty of tea drinking. We thought about stopping a couple of times but we were determined to get off the Ashby so that Graham and Brenda didn't have to do it. And once more warmed ourselves with red red wine.

21st September 2012 - Holly Hill Bridge to Stretton Stop
H.C. 9965 - 9966 Distance 2.5 miles 0 Locks.

Crew - Matt and Ali

Saturday morning was a short blast to our 'collection point' just past the Rose Narrowboats hire base. We both had a brilliantly peaceful and relaxing week on board Jannock . . . just what the doctor ordered. The only shame was the weather all week, it wasn't all quite as gloriously sunny as Saturday.

There was a young couple from Thame
whose romance held a good flame
after a week on the boat
and staying afloat
they went home completely insane.

29th September 2012 - Stretton to Braunston
H.C. 9966 - 9972 Distance 16 miles 5 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Today we saw all the usual suspects – Kingfishers, pirates, a Spitfire, a Hurricane and other Cutweb members.
We found Jannock just after Stretton bridge where Matt and Ali had left her after their holiday. I prepared her for the off, un-pegged and let Brenda set off solo southwards whilst I moved the car down to All Oaks Wood where it’s much easier to unload all of our stuff from the car into the boat. That’s the trouble when you let others borrow your boat – you have to give them room to store their clobber. Jannock appears to have taken a hefty clout whilst moored at Stretton for the week, The fridge had moved so far that the door would not close and the stereo had popped out of it’s ISO mounting bracket in the lounge. No visible damage outside though.

We continued on down through Rugby with no hassles to speak of and ALL of the locks at Hillmorton were operational and so we fair flew up them as well. We passed nb Floating Asset moored outside the Royal Oak at bridge 73, no sign of the crew though so they must have been inside the pub. The repairs to bridges 79 and 80 are coming along a treat, they’ll soon be fully open again I reckon. Just before Willoughby wharf we had a ‘speed mini-GiG’ with two other Cutweb members. Mike and Krystina aboard Draco and Success passed us at the same time as we were passing moored nb Rosy belonging to Bill and Fanny the dog. She was keeping an eye out of the open back doors but there was no sign of Bill so he must have busy inside.

Just past Braunston turn the Narrowboat Trust were loading with coal. Brenda enquired whether their load was a whole ‘minefull’ and was told that it was actually being mined from beneath the canal through a hole in the bottom of the butty boat. It was also pointed out to her that Gnomes do all the mining in Northants. My enquiry of where Trvor W. was when there was hard work to be done received plenty or derogoratory comments.
After a waterfill and a self-pumpout at the sani-station it was ‘no room at the inn’ as far as the visitor moorings in Braunston were concerned so we passed up the first two locks in the flight and moored in the Admirable Nelson pound. Dinner was roast lamb that had been cooked to a treat in the trusty slow cooker for most of the afternoon whilst we were cruising which was followed by lemon cheesecake.

Since we were moored so close, and since it is open for business again, we felt it would be rude not to try out the newly re-furbished Admiral Nelson. It’s a very different pub from when we last visited. The decor is fresh and modern, food appeared to be more restaurant than bar snacks, with 3 beers on handpump although the Dizzie Blonde was a bit cold when served. The pub was heaving with a birthday party for 75 people going on so there wasn’t even room to bring a cat, let alone swing it! They do advertise Fish and Chips, eat in or take out, which could be useful to boaters as it’s an easier walk than up the hill to the chippie in the village. Mind you, £7 a portion – you decide!

30th September 2012 - Braunston to Welton Wharf
H.C. 9972 - 9974 Distance 2 miles 4Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

First - Tilley hat, now DiBlasi bike! what, with there being two Graham Keens' lately, whatever next?

During my early morning car shuffle, just as I was approaching the car park at All Oaks Wood, the Di Blasi went all funny as if it had a rear wheel puncture and became un-ride able. Luckily I wasn’t going too fast and managed to stop easily without falling off. On inspection, a part of the frame had fractured causing a mega-wobble when loaded with my weight. I pushed it the last 100 metres to the car and then re-planned our weekend journey during the drive back to Braunston to ensure I could walk back from our final destination. In the picture the large arrow shows the main break but the smaller arrow indicates the start of a second fracture! Good job it didn't just snap in two.

As we were preparing to set off the crew of the boat moored behind us were doing likewise and so we shared with them, joining the end of the queue for Nelson lock. Good choice as otherwise we would have shared with a crew of Dutchmen on a Rose narrowboat who were full of enthusiasm but very short of understanding or technique. One poor chap was up to his ankles in mud as he hung onto a mooring rope, wearing only flip-flops and socks on his feet – yeuch!

As we exited the top lock we met the queue coming the other way. At the tail end were another two boats with all male crews, bedecked with beer bottles and under very little control. One was doing a sterling job of coming down the canal sideways even though it had to straighten up every time a southbound boat wanted to pass it. In the tunnel we passed another similar crew, on a Viking afloat craft, who showed no signs of over indulgence – however once they had passed us (luckily without touching) a very strong smell of beer filled the air. Shortly afterwards we heard the very loud crash as they hit the boat behind us, our partners up the flight, who suffered quite a bit of damage to the paintwork. They were upset as they had borrowed the boat from friends.

Lunch today was another ‘store cupboard challenge’ – Balti sauce combined with cold lamb left from yesterday – only 3 months out of date though so nothing for a curry really.
Once we’d moored up I set off for the walk back to Braunston to fetch the car, it was easy until I had to climb over the top of the tunnel. I now know why the southern end of Braunston tunnel is always so drippy. It has a stream running across the top. The first part of the path was very narrow and muddy but once across the main road it changes to a dry metalled lane down to the towpath which is still a quagmire in places.
I returned to the boat, we closed up and headed home just before the rain started – excellent timing yet again. I do believe I’ve seen almost as many working boats in Braunston this weekend as during the show – it’s just there was no parade ;^)

5th October 2012 - Welton Wharf
Stationary at Welton

Crew - Graham and Brenda

As Jannock was in need of a new morse lever unit, which was going to cost almost £150, I took Friday as leave from work and we went to the boat via Midland Chandlers at Braunston as they were having one of their ‘Freaky Friday’ 20% off days. They had a Teleflex EC-301 in stock and it worked out at £111 – Excellent. However we left the chandlers, after Brenda had paid the £411 pound bill, with a new cooker for Jannock’s galley as well – result! The old cooker had been installed when Jannock was built in 1996 and suffered from poor cosmetic condition as well as needing the gas jets looked at soon, a warning given at the last BSS examination.
We then went on to Welton wharf where I fitted the new morse lever whilst Brenda sorted out some of the storage areas that contained items that hadn’t been touched for ages. Once the maintenance was finished we tidied up and went to the White Horse, up in Welton village, where we spent most of the money we had saved today on a drink and supper. Doh! Good beer, friendly atmosphere and good food. Brenda had Spaghetti Carbonara followed by Eton mess whilst I had the Chicken Tikka and a hot fudge chocolate pudding. It was all excellent and we recommend this establishment to anyone who is happy to walk the three quarters of a mile up into the village from the canal. At least it’s down hill on the way back.
During the night it rained and rained and we discovered why it is NOT a good idea to be moored under overhanging trees. The rain drops falling from the branches are a lot bigger than un-adulterated rain and a lot noisier as well keeping us awake for most of the night.

6th October 2012 - Welton Wharf to Stoke Bruerne
H.C. 9974 - 9981 Distance 18 miles 11 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

After the dreadful rain through the night we were blessed with a beautiful sunny day and a good crew to share the Buckby Buckby flight with. They were just descending the top lock, outside the closed Navigation Inn, as we arrived but waited at the second lock for us to catch up. As we descended the bottom lock we espied an ABC hire boat approaching and so we left one gate open for them and set off towards Weedon. It being their first lock they had more than a little trouble entering via one gate, but then it hadn’t occurred to them to put some crew ashore to open the other gate. Once in the lock nothing happened for quite a while, until eventually we could see a figure climbing the lock ladder. Again nothing appeared to happen apart from the second gate being opened again. As we lost sight of them they were reversing out of the lock again. We passed another boat travelling towards the lock so we hope they got some help.

Just after Bugbrooke we passed Laplander in full steam, looking splendid in the sunshine. We later found out that they had passed through Blisworth tunnel that day as it was like a London smog in there. Mind you, we’ve passed through there in the past when the atmosphere was clearer yet our eyes were streaming and throats were sore by the time we reached the other end. Laplander isn’t asthma inducing; very smutty but no heavy breathing. As we left the tunnel to find an overnight mooring at Stoke Bruerne we spotted a fellow Cutweb member and good friend, John P, on the tunnel trip boat. Now that was a surprise but when he visited for a chat after we’d moored up and before he returned to Braunston, he explained that he was there for the CBOA AGM.

Today's store cupboard challenge – a pack of Wrigleys chewing gum that I found during my mega-cupboard tidy yesterday. Graham tried one stick and it was horrible with a lumpy rubbery texture, score 0/10 and not even food.
Graham used the Di Blasi, now newly fitted with a replacement frame section, to return to Welton to fetch the car before a roast chicken dinner that I had been cooking all afternoon in the slow cooker.

7th October 2012 - Stoke Bruerne to Cosgrove
H.C. 9981 - 9986 Distance 6 miles 8 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

After quite a cold night, this morning everything was shrouded in mist when we awoke. I took my time preparing to set off down the Stoke Bruerne flight in the hope of someone coming along to share the locks with, but no-one came ;^(
We finally made our way into, and down, the top lock just after 10am and passed through the second lock solo as well. After the long pound I arrived on the bike to turn the next lock and noticed a single boat passing down through the lock ahead of us – they had pulled off from the 24 hour moorings in the long pound. Due to a boat coming up the flight, they back set lock four and waited for us to join them in the next. We then shared the rest of the flight passing northbound boats in every pound.

At the bottom of the flight, on the offside there was a sign that asked the question “ What if the ‘hokey cokey’ really is what it’s all about? That amused us. Between the bottom of Stoke Bruerne flight and Cosgrove we passed three separate fishing competitions. The two smaller ones had about 7 or 8 cheerful anglers taking part whilst the other had about 20 or more split into two groups by a bridge in the middle. It was noticeable that those sat north of the bridge were a miserable lot whilst the rest, south of the bridge, were smiley and happy to chat. We commented on this to one of the smiley anglers who said he would mention it on their return journey home tonight. Oooooooooops, I hope we haven’t caused any hassle.

Baxters Boatfitting Services at Yardley wharf was closed but we liked their sign on the gas compound fence – it read ‘Shut Happens’ which caused yet more amusement to the Jannock crew. We passed through Cosgrove lock on our own and then continued on to find a suitable fourteen day mooring before locking up and heading home.

13th October 2012 - Cosgrove to Soulbury
H.C. 9986 - 9992 Distance 17 miles 5 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Now we’re well into autumn weather and so we did an early start from home as the forecast for today was reasonable good.
By the time we’d left Cosgrave and reached Wolverton the sun was coming out although the chill wind remained to remove any thoughts of an Indian summer ;^( I do like the new statues that have appeared outside the flats there. I didn’t manage to photograph the train one on the other side of the cut as Brenda didn’t point it out to me before we were too far away. As this one features bicycles I wonder if there used to be a cycle factory here in the past. The run down through Milton Keynes was un-eventful with very little traffic heading North to un-expectantly meet in bridge-holes. The MK area always has the same boats using the 14 day moorings, they just move up and down between Black Horse and Fenny. On our way north in August we moored next to a wide beam whose owner bragged that her range was Cosgrove to Water Eaton.

We were amused when we passed this novel adaptation of a roof box, it has been fitted with a pseudo-cannon that has a tunnel lamp installed in the end.
We stopped at Willowbridge marina for a diesel fill and three replacement gas bottles. A combination of seven days in Paddington basin as well as letting others use Jannock as accommodation whilst she was at her home mooring this summer has certainly increased the gas consumption this year. I had seen a diesel boat in MK that was a lot cheaper than Willowbridge but not having cash with me meant I had to pay the premium to use a card to pay.

As we were leaving Willowbridge, a boat was passing so we thought Hooray, we can share Stoke Hammond lock with them. Imagine our dismay when we approached Stoke Hammond to find one boat going in through the bottom gates and our possible companion about to enter after them. This emotion was immediately replaced by elation when they managed to both fit into the right-hand side of the lock and allowed us to enter on the left. Three in a lock – looking at the sizes of the boats I would not have imaged it possible. All three boats needed to enter through the left-hand gate and then the shortest one could reverse in behind the right-hand gate and let the other one pull in front of it.
This worked so well that Brenda and I cancelled stopping at Stoke Hammond wharf as planned and proceeded to share all of the Soulbury locks with these two as well. A gongoozler, sat outside the pub at the Three locks with his pint, was so intrigued by what we were doing that he walked slowly up the towpath alongside the locks to observe our procedure. What an interesting end to an otherwise un-eventful day.

20th October 2012 - Soulbury to Marsworth
H.C. 9992 - 9999 Distance 11 miles 12 Locks.
Look - almost 10000 hours!

Crew - Graham, Brenda, and Margaret.

A cold and misty start today for the run from Soulbury to Marsworth. We had Margaret, our neighbour, as crew because she needed cheering up after a couple of bereavements during the last week. Luckily there was very little wind and it became quite warm once the sun came out. Guess which fool left his camera at home – Doh!
I was surprised at the amount of free space on the visitor moorings outside Tescos in Linslade, these are usually very busy on a Saturday. The usual collection of parents with small children were there feeding the masses of ducks that gather knowing they’ll get a good feed.
Unusually, I did not get the lock wheeling bike off of the roof until we made it to Ivinghoe locks and I returned it there after the Seabrook swing bridge – it’s so much easier when you have an extra member of crew.
We made it to Marsworth in time for me to use the Di Blasi to fetch the car before it got dark. On my return we ate dinner, washed up and then picked our way along a very dark and muddy towpath to go home.

Margaret wrote in the log book – " A very quiet tranquil day – not many people about. The light on the water would have inspired Monet, I think. Plus I have several photographer friends who would have reached for their cameras. It’s definitely autumn! The leaves are turning colour and the nights are drawing in ….. A cold misty start to the day and a cold and very dark end. ”
Nice to bring a bit of class to this blog even if she did include a dig about me forgetting my camera.

25th October 2012 - Marsworth to Bourne End
H.C. 9999 - 10005 Distance 10 miles 20 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Margaret

The weather forecast for the coming weekend looked poor and we’re only one day away from the home mooring so I took the time off work and we persuaded Margaret to join us again for the day. Autumn happened last night and this was what we found when we arrived at the boat.

The Marsworth yard development has started with most of the old concrete works now gone, at least they’ve got to leave the old office building intact in the new planning permissions. The bottom lock at Marsworth was set in our favour, and having waited for a while, we set off solo up the flight. Once through the bottom lock I was working ahead on the bike, setting the next lock as Brenda brought Jannock into the last. I’d then return and work her through before doing the same again. A passing dog walker warned me of a boat coming down the flight being assisted by volunteer BW lockies. I had left the bottom gate of lock 43 open whilst we worked up through 44 only to find the one of the BW ‘lockies’ had turned 43 when we came round the corner to use it. There was no sign of the northbound boat as it wasn’t even at lock 42 yet. He offered to turn it again but the water level in the pound above was so low that it would be a silly move so we just tied Jannock onto the lock landing and waited …. and waited …. and waited until they arrived. I even had time to drink the cup of tea that Brenda made whilst waiting before they were through the lock. One of the volunteers offered to help us up the rest of the flight but I said that wasn’t necessary as all the locks were now in our favour. “I know these locks” he replied “they’re very leaky”. I assured him that I was certain that they leaked more through the bottom gates than they did through the top and we carried on alone with no troubles at all, each bottom gate swung open without a paddle needing to be lifted and Margaret closed up the gates after Jannock had passed through whilst I went ahead.

Once across the summit, through a very autumnal Tring cutting, we then had two swans who decided they would like to share Cowroast lock with us. Then out came the bike again for the rest of the journey down to Bourne End. I do like this section as the locks come frequently and it gives me a good exercise. As I arrived at Raven’s Lane lock there was a single hander setting it so we shared that and Rising Sun locks with him before he stopped at the water point by the garage below. The towpaths down to the mooring from Berko were very wet and muddy so I had to be careful where I put the bike once we were at Sewerage Lock. It’s funny when people say they are going boating and then spend most of the trip on a bicycle – but I enjoy it.
Once securely tied up at the home mooring, I went back to Marsworth to collect the car whilst Brenda cooked a spaghetti bolognaise to be eaten on my return. We didn’t manage to get Margaret to write anything in the log book this time ;^(

Oh, and the other bit of news – as we reached the top of Marsworth flight, Jannock’s engine hour counter clocked 10,000 hours . That’s almost a year and a half with the engine running during her sixteen year life. Go Jannock!

That's all Folks! .... 450 Miles and 295 Locks in 2012
We hope to see you in 2013.

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