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2013 Trip Reports

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13th April 2013 - Bourne End moorings to Berkhamsted
H.C. 10009 - 10011 Distance 4 miles 14 Locks.

Spring Soddit Cruise
Crew - Graham, Brian and Ian

A bit late starting this year due to carp weather and incapacitated crew after Brenda had a medical hoperation – how-ever while the she was still recovering I persuaded Ian and Brian that a Soddit cruise was in order. Only problem was we wanted to go North in 2013 and Jannock was still pointing South. No worries - we left Bourne End at 09:40 and headed down to Winkwell windy-hole.

At lock 60 Ian found a little frog clinging to the lock wall about half a metre down from the top and so he rescued it and set it free into the hedgerow.
Both Brian (southbound) and Ian (northbound) each had a go at operating Winkwell swingbridge – their first hydraulic experience. As Jannock left the bottom lock there was another boat waiting to ascend and so we asked them to wait while we winded and then shared the return passage through the lock with them. He was stopping at the boatyard above the lock which was quite good considering the amount of smoke his engine was emitting. There is no way I fancied sharing locks with all that smoke all the way up to Berko. By 11:15 we were passing Jannock’s mooring again and on our way north.

A new badge has appeared on the bridge north of Ravens Lane lock. I wanted to stop at Waitrose in Berko to get some bread rolls for Sunday breakfast so we decided that this would be a lunch stop as well. By the time the lunch and maggot drowning session was coming to an end the heavens opened and so we sat tight and played four games of Soddit waiting for the rain to stop. Once the 4th game was over we noticed that it appeared to have stopped raining and so we set off again. At Gas2 lock it started again and became quite unpleasant. We were just leaving Gas1 lock when Brian’s hand slipped on the windlass and it span off into the canal. I left Ian holding Jannock on a rope above the lock and returned to fish out the missing windlass with the trusty sea searcher magnet – found it first go, what a result!

Once Brian and I were back on the boat Ian pushed the front out and then walked down the gunnel to the rear – or at least he tried to. He missed his footing and into the canal he went, Brian and I pulled him out onto the back deck and so we decided to moor up for night just above Gas 1 lock and let the rain do it’s worst whilst we played more cards inside. I’d cooked a chicken Jambalaya in the slow cooker which was well received and a further 4 games of Soddit were played.

14th April 2013 - Berkhamsted to Marsworth
H.C. 10011 - 10015 Distance 7 miles 12 Locks.

Spring Soddit Cruise - Day 2
Crew - Graham, Brian and Ian

We were up at 08:00, breakfasted and fished out by 10:00 and so set off in the sunshine towards Cowroast. No more unexpected events occurred today. We passed up through the rest of the Northchurch, Dudswell and Cowroast locks and onto the summit where we spotted two kingfishers. The first was sat on a branch halfway up the bank. Ian got his camera out but was going to miss it as we were moving quite quickly past. I reduced the engine revs and the change in sound prompted the little devil to take flight before a picture could be taken. The next was seen flying along in front of us so Ian moved to the front deck with his camera but alas, all he got a picture of was a pigeon that flew down to the water for a drink. Once we were clear of the main cutting we stopped for lunch. The sun was bright and we could hear the wind in the trees above us but our little sheltered spot was glorious. I managed to remove the evidence of winter from the whole of the starboard side because the canal water was quite clear here.

We flew down Marsworth flight amidst hundreds of gongoozelers with the assistance of two CaRT volunteer lockies. As we passed under Red Lion bridge I became quite concerned as there was a giant showman's engine going over the bridge at the same time and I could not help thinking “what will happen if it’s too heavy for the bridge”. It appeared that there had been a small steam rally at the Red Lion with real as well as model engines in attendance. They were just packing up so we didn’t manage to stop and visit. We continued on to a suitable 14 day mooring and then I returned to Bourne End on the Di Blasi to fetch the car for the journey home whilst Ian and Brian tidied up the boat.

20th April 2013 - Marsworth to Old Linslade
H.C. 10015 - 10021 Distance 7 miles 11 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arrived at Jannock, unpacked and were off by 10:45. Down through Marsworth locks and on past Pitstone wharf where the trusty lock-wheeling bike, fresh from it’s winter maintenance, was unceremoniously dumped onto the towpath under the railway bridge so that it could be my trusty steed all the way to Ivinghoe locks. Luckily none of the Pitstone trip or day boats were out today so Brenda didn’t have to perform any last minute avoidance manoeuvres. We stopped for lunch before Horton lock, the sunshine was nice and warm but we had to stay inside behind closed doors because the wind was very chilly and blowing straight down the canal.

All along this stretch we have been meeting the “Aylesbury Escapees” who are heading south from Milton Keynes where they were craned back into the water having been lifted out from Aylesbury basin. One of the locks on the Aylesbury arm has collapsed and so all of the boats became stuck in Aylesbury. I understand that this was done by CaRT at no cost to the boaters – Well done CaRT!
The sunshine has been a long time coming this year, the cloudless blue sky assuring us that spring has finally started. We’ve hear a Skylark and Woodpeckers as well as the more usual chaffinches, tits and blackbirds. There are lambs in the fields and we even saw our first brood of fluffy ducklings. Going out for a walk seemed to be a national sport. We even saw a teen riding a NEW chopper bike. They turned heads in the 70s and nowt has changed.
Brenda is not quite up to full mobility since her operation but she has carefully closed a couple of top gates that swung open as Jannock entered the locks. Once through Linslade and Leighton lock we started looking for somewhere nice to moor for the night. We finally tied up near Old Linslade, as far away from the railway track as is possible along that stretch.

21st April 2013 - Old Linslade to Stoke Hammond
H.C. 10021 - 10023 Distance 2 miles 3 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

A short day today as Brenda is aware that she was active yesterday. We set off after a leisurely breakfast, it’s a bit cool in this sunshine but it is still spring. At Soulbury 3 we were aided by two volunteer lockies and abetted by a vicious cross wind. Above the locks there were some fishermen sat amongst the bollards on the lock landing. We warned them we were coming in to tie up but they were not happy about the situation. When the top lock was ready Brenda gave them a choice, either they could push Jannock out from the side or she’d reverse to get off the Hood at Soulbury landing and trash their morning. They chose to push her out. As she left them she suggested that if two boats came along together then their fishing would be compromised in any case. As we moved down into the second lock – guess what? Hood and Hawthorne descend the top lock behind us. Hawthorne’s crew confirmed that fishing had indeed been curtailed for the day.

We moored on a 14 day mooring, at Stoke Hammond, behind a boat with lots of yappy dogs. They were pooping all over the grass either side of the towpath – 5 of them – deep joy! When I got the Di Blasi out to fetch the car, their owner came out for a chat and promptly stood in a fresh landmine - Result! There was much towpath clearing done immediately afterwards.

29th April 2013 - Stoke Hammond to Cosgrove
H.C. 10023 - 10028 Distance 14 miles 2 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Flora of the day - Kingcups
An early start from home saw us un-pegged and moving off at 09:30, just as a fishing competition was setting up on the banks either side of Stoke Hammond bridge. Before we’d reached Stoke Hammond lock we passed STEAM nb Hasty heading south so we looked forward to a lock in our favour. The bottom gates were leaking so badly that the level within the lock had dropped about a foot by the time we arrived. We came across the next fishing match, much bigger this time, by Willow Tree marina. They seemed a cheerful bunch who requested that we stay straight down the middle of the cut so as to not disturb their chosen offside swim. One fisherperson stood out from the rest, he looked severely handicapped with a distorted upper torso – however as we passed we discovered that he was in fact the “ hunch-fisherman of Nokia”.

On through Fenny lock and then into the Milton Keynes marina shuffle – one going in, one coming out whilst we and another passed the entrance going in opposite directions. We’ve been at Fradley when we’ve had three boats moving about in different directions but this was a first for us – four boats all moving different ways at the same time. The sun has been hiding behind high clouds all day leaving us at the mercy of the biting cold wind.

At Linford wharf we narrowly missed a boat coming south through the bridgehole. Once through he started to wind at the wharf. Meanwhile, once we were through the bridge we happened across yet another boat reversing towards us. They then proceeded to wind just north of the bridge, much to the disgust of a southbound boat who had to try and stay put in the high winds whilst this happened. In the meantime the boat we had narrowly missed then appeared back through the bridgehole to find his way blocked by the turning boat. Brenda and I were glad that we had cleared that one before it started.

We continued on against an ever more cold headwind until we stopped and moored up on a 14 day mooring at Cosgrove until next weekend. We can have up to five days boating over the bank holiday weekend as I’ve taken a couple of days holiday.

3rd May 2013 - Cosgrove to Stoke Bruerne
H.C. 10028 - 10032 Distance 6.5 miles 8 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We took on vittels at Bicester Lidl en-route to Cosgrove and then moved Jannock up above the lock in order to load them on. The lovely warm day cooled rapidly as a few clouds heralded a chill breeze. But considering past bank holidays – Ssssssssssssssh don’t tell the weather or it will rain.

At Yardley Gobion the crew from nb Limelight were just untying having visited the pub for lunch and as we passed they agreed to share the Stoke Bruerne flight with us. Limelight is one of the Aylesbury boats that was recently craned out of the basin and back into the G.U. at Willowbridge marina. We happily worked up the flight as if abreast and made good time. We decided to moor in the pre-tunnel cutting at S.B. for the night and so had time for a walk over the tunnel and back to the village. A little fish and chip van drove past us. Oh the enticing smell, and us with empty tums. As we walked along the towpath back to the boat we heard and old school bell clanging and realised that the chip-van had returned – kismet – and there is a tin of mushy peas on board! Ships bike was pressed into action to fetch fish and chips with the planned dinner being consigned to the fridge for tomorrow.

If you happen to be in Stoke Bruerne on a Friday night, just before 6 pm, you can get excellent well cooked fish in a light crispy batter and chips from the bottom of the museum car park. It’s one of three stops in the village. They were all washed down with an excellent pint (or two) of Vale Breweries latest special “One Ton Morris”. It’s a very nice mooring here, all we can hear are the birds.

4th May 2013 - Stoke Bruerne to Bridge 9 Welton
H.C. 10032 - 10039 Distance 14.5 miles 7 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Issue of the day – Yoof groups with leaders/crew who seemed to have little idea of what to do canal-wise whilst in charge of and even instructing children. Hhmmmmmmmm.

For no other reason than we need to calibrate the new oven, we had chocolate croissants for breakfast. On that same note I will need to bake us a cake.
Through Blisworth tunnel to the resounding melodies and harmonies of Bellowhead played loud on the stereo. If Brian were here it would have been Jerusalem and the Dambusters. As we emerged at the northern end we met nb Minnehaha southbound. Sadness and so many happy memories of Bill.

It was all going well so Brenda decided to take a shower. The insulated bag which was still fragrant with last nights fish and chips was secured (enough for the wind conditions of the moment) to the cratch as she needed the bath-space. At the point she was wettest and soapiest the wind turned to gale force. The coolbag decided to take a swim and I noticed it floating past, hard reverse and ended up pinned against the piling by the wind. I stepped off and fetched the bag back but then was unable to un-stick Jannock from the magnetic piling. Brenda assumed all the engine noise etc. was me taking avoiding action from southbound boats at bridge-holes. Wrong! The light dawned and she donned a dressing gown and came topside to get the worlds worst blow dry ever! I ended up taking the boat pole and pushing Jannock off whilst Brenda drove. I then had a long walk along the towpath carrying the pole until we found a sheltered bridge hole where I could get back aboard. Remedial action was required to restore Brenda’s hair sanity , oh, and a cup of tea.

When the first rainstorm appeared we decided to moor up just past Bugbrooke for lunch. Whilst we were eating nb Limelight passed us by. Once we had finished lunch we set off again just in time for the second downpour during which we passed nb Limelight moored up for their lunch. On through Weedon with a constant flow of southbound traffic to be met at every bridgehole.
The boat with a bush in it that Brenda included in her Crepe Craft 2013 calendar has been got at by someone - it is now a floating arbour as opposed to a floating harbour.

We were on our own when we arrived at Buckby bottom lock so we sat in the empty lock awaiting someone to share with because we could see three boats approaching in the distance. The first stopped at Whilton marina diesel point, the second turned into the marina and the third moored up on the 14 day moorings so we set off up the flight solo as there were a pair of boats waiting to descend through the lock. We heard lots of tales about a long queue for lock 10 as there had been a stoppage there earlier in the day due to someone lifting a gate out of it’s socket. When we arrived there only one boat was left and so we shared the rest of the flight with them. Past Norton Junction we found Nackered Navvie moored up with no one apparently on board. We moved on through the next bridge before mooring for the night in the peaceful countryside.

5th May 2013 - Bridge 9 Welton to Willoughby wharf.
H.C. 10039 - 10043 Distance 6 miles 6 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

I was up and out at 7am to fetch the car from Cosgrove. The wonderful sunny morning at Welton was soon replaced by fog south of Towcester. Once back on Jannock I enjoyed a nice bowl of porridge for breakfast before we set off towards Braunston tunnel. This was really dry inside compared with the the Blisworth boat-wash yesterday.

Once out the otherside we had our best ever run down the Braunston fight after a quick chat with the Minimo crew who were moored above the top lock. Down through a very busy Braunston until we found a mooring free outside the Boathouse where we were meeting Ken Kroeker for Sunday lunch. After an excellent meal we moved Jannock down to the turn to wind around before returning right-sided to the sani-station to perform a pumpout. As we arrived a hire boat was just vacating the sani-station mooring. A lady who was emptying a cassette there told us that the hire boat crew had been eating their lunch there using the walls and hatch as somewhere to rest their picnic upon. They must have been either illiterate or very stupid indeed. I pumped out Jannock’s tank and filled up with water while Brenda walked the rubbish down to the skips at the Stop House. We then winded again in the marina entrance, waved farewell to the newly painted and re-named Prairie Crocus and continued on our journey North. Matt and Ali rang and wanted to come and see us so we arranged to meet them at Willoughby wharf.

A stag crew, wearing the obligatory silly hats, stripey pirate tops and/or women’s clothing were in front of us as we left Braunston. They were fairly well mashed. Not knowing the canalscape they kept running aground on the shallow insides of the bends. We were tutting like mad! They seemed to be leaving a trail of bottles and cans floating in the canal. Then we saw them pulled up onto the towpath yelling at us as we approached. Tut tut tut. Could we rescue something from the water for them? Tut. It was a food package blown off of their roof by the wind as they prepared ham rolls for tea. They apologised, albeit rather drunkenly, explaining that they didn’t want to litter the place. Sorry guys, we misjudged you. The bottles and cans were someone else’s and your manners were impeccable.

I managed to re-varnish the back seat and fit a cooker lid retaining bolt before Matt and Alice arrived for their visit and we spent a very pleasant evening sat on the towpath bathed in sunshine and birdsong.

6th May 2013 - Willoughby wharf to Sutton's stop.
H.C. 10043 - 10051 Distance 20 miles 4 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

The sunshine that Matt and Ali brought with them last evening has endured – hooray! We pulled away from our peaceful overnight mooring and found ourselves following nb Trafalgar (Portsmouth) out of Calcutt, which we believe is a navy boat. They were all over the canal as every time something caught the steerers attention then the boat started heading towards the opposite bank. The repaired bridges (80 & 79) near Barby Hill are both looking good now.

At Hillmorton they decided to wait for the nearside lock to be used so that they could refill it for their use while offering us the offside lock that was ready. Result! We flew down the flight with no delays at all. Meanwhile Trafalgar insisted on only using nearside locks and so a hireboat crewed youths managed to overtake them as well. Brenda referred to them as HMS Navylark. Trafalgar – Troutbridge. Not a lot of difference.

On through Rugby, past All Oaks Wood and on to Stretton Stop where I managed to hop off the boat, fetch some milk from the shop and get the swingbridge open before she had managed to steer Jannock through the melee’ of hireboats on a changeover day.
As we approached Tusses bridge we noticed that new duck ponds have appeared in the fields either side of the canal. I hope these are due to a high water table and not the canal leaking.

At Stretton Stop two cruisers were waiting to ascend just where I wanted to swing the stern in order to get round the turn. The second one pulled out to enter the lock but then quickly changed his mind when he spotted Jannock’s back end rapidly approaching him sideways. We moored for the night and within 25 minutes I had applied another coat of varnish to the back seat and mended my glasses by making a tiny screwdriver from a bradawl whilst Brenda had showered and got a roast lamb dinner to the table. Isn’t a slow cooker a wonderful item of boats inventory.

7th May 2013 - Sutton's stop to Hartshill.
H.C. 10051 - 10054 Distance 8 miles 0 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Hurrah – Brenda wasn’t cold at all last night. We haven’t put the central heating on at all this trip so most nights 4:30am felt a bit chill, but not last night!
A very pleasant mornings cruise in warm sunshine was peacefully un-eventful. However we did take a broadside from another boat. They came past us far too fast whilst we were still moored up at Hawksbury but surprisingly they were going far too slow for anyone's tastes or needs by the time we caught up with them near Nuneaton. When the going was suitable I pulled closer and asked to overtake. They agreed but wanted us to take the ‘wrong side’, i.e. pass to starboard, which would have been fine had they moved over a bit more to allow sufficient room for the manoeuvre. Consequently they gave us a heft clout with their front end as our backend passed them. Paint was lost – boating truly is a contact sport. Later in the day they again passed us moored at our destination at warp factor 2 but then cut the engine to achieve ‘no steering capability’ as they approached a water point and adjacent bridgehole. Much revving and manoeuvring finally got them watered up before they set off at speed again.

Whilst I was pumping out our black-water tank at Braunston last Sunday we got talking to another Cutweb member to whom I had sold a previous Di Blasi I had owned. He said he’d had no reliability issues apart from having a drive belt break once. I commented that I had never experienced that problem – well I hadn’t then! Twenty miles into the journey to fetch the car from Hillmorton the drive belt on my Di Blasi decided it was fed up with being a continual loop and wanted to be free. This was on a dual carriageway section of the A5. Whilst being harassed by very fast lorries vans and cars, I pushed it about 1/2 mile along the side of the raod until I found a safe haven from where I could recover it later. I then folded it down and padlocked the bike and my crash helmet to a suitably secure road sign. Hoping that it would not be stolen I then walked a further 5 miles down the A5 to the car in the blazing sun. No shade or offers of lifts on the A5 – shame. In hindsight maybe I should have kept my crash helmet with me as several solo motorcycles passed whilst I was walking and I might have stood a better chance of getting a lift from one of them.

I finally arrived back at Hillmorton about a hour late and feeling very hot and sweaty – thank goodness for vehicular air-conditioning. Back to the traffic sign to collect the Di Blasi and then on to Jannock where Brenda had a cup of hot tea and my dinner waiting for me. We then off loaded our stuff into the car, washed up and headed home. I was supposed to be working night shift that evening but luckily a telephone call was received at 18:05 telling me that the job had been cancelled due to technical issues and so I was able to had a good night’s sleep to recover from the enforced route march.

11th May 2013 - Hartshill to Polesworth.
H.C. 10054 - 10059 Distance 7 miles 11 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

21 degrees last Tuesday. Nudging 11 degrees today, with very gusty winds and accompanying showers. Don’t you just love British summertime.

We drove up to Hartshill and were pleased to find an empty parking space in the car park. Loaded Jannock and then set off towards Atherstone. The wind was very gusty causing the occasional issue with navigation when we slowed down to pass moored boats. The bluebell woods looked glorious on the offside. About 1/4 of a mile from Atherstone there is a sunken cruiser on a bend. It does not appear to be tied to the bank although there is plenty of Orange tape draped on steel posts on the towpath beside it. As you approach it drifts towards the centre of the cut forcing you right across to the offside where it’s quite shallow. Once past this obstacle we pulled over above the Atherstone flight and had lunch before tackling the locks. We certainly needed the sustenance.

When the sun came out we upped pegs and set off towards the flight. Atherstone top lock always used to cheer the spirit of boaters and walkers alike as it possessed a notice board that was the fount of all knowledge, most of it silly. Wise words and scatological ditties were to be found there. Most importantly it always told you how many days were left until Christmas. All for the want of a lock keeper.

Once we were in the top lock it was not so much Round the Horne as around the horn. We fought the wind all the way, the rain fair stung our faces at times. The flight was quite busy and so plenty of slow speed manoeuvring was called for. Some of it successful. I was using the bike to set the next lock whilst we worked through the last. The single-hander in front of us had a volunteer lockie working him down. When we passed through the 5th lock both lockies were sat in the hut eating their fish and chip lunches. Then I found myself assisting the single-hander in front of us.

Once through the flight I decided the weather was so bad that we would moor up opposite Grendon Dock and wait for it to improve before continuing towards Polesworth. After a refreshing cup (or two) of tea and some dry clothes the sun appeared again so we continued our journey. By 4:45 we had moored on the north side of Polesworth just as the wind and rain set in again. We were on the end of the moorings immediately behind Phyllis May II, the legendary Darlingtons and narrow dogs.

12th May 2013 - Polesworth to Alvecote.
H.C. 10059 - 10060 Distance 2 miles 0 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Last night, after we had gone to bed, a very noisy group a pi$$ed youths came along the towpath being very argumentative. I was roused from my dozing and prepared myself to get up when there was a very loud thump against Jannock. There was no evidence of anything being broken and they continued walking and arguing on their way and so I returned to my bed and waited for the morning to see what had been thrown at us. In the morning it became apparent that one of said youths had booted the side of our boat and left a lovely set of dirty footprints but no other damage. I hope it hurt him!

In blue skies and a north wind we completed our shortest cruising day ever. Just enough sun to raise our vitamin D and lower our blood pressure a tad. Brenda spotted a duck family on the towpath as we approached the bridge at Alvecote but unfortunately the male took flight and ruined the group before a photo could be taken. We moored up opposite the Samuel Barlow, ready to visit for a meal next Thursday evening, and left Jannock before midday as there were things to do and places to go.

24th May 2013 - Alvecote to Whittington.
H.C. 10060 - 10067 Distance 8 miles 3 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arrived at the boat late yesterday (Thursday) afternoon and settled in before wandering across to the Samuel Barlow opposite for our evening meal. No frills good food served in a friendly atmosphere (and they even let me park the car there until I return to collect it)
It turns out that the Chef/Manager Paul originates from Oz but managed to live and learn his current trade in our home town, Thame, at a now defunct pub where we used to partake of a lemonade (or beer ;^) after a country walk when the boys were smaller. Ah, the Royal Oak at Moreton.

It must be the start of another bank holiday weekend as the weather is foul. I didn’t want to set off in it this morning and so I pottered doing a few little jobs whilst Brenda managed to finish the book that she’d brought along to read over the weekend. She also made her first ever bit of Kumihimo as well. We finally upped pegs and set off at 2pm. By 3:30 Brenda’s fingers were numb and it was chucking it down again so being asked to go inside and make a brew was a pleasure for her.
As we came through Hopwas I noticed posters up advertising the Hopwas Beer Festival so we stopped to check the date. Shame cos it’s next weekend, Thursday through to Saturday 30th May to 1st June. If you are in the area it sounds as if it should be good.
We finally moored up at Whittington, adjacent to the plaque marking the junction between the Coventry and Birmingham and Fazely canals, in gale force winds and then glorious sunshine broke through the clouds to warm the cabin up for the evening. No problems with aligning the TV aerial tonight.

25th May 2013 - Whittington to Bishtom Hall.
H.C. 10067 - 10074 Distance 15 miles 3 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We awoke to a much better day today. Graham was up and off by 08:45 while I languished in bed. We had an uneventful cruise up the Birmingham and Fazeley canal, passing this enormous brood of at least 20 ducklings en-route, to Fradley junction where we pulled over and filled with water just before the swing bridge. The chap on the boat in front was upset about being moored on a water point as he had completed his fill and was about to set off when his cat, who had been carefully contained for the process, snuck out and hightailed it down the towpath and into a field. Kitty would not be called so chap wandered off to the shop and returned with 4 pints of milk. Kitty hopped out of the hedge and onto the boat. The problem was obviously a milk shortage.

I negotiated the swing bridge and the junction with ease and grace but no-one was watching – shame! (actually it was easy cos there were no other boats manoeuvring there despite a steady flow through the locks) Up through the locks, all made easier by the volunteer lockies, and onward towards Armitage.
We popped into Rugeley for provisions. Graham found lots of beer making goodies but only bought some brewing sugar for his next brew, but I then gained Brownie Points by finding some ‘non-honeymonstered’ puffed wheat.
Answers on a postcard . . . . . .

We left for the short haul past the Taft, still in lovely sunshine, to moor opposite Bishtom Hall. A peaceful spot by the River Trent where Graham spotted a lovely large Pike resting in the shallows, whilst trying to find a place to set the Crayfish net tonight. Supper of roast beef, oven roasted vegetables and Mr Morrison’s own lemon meringue pie, all washed down with home made Strawberry cider, was taken to the sound of woodland song birds.

26th May 2013 - Bishtom Hall to Stone.
H.C. 10074 - 10080 Distance 10 miles 6 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

I was up and en-route to Alvecote on the Di Blasi at 6am this morning. I then moved the car to Stone and returned back to Jannock just in time for a cooked breakfast. There was nothing at all in the crayfish net when I recovered it from the river Trent, I wonder if it was due to the number of geese here?
We set off towards Colwich lock, at about 10am, where we were fourth in the queue to ascend. Haywood lock was relatively easy with just one boat entering in front of us as we arrived. After that came Hoo Mill lock where we were seventh in line. After about 3/4 of an hour waiting, the boat in front of us gave up and turned to return to Great Heywood. They were supposed to be on a training trip on their new boat and decided that they already knew how to queue. By the time we’d made it to the front of the queue we counted nine boats waiting behind us. Every lock after that had one boat waiting to enter as we arrived.

Once we had passed through Weston lock I went inside and had a shower leaving Brenda at the helm. When I had finished we changed positions and she went into the bathroom. It was then that I happened across a loose boat blocking the canal. No sign of life aboard and the mooring ropes had piling hooks still attached. I nosed Jannock around the obstacle and then decided to take it in tow and affix it to the piling about 300m away. All this manoeuvring attracted Brenda’s attention and she appeared on the back deck to help wearing a bathrobe, a towel around her hair and a pair of stout trainers. Not the best of boating fashion. Once the rogue boat was firmly re-attached to the bank we continued on towards Aston lock where we met a southbound Anderson hireboat whose crew were determined to complete the Four Counties ring in 1 week. I hope they do not encounter lock queues like we’ve had today (or need any shopping etc.) otherwise they’ll be running long days on the Shroppie.
We moored for the night on the 48 hour moorings below Star lock in Stone. After dinner it was nice to have a visit from our friend Ian (aka Norman the Narrowboat)

27th May 2013 - Stone to Longport Lake.
H.C. 10080 - 10086 Distance 12 miles 14 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Some towns are hard to leave, but Stone proved better than usual due to the number of boats moving in both directions. It made every lock so much missed againeasier. I was saddened to find that I have missed yet another beer festival by several weeks.
Today’s good deed was a bit of pill peddling. At bridge 101 we managed to strike a southbound boat as we both tried to pass a boat moored against the piling in the entrance of the bridge. The crew on the moored boat were distressed, a disc had been slipped and no para-profen type drugs. My family take the mickey because I always keep a full first-aid kit but they are the first to offer pharmaceuticals from it to the suffering. Once we had reversed and handed over a box of Ibruprofen we continued north meeting very little southbound traffic.

Once we had cleared the Stoke flight we moored up just past festival park so that I could wander over the canal to the Wedgewood – Royal Doulton outlet shop. So many lovely pieces, but not a lifestyle between us, so I bought nowt. What really tempted me was a holiday souvenir; a black Jaspar wall plate, only £2, for the Cayman Islands. Too daft a thought even for me.
The promised rain started as we moved on towards West Port lake so we were pleased to moor early because we are meeting up with Terry & Christine (nb Grace) there this evening.
As we cruised through the 6 towns it is plain to see how times have changed. Through our canalling years we have watched factories close, buildings decay, the flora and fauna take over and then sites are cleared and new industry is established. A lot of heritage is lost, but bottle kilns are still present and folk need jobs. Hey ho!

28th May 2013 - Longport Lake to Church Lawton.
H.C. 10086 - 10089 Distance 3.5 miles 6 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Today is the day we understood our need to have plenty of drying capacity on board. Graham woke up in a soggy bed! Not his age but a leak in the window above, so a duvet cover, sheet and mattress cover to dry out. Then we added two sets of wet weather togs, hats, shoes and other sundry wet clothes to drip. I feel sorry for those boaters who have paid good money and used well earned holiday time to hire boats in this weather. We wondered if the “we are doing 8 hours cruising each day” crew have mutinied yet? As for the guy working locks wearing an ‘olde school’ 70’s cagoule and flip-flops, cos he hadn’t brought the right clothes for his oh so English holiday . . . . .
Having spent a pleasant evening with Terry and Christine last night, we awoke to wave them farewell out of the window as they wanted to get through Stoke locks before the rain got too bad. We then set off at 9am and made our way to Harecastle tunnel where we had just enough time to fill the watertank before being allowed through. It was a pleasant treat to find the inside of a tunnel much drier than outside. We passed through solo to find four boats waiting to enter at the north end when we emerged into the rain again. We then set off down the locks known as “Heart Break Hill” until we became totally sodden by the constant rain and decided to pull over for lunch. We stayed there and have no intention to move any further until the weather improves.

Graham finally gave up and went and fetched the car during a dry spell later in the evening and we packed up and went home a little earlier than planned.

8th June 2013 - Church Lawton to Middlewich.
H.C. 10091 - 10098 Distance 11.5 miles 26 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Simon and Brenda

We travelled up to Jannock on Friday evening collecting Simon from Middlewich en-route. Jannock’s interior was at 29.5 degrees when we arrived so we kept all the doors open for the first hour to let it cool down a bit. br On Saturday morning we set off down the remaining Cheshire locks in glorious sunshine and made good time with a lot of locks in our favour, a situation made easier by the dual locks on this stretch and an extra pair of hands. At one point we met a Black Prince hireboat coming the other way and the lady on the boat exclaimed “Oh, it’s Mr Googly eyes” it seems we met them during our last trip on Jannock just as they were starting their fortnight cruise around the Cheshire ring.

At another lock a young lad appeared and started asking Simon lots of questions about what we were doing and why. He ended up getting a complex physics lesson from Simon which went down quite well as he was keen to learn.
At Hassall Green we noted that the Romping Donkey is still closed but this has nothing to do with the stories about their tattoo evening for minorities but more to do with the new owners altering the premises without the required planning permissions. The nearby Lock 57 establishment was also closed.

The Shropshire Union Canal Society were holding a ‘Saturn event’ at Wheelock. We stopped there briefly while Brenda visited the local store to find out that they did not stock any of the items that we were trying to obtain and had not even heard of decaffeinated beverages. We moved on and finally made it to Middlewich where we had a difficult turn into the Arm due to the wind blowing from the south combined with a boat already waiting to enter Wardle lock. We followed them through the lock and were startled as we passed through bridge 31 when a cyclist passing through the other way informed us that “they are waiting for you ”. It turned out that our friends were waiting in their garden for us to pass. We moored opposite their house and then went and had a good evening with them once we had eaten the Thai curry Brenda had been cooking in the slow cooker all afternoon.

9th June 2013 - Middlewich to Barbridge.
H.C. 10098 - 10102 Distance 10 miles 3 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Simon and Brenda

After breakfast Simon took me in his car to Church Lawton to move my car to Barbridge – no Di Blasi this week as we knew he was joining us. On our return John and Gillian were out in their garden on the opposite side of the canal so we bade our farewells and set off along the Middlewich branch.
I was amused to see a sign hung in the window of a bank-side moored boat “Master Boaters slow to 2MPH to pass moored boats – Masturbators don’t” unfortunately I didn’t get a photo.

At one point we had to move round a tree that is falling into the canal. It appears that branches that were interfering with the towpath have been trimmed back but the rest is a hazard to shipping.
We stopped at bridge 14 to visit Church Minshull as Simon had promised to buy us lunch. We vaguely remembered using a path to access the village in the past but had to make do with the road this time as we couldn’t identify where it started from. The Badger has recently re-opened and does very good quality meals and had 3 real ales on hand pump. The food was not ‘pub grub’ and was priced higher reflecting the quality of the ingredients and preparation. All three meals were excellent so another establishment receives a Jannock recommendation.

Once we had rejoined the boat we set off towards Aquaduct Marina where I purchased 123 litres of diesel to top up the tank. Alongside the services wharf was a tug style boat for sale which had the wonderful sign writing stating “Registered in Guantanamo Bay” before it’s registration number on the cabin side. Brenda treated us all to ice-creams before we left the marina to continue our journey.
Through the last two locks and we emerged out of Barbridge junction to pull onto the waterpoint and refill the tank before moving down to moor opposite the Olde Barbridge Inn. I then took Simon to his car in Middlewich, bade him farewell and returned to Barbridge as we have a three day weekend this time.

10th June 2013 - Barbridge to Swanley.
H.C. 10102 - 10104 Distance 3 miles 4 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

The morning started with Graham baking chocolate croissants for our breakfast while we watched a Heron fishing for his. As he walked up and down the canal edge looking for a tasty morsel Graham observed that there's not much meat on the leg of a Heron. About 15 minutes later there was a little more as it expertly took a fish and it went down in one gulp. Later we spotted a duck in a bye-wash, paddling furiously to stay in a clump of weed. With his beak open he had a constant supply of food delivered 'dreckly'. As we turned into Hurleston Junction we were pleased to see a boat descending the first lock and even more pleased to spot a volunteer lockie to help us up the flight. He was having to adjust the water levels in the flight as there had been no-one on duty over the weekend. Now surely that is when a lockie is most useful. I am a charity volunteer so I know that an every-day charity can't expect volunteers to cover evenings and weekends. So, CaRT, just you be sure YOU don't expect them to turn out for nowt at times when you insist your paid to.

we met our first ever hireboat crewed by Japanese today. Brilliant! They were the smiliest, happiest crew (sober) that we have ever come across. Only one camera in sight too. but unlike the Japanese tourists we usually meet - in Oxford regularly and in other towns and cities we visit in our canal travels, - these visitors were far too busy to be toting cameras and snapping away.
We moored up opposite a lovely house at Swanley and Graham cycled off to fetch the car for the first time in years, thanks to Simon's help with car shuffling. Only a short ride along the towpathn to Barbridge and back to Jannock for lunch and then home.

22nd June 2013 - Swanley to Marbury-ish.
H.C. 10104 - 10108 Distance 5.5 miles 4 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

I took Friday afternoon off work in order to sort out the MOTs that were due. Take the car for new tyres and an MOT and then continue on the Di Blasi to get that MOT’d as well. Di Blasi flew through with no worries. Returned to find the car with 4 new tyres (as requested) and an MOT failure certificate – leaking rear shock absorber. A quick phone call to the VW dealer revealed that the warranty runs out on Saturday midnight and so I need to take it in so that they can start a warranty claim before it ends.
So, the plan to go to Jannock on Friday evening was replaced with a Saturday afternoon start instead and for the second time in as many weeks a meal that we had planned to be taken on our travels was eaten in our home town – how exciting!.
We arrived at the boat at 2:30pm on Saturday – slightly later than planned but happy in the knowledge that the faulty shock absorber will be replaced by VW before a retest.

Weather of the day - Wind (and lots of it)
At our first lock, Swanley No. 1, the offside gate paddle kept jamming because one tooth is broken on the pinion that moves the rack up. On to Baddiley where we were the third of three boats ascending with an equal number coming down as well. At Baddiley No. 1 lock I had to teach a group of Aussies how to work it as it was their first since collecting their 69 foot boat from Wrenbury. Having instructed their steerer on the importance of keeping their boat clear of the cill I then found him peering over my shoulder as I instructed the rest of his crew how to operate the gate paddles. He was sent back to his post with his tail between his legs and told to keep an eye on the rudder. We only managed to delay two cars whilst we passed under Wrenbury lift bridge and continued on until we found a nice quiet mooring alongside a small woods labelled Canal Covert on the OS map.

23rd June 2013 - Marbury-ish to Church Bridge, Marbury.
H.C. 10108 - 10111 Distance 0.5 miles 0 Locks. A record????

Crew - Graham and Brenda

After a very quiet night in a very peaceful mooring with a noticeable lack of towpath joggers and dog walkers we realised that whatever plan we had thought we would keep to had in fact drowned. We were very lucky to only have the wind to contend with yesterday, today it was raining as well. Showers were forecast but we think they’d formed a union - power in numbers – and are picketing the area.
Plan C was being hatched. At least the temperature was as forecast – it just managed 16 degrees inside the cabin. Yet hire-boaters passed us by, often identifiable by the fact that they have all the doors open even if it is chucking it down, blowing a gale and the mercury is so far south it’s in the Azores!

Graham managed a car shuffle on the Di Blasi during a lull in the rain and only got slightly damp, due to the amount of puddles on the roads, and so we eat lunch, packed up and set off to execute Plan C – a visit to the Secret Nuclear bunker at Hack Green.

Tony and Jenny Brooks on nb JennyB (fellow members of Cutweb ) passed us just as we were locking up and abandoning ship so we had a brief chat with them before rushing off.

The museum at Hack Green bunker made us feel quite old as we recognised a lot of the exhibits having worked with and on them during the late 70s and early 80s. We were quite tempted at the gift shop offer of a Geiger counter for £55 but although they were claimed to have been in working order once no guarantee is given now – so we didn’t buy one.
As we left we noticed that Hack Green Maggot Farm was for sale. Our minds boggled at the thought of farming maggots but it would appear that it is destined for demolition to be replaced with residential properties – what a wonderful address to live at – No 2 , Hack Green Maggot Farm.

27th June 2013 - Church Bridge, Marbury.
H.C. 10111 Distance 0 miles 0 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We got to Jannock at about 9pm and were pleased that the rain let up long enough to allow us to move aboard with ease. In the week the knee high vegetation on the towpath had been strimmed and was now stuck all over the outside and trodden inside our boat.

One hour of our 3 hour journey this evening was spent stationary on the M40 motorway. We could not believe the idiots who thought they would jump the queues by driving up the hard shoulder. That was a very necessary access lane for the 3 police cars, 1 ambulance, 1 para-medic, 4 fire engines , 1 crash rescue truck, 1 Highways Agency clean-up truck and the obligatory traffic womble who all required access to the crash scene. We just hoped that the idiots got nicked before they got as far as the incident scene. When we finally got past we observed one full car transporter lorry that had overturned across the central barrier and a solitary white car in the opposite carriageway ditch. Ten brand new cars squished! That’ll be an expensive insurance claim. At least with 11 cars and 1 lorry the casualties would been minimal.

28th June 2013 - Church Bridge, Marbury to Whixall Moss.
H.C. 10111 - 10116 Distance 10 miles 10 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Graham awoke early so at 6:30 he went and moved the car to a better parking location and walked back along the towpath to Jannock. It started raining before breakfast and so we did a few jobs until we got fed up and set off through Marbury lock in the rain. Then he attempted to remove most of the evidence of yesterday’s strimming from the hull sides whilst Brenda steered us towards Willey Moor lock where we met the CaRT grass cutting contractors hard at work who apologised for the state of Jannock’s side. Luckily the rain had stopped by now and the weather was improving rapidly.

At Grindley Brook staircase we had to wait, 2nd in line, for one boat to come down before we were allowed up. Once out of the top lock we pulled over to fill with water and Brenda went down to the lockside cafe/shop to get some postcards. She returned expressing surprise at the kindness of strangers – but more of that later.

Water tank full and roof washed we set off again – destination Whitchurch. We failed to make the turn into the arm as we were too long so we winded just before the by-pass bridge and returned to enter the arm from the other direction. We then winded in the arm and reversed right up to the end before mooring up and going for a wander around the town – that’s another new bit of canal to add to Jannock’s ‘completed’ map.

Whitchurch is worth a visit as it has everything a boater is likely to need in the way of regular supplies. On our return journey to the canal through the Nature Walk area we were amazed by the boldness of the wild birds here including a couple of baby wrens who were happy to remain perched on branches less than a foot away from where we stood.

We exited the Whitchurch arm and moved on to Whixhall Moss where we moored for the night at one of the abundant Shropshire Union Canal Society 48hr moorings

29th June 2013 - Whixall Moss to Hindford.
H.C. 10116 - 10122 Distance 14 miles 0 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We set off after a very quiet night into weather much improved. Dry, cloud covered but improving slowly but surely. It was very evident that we were now well into hire-boat country as plenty of crews were returning from or starting out on their holidays. We diverted down the Prees branch in order to tick off another section of ‘new to us’ canal. Jannock was the only artificial noise we could hear – gloriously peaceful. Less than a mile long we were soon at the end, winded and back out onto the mainline.

I was disappointed that the rhododendrons had almost finished blooming as we came through the meres. Beyond Ellesmere we happened upon nb Earnest (Yes – that one) who was mid-car shuffle so had no time to stop and talk. Past Frankton junction we found ourselves behind a very new hirer who took the concept of slowing down to pass moored boats to the point of becoming static as the flow of water in the canal was faster than his engine speed. He was also taking his boat out of gear for bridgeholes – we were sure he was actually moving backwards through the last one. We found ourselves in the middle of a crocodile – a very slow one at that. Just before we were about to call it a day and moor up for the night he stopped to let the dog off so we continued past. He was holding the boat into the side using the back rope which was caught up in the open rear doors because it was tied to a roof mushroom. His centre rope, correctly attached, was just dangling on the towpath.

We stopped at Hindford and had not been moored up long when he appeared again, just as another southbound craft was passing through the bridge there. I warned him of the other boat and he immediately threw his engine into reverse. Another hire boat that had been following him nearly rammed him astern. Mayhem. Once sorted he had to be pulled off of the shallow side by other boater already moored there. Having thrown his rope into the canal and needing that rescued, he was then given hints and tips by his rescuers and we watched as he passed through Hindford bridge with enough speed to maintain forward motion and some control.
As he passed us by I noticed that he actually had both the front and rear ropes attached to roof mushrooms rather than the T studs provided for the purpose. Graham went to fetch the car from Marbury and noticed the very handy pub just the other side of the bridge, only a few steps from the boat. They did real ale too! Result!

30th June 2013 - Hindford to Pentre.
H.C. 10122 - 10127 Distance 7 miles 2 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Last night in the pub, the crews of three boats moored on the pub moorings told us they were starting off at 5:30 am to avoid the queues at the locks. When we set off at 9am they were still tied onto the pub moorings – it would appear that one of their dogs had gone AWOL during morning walkies – well after 5:30 it was admitted. A second search party was being despatched to try and find the hound.

Graham went and assisted the boat in front of us through the first lock and at the second lock he told me that I would find just the thing for our new kitchen when I got there. We have purchased some odd souvenirs from the lockside on our travels but a brand new radiator from a garden wall sale has to be amongst the oddest. A bargain never the less.

Onto Chirk, in lovely weather and superb countryside. Happy bunnies until we met two American crews who seem a little short on common sense. One crew had moored up in the inter-tunnel/aqueduct waiting area so that they could take a shower and sunbathe. As another, empty, hire-boat was moored there as well this meant that there was no where to hold Jannock whilst waiting for 20 minutes for three southbound boats to pass through the tunnel. Somewhat disgusted by Graham positioning Jannock’s stern against their boat a member of their crew came out to see what was going on. G explained that they were tied up in a very inconvenient, indeed wrong, place only to be told that there was no notice saying so. G explained about not mooring on bollards as they indicated waiting areas but the crew claimed ignorance and returned to whatever they were doing inside. Let’s hope every northbound boat that had to wait for the tunnel annoyed them.

Boats continued to follow each other through the tunnel from the Northern end so I decided to walk through with a radio to tell Graham when it was likely to be clear and try to convince some-one to hold off to let North bound boats have a turn. The first boat along, a hirer, agreed to wait and moored up on the bankside and then took his crew for a walk in the woods. The second boat, hmmmmmmm another American couple, pulled onto the waiting area, pulled back, bobbed about a bit and just as Graham called to say that Jannock had entered the tunnel they went for it. I signalled to them not to enter but they just grinned and moved forward to enter. I shouted to them but they just continued towards the tunnel mouth. Then they got the message and came over to see what MY problem was. I told them that I knew there was another boat coming through, I showed them that I had radio contact. They said it was OK as they couldn’t see another boat coming through. No, because they were unable to see through the full length of the tunnel from where they were, geometry and all that.Then they suggested that I was from a moored boat on this end of the tunnel and was trying to ‘queue jump’ them, they couldn’t understand that I had walked up from the other portal. Eventually they gave in and moored up on the bollards and looked quite annoyed when I said there would be about a 10 minute wait. I was told “I know, we can see the light in the tunnel now we are on this side of the canal” A second boat then entered the southern portal a few minutes behind Jannock, he, he, he!

We contued on past Chirk marina and through the second tunnel with a slight wait due to a horn signal indicating another boat passing through. Once through we experienced no further issues and found a suitable mooring to stop at.

6th July 2013 - Pentre to Bryn Ceirch.
H.C. 10127 - 10132 Distance 18 miles 0 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Gladys and Brenda

We travelled up to Jannock on Friday evening accompanied by Gladys, our neighbour, and once loaded we moved further away from the railway before re-pegging in for a quieter night.
Smell of the day - Wild Garlic (Ransoms) and dog roses.
Saturday morning started sunny. What a super day. We obviously must bring Gladys with us more often if she’s this good a weather goddess! We set off through Fron Lift bridge and onto the aqueduct. Gladys was not at all phased and decided she’s like to walk across to see the views. At the end of the span a chap was chatting her up – he was telling her how brave she was. He’d not had the courage to go over in a boat and had been very nervous on foot. And Gladys thinks she’s the timid one. We presented her with a framed memento of the occasion and a card and chocolates that the lady at the shop alongside Grindley Brook had donated to the cause last week. That was the reason why Brenda returned from the shop completely amazed at the kindness of strangers.

The cruise up to Llangollen was very pleasant. It was almost ‘groundhog day’ after last weeks tunnel altercations at the narrows.
I’d gone ahead with a radio and given Graham the all clear to start coming through. He was about half way through when a newbie hirer came along. I told him that they would not be able to go through yet – see last weeks log entry / blog posting for the rest.
Graham was surprised to find that the locals have trouble with houses going to fast.

We winded in the basin, returned back to the on-line moorings where no ticket is required if you are staying for less than 4 hours and you leave before 5pm. We then had lunch, filled with water and then walked down into the town. We went into the Tourist Information office to get some info on Plas Newydd as we planned to visit there by car next Saturday. We were informed that it was not too far to walk and also getting a car into Llangollen next weekend would be difficult due to the Eisteddfod starting – indeed not so far but definitely uphill. What a gem. Well worth a visit especially if you appreciate wood carvings and tales of dotty women.

We left Llangollen after an ice-cream and another look at the river Dee and moved out into the countryside to moor for the night. We were following a newbie hirer and had to smile as she tackled a 90 degree bend under a bridge, albeit with some fierce reversing, got round and then did a little victory dance on the stern deck. Way to go girl. After dinner we sat on the towpath watching para-gliders over the hill behind us and counting the sheep in the field opposite.

6th July 2013 - Bryn Ceirch to Hindford Bridge.
H.C. 10132 - 10136 Distance 10 miles 2 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Gladys and Brenda

St. Numpty's day -
… celebrated by boaters who enjoy a bit of mayhem and scratched paintwork. (Take note Jenni!)
And a wedding day -
the bride was going to be suitably late as her wonderfully decorated boat was still moored outside The Poacher whilst her guests were gathered at the Lion Quays waterside hotel waiting. Joyous – we suspect she was still in the pub having a shot of courage.
As we passed over the Pontcysyllte aquaduct for the second time this weekend Gladys sat in the front well of the boat and enjoyed the views. We then stopped at the car and off-loaded some of the stuff ready to go home before continuing on through Chirk.

As we exited Chirk tunnel two day boats, teensy ones, were moored across all of the lay by where you wait until the aquaduct is free, two narrowboats were already clinging onto what was left. We asked them to budge up, which they did after a conference, so that we could make space for the two boats following us through. There we two boats coming across the aquaduct – narrowboat sardines!
At New Marton bridge we found ourselves 5th in the queue for the top lock so we had lunch. A crew of Hungarian first timers drew up oblivious of the queue for the lock, even though a boat was just coming out and the first boat was pulling out to enter. They pulled back into the bridge hole without realising that the boat leaving the lock now had no-where to go. After an exercise in bi-lingual tact they eventually got sorted out more-or-less by moving to the offside and holding the boat there out of the way. Hungarians obviously have no Elfin-Safety in their genes. No shoes on, leaping yard wide (sorry metre wide) gaps whilst the boat was still moving, a 10 year old rushing around lockside on a scooter oblivious of ropes and bollards. Then the kids went off to play at the top of the lock by-wash, jumping about in all the slippy weed. My stress level was rising, wondering where an air ambulance could land. The lad walked up the incline of the by-wash and only just pulled his foot back as he was about to step over the edge into the cut whilst the lock was filling with the top paddles open. St. Numpty obviously approved of Jesus’ ability to walk on water.
Once through both locks we moored up under some trees at Hindford bridge! The shade was needed just to stop us melting whilst tidying up ready to go home.

The kindness of strangers -
When at Grindley Brook last weekend I went into the wonderful shop and cafe’ and chose a couple of postcards of “that aquaduct”. Chatting to the proprietress I explained that they were to mount to give to an ‘older’ friend who would be crossing it with us next weekend, sight unseen as she is a worrier. The lady was quite taken aback that we’d pull a stunt like that, sneaking such altitude and no parachute on the un-suspecting elderly. She explained that she herself was so nervous of it that she hadn’t plucked up the courage. I was given a box of lovely fudge and another card with all the info about the aquaduct to give to Gladys if she went through with it. It was a bravery award, and well deserved as she walked and cruised Pontcysyllte, then the two tunnels as well as Chirk aquaduct without turning a hair! The ladies of Grindley Brook shop are as lovely as their stock is vast and their food smells delicious.

12th July 2013 - Hindford Bridge.
H.C. 10111 Distance 0 miles 0 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arrived at the boat, moored at Hindford at 7pm. We had a table booked for a meal at the Jack Mytton Inn so off we wandered once we had unpacked and settled in. Monday to Friday they do a small selection, two courses from a choice of three, for a tenner.We ate very well and the real ale selection suited us too. We chose to sit outside in the very pretty courtyard on a lovely warm evening.

We suspected another diner was a person of fame, if not necessarily fortune, after an odd conversation between some chaps and mine host. We saw five of them yet fifteen were booked to eat. The other ten must have come in through the back way as we had sight of the entrance. On leaving the pub we found two hire boats had tied up between Jannock and the pub. Everyone was out, presumably having snuck into the restaurant as there is no where else to go. Earlier, when we had been preparing to leave Jannock to go to the pub two chaps, in shorts and T shirts as befits the weather and place, had walked past the boat. They had cameras with quite long lenses attached. We spoke with them; they explained that one had seen a Sacred Ibis earlier in the day. I replied “ and I’m Cleopatra”. How rude! Sacred Ibis? Anyhow, off they trudged down the towpath to photograph their bird. Now . . . was that bird the “young lady and her minders” that mine host had been overheard talking about to the five young chaps? How exciting! Yes, I must get out more.

We ended the evening sat out on the back deck watching at least four bats skimming above the water for a light supper.

13th July 2013 - Hindford to Crofts Mill lift bridge.
H.C. 10136 - 10144 Distance 9 miles 8 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Bird of the day - Sacred Ibis

The sight that greeted me outside my window this morning was more male stripper than Calista Flockheart. It would appear that last night’s ‘young lady and her minders’ were the Groom and Groomsmen – a two boat stag party of whom the advance party of five had arrived early by car. And didn’t we know it from about 01:30 onwards. A night cruising boat with three crew came along the canal and prompted the start of the stag party noise which continued on until about 3 am.
Two more early morning boats passed us by about 7am and the next movement was from the stags. I looked out my window to be greeted by
(Sexism Alert!) a pair of hairy thighs and a pert bum in red pants. It seems I could well be Cleopatra, it’s all gone a bit odd. The crew of one of the boats had set the other adrift, not realising :-
a. The Llangollen canal has a steady flow.
b. The keys to that boat were currently missing.
Chaps in pants were trying to rescue themselves. Red pants did make an effort to cover up – last seen sporting a comedy captains hat and red pants. So, where’s the Ibis?
Keys found, in a sleeping crew members pocket, they set off after offering apologies for this morning’s noise and thanking us the small attempts to help them we’d made. Some rowdy stags are much better behaved and more polite than others, even at 08:30.

Once we were up and about Graham spotted that the batteries were down to 12% capacity due to the fridge not liking the hot weather and the original wiring to it being too small to pass sufficient current. We started the engine while we breakfasted to put some charge back in before we took a trip in the car to visit Whittington to look at the remains of the castle and the lovely Italianate village church.

On our return we set off in the boat towards Frankton junction and very soon we actually spotted the Sacred Ibis, in afield of sheep. Unfortunately it was too far away to photograph. Shortly after that we pulled over under a shady tree and Graham started running a pair of heavy duty cables through the trunking to provide a higher capacity feed to the fridge. By 12 am the cables were run so we continued on to Frankton Junction for our booked passage down the locks onto the Montgomery canal. We were last in the queue and had a long wait with no shade at all. As the temperature rose through 30 degrees the wait became longer as the lock keeper had to ‘call a man out’ to remove a car tyre from the cill of the bottom lock. The family on the boat in front were from the Shetland Isles and were really suffering from the heat. They had brought lots of wet and cold weather clothes with them for their fortnights hire and were surprised that summer had arrived.

Once through the locks we headed for the first decent tree on the towpath, just past Graham Palmer lock, where we had a bit of a siesta in the shade. At 5pm it started to cool down so we continued on through Queens Head and the three Ashton locks and arrived at Maesbury Marsh services at 7pm. We ate tea, filled with water, pumped out the loo tank and both showered in the very nicely kept shower room there. Then we continued on to the end of navigation, turned round and moored upon a 48 hour mooring at 9:30. After a much needed brew it was almost bed time.

14th July 2013 - Maisbury 48hr moorings to Ellesmere.
H.C. 10144 - 10149 Distance 10 miles 8 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

A thought - the Montgomery canal is environmentally sensitive. It is headlined as a linear nature reserve. We were surprised to find Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam doing very well thank-you along one stretch. The Owl boxes were good to see though.

A breakfast of eggs and bacon and we were off. An early start as we needed to be at Frankton locks at 12.00 for our booked passage through. We could have stayed another day on the Montgomery and enjoyed the peace and tranquillity. It’s an excellent place for walking and exploring off tow-path, but we had already made the lock bookings and luckily it’s been far too hot for walking.

It was a cool start but the sun had burnt it’s way through by 10:00 and the heat built. I was surprised at the amount of vegetation that grew between the towpath and the cut. All small trees that will create severe problems if they are not kept in check. We got to the locks for 12:00 and were 7th in the expected queue of 8 boats so we had to break out the beers in holiday resort mode whilst we waited our turn. No hankies on heads here though. We’d finished the full Monty locks and were back on the mainline at 2:30. Like yesterday we found the nearest shady tree on the towpath and pulled over for lunch and a deserved cool down.
Once the heat started to drop we set off and headed towards Ellesmere. We knew we were too late for the Tesco's Sunday opening hours but planned to moor outside the arm and wait for Monday morning when Graham will do a car shuffle whilst I replenish ships stores.

We moored up next to Pride of Sawley, the boat crewed by Brian, Ann and the two girls, the Shetland family, who we had followed through Frankton locks both times. They had identified a pub quiz occurring at the Red Lion and so we volunteered to join them. The good news is that we did not come last. After a good evening we visited their boat, for my first ever visit onto a Canaltime craft, for a night-cap before returning to Jannock.

15th July 2013 - Ellesmere to Tilstock Park.
H.C. 10149 - 10153 Distance 9 miles 0 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We started the day by boiling a kettle of water for our ‘quiz buddies’ whose gas had let them down. We then waved them farewell having taken their rubbish aboard to dump along with ours in the skip at the sani-station on t’other side of canal. Into the arm at Ellesmere and Graham did a car shuffle while I went into Tesco to re-provision.
Having seen other boaters go past with laden trollies, I did the polite thing and asked at customer services – knowing that there was a magnetic strip gizmo at Tescos perimeter to stop trollies leaving. A very sour faced lass informed me that I could not take a trolley to my boat. She said that she could look after my shopping while I did several delivery trips. In 30 degrees I thought not! I told her there was no way that I would be able to carry a case of wine (implication only dear reader) but she just shrugged and muttered “Oh well”
Back to Jannock and I engineered my own trolley from our folding sack truck and a laundry bin. Back to Tesco where I asked Ms Sour Face if she would keep an eye on it as I couldn’t manage ‘techno-shopper’ and a Tesco trolley around the store. She looked about her and then said that there wasn’t really room . . . . . but you would have looked after a larger trolley full of purchases hun!. So – if you want a big shop at Ellesmere Tesco then take :-
a. A big enough trolley of your own
b. Some strapping crew.
c. As I suggested to Ms Sour Face, arrange a home delivery on line and a Tesco employee will deliver it to your boat. (OK, I know that costs extra)

When Graham had returned and we were preparing to leave – another shopper came past pushing a laden trolley. You can make up your own moral to this tale.
Ellesmere is a lovely little town and well worth a visit, other supermarkets are available for the smaller shop. The butcher and bakery come highly recommended, as does the Red Lion a little way out from the centre of town towards the Mere. Their food was very good – a huge mixed grill was considered to be enough for the next 2 days by our quiz buddies. A tenner I believe.

We winded at the top of the arm – just, thanks to the boats moored at the turning point, and then made our way to Blake Mere. We have often thought that it would be a lovely place to stop-over but it has always been full in the past. Today it was just for us for the most part. We set our tables and chairs in the shade and had lunch followed by a stroll around the Mere. The sky started to cloud over so we set off at about 2:30 and continued on to Tilstock Park where we moored for the night on S.U.C.S. 48hr moorings at 5:30. Near Bettisfield we spotted this lovely little steam launch moored outside a chalet – lovely!
The fridge appears to really appreciate the new ‘high capacity’ wiring Graham installed on Saturday as the amount of power it uses overnight has halved.

16th July 2013 - Tilstock Park to Wrenbury.
H.C. 10153 - 10160 Distance 10 miles 10 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

After a peaceful night the sun was up and at ‘em early. We, on the other hand arose and breakfasted ready for a 9:30 start and a leisurely cruise through the four lift bridges to Grindley Brook. We filled with water and then moved up to the locks. It was very busy in both directions, with the lockie letting three boats go in each direction in turn, so waiting was the order of the day; except for one westbound crew who should have known better. She re-opened the bottom gates of the lower lock and he tried to enter (4th in a row) against the lock-keepers instructions. Flea was inserted in ear and they had to reverse back onto the waiting area where they sat uncomfortably. We were second down in our batch and there was still huffing and puffing from her when Jannock came out of the bottom of the staircase. Brenda chose to sit and wait in the bridge-hole below the locks until the next lock, out of sight around a corner, was ready. With one more boat coming down behind and three already waiting in the pound to ascend it seemed the best option (plus it was in the shade ;^) Oh how she huffed!

It had got very hot by the time we had cleared the last three single locks and so it was ‘shady tree time’. A suitable candidate was identified and lunch and siesta time were taken.
Then on to Wrensbury closely followed by a woman in a canoe. We’d first seen her at Ellesmere, filling up her bottles with drinking water. To paddle all that way with no portage at locks, a true Amazon. We moored near Starkey’s bridge, next the the boater that Brenda had been discussing the merits of Nepalese curries with at Grindley Brook. Our curry du jour was made in the slow cooker. We also didn’t want any extra heat in the cabin and so the Peshwari nans, Mr Tescos finest, were heated up by wrapping them in tin foil and putting them on top of the engine for the last half hour.
After dinner Graham checked the water levels in the batteries and did boat polishing until it got dark. At least Jannock doesn’t look like a hay stack any more having been strimmed three times in as many weeks on the Llangollen.

17th July 2013 - Wrenbury to Audlum.
H.C. 10160 - 10166 Distance 15 miles 13 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We started today with our good deed, taking a cuppa to the lass in the camping canoe who had moored for the night at the end of our moorings. We offered her use of our facilities but she declined. Then she returned our mug and asked if we’d mind filling up her thermos with hot water as it would save her having to get her stove out etc. We got a bargain! While we waited for the kettle to boil we had an interesting chat. She is an explorer by nature, a traveller, she spends half her life that way. She goes about the world on foot, by bicycle and is now travelling the UK canals. She started from Leighton Buzzard, in May, in an inflatable canoe. It proved too stressful as she was well aware that anything floating or overhanging was a potential boat-buster. A long term friend in Luton mentioned that he had a Kayak and his dad had a canoe. She could chose which she borrowed. Familiar with England ( she has a German/Nordic accent) she has become entranced by the canal system. She says it is like another country hidden within, different places and different people. She was going to Nantwich today to meet up with friends before heading across the Middlewich arm – destination the Peak Forest canal. She asked about travelling on the River Trent by canoe, we suggested she did some more research and even contacted CaRT before going to play with the gravel barges.

We proceeded through the five locks left before reaching the Hurleston flight where we went straight into the top lock with me steering and Brenda working the gates. Has our voyage been too long? Have we been in too much sun? Once onto the Shroppie we headed for the nearest big tree for a siesta and a Seaplane flew over head! In this warm weather this has become our new daily routine - grt up, move a bit until it gets warm, moor up in the shade and continue on once it gets cooler. Not a good way to cover lots of miles but far more enjoyable.
Once on the move again we passed Arun, belonging to Terry, a fellow Cutweb member, moored on the side. No sign of life aboard but all looked well.

We got to Hack Green locks at 5:30. The sun was starting to go down but the temperature was still rising. Now 35.5 degrees in the lounge area. Despite nubile young women in itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny- we’re on a narrowboat- hot bikinis it occurred to Brenda that Bobby Goldsboro could never have sung his oh so evocative song “summer, the first time” on the English canals – Scorchio!
By 6:30 the weather began to cool, so we decided to ascend two locks into Audlem, leaving the other eleven for tomorrow. Brenda mucked up the entry into the second lock. Having allowed for the outlet of an energetic by-wash she didn’t notice the out-pouring from where the by-wash had partially collapsed beyond with more water rushing out
– CRUNCH – Ouch.

18th July 2013 - Audlum to Market Drayton.
H.C. 10166 - 10171 Distance 6 miles 17 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Yesterday at 4:30pm – cabin temperature after 3 hours moored in the shade was 34 degrees – Scorchio plus!
Last night we heard the most wonderful tale from a volunteer lockie at Audlum: the subject under discussion was new paintwork. He had come across a woman laying down towels on the lock walls. I had visions of beach towels on deck chairs. She wasn’t reserving her place though, the towels were to protect her boats new paintwork from damage – bless!
We set off at tweet o’clock to complete the rest of the Audlum flight in the relative coolth. Then up the Adderley five as well before an early siesta, with bacon sarnies, above Adderley wharf bridge.

We relaxed in the shade of the trees and read until we heard the water moving along the cut and saw our boat start to move for no apparent reason. Then we noticed that the boat that had moored on the top lock landing for over an hour, to the detriment of other lock flight users, had moved off and started to plough a furrow up the centre of the cut. Talk about a bow wave, even his bow wave had a bow wave! As nb Pheonix passed where we were moored he opened up the throttle. to our disbelief he had actually slowed down to pass the moored boat. It is the first time that we have ever been able to hear the wash making more noise than the engine. Jannock was left bobbing about for at least twenty minutes after he had passed. Because of their ages we assumed that the boat was borrowed. Please dear owner, if you get your boat back unscathed, please don’t lend it again to the the guy with two kids who looks like Lee Nelson without a stiff talking to first.

Then on to Market Drayton where Graham went off to do a car shuffle and I did the second wash of the day – great drying weather.
After he returned we wandered into town in search of an evening meal – Graham said he’s taking me out!! The Crown, is a Marston’s pub – renowned for being a food chain – stopped serving food at 5pm. There was sport on the TV and ‘garage or techno’ style music playing on the sound system. Not surprisingly it was empty.
We moved on to the Chinese restaurant and had an excellent meal but decided we had to try the Sandbrook Vaults afterwards which advertised the fact that they sold Joule’s Ales which are now brewed in Market Drayton but were last brewed in Stone in 1978. Graham tried the Blonde (brewed using Saarz hops) and the IPA. They were both very good.
The barman informed us that there was a Wetherspoons in town – Graham was disappointed because he had a wallet full of CAMRA 50p discount vouchers and I insisted we visited Asda on the way back to the boat instead ( a short walk down Stafford Road from bridge 63 ). We also found a home brew supplies shop in the town centre – good job they were closed.

19th July 2013 - Market Drayton to High Onn.
H.C. 10171 - 10178 Distance 15 miles 5 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

It didn’t cool down at all last night so another early start to get through the Tyrley lock flight in relative coolth. The first thing I did was to drag Jannock through the bridge hole on the centre rope to get a water fill. Brian Holmes (who used to do a column on Narrowboatworld) was there painting the water posts. We last met him a few years back as he followed us up the Aylesbury Arm and I back-set all the locks for him as he’s a single hander. As a member of S.U.C.S. he has done a wonderful job painting all the fixtures and fittings on the Shroppie as he travels along on his cerise steel cruiser Thursday’s Child. He assured us that Pheonix (of the bow wave debacle yesterday) is a hire boat that operates out of Norbury. That’s a relief although it is not sign-written as such and so no one is able to give the extra consideration and help due to new crews. Also the lack of sign-writing meant that we were unable to ring and report the degree of ineptitude and near vandalism that was being displayed by their hirer. Hmmmmm!

We had ascended Tyrley locks by 9:30 and went into the wonderfully cool cutting beyond. A couple of recent rockfalls and landslips were evident but only once did we ground on the results in the cut. The effects of the by-washes when you try and ascend all of the locks in the Audlum, Adderley and Tyrley flights has convinced us that it best to traverse the Shroppie from South to North and return back south via the Trent and Mersey canal. This will cause far less damage to the boat.
The air has been scented with lime blossom (always bringing Brenda fond memories of her mum) and honeysuckle.
12:30 found us mooring up under a nice shady tree conveniently close the the Anchor at High Offley – rude not to really ;^)

14:10 saw us leaving the pub, returning to Jannock to sit out the rest of the heat under said shady tree, after having a pleasant drink in the garden. There was us, a couple who had been boating since 1976 and the local fender maker who’d been a working boatman. Very interesting conversation. the ex-boatman was telling us how a group of them got a bus from Croxley Mill to see the film ‘the Bargee’ when it first came out in the 60s. It appears that they enjoyed the story and the acting but barracking the screen was the order of the evening due to the inaccuracies the film contained.
The Anchor opens most lunchtimes and after 7pm in the evening. The landlady has been there 35 years, alone as her husband died some 30 years ago and she is 80 next year. Definitely worth a visit as it is a very unique place to drink.
By 4pm we had set off again, down through Norbury Junction and Gnosall Heath to moor for the night near bridge 25 at High Onn.

20th July 2013 - High Onn to Penkridge.
H.C. 10178 - 10187 Distance 21 miles 1 Lock.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Whilst we were sitting in the bows last evening a 70’ narrowboat slowly chugged past and started to turn in the winding hole. At the stern, in sole charge, was a lad of about 14. With a great degree of skill and no little amount of technique he made the turn with only a couple of feet to spare. As they passed us again we told his grand/parents, who were sat in the bows of their boat, that they should be proud. They are. We then made the same complimentary remarks to the lad as he passed. “Oh No” says he “I’ve been doing that since I was little!” We pointed out that he should be even more proud in that case as he has a great skill. He looked quite bemused, said he supposed so, thanked us for our kind words and chugged off.
Now, if he had sort of skill for, say, keepy uppies or computer games I’m sure he would not have been so reticent. I wonder if it will appear as a personal achievement on any of his school records. Kids, be proud even if no-one much cares about what it is that you do well. A short while later the Norbury Wharf Party boat appeared and winded in the same place. That manoeuvre involved a lot more engine revving and propeller thrashing than the lads turn did.

Our first sighting of a Kingfisher in 2013 occurred near the aquaduct above Wheaton Aston. We stopped for diesel at Wheaton Aston. When one refuels at motorway services there are a myriad of shoppertunities – check out Rod Giberts views on the subject. What I have never seen for sale at other refuelling stops are a set of drain rods or a chimney sweeps brush. So, should you find that your life lacks either, get along to Wheaton Aston. It’s on the way to Audlum transport rally next weekend. We passed the working boat ‘Scopio’ en-route to Audlum – with the heat we’ve had recently we decided it should be re-named ‘Scorchio’
Down to Autherly Junction with very little to report apart from meeting numerous working boats heading North, not too dissimilar to our trip back down the Ashby the week before the rally up there a couple of years ago. Brenda turned Jannock north onto the Staffs and Worcs with a little help from the centre rope used as a pivot point.

Today we found that Gailey is mis-named. Between us, Brenda and I managed to upset about four people without really trying. As we approached Gailey lock a Viking Afloat boat crew were being instructed on boat handling by moving the craft in and out of the wharf adjacent to the lock. Brenda held Jannock back to give them room while I walked up to prepare the lock. I spotted a working boat approaching the empty lock so I started opening the bottom gates for them. Having opened the first I was just about to step across to get the other when it was rammed open by the boat. The female steerer took offence when I pointed out that she could not see if any-one was stood by the balance beam and so her action was very dangerous. As they ascended, the Viking Afloat boat with tutor, emerged once again and lined up ready to enter the lock. Tutor was not happy when I pointed out that Jannock had been waiting and was to be next through.

Once we were through Gailey lock, he turned it against a boat approaching from below even though we had told him that they were there. At Brick Kiln lock the top gate was wide open and the lock full as we approached. A lass appeared from below and was about to lift the paddles to empty it when she noticed that the top gate was wide open. As she walked towards that end I called to let her know that we were about to enter. She said that they were there first but I explained that the lock was ready and in our favour so she should not turn it. She strode off back to her boat swearing about having to wait another 30 minutes. Excuse me, we are not that slow locking down!
Onward through four more locks to Penkridge where we moored for the night just below Filance lock. After our dinner we decided to go for a walk in the cooler air of the evening. During our walk around the pretty village of Penkridge I noticed that a Chip shop in the centre sold not just chips but also "’battered chips!’ Against all of Brenda’s protestations I had to try some but they had run out of the special coating that they use. The proprietor explained that it is a very light batter that is similar to tempura.

21st July 2013 - Penkridge to SBC Stafford.
H.C. 10187 - 10190 Distance 4.5 miles 5 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We loosed off after the early morning rush had quietened. A much cooler and greyer morning. I wore long sleeves and trousers for the first time all holiday. Time to go home then. We thought we might moor up at Acton Trussel (or is it Stackton Tressel ladies?) but there were no obvious places to park the car amongst those manicured lawns, abundant veg patches and hanging baskets. One phone call later and Stafford boat club made us welcome as temporary AWCC moorers.
Then the summer mizzle started and we resorted to the British holiday horror that is macs and sandles, no socks, to pass through the last lock of our trip.

As we approached a hotel pair had just locked up through and so it was set in our favour. The boats looked very smart with all the guests sat at the front of both boats – could that be us in our dotage?
As Graham fetched the car I indulged in a lovely chinwag with Ann from nb Margarita ( a fellow Cutweb member) and swapped notes. She was very complementary about son Matt and his pals who joined them in the SBC clubhouse for the Friday evening the last time Jannock visited here.

26th July 2013 - Stafford boat club to Tuppenhurst.
H.C. 10190 - 10196 Distance 14 miles 3 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arrived at Stafford boat club at 8:15 on Friday evening and decided that the air in Stafford was so much cooler than home until . . . . we opened up Jannock. The inside of the boat was like a sauna, every surface was warm to the touch and even clothes, hanging in the wardrobes, were warmer than the air temperature. We spent the rest of the evening on the clubhouse terrace enjoying the company of friendly club members and the cool evening air.

This morning we set off up the Staffs and Worcester canal to Tixall Wide. A paraglider with a backpack mounted engine flew low overhead and waved to us as he passed. We also passed two day boats heading south, the first was full of juvenile pirates who were obviously enjoying a special birthday trip on the canal. I have always wanted to moor for the night in the widest part of Tixall wide but today we stopped under a shady tree so that I could carry out a 200hr oil and filter change on the engine. The shade only covered the front half of the boat so I rigged the sunshade over the engine bay to keep me comfortable during my labours. What a pretty maintenance dock.

Oil change completed we sat in the shade for a while before setting of towards Great Heywood junction where we turn right onto the Trent and Mersey. At the first lock, Heywood, we went straight in as it was set ready in our favour. Then at Colwich lock another boat was coming out as we arrived so we went straight into that one as well. In the thirteen years we have owned Jannock that is the first time we have not had to queue at either of these two locks. As we passed Shugborough it was obvious that a big event of some sort was happening in the grounds, it turns out that it was the Shugborough Game and Country show. We continued on through Rugely and Armitage and then it started to rain (which was forecast) and so we stopped and moored up for the night just before bridge 56 (Tuppenhurst) at 6:30pm. A lazy evening reading books and listening to the rain hoping that they’ve had some at home because the garden desperately needs it.

27th July 2013 - Tuppenhurst to Huddlesford.
H.C. 10196 - 10200 Distance 8 miles 3 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

It rained for 7 hours last night to our knowledge, hard and fast with thunder and lightening. We assume there was more but we fell asleep to the constant drumming on the roof. So, it seemed counter intuitive to awake to find G drilling holes in the floor. Noah did stuff with doves and ravens, not holes in the floor. But Noah didn’t have a fridge that struggled for cooling air in an unusually hot summer. We hope it will now be able to pull cool air from within the bilges and settle down, especially at night. A fridge in a fit is a noisy thing.

Sunday, Fradley junction, hassle! The volunteer lockies were at middle lock, ensuring folks an easy and quick passage into mayhem. We turned onto the Coventry and stopped to fill with water as soon as we were through the swing bridge. Jannock suddenly turning across into a vacant water point threw the approaching boat into a bit of a panic – calm down dear! We then continued on under the A38 bridge and past the nice house at Brookhay which is due to be sold during 2014 (so the sign outside says) – too near the main road and a railway line for our taste. The mini arm cut into the front lawn looks ideal for a mooring though.
We finally moored up at Huddlesford with the plan of eating at the Plough before we set off homeward. Car shuffle completed and boat tidied and locked up, we arrived there at 3:15 to find that they stopped serving food at 3pm. We noticed Andrew Denny aboard nb Granny Buttons moored on the 48hr moorings so we stopped for a chat and catch-up before heading south in the car in search of dinner.

10th August 2013 - Huddlesford to bottom of Atherstone flight.
H.C. 10200 - 10206 Distance 15 miles 2 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We moved onto Jannock last night and awoke this morning to the sound of very noisy ducks. They were running along the surface of the canal, very similar to swans trying to take off, whilst quacking very loudly. I wondered whether this is a new sport in the ‘Duck Olympics’ that they were practising for.
That apart, nothing much happened today, but in a good way. At Hademore, Graham noticed some odd concrete contraptions alongside the new road that passes over the railway via a new bridge. What are they? His guess was that they were medal awarding platforms left over from the Olympics as they seemed to be three concrete blocks formed into a 1 – 2 – 1 step format. Brenda thought they were viewing platforms, with handy handrails, to allow railway enthusiasts a better view of the trains. further along the canal and another set were spotted, this time with a road sign that made it all clear. Health and safety on the roads – they are equestrian mounting blocks because horse riders must dismount and lead their horses across the railway bridge. Wouldn’t want litigation after someone gets thrown by a horse frightened by a Virgin.

Best dressed boat of the day was at Fazely, the Maid of Fibre, a cruising advertisement – it was clad in brightly coloured balls of wool. Must be warm in winter.
At Alvecote marina there was a lovely row of working boats all moored end on to the wharf. Must be a rally happening soon.

It’s been a long time since Brenda commented on fashion tips for chaps – but today the debonair boater was wearing a top hat and tattoos and very little else. Quite a look.
We continued on to Bradley Green bridge where we stopped and Graham did a car shuffle on the Di Blasi. On his return we ate dinner and then moved up and moored close to the bottom of Atherstone lock flight ready for tomorrow mornings ascent.

11th August 2013 - Bottom of Atherstone flight to Hartshill.
H.C. 10206 - 10209 Distance 4.5 miles 11 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

After a slimmer's breakfast, only half a sausage each and half wholemeal rolls with our egg, mushroom, marmalade and Stella’s Gooseberry and Elderflower jam (purchased at Stafford Boat Club) we tackled the Atherstone flight. Accomplished in 1 hour and 57 minutes with every lock in our favour, no rain and nothing horrible happened. Finally the Hex has been lifted. The duck platform floating in the side pond alongside the top lock amused me. Not sure where mum was but the ducklings were enjoying a snooze.

Fashion tips for chaps – let us consider the onesie. Not really sportswear or outdoor clothing, so why? This morning we met a wolf! I hope he didn’t get his tail caught in the paddle gear. The onesie, you think you look cool in the dressing up clothes you knew you were to grown up for when you were 9. At least this one was wearing shoes unlike the last one we saw. Mind you, is there a Hippopotamus one? I have the right figure for it. Pink tutu – Disney’s fantasia. Darcy Bussell eat your heart out.
We moored up and were serenaded by the sounds of an amateur American marching band practicing over the hedge. The marching and flag twirling looked quite professional, shame about the accompanying music. Luckily practice only lasted an hour.

17th August 2013 - Hartshill to Hawkesbury.
H.C. 10209 - 10213 Distance 8 miles 0 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

A late start today due to domestic matters at home and a gloomy weather forecast – which turned out to be late anyway!
I cast off Jannock and we set off south from Hartshill whilst Brenda was unpacking and preparing lunch inside. Although there was quite a stiff breeze it only affected us when we slowed down to pass moored boats where there was no shelter provided by trees or hedges. The plan was to try and get as close to Hawkesbury as we could before mooring up when the forecast rain set in. On the approach to Nuneaton we happened across a fishing match but unlike the Milton Keynes ones, there were only 9 participants here.

Just after Wash Lane bridge there is a large blackberry bush, on the offside near the allotments, that was smothered with large juicy fruit so we stopped Jannock alongside and harvested as many as we could before another boat came along and we had to move on due to the bows having swung across the canal effectively blocking it. The, long closed, Navigation Inn alongside bridge 14 is undergoing a major renovation but I suspect it is not destined to re-open as a pub again.
We moored for the night, just before Hawkesbury junction prior to the forecast rain starting. We ate most of the harvested blackberries for dessert accompanied by tinned rice pudding – they were excellent. In fact they were so nice we suspected that the bush was originally cultivated stock that has escaped from the allotments next door and not a run-of-the-mill wild bush.

18th August 2013 - Hawkesbury to All Oaks Wood.
H.C. 10213 - 10216 Distance 8.5 miles 1 Lock.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

After a very windy evening we had a very quiet night and awoke to blue skies. Todays weather was very different from yesterdays. An american couple, just 20 mins aboard their hire boat complimented 'us' on our 'beautiful country with a wonderful sky and pretty trees'. I commented that they'd obviously not been aboard yesterday as it had been a very different country. That is more evidence that I am turning into Victor Meldrew.
Graham did an expert turn at Hawkesbury junction as there was nobody outside the pub watching. Almost immediately the cut got busy. By Stretton Stop I was very Victor Meldrew. On the off-side there were 16 boats moored, 10 of which were not displaying current licenses. I am very aware that all could be fully paid up, but still not in accordance and all that. CaRT spend a lot of their time telling us that relatively few boats are un-licensed but untill all names, ranks and numbers are displayed the evaders are harder to spot let alone deal with.

There was a fisherman with his little dog by the swingbridge at Stretton Stop, waiting to cross to the offside. Boats were coming through thick and fast from both directions and he was not getting chance to retrieve the open bridge to cross. Any-one stopping for him would have caused a pile up. We offered the obvious solution and slowed right down so that they could both cross over using Jannock's cruiser stern. The mayhem continued right through the bridge with two hire boats not giving any indication that they wanted to move off were having a right old moan that no-one would let them out. Did they bother so indicate to passing boats that they wanted to set off? Other boaters were not telling those they passed what was following behind them and so innexperienced day boaters ended up aground in the offside trees due to another boat suddenly appearing through the bridge. Once we had stopped at All Oaks Wood and moored up we watched the continuous procession pass, not one spare foot between half a dozen boats to allow anyone else room to move.
What really annoyed Brenda were the blackberries, or rather the lack of them. Having eaten the loveliest blackberries ever last evening we were looking forward to our usual harvest gathered from the offside of the Oxford canal (traffic and ease of navigation willing of course). None, nil, nada, nowt. All green still. They'll be ripe after we've gone unlike the ones on the Coventry.

31st August 2013 - All Oaks Wood to Hillmorton.
H.C. 10216 - 10219 Distance 7 miles 3 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

After a weekend off to celebrate Granddad's 90th birthday we returned to Jannock for a one day trip and met up with our friendly canoe traveller, last seen on the Llangollen canal. Tea and cake was exchanged for her tales. She was blackberrying for her second breakfast, a pastime we joined her in, and it was so necessary to explain to her how to make fruit liqueurs. She reckoned that Rugby Tescos could provide the cheap gin required. We have become used to seeing fruit and coconuts floating in the canals, especially in urban areas where our canals deputise for the Ganges, but today it was an oven ready chicken, sans packaging, we spotted floating upside down near Brinklow marina. One has to wonder . . . . .

On through Rugby and whilst I was making a cuppa there was a hell of a clonk on the steelwork. No unpleasant kids about so not a stone then. No golf course nearby so not a golf ball. It turned out to be a muck-spreader working in the field alongside the canal hurling stones as well as muck about. It left a goodly hole in the paint work by the front well seat. Just as well himself at the tiller didn’t get an attack of the wurzels. We stopped by the shops at Rugby as Graham wanted some oil from Halfords and I took the opportunity of purchasing some new shelves for Jannock from B&Q.
We ascended Hillmorton locks alongside a Viking Afloat boat whose husband and wife crew decided to only use the left hand lock no matter what state the locks were set in. G. thought it was great as they ignored the empty righthand locks to use the ones that needed emptying. We passed Aldgate moored above Hillmorton locks where the owner was cleaning all the rust off of the hold floor before painting – what a mucky task. G. fetched the car from All Oaks Wood whilst I tidied up ready to go home. Another trip down to Hampshire tomorrow.

7th September 2013 - Hillmorton to Braunston.
H.C. 10219 - 10221 Distance 6.5 miles 0 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Brenda and I arrived at Jannock mid-morning and set about doing several jobs that required doing including installing a digital temperature controller onto the Inlander 12V fridge. I had noticed that the fridge kept cycling on and off erratically once it had got down to temperature and I thought it was caused by the internal thermostat. By installing an independent temperature controller that switched the 12V on and off and turning the internal one to max I could see how much power the fridge used when working normally. After the Soddit cruise (reported later in this mega picture less issue) I can confirm the system works very well and the power used by the fridge has dropped by approx 40%. We can also see the fridge temperature displayed permanently on an LED display which has highlighted the fact that the fridge temperature increases by 1.5 degrees whenever the door is opened.
We set off from Hillmorton after lunch and had an un-eventful run down to moor for the night just outside Braunston. Shortly afterwards nb Earnest (yes – that one) appeared and moored up just in front of us. We then arranged to join it’s crew at the Mill House after we had eaten on-board as they were planning to eat out. On the walk down to the pub we passed a cruiser moored on the 14day moorings blatantly displaying three potted cannabis plants on the roof. Brenda wished she had brought her secateurs with her from the boat as she felt they needed pruning (to about 1/2 inch above the compost). An enjoyable evening was spent with Neil and Linda before the dark trek back to the boats.

8th September 2013 - Braunston.
H.C. 10221 - 10223 Distance 1 mile 0 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

A very easy day today as we just need to deliver Jannock to UCC ready for blacking in the dry dock tomorrow. We moved into Braunston and onto the sani-station mooring so that I could do a pump-out. I only had to stop pumping once to allow another boater to empty his cassette – brave soul. We then moved on through Braunston and spotted that the crew of Prairie Crocus II were on board in the marina. Brenda disappeared for a chat with Claudia and I moved Jannock up to moor on the UCC moorings on my own. I then took the di-blasi back to Hillmorton to fetch the car and tried a new route through Barby rather than through Dunchurch.

13th September 2013 - Braunston to Blue Lias Stockton.
H.C. 10223 - 10228 Distance 10 mile 11 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We collected a very clean and tidy Jannock from UCC and set off for the Blue Lias at Stockton ready for the 2013 Cutweb rally. We locked down through the 3 Calcutt locks and the Stockton flight solo as there were no other boats around. Once at the Blue Lias we winded in the entrance to the old arm and moored up outside No Frontiers who was already moored alongside Earnest (yes, that one).

14th & 15th September 2013 - Cutweb Rally at Blue Lias Stockton.
H.C. 10228 - 10228 Distance 0 mile 0 Locks.
16th September 2013 - Blue Lias to Birdingbury Wharf.
H.C. 10228 - 10230 Distance 1 mile 8 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

I was up early to be one of the four strong crew who worked nb Rosy and nb Enseabee up the Stockton flight. Not as fast as yesterday’s run up when nb Loddon and nb Vide Nueva completed the flight in 38 minutes with an 8 strong locking crew. We then returned to Blue Lias and moved Jannock up the flight tied alongside Harnser so that both Brenda and I could assist Diana working the locks. We stopped on the straight after the Rugby road bridge and then packed up to return home once I had walked back to Blue Lias to collect the car.

20th September 2013 - Birdingbury Wharf
H.C. 10230 Distance 0 miles 0 Locks.

Autumn Soddit Cruise
Crew - Graham, Brian and Ian

The usual crew of Ian, Brian and myself arrived at Jannock having feasted en-route on excellent fish and chips obtained from the Southam chip shop. As we were unloading the car onto Jannock in the dark, Terry Streeter from nb Arun arrived to see us as his boat was moored two boats behind us. We invited him to join us in a few games of Soddit. We actually played 5 games and finished at approx 01:30 on Saturday morning.

21st September 2013 - Birdingbury Wharf to Welton Wharf
H.C. 10230 - 10236 Distance 12 miles 9 Locks.

Autumn Soddit Cruise
Crew - Graham, Brian and Ian

We dragged ourselves into action and breakfasted on sausage sarnies before setting off towards Braunston again. We arrived at Calcutt locks just after a single boat ahead of us had started locking through. They waited for us in the second lock as we ascended the first and then shared the other two with them. We then turned left at Wigrams and found ourselves at the head of a procession of 4 boats. We stopped for lunch and a session of maggot drowning just after the dis-used railway bridge before the puddle banks. Once lunch was finished we continued through Braunston and set off solo up the flight. There were loads of boats coming down the flight but no others going up.
Out through the top lock and into Braunston tunnel where Brian had his CD of rousing music playing at high volume in Jannock’s lounge for the whole length of the tunnel. It was amusing to see the lady in an approaching boat come out of their cabin, carrying her newspaper, into the cratch to see what all the noise was just as the choral crescendo of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ was reached as we passed. The crew on the second boat we passed in the tunnel applauded. It’s nice to be noticed. Once out of the tunnel we continued on past Welton wharf and stopped soon after at a location identified as suitable for another session of maggot drowning. After a dinner of beef stew, that had been cooking in the slow cooker since lunchtime, we spent the rest of the evening playing Soddit until a relatively early night at 11pm.

21st September 2013 - Welton Wharf to Banbury Road bridge
H.C. 10236 - 10243 Distance 11 miles 7 Locks.

Autumn Soddit Cruise
Crew - Graham, Brian and Ian

A filling breakfast finished, we set off towards the Buckby flight and descended down to Whilton wharf with very little to report. At most of the locks we crossed northbound boats and made quite good time. Once out the bottom lock we ran alongside the noisy M1 until the road and canal parted before the A5 bridge. On into Weedon where we stopped for lunch just before the winding hole and another maggot drowning session was started. The crew are convinced that there are no fish in the Grand Union as the success rate along this stretch is almost non-existent. After lunch we continued on through Stowe Hill, Nether Heyford and Bugbrooke before finally stopping on a 14 day mooring at Gayton wharf at about 4pm. I then went and fetched the car from Stockton whilst the crew tidied up and drowned a few more maggots. During this session Ian actually managed to catch quite a nice sized Perch whilst I was away. We finally locked up and set off homeward at 7pm.

28th September 2013 - Banbury Road bridge to Cosgrove.
H.C. 10243 - 10248 Distance 10.5 mile 8 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon and Nina

We arrived at Jannock at dusk and found working boats Northolt (FMC) and Kestrel moored in front of us. We opened up and awaited our guest crew, Simon & Nina. Once they had arrived and had a cup of tea Simon and I went off to do a mini car shuffle as they are only with us until Sunday morning. Brenda was showing Nina the working boats when their owner returned and invited them in to admire the back cabin. Northolt has just been bought back by him, Martin, having been in his family for years. He was brought up on it. He has also restored it to it’s original name, Northolt as it was renamed Sunny Valley, the boat that appeared in the black and white film Painted Boats. He has paired the boats back together and is selling coal again.

Saturday morning was cool and misty and we set off towards Blisworth tunnel after a ‘French toast’ breakfast (that’s twice in two weeks for me as we had that on the Soddit cruise last weekend) Nina is Swiss and has never been on a canal boat before but her yachting experience showed in her ability to steer – an experienced helmswoman. So, her first UK canal experience was ‘Blisworth tunnel’. It was our first ever run through with no-one coming the other way and not full of choking fumes – excellent! We were planning to stop for water above the locks but as we approached we spotted that the VLK’s were setting the top lock for a solo hireboat so we decided to go down the flight instead. They started to close the gates after the hireboat had gone in so we tooted the horn to attract their attention and they re-opened them again.

We shared the whole flight with a willing crew of first timers who were very keen to learn. Brenda instructed their steerer, I looked after the lock crew and Simon and Nina set ahead. We stopped on the water point at the bottom of the flight to fill Jannock’s tank. S & N went for a walk back up to the village whilst Brenda went walkabout. I stayed on the boat and managed to rescue a baby adder that was stuck in the canal. It was getting very tired as it could not find anywhere along the high concrete bank that it could use to get out of the canal. After I fished it out with our net and released it in the hedge Brenda returned bearing blackberries and a couple of pears. Once on the move again we did some off-side blackberry harvesting. I placed Jannocks bow into the bushes and held her in place using the boat pole whilst Brenda, Nina and Simon harvested the fruit from the front well deck. Near Yardley Gobion we passed nb Justice and had a brief chat with the ‘Haywards’ as the wind carried us past far too quickly. Kit (their cat), being of good judge of character, didn’t bother to show her face. Onward to Cosgrove where Nina was going to steer through the lock to complete her ‘instant’ training course. When we arrived there was a boat waiting to go in and lots of people hanging about because there was something stuck on the top gate cill and the gates wouldn’t seal properly. CaRT had been called and were estimated to be there in about 3 hours. We put the two boats into the lock and I used our boat pole to clear all I could feel from the top gate cill. We closed the gates and they didn’t quite meet properly in the middle so I had another go and this time they closed and we could use the lock. We moored for the night just below the lock.

Nina has written - We spend a wonderful weekend on the canal. Meeting film stars, trying not to get wet indoors (in the tunnel), working lots of locks and after that getting rewarded with home made beer and sloe gin. And we had a wonderful family-pre-Simon’s-birthday party with the whole family assembled. Thank you for giving me the experience of canal boating and providing me with a warm welcome to the family. I had a wonderful time and I’m sad that we already have to leave again

29th September 2013 - Cosgrove to Stoke Hammond.
H.C. 10248 - 10253 Distance 14 mile 2 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon and Nina (briefly)

Simon and Graham went off to do another early demi-car-shuffle while Nina and I enjoyed our cups of tea that had been delivered to our beds before they left. When they returned we had prepared a breakfast feast of pancakes and freshly made blackberry, pear and nectarine compote. Yum and loadsa vitamins.
After an explore of the Iron Aquaduct at Cosgrove, Simon and Nina set off towards Manchester via the Black Country museum historic boats meet. We set off towards our winter moorings taking the whole day to move through Milton Keynes.

Surprise 1 – Not a fishing competition in sight.

Surprise 2 – the weather was just gorgeous and here is photographic evidence.

Puzzle 1 – These wind generators have been on top of these flats at Wolverton for quite a few years now and I’ve never ever seen them turning.

At Fenny Stratford lock Graham managed to bump the stern of a Wyvern Shipping hire boat. They’d got into the lock at a jaunty angle and had settled onto one side so that we could slide Jannock in alongside to ease their boat gently over. Then the Wyvern skipper hit hard reverse and started coming back out at speed. Despite avoiding action the loud crump was inevitable. Sorry Wyvern. Out of the lock and onto Willowtree for our last diesel fill for the year before mooring up at Stoke Hammond and having our dinner. All done in beautiful sunshine.

5th October 2013 - Stoke Hammond to Marsworth.
H.C. 10253 - 10261 Distance 11.5 mile 15 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We were up and at-em at 9am but no-one to share Soulbury 3 with. Never mind, wonderful weather for October and they were all in our favour and folk turned up to come down, as it were, at the top lock. Another day of super weather, especially as in the past we have risen from our bunks on October mornings in these parts to find frost on the ropes. This year’s weather has provided an abundance of late fruit for the picking. Graham was even harvesting fruit whilst balancing on a lock beam. Twice Graham set a lock to fill slowly to allow us time to pick fruit. Blackberries, again, and a fab haul of plums. Jam will be made.

Today we actually avoided what looked like becoming an inevitable crump. As we rounded a blind corner nb Cat’s Whisker came steaming round the other way, on the wrong side, heading straight for us. Much manoeuvring by both of us put a gap of, well,the haul a cat’s whisker between us and their new paintwork remained un-touched. We were told that they were newbies and so we must praise the steerer for the avoiding action he took which complemented our own.
At Marsworth we found ourselves moored under yet another plum tree and so the short boat hook was put into service to bring down some of the high fruit much to the delight of the passing small boy who caught them so that he could present them to his nanna.
Chicken korma and keema paratha for supper and then onto the Red Lion for a beer.

6th October 2013 - Marsworth to Bourne End.
H.C. 10253 - 10261 Distance 10 mile 19 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda

. . . and back to our home mooring for winter.
Usually we arrive back with our hats and mitts in place, yet failing to keep us toasty – well me at least, as G. has had a day full of locks. Then it’s a hot drink to keep us warm and a quick exit home to our centrally heated house. Today we moored up, sporting tee-shirts, did a bit of gardening at the mooring, had a cuppa to re-hydrate and ate our dinner on board to soak up the last of the sun. What wonderful weather for October. Looking back, we’ve been blessed with a very good summer especially as we are able to count the exact number of times we’ve actually got wet whilst boating this year.

We set off from Marsworth and climbed the flight solo. Graham found a new best friend at the reservoirs. A delightful old chap who watched us work through a couple of locks and was interested in everything. He was telling me all the things his mum got him to do to make the food go further during the war. The abundance of fruit this year was bringing him happy memories of blackberries as a sauce with rabbit and apples under suet dumplings in albert stews. He stated his favourite is plum cobbler. He reckons he’s had about 15lbs of plums this year. I hope there’s a ‘girl’ at home, that his mum would have approved of, to make jam, pickles or even a drop of sloe gin with the harvest he collects.

We passed nb Minnehaha moored at Tring Station and thought happy thoughts of the late Bill Sibley who used to own the boat. He is sadly missed.
At Berkhampstead there was a fishing match going on in the park and I was perversely disappointed that one fisherman didn’t catch a child. Not that I mean harm to the victim, erm, child but it would have proved a point. As boats pass, fishermen using long poles take them backwards, horizontal with the ground. Today that happened across a footpath along the edge of the park. They had their pole rests located either side of the path. As Jannock approached I got scowled at, poles were pulled back and woe betide anyone using the footpath. A couple of kids, about 7 years of age, came onto said path on their bicycles. Now, they were a bit wobbly and had no idea about fishing so it was no surprise that one poor child nearly got kebabbed as a fisherman put a long length of carbon fibre across the path about a foot off the ground immediately in front of the bike. Fisherman didn’t look and child was too busy staying on his bike to notice. At the last second, his following parents yelled and he fell off – safely. Shame he didn’t land on the fishing pole and break it.

Outside the Rising Sun we met Debbi and Simon. Poor Debbi is on crutches again having sustained a double compound fracture of her ankle. Getting naughty cats back on board for the night is obviously a dangerous occupation.
At Sewerage lock the trusty bike was put back on Jannock and we entered a very low pound indeed, I have never seen it this low before in the seven years that we have moored here. It seems that some-one walked down with a windlass and lifted the ground paddle of lock 59 where the bottom gate paddle has to be left open to keep the level right in the pound above. It was still about 20cm down when we finally locked up and went home at 6pm.

That's all Folks! .... 488 Miles and 334 Locks in 2013
We hope to see you in 2014.

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