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Life before JANNOCK
our hiring history

Why we called our boat Jannock
Summer 1975
Willow Wren boat from Middlewich
the Leeds and Liverpool canal.

Crew - members of the Farnborough Railway Enthusiasts Club plus Graham and Brenda

Willow Wren and BW boats, the Farnborough crews

The association between the Keens and canals started here. This was our first ever canal trip. We were persuaded to go on this trip by my then workmate, Pete Gillam. Various railway enthusiasts clubs from around the country were hiring boats for a flotilla to Leeds and back. We were amongst the crew that travelled to Leeds by train for the return leg during second week. This trip was notable for :-
1. The 'Old England Forever' pub at Clayton-le-moors and the cross-canal rhubarb gathering competition that followed the extended lunchtime there.
2. Brenda being hit on the back of the head three separate times on the same day.
3. Brenda missing the Wigan flight because she was unconscious.
4. Greasy cold liver and onions for breakfast for the hung-over drunks who missed it at the previous night's meal.
5. Curried pies on the last night and their after effects the following day.

Autumn 1977
Highline Yachting boat from Iver
Grand Union to Aylesbury and Paddington

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Pat, Bruce, Gary, Peter and Jasper (the labrador)

Travelled from Iver to Aylesbury and then returned via the Paddington Arm and Little Venice. There was a water shortage in the Aylesbury arm which meant we had to bow haul in places in order to make forward progress. This trip was notable for :-
1. The silly people on another hireboat who decided that they wanted to turn round in the Aylesbury Arm. The canal width was much less than their length. We eventually towed them out backwards.
2. Jasper falling off the top of the top gate at the staircase lock on the Aylesbury Arm.
3. Jasper NOT falling in the canal on the last day.
4. Being able to see windlasses etc. in the bottom of locks through clear water on the Grand Union.
5. Discovering that fishing for windlasses with a magnet can become competitive.

Graham and Bruce working the lock
Summer 1980
Gilwern Queen from Gilwern
Brecon and Abergavenny canal.

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

the Gilwern Queen crosses the Usk aquaduct

The Gilwern Queen was hired from Roadhouse Narrowboats at Gilwern. We travelled up to Brecon and then returned past Gilwern to the 'end of the line' before returning to base. Notable memories from this trip include :-
1. 'Nigel the Nautical Nutter' was a regular who was hiring from the same yard at the same time as us. We were warned about him by the hirebase staff. We did meet him and wholly agreed with their description.
2. On Sunday morning in Brecon, everybody seemed to have a black eye! (there had been a big fight in town on Saturday night)
3. Brenda finally completing her OU assignment that was due and then we couldn't find a postbox.
4. Locking ourselves out of the boat on a cold wet morning with not many clothes on.
5. The stunning scenery and wonderful walks.
6. Drinking with a local councilor and his wife in the pub where the landlady had run away with the road builders.

Summer 1981
Tempest from Lower Heyford
Southern Oxford canal.

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Steve and Hazel.

Tempest was hired from Black Prince's Lower Heyford base for a week on the Oxford canal. We travelled up to Rugby and back. The trip was notable for :-
1. Waking up to the sound of an F111 jet fighter passing mere feet above the boat whilst taking off from the Upper Heyford USAF base.
2. The dump-through toilet filling to the brim with still two days of the holiday to go.
3. The Red Lion at Cropredy.
4. The only time Brenda has fallen in the cut.

Graham and Hazel on the stern, Steve up front
Spring 1982
Black Prince boat from Blisworth
Grand Union.

Crew - Graham, Brenda (+ Simon), Pat, Bruce and Gary.

This was our last canal holiday before our family was started, Brenda was 3 months pregnant with Simon. We travelled north from Blisworth but I'm not sure of the destination. This trip was notable for one thing only, we waited at Braunston Junction for Brenda's dad to visit the boat and he didn't show.

Brenda and Gary talk to some walkers
Summer 1983
Masquerade from Cowroast Marina
Grand Union

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon, Peggy, Adam, Pat and Gary

Graham, Peggy, Simon & Gary

We travelled from Cowroast Marina up the Grand Union to Cosgrove and back. This trip was memorable for the following reasons :-
1. Simon, who was 9 months old, learnt to walk that week. :-(
2. Brenda abandoned ship at Soulbury and I had to go and retrieve her.
3. A lot of the week was spent feeding ducks and pushing the buggy.
4. Not setting off in the morning until the washed nappies had been hung out in the bows.


We decided it was time to give up canal holidays for a few years.    :-(

Summer 1989
Sovereign boat from Pitstone
Grand Union

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon and Matthew

Our first canal cruise for 6 years found us hiring from Sovereign Narrowboats at Pitstone Wharf for a local trip on the Grand Union canal to Gayton Junction. This trip will be remembered for :-
1. Sitting in Bletchley swimming pool all day because Simon's hayfever liked it there.
2. A very hot week except for the penultimate day. It rained so hard all day Friday that we returned to Pitstone wharf and went home that night having put the boat keys through the letterbox.
3. Simon casting the seasearcher magnet, that was tied to his wrist, so hard across the canal that it pulled him in behind it. (with witnesses)
4. I managed to get him dried and changed without his mum even noticing it had happened. She did ask why his hair was wet.
5. Holding an evening party for our Aylesbury friends at Soulbury.
6. Fresh strawberries from the PYO field by the canal. Both kids must have eaten more than we purchased.

Graham, Matthew and Simon
Summer 1991
Seawitch from Acton Bridge
Trent & Mersey and Shropshire Union

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon, Matthew, Jost, Adelheid, Angela and Christian.

Angela, Christian (reaching up), Simon, Jost and Adelheid

The Anglo German Canal Cruise 1991. Seawitch was a 70' eight berth boat from Black Prince's Acton Bridge base. We cruised to Chester and back via the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union canal. This trip was memorable for :-
1. Brenda (sporting a heavy perm) had to use a wheelchair for long distances due to a damaged foot.
2. The fishing competition where, having squashed a keepnet, she was so offended by the fishermans language, she stepped off of the stern of the boat and told him that "If he could steer it any better, he ought to get on and do it."
3. Jost's amazement at the engineering involved in the (then derelict) Anderton Lift.
4. Hiding behind the cushions on the rear deck in an intoxicated state and pretending to shoot the local canoe club who we thought were actually indians attacking us.
5. Discovering that we could repeat the same journey, in the car, in 20 minutes on the final Saturday.
6. The kid's joy because they managed to catch an enormous metal stake with the magnet.

Summer 1993
Simolda boat from Nantwich
Shropshire Union canal.

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon & Matthew

Travelled from Nantwich to Stoke on Trent across the Middlewich Branch. This trip had the following highlights :-
1. Gerry and Carol visiting the boat and bringing a hot meal for us all, with them. We still don't know why!
2. We returned the favour by giving them a trip through Harecastle tunnel the next day. They lived a few miles from it and had never been through.
3. We picked giant field mushrooms from the field next to Hurleston Junction and eat them most of the week as well as giving some away.
4. Brenda's dad visited us in the pouring rain at Middlewich

Sadly, Gerry is no longer with us, we'll always miss his cheerful disposition. :-(

Simon and Brenda in the bows
Summer 1995
Lucille from Silsden
Leeds and Liverpool canal

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon & Matthew

Lucille locking up

We hired Lucille from Black Prince at Silsden and travelled west to Nelson and then returned to Bingley. The memorable events of this trip were :-
1. A very smelly dead badger alongside the towpath when Bob and Jill visited for tea.
2. The electric swing bridge at Keithley jamming during the rush hour. We blocked both the cut and road for several hours.
3. Having to walk to Bingley, down the 5 rise, because the boat was stuck the other side of the malfunctioning bridge
4. The cruising club mutiny, we met one half and then later the other half of the same club's annual cruise.
5. Flying a kite from the roof of the boat whilst crossing the pennines.

Summer 1997
Fibreglass Cruiser from Laggan
the Caledonian Canal.

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon & Matthew.

Well you've got to do it, haven't you? We hired a cruiser from Laggan and travelled through Loch Oich and Loch Ness up to Inverness and then returned down through Loch Lochy to Gairlochy. This trip was memorable for :-
1. The Swedish tall ship with the all female crew returning from the Tall Ships Race. Fort Augustus had more BW lock-keepers than locks that day!
2. Watching the same ship launch a "monster", to the skirl of a piper in a rowing boat, into Loch Ness and firing their cannon at it!
3. The tales of the poodle-eating pike!
4. The perpetual smell of deisel in the living accomodation.
5. Trying to securely fasten the anchor to the bow-rails whilst crashing through 6' waves on Loch Ness.
6. Providing the crew of a small sailing yacht with hot tea and a shower after the storm.

No narrowboats in this lock
Summer 1999
Lacewing from Stoke Prior
The Stourport Ring

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Simon, Matthew and Milena

Lacewing passing through Caldwell Lock

This was the 1999 Anglo-Czech cruise because we were joined by Milena from Prostejov. Lacewing was hired from Black Prince at Stoke Prior and was our last hire boat before purchasing Jannock. The trip was memorable for :-
1. Dancing on the roof and thunderstorms in Merry Hill.
2. Netherton Tunnel being wetter inside than the rain outside.
3. The amazing Balti take-away and the pub singer at Stourport.
4. The beeping fridge. (until the engineer replaced the faulty battery)
5. The amazing sandstone cliffs at Caldwall lock on the Staffs and Worcester canal.
6. The effect of a Fisherman's Friend on Matthews tongue the morning after a good Balti takeaway.
7. Stourport Co-op's toilets.



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Why we called our boat Jannock.