March Holiday

A lack of funds prevents us from following Plan A and heading to the Canaries for winter. So, a cunning Plan B is to take a 10 day break in the “Holy Land” as Viv calls it – or Wales, as the rest of us call it. It’s back to Pwllcrochan, a remote cottage.

Close to the sea and coastal path, with it’s own private beach

Pix n vids available here:  Pwllcrochan 2017

 

Popped Out to Bridge 27

Didn’t get the boat to sit in the marina! So just popped out for two nights to the favourite bridge 27. Couldn’t go much further as there’s a tree down at bridge 31. Still all clear to bridge 28 – the turning point. Lots of fallen twigs/tress etc. Toby’s happy too.

Looking back & Planning for this year

Where to wander this year?

Plan A was to head north again and visit the Chesterfield canal.  Hmm, not sure as we’ve been 75% of that way before. So we may change our minds and head south to London. Chance to see/visit my parents and friends?

Here’s a link to the videos from our Liverpool trip

Extra Day 33 – Videos of the trip down the Liverpool Link

Hello to Richard & family – who phoned yesterday and can remember canal holidays on the Bristol! A week’s trip down to Oxford & back is a good mix of rural & city. There’s Black Prince and Napton narrowboats from Napton as a starter!

 

Church End Brewery Winter Beer Festival

 

Our favourite, local brewery – Church End was staging a Winter Beer festival, Friday/Saturday so, say no more! When do they open? Midday? We’ll be there! Only 40 odd minutes drive from Yelvertoft and yes, we were the first!

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This is their brewery tap – in other words, the brewery with, erm, taps for serving their beer. They usually make a whole range of beers – see their website for past beers.

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They had a list of the beers complete with descriptions:Festival Beers

Let us at em – says Viv & Lucia!

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Always a fresh & friendly place – with several rooms and lots of BEER!

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We tried about 6 halves and loved the Vicar’s Tipple (their own Vicar’s Ruin plus a bottle of Ardbeg – yum) and the Instant Karma! Plus three very large sausage rolls . . . time to walk it all off:

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Short drive to Atherstone and a bimble down some of the eleven locks which all of us at various times, had chugged through last Summer. Here’s the famous bridge 42.

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A lovely and dare I say Spring, Day?  We certainly saw daffodils coming out.

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Back to the Wheatsheaf for yet more beer!  Cheers!

 

Stoke Bruerne

 

A sunny day and time for another Saga run! We’ve never been to Stoke Bruerne – another canal centre and grockle magnet – with a long tunnel, a basin and 5 locks plus two pubs and a canal musuem! So off we went.  Another reason for going was to see all the locks being drained and repairs carried out. Odd to see empty locks and men in hi-vis jackets working inside.

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This the main line Grand Union canal – wide – with big locks.

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Two pubs here – this is the freehouse & family run “Boat” where we had a few pints and a marvellous lunch.

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All nice and tranquil in February, I just wonder what’ll it be like in the Summer!

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A gentle walk up to the tunnel . . .

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Took some nice photos of the tunnel entrance – Toby, fresh from a few days of being below par, was back on form and went a bit berserk here – can you spot him??

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Lots of boats here with winter moorings – including these two, a cafe boat and their home boat behind: Billy Whizz. We last saw them up beyond Leicester at the Watermead park.

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Back to that pub for lunch!

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Stone & Overwater Marina

It’s the first Saturday of the month and a new year, so it’s off to the Farmer’s Market in Stone. To buy black pudding (Chilli, smoked bacon and fruity ones!), oatcakes, sausage rolls & more!  We’ve been before – on the boat but we thought we’d drive up – some 100 minutes away and then on to Audlem to meet Viv’s friend Nicola & son, George.  Overwater marina is not far away and they have a cafe, so that seemed a good spot to meet up – plus we get to have a look-see at another marina.

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A new canal – the Shropshire Union or Shroppie

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Snowdrops on the bank

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Work to replace a lock gate – the whole was drained

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A nice but muddy walk along the Shroppie

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A beautiful wharf house – it would make an ideal base – tie up the boat alongside for winter then rent out over the Summer??

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That short walk brought us to Moss Hall aqueduct over the river Weaver, yes, the same mighty river we encountered on our trip to Liverpool.

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Back to that empty lock! Not often you get to see to the bottom of one.

Overwater Marina – voted best marina, two years running, was our final stop. Situated on the Shroppie it looks very neat and peaceful. It’s a well designed marina – with an island in the middle plus a ground-source heat pump system to keep the offices/toilets and showers warm underfoot.  It has a lovely cafe and all the usual shop things for moorers.

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Iron bridge over the marina entrance

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Toby’s had a few walks already today but always happy to explore!

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Interesting layout with double linear berths (cheaper) and then individual berths at set lengths.

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Smart & tidy office/shower rooms/toilets & cafe – with free wi-fi to the whole marina.

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The usual facilities – note the price for the pump out!

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Some extra things like bikes to be used plus a car club scheme and also a workshop on site for boat repairs etc.  There’s also a hire boat fleet based here, as well as a day boat for hire and a trip boat that chugs down to Audlem in the Summer.

It was nice to meet up with Nicola & George (6 and a half!), who enjoyed a walk around the marina – looking at all the boats.  It was a long day but the drive was great – A5 and A51 – almost empty and very swift. Recommend it.

They’re Here!

 

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Yes, our friends, Stephen & Lucia are back from Sicily for a few months, bringing our order of cheese (Gran Padano, Parmesan & vintage Gouda), cigars, lemons & their own olive oil. They’ve driven all the way from Syracuse! Bless em.

 

Fffffreezing

 

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We’ve had several, testing days of cold weather with temperatures below zero and icy winds. The image above shows the temperature inside the boat, albeit at the back!  We have the MORSØ Squirel stove going 24/7 plus the Alde boiler, which I have been experimenting running on electricity as it has a 1 or 2 kW heater.  It does work but not that effective.

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Our friends, John, Christine & Tilly have now sold their boat. The chaps from Whilton marina came and drove it away yesterday – so a gap now exists on both sides of us, nice but lonely . . . also makes you think, are we a plague ship??

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Always a scrounger or two around . .

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Chinook

Beer

Time to brew the second of my beer kits from Love Brewing. An American Pale Ale, made with Chinook hops and West Coast USA yeast. It fermented with much gusto – the loose hops going in on Day 5 and the whole brew was done on day 8! From an original gravity of 1060 down to 1010 – making the beer around 6.5%.  What’s more it even tasted pretty good, even at this yeasty, cloudy stage. It’s in the barrel and now we wait for a few weeks or maybe just days!

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All things included, it’ll work out at around 60p a pint. So if we consume the whole 40 pints we’ll save £120 – in theory!  We’ll have a tasting session with friends & neighbours soon.

Chores!

There’s always sommit to do on a boat. Viv’s always saying “It’s much more trouble than a house!” and she’s probably right. Last week I took out the laundry basket from it’s little niche, next to the shower and discovered a wet wall and some mould. I still reckon this Aqualine boat has poor insulation.  It’s not the water coming through but the warm, moist air in the boat condensing on any (and every) cold surface. I have stuck carpet tiles on most of the problem areas (from the floor up to and beyond the waterline) and will carry this on later.  Meanwhile, it’s back to covering all the wood with Osmo (wood protector) followed by Osmo (Polyx Oil):

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Northampton

 

Cold, wet n windy but let’s go out! Heard about Northampton marina and also wanted to see where CRT (Canal & River Trust) ends and EA (Environment Agency) starts. So we drove down to Northampton – about 20 – 30 mins away. Parked in Morrison’s and walked around to the river Nene.  The marina seemed to be on an island, so no vehicular access.  It all seemed quite pleasant but speaking to some of the inmates, if you had a car, you had to park it in the multi-storey for £10 a week.  Hmm, not for us but nice to visit another marina and walk along the river.

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Quite a pleasant waterfront but some signs of decay.  The riverside walk carries on, past the giant Carlsberg brewery, where, opposite is the final lock of the Northampton arm (CRT territory).

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A cold and bitter day but at least we have seen more bits of canal/river.