End of an Era?

Well, probably a chapter anyway. As we have grown a tad weary of this on board living lark and yearn for the space and stability of a house. We have also had a few knocks this year – viz. witnessing the lady boater meet her end at lock 8 in Atherstone, the almost breach at Marbury, the almost fisticuffs at dawn when the lock reopened, Viv wrecking both knees at Springwood Haven, the alternator packing up, the loo backing up, Steve smashing his thigh on the boat, windows leaking . . . and just the tiresome thought of another winter on the boat.

I also think that we are tired of being 3rd class citizens – the look you get when you state your address as …..the marina. So we have started the lengthy process of buying a house – a small 2-bed, bungalow in Trefin – the village we have been visiting over the last two decades for holidays. It’s only yards from the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path and the sea. We may keep the boat but we’ll see. Offers over £70k anyone??

View From . . . yes, this is the view from the Coastal Path, looking north to Pwll Deri
This is the local beach – not a sandy one but a certain dog likes a splash about
This should be our new house in November . . .
With a view from the back, looking again out to sea and the Pwll Deri ridge
Meanwhile, back at base . . . it was time for the boat to come out of the marina basin and over to the slipway for its re-blacking. Two and a bit coats of Rytex bitumen paint plus a repaint of the stern – the tunnel flashing as it’s called. All nice and shiny (offers over £70k – did I mention that?)
Remember that “Ship’s Clock” we purchased over a year ago? Well, it stopped and wouldn’t go for long. So, I found a clock repairer – https://www.bentomlinclockrestoration.co.uk/ Ben Tomlin, over in Hannington. Who arranged for it to be repaired – all the escapement was rebuilt and it’s back and ticking quite enthusiastically. I can recommend his services.
And more news – Steve got his 4th bar on his Long Service Cadet Forces medal – 40 yrs now. Probably time to retire and hang that blue ensign up?
To answer, where is Trefin . . .

Remedial Painting

One of the reasons for heading home in August was to do some remedial paintwork – the non-slip grey on the gunwales needed doing . . . but, it kept raining… so a week or two later . . . we get a dry day! So off to bridge 27, or just before. Masking tape & non-slip paint on the port side – chug along to bridge 28 and the winding hole – turn her around and then repeat for the starboard side!

the “before” picture – looks like double yellow lines! Can you spot the wee doggie?
More “before” pix
And an “after” photo – not concerned about the edges, just the main non-slip. The main enamel will get done when we black the boat in September.
Another after photo, this time showing Viv preparing to repaint the barge pole
Nice shiny “after” photo
this gives you some idea of the nice spot where we are painting – time to walk Toby around the pocket woods . . .
I tried to get a piccie of the boat through the trees from the woods
Well, Toby enjoys the trip around his favourite woods – I think we even saw a Squirly!! Rain forecast tomorrow

Saga Run

We’ve been back a week now and so time for a trip out – it’s only an hour, door-to-door to Nottingham. Chance for Steve to pick up some pipe tobacco and then to go on to the river Trent to give Toby a swim.

Quite a modern and bustling city
A good visual clue as to where we are! Good parking on Castle road.
At the rear of the Council House is Gauntleys!

And then on to Gunthorpe – for boaters, it’s a left turn out of the Nottingham canal and out on to the mighty river Trent . . through locks (Holme and Stoke Bardolph – all manned) down to Gunthrope – nice floating pontoon here for moorers, behind a locked gate.

The approach to the lock – nice place to drive to as well – there’s a pub, a restaurant, an Indian restaurant, a cafe and lots of walks
The automatic gates – no need for any windlass here
There’s a shallow beach after the lock and chance for 5 Toby swims!
Master & his dog
He does love a swim
We saw one narrowboat lock down – helped by the lockie
It was still early so we pressed on the Grantham Canal – we used live up this way, so it was “old haunts”, hmm, not visited this pub for 30 years!! Under new management (just 4 weeks) – Good selection of beers and food too.
Here’s the large basin at Hickling – observant folk will notice the water point. Odd since the last boat here was around 1922. Maybe they’ll restore it all? This section looks ideal for a horse drawn boat for tourists?
Ideal too for walkers & cyclists

Captain’s Log

Back in safe haven. Here’s a summary of the trip.

Yelvertoft to Yelvertoft, calling in at… Braunston, Rugby, Atherstone, Great Haywood, Penkridge, Nantwich, Llangollen, Nantwich, Middlewich, Great Haywood, Atherstone, Rugby, Braunston.

Days = 119, Engine hours = 216.5, Miles = 361 & Locks = 206

The Last Post?

Moored not far from Watford locks – ready to ascend tomorrow – so hopefully back in Yelvertoft for Thursday lunchtime. Been bit of a mixed bag this cruise – certainly some extremes of weather . . . here’s a reminder . .

Heatwave, now Storms

There’s something wrong with the weather, for sure. We did a short and dismal trip from Hawkesbury to Ansty. Enough to charge the batteries but lower the mood – it was getting wet so we stopped. The M69 was noisy but it was a fair mooring with rings.

Now, tell me, honestly, would you plan to cruise, navigate through Braunston, do 6 big locks with this forecast???
the only pic for Sunday . . . spots of rain already as we waited to negotiate the Hawkesbury turn
Conversely, Monday was forecast to be dry, sunny & warm. This shows the North Oxford canal in all its glory – all the Butterburs!
A family of swans
One of the disued arms that the canal used to follow before it got straightened out.
Steve drives – sun cream on!
Had a bit wait to enter the Newbold tunnel
Viv captures some of the many blue/black damsel flies
Around Rugby and towards Barby moorings
Where we see Mark on his boat & new sheds
Very busy
Very pretty section
And we popped in to Dunchurch to get some fuel (79p/litre)
A long day – nearly 7 hours but we were keen to press on in the nice weather, to get to just beyond Willoughby and bridge 87. Under the trees for coolness..
A great spot
Nice view – no roads, trains . . . dark clouds coming
And very, very busy . . .

Climate Change? What Climate Change?

It was forecast and lo it did get Scorchio indeed. Records broken . . .34.7°C and nearly that inside the boat too! Bedroom was a sauna. All the boats around us stayed put. Wednesday night Steve went to the Anchor with Simon & Charlie – food OK, usual 40 minute wait for a burger & chips! Thursday was the hottest – and our 38th anniversary, so we stayed put and cooked a chicken madras curry with a diy trifle to follow and lots of gin & fresh limes (run out of tonic! Gasp!!). Our closest neighbour Matt joined us a drink (his boat is Contrazoom, interesting . . ). Not much sleep that night.

Simon, Charlie and Toby2 – with Simon standing on the gunwale, as Charlie is now slightly taller than his Dad!
The next day – we moved off at 0845 – a tad cooler and the open road beckons us
Yes, with reference to the title . . . records broken in just 7 months!
And ere we be . . . again. An historic site
Ah, poor Viv . . . hobbling along with her bad knee and twisted ankle. Current medical practice is to keep walking on these injured limbs . . . especially when . . .
. . . there’s a pub in sight! Here’s the famous Greyhound – time for the promised anniversary meal
Very friendly (note the bar staff!) and served very promptly – Purity “Bunny Hop”, followed by a pint of Thatcher’s Cheddar Valley. Viv had one of their famous pies (Chicken) and Steve had their beef rib on horseradish mash – yum.
final resting place – dog on towpath with one of his toys, as usual
Here for a day or two . . . maybe . . . stores getting low . . .

Scorchio – Staying Put

Good grief – temperatures nudging 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 C) are forecast – so we stayed put or rather, moved on round the corner under the trees – still gets a bit of sun (solar for 5 hrs). Our old mate, Simon on Empress plus son, Charlie turned up – so nice to see them again. On moving the boat, Viv found a hole to misplace her foot in & did a double act of wrenching a knee and twisting an ankle – “Bloody Boat!” Poor Viv. Maybe stay put for a bit longer?

Not normally a place we’d chose to moor but the boat does get so very hot. Even under the trees it still got beyond 30 degrees inside!
And here’s Simon’s Empress
And here’s the “Boy” as our good friend & neighbour Gail calls him – all a bit too hot!

Moving On – Grim Day

We stayed put for a few days, then moved up, just two locks, inbetween locks 9 & 10. Just for a change of view and to be 2/11 locks done. Last time we were here, at Easter, the pound kept dropping as the lock gates were leaky. This time it seemed OK – the next lock up was leaking, so that’s alright then. We think the whole network is getting worse – it’s creaking and what will become of it when the government money finally dries up?

An amazing sunset – with rain!

Saturday was a grim day. Viv set off for the town, to do some shopping on her own. Steve was to join her an hour or so later for luncheon in the Red Lion Hotel – they allow dogs in the courtyard, do good food and stock Goat’s Milk beer! Grim? Well, on walking past lock 8, there were police gathered round as a lady boater had fallen in . . . and hadn’t come out. They couldn’t lower the ground paddle . . . so that’s probably where she was – very sad. Lots of fire engines, ambulances and even the air ambulance arrived. I walked on. None of the CRT volunteers had be told, so I wandered up and told them the grim news.

I didn’t linger – the boat was called Liberty and the boaters were in their 70’s. Very sad.
The Red Lion was great, if the mood was a bit subdued. We didn’t feel like rushing back, past that scene again, so we moved round to the CAMRA famous pub, the Angel – Steve had a pint of Hairy Helmet (yes, really) and Viv, rather unusually, chose a medium cider. Toby was fed several biscuits and had his own bowl of water.
The pub had a few signs . . .
Not true, surely? Well, not yet . . . .
Quite a splendid place with six real ales and about 10 ciders. They also have a big collection of LPs or vinyl as they now call it.
That was Saturday – we listened to James Burke on the wireless, now 82 but recalling the exciting times of the Apollo missions where he was one of the presenters. Sunday morning and time to move . . up through the 9 remaining locks
Yes, we were Inside No 9!
Bit of a poignant moment as Viv crosses over the top of lock 8
Some flowers were left – we donated one of Viv’s roses
Boat still looks a bit shiny
Toby & his pig
Goodbye lock 8
Lots of helpers around today; both CRT volunteers and private boats who saw us coming and helped us through.
Viv gets to do the locks which always includes a good natter with the vollies
Less than 3 hours to Springwood Haven – a very familiar spot – remember we spent a week in the marina here on the way out, getting that alternator fixed.
Staying put for a few days whilst this heatwave passes thru. This was our second spot as the first one had some wasps nesting by the hatch!

Long Day

Seven hours – yes, a long day for us. Why? Because we were delayed at Glascote – a queue of 6 boats but wanted to reach Atherstone . . .

Viv drives for a few hours – very hot today
A work boat – making it a tad narrow
The canal from Fradley to Fazeley is quite pretty
I think the military firing range helps to keep this area quite rural
Yes, the red flags were flying . . .
The shady trees help cool us all down – not many would call the Coventry Canal at first, beautiful . . ?
Ah, Glascote – a bit of a queue, I think we are No6 – always a pinch point here – the bottom lock is notoriously slow to fill. So . . . an hour later . . we got thru. A brief lunch stop and a trip to the Co-op for more Stuff and then off, yes, let’s go on . . .
Steve gets thru – note the port side is still shiny!
Past Alvecote
Ah, the big farm with alpacas and these geese . . .
And there are the alpacas – they look freshly shawn
Lovely fields of poppies
Ah, you may spot a bit of deja vu – we were here at Easter, where we stayed put (it was a scorcher and Viv did her crochet work). After the long day we think we’ll stop for a bit.
I struggled through the weeds to get the photo from the other side!
Eleven locks, that’ll have to wait for another day . . .
Time to go shopping (twice on the bike) as well as fix a few chores . . .