Remedial Painting & Home

 

A bit of a wet day, Monday. So we stayed put until it cleared after lunch and then set off. Bit unusual for us. An afternoon cruise. It was still a bit drizzly but we chugged on into Braunston, took on water and optimistically waited for another boat to turn up, to partner us through the 6 big locks. But alas, none came. It was a lovely quiet day, so very unusual for Braunston – this national hub of the waterways. So, we did the locks ourselves, nice and slow. A few boats came down and so all the locks were set in our favour. Met a hire boat with a Toby lookalike who was also a name-a-like – Toby! Yes, Toby3 as we had to call him. We ventured into the tunnel – again all on our own, which was nice. On past the Norton junction and up to Welton Hythe to stop for the night.

A misty, murky Braunston

Nice new armco at the Norton Junction

Up through the Watford locks – luckily the first boat and so up we went and on to the marina at Yelvertoft – quick pump out, well it has been 6 weeks! And on to bridge 27 for some remedial painting.

It is a lovely spot – it ticks all the boxes – the right orientation for the solar energy, good phone signal, 4G signal & TV reception plus a pocket wood for the dog and just quiet.

Steve dons his coveralls to do the bitumen painting – what a gay figure in his green crocs, red vest and bandana hat!

Time for some Tai Chi?

This boat, Dane, was sort of afloat when we arrived but it was leaking badly and slowly sank. A shame the owners have left it this way.

We were joined by Gail & Jess on Sleepy Otter, chance to do some catching up over a cuppa. Simon steamed along too – so more cuppas required! Cosy.

Hmm, that mouse from some years ago, ate lots of our stuff, including Steve’s coveralls – hence the odd air conditioning he now has!

Gail gave us some high temperature silicone sealant for the chimney – did the job. Cheers!

Nice, shiny and re-blacked boat – all the “lock rash” covered over.

Recoated blacking

Steve volunteers to go into the gas locker and paint it with more bitumen

Gloomy but worth doing

Here’s the before picture . . .

And here’s the after picture.

We introduced Gail to Paellero – a Spanish spice mix for making paella and she adapted it for her veggie dish. Looks good & tasted good too.

Saturday and back “home”. Breezy but we got in, backwards with no hassle. Time to plug things in, put ropes away, change gas bottles and go down the Wheatsheaf for lunch.

 

Homeward Bound

 

On from Springwood Haven and down to Hawkesbury junction or Sutton Stop as it’s known. A day or two here – visit the Greyhound. Meet up with simon again, then on to Rugby to restock.

Busy, noisy but plenty of space at Hawkesbury junction

Steve cycled down the canal to bridge 6 – miles – to visit Tesco’s – a barn of a place. Had to wait (10 mins) for the staff to fetch the bottle of Laphroaig, as the case was empty. Checked there was a bottle in there but I didn’t’ check it was the right one! Got the cheaper and not-so-nice bottle of Select rather than the 10yr old! Doh.

One reason we stayed, apart from eating & drinking at the Greyhound, was to see the Coventry Morris men perform. And very good they were too.

A good “side” as they call them – stick dances and even a sword dance plus some clog dancing from two ladies.

And, how to find your boat in the dark – leave some lights on!

Next day we’re off. Simon has his first go at the junction – a complete U-turn required here!

Not quite round in one but it is his first time. Won’t mentions Steve’s last attempt!

Down the North Oxford Canal now – quite a pretty route.

Tried to moor up  at the familiar All Oaks Wood visitor moorings but it was full – and quite a few of these “continuous moorers” were there. CRT did clear these away last year but it seems a few are back. Starting to rain. We tried 2 spots, trying to squeeze inbetween boats but no go, then the prop got fouled by a polo shirt. Luckily we managed to fit in at the end after one boat left. Not a good day. Simon also couldn’t get in and pushed off – in the rain!

Next day we went off to the Rugby moorings – no pix here, well not very scenic but lots of opportunities to go shopping – M&S (twice), Tesco, FatFace (10% military discount!), TKMax etc – such fun. At least the boat is stocked up. Thanks to Viv’s Sparks card, she had lots of 10% off this and 20% off that, so our fridge is now bursting. Plus some more gin (Jensen’s – a new one and very nice) and another whisky for Steve, some compensation for the Laphroiag! A bottle of Kilchoman (only in M&S and on clearance so 20% off, hurrah!).

Simon had tried Rugby but got stuck on the water point. Forcing him to shop at 0500 the next day in the 24hr Tesco (real fun?) and move off to near Barby.

We passed him and moored at one of our all time favourites – bridge 87, Willoughby – just outside Braunston.

Viv does the very fiddly job of preparing fresh thyme for tonight’s meal (Wok’ed lambs liver with thyme & lime juice – Ken Hom recipe)

Our mooring – alone now – there were 6 boats around us this morning.

Very rural spot

And an abundance of these chaps! Viv made a pot of jam earlier this year and she makes two more pots today! Plus a few spare to go with the M&S ice cream, cream and meringues!

Just seen a boat “A Frayed Knot” go by, shouting, another RNSA member? And I said yes! The first I’ve seen, he said! His blue ensign flying from the back of his boat. Must get a burgee . . .

 

 

Elastic Trickery & the crew from Empress

 

Here’s our quiet mooring for a few days – but what has Toby seen?

 

There’s the sound of a Rushton Hornsby 2-stroke engine coming our way. It can’t be? It can be. It is . . . Simon & Toby2 on Empress.

Simon’s done about 3/4 of the Leicester ring and decided to moor up behind us.

Time for a celebration – Cava, vino & Thai green curry plus ice cream! And a screening of Dr Strange, in 3D no less. Well, you have to push the boat out sometimes!

Sunday – time for a long circular walk with Viv & the dog. Down to the river Anker (swim, swim?) and round up to Tuttle Hill and close to the spoil heap from the quarry, quaintly named Mount Judd. Nice views back to our boats.

There’s Simon’s  Empress with Adagio round the corner. Lots of solar today – with the new fuse, it seems we are getting much much power now and the voltage seems to go a lot higher, meaning both gauges now increment and reached 100% in the afternoon – brilliant.  Might move on tomorrow or not.

Here’s a view looking back over the marina from bridge 27.

 

All Tanked Up

 

Spoke too soon – had to get the T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops back out as the weather has returned to (slightly) Scorchio!  Just as well as we’re due to have new batteries and sit out for a few days at Springwood Haven – a few miles north of Nuneaton. So, it was a sad Goodbye to the Ashby Canal and up the Coventry. Boy was it busy – boats in front, boats behind and plenty to the side as we bimbled along on tick-over. We arrived around lunchtime and Steve went over to Springwood Haven to meet Kevin of Onboard Energy, who said we can move into the marina early tomorrow, in order to “do” the batteries.

Bridge Zero(?) – the end of the Ashby – turn left normally here but we turn right.

A nice green area just to the north of Nuneaton

Meanwhile, Friday morning looms and Steve’s all of a quiver – he does fret so but then this is a big day for Adagio – we really depend on these mega, humungous leisure batteries. Above and to the right, is the slightly smaller starter battery (which had to come out too) and to the left is the 65kg 200Ah Victron AGM battery!

Here’s the other two – a bit easier to get out but all the wires had to come off first. And remember which way they went.

Bit of a pickle isn’t it? Big thick cables carry the main supply in and out, whilst the smaller cables are usually things like the solar input or voltage monitoring. The gadget on the right is the Victron BMV-712 battery monitor!

One battery out . . . just two to go . . .

Here’s the famous Kevin – using a sack trolley to bring the brand new and boxed batteries.

He must have some muscles – he didn’t need much help in manoeuvring these beasts into position. He’s done this before. The whole operation plus the rewiring, checking and replacing all the gear (washing machine etc) took four hours. But at last it was done and after lunch I went to pay – £422 each those batteries!!  But they should last for another ten years and NO maintenance. Kevin also lowered a cable out of the window so we could plug in the Victron charger/invertor – to reconfigure it to the new system. Great. 660 Ah to play with now. Woohoo!!

We just drove around the corner 200 yards and re-moored, pretty close to last  night. With oodles of sunshine forecast for the nest 3 days, we’ll stay put and Simon (Empress & Toby2) is not far away and intends to visit later. Good oh.

Another curious boat – Darth Wader, very good.

 

Goodbye flip-flops, shorts & T-shirts – Hello new batteries!

 

After two days at bridge 19, we decided to move off to bridge 3 – nearing the end of the Ashby. There was a bunch of kids – could only have been around 12 years old – chucking stuff off bridge 19 onto passing canoeists and boats. They were spitting onto the crews below too! What is it with kids today, eh? Our neighbour on Nuffield, went off in pursuit but they had bikes and legged it. Little charmers. We’d sent an email to Kevin at Onboard Energy re new batteries but have heard no more.  So time to chug on – engine purring nicely, no problems! Viv was driving for a bit, so Steve sat up at the front, making a fuss of Toby.

Goodbye to bridge 19 – sans les animaux!

Here’s the small wharf south of Hinckley, with a small lake and the Sea Cadets next door.

The Ashby canal can be shallow, narrow, twist & windy but also has some nice wide bits.

At bridge 15 – the Lime Kilns pub and the busy A5

Marvellous stone bridges but most seem to be cracked and looking like they’re about to collapse.

Well, stopped just after bridge 3 – nice spot. Trains in the distance but otherwise quite rural. And just as soon as we stopped, Kevin phoned – he had our number, for we were on his database! Yes, he has the batteries and can fit us in on Friday. Yippee. So that’s good news – just 2 hrs chugging, turning right instead of left and we can moor at Springwood Haven.

Definitely Autumnal – a heavy dew on the boat but a pleasant start to the morning. We met the boat “Boo” with the two spaniels. We last saw them at Springwood Haven where they were waiting for a new engine to be fitted. All done now and they are out testing it.

 

Woe ! And thrice Woe!

There are highs and lows with boating. This weekend saw a few lows for us – near to tears at times. You heard, last time, that the solar controller was not happy – it saw a very low voltage (8 volts and not 12) and so shut down. The batteries are very old (10 years) and are becoming more and more senile. With the new Victron battery monitor, we can estimate that they are only at about 50% of their original capacity (600 Ah down to 300?). And it doesn’t take much to eat into that .  . .  the fridge eats about 4 amps continually and then we do watch TV, run videos etc . Several mornings now we’ve heard the “baby crying” – the new gauge gives off a pathetic beep-beep, when the voltage gets to 50% (12.2V). And then the engine – our mainstay, started to throw a wobbly – it sounded like it was about to choke and die!

Fortunately, via the rather nerdy but nice, “12 volt boaters” group on FaceButt, they suggested that all was not lost – check all the connections etc. And so Steve did and found that the main fuse was all corroded:

It must have been a combination of high current (the recent hot weather – lots of sun) and high temperatures (ditto)! Once this had been bypassed, all was well and the controller burst back into life.

Meanwhile, Sunday was very very very wet but the clouds parted and it dried up for the latter part of the day and so we headed off to StokeFest – a music festival.

Oh and on the way, two more blue plaques!

Not that well advertised but we walked the mile so to the Rec. ground – following the sound of the throbbing music

Yes, the official sign!

What did we find? A big trailer with kids playing stuff and a field, sporadically filled with folk. Thankfully, with the rain holding off, more people turned up and it looked like it was all keyed up for “kicking off” . . .

Not sure of the band but they did do a pretty fair rendition of “Mr Brightside” so fair play to em.  Meanwhile, Steve had discovered the beer tent . . .

As Homer Simpson would say . . ” Hmmm, Beeeeeer!”

Hmm, much better than his “Duff Beer” – say it slowly?? What the Fox’s Hat

An excellent beer and at £3 a pint, mustn’t grumble!

Viv’s favourite! And is that her posing ??

Sorry Gail, but here’s a very non-veggie pic of a whole pig! The crackling was marvellous but we didn’t buy any, it was time to head for home and leave the kids to it.

Next day. Fuse problem solved. We refuelled at the Ashby Boat Co. and took on water etc Then the engine misbehaved. Causing Steve to utter expletives but to gradually reverse back to the boat yard . . . he had previously undone the agglomerator (lovely word – look it up) and we reckon, with hindsight, that he hadn’t quite tightened it enough, allowing air to ingress. Engine no like air – want diesel. OK lesson learned. Great most problems solved we moored just a mile or so further on near to Hinckley.

 

Gluttons for punishment, we then set off for Hinckley, just the 2 miles there and back, to pick up dog treats (previously ordered online) plus a wee Tesco shop too.

By the time we had got back – many hours later and two rather necessary showers . . . we were in need of some refreshment/nerve restorer.  Sorry, Jenny but your promised magnum of Arabella, Shiraz Viognier has to be opened!!

Needs must and I must obey the Admiral (aka Er Indoors)’s instructions!

And very nice it is too . . .. . .ZZzzzzzzz .  ..

Flowers, Beer, Upset & Rain – well it is a Bank Holiday!

 

It really is a lovely spot Stoke Golding and not just for the George & Dragon. We’ve met some nice boaters, walked into Dadlington, visited a flower festival, rewired the new battery monitor so it works properly and found out that the solar controller is not working – not a big deal today, as it’s raining cats and dogs! A shame because the flower festival is still going on, as is the StokeFest – an outdoor music festival!

Here’s our spot for the week – with St Margaret of Antioch in the background.

Back to the magic bar in the George – more Fallen Angel, Stout Coffin, Folka Cola and some of those huge sausage rolls . . . and roll back down the hill we did!

We also looked in on the Ashby Boat Company – a boat hire base but so much more – a small chandlery, shop and boat yard. Steve even managed to find a brass name plaque for his new horn button plus some ice creams!

Hmm, more problems with batteries – seems Mr C has wired up the new monitor wrongly, allowing the current from 2 of the 3 batteries to bypass the meter! He was wondering where the amps were going!? All changed now.

Lets’s do a circular walk across the fields to Dadlington

Through the hedge and into the small village – no blue plaques but awfully quaint.

Here’s the inside of St James the Greater – famous for being the nearest church to the battlefields of Bosworth and probably where quite a few of the soldiers where buried.

And one for Jenny!

And on to the flower show in the St Margaret’s church, Stoke Golding. 

All the displays were themed – see note below – very pretty & expertly presented too.

I liked this one – firework night

Six nations rugby

Met some nice folk today – Steve, ex RN chef on his boat Chloe, who popped round for tea and a couple in the George, who shared a table and lots of yarns too. Very busy for a Saturday lunchtime but then it was Bank Holiday weekend and I’m guessing a lot of the folk had seen what was coming Sunday!

Devil moon arising?

Sunday loomed and Steve got the glumps. Doubly so, for on our return from the village, the solar controller had thrown a wobbly and refused to play. This meant no power coming into the boat and having to run the engine for a few hours. The rain, well, stair rods is the expression and it truly did. And it was cold!! First time for about 3 months!! No, we won’t put the fire on. Couldn’t work on the poorly solar controller because it means being out on deck . . . tooooo wet. Glum. Glum. Glum. Not to worry – tomorrow is another day! And drier. Oh and we had a curry – found out that you can order online from the Mango Tree (almost nextdoor to the George) AND they would deliver – so we gave them an address next to canal and waited and lo, it arrived – jolly good it was too. Another asset of Stoke Golding . . .

 

About Turn

 

Sunday now and so we head back down the Ashby – Steve wanted to surprise Viv by stopping at Shackerstone, to visit the heritage railway station and the lovely Victorian tea rooms. We also met up with Linda again, as she was on to her third batch of family visitors! It was a lovely cruise and so was the lunchtime stop. A pot of tea and ham & cheese toasties. No steam trains today as the loco was unwell (that was the official reason given) . We had to buy a platform ticket, very quaint. Then after lunch we chugged on to Sutton Cheney – a nice run to get those batteries charged plus a good point for water and those very spotless showers.

A candidate for the tree of the month?

Strange little brick built harbour – belongs to the “hice” (house) above.

 

Oh no, it’s that tunnel again. A Muppet on the towpath seemed to be saying there’s a boat coming – oh, oh another purple alert? False alarm as he meant he saw one going in!

A two-seater kayak (is that the right term) and unusual sight, I give way, slightly.

One has to focus even more carefully on this canal, for it is a shallow, just a yard off centre and you could be aground.

 

In the station at Shackerstone (see blogs passim for piccies of actual steam trains), there’s a couple of rooms set aside for museums – train stuff and WW2 stuff too.

Meanwhile we sit and wait for our grub. The “tea for two” was a giant and very heavy teapot. Obviously designed to be poured by the butler.

They had some rooms inside – all decked out with excellent Victorian memorabilia. This dresser had a huge tea service.

Only a diesel service running today.

There were quite a few odd engines around – including this one? Foreign?

This one amused us as it had an RH engine:

Our chum, Simon on Empress has an RH engine on his boat!

Goodbye to Linda & Mollie – busy cleaning the boat before the next batch of visitors arrive.

As we passed through Market Bosworth, we saw the artist from Laura, busy doing a commission – a pet dog portrait!

Further along, we espied that sheep on the front of a boat – seems familiar? Yes, it’s a Welsh chap, called Neville Bond and his boat’s name?

We met him last year on our trip to Chester.

Poor Toby! That look! “Make it stop!”, “Are we there yet??” And very soon we were. Sutton Cheney wharf – time for some more of that lamb and perhaps a glass of port & a cigar. A long day.

 

Beyond Bridge 61A – the end as we know it.

 

Awoke to a weird bleeping noise. Not heard that before. It was the newly installed Victron BMV-712 – the battery monitor. The battery voltage had reached 12.2volts  or 50%! Alarum! Alarum! Go to Purple Alert! To be honest and fair, we have been using the leisure batteries a good deal (two nights running we watched films via the Blu-Ray player, TV and sound bar) plus it hasn’t been that sunny. An initial panic but we did plan to set off today anyway – we have a large lamb shank to cook in the slo-pot. So, ideally a 5 hour cruise would be needed – to properly cook it and to recharge the batteries. This would mean heading straight to the end, without stopping at Shackerstone. Onwards!

A very rural and quiet canal with beautiful scenery

Beyond Shackerstone, it gets a bit wider and very pretty – this is near what was Gopsall Hall – famous country seat where Prince Edward VII came by train to Shackerstone and then by carriage to the Hall. Handel also stayed here and is supposed to have written the Messiah here. All demolished now.

Just to show folks that the helmsman does get a tea supply on a regular basis.

Looking more and more like the Enchanted Forest. It all seems very isolated and lovely.

At Snarestone we meet the one and only tunnel on this canal. A nasty piece of work as it can only take one boat, so you have to check it’s clear and then it kinks a bit and then gets lower! A great chance to bash bits of the boat. So slowly and carefully we chugged through.

Could this be the last bridge? Bridge 61? A typical Ashby stone bridge and a turnover one at that. Here, the horse would cross the bridge from the right to left, turning around and then under the bridge – ceasing the need to uncouple said horse.

The terminus is an odd affair. A huge winding hole, so you can turn the boat around. Plus there’s a facility point for boats (left) and a bric-a-brac shop with the Ashby Canal Association hut on the right. We bought a few bits and pieces as well as donating some videos (thanks Mark) and a book. We then reversed thru the swing bridge (61A) to a small 48 hour mooring. Now on the Ashby Canal Assoc. water and not CRT! This will do us for a day or two. Lamb all cooked.

Feels kind of snug & secure back at this mooring.

Steve cycled on to find the lost bit of canal for it used to go on for a further 8 miles through Measham and on to Moira. But, all the coal mining which was the canal’s raison d’etre, caused a lot of subsidence and the canal closed. They have restored bits and have plans to restore the whole thing – perhaps not even using the original course but the railway bed instead.

This is the actual end – and one reason we swung the boat early as you can only turn a 50 foot boat here. I thought there might be a nice towpath to cycle on but no. It was a very rough track for a bit and then it petered out. I tried to follow it but resorted to going on the roads to Measham. Even here it was hard to find the old canal – there was a Navigation street?

That evening we walked the dog back along the canal to the Globe and sat in the garden . . . drinking Thatcher’s Haze and eating crisps – noting how both came or used ingredients from Somerset!