Bean Here

 

We left MH on the Monday, stopped just before Foxton locks for the night. This is where Viv dropped her glasses off her nose and into the drink. I wish I’d taken a photo of her fishing – for hours = but to no avail. New specs please.

After a long day, up thru the locks and on and on to our favourite place, bridge 27 (Mountain Barn Bridge). A few days here and the weather is good – chust sublime!

Time to get the Kindle out & chill. I know, only old fogies do this . . . but then we are!

The ever-watchful mutt is keeping guard with “that toy”!

A circular walk took us through a nice bean field – but what’s that lurking? Not blackfly?

Yep, Steve playing silly B’s. Back to marina land tomorrow. John & Christine (and Tilly) are due to visit – such larks are afoot!!

Harbouring a Market

 

Poor David managed to snag a nasty cold and so couldn’t join us for a short trip to Welford & Market Harborough. So we went anyway – sort of trial run plus it’s what the boat’s for . . .

We went straight to the Welford junction and down the arm for a night there (plus a jar in the Wharf Inn – learnt that they had a beer festival, 22-25th!! Get better David and let’s see if we can make this!)

Lots of dog roses out at this time of the year, whites, pinks and reds.

No pix of Foxton locks, we’ve done all that many times before. But the arm off to Market Harborough is very scenic and usually very full of Kingfishers but not today . . .

It is however, full of chicks – moorhen ones . . . .

Viv gets to drive and always seems to get the tricky bits, like a boat coming towards her, awkward bridges etc . . . but she does do very well!

After an hour of rural bliss you suddenly come into suburbia, with large mown lawns and trees through hedges?

Final resting place, the very well laid out visitor moorings

This is just before the basin, with facilities, hire boats & permies  . . .

One of the must-see places is the newish micro-pub, not so micro with 10 real ales and six ciders – the Beerhouse!  Bit of a stroll from the Wharf but well worth it. Viv ties the Kalika & then Pull the Other One!

Very busy (it was Saturday) but a lovely friendly atmosphere.  Toby got a lot of attention:

 

Going through the motions!

Ah, that all-consuming topic with boaters – toilets!

After the “let’s throw the hop & yeast residue down the pan” mishap, I got to know the ins and outs of the Jabsco macerating, flesh flush toilet system quite well. Brand new these babies are £652 !!

So today was the day for removing the seat and fixing the replacement hinge. Simples. Here’s that rather unfortunately named image, the exploding toilet:

You have to unscrew the four long screws that hold the whole thing down, swivel the whole away from the wall and get at the bits from behind! All done and item No. 2 is now fitted.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t. The exit pipe was kinked and had to be lifted to straighten and then there was a fresh water leak by the solenoid (No 31 in the pic). Hmm, it seemed the fresh water was leaking slowly into the bowl and also from around the exit pipe of the valve assembly. A brief look on the Jabsco website and the item was found:

Hmm, £102.99 ex. VAT ! I don’t fink so! Let’s take it all apart and sure enough the valve had not shut – I could easily blow thru the pipes. I pushed a screwdriver up it, despite Corporal Jones’s advice and found I could push the valve up and down. I then tried to blow thru and couldn’t. Ha! Problem solved. Probably a bit of grit stuck in the valve – reassemble and so far, all’s well. Finito de fretto.

Being a bit of Muppet at practical things, I now tie a folded kitchen tissue around any pipework that I’ve worked on . . . in a “just in case” it hasn’t worked.

Oh, a new towel had arrived. So another job to fit that. The old one was very proud from the wall and we kept hitting it! This one is much simpler and neater.

Please, no more bathroom issues for a while!

Day Trip back to Sawley

 

I know the blog is about the boat & boating but the spare parts for the Jabsco toilet had arrived up at Sawley Marina, only took four weeks! A direct order could have seen it arrive the next day. Another “learn from this” problem. Serendipitously, it meant that we could plan a day trip from Yelvertoft back to Sawley. A matter of a 50 mins drive up the M1. And, more importantly, visit Dave and his magnificent Lock Keepers Rest, micro pub. I asked him how successful he had been in the two lots of Thurs – Sunday openings and he said, very well indeed. In fact, he had sold out of every drop of beer and ciders!

Note he only opens Thurs (4 to 9:30), Fri & Sat (12 to 9:30) and Sun (12 to 4)

Here’s the man himself (with a nice group of kids we called The Famous Five Go Boozing!)

A lot of time & effort has gone into making this one of the best looking micro pubs I’ve ever seen. Love the “what’s on now” beer signs!

All the furniture was hand made by Dave and feels very cosy. Should be good in winter with the ex-boatman’s stove.

The beer & ciders are kept in a separate, cooled cellar. Nice tilting racks!

It’s in an odd but also ideal position. You can not drive to it but as you can see it is at the hub of the waterways and on a popular walking/cycling route.

There’s no web page yet but a good Facebook page that is updated with the beers

https://www.facebook.com/Thelockkeepersrest

We didn’t forget Toby, just around the corner is a lovely beach to give him a nice, clean swim in the river Trent.

 

Another Techie Bit – Batteries!

 

Not really a blog item. It’s another techie bit. Maybe hoping for a reader to pass comment?

When we first bought the boat, we knew that the batteries were the original ones, which makes them getting on for ten years old next year.  I’m guessing that if the engine hours are anything to go by, then the batteries have not really had nearly ten years of being cycled and being Victron AGM’s, they’re quite happy sitting on the shelf, they don’t self-discharge very much. So, perhaps we have a few more years left?

It was the major worry when we first bought her but it’s odd how “worries” sink down below other worries which rise up – like the dripping stern gland. It’s now three and a half years since we’ve owned the boat and there are signs of unhappiness in the battery department. When recharging them via the engine (it has a 230V alternator and so supplies the Victron box with up to 3.5 kW of juice), it’s set at 90A and the Victron used to go through it’s four stage charging – bulk (lots of amps), absorption (constant high voltage ~ 15 V, low current) and then float. Passing through a “battery safe” mode to limit initial current. It used to stay on bulk for a while but now it shifts to absorption after only a short time. An indication of lack of depth of charge? We’re not too worried as it goes and it stops. It never gets below 50% (usually never below 65%), so it shouldn’t be a worry.  I had to turn off the 4-stage charging as it went to float too quickly with the solar panels on.  It now does an eight hour absorption then floats.

One small and probably wildly inaccurate test was to use the Smartguage device which gives me a readout of the capacity in %. It went from 75% up to 90% in one hour. So that’s 90 amps for an hour. Meaning 90Ah represents an increase in 15% charge . . . scaling that up . . . 100% should equate to about 600AH, which is the stated capacity. A bit rough n ready but maybe they’re OK for a while anyway.

The cost of a new set – like for like is around £1200 plus fitting although I found a nice outfit in Market Harborough who would fit them for free (well, recouping the scrap value of £30 a battery covers that!). They will be a pig to get out, weighing in at 65 kg each and in an awkward place . . . .

I plan to disconnect em all and test each one to see if just one is a bit off. That’s for another day!

 

Summer Cruise#1-Day51 End

 

I feel a little like Darth Vadar. I seem to be pursued by the Millenium Falcon! We met them at Sileby bridge, then Kilby bridge, then the locks up to Foxton and today they zoomed by – at a little bit less than light speed:

And for those of you who do not know what ship the Falcon is :   see   Star Wars

Meanwhile, back to the last full day of our Summer Cruise #1

We left our spot next to Lubenham Lodge and chugged off quite early as we knew it was going to get a bit Scorchio!! Twenty-four degrees again. We left soon after eight and chugged the very pleasant two hours to Welford junction.  The quayside here is very low and so you get down to do de painting!  We had a few lock rashes, well, we have travelled 223.5 miles and been through (and sometimes scraped thru) 121 locks! I reversed round Welford junction to a suitable mooring – painted one side – drove up to the junction, 3-point turn back to the mooring – painted t’other side.  Meanwhile Viv cleaned the solar panels and polished me mushrooms.

On the way, following most narrowboaters motto of “you can never have too many scenic bridge pictures”, here’s two more

Plus a dog, who looks like he’s actually enjoying it for once

Past North Kilworth marina (to be). Standing precariously on top of the boat, I got a good view of the building site – I even saw Gazza and gave him an”Oi!”, to which I got an “Oi!” back. I then shouted “Any day now, any day now”

Final resting place for today – back to the marina tomorrow.

And here’s a bit from the Skipper (sorry the end got cut orf):

Summer Cruise#1- Day 50

Around the Ring in 50 days?  Does it really feel like we’ve been out 50 days? Don’t know. Why stop? Well, Crick show is one small reason plus a bit of R&R as we’re a bit cream crackered – it didn’t seem this difficult 2 years ago! Mind you having seen Beryl on Wasp – one of the original boat girls, she was on the Limehouse run, apparently (no idea – answers in the comments below??), we must be 20 or 30 years her junior, so we can’t complain, much! Nearly five hours today but it was also a wait for Foxton locks. It was really hot – hottest day of the year so far – 26 degrees in the boat! Viv drove the boat up and I slogged thru the gear going uphill – I had help from a chap (Ade) from the boat coming up behind us (Serendipity), which was nice. So, got to Lubenham, one of our local favourite spots, just a few minutes up from Foxton.  Nice views and an easy mooring.

Superb rural views as we head off to Foxton – a field of buttercups

No, Viv’s not saluting, just the very bright and hot day – upgraded from 22 to 24 degrees.

A very familiar sight – bottom of Foxton locks. Four boats went up and one was waiting in the middle so we had a bit of a wait. Time for a beer then:

Viv drove up the 10 locks, whilst me & Ade wound the paddles and shifted the gates.

Steve hard at work – showing his best side here

Soon at the top -some 75 feet higher up now!

Ten minutes later – all stop, finished with engines . . . Lubenham.  Shuffled up to get a better view.

View from . . . that’s enough for one day. Welford junction tomorrow.  Time for some Boodles gin – pinkers all round.

 

Summer Cruise#1-Day47-49

 

After the two days in Leicester, we moved off on Sunday morning. Hmm, not a good time as the rowing club was out in force! Still they stuck to one side of the mile straight and we went down the other. We got to the end of the river bit at King’s Lock (some four locks and 2 hrs later) and picked up Ian on Swansong, who serendipitously chose to cast off at that time – jolly good, someone to share the locks with. Onwards to Kilby Bridge.

Here’s a view of the splendid new moorings at Friar’s Mill – from the road side.

Note to our Leave friends – another EU paid for project!

I could write a book on weird & not-so-wonderful boat names, here’s another

A lovely “Cruising Down the River on a Sunday afternoon”

A man taking his horse for a walk, as you do . . .

Here’s the marvellous Ian on Sawnsong helping us through the 12 locks to Kilby

A long day but a gorgeous sunset – highlighted by the super polishing work!

We were impressed by the birdsong here – especially the songthrush. They usually chant “RayMears, RayMears” but Steve was sure this one was saying “Wnker, Wnker” – listen after 1:30? Or is it just Steve?? Anyway, it’s great just to sit and listen to the birds.

We stayed another day for rest & recuperation, then onwards – the final 12 locks to Fleckney. We discovered that the cordoned off areas were because of giant hogweed – there were lots more of it along the towpath, nasty stuff!

Ian’s a continuous cruiser – been doing it for 5 years – a very calm and considerate chap. He stopped for the day at Newton Harcourt. It was a pleasure to cruise with you Sir!

At Crane’s Lock, another boat, Symphony, had very considerately waited for us and we continued our lucky day in sharing the next five locks. There seemed to be plenty of water about – 2 years ago we went aground in some of these pounds.

Sharing does help – it keeps the boats steady and extra hands on these heavy gates is a boon.

At Taylor’s Turnover lock we saw some upgrading of this venue

And finally, we stopped! Only 5.5 miles but 12 locks but it did take us 5 hours. Phew.

We walked across the field into the charming village of Fleckney, had a pint in the charming pub, the Golden Shield, shopped in the Co-op and tucked in to Tandoori Chicken kebab & chips from the, erm, charming village chippy. Back on the boat for a pipe & some Aberlour peaty malt whisky. Only 8 o’clock but is it time for bed yet??

 

Summer Cruise#1-Day45/46

It must be age cos we’ve done this journey before, years before on a hire boat and then two years ago when we had the solar panels fitted, but then it was all calm and serene; the river gauges were off the bottom of the green and it was hot & sunny! It all changes when you get a bit of rain and anxiety begins! Friday saw us settled at Watermead and it was still drizzling.  I cycled with my new Bickerton down to the first lock at Thurmaston – all OK. Amber I think. Then on to Birstall – hmm, just on the red but the flow was fairly serene. We got a bit downhearted with this drizzle so popped over the road to the Hope & Anchor for lunch – sorry no dogs – so put Toby back on the boat and returned to the pub. Only Abbot as the real ale, hmm, items also not available from the menu. And what we did have was poor to be honest! It looked tired and a bit, well, grubby. So bad move. We skedaddled back to the boat. Then a boat went passed us – some Kiwis on a hire boat – they confirmed that all was OK further upstream, so we decided to go. It should take us about 4 hours – we often use http://canalplan.org.uk/ to plan our route as it does give you a good idea of how long a section should take. Going upstream with a bit of fresh on (as they say) means you go slower, although our boat did well  – Axiom prop and all – steering the twisty, windy river was tricky but we encountered no problems at all and got to Leicester early – six miles and five big locks. We just managed to squeeze in behind Bibendum (Nunc est bibendum = now is the time for drinking!), fellow boaters from Crick.

Here’s Birstall lock – just off the red

And here’s why it’s dangerous to go sailing on rivers in flood – if you didn’t know the exact course of the river, you could end up in a field, with these swans & geese!

Often tricky to know which arch to head for but the rule is . . . the towpath one and/or the biggest one!

The final lock (No 42) with some graffiti and murals

The river gauge here is well into the green, so a sigh of relief from all.

Here’s the new visitor moorings at Friar’s Mill – we are at the end, behind Bibendum, Cumbrian Lass and Swansong.

This was a derelict area that has been smartened up. The moorings have water (and eventually electricity) plus a refuse area and a secure padlocked entrance (at night & weekends).

Leicester even has its own Stargate:

And still it rained but we gave the dog a good walk then headed to the Criterion pub

They had an underground type map of all the pubs in Leicester!

They wouldn’t let Toby in 2 yrs ago (new carpets) but this time they did! A good range of beers (Spitting Feather’s – RSI and Market Harborough Brewery’s Whirlpool No.2  – excellent) and a food menu of just pizza – all handmade too – brilliant. One Diablo and one Gondolier please!

A soggy end to the day but at least we were wet on the inside too! Sorry, a rather fuzzy one of Viv but a happy, smiley face . . . must be the Whirlpool No 2 !

Summer Cruise#1-Day 44

 

Well, we got the all clear from CRT early in the morning – the Soar was no longer in flood. So we pushed off around eleven. I chatted to some continuous cruisers on a green boat, who were seriously thinking of giving up. They love the boat, living on the boat and the waterways but had had enough of the “scrotes” on the canals. It was the people they met that left them fed up! I understand what they mean but it’s a shame.

Today was a weird mix of The Serene, The Hot and The Scary! Yes, the river was now no longer in flood but it still had a flow and there were some strong streams here and there. The Serene:

Just after Loughborough, we entered a very serene stretch.

Lots of greenery – well, it did rain a lot!

Nearing Mountsorrel we encounter that conveyor bridge of 1860

And now for the scary bit – the lock keeper chap at Barrow Deep lock, said we shouldn’t have gone thru the right hand bridge as it’s shallow but not so with all this rain. There was a strong flow pushing the boat back and to the left – full revs & that told it what to do. He also said there’s no trouble with the Soar but . . . the weir at Sileby will push you over . . . here’s the still, showing the strong flow from the weir (it’s always a bit strong, to be honest) but the only way to do this was again, full revs and aim for the lock. Otherwise it would push us onto the concrete bank and we’d be pinned there. Entry to the lock would’ve been a nail screeching crawl along the wall. Not elegant.

Note Skipper has two ropes to secure the boat! And here’s a short video too:

Coming “downhill” is no problem – again a rapid burst will do, just as long as there’s no waiting boats (esp. plastic ones!!) in your way.

Oh, and is this gauge red or amber? Academic really.

A fine day – in fact it got rather hot! Here’s Viv driving! She did very well and ALL the locks too.

Continuing the scary theme  – we met “Caroline”, a Napton hire boat at Cossington lock (hate this one!). They had a very scary experience last night. The hire company made them go round the Leicester ring anti-clockwise, to avoid running into the waterways festival in Leicester in June. But when they did get to Leicester, all the moorings were 4 deep in boats (maybe holing up because of the expected flood?). So they pressed on. They got to Birstall  – they saw the gauge was in the green but in a matter of an hour it had crept up into the red; it had gone up four feet and he’d never been so scared in his life. They were surfing down the river! Which is why we’ve stopped in the canalised bits – just in case.

I’m always shouting “Crocodiles!” to Viv. What I mean is floating logs . .  and there were a lot of them plus tons and tons of rubbish – a consequence of the flooding river, I guess:

Ooh, this one looks red-ish? No, it’s amber – proceed with caution

By now we had done the 10 miles and this was the last lock (no 6) before we moor up outside Watermead Park. The Soar having left us and we were on a bit of canal.

Quite a long day (for us) – over four hours! But we filled up with water (few and far between on this stretch) with one of the slowest taps we know (outside the Hope & Anchor Hungry Horse pub)! But we had arrived – one of our, well, Toby’s favourite spots. We even drive up here from Yelvertoft (about an hour!) for a day trip, just so we can walk around the park and give Toby his beloved swim.

5 more locks and 5 more miles to get to Leicester – let’s hope for not much in the way of rain.