Day 4 – Hillmorton

Bit of a murky start but the forecast is set fair later, so off we go. Batteries down 106Ah or 77%, depending which gadget you look at, so on with the engine and TravelPack – which played up a bit today. It just stopped working after half an hour – got too warm I suspect as it returned a few minutes later. It was trying to pump 91 amps or 1250 Watts into the batteries. Must get it serviced – recommended a place in Atherstone – Cox Autos. Just as good as we’re passing thru there end of the week. There’s always sommit to worry about on a boat.

Plan today is just to chug down past Hillmorton locks and then moor up. We go past Barby marina – where Mark has his boat – now on his own outside, inline mooring.

How cute! I’ll have one 13 and two 40’s please!!
The long straight
Barby Moorings
Some interesting sights here
Including our good friend, Mark – who has his boat, his plot and his stage!
He travels to water festivals and lets groups perform in the tent
Our fellow Yelvertoft neighbours on Romany
Steve’s turn to “do” the locks and Viv drives the 3 locks – the busiest on the network.
And Toby just watches . . .
Viv’s Beaker impression
On to the final lock
Short video of Viv sliding Adagio into the lock – superbly done!
Our not quite final resting place . . . it bumped here as boats went past – note to boaters – don’t moor here if you want your boat to bump & grind on the bottom! We moved around the corner to Armco and non-bumping moorings. Toby not panicking every 5 minutes now.

Day 3 – Staying Put

I know Saturday was the Grand National & Sunday is the boat race but it seemed racing wasn’t confined to those sports – the starting gun had gone off here too. Dozens of boats all hurtling along – not one doing the “slow for boats – idle speed”, all in a rush to get somewhere. Well, we stayed put. We’ll toddle off on Monday. A few chores need doing and then we walked back to Braunston for a beer. We tried the Plough, hmm Doom Bar, Hobgoblin or some Derby Bitter – which we tried, not bad but not good enough. TV on loud but no one watching – not a great welcome. We moved on to the Wheatsheaf and lo, our eyes popped – Bath Gem, Hook Norton Old Hookey and Dark Star, Hophead – hmm, much better!

Remind me not to drink three pints at lunchtime, for the rest of the afternoon flew by!

The sun did peep out briefly and fed the batteries a few amperes but it rained around four and so that was that. Nice a warm though. Tomorrow is another day.

Day Two – 4.5 hours Braunston/Willoughby

Off by 0915. Looks a brighter day. All very quiet. Down to the Norton Junction, sound horn once, turn to starboard, avoid other boat and on to the Braunston Tunnel. Luckily, we didn’t meet another boat in this rather kinky and long tunnel. No one around at the 6 locks, so we descended . . some guys were coming up, which helped. Although the Muppets behind them didn’t wait for us and started refilling their lock, ho-hum. We moored up in the extremely busy Braunston – hire boats were being prepped and moored THREE abreast! Hire boats were getting their instructions. Hire boats were being driven backwards down the whole Braunston straight – bonkers. We stopped for 30 minutes, whilst Steve marched off to shop in the Butcher’s – triple smoked, dry cured bacon! Best in the land plus a huge pulled pork & chorizo pie and two smaller, steak & kidney pies! Pie, mash n beans tonight. We moved off to pause at the Chandlers, for yes, you can moor outside – we needed some more Fertan to zap the odd rust spot. Then a short hop to beyond bridge 87 and one of our favourite spots – Willoughby. A quiet, rural spot for the night . . . or two. Just might let all those other boaters sail by . . .

Viv chooses to wind paddles and shift beams
Scenic view looking back from the top lock
My little worker bee
Scenic view of the brief stop in Braunston
Chance to spend money in Midland Chandlers!
Final stop for the day – 4.5 hours later. Dog’s more than happy to stop.
Nice new Armco here – picture postcard view of Adagio & Braunston church
Story so far . . . haven’t come very far at all.

And they’re off!

The weather took a turn for the worse this week with gales & frosts but by Friday it seemed to have calmed down and so we scheduled our departure for the 5th April. Last year we had that Beast from the East and delayed our start until 4th May. Steve’s been itching to get out but the ointment has taken care of that!

We said our farewells – to Gail and our new neighbours. And cast off. Seemed a bit reluctant – maybe we’re getting a bit lazy and landlubbery? It was cold too. However, we’re off. Down those Watford locks – not too long to wait and on to moor just outside Weltonfield marina. 3.5 hours – that’ll do for Day One.

Viv steers after Steve checks all the things that Steve has to check . . .
Lots of these about
Cute and probably very tasty
Lots of photos of the Watford flight of locks on the blog passim, it’s still a bit leaky.
Steve steered – Viv wound. Toby watches.
Staircase locks – big and deep
Our first travelling companion – Frayed Knot – fellow Blue Ensign (RNSA) wearer too.
Only 3.5 engine hours but a nice, quiet spot for the first night

Summer Time

British Summer Time has started. The reeds are growing; the birds are singing and it’s time to prep the wee ship for the Summer Cruise.

But where shall we cruise? Plan A is to return to the Llangollen – only cruised on a hire boat some, ooh, thirty years ago?

So, here’s the plot . . .

See Canalplan website for details

Ignore the dates but it should start soon. One idea is to cruise the Llangollen plus a diversion down the Montgomery Canal. And then go back to the Trent & Mersey and down the Anderton Lift to the River Weaver – hiding away during the school summer holidays.

Anderton Lift

River Weaver

Old Friends Return

John, Christine & Tilly came up for the day – for lunch, for walkies and for afternoon tea. They used to be our close neighbours on Poppy Eyebright and have returned to since the land – being closer to their ever growing family – how many grandchildren?

It was great to spend the day with them:

A return to Jubilee Park & Millennium Wood
The stars of the show – Tilly & Toby
The other stars – twinkling, John . .
and Christine
Lots of action photos – both dogs keen to be outside & enjoying the rather lovely sunny day
The “part collie” dog shows thru here – throw ball, throw ball!
I don’t need a ball – I’m freeeeeeeeeee!
It was jolly nice weather and good fun seeing our old neighbours again. A grand lunch at the Wheatsheaf, a grand walk and then afternoon back on the boat.
Grand day out indeed

Valentine’s Day

Thirty nine years ago, we got engaged. Italian restaurant, Southampton. So today, we chugged on, to bridge 37 – only an hour and a half but chance to have a pub lunch.

A very foggy start – with an evil looking, post-apocalyptic sun
It soon brightened up into a gloriously sunny day & deserted
We moored just past bridge 37 and sauntered up to South Kilworth
Past the Stanford reservoir
A long road but beer & food at the end
We were very lucky, they are normally closed lunchtimes, in winter, but a walking party had booked in, so yes, we could eat . . 2 x lasagnes and beer! Happy Anniversary!
It were a long road back but downhill.
We decided to chug onwards to the Welford junction (to swing the boat) and then go back past bridge 37 and on to bridge 33 for the night.
It was a good day for photography, so clear & bright – you could see the Death Star quite clearly
Viv gets to drive for a bit
She looks really professional! Calm & relaxed (ish),
Scenic bridge 40
Steve, hmm, the right caption would be “Plonker”
Viv took this – chaotic swirls?
“Better out than in” would be this caption – my perfect bridge for reflections. Is this really February? Sun hat on and coat off!!
Don’t often get his photo – Steve putting up the aerials and his weather station – always asking, where the hell is North?? See the website
Beautiful mooring spot by bridge 33. Spot the very tired doggie?
I did try and wait for them to pose in their “heart” position, well, it is Valentine’s Day.
It is a very scenic spot
And here’s my Valentine – feeding those swans . .

Out on the boat

We always said we’d go out if the weather was agreeable and lo, it came to pass! After days of icy cold and high winds – the Met Office relented and said, “Oh, alright, if you must, here’s some sunshine!”. With the forecast of low winds, full sun and rising temperatures, we gaily slipped our moorings and crept out of the marina for the first time this year. Heading for bridge 27 and maybe beyond for a few days . . .

It really was blindingly bright and very quiet
We met a few boats who had the same idea but otherwise serene
The boat seemed fine – the recent service made the engine sound just grand
I did point out the wildlife to Toby but he wasn’t interested
All wrapped up but the thermals & longjohns weren’t really necessary – the boat reached 26 degrees inside.
Approaching bridge 26 and Gail’s favourite mooring spot – no one here!
I could be wrong but they seem to have cutting a lot of the branches – but more on the offside, still it’s better than nothing.
The favourite mooring spot – quite idyllic and they’ve upgraded the 4G signal (EE) – I managed to get 50 (yes, really) Mbps!!
I think we’ll stay put for a bit.

Winter Escape – more . .

So where are we? Trefin – house is Hafan – the big one, centre right photo
And zoomed out – gives you some idea of proximity of the sea
A few cottages going for sale – this one opposite Hafan, up the valley
Quite nice – annex too – all for £585,000
How the other live, eh? Blinis for tea.
Lots of snowdrops on a walk from the woollen mill, down to the two beaches; Aberbach & Abermawr
Lots and lots of snowdrops (near Melin Tregwynt)
Footpath to Aberbach beach
Two cottages on this path – this the last one . .
Didn’t think it was for sale but lovely position
acres of bloomin gorse
Aberbach beach – Toby swim – tricky getting us across here
Short walk round to the other beach – Abermawr
Wonderful beach, submerged, petrified forest plus failed terminal for Brunel’s transatlantic rail terminal
Meanwhile, the woollen mill – Melin Tregwynt has given its cafe a wonderful makeover and is open everyday! Time for some cawl.
The former cafe was very dated and small – this one is much more chic
with lots of local scenes
and the shop . . . all homespun . . woollen blankets £260!

Winter Escape – Day 2

The gales of Sunday now seem a distant memory. We plan a trip to St Davids and then a walk from its small port, Porth Clais around the coastal path to Porth Lysgi. A gloriously sunny day. Cold but warmish in the sun.

Porth Clais

A call from Stephen Davies!
A beautiful morning and not a soul about
Another panorama – the sea looks almost calm today
The small bay of Porth Lysgi – scene of many a dog (and Steve) swims in the past
Toby gets his swim

A small compilation of videos from today’s walk