Steve’s Birthday & Market Harborough/Foxton Locks

Yes, it’s the Ol Codger’s birthday and we went off to Market Harborough for the day – about 30 minutes away and also a walk around the famous Foxton staircase locks

Here we are at the old wharf, about half a mile from the town centre. We first came here 20 years ago – with Buster. It was very derelict then with broken buildings and not a nice place to stop.  Now, it’s all refurbished and chic!

Lunch in the Three Swans (even a star filter does little to enhance the subject matter!).

On to Foxton locks – a clever flight of seven staircase locks – each one joined to the next, which gives rise to some pretty deep lock chambers

Time read the Towpath Talk paper

There used to be an inclined plane here – a sloping escalator that dragged boats uphill in big caissons … all gone now

it reduced the transit time of the staircase locks, quite a feat

A grand day out followed by a cook-in, wine and of course some birthday cigars – thanks chaps!

Nottingham & the Grantham Canal Re-visited


Ah, the morning mist across the marina as I take the Boggle on his first walk. Off to Nottingham today (less than an hour away) to visit my tobacconist & the Grantham Canal.  We lived up here some 20 years ago and it will be so good to see it again and take Toby for a walk – where Buster walked was all those years ago …


Hmm a lot has changed – city centre full of trams and a huge Christmas fayre.


Gauntley’s – my pipe tobacco shop. I usually buy online but it’s good to visit in person – I even managed to get some of their special Christmas mixture – not on sale until tomorrow – sshh!

Off to Hickling and a stroll on the Grantham Canal.


I doubt we’ll ever see boats back on here but it’s a great little waterway.

Iris & Cliff liked it . .  “Do you like Hickling?  I don’t know I’ve never Hickled!”, said Mum after a few beers!


A much better path nowadays – the dog loved it!  We would come to various sections of this canal with Buster …



Very odd sign – “you don’t get many of those about”


Up to Clarke’s Bridge. Chris phoned me , Viv phoned me . .  must have known where I was!  Dog was very happy. A great trip.

Now back to me boat and the log fire!

Thanks Chris & Amy for the texts/calls letting me know you’ve remembered the ol’ codger’s birthday! Cheers

A Week in Yelvertoft

Well done Viv for posting a parcel of cables & chargers – I can charge the phone and upload some phone pix wot I took.

Enjoying my week up here – although the chores seem to lead to more work . . my efforts to replace the broken glass on the Morso Squirrel stove failed as the new glass was thinner and the screws didn’t hold it . .  my efforts to tighten em lead to one shearing off. Woe.  Off to Midland Chandlers to get sommit – they only had the same glass but I bought a new screw – £1 please! My neighbour & good friend Nick sorted the door by drilling out the old screw & tapping a new one in . . fixed! And the fire was still alight, Brilliant.  Where am I? Oh, here:


Nick asked a favour, if we could move from B2 to B4 as he wanted to bring his other boat, a barge, across and park it next to his as he wanted to work on it.  No problem – short cruise out & back – arrow shows how far we’ve moved.

Walked the dog up Cracks Hill yesterday – there’s a beacon on top and good views of Crick & back towards our marina – all very rural:


above is our very rural marina! Below is the other view to Crick:


and that beacon, followed by a very happy dog – lot’s of walks and squirmies



It’s a lovely place here – walking the dog with the sun coming up over the very still marina … swans gliding in … nice. Not many chores left now – the engine had an oil change & I’ve victualed the boat with more gin!

Well, Viv’s coming up on Friday & Saturday’s my birthday!

November mini break

Hello Chaps
Well, we normally go away for my birthday … somewhere warm – last year it was Cuba but this year, nope.
So I said Let’s go up to the boat … I’m up here for the week “doing boat things”
Such as repairing my Squirrel – yes, you guessed it’s having problems with locked nuts.
I broke the glass door and it also doesn’t seem to shut properly . . so I’ve got the bits but lack the wherewithal, as usual . .
I’ve also got the change the engine oil . . sounds straightforward . .
Viv joins me on Friday – coming up by train.
It was 8 degrees when I came on board today but with the gas central heating on and the Squirrel burning logs n coal, we’re up to 19 now
And very cosy it is too.
The Wi-Fi is so cr*p in this marina, that I’m having to sit up in the cratch and write this – only place there’s a signal.
Still a chance for a smoke and a new euphemism – my cratch is smoking! How’s yours?
Brief Howdy to the Cardiff girls – I’ve got 1 kg of Caerphilly maturing nicely and over 1 kg of little Bries going nice and fluffy – in a nice way, too
Must try and carry on this cheese lark – it’s very rewarding!
Well no TV tonight as after 2 hours of “playing” with the Sat dish and sat box, I give up …
Apparently, it’s got to point at TWO satellites at once 28.2 and 28.5 degrees E … .invalid postcode errors …so back to me book & scotch then . .
Hopefully I’ll get time to take some piccies too.

Autumn Visits

Sad at being away from our boat. Hope to visit for a week soon (17 – 23rd Nov) and then again for two weeks over Christmas & New Year.  Chance to test the boat in Winter!!

Found a few videos hidden on the camera that Viv must have taken whilst we chugged along – strung them together.

Adagio’s New Home

It was wash & polish boat day on Friday … all the marks left by dirty ropes etc. Steve used a special “boat wash” and then the magic polish – Bullet polish with Carnauba wax – gives a long-lasting protection and a showroom shine. All the scratches and scrapes along the waterline will have to wait for another day.


Here’s quite a nice, arty photo – taken from the marina entrance, looking over to our mooring – here’s a zoomed in piccie:


our boat in the middle, between Jasmine & Swift.

We had a drive around the area on Friday lunchtime – lots of thatched cottages and Stanford Hall (  Ended up in Crick and the recommended Red Lion! Real ale and superb, value-for-money lunches. We walked from the boat into Yelvertoft in the afternoon – hmm, nearly a 2 hour walk.  Found the wee post office & stores plus the award winning Squisito butchers/deli, see – lots of odd but nice cheese and local sausages! Early night and then pack & clean before driving home – via Devizes to collect the car. A long day and a very long holiday. It seemed like we’d been away for months! Pretty much every day, all day out in the open air. Fantastic. Can’t wait to go back … .

Thursday 25th September – Yelvers!

The final day of the holiday/adventure which comes to a close as we head for Yelvertoft marina. According to their flyer it’s “the place to be”. First we leave at 0815 from Braunston and head up thru the Braunston locks and the tunnel (over a mile long!!) Firstly the charming village, with an odd church tower . .

the “high street” – decent butchers and more beer & wine from the supermarket

Charming canal shop, chandlers and bottom lock

We were lucky to share these broad locks with another boat – crewed by some senior citizens (80’s and 70’s!). Wonderful cheery folk. Simon introduced me to going into locks side by side … interesting!

Here’s “Si” and his boat – designed by himself!

Just beyond the flight of locks is a LONG tunnel – over a mile!

Hmm, feels really creepy being underground but in a boat and then another boat comes towards you … !

Another junction – Norton Junction – here we leave the main Grand Union and the broad canal and locks and head off towards on the Leicester branch. A tight turn and one of the smallest welcome signs…

A flight of 7 locks with the middle 4 being in a staircase – where one lock leads into the next, the top gates of one lock form the bottom of the next, oh, look at the photos …so one boat at a time! We had an hour’s wait here as they do 6 down then 6 up . . it was a nice spot and helped by lock keepers and volunteers.

I got 9/10 for my drive into the lock above! They also said they weren’t impressed by my lunch (Viv had left some dried slices of bread on the roof for the ducks!).

You see … staircase locks . . a bit dark and gloooomy for the driver.

And another tunnel! A wet one with drips …  reminds me of the old ghost train rides. Viv had a go at driving this one – it is very odd – feels like you’ve got sunglasses on  – there’s a lack of perspective and then another boat comes towards you . .  panic!!!

And out into the sunny, middle-of-nowhere, which is the pleasure of most British canals! And one big reason we’re planning to move up here.

Hey, hey and here we are – Yelvertoft Marina:

Time to moor at the service station and have a pump out, re-fuel (hmm, 180 litres of diesel) and then try to drive over to our slot – B2 and reverse in … in the cross-wind …

And here we are. Lots of heads popped up and folk came out to help us moor – thanks guys – especially Nick – our new neighbour. A long day:11 miles and 13 locks. We left at 0815 and tied up around 1815. So a few beers and a chorizo & chickpea stew is on the stove … journey’s end and an early night. Thanks Jenny in the marina office for a great welcome!

Thank You for following us. We’re staying here a few days (work on Monday Viv!) A great little adventure … and only just the beginning.


Wednesday – 24th September – to Braunston

Right, 9 locks and 9 miles today. A very leaky gate meant there was little water after the first lock so we had to let some water down …

Viv does all 9 locks!

some very leaky locks

you meet some lovely people over the locks – always chatty and full of helpful info about your route . . coming down to Napton – windmill on the hill.

A page from the Pearson’s guide – showing what we use to navigate the canals and to work out where to get water, dispose of rubbish, pubs and moorings!

wonderful CRT volunteer at the bottom lock – thanks!

The Folly pub (sorry, 1100 a bit early even for me!) – went here with AM & P. and then it snowed! No more locks – off to Braunston.

the famous windmill in Napton hill

Viv getting her second gold star for driving past moored boats, and an oncoming boat and taking lungfuls of smoke from Steve’s fire!

A happy Viv! Getting into her stride now. Notice the VHF radio – we use these for 2-way comms – very useful.

Welcome to Braunston turn. Here it’s left turn to ? and right turn to our route to Yelvertoft. We had a smashing surprise here as our friends Chris & Chris had made the effort to come and see us & the boat before heading off for the weekend. They had a meal at the Boathouse and suggested we moor outside … us and a pub, really?  Did we need asking twice?  Thanks for coming guys – it made our day!

What a nice mooring! We even came back in the evening – the excuse was – free Wi-Fi and the ability to update this blog and of course some more beer – I had Old Thumper at lunchtime and now it’s Marston’s EPA. A great pub & cool bar staff.

Tuesday – Cropredy to Marston Doles

We’re just amazed at the weather. We came prepared – waterproofs, boots etc. Wood & coal for the stove … but I had to go out and buy sunscreen! We’ve had marvellous sunrises, sunsets and such warm weather. 14 miles and 8 locks today. 0800 to 1445 finish – lightweights, eh? But we’re beginning to get into the cruising groove & the let’s finish early.

lots of locks up to the summit

a liveaboard with a cunning leather, um, bum bag (lit.) to hold his lock key

Viv earns her gold star badge for tricky steering!

The Fenny Tunnel – well, it was but the roof crumbled, so no roof but very narrow.

a “turn-over” bridge – helped the ‘Orse cross over without unhitching the tow rope.

That’s enough for one day. No phone signal. No satellite reception (trees!). A wonderful M&S meatballs, Lloyd Grossman red wine sauce and pasta meal. Tasty.  This is Marston Doles – top of the Napton flight.