Summer Cruise#2 – Day 59


Up early, move boat to winding hole, turn boat round and moor back in the same place but pointing the other way – time to paint the starboard side.

Weed hatch had leaked a bit – on full throttle admittedly but the pathetic strips of tape which acted as a seal had finally given up and new stuff was required. We bought 3m of special sticky-backed rubber tape and set-to on both the hatch and cover. I decided the sticky was not good enough and so deployed my tin of Evo Stick impact adhesive! Proper Job!

And here’s that removable hatch (upside down)

It worked but the two layers of seal meant I couldn’t get the darn hatch on – the locking clamp (bottom of top photo) just wouldn’t go over all this – doh! With some effort (hit it with the hammer, Steve), it went on and in the morning it had all squashed down – purfick! And what a start. Cold overnight and a misty, moisty morning too . . . there is a boat behind us, if you can see him through the mist!

The winding hole is only a few 100 yds away and lo, there were two boats moored just before it. This makes turning very tricky as the hole bit is over on the right, so your stern should almost scrape the left bank but not if boats are there, grr!

We manged to turn but it was more like an 11-point turn than the usual 3 !

Back at the exact same spot – no one here now but us.

But later it got busy! Two Yelvertoft boats behind us (Rushmere & Josephine) and then a surprise our very own neighbours – Simon & Linda on Hyannis . . .

And closely followed by Nick & Margaret on Iron Maiden on their Maiden voyage! Good to see her finally out. I think this must be her “sea trials”

Quite a big boaty!

We painted the grey below the gunwales and then the blacking – all done. And then about half an hour later a hire boat comes along and aims to moor, except the son was left to steer and he steered alright, right into our boat, bang! “Oh no!”, said Viv, ” We only painted that side yesterday!”. No harm done as far as I could see.

Fellow Yelvertofters, Pete & Anne on Rushmere go back to the marina

Followed in convoy by Andy on Josephine – new to boating and a single-hander but enjoying every minute.

We then took our Boggle for a walk around the delightful wood (Fieldside Covert – Woodlands Trust) and saw some of these Parasol mushrooms – Anne had seen them and picked for her husband. We think they Parasols and supposedly edible but we declined.

A gorgeous, sunny day in the end. Here’s the wood from the inside – spot the Viv & the dog!

There’s only the well deck to paint, so we might return sooner than planned, or not. It is a nice spot here!


Summer Cruise#2-Day57/58


Well, day 57 (Tuesday) was OK, nowhere as warm but good for paintng. I did the maroon tunnel flashing again and Viv did the gloss on the side hatch. I did some more blacking and then we used the Osmo external oil on the exposed wood bits. Can’t understand why anyone would use varnish anymore or any of these “so and so always uses this Veruuca oil“ on wood. I put decent yacht varnish on my wooden seats at the stern when we first bought the boat but, as with all varnishes, you turn your back and they crack, peel and then let the water in. The wood goes manky and will eventually fall apart. Sanding the seats back to the bare wood was then the only option. This German Osmo oil works a treat – it’s a combination of natural oils and makes the wood impervious to water, mold etc plus its not sealed, it still breathes and so has no skin to crack or peel. Brilliant.

Toby sprained a front paw and back paw so was limping badly. Today he made it to the woods and around the track inside, so that was good.  The day was a bit dull and so we had to run the engine for about 45 mins.

I chatted with a guy on the boat, Warsteiner, obviously a guy who likes his beer! He was busy doing remedial paintwork too.

Then the day got a bit busier – kind of rush hour – I guess lots of boats had come up the locks at either end of this long pound. One boat from Market Harborough weren’t given a map and so had no idea where they were or where they should go! “Is there anything up there?“ they shouted as they went past – Crick, I replied and then they stopped and moored, so I went to chat.  I wanted to clarify that this isn’t Crick! They were happy that it was only an hour and a half away.

Despite having 141 TV channels (yeah! The black knob works again!), there really was nothing worth watching. So read a Kindle book time. They keep pushing their free or 99p books at us so I’ll try a few.

Saw a hare in the field opposite, managed a fuzzy photo, well, it was dark and zoomed in (well done me ickle Panasonic). So nice and peaceful here.

Taking it easy, a pipe & Laphroig.
Late evening hare
Isolated and beautiful

Wednesday was forecast to be wet, wet, wet and lo, it became fact. So, indoors jobs . . . Viv was doing finances . . Moving some of our savings to gain an extra 0.5%! Gotta try. Hopefully the rain will ease later and we can do some more painting. Yippee. I’ve set up the bread machine to do a Rye & Carraway loaf but will have to work out the timings as the heaty bit at the end of its cycle, is the bit we’ll need the engine on for! Meanwhile and rather trivially, my lunch snack of our ensalada plus a tin o’fish consisted of Sainsbury’s “mackerel fillets in spicy tomato sauce“, they’ve always been a strange flavour, nice but odd . .  So I read the tin and rather surprisingly I found out why . . . packed in Denmark and with . . Sugar, spirit vinegar, salt, orange peel, chilli pepper, garlic, allspice, chilli, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, paprkia, pepper, star anise and turmeric. Wow! Not a bad snack, oily fish and all that spice. Probably around 60p a tin??

Batteries down to 73% but the sun is trying to peep out.


Summer Cruise#2-Day 56 The End is Nigh


The weather is forecast to be Scorchio today with highs of 26 degrees. We’ve been staying under the trees here in Crick and this has meant our batteries were a tad low (67%), so it was time to move on and get to a good mooring both for the sun and for the remedial painting. We left shortly after 8 – it is Bank Holiday Monday but all was quiet. We crept past Yelvertoft marina and on to bridge 27 – we were thinking of going on to Welford but the towpath is low enough here which means it’s good to get at the boat to paint.  So that’ll do.

All quiet at Yelvers, lots of boats out.

Planning to take on water at Yelvertoft wharf but a boat had moored there – Artful Dodger, private boat, should know better, tricky but we squeezed in and had to use all our hoses! Name & Shame!

Then Viv’s “Victor Meldrew” moment, why don’t CRT cut down all these overhanging trees? Good point – so much of the waterway are overgrown and it makes navigation difficult, if not dangerous.

It is a nice stretch this, with rolling hills – no cars or trains, very tranquil.

Down to the remedial painting then – here’s some “before” pictures, well this year we have down more than 500 miles and  420 locks!! So some scraping and bumping is only to be expected – that’s why the runners are called rubbing strips! The black bitumen paint is designed to rub off rather than crack, like gloss would.

Fully tied up, with springs (sideways or going-back ropes) to anchor the boat against the passing traffic, we togged up and set to . . . another of those “spot the dog” pix – poor Toby had injured two legs in jumping for the ball, just a sprain we think (and hope).

Viv too – working on the side hatch (notice how shiny the sides are still!)

It was a very hot day – time to strip off, well, a bit . . .

Viv applies Fertan – goo that converts rust to a paintable surface!

And then it did get busy – it’s not just the M25 that’s gets all the traffic! Very hard to paint a boat that keeps moving away and then back towards you!

Busy, busy – everyone heading home & back to work tomorrow! Not us! Here for a few more days! Yeah! Oops, Napton hire boat goes skew-whiff? They then decided to stay that way and have lunch!

And here’s the finished photos – well some of them – nice shiny blacking, all scratches & gouges neatly covered over!

Even found time to re-do the tunnel flash – the bit at the back – supposedly to highlight your stern in a tunnel (they don’t, even ones painted white, so I just use a flashing red bike light – not strictly kosher but following boats know where I am!)

Well, it’s 30 degrees now in t’boat and time to pack this in – not many more posts now . . . 56 days!


Summer Cruise#2-Day54/55


Saturday, 26th August – Bank Holiday weekend – expect it to be busy! We moved on from Braunston just before 9. We’d had a nice chat with the boat in front, called Los Chipirones (which we knew to mean baby squid!!), they inherited the name from a chap called Chippy, I think. They, and here’s another amazing coincidence, live in Spain for the winter months and then come back to their boat! They were taking it to a marina further down the GU, to be repainted and renamed – Houston’s Problem (for that is their name!). Their place in Spain was also not too far from where we plan to stay – funny old world. They were full of interesting information, including how easy it was to become Spanish citizens – something that may happen.

We got to Braunston bottom lock and waited for another boat to accompany us the flight, meanwhile a bunch of pirates had turned up!

Here’s some of the kit we bought from Midland Chandlers – engine spares, tape for the weed hatch, oil and another chain .  . .

Bottom lock is busy, change-over day in Braunston and those pirates!

We ended up sharing with “Pops”, hoping they’d be a help to us but the lady was a trifle infirm, so we ended up helping them, that’s all OK.

A bit fraught that trip. We met a very rude and “shouty” man, supposedly instructing a hirer on how to use the boat, he bashed in to me and then told me off for being on the wrong side of the lock. He may’ve had a point but being rude & telling a fellow boater off is not they way to do it!

A very fraught tunnel trip, that hirer was in front of us and simply went sideways into the tunnel, colliding with the walls every 50 yds. Woe. And at a very slow speed. Still, we made and so did she. Here’s the Norton turn to home and bridge No.1 (we live near bridge 18) – Goodbye Baby Squids!!See you in Spain!

We stopped for lunch at Welton, nr the marina (just as on Day one of our trip), another photo of “spot the dog”?

A nice and fairly quiet pit-stop with the sun in just the right place . .

Nicely angled for the sun and here’s that dog – in the shade.

And did we call it a day? No, it all seemed quiet so we decided to push on to Crick . . . and just as we did 3 boats went by! Typical. There’ll be a queue at Watford! And there was but we all went up, slowly . . . Viv driving in and very expertly too. Steve managing the locks . . .

The “View From” photo of what the helmsman sees – here, it’s that Pops boat in the lock ahead. It’s odd but with these staircase locks, the paddles you can see don’t actually join the locks together but allow water to flow into and out of, the neighbouring ponds.

Chugging on the last hour to Crick – thru it’s drippy tunnel and then moor up. Very handy for the village and it’s Co-op plus The Wheatsheaf, where we went for an early supper of chicken fajitas and lamb koftas – very nice indeed plus a few pints of Church End’s beer.

Sunday is quite a hot day and we promised ourselves not to do much . . . apart from a bit of tidying up, window & solar panel polishing and a bit of shopping. Barry (Blue Moon) from our marina came out to have a pint at the pub with Steve. Chance to catch up on all the news (gossip!)


Summer Cruise#2-Day52-53


We stayed put on Thursday. Nice spot. Very busy but then this stretch is a link canal – part of the Warwickshire ring as well as the GU plus very close to lots of hire bases and boy, did we see lots of boats – 50 or more? Plus 2 or 3 wide beams! The dressing gong sounded at 6, so Steve changed for dinner or at least for another G&T! Meatballs with a tomato & chilli sauce with spaghetti (Nice marriage of Spanish and Italian, albóndigas with arrabbiata sauce con espagueti!). Disaster! No vino! Those Sicilians drunk the last drop (well, we did force them!).

Busy, busy, busy!

The next day we set off about 10 and found ourselves behind this fat boat! We crept along on tick over for a few miles – he kept stopping to let boats pass and then he waved us on, which was nice. He was heading for Dunchurch (now fully open!)

Only enough room for one wide beam!

It looked so busy, we deployed the standard plan – moor as soon as you find a spot! This one is opposite the Boat Inn. We popped round to Midland Chandlers to spend £150 on paints (bitumen to cover up the lock-rash, maroon enamel for the tunnel flash), replacement mooring chains, brushes and a full set of engine filters & oils for the service (due soon), Elsan Green and giant sticky foam stuff to do a proper job of the weed hatch. Such fun lies ahead!! To reward us for all this and by now, the temperature had rocketed to 30+ in the cratch and 27.8 inside the boat, so everybody back out and over to the Boat Inn (2 for 1 on all meals!), the beer is so-so here but the food was good and £19 for two meals and two beers is very good. We also met a nice couple on an adjacent table who overheard us talking about overwintering in Spain and so very coincidentally, they did too and at the same place – weird – so we chatted about Mojacar and also boats. They had just signed up up with Dunchurch Pools marina that very morning  – they had come from the Saltisford arm, where they left their boat. Such an odd but interesting coincidence – their blog can be found here: Linda & Richard

After that, Viv goes shopping for that vital restock (pies from the magnificent butchers, tonic & vino from the Londis!).


Summer Cruise2-Day 50 &51


Day 50, Tuesday 22nd August was a bit damp but brightened later. Steve picked 12 oz of blackberries and Viv made two pots of jam. Day 51, Wednesday was move off day. Awoke to find lots of diesel around the boat- obviously been a spillage – it was everywhere and it stank. Glad we were going. No other boats seemed to be moving, so we went thru the first two locks ourselves, Steve losing his FitBit in the first locks, oops! We filled up with water opposite the Blue Lias pub – still no sign of any other boats, as we wanted to share the next 11 locks! After the next lock, a boat appeared and we went on to share the Stockton flight of locks. Got to Wigrams Turn and made a left for Braunston. Moored up at a good spot, between bridges 102 and 103 (did this last time), fairly rural and quiet although within the hour, two more boats had joined us. We’ll stay here for a bit.

Another nicely named boat
Our final mooring spot after 5 hours of chugging
Very rural & quiet spot

We did do 13 locks today, sailed thru diesel, lost a FitBit, got in a glum mood, then the sun came out! We had a few afternoon bevvies (Viv’s Winter Warmers!), had a snooze, fixed the tape around the weed hatch cos, at full ahead or astern it was spraying water everywhere – inside the engine space! So rubber draught excluder to the rescue. Come six o’clock, we went for a saunter, over bridge 103, beside some odd crops (flax? Sea lavender? Borage? And Sunflowers . . .), across two ploughed fields, luckily not muddy and then into the wee village of Flecknoe – not one that has much(any?) passing traffic but it does have the Old Olive Tree and they had several beers on, including the Champion beer of 2017 – Church End’s Goats Milk! Yippee, one of our favourites. They also did bar snacks-I had a pork,pie and Viv had a salmon and watercress tart! Nice. Back on the boat, after witnessing some spectacular evening scenes and lo, after all this time, we get a TV signal!

Identified as Scorpion Weed or Phacelia Tannacetifolia, used to attract bees or hover flies
The Old Olive Tree, brilliant, must come back!
Sunset across the fields
Back on the boat – it’s been a long day!

Summer Cruise#2-Day 49


Stay put day in Long Itchington and maybe try another pub! Be a shame not to, says Viv. Dog’s happy as there’s plenty of walking; fields and even the river Itchen to go for a splash, which he did:

Nice spot this – note the mooring rings – saves the boat being pulled out of pins by speeding boats (no, surely not?). Saw Frayed Knot yesterday, trying to paint their boat – they are now moored ahead of us – also on rings, hopefully more stable to do some painting. Oddly and rather unusually, their boat has been stretched, as in the stretched limo sense, allowing a fixed bedroom.   Very interesting. (The grey bit is the newly added, stretched bit)

We bimbled around the village in the evening – passing the post medieval Tudor house (16th C) which is said to have entertained Queen Elizabeth for dinner when it was owned by the Earl of Leicester (say no more), as well as the duck pond (largest in Warwickshire, you know). Then we walked past some of other pubs . .

Taken in 1910.

Colecraft narrowboats are based here:

That duck pond . . .

Quite a nice pub/restaurant – dog friendly too but the beer range was not to our liking, so we bimbled on . . .

Ditto the Buck & Bell, looked very friendly  . . .

We ended up at the Harvester, we’d been before and they usually have good range of beers. They had a weird Teignworthy “Strawberries & Cream”, which didn’t really taste of that but not for us. We opted for Plain Ales, Innocence – a lovely pale ale. There were dog biscuits for Toby too.


Summer Cruise#2-Day 48

Four nights at the delightful Saltisford arm and it’s time to move on. Just a two hour 11 minute cruise to the other side of Leamington, near the Radford winding point. And then on the next day, Sunday 20th August to Long Itchington – chance to catch up with our friends on Hodmadod and spend a few days exploring this nice village (well, OK perhaps visit more of the 5 pubs!). Time to not move on and have a rest. It was quite a day today as all the boats from Kate boats (Warwick) came our way and all the boats from Calcutt & Napton came down the other way. We let one hire boat carry on as they were on a schedule to do the Warwick Ring. Then our next companions lept ahead with a single boat – it felt like we were moving backwards!  Busy, busy busy. Well it is Day One for most of these boaters, it IS a Sunday and it IS August! We got to our mooring – the Bascote aqueduct by about 2:30. By this time the lamb joint from Sainsbury’s had been slow cooked in the Slo-pot. It had been marinated overnight in Sicilian garlic, rosemary, oregano and honey. It then had 5 or 6 hours slow cooking – the end result was yummy indeed.  Served with mash & marrowfat peas plus Viv’s gravy. We then met up with David & Sarah with their two charming terriers: Tansy & Teasel, off to try the furthest pub, the Green Man.  A good choice – good beers(Purity & Black Sheep), dog friendly and very people friendly too. Some baking hot weather today after a cool start and now rain! British Summer at it’s, er, usual.

A few locks – all big uns but sharing is good
Lots of Kate boats
Long wait at the Bascote locks
There’s always someone taking it easy . . . Dog’s life, eh?
Trying an idea to share the staircase locks with one boat coming down . .
All goes to plan -a bit of a shuffle
One in, shuffle over, one out, shuffle over, simples!
Final spot – on rings, nice.
Meeting up with the crew of Hodmadod
And the two dogs!
Foursome in the Green Man












Summer Cruise#2-Day 44-47 R&R


After the thrills and spills of the last 5 days, it’s time for some R&R (rest & recuperation in our case). Viv’s consoling her aching face from the A&E surgery, Steve’s cycling off to the dentist (yet again).

This Saltisford arm is very pleasant. And at only £5.50 a night with electricity, water and many other facilities (inc a good laundry with 3 Miele washing machines!), it’s good value too. We didn’t do too much for 4 days – shopping at the nearby Sainsbury’s – discovered our favourite gin (Sainsbury’s TTD Blackfriars) was marked as £16 but was only £13 at the check out – I went back to stock up on some more!! We took the dog to Priory park. We wandered around Warwick – seems so small for a county town. Visited the wonderful church of St Mary’s and chatted to the guide about the tombs of the infamous Earl of Leicester and others. My trip to a dentist in Leamington was a bit fraught with a 35 min mad cycle ride along the towpath! I only just made my 2 o’clock appointment (no, not a 2:30 – “tooth-hurty” one!) but the dentist was a very suave and considerate one. Sitting me down in a leather chair for a chat after the initial examination! Very good. Tooth filled and stabilised – for now.

With no TV signal and Mahler in the Proms radio, we tuned into Amazon music and listened to most of the 50 “tracks from the 80’s”.

Steve “Osmo’ed” all the wood bits that were treated to the leaking pipes under the sink with Osmo Polyx rapid. Hopefully stopping any rot and any further damp. With shore power on, we could use the bread machine and made a huge cheese brioche! Nice.

Saturday saw us move on – just 2 and a bit hours to put us the other side of Leamington and just before the next lot of locks – that’s Sunday’s treat before reaching Long Itchington and all those pubs, plus the chance to meet up with David, Sarah, Tansy & Teasel on Hodmadod!

Our mooring in Saltisford. Note the mooring chain – Viv left this behind thinking it was the marina’s . . . moment of confusion and the 2nd one we’ve left behind now! Time to beat oneself up !!

Here’s that brioche, served with our Sicilian extra virgin olive oil

And the new shape Sainsbury’s gin and from all our very extensive research on the subject, one of the best gins around!

Passing Sapphire’s Dream – previously moored near us at Yelvertoft.

Passing Kate boats in Warwick – very, very busy as lots of guys swarm over the boats, getting them ready for today’s new batch of customers

Rare sight but yes, this is a wide canal!

And our final spot for the day. All done by lunchtime but nice to be back in the “just a few hours” cruising schedule. Moored here between bridges 35 & 36.


Summer Cruise#2-Day 43


Hurrah, Gemma & Antonio made it to the mooring not too late last night. The pub, and I must restore their rating, said they can leave their hire car in the car park for a few days, thank you guys! A splendid pub.

Mr Davies had stirred his now, enlarged crew and they were all up, dressed, washed (I’m guessing) and full English breakfasted by 0800.

So off we went at 0820 . . . . scurrying after the Sicilians . .

It’s about an hour or so to the Hatton flight – one of the most daunting and challenging flights of locks. A flight means, you have to do em all – there’s no stopping – no overnighting or even pausing! This flight I find the worst as you see a whole load of em in one go! But we got there. Meanwhile, some very nice scenary.

And a few cocodrilos (crocodiles) – our name for lumps of wood!

We do share the driving – in fact Viv did the whole first hour . . .

And a tunnel – Shrewley – note the “people” tunnel on the right

And an odd view, looking back at the helmsman – the angle shows just how far away they are and why we use walkie-talkies for our comms!

And into the first of the 21 locks with Two’s Company! Now we have six of us so plenty of help . . . Mr D is in heaven . . .

Happy bunny (does he look more Godfatherish to you?) It wasn’t long before he had cracked open some Guinness, at 1030!! Mind you I didn’t complain when I was offered a glass! I knew what was coming  . . . 20 big locks and an improved forecast of 21 degrees!

We now have help – beautiful help in the very shapely, Gemma & Antonio


Lucia does a wind up . . .

Gemma takes the helm

A very hunky Antonio (so very Sicilian) waves and shows us his, er skills


We did swap over and Steve did the locks whilst Viv drove the canoe into the locks but not before Viv had an injury – the windlass bit back. Winding these hydraulic locks up means you get to the top and there’s a bounce at the top – they have no ratchet, so the windlass spins wildly back – not before it had smashed into Viv’s face . . lots of blood! Woe.

Meanwhile we marvel at Antonio . . . .

We finish the big 21 locks and moor up. Stephen cracks open the Prosecco and prepares a cocktail for the 6 of us – many thanks!

A great finale (note Viv still suffering)

We tucked in to Wedge’s produce (scotch eggs, pork pies etc – but not Viv) and then Mr itchy feet was off – “wish me well when you wave me goodbye”! Adios amigos! Hasta la proxima!

Our goodbyes were not for long as our acquaintance was met fairly soon as Mr D had clearly not studied his guidebook and came down the Saltisford Arm rather than carrying on (left turn) down the G.U.

We followed the Trust’s chappie (Ian) and winded at the winding hole then reversed down the arm to moor alongside Nicola Tesla (another strange coincidence as he was one of my idols, being a physicist like wot I is) even more strangely, a boat called Faraday was moored down at the end of the arm

There’s our boat, on the outside of Tesla. Jolly decent place this. Admittedly, not the quietest (road and rail very adjacent). But handy for the town. Plus we have electricity and water. (£5.50 a night).

Here’s the wounded crew back from Warwick A & E – in under an hour. Two stitches – no solid food for 5 days. So, just soup, soup and er, gin then?  Poor Viv – such a brave sailor!! Hic, as I write this – getting ever more reliant on the spillchucker, we are on to our 3rd G&T. . . .

And here’s those Physics chums I mentioned

I like this odd arm – might be here for a few days . .. . .