Lived onboard Hadar

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Globe Inn to Fenny Stratford.

The oldest parts of the Inn were originally the farmhouse and stables, when the canal was built it was converted in to an inn to serve the boaters and licenced in 1830. The inn has a lovely atmosphere and we can imagine that during the summer months it gets really busy. We enjoyed a nice meal and a bottle of wine before walking back to our boat, for an evening in front of the TV, which included I’m a celebrity get me out of here. Although I am not a huge fan of Robert Kilroy-Silk I was a little surprised that he was the first to go. Both Keith and I were hoping it would be David Van Day, because he is getting on our nerves. The man is a sandwich short of a picnic. I certainly hope he is voted off soon, because I consider he is spoiling the program.
The day began with no wind and with the sun trying to come out, so having done a few jobs onboard we headed off at 9.30am.
Near bridge 111 close to the Globe Inn, over £2 ½ million disappeared in 20 minutes during the Great Train Robbery, on the evening of August 7th 1963. The train carrying the bank notes was taking the bank notes to be destroyed, but the robbers had other ideas and as they say the rest is history.
The railway is never faraway or the B488. There are some stunning views across the valley as we followed the River Ouzel closely. With all the rain we have had lately, some of the meadows still show signs of being water logged. We approached the Soulbury Three Locks (20’3”) and N.B Autumn Glory was coming up, we had first met them way back in 2001, which seems like a life time ago now. The wind was now beginning to get up as we made our way to Stoke Hammond Lock (6’11”). Below the lock there is a double arched bridge; it shows where the locks were once doubled. As we approached Fenny Stratford a Kingfisher was sitting in a bush watching as we past it by.One of these days I am going to get a close up of a Kingfisher LOL. This time of the year is such a great time for seeing them, as there are no leaves on the trees and bushes to hide them. We came up through Fenny Stratford Lock and Swing Bridge, and then moored up for the rest of the day.

Friday 28th November.

We had a bright chilly day which was spent doing boat jobs. We took a walk to Wickes and Halfords on Watling Road, not far from the canal, you can also find a 24 hour Tesco there. We needed to buy some more distilled water for the batteries from Halfords and a hot water cylinder jacket from Wickes, which we wanted to use to try and insulate the generator to cut down the noise inside the boat when it is running. Normally when we have the generator running we have to close the doors into the saloon, but the hope was that with a cylinder jacket over the front of the generator it would cut the noise down, meaning we could leave the door open. Having found everything we were looking for, we also went to Pollards Ironmongers in Fenny Stratford, it is an Aladdin’s cave for bits and bobs. Once again we managed to get everything we wanted, so it was back to the boat to start on the jobs in hand. It turned out that the time had sped by so quickly that the light was fading, so Keith only had the opportunity to fix up a socket, the rest would wait for the weekend. Whilst Keith was working on the socket, Alan from N.B Wol (Mooring Warden) came and paid us a visit. He has been the mooring warden at Fenny Stratford for several years and was telling me of all the bodies he has found on his stretch of the canal over the years. It was enough to put you off mooring there LOL. It is clear he never has a dull moment and really does love the job and meeting lots of boaters. The temperature was dropping rapidly so we both decided it was time to stop chatting and to retire to our boats for the evening. Keith would have to venture out with Paddy at 6pm for his evening walk. We ran the generator with the cylinder jacket over it, just to see if it would make any difference. It certainly cut the noise down a bit and therefore we were very hopeful that when it was fitted properly it would work a treat.
We sat and watched the TV nice and snug in front of the fire, with a heavy fog now drawing a veil over the canal. ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’ was on at 9pm. Martina Navratilova did a fantastic job on the bush tucker challenge, which was jumping across Mini’s suspended in the air. She had to retrieve tags from each car; each tag was a meal for camp. Martina got all ten tags and was never fazed when a mini would plummet into the lake behind her.
Are Keith and I the only ones who cannot stand David Van Day?
He is really getting right up my nose. Now I know that the program is edited to within an inch of its life, but that man never stopped going on about his birthday. We both laughed when his birthday cake blew up, served him right. He is such a rude person and I find very sexist; I only hope he does not win. Having watched that, it was then off to bed, in a nice warm back cabin.

Saturday 29th November.

We were awake early, but snuggled back down as it was cold, we both went back to sleep only to be then woken again by knocking on the side of the cabin. Bleary eyed Keith got out of bed to find a gentleman standing on the towpath with money in his hand for coal which he wanted delivered to a house on the offside. Keith explained we were still in bed, so the gentleman handed over the money, gave us instructions as to where the coal should go and left. With that we got up as it was 9am, which was a lie-in for us. After breakfast I took Paddy for his walk, whilst Keith prepared to do some electrical jobs in the engine room. The electrical jobs took till after lunch, we then started packing the cylinder jacket around the generator, before replacing the shelving. It was now time to test the generator for noise, so with the press of the switch the generator roared into life. Oh peace, what joy. The noise from the beast had been cut right down, so we should now be able to leave the saloon door open when it is running.
Having done the boat jobs for the day, we delivered coal to the house opposite and were then flagged down by a boat wanting coal, kindling and firelighters. The boater and his son were complaining about how much the local marina was charging for coal, and said that they would sooner buy their coal from the boats. It has been a very grey day and cold through out. We will be spending another evening snug inside watching what the usual Saturday night feast of TV.

Sunday 30th November.

For the last day of November, it turned out to be a total washout weather wise. It has not stopped raining all day long, so the only times we ventured off of the boat, were to take Paddy for his walk. The rest of the day has been spent cutting up t-shirts for Keith's rag rug and I did some more to my second boatwoman’s shawl. Working Boat Banstead came past us during the afternoon, with her steerer hunkered down against the heavy rain. We had seen earlier in the year that Banstead was up for sale, so are wondering if she is now under new ownership?
November looks to be ending wet. The forecast for the beginning of December is not much better. We have our Christmas tree and decorations out of hibernation so we may put them up tomorrow; a lot depends on whether we stay in Fenny Stratford for another day or so. We wish you a peaceful and safe week no matter where you are or what you are doing.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Granny Buttons gets a mention.

Well I never, look who gets a mention in the Independant News paper. It's our very own Granny Buttons and Andrew. Now no blushing Andrew.
It is a piece written about canalboat living. It is a good read and good to see that Allan Ford says to find a mooring first, before buying a boat. So many people buy a boat and then have no where to put it, so think they can just moor where they like or say they are continuous cruisers and in fact turn out to be one of the many continuous moorers we see on stretches of the canal.
Well done Andrew, Granny is now famous LOL.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monday 24th November.

Slapton to Below Seabrook Locks, near Cheddington, 2.3 miles and 5 locks
.

With the wintry weather being so unpredictable at the moment, to wake up to a dry, grey morning was pretty acceptable. We had heard rain thumping on the back cabin roof during the early hours, so we were both expecting it to be a wet start to the day. Having crawled out of a nice warm bed, I got both of the fires going after they had been dampened down overnight. A few twigs soon got them both springing back into life and once more the cabin was nice and warm. Having done all the usual morning things, we were ready to set off from our mooring at 9.45am. The breeze was already getting up and the sky was darkening overhead, so we had to hope that it would not pour down.
The first lock of the day was Slapton Lock (7’1”) and with no one around to share it with we were on our own once more. We did encounter a Wyvern hire boat at the top, but he was taking on water. A long this stretch of the Grand Union Canal, are some stunning views across the Chilterns and Dunstable Downs. On Dunstable Downs you get a fabulous view of the Whipsnade White Lion, which at the moment is looking a little grey, probably due to all the wet weather we have been having.The lion was cut in 1935 and is over 480ft long. It is certainly very impressive looking even from the canal. He looks like he is the protector of the Downs. You can also see Ivinghoe Beacon. As we headed onward towards the Ivinghoe Locks, we were really aware of the wind increasing in speed, with wide open spaces to the locks Hadar was certainly getting blown around. Having opened the gates to the first of the Ivinghoe Locks, another boat was coming down to the lock; at first I did not recognise the boat or its owners. I got chatting to the lady who had come to work the paddles with me, along with a very friendly Spaniel, who thought I was now his best friend because I kept throwing his stick for him to chase. As the boat drew up on the lock bollards it soon became clear that it was N.B Nobby. We had seen the boat before in passing but had never had the chance to chat to Ian and Allison, so it was lovely to be able to introduce ourselves to each other. We sold them some coal and spent a while chatting on the towpath about our boats and their old engines.N.B Nobby is a beautiful looking boat built by Barry Hawkins and it is clear it is their pride and joy. Like us Ian and Allison are continual cruisers and are heading for Braunston for Christmas. We will no doubt see them again near Braunston for Christmas, when we make tracks back. Now as many boaters know, when you meet up with other boaters and get chatting, you always pass on any news. Allison asked where we were heading for and I told her the Aylesbury Arm. She very kindly informed me that there was a stoppage at Lock 7 from the 17th November till the 5th December, so that has now changed our plans of going up the arm, not that we have any hard and fast plans. As continuous cruisers it never pays to make to many plans. So having spent some time nattering we said our goodbyes and wished each other well before leaving for the locks once more. We decided that after the first of the Seabrook treble locks we would stop for lunch as it was 12.15pm. Having moored up, it was plain to see that the weather was beginning to close in and the wind was getting ever stronger, so we made the decision not to go any further today, after all we are in no hurry to be anywhere. Keith also wanted to check online about the lock stoppage on the Aylesbury Arm, which proved to be correct, so we will not be going up to Aylesbury this trip, many thanks to Allison for the information. The thought is that we will now go up to Marsworth Junction, wind and take a very slow meander back to Braunston for Christmas, but nothing is set in concrete, so we shall see.

Tuesday 25th November.

Below Seabrook Locks to Below Marsworth Locks.


It is a month now until Christmas, what a dreadful thought huh?
How many of you are actually ready early for the festive season?
We have absolutely no plans whatsoever for Christmas, the only thing we do know is that we will be heading for the Oxford Canal. All’s we have bought so far is the duck for Christmas dinner, so it shows how ready we are. To be honest Christmas is so over rated; it is all about spending lots of money and over eating. Somewhere the meaning of Christmas has got lost in the translation, and therefore holds very little excitement for us these days. Ok enough about Christmas.
Paddy and I stepped off the boat to a bright, crisp frosty morning, it was really bracing in a wonderful way. So we walked up past the second of the Seabrook locks, Paddy enjoyed a nice run off of the lead, whilst I just enjoyed the fresh, clear air that a frost always brings with it. Once back on the boat we had porridge and a cuppa, before getting ready to set off at 9.55am. The second of the Seabrook Locks was ready for us with one of the gates already open to welcome Hadar into its chamber. Now due to a heavy frost, it was a little slippery under foot, so care had to be taken when shutting the heavy gates.The Grand Union Canal Locks are really magnificent locks, even if at times the gates can prove difficult to open and shut. Of course the work is made much easier if you are sharing with another boat, but we had not had that luxury since arriving on the Grand Union.Keith and I manage as we have a pretty good system for working the locks, so with us both doing our jobs, it takes us no time at all. Having left the Seabrook treble, I saw a boat was coming in the opposite direction, through the swing bridge, so I left the lock gate open for them and walked on up to the swing bridge. After the swing bridge we got flagged down by a boat wanting coal, so we pulled in to unloaded 5 bags of Taybrite for them. Just as we were sorting things out Sid and Doreen on N.B Elidir came past heading in the same direction as us, so we agreed to share the locks up to Marsworth Junction, where we would both be using the sanitary station and winding. This was our first opportunity to share locks with anyone on this trip which was great. On the approach to the first lock, we noticed something floating in the canal; it turned out to be a deer, which was very sad. Doreen worked the first lock whilst I went ahead to set the second.Doreen and I enjoyed a good natter whilst doing the locks, and discovered that we had actually seen each other earlier in the year, either on the Grand Union or the Thames, neither of us could remember which one it was. You see so many boats and meet so many people sometimes it is hard to remember. On leaving the second of the locks, there is a lovely lock cottage dating back to 1909.Just the sort of place I would love to live if I did not live on the water. It has some stunning views across the valley, where you could watch the seasons change. Both boats left the lock and we were both heading for the Marsworth sanitary station, they needed water and we needed to empty the loo cassettes and get rid of rubbish, so we agreed that we would pull in first, whilst they winded and then we would swap places, but when we got to the sanitary station there was already a boat moored up taking on water. It was Steve and Maggie on N.B Zygnema. We first met them in Paddington Basin back in May, so it was wonderful to catch up with them again. We managed to pull in, in front of them, and got chatting after we had done the jobs we had stopped for. Steve and Maggie bought some coal off of us as they reckoned we were £1.50 cheaper than the marina they had bought from before, which is a lot of money when you are buying six bags at a time. Having caught up on all their news, N.B Elidir had winded and was ready to come in for water, so Keith cast off and took Hadar down to the winding point, whilst I continued to chat with Maggie. Once they were filled with water, they were on their way and we left Sid and Doreen to fill up. We headed back to the Marsworth pair and stopped at the first of the pair, to wait for Sid and Doreen so we could share the locks back down, but after half an hour and lunch we thought they must have decided to stop for lunch themselves, so carried on down the pair of locks and moored up for the rest of the day. With the engine turned off, we were able to get out of our winter clothing. I then stoked the fires, washed down the gunwales, brushed the mats and hung out the mog and dogs bedding before settling down to a coffee. Not long after Sid and Doreen on N.B Elidir came past going back to their winter mooring. We will surely see them again on our way back to Braunston. The day has been a perfect one; we had great weather, good company and a few laughs along the way that is a perfect day in anyone’s book.

Wednesday 26th November.

Marsworth Locks to North of Leighton Lock, near the Globe Inn. 8.7 miles 10 locks
.

A dull, overcast day with practically no wind was the best the day could offer, but we made up for it with a lovely days cruising. I will not bore you with all the details of the trip. But we did do a couple of the locks with N.B Faraday, who we had met a couple of days previous, when they flagged us down for coal. You really need to cruise the Grand Union Canal to appreciate its stunning beauty even at this time of the year. Like many boaters we get asked so many questions about life on the water, but today I got asked one that was a first for me. The question by a gentleman walking the towpath with his dog was “Don’t you get fed up with looking at the same old fields, trees and with the weather”. I looked at him a little stunned and said “How could anyone get fed up with, the stunning beauty of this canal or any other canal for that matter”. After he went on his way, it got me thinking about what he had said and there is nothing that would change what Keith and I have right now. Every day we see something new. I would have loved him to see the sights we saw today. Not only did we see the stunning scenery, we watched as a Heron perched on the handrail at Horton Lock, it did not attempt to fly off even as Keith bought Hadar in to the Lock, when it did move it only flew a yard or two to the wall of the bridge, watching us all the time. I bet he has never seen that. We saw a squirrel whilst moored outside of Tesco at Leighton Buzzard, a couple of Kingfishers on route, but the best sighting of the day was the Muntjac deer from our overnight mooring near the Globe Inn on the outskirts of Linslade. Keith spotted it first in a field opposite our boat and called me out to look, and there it was walking across an open field. Sadly the photograph is not very clear, the camera found it hard to focus in the fading light.
This is the first sighting we have had of a Muntjac so were pretty excited. I shall be listening out for its distinctive bark later on. So having seen all of that and having met some nice people along the way, how on earth could we get bored?
Before we stopped for the night, we did stop off in Leighton Buzzard, as I need to go to Argos to buy a new pair of earrings. A few days ago I lost one of mine and therefore needed a replacement pair. I don’t know about anyone else who wears earrings, but I feel undressed without mine. I have been wearing earrings since I was 9 years old. I am not one for continually changing my earrings, I buy one pair and wear them until I either lose them or they break, then I buy another pair. But it has felt odd without them in.
Once we had moored up for the night we took a walk down to the Globe Inn to see what their menu had to offer, and to book a table for dinner. Keith remembers the Globe Inn from his early days on the canal, when it still had stabling for the boatman’s horse; these days that stabling has been made a part of the Inn.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Leighton Buzzard to near Slapton.

Thursday 20th November.

Leighton Buzzard to near Slapton. 3.6 miles and 2 locks.

We had a breezy night onboard, with strong winds blowing at the stern. But the morning brought sunshine, mild conditions and the wind had dropped. Paddy enjoyed his walk a long the towpath. He like most dogs love new areas to sniff around in, it always means he takes longer to do what all dogs must do in the morning, having waited to 9.30am for me to take him. Yes we had a nice lie in this morning. Paddy really amazes us because he goes out of an evening at 6pm for his last walk and wee of the day, and then does not go again until I take him the next morning, I am sure he must have hollow legs. So having made up the back stove, put away the bed, had breakfast etc, we took a walk in to Leighton Buzzard, which is a short walk from the canal. Like most towns these days it has its fair share of Charity shops all of which we visited, but did not find much to excite us this time. Leighton Buzzard is a nice little town with all the usual shops, banks, eating and drinking places. It is a pleasant little place and worth a visit. Although we did decide, that it was probably not a place to be moored up in over the weekend. So we went to Tesco and stocked up on a few extra items, which included a duck crown for our Christmas dinner, which is in the freezer awaiting its fate on Christmas day. We thought it would be a nice change from the usual turkey. Back onboard I made lunch and put the supplies away. We were just about to leave the mooring for somewhere quieter, when a a young man we later found out named Paul, stopped and asked if we could drop off a bag of coal to his boat above Grove Lock, which we of course said we would be happy to do. So he handed over the money and left for work on his bike, whilst we chugged off towards Grove Lock and its pub with the same name, we were getting the first glimpses of the downs out in front of us. As promised we stopped above the lock and put a bag of coal on Paul’s Dutch barge, so he will be nice and warm over this coming weekend, which is supposed to be cold. We were honoured to see a Kingfisher sitting in a tree, unfortunately though I did not have my camera to hand darn, and the Kingfisher just sat there asking for its photograph to be taken. We also saw a few Heron’s which would fly up in front of the boat as we approached Church Lock at Grove. Just as I was about to alight from the boat with the centre rope, a gentleman called to me asking for two bags of house coal, as he was expecting cold weather. I went up to the lock first to set it for Keith, and then I unloaded two bags of house coal. I love being a coal woman, and us working our boat, we meet some truly lovely people, who want to have a chat whilst waiting for their coal. We left the gentleman with his coal and made it up through Church Lock. The light was now beginning to fade, with what would turn out to be a beautiful sunset.We then found a one boat mooring place, with views of the downs, so I leapt off with the centre rope and we moored up. It had been a lovely time of day to cruise, which ended with an amazing sunset.Before shutting the boat up we spent a bit of time collecting sticks from under a tree for kindling, I then stoked the fires as the temperature was beginning to drop. Paddy and Marmite took the opportunity to sit out on the back counter to enjoy the last of the daylight, before I shut the doors to the darkness and the wind which was growing in strength. We settled down for the evening watching 2 hours of I’m a celebrity get me out of here. Well what can I say to the two new jungle mates. Everyone remembers Timmy Mallet, and I do wonder whether he will drive people nuts after a while. David Van Day who the heck does he think he is. When both he and Timmy had to spend the night in the cages, I thought it was totally the right decision by the group. They had after all gone without food etc. What is one night without food for goodness sake. But according to David they should have given up their luxuries. I bet if the boot had been on the other foot, he would have said No. He is already getting up my nose, so I have changed my mind on who I dislike the most ha ha. I know I am a fickle woman he he he. This time there are some real characters in the jungle and as it unwinds I think we will see more of their personalities. Well done to Robert Kilroy-Silk for doing the gym challenge, he is proving to be much better than I expected. For those who are not into I’m a celebrity I am sorry if you dozed off when reading that part ha ha. Soon after that we were off to bed.

Friday 21st November.

We had had a rough night windwise, with the water lapping heavily under the stern of the boat. We both slept well and awoke to the water still lapping heavily under Hadar’s stern. The wind had not decreased and was in fact coming from a westerly direction, which is not what the forecaster said last night. Oh well they cannot always get it right. Marmite who was laying on the tool box in the engine room on her blanket, let out a yawn and a meow, before climbing down onto the engine and then jumping on to the bed with a thud. She was now awake so it meant it must be time to get up. Having rolled the bedding up into the bed’ole and closing the door behind it, I opened up the back cabin fire, placed some of the twigs we collected yesterday on to the dying embers and hoped that it would catch. Keith put the kettle on and laid out breakfast. Having dressed, I donned by boots and coat to take his lordship, Paddy that is, for his walk. He did not waste anytime in doing his business and was soon back on the boat, sitting in his bed waiting for his breakfast biscuits, along with Marmite, who gets half a pouch of Whiskers meat. We were not going to move due to the strong winds, so it was a chance for me to get in the hold and move some coal. The bow was sitting a little low in the water, meaning the outlets for the gas locker were sometimes under water. So I set about moving some of the coal back further in the hold, thus allowing the bow would lift out of the water. As I have been suffering with Sciatica for the past few days, I did wonder if this would just make things worse, but it does not seem to have done it any harm. Whilst I moved the coal, Keith was putting up hooks for me and screwing his boating trophies to the walls in the saloon. They had been hidden in the back cabins cupboard, which was a real shame. So now they are on view, which is how they should be. Having done all of that, we were then looking at what to have for lunch. In the freezer I found some Crispy Duck Pancakes from Iceland. I just had to put the shredded duck in the oven for 15 minutes, steam the pancakes for a couple of minutes, spread the sauce over the pancakes, add chopped spring onions, cucumber and the now hot roasted duck, roll the pancakes up and hey presto lunch was done.
After lunch we did very little, Keith did some more to his rag rug, whilst I finished the knitted red, white and blue blanket for the back cabin side bed. I began my next project, which was another boatwoman’s shawl, this time in Maroon. I have developed my own pattern and it seems to work well, so if anyone wants a boatwoman’s shawl let me know, I would be happy to knit you one.
During the evening whilst we sat down to watch TV. Paddy and Marmite decided it was time to play. Now their idea of playing is to chase each other up and down the boat. Marmite of course always wins, Paddy I think is just glad to have someone to play with. We had to curtail their fun and games when Paddy knocked over their water bowl, sending the water everywhere. So they were both told to go to bed. Paddy always obeys, but Marmite just gave us a smug look and curled up on the side bed in the back cabin. It was not long before bed seemed like such a good idea.

Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd November.

Keith was up first and took this lovely photograph of the sun rising over the downs through our galley window.A bright sunny morning greeted Paddy and I as we alighted from the boat, there was a chilly breeze blowing, which meant it was pretty chilly. The back cabin stove was almost out, so having walked Paddy I decided it was a good time to check the flue. I took the chimney off, whilst standing on the hatch I rammed a pole down the chimney over and over again, dislodging all the crud that had stuck to the flues sides. The rubbish gathered at the bottom of the flue, where I was able to scoop it up into a bucket. With the flue now clear, I relit the stove, which now went in to overdrive, due to no more blockages. If you have a coal stove onboard, do make sure regularly that your chimney and flue is kept clear. Not only will it make sure your stove works properly, it will also make sure you do not have a build up of carbon monoxide in your boat. You should also make sure you test your carbon monoxide alarm and fire alarms if you have them. If you do not have either, my question to you is WHY NOT? We have two Carbon Monoxide alarms, one in each cabin, and it has saved our lives already since we have been onboard Hadar. The flue on the saloon stove got block and the alarm alerted us to a problem. I really do not like to think of what could have been if we did not have that alarm, or the batteries were dead. So check or fit alarms. Ok so having got the back stove going, I made meat balls in pasta sauce for dinner, which went in to the back stove to cook. The kettle was on as well to boil for coffee.
Keith then had the floor up in the back cabin to check the batteries, as our voltage has been running a little low again. They needed topping up with de-ionised water, but having done two of the four domestic batteries he ran out of water. So we will need to get some more in Aylesbury when we get there. Keith also took the opportunity to grease all the grease nipples, before putting the floor back down. Another job almost done, once we get some more water for the batteries. After lunch I got a little more of my knitting done and read some more of ‘Troubled Waters’ by Margaret Cornish. From reading the book and my love of the waterways, I could have seen myself being a boatwoman in the war years. I reckon I would have coped well with the conditions and hard work. Keith was busy on the computer, browsing and playing games. The time seemed to fly by and soon it was time for the usual Saturday evening TV of the X-Factor and I’m a Celebrity. Rachel went this week on X-Factor; she had been in my bottom two this week along with Diana. Everyone seems to be raving about Diana, but I cannot quite see why. She sounds as though she is singing down her nose. It was great to see and hear Rhydian again and I for one would buy his new album. He has the most amazing voice. Keith and I both reckon Alexander will win the competition, she has a fantastic voice. So then came I’m a Celebrity, now what a laugh that was, watching David Van Day do his challenge. To be fair he did ok, but like Nicola I don’t like the guy. I often write about courtesy to others, and it is clear he has none. It was written on I’m a Celebrity website, that David is hoping to find love in the jungle. Ha ha, he should not hold his breath. I won’t rant on any more about the program, I could fill a whole posting with what I think and that would really bore you. So 11pm came and we went to bed. I was hoping for snow as promised by the weather forecasters.
So think of my disappointment when I looked out to find only a dusting of snow on the ground. We were awake around 6am, Keith got up for the loo and I thought I would stoke the fire. But on touching the stove it was clear it was pretty much out. So I had to rake it out and begin all over again. I had it going by the time Keith came back to bed. I also had a pot of tea on the brew. We both slid back down beneath the duvet for another couple of hours, enjoying our cup of tea. Marmite had thought it was time to get up, so she began playing with the pegs on the washing line. Keith soon put her in her place and she settled back down on the tool box until it was time to get up. With the temperature being below zero, I wrapped up to take Paddy out. Now he is normally the one who wants to get back to the boat quick smart, but it was my turn to hope that he would hurry up. It was definitely not a morning to be away from the warmth of the boat. So once back onboard we battened down the hatches against the wind. Instead of the forecast snow we now have heavy rain thudding on the roof of the boat. I was so looking forward to a blanket of snow covering the towpath and boat. What I really wanted was a great photograph to use in this year’s Christmas cards. Yes folks it is almost that time of year again. So another Sunday is passing us by and a new week will begin. I wonder what it will have in store for us. We wish you a happy, safe and warm week.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday 17th November.

Cosgrove to Giffard Park. 4.8 miles.


A grey old morning greeted us, with spits and spots of rain falling on the waters surface. This was as good as it was going to get. The usual morning procedures took place, most important of all was Paddy’s walk, which this time took us up towards Cosgrove Lock. Cosgrove moorings warden is Hazel, and she keeps a close eye on anything that goes on during a boaters stay between bridge 65 and north of the aqueduct. If you have any problems with the moorings you can go and chat to her, she also makes an effort to drop off a letter to any new boat mooring up, letting them know which boat she lives on in case you should need her. Hazel also keeps an eye on the boats that use the winter moorings, which are reserved from the 1st October. Before we got ready to slip from the mooring, I had to brush of the mountain of leaves which had settled on the boat's roof over the weekend. They made for good camouflage. Having uncovered Hadar from her leafy blanket we set off at 9.20am, destination Tesco at Wolverton. We crossed the Great Ouse Aqueduct and passed the site of Wolverton’s medieval village, before mooring up to walk to Tesco which is only a short walk from the canal. The moorings are over shadowed by new apartments being built. Having done the shopping, I put the food supplies away whilst Keith moved the boat through Milton Keynes. Sadly the weather did not brighten up at all, although the rain did lie off for a short period. If it were not for the golden leaves still left on the trees, it would have been a drab old journey. Just after Stonebridge to our left is a disused Windmill that can be clearly seen from the canal. Through the trees we could now see the many lakes which hug the canal on our way to Giffard Park. These lakes are also home to a wildfowl centre. Before reaching Giffard Park we past Stantonbury and Linford Wharfs, murky weather closed right in and heavy drizzle started coming down. We decided that we would stop at Giffard Park, after a boater flagged us down for three bags of coal. It seemed as good a time as any to stop with the time now being 12.50pm. We unloaded three bags of coal for our customer and I then made us some soup with crusty bread for lunch. Having eaten lunch, I went on the hunt for a post box. It did not take me long as I asked a young woman walking her dog if there was a post box anywhere near, and she pointed me in the direction of bridge 78, where the Giffard park pub is situated. I walked to the bridge and there I found not just the pub, I also found a post box, post office and a One Stop shop for any provisions needed. You can see the pub from the canal but there is no signage to say that there is a post office etc hidden behind the hedge. There is also a BW sanitary station to hand, which is always useful. The rest of our day was taken up with doing the boat chores, or brushing mats and washing floors. At this time of the year the wooden floors get dirty very quickly, especially with Paddy running in and out with wet feet. People seem to think that because you are on a boat, there is nothing to do, as far as housework (boat) is concerned. It is just the same as living in a house. You still need to do washing up, tidying up, dusting etc. The dusting tends to be more with two fires going. So with all the chores done and Paddy walked, we could settle down to our evening meal. I made a homemade Steak and Ale Pie using Puff Pastry. I was never sure which ale to use so went for a Newcastle Brown and it worked really well. The meat, onions and mushrooms were left cooking all day in the back cabin stove. So when cooked the meat just fell apart mmmm. The good test of a nice meal is that Keith clears his plate. It was very nice although I say it myself. After that I made up the back stove fire, before damping it down for the night. We then sat and watched K19 The Widowmaker, with Liam Neeson and Harrison Ford on Film 4 and I’m a celebrity get me out of here on ITV1 before heading off to bed.

Tuesday 18th November.

Giffard Park to Fenny Stratford. 5.4 miles.


What greeted me as I got off the boat to walk Paddy, did not bode well as far as the weather was concerned. It was drizzling heavily, which I find is the worst kind of rain, as it tends to totally soak you. But never the less Paddy needed his walk, so we headed off along the towpath, meeting up with a couple of Greyhounds and their owner. Once he had done his business, we were back onboard Hadar and drying out, whilst eating breakfast and enjoying a cuppa. We were in no hurry to leave, so were prepared to see what the weather did. As it turned out the drizzle soon stopped and the sun came out, so we set off at 10.05am. What strikes you is the amount of countryside there is, despite the fact that it is all part of Milton Keynes. There is a lot of parkland along with the many new houses that have gone up over the years, merging Fenny Stratford and Bletchley with Milton Keynes. There seems to be some confusion as to what season we are in at the moment, because we saw a number of trees with blossom on them.We were fortunate as always to see plenty of wildlife about. These included a Kestrel looking for breakfast, rabbits, sea gulls, cormorants, and this young heron, who was in two minds as to whether he should fly off or not.We arrived at Fenny Stratford at 12.10pm and moored up before Fenny Stratford Lock on the 14 day moorings. Having eaten sandwiches for lunch, we took a stroll up to Fenny Stratford Lock, which has a swing bridge across the middle of it. The walk into Fenny Stratford is about ¼ of a mile. When we got there we immediately walked into Pollards, a really old fashioned Ironmongers shop. It was absolutely fabulous, and we came away with a few bits and bobs for the boat. There is also a Londis, chemist, pharmacy and many other little shops. We carried on walking and found ourselves in Bletchley, which I guess is a round a mile’s walk. It was quite a surprise as to the amount of shops it has, which included the good old charity shops. In one of the charity shops we managed to find a shower head to replace our one which we found out last night was leaking, all for £2.50, what a bargain. We had a lovely time wandering around the shops. We even wandered into one of the butchers there, to look at what meat they had on offer. It included, pigs trotters, cows feet, oxtail, ox tongue and all the usual joints, but all at great prices. We must have been out for a good couple of hours. We want to go and visit Bletchley Park on our next visit, as the war years do interest us both a lot.

Wednesday 19th November.

Fenny Stratford to Leighton Buzzard.

A beautiful morning with plenty of sunshine to begin with, no wind and really quite mild for the time of year. When it was time to take Paddy for his morning stroll, I opened the side doors to the engine room to allow him to get off the boat, and was over powered by the scent of fermenting apples. We had moored underneath a crab apple tree, and where they had dropped onto the towpath and been trodden into the ground by walkers, the apples were fermenting giving off a pungent smell. Now I know what it must smell like when making cider. At 9.25am we slipped our mooring and headed for Fenny Lock and swing bridge. One of the lock gates was already open for us, so I set about working out the locking device for the swing bridge. You are supposed to use your BW key to unlock the device, pull up the handle and push the bridge. That is easier said than done when you’re a shorty like me. The unlocking was no problem, it was the pulling up of the hand and pushing that was more difficult. I did not have the height needed to pull the handle all the way up. The gentleman who lives in the cottage by the lock came out and gave me a hand. He told me that I have not been the only one struggling with the new device. BW needs to come out and revise the situation.I did get it sorted in the end and Keith manoeuvred Hadar into the lock. Having wound the paddles up and opened the gate, Keith then moved Hadar out of the lock and on to the sanitary station moorings, whilst I shut the swing bridge and lock gate.At the sanitary station, we did the full works, emptied both loo cassettes, got rid of rubbish and filled up with water. We were then on our way leaving Fenny Stratford and meandering through picturesque countryside, being accompanied by the railway and the River Ouzel. It was not long before we reached Stoke Hammond Lock, where we picked up some rubbish on the propeller whilst waiting for another boat to exit the lock chamber. Having got Hadar in to Stoke Hammond Lock, I filled the lock chamber with water. Keith then checked down the weed hatch to see what was caught up. He decided it would take too long to clear in the lock, so we bow hauled her out of the lock and on to moorings, where he then delved in to the icy cold water, to take off 3 pieces of green hose pipe, rope, plastic bags, and a piece of matting.Not long after Stoke Hammond we were at the Soulbury Three Locks and the Three Locks Inn, which is looking a little sad these days.It could do with a paint job outside and the broken seating replaced, not to mention all the odd curtains up at the windows. It is a shame to see it looking so forlorn, even since earlier in the year it has gotten in a visibly worse condition.
After leaving the Soulbury locks, we continued through beautiful open countryside alongside the canal and the River Ouzel. Out in one of the fields sheep were grazing happily, but they were not alone, this was a field where rabbits thought they were sheep.We saw dozens of rabbits along this stretch of the canal and they were clearly not bothered by our noisy engine or the sheep. As we approached Leighton Lock, small groups of school children were walking a long the towpath with teachers filling in paperwork on clipboards, so we gave them a wave and they waved back with great enthusiasum. By the time we reached Leighton Lock one of the groups had caught us up and the teacher was explaining to the group how we would negotiate the lock. It was not long before we had the whole group watching us. This was not the time to make a cock up of the procedure. The children asked me “Do you know the number of the lock”. I explained it was number 27 Leighton Lock, it is written on the board behind you, which got them all laughing. We then left the lock and waved goodbye to the school party.They were doing an environmental study on water, and had already been to the sewage centre, lucky them I thought. It is nice to see children learning about the canals, maybe their generation will treat the canals with more respect than some of todays generation do. We passed by the Wyvern Shipping Company hire boats, before entering Linslade and Leighton Buzzard. Most of the moorings by Tesco are permit holders only, they only offer two spaces for visiting boats, so we carried on under the road bridge and found a spot on the 14 day moorings, there are no rings or piling so we had to put in a mooring pin for me, Keith found a piece of rope which had been left around the concrete piling to tie on to. So we stopped at 2.15pm after a really enjoyable run.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cosgrove 14 day moorings.

Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th November.

Cosgrove 14 day moorings.


Saturday morning began with Marmite climbing over us both and meowing, she was making sure we knew it was time to get up and feed her. That cat is the most vocal cat I have ever met. Siamese cats I know are very vocal, but Marmite would out do most of them in the meowing stakes. It usually ends in a wrestling match with Keith, with yes of course Keith winning. Having crawled out of bed, which was not far from the truth as my sciatica is playing up at the moment. It is from an old lower back problem, which developed when having my first born. Every now and again it rears its ugly head and leaves me walking like an old woman, which is not a pretty sight. Still it does not stop me working the boat or delivering coal. I just keep taking the tablets ha ha ha.So having got up, folded up the bed into its cupboard, I got the fire stoked up, which sent huge plumes of smoke bellowing from the chimney. I could have sent smoke signals to the cowboys off of it LOL. Keith laid up breakfast, which as with most mornings, it consisted of cereal and a cup of tea. Paddy then got his walk, whilst Marmite continued to protest that she needed feeding, despite the fact that she had dried food still in her bowl. On our return from our walk the boat became silent as Marmite tucked into her duck meat breakfast (No we did not kill a duck to feed her, it was provided by Whiskers pouches). Whilst we did the usual morning chores onboard, Gary on working boat Ascot headed up the cut to do more diesel and coal deliveries. I was going to get stuck in to chopping some kindling, but the chopper was so blunt, you could have ridden to London on it. Keith got his sharpening stone out and put a new edge on it. We then both got down to the task of chopping the wood for our own use. We have bagged kindling onboard which is to sell to other boaters, but I prefer to chop my own for our fires. On Gary’s return to moor up alongside his butty Beverley, Keith and I took a walk down to introduce ourselves. We wanted to reassure him that we were not here to take his regular customers. Gary sells diesel and coal to boaters from Cosgrove to Leighton Buzzard.We spent well over an hour nattering to Gary about working boats and everything to do with the canals. His working boat Ascot appears in the photograph showing the women trainees sitting on Ascots roof, they worked the boats during the war years.You may have seen the photograph in ‘Troubled Waters’ by Margaret Cornish, it has also appeared in magazines and is in the Stoke Bruerne Museum. Gary has owned the pair for 8 years now, and has collected some of her history in that time from magazines. Whilst chatting we got to meet Oliver his black cat, which he rescued as a kitten. Oliver is now 11 years old, but still has a lot of fight in him apparently. As always when chatting to other boaters the time flies by, so we said our goodbye’s and headed back to the boat, it was soon time for lunch, which consisted of egg’s and mushrooms on toast with a coffee to wash it down. The afternoon was not quite as nice as the morning had been, in fact it turned really chilly, so we sat and watched the afternoon movie on BBC2 before settling in for the evening. The evening’s TV was actually darn good. We watched the X-Factor, Leona Lewis was the guest performer. She is an amazing singer and is conquering the world with her wonderful talent. She gave an outstanding performance. It was time for Daniel to leave the show after he and Rachel were left in the bottom two. We actually thought it was a tough decision on who should go this week. Unlike last week, when the country it seems was up in arms over Laura leaving. What astounds me is the fact that with the country in the state it is in at the moment, the government were discussing the X-factor, even a petition was set up by the angry public to bring back Laura. At the end of the day, if they did not vote, then they cannot expect that person to stay. It is no good moaning about it later. I wonder how many of those who signed the online petition actually voted for Laura? Someone needs to get a life. After that we were well and truly entertained by ‘We are amused’ for Prince Charles 60th Birthday. It was really very funny. All of the comedians were excellent. I think this was the first time we had seen Robin Williams in stand up, he was brilliant. So having enjoyed a great evening’s entertainment on ITV we then headed off to bed. Marmite and Paddy had gone to bed much earlier and were both curled up asleep.

Sunday 16th November.

It began with Marmite playing with the pegs on our short washing line in the engine room. She pats the pegs with her paw to make them rattle, knowing full well it will get our attention, she then jumped onto Keith with a thud, then walking across me meowing loudly. We can practically set our clock by her these days. So with no further a do we got out of bed to a pretty drab but mild morning. Whilst I took Paddy out for his walk, Keith did grilled bacon and poached eggs on toast for breakfast, with a cup of tea. My sciatica is still playing up so I have upped the tablet’s, to see if that will calm things down. It is actually better if I am moving around, rather than sitting for any length of time. It is the joys of getting older. Marmite and Paddy got their breakfast, they then settled down in the back cabin for a morning snooze, having slept all night. Oh to be a dog or a cat, they have the ideal life, well these two do.
The rest of the day was spent taking things easy. We then sat and watched the new series of I’m a celebrity get me out of here. What a great selection of people in the outback this year. I already have my favourites to go far in the competition and yes I also have those I dislike. But not going to say yet, I want to see how things go. Already it looks like it is going to be fun, with lots of personality clashes. Keith and I love the idea of the Home and Away camps, with one having more home comforts than the other; this is bound to cause friction for the ones in the Away camp. It is one of those reality shows that once you begin to watch it, you cannot leave it a lone. I am full of admiration for George Takei (71) and Esther Rantzen (68) for taking up the challenge, good on them both.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nether Heyford to Cosgrove.

Wednesday 12th November.

Nether Heyford to Stoke Bruerne. 7.8 miles.

Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, so the song goes and we have had a fabulous day. Thankfully the wind dropped, leaving us with a sunny, cool and wind free day. We set off from our mooring at 9.10am and headed off into the sunshine. At this time of the year the sun is always low in the sky, so at times it was difficult to see where we were going, but having had very little sun of late, who were we to complain. We skirted past Bugbrooke, with the railway following the canal all the way to Gayton Junction, where we noticed that there was a film of diesel floating on the water. It had probably come from the boat yard at the junction. We pulled in at the junction’s facilities to empty the toilet cassettes and get rid of rubbish, along with two other boats that were already there. British Waterways were out hedge cutting along the towpath.We then continued through Blisworth, passing Blisworth Mill, which is now apartments. Blisworth itself is a village built from stone and is set around the A43. The canal then takes us into Blisworth Tunnel which is the third longest tunnel in Britain open to navigation, it is 3057 yds long. For us to go through any tunnel we put in our earplugs, because anyone who has met us and Hadar, knows that she has a noisy engine, which is amplified when going through a tunnel. A Rose hire boat came in the opposite direction, crawling a long the tunnel wall. They were clearly taking it at a steady pace.Having come out of the tunnel into sunlight, we then preceded to find a mooring in Stoke Bruerne at 12.20pm, so it was not a long day cruising, but a very pleasant one. Having moored up we had lunch and then walked down to the museum, which is housed in an old stone warehouse, where I bought ‘Troubled Waters’ by Margaret Cornish and we also bought a Measham sugar bowl, which we wanted for our collection. We walked back to the boat and got chatting to a Cynthia and Sam on N.B Guinevere who were moored behind us; they have been on their boat for only 12 weeks and really love it. Like quite a few people we have got to know, they have bought a boat to live on and are renting their house out. We wish them all the luck in the world and hope to see them again someday. They are heading towards Stoke-on-Trent for Christmas. During the rest of the day we watched as boats came and went. By the time the evening was drawing in, it had turned chilly so we shut the boat up against the elements and watched the TV. By 10pm we were ready for our bed, so I closed up the side doors in the galley, and as I did so, I caught sight of the moon shining brightly on the waters surface; it was a bright evening with the stars glistening. The weather forecast did predict a frost so we would see. At bedtime I crawled in to bed before Keith and lay there listening to an owl hooting somewhere in the wood beside us. There is something magical about listening to an owl.

More often than not we see some odd signs or things when cruising, today we spotted this sign on the towpath.Thursday 13th November.

Well if we did have a frost last night, it did not hang around. We did not get out of bed too early, although we were both awake, I was once more listening to an owl hooting, followed by a moorhen calling and then a couple of blackbirds giving off alarm calls, so the bird world were already busy outside. Paddy enjoyed his stroll up through the woods by Blisworth Tunnel. I allowed him off of his lead to go rummaging in the undergrowth. There was plenty of evidence that rabbits had been out during the night, digging in the dirt, so Paddy’s nose just had to investigate. Back onboard Hadar we all had breakfast. I then set about cleaning some of the back cabin brass as it is beginning to look a little tired. Whilst I tackled that task I got chatting to Alan from N.B Aphelion, they had arrived behind us in the dark last night. We got chatting engines and it was a matter of I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours type of chat. Like us they have a National, but what we could not decide was whether it was a DM2 or not. It looked too big and bulky for a DM2, so we, like them, will be doing some investigating. We then went down to the Museum for a coffee, where Alan and his wife Jo were also having a coffee, whilst chatting to Brian Collings a local artist. On the way back to Hadar we saw Mike on his working boat Jubilee, so stopped and had a natter to him, about coal and diesel prices etc. All of that took us till lunch time, which we had onboard. The weather was forecast has begun to close in and we now have rain, so we are glad we decided to stay put today. The rest of the day proved to be uneventful.

Friday 14th November.

Stoke Bruerne to Cosgrove. 7.1 miles and 8 locks
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We woke up to a foggy old morning, but that would give us a beautiful day to be cruising. So having done the usual morning jobs in a lazy fashion, we were ready to set off at 9.40am. Having untied the bow, I walked on down to the first lock by The Boat Inn, whilst Keith bought Hadar down, chatting to Mike on Jubilee on the way. We shall see him again next month no doubt.
Whilst the lock was filling up, I got chatting to two British Waterways maintenance men, who were doing there weekly check on the locks, towpath and bridges, making sure all was well.
We were soon down through the first few locks; I carried on chatting to the two British Waterways chaps as we seemed to be going in the same direction.
They very kindly shut the odd gate behind us as well, which made my life a lot easier.
Down at lock 18, they have added something new by making the side ponds into a habitat for wildlife. They have included viewing platforms to stand on whilst looking for all the wildlife listed on the information boards provided. Apparently it was put in during the summer and is a welcome attraction. Keith remembers when he was on the Grand Union in the late 60's most of the sideponds were still operational and he regularly used them, he says it is a pity they don't reinstate and insist they be used, they can save a lot of water. We made it down through the last lock at Stoke Bruerne and said cheerio to the British Waterways chaps, who were a mind of information.We past working boat Towcester, another coal and diesel boat as we left the last lock and working boats Brighton and Nuneaton who were on the towpath moorings. There is some absolutely stunning scenery along this stretch of the canal, and we could see for miles now that the leaves are falling off of the trees and bushes. With the sun out it was a glorious day. We arrived at Cosgrove and proceeded down through Cosgrove Lock, where we sold two bags of coal before finding a mooring. The 14 day moorings were already pretty full, but we managed to find a place big enough for Hadar and tied up for the day at 1.20pm. I made us a coffee, we stood out side enjoying the last of the afternoon sunshine, when two more British Waterways chaps came along, and these chaps were patrol officers checking on boat licences. So as we always do, we said good afternoon and then got chatting about licences etc. Many thanks to Bill and his colleague for chatting away to us, we found it very enjoyable. We let them go about their business, whilst we got on with some boat jobs.
Whilst sitting out on the back slide, I watched as working boat Ascot another coal and diesel boat went about selling his wares to permanently moored boats. The light was beginning to fade and the temperature was dropping so it was time to close up the boat, but not before watching Marmite take a keen interest in a pair of swans who had climbed onto the bank for a snooze.Marmite was clearly thinking this would be her evening meal. Not sure she had actually thought out how she was going to take one of these on. They soon got fed up with Marmite giving them the evil eye, and moved on up the canal, as I shut the boat up to keep the heat in from the back stove, burning away nicely, now that we are back to using good old house coal. I just love to see the plumes of smoke rising from the chimney. I know it is not that environmentally friendly, but it does give a great affect and lots of heat.

Amusing sign of the day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nether Heyford

Monday 10th November.

Fred Tarry’s Coal Yard, Nether Heyford.


Oh my goodness what a night we had. It had to have been one of the worst night’s weather we have experienced since living onboard Hadar. The winds were gale force and the rain was lashing down for most of the night, giving us both a disturbed night’s sleep. Thankfully when the alarm clock went off at 6.30am, the wind had dropped and the rain was holding off. We needed to be up early, so that I could walk Paddy, then we had to undo the sheeting and drop the side sheet ready for our delivery of coal from the coal yard. 7.30am the yard opened and Richard came and greeted us. Richard was telling us that he had not had a coal boat loading from his yard for sometime, so was pleased to be able to supply us. For us it makes sense to use Tarry’s as it is right on the canal. We prepared for the first pallet of House Coal to be delivered to the boat, with each pallet holding a tonne of coal, we would be unloading 5 ½ tonne, that’s 240 bags of coal on to Hadar. I climbed down in to the hold, so that Keith could pass the coal bags to me, where upon I stacked them in neat stacks. We have chosen to take on 2 tonne of House Coal, 2 tonne of Taybrite and 1 ½ tonne of Cosycoke. Cosycoke is a new coal and is a mix of Maxibrite and Newflame. It performs like Taybrite, but has less ash and is cheaper. We also have ½ a tonne of Excel left from our last pick up which has sold well. This time we also decided to take on Kindling, because we have been asked a lot for it. We started loading at 7.45am, taking a couple of 5 minute breaks, we were finished by 9.15am, just as the rain began to fall all over again.
Whilst Keith sorted the sheeting out, I went and did the painful task of paying for the coal. As many of you must be aware by now, fuel prices have gone through the roof of late and this also applies to coal. We have found that any profit we made since last year has all been cancelled out, because of the coal prices. Our profit was swallowed up by the price of this load we have just taken on, and therefore we could not take on the 8 tonne we had hoped to collect. There was not even enough left to pay for a pint of beer. But that is how these things go; everyone is in the same boat (so to speak). Having spent some time chatting to Richard about the diesel situation and how he sees coal and diesel prices going, we then left the coal yard and moored up on the other side of the canal, just past the yard. It carried on throwing it down with rain, so we did not bother going any further. I relit the saloon fire as it has turned cold again and felt very damp due to all the rain. We would be in for another stormy night.

Tuesday 11th November.

Nether Heyford.


This weather really is getting beyond a joke; last night was yet another very wet and windy affair. And even when we woke up this morning it was still blowing a hooley. I got up and made us both a cup of tea, which we enjoyed in bed. Marmite saw it as a good chance to climb in under the covers and lay between us. Goodness knows how she manages to breath under the duvet. The overnight rain had stopped which was a blessing, so having drunk our tea, we were up, dressed and Paddy was looking for his morning walk. With the wind still blowing I wrapped up warm in my North Face jacket and hat, before opening the back cabin doors to the world. Whilst walking Paddy I spotted a fox on the other side of the canal, he was not at all bothered by seeing us and went abut his business. What a wonderful sight to greet such a depressing morning. Back onboard Hadar, we had breakfast as did Marmite and Paddy. Keith and I then wrapped up against the weather and took a walk in to Neither Heyford which can be reached from bridge 32 where we are moored. It is only a short walk into the village. One of the first things to greet you as you walk in to the village is the large village green.Nether Heyford is a pretty little village, with houses of a variety of styles and ages. It also has a church, which looks very much like Weedon Church, so it had us wondering if it was built by the same person.In the centre of the village there is a One Stop shop for provisions, newsagents, butchers, a hairdressers and two pubs The Forester’s Arms and The Olde Sun. It was well worth a stroll around. It also has the Bliss Charity Primary School, which was built from money donated in the will of William Bliss, who had been born and brough up in Nether Heyford. Having walked around the village, we made our way back to the boat for a nice hot coffee and lunch. We shall see what the rest of the day will bring.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Weedon to Nether Heyford.

Saturday 8th November.

Weedon Mooring.

With a wet and windy night having blown over, it was a bright sunny morning. With the wind blowing hard last night, the leaves on the trees took a battering, many of them now lying abandoned on the grass. Which in itself can provide problems when walking, because you know not what lurks under the fallen leaves, just waiting for you to step on them. Yes I refer to the dog poop issue all over again. This time of the year is a nightmare, when walking because of dog owners who allow their dogs to foul the towpaths or pavements. Instead of enjoying the countryside views, you have to constantly stare at where you are placing your feet. Otherwise you end up back onboard your boat with more than you bargained for. There is absolutely nothing worse than having dog pop on your shoes and clothes, so I am asking once more for dog owners to PLEASE clean up after your dog. Luckily Paddy’s morning stroll did not include me picking up someone else’s dog mess. Paddy enjoyed rummaging through a wooded area before he jumped back onboard Hadar for his breakfast. Today we were staying put at Weedon, so it meant we could get a few jobs done, which would include housework (boat), no different to cleaning your house. I still have to sweep and wash the floors, shake out the mats, and do any tidying up. Keith set about putting up some hooks for me and tidying the wiring under the TV shelf. It looked a little like spaghetti junction, but he soon had it tamed and looking more organised. I stewed the apples we picked up whilst descending the Buckby Locks, a neighbour next to Anchor cottage, had put out a bucket of cooking apples, which were fallers, with a sign saying “ Please feel free to help yourself to these cooking apples”, which I did. Now they are going to make a nice Apple Crumble, with custard on top for Keith. I am not one for custard. After lunch Mike on Jubilee came past, as he delivered to his regular customers on his way back to Stoke Bruerne. We told him we would meet up with him in a few days. His reply was “We will have to have a drink together”, now that sounds like a good plan. We took a walk back down into Weedon to the One Stop Shop, to pick up some custard for the crumble. With the light so good, I got the camera out and took some photographs of the church.

I was lucky enough to capture the Virgin Train passing the church. It is amazing to see as the train is almost as high up as the church roof.The church was flying the Union Jack proudly ready for its Remembrance Day service. I hope you have remembered to by your poppy. As the evening drew in, the wind and the rain reappeared with a vengeance. The forecast was for 28 mph winds, so it was a time to batten down the hatches. Because Hadar was getting blown around so much, Keith threw our 56lb weight overboard, to stop Hadar banging against the concrete bank. It certainly worked.

Sunday 9th November.

Weedon to Nether Heyford, 2.3 miles.

When we awoke, it was still blowing a hooley, which did not bode well for the morning short jaunt to Fred Tarry's coal yard. At 9am the church bells began to peel, to annouce the Sunday morning service. Adults and children were lined up outside of the church for the Remembrance Day Parade, with their flags and poppy wreaths, it was a moment for reflection.

Having done all the usual morning things, we set off at 9.45am. Our first port of call was to see Elaine and David on N.B Patience, who have a mooring at High-house Wharf. Whilst we did the short trip to meet up with them, I stayed on the bow, which was very breezy. We cruised past Stowehill Wharf, which was all quiet. as we past by the moored boats at High-house wharf, David and Elaine were looking out for us, ready to grab ropes as we pulled alongside to breast up with them. We first met Elaine and David on the BCN Explorer Cruise back in August, and became good friends. We were welcomed onboard their boat where we sat drinking coffee, chatting about our adventures since we last met and passing on any news we had heard. We said our goodbyes at 12.15pm and set off for the 10 minute jaunt to Fred Tarry's coal yard, where we had arranged a mooring overnight. So as I type this we are moored outside of the yard, ready to take on coal in the morning. The wind and rain are once more upon us, so we are glad we do not have to go any further today. Another week has past and we are now another week closer to the New Year. I do not mention Christmas, as no one can afford to have a Christmas this year, with the so called Credit Crunch, what ever the heck that is ha ha ha. Have a lovely weekend and we will see you next week.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Braunston to Weedon.

Thursday 6th November.

Braunston to the top of the Buckby Locks at Norton Junction. 4.2 miles and 6 locks.


Our morning got off to a noisy beginning, when at 6.45am all we could hear was a man standing outside our boat calling his dog Barney. Obviously Barney was deaf, because this guy’s voice got louder and louder, as he got crosser with Barney for not coming when he called. Why the heck he did not just go and get his dog I will never know. Anyway having listened to the calling for a few seconds, Keith got out of bed, opened the back cabin door and said to the guy “Do you mind, there are people trying to sleep”. I guess he got no response, because he was soon back inside, closing the door behind him. I lay there and thought “I wonder if the guy would like us to stand outside his bedroom window calling for Paddy at 6.45am” I bet not. It is all about a little common courtesy, which I know I have gone on about before, but it is not rocket science. When we are walking Paddy past moored boats he is always on his lead, we don’t just let him run amuck, I would hate for him to wee over other boaters ropes. We always walk past quietly if it is early. Others should show a little consideration, that is how we feel. Heck I sound annoyed now, whooooppppsss. So having been woken up we got up. I tried to stoke some life into an almost dead fire. Whilst Keith put the kettle on the gas stove and set up breakfast. Having had breakfast Paddy then got his walk on his lead. Both he and Marmite then had their breakfast. The back stove was not for stoking, it was determined not to kick in to life, so I remade the fire and hoped that it would light. We were ready to head off at 8.25am on a very overcast and damp morning.

It was really murky with heavy drizzle, supplied by the very low cloud and no wind. With no one else up and about, we had no one to share the locks with us on the way up. At lock one there is The Boat Shop, which began its life on a boat moored at Braunston Turn, it then moved into the shop. You can buy basic groceries there, canal ware and gifts, oh and not forgetting ice cream and post cards. If you leave the post cards with them, they will even post them for you, but you have to add the stamp first. Going up through lock two we did have a boat coming down alone, so left the gates open to the lock ready. I had forgotten how heavy the gates are on the Braunston Locks, so I had to really put my back into it.Once through the locks we were then heading for the tunnel, which still has the landslide piled outside the entrance. The last time we came through the tunnel, we had problems getting Hadar past the land slide, thankfully there was no problem this time. Braunston Tunnel, was opened in 1796 and is 2042 yds long. When the tunnel was being built, the builders made a mistake with the direction it was going, so now the tunnel has a slight S bend in it. Whilst going through the tunnel N.B Pilgrim passed us coming through in the opposite direction. Once we were back out into the open again, the autumn leaves were showing off their glorious colours, and despite the murky weather conditions, the canal still looked beautiful. We made our way to Norton Junction and turned right along the Grand Union Canal Main line, where we moored up by the British Waterways Yard, with the first of the Buckby Flight in front of us. The back stove fire had finally kicked into life, and we had heat at last. I do wonder if the weather conditions have had something to do with the fact that it would not light.

After our lunch of toasted crumpets, I made a chicken curry for dinner and a vegetable soup, which we will have tomorrow for lunch, these were then put in the oven of the back stove and on top of the stove to cook, whilst we took a walk down to Whilton Marina, below Lock 8 we passed Anchor Cottage, which sells canal ware and gifts etc, but was closing up for the winter as we walked by. The cottage is one of a group of lovely red brick cottages. Once at the marina we took a look around the chandlery, in the marina there were a lot of boats up for sale. Like with housing, selling a boat at the moment is not an easy task. On our way back to Hadar, the one thing that really struck me was the noise from the M1. The constant droning of the vehicles would drive me crazy if I had to live beside it. Keith remembers when he and his parents had their first summer trip on his parents boat in 1969, whilst moored below the bottom lock, they walked up to the motorway bridge and stood watching the traffic rush by underneath. Back then there was no speed limit and no where near as much traffic. Back on Hadar, Marmite and Paddy sat on the stern watching the world go by. Keith got chatting to the local British Waterways men, who are getting ready to do the winter maintenance on the Watford Locks up the Leicester Arm.

Friday 7th November.

The Buckby Locks at Norton Junction to Weedon 4.4 miles and 7 locks.


We woke up to brilliant sunshine, which was such a nice surprise after the last couple of mornings. With there being no hurry for us to move, we got up at our leisure. Paddy enjoyed a walk up the Leicester Arm of the canal at Norton Junction, and when we arrived back onboard Hadar, Keith was already preparing mushrooms on toast for breakfast. Whilst he was doing the breakfast, I relit the back stove fire, as it had gone out yet again. My thought is that I am over dosing on the damping down at night, so tonight I will be a little lighter on the ash I lay on top of the fire and see if that works. At this rate I will need to buy a new box of fire lighters sooner than I thought. Before we descended the Buckby Locks, we filled up with water and got rid of more rubbish. By 10.30am we were on our way down through the first lock, which is crossed by the Old Roman Road, Watling Street. The Buckby Flight, follows the M1 with its roaring fast traffic, a piece of 20th Century road, is joined by the London-Midland Railway. It really is quite scary to see how fast some of the cars are going. I am so pleased we no longer have a car or a need to travel on busy roads. We only met 3 boats coming in the opposite direction and they were all together. The last lock of the day was beside Whilton Marina. The canal along this stretch is really stunning at this time of year.The leaves on the trees were vibrant colours of yellow, gold, bronze, red and green. With the sunshine shining through the branches, it felt really magical, the only thing that spoilt the moment was the noise of the M1. We saw N.B Adrastea, but neither Margaret nor John was onboard. We first met them at the Shackerstone Festival this year. I am sure we will see them again at some point.Our day of cruising ended at 1.25pm, with a mooring at Weedon above the church. Although we do have the railway beside us, it still seems quiet. We had a late lunch of home made vegetable soup and crusty bread before taking a walk in to Weedon. Weedon has the River Nene, Grand Union Canal and West Coast Main Line railway all travelling through it. To get in to the village, you need to walk down the steps and through the church yard. The village of Weedon is a real contrast of styles in housing. Some of the older cottages are built out of a honey coloured stone, like the church, which is beautiful. Some of the cottages are thatched and others are newer and built in brick. There is a One Stop convenience store for all provisions, there is also a Post Office, Chemists, Hair dressers, a gift shop and the quilting store Bramble Patch. I know this store from using them online a few years ago, but never connected that they were in Weedon. Keith and I also took a walk up to the old Royal Ordnance Depot, which was once connected to the canal. Now if you have read our diary before you will know we have an interest in history of these old canalside villages, and we like to look around the cemeteries, where we can learn a lot about the village itself and those who lived there. Weedon is no exception; there are groups of names in the grave yard, which all died around the same time, so I will be doing a bit of research to see if there was any connection. It has been a fabulous day.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Boatman's Banter

November's issue of Boatman's Banter is now out, so please go and have a read. Whilst your there, why not have a look at the forum on boats and canals.
Keith enjoys writing a column for the site at the beginning of each month.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Monday 3rd November.

Hartshill to North of Newbold on Avon. 18.3 miles and 1 lock
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Do you ever have days that begin in a dodgy way, and you then wonder if the rest of the day is going to go the same way?
Today was one of those days. We were awake early as usual. It was still dark outside and a cockerel was crowing in the distance, to announce Monday morning. The clock tower bell at the BW yard struck 7am.Come 8am we were out of bed and having breakfast. Paddy got his walk and we prepared to set off for the days cruising. Just as we were untying the ropes at 9.15am, narrow boat Panther and an Ashby hire boat came past heading the same way as us, so we joined the convoy, behind the hire boat, and that is where the day got off to a dodgy start.The hire boat for what ever reason, was going so slow that our tick over was even too fast to keep us behind them at a decent distance. Keith had no where to go as we were passing moored boats so ended up hitting the stern of their boat. In the distance we could see the largest of the quarry spoil mountains, which is known as Mount Judd.Having passed the moored boats, we had hoped the hire boat would speed things up, but nope they continued at a snails pace, which I suppose is their prerogative I guess. So because they were sitting in the centre of the canal Keith put Hadar up alongside them, hoping that they would yield and allow us past. We did pass them, but not without one of the five male occupants having a go at us. He wanted to know if we had a problem LOL. Yes the problem was they were going so slow we were hardly in tick over. With that we left them to their lot and carried on. These guys had been out for at least a few days and they were heading back to the hire company, so why did they still have to cruise at a snails pace?
We made our way through Nuneaton behind N.B Panther, who then allowed us to pass them. Once we got out of Nuneaton, we were into open countryside once more, and enjoying some lovely views. We continued along the Coventry Canal to Bedworth Hill Bridge (13), on the outskirts of Bedworth, we had just made it through the bridge ’ole, when we saw another boat coming towards us, so we let the gentleman know that Panther was behind us, thinking he would slow his pace towards the bridge. As Keith carried on steering Hadar, I watched as this man ploughed his boat through the bridge ‘ole, with Panther coming through the other side. It looked as though they had collided. We were to find out later it was not just a slight collision. Having arrived at Hawkesbury Junction, I stepped off before the junction to work the stop lock, whilst Keith bought Hadar around the junction and into the lock. We were now onto the Oxford Canal once more.The stop lock at Hawkesbury Junction is known as Sutton Stop, which was named after a family who were toll clerks at the junction. There is the Greyhound pub at the junction, which in the old days used to store the food for the horses, when boats were horse drawn. You can also see a disused engine house. I can imagine when working boats were the kings of the cut; Hawkesbury Junction must have been bustling. Keith can remember the working boats moored stern in to the bank outside the pub.As we worked the Stop lock, N.B Panther turned at the junction to join us, the lady on board came and asked if we had, had any problems with the boat at bridge 13. I told her “We had said to him that they were behind us”. She went on to tell Keith and me that they had reversed their boat, to allow him through, he rammed them in the side, whilst steaming through the bridge ‘ole, leaving them with damage to the front of their boat. They took his BW number and will be reporting him to BW. After he had rammed them, he then went on to ram into the Ashby hire boat, so it was not their day. Hire boats was the theme for the day for us as we met up with a Rose hire boat, which went in to shock when it saw us and steered right across our path. Keith managed to avoid them and the moored boats as they got themselves straight once more.I really like the Oxford Canal, it has some lovely scenery, but it also has the M6 motorway following it to Ansty, where we cruised under the M69 bridge. The roar of the traffic was really loud and we had the same thing when we made our way under the M6 motorway bridge. It was nice to be back into the silence of the countryside once more as we approached Stretton Stop and the home of Rose hire boats. I hopped off to open the small swing bridge which allowed Hadar through. With the diesel derogation now operating, Rose hire boats diesel is at £1.10 a litre.The light was beginning to fade and we had to think about where we were going to moor for the night. We decided to moor up just North of Newbold on Avon.
Tuesday 4th November.

North of Newbold on Avon to the top of Hillmorton Locks. 5.7 miles and 3 locks.

Having spent a peaceful evening on the mooring, we were up like larks, in fact up with the cockerel that was crowing nearby. I think we are being followed by this cockerel LOL. The kettle was put on for a brew and breakfast laid out. Before I had my breakfast Paddy needed his walk. He is so good at waiting, whilst I get myself ready. No sooner had I let him off of the boat, he cocked his leg, so he must have been bursting to go. Back onboard Marmite was protesting loudly that she wanted her breakfast. She has absolutely no patience when it comes to being fed. She seems to think that she should get her breakfast before Paddy, which of course never happens. Paddy always gets his two biscuits and then I feed Marmite. Peace reign’s no sooner her bowl is placed in front of her. Mean While Keith prepared Hadar for the off, on what was an overcast morning, but not particularly cold for a change.We negotiated Newbold on Avon Tunnel with its posh lighting, and past The Barley Mow pub, which does some nice meals, or at least it did when we ate there back in February. If you are lucky enough to get a mooring along this stretch, you may like to visit the Newbold on Avon Quarry Park. It is a local nature reserve on the site of what was once a Limestone Quarry. There are apparently Muntjac deer there. The first stop of the day was in Rugby, to go food shopping at Tesco, we were fortunate to get a mooring just after Masters Bridge (58). Having trudged our way around Tesco, and got back onboard. I began putting the shopping away as we cruised, but we had only gone a short distance when we were hailed down for coal. So the kettle got turned off and the shopping abandoned, so I could go and unload two bags of coal. The plus side of being a coal woman is I get to natter to the customers. It is always a good time to pass on canal news and to put the world to right. We were soon on our way and heading for Hillmorton Locks. We were lucky enough to find one of the pair of locks empty, so as I opened the gates, whilst Keith manoeuvred Hadar into the chamber. Whilst I operated the paddles, Keith nipped off the boat to empty one of the toilet cassettes. Coming up behind us was N.B Jacana, so I set the other lock for him, whilst I waited for ours to fill. The gentleman was single handing, so any bit of help is always useful. As he entered the lock chamber I shut the gates behind him, and left him to fill up the lock, as Keith was now back from emptying the loo cassette. As we approached the second pair of locks, a boat was already in one of the locks and they had kindly set the other lock for us and opened the gates. This was turning out to be a very nice day, with everyone helping each other. I returned the favour at the 3rd set of locks. One thing I noticed about the lock gear at the locks, they are all very well greased up. The only downside to this was the grease got everywhere, including down my trousers, which will be a pain to get out no doubt. We then decided to moor up just after the locks for the rest of the day. We have such a lovely view of the Rugby radio Arial’s and ponies grazing in the fields. The sun came out as well which was a bonus and gave me the inspiration to get some boat work done. Hadar needed a wash for starters as she had streaks of soot from the exhaust chimney running down her bodywork. That done, I then set about brushing all the mats and putting Paddy’s bed out for airing, it felt damp and smelt very doggy ewww. I really should have washed all the floors, but there is little point when you are moored up on a muddy towpath, due to the fact that workmen have been a long the stretch filling in holes with dirt. So the floors can wait no one else but us has to look at them. I have taken the chance to have a tidy up through out the boat. I like for things to be put away. When living on a boat 24/7 you have to be tidy, as there is very little room to have clutter around about your feet. So even Mog and Dog have their places. A tidy boat is a happy boat that is my motto ha ha ha.