No Direction

No Direction is our 70ft Narrowboat which is now home to my wife Jayne and myself, it was launched on 4th February 2008.

We spend the Winters in a Marina and cruise in the warmer weather.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone.

We hope you all have an enjoyable Christmas and New Year and that the snow is not causing you too many problems.

We had to visit Braunston today, (not by boat but in a van) the snow there was pretty bad around 1.30 this afternoon but it stopped long enough to take a picture.

We were here in June getting sun burnt.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Life Goes On.

It looks like another long hard winter for everyone, not just boaters, we have been helping a friend out with a bit of van driving and seem to have spent most of the last week going very very slowly on the M25 Motorway due to the weather.

Not much business being done on the service Quay at Kings Bromley Marina.

Always hungry this weather.

Friday saw us over at my Mothers Bungalow situated between Shrewsbury and Oswestry, we had offered to give the place an early spring clean for her and had booked an oven cleaning company to come in and de-gunge the oven, money well spent.

On Saturday afternoon Jayne and I went around the Marina selling raffle tickets for the Marina Christmas raffle, only £1 a strip and some people still said no !! 

Monday morning we had minus 11 on the car thermometer, the pool of clear water in the middle of the Marina which the ducks and geese use is getting smaller by the day so I hope the cold eases off soon. 

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Keeping the Tanks Full.

One of the most important jobs that Narrowboat owners need to do in the winter is keep the fuel tanks full, the reason is condensation forming on the steel walls of the tank above the Diesel
which then runs down and into the fuel, if the tank is full there is no exposed steel.
If water is allowed to stay in the fuel then it can develop into something called "Diesel Bug",
adding a fuel additive such as Marine 16 which is designed to keep things under control is a wise precaution.

A Diesel Bug coming to a tank near you ?.

From January fuel that is supplied to Narrowboats on Inland waterways is going to change, following a EEC Directive we will now be supplied with low sulphur Diesel probably road Diesel (EN590) with a red dye, road Diesel can contain up to 7% bio fuel which encourages water so we will have to keep a close eye on our fuel systems.

We see a lot of hot air balloons coming over Kings Bromley Marina when the weather is calm, they take off from Shugborough Hall and Trentham Gardens navigating their way around Rugeley Power Station and all the Pylons around here.

Their not really that close.

I'll stick to boats, if I fall off a boat I can swim if I fall out of that basket, thud.

Things thawed a bit at the weekend and we were able to fill the water tank, it's going to get cold again though.

Friday, 10 December 2010

The Meteor fireball.

On Wednesday evening I saw it, the Meteor fireball whizzing past planet earth, I was sitting on the settee and through a window saw something darting across the black sky, a really bright round ball shape with a tail behind it, I jumped up and got to the window all in one movement but a second later it had gone.
The thing I find most amazing was that it looked huge but astronomers say that it was only a bit bigger than a fist and at an altitude of 60 to 70 miles, impressive.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Christmas Lights

Christmas must be close as most of the Liveaboard boats in the Marina for the winter have got their Christmas lights up, so we put ours up on Sunday, of course before starting I carried out a full Health and Safety risk assessment !!

Lights up.

The Marina, like all the Canals is very frozen, the ducks and geese manage to keep an area ice free so that they can swim and drink, they are looked after in the Marina, most people on the boats throw them something to eat.

Ducks, Geese and Swans, all hungry.

Like everyone we have been enjoying the sights that this very cold weather brings, especially the frost on the trees, hedges and a few other places.
Frost on our Aerial and Christmas lights.

The Statue of James Boswell in Lichfield has a runny nose.

An unknown driver on (or off) Daisy lane between Fradley Junction and Alrewas.

On Tuesday, Midlands Today, our local Television news programme on BBC 1 had an interview with boaters Micheal Lee and his wife Val who are moored in Barton Marina, with all the water taps frozen they are having to carry water from the office block, no moaning or complaining, just get on with it, proper boating attitude.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Winter in the Marina.

The problems encountered by boaters like us who spend the Winter months in a Marina pale into insignificance when compared with Continual Cruisers, these are the boaters who choose to stay out on the Canal all year, where we may have to join 2 or 3 hoses together to reach an un-frozen water tap to refill our water tanks the boater out on the Canal must watch the weather forecast closely and plan ahead to avoid being frozen in miles from anywhere.

3 hoses joined together to reach the un-frozen tap.

Last Winter Kings Bromley Marina was frozen for 5 weeks so no boat movements, we were ok as we have a water tap close to the ground which doesn't freeze, we have a car so can get to the shops, the Marina sells gas, coal and Diesel, we have a mains electrical connection so that we don't have to run the engine to charge the batteries and we have Cassette toilets so we can empty them without moving the boat. 
For the Continual Cruisers it's much more difficult, they can only carry so much water, coal, gas and food on a boat and therefore need to make sure that when the ice comes they are at least within walking distance of these necessities.

A Grim scene at Kings Bromley on Friday morning, ice and fog.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Boating in Cold Weather, No Thanks.

Other boaters tell me, and I read on other blog sites about the joys of Winter cruising, no crowds, plenty of mooring space, beautiful views on frosty mornings, nice and snug with the fire going, so, why are we not cold weather boaters ?.

I have just returned from cycling to Alrewas to get a loaf and newspaper, its about 4 miles along the Towpath from Kings Bromley, I passed a couple of hardy winter cruisers, big thick jacket, gloves, balaclava with a red nose poking out, I don't know if they were enjoying it or not, I hope they were.

I don't think it's the actual cold that puts me off after all I spent 30 years working in cold damp garage workshops, I commuted by bicycle for 10 years in all weathers and enjoyed it, but both of these required physical effort which kept me warm, standing on the back of a Narrowboat requires next to no effort and I get cold, an hour or so steering and then inside is OK but on 3 occasions when I have needed to meet a boating deadline in winter I have been frozen, so perhaps these experiences have put me off winter cruising for life. 

Last January we decided that we would have a Pram Hood fitted to the rear of No Direction, this involved 2 trips from Kings Bromley Marina to Staffs Canopies  at Milford Wharf on the Staffs and Worcester Canal, the first visit was to have the tubular framework fitted and templates cut, the second was to have the cover fitted, Jayne ducked out of the first visit so I was single handed, the 3 locks on route helped a bit but after the 13 mile trip I was very cold, on the second trip Jayne was onboard so at least I was kept supplied with tea and soup but still froze.

Tim Salt from Staffs Canopies fits the hood.

Staffs Canopies haven't got a website so call 07730614227 or 07761432092

We always said we would never have one of these but now wouldn't be without it.

The other time I froze was in February 2008 when we needed to get our old Narrowboat April Rose from Kings Bromley to Wigrams Turn Marina for it to be sold on brokerage, strangely enough Jayne ducked this one as well so I was accompanied by Phillip who I used to work with, we planned was to leave Kings Bromley early on Friday and be at Wigrams on the Sunday so that Jayne could pick us up in her car.

The deal was that Phil would have a days holiday to help, in return I would pay for all food and drink, we got to the Anchor Inn at Hartshill on Friday night, I very cold, Phil had just worked the 11 Atherstone Locks so was OK, Saturday morning there was a very thin sheet of ice on the cut, that day we took it in turns to steer for an hour while the other thawed out by the fire.

Saturday night we arrived at Braunston in the dark, the only space available was by a sign which said "No Mooring", pretended not to see it and sprinted up to the The Old Plough

Sunday was sunny, problem was we were frozen in, with Phil on the front with the pole breaking the ice we managed to get to the entrance to Braunston marina where we could wind (turn around) a maneuver easier said that done in ice, as we passed the moored boats at 9 o'clock on a Sunday morning pushing sheets of ice into them and making an awful noise some very angry faces appeared at their windows, it's a good job I can't lip read.

So we will leave the Winter cruising to those who enjoy it and keep out of their way, call us Butterfly Boaters, we only come out in the Sun.

Mountain Biking up on High Street, Lake District 2009, the cold doesn't bother me cycling.

View from the top, worth the effort.

Monday, 15 November 2010

"3" Wireless Modem.

We had been looking into getting a router for our "3" mobile dongle so that we could leave it out in the Cratch where the signal is better and use the Laptop in the boat without the wires everywhere, the dongle is normally velcroed to the inside of a window, so when we found that "3" had launched a combined dongle and router we upgraded to one.

It does what is says on the box.

The dongle is charged from a mains adaptor which has a USB port or from a USB port on the Computer, it lasts about 5 hours between charges, their is provision to connect a lanyard  which we use to hang it in the Cratch, it seems a bit more powerful than our previous Dongle and works better that expected.

It comes with 2 charging cables 1 is 190mm and the other 1200mm
We had also been looking at various Aerial options but as the reception is better I think we can forget that now. The range between the Dongle and Computer is, 10 Metres or 30 Metres when plugged into the charger, as with all Mobile Phone things their will probably be something better in 6 months time.


Halfie has left a comment asking about price, which, I should have included.

We have had a Contract with 3 since April 2008 and therefore qualify for their Loyalty bonus of 50% discount so we pay £15 per month for 15GB, but look on the 3 website and try haggling.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Be Careful with Eggs.

We've been back in the Marina for over a fortnight now, so a lot of boat washing and touching up of paint has been done, we are also catching up with which boats have gone since with left for our cruise and the new one's that have arrived.
Jayne has resumed her Volunteer work at the Sutton Coldfield branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society on Mondays. I am back to doing a bit of van driving 1 or 2 days a week when needed..

On October 6th we saw a report on Channel 5 news about Britain's largest egg producer, Noble Foods, they supply Supermarkets with a brand called "Happy Eggs", and are accredited to the RSPCA Freedom food scheme, their advertisement portray hens living in nice clean conditions with plenty of room to roam outside, read the report and judge for yourself.
The two supermarkets we use in Lichfield are Morrison's and Waitrose, after the report was screened Waitrose removed "Happy Eggs" from the shelves however they were still for sale at Morrison's, 3 Emails to Morrison's Customer Services has resulted in the usual PR waffle.

When we are at Kings Bromley Marina we always get our eggs from the Lady who lives on a Narrowboat and runs the chicken farm between Fradley Junction and Alrewas on the Trent and Mersey Canal, the Chickens are out in the fresh air scratching around as they should be.

Their eggs taste better.

You can see the farm and her boat on the offside (opposite to Towpath) between Common Lock and Bagnall Lock.

Being members of the I.W.A. we receive a news letter from the Lichfield branch, it appears Tesco's are planning a new supermarket alongside the Canal at Rugeley, the Branch has requested that if planning is granted then it should be on condition that the shopping trolleys are the £1 in the slot type to try and prevent them ending up in the Canal, however given Tesco,s history I doubt it, (Google Tesco Trolleys there are some amusing sites.)

I''ve noticed a  4 minute video on YouTube, access it via Friends of Raymond website, I'm on for about 2 seconds, fame at last, I'm the one with his glasses balanced on top of his head, if I had a pound for every time someone has said " your about to loose your glasses" I'd certainly be able to spend more time in pubs, as it is I've only lost them once in about 30 years, they fell into the water as I was on the back of the boat, I managed to retreive them using a bit of wire coat hanger fixed to a long cane. 

We have just got a new "3" Broadband Modem, this one is also a wireless router so it can live in the cratch where the signal is better and we can both use our laptops at the same time, sad I know, more on this in the next blog, when ever that will be.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Back at Base.

Thursday/Friday, 14/15th October 2010.
Hopwas to Kings Bromley Marina.
10 Miles 3 Locks 1 Swing Bridge.

Thursday.   Last day of our cruise today, met a few boats coming in the opposite direction, weather was cloudy with no wind, we even went through Fradley Junction without the usual chaos.
We have been looking out for suitable wood to burn on the fire for the last month without much success however, as we left Shadehouse lock we noticed that all the trees and bushes that normally hang out over the Canal from the offside (opposite side to Towpath) had been cut back making a nice wide channel, but, the burning question was, where was the wood that had been cut, as we approached the 90 degree bend before the next lock, Woodend Lock, we spotted 2 British Waterways workboats, they were working on the offside but we spotted cut wood on the Towpath side so a quick reverse and we were moored up.
The wood was Willow, not the best firewood but OK went dried out, so out came the Stihl chainsaw and the wood was cut into lengths that I could lift onto the roof of No Direction.

Anymore Wood down here.

As we passed the workboats we asked if there were any wood going but they were keeping it for themselves, the logs piled up in their boat was Beech/Ash/Oak all good stuff.

We tied up on our pontoon at about 3 o,clock, Jaynes car was up on the carpark as the Marina staff ask that when people are out on their boats their cars are moved from the area by their boat onto the main carpark, I pushed the unlock button on the key and the doors unlocked, put the key in the ignition and turned, click, click, click, flat battery, Ian the groundsman drove the Marina tractor up and we jump started it, the logs were taken to our small shed on the Marina where they will dry out.

Friday.     Jayne went into Lichfield for a shopping fix while I washed the boat and touched up the paint, I  was also put in charge of defrosting the freezer.

So, that was our summer cruise, we will keep bloging when anything to do with boats happens, maybe once a week or fortnight.
I have a list of things that I want to do to the boat and it will get the hull blacked next March so we have plenty to keep us busy. 

Thursday, 14 October 2010

A Little Problem Sorted

Tuesday/Wednesday, 12/13th October 2010
Between Rugby and Brinklow to 1 Mile past Hopwas
34 Miles 14 Locks.

Tuesday.   Got going early (for us) this morning, past Rose Narrowboats at Stretton Stop where boaters have to rotate a very light pedestrian swing bridge, take the boat through and then close it, nice steady cruise along the last bit of the North Oxford canal to Hawksbury Junction where the Oxford joins the Coventry Canal, there's a lock here with a very small drop of 6 inches, put there when Canals were owned by different private companies who feared that another company might steal their water, after the lock we had to negotiate a 180 degree turn to the right, if you go left the Canal leads into Coventry.

Charity Dock at Bedworth, always plenty to look at.

We passed by the Allotments of Bedworth and Nuneaton before arriving at Onboard Energy situated at Springwood Haven Marina.

Bedworth and Nuneaton is Allotments Land.

Onboard Energy fitted all the electrics to No Direction and the Battery monitor panel needed a little adjustment so as we were passing it was a good opportunity to get it sorted, we moored outside and waited for Kevin, their top electrical man to finish another job, he arrived and reset our monitor panel in a matter of minutes, he was rewarded with his very own No Direction Mug.

Only very nice people get these.

We then moved across to the towpath side of the Canal and that's where we stayed for the night.
You get a very good view of Mount Jud from here, a large pimple shaped Spoil Heap left over from the huge Judkins Quarry, it even has it's own facebook page.

Wednesday.   We had a lonely run to the first of the 11 Atherstone locks with no other boats moving.

We past the British Waterways yard at Hartshill on the Coventry Canal (The clocks wrong)

As we arrived at the top lock a boat was about to exit so we went straight in, it was the same at the third one as well, after all the Broad locks we have done this trip, these narrow ones are like toys. The first 5 locks going down are close together, after the 5th one we tied up and had breakfast, and then tackled the final 6 and had a nice afternoon, although it was cool the sun was out and no wind, we had to wait at the 2 Glascote locks as 1 of the top paddles was not working which made the lock slow to fill, once clear of the last lock Jayne went inside for a well earned rest.
At bridge 75 we experienced the only bit of anti-social behaviour of the trip when a hooded youth threw a couple of handfuls of gravel at us, I had seen him (it) lurking on the bridge as we approached (obviously formulating his master plan) and slowed the boat right down, he ran off as I was offering an opinion of his life and pointing a camera at him. 
We carried on through Fazeley junction, past the British Waterway Midlands head office at Peel Wharf, considering there is a Waterways office here there seems to be a higher that average number of un-licenced boats around.
We moored for the night halfway between Hopwas and Whittington. 

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Hard Work.

Sat/Sun/Mon, 9/10/11, October, 2010
Braunston to Rugby/Brinklow.
12 Miles 3 Locks 1 Tunnel.

Saturday.    I walked up to the Marina earlier today which gave me time to stop at the Gongoozlers Rest for breakfast, it's on a boat just outside Braunston Marina. Everyone else arrived at the Dry Dock and work on Raymond carried on at a feverish pace, my arms feel like they are ready to drop off with all the hammering that was needed when replacing the Oakum sealing (see previous blog), work carried on until around 6 o'clock, we had hung one of the collection boxes and a information sheet on the walkway which passes the Dry Dock explaining what was going on and were pleased to see people dropping money in as they past.

The Dry Dock stop planks holding back the water, the normal level is at the bottom of the white line,
which is about 5 feet from the base, the top plank is held by wooded wedges which have been hammered in.

Sunday.   I had a rest from hammering today and helped with the sealing, the Marina was very busy with people looking at boats for sale or just on a day out no doubt helped by the sunny weather.

Raymond in the Dock, the Oakum (in between the planks) has been hammered in.

We also carried out a temporary repair to Nutfields cabin, it needs replacing but will have to wait until the charity have the funds.

Nutfields wooden back cabin rotting at the base, the section with the side door is the engine room which is metal.

I Finished at 4.30 today as Jayne and I planned to go over to the Boathouse to eat at 6 o,clock and I needed plenty of time to get the sealer off my hands, I started today off wearing gloves but still managed to coat my hands and arms.

Monday.   Today we were heading back to Kings Bromley Marina, the first stop was at the service facilities about 200 yards from where we had been moored to fill with water, empty cassettes and dump the rubbish, all this took about an hour so it was 10.30 before we got under way.
We caught up with Towcester, the Diesel and Coal boat after 4 miles, Julia Cook who runs it was filling a boat with Diesel and we stopped along side and bought 2 bags of Stove Glow Smokeless Fuel.
Next it was the 3 Hillmorton Locks where we a Lady boater said she had seen No Direction in the Castle Marinas Brochure.  We stopped for shopping in Rugby before finding a mooring for the night between Rugby and Brinklow, bit to close to the mainline rail track for Jayne's liking though !! 

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Back at Braunston.

Wednesday/Thursday/Friday 6/7/8th October 2010
Long Buckby Top Lock to Braunston
4.5 Miles 6 Locks 1 Tunnel.

Wednesday.   Rain first thing this morning but the forecast said sunny later so we waited for the rain to stop before setting off, into Braunston Tunnel for the fifth and final time this year, just like we did with Blisworth, we met 2 boats coming in the opposite direction but there was no bumping. We had 6 Locks today all going down, at the first Lock we waited for a Hire Boat from Valley Cruises who had followed us through the Tunnel, we shared the first 5 Locks with them but at the 6th we caught up with another boat on it's own so we nipped into the Lock with them.
We moored just after the Lock so that Jayne could go into the shop  for fresh organic bread which is baked on the premises.
We were hoping to moor opposite the Boathouse pub or just past it but as the moorings there had changed from 48hrs to 14 days on the 1st of October we didn't hold out hope but luckily we found a gap big enough to squeeze in, no large trees either so Jayne's happy as we have TV. 

Thursday.   Not much happening today, Jayne gave me a shopping list and I walked up to the Londis store in the Village, cleaned one side of the boat and windows, Jayne then decided that she needed a package posted and as I needed some small wood screws I cycled to the Chandlery and then to Braunston post office, also bought some fire lighters there, £1.09 for 15 or £2.46 for 20, amazing.

Friday.   Today nb Raymond was going into the dry dock, It had been moored with Nutfield just between the bridge and the Marina entrance since it was brought back from the Village at War Weekend, we had arranged to meet at 8.30 and when I arrived 4 other volunteers were already there so we took both boats into the Marina where Raymond, which is a Butty (a narrowboat with no engine) was then poled into the Dry Dock, the stop planks which seal the dry dock from the water in the Marina were put into place and the valve opened to drain the dock.

nb Raymond floats in the Dry Dock.

The water runs out into a brook, after about 30 minutes the boat comes to rest on the supports leaving the bottom of the boat around 15 inches above the floor, the next stage is to pressure wash the Hull and start scraping the loose bits off.

Raymond is a Wooden Narrowboat, as with all wooden Narrowboats the small gap between the planks are sealed by Oakum, an oily fibre made from old rope, this is hammered into the gap using a Caulking  Iron until it is tight and the blacking is then painted over the whole hull.

The Oakum is hammered in to the gaps.

While a couple of us were Caulking others were re-painting the top planks and other bits of woodwork.  We have the Dry Dock until late Sunday and must be out at at 8.00am Monday so more work tomorrow and Sunday. 

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Heading Back.

Monday/Tuesday 4/5 October 2010
Stoke Bruerne to Buckby Top Lock
17 Miles 13 Locks.

Monday.  The weather was dry and bright today, we had to drop down 2 Locks to get to the wide section of Canal where we could wind (turn around) then it was back up to Stoke Bruerne where we filled the water tank, then through Blisworth Tunnel for the fifth and final time this year, nice gentle cruise to High House Wharf where we moored for the night just passed the Wharf opposite the Caravan field.
I had a good sweep up of the rear deck as we had gathered a bit of mud over the weekend where we had taken our boots off, weather forecast was for rain in the night.

Tuesday.  We had rain during the night but it had stopped by the time we got up and the sky was clearing for another nice day, got the fire going before we set off and then turned it down low so that when we stopped we could just open the vent and away it goes.

Called at Rugby Boat Sales which is situated at Stowe Hill Wharf for Diesel, at 68p a litre (before tax) it is the cheapest we have found all summer.
We started up the 7 Buckby Locks on our own but caught up with another boat so shared the last 3, these wide Locks are so much easier when you share with another boat, especially going up, with just 1 boat in the lock the turbulence as the lock fills pushes a single boat around.

 We met an Australian couple who stopped for a chat, they were walking to the New Inn for Lunch and, had recently bought a Narrowboat from Whilton Marina,  I told them that the Buckby Locks were possibly the hardest to operate on the whole system, so once past these, things get better.

We had planned to moor just above the Top Lock but found there wasn't room, not to worry I had overheard  a couple who were eating lunch at one of the tables outside the pub say that they would be moving their boat as soon as they had finished, we hung around on the other bank until they moved off, so that's where we are tonight, nb Hadar was moored behind but I think they moved back to squeeze another boat in.
It's taken all our willpower not to go over to the pub tonight,  but we had an expensive weekend and next weekend will be the same so we saved our pennies.

Tomorrow we will get to Braunston where we need to be for the weekend so that I can assist when nb Raymond goes into dry dock for it's annual bottom blacking and other maintenance.

nb Raymond in Braunston Marina Dry Dock last year.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Battle Stations

Sat/Sun 2/3rd October 2010
Moored at Stoke Bruerne
No Miles No locks.

Star of the show was the Spitfire, well I thought so, especially when the engine banged into life.

We've had a brilliant time at the Stoke Bruene at War weekend despite the terrible weather on Sunday.  Saturday's weather was warm and sunny and there were a lot of people around, both pubs and the Museum cafe were busy, even the ticket offices were sentry boxes and the entrance tickets ration books to fit in with the wartime theme.

Clothing tent selling forties clothes.
U.S. Army Camp.

Boats like this were busy during WW2, Aldgate built in 1936.

I spent most of Saturday helping on "Nutfield and Raymond", Jayne's sister Pam turned up with her family so Jayne spent the afternoon with them, we didn't visit the pub on Saturday night, ate on the boat instead.

Sunday was very wet and windy but things carried on as planned with Winston Churchill leading the parade.
Sunday Parade in the rain.

By 4 o'clock the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to break through but most people had gone by then.

A Dispatch rider on his Royal Enfield Side Valve.

 We heard the V12 Rolls Royce Merlin engine of the Spitfire starting up at regular intervals as 'would be pilots' paid their money.

No Silencers on these exhausts.

Rolls Royce Merlin engines were used in other aircraft beside the Spitfire.

The Merlin Engine above is from a Halifax Bomber which crashed in the Lake District in October 1944, it's outside The Ruskin Museum in Coniston, (photo taken on one of my Lake District Mountain Bike expeditions).

Parts of the  wreckage are still visible up on Great Carrs. 

We finished the weekend off on Sunday night with a good meal eaten in good company at the Boat Inn.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Treefellers (well 2 actually)

Thursday/Friday 30th Sept 1st October 2010
Moored at Stoke Bruerne
No Miles No Locks.

Thursday.  Walked up to the pub again today, not to drink but to get a loaf from the shop, we stopped for a chat with Tony and Heather who run the Fudge Boat, Heather was going into Towcester on the bus so Jayne joined her.

Homemade Fudge.

There's been a pair of working boats, Planet and Gilbert, moored close to us since we arrived, these belong to a chap selling Army Surplus and was here for the Village at War weekend, he needed to turn the pair around, the nearest place where the Canal is wide enough is down a further 2 Locks so I went to give him a hand as he only had a young lad with him, 2 others went to help as well so we made light work of the Locks.

At 5 o'clock we walked back to the Boat Inn for a drink as it was "Happy Hour" (actually it's 2 hours)  that finished at 6, afterwards it was back to the Navigation for a 2 for £12 meal then back to the No Direction which was nice and warm as we had lit the fire earlier.

The Helter Skelter goes up at the Vintage Fair, on the left are the Swing Boats, Dodgems to the right.

Friday. Today it was wet, very wet, Jayne has stayed on the boat all day, I had a walk up to the Village at around 4 o,clock to check if Nutfield and Raymond had arrived, they were just emerging from the Tunnel, so walked back and helped the crew to tie them up. Most of the crew that brought them from Braunston disappeared back home tonight leaving Robin in charge, I hope more volunteers turn up tomorrow else Robin and myself are going to be busy.

In the last blog I mentioned that blogger Halfie asked about burning wood which we sometimes find along the Towpath from fallen trees, on our fire, burning wood that has not had time to Season (dry out) is not to be recommended as it can coat the inside of the Flue with a tar like substance, but, most fallen trees are dead and therefore usually dry enough to burn, it also depends on the type of wood, however I have seen people cutting up un-dried wood and putting it straight onto their fire and they didn't seem bothered. 
We clean our chimney with a special brush at least twice a year, once around Christmas and again in the Spring when we have finished using the fire, this is a very messy job which involves removing a baffle plate and firebricks from the fire, standing outside on the edge of the boat and pushing and pulling the cleaning brush which is attached to a 5ft wire handle up and down the flue, the important thing to remember is make sure that the door and the vents on the fire are closed.

Where logs are concerned we are fortunate to have a friend, Phillip, who I used to work with, his family own a couple of fields very close to Kings Bromley Marina where we moor, the fields are used to graze horses, in the corner of one of the fields there was a dead oak tree which needed to come down.

The Dead Oak, lots of logs here.

So on a Snowy morning in January this year Phillip and I attacked it, Luckily Phillip had some experience in tree surgery having attended a Training course, but he later admitted that he had not "dropped" one this big before.

Phillip makes a start
Once it was down we both set to with our Chainsaws, one of the most satisfying things in life is using a Chainsaw, well it is for me. (sad I Know)

Logging it up.

Another trailer load of logs, we filled the trailer 4 or 5 times that day.
The trailer is made from the front half of an old Dumper truck.

The Logs were transported back to Phillips house where our share was loaded into the back Jayne's Nissan Note and taken back to our shed which we rent at the Marina, they were ready to burn immediately and lasted us until April when we finished using the fire.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

At Stoke Bruerne (Again)

Tuesday/Wednesday 28/29th September 2010
High House Wharf to Stoke Bruerne
10 Miles 1 Tunnel 2 Locks.

Tuesday.   We had planned a cruise in good weather today, wrong, it drizzled, and we weren't   
going through any Locks, wrong, we dropped down the first 2 of the Stoke flight to moor in what is known as the long pound, it's also a bit quieter and we can get the TV working with the dish, no Digital around here. The weather cleared up at bit after we had been going for 30 minutes, we stopped at the British Waterways services at Gayton Junction before entering the Blisworth Tunnel, this is the 4th time we have been through this tunnel this year.
It was closed in the early eighties while serious rebuilding work was undertaken, I found some interesting pictures taken at the time by local Historian George Freeston of what was involved. 

Wednesday.  We had a walk up to the Village this morning to dump some rubbish and make use of the recycling facilities behind the Pub, Jayne went into the Pub where they have a small shop, they won't have any fresh bread until tomorrow so she has ordered a loaf.

Our Bubble Corner Stove burning away in March 2008, the floor directly in front is now tiled.

We have the fire going now in the afternoon and evening, not that it's very cold but with the rain and dark it cheers things up.   Our fire, or stove as some people call them is a Bubble Corner unit with a Back Boiler,  Halfie in his blog, asks about collecting firewood from the side of the Canal that has not had time to season, i.e. dry out, and he is correct, more on this subject in the next blog. 

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Wet and Miserable

Sat/Sun/Mon 25/26/27th September 2010
Buckby Top Lock to High House Wharf
6.2 Miles 7 Locks.

Saturday.     This morning was cold but bright as we filled the water tank, it didn't take long, we were then ready to go.  One of the top gates at Buckby top lock was already open so Jayne walked the short distance with her Lock windlass, the boat moored behind asked if we would mind them sharing, which was good as 2 Narrowboats in a wide lock are easy to control where just 1 moves around.

Whilton Bottom Lock, solid engineering.

At the last of the 7 locks outside Whilton Chandlery I made use of the recycling bins for newspaper and glass, leaving the lock I had trouble getting Jayne back onboard due to a boater who thought it was a good idea to tie up on the lock moorings.

Thank's Mate.

We carried on to our planned mooring opposite the the touring Caravan field just before High House Wharf, there were 3 boats already there so we are not the only one's who think it' a good place to moor.

Sunday.   I cycled into Nether Heyford for a newspaper this morning, they have a One Stop shop there which is open 6am till 10pm every day.
We had a late Breakfast, after the washing up was done the inside of the windows got a good clean along with the Shower. I also got the fire ready as we think we will need to light it soon, fortunately we have plenty of coal on board, for the last couple of weeks I have been checking for fallen trees along the Canal which we could log up, nothing so far but the chainsaws ready to go, problem is we are not the only one's looking !!.

The Cheese Boat came past in the afternoon heading for the Village at War, the trade boats have a choice next weekend with the event at Stoke Bruerne and the Banbury Canal Day.

Jayne keeps herself busy knitting, and, according to other knitters is very good at it, this summer she has been busy knitting children's hats and coats, these are then sent/taken to my Mother and Aunt who live in the same small village near Shrewsbury and sold to raise funds for the Lingen Davies Cancer Relief Fund at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital 

The next consignment awaiting delivery.

Monday.  What a horrible day, light rain dull and miserable, we are fortunate that we don't have to move, we can wait until tomorrow when the forecast is better, the boaters that are on holiday or weekenders are not so lucky and have to stand on the back of the boat steering and operating Locks in all conditions, we always wave as they pass. 

We are looking forward to tomorrows journey, 10 miles, no Locks and the Blisworth Tunnel, emerging into one of the best Canal Villages on the Waterways.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Stocking Up

Thursday/Friday 23/24th September 2010
Braunston to Buckby Top Lock
4.5 Miles 6 Locks & 1 Tunnel.

Thursday.  As we were about to un-tie our ropes this morning another boat went passed, I enquired if they were going up Braunston Locks, which they were, I said we would share with them and followed about 2 boat lengths behind, we past the Marina and under the bridge, then, without warning another boat pulled out from their mooring and got between us and the boat we intended to share the Locks with, they made some excuse that they thought we were mooring up, anyway they ended up grabbing our Lock, not to worry another boat was now behind, nb Ruby, so we shared the 6 Locks with them.
Ruby is a 39 ft Chinese manufactured boat from a company called East West Marine and sold by Whilton Marine, they are a strange design in that the cabin sides are vertical where normally the cabin sides slope inwards towards the roof, to clear the arch shape of bridges, tunnels and the overhang of the gates when entering a Lock,  the owner of Ruby was certainly aware of this when negotiating the Braunston tunnel, being very careful when meeting another boat.

We moored at the end of the 48 hour mooring before Buckby Top Lock and close to the New Inn  pub where we will be eating tonight, I spent the afternoon washing the roof of No Direction and Jayne organised a Tesco delivery for Friday.

The meal at the New Inn was excellent and there was a good atmosphere as well, we got back on board just in time to miss the rain, so a good night all round. 

Friday.  The wet and blustery weather from last night stayed with us this morning, all the other boats on the mooring moved off, the Tesco van arrived on time and pulled up right next to No Direction, much to the amazment of two hire boats crews who were watching, the supplies came straight in through the side door onto the table, so the cupboards, freezer and fridge are now full again ready for our stay at Stoke Bruerne where we will be for the Village at War Weekend at the beginning of October.

Dad,s Army at last year,s Village at War Weekend.

Reading the publicity on the website the replica Mk IX Spitfire looks exciting, for £35 you can sit in the cockpit, fiddle with the controls, start the engine and even fire the guns, sounds a bargain to us old age schoolboys.  The Spitfire reminds me of chap I used to work with, Martin Lawson who spent many weekends as a volunteer at RAF Coningsby helping to maintain a Lancaster Bomber, for his birthday his family managed to organise a flight in a two seater Spitfire Trainer, we never heard the last of it.

Martin,s at the rear.

There will also be a number of Historic Working Boats at Stoke Bruerne including Nutfield and Raymond  and with 2 pubs including the famous Boat Inn it should be a good weekend.

The weather for Saturday looks OK so the plan is to move down the 7 Buckby Locks and on past Weedon for the weekend.