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.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Another One Gone.

Saturday, 17th, December, 2011.

This is the Plough at Huddlesford Junction on the Coventry Canal which has been closed since the end of September, we were in here on the Friday before the "Huddlesford Gathering" weekend a couple of days before it closed and thought it was expensive, £10 for a plate of pasta covered with a sauce, beer at £3.50 a pint comes as a bit of a shock to us Wetherspooner's. The Plough tried to be an up market dining pub which obviously didn't work.

The owners, Enterprise Inns have a guide rent of £38,000 p.a. for it on their website and claim it is under offer.

The new Kings Orchard Marina just down the Canal from the Plough may bring a bit more business for the pubs new tennants when they re-open but it looks a long way off yet, this was the state of play last Monday with builders working on the service block/office.

I took this picture from the towpath, notice the freshly cut thorn hedge, this can only mean one thing for a towpath cyclist, and it did. 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Undecided About These Things.

Thursday, 15th December, 2011.

These are the new safety handrails recently fitted to the bridge across middle lock Fradley, it seems strange that health and safety requires hand rails here but not for the steep and worn stone steps with the metal trip hazard in the bottom of the picture.

Safety rails are also being fitted to Keepers lock at Fradley which has a similar bridge.

The final version will hopefully look a bit better .

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Lighting Up.

Tuesday, 13th December, 2011.

We put our Christmas lights up today, well we put one set up yesterday but the second set didn't work and required a bit of fettling with the soldering iron today.

I also had to carry out emergency repairs to the bird table which had suffered in the wind.

Winter is certainly creeping up on us, no ice on the Marina yet, just a bit on the roof of the boat and car windscreen in the morning.

Jumped on the train into Birmingham last Friday for a look around, the Bull outside the Bullring shopping centre was feeling the cold as he now has his jumper on.

Not many boats around the city centre canals, in fact I only spotted two moored and one on the move, not many people either, probably due to the rain and wind howling through the bridges. 

Being moored close to Lichfield means we have two Wetherspoon pubs a short drive away, last Thursday we were in the Acorn for curry night which we though was less than average, but tonight we were in the other Wetherspoons, the Gatehouse for Steak night and it got 9 out of 10.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Where's Winter?.

Saturday, 3rd, December, 2011.

Not that we're complaining about this mild weather, the longer it lasts the less coal and logs we need to burn, the stocks we built up earlier in the year are lasting well.

Stoveheat Smokeless stored in our shed which we rent at Kings Bromley Marina.

Logs almost ready for the fire.

We've added a link to the blog so that you can see some of our short video's on YouTube. 

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

We've Been Busy.

Wednesday, 30th, November, 2011.

Our mooring at Kings Bromley Marina is known as an end mooring, this simply means although we have a boat moored on one side of us on the other side we have a clear view.  We look out onto a grassy area with a picnic bench, bird table and small trees, over the years the brambles had grown thick and were covering one of the trees so yesterday Jayne and I set to with secateurs and removed the brambles, it was then that we found the tree had rotted through at ground level and it was only the brambles that was holding it up, so as well as removing four garden truck loads of brambles we also removed a small tree.

Before we started.

And after.

Today we drove over to Shrewsbury to visit my Mother and take her shopping, as the route takes us along the A5 we made a small detour to Wheaton Aston and filled two Jerry cans with Red Diesel at Turners Garage, the price was 76p Ltr.

The Christmas decorations are starting to go up around the Marina with one boat having had lights on the roof since the middle of November, that's way to early for us, ours will go up a week or so before the 25th.

Got to go now as Frozen Planet is on at 9 o'clock, it's what High Definition T.V. was invented for.

Monday, 21 November 2011


Monday, 21, November, 2011.

No, not human visitors, I don't encourage those as they eat all the biscuits, these visitors were covered in feathers.

First we have a Muscovy Duck which has moved onto the Marina, we think it may have been a pet that made a bid for freedom as it's quite happy to have it's back stroked and eat from a handheld bowl.

Then we had a Kingfisher arrive and spend 3 or 4 minutes perched on a tree next to our mooring before zipping off on another fishing trip.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Time For Another Blog.

Wednesday, 16th November, 2011.

Time goes by so quickly, we've had a letter from British Waterways reminding us that No Direction will need a B.S.S. inspection next February as it will be four years old, that four years certainly whizzed by.

Out cycling yesterday down past Fradley, very quiet as two of the Fradley locks are closed for maintenance, the work appears to be being carried out by British Waterways staff rather than contractors.

Middle Lock, Fradley.

And Shadehouse Lock.

We have been given access to a small coppice with plenty of fallen tree's, it's about 12 miles away and two visits with Chainsaw and car has filled our shed at Kings Bromley Marina with wood that is almost ready to burn.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

We're Back

Saturday 22nd, October 2011.

We're back from our little holiday in Cornwall which included amongst other things a visit to the Eden Project, I found the temperature and humidity of the Rain Forest Domes a bit overpowering.

Big Greenhouse's

Plenty of jobs to do on the boat as winter approaches, the fires going now burning some of the logs we've been drying all summer, lovely free heat.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Plenty Of Mud In The Canals.

Sunday, 16, October, 2011.
Moored in Kings Bromley Marina.

Not much to blog about sat here in the Marina so I will attempt to answer a question about Dredging the Canals which was asked by blogger Halfie back in September.

The Dredging machine in Hafie's pictures is being operated by George Wain who happens to have a boat moored 4 berths away from us at Kings Bromley Marina, we only see him at weekends as he stays in a Caravan close to where he's working during the week. Today I asked the question, how do you know how deep to go when dredging, the answer was simple, he marks the jib of the dredger and then dredges until the mark is level with the surface of the water, the standard dredged depth is 1.35 Metre's, I'm sure years of dredging experience plays a large part in the job too.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Let There Be Light

Wednesday, 12th, October, 2011.
Fazeley to Kings Bromley Marina.
13.25 Miles  3 Lock's  1 Swing Bridge.

We have seen more maintenance on the Canal's in the last couple of days than we saw in 6 months last year.

Tuesday, British Waterways (B.W.) men had dredged the top 3 side ponds of Atherstone Locks and were in the process of rodding out the culverts, whether they intend on re-instating the paddles and using them again I don't know.  Then as we left the bottom lock another B.W. man was approaching with a large pot of grease and a brush to lube the paddle gear.

Today, just after we had passed through Huddlesford on the Coventry Canal we found a B.W. work boat in the middle of the canal, the driver signaled for us to stop and wait while they finished removing bits of tree from the water, after we had passed it was like entering a new waterway, the width had doubled now that all the overhanging trees and other vegetation had gone, it was like someone had switched the light on.
We found the biggest difference was the section where the canal runs parallel with the A38 by Streethay Wharf, this bit was one way traffic when we came pass last month but now 2 boats can pass easily.

The new double width Coventry Canal along side the A38. 

Then, if that wasn't enough 2 more B.W. people were walking the towpath with handheld computers checking boat licences, lets hope it continues.

We are now back in the Marina for the winter but we haven't stopped travelling just yet as next Monday we are off down to Cornwall ( by car ) for a few days to visit the Eden Project.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

We Need Rain.

Tuesday, 11th October, 2011.
Sutton Stop to Fazeley
21.5 Miles  13 Locks.

We left our overnight moorings at 7.00 this morning just as it was getting light, after 15 minutes a  Cyclist went past and shouted that a boat was blocking the canal ahead.

Just what we needed.

We nudged up to it, I held it while Jayne reversed, we couldn,t just push it as its stern was still tied to the jetty, we then got stuck on the mud, after a few blasts on the horn someone appeared from a house and between us we got it back into the side, next time I will select ramming speed and carry on.

We then had a clear run to Atherstone top lock and went down the flight in good time.  As we left the bottom lock we found the water level 12 inches down so we had a slow journey to Glascote Locks.

Who pulled the plug out ?

Along the way we past Pooley Hall, in 1989 I was cycling along the towpath here, looked up at the top of the building to see American soul singer Edwin Starr waving, he owned the place and I think he fancied himself as the local Squire.

Part of Pooley Hall.

We are now moored on the Visitor moorings at Fazeley opposite Peel Wharf, we won't be starting off so early tomorrow as we only have around a 5 hour journey back to the Marina.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Moving Again.

Monday, 10th,October,2011.
Braunston to Sutton Stop.
20.5 Miles, 4 Locks.

Off at first light today and in bright, dry, and very windy weather, down the 3 Hillmorton lock's following another boat, with 2 boat's coming up we didn't waste to much water.

The rest of today's journey has been uneventfull with very few boats around.

Don't moor on this side of the Canal.

Late afternoon we turned onto the Coventry Canal and moored on the Visitor mooring's at Sutton Stop (Hawkesbury Junction) just in front of Val and Micheal Lee on nb Thistle, we have also used our new mooring leg's for the first time.

New toy's in position.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Weekend.

Moored at Braunston.

We have been here at Braunston since Wednesday and tomorrow we start back to Kings Bromley. The reason for our stay has been to help with the maintenance of the 1936 working boat Nutfield which is run and maintained by the Charity Friends of Raymond.

Along with all other boats on the Canals Nutfield is required to have an safety inspection every 4 years and due to it's age Nutfield's hull get a very detailed examination by an experienced and qualified marine surveyor. The main part of the inspection involves measuring the thickness of the steel plating using an Ultra Sonic device which measures down to 1/100th of a Millimetre, fortunately the hull although thinning in places will be OK for a couple more years.

The hold of Nutfield, I have just refitted the floor sections as they had to be lifted during the hull inspection.

After the inspection was completed the hull gets a coat of blacking to help preserve it.

And then most of the other bits get some attention, Robin paints the Counter. 

During the last days of Commercial Carrying on the canals Nutfield, along with the Butty Raymond (a Butty is a unpowered boat towed behind one with a motor)  was used to carry Coal from Atherstone in Warwickshire to Southall in London, it was known to the boat people as the Jam Ole Run because the Coal was used to fire the boilers at the Kearley and Tonge jam factory, it all ended in October 1970, the two boats were operated by Arthur and Rose Bray, and Rose's stepson Ernie, a Plaque outside Braunston Marina reminds visitors of their lives.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Back At Braunston.

Wednesday, 5th, October, 2011.
Long Buckby to Braunston.
4.5 Miles 6 Locks.

Not many boats travelling in our direction today as we headed for Braunston, we arrived at Braunston top lock and found 3 boats coming up in the same lock (2 were very short), after they came out we went in and waited for another boat as requested by British waterways to save water although we new nothing was behind as we would have seen their light in the tunnel.

We had only been in the lock 5 minutes when 2 more boats wanted to come up so they emptied the lock with us in it so no water wasted there and it was the same at the next 3 with boats coming up, at lock 2 the Volunteer Look Keeper opened the gate for us, he knew there were no boats following so locked us down on our own, same at Lock 1, as usual we had to buy an Organic loaf from the small shop by the lock.

We are now moored outside the Boathouse pub until Monday as from the 1st of October the moorings here change from 48 hours to 14 days.

The wind is really blowing now although it is still warm in the sheltered spots.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Back To Reality

Monday/Tuesday, 3rd/4th October 2011.
Stoke Bruerne to Long Buckby.
16.5 Miles 9 Locks.

Monday we moved up the 2 Stoke Bruerne locks and moored just past the Museum, Jayne had the washing machine on twice and we enjoyed the last of the warm weather.

Tuesday we needed fleeces on as we were back to October temperatures, I set off just as it was getting light while Jayne was still in bed, I enjoy going through Blisworth Tunnel early as all the smoke and fumes from the previous day have been blown away.

The Blacksmiths, in early light.

Original brick lining inside Blisworth Tunnel.

And the new precast concrete middle section.

After stopping at the services at Gayton Junction and later at Rugby Boats for Diesel we arrived at Buckby bottom lock and found a Willow Wren hireboat waiting for a second boat to share to flight with so we went all the way up with an Australian family, they carried on to Braunston and we moored up on the visitor moorings just past the New Inn pub, which is where we went tonight.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Pass The Sun Lotion.

Saturday/Sunday,1st/2nd October 2011.
Moored at Stoke Bruerne.


The first day of the Village at War weekend has been busy, mainly due to this mad weather, I felt sorry for the people in WW2 army uniforms marching around they really did look hot.

Early morning at Stoke Bruerne.

Both the pubs here were standing room only and the queue for the Burger Bar seem to go on for ever, there were plenty of visitors to the "Black Market Field" where you could buy Forties clothes, Military Uniforms, old fashion sweets and popcorn.

We also had visitors, Jayne's sister Pam and the family came for a day out and her brother David also turned up.


Another scorcher and even more people around, Jayne helped out in the admission marque handing out programmes in the morning and I spent more time on the boats

We were supposed to see a fly past of a Hawker Hurricane Fighter but due to "Technical Difficulties" that didn't happen so we had to make do with a Westland Lysander.

Best I could do, people kept talking to me as I was trying to get a better picture.

Trip Boat Charlie was very busy both days.

Tomorrow we will move up the 2 locks and moor by the Museum, as the event was so busy most of the visiting boats are double breasted (2 boats moored side by side) we have nb Percy owned by Vintage engine specialist Tony Redshaw moored up against us so we will have to wait until they go before we can move.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

We Feel Really Sorry - - - -

- - - for all you lot who still have to go to work in weather like this, but don't worry we're enjoying it for you.

Yesterday evening we helped put a large Marquee up in one of the fields which will be used this weekend as part of the Village at War Festival, don't know what's going in it but we will find out Saturday.

Today we went for a walk, Stoke Bruerne is a real visitor honeypot, there's always plenty of people around, some with tape recorders (or the modern equivalent) pinned to their ear as they follow the tour route down past the locks one side of the canal, cross over the bridge at back up the other side to the Village.

We went up towards the Tunnel and had a look in the Blacksmith's workshop, it's run by Bob Nightingale in a building know as the "Tug Store" close to the Tunnel, Bob is hard of hearing due to forty years of hammering and banging so he needs to see your face for a bit of lip reading.

He has various bits of his work on display and we bought these "things" in the picture below.

They are for mooring up against Piling or Armco what ever it's called, we normally use chains which pass around the Armco and the mooring rope goes through a ring on the chain, the problem is that you have to get down really low to get the chain in position, I toppled into the Canal three years ago whilst mooring at Weedon and nearly went in again a couple of days ago.

These mooring legs, as I have now decided to call them, drop down through the Armco and due to their length and weight stay in position, you can also pass the rope through the eye before you drop them into the Armco, I have only seen one other boater using them although the Blacksmith did say that some hireboats have them.

While I carried our "mooring legs" back to the boat Jayne stayed around the Museum area, there was a reporter/cameraman with his equipment set up taking videos of what was going on, he was interviewing Geraldine from the Cheese Boat as we went past and then he caught Jayne and asked her a few question's, the last time I saw him he was stood in front of the camera doing his final piece, a very professional one man reporting crew, he was from Anglia Television which is broadcast in this area so we will watch the local news tomorrow night.

This afternoon we sat out on the towpath next to the boat watching the world go by, the whole length of towpath between locks 15 and 16 is now full with moored boats so we will probably have someone moored along side soon, with this weather forecast to last over the weekend it looks like it's going to be busy.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

2 For 1 For 1

Monday/Tuesday, 26th/27th September, 2011.
Braunston to Stoke Bruerne.
21 Miles 15 Locks + 4 locks to turn round.


We left Braunston around 9.30 and found another boat waiting in the first lock of the Braunston flight, this was good timing as British Waterways are asking boaters to share these locks due to water shortages, we went up the six locks together, we met two hire boats coming down at one lock with the crew opening the bottom gates for us, some hireboat crews know exactly what they are doing.  Through Braunston Tunnel, it was the driest we have ever known it with no water coming down the ventilation shafts or through the brickwork.

I spotted this wide beam on Sunday but didn't see it come past,but it must have done as it was at the top of the Braunston Flight. 

We stopped on the visitor moorings at the top of Buckby locks  for a late breakfast/early lunch, I also filled the water tank and emptied the cassettes. There was a Lockeeper on duty trying make sure boats shared the locks, again, due to water shortages however he must have missed the hireboat crew who came up the top lock on their own, tied up on the lock moorings and went to the pub for lunch. 

Convenient mooring for the pub.

With the top lock full we went in and waited for another boat, one soon arrived but wanted to fill the water tank so we had a 20 minute wait, the hireboat crew were watching closely whilst eating their lunch outside the pub, when the other boat had finished filling the tank they headed for the lock, one of the hireboat crew jumped up and came to see what was going to happen as I don't think he knew two boats could fit in the same lock.

We went down the rest of the flight with the same boat and carried on to Weedon for the night,  there's a Marstons 2 for 1 Pub next to the Canal, the Heart of England so we decided to have a meal there, we went in at 6.05 and ordered a starter and main, on the next table was a elderly gentleman who was on his own, when his order arrived there were 2 X Steak and chips on separate plates, well it was 2 for 1 with no mention that there needed to be 2 people dining, he polished off the first plate and then slid the second one into position and enjoyed that one as well.

No such luck for us as, having waited 30 minutes for the starter and then another 45 for the main we enquired where it was, the waitress returned to say that it was just being " Plated Up", (sounds like an industrial process), another 10 minutes past and still no food, then another member of staff arrived to say it would be another 10 minutes, "No it won't mate we're off", they didn't charge us for the starters, I think they were too embarassed.


After a quick stop at bridge 32 so that we could get to the "One Stop" shop in Nether Heyford for milk we had a very pleasant journey, sun shining, blue skies and very little wind, through the Blisworth Tunnel, (this one was very wet) and back out into brilliant sunshine.

Always plenty of Gongoozlers at Stoke Bruene top lock.

We went down 4 of the 7 Stoke Bruerne locks to where we could wind (turn around) then back up 2 and moored in what is known as the long pound below lock 2, we will be here until after the weekend.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Around Braunston.

Sunday, 25th September 2011.
Moored at Braunston.

Walking around Braunston Marina and the Junction today, here are a few pictures.

The 1937 Narrowboat Dover, subject of a Television Series about it's rebuild in 2005, perhaps the rebuild wasn't that good after all as it's now out of the water having the hull over-plated.

The large property at the Junction is going to auction, guide price £190,000 +, it doesn,t seem to have any road access though.

Couldn,t find any info on Savills website about it.

Move over Fatty

A Broad beam boat came down from Wigrams Turn and moored outside Midland
 Swindlers Chandlers, they didn,t come past us so they must have gone back towards Wigrams.

There's been a Lock Keeper on duty at Braunston bottom lock this weekend to ensure that 2 boats share the double locks to save water, I walked up and spoke to him this afternoon, I asked if there was someone at the top lock telling boaters to share the locks but surprisingly there wasn't, so you could come down the locks on your own but not go up !! we will find out in the morning when we go up the flight.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Settled For The Weekend.

Saturday, 24th, September, 2011.
Hillmorton to Braunston.
6.5 Miles.

At honeypot moorings such as Braunston we try to arrive  between 10.30 to 11.30, the hire boats from the previous night will have gone and hopefully we find a slot, so it was today as we rounded the bend off the Oxford and spotted a suitable space on the visitor moorings just before the pub.
Two moorings ahead of us is nb Hyskier owned by Pete and Dave, they were just returning from the shop as I was on my way for some fresh bread.

First job after lunch was to re-align the front fender which had moved to the side a bit then the engine had an oil change and new filter.

Tonight we visited the Boathouse with Pete and Dave and had a very good evening.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Brass Monkey Weather.

Friday, 23rd September, 2011.
Nuneaton to Hillmorton.
21.25 Miles 4 Locks.

Yes it was cold, I started off at 7 o'clock and didn't think it was to bad but an hour later the wind had picked up and it was bitter.

We had a fairly trouble free journey, British Waterways are repairing the towpath at Ansty and had 2 work boats almost blocking the Cut but we squeezed through.

You always know when you are approaching Sutton Stop (Hawksbury Junction) the locals glow.
Why do people do this to their garden ?.

Is it a toy lorry or a real one?.

Bridge 15 on the North Oxford Canal which was  demolished in May is being tidied up nicely,
just needs a bit of graffiti to finish the job.

This was it in May when we went past.

Not that many boats around until we reached the outskirts of Rugby then it increased, we past Paul off nb Piston Broke, looked like he was walking back from the shops, Lynne must be away for the weekend.

We arrived at Hillmorton Locks at 3.10 and were second in a queue, as I waited on the lock moorings at the second lock while a boat descended, a "Canal Break" hire boat came out of Grantham Boat Services, the steerer had obviously received next to no training or instructions and started heading for the lock even though a boat was about to emerge, I shouted to the crew that there was a queue for the lock which seemed to surprise the steerer who selected neutral, I then told him that if he wished to slow down or stop then reverse would be good, eventually he got the idea and reversed back allowing the other boat to leave the lock and we went in.

Due to water shortages (they are back pumping at Hillmorton) only the towpath side of the dual locks were open, there was a British Waterways lock keeper there but he didn't seem very interested as he had taken his life jacket off and was eating a yogurt, perhaps he had finished for the day.

We are now moored on the visitor moorings above the top lock, after we had tied up 2 "Willow Wren" hire boats went past full of male twenty somethings, half of them standing on the roof with bottles of Lager. (Lager, a beer like substance, credit to Jim on Starcross for that description)

Tomorrow we hope to moor at Braunston amongst the brass polishing rivet counters for the weekend.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Off Again

Wednesday/Thursday, 21/22nd September, 2011.
Kings Bromley Marina to Nuneaton..
27.25 Miles, 16 Locks.


We left later than planned on Wednesday, found a queue at Woodend Lock, our first of the day but at the next lock the queue had disappeared, it's just a very slow lock, we stopped for the night at Fazeley after a day battling the strong wind.


We had an early start today and got to Atherstone bottom lock at 10.45, no queue, we had a steady climb up the flight meeting a few boats coming down, we used the side pound at lock 6, the only one that works, a boat pulled out from a mooring in front of us as we approached lock 5 so that slowed us a bit but we still cleared the 11 locks in 2 hours 20 minutes.
We used to think the Atherstone locks were a pain but we've now done them so many times we quite like them.

Along the visitor moorings above the locks stands this sign.

A local walking their dog said that they have never seen a British Waterways boat moored there and they think  that it is the person who owns the house who has put it there to deter boats from mooring at the bottom of there garden, if they have, it certainly looks like the real thing.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A Good Night

Tuesday, 20th, September 2011.

Tonight, along with our friends Debbi and Tony  who also have a boat at Kings Bromley Marina went to the Old Peculiar at Handsacre (by car), a good family run pub just a short walk from bridge 58 on the Trent and Mersey Canal, Jayne and Deb said their Gammon was a bit salty, Tony's steak was ok and my curry was excellent.

The beer wasn't bad either.

Tomorrow we are off Cruising again, destination, Stoke Bruerne.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Ready For Take Off.

Tuesday, 20th September, 2011.

The picture below was taken back in April, the resident Marina Swans had produced 7 eggs.

7 to start with.

In May there were 5  (1 behind the adult on the right.)

5 hatched but only 3 made it through the summer, they have now grown to be almost the same size as there parents.

The 3 that made it.

This week we have watched them being shown how to take off by the parents, when they have mastered this the adults will chase them off the Marina, they will then have to fend for themselves.