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.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

An Evocative Experience.

Saturday 29th September 2012.
Moored at Stoke Bruerne.
for the Village at War weekend.

At 1.15 this afternoon the sound of two Spitfires approaching stopped the crowds along the towpath in their tracks, the planes came over us quite low, then climbed away, arcing, one to the left, one to the right.

The one which had gone right then returned and gave us a superb display, including a loop, the whole thing probably only lasted five minutes and after they had disappeared from sight and the noise of their engines faded you could have heard a pin drop, everyone around being silenced by the sight and sound of two of the worlds most iconic aircraft.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Best Not To Drill That Mate.

Thursday/Friday 27/28th September 2012
Moored at Stoke Bruerne.
for the "Village at War" weekend.

Thursday morning the Marquee was still standing so we attached the sides and hammered the pegs in a bit further.

Still standing and the sides are on.
On Friday someone built a low stage, laid the small dance floor and placed straw bales around the edge, I didn't see the floor or the bales going down as I was assisting building an Air Raid shelter (first time for everything) under the spare arch of the bridge, we needed to hang camouflage nets from the bridge and had the idea of using screws until it was pointed out that the bridge is a listed structure, big screws and hammer drills were a bad idea, so another solution was found.
Tonight we were in the Navigation Inn which was packed, fortunately Jayne had booked a table.  One of the reasons it was so busy, beside the excellent food was a live show by Lola Lamour a singer who specialises in 1920 to 1950 songs, not my cup of tea (far to quiet) but a lot of people were enjoying the show, dancing with some wearing period clothes.
We've been promised two Spitfires from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight giving a flypast and display tomorrow afternoon, hope the weather is clear.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A Difficult Erection.

Wednesday 26th September 2012
Moored at Stoke Bruerne.

Five blokes trying to erect a 40ft x 20ft Marquee in the dark, and yes, I was one of them.

In response to an Email from the organisers of this weekends Village at War event we all gathered on the Museum green in the rain at 5.30 this afternoon, actually there were two of us, eventually we  grew to be five, still no where near enough to get this monster tent up.

We laid it all out on the grass and all pulled on the ropes to bring the uprights from horizontal to vertical, all going well but we couldn't hold it and down it went.

We laid it all out again and asked three people off a hireboat who I think were on their way to the pub if they could give a hand, two of them were willing but the third said he had a bad back, so with seven of us we just about managed to get it up and hammer in enough pegs for the guy ropes to keep it up.

By now it was dark so the headlights from a pick up truck was used to light the area, we could now get enough done so it could be left and finished off tomorrow.

It doesn't look that big in the picture but the top is 12 feet high,
we're fitting the sides tomorrow, in the daylight.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Wrong Roade.

Tuesday 25th September 2012
Moored at Stoke Bruerne.
Today we needed supplies, the Boat Inn sells milk and bread, but the bread is frozen, and when frozen bread thaws out it loses its taste, well it does to us, ok for toast but not for anything else.
So a quick look at the OS map for an interesting cycle route to Roade, the nearest Village with a shop and it shows an off road route, just my sort of bike ride.

The route goes up the path by the tunnel where it joins a tarmac road for a couple of hundred yards before a right turn onto a mile long Bridleway into Roade.
The Bridleway was muddy to say the least, but I returned triumphant with two fresh loaves, although I may use a different road to Roade next time.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Getting Wet.

Sunday/Monday 23/24th September 2012.
Buckby to Stoke Bruerne.
16 Miles and 6 Locks.

Originally we planned to arrive at Stoke Bruerne on Monday or Tuesday but after seeing the weather forecast decided to get going on Sunday morning and keep going all the way.
It stayed dry for the six locks but started to rain shortly after we passed Weedon and continued for the rest of the day, through Sunday night and only stopped around 3 o'clock today.

We past Rugby Boats at Stowe Hill, our second favourite diesel
supplier after Turners at Wheaton Aston, we'll fill up on our return.

We emerged from Blisworth Tunnel, turned at the winding hole and reversed back to a spot which I had previously calculated we could get a dish signal through a gap in the trees, the thought nightmare of living with Jayne for a week with no tele would be unbearable.

Normally none Historic Narrowboats attending the Village at War event are asked to moor below the second lock, however this is to far for Jayne to walk so she uses her electric scooter and in the past has had difficulty getting up the ramp by the lock due to the raised bricks which were originally to help horses get grip, so this year we're staying above the locks, last June when we were here I discussed it with Graham the harbour master for the event and he agreed it would be ok, the only thing we struggle for in our present position is a signal for Jayne's phone.  

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Ouch !!

Saturday 22nd September 2012
Braunston to Buckby
5 Miles and 7 Locks.

The dented bow of Aldgate, an Historic Boat owned by Nick Wolfe,
one of the nicest people and competent boat handlers on the waterways.
The chalk message says "Damaged caused by Rose Hire Boat"
 I don't think Nick's very happy and hope he makes a claim.

Today we left Braunston, which has been quiet over the last two days with mooring space always available, however today it became very busy and we joined a procession of boats up the six locks and through the Tunnel where we met four oncoming boats and managed to pass all of them without making contact.

We found two volunteer lockies on the flight, the first a jolly chatty man, the second, a miserable one, although we never saw either of them actually assisting anyone working the locks, they seemed more the observing and advising type. 

Leaving Lock 5.

We stopped at the water point opposite the now closed pub at Buckby and while there saw a bit of stupid behaviour although the people concerned probably didn't realise it. Firstly they parked their car across the path so people using the lock had to walk on the grass and then they went and sat on the edge of the lock to eat their sandwiches, people using the lock had to walk round them, unfortunately they left before we used the lock so denied me the chance of dropping a wet rope on them.

We had planned to moor above Buckby Top Lock, plenty of room now the pub has closed we thought, but found no space so dropped down one lock and have moored up until tomorrow.

Where Have The Volunteers Gone.

Friday 21st September 2012.
Moored at Braunston.

Since we left the Marina towards the end of August we have not seen one Volunteer Lock Keeper, last year and earlier this year we saw plenty.

We've come up the Wolverhampton 21, down Lapworth and Hatton flight's and up Stockton and not seen one Volunteer at any of them, I know a lot of boaters don't like other people working the locks but we've found them useful on the Buckby Locks with those heavy gates.

I walked up the Braunston locks yesterday and found a CRT Volunteer with a little information display by the the Admiral Nelson pub, I don't think he was a Chugger as he didn't chase after me.

Perhaps the Volunteers will be out at the weekend, we're going up the  Braunston Locks tomorrow so we'll see, I hope they haven't all got fed up and left. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

New Blogger

Thursday 20th September 2012
Moored up, not happy.

Well we knew it was coming but I still don't like it. I'm now going out onto the Towpath to stamp my feet and kick things.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Back on the Busy Bit.

Wednesday 19th September 2012.
Long Itchington to Flecknoe.
7 Miles and 13 Locks.

Why are there so few boats on the Grand Union Canal between Birmingham and Wigrams Turn ?. Today we came up the Stockton and Calcutt locks on our own and only met 4 boats coming towards us.

Bridge 24, in our guide book it's called "New Bridge"
it's in such a bad way it's being held up by steel bracing.
The Blue Lias pub, we'll check this one next year.
Stockton Locks, close together and easy to work.
We past the Narrowboat that sells and repairs 
 bicycle's, it doesn't appear to have a website.
Napton Reservoirs nice and full.
We turned left at Wigrams and headed towards Braunston although we're not intending to moor there until tomorrow, so we've stopped close to bridge 102.
We have though, found out where all the boats are, there all chugging up and down the Oxford Canal (the Grand Union bit) between Braunston and Wigrams, we've seen more boats moving in one afternoon than we've seen since leaving Birmingham.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Outside Another Pub.

Tuesday 18th September 2012
Fosse Locks to Long Itchington
3.5 Miles and 7 locks inc a Staircase.

Late start today as we only planned a short journey, we found the double staircase lock at Bascote in particularly poor condition, the towpath side paddle wasn't working at the middle gate with the now familiar bin liner and yellow aware tape around it, the gates were leaking badly as well, giving the front of the boat a good wash off.

Continuing our gruelling voluntary work as surveyor's of canal side pubs  we've moored very close to the Two Boats at Long Itchington, a few hundred yards from No Directions birth place, ColeCraft Engineering.

Moored outside the Two Boats.
Inside the Two Boats, boater size meals again.
There aren't many advantages to being old, but at the Two Boats on Mon/Tues/Wednesday they offer 10% discount on food if you confess to being over 55, the only thing I found surprising was that they didn't ask us for proof !.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Rounding the Cape.

Monday 17th September 2012.
The Cape to Fosse Locks.
6 Miles and 5 Locks.

Not exactly rounding the Cape but we did pass it today, the Cape of Good Hope pub that is where we had a meal late yesterday afternoon.

The Cape is a proper old canalside pub which is family run, it has a good choice of beer and food with no silly prices, the food portions are large which is just as well as this is the first pub for boaters who have just descended the 21 Hatton Locks. Two things to remember, they stop serving food at 6.30 on Sunday evening and don't drink to much as the only way back from the pub to the visitor moorings is over the lock gates.

 There are boats outside but they looks a bit different to these.
First call today was the water point just above the first lock, we had to wait for a boat to move off before we could get on, the boat left the water point and went straight into the lock, they also left the door to the taps wide open.  After 20 minutes when our tank was full I shut the door and found that they had left their key in the lock.
As we approached Tesco's at Warwick I spotted the boat moored up so shouted across "Have you lost anything" they didn't even know they had left the keys behind and the lady immediately  blamed her husband.
We had to make a stop at Tesco's as the freezer was looking a bit bare, Jayne did the shopping while I took a bag of tins and bottles to the recycling point in the car park.

We had intended to go a bit further today than we have done, but who cares, we live life at canal time.


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Hatton in the Sun

Saturday 15th September 2012.
Lapworth to The Cape.
8 Miles and 21 Locks.

The big job today was Hatton Locks, 21 wide locks spread over 2 miles, fortunately we started the day in bright sunshine and finished the same way.

First though it was Shrewley Tunnel, it's been 6 years since we last went through, I had forgotten how wet it was inside and didn't bother with a jacket.

Shrewley Tunnel with the small horse tunnel above.
We soon came to Hatton top lock and with no other boats around started down on our own, all the way down and we only met one boat coming up and never saw anyone following.
These locks are easy to work, fast to fill and empty even using just one paddle as were today, it's all due to the modernisation programme carried out in the thirties, pity they stopped.
As you would expect on a sunny weekend at a place like Hatton there were plenty of gongoozlers and photographers around most of them asking questions.
About halfway down.
As we were working down the second from last lock Jayne rang the Saltisford Canal Centre to enquire if they had space on their visitor moorings, yes was the reply but you may have to breast up, but when we arrived it turned out they had no space apart from a triple mooring which would be difficult for Jayne to cross over so we politely thanked them and left, we have now reverted to our original plan and moored by the Cape of Good Hope pub for the rest of the weekend. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Fast Cars and Slow Boats.

Friday 14th September 2012.
Hockley Heath to Lapworth.
4 Miles, 19 Locks and 2 Lift Bridges.

First off a picture of the car showroom opposite the Wharf Tavern where we ate last night, not just any car showroom but one full of very expensive McLaren cars.

Rybrook McLaren, if you need to
ask the price don't go in.

First obstacles today were 2 lift bridges, the first was quite easy but the second was hard work, strangely it seemed harder to lower it than to raise it.

We past Swallow Cruisers at Hockley Heath where we bought our
  Glass Fibre Cruiser in 1978, it was called Holwills Boatyard then.

Second delay was caused by a Narrowboat drifting across the canal, the rear rope had become detached, we squeezed past, I made a phone call as I recognised the boat but it turned out the owner was working on a cottage close by and had just been told.

We knew who the owner was and he really
 should know how to tie a boat up.
After this we headed off down the Lapworth Locks, the first 4 spaced out before 9 close together, at lock 10 or 11 we met our last obstacle in the form of Oak and Ash a pair of hotel boats operated by Reed Boats, the motor came through ok but the butty took ages, there seem to be enough crew but I think the guests wanted to help as well.
Waiting for the unpowered butty to be manhauled
out of the lock so we can go in.
We got going again after this delay and were doing well but being caught by a hireboat with 6 crew so after lock 14 we moored up for lunch and let them past, I think they needed to be back at the hirebase at Wootton Wawen tomorrow morning.

Looking back up the lock flight from lock 14
After lunch we set off down the remaining 6 locks and at the junction took the left fork onto the Lapworth Link where we're moored tonight.
That's where we're going.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Out of Town.

Thursday 13th September 2012.
Birmingham to Hockley Heath.
15 Miles, no locks, 1 electric lift bridge.

We left Birmingham at 9.15 this morning after a visit to the Sainsbury's Local in Broad Street, a typical city centre small supermarket, plenty of fruit and sandwiches on display for busy people in a hurry (although not us thankfully).

The wind was really cold first thing and being surrounded by tall buildings which kept the sun off us didn't help. Once we moved around the corner it warmed up.

It looks expensive and it was.
Leaving the City Centre, passing through what was the Warwick Bar.
Entering Edgbaston Tunnel with the Railway tunnel on the right.
It's the only canal tunnel I know of with lights.
Birmingham's answer to the Pontcysyllte.
We crossed the new Ariel Aqueduct at Selly Oak, the Aqueduct is named after the the Ariel Motorcycle Factory which used to be in Selly Oak but has long since gone.
The turn onto the Stratford Canal at Kings Norton is very tight for a 70 foot boat but we got round ok, who needs a bowthruster (I do).
Through the Guillotine lock (always open).
One thing we have noticed today is the amount of Graffiti on every flat surface, even this lock.
Jayne lowering Shirley Draw Bridge, today we managed
to hold up an old lady in her car and a motorcyclist.
Around 3.45 we moored at Hockley Heath by the Wharf Tavern, tonight we had an exellent meal in the pub at a very good price, the beer was also well priced for a canal side pub, Courage Directors, £2.80 a pint.

City Centre Mooring.

Wednesday 12th September 2012.
Moored in Birmingham.

On Wednesday morning we moved the boat from the half mooring we had on Tuesday night to  Brindley Place Moorings, a space had become vacant just inside the Oozells street loop, very few people walk past these moorings as it doesn't really lead anywhere, so it's quieter, although the noisiest thing we've heard moored in Birmingham is people talking (more like shouting) on mobile phones.

As I reversed onto the new mooring Paul Balmer was waiting to hand me one of his "Waterway Routes" leaflets, I think he was impressed that I knew he would be around, I had just read Sue,s blog so knew they had shared the Hatton flight and he was carrying on.

View from the side doors this morning looking out of the
Oozells street loop towards the N.I.A.
Early on Wednesday evening Jayne disappeared to meet a friend in the Pitcher and Piano for a meal, they returned later to say that the cost of a pint was £4.25 !!! 

On Thursday morning after a visit to Sainsburys to restock we'll be heading for Hockley Heath. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A Change of Plan.

Tuesday, 11th September, 2012.
Park Bridge moorings to Birmingham
via the Black Country Museum.
22.75 Miles and 25 Locks.

We left our overnight moorings by bridge 8 on the Shroppie early today and arrived at the bottom lock of the Wolverhampton 21 at 7.45, we found it set against us, great we thought they will all be against us now, but no our luck changed when we found a hireboat moored just above the lock, they had come down the flight late last night had moored there overnight, so after finding the bottom lock against us we found the next 20 empty so we could go straight in, as we left each lock I walked back and opened one of the bottom paddles to start emptying the lock for the boat following which happened to be "The Fudge Boat", we must have pulled out in front of them at Autherley Junction, although I did look and didn't see any boats. 

Jayne brings the boat into the top lock.
After leaving the top lock we stopped for a short while which gave me time to get down the weed hatch and remove the mornings rubbish from the prop, after that it was a steady run to Factory Junction where we turned right towards the Black Country Museum, the canal between this junction and the Museum is full of floating rubbish including a wardrobe although the water like most of the canals we've travelled today was crystal clear. 
Once at the Museum we found all the secure moorings full and didn't fancy what was left so winded (turned around) and headed back the way we came, there followed a quick discussion (team meeting) on our next move and decided to give this weekends Festival at Windmill End a miss which will allow us a slower journey to Stoke Bruerne for the Village at War weekend at the end of the month, so it was down Factory Locks and along the Birmingham Mainline.
Birmingham Main Line, wide and straight
 although not that deep surprisingly.
Leaving Coseley Tunnel.
We are now in Brum (Birmingham) for a couple of days, it's busier that I thought it would be in September, we're on half a mooring tied up with a stern and centre rope, there's a hire boat behind which will hopefully move in the morning so we can moor up properly.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Ready for the 21.

Monday, 10th September 2012.
Wheaton Aston to S.U.C.S. moorings, Park Bridge.
4.75 Miles and 1 Lock.

We had a Cormorant for company over the weekend here
 he or she is drying it's wings after a successful bit of fishing.

After a weekend at Wheaton Aston, today we shuffled across to Turners and filled with Diesel, it's is a busy place.

Unusual boat re-fuelling today.
After filling the fuel tanks it was a short hop to the services to empty those other tanks and fill with water, then up today's only lock  and onto the Shropshire Union Canal Society moorings between bridges 8 and 7.  We had a short burst of very heavy rain at lunch time just before we moored up, I managed to get a jacket on in time so not to wet.
Tomorrow we go up the Wolverhampton 21 and hopefully get to the Black Country Museum, well that's the plan.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Stopped for the Weekend

Friday 7th September 2012.
Gnosall to Wheaton Aston.
5 Miles and 0 Locks.

Today we arrived back at Wheaton Aston for the weekend as we have visitors Friday
 afternoon and plan to go to the Hartley Arms, it was my birthday yesterday so there's an excuse.

Our visitors arrived  at 3pm, everyone's hungry and we then find that the pub doesn't do food between 2.30 and 6 on weekdays so it was into our visitors car to find one that did, we ended up at The Spread Eagle on the A5.

On Monday we'll fill the Diesel tanks at Turners and move closer to Autherley Junction ready to go up the Wolverhampton locks Tuesday morning.

The only time you see Turners fuel
 Quay empty is when their closed.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Turn Around Time.

Wednesday/ Thursday 5/6th September 2012.
Wheaton Aston to Norbury and back to Gnosall.
13 Miles, 0 Locks.

A fine selection of Ducks on Wednesday morning at Wheaton Aston.

The plan on Wednesday was to moor by the Anchor Inn at High Offley, but as we passed through Norbury the sight of people sat outside the Wharf eating ice cream and others enjoying a pint at the Junction Inn got the better of us and with a 70ft gap on the visitor moorings just past the bridge, we gave in to temptation, we never got to the Anchor.

Wednesday night we enjoyed a meal in the Junction Inn, prices, food and service were very good and we've given it 85% on our pub rating system.

Thursday morning we winded (turned around) and headed back to Gnosall where we are now.

Leaving Norbury Wharf. ( Diesel price 77.5)

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Onto the Shroppie.

Tuesday 4th September 2012.
Gailey to Wheaton Aston.
15.5 Miles and 2 Locks.

Good mooring last night, the towpath has been
 built up using dredgings, the grass is growing well.

We set off early today, weather was a bit disappointing considering the forecast, at one time I could feel a bit of rain in the air but it didn't last.

Impressive row of Poplar trees as we approach the Junction.

We came up behind a hireboat which was moored at Autherley Junction just before the sharp right turn onto the Shroppie, I thought they were waiting for the lock but they asked the way to Morrisons so obviously not, a local gave them directions as we went round into the lock, we're a tight fit in that stop lock, having to lift the rear fender to get the bottom gate open.

About to leave Autherley stop lock and pass the hire fleet.
We are now moored on the visitor moorings at Wheaton Aston, Turners Garage has been busy all afternoon with boats queuing for Diesel (75.9), we'll fill up next Monday when we'll be here again.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Delays and Sun.

Monday 3rd September 2012.
Penkridge to Gailey.
3 Miles and 7 Locks.

We had a late start today after spending a pleasant weekend moored at Penkridge.  As we rose in Penkridge lock fellow blogger Shell Bell was waiting to descend and told us a CaRT maintenance crew were about to close the next lock to carry out repairs.

It only took 5 minutes to get there where we saw the boat in front waving us into the side as the lock was already closed.

Last night a boat had rammed into the top gate of Filance lock and damaged the wooden plank which you use to cross the gate, why a steerer would try and enter the lock with the gate closed is strange although a couple of boats, including a hireboat did come past us on Sunday evening when it was almost dark.

The plank was broken, the two half's only being held together by the metal strap around the edge and, the wood looked rotten, I was asked not to take a picture by one of the maintenance crew, he may have been camera shy or under orders from his boss to discourage anything negative (I have a suspicious mind).

Queueing below Filance Lock, we're out of sight around the corner.

We were held up about an hour and then went through the lock, top gate minus the crossing plank which had been removed rather that risk someone using it and falling in.

The weather today has been warm and sunny, it's forecast to stay like it all week.

Sunken Cruiser outside Otherton Boat Haven, on the side
it say's "Hit by a Hireboat".
Romantic Canal Boaters at Brick Kiln Lock.
We stopped at the services above Gailey Lock to top up the water tank and dispose of the rubbish. I also risked emptying the Cassettes hoping that the facilities had improved since I used them last in 2008, unfortunately they haven't, made a note in the guide book "Only use Gailey Elsan facility in Emergency".
We are now moored on 48hr visitor moorings at Gailey, our helpful Indesit washing machine has done a load of washing for us which is now drying in the cratch, tomorrow the Shroppie

Saturday, 1 September 2012

A Morning at the Market.

Saturday 1st September 2012.
Moored at Penkridge.

The last time we visited Penkridge Market 3 or 4 years ago I seem to remember I couldn't wait to get away but today I really enjoyed it and, spent too much money as well.

We have a Karcher pressure washer and used to have an attachment for cleaning our block paved drive, when we move onto the water I gave the drive cleaning attachment away, never need that again, it was a dumb move as they're just the job for cleaning the boat roof, so for the last 4 years I've been borrowing it back, but today at the market there was a man selling pressure washers and he had the required attachment at a knock down price, so that was my first purchase. 

Excellent for cleaning the top of boats.

I also ended up with 2 pairs of shorts, a car touch up paint stick to repair a few scratches on my bike, a litre of Autoglym polish and five cheap paint brushes, Jayne bought some socks plus food for the weekend.

On our way back we bought bread and iced buns from Jaspers Bakery, wonderful, when you see the queue stretching out onto the pavement you know it's good.

Next stop was the Co op, and I saw something in there I haven't seen for years, Sterilised milk in the tall bottles, awful tasting stuff, didn't think it was still around.

Sterilised milk, it's probably ok until you try the proper stuff.