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.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Having to Behave Myself.

Tuesday 30th October 2012.
York Pavilion Hotel, York.

As we're on a short holiday in York I'm having to be a good boy and behave properly, failure to comply could lead to divorce I've been told. Today I was taken on a walk around the city which was unbelievably crowded, I hate crowds but didn't complain.

York is a city of Bicycles, this type was commonly known
 as a Penny-farthing but since decimalisation have shrunk
considerably. (along with Mars Bars and Wagon Wheels)

Tomorrow I'm off to the Railway Museum to play on the trains.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Volunteers, The New Navvies

Sunday  28th October 2012
Kings Bromley Marina.

Last Monday I went to have a look at the work carried out by volunteers at the Lichfield end of the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal restoration starting at Huddlesford Junction.

Boaters who cruise through Huddlesford on the Coventry Canal will notice the arm which is home to the Lichfield Cruising Club, the arm is a third of a mile long and ends at the new  Cappers Lane Bridge, a new bridge was required as the original was lost after abandonment of the canal in the fifties.

Theres' enough info on the LHCRT website to keep you reading for a week so mostly pictures here. 

View from one side of the new bridge is of the poly tunnel used by members of Lichfield Cruising Club for boat maintenance, there's a powerful winch in the wooden box used to haul boats out of the water, when the canal is re-opened all this will have to be re-sited.

The view from the other side of the bridge, the overgrown canal still has water in it.

The next area I visited is known as Borrowcop Locks, members of the public are encouraged to walk along the towpath of this section to see the progress.

Standing on the bed of the canal.
  Canal building kit.
 Restored lock, minus gates.
Paddle gear's ready.
New lock by-wash, all very professional.
A short section has recently been re-watered.
Old lock gates donated by British Waterways (now CaRT) are
fitted to give a better impression of what things will look like
when completed.
 An in-filled section of the canal, this will be dug out again.
Which leads under a surviving bridge.
I'll try and follow the route and bit further when time allows, however on Monday we're off to York for few days (not by boat) so expect a different theme in the next couple of blogs.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Fruity and Fragrant but it's Not Wine.

Friday 26th October 2012.
Kings Bromley Marina.

We called into Waitrose Lichfield earlier this week for a couple of things and whilst there picked up a copy of their free news paper "Waitrose Weekend", it's full of nice fluffy news with nothing bad and plenty of Delia's recipes.

An article about Vincent Thurkettle and wood fires immediately got my attention, after all most canal boats have a solid fuel stove and most boaters I know burn any wood they can get their hands on.

Vincent has written a book on wood fires, it has sections on how to lay a fire and light it with a fire lighter, orange peel and well dried hedgerow twigs, then there's buying firewood (there's a novelty) and fireside tools, but the section about which is the best wood to burn had me rolling around.

After telling us that he likes Oak and Beech (don't we all) he then gets to Elm which he's  very excited about " It doesn't spark, the embers are excellent, it has an interesting smoke (?), sharp on the nose and slightly eye-stinging but also fruity and fragrant"

If you need to know more the book is called, The Wood Fire Handbook, the complete guide to a perfect fire, £14.99 ( I could get a bag and a half of Stoveheat for that ).

Thursday, 25 October 2012

This One Can Wait.

Thursday 25th October 2012.
Kings Bromley Marina.

Pictures of the unfinished Marina at Streethay on the Coventry Canal which have appeared on various blog sites only show the the place from the canal, on Monday whilst out cycling I decided to have a look around starting from the road entrance.

The completion date has been moved back several times and people are starting to believe it's been abandoned but I think the builders/owners Greenfords/Pridewater Estates (same group) have just mothballed it while they use their equipment and workforce to build Cropredy Marina on the Oxford Canal which is schedule to open April 2013.

The entrance (at the moment) is down a muddy farm track,
 it's also a marked footpath, the tarmac road in the foreground
leads to the Plough pub at Huddlesford Junction.
The track is 0.35 miles long and gets worse, it will need
resurfacing but as far as I can see will still be used by
Tractors accessing the fields on both sides.
At the end of the track the gate has a very large block of
concrete behind it to prevent unwanted vehicular access.
A Caravan on the site looks like it's been used for target practice.
Unfinished buildings
Long way to go to match the description on the website.
I'm sure it will get finished, but in the meantime they're doing their image no good at all.
And on a completely different subject, were driving over to Stoke Bruerne tonight for a "wash up meeting" (their words) with the other Canal Museum volunteers who helped stage the "Village at War" event. This year has been the best yet financially, benefiting charities, the local school and the Museum, the meetings in the Navigation and food has been mentioned.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

More Mooring Space at Fradley ?

Tuesday 23rd October 2012.
Kings Bromley Marina.

Yesterday I was out cycling, first stop was Fradley Junction to watch the dredgers at work, lots of activity around there, the most noticeable being the removal of the short finger pontoons adjacent to the CaRT maintenance yard and cafe, these pontoons were occupied by small fibre glass cruisers but for the last year or so only two of the berths were being used.

Just the supports left now with a dredger operating in the background,
also in the background are two small cruisers which were moored on the
pontoons, now tied up on the visitor moorings.

I asked the dredger operator what was happening but he didn't know "We're not told anything" was his reply. I'll report any progress through the winter.

The Cheese Boat at Fradley, moored by the swing bridge.
My next stop was the new marina by Streethay, well, more of a deserted muddy hole in the ground, but that's for the next blog.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

We learn Something New.

Sunday 21st October 2012.
Kings Bromley Marina.

We had arranged to call in at Barton Marina this morning for coffee with friends Michael and Val Lee on their boat Thistle, it's only 15 minutes by car from Kings Bromley.

Like us, they choose to cruise the waterways in spring, summer and autumn but moor in a Marina during the winter, they've been wintering at Barton for a few years now.

Michael and Val at Barton Turns for the winter.

This summer they cruised to the new mooring facilities in the re-developed Salthouse dock area of Liverpool, they were certainly impressed by the place, the moorings are free and electric hook up is available.

They used an interesting route to get there, Ellesmere Port, onto the Manchester Ship Canal, then the River Weaver returning to the canal system via the Anderton Lift.

But disaster struck on the return journey travelling back along the Trent and Mersey Canal, at one of the locks in the Newcastle under Lyme area Vals foot went down a hole on the towpath causing a serious looking injury to her leg, when Micheal saw it he immediately dialled 999, the only location he could give the emergency services apart from the general area was the canal bridge number close to where they were, the paramedics arrived within eight minutes, and whisked Val off to hospital, at first they thought her leg was broken it but an Xray revealed it was very badly sprained.

The reason the ambulance got there so quickly with just a bridge number for guidance is that the emergency services have a database which ties bridge numbers to post codes, I hadn't heard of this before and find it very re-assuring, whether this is the case across the country or just in Staffordshire I don't know.

The hospital view boaters passing through the area as Transient so wouldn't supply Val with crutches or a walking stick for fear of them not being returned, which is a reasonable assumption but a bit inconvenient if you've damaged your leg, a real Catch 22 situation.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Keeping The Costs Down.

Friday 19th October 2012.
Kings Bromley Marina.

Today we visited Jayne's sister who lives in Derbyshire which allows us, with a small diversion, to call in at possibly one of the cheapest chandler's around, Harvey's of Measham.

Today we bought a 13kg gas bottle £21.68, R.R.P. £25.49, 4 x 5 litres of Morris's 10/40 engine oil @ £18.72 for 5 litres, price from Midland Chandlers for 5litres is £24.00.

We took our empty Elsan Blue containers and refilled them from a large barrel this works out at £7.50 for 4 litres, It's £13.99 for 4 litres at Midland Chandlers.

And finally a new sealing rope for the door of our Bubble Corner Stove £10.50, Harworth  Heating sell them at £18.90 + vat although theirs come with glue which we already have.

Seeking out the bargains.
The only down side is that the chandlery is not yet by a Canal, when the Restoration of the Ashby Canal is completed it will be, but until then access is by car or a long walk.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Canal Planner.

Tuesday 16th October 2012.
Kings Bromley Marina.

Just as we're getting used to the new blogger set up we find Canal Planner appears to be changing too, or is it just our computer gone wonky !

The homepage hasn't changed, it's when you hit "Plan a journey", it seems a bit long winded to me.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Don't Fill Your Freezer With Cardboard.

Monday 15th October 2012.
Kings Bromley Marina.

One subject which needs a bit of  thought when living on a Narrowboat is storage, especially if you've moved from a medium sized house, and, you soon find freezers on boats are a lot smaller than the one's you're used to in a house. 

We're fortunate in having space for a fridge in the kitchen (we don't call it galley) and a freezer in the utility room at the rear of the boat.

Our freezer is a Shoreline 12 volt model with a capacity of 74 litres, bigger than most boat freezers, even so it soon fills up when we return with the shopping, so for the past year or so we've been transfering the contents of the boxes into freezer bags with the cooking instruction written on the bags, this takes up half as much space as leaving the stuff in boxes.

Empty boxes = more room in the freezer.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Finished for This Year.

Weds/Thursday 10/11th October 2012.
Weds - Atherstone to Fazeley.
11 Miles and 13 Locks.
Thurs - Fazeley to Kings Bromley.
13 Miles and 3 Locks.

7.30 Wednesday morning moored on Atherstone visitor moorings I noticed a definite flow of water in the direction of the locks, after twenty minutes or so with the water still moving, I went down to the top lock to see what was happening, a CaRT man was releasing water down the flight, the long pound under the railway bridge was half empty and the one above completely empty due to a couple of paddles being left up. We moved No Direction down to the lock mooring above the top lock and waited until everything was back to normal.

After that we had a good run down the locks and a relaxed cruise to Fazeley, fish and chips for supper from Fazeley chip shop, well cooked and huge portions.

We were being watched as we passed through Amington.
Leaving Glascote bottom lock with Tamworth
Cruising Club moorings on the left.
Today (Thursday) we were on familiar waters having moored at Fazeley Mill Marina with our previous boat, April Rose for three years, the length between Fazeley and Fradley was our normal day out.  
The route to Birmingham from fazeley Junction, we haven,t
taken No Direction this way yet although we did it twice
in April Rose. 
It looked chaotic at Streethay Wharf with two or three boats
 waiting to be lifted out and another going in.
You either love it or hate it.
Fradley Junction was quiet with no queue for the locks, the fence outside the pub has been broken with plastic orange mesh filling the gap, perhaps someone saw the price of a pint in there and came out in a hurry.
Back into the Marina.
That's the end of our long cruises for this year, we may go out for for a couple of days during the winter depending on the weather. The next thing on the agenda is a week away in York at the end of the month.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Better Weather

Tuesday 9th October 2012.
Sutton Stop to Atherstone.
11 Miles, no locks.

Nice easy run along the Coventry Canal today in the sun although it remained chilly, we were aiming for Atherstone and arrived just after lunch, there was plenty of room on the visitor moorings.

Passing through Nuneaton is the same as passing through any
 urban area where the locals get confused between the canal
 and the local rubbish tip or recycling centre.

Jayne had prepared a shopping list for me so that was the first job this afternoon then it was boat tidy time followed by clearing the wet leaves off the roof before they dried and stained the paint, also a quick polish of the brass was needed.

Tonight I checked out the local Fish and Chip shop which is just over the bridge from the visitor moorings, I had a look inside and decided to give it a miss, it had a strange smell, may have been the type of oil they were using but what ever it was I didn't fancy it.

Going back to the weekend whilst moored at Braunston I bought these little beauties.

A Litre of Brasso from Midland Chandlers, it was
their Freaky Friday offer where everything is
20% off for a day.
And a super light, super fast and super expensive
 aluminium Dunton Double windlass from The Boat Shop
by Braunston bottom lock.

Monday, 8 October 2012

The Trees are Taking Over.

Monday 8th October 2012.
Braunston to Sutton Stop.
24 Miles and 4 Locks.

It rained Saturday and Sunday nights although dry during the day so this morning we had wet, muddy ropes to untie when we set off, lovely.

We hadn't planned how far we wanted to go today and probably carried on for too long in the end.

Waterways Recovery Group were busy bricklaying at bridges 79 and 80 which are being repaired after being left so long they were in danger of collapsing. I knew they were WRG brickies before I asked as one was wearing shorts in October.

About two miles before Hillmorton Locks we caught up with a hireboat going very slow, the crew appeared to be taking turns to steer and almost stopped everytime they changed over, we managed to overtake them going down the three twinned locks with some very rapid lock work.

Why do I think this little group will be hanging around longer than the 14 days allowed.
The North Oxford Canal must be one of the worst for overgrown trees on the offside (opposite side to the towpath),  many places are so narrow due to the encroaching trees we had to give way to oncoming boats several times to avoid wiping everything off the roof and damaging the paintwork, tight bends are particularly difficult, even dangerous.
We're now at Sutton Stop ( Hawksbury Junction) having arrived at 5 o'clock, we were lucky to drop straight onto a good mooring, the day had started bright but ended in rain so we were glad to tie up.


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Summer Really Has Gone.

Sunday 7th October 2012.
Moored at Braunston.

Butchers Bridge from our position outside
 Braunston Marina,  7.15am Sunday.
Winters certainly knocking on the door, damp, cold and getting dark early.  Tomorrow we'll be setting off back to Kings Bromley Marina for our Winter hibernation period, plenty of work to do on the boat as usual and also planning for next year.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Stopped for the Weekend.

Thursday 4th October 2012.
Calcutt to Braunston.
6 Miles and no locks.

I walked over to Calcutt Boats again today, the Hurricane experts were still not there but I was able to see one set up for demonstration purposes with all the pipes and hoses fitted, so, photo's and measurements taken of a working set up so I can now construct a plywood mock up and make sure it will fit in the space available.

Back on the boat we winded (turned around) above Calcutt top lock (just) and set off back to Braunston for the weekend, all the moorings opposite the pub were full but we found one just before the Stop House, we later moved and are now moored outside the Marina entrance on the opposite side to the Gongoozlers Rest cafe boat, we had hoped to moor in this spot as it's a short walk the the dock.

The place for breakfast in Braunston.
The reason we're here for the weekend is that the Friends of Raymond have the use of the dry dock for three days, starting Friday morning, there is a lot of work to do on the boat so hopefully plenty of volunteers will turn up.
Thursday afternoon we moved Raymond into the Marina
ready to go into the dock, all that nice paintwork is being
burnt off this weekend ready for a re-paint next year.
We've left Nutfield moored next to No Direction for tonight, it is going
into the Marina on Friday to have some work done to the
 interior of the Boatman's cabin.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Further Than We Planned.

Wednesday 3rd October 2012.
Weedon to Calcutt.
15 Miles, 1 Tunnel and 13 Locks.

We arrived at the bottom of Buckby locks at 9.15, went up the bottom one on our own and then found a maintenance crew pressure washing the lock gates at the next lock, the washing was being done ready for an inspection during the winter, we were told there would be a 30 minute delay which was about right, I used the time to pop over to the shop at Whilton Marina for bread and milk, so much nicer going in there nowadays, while we were waiting another boat caught us up so we had company for the rest of the flight.

We had planned to moor above the top lock but we had such an easy run up we decided to carry on through the tunnel and down the Braunston Locks, left at Braunston Turn and then right at Wigrams, we're now moored above Calcutt top lock, we're here to visit Calcutt Boats as we're considering fitting a Hurricane heating boiler, we walked over there after mooring up but the man we need to speak with wasn't there, we'll catch him tomorrow morning before returning to Braunston.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Moving Off.

Tuesday 2nd October 2012.
Stoke Bruerne to Weedon.
11 Miles and no locks.

After nine days at Stoke Bruerne it was time to move, we followed the coal and fuel boat Towcester (Diesel 94p but they do come to you) through Blisworth Tunnel.

Blisworth Tunnel where the original structure
meets the new 1984 section.
When the tunnel was repaired in 1984 technology had
improved and pre-cast concrete was used instead of bricks.
Ventilation Shaft
Pretty Patterns
Past halfway, 1200 metres to day light.
We stopped at Gayton services to empty and fill, it wasn't busy due to the locks down to Northampton being closed, when we left Gayton the wind picked up and made steering a bit of a challenge.

We had a slight change of plan and stopped at Stowe Hill Wharf for fuel (89p) today instead of tomorrow, we then carried on to Weedon for a late lunch at the Heart of England and have decided to stay here until tomorrow.

Monday, 1 October 2012

All Quiet Again.

Monday 1st October 2012.
Moored at Stoke Bruerne.

Like everyone else at Stoke Bruerne we had an enjoyable weekend, Sunday didn't seem as busy as Saturday.

Last night Jayne and I along with Steve, Neil and Robin from the Nutfield and Raymond crew visited the Navigation Inn, had a leisurely meal and put the boating world to right. 

The first boat past us this morning was Hadar with Jo and Keith heading for the Tunnel, at 9 o'clock Nutfield and Raymond came past which was the signal for us to reverse back into the space they had left.

We've stayed an extra day as I've offered to assist in getting the huge Marquee down, the fun was scheduled to start at 5 pm however at 4.50 we had a heavy shower so the Marquee had to stay up as it is couldn't be packed away wet.

Tomorrow we're heading for Nether Heyford before tackling Buckby locks on Wednesday.