An excerpt from Wind in the Willows

Nice? It's the ONLY thing, said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING - absolute nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing, he went on dreamily: messing - about - in - boats; messing----'
From 'Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Very amusing sign at Yardley Gobion

Hope the spelling is correct.

The sign said - Please don't let your dog pumpout here.  Probably appreciated by boaters I suspect!

A lovely letter of thanks

For taking part in the QDJ Pageant - a very kind thought in my opinion.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Where are we now?

Day 11 (29-June): The last bit down the Stratford to Stratford-on-Avon was accomplished with a little angst because of the, in my opinion, appalling state of the infrastructure of the canal.  Coping stones lose and missing, paddle gear that took herculean efforts to wind and gates that would open and close of their own volition. That’s such a shame when the environment of the canal is so beautiful.  I have a call in to BW (or is it CaRT now) to ‘complain’ and invite them to crew with me back to Kingswood Junction when the boat is finished being painted – let’s hope they accept the challenge and see what it is like from a boater’s perspective! I am not convinced they will accept the challenge but live in hope that they will.

Apart from the above a relatively quiet and uneventful trip down the Wilmcote flight to Stratford.

My thanks to Ray for his help - it was invaluable.

Locks: 12 (179 total)
Miles 3: (129 total)
Tunnels 0: (3 total)
Aqueducts 0 (3 total) 

Day 10 (28-June): A planned short day today as we were asked not to arrive in Stratford before 16:00 on Friday. So just down from Wootton Wawen to Wilmcote which took about 2½ hours. There were lots of boats going down for the Stratford River festival - oh and we passed Jane and David Brixey on Rowan this morning heading out of Stratford.  Dave seems to have hurt his left arm (in a 'collar and cuff' sling) but still able to steer the boat.  We saw their old boat, Jack Merrick, at Milton Keynes.

Locks: 1 (167 total)
Miles: 3 (126)
Aqueducts: 1 (Edstone)

Day 9 (27-June):  We were in no hurry this morning but left the Grand Union at 09:00 and made our way onto the Stratford Canal to pumpout (I had a BW pumpout card) and top up with water.  Water was no problem but the pumpout didn't work as the machine (Lee San) wanted 25 unit cards and mine (bought for a Lee San machine in Limehouse) was a 20 unit card. Also the washing machine, dryer and showers advertised as being at the junction have been removed - come on BW (and/or CaRT) this is the kind of thing that we rely on - please get this stuff working and don't tell me I can get a pumpout card some miles further up the cut - it doesn't work I am afraid.

Anyway had a very pleasant trip down the Stratford, it is quite beautiful and rivals the Basingstoke, but those lower gates in most cases are very heavy for their size being a narrow canal - I wonder why that is the case?

Moored up now at Wootton Wawen having had an excellent pumpout at the AngloWelsh base there - thanks Craig.

Don't need to be in Stratford-on-Avon until Friday afternoon so taking life quietly and so pleased we put in the hard yards early on to give us a relaxing time now.

Locks: 18 (166 total)
Miles: 6 (123 total)
Aqueducts: 2

Day 8 (26-June): We were toying with going up the Saltisford Arm today but when a single boat went past and asked if we would like to share up Hatton we jumped at the chance, shot off our moorings like a startled rabbit, and had a trouble free climb up the Hatton 21.  I bought Ray a coffee and a 'sticky chocolate cake' at the top.  We then moved on (in the rain but only light this time) to Kingswood Junction where we will start down the Stratford Canal tomorrow.

We are catching up with E-Mails and watching the tennis from Wimbledon!

Locks: 21 (all Hatton) (148 total)
Miles: 7 (117 total)
Tunnels: 1 (Shrewley)

Day 7 (25-June): A quiet start today. We said our goodbyes to Chris on Merchant as he continued up the Oxford and we the Grand Union. We spent a little time in Braunston village doing some shopping and then we set off for the Cape Locks at the foot of the 21 Hatton Locks.

A long day at 10 hours which ended with a very pleasant evening in the Cape of Good Hope pub with Ray's daughter and her partner.

The painter in Stratford has suggested we don't arrive before Saturday so we can take a more leisurely approach now.

Locks: 25
Miles: 19

Day 6 (24-June): Off at 07:45 (before Church) and straight into the 2,800m Blisworth Tunnel.  After the heavy rain last night there was a lot of water in the tunnel.  38 mins and we were out the other side on the slog up to the Buckby 6 locks. We passed Jules and Johnny on Ella from the same moorings as Leo No2 on the Wey just after Blisworth. Then past the Northampton Arm and into Braunston tunnel (I decided to have a hot shower as Ray was steering!).

We didn't share with Chris on Merchant going down the Braunston 7 as he arrived at the top lock before us and there was a boat waiting for him.  We went down by ourselves but I was flabbergasted to find a boat waiting for us in Lock 3 crewed by some very good friends, Martin and Linda. Martin was my General Manager in BA many years ago - we had such a laugh remembering the old days!

On to Braunston where the Historic Narrowboat Rally was taking place (like being in heaven for ex working boat enthusiasts) - we managed to find an excellent mooring.  Met up with friends Jan and Frank (NB Havoc) and Peter Munt who used to be a ranger on the Basingstoke Canal on his boat Hare.

Locks: 14 (127 total)
Miles: 20 (117 total)
Tunnels: 2 (Blisworth and Braunston)

Day 5 (23-June): Another good day today.  Off at 08:00 in company with Chris on Merchant. There were some locks immediately after we left and then the Solbury 3 followed by the long and boring pound through Milton Keynes (but we did manage to see and photograph Mick and Suzanne's old boat Dora Venus).

Dora Venus
A hire boat got to within 20 meters of us and then slewed across the cut which kept us on our toes - he was last seen hard aground trying to get unstuck by applying plenty of forward power - best of luck to him.

Finally up the Stoke Bruerne 7 and a top up of water.  We are now moored just before the entrance to Blisworth Tunnel.

Locks: 14 (102 total)
Miles: 25 (91 total)

Day 4 (22-June):  A long day today - exactly 10 hours but we did cover a lot of ground - Berkhamsted to Leighton Buzzard - 15 miles and 28 locks.  We teamed up with Chris on Merchant (a new working boat built by RW Davis - Rodney it has a Gardner 4LW in it).  

Very windy and really difficult trying to get into Grove Lock as the two hire boats wouldn't come out and we were struggling in the very strong crosswind.

Ray and Chris are going out for a beer and it looks as if we will team up with Chris again tomorrow.

Locks: 28 (88 total)
Miles: 15 (71 total)

Day 3 (21-June): Moored Berkhamsted at 15:30 after an 08:30 start.  It's rained on and off today so we decided to stop here (and there are 3 pubs).  Came up the last half-dozen or so locks with a very nice Australian couple (Mick and Alison) who are moored behind us.

Lovely E-Mail from my friend Suzanne (hope husband Mick gets better very soon) asking if the word I used yesterday (welded) was misspelt and should have been wedded - crew threatened to jump ship if Suzanne was right!

Boat behaving herself beautifully but what is quite surprising how few boats there are around - we have probably passed seven or eight boats on the move since Brentford on Tuesday - we find that quite odd.
We have had one boat cause us problems - a 'liveaboard' without an engine who was pushing his boat with a hooked boat pole.  He was very odd and continually left upper gates and paddle gear open.  Lucky we managed to get past him on both occasions we met him - now hopefully he is well behind us.

The CanalOmeter still continues to perform well - Herbie not to keen on our suggested name changes which we quite understand.

Locks: 19 (45 total)
Miles: 8 (47 total)

Day 2 (20-June): Another excellent day - we were off at 08:30 (and so pleased we had dispensed with Hanwell last night) and managed to get cheap (90p) diesel at Uxbridge Boat Centre along with excellent service.  We have used the Herbie CanalOmeter a lot today and decided to rechristen it the HerbieOmeter or perhaps the the CorbettOmeter (perhaps a better ring to it).  It has proved invaluable.
We are moored tonight above Hunton Bridge top lock so another long day bit well worth it - Ray wants Herbie to add in a very good pub (Kings Lodge Hotel) just above Hunton Top Lock at bridge 162 please for the next issue.

Ray and I are still talking and laughing so things are going well - we have welded ourselves into a good team.

Locks: 17 (36 total)
Miles: 17 (39 total)

Day 1 (19-June): An excellent day today.  We left the Wey at 09:15 and locked out onto the Thames - running quite fast. We attempted to go into Shepperton Marina but decided, with the river in the state it was, the discretion was the better part of valour and pulled out when almost under the willow tree.  It wasn't very nice there.

On down the Thames to Kingston where we did a little bit of food shopping and then down to Teddington where they suggested we lock through about an hour before high tide.  That proved a benefit as we made it through Brentford Gauging lock at 16:00 and then, having consulted the oracle (CanalOmeter) pushed on to Bulls Bridge where we arrived at 20:15. 10 out of 10 to CanalOmeter.  Well done Herbie.

A good day - we are both quite tired.

Locks: 19
Miles: 22

Monday, 18 June 2012

Off again

My friend Ray and I are off again - this time to take my boat to Stratford on Avon for painting.

However one of the things we will do is test Herbie's CanalOmeter on the GU - Ray says it will be fine but it may need a little tweaking concerning pubs and the quality of the beer.  I am sure we will keep this blog up-to-date and report on the effectiveness of the CanalOmeter as it applies to pubs and beer.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Never rains but it pours

Just planning the trip to Stratford on Avon (boat repainting at Stem to Stern) and find we have red boards on the Wey (no access to Thames Lock) and also either red boards or caution stream increasing boards on the Thames. Sod's law I suppose. I don't really mind yellow boards coming down the Thames (but wary of things going wrong especially at bridges) but going upstream it is a non-starter in my view.

We could go via Hanwell and the Grand Union but I find the lower gates (especially) on the GU quite a challenge so I think we'll play it by ear and see if we can make a dash up the Thames as soon as conditions permit.

4 days to Oxford I think, 4 days to Napton (now the restrictions are lifted) and 3 days to Stratford.

I'll have to bide my soul in patience I suppose.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Off again soon

To Stratford-on-Avon via the Oxford but for the time being am enjoying the dry warmth of my house.

Leo No2 just after Lambeth bridge
(Ian Moore)
I sent an E-Mail to David Phillips - Chief Harbourmaster of the Port of London just to say thank you and part of his reply included the following 'the narrowboats acquitted themselves very well from start to finish and looked very good and together from my vantage point at the London VTS'.

At the time of the pageant I was cold and wet and kind of wondering why I was there.  As the pictures and videos become available I can re-live the event and it seems to get better and better - maybe my brain is not so good at remembering the cold and wet.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Back home - and drying out

Leo No2 as captured by the BBC
No not the Byfleet Boat Club - the
other BBC!
It was so wet yesterday that my automatic life jacket did what it should and inflated.  Gave me one hell of a shock I am afraid but the new parts are already on order.  It was so wet coming up from Limehouse - we left at 13:00 and finally got onto some moorings at Hampton by about 18:00 thoroughly soaked.  Good fish and chips locally thank goodness.

Off this morning and home (real home) by 14:00 but a return to the boat is needed to really tidy up.

All in all a wonderful weekend never to be repeated but if there is a God why such weather?

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Looking Back

Well it was a great week - despite the disgraceful coverage on the BBC in my humble opinion (IMHO). There is a bit of Leo No2 at 1:40 - headlight (Francis) on full beam.

Leo No2 (with light on - on right) entering
West India at the end of the pageant
On the Monday we took the boat back to Limehouse (really easy entrance into Limehouse with a tide on the flood - huge tide to boot).  My friends Rod and Val didn't come with us as Val had the misfortune to fall into the well deck of Pirate Prince and injure herself so it off to hospital for her.

I decided that I should go and help them bring the boat round to Limehouse on the Tuesday - despite the feeling from Rodney that he could do it easily - I am pleased I did go and crew as it was an 'interesting' trip around.

On Wednesday my friend Sue went off to Paris and the rest of us (except Val) enjoying Beating Retreat at Horesguards' Parade followed by an enjoyable evening in the Union Jack club at Waterloo.

At 13:00 on Thursday we came out of Limehouse Lock and headed towards Teddington in pouring rain - it just got worse and worse but we had a good (but wet) trip and moored at Hampton Court for the evening - very unseasonal weather.

PS: Acknowledgement that the picture came from Grumpy Bear Too blog.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A long (but rewarding) day

Leo No2 about to use
Tower Bridge in the 'up'
We are finally back in West India after an unforgettable day on the River participating in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

We were off at 07:30 for an 08:30 locking down onto the Thames - West India was full of narrowboats and we had a most interesting time travelling up river almost to Chiswick Ayot to moor up and relax (lunch) and get tense (final scrutineering).  All was fine and we set off as planned but found the 'Tupperware Navy' hadn't yet moved so there was a sharp intake of breath as we milled around waiting for the off.

The rain did hold off but poor old Louis had an engine failure and had to be towed off to Putney Pier.  Apart form that no damage of injuries (a number of calls at the end for priority use of West India - not sure they were all 100% true) but after a bit f a 'holding pattern' we finally arrived back on our moorings in West India at 21:40.

A very long day but I think in retrospect it will prove to be extremely memorable and we will look back on it all with pride. 

Ready to go at West India

Just waiting now for the 'off'.  Delayed by 30 mins - no reason and not asking.  Fine drizzle and a bit of an easterly blowing but that will be behind us going up river.

Everyone out pacing up and down the towpath - the Thames is now closed and the barrier goes into 'defence' at 09:30 until 23:30.  All very exciting.

Free drinks coupons handed out available to use from 19:00 tonight - will we be back by then I wonder?

BW have kindly given each narrowboat a gift (liquid) - very much appreciated by all.

10 mins 'till we need to go - engines on then I suppose - President has had her engine on all night!!

Friday, 1 June 2012

West India

Moored outside the Hilton Hotel
Off at 05:45 this morning and down Limehouse Cut - around the Bow Back Rivers ('beating the bounds of the parish'  for St Pancras Cruising Club) and back out onto the Thames and in through West India to our moorings outside the Hilton Hotel.

We passed scrutineering this afternoon so we are 'green to go' now.  Just need to decorate the boat tomorrow and a briefing this evening in the Hilton Hotel (with free food!).