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.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Back on the Wey

Here we are back on the Wey having had a most enjoyable 4 days of adventure up the Basingstoke. It was so much easier coming back today than it was going up which just proves that a small amount of boat movement can have a huge effect.

Our thanks to SHCS, the IWA, the BCA, Hampshire and Surrey County Councils for their support and assistance.

We'll do it all again at Easter but hopefully this time there will be an opportunity to go as far as King John's Castle at Odiham.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Return from Brookwood

Phil with some of the duck weed we
pulled from Lock 14
It was only an overnight in Brookwood - we had a lovely evening at the Fox (Fox Corner, Worplesdon) but it did seem very strange to be moored outside my house and not sleeping inside!

It was a bit of a struggle getting to the first lock this morning because the canal was so full of leaf mould but the thing that really held us up (and amazed us) was the duck weed which jammed the first two boats (Aqua Vitae and Hazell Nut a 'short' boat at 50' and Aqua Vitae a longer boat at 60' in case we had issues with stuff behind the gates) between the lock walls. The duck weed was about 18 inches to 2 feet deep and was like concrete when squeezed between the side of a boat and the wall of the lock. It took us about an hour to free them up and send them on their way. We took the second two (Leo No2 and Winter Lilly) down singly although the duck weed had dispersed by then. It's been a bad year for duck weed but I think a lot of the issues we faced were just down to lack of use of a lovely canal.

We stopped in St Johns for a Cornish pastie (yummy) and then made short work of the St. Johns flight before making ourselves comfortable in the Bridge Barn hotel in Woking.

Many thanks to Ben Scott from the IWA who kindly came over from Farnham and did some lock-wheeling for us.

Friday, 28 December 2012

To Brookwood

Well we've made it to Brookwood (that's Sheets Heath Bridge and not Brookwood Country Park). A few issues today but nothing that a sense of adventure, a few more boats, some dredging and a bit of TLC won't fix.

I am delighted that we've got boats back to Brookwood again after, I think, four years or so - far too long in my view.

I'll post some pictures when I can but at the moment I can't get a gangplank across to my house so I'll try and do that in the morning if I can.

In the picture left to right - Leo No2, Hazell Nut, Aqua Vitae, Winter Lilly (all from Byfleet Boat Club)

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Up the Basingstoke

Well here we are again trying to keep the Basingstoke open to boating.  

We left Lock1 at 09:00 and are now outside the Bridge Barn hotel in Woking ready to have a feast inside tonight.  

It was much easier this morning than it was at Easter.  There's plenty of water around (in fact is is spilling over the by wash above Lock 6) and the Locks were not too much trouble; just a couple of gates that had too much silt behind them - lack of use I should think.

Tomorrow we are off up St Johns and Brookwood flights.  Apart from a work boat I should think it is a couple of years (maybe four even) since 'proper' boats have used the Brookwood flight.

I think it is imperative that all boaters flight for the right to navigate the Basingstoke for fear that it could become the first restored canal to slip back into dereliction.  Certainly the Canal Society won't stand by and watch that happen but may be the time is nigh when we need to roll out some more support.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Season's Greetings

I'd like to wish everyone who is game enough to read this a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

The image is Stoke Bruerne in winter and next winter I hope (if things go according to plan) to be living there.

Picture from an IWA Christmas Card of 2011. 

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Stoke Bruerne - a picture

I was at a Christmas 'do' this week when a friend (thank you Jan - hope things go well with Havoc) gave me a lovely chalk pastel drawing of Stoke Bruerne which includes my new house.  How very kind. There are many pictures of the houses above the top lock at Stoke Bruerne but to given an original is quite something.

The structural survey on my house was done 2 or so weeks ago and I have heard no adverse reports so I assume all is well.  I am off to Stoke Bruerne on Tuesday to meet with South Northamptonshire Council (what a mouthful), a sash window expert (an 'ex' is a 'has been' and a 'spert' is a drip under pressure in my book!) at 11:00, at 11:30 the man from Howdens is coming to discuss kitchens and doors and then at 12:00 someone called Dave is coming to talk about the fire and replacing it with a woodburning stove.  I am very lucky in that my friend Rodney is riding sidesaddle to see all the technical stuff is done properly (and then we may be going to get some Gardner 2LW engine spares for Hazell Nut from Daventry for him!). Daventry is nice and close and of course we may fit in a bite to eat at the Boat Inn.

I see the Cheese Boat will be in Stoke Bruerne on Tuesday - lead me not into temptation, I can find my own way!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Structural Survey

The barrel roofed kitchen
Well, considering the house is really quite old (yes there is something older than me!), the structural survey doesn't look too bad to me - I am going to review it with friends this week to ensure I understand what it says and that I haven't glossed over things that are important or thought things were important that really aren't.

One of the things that impressed me was that the Surveyor refused to do it himself as he had previously owned the house (small world) and therefore knew the vendor.  It's what we used to call a 'conflict of interest' and I am very grateful to the surveyor for being so honest with me.

There's a definite need for a new kitchen so I've had fun looking at the kind of kitchens John Lewis have - just for ideas you understand - their kitchens are quite expensive in my view.  I have other ideas for the house all of which will need to comply with the Article 4(2) designation the house has and the fact that it is in a conservation area.