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.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Blisworth Tunnel now open for normal operations!

This huge (Czech built) widebeam / dutch barge thingy (in Stoke Bruerne top lock) making its way from Braunston to Hertford for sale - understood to have cost £180k - it may be lovely inside but outside it really doesn't cut the mustard for me.

From the ridiculous to the sublime - about half an hour after this vessel went through what should turn up but the Pinnock boys with Clover looking and sounding wonderful.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

A little bit extra

Having brought the boat back from Baxters in Yardley Gobion I thought it would be sensible to fill with diesel before the winter.  Jules Fuels (Julia and Richard) were due in Stoke Bruerne yesterday and arrived as expected.  What I didn't realise was that their diesel comes with anti diesel bug formula already added.  I think that's a real bonus and would encourage me to buy from Julia and Richard whenever I can.

The boat is due at Grand Junction for its annual engine/gearbox maintenance on Monday at 09:00 - I was planning to leave Stoke Bruerne on Monday morning early, as it is on an hour's run to the junction, so that the boat arrived with a nicely warmed engine but the weather forecasters (they with the pessimistic view of things) say it is going to awful on Monday morning (but the tunnel would be a refuge I think).  I shall wait until Sunday morning to see what things are like and then make a decision.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Back from blacking

Leo No2 in dry dock
A quick trip back up from Yardley Gobion this morning with some CRT employees from London to give them an experience of boating.

A really quick trip up the Stoke Bruerne 7 in the company of Aber (a 1936/7 GUCC boat) with Mark and Lesley followed by a very enjoyable hour or so in the Boat.

Leo No2 is now safely moored in Stoke Bruerne courtesy of Roy Sears - thank you Roy. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Blacking time again

Leo No2 is in for blacking again - it hardly seems 2 years since she was having it done last time at Laleham on the Thames.  I am pleased I have had it done for two reasons:
  • It gives me the opportunity to look at the boat in the whole and see how it has fared over the previous 2 years
  • It seems the previous blacking was just one coat (I paid for 2) and it also seems that it went back in the water whilst the one coat of blacking was still wet.
No lasting damage was done thankfully, but it makes you wary of who you entrust with your boat. I am bringing Leo No2 back to Stoke Bruerne next Monday.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A final couple of hours to Yardley Gobion


I had one final move of the boat to make which was to deliver it to Baxters at Yardley Gobion for blacking which will take place next week.

I had a lovely trip down the Stoke Bruerne seven and a couple of miles to Baxters.  Now all I need to do is to go and collect the car from Addlestone!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Moving Leo No2 back to Stoke Bruerne (Day 8 - final day)

Braunston and the promise of
a lovely day
Quite a cold night in Braunston but made up for by a beautiful morning and day.  My friend Bob arrived promptly at 08:00 so we had time for a tea and then off.  There were quite a number of boats heading up to the tunnel.

We had some trouble with Lock 4 with the off-side lower gate blowing badly but we made it in the end.  Bob left me at the top whilst he moved his car from Braunston to Whilton.

The weather was quite glorious and we had an enjoyable trip down Buckby in the company of a hire boat and crew made all the better by a 'breakfast' baguette at Buckby bottom lock - bacon, eggs, sausage and mushroom - so naughty but very enjoyable.

Leo No2 is now moored safely on the Stone Wharf in Stoke Bruerne and I am at home without the car!

I am really quite proud of the achievement of moving the boat virtually single handed all the way from Addlestone.

Next week Leo No2 goes in to have her bottom blacked.

Miles: 20 (144)
Locks: 13 (84)
Tunnels: 2 (2)

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Moving Leo No2 back to Stoke Bruerne (Day 7)

The final destination for tomorrow
Stoke Bruerne
A fairly easy day today.  I set off from Marston Doles top lock at about 07:30 and was grateful for the help given by the crew of Zulu who followed me down.  Once I had done three locks the boats coming up made it far easier by leaving the upper gates open.  I was down by 09:10 which is exactly six days since leaving Weybridge.  The trip across from Napton to Braunston was easy and uneventful save for the last mile or so when the boat in front refused to let me past but insisted on travelling at tickover - fine when we were going past moored boats but the whole distance - no not on.  Thankfully, at the junction, they turned north and me south.

Braunston is very busy and I only just managed to find a mooring - about 100 yards short of the first of the Braunston flight of locks.

Tomorrow Bob is joining me and we should make Stoke Bruerne without too much problem despite the Buckby flight of locks and the two tunnels - and yes I have checked the tunnel light!

Miles: 10 (124)
Locks: 9 (71)

Friday, 4 October 2013

Moving Leo No2 back to Stoke Bruerne (Day 6)

Still not much colour around
but this one stood out - it was at
Fenny Compton
A nice comment on my blog today from James and Doug on Chance who I am going to miss on their 2nd trip through Stoke Bruerne since I moved there.  Thank you for the comments James and Doug.  I will be there next time.

Another early start today (07:00) mainly because the mooring I was on in Banbury last night was required for the Banbury Canal Day this weekend.

I had most of the locks in my favour on the way up to the summit pound.  It was a fairly uneventful day apart from the boring summit pound until I met Nuneaton and Brighton of the Narrowboat Trust.  I knew to expect them but I was surprised how much water they took from me - I reckon I heeled over to about 30 degrees but I just kept going forward and just slid off the side when they had gone.  They were fully loaded so must have had about 20 tones of coal each.  I imagine they are moored outside a pub by now!

I was going to go down Napton to the Folly but when I saw three hire boats at the top lock in front of me I decided to call it a day and enjoy a leisurely late afternoon in the sun at Marston Doles top lock - I'll tackle Napton tomorrow morning and then it is just a short hop to Braunston.

Miles: 18 (114)
Locks: 13 (62)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Moving Leo No2 back to Stoke Bruerne (Day 5)

Industrial lock waiting areas
Off early (07:00) again today with the aim of getting to Banbury for a food shop and to moor early on the moorings above the lock.

It was with some trepidation that I approached Somerton Deep lock - it has a fearsome reputation for the lower gate being difficult to close.  I had all sorts of ideas as to how to close the gate but in reality I just leant on the gate and it closed.  Got to be lucky sometimes.  I found Anyho Weir lock more challenging as it is an odd shape (to give volume from the river Cherwell to the canal).  No problem in the end and I arrived at Bridge 168 (Morrisons) at 11:15 and on to the first mooring above Banbury Town lock just as the rain came - lucky again - I expect I shall get wet tomorrow!

I think some of the lock waiting areas are just a little industrial for a narrowboat - this one the last swing bring on the Wolvercoat section at Dukes Cut.

Miles: 9 (96)
Locks: 6 (49)

Moving Leo No2 back to Stoke Bruerne (Day 4)

The 7 day moorings in Oxford at 07:15
Unable to post last night due to a 2G signal just below Sommerton Deep Lock.

A long day again today.  I spent last night on Christchurch Meadows just downstream of Osney Lock.  Off at about 07:00 this morning as I was awoken by the rowing crews training in the dark with very bright lights on their skiffs.

The first decision was to use the Sheepwash Cut, which was very last minute - I almost went up to Dukes Cut.  I was surprised how empty Oxford was - one of the 24 hour moorings was completely empty - I wonder if that is because of enforcement, or just, maybe, a sign of the times.

The Agenda 21 moorings looked much tidier than I remember them but I suppose we all acquire huge amounts of ‘stuff’ – I know it applies to me as I have just moved and became good friends with the man at the dump!

I also noticed that CRT has been addressing the issues with overgrowth on the Oxford and cutting some really nice boat sized mooring slots. There area some areas though that need addressing before the spring nesting season as the overgrowth makes the channel quite narrow.

I had trouble with Mill Lift Bridge as the mooring is on the left hand side of the canal, the hinge for the bridge on the right and there is nothing to hold the bridge in the open position.  I fiddled it in the end but it really wasn’t easy single-handed.  I understand the best way is to use a Banbury Stick.

The plan for tomorrow is to move on to Banbury (and have a break) and post this as I have a shocking connection at Somerton this evening.  No TV and almost no connection – I’ll dig put my DVDs!

Miles: 18 (87)
Locks: 12 (43)

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Moving Leo No2 back to Stoke Bruerne (Day 3)

Painted Lady - see information at
bottom of today's blog
Well quite a lot happened today. I set off at 06:45 just as the moon was setting in the West and the sun showing behind the clouds in the East.  The first three locks (Whitchurch, Goring and Cleeve were all on 'Self Service') and then there was the long haul to Benson.  On that reach I saw a number of skeins of Canada Geese setting off for their days food gathering and a ballet of swans (yes that is one of the many collective nouns for swans and one I quite like) heading down river.  At Gatehampton railway bridge there were three EA mud barges but two had been loosed off on their front ends and took up at least half the waterway and put a huge strain, I would think, on the rear ropes.  I rang the EA and they were seemingly unaware of the issue.  Goodness only knows what would have happened if there had been any sort of stream running.

I bought some local honey at Benson, and made my way towards Clifton but at the same time my friend Steve (who looks after my car) rang about an alternator issue I have and I missed the turning into the lock cut but luckily managed to easily find a winding place and was back on track quickly despite my red face!

On to Abingdon for some diesel (it's a tad expensive there) and then on to just below Osney ready to either have a day off tomorrow if the promised rains come or start to tackle the southern Oxford.

I am surprised how little water there is in the river and how very few boats are enjoying what, has been so far, a lovely autumn.

I am quite pleased with having made Oxford in three days from Weybridge.

The photo shows a narrowboat called Painted Lady - many years ago Painted Lady was moored on the Woking pound of the Basingstoke Canal, ran public trips and was beautifully looked after.  She seems to have sunk recently but is such a sad sight.

Miles: 32 (69)
Locks: 10 (31)