Yearly Archives: 2018

Lack Of Tarragon 30th December

Norton Junction to Home Farm Footbridge 9, Leicester Section

P1450100smA few  boats were moving before us today, most seemed to be in quite a rush! We pushed off and turned left at the junction. Along the moorings towards the Buckby Flight I lost count of the number of C&RT work boats and skips, presumably all tied up for the festive period before they are sent back out for the next batch of winter stoppages.

P1450115smAs you pootle along the pound from the junction the road noise gets louder as the M1 comes closer. Then Virgin trains zoom past and over the canal. We waved at one heading north, hoping to catch a glimpse of Marion and John heading up to Scotland for Hogmanay. I think I got them in this photo, just a shame it was a bit of a blur!

P1380505smP1450106smIn the summer we’d noted how much the towpath was over grown in areas, small trees having taken hold on the banks. But C&RT have been busy, most of the towpath has been cut right back and a fare amount of the offside has had a prune too. Just a section where we of course met a hire boat, instead of slowing down they had to duck several times to get through.

No boats were waiting at the bottom of the Watford flight, I walked up to check in with one of the volunteers. Three chaps were on duty today, one of them learning the ropes. We would be the third boat through today, the second was part way down the staircase, the very bottom lock being empty, the next one full with it’s gates open awaiting it. Instructions were given to bring Oleanna up the first lock and wait, so I radioed down to Mick who was opening the bottom gates when I got back to him.

P1450124smThe bottom lock has been treated to a whole new set of gates. I seem to remember there being a metal beam, much nicer in oak. The new gates, that now seal very well, have highlighted that the lock leeks sideways. If left full the lock cottages’ garage now floods. So at the end of the day the bottom lock is being left empty and if they can keep it that way during the day, all the better until something can be done about it.

New pointing has happened all the way up the flight and lines of dead grass along the sides of the locks suggest there was quite a lot of scaffolding around the place before Christmas.

Mick brought Oleanna into the bottom lock and I wound the off side paddle up to start it filling, a volunteer then slowly followed with his paddle. I looked down as I often do into the well deck. Blimey! There was getting on for over an inch of water in there swirling around. Oleanna had been touching the gates as I wound the paddle up and this meant the our drainage holes had coincided with where the surging water comes out from the culverts. So glad we always travel with our front doors closed. I’ve not noticed this before here so wondered if the culverts had been cleared out, making the force of water greater. Oleanna was fine, just a wet well deck. I’m now glad that I always move things away from the drainage holes just in case it gets water in it.

P1450126smWe do-si-doed with the boat coming down in the next pound and then the way ahead was clear for us. Mick kept Oleanna away from the top gates in the next single lock, allowing the water to surge into the lock infront of her. With three volunteers on duty there was a bit more time to take photos and have a chat, whilst keeping an eye on what was happening. The Lockies had been trying to work out how much water it would take to raise the summit pound by 1mm all the way to Foxton, they must have been bored!

P1450127smP1450130smBefore I hopped back on board Oleanna at the top lock I had a quick look at the herb garden. Only sage growing today, I’d hoped for some tarragon to go under our chicken skin this evening. But it being December I’d have to use dried instead.

P1450131smNow on the familiar summit pound we were surprised at the number of moored boats. We hoped that our chosen spot would be free on the last piece of armco before the tunnel. Here we would get TV and internet along with phone signal. It seemed like everyone wanted to be nearer to the M1 and after bridge 9 there were no boats to be seen. We pulled in, let Tilly out and had lunch.

P1450134smTomorrow we’ll put our waterproofs on and head through the tunnel. We may get a bit of internet signal, but I’m not sure I can be bothered trying to upload a post, it really is so frustrating there. So  we shall wish you all a Happy New Year from here and see you on the other side in 2019.

7 locks, 4 of which a staircase, 19th time through Watford, 1 left, 40,000 litres, 3 new gates now water tight, 3 volunteers, 1mm = ? tonnes of water, 1 mooring on our own, 1 cheese lunch, 0 tarragon, 1 roast chicken, 12 roast potatoes cooked in duck fat, yummy!

https://goo.gl/maps/76YBhVwxkbs

About Turn.. Twice 29th December

Butchers Bridge to Braunston Turn to the new armco at Norton Junction.

P1450011smSaturday newspaper bought along with a chicken for tomorrow we pushed off late morning. Facing the wrong way to get to Midland Chandlers we needed to wind, it took quite sometime to get a space between passing boats to be able to push out, then we reversed back to the Marina entrance to wind. A boat pulled in near the water point behind us, but only to let a boat past, then they kept coming our way. Both of us wanting to wind in the entrance. As we’d arrived shortly before the other boat Mick reversed under the arch whilst they trod water. The bow thruster came in very handy for this manoeuvre and meant Oleanna was winded quicker so the other boat could start their turn and clear the main channel for us to get out of their way.

Midland Chandlers mooring was handily free so we made use of it and had a browse around the shop before picking up some spare antifreeze and a new ash boat pole. Some £55 lighter we moved up to the water point just after Braunston Turn, filled the tank and disposed of rubbish.

P1450019smThis outside looked great, what a tree!!!! It so needed climbing, but they wouldn’t let me out.

Now we needed to wind again. There may have been just enough space to turn Oleanna south of the Turn, but we decided to wind using the Turn. Back pushed out, Mick reversed her  under the nearest bridge onto the Oxford. A boat was heading to the junction and luckily wanted to turn south, so we waited for them to pass before backing up further and then following through the other arched bridge. We were now finished with Braunston, sadly we’d not managed to meet up with Lucy, a designer friend who was visiting her Mum in Daventry, her message of a suggested rendez vous came through shortly after we’d committed ourselves to doing the locks. Hopefully we’ll coincide here or in Leeds another time.

P1450022smP1450029smUnion Canal hire boats were all at home filling up the towpath moorings, the advantage of it being out of season is that there was more space up by Braunston Bottom Lock than usual, no boats waiting to go out. So we managed to pull in and wait for a couple of boats to come down, we’d spotted one going up before them, so knew the locks would be against us. Once in the lock we loitered to see if anyone would join us. Back at Butchers Bridge it looked like there might just be a boat heading our way, we loitered, it carried on towards us. Hooray someone to share with.

P1450050smNB Conchita worked up the locks with us, we didn’t pass anyone but we made good progress with one of us heading up to the next lock to set it for both boats as they rose in the lock below. A nice couple who use their boat at weekends whilst living in London. Their boat is of an age that when they first bought her she needed welding doing, so her waist line isn’t as narrow as she once was. They have never take her through Lock 9 at Napton as they had difficulty at Allens Lock and got stuck just entering Somerton Deep Lock on the South Oxford, C&RT had to come and try to flush them out.

P1450064smAt the top of the locks they let us go ahead whilst they closed up, leaving a good gap between us for Braunston Tunnel. I put Oleanna into full tunnel mode and explained to Tilly that I’d turned the lights on inside so that when the lights went out outside she would be fine. Just a shame she didn’t agree! This of course may have had something to do with meeting two boats heading north. The first had a very noisy engine, the second did a lot of forward and reverse to get past us, but still managed to collide with us resulting in a big bang. Several things were knocked over inside but we have yet to have a good look to see if the gunnel has taken any damage (luckily it was on the side I’ve not got round to touching up yet). Maybe we’d illuminated the tunnel too much for the chap at the helm with our Christmas lights.

P1450078smNew houses have appeared behind the canal cutting at the south end of the tunnel. These will be hidden mostly when the trees are back in leaf. We carried on, hoping to gain a stretch of the new armco before Norton Junction. Only one boat, so we managed to position ourselves with a great view over the rolling countryside and as the sun started to set we were joined by a few more boats. This may now become our chosen spot, rather than round the corner by Welton Hythe.

This outside has a pirate cat! It only came out after everyone had gone to bed and was trying to board Oleanna. This was so not on. I made sure it knew I was on board and that Tilly Too and I would not put up with any nonsense. She came and put a big light on it, white and ginger, and quite big. The three of us soon saw it off, but I stayed on look out for several hours keeping my crew and boat safe as they slept.

P1450086smDSCF7117sm6 locks, 5.01 miles, 2 winds, 1 tunnel, 1 mysteron, 2 boats passed, 1 big bump, 1 newspaper, 12ft of ash, 1 full water tank, 1 sharing boat, 1 fantastic mooring with views, almost 0 TV signal though, 1 pirate feline, 1 set of Christmas lights that may need adjusting in the morning.

https://goo.gl/maps/1cMDjFvBqD52


Nothing To Be Had In Braunston. 28th December

Braunston

P1450004smWe’ve been putting off the cooked breakfast this week as there has been quite a lot of food about the place, but we could hold out no longer. So Mick worked his magic this morning, adding in the last of the roast veg from Christmas dinner. He even remembered the mushrooms this time!

A walk up the hill to see if there was any more post that had arrived, sadly not. We then had a look in at the butchers. Once we enter a butchers we always feel obliged to make a purchase, but today I had one question  for them, Did they have any Gluten Free sausages? I’d spotted a sign on their chiller cabinet before Christmas and was hoping that they would be a close match to a Braunston Banger. But because of Christmas, their freezers and fridges having been choker block with goodies for the festive period, they had none. The next batch wouldn’t be made until next week at the earliest. Sadly that’s no good for me we may be miles away by then. Having not got my head round what we’ll be eating for the next few days once the duck has run out I couldn’t think of anything we wanted, so today we managed to leave empty handed, must be a first at Braunston Butchers!

P1450006smP1450007smTradline in the main marina warranted a visit. After 2000 miles our ropes are starting to look a little bit warn, so we were going to treat Oleanna to a new set to have on board for when the need arises. But the front door was very much closed, no sign of what their Christmas opening hours were. So ropes will have to wait. We also walked up to Wharf House at the bottom of the locks to see how much a boat pole would be from them. Here also the front door was closed a sign saying they would re-open on the 2nd January. This now leaves us with one option for a pole and that is Midland Chandlers, we know they are open. However they are just a touch too far away to carry a pole back to the boat, so we’ll take the boat up there tomorrow.

P1450010smWe plan on heading northwards, but stoppages are making the planning a touch hard. Cruising in the winter months is always dictated by the winter stoppages. Normally we are happy to slowly pootle our way along a stretch until locks re-open, but this year we’ve been in winter mode for a lot longer due to my work commitments and we want to get some miles and locks under Oleanna again. At the moment it looks like our best route north will be to head up the River Soar. Not the best time of year to be doing this as the river can quickly rise after rain. A bit more studying of the stoppages is needed before we commit ourselves.

After no success in Braunston today we decided to have a typical ‘In between’ day of doing not very much. Father Christmas socks had their ends woven in and a new pair started. We also managed to watch the last episodes of Luther. Bloomin’ heck there are some horrible criminals in his world.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 new outside requested, 0 ropes, 0 poles, 0 post,  2 pairs socks totally finished, 1 started, 0 GF sausages, what will Braunston become without sausages?!

A Guest Dingdinger. 27th December

Butchers Bridge

I’m not too sure about it here.

IMG_20181227_094312smIt took sometime to get the message across to them this morning that I wanted to go out, but it worked in the end. The narrow strip of outside is now really quite boring and there are far too many people on the towpath and even more Woofers. I gave up trying to get across the bridge and decided that a morning snooze would be a far better way to spend my time.

Tom kept coming and going to the bins, I got a clean pooh box and she spent time chopping and cooking again.

P1440998smAnne and Alasdair were on their way back to Scotland from spending Christmas with family in Wiltshire, a long drive which we helped to break up. Mick walked up to meet them whilst I put a batch of sausage rolls in the oven. It was very good to see them and hear of their Christmas with the grandchildren as we munched our way through the rolls and a slice of birthday cake each.

Next time I make sausage rolls I’m going to try to make my own GF pastry. The ready rolled variety seems to end up being a touch chewy once baked. I’ve hunted for a recipe online and found one to try, but I also got the River Cottage Gluten Free Cookbook for Christmas which has recipes. These however would mean purchasing several different flours which you can’t just pick up in any supermarket. We may have to have another Ocado delivery for them, but then there will need to be somewhere to store them all. I joked with Anne about maybe having a small tender larder that we could tow around. We have to be careful about such comments to Anne as when we joked about buying the house next door to ours in Scarborough and knocking through to give us more space, a few months later the house came on the market. We now own said house which has been knocked through!

At ding ding time today my bell was rung by Anne, it gave a slightly different tone to normal. Maybe that’s because she plays drums lots and is an expert percussionist. My food still tasted the same.

Early evening we walked up the path to the village to The Plough for some food. We’d hoped to try out the Admiral Nelson, but they I believe have just changed hands and are not doing food until the end of January. We hadn’t fancied The Boat House with their two for one and we’d heard good things about The Plough, it being away from the canal often gets forgotten about by boaters.

IMG_20181227_181519smIt certainly wasn’t busy, the menu was fairly standard and the pie of the day had to be checked. As Mick pointed out, I tend to eat a lot more steak than I used to as most options on a pub menu involve things I don’t eat anymore, a shame, but hey. However today there were no steaks available, they’d not re-stocked since Christmas. I had a tasty Lamb Shank whilst everyone else opted for Chicken and Ham pie. The pie looked like it could have done with a touch longer in the oven to get some colour on the pastry and the chips could have done with a touch more cooking. An average meal, we didn’t bother to stay for pudding.

We waved goodbye to Anne and Alasdair who headed off to their hotel for the night, then made our way back to the boat to start to consume the chocolate mountain on board.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 visitors, 16 sausage rolls, 2 balls wool, 1 pattern, 4 bottle beer, 1 afternoon chatting, 3 undercooked pies, 1 lamb shank, 1.5 pints Hobgoblin, 1 pint Doombar, 1 very large glass for 1 bottle of Crabbies, 2 whips (what happened to the walnuts?!), 1 Santa, 1 reindeer, 1 Luther.

Turning At The Turn. 26th December

Chambers Bridge 100, Oxford Canal to Butchers Bridge 1, Grand Union Canal

P1440957smNo rush this morning, Tilly got an hour of freedom before we wanted to push off, she most probably just wanted to tidy up the towpath from her Christmas day spree. Boats started coming past early, the crews all wrapped up. By the time we started to move the world had warmed up a touch, so quite so many layers weren’t needed.

P1440976smWe pootled our way under grey skies for just over a mile towards Braunston Turn. Then took the right folk to head into Braunston.

P1440983smP1440989smThere was plenty of space as we came past the pub and under the bridge that we’ve been driving over this last week. We hoped this would bode well for our preferred mooring further along.

P1440993smDespite our water tank having been filled at Napton we’d used quite a lot of it already so we paused at the Stop House to fill and empty the rubbish. From here we could see there was plenty of space so we passed the entrance to the marina and pulled in just before the bridge. Here there is easier access up into the village, a short reverse back to wind, around half way between the two chandlers, a little bit further away from the road and a slightly wider towpath (admittedly a touch muddy at the moment). Tilly quite likes it here as there are trees to keep her busy despite there only being a narrow strip of land between us and the marina. They think I stay near the boat, but across the bridge there are huge fields to play in for hours! I just have to find the right moment to cross over the bridge without woofers.

P1440995smLiving on a boat means space is limited. We’ve been putting up with presents taking over half of the dinette for the last couple of weeks, but now they are all opened homes need to be found for their contents. Father Christmas having visited means that there is now more space in cupboards in the bedroom, so clothes could all now go away. So for much of the afternoon we spent having a good tidy up, the floors even got a wash!

Now there is space for more than two of us on board. Maybe we should have some visitors.

DSCF7114sm0 locks, 1.81 miles, 1 right, 1 hour at morning dingding, 2.5 hours before evening dingding, 12 moving boats, 1 dinette capable of seating 6, 1 tidy boat, 1 clean floor, 1 muddy towpath, 4 muddy paws!

https://goo.gl/maps/dcs7VRyBDT42

Pipmas! 25th December

Middle of nowhere South Oxford Canal

IMG_20181225_091629smFather Christmas had visited bring us all three lots of goodies in our stockings. Tilly soon commandeered all four bouncy balls and started to work her way through her stash of Dreamies, old style and the super dooper new ones.

P1440929smAfter a leisurely cuppa in bed accompanied by the first of the chocolate Mick got on with breakfast, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with a bucks fizz on the side. Tilly headed out and spent most of the day ignoring us and doing her best to find all possible friends who might be living in the sideways trees.

P1440930smNext came presents of the Christmas variety. We had done well this year with a big stash that has been taking over the corner of the dinette for a while. Lots of good presents, foody stuff, beanie hats with built in lights, a new frying pan and roasting tin, Inspector Morse DVDs, mugs, books, a new fleece for Mick, a knitted mouse for Tilly and a book of swearing old ladies!

P1440932smIMG_20181225_111231smP1440934smTilly obliged in returning home so we managed to step outside for a bit of a walk. Our mooring, being a touch remote meant that there was no round route unless we wanted to eat very late in the day. So we only walked up to the next winding hole before returning, it was quite a grey day anyway.

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Late afternoon we enjoyed our roast duck with all the trimmings although we nearly forgot about the stuffing, it was still sat in the bottom of the oven. In the past I’ve always stuffed the duck, but this year I’d read in several places that you shouldn’t. However it’s late arrival to the table meant we’d had chance to make some space for it on our plates. No need for seconds, just a rest for a couple of hours. We’ll have the seconds tomorrow.

IMG_20181225_160944smThen came tree presents. Mick got new hair trimmers, I got Paddinton 2 and Tilly got a fish, except she was still a bit busy leaving body parts on the towpath! As it was now dark she was encouraged to head for home by being picked up. She quickly turned her attention to killing her fish. It is just like the fish I caught a couple of years ago, must get more practice at fishing.

P1440945sm

Birthday presents came next. Prime Suspect DVDs, new towels, books, tea towels and a very nice smock from a lady in Cornwall we’d seen at Blenheim, my hefty hint had been taken.

48409184_2561027420578255_8715911896961646592_nBirthday cake. We think that maybe we will need to invest in new candles for the next birthday as these proved hard to light, some broke and they all did a very good job of covering the top of my cake with wax. This didn’t stop us from having a slice with some buffalo ice cream. Very nice.

Not much to watch on the TV so we carried on with our binge watching of Luther, just the right sort of jolly viewing required on Christmas Day!

The canal was quite quiet with only two boats passing us all day, one of them twice. Our nearest neighbour walked his dog past, he was the only passer by. So a nice quiet mooring for a very nice Pipmas.IMG_20181225_184318sm

Christmas Eve. You’ve guessed it, 24th and the start of 25th December.

Lock 9  to somewhere between Napton Junction and Braunston

IMG_20181224_100326smChristmas Eve has been busy. A wonderful misty morning that meant the car having to be defrosted and scraped with a credit card, thank goodness boats don’t require having a clear windscreen.

Then into Daventry to drop off old engine oil at the tip. Then back up to Braunston to visit the Post Office. A card and  a parcel to pick up and we were on our way back to the boat.

IMG_20181224_104658smIMG_20181224_114026smMick headed to drop the car back at Enterprise whilst I got on with a few Christmas Eve jobs, the most important one, making the sausage rolls! Tilly busied herself trying to work out what was in the parcel from her friends Dog and Mungo.

P1440893smOnce Mick returned we pushed off and  descended the last lock of the Napton flight and pulled in to dispose of yellow water and as much rubbish as we could find (there’s always something you miss).

P1440895smThe third Kate hire boat we’ve seen in two days vacated the water point so we pushed over and filled the tank up. The oven was put on, kettle filled and we were on our way.

P1440913smThis is the first time we’ve ever cruised on Christmas Eve, we’ve normally reached our chosen destination by now. It turns out we chose a really good Christmas Eve. The sun was out, it’s low angle catching all the lumps and bumps in the fields. Soon the timer beeped and our Christmas cruising sausage rolls were ready.

IMG_20181224_142131smWith a cuppa each we cruised past the windmill high up on the hill. At Napton Junction we carried straight on, hoping to find a space on our own away from the roads. The number of boats coming towards us suggested that we’d be lucky to get a stretch of towpath all to ourselves. Today we’ve seen more moving boats than in the last month.

With the day drifting away I headed below to start the preparation for tomorrow leaving Mick to pootle us along to a suitable space. Days like today I have two cookers, the multifuel stove top comes in handy at keeping things simmering, also saving us gas. The cider gravy stock sadly has to bubble for quite sometime to reduce and increase it’s tastyness. Today we cruised with the side hatch and galley window open to try to cut down on the amount of moisture inside, the windows still steamed up! As we pulled in the sun was just starting to dip below the horizon, Tilly was allowed out for an hour even though it was starting to get dark.

P1440918smStock, stuffing, braised red cabbage, bread sauce all just need finishing off. All presents are wrapped. This evening we’ve enjoyed half of our ham baked with maple syrup and wholegrain mustard accompanied by dauphinoise potatoes. My birthday cake has been baking and is now cooling giving off very tasty smells.

IMG_20181224_231011smThe stockings are out in front of the stove waiting for the man in red. We’ve lit our two guiding lights just so that he can find us, one at the bow and the other at the stern.

1 lock, 5.81 miles, 1 straight on, 1 parcel, 1 card, 1 still to come, 10 litres oil, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 8 sausage rolls, 4 each, 0 Frank to steal any, 2 cuppas, 1st Christmas Eve cruise ever, 2 many boats, 1 stretch with our name on it, 1 very good smell, 1 hour! 12 extremely tasty morsels in my bowl before dingding, 1 ham, 1 mountain of presents, 1 birthday cake cooling.

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Christmas morning and Father Christmas found us.

7 pairs socks, 10 pencils, 3 pairs scissors, 3 chocolate oranges, 2 light switches, 64 fire lighters, 2 types Dreamies, 4 bouncy balls, 6 walnut whips, 1 pump action hand wash, 1 Ladybird book of Great Inventions, 2 spoons, 6 candles, 2 much chocolate!

Happy Christmas to all our readers

Have a wonderful day

xxx