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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

ASHBY CANAL

Back in time, the tearoom on the inside
Tea shop Market Bosworth
End of navigation
Shackerstone railway stn.
"VALERIE" moored at Shackerstone
Have now been on the Ashby for 6 days and what a wonderful experience it`s been. The canal is navigable for 22 miles upto snarestone. About 5 miles further on the canal is in water at Donisthorpe for about2 miles and there are plans to join the 2 sections once again.
The canal is mostly small villages and the largest place must be Hinckley so keeping the food cupboard filled is a must as most moorings -the best anyway- are remote. While in Hinckley i noticed on the map a greyhound track, that`s track not stadium just 800yds and it`s yards not meteres as i am old and english, from the canal. Now the one and only time i went to a dog track was 30 yrs ago so as i am retired and doing things i fancy off John and i went on a saturday night. Yes i am still with John, he`s a nice bloke and we get on ok pleasing ourselves if we stay in or go out no hassle. Well this track turns out to be a flapping track, that is it`s un-licenced.All it consisted off was a circular track of grass and sand with floodlights on poles that looked as if a dog collided with them they would crash to the ground. A small box on stilts was the control tower and a small bar area. Three bookmakers were on site standing on a long bench with their large bag and an assistant writing down the bets. I estimate the attendance was approx 150 punters so how they made money is beyond me. The bookies had the tote as competition. On the tote you could only bet 50p upwards on 1st and 2nd dog so you had to pick the two best dogs, but you could do a reverse bet so your 2 dogs could finish 1st or 2nd. Gonna stop on that as i am not other than the lotto now and again a gambler. Was a good night though.
The Battlefield Line is a steam railway of some 9 miles in length between Shenton and Shackerstone. The remainder of the railway ceased in the sixties and all that remains is run and maintained by steam enthusiasts.
Market Bosworth is a typical village along the Ashby and it was here the small tearoom was discovered up a small courtyard between the buildings. Going inside for a cuppa was like going back in time.It was crammed full of victorian bits and bobs and some intersting pictures of the village in the past, also on the walls lots of the old metal advertising signs.
So still on the ashby but i am going back to see family for the w`end as i have in the last week been made a g`dad again so must go and cuddle Teo my 7lb g`son. The name Teo is Turkish as my son steve is married to a lovely young Turkish girl Ozlem. For the trip i have hired a car this time to make sure ican visit a lot more people. The car co. will collect me canal side and drop me back on monday.

Friday, June 23, 2006

COVENTRY

Inside Coventry cathedral

The first bike i owned at 16

A small corner in The museum of transport

This s/steele structure erected to commemerate Whittle the jet engine genius

Coventry basin well lit at night
Well as i said in last post the the trip into Coventry was not very nice but the basin with it`s close proximity to the city centre made it a worthwile. The basin it self was well lit at dusk and very quiet even with a pub just a short distance away from the canalside. On arrival boats are met by city rangers based in an office within the basin who give out a small welcome pack including a very usefull map listing all the touristy type things and also laundrette, post office etc. From just outside the basin a footbridge takes you over the ring road and you are then 2 mins walk to the centre of this very interesting city. The museum of transport is very much a must see venue featuring cars, buses,lorries, pedal cycles and motorcycles amongst which i found the exact same model of a Francis Barnet 197cc that i owned in 1964 at the age of 16.
The museum was a wonderful experience lasting some 3 hrs for the princely sum of nowt.
Outside are the two steele arches to commemerate Frank Whittle the jet engine genius.
Moving across the city i noticed the huge modern shopping centre both indoor and outdoor the former being mostly under glass canopies so dry shoppers are happy shoppers, so what do they do........spend more. Clever these planners eh. The indoor market came next built like a giant roundabout, ok for you long time boaters that`s like a giant winding hole, me being new on the cut i can still remember them. Anyway the roof of the market was a car park(mooring).
Although not a religous person i felt i had to see the both the bombed and new cathedrals. I must say i was quite impressed by the sheer size and workmanship of this building from the stain glass to....well all of it.
Walking on came to spon street,not spoon, where although some of the buildings dating hundreds of years were on their original sites some had been dis-mantled during the re-building of coventry following the 1940 bombing and re erected to form a street to give some idea of coventry past.
All the walking around was spread over the two days allowed for mooring and this was monitored by the rangers so 48hrs and off heading to the Ashby canal i have read about on Sue`s blog RETIREMENT NO PROBLEM check this site out it`s better than mine but please come back here now and again. Link to Sue is on left of my blog. Sue does all fancy links in the text, i can`t get the hang of yet, and also Sue has photo albums go on check it out as i have finished for now.

Monday, June 19, 2006

It`s been a cloudy day today and i was very surprised it did not rain, in fact it finaly rained at 9pm but `VALERIE` was alredy moored in Coventry basin just a 4 min walk from the city centre. Will be out and about tomorrow looking for amongst other things the transport museum and the old cathedral. The cruise up here from Hawkesbury Jct. was not pleasent as the canal went past a mainly industrial scene some factories long closed down. Also the amount of rubbish in the cut was disgusting. At one point i had to stop to push a large tree trunk and part of a wooden fence to one side as they were right across the cut. Still the basin is well lit and clean and where else could you park so close to a city centre for free. Want to watch the England match tomorrow but picture not good as surrounded by buildings, but heh you can`t have it all.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

RUGBY

The present tunnel with 3 colour lighting

The original tunnel

Hillmorton locks
The decorated bridges

Arrived at Rugby Thursday after passing through Hillmorton locks. This was my first experience of this type of lock and as you can see in the pic they are 2 single locks side by side so if it`s not busy you can use either and you might be lucky one of the two might be in your favour. The picture was taken from my boat and Tina/Andy plus John working their boats through ahead of me. Also you can see some newly aquired logs on my roof, they`ll be nice and dry by winter. There are three sets of these twin locks between us and Rugby.
We all made a night stop at bridge 58 Brownsover just on the outskirt of Rugby. This was a convenient mooring for Tesco and a retail park that much to Tina`s delight had a shoe warehouse. A lot of the bridges along here have been decorated canal side and make passing under them a pleasent change from brick arches.
Left early friday to get upto present location Newbold on Avon ( g`children get mum to mark your map) . Have moored just short of the illuminated Newbold tunnel(250yds long) as Tina/Andy have freind staying the w`end--hi des-- and i have arranged for Beccy to do some more paintwork on sunday, just some scroll work between windows.
While typing this blog a chap stopped by asking if i was the Valerie he had been reading about it seems for sometime. Nice to people who read the blog so if any one passes by please say hello.
While out walking managed to find the original Newbold tunnel that was in use before the canal company many years ago cut some 13 miles off the journey by re routing the canal thus cutting out the twists and turns which resulted the present tunnel going straight through the high ground not around it.
On my travels have caught site of a bird of prey being worked by a chap in a field right next to the canal and at 4 mph had agreat few minutes entertainment also a fox mid day trotting across a field. Nice to see foxy where he belongs running free un-like the urban fox dodging cars and people. OK folks that`s all to-night HAPPY FATHERS DAY TO ALL YOU DADS OUT THERE.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

WAITING FOR ENGLAND MATCH

Lunch with a view


Spotted these canoist`s at bridge 73 on the Oxford canal where we had stopped for the night to take advantage of a verychildren friendly pub/restaurant called the hungry horse. If you stop with kids be aware the downstairs soft play area leads straight onto the canal bank SO WATCH THEM, it`s a fire reg that the door has to be open in an emergency.

Just sitting on front deck with TV turned so i can watch the match in the fresh air and was doodling some figures and thought someone looking to be a boater might be interested so decided to blog before the ENGLAND game starts.

Started off N.B. VALERIE was a new boat and upto a week ago had done just over 200 hrs, yes i also before i became a boater didn`t realise engine hours NOT miles as on a car were the record of the use a boat has had. So for those 200 or so hours i have used 222 litres of fuel @ an average of 51p a ltr, so about 1 litre an hour. Don`t ask how many miles i have covered as i don`t record it. But if you delve back in the blog you can get an idea. Roughly...............

Hemel Hempstead to marsworth twice down to London back upto Braunston onto Crick and Mkt Harborough back through Braunston to present location RUGBY. Quite a lot of miles and a lot of nice scenery.

Have changed the engine oil twice at a cost of £23 a time and Gearbox oil once at £9. The engine oil filters are purchased through car spares outlets at a much reduced price than chandlery`s in fact half the price in some cases. Fuel filter changed at cost of £6.

So 51p per hour fuel and £61 maintenance. Licence for my 58` boat cost £547 Insurance varies but £250-£350 will get you a fully comp policy that includes contents. Just remembered changed my gas bottle at cost of £17 after 9 weeks use.

So hope that helps someone out there and if you want an honest answer from a virgin live -aboard e mail me. As time goes by things will need replacing such as water pumps in the boat but hopefully later rather than sooner, but of course i have a warranty to full back on of 1 year and the engine is for 2 years. Continuse cruising as i do is much cheaper than running a house. While cruising you generate electricity and lovely hot water. No rates, no tv licence. Burn logs-picked up as i travel- Free heat. Central heating boiler runs off boat fuel 51p ltr but not used much as logs heat boat well.

Anyway i love this life. Where did you eat your lunch today. my typical lunch view is in pic at top.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

SIGNWRITE/NEW G`CHILD/SUMMER

Keirnan 1yr old after a hectic crawl around the garden finds a nice resting place
Keira, my latest grandaughter

A nice job made by the signwriter Beccy
Having secured a mooring in the Mkt. Harborough basin Beccy arrived on saturday morning to start on signwriting the boat. Now i know it was going to be called SELEUS as in les/sue in reverse but following the amicable parting of sue and myself and now being on my own i have called the boat VALERIE after my late wife. Anyway Beccy worked over the w`end and come sunday lunchtime she had completed the bow both sides and one side of the rear. As she wanted some time with family she decided to finish off on monday so i turned the boat in the basin and moored ready for her to arrive monday. I connected the electric hook-up that came with the mooring charge as i was going to be away for a few days visiting family.The good thing with the hook-up is not having to worry about the batteries going flat while away and my freezer thawing, also it gives me a chance to use the washing machine to my hearts content. Normaly i would put washing on as i cruise to maintain battery power.So off i went catching a train at Mkt. Harborough station and ended up standing all the way to luton as midland mainline for some un-known reason had put on a 4 coach inter city instead of the usual 8 coach. One of my sons met me at the station and within 10 mins i was cuddling Keira my newest grandaughter who entered the world 2 wks ago at just over 9lb. Managed to get down to Watford and see my other son Andy and his wife Bev and of course g`children Jack and Jordan- Hi there kids. Then back to luton and more visiting of freinds. Unfortunatly did not see my son Steve and his very pregnant wife Ozlem as she was not feeling to good. Will see you both when i next visit by which time i will be a grandad again.
So where am i now? I left Mkt Har` on thursday and caught up with andy and Tina on their boat YTENE and John on TUI at the bottom of foxton locks for a route meeting over tea of course. It was decided Andy/Tina would head for Rugby and John and i fancied Coventry so we all would cruise together for a while. So up the foxton flight we went one by one me in the middle. Now the way to go up a staicase flight, that`s where the gate you exit becomes a gate for the next lock is to let the person in front clear the lock and shut the gate before you do anything to enable your boat to enter. Now for reasons best known to John he decided to start winding the paddles before i had got half in to the next lock let alone shut the gate with the result i had no water under me and ended up hi and dry on the floor of the lock. Well we soon got it sorted but the lockeeper was soon down from the top of the flight wanting to know who drained the middle pound wasting his preciouse water. Poor John he had to own up.So at the top lock the ice creams were on him. That reminds me at the top lock as i was about to exit 2 young boys with parents wathing decided to get a bit to close to a swan and her young with the result out of the water came mum, they retreated quick but soon again moved forward towards mum who was between her babes and the boys. The wings flapped and the hissing started and as the boys parents did nothing i got off the boat and got them back from the swan, the problem was there were 2 elderly people next the boys and if the swan had attacked the boys would have moved quick but that would have left the elderly couple right in the line of attack.
After a rest we cruised for 2/3 hours and stopped the night in the middle of nowhere, hot sunny peace. After the wet days spent at the crick show it would appear summer is here as i sit under the sun umbrella typing this. As we are re tracing our previouse route from crick i am sitting back at crick where just 2 weeks ago boats were breasted up for the show, not so now moorings for all. Will stay the w`end as Tina/Andy watching motor racing on tv sunday, John has visitor sunday and i am just re-laxing and enjoying this wonderful life.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

CRICK TO Mkt HARBOROUGH

TINA, ANDY & JOHN
FOXTON STAIRCASE FLIGHT OF LOCKS
MUM & DAD OUT WITH THE KIDS
Mkt. HARBOROUGH BASIN
John & i left crick at 8am on wednesday after using the water point, rubbish & elsan facilities ahead of us 16 lock free miles to foxton locks. Our final destination being Mkt. Harborough as i have arranged for a lady,BECCY, to signwrite the boat. I met Beccy at the crick show and saw some of her work and felt confident she will do a nice job on the boat. Andy & Tina who i have been moored with at crick had left the day before as they are booked in at Debdale wharf to have their boat blacked and were worried about getting through foxton flight as after crick show there can be very long delays. We came across them some 5 miles out of crick and it was a good excuse to stop for a cuppa and a chat. As there boat was not due out for blacking till monday we teamed up to foxton and stopped a couple more times taking it in turn to play host for tea and cake. So three boats en route to foxton, got ourselves a convoy. On route i stopped at North Kilworth to re-fuel and took on 132 litres at54p(how does that compare with road prices) . On we go through Husbands Bosworth tunel(1166yds long) arriving at Foxton locks at about 3pm. We contacted the lockeeper as you cannot enter the flight unless he says so and he said we would have a couple of hours to wait, we had 2 boats in front of us and he had 2 waiting to come up. So a stroll around the locks and more tea soon passed the time. Also gave me time to look at my central heating boiler that refused to start at 6am this morning so i could shower it was to early to run the engine for hot water. Had a prod about and it seems to have been sooted up and now works fine but as i have a tank of really hot water from all day cruising it won`t be needed at the moment. Last entry into the locks was 6.15 but the lockie assured us we would be in before this and true to his word in we went one by one at about 5.15. I was last of our convoy and the others were waiting at the bottom and we all moored in the Mkt. Harborough arm for the night and retired to the pub. Thursday morning and setting off at about 11am we cruised for a couple of hours into the basin at M. Har. and tied up on the 48 hr moorings. We walked down to the Brit. Waterways office and i booked a basin mooring for friday morning after speaking to beccy about the signwriting. As Andy & Tina are walking towards me i now am going to the pub.