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Friday, February 27, 2009

AWAY FROM RUGBY

Arriving at Newbold on the outskirts of Rugby it was nice to be met with an invitation of coffee from Dot & Derek on Gipsy Rover. It was nice to have a chat having not seen them both for some time but that`s the way it goes travelling the system boaters sometimes passing each other several times and then perhaps a year will go by before meeting again.
Time to cast off along the Oxford Canal and through the illuminated Newbold tunnel the plan

being to make a return trip up the Ashby canal but will just see what happens.....no pressure.
Above is the Stretton base of Rose narrowboats whose hire fleet look neat and tidy ready for the already started hire season. The little bridge gives access to workshops for the fleet and all the times i`ve passed someone has pushed open the swing bridge.
On to Hawkesbury Jct. and it looks as though the old Toll hse has been turned into a sub Police




station as there is now a blue lamp above the door with West Midlands Police crest on it.
Onto the Ashby Canal and first stop was somewhere quiet so i could get the chainsaw out to cut down some rather large trunks i had obtained near to Hawkesbury Jct.
moving on as I passed Limekilns pub I spotted this novel form of water transport looks a bit like it was based on the pedalo boats that can be hired on some beaches.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

PICTURE ALBUM IS LIVE

After many frustrating hours of trying the album of 500 photos can now be viewed.
So just click on the link top right, hit the slideshow mode, adjust the time lapse between pics to suit yourself and i hope you enjoy this the first of several albums i will do in the future.
So after sitting here for ages putting captions on most of the pics i am now gonna make myself a curry.
Be nice to hear if you enjoyed the show and let me know if you didn`t but please say why.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Happy birthday

JORDAN

9yrs gone by already

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Last w`end i took a trip to visit Andy/Tina whom i cruised with for 2/12 yrs. I was guest aboard `YTENE` for a nice meal and Tina was quizmaster asking "where were we" on different dates during our cruises using her detailed cruise log. Sunday night up the pub finished off a lovely w`end, thanks guys see you both later in the year.
While in Braunston it was good to see Del & Al on `DERWENT 6` arrive after being iced in on the Leicester Arm. Didn`t get a picture so click the link there`s one on their blog. Again a nice evening in the pub together with their guests Len & Terry. I wish you happy cruising in this your 1st year on Derwent6.
So on with my cruising and after doing an oil change and installing a pump to the engine sump, i better explain to those that don`t know. The method of removing oil from the engine was by way of a hand held pump via a tube down the dipstick hole. Now a large number of engines have the pump permanently connected to the engine sump drain plug so all you do is open the valve place a can under the pump spout and pump out the old oil. So now NB Valerie has one and it`s so much easier and cleaner.
Up the Oxford through Rugby is my chosen route on my way to the Welsh Llangollen canal although this destination could change.......Ahh! freedom. Along the Oxford this bridge below is
still in need of some TLC having been in this state for the past 3 yrs.
Further along this canal side property had a nice Dove house and it seemed a bit posh with the

dining area on the 1st floor the lounge above and sleeping quarters at the top.
The locks above are at Hillmorton and i am just about to enter. The flight is made up of 3 pairs of singles. Nice and easy to operate single handed with one gate to enter and 2 gates to exit, one can be opened and you can then step across and open t`other. When i exit i stop the boat just by the gates and use my pole to push them shut.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I AM CHUFFED

Went out for a stroll and as i approached the site of yesterdays sunken cruiser a BW tug had just finished securing it to the towpath as they passed i learnt they would be back Wednesday to remove it probably using a small floating crane. Hopefully i might be around to see the event but then again i might be off to moorings new such is the life of a boater.

Now you might have noticed a few changes to the front page of the blog in as far that I have added my location under the "Where am i now" heading on the right, also the followers of the blog have increased to 5......Welcome to you. I suppose the followers is like joining a fan club as i know a lot of people read the blog but perhaps they don`t want to join the fan club and that`s fine everyone is welcome.
As i`ve said before no way am i a computer expert and that location gadget believe it or not took me about an hour and half to get on the blog as the instructions were to me in a foreign language with html, paste, rss, face north standing on 1 leg. Anyway the latest add on "My photo album" was a record breaker, time wise. Last night i spent 4hrs untill 2am trying to add it using the photo bucket system and gave up, but this evening within 35 mins using picasa i achieved what to me seemed like conquering the world and that`s why the title of this blog is I AM CHUFFED.
The one and only picture in my album, more will be added soon, was taken on the Leeds & Liverpool canal and is a Memorial to the Polish air crew that died when their bomber crashed nearby in WW2. This single picture was needed to create an album for my link to work.

Monday, February 16, 2009

RED MARKS THE SPOT

Leaving Braunston along the Puddle Banks (towards Calcutt) you might see a red plastic sheet in the water......BEWARE. I gave it a slow wide berth but felt NB Valerie hit something so i lifted the said plastic sheet and found it was attached to a sunken cruiser. In the picture i am right alongside it having hit the submerged front end luckily pushing it out of my way.
I have informed BW at Braunston Stop House so it might get removed soon but beware if you are in the area fellow bloggers.
Further along some shady characters on the towpath and i`m wondering if they had anything to do with the sunken boat. Descriptions as follows; Black and white, 4 legs and very dirty so obviously living in the surrounding fields, if seen please contact crime stoppers or your local police station.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I HAD TO BREAK FREE

The time had come when enough was enough after being trapped by the ice for 9 days. I was moored just back from that blue BW work boat and just the very short journey to the jct. of the Leicester Arm took 1hr 40mins and from where the photo below was taken I was about half way.
Most of the time was taken going back and forth on the mooring breaking the ice with the boat pole so the boat could be pushed away from the towpath to enable some steerage. Once this was done i could get the front end pointing to the centre of the canal and by forward and reverse I gradually forced the boat through the ice.
Once past the jct. the ice was not to bad as towpath work was going on with work boats going
back and forth to edge the bank with sandbags as the towpath along this stretch has been eroding quite a lot recently. Still it was nice to be moving again and heading for Braunston with the chance to stock up the galley with a major supermarket shop.
As I arrived in Braunston I met Pete a fellow blogger from PICKLES 2 out walking his dog.
Just leaving the following day Jo & Keith again bloggers on HADAR.
So nice to have a galley full of food and see water flowing not just solid ice. The canal has iced over at night but with boat movements the ice is not around long enough to build up.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

NEW GATES FOR OLD

As i said on the last blog i passed some time watching the lock gates at Buckby top lock being changed and now with NB Valerie in a new location together with a much stronger Internet signal here are some pics. The pics on the last blog were taking 17 mins to download but now with a better signal all 8 here took 11mins.

Off comes the old beam

Up and over into the car park. You can see NB Valerie in the distance on the right with smoke rising from the chimney.
The lorry with the new gates arrives
First off the cill buffer beam that protects the concrete that the gates close against below water. A bit like the old bumper bars that were fitted to cars, remember them strong metal in shiny chrome that gave quite a lot of protection to the car unlike the plastic so common today.
You can see the 2 gates but in case anyone is wondering why only one gate beam it`s because one of the old ones still has some life left in it and will be re-used.
In comes a new gate
being lowered into the lock chamber, the new gates will be craned into position another day when work to the lock chamber is finished
Above and below out comes the first of the old gates.

Just looked out the window as i publish this blog and guess what it`s Snowing heavy, so glad i moved.

Monday, February 09, 2009

STILL ICED IN

The canal still has a layer of ice and the snow is still around so my progress is zero. But the good news is it`s raining, not a lot but the snow is thinning out and the ice is becoming slushy so fingers crossed there might be a chance to move in the next day or so.
The internet signal here is not great and in fact the pictures on this and the last blog took 17mins each to download/upload?.....put on the blog. Anyway the time taken allowed me to knock up a casserole while keeping an eye on the screen.
Apart from a lot of walking and reading i have also been installing the software for my new camera, sounds all clever and techie but all i did was put in the cd and clicked the things it told me to. One thing i have so far discovered is the image correction option that comes up with the pictures downloaded from camera to PC, this was on the old camera set up but not on the 1st page if you follow and it is so much easier to do without sending the pic elsewhere first plus i can type in titles on the image. OK so you clever pepes know all this but to me a 61yr old who`s only been into computers and digital cameras a short time it`s brilliant. Below is before and after image correction of a duck.

Saturday just gone i decided to get a bus into Daventry to get a few supplies in case the ice age really took a hold. Now on board i keep bus timetable books for many areas and although some are 2 yrs out of date at least i get an idea of routes and up to date times can be found on the net.
The 96 every 2hrs was the one i needed but trying to find it on the Stagecoach site was a nightmare all it told me was D4/5/6 etc and after 20 mins it dawned on me to bring up these and lo and behold one of them was the new number for the 96 route. A 10 min walk down the towpath and i find the name of the house it stops outside, this is rural England no bus stops here remember, 25 mins later watching the cars and vans whizzing by on this cleared of snow B road and i accepted the bus was not running. It was 2 1/2 miles down the road to Long Buckby village that from previous visits i knew 2 small supermarkets and numerous other small shops could be found so that was the decision some exercise and restock the galley.
Sunday morning i discovered that after all that walking Saturday i had forgotten to get milk! Yes i felt the same as you`re thinking, Dumb idiot. No matter a 35 minute walk along the towpath and right beside the canal is Watford Gap services on the M1 and good old W H Smith sold milk.
On the walk i did spot some fallen wood so if log supplies get low then i can at least lay my hands on some and it was a nice day for a stroll anyway.
have been watching the BW crew taking out the old lock gates at Buckby today and will put some pics on the next blog hopefully when i can be somewhere with a better net signal.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

ICE AND SNOW STOP PLAY

Well a bit of a shock this morning as the snow was 4" deep on the roof and towpath. This wasn`t the first snow but Monday`s efforts didn`t even cover the grass alongside the boat. Ice has been in attendance since Monday although thin i decided to hang around as the 7 locks ahead of me down into Braunston would have been slippery and solo boating through locks needs care in dry conditions so the thought of a slippery lockside has kept me moored up for now.
How long i will be here depends on weather the temperature rises or falls as the ice on the canal now has a heavy deposit of snow just waiting to freeze over.......wish it would rain........bored...........don`t like being forced to stay in one place. Still could be worse at least i have enough wood cut to keep myself warm.

the flight of locks behind me closed on Monday and as you can see in the picture below the canal has been drained so BW can do some repairs, the picture was taken yesterday and you can see the small amount of snow on the ground. Still it was a good time to go fishing not with rod and line but magnet and line......no i`m not going crazy being moored up for so long, what happens is boaters usually hirer`s lose their windlasses ( lock winders) by dropping them in and with the water drained there they are sitting on the mud asking to be rescued. A walk down the flight of 6 locks produced 3 windlasses and 2 mooring hooks. At £10-£15 each it`s nice to have spares although in the 3yrs of my boating life i have not lost one yet. Yes i have lost one into the water on a couple of occasions but with a little bit of fishing around the magnet has always found them.

The fish in case anybody is wondering usually follow the water as it drains down through the locks and any stragglers are netted by BW workers and re-located beyond the drained sections.
Talking of fish 1/2 ton of fish were recently released into the Gd. Union near to Uxbridge after being moved from another location during an environmental project, more on this HERE click on headline news although it might have moved by now so click around the story will be there .

So sitting here looking out at the snow with hardly a sole apart from the odd walker now and again i`m thinking although a bit bored being iced in and unable to cruise at least it`s peaceful and as always on the canal system a relatively safe environment.......ok if you`ve just looked at the link above and read some horrible things happening along the cut remember compared to the real world??....come back to that..... the horrible things are minuscule on the cut when put up against what is reported in towns and cities countrywide.
Real World! Not really a real world or an un-real one it`s just one big one and everyone decides which corner they want to be part of, but for sure the canal world seems to escape the pressures of materialistic life that i was once part of. No credit crunch worries, well not to the extent of people worrying about jobs and paying the mortgage although the interest rates have affected retired savers like myself but heh i can survive it`s not the end of the world a bit less interest.
No at the end of the day when i think of being retired in a house unable to move and see the different parts of the country with my bed and breakfast close at hand my decision to retire on board NB Valerie was a good one. Plenty of fresh air and exercise doing the locks and walking.

Took a picture of these Snowdrops about a week ago and although i`ve not seen any yet the lambs are in the fields and the days are getting longer so another years cruising is fast approaching in fact as soon as this ice melts it will begin. The Lamb pictures can be seen on Sue`s blog HERE scroll down as Sue blogs regularly and the lamb pics were a while ago. One year Sue i will blog a lamb pic before you.
My son Steve runs a wrestling school ACW and also puts on shows in various venues and it just happened that a 15 minute walk a few weeks back when i was moored in Fenny Stratford took me to Bletchley Leisure Centre where he had a show. In the picture below that`s him on the far right taking part in a tag team match. He does it all part time and although on a small scale at the moment it could expand and earn him mega bucks. The crowd at Bletchley was about 250/300 so still some interest around. Anyone remember Ken Wolstenhome... think that was the name...on Saturday afternoons at 4pm with Big daddy, Catweazel,Royal Brothers and Giant haystacks to name a few......showing my age now eh...oh well. Mick Mcmanus another.