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Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Have now turned myself around and i am heading away from London. Having taken on water and emptied the loo i set off on Monday leaving my good friends and travelling companions Andy/Tina & John. Ahead of me about 20 hrs and 40 odd locks.

Cruised through ice at Harefield for about 1 1/2miles but this was no surprise as the canal at this point is very open and surrounded by lakes. So far have managed to team up with other boaters to share some of the locks but still have ben on my own through some.

At Watford my daughter in law stopped by on her way to work to drop off prezzies and surprised me by her having a non work day that meant we had a nice cuppa well 2 actually and a natter. Thanks Bev i enjoyed your company.

Two more stops on the way as i met people i know but as i`ve got plenty of time it was nice to stop.

This time last year i had on board some veneered panels to make my Dinette and again i have more panels this time to add a floor to ceiling cuboard near the front doors to hang coats and for extra storage. This time of year well just after christmas anyway is a good time to do a few jobs while waiting for all the winter stoppages to finish and when i have finished the alterations i will blog some pics.

Well i`m looking forward to seeing some of the G`children open their prezzies and all that remians to do is wish you all a very happy christmas and most important a very healthy new year. Thankyou all for your support and kind comments And "Annon" if you do happen to still read my lifeless blog my good wishes also go to you, i bear you no malice.

Working boats outside the Shroppie Fly on the Audlem Flight of locks

Saturday, December 15, 2007


A few months ago i fitted a smoke alarm and a Carbon Monoxide alarm. Just as with many insurances you have them and hopefully never need to claim but god help you if something happens and you are not covered.
Well sitting here yesterday evening doing the blog the C. Monoxide alarm suddenly went off and after recovering from a near heart attack, boy is it LOUD, i silenced it and first went out and pushed the brush down the chimney thinking the logs i have been burning lately had caused tar to form on the inside and cause a blockage. Having satisfied myself all was ok i then checked around the joint where the chimney enters the top of the stove, i had at the beginning of winter renewed the fire cement here but worth checking i thought but no all was ok. Next the door seal, not easy to check other than looking for any breaks or overly compressed sections that might allow fumes to seep out. By now i`m mystified no explanation so i decided to shut the front doors, these were thrown open before i even silenced the alarm-- fresh air first sort it second, after 2 hours the alarm was still silent but just in case i decided to leave the fire out.
This morning after a nights sleep a closer look at the problem revealed the glass in the door had cracked and because the heat tends to craze the glass it is not as obvious as say in the clear boat windows.
Luckily i managed to get a new glass today from a boat chandlers.
I blog this not to you at home although fitting alarms is a good idea because your central heating boiler can emit C. Monoxide if not in good order, no it`s to other boaters i appeal to. Our small living space can quickly fill with fumes so please check your stove door glass carefully and fit an alarm. If mine had not been there it is a very real possibility i could have been poisoned while i slept that night.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I`ve been asked how i manage to travel the canals without the help of a crew. Well the same tasks have to be undertaken ie mooring the boat and operating the lock but obviously being on your own it takes longer but hey time is on my side and if i don`t get there today then tomorrow will do.
Mostly i have been travelling with friends Andy/Tina and John and between us we get into a routine. With 3 boats going through wide locks as here on the Gd. Union we usually take any 2 through the lock first and 1 of the 2 will go ahead and prepare the next lock while the other helps the 3rd through. If i go ahead i might have the lock ready with the gate open so that the following 2 can go straight in and i then become the 3rd boat and the sequence carries on with one of the others going ahead. Sometimes the boat going ahead will have the kettle on and by the time we lock 2 boats through everyone has a cuppa.
So cruising alone and no one to brew up so my first task before setting off is make up a flask, very handy when winter cruising.
Lets say i`m going uphill and as i approach the lock and from a distance my first hope is i see another boat coming down towards me in which case i stop mid stream and wait for them to exit the lock and i can go straight in without having done a thing.
In the absence of another boat coming through my next hope is can i see a slight gap between the gates showing the lock is empty. If no gap can be seen then all i can do is moor up and walk upto the lock to prepare it. Another alternative is to put the bow against the gate leave the engine in gear slightly and step off the back with a rope, empty the lock and the boat will gently drift in as you open the gate. I`ve given up doing this for many reasons the main one being that the boat usually pushes the opposite gate open and you then have to go all round the lock to shut it.
Right there is a slight gap so i edge the bow upto the gate and gently repeat gently nudge the gate open. Now remember i`m going uphill and if i stay on board and take the boat into the lock i then have to climb up onto the roof walk along and then climb the lock ladder to get upto the lockside. All movements on /off and around a boat in a lock can result in an accident the least being a slight tumble and the worst falling in and either side of the boat will find you not only in deep water but also the sandwich filling between a brick wall and 17 tons of steele boat.
My way no matter if i`ve nudged the gate open or opened it by hand is to slowly bring the boat in and as i pass the steps as pictured below i take a centre rope, i have one each side of the boat coming from a roof fixing half way down the boat to within easy reach of the tiller,
and step off not jump as these steps can be slimy and walk up to the top of the lock lifting the rope over the lock gate i then take the rope around a bollard to bring the boat to a standstill before it hits the top gate. Just a small bump on the gate can be enough to empty a book shelf or a worktop of whatever you might have left out.

Cor never done so much typing lets take a christmas ad break and put the kettle on.
Des Lynam is dressed up as santa with a very pretty Mrs Santa selling something but all the bloke wants for christmas is some puppies?

Some jeweller is selling diamonds so bright they leave a trail of light behind as you walk, bit like the vapour trail behind a plane in the sky.

Woolworth are doing some deals on DVDs that have been out for ever, never the latest ones are they.

Oh and all hurry down to Tesco and you might bump into the Spice Girls.

But wait a minute, Phil Collins music now they`ve got my attention...........chocolate! Mr Cadbury i`m your best customer but please please tell me .. HOW on earth did you teach that Gorrilla to play the drums.

Right i`ve got me cup of tea and put another log on the fire so i leave the rope around the bollard so i `ve always got contact with the boat and i shut the gate. The ground paddle has to be raised to fill the lock and lift the boat to the next level. On single locks both paddles can be raised as the boat has very little space to move around in but on these double locks the sudden inflow of water can cause the boat to be thrown around not a problem if 2 boats are using a double lock but i am here on my own so i just half raise the paddle on the same side as the boat and the water will sweep in under the boat to the rear and hold the boat to the side of the lock as the lock fills i can fully raise the paddle and can then cross the lock to raise the other paddle as by this time the lock has filled to such a degree that incoming water will not have a dramatic effect as when the lock was empty.
Now this tip i learnt from a lady when i first started life on board, she was waiting to lock her boat through from the other direction why in 90% of couples on a boat is it the lady doing the locks? We`ve got lady bus drivers and pilots so what makes it a must for the bloke to stand on the back of the boat and watch the ladies struggle with lock gates. That little tip would have come in handy on one of the first trips out when i opened both paddles and the boat went diagonally across the lock and one of the single steps fitted at the eachside on the curved part of the stern became caught in a gap between the bricks of the lock wall, as the water went down one side of the boat didn`t and it tipped at an alarming rate but because of another tip i learnt i was standing next to the gate paddle watching the boat( never take your eyes off a boat in a lock) as i dropped the paddle down to stop the water draining and the boat tipping anymore it slid out of the gap in the brickwork Phew could have been nasty.
With the lock full i open one gate and slowly exit as i clear the gate a little reverse will stop the boat as i step off with a stern rope, no the ropes not stern just plain rope thats attached to the back, shut the gate step back on and away i go.
So thats going uphill, going down is much the same but as the boat enters the lock i am already level with the lockside so no walking up the steps with a rope this bit is done as i exit and shut the gate but the rope i use is the stern one.
Swingbridges are a pain thats the hand operated ones as opposed to electric key operated. The problem is they always pivot on the non towpath side with no where to moor because of bushes etc, goes back to the horse drawn boat days when the horse can walk past without the tow rope coming in contact with the bridge. What i do is get close to the bridge and take the front rope with me across the bridge open same and pull the boat through grabbing the stern rope as the boat passes close the bridge walk back across and pull the boat towards the towpath and away you go. With electric operation it`s a case of mooring and keeping traffic waiting while you open the bridge and walk back to get the boat moor again and close the bridge.
There`s lots of little things to help a solo boater on his way but with time being no matter you just accept that it will take longer A to B but it`s not impossible.

So christmas looms and this year i am spending the festive period with another of my offspring so i will be heading back away from the London to Herts / Beds area anyone seeing me if i pass your way is welcome to a mince pie and a cuppa.
I hope to post a Christmas card for you all in the next few days.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Coming south from Hemel i spotted this widebeam ahead and my first thought was shiny new

boat it must be Les D & Heidi on their newly launched "BLUE PEARL". No sign of you two being on board so we will have to meet another time. By the way Les the e mail is on the comments box & mine is 15a.

Further along whilst moored at Croxley i caught site of this narrowboat on the back of a lorry

crossing the canal. One place for sure it wasn`t heading was the Earls Court Boat Show because as you can see in the picture below it consisted mainly of high priced yachts.

I decided to have a day out in London to visit the show so clutching my off peak travel card, off peak? even insisting i was in the peak of condition it was still £7.80, i bravely ventured onto the train. Now the first part of the journey to Baker St. was fine although part of the underground system the trains are quite large but changing onto other lines in particular the piccadilly the tunnells are smaller so of course are the trains, height wise that is. Noisy and stuffy with people sitting with faces like you get at the dentist, not used to this i`m a fresh air man. Did you know boaters do it breathing in fresh air.
Anyway i knew knew in my heart of hearts there wouldn`t be much in the way of canal boats and i was right, in fact just 5 inland waterway boats. One was a Hoeseasons holiday boat another a Trail-boat ( can be towed on a trailer waterway to waterway) so that left just 3 builders showing their wares. Disapointed but not surprised the idea was to have a day out so i had a good walk around and at least there were some sales people on stands such as Solar to chat to.
Now this event is publisised as a Boat Show so can anyone tell me why Bentley had 2 of their cars there and hot tubs were on display next to Armchairs that gave you a massage!
Anyway i met Tony Brooks who answers technical boat questions in Canal Boat magazine and made a good usefull contact on a Vetus dealer stand. NB Valerie has a Vetus engine below decks.
So all in all not a wasted day.

Anyone been watching the BBC programme £800 million station recently concluded on BBC2.
Having watched and enjoyed the story of how St Pancras Stn. was restored and transformed into the new terminus for Eurostar trains i couldn`t miss out on a visit on the way back to the boat.
St. Pancras Stn. was designed by William Barlow and building started in 1866. It has a roof of 689` in length, although this has now been extended in glass to accomadate the Eurostar trains, the height was 100` and the 243`span made it the largest enclosed space in the world, a record held for many years.
The basement of the station was opened up and now contains many big name retailers, M&S,
and Hamleys being two that spring to mind. Upstairs at platform level following Wm. Barlows

record largest enclosed space another record has been set by way of Europes longest Champagne bar. Above not a clear picture but if you enlarge it just above the escalator rail on the left part of it can be seen separated from the Eurostar train by a tall glass panel.
On Dec 9th First Capital Connect are relocating from Kings X Thameslink stn so St Pancras station looks to be very much a major London Termini.

This 9 metre high bronze of a couple embracing is by sculptor Paul Day and its siting at the end
of the platforms is meant to become a meeting place for travellers, bit like `meet me under the clock at Victoria i`ll be wearing a carnation` well for a so called meeting place it`s a bit short of some comfortable seats in fact any seating would be nice.
Sir John Betjeman was mostly responsible for saving St. Pancras from demolition in the 1960`s and personally i`m glad because i think the new mixes in with the old very well.
So London-Paris 2hrs 15mins. I wonder how far the steam trains of the late 1800`s would have travelled in that time.

Friday, November 30, 2007




Wednesday, November 28, 2007


A typical view of a retail park that could be anywhere in the country but up until the 1990`s you would have been looking at the John Dickinson paper mill. In the early 1800`s John Dickinson (1782-1869) acquired Apsley, Nash and Croxley mills.
The main site here at Apsley, Hemel Hempstead had in 1809 no trains, buses or cars but what it did have was a wet motorway system of the 1800`s called the Grand Jct. Canal. The London & Nth. Western Railway came along in the 1830`s but it was not until 1938 that Apsley station was built because of the paper mills. It was about this time the railways played a big part in the transport of the mills products.
Up to the railway era and for a long time after the canal played a big part in distribution of the mills paper products and in fact J. Dickinson`s had its own fleet of steam powered narrowboats bringing in coal and raw materials and re-loading paper and stationery for shipment not just in the UK but across the world.
Esparato Grass was a raw material used in paper making and came from Africa never touching dry land until being unloaded at Apsley having been transshipped onto narrowboats in London.

In 1818 Mr Dickinson had negotiated with the canal company to re route the canal closer to his mills (must try and find some evidence of the old route sometime) which i suppose must have been the reason boats played a big part in the daily life at the mills for so long.
Workers at the mills were treated fairly well and in the late 1800`s a whole train would be hired to take workers to the south coast. The 1904 centenary saw every worker getting an extra weeks pay and many workers were in the company Silver Band that often played to radio audiences.
Well before the NHS came about Dickinson maintained a ward at the local hospital for his workers.

The Basildon Bond brand was established in 1911.
No Mr Bond we don`t expect you to talk we expect you to make paper (sorry couldn`t resist)
Other than this clock and 2 small buildings nothing else remains.
The mills closed in the late 1990`s and having lived myself in Watford for 12 years i remember in the early 70`s the site was a landmark along the original A41 to Aylesbury before the new by-pass was built. Nowadays just a retail park, housing and a hotel line the route past this once magnificent group of buildings.
What started me off looking into the John Dickinson site was the need to satisfy my lust of knowing whats around that corner or where does that lead to. Having always had this desire and i think that`s how i learnt my way around London & the home counties when driving it was on

this my 6th time cruising through the lock pictured above that being moored here for 2 weeks it was time to find the answer. Where does that bit to the left of the lock go?. So i set off wandering around the streets at the side of the canal until i traced the end and it turned out that it lead to Frogmore Mill. The mill wasn`t part of the JD site but they did do business with each other.

This is the basin by the mill that is behind me and here boats would un-load coal used to power the steam driven paper making machines.

The mill is owned and operated, yes still making paper today, by Apsley Paper Trail Charitable Trust- using machinery a 100yrs+ in age.

In 1803 the first commercial paper making machine was developed here. The mill is open during the year giving guided tours and boat trips during the warmer weather.

The trust has recently been awarded a £1 million lottery grant to preserve the site and hopefully re-instate the mills waterwheel.

So i`ve enjoyed my myself delving into a bit of history and if you would like to read more try scroll down the page almost to the bottom to" Local History "and click on" Hemels Mills " Happy reading.
Red text added Thursday-must employ a proof reader.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Well don`t quite know what to say to you wonderful pep es out there. Just thought i would leave it for a few days to see IF any body replied and holy narrow boats did the replies come in, not just via comments but e mail also. Thank you all.

All the replies were fantastic but one that sums it up for me was posted on "Black Weekend" from Lesley K.

enjoys daily updates but pops in to NB VALERIE to see if i have posted

If not what the heck............keep family informed but allows others to peek in

Now that Lesley is what i call Blog Hopping and i do it all the time it`s good fun.

I suppose for you ladies it`s a bit like shopping you wander shop to shop just checking if anything knew has arrived.

You know folks what surprised me was the new names that came up amongst the comments, it just goes to show how many people read the blog but exercise their right on weather or not to post comments.

Anyway i will keep blogging so pop in now and again.

Had a nice walk the other day to check something out and i was not disapointed. Will tell you what i found soon but for now what have Sainsburys, Currys, Argos, Comet and a few others all got in common in Hemel Hempstead.

Again thankyou all very much for your support and may i wish you all the very best of health.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Before you read this post maybe you should read the comments left on the "Black Weekend" entry.

First and most important is my Grandson Jack who is upset by the picture of the truck pulling the boat out for blacking. Well Jack as grandad explained Friday when you visited me i did not look closely at the picture when i put it on the blog and yes you are right it `s not very nice little fella, and i am glad you are being brought up by parents who are teaching you the rights and wrongs of the world.

Thanks to JO, yes be nice to meet you again and hope you get going soon. Also LES D i am sure we will meet i estimate early next year.

The longest comment from "annon" is the one that caught my eye and yes i agree that from your side of the fence the blog would appear to be going downhill. It would seem you have been reading the blog for sometime weather you have commented in the past i don`t know as you remain "annon". That of course is your right.

Have you read the lines at the top of the page that state i do not blog daily but as and when etc.

When travelling far and wide during the summer i see and do many things and just a few i decide to blog, i decide being the words i would like you to appreciate. I would also like you to remember i am retired and after 45 years of working the last thing i want is to be tied to any routine even one as small as doing a blog.

I don`t know who the other bloggers are who agree with you to the extent they don`t read the blog anymore but by the phone calls and e mails i recieve from blogger friends i know it is still read by many people.

The decline in comments you mention is correct but it doesn`t worry me as i also get e mails re many of the blogs and in fact got 3 e mails on the blacking blog.

You mention the "Non important" blogs, by this do you mean things like power saving and the wind genny? If so then i must tell you i recieve e mails asking for more info from fellow boaters and people who are thinking of starting a new life afloat so although these blogs are of no importance to you personally some people take an interest.

So summing up, i am sorry you have been dissapointed of late but please take in what i have said above and by all means comment on this blog or e mail me if you prefer.

This years plans have been spoilt by the summer flooding and i have spent longer moored in places than normal. The boat blacking at Cow Roast Marina meant being tied to a timetable and in fact i arrived 2 weeks before hand. Now i am in the Hemel area and have been for the last 12 days. This time of year always brings me south as i spend christmas with family in Herts/Beds.

Plan at the moment is go into London and back to this area for the Christmas hols.

Some of my blogger friends moor up and travel to family for this time of year but as i can travel by boat near to mine it does mean this bit of canal becomes very familiar.

Next years thoughts, not plans, are maybe to travel across East Anglia through N` hampton, Peterborough, St Ives but at the moment just thoughts as with this life you can decide on the spur of the moment.
So should i keep blogging. Tell me what you think.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Well Friday morning arrived and it was time to caste off and head round to the marina to watch my baby being dragged from the water so i could spend the weekend blacking the bottom.
A narrowboat should be blacked every 2/3 years as rust is the biggest enemy of a boater. As this was the first time the boat had been blacked other than the coat it had when new i was keen to do it myself so i could prepare the hull properly and make sure every nook and cranny (wonder where that expression originated) was well coated with the bitumastic.
I have heard stories of boatyards just jet washing off the slime and then painting on the blacking with no regard to treating any rust that might be present. Do the job yourself and you know its done proper is my philosphy. With this in mind after jet washing the whole surface was sanded down using some heavy duty sanding discs. This was followed by 2 coats of black and a 3rd 6" each side of the waterline as this is the spot where a combination of air and water is a recipe for rust to form.

So this is where i need to go and you can see the trolleys just entering the water. The boat will be floated over the trolleys and the tractor unit will pull her out. Hope it doesn`t hurt her.
The tractor unit is ready.

The front rises up like a plane taking off

and of course the back follows.

Well she seems to have survived being pulled out and i am just holding her to reassure her.
Plenty of room in the shed so on with the washing.


and front.

Here`s the finished product
That ladder was my means of getting aboard.

So job done back in she goes

Don`t know how she feels as she slides back in but i miss the feel of water under foot with that little movement as you walk around inside.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Hope you all enjoyed the fireworks. These were some i pictured from the towpath that were part of a display by boaters on the long term moorings opposite my present mooring.

Had a nice surprise yesterday when a chap walked by and introduced himself as Les and just for a moment i was puzzled and then realised he was a member of the canal forum (link on right above) Les will soon be afloat as his boat is nearing completion. So the kettle went on and we had a nice chat.

NB VALERIE comes out of the water Friday morning and i will have the w`end to black the bottom, must get some pics. Luckily the boat will be under cover so the rain and wind forcast for the w`end won`t have to much effect on my work schedule.

Yes very nice but it`s chilly and the pubs open.

Friday, November 02, 2007


P0wer is one of the most important things to be aware of when living afloat and just lately i have been giving the subject a lot of thought. As you have read already the wind generator is up and running and helps to top up the batteries but whatever way you charge those batteries it`s the way you make use of the stored power that is the important bit.
Onboard i have mains power that is obtained via an inverter from the battery bank but the problem is it`s capacity is large at 3000w which is fine to run the washing machine, although i usually do the washing when cruising, but when all you want to do is use the laptop or watch TV running a 3000w inverter for 40w-60w is a waste. As far as the laptop is concerned i bought a

small 100w inverter from Maplins that as you can see in the picture above plugs into a cigarette plug to which i have connected a 12v plug and the laptop now gets its power from an 100w inverter as against 3000w. A small saving power wise but every little helps those batteries last longer.
Another thing I previously used the 3000w inverter for was watching TV and the 15" flatscreen i bought in Asda works on 240v but the current is stepped down to 12v and in the pic below the
lower box connected to the mains plug is what came with the set and the box above it is the replacement. What it actually does is accepts a 12v input and gives out a stablised 12v. This is important as although the TV will run straight from 12v these flatscreens are very fussy and a rise in voltage input can render the TV dead.
So TV is now watched direct from 12v and as the Sky box also works from 12v there is no need to run the 3000w inverter. Since doing these changes i have noticed a higher battery reading in the mornings which means less engine running to charge batteries.

Right where am i ? Not saying exactly but have moved from Stoke Bruerne through Milton Keynes and L. Buzzard and am at the moment passing some time, before the boat comes out of the water so i can black the bottom, altering the locker at the rear of the boat to make it bigger to accomodate the water hose amongst other things.
Cruising along you see many things and in the pictures below is a boat that appears to have a tent pitched on the front and a summerhouse on the back.

Oh well must go now as i am off to a firework display so i leave you with this sunset a couple of days ago.

Goodnight and take care with the fireworks.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


The Leicester Section joins the main Gd. Union Canal at Norton Jct. so we have to go up through the Foxton flight of locks and down the flight at Watford. Both flights are staircase locks and are both supervised by lockeepers as they use side pounds to save water and if the ground paddles are not opened in the correct sequence a lot of water is wasted. It`s fine for the experienced crews but some of the holiday boaters get it wrong, still we all have to learn and it wasn`t so long ago i didn`t have a clue and needed the lockies help and guidance.
After coming out at the bottom of the Watford flight you pass by the service area of Watford Gap on the M1, so close in fact it`s only 3 steps off the towpath and you could be flattened by a jaggernaught.
At Norton jct. instead of turning south we instead went up to Braunston so that Andys mum&dad could visit. While here i took advantage of the fact that a company called Roadpro were based nearby and decided to get a new skybox as the old one didn`t want to work anymore. I did enquire through another company for a repair to be carried out but as they quoted a price 70% of a new one i decided to buy new. Funny old world we live in everything seems to be to expensive to repair so it gets scrapped.
Anyway that was sorted and worked fine and all i needed to do was phone sky and get my card matched to the new box, easy?. After 5 calls and trying all the tests they said were needed all i had to do was wait for the card to be upgraded so that among the freeby channels i would also get 4&5. So after 5 calls and 5 waits for the sattalite to beam the upgrade to my card they eventually decided to send me a new card as that was the only thing they couldn`t test. One new card and hey presto 4/5 are included in my package.
With the sky box you can view a lot of freebie channels but not 4/5, but you can pay £20 for a card that gives you 4/5. card will last 3 yrs at least. If you want to know more about sky on a boat read Sue`s blog "No Problem" via the link from this page.
So after leaving Braunston and going down through flight of 6 locks it was back on route south for christmas, yes i know it`s only October but it takes a while to meander along and we`re in no hurry and the boat is coming out of the water in November so i can black below the waterline.
Down through Weedon & Bugbrooke stopping off here and there we came to Blisworth where a 10 minute bus ride brings you to a large tesco on the outskirts of Northampton just the job to re-stock the galley. On through Blisworth Tunnel emerging at Stoke Bruerne for a few days rest, well it`s hard work being retired and dragging yourself out of bed each morning and thats just the start, the kettle has to be filled, the bacon taken out of the fridge............PHEW.
In the picture below are a pair of Hotel boats Oak & Ash stopped as i was to take on water. Usually they have a crew of 3 and have 6 guests on board. They are booked up untill the end of October. Now getting further south means i get more visits from the family and this time it was Sons

Steve & Kev with their partners and grandchildren Teo at the top and below him Keirnan sitting next to his little sis Keira. Nice pic this i might print it off and put it on my photo pin board.
So come on you other G`kids grandad is heading south lets be having you.
Have now moored up for a while to paint the gunnels on the boat, there the bits just below the windows and they get scraped and scratched a lot and soon rust rears it`s ugly head so they need regular care. Where i am is handy to get a bus into milton Keynes where among others there was a Maplins store, more later.
Carol sent you e-mail hope you got it.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Well i`ve got the wind generator up and running. The Rutland 913 will put a charge into the batteries with a modest wind speed of 5 knots, just under 6mph. With a wind of say 28mph it should put in about 9 amps.
So far since trying it out the winds have not been great blustery but not continuse but still the batteries have gained at the end of the day even after using power all day. Don`t forget on a boat all your power comes from the batteries and the worst power consumer is the 12volt fridge/freezer, then you pump your shower water then pump the waste water overboard. Your cuppa needs pumped water to fill the kettle. The loo uses electric to flush, the radio/stereo all these things are taken for granted on land but on board you have to be aware of a limited supply. Anyway with the wind so far the generator has ended up putting back what i have used during the daytime plus a small amount on top. All this adds upto less running of the engine to charge the batteries. Fine if the wind`s blowing i hear you say, true so my next thing is to do some research on solar panels. The control box i have fitted to the wind genny also allows connection of a 100watt solar panel so no wind means the slar panel will help things along and if i get wind as well so much the better.
In the picture above you can see the mast is held firmly by metal guy lines that go down to the roof and in the picture below you can see the mast is held in place by a heavy duty metal bracket that allows the whole thing to be folded down onto the roof after two of the guy lines have been released at roof level, all done in less than 5 mins.
I have to thank daughter in law Bevs dad Alan for making the bracket from a picture of something similar and a few rough measurements i supplied. Thanks Alan it works a treat.
All that needs doing now is to tidy the cable by putting it into some plastic pipe and fixing same to roof.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Foxton Locks are on the Leicester Arm of the Gd. Union Canal and consist of two lots of 5 staircase locks with a passing pound in between. The rise is 75 feet and as you can see in the
picture from the top you get a panoramic view of the countryside. The locks opened in 1814 and passing through the flight takes about 45mins. Behind me at the very top stands what was once the lockeepers cottage, now a coffee shop, and next to it the original stable that gave the boat horses a well earned rest for the night. Nowadays it is used for school visits when it has information boards and seating for visitors to eat their sarnies.
On the right of the picture can be seen the museum that once housed the old boilerhouse that provided power for the Inclined Plane Boat Lift.
In the picture above that i snapped in the museum you can see how the boat lift operated.
Two metal troughs each carrying 2 narrow boats counter balanced each other taking boats up and down the slope. the power was via a steam engine.
The lift opened in 1900 to help speed up passage through the locks so that canal companys could compete with the railways for cargoe carrying. Sadly in 1911 with road transport being a huge competitor the lift closed to save money and boats reverted to the lock flight.
Below is all that`s left, just some of the track bases that carried the rails. It is hoped that with
fund raising and Lottery grants the boat lift can once again operate. A lot has been done around the site including clearing the slope so the tracks can be seen and at the bottom all the trees have been cut down so now the canal can be seen.

So i leave you with this view of the Foxton Locks Inn. Behind me the canal goes to Leicester, to the left Market Harborough and to the right is the entrance to the lock flight. Below the same view at night. The boat on the left nearest camera used to give horse drawn boat trips at w`ends but now sadly only for private bookings.

Night all.

Monday, September 17, 2007


HAPPY BIRTHDAY OZLEMOzlem is one of my 3 lovely daughters in law.
After a wet summer and all the flooding that made our cruising plans change we now find ourselves to far south. The plan each year is to come south to Bedfordshire/Hertfordshire to see the family at christmas time plus i am getting the boat out of the water early November to black the bottom but this year having to change the route a bit some time had to be used up.
So having gone down the South Oxford canal to just below Banbury we winded (turned round)
and as we came back through Banbury i took the above picture as i saw this same scene in a newspaper showing flood water rushing past Woolies back in June/July. Can`t remember the exact date as time means nowt to me.

Back up the Sth Oxford to Braunston stopping off at some lovely villages,Cropedy and Fenny Compton to name just two, then through Braunston tunnell and up the Leicester arm where i

spotted this bridge in need of some TLC but i suppose after the 200 plus years some of these structures have been around they will fall apart eventually.
Carrying on past Crick you can see below the new marina extension for 80 berths is well under way. Pity they hadn`t dug it earlier in the year the weather might have helped fill it.

Carried on to the outskirts of Leicester before turning back to Foxton and at the bottom of the locks turned onto the Market Harborough Arm. Two hours of twisting and turning through some beautiful countryside brought us into M.Harb` basin and a chance to stock the galley from the supermarkets in the town.
So returning to Foxton we stayed about a week which gave me a chance to have a good look around and get the wind generator installed. I`ll get some pics done for next time.

Goodnight all, sleep well, i always do.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


The Bygones museum has been created by Andrew Fox at Butlin Farm Claydon. It is easily accesed from the South Oxford Canal at bridge 145 and a walk of just a mile into the village will take you back in time.
The museum overlooks adjoining farm land and the views are fantastic. Also on site is a gift shop and a licenced restaurant.
Andrew Fox has gathered this wonderful collection of items from our past, and i saw tools that my dad had when i was a boy, from towns and villages in scrapyards and old stables, barns, attics, cellars and what were once thriving tradesmens workshops that like so many of our past skills have gone to sleep and to the far east!

Above is the old Granary now home to amongst many things a large collection of old Typewriters and Telex machines, that hit a note as my late wife Valerie was a Telex operator for Kodak that also springs up in a picture below.

Above rows of old shops have been re-created in one building at the museum and the windows of each shop are filled with the goods they sold as in the photographers window below. Also in yet another building that was once a milking parlour for 16 cows several different scenes are created and below is a 1920`s kitchen/scullery and other rooms include a carpenters workshop, an electricians repair room with some wonderful old appliances you thought you would never see again. In all 6 scenes even a Boatbuilders workshop. In the Barn pictured below can be found a Traction engine, road roller and many farm tractors.
Next to the barn another building houses many stationery steam driven engines and a collection of old machinery of all types.Well i`m certainly glad i discovered the Bygones museum and it was well worth the £2.50 entrance and after a relaxing sit down with a coffee i was ready to walk back to the boat.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs