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Friday, February 29, 2008


It`s nice to hear from readers and among several E-Mails of late was one from Bente in Norway who with his wife is shortly coming over for a 2 week canal boat holiday. Hi Bente hope you enjoy your trip .
We have been hanging around the Foxton area for some time and after attending the music night and boater Lynne`s birthday party so it was nice to move again.
The weather has been very varied lately with high winds, sunny days and the canal frozen over for 3 days. I think it was Wednesday just gone i was sitting out on the front deck reading in warm sunshine and as i type this the wind is really blowing and the wind genny is going crazy so i don`t think i will be running the engine for long this evening if at all.
Along the stretch i am moored at the moment are several boats on reserved winter moorings that will be home to them for maybe 3/4 months paying rent to BW on top of their boat licence fee, not my idea of boating but each to their own i say.
So plans have been made and we have all decided to go to York, Andy/Tina on Ytene and John on Tui. At the moment John is stuck at a stoppage north of Milton Keynes and as of this week he will be further delayed by the 2 week extension at the Buckby flight. The flight should have re-opened the same day as the Milton Keynes stoppage but upon draining the canal(pic lower down) further problems were found. Still John will put in some long days cruising and catch us up along the way.
Well my big 60 arrives in March and i will be going down south for a few days so that should give him time to catch up. SIXTY, where did the time go
In the days when young and bold
never a thought of growing old
looking back on times good and bad
things i should have done, people no longer here
makes me feel sad

but hey chin up life goes on for us still here
the grandchildren are smashing and get my vote
I`ll cruise with Valerie the rest of my days
growing old gracefully

on our boat.
The Market Harborough Arm stretches for 6 miles from the basin at the bottom of Foxton locks. Around 1809 the idea was for this arm to reach Northampton but it never materialised and it now finishes just on the edge of the town and the basin was once a busy industrial site with boatbuilding being just part of the scene. Today it`s mostly flats with one old canal building being used as offices and a restaurant.
Mid 18c Harborough was well placed for the industrial revolution being on the coaching routes of London to Nottingham and London to Derby. These routes were established well before the canal and railways came this way.
In 1889 the Symington Bros. built a corset factory in the town and this was the home of the Liberty Bodice. In 1935 they erected a building opposite for their employees bicycles and as in 1930s they employed 25% of the towns people i expect a small shed would not have been sufficient. The buildings are still there today with the factory being home to the public library and council offices while the bike shed is the M. Harborough theatre.

On the way down the Leicester Arm we stopped off at Welford Wharf the end of navigation on the Welford Arm. The arm when first built in 1813 went only as far as Welford Mill. Shortly after the one and only lock on the arm was built together with the Wharf itself and the George Inn now re-named the Wharf Inn, a lot of trading in coal, salt, granite and lime took place here.
Lime kilns were built at the Wharf the remains of which can still be seen. Limestone and coal for the kilns arrived by boat and return loa
ds of lime would leave.

Above is the now open extension to Crick Marina adding 80 moorings. Back last year (see Sept 17th blog) they had just started digging it out. With all these new marinas being built i don`t understand why they don`t include residential berths, so many people are now coming on to the canals that can`t afford to buy bricks & mortar surely it would help them if some moorings were residential.

The swingbridge on the M. Harborough arm that carries one of the roads through Foxton village.

St. Dionysius` church in M. Harborough, the white fronted building alongside is the old grammar school built in 1614 below which a butter market was held. Behind these 2 buildings can be found the Symington Bros. corset factory and bike store.

The canal frozen over with some bread i threw out for the ducks and moorhens but also many other birds flew down to feed.
Above Chas on Moore2life passes by during the thaw.

The boat above chose to break through the ice risking the ice cutting into the blacking at the waterline that would allow rust to form. Not a good idea as it can`t be touched up easily while still in the water.
Above and below the whole of the Buckby lock flight has been drained for maintenance. Myself and Andy/Tina went prospecting along the drained canal and came back with fenders, 2 windlass (lock operating handles) and a coolie hat, it fits on top of the boat chimney to stop rain and wind blowing down it

This boat belongs to the house owner and is moored at the bottom of his garden on the non towpath side.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Well i have just put a large jacket potato in the oven and as i sit here typing the mist is closing in fast. The last few days have been very sunny but the nights have been cold, well outside it has but i am very snug and warm inside the boat thanks to the log burner. Had some heavy frosts the last few mornings and this morning the canal was covered in ice.
I have just recently changed my internet access from Orange to T-Mobile. The problem with Orange was the amount i could up/download was limited to 65MB per mth and this meant i had pictures dis-abled on my laptop and auto system updates restricted as these ate into my MB allowance dramatically.
Now with T-Mobile Web & Walk my allowance is 3 GB, that`s about 3000MB i think so as you can imagine i can now have the pictures & updates on all the time. Hope this is clear to you all as to me all this technology surrounds me like the mist outside that is by the way getting thicker as i type.
So the deal i got via Carphone Warehouse means i pay £15 per month on a 2yr contract, the Orange package was £23.50 for a lot less access. When i phoned Orange to cancel i wasn`t asked why i was cancelling, so much for customer service, but i guess they know the rates of other companys and i would not be surprised to see Orange change their rates soon. Apart from the money aspect the signal is better therefor faster surfing of the net is achieved.

Having left Braunston we travelled to Foxton stopping here and there as time was on our side.We wanted to be in Foxton for Saturday the 9th to attend a music night that was put on in aid of the East Midlands Air Ambulance. Tickets were £3 each and included sandwiches and hot dogs, as it was going to be a ticket only function owing to the limited space of the Bridge 61 pub we had phoned ahead to reserve our tickets.
So with this new internet deal i have emerged from the technology mist and experimented with putting video on the blog. The quality is not good as i used a basic digital camera and the lighting in the pub was low so i have included some photos as well. As you can see the musicians were on 2 sides of the room owing to lack of space. In the lower picture the 2 on the left came over from the west of Ireland just to play this one night.

Hope the video plays ok once i publish this blog and if all is ok i might do a daytime cruising video sometime.
Recently met up with 2 fellow travellers and bloggers, Chas&Ann on More2life & Mo&Vanessa on Balmaha and mo kindly told me how to do links. IF i have got it right you should be able to click on Balmaha above and go to their blog, I`m sure it will work when i publish my blog so thanks Mo/Vanessa and it was nice meeting you both for the first time.

Well i published but the video seems not to be there, all i can see is a square box when i view the blog as you would yet when i composed the blog the video was there. Sorry about that and i will try to find out what went wrong but in the meantime if anyone could put me right i would be grateful.

All is now ok on my PC see comments

Saturday, February 02, 2008


After exiting the tunnel and descending the flight of 6 locks the first building to be seen is the old water pumping station.

Just past the entrance to Braunston Marina stands the Stop House now a BW office but when built in 1796 by the Oxford canal company it was a main office and was where tolls were collected from boats using the companys routes.

Braunston village sits upon a hill overlooking the canal and like all villages it has a fine looking church. Braunston has had a church on this site since Norman times. The present church was built in 1848 at a cost of £6ooo and parts of the previous church that had stood for 500 yrs were used in its construction. The church was known as the boatmens Cathedral and many boat people are buried here. The name Nurser rang a bell as i walked around the graves as the Nurser family had a yard in Braunston. So many headstones were un-readable but i did see one dated 1672, as they say your a long time dead so make the most of life.

Next to the church is this old Windmill now a private residence.

If you stand on the bridge -built by Telford in 1834- next to the Stop House the view is the original line of the Oxford Canal that arrived in Braunston around 1774. At the far end a boat builders shed covers the last part of the canal. Standing here it`s hard to imagine the activity of boats loading and transhipping cargoes, Pickfords, Barlowes and Willow Wren being just some of the canal carriers who had premises here. Now the warehouses have given way to flats. Just behind the block of flats on the left horizon stood Braunston rail station now sadly no more although i did walk the trackbed to a point where it crossed another train line because at one time Braunston had 2 stations although the second was closer to Willoughby than Braunston

Across the road from the Boatbuilders shed the canal continued just behind the white wall and curved around the back of the houses one of which was once a pub "The Champion Inn"

Going behind the houses all that remains here is a large pond where once the Oxford flowed.
As it was a bright sunny day, what i hear you say, well it was a couple of weeks ago when i was here i spent 3 hours walking through fields tracing the old route still visable in places right upto the point it became the present route of the canal. It actually turned away from Braunston its twisting route coming back across the present line and ending up at the pond.

When you are trying to trace an old canal route it`s best to ask anyone you meet along the way if they can help but this lot either didn`t know or wouldn`t say.

The driver of this wasn`t around to ask so just keep walking someone will help

Ahh! a chance here but all she said was "I`m to busy looking after the little ones to help you"
Born the last week of January i hope they stay close to mum for warmth.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs