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Monday, September 29, 2008


Always seem to end up at Foxton be it as now slowly heading south with christmas and the grandchildren in mind or after the event heading back in to the world of watery roads I`ve come to love. Yes Foxton is a nice place to visit even without a boat. The flight of 10 locks made up of 2 sets of 5 staircase style all in good working order with the grass all the way down the flight neatly cut, snack bars top and bottom of the flight and the old steam engine house now a museum half way down or perhaps up.
Boat trips from outside the shop at the bottom lock , 2 pubs well if any boaters are reading this then you will all say one`s a restaurant more than a pub so I suggest you try Bridge 61 with its 2 small rooms filled with canal bits and bobs and have a beer served at the bar all of 2`6" wide and if you sit outside you can watch the boats entering the locks or coming through the swing bridge from the Mkt. Harborough arm.
Above is just one of the many additions to Foxton site since i was last here in February this year, the young lad with the boat horse would years ago have been heading for the building on the left

at the top lock in the picture above for this was once a stable the white building the lockeepers house now a snack bar, and that`s NB Valerie in the lock having taken 50 mins to climb the flight

Above is the inside of the stable open to the public as a resting place and also used for school visits.
The little Robin paid a couple of visits checking for crumbs, and after the Moorhen episode back in July (click July on the right if you missed it) how could I object.

A lot about the one place this blog but i do so much like Foxton and as the season comes to an end, well for most boaters, i have slowed down spending a little more time moored and still doing a bit of paintwork before the weather closes in. I have managed to make my diesel cap a little more secure and will show that next time.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Just after coming out of Crick tunnel and thinking it wasn`t as much water dripping from the roof as during other trips when a voice says "are you Les" well straight away thinking fast i said no, well this was a blond sitting next to a big fella and my slow boating brain could not decide if my past was catching up with me. But not to worry it turned out to be Del & Al fellow bloggers whose boat Derwent6 is well on the way to launching. After mooring i walked back and I had a nice chat and met the family.

While chatting to Del&Al a lady came by asking if we had a magnet as she had dropped her

mooring pin into the water, well can`t leave a lady in distress so I went back to the boat and picked up my magnet and after a chat Cora on holiday from South Africa posed with me and the pin so she could feature on the blog. I`ll drop her an e-mail so she will know which page to look on.
Back in Braunston an American lady asked if i had a net as her husband had dropped the boats ignition key in the canal so I used the magnet and after only a few minutes up it came together with a rusty tape measure and some other odd bits of metal. Now they say things happen in 3s and the 3rd thing was a poor old sheep that found it self in the canal and after swimming back and forth it ended up towpath side and I managed to grab it by the scruff of its neck and with the help of a passerby we dragged it out and then had the job of dragging it over a narrow footbridge to get it back in its field and all the thanks I got was Baaa! Baaa! and with a shake off it went to join the flock.
Still painting while the weather is good and as i do this blog I`ll leave you with the view out of the side hatch.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Haven`t been doing much lately at least not in the way of cruising. In fact we have only ventured up to Rugby to see friends dodging the rain some which has been quite heavy. Most of the dry periods have been spent getting another coat of paint on the roof and rubbing down the gunnels (just above the blacking) as these are the places that tend to get scraped and if left un-treated soon rust and look a mess. Also i have been treating rust spots that have appeared in other places, mainly in the front around the doors and within the open semi trad rear.
Quite obviously the paint job on the boat was not 1st class but then you only get what you pay for and as long as NB Valerie stays afloat i can keep her neat and tidy.
Other little jobs include re varnishing the floor below the dinette table, re routing the cable from the tv to the sattalite dish and fitting a plank & boat pole rack on the roof to name a few.
Also i managed after a lot of phone calls to get the cylinder head tightness checked along with the engine tappets a job that needed doing after the engine repairs some weeks ago, at least the bill was only £20 this time.
The long going debate on the fuel duty that followed an EU directive that fuel duty on pleasure craft must be raised--why must we be in the EU, once we were a small island that ruled so many other lands-- anyway the present duty is 9.69p per litre +5% vat and the full duty will be 50.35 + 17.5% vat. HMRC have decided that boaters will be able to buy diesel at a 60/40 ratio that is 60% at full rate of duty for propulsion and 40% at the reduced present rate for heating and electricity. Now just to clarify to those non boaters out there my present set up is i have a solid fuel stove i use in winter but also i have a diesel fired central heating system (heating) that i use in the not so cold periods, also if not cruising in the boat (propulsion) i need to run the engine each day to charge the batteries (electricity) So the rate for heat and light will be 5% vat as for householders.
All a bit confusing but the bottom line is it`s going up a bit like when the bank sends a letter saying we have reduced X and enclose their new list of charges and you find something else has crept up so again the bottom line is it`s going up.
British Waterways have got on the going up bandwagon and now charge a fee if you do not re-new your boat licence within a month of expiry. BW have also announced they are planning to charging £150 extra on the licence for continuous cruisers like myself. Plus wide beam boats over the narrowboat 6`10" will pay an extra £50 all this on top of the 6.6% 2009 licence increase. All these proposals? are open for consultation?, yes and i just won the Euro lottery, untill the 7th Nov. We will have to wait and see.

Now when this boat came by recently my first thought were the rough band of pirates on the
front were made up of HMRC, BW and the EU but no it was just some guys having a holiday.

Beat the diesel increase and convert to steam, Adamant steams by.......beautiful.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Spent the w`end in Braunston and then took a cruise back to Calcutt locks as the chandlery there had a sump pump that i wanted to install in the engine bay. At the moment i use a hand held pump with the tube going down the dipstick tube into the sump to drain the engine oil the pump i have now purchased along with the pipe and fittings acquired along the way will enable the pump to be permanently fixed in the engine bay and connected directly to the sump plug. This will enable easier draining of the oil and also ensuring as much as possible is removed.
So after a couple of days returned to Braunston as the large chandlery there had a 1 day 20% off sale so it was a good time to buy a few bits and bobs.
So all in all just lazing about not to much movement but then that`s the life of the waterways do as much as you want when you want.
Pictured below is NB Whitefield 70` long and not your usual style of narrowboat. The front
cratch electrically lifts and folds flat on the roof. The traditional tiller steering has been replaced by a panel that has 4 joysticks that control the hydraulic drive to rudder, prop and bow/stern thrusters. Also at the rear is a small screen relaying pictures from the 3 cameras at the bow. It was recently featured in the waterways press and i can tell you the inside is very luxurious with leather sofa and dinette seats. All windows are double glazed and tinted and the boat contains 5 TVs including a waterproofed one in the shower. So if you`ve got around £250,000............

Morris dancers suddenly turned up at the pub in Braunston and it turned out they were on a
week long holiday on 3 hire boats giving impromptu performances at pubs along the canal.

The wet weather of late has not enabled finishing the roof painting but below you can see I have managed to get one coat on top of the sanded area, just needs a dry spell to get 2 more coats on.
Filled up with water recently, in fact it needs doing about every 10/14 days but this time after 2/3 days it was almost empty. Panic! if i haven`t used it where has it gone, so the search began for a leak within the boat of every pipe and tap but no sign of a leak. Next i isolated the tank to check it was not leaking, it wasn`t. Now i`m baffled because the pump was coming on so the water was being used somewhere and then it occurred to me the only way other than by a leaking pipe or normal sink/shower use that water could leave the tank was the pressure relief valve on the hot water tank. Removal of the overflow pipe that discharges out of the boat revealed it full of water so a new prv valve was fitted and once again my water supply lasts a reasonable time. After stripping the old valve i found the rubber valve seat to be perished.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs