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Monday, October 27, 2008


On the last bog i mentioned waiting for post at Blisworth and below is what i was waiting for andalthough it looks like police mug shot it is in fact as you senior readers will know my bus pass. So far it has saved me £15 in fares which will get swallowed up by the rise in diesel tax on Nov 1st, oh well as Mr Tesco says "every little helps" maybe a good government follow up would be the scrapping of the TV licence for land based pensioners.

Left Cosgrove, NB Valerie above on right, and cruised down to Wolverton passing on the way the old railway works (below) most of which seems to be transformed into housing. I did notice though that behind the canal side walls large steel girders were being installed so I assume that the developers are having to keep the original walls and convert the insides to flats.
The Jam `ole run passed whilst moored at Fenny Stratford returning to Braunston and the picture below shows Corona.
Amazing what people throw away but as the saying goes one mans rubbish is to another gold and
these brasses are just some of a box full I found when i dumped my rubbish in the bin. In all there was about 30 and after a good clean and some new straps there was enough to share with my friends Andy/Tina on `Ytene`, yes Tina i know you cleaned your own, what was left kept 2 of the grandchildren Jack/Jordan busy polishing on a visit to grandad, hope you two have hung them up in your bedrooms.
Before i go Congratulations to Lesley&Joe on the launch of NB Caxton and you can see pictures on their blog HERE.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Long time since last blog but have spent a lot of time moored up and just....well actually not a lot but that`s what retirement on the waterways is all about doing as much or as little as one wants.
So after coming down the Long Buckby flight we stayed a couple of nights and took advantage of the local almost canal side Go Kart track by getting some old tyres. These small kart tyres are ideal for fenders just needing a rope threaded through the worn tread to hang down the side of the boat and a hole in the bottom to let the rain water drain away. The chandlery at the bottom lock also gets tyres from the track and they sell for £6.95 with just an eye bolt fixed in the tread for the rope. Nice little earner!
Stayed a couple of days at Blisworth waiting for post that contained what looked like an advert for help the aged or an FBI most wanted file, anyway I just might publish it next time.
Through Blisworth tunnel 1.5 miles long and in parts 120` below ground is Stoke Bruerne with a museum I have yet to visit set in an 1840s corn mill. The flight of 7 double locks takes the boater down 56`. The first lock is almost outside the museum and alongside it is the one of the original single locks that now acts as a display for a boat weighing machine.
The double locks were installed around 1835 to speed up the commercial traffic and each lock holds about 56,000 galls of water. Originally the locks had side ponds that were used to recyclehalf the water but these have long since become overgrown and un-used so it was nice to see at least one (pic above) had been put to use for visitors to get close and look for life in and around the ponds as depicted on the large information boards.Further down the flight some Mosaic under a road bridge. Something I did learn from googling Stoke Bruerne was that below the 2nd lock there was once a brickwork`s (1840s-1920s) and it had its own canal arm called the Brickwork Arm that is now a nature reserve so that`s gone into the memory bank under future investigations as i just love tracing old canal routes across fields.

Remember remember the 1st November
is the day
red diesel prices go into the pot
60/40 is fair HMRC say but boaters don`t like it a lot
one yard says it`s all they will give
another will let you decide how you live
fuel prices will rise for sure,
the VAT man is knocking on the cabin door

all boaters can do is moor up on this memorable date
to reflect how the EU has decided our fate.
loody EU, I reckon it stands for Ex lax Unlimited, well something must be responsible for all the shite that comes out of Brussels.

Oh well that`s got that off my chest so cruising quickly on into Cosgrove under Solomons bridge
built in the 1790s Gothic style at the request of a local landowner when the canal company wanted to cross his land.
While at Cosgrove the Jam `ole run was leaving Braunston. The Jam `ole run was the name given by the old working boatmen for the coal deliveries from Baddersley colliery to the Kearley&Tonge`s jam factory in Southall. The last commercial run was 1970 and the 246 mile, 196 locks round trip was done in a week as the crews only got paid per trip so to boost earnings they needed to get back for another load.
So this event is celebrated i think every 2 yrs by several ex work boats plus any other narrowboat that wants to join in. Most days means a 5am start to mimic the schedule of 1 week return journey the boats maintained in the past.
Below some of the boats taking part passing through Cosgrove.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Coming south on the Leicester arm of the Gd. Union and reaching Nth. Kilworth I noticed that the Kilworth Wharf yard has now got some hire boats bearing the Anglo Welsh name. This yard only re-opened in the last 2yrs and it`s nice to see it once again doing business giving boaters another place to refuel and browse the growing chandlery.
Less than a mile further on is the Welford arm just over a mile long and not surprisingly ends at the village of Welford. Just one single lock rising 3`6" brings us into the Wharf and a few days rest in peaceful surroundings and a chance to finish off some of the painting so at least Tina will stop looking at the undercoated patches and insisting my boat has some disease.
Welford is an interesting place and the Wharf has a large information board showing detailed maps of 5 walks of 2,3,5,6 and 8miles all starting at the Wharf, one even starts up the drive way of a house and through a garden gate. Around the Wharf can be found remains of the lime kilns that turned Limestone brought in by boat into the lime that was then again shipped out by boat.
Also walking towards the lock what is now a marina on the towpath side was once a clay pit and brickworks.
Around the Welford area were six watermills powered by the R. Avon that starts it`s long
journey to the Severn from here at Welford. When I look at the narrow stream made wider here by tractors crossing I find it amazing that a short while ago the flooded Avon held me prisoner for a few days. From small acorns...............
Walking around the village a chap waved and told me about the first class postal service the
villagers got and am i on one of the 5 walks around Welford. Well I didn`t go for the 8 mile one but did the 2 mile walk that crosses the Welford and Sulby reservoirs that feed the canal.
Pictured below is the Watford lock flight consisting of 3 singles and a staircase of 4. In the picture NB Valerie is in the staircase flight and the lock gate behind is also the front gate of the lock Valerie has just left. Water here as at Foxton goes in&out of the side pounds and this is controlled by boater operated red & white paddles that have to be operated in a colour sequence so the rhyme to remember is
red before white and you`ll be all right
white before red and you`ll end up dead
Well ok not dead but the lockie will be none to pleased you losing his water.

After the flight further south brings us down to Norton Jct. where the main Gd.Union to London is joined and it was also the place my son Kev & Jo brought 2 of the grandchildren, would have been 4 if I hadn`t had to share with other g`parents which meant Lena may & Nicole were sadly missed this time. Anyway Kiernan & Keira kept me company and we all went to the pub for lunch.
Lastly my homemade device to help deter fuel theft that is becoming common from boats recently. Just a piece of angle iron cut and drilled as can be plainly seen so no complicated description or drawings are needed. It`s all fixed to the spillage guard that stops any filling overflow going down into the engine bay. Before anyone says it can be removed with a crow bar or bolt cutters the same amount of force can be used by way of a drill to remove the locking caps that are on sale now in chandlers at £30/40. All locking devices are a deterrent if they want to get in they will but at night when most thefts occur the noise caused will make the thief look for an easier quieter target.
Scrap angle iron, 1 hour of my retirement and a £5 padlock.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs