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Sunday, January 30, 2011

FROZEN CANAL AGAIN? I`ve made my move.

After a couple of relaxing days in the countryside a glance at the 5  day forecast showed below freezing temperatures and with my U S trip coming up i decided to move into Braunston  to avoid any frantic last minute ice breaking. Friday evening saw ice forming on the canal so first thing Saturday i decided to move even closer to
my booked marina place for the trip. Above is pictured the ice in Braunston as i left and as luck would have it another boat was ahead of me cutting me a channel so all in all a good bit of decision making. a very cold trip i felt warm inside at the thought of what might have happened had i stayed out in the suburbs.

The well known Gongoozlers cafe boat is having a make over and should be back at it`s mooring and open for business next weekend. The kitchen area at the rear has been revamped and the dining tables will be amongst a pine panelled interior. A re-paint of the exterior completes the work.

So from the bow of NB Valerie settled in her mooring on Sunday the ice from Saturday is still hanging about. My thoughts while i`m away will be of fellow boaters being iced in so soon after the last freeze that lasted weeks.

I hereby claim the first Lamb picture of 2011, i bet someone has blogged one already, and i give my word it was taken on the 30th Jan 2011. I`m off Monday morning and will blog from the States while away. Good luck with the weather everyone and although the weather will be just the same for me i won`t be on board a boat.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I am now moored amongst open fields somewhere, and i haven`t even checked the map so who knows, just enjoying the solitude of not being able to see a building of any description. The towpath is so quiet that i have had all the curtains open without being disturbed by countless people walking by staring in. In fact in the last few days only one walker about my age ambled by and as i was having a coffee break  from  fixing the floor trims back we had a long chat and ended up me showing him the inside of NB Valerie.

We all get the phishing scam e mails and as much as possible i try and forward them on to the company`s they purport to be from, ie Lloyds bank, Inland Revenue, Paypal etc although i feel it`s fighting a losing battle. Anyway a new one cropped up recently telling me i`d won a prize after being selected by my e mail address. Wonderful i thought and all they want is half my life or more specifically my bank details.  This one was allegedly from Nestle` and it even had a genuine link to their Web home page so i forwarded it on to Nestle` as usual but what was un-usual was they actually replied thanking me and confirming it was a scam. Nice to be acknowledged.

I must  have to much time on my hands as the other day i e mailed a travel company with a complaint, no i didn`t sign it `disgusted of Tunbridge Wells` Or `disturbed of Towpath moorings`. The thing that peeved me was i needed to get some US $, did i mention i was in love with an American lady.....i did! ok i`ll shut up. I have a cash card that can be loaded with the currency of  your choice and used as a debit card anywhere in your chosen destination. Now what i decided to do was top up on-line from my current account when the dollar hit an acceptable rate. When i checked the rate to top up i noticed that the rate for ordering currency with free delivery was 3cents higher than i would get on my card. Say you changed £500, and most people would change more, the difference would be $15 to my dis-advantage. What i wanted to know was why if both transactions are on-line and my card method required NO secure delivery to a home address was it going to cost me $15. As you can imagine with all these faceless big company`s their e mail answer was just a load of gibberish or to be exact bullshit and didn`t even address my question. Now the solution surprised me as it will you, i visited one of their high st. branches and got a better rate than both on-line methods. So on-line is not always cheapest.

Just before i moved to the peaceful & remote countryside Ian & Alison arrived on Gosty Hill so i topped up the
diesel tank and took on some coal. I say topped up as when i returned from the Christmas break and found the ice age had passed i cruised to Rose boats at Brinklow and filled up at the astonishing rate of 86p domestic and so the Gosty rate of 78p was very welcome. Gosty only sells at the lower domestic rate so no declaration worries. Boaters declaration is to me a personal thing so i won`t go into it  in public.                                                                                  
The floor is all but done with just a small area stern end in front of the washing machine to do plus a few of the trims to be put in place. Boys & their toys meant a new place to store my junk bits and bobs and as the space below the galley units was less than generous i hit on the idea of some seed trays from the garden centre and a
few old butter pots and food trays provided storage. The colour of the floor in the top picture is not correct, maybe the camera flash caused the lighter colour,  as the lower picture is an accurate likeness. his was the bit going around the angle of the bathroom and the trims have since been fixed back in place. I did manage to slice a fair chunk off the top of my thumb during this DIY project but don`t start e mailing in everything is fine now and not one drop of Blood touched the floor so no need to worry.


Sunday, January 23, 2011


Well as the blog title suggests i`m not moving much of late and have been spending a lot of time laying the floor. My trip to the US is fast approaching and having been iced in for so long my intention has been to stay in the area of the marina, or at least not to far away, NB Valerie will live in while i`m away.
So not much cruising means not to much to blog about as i`m sure you don`t want to know the mundane daily aspects of living do?
Doing the floor is messy so after every session out comes the broom for a good clean up. The other day i travelled into town and purchased 10 satsumas for a pound. I relaxed in the evening and watched the Arsenal/Leeds match and during that night spent 3 hrs on the phone to Jaqueline in the states. Had a nice lie in till 11am had a shower and went for a walk. I`m bored writing this.

Started looking back through my picure discs and realised just looking at the places and events i had blogged what a good decision i made 5 yrs ago. Giving up living existing on the land with the daily ritual of  donating X amount of hours per day working only to see so many others living off my sweat, politicians, faceless councilors, the fat cat power company`s that squeeze more money from me to feed their shareholders greed, the list is long. Now i decide what i spend my money on and i dictate my pace of life. My freedom is measured by the way NB Valerie`s bow cuts through the waters that flow through my vast country estate. If i show the thousandsof miles of  my water road respect it will honour my right to a long and healthy lifestyle. 
I feel i must be doing something right as i look back at the memories because a lot of what has been seen and experienced can`t be seen through the eyes of a car traveller and best of all the rest of my life has been blessed by my meeting Jaqueline. 
So let me take you back and share a few memories.
Warwick Castle and Warwick itself are just a few minutes bus ride from the canal. Like many other places visited my home is close by so no long journeys to endure with the chance to have a second visit the following day to see and enjoy everything at a casual pace. 

Moored in York, the bridge is the City centre just 2 mins walk. The journey up the R. Trent was my first experience of tidal water cruising albeit scary at first the scale of the river against the canals made the trip
enjoyable. I remember climbing the 275 steps to the top of York Minster Cathedral and the views, walking the many narrow streets each with an historic past. Above The Shambles with buildings giving an impression of reaching out to each other as the rise above the narrow street. Shambles was the city`s butcher`s market and is mentioned in the Doomsday book.

The Bingley Five-Rise staircase locks in west Yorkshire built in 1774 lift the canal 60 feet. The whole trip across the Leeds & Liverpool canal brought stunning views of  countryside, canal buildings, and old Mills of the 19th Century standing silent their secrets hidden in the dusty interiors.

Litchfield Cathedral easily accessed from both the Coventry or Trent  Mersey canals or even the northern sections of the BCN. Nice market in Lichfield and i remember buying a pair of steel toecapped boots for use on the boat for £10 that are as good as new today.

Cannock Chase seen from the Trent &  Mersey canal consists of 26 sq miles and is a designated area of outstanding beauty in other words it`s a great place to walk. Henry Vlll used it for hunting.

Pink Floyd playing live canalside? Ok so it`s Twycross Zoo near Atherstone on the Coventry canal. I remember finding it by a chance glance over the map and visited on a lovely sunny day. From the bus station i discovered a bus service that offered a bargain combined bus and zoo ticket. The 16 seater mini-bus turned up and went through villages and hamlets on the 40 min journey twice the direct route but hey i`m a boater so time is on my side and i sat back and enjoyed the countryside. 
Skipton is a lovely town in Yorkshire with a 900yr old castle and short canal arm that is a highly recommended walk. Also Skipton has an annual canal festival and the famous market stretches all up both sides of the main road past numerous alleyways or `Ginnels` as they call em up north. 

Now up here in Yorkshire things water side are big and this lift bridge, glad it didn`t need a windlass to get it up, is  the New Jct canal our route from the Aire & Calder to Keadby and a tidal cruise south on the R. Trent.

Still talking Yorkshire `Big` this is what you share water with on the Aire & Calder.

Gongoozlers are everywhere you go on the waterways. Just hear mum saying " now just watch but don`t think about chasing them"

The Bridgewater canal was a pleasure to cruise and an overnight stop at Dunham Massey led to witnessing a St,. Georges Day motor bike blessing by the local biker vicar. Hundreds of bikes both 2 & 3 wheeled took part and then attended a rock concert set up on a lorry trailer. Soft drinks were order of the day and the event ended at about 6pm with the police in attendance only having to control local traffic.Another spin off from this cruise break was easy access from Altrincham to Manchester by tram plus the National Trust Dunham Massey Hall and deer park.

Some unusual lock gear on the Rochdale in Manchester.

Friends passing by is a regular all over the system, here is Andrew Denny on Granny Buttons another blogger.

We all have our favourite mooring places and this one is on the Trent & Mersey past Anderton. It`s very quiet and looks down across green fields to the R. Weaver in the Acton Bridge area. Anyone new or experienced who hasn`t  used the free boat lift from Anderton to the Weaver is missing a really wonderful experience.

Llangollen Basin journeys end on the Llangollen Canal a trip i`ve made every one of my 5yrs afloat and i never tire of it. A slight downside is the £5/6 charge for a mooring with leccy hookup as the max 2 nights allowed is not enough to enjoy this lovely Welsh town and surrounding attractions. Saying that though you can moor up just outside the town and bus or walk in. The climb up to Castle Dinas Bran (hope that`s right my Welsh friends) is well worth the huffing & puffing for the incredible views. A walk to Horseshoe falls or a ride on the preserved steam railway, the old Cistercian Abbey are just some of the attractions here.

Unusual sights a boat appears to be lost on the road bridge but i think the lorry driver knows where it will all end.

Another nice mooring on the Shroppie just a short distance from the bottom lock of the Audlem flight.

Hitchhikers guide to the waterways.

                                A blurry hurriedly taken picture of a mink passing me in the shallows.

         And at the end the sun sets on another day of freedom but it all starts again 1st light                                     

Well i hope you enjoyed looking back with me and for sure i now have some ideas for cruising when i get back from the states. So here`s to safe journey`s to all boaters and those just living land side and dreaming all i can say is don`t give up the dream nothing is impossible if you determined.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


As i mentioned on a previous blog the floor was found to be the coldest place on the boat and as soon as temperatures went down to freezing point my feet became very cold and as the temp dropped further the coldness crept above my ankles.  Having decided against carpet on the grounds that the original wood floor was so easy to sweep and mop over another wood floor was to be laid on top. This time i would be using an underlay of  10mm felt squares to stop the cold coming up through the floor and freezing my tootsies.
In the first picture i have removed the TV unit and the steps as i wanted to cover as much of the floor as possible. The door of the coal hole beneath the stove is removed to be shortened to pass over the new higher floor.

As most of you know and the rest can imagine working on a narrowboat is not easy space wise,  in picture 2 i have laid the floor far enough across to be able to refit the TV & steps. This now means the space they occupied can now have the floor laid onto it. 

The 3rd picture shows another use for the dinette with the chair not taking up working space and providing a safe resting place for the TV and stereo speakers. The walkway down the side of the dinette has now had the new floor laid and the next stage is behind the dinette and through the galley.
Thoughts of the small bathroom with it`s many odd shapes now haunt me but surely if the loo went in it must come out to allow the floor to go down. The bath panel comes out so that just leaves an angled wall, i feel a headache coming on.
So the front end of the boat is complete with just the edging strips to be laid. The last 2 days have been so hard on my body and it complained so much through my back and knees i decided today was a rest day so it can go back into retirement.  Oh well i think the worse part is over as the rest is narrow all the way to the stern and no dismantling........the loo! It`ll be me i`m a boater.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Mr Tal Yarkoni, does that name ring any bells. Has he commented on your blog,maybe not but for sure he might just have been silently reading our witterings not because he has any interest in boating but in the words we use.
It seems that the words we use or at least the frequency of them go a long way to showing our personalities.

Extroverts will use the words `mouth`, `bar`, `drinks` and `dancing` a lot.
If you have an Open personality the words `folk`, `poetry`or `poet`, `humans` will feature in your writings.
Agreeables are most likely to say  `wonderful`,`morning`, `spring` and `together`.
Conscientious personalities like `completed`,`adventure`, `stupid` and `boring`.
Are you Neurotic? check your blog for the words `awful`, `though` ,`lazy`, `worse` or `depressing`.

Mr Yarkoni is a lead researcher at the University of Colorado and has made a study of 700 blogs so you might have unwittingly been a research subject.

Just think about what personality you are if;  the words from your mouth to folk at the bar with drinks after dancing till morning spring together like poetry though not completed sound boring and stupid even depressing to humans out for an adventure.

If this had not been an American based research i might have looked at it with more interest but i sense it might have been financed by a Psychiatry association  aimed at convincing folk they need a shrink.
I have just read back my post and apart from the quoted words from the article i have  myself used the word `folk` so according to Mr Yarkoni  i have an open personality. I won`t be seeking a shrink as i have my own personal physician Dr. Jaq.  s.w.m.b.o  who will guide me gently through life and blogging.
Mr Yarkoni sums up;
`If you complain a lot when you`re around your offline friends, you may very well complain about similar things on your Blog. Our personalities don`t dramatically change just because we`ve turned on our computers`.
I don`t suppose you will comment on this post as you`ll be far to busy checking your blog postings but if you do establish a pattern in your writings be brave and tell us but also ask your partner if the your writing is a reflection of yourself.
 As for my checking back posts i have a saying;
I am what i am and if you don`t like it What you see/read is me.

So what`s new on the water road post ice age. Well the diesel tank is full as is the water tank and the stove has plenty of food. The captain of this good vessel is counting the days to take off to the states (18 days) and will not be travelling to far away as the worry of another freeze and not being able to reach my booked marina is at the front of my mind.
What i intend to do is lay another well insulated floor in the boat to stop my feet getting cold something that only happens when temps. go down to freezing but that for me is not good enough as i want to be comfortable in my home. I`ll keep you posted as to how it goes.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Being frozen in around the Rugby area for so long gave me the chance to walk the Brownsover Arm which was the original route of the canal until it was re-routed in the 1830`s. The original route built in the late 1700`s was a contour canal and as such it`s route twisted and turned in all directions as it sought to avoid the hills and valleys which would avoid costly embankments, tunnels and aquaducts. Altogether about 20 miles was cut from the route to speed freight in what was a very competitive period between the canal company`s but sadly with the coming of the railways and the increasing road traffic canal freight started it`s slow decline.
Above the present straightened route is to the left under the footbridge and the old route is almost centre picture.

 Below is the first bridge not of modern construction as you walk up the old route and from what i`ve read and maps viewed i believe it to be the old Rugby to Lutterworth Turnpike road that went past Brownsover Hall until in 1836 it was moved to make way for extensive gardens to be added to the front of  the hall. The moving of the road also saw the tollgate near the Hall`s entrance moved and the Star Inn, now a private house, could have been used to collect tolls. 

Brownsover Hall (above) is a Victorian Gothic Grade ll listed having been built on the foundations 14c farmhouse. Nowadays it`s a Hotel & Conference Centre but back in 1939 Frank Whittle worked on his jet engine designs in the hall.
 Continuing along the canal on what turned out to be a 3 hour stroll in cold but enjoyable all the same the canal
route is easily followed but approaching the section pictured above i could see on the extreme right just a narrow

channel that according to maps viewed in the library is a canal feeder now crossed by the M6 but as i got closer the canal made a left turn (picture above)and although now just a dry bed the route is clear. A footpath i assume to be the old towpath to the right of the trees took me over a well overgrown, almost hidden from the path, twin
arched bridge. One of which (above) allowed the River Swift to flow while the other pictured below was dry bar a sizable bird/wildlife drinking hole. The problem i now face as i write this, and my memory has failed here, is as i walked along the path over the arches left to right, the canal bed was to my left but which came first wet or dry arch. If it was the river did the canal join  it and if so what was the dry arch for.If the reverse then the canal was avoiding the river which makes a bit of sense as the canal builders wanted as easier route as possible. The trouble is there was no sign as to the continuing canal route possibly because of infill by farmers. 
I did during my ice age imprisonment visit the Rugby library before taking this walk but even their oldest Ordnance survey maps gave little clues. One thing that was clearly apparent was that large sections of dis-used canal were shown with the obvious,  at least to me,  route taken leading the canal back to cross what is now 
the new route and winding hole by the Willow Wren hire base arm. Now as you look across from the bridge above beyond the winding hole the ground is level with the canal and this route makes sense as to the right is the Swift Valley full of factory units very much below the new canal route and looking along the towpath the two

Aqueducts and the high embankment take the canal high above the R. Swift and the old Leicester road plus the retail park containing Wickes and Homebase among others. In the picture below is the arm leading to the Willow Wren base and again i`ve seen old maps clearly showing the canal taking this route across an old railway line

turning back on its self towards Newbold. Walking the towpath to Newbold i can only guess looking at the land contours that it came in on the first bend before the Quarry and at Newbold for sure it turned left  before the tunnel and went past the front doors of the Barley Mow & Boat pubs. See blog 20/8/2007 here.

So a little bit more research needed with a visit to the Warwickshire County archives when i get time to source some very old maps and once again seek out the origins of the old Nth Oxford canal route.
The history of the canals has become quite an attraction to me since living aboard and i`m not content to just pass a bridge marked on the map as the old route, i need to trace it.
All the above is what i`ve surmised or researched but anyone is most welcome to have a different opinion but it would be nice if you could refer me to any further reading instead of just disagreeing with me. At 62 i`m still hungry for knowledge.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


No i`m not working on a new Shakespeare play, but thinking of my involvement within the world, the one that is where i once had a full time existence in, before my life afloat showed me one so different. My thoughts are not so much `can i` but  `do i need to` belong to both worlds or perhaps can i attend either/both on a percentage basis.

The old world i once played in full- time is for sure still there but the more i stay (5yrs now) in the world of the water road the more i feel less part of the world i was born into. Although i`ll always have to acknowledge my birth world, it seems to be as time goes on it is becoming distant memory with my interest in how it functions fading daily.

The world news that once seemed to be so in my face is now gleaned from hearsay or the odd newspaper purchased once in a while or sometimes the freebie paper picked up on a train. TV news once a must see programme, but of late watched in the interest of confirming my thoughts contained herein,  is now considered a waste of battery power. My refusal to purchase a newspaper has hardly saved a few twigs let alone a tree so the green issue is not my concern here. If the world was at risk, strict laws would be in force with supermarkets banned from using plastic bags not just encouraged to issue less. My opinion on that one thing is they just charge, in some cases for a bag to increase profits on the back of the green band wagon.

Anyway back to my thoughts; when i previously watched the TV news; which has been confirmed in my research of late. At the end i would think how could my life possibly have suffered or been affected had i not seen this item of news:
Two men get long sentences for sex crimes... Good news being the sentence not the crime, equals to my life being the same.
Politician jailed for expenses fraud, has there only been ONE convicted?!
Banks must pay smaller bonuses, as if. Even the ones we own we don`t control.
Beckhams' to have baby, my friend just gave birth as did thousands of others, so what.

I could go on but i think you might  understand where i`m coming from. Ok you might throw some thing back at me but my defence is if it greatly affects my life i`ll hear about it in the press of my new world ie waterways mags, Internet forums or the good old towpath telegraph.

Now i accept i need my birth world to function; i need to buy food, travel to see family; my new love in the USA not just that and how could i forget, fuel supplies need delivering canal side.

So my question is folks; am i wrong to ignore the old world and live waterside without the stresses of it? To just dip into it as and when i need? Although i spent long enough in it; contributed so much to it. I feel i can now enjoy the new world i love and cherish.

Your thoughts will be of interest but i can`t see myself changing my view.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Hope everyone had a nice Christmas and that 2011 will bring you all that you wish for, i think it will for us,  if not just settle for good health it`s priceless.

Well it seems from the communications i have had with boaters in the area that NB Valerie is still iced in so with regret i intend to stay with family a bit longer. The withdrawal symptoms are strong believe me but the choice of being around the grandchildren or sitting in an iced in boat was an easy one. For a bit of therapy i could jump on the bus to Marsworth and stroll along the canal now that the kids are back at school.

I have arranged a berth for the boat during my USA visit to Jaqueline in 4 weeks time if the ice melts but icy canal or not  i`ll be on that plane for sure.

Over the period of my being encased in bricks and mortar i will try and blog, something, a bit different perhaps has been crossing my mind so perhaps i might put it down in words and see what people think.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs