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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

MARSWORTH enjoying the sunshine

Hope everyone`s enjoying the early summer, long may it last, and having a chance to chill out like me with an extended stay at Marsworth topping up my tan. With the weather being so good Marsworth has been very busy with the flight of locks an boat movements through them giving both young and old the chance to see how the canals work. The usual comments by the children as i sit on the front deck, "mummy do people really live in boats" or "look dad that one has a windmill on the roof" or "mum they have a sink, why don`t they use a dishwasher" plus lots more the boaters amongst you have heard no doubt
Plenty of interest from the adult males about the wind genny and the solar panel which is by the way giving out a steady 5.4amps. The genny has now taken over as i write with the wind being the main food for my batteries and is giving a 2 amp boost to the weakened sun but together i still get 3/4 amps. 

The long stay as i travel slowly south into Jaq`s arms, just 3weeks 3days now, gives me time to carry on with prepping the our boat with the fridge now boxed in and the shelf in place above the washing machine behind those little doors.

Another job i`ve been meaning to do is the non slip rubber on the back deck which for some time has slowly been winning the battle with the glue holding it down. I mentioned this to Jaq saying i would try and find something to smarten it up once it was re-glued and she had the brilliant idea of using the tyre black paint used on car tyres. Well i must say it has been a success although i will say try and give it a long drying time so it soaks in and hardens.

On the way into Marsworth a film crew were busy making a TV advert for the O2 phone company. I later learnt from other boaters in Marsworth they had also been filming at the locks with the involvement of a horse. One of the film crew said the ad is due to be screened in May  so watch your screens.
 Below NB Valerie moored right beside the reservoir, the Red boat is selling Canal ware and was doing a good trade selling amongst other wares painted horseshoes with your name added while u wait.

This proud mum came along with her brood of 13 but over 3 days the numbers reduced to 12 then down to 8. Not her being a bad mother but Mother Nature at work with either Pike, Heron or Crow or possibly all three enjoying a meal, sad yes but that`s the way life is.

Just a few steps from the boat just one of 4 Reservoirs in the area all built by the canal company back in the early 1800`s to supply water to the canal. The 3 mile summit level between Cow Roast and Bulborne needs a healthy supply of water with boats coming up to or leaving the summit using many thousands of galls of water to do so.

The trip boat was a regular operating cruises from Pitstone turning halfway up the Marsworth locks. This one was hosting a 60th birthday and the w`end night time trips were disco themed.

Plenty of good walks around the reservoirs with good paths a nice way to spend an hour or so away from the crowds.
One walk took me across to the Wendover Arm basin and across fields to see how the renovation of this 6 mile or so canal was progressing. Some parts are in water but this section has been cleared to allow access for work parties and equipment.

Swans on the runway
Swans overhead waiting to land.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2 NEW CREW Plus good cruising companions

Half term and two of my grandchildren Keirnan and Jack have joined me for the week. The first few hours went fine but Keirnan being the youngest decided after being put to bed that he missed mum, cuddles and bribery had no effect and so Kiernan jumped ship when mum arrived.

Jack(left) and Keirnan

Do you all agree with Jack, it weighs at least 10lb

Now young Jack has been aboard a few times over the years so he was just fine doing locks, tying up the boat, fishing and washing the boat again and again and again........when he wasn`t eating that is.

Jack making up for eating all but one of the cakes
Moored up near Slapton village Jack and i went for a walk across the fields in amongst the grazing cows and walking back along the towpath came across George and Carol on Rock `n` Roll moored about a mile ahead of us. This morning we travelled down to Marsworth sharing the locks and jack was in his element walking the towpath either with George or Molly the dog.

Valerie & Rock `n` Roll in a lock

Rock `n` Roll entering a lock thru a bridge hole

George & Jack on swing bridge duty

Molly looks on hopeful as George plays Chef
Upon reaching Marsworth George and Carol kindly invited us to their BBQ..................many thanks to you both.

Friday, April 08, 2011

COSGROVE and Nb Valerie is in print

I set off through Blisworth Tunnel which as usual was a very wet journey with water dripping from the roof and at one point cascading down one of the ventilation shafts. After mooring at Stoke Bruerne for a cuppa i decided to go down the lock flight and moor below the bottom lock just for one night as i wanted to reach a point of easy access to visit the Grandchildren over the weekend. One more short hop to Cosgrove picking up diesel and gas on the way and a night stop gave the chance for a walk along the Great Ouse.

The canal crossing the river here at Cosgrove started in 1800 with 4 locks descending down to the river and the same number bringing the canal back up by the lock at Cosgrove. The river flooding was a cause of delay here and in 1805 an Aqueduct came into use and the 8 locks became redundant.

Luckily the locks were left in situ because in 1808 the Aqueduct collapsed and the locks once again were pressed into service until a temporary wooden structure once again carried the canal across the river.

The present iron trough Aqueduct opened in 1811 and has given good service with minimal maintenance to the present day.

Although the bed of the canal can be plainly seen on both sides of the river no trace of the locks remain and the modern style lock is just in place to show visitors how it looked. Going down the steps by the Aqueduct you can walk along the river into Stony Stratford taking about 30 minutes.

When i took on diesel at Yardley Gobion i picked up a copy of the April issue of Towpath Talk and while at Cosgrove sitting in the sunshine, cup of tea, piece of cake, with my feet up not a care in the world, sorry non

boaters but it`s part of the hardship we boaters suffer on a daily basis. Where was i, ok i opened the paper and there was a picture of NB Valerie featuring in an article on `How green can i be afloat` . Page 89 is the page you need to read the article using`ll work it out. NB Valerie is the right hand picture.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

BLISWORTH TUNNEL a canal builders nightmare

As i cruise around i find the history of what is now my home absolutely fascinating. The present day world is there to see but a 200year old canal system that i now live on hides it`s past be it because of mother nature or more often human intervention.  It is there to research and as others like to follow other pastimes in retirement i have chosen the history. I hope others get some enjoyment from my blog that tends to be different to other boating blogs. Don`t get me wrong, i enjoy a huge number of  boaters blogs for their content and style of writing and hope we can all blog as one big happy family.
Late 1793 a contract to build Blisworth tunnel at £10 per yard was negotiated. Within a year the contractor was failing miserably and the canal company took over but by 1796 so much water was entering the workings that work had to stop. It was recommended to carry the canal across the hill by lock flights, this was turned down and the solution was to start the tunnel more to the east at the Blisworth end. Perhaps this accounts for the curved approach we now have as we approach the tunnel entrance. (not seen in the above pic)

One of the ventilation shafts for the tunnel.
So again work started now at £16 per yd -- which reminds me that the original cost for a branch to Daventry was estimated at £6000 and i`m wondering IF they ever build a Daventry Arm what it will cost.--  but this soon all but stopped as it was felt work needed to be done elsewhere on the route. 1802 is the next significant date because a new lower priced contract at £15 was awarded (must be when compare the started) and Blisworth Tunnel was finished in 1805.

Over the years a lot of repair work went on but in the 1980s the tunnel was closed for some years for massive work involving re-lining a large part of the tunnel with concrete rings. Click here.

One of the concrete rings used to re-line the Tunnel
Back to 1797 and a road was built over the hill to transship cargoes, this was soon followed by a Tramway that started at the wharf  next to the Mill at bridge 51 and ran to the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne locks. It was proposed to continue it to Cosgrove but the decision was made to finish the canal rather than have to long a Tramway. If you walk back from the tunnel on the non towpath side 2 GJCCo. markers can be seen and it`s
along here the Tramway ran.

Another marker bottom left surrounded by nettles Jaq.
  As for the rest of the route across the hill i`m not sure if any trace remains although it has been investigated in the past. Click here.

Friday, April 01, 2011


Ok the blog editor is back after letting the sub-editor feel her feet. The fair sex have a better way of  making announcements than us blokes so i put the blog in the capable hands of Jaq, i won`t say just for one week as it won`t be to long before she will be blogging jointly with me fromNB Valerie.

So now everyone knows  the plans and all that is needed is for all the paperwork that the UK Border Agency need to process Jaq`s visa and we can both live happily ever after. The amount of paperwork is astounding plus the things they want to know even about me, finances,accommodation,proof of length of relationship, it goes on and on. We did get some good tips off the Internet from others having gone through the hoop and one was to present the paperwork in an indexed file to make it easy to process and hopefully add speed to the conclusion. So i`m having to obtain statements from Internet banks and spend ages photo copying (they want originals and copies) the dozens of other requested documents. All be worth it.

So the slow journey south continues and i`m taking the time to carry on with some alterations and boat maintenance.

The washing machine is working and i`ve utilised the space above

Extra cupboard space in the bedroom, just the door to finish it off.

This stretch of canal down to Blisworth opened late 1796 and is slightly longer(just under a mile) than originally planned owing to following the contour and avoiding more heavy earthworks as had been needed at Weedon & Bugbrooke. The biggest challenge was Blisworth tunnel that proved a costly long drawn out construction.
Nb Valerie ontop of the embankment at Weedon
Bloggers are still around and Ian and Karen on NB Tacet stopped the night at Weedon on their way to the Nene. It was a first time meet for us all so it was nice to be able to invite them aboard for a cuppa. Also George and Carol on NB Rock`n`Roll passed by today, probably see more of them as we head in the same direction.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs