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Sunday, 23 May 2010

May 18th to 23rd

Tues 18th and it's a lovely start and a great forecast for the week. We cruised down the GU to Gayton. Noted ex working boats Balham & Edgeware moored on way to Gayton and which were once so smart and now look so sad. Replaced empty gas & did loo & water at Gayton and set off towards Northampton (Noton). Mo (nb Balmaha) told us we'd need a bigger windlas for the Ouse so bought one at Gayton. Made steady progress, crossing with one boat, but why are the handrails on the bottom gates so arranged, what is an easy step across on most other narrow canals I didn't feel I wanted to risk on the Noton flight? We stopped for the night just past the M1, not too quiet but not a bad mooring. The water on the flight is beautifully clear and blue/green coloured, but why so much running down the byewashes? Note more good BW mooring policy. Only 6 1/2 miles and 13 locks but we were tired.

More BW mooring

Wed hotter still and we poddle down onto the Nene and tie up on the moorings by the footbridge over the river before wandering into the town for a look see and to see what was on at the cinema (Orange Wednesdays) but none of the films appealed to both of us. A shop at Morrisons almost on the river. Good night. 4 miles & 4 locks.

Well on Thursday I wandered into town first thing to buy a padlock to fit to our fuel filler plus got Carol an anniversary card..more later. We were off through first lock, but it was worked for us by the crew of The St John's trip boat whilst they waited for their passengers, and then we stopped to attend to our levels, our water tank gauge has failed yet again and as such we have to keep topping up, I'll change to a stand pipe indicator shortly. We moseyed along a short way when we were alongside the excellent moorings at the Brittania and it seemed rude not to stop. The "Directors" was excellent, so good I had another!

By now it was warm & it was shirt off time. The next lock was pretty hard work, around 60 turns to wind the top paddles, nearer 80 on the lower ones, but after this the EA had put on much more mdern gearings only needing about 20 turns each way.

This day all the guillotine bottom gates were electrically operated, slow but not tiring. After 9 locks & 8 miles we'd had enough & got a mooring above Barton lock, not the best mooring, but we had seen no better ones.

Friday 21st. I had been getting worried about our slow progress as we had a time to get to March & unless we get a move on we'll not get there. This morning was bright sun from first light, but there was a heavy dew.

Standard thing happened, just as I was casting off a working boat came the other way, followed shortly afterwards by 2 more. We progressed, then as we approached Wellingborough our new poly V alternator belt gave up the ghost, I fitted the spare, but am very worried as to why, especially as we now have no spare. We tied up at the town moorings, Carol went off the the nearbt Tesco. She was so relieved to see it as the 22nd is my birthday & the 24th our anniversary & she had no cards!! I went on-line to get motor spares firms & spend about 3/4 hr ringing around to try to get one, but to no avail. I re-tightened the belt and hoped, and did so again when we stopped for the night. Hell our car had one on it for 16 years & only replaced it because it started squeeking a bit, but then Lily has a mch more powerful charge rate.

After lunch we made steady progress before tieing up after Lower Ringstead lock, pretty hairy mooring but hadn't seen any others. The non electric guillotine gate and take a lot of spinning of the stainless steel wheel to lower & raise the guillotine. An hour or so after mooring up a chap came along with a bag of pellets wanting to know how long we would be stopping. He had rented the bank & had been feeding the fish along it for weeks! We covered 12 miles and 10 locks. I looked on-line for somewhere to stop on Saturday & decided on a pub at Ashton, it reviewed pretty well, but notes I had about cruising the river said it got busy at weekends, so it's an earlier start tomorrow.

May 22nd and its incredibly hot for the time of year, barely a cloud seen & touching 25 degrees. Lovely collection of cards but poor Carol, I had said I'd like some ratchet ring spanners which she asked for in Screwfix (which stocks 2 types) but she had been given a large set of normal spanners, but which I already have! Bless her she tried, and Sam & Hannah got me a new tie, perhaps they are trying to tell me something.

There was a very heavy mist as we cast off but by the time of the first lock the sun was through. Went hard aground as we left Denford lock, a big shelf of gravel had been brought down the side channel and it took us a lot of effort to get off. We decided to top up our water tank at Upper Barnwell lock, except that the pressure was so high that it bst our hose in about 6 places (tried it next day on a more normal tap & it worked OK). We made it to Ashton & turned into the mill stream, but no obvious spots, but some annoying gaps that would have made one, but at the end we got in, or at least got the bows in.

A lovely mooring, and our meal at the Chequered Skipper was excellent. Ashton is a lovely little village, built by a Rothschild in 1900 using tradition methods, and where the World Conker Championships are held. The day had been bright sun all day. 14 miles & 8 locks.

Sunday and it was bright sun all day & we walked into Oundle to get papers & I'd run out of coffee. Quite an intersting place, but we were away at 11.20.

We shared locks many times during the day, not just with boats but also people jumping in!

Carol & I kept our shirts on all day, as well as our hats but I'm sure many of the people we saw by the river will be red raw tonight. Fotheringhey church has an impressive setting, but it looks a it clean cut, we'll be stopping by many of the places we have noted on our way down river. Shame some can't read the notices on some moorings, but moorings are difficult on this river!

We tied up for the night just past Wansford havving passed under the A1. Another wild mooring site where I used the plank to get off & on.

13 miles & 7 locks, stopping at 5. ( Just had a big worry, computer just shut down as I was trying to save this, thought I'd lost it all!!)

All week we have been suffering from "snowstorms" of seeds from grey willows.

Monday, 17 May 2010

2010 cruise May

11th to 16th May 2010

Much later than last year we set off after a wonderful winter seeing people & going places, more of that later perhaps.

So at just before lunch we set off with full water & fuel tanks & empty loos, plus a new drive belt to the domestic alternator that should see the end of our problems with this device, plus with two hydraulic pipes replaced to stop the annoying little leaks in our drive system, all should go well. We had to stop at Br 61 (we always do) where we had a long chat with Mary Matts plus another couple Carol recognised. It turned out they were friends of friends to whom we had been introduced over tea to hear about their experiences of living afloat in the early ‘90’s as we were then thinking about it but were far from sure we would take to it. You can guess what they told us!

We eventually left, had a late lunch & popped up Foxton Locks with no-one either way. The weather was fine but cool winds, but not cool enough to stop Carol wanting one of the delicious Bennetts ices from the Top Lock Coffee Stop, and I had to keep her company. All this hard work meant that about a mile further on we tied up just short of Laughton Lodge, one of our favourite spots. The chap on the boat in front came over to ask why, with all 2000 miles we chose to tie up just in front of him, but he was soon appeased with my explanation (or was it my smooth tongue?).

12th to 14th May

It was cold overnight & we had to bring in our bedding plants overnight, Carol wants to plant them out but I can’t get all the troughs on the front deck so they stay in their seed trays. Morning dawned bright but soon clouded over and then started a slight drizzle, but as we exited Husband Bosworth tunnel it had turned to rain, and with the cold wind we got thoroughly chilled, so much so that as soon as we had passed the Welford Arm we stopped, tied up on the Avon embankment and put the boiler on & Carol cooked a lovely meal from a new recipe she had just picked up & couldn’t wait to try out, lovely!

So in 2 days of cruising we have managed 10 locks and about 9 miles, gosh this is hard work. When it warms up I’m sure we will be better but Thursday was bright and cool and yet we only got as far as Crick, all of 10 miles, where we went to the Red Lion to eat.

Yelvertoft marina is nearing completion but I bet they are concerned that they already had a small landslip on the bank down to the basin.

As to the Red Lion be aware if you eat earlyish like us, the pub didn’t open till 6.15 and kitchens until 6.30. I had a weird “bitter” by Cameron brewery that was as pale as a lager shandy......and I have to say I struggled to drink it but I never throw beer away, even lousy American beers. Others have told us they enjoy eating at this pub, certainly it is a lovely & popular place, but we will not chose to eat there again.

We popped into ABNB to have a chat with Barry Watson who used to moor alongside us at Debdale. Good to see him again & interesting to hear that they are selling boats very rapidly at the moment, though only when owners sell at “realistic” prices, though who says what is realistic?

Crick tunnel on Friday was wet as ever & we followed a boat not showing any lights & crossed another, must have been interesting for them with the boat we were following, and went straight down Watford locks.

The lock keeper was bored so had got out his strimmer, though I’m sure there are contractors supposed to do this. Bright day but wind still cold. Dredging below the locks.

As we approached Buckby Top lock 2 boats exited including the smartest working boat I have seen, Scorpio, with a brand new paint job & the hold freshly painted too. So at least the top lock was set for us, but every other one was both against us & with bottom gates open! We saw the culprits as we reached the bottom as the crew of the BW boat Pochard crossed the gates, having tied up, you guessed it, on the lock moorings, despite there being plenty of moorings available. I have notified BW, but I doubt it will do much good.

We stopped at Whilton having managed 14 locks & about 7 miles.

Sat 15th & Sun 16th May

Well we really worked hard on Sat, moving just over 2 miles before stopping short of Weedon on a bright afternoon and watched qualifying for the Monaco GP. The forecaster on Friday night said he was pleased that the weather was now warming up & that he would be moving his bedding plants out, so that was good enough for Carol to get her troughs done.

Whilst she did this I went for a walk around Weedon to sort out somewhere to eat with Sally, John & kids on Sunday lunch. I reckon I walked the better part of 5 miles before deciding on using the Waterway at Stowehill Wharf. During my walk I walked away from the A5 and into Weedon proper and was pleased to find the old Royal Ordinance Depot as mentioned in Nicholson. No wonder I hadn’t been able to see it from the canal as it was hidden by the railway. These are interesting buildings from the early 1800’s, still with water in the canal arm between the buildings, but currently unloved and by the looks of it being used for storage. A sad end for the location that the Royal family would have removed to had Napoleon invaded Britain. Look at this site for interesting info.

Sunday saw us tootle along the 2 miles to stop just short of Stowehill and had a lovely meal before we did a short cruise to & fro before a typical Carol Sunday afternoon tea followed by Rummikub session. A lovely day, and warm weather forecast. Fortunately we were able to record the GP and watch it without knowing the result & without interruptions.

So what a busy week. Any problems? Well our water tank gauge has packed up again, I think this is the 5th, though the last one in November was ruined by water leaking from the water pump. We have twin pumps & both failed within short order, still pumped water but leaked, I found they had leaked when I pulled something from our under-floor storage place in the stern to find it wet, so water was all through the boat. I found the source, ordered a new pump plus a repair kit, and found the repair kit didn’t work as well as being quoted as the same price as a complete pump……it went back. I then found that by using a really superb glue I was able to seal the two halves of the pump together, but wonder how long they will last. We now have 2 pumps working & 2 spares!! As to the gauge I’m wondering if to replace it with the sort of sight tube I had on the previous boat & which always worked & didn’t leak!

Our plans for this Summer are down to the Fens. We have been to Peterborough but not onto the Ouse which Mo & Vanessa on nb Balmaha ( ) reckon is lovely. We are away from Lily for just over a week at the end of the month as our daughter & son-in –law both want us to spend a longer period of time with them. We have just heard we can tie up for this time at Fox Narrowboats wth power so now we can go down the Nene.