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Sunday, 27 May 2012

Through Birmingham to Autherley Junction

Monday 21st May a lovely day and we returned from our trip to Chichester at just after 2pm, the railway platform being just a couple of hundred yards from where Lily was moored. We had a slight problem as our domestic batteries were almost completely drained, yet all we had left switched on was the inverter and the alarm it was running. Big mystery and still not resolved, and the complete discharge has totally upset the alarm. I bought this from Digitek in Leicester & they are very helpful, far better than our previous one from a South African chap who used to moor in Debdale, so much better to have technical bods on the end of the phone.
On the Stratford someone has made these hearts and
has attached them to many locks

Anyway, we started the engine & cruised on to a lovely mooring a mile short of the Tam i th’ Wood, where we moored on the off-side & I was able to re-polish the starboard side, which I will keep doing regularly as the paint has lost much of its original lustre unless the paint is fed with fresh polish. Anyway, a couple of hours of polishing and a few pence worth of polish is a lot cheaper than a re-paint!!

Tuesday 22nd and I start getting my pension today and another lovely day. We stopped to empty out at Kingswood Junction, in so doing we were passed by Martin & Mo in The Tartan Rose. What a great chap, on his folding bike he dealt with their locks, & then drew a paddle to start to fill the locks for us. 
A lovely spot on the Lapworth flight

They cruise more speedily than Carol & I, they were on the way to Llangollen whilst on their way to The Lee where he is Habourmaster for the boats coming to the Olympics.
At work on my birthday

It was a lovely day, the first day for shorts this year. We crossed with a couple of boats in the flight and stopped for lunch before finishing the last four locks. Two lift bridges and a couple more miles and we stopped in Hockley Heath.
I had looked on the internet about restaurants in Hockley & the best one seemed to be one that had recently changed names, & on Google Maps it looked close to the canal, but when I looked I saw the other 3, but not The Oak (new name). I asked a pair of blokes taking a beer outside a club & they said it was about 15 mins walk out of the I decided we’d go to the large Miller & Carter pub. On the way I hoped we were going to call in at the garage by The Wharf to pick up my birthday present from Carol...they sold McLarens & Rolls Royces, no joy!
Meal was good but not cheap and rounded off a good day.
Our Hockley Heath mooring

Wednesday 23rd and another hot day forecast so we set off a bit earlier than usual at 8.30. Much of the cruise was in slight cuttings or where the canal had plenty of tree cover, keeping it cooler than might have been. With the slight cover the canal-side flowers were beautiful, obviously relishing the warmer weather after the rains that gave better growing conditions.
One powered lift bridge in the morning was where we caught up with a hire boat & the crew operated it for us. 
Rounding ?! Kings Norton junction

Arriving at Kings Norton the boat in front made a bit of a Horlicks of its right turn, so I took a wide line & we were looking good, until there was a clatter from the prop. I snatched it into reverse and the prop was absolutely jammed! Lily’s bows slowly floated into the bank & I hopped off with a rope & started to pull her through the junction bridge. Fortunately there were a few healthy chaps around who helped the pulling as the canal was very shallow & I couldn’t move her on my own.

Once tied up I got down into the engine bay & started down the weed hatch, but it was awfully warm as the engine had been working for 3 hours. A quick feel around and there was a 4inch diameter log jammed across the bottom of the weed hatch with one blade of the prop that had cut into it. I set to with saws, not easy in the working position. I tried prising it, chiselling it and everything, but it was over an hour and a half before I was able to free it. I was a little shattered!
At work in the weed hatch

We carried on into Gas St, stopping at Holiday Wharf to fill at another incredibly slow tap, what is it with BW and slow taps, the one at Cambrian Wharf nearby is chronically slow too. The other thing at these facilities is that BW have marked out the length reserved for using the services, but they have only allocated 60 feet, so when we filled our stern lay alongside another boat.

Thursday & Friday was spent in Brum. Thursday was our 43rd wedding anniversary, I having carefully set our wedding day as 2 days after my birthday so birthday cards to me remind me to get one for Carol!! Whilst having a coffee on our anniversary we sat alongside a  lovely young asian couple & got chatting. You could have knocked me down with a feather when they told us they had been married for 11 years, she didn't look anywhere near old enough! Two kids at school and very happy couple, yet theirs was an arranged marriage, they only met on their wedding day. All we can say is that their parents must have done their homework well, especially as she had been born in the UK, he came over from Pakistan for their wedding. So, despite everything one reads or hears about arranged marriages, they obviously can work well.
BMX Championship course. I understand it took over 7000 tons of material

One thing we did was go into the NIA and watched some preliminary rounds of the UCI BMX World Championships. We had seen bits of this sport on TV & one Brit girl was reckoned to be in with a shout at Beijing. It cost us only £5 each & it was really quite interesting and we saw both the existing Olympic champ & World champ plus European champs. I don’t know if we’d bother again, but it was truly international, we were sitting with the crowd from Brazil numbering well over 50 plus large continents from many other countries.
Moored alongside the NIA

We also bought new straw hats to keep us cooler in the forecast hot days to come....I’ve got another one somewhere, but where????

Saturday 26th another scorching day, but we decided to stay put till after qualifying for the Monaco GP. We had put 100 litres of fuel in from the fuel barge, I was rather shocked to see how low it was in the tank. 99p self declared. Carol forced herself to enjoy a coffee before qualifying, plus we used the lovely weather to get our washing dry in double quick time.

The Main Line is lovely, you are almost unaware of the surroundings

We were away just before 3 and covered 7 ½ miles and three locks till we stopped above the Factory Locks a bit past 6.

I have signed up to Groupon & we have had several good deals with them on their daily offers, and in an offer today Digitek (the alarm company) have a deal on. It’s not the boat alarm, but you might wangle a discount. By the way, our alarm is wireless and has an internal siren, but it raises the alarm through a mobile phone call to as many phones as you want, plus we can switch it on, off or check its status with our phones.

Sunday 27th and another scorching day. Last evening I was reading the latest Towpath Talk and read about an arson attack on a boat in the yard on the offside just above the Factory Locks, all that was left is the charred remains in my photo. I don't think we would have moored here if we had known, as it was we had a lovely quiet night.
Arson near our moorings

I walked to get papers, but Times available! Never mind, we set off about 9.30 and cruised for around 4 miles through surprisingly lovely surroundings and meeting 2 boats. It clearly used to be heavily industrialised, with many steel works, but now they ave nearly all been cleared and many housing estates and retail parks. 
An old overhead crane, derelict.

About half a mile before the junction with the Curly Whurly we tied up for lunch & the Monaco GP. 

Away at 3, only one boat had passed us while moored, but exactly as we reached Horseley Fields Junction a BW tug with a work boat in tow emerged, incredible timing! 
The work party allowed us past first

A short while later we arrived at Wolverhampton Top Lock.......just as a boat was entering the flight! We had never done this flight before and it really was pleasant, though of course every paddle has to be locked with the Watermate key. We were glad to complete the flight of 21 locks on this warm day, turning into the Shroppie and tying up for the night at around 7.

Our week totted up 44 miles and 45 locks. Now we are off to Chester for the Jubilee Weekend. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Monday 14th May 2012 Some rain overnight and damp at start. Engineer arrived before 9 to have a look & fiddle with engine alternator. He wasn’t a sparky & really had little more idea than I. Then I rang Steve at Debdale who guesses it might be diodes or regulator at fault. We decided to carry on anyway as this alternator only charges the starter battery and it doesn’t get much load at this time of year, plus I have a 12v battery charger on board & have attached it & put it to work.
Yellow fields are a feature at this time

Away at 11 and it was a pleasant day when out of the wind. Steady cruise through Wilmcote flight crossing 3 or 4 boats in the flight & stopping at Wilmcote for lunch. After lunch carried on to Wooton Wawen and stopped for the day in a lovely mooring about 200 yards before the wharf. Walked into village, the farm shop complex is not really open on Mondays, but we found 2 items we needed in the farm shop itself.

Edstone aqueduct
We wandered on, passing Wooton Hall, a lovely Palladian styled building, but surrounded by “park homes” as the hall is owned & head office to a park home company. 

Wooton Hall, missing out the "park Homes"
On to the church and this has a very interesting set of panels as a display as it is the oldest church in Warwickshire, dating from Saxon times though much altered. Well worth a visit. Then on the Bulls Head, around 700yrs old, for a lovely pint of Pedigree. Landlord is a Manchester City fan & had a rather thick head after celebrating their winning the Premier League the night before.
Wooton Wawen Church
Red Lion at Wooton Wawen

On our way back saw these interesting houses. 

The brickwork was incredible, sharp, perfectly pointed, looking as if they had been built the day before, except modern brickwork is nowhere near this quality, this having been built in 1919 to commemorate the much loved son, Selwyn, of the owners of Austy Manor. This building, or rather its chimneys & roofs could be seen from the boat to the East of the canal & I thought it looked interesting. I walked up there, took some pics & then googled it, to find it was only built in the early 1900’s, it wasn’t worth the walk! 6miles & 13 locks

Selwyn's Houses in Wooton
Tuesday 15th May and my brain clicked in. We are members of RCR!! Rang them & tried to fix up to meet an engineer. He was on a breakdown but would call back.....but we went through an area of no phone signal! 
Wooton Wawen wharf. Boats having a pump out stop in the aqueduct
I guess when an engine is removed that boat is there too!

Having passed through several locks above lock 35 I saw a boat descending & left the top gate open and then recognised the boater walking down having left her gate open. It was Maz & Pete on Two Lazy Bees & who winter in Debdale, or rather their boat does, they go off in their caravan to the sun. We hadn’t seen them all last winter so we stopped and had a good natter over coffee and Carol’s cakes. Really interesting to do some catching up.
Maz & Pete with coffee & cakes

After lunch we carried on & Kerry from RCR rang & we arranged to stop at Lowsonford to meet him. Good bloke from Kegworth, did various tests and said he could fit an alternator he was carrying at a cost of about £75 or take the old one away for repair, which might cost????? His guess of a new alternator from Nanni was around £200-250. A no brainer.....not exactly as the wiring to the rev counter on Lily is different from normal & he couldn’t work out how it linked to the alternator. We could run with the alternator removed to be repaired, but with it off there would be no drive to the water pump. We decided to carry on until we can hook up to the mains before removing it. We stopped the night & had some very heavy rain in the evening.  4miles 8locks

An interesting bird box

Some wag reckoned these bridges were made
this shape to let Carol's flowers pass through

A pair of that increasingly rare species, anglers.
These were spinning for zander & intended to put them back

A pretty Stratford canal view

Wednesday 16th May and a lovely bright morning after a cold night, less wind but still needed jumpers etc. Away at 9.25 we were first off northwards and virtually every lock was set for us. As I walked between the first 2 locks I looked back & saw someone start to refill it, but we never saw them again as virtually all would have been against them. We arrived at Kingswood Junction in under 2 hours & then spent ages at a really slow water point. We rounded the turn & stopped for lunch on the 48 hr moorings, very pleasant. A new set of boats arrived, a normal looking narrowboat towing a shorter butty with cloths. Comfortably Numb & Echoes, they run it as a shop for painted ware, polish and all sorts.

A modern working pair
After lunch we turned south down the GU to moor alongside Hatton railway station. Trying to pull in to the mooring we got terribly stuck on a very firm lump and it took ages to get free, but we just managed it. Tomorrow we set off by train to Chichester to our daughter’s 40th birthday party so here endeth this week’s blog.
The other week I include a photo of this off-side
It was full of wild flowers, sadly it was mown the other day!

7 miles 10 locks on Wednesday and a weekly total of 18 miles and 35 locks
Just up from our mooring I noticed this engine removal happening this evening.
Clever work as the range of movements of the fork lift is small.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Stratford on Avon

Monday 7th May and after a lovely day on Sunday we set off in reasonable weather but with a pretty rotten forecast and a boat came out of our first lock just as we arrived, but we arrived at the lock just as another one followed us to it! Keen young family in it, well the parents were at least, it was their third boat hire in 6 months! Locks arrive thick and fast but after an hour, so did the rain. The boat in front of us was a brand new Kate Boats hire boat, not even sign written as they had only completed the boat the day before the hirers picked it up. The hirers were a very unprepared couple, she 6 months pregnant & with only a thin rain top, he had none at all, only a fleece. She was very cold and miserable and wanted to stop, but we never passed them. We however stopped for lunch and a warm up just before lock 48, hot soup made by Carol did the trick.

Lily & a cottage incorporating the original barrel roof

Some people just don't know how to park
This was alongside the canal

We came out into more heavy rain passing through the one lock before a lock free section for some 3 miles. We passed over the Edstone aqueduct, I’ll try for a pic from the towpath on the return trip, but about half a mile further on we saw a good mooring and called it a day and lit the stove. 12 locks and only 7 miles

The Edstone Aqueduct

Tuesday 8th May and what a change, a lovely day and quite warm. Keen to enjoy the weather we were away by 9.30, which is pretty early for us, and enjoyed a steady cruise through the remaining 16 locks into Stratford. At one flight of four we had cleared the first two, the third was set for the on-coming boat with gates open, but they were making no progress getting into the bottom lock. I toddled down to see what the problem was to find another totally new hire boat with totally new hirers who were trying to get into the lock with fenders down and it wouldn’t go in. I tried to put them right, but expect we might meet them on our way back!
We stopped for water some locks before Stratford, getting the water running just as another boat arrived on the way out from Stratford. Full again we set off in the lovely sun using the facilities at the Valley Cruisers boatyard to ensure we arrived empty. The bridges from there into Bancroft basin were incredibly low, we had to take off the satellite dish & Carol’s flowers  on the roof got rather squashed, but sprang up again! We arrived in the basin at 2.30 & pulled into one of the vacant moorings, at which Carol decided it was time to find a Costa Coffee.

The oldest Costa building we have seen

Having satisfied her craving I decided I wanted to moor the other way round, but to achieve this, switched my brain off a bit, and squeezing round Lily rubbed herself on the button of the neighbouring boat, but also got her hull a bit personal with its hull, leaving a bit of a black paint in its white counter......not just a white counter but a very newly painted white one. I felt a real plonker and was very upset, as they were. Fortunately 20 minutes work with turps and polish restored the stern to its previous condition and I felt better.

I got talking to them, they are a couple from Boston USA who spend 6 months a year cruising. Their boat, Spuyten Duyvel, and it has a WhisperGen for the provision of heating and power generation, which have always fascinated me as they use a Sterling engine and are supposedly very quiet and to run for many thousands of trouble free hours before needing any work. In the 8 years they have had this (from new) they have had to service it frequently and undertake some repairs. He has bought a second hand unit for spares, and now the maker in New Zealand has gone to the wall, partly due to the earthquakes in Christchurch. Mike Goode had suggested we might fit one in Lily when we were building her, but he never got round to saying they cost around £7000!!! I’m jolly glad we would not have been able to afford one!
This is a sun dial where you act as the gnomen
It is a memorial to 4 firemen killed in a nearby warehouse fire in 2008

Wednesday to Saturday were spent in Stratford, we having been told by the BW bod on site that with the Avon in flood and very limited demand for moorings, we could stay that long....we gather one of our near neighbours has been here about 6 months. I do consider that BW should change the regulations such that 48 hours of free mooring is allowed, and after that mooring is chargeable.

The lovely swan fountain at Stratford

We saw Twelfth Night in the main theatre, sitting in the gods with limited view. We enjoyed it but wished we had studied the synopsis before going, and then Richard 3rd in the smaller, Swan Theatre. Upon reading it was to run for over 3¼ hours we thought we might not make it, but it was performed by the understudy cast and it was absolutely superb with some lovely humorous touches. We shall seek out similar productions in future, especially as they only charged £5!
We also did some Shakespeare houses viewings plus some shopping, mostly window shopping, but did avail ourselves of the Friday market and bought the most enormous cauliflower for just £1, whilst Sainsbugs wanted £1.35 for about ¼ of the amount.
Archaeology under way at one of Shakespeare's houses
Note the wonderful wisteria
Thursday was somewhat enlivened by a very good curry and couple of reasonably priced pints in Wetherspoons. Carol did have a sadness on Friday as Costa’s coffee machine died & wasn’t repaired till late morning on Saturday, by which time we had my cousin arrive for a visit. After lunch I enjoyed a ladies shopping trip as Beverley was looking for something to wear to a wedding and Stratford has many independent fashion shops. 
Whilst the girls shopped I took some pretties
Sunday 13th May and our youngest daughter is 40 today, we are off to see her & family next weekend for her & husband Simon’s 40th parties. It is also a Grand Prix day, and memorable as it was won by a Williams car on the weekend when founder Sir Frank Williams was celebrating his 70th birthday with all his family present. 
Lily moored in Barncroft Basin with the Shakespeare Theatre behind

After the race we set off up the first four locks, following two Anglo Welsh boats. At the top of these locks we stopped at the Valley Cruisers boatyard to fill & empty, but I noticed the engine charging warning light was on. I expected to see the engine alternator belt to have broken, or that there was a wire off the alternator, but all seemed intact. This stopped our day’s cruising as we will get the boatyard to check it out tomorrow.
Overall after a fairly busy start it turned out a lazy but interesting and educational week.

Monday, 7 May 2012

From Braunston towards Stratford

Monday 30th April was a lovely day as forecast and many boats, tied up all of Sunday, set off so that Braunston to Napton Turn was a bit like the M1! We turned towards Calcut, crossing a boat at the top lock before we reversed into the boatyard to refuel (93p plus VAT) & replace an empty new gas bottle, and of course immediately met a fuel boat as we turned away from the fuel pump! I have their email address now to enquire where they are in future. We had a good run through to Long Itchington, and had intended to eat at the Two Locks as we had enjoyed eating there in the past. A lad who was helping us down the locks said the manager had changed recently and he thought it had gone downhill & was expensive & he recommended the Blue Lias. We tied up outside by 2.30 and ate there at 6. Shall I say we will not repeat it & I was flabbergasted to be charged nearly £6 for a pint plus a J2O.
Carol takes Lily down Stockton
 Tuesday 1st May it had rained hard overnight & was raining as we cast off, intending to push across to the water point, but a boat tied up at that moment!! Pleasant group from NZ on a Kates Boat, but they had not been given a BW key, so I unlocked for them before we carried off down the line, using a water point further along. It was wet virtually all cruise, I recall meeting only 4 boats all day, never at a lock, and many locks were against us, only at the end of the day was I told there was a boat about a mile in front, we tied up wet & cold in Leamington after 5 hours.........and walked into town to get a Costa!! No photos, drab day.

Wednesday, Thursday & Friday were spent in Leamington at a fairly quiet spot alongside the Aga/Rangemaster works. The weather was poor but one highlight was going to a nearby church one evening to see/hear a new opera by OPWA (University of Warwick Opera Society) Alice in Wonderland. We have never been to a full opera before, and this was a mix of well known arias and a well known story. It was fantastic and the quality of the singing was incredible, there was not a weak voice amongst the cast, they were all pitch perfect and powerful, it was amazing that these were students who chose to join the OP Soc, not on a choral course.
Charlecote Park

We came out determined to check on other productions they will be putting on over the winter period when we are back at Debdale.
Our quietish but hardly pretty mooring in Leamington

We also enjoyed a Wetherspoons curry, and also took a bus to visit a nearby National Trust house, Charlecote Park. An interesting house with some of the original family still occupying part of it, after over 500 years, but in the Victorian era there was a great deal of alteration to the house. It was a pity Carol helped me as we got off the bus by picking up “my” rucksack......except I was carrying mine, she had the bus drivers! Fortunately his lunch was not in it & in the end I returned it to the bus depot in Leamington that evening.

Mooring just above lock 29, Hatton flight
Saturday 5th May we were away towards Kingswood Junction on a brightish day. We stopped at the large Tesco canalside by bridge 46 to stock up, and wonder of wonders, they had a Costa Coffee shop too!. After lunch we carried on past Warwick, catching up with a boat with 4 people from The Netherlands at the second Cape Lock, but to no avail as they wanted to see Warwick & turned up the Saltisford Arm, leaving us to work our way up past Lock 29 on the Hatton flight where we stopped overnight. It had been a cool day with a few sharp showers.

Sunday 6th May and I faced a problem. I love to read the Sunday Times, and have done so for well over 50 years, but how was I going to get a copy today? Well not only that, but how was Carol to get her Costa fix? Well we set off at 9.30, our first lock had drained overnight so we were straight in, & then I noticed people at lock 29, so I waited, only to find it was two boats, so no point waiting, we had Hatton to ourselves! About 3 locks later there is a Shell petrol station alongside the flight, so paper problem solved, I have a week’s reading now, but they also did Costa Express! Something was watching over us, especially as the sun was out much of the morning, I was soon down to shirt sleeves. 
Ascending Hatton and surprisingly
good artwork if out of place

We crossed two boats in the flight and came out the top after 3 hours to tie up for water & loo services. This tap must be about the slowest one on the system, but it gave us time to get delicious local sausage & bacon baps from the Locks cafe. We hadn’t intended to buy them, but they were being cooked outside and the aroma got us!
Our first dragonfly of the year

Flowers at the towpath edge
Delicious lunch finished we carried on to Kingswood junction noting lovely meadows on the off side full of dandelions, cowslips, bluebells and wild stocks. The countryside is beautiful just now, but most amazing is the number of cowslips. At Kingswood we turned towards Stratford. 

My the locks are slow, much slower than Hatton and, despite being single locks, no easier to work. We carried on past the M40 to moor above lock 28. A busy day, only 8 miles, 17 wide locks & 7 narrow.
The afternoon was cooler, I had my jumper on & then a fleece, but the evening again was lovely.

A Stratford canal lock

Carol and Lily descend a Stratford canal lock

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

2012 Cruise starts

Monday 23rd April and at 3pm we cast off and leave Debdale Wharf Marina for our cruise, but given the water situation we wonder how long we will be out. We want to go to Liverpool again as we so loved it last year but with the reduced lock working hours already in force we are worried that a notification of a closure on the Leicester Summit could see us stuck far from home. We returned from last year's cruise earlier than we had planned because we were so worried about lock restrictions, and we had wondered whether we should return via the Soar waiting at Sileby until levels from Leicester to Kibworth became navigable. Thank heavens we didn't as we would have been there still as BW say that at 2ft 7" we have too deep a draft to pass.

Our first day we got as far as Foxton, because of course lock working hours are significantly restricted, but we were set to go up the next morning. Many hire boats from Market Harborough were ready to ascend on Tuesday too and as they only had a week or two to cruise, we let them up first. Out of top lock at 11.30 we decided to stop for a coffee at top lock Coffee Stop......which extended to a bacon roll too. Then we thought we'd go to the museum to see their new display and we spent an enjoyable hour and a half looking at it and nattering to Mike, Anne and Val. Returning to Lily via the Coffee Stop to get an ice cream, it started to rain so we decided to stay put. Two days, one and a half miles and ten locks, we're working hard.
The lad walking the horse at the top of Foxton,
but sadly rust is showing through already

The view across Leicestershire from the
viewing platform above the Inclined Plane

Foxton Top Lock cottage seen over the side pond

Last year's bullrushes can look attractive

Now Wednesday was a gem of a day, but I had remembered I had forgotten to take my tax disc out of my car to get a refund, so I walked back to Debdale........and came back with the car. It was sluicing it down & forecast to do so all day, so we went into Harborough for a coffee fix & a few bits.

Before we set off on Sunday Carol replanted the flower troughs on the roof, four of these were new replacements as the originals were 8 years old and with areas of rotten wood. I hope that the new ones made using tanalised timber will last longer. Carol's floral displays always receive approving comments from people who see them but if you look at this other photo of her old garden you will see that she always had high standards.
Carol's troughs give her a bit of gardening fix
her heart races when in a garden centre

Carol's old garden, just a few flowers

Another flowery garden view

Thursday forecast was better than Wednesday so we were going to set off, but not before returning the car plus the morning essential coffee. Having eaten lunch the weather had turned but we set off getting somewhat wet but enjoying our run to just past the Welford Arm. It is a good spot to stop & I was wet and cold, having sent Carol below when it got really wet as it is pointless us both getting wet. Just under 3 hours saw us covering just over 7 miles, but I can't think why it took so long! My apologies to the moored boat who got very upset at the speed Lily was moving at when passing during a heavy squall whilst I was also fighting with the brolly, though looking at our progress I think I hardly deserved the invective yelled or the animated Churchillian gestures.

I lit the stove for a couple of hours until we were too hot and left it to the boiler, the showers carried on through the evening.

Friday and it was another wet if slightly less breezy day, but it was brightened by the sighting of 3 or 4 kingfishers in the first hour. Last year we only saw our first kingfisher as we arrived in Castlefields in Manchester on August 25th! I wore better waterproofs than yesterday and stayed dry but was glad to stop for hot soup at Yelvertoft for lunch. We continued on, initially thinking we'd stop at Crick to get a few bits we found we were short of, but decided to carry on. We got to the top of Watford Locks too late to descend but got rid of rubbish & loo contents. We then walked to Watford Gap M1 service area for... you guessed a Costa & newspapers before reversing back about half a mile to a location where we were away from the noise of the motorway and could get the satellite TV to work. The showers kept on falling intermittently. Spoke to a couple coming up Watford, she had one of the snazzy ratcheting, geared windlasses. I asked how much they cost as I had never seen a price in the adverts, I understand why the price is not shown, it would be an awful lot to throw into the canal, I shall not be getting one until after I win the Lottery!

Saturday was supposed to be the best day for weather over the weekend so we were at the top lock betimes and had a good natter with the lock keeper and his two volunteers before we were first down,crossing three boats ascending. The weather was threatening and cool, but another visit to the coffee outlet on the motorway service area warmed us before we carried on. A skipper from Braunston had been heading for Buckby, until she was told at the last minute she had to turn for Watford locks, into our path as we came out of the Leicester Line! Fortunately our bow thruster did its stuff & no damage done.

Easy run then into Braunston tunnel, meeting one boat shortly after we entered, unlike the boat that followed us who collided with it! They joined us to descend the locks into Braunston, they are shared owners of an ex-Ownerships boat & keen Leicester Tigers supporters who had started out on a 2 week cruise but needed to get somewhere for next Saturday in order to get to Welford Road for the first of the Championship playoffs. I recommended they should go up the Ashby Canal & then take a bus or train to Leicester.

At the bottom of the locks we found a mooring close to the entrance to Braunston Marina & tied up tight as the forecast for Sunday was foul.

Sunday high winds, heavy showers through till early evening. Walked to the shop to get my weekly Sunday Times fix, but sadly for Carol no C..... for coffee. Very few boats moved and just in front of us a small tree fell down across the tow path. But in the evening the sky cleared, the sun shone and apart from the quagmire of the towpath you would have thought it was lovely!

Sunday evening in Braunston, note the wet boat cabin side
So in our first week we covered the impressive distance of 27 miles and worked through 23 locks, my we worked hard!