Thursday, 27 November 2008

Back in Blue Haven for a spell

We arrived back yesterday just after lunch, setting out from Newbold late morning. We were delighted that it was dry whilst doing Hilmorton Locks. Last time, it was drenching wet! Our Swan family were delighted to see us again, asking for feeding as late as 11pm! You'll know Rosie and Jim, and over the summer they delivered Chris and Robin. Now all four hiss and coo waiting for the special duck and swan pellets we get from the pet shop. We've just come back from a trip to Braunston where we collected special side plates for the Morso stove - they sit inside the sides and force the coal to the centre. So hopefully it will mean less coal and more heat. Watch this space!

Monday, 24 November 2008

In Newbold now, after Hilmorton and Braunston

This is Elizabeth at the tiller, chatting with Andrew.  He and Sarah visited us at Blue Haven on Saturday, then travelled with us to Braunston and stayed at our new find, The Old Workshop B&B.  We were all a bit miffed not to have the promised snow, but we did enjoy the clear winter sun! After a lovely visit, we all travelled back to Blue Haven on Sunday, where Andrew and Sarah collected their car for a reportedly wonderful drive back to Gosport.  

We travelled on through Hilmorton locks, having felt quite lock starved, and moored up in Hilmorton visitor moorings for Sunday night.  The only serious precipitation of the day was when we worked locks!  Today we made our way to Newbold and Elizabeth is in London for the night for more URC training work, while Pete is flickering from the desk in Bella.  And Josie managed to demolish the entire batch of chocolate fondu biscuits while on her own in the afternoon...

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Bella in the air

This is Bella's bow out of the water. You can just see the rack she is resting on - and you can see why she needed some new protective paint! Pete wants you to know that the light coloured oblong toward the bottom of the hull on the unridged section is called a sacrificial annode. It protects the steel from being worn away by the activity of the brass propeller. Some of you may understand this. Elizabeth knows that there are four of them. Barry tells us that they have a few more years of sacrificing themselves left before they will need replaced.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Bella's out of the water!

She's out of the water! Pete watched as she was 'placed' on a rack fore to aft, with 4 hydrolic lifts positioned to lift her out of the water. Our home rising into the air!! Yes, there are pictures, but we'll put those up later. The reason is that her hull needed spray washed and blacked - meaning a new coat of protective paint. We're also having a cratch built; in other words, a frame to hold a cover for the bow. It is nearly up now and when all done, it will be the equivalent of our garden shed, holding coal, spare toilet cassettes and other domestic storage. The bow holds these things now, but of course it all gets wet! It will soon be warm and dry. As Bella is out of the water, we have found other beds. We stayed with Jane and Simon in Rugby last night and are now in Oxford for a few days.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Wind, lightning and laundry

The joys of Blue Haven are that we have water on tap and mains electricity.  Quite a change from the cut! We've been using both to get through mountains of laundry.  We had no idea we had quite so many socks between us....  We didn't do the laundry after we left Saltisford in Warwick as dear Levi the generator is playing dead.  We have to have him seen to.  So we had much piling up!

Last night as we were listening to yet another fast spin, we also listened to pelting hail and saw flashing lightning.  Quite an amazing night!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Addtions to the garden

Some herbs don't grow outside in the winter terribly well. Our basil, tarragon, parsley and mint were suffering. But suffering most was Elizabeth, keen to have some lush colour in the garden. So, we went out to the garden centre and came back with Cyclamen, Primrose, Conifer (pink - seen in the back of the azalea tucked up next to Lavender) and something else pink. We don't know what it is, the garden centre had Saturday staff and we can't find it in our Gardener's encyclopaedia. But it was offered in flower next to the Cyclamen, so we made the decision that it probably can thrive outside. If any of our readers can name the pink flowering plant to the left of the Rosemary, we'd be grateful!

Oh, and we are back at Blue Haven, enjoying the electricity for the washing machine and for the oil filled radiator we place in the clothes room just under the damp laundry to get it dry quickly. We are enjoying being able to keep all the curtains open in the day, where out on the cut, we always keep the tow path side closed. And it was good to see our marina friends again, as we were welcomed back by Barry, Dom and Helen, Bob and Sue, Bob and Jean and Roy. We haven't seen Barbara yet, but know we shall. So, it is not all bad not being out on the cut!! However, we have plans...

Friday, 7 November 2008

Travelling to Blue Haven for a spell

We're back on the Oxford Canal now, having made our way around Hawkesbury Junction from teh Coventry Canal. As we prepared to go through the lock (of just under a foot in depth!), we bumped into Barry (Country Dreams) who, with others, was waiting for a canal boat hearse in preparation for a funeral. It was moving to see the working boat decked out and ready to receive its important cargo.

It was an intermittently bright and drizzly day taking us back on to the Oxford, but on a section we had not yet known. By evening, though, we were moored up back in Newbold, just east of the tunnel where we have been twice before for some long weekends and really, just the west side of Rugby. Now we can say - we have done the Warwickshire Ring! Six different canals, 120 locks, five tunnels and 100 miles later, we can say we loved it! It included Warwick, Birmingham, and much countryside. It was fun to enjoy our year anniversary in the midst of such a journey.

Yesterday was a moored up day so that Elizabeth could go to London for a few meetings. She thought it was fun to get the taxi to Rugby station, but to get it from Bella out on the cut, not in the marina :-).

This is being written as we travel east and we'll be moored up in Blue Haven tonight.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Still in Hawkesbury

Just so you know, we're still here. Off to London and Oxford today, but Josie stays aboard and guards dear Bella. They both seem to like it here, but the call of shore power for the washing machine says that we'll move out tomorrow and make our way to Blue Haven for a short spell of laundry. The weather is dull, damp and not so cold as it was when we were travelling, but the fire is doing a splendid job of keeping us toasty and dry.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

We made it to Hawkesbury Junction

We got to Hawkesbury yesterday late afternoon, as we hoped. Poor Pete did much driving in biting cold, but he seemed happy, no matter how much Elizabeth tried to relieve him of the Tiller. "I LIKE driving" was the firm reply :-) So Elizabeth stayed warm, blogged in fat band (duly noted on the Coventry canal map with Pete shouting bridge numbers below) and managed to make the fire sing. Now we are happily moored at the junction of the Coventry and Oxford canals having had a lovely domestic day (cleaning, putting up a shelf, fixing the end of the TV aerial, making scones and choccy biscuits, cutting towpath greens to revive the flowers, etc). We await a visit from friends for dinner. We are not sure how long we'll stay here, now that the rush is over. Watch this space!

In the meantime, these pics are from Friday - morning near Tamworth, evening in the middle of 'nowhere'.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Interesting Canal stuff

For those of you who read this blog who are interesting in all things canal now that you got hooked on our site, do look at There is a heap of information.

A year afloat!

Well, a year afloat. Yesterday, the 31st of October, marked 12 months since we pulled away from Heyford Wharf to begin our new life. And this blog is therefore over a year old! It seems hard to believe. We've travelled over 400 miles and seen things we would never have been able to see otherwise. We have chatted with people over locks, learnt canal history, seen industrial history, seen the real deprivation next to wealth in the countryside, watched the regeneration of community after community as they cluster to revive canal sites. We have also managed to keep working (on some exciting contracts) and make new boating friends.

As we write, we are still on the Coventry canal, having moored up last night in what felt like the middle of nowhere with fields to both sides and not a building in sight. It feels good to have that confidence now. We know we have everything on board and much sorted so we know we can be far from roads or buildings and be fine. We did the Atherstone locks today, the first of November, having been concerned that we might not make them in time for the stoppages there on the 10th. But we got there with lots of room to spare, so can relax now into our winter travelling.

Except for the locks at Hillmorton which never are closed (because they are parallel singles, so if one is closed for repair, the other can be used), we are now lock free until the end of March. It doesn't mean we won't travel (!) but it does mean that our travel is limited to Atherstone on the Coventry to the west, Snarestone on the Ashby to the north, and Napton on the Oxford to the south until all the lock repair work is finished in the Spring. Braunston Locks open again the end of February, but we couldn't really get too far after them, so we'll just consider them off limits. All that said, that's a good 60 miles or so we can still be travelling and certainly hope to do the Ashby canal before winter is out.

We are floating quietly to the west of Nuneaton now, planning on working our way south of it to continue to Hawkesbury Junction ( for tonight. We just pulled in to a little marina for kindling and are off again. We'll now go slowly back to Hilmorton for the end of November when we hope to have Bella's blacking done. This is the black protective paint from the gunnels down over the hull. She'll have to be out of the water, so Josie and we will have to have a few nights away. In the meantime, we're enjoying this wonderful autumn afloat. And we are truly enjoying this life afloat. If you have not already been to visit, please do!