Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Living in ice

What a fabulously cold winter. Finally. We have lived in thicker ice, but this is it for this morning, the end of 2014. Beautiful. The sunny days have been a boon to the solar panels and the dark clear nights have provided mystical mornings.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Going out for dinner

Yesterday evening was Pete's 'works do' - the Christmas dinner with his CRT team. It was in Braunston, so we decided to save on taxi fare and take our home to the dinner. We had a mooring immediately outside the pub, so didn't even have to use coats. What a hoot! The dinner food was awful, but all the wonderful camaraderie and the two afternoons cruising in glorious winter sunshine made it all more than worth it.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

And then there were two

Today Bella lost one of her inhabitants. RIP Josie. You are being sorely missed.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Back down Watford and tucked into home home

We like locks. We went down Watford today, the day before it closes for essential maintenance. One of the things we like is what grows inside them, the reducing water often exposing beautiful moss. In the autumn, gorgeous coloured leaves stick to the mud along the wall and the artist in us both grins.

Photos attached show the lock walls. Then there are shots of the working boars ready for Monday's works, the one near the bottom lock holding the new gates.

We're back in Weltonhythe now, probably tucked up for the winter. But the odd weekend cruise is not off the agenda at all.

Moored near Yelvertoft & a celebration

We were in Crick for a night. Lovely mooring, but terrible communications. We have rather got used to both being good now! So yesterday, we travelled a huge distance (not!), went a mile and a bit more north and stopped in Yelvertoft. Slightly better coms, a nicer mooring and a gorgeous day.

Elizabeth set to baking and Pete set to cleaning the chimney as it was so warm we let the fire go out.

By the evening, we had fresh olive & parmesan biscuits to have with our caviar, cream cheeses and Cava. A celebration was had! We start our eighth year aboard now, yesterday being the 7th anniversary of moving on board way back at Oxfordshire Narrowboats.  No regrets. Not for a moment.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

A last little weekend

We set out on an unseasonably warm and gorgeous Autumn day, heading north. We went through the gentle Watford locks, climbing up the seven, including a 4 lock staircase, to blue sky and dazzling colour. Through the Crick tunnel again - we've done it lots in the last year - and this time we're moored up past Bridge 12 opposite the garden centre.

News of the day is that it is so warm, we didn't want to light the stove. But we had to. The Christmas puddings need to steam!

Monday, 27 October 2014


This trio made for a very tuneful alarm call

Back home home for a tiny moment

What a lovely travelling day today. We realised we were moored in the very English named Landing Spinney. Our home mooring is just up from Cornerwell Spinney. Makes us wonder if they were named in the days of early small aircraft...

Again, we went a bit forward backward, going through leaf soup then clearing the prop. By the time we got to the Buckby flight, we were delighted to be greeted by two CRT volunteers who worked the flight with us. What luxury!

We're here for a day or so, then heading north towards Yelvertoft.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Moored into a beautiful Autumn evening

Here we are, 8 very slow miles north of Gayton, through Weedon and in this little lovely corner near Bridge 21. It's always slow travel in the Autumn, as we pick up leaves and sticks around the propeller en route and need to stop, throw the propeller into reverse, and dislodge the collection. There are also heaps of moored boats in this stretch, requiring slow passage. That said, it's been a glorious dry cool-ish day. Perfect.

Special feature - Northampton Arm

Today we walked the Arm rather than boating it. The Northampton Arm isn't really an Arm (cul de sac canal), but the connection from the Grand Union canal through the River Nene to the more eastern waterways. If we baoted to Cambridge, this would be part of our route. It's a dear narrow canal, dropping down 17 locks to meet the Nene. The countryside is classic Northamptonshire agricultural with rolling expansive fields.  Beautiful elephant grass with it's purple seed heads grace a large field about half way down the Arm.

After the flow under the M1, everything changes. Graffiti on lock gates, overgrown vegetation and the thunder of traffic point toward the Northampton town industry where the canal runs into the river. A canal of two natures, this is one of Pete's "offices", a daily visit if he's managing water on section 2 of his patch. We even met his unofficial colleague, a local man known for raising a sheckle or two by winding people through the locks.

Weedon to Gayton

We stayed in Weedon a day, seing as the weather was wet and we needed a bit of rest. We set out on Saturday for a glorious cruise. E sat on deck and knitted and P decided, as he can't knit, that he would drive. We pulled alongside a few times to let our unwell pooch have a wander then moored up at Gayton Junction (Northampton Arm) for the service point. We turned round and moored northbound on the Grand - in time for Strictly!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Lovely day including wool shopping

We had a lazy morning and set out late to finish the Buckby/Wilton flight. We were pleased to pair up with a historic boat, Collingwood, a single hander. We always learn a trick or two and because we know so many single handers, are happy to help where we can. It was a good journey.

We pulled up at Bridge 18 to have coffee - well after coffee and lunch time - and for Elizabeth to shop for wool. The queue of boats and the bridge are down the hill from the Heart of the Shires shopping 'village', a quick walk from the canal. Christmas wool was acquired whilst Pete took advantage of the engine heated water for breakfast dishes.

We set out again and so enjoyed the rain free Autumn colours. Beautiful. We passed our old coal supplier, Jules Fuels, moored near Dodford and we passed the tiny Weedon Marina. We found that moorings were easily available in Weedon and we moored up just before 4. Pete pulled us in and E did the lines. Good day! 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A little holiday

Here we are, setting south on the LeGrand Union Canal main line. In other words, around the corner and down one lock from our home mooring. We set out after a heap of domestic chores and are delighted to be cruising again. It's been a long time since August! We planned to be cruising the autumn through Pete's patch, but as it was, Elizabeth's knee took ages to heal and she had some weekends of unexpected working, the weekends being our cruising times. So it is wonderfully good to be out!

Oh - and it rained from the time we untied and stopped when we moored up. Typical!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Home Home to our floating clouds

We cruised back into our berth at Weltonhythe yesterday just before the heavens opened. Pete had been working the weekend, so the Bank Holiday was a rest day for all of us. The forecast was dismal, so we untied quickly in a slightly mizzly moment. The mizzle stayed with us around the Oxford/Grand junction, up the Braunston flight of locks, then met us again after the tunnel. Heavier rain threatened at Norton junction, but nothing threw itself at us until we'd tied up.  Whew! Pete was delighted for his reservoirs.

This very grainy shot is this evening with our swans, Wills and Kate, sleeping in the basin. The floating clouds making it all quite peaceful. And Pete has just spotted our bats, as yet unnamed.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Braunston beauty for a wee while

This is the view out the side hatch for today's coffee break. We're learning a new routine this long time out on the cut. Having used only 2.5 hours of engine time for domestic use since June, now that we have the solar panels to charge batteries, we're learning new times to do things.

In addition to making sure we both take our work-time breaks, we're doing laundry at the end of a work day and not the beginning, so that the BFG heats the evening's water. We used to run the engine for 2-3 hours a day to both charge the batteries and heat water, but no longer. What a wonderful change to our lives. Now all is as quite at this scene all day long. And only in the general flurry of coming home tasks do we hear an engine - and for only 45 minutes. In the time of putting away bags, sorting lunchboxes and walking Josie, we hardly notice the laundry being done.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Evening visitor

This is one of Braunston's swans, reflected in our sitting room mirror. We never feed them, as they'll end up being such bullies, but it always takes a few mooring days for them to figure this out.

Now in Braunston

We always end up in Braunston! After separating from our friends on Friday, we travelled south a little bit on the South Oxford, winded before Napton locks, then set off north. We moored at an idyllic country haven (the one where we had to manage snails!), looking up to Bush Hill and Flecknoe. Beautiful.

Saturday was a shockingly lazy start with brunch, then a saunter through Braunston onto the North Oxford. We moored up just past Bridge 88 to enjoy the sheep opposite. We walked up to the village art and craft fair where Elizabeth bought two beautifully carved walking sticks from talented Chris. They have already proved their worth as both support and a fabulous countryside style of Nordic Walking. E is hooked.

Today we set out to a bright and windy day to merely cruise for no purpose but cruising pleasure. We went north to just short of Hillmorton and winded for south. It was a rather hilarious moment (or half hour?) being passed by a hire boat as we were backing up for winding, which then asked if it could wind first, then admitted it was their first time turning around. Of course another boat arrived travelling south and a further northbounder joined the audience. A boating hoot of the highest order. Fabulous.

We eventually got turned, travelled south and moored up here in an ideal 14 day spot in Braunston. So we'll be here a wee while!