Saturday, 7 November 2015

Back at home-home

Why the double home? Bella is home, no question. But we have a home mooring, so together, it's home-home.

The weather forecast was showing a dismal morning with a drier afternoon, so we decided to set out in the dismalness, giving us a glorious afternoon. As it was, we reached the Braunston locks in just light mizzle and were pleased to be joined for the flight. Pilgrim's happy, confident, and relaxed boating crew were a pleasure to travel with, even to the point of entering locks at the same time.  We've done this with a few other boats, but each crew needs to trust the other. Brilliant. Not until lock 5 did the rain descend, and golly, did it ever. It stopped by the time we all got round lock 6 and then we were in the tunnel.

Coming out the tunnel felt like coming into a new country with it's blue sky and bright day. The turn at Norton Junction was again skillfully done, and it is always such a treat to see our mooring. Maxwell hopped off and immediately started barking at his tree. Here we are.

Friday, 6 November 2015

What, no pub?

We stayed home tonight. Who would have thought? It's Mr Well, you see. He implored us to protect him on the Friday after Guy Fawkes. The weekend nights after the 5th are full of pows and bangs. So we agreed, and though we're still on holiday, we stayed home. Happily. We both had a half work day in any case, so we were happy to remain on board.

Travelling tomorrow, and this time we promise to remember to tell you we got to home-home. We usually leave you in suspense and you don't know we're back at Weltonhythe until we tell you we're out again. Blog tomorrow.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

So nearly not a pair

No, not E&P. The brandy glasses. They had a night of not being the pair they are now, waiting for the evening nightcap.

Last night, Elizabeth was doing her usual thing when we're all out. Sitting on the arm of the sofa, feet on the footstool, leaning out of the side hatch and soaking in the fresh air. With a drink on the gunwhales. Enjoying the atmosphere, the fragrance of the air, and the space. Said brandy glass, one of the pair, was on the gunwhale. She moved. She gesticulated. This is how we eventually lost a set of six champagne glasses. Yes, brandy glass overboard.

Oh well. Chase through umpteen charity shops to find the right size. (again). But no! Pete to the rescue. This morning, before we set out, he grabbed the grabber, otherwise known as a metre long pole with a set of moveable prongs at one end and an operating handle at the other. He leaned out the side hatch. An arm holding the grabber made its way into the canal (Warwick and Napton Canal to be very precise) up to elbows. Feet left the floor. Ah ha! Brandy glass found!

A grateful Elizabeth then put the glass in sterilising fluid. Hey presto, the team is back in action. Now it will be up to Elizabeth to remember that there is a shelf. Inside Bella. Close to the hatch. For drinking vessels. Hmmm.

Bronny, funny old thing

Or, Braunston, but it feels so familiar to us, a special waterway friend, that we have a special friendly name for this canal capital. We got here just before the heavens opened this afternoon, happy to moor just east of the gorgeous bridge at the opening of Braunston Marina.

We started by turning/winding again. This time, it wasn't in a pointy offside place, but in the very unpointy very packed Marina opening of Kate Boats (with their permission). Cap'n Pete did his usual of turning Bella into a bendy bus, managing to get us around in a very tight spot. We gently had a lean or two on the stern fender of one of Kate's moored boats, but no other aid was required.  With a few forward/reverse moves, the winding was amazing to behold.

We then cruised east, back to the Calcut locks flight of three, with all of them set in our favour. Wigrams turn was next, this time heading back north on the shared section of the Grand and the Oxford canals (which we call the Groxford),  coffee en route. And it mizzled. And Maxwell stayed outside the whole time, wet or not. Pete's company, of course.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Birdingbury Wharf/Boat Inn

We did it! We turned the way we planned! Wow.

First of all, we had to turn around to go back to Wigrams Turn. We have often blogged about turning around, or in canal speak, winding. Not wind like twine, but wind, like binned. Wind, as in moving air. And that's where the name comes from. In the horse towing boating days, boats would take advantage of the wind to push the boat another direction with the aid of a (wait for it), winding hole. Otherwise known as a triangle cut out of the offside of the canal.

The deal is this: point the bow into the point of the triangle, gently wedge the bow into the corner, set the tiller to make the stern move the desired direction, set the engine to slow ahead, then watch the boat turn. At a key point, reverse, letting the boat move back into the main canal. Don't bang the stern into the towpath side (!). Sometimes it takes a few forward and reverse efforts, but today, Captain Gray was at his most skilled. The pics show the routine.

Elizabeth descended back to the cabin to code data at the desk and Cap'n Pete took us back north on the Oxford, then west at Wigrams turn onto the Grand Union towards Warwick. Elizabeth emerged for the Calcut flight of three wide locks and we're now moored just short of the top of the Stockton flight.

A loveley Autumn day glows all around us.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

And now, Napton.

It was one of those moments. Standing at the tiller, the question just murmurs out..."Right? Or Left?". We had decided right from Braunston turn, winding our way through the countryside to Hawkesbury, or, the Greyhound pub. But the question arrived. It was answered...Left. OK then.

So here we are with the benefits of The Folly's WiFi having enjoyed a lovely Autumn cruise south on the Oxford. Past Wigrams Turn, or Napton Junction, we moored just down the hill from the windmill, short of the winding hole. So far, we have decided to turn, go north then west tomorrow. But one never really knows until the turn is made. 

We like Autumn cruises and, cruising the Oxford in November especially. It takes our minds back to 8 years ago this week when Bella made her maiden voyage as our home. Thankfully the learning curve has now leveled!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Guess what? Braunston!

Here we are again, a little week out. Pete says he's beginning to get on with Norton Junction with much more finesse. Sounded good! Clipped the juction just a tiny tad, but the wonky Braunston tunnel was untouched. We shared the locks with Emerson Speedway, a Canaltime shared boat with a much experienced crew.

The big news of the day was the fog. We realised that we probably had the best transport for such a day - no motorway issues, no airport closures, 4 miles an hour maximum. Pete says that he could see the bridge parapet before the bridge hole. It was so odd and oddly magic.

"Pete says" a few times tells the story that Elizabeth is on part-time holiday and spent the travelling times at the desk. Also magic. As Bella glided through the Autumn cool air, Elizabeth's cob webs cleared and the view each time she looked up was different than the last. From the same desk. Got to be magic.

Mr Well also enjoyed the trip, spending much of the time on Pete's feet. His very attentive face is because he's seen a moored boat. Which might have a dog aboard. Might.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

A little home for a week

A quick trip today, after a great visit to All Saint's, Braunston, the "cathedral of the canals." We've had a fabulous weekend with good friends and today needed to move to a mooring allowing a longer stay so we can get back to work. This is one of our favourite sections of long stay mooring in Braunston, and each time we're in a slightly different place than the last and delight in the new view. Pete will be pleased that there is a good break in the trees for the solar panels to soak up juice, Elizabeth likes the new open view out the windows and Maxwell is thrilled. We're moored port to, so he can sit out on deck again. Win, win all round!

Right, off for some shopping and to collect Marvin, Pete's work van.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Braunston again

Here we are again. We set out south this morning turning at Wigrams Turn or Napton Junction, depending on which canal map you read. We're happily here to welcome a dear friend to dinner. Our Mr Well enjoyed his journey, meeting another lovely friend at the Stop House, near where we stopped this afternoon. The Stop House is usually known to us as Pete's central office of the CRT Grand Union North. Fun to be here not for work!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Fuel and a few more miles

We had booked a coal visit, so knew we needed to wait in Braunston until the Southern Cross, one of Jules' Fuels boats stopped by. Elizabeth went to the shops (We know! It's usually Pete who likes this! Needs must in the case of 25kilo bags of coal...). The pictures show Southern Cross arriving and then pulling in to work.

We then set out to a significantly colder and darker day. Shockingly, the 2nd of September required the layers of wool. Good we have coal for Squirrel! We're now moored on the South Oxford Canal, just west of Flecknoe in Warwickshire. Oh, and Maxwell is doing so incredibly well as a boat travelling member of the family.

Out again

So, we’re sorry, but we forgot to blog that we’d actually returned to Welton Hythe on July 19th.  It was a warm and dry day, with good lock work.  The tunnel was packed, however, with perhaps 7 boats.  We’ve never had it so packed!  

We set out again yesterday, turned at the maintenance point and enjoyed the sunny break in the day to cruise down the mature tree lined canal ‘avenue’ which is our home mooring.  Pete made one of the best turns ever at Norton Junction and we headed to Braunston once again.  Note – we had plans to go southeast, but the Buckby flight has a serious lock damage problem.  We decided to keep out of the way and head back west.

Back to yesterday.  On from Norton Junction, we headed toward the tunnel with high hopes compared to last time, as we passed only one boat coming the opposite direction from the tunnel before we entered.  Well, hopes dashed quickly with headlamps galore.  We passed six boats in the tunnel, one a pair with one towing the other.  Fun around the bends, not! Out in the sun again, we did half the lock flight and moored in what we call the Nellie pound, the pound ending in the lock by the Admiral Nelson.  So, of course, we took Mr Well for a walk, now that we have a dog who can greet the public, and had a lovely stop at the pub.  Including sitting under the parasol. To stay out of the rain.

Today, we traveled the remainder of the flight and are now moored outside Braunston Marina as we wait for the coal boat.  It’s that time of year again!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Quintessential English canal evening

This is one of the reasons we enjoy this life. This scene is, well, normal. But each time we see a scene like this, it feels special. A gorgeous night.

Braunston again

This is one of our favourite moorings, down at the bottom of the hill looking up to the Braunston spire. Gorgeous.

We set off from Hillmorton today with Pete doing an amazingly expert reverse of Bella to the winding hole at the bottom of Hillmorton locks. The expertise included passing moored boats, passing moving boats (which confused them as we were facing the same direction) and then turning in the ideal moment as the locks were bringing boats down so that we were ready as soon as they opened. Star.

The locks were busy indeed, with Elizabeth at the tiller in between locks 2/3 and 4/5. Bridge, sharp corner, two boats out, others waiting, still she managed to bring Bella into lock with not a tap. What a team!

OK. Enough for the cruising. Now for Maxwell. We continue to be amazed. A. Mazed. We walked him up this gorgeous hill to the villadge. Two country swing/arc gates and he knew what to do. Next one, he waited on the right side for the opening. No barking at people. Almost no noticing of people. First trip to the pub with us. Drank water put out for dogs - Josie never did this, no matter what. No barking at dogs in the pub garden. Unlike Josie. Wagging tail with people. Who knew dogs could be like this? Not us, for sure. Walk home, some dogs met, most ignored, some quickly moved away from. Woooo. We have a nice, hospitable, beautiful dog. Wow.

Oh, and it's a nice mooring.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Watering up

Here we are, watering up below Hillmorton locks. Pete had a half day time off in lieu, so we untied and travelled north on the Oxford, cruising past our old home mooring of Hillmorton Wharf Marina. Elizabeth spent the cruising time at the desk, with Bella variously moving in and out of data coms. 4G was enjoyed to the east of Rugby, so we should be in connectivity when we moor up. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Maxwell watches for boats

Well who knew. It seems that one of Mr Well's favourite pastimes is watching boats. We have somehow managed to train him not to bark at the boats, or their people, or even their dogs. So he either sits, stands or raises his head from a nap as they go by. We can't believe how lucky we are!! Reinforcement for his quite laid back attitude comes from boater after walker after boater who comment on his gorgeousness.  Walkers stop, talk to him, stroke his head, and praise him heaps. Everyone of you who knew Josie will realise what a shockingly fabulous bonus this is for us. A. Maze. Ing.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

View from the stern (a left over July post)

Our lovely evening view from the stern.  It was so warm tonight, we had dinner on deck.  Maxwell is finally cool and is now sleeping peacefully.  Lovely, lovely night. Tomorrow, back to work for a day for E, a bit of a work day for P, then we're holidaying again on Thursday.  Staying put!!

Parasols are up and we're out

Here we are, moored opposite Mr and Mrs Garden in Braunston. After a spot of gardening and shopping this morning, we set out around noon. We're probably out for the season, returning to our gorgeous home mooring in October or something. We cruised the season two years ago, but the solar panel installation last year had so many fits and starts that we never really got going. We've calculated a 30 minute car drive from any direction to Braunston so that Pete can get to his central office and Elizabeth to the studio.  So here we are, the place where the elastic cords of working life are anchored.

And it didn't rain! And Maxwell loves boating, but hates us both popping on and off Bella at locks. One of us is always gone!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

We travelled; Bella let us take Pochard

What a gorgeous day! Today, we were both volunteers. We took Pochard, the itty tug, and pushed the flat to Bugbrook. We started from the bottom of the Buckby flight (once we'd found her tucking next to a wide beam) and cruised our way through the sunny Grand Union waters. We enjoyed passing Broomsticks, seeing the familiar Stowe Hill Wharf and even catching up with Mickron Theatre company, with new tiller hands learning how to handle their floating stage crew, cast and actors. A great day.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Maxwell on Deck

No, we're not underway but we are training our pooch to be comfortable on deck - not having barking contests with every passing Muttley. He's managing it in a very Maxwellian manner.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Running out of gas and dredging

We could hardly believe it. We prepped the after-dinner coffee, put it on the burner to cook and - no gas. No problem. Go outside, switch from empty bottle to full one. No gas. Oops! Forgot, for the first time in 8 years, to buy a new bottle when the old one ran out. Coffee was fine on Squirrel (the coal stove) but we knew we'd not get boiling water for morning tea.

So, up with the late larks and make our way to Crick Marina. Today was definitely a fine boat management day for Pete, who brought Bella into the Marina to discover that someone was already on the service point. Nudge gently to a handy pontoon, slide easily past a boat deciding to leave,  hover near the service point, then come to quiet rest for gas. Proud tillerman. Gas on board, tea made. Whew.

We pulled put, then moored outside the Marina to start the day again with tea and breakfast. Setting out, we came across the dredging work and passed to a smile and wave from the boatman. Good day!