Mobile cappuccino could be solved

Friday, 26 December 2008

During our three month trip I reported on the number or lack of good cappuccinos that could be found within walking distance of the canal. It showed the very bad state of good coffee around the country. Well our son was given a Bialetti Mukka Expresso (from Amazon) cappuccino maker by his girlfriend that could be the answer to our prayers. It makes 2 cups of superb cappuccino just by placing it on the hob with no messing about with milk steamers at all and only for £47.50., a great bit of Italian engineering to solve a serious problem. This could solve Andrew Denny's issues as well on Granny Buttons. This is going to be a must buy before our next trip for the occasions when I cannot find a land based one!

Mice strike back in unusual place

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

How about this for a weird event.

I went to top up the screen wash today, in the car that we used to go up to the boat the other week. There is a cup like indent above the shock absorber struts on each side and in one of them were about 30 red berries. They could not have been blown or washed in by wind or rain as there is a bulk head in the way. They are not berries from home, they are like the ones near the car park at the marina. They must have been put there by somebody or something- its about 2ft above ground level and you couldn't reach it with your hand. It must be a winter stock of food for MICE- aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Plans did not go to plan

Sunday, 7 December 2008

We went up to the boat last Sunday to hopefully go out for a few days during the week - but boating never always goes to plan.
On arrival the temperature inside the boat was -3c, we had mice visiting and our main water pump which supplies the taps and toilet was playing up.

Soon got the fire going and the temperature soon increased and stayed alight for the rest of the week.

We had moored the boat with the stern towards the reeds last time we were up and I noticed that there is a gap at the bottom of the rear doors which is probably how the little perishers got in. Mouse traps were purchased in Southam and set. As I was doing this I disturbed a field mouse that had decided to nest in the bucket hanging up in the electrical cupboard- unfortunately I was not quick enough to catch it. The traps were set and over the next four days we evicted 6 !!!, and turned the boat around so that the bow is now into the reeds -but no further sightings or signs of them during Thursday or Friday night. Hopefully we have seen the last of them but just in case have left the traps in place.

On investigating the pump it was wet around the pump and the floor in the cupboard. My plumbing skills are zero but after talking to the marina manager I decided to have a go and disconnect it. The pipe joints were all ok it was a seal within the pump itself. A common fault it would appear on Shurflow pumps, luckily I had a replacement ( as I had identified it on my critical parts list) so swopped them over. I will try and repair it to use as a spare in future.

With all this excitement we had stayed in the marina and with Wednesday weather not looking so good we decided to do some shopping and therefore over several days visited Banbury, Northampton and Stratford upon Avon. The redevelopment around Stratford basin is really coming on and they have just completed the topping out of the RSC building with landscaping due for completion next summer and the theatre due to open in 2010.

So no trip out but a very pleasant time as always spent on the boat doing boaty things and back home Saturday afternoon.

Autumn weather for jobs

Sunday, 19 October 2008

We managed to have a few days on the boat last week to tidy up the scratches on the gunwale during which time the weather was very good with only a few showers on the Thursday. We spent the time in the marina but Friday afternoon's weather was so nice that we had to go out for a short trip to the winding hole near the Napton flight.

On the way back we saw a Kestrel hovering by the canal and I managed to get a reasonable photo of it.

Two rainbows over the marina during one of the showers on Thursday afternoon

The harbour master at the marina is a registered keeper of barn owls and has had this female for the last 18 months. The colouring of the feathers are something else.

Yorkshire Moors and Napton

Friday, 10 October 2008

No long trips recently as Anne's father is in hospital and we have been to a Christening in Lancashire. We did get to the boat on the 24 September for a few days in the week of glorious "summer" weather at last and cruised to Fenny Compton and back to the marina on the Oxford Canal.

One of the things that I get cross about on the cut is the boater that asks you to slow down when you are already on tick over when they have moored their boats with very very slack lines. Why don't they put out a spring line which stops any movement? Photo below shows a spring line at the bow which I use all the time.

A misty morning near Marston Dole with perhaps BW sheep clearing the tow path!!

A large floating "weedberg" presumably cast adrift by cattle drinking from the canal.

An overnight mooring near Br 130 on a glorious summer evening- although the stove was required once the sun went down
The classic photo looking down Napton flight with the windmill in the distance.

The weather in Lancashire for the christening was fantastic and we had the opportunity to go to the Yorkshire Moors. Ribble Head viaduct on The Seatle & Carlisle line on our way to lunch at Hawes. Not directly related to the boat but worth posting as its such glorious scenery.

Weather sends us home

Sunday, 7 September 2008

The weather following my last post has been going downhill all the time with heavy rain and wind, all part of the rich tapestry of boating. We had to go back to Welford Wharf so that Les could replace the four engine mounts last Wednesday and therefore we had some time to waste.

Walks around Welford and North Kilworth which produced the following photos.

Although August has been very wet the reservoir that feeds the Leicester Section of the Grand Union at Welford is very low.

We moored for th night on the aquaduct over the River Avon just outside Welford and I walked into North Kilworth about 2 miles away which has some great road names!

And a cottage disappearing under ivy

BB at Market Harborough's Union Wharf, the building behind her is an old warehouse now the Waterfront restaurant- excellent meal was had.

Going back up the Foxton flight one side pond was empty due to few boats coming down the flight. There are a few flights of locks which still use side ponds put in to conserve water in that the water from one lock is taken through the side pond into the next lock so using only one lock of water for each boat passing through the flight- simple but very efficient. The other major flight which uses this principle is the Caen Hill flight near Devizes which hopefully we will visit next year.

You don't see many motorway maintenance vehicles on the canals.

The forecast for this weekend and beyond was awful so we decided that we didn't need to stay on the boat as we can come back anytime. A problem with the Leicester arm is that I could not get an Orange 3G signal so was unable to update the blog whilst out so I am going to look at possible alternatives that appear to be based around "dongles".

The problem continues to be finding good cappuccinos with only Market Harborough providing any respite. How about a mobile coffee shop in a Narrowboat - could be a good business opportunity.

Trip to Market Harborough

Saturday, 30 August 2008

We are back on the boat as we needed to take her to Welford to sort out the noise around the engine area. We have replaced the python drive and are due to replace the engine mounts next Tuesday so hopefully this should cure the problem.

The weather continues to be dull and miserable although yesterday when we came down Foxton flight it was really humid with some sunshine but no rain as yet.

We are now moored in the old Wharf at Market Harborough which is really nice. MH is a haven for cappuccinos!!!!!! and is now on my list.

A few pictures from our travels.

A good use of an old tree stump seen on the walk from Welford Wharf into Welford village.

You usually see a line of geese , swans have now got in on the act.

Anne bringing the boat down through the last 5 of the 10 locks at Foxton.

Heard a strange sound as we arrived at the bottom of the locks when a piper appeared out of the trees!

Good name for a boat -

After Welford next Tuesday we then plan to go down to Gayton junction before returning to Base, maybe able to post from my phone, signal permitting, as this is being done from library in MH.


Tuesday, 5 August 2008

In my post on the 14 June I had a picture of a narrow boat towing a caravan. GrannyButtons a leading narrow boat web site saw my entry and identified it as a caraboat which are now very collectable if in good condition.

Visit to repair the damage of the trip

We went upto the boat last week to do some repair jobs that we didn't get a chance to do when out on our trip because of not enough good weather 0r the fact that we were enjoying ourselves too much.

The jobs completed included resealing around the shower, resealing around the front cratch table board and repainting the hull following the scratches caused by the narrow locks.

The weather was windy with some heavy showers so we only managed one night out on the cut before we had to head home for our duty at the sailing club Regatta that was cancelled due to bad weather - first time ever according to those in the know.

The picture below is of two working boats which are probably on their way back from the working boat rally at Braunston and moored near the entrance to Wigrams. They are motor boat Atlas and its butty(unpowered) Leo, both of which I think are small Woolwich class boats.

Our next trip will be at the end of August when we have to take the boat to Welford for some TLC. During the trip she started to make some funny noises when going into forward or reverse. It could be that the drive plate is wearing (the boat equivalent of the clutch). Therefore need to disconnect the gearbox and check it out.

Day 76 now back in Wigrams

Thursday, 19 June 2008

We had a very nice last few days- warm sunshine but chilly evenings and therefore no BBQ - going up the remaining 25 wide locks to our marina and sailed onto our berth at 15.15 on Monday 16 June after 76 days, 29 lift bridges, 297 narrow locks, 46 wide locks, 5 river locks and 468 miles.

Memorable events increased to 15 the last two being:-

1. The people we have met on our travels have been from all sorts of backgrounds, interest, countries and they all have great stories to tell and show what a friendly group of people use the canals- we only met a few grumpy ones!
2. The small shops that we have visited on the trip have provided some wonderfull meat, pies, vegetables, cakes and chutneys .

Cappuccinos - I only managed to have 20 which reflects that we still have a long way to go to get excellent coffee around the country. There are some very large areas in which there is no good coffee available!

Its now time to spend the summer ( hopefully) at home with our next trip planned for a visit to Berkhampstead in September 08. So come back to check out whats happening. I will keep my quest for cappuccinos and will come up with something else!

I hope you enjoyed following our trip as much as I did doing the blog posts.

On way back to Wigrams

The locks that take the Grand Union out of the River Avon valley and back towards Napton and our marina are very modern in canal terms being built in the mid 1930's when the Grand Union Canal Company widened the single locks on the route from London to Birmingham and installed hydraulic paddles (the large black and white things) that are now very hard work. The plan was to eventually make them automatic but the money ran out.

Anne multi tasking on our way up the locks.

Another view of the impressive Bascote staircase locks with a group of 8th year school children from Northumberland coming down.

Our final nights mooring Sunday near Long Itchington on the Grand Union

A narrowboat with a large collection of old tyres to ensure that the many hire boats that pass this way do not get near to it

Day 74 in and around Warwick

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Totals to day 74 which includes our day in Warwick and our trip down the Hatton flight yesterday- Friday;-

Memorable events now 13 latest being "breasted up" down the Hatton flight - see below
Cappuccino's now 20 following our visit to Warwick a mecca compared to the last week - latest being Caffe Nero, Kozi Bar, Caffe Vergnano 1882 and Il Piccolino
Lift bridges 29 ,locks 323 and 452 miles

After Thursday rain Friday was sunny/cloudy for our trip down Hatton flight. NB Gwch (Welsh for boat or in South Wales a cuddle) came along after a 30 minute wait (without cappuccino as the cafe has changed hands). We started down the flight with the four of us making good progress but we decided to "breast up". This invloved roping the two boats together which then requires only one helmsman/woman. This worked very well but I have now great respect for the old working boatmen who would do this with fully loaded 70ft boats.They are like steering large slabs of concrete, they must have been real pigs when it was windy. We did the 21 locks in 3 hours.

We have now spent two days in Warwick which is a lovely city courtsey of the Saltisford Canal Centre. Its run by a voluntary organisation and provides excellent facilities in a tranquil environment less than 10 minutes from the centre.

We are leaving tomorrow morning for our last few days on the way back to base at Wigrams Turn Marina.

An eagle at the Warwick Caste falconary display

A building of the old gasworks that is now being restored. The towers at each end hide the gas holding tanks.

The excellent coffee at Caffe Vergnano

Coming down the Hatton flight or "the gate way to heaven" as the old boatmen used to call it

Quirky pictures

Another daft duck picture - at least this one doesn't run up and down the roof at 5am with hob nail boots on. How about this for a department of silly names, is it another name for stop smoking- saw it in Warwick

Spied this narrow boat towing a caravan on the way to the Hatton flight on the Grand Union canalSpotted at the bottom of the Hatton flight -A house for sale with an added something- a possible selling feature in the hard market!

Day 72 a wet journey down Lapworth flight

Thursday, 12 June 2008

We went down Lapworth flight in drizzle and heavy rain showers today in 4 hours - todays total is 19 locks and 3 miles. Although our rule is not to go if its raining , the forecast for today was sunny with a few showers!!!!! ah well as they say "a bad day boating is still better than a good day working.

Looking through the log our two other busy days have been Day 70 -Tardebigge 30 locks and 6 miles and Day 50 with Richard and Pip on the Llangollen 10 locks and 16 miles.

Totals now to Day 72 Thursday are
Memorable events 12, cappuccino's 16 ( oh would I like one soon - I wonder if the cafe at the top of Hatton flight is still open as 3 years ago they did a good capp)
Lift bridges 29, locks 302 and 446 miles

We are now 3 miles from the Hatton flight on the Grand Union canal and are back on ground we have covered before. Our final 3/4 days before we are back to our Marina and the end of our first big cruise.

Our mooring tonight near The Tom O'the Wood pub at Shrewley. The name comes from one of three old windmills that used to stand nearby. Although it looks nice it doesn't reflect the noise pollution from the M40 which is about half a mile away, although when we are inside you cannot hear it.

Anne steering part way down the Lapworth flight - it wasn't raining at the time

Another duck moment-Anne was sure she was going to eat the violas

Day 71 now at the top of the Lapworth flight

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

No 3g signal on our way up the Worcs & B'ham canal but some real sunshine which caused the engine to overheat as we entered Stoke Bottom Lock - after a bit of TLC and a good talking to it now seems to be behaving itself.

Totals to day 71 (Wednesday 11 June) are
Memorable events 12 and Cappucinno's 16 no recent changes to either
Lift bridges 28, wide river locks 5, narrow locks 278 and 443 miles

We left Worcester last Saturday and started our way up the W&B and towards its lock flights and tunnels. Our latest visitors were Ray and Lesley who are kindly looking after the house and came to join us as we went up the 5 Astwood locks in glorious sunshine on Monday.

Tuesday was the big one, we left Stoke Pound at 09.00 to go up the Tardebigge 30 arriving at the very top at 13.00 - the weather was sunny but not as warm as the previous day. Anne did marvellously developing her muscles as she did all the lock gates and paddles- while I just did the easy bit of getting the boat into the very very narrow lock chambers!

Today we left at 07.00 to complete the W&B last little gem the Wast Hill Tunnel (2726yards) around the outskirts of Kings Norton and then onto the Stratford Canal.

We just have the Lapworth 19 , the Hatton 21 ,the Stockton 8 plus a few others and we are back to our marina at Wigrams and home probably by the end of next week.

The defunct guillotine stop lock that separated the waters of the W&B from the Stratford's.

The top of the Tardebigge flight has a very special relationship with our current waterways. Its where in 1945 Mr Aickman met the author of "Narrowboat" Tom Rolt and founded the Inland Waterways Association. Without their foresight we would not have the system we have today- thank you both very much. ( if you enlarge the picture it states 1946 which Mr Aickman thought it was- it was in fact 1945 which was only corrected in August 2005 its 60th anniversary)

I was sitting in the cratch writing up the ships log when Daffy Duck appeared

The Tardebigge flight raises the canal over 250ft - this is the view part way up looking back over Worcestershire. You never really aprreciate the number of locks you are going up as you never see more than 5/6 at any one time.

Day 66 trip to Bridgenorth by train

Friday, 6 June 2008

Day 65 -Thursday was our trip down the River Severn where we entered the Worcester & B'ham canal and made our way up through 4 locks to the Viking Afloat marina where we have stayed for 2 nights. This enabled me to take Anne for a trip on the Severn Valley Railway from Kidderminster to Bridgenorth today.

Totals to Day 66(Friday) are:-

Memorable events now up to 12 latest being see below
Cappuccinos now 16 with Worcester being a mecca, I included Costa Coffee and The Quay Restaurant in which we had an excellent meal on Thursday watching the dragon boats training on the River.
Lift bridges 27, narrow locks 224, wide river locks 5 and 408 miles.

We have had 2 days ashore and therefore plan to start making our way up the Worcs & B'ham canal and the Tardebigge 36 on Saturday.

Earlstoke Manor no 7812 which took us on our journey which was fantastic as the trip to Bridgenorth involved the loco working very hard indeed.

We made our way from the station to Bridgenorth town via the cliff railway. The coaches were replaced by the very art deco style in 1954.

Bridgenorth town hall
The view along the Severn valley from the walk around town

Now this is a sight you don't often see from a steam train - an elephant in Kidderminster Safari Park which is my memorable event no12!!!

A better picture of the flood levels

The large grey plaque records the flood of 1672

Down the River Severn to Worcester

As we approached Worcester the Cathedral comes into view.

On the wall near the Cathedral are the flood levels with the river in the background. July 2007 was not as high as those in March 1947, March 1886 and 1672.

How about this for a building its in the shopping area and is Worcester Guildhall

The Tontine Hotel - Grade 1 listed built by the canal company in 1788 - which now is being converted to flats over looks the River Severn at Stourport.

Holt lock on the River Severn - rather larger than the narrow canal locks

A rather lovely house on the river