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Monday, 25 December 2017


An Autumn cruise to Banbury

Friday, 10 November 2017

A bit late but during October we did one of our favorite trips ie Banbury and back. The weather was kind in that I only got wet once and we only had to light the fire on a few evenings. The only problem was I managed to headbutt one of the bridges with the chimney but luckily managed to buy a replacement at Fenny Compton. I had pondered whether to bring it in but there was no wind and thought it would be OK- how wrong was that. There are some very sharp/tight bends on the top pound of the Oxford Canal and I manged to screw one up completely- at least there was nobody about to see it!.

Lovely remote countryside but it always looks as if the canal is going down hill

Autumnal colours and autumn fruit outside our porthole at Croperdy

Going downhill so Anne is bringing BB into one of the Claydon flight of locks

This is something you don't see everyday- its a bilge pump outlet  but it did bring a smile.

Not sure whats going on, but there is always something different to see

Autumn colours again as I wait to go into the lock in the centre of Banbury

We came up Croperdy lock between the motor and butty of a hotel boat. Looking back as the butty is manhandled into the lock. All the ladies from the boats were out in the rain really enjoying the trip.

Sunflowers and bow light by Eli Griffiths & Sons

Saturday, 9 September 2017

We have still not managed to get away for any longer than a few days during August. Although I have seen the cardiologist this week and he is very pleased with the outcome and I no longer have atrial fibrillation - long may it last-  and I can also come off the amiodarone which has some nasty side effects.
 Our trip out in August was just into Braunston to collect a tin of roof paint I had ordered back in July. On our way in we went past a field which didn't have cereals or rape seed but was full of sunflowers which made a very cheerful change
The field of happy sunflower faces.

We have a ships lantern as our bow light which we obtained during the build of BB. Whilst I knew the name of the manufacturer, I didn't know much about them.

Eli Griffiths & Sons of Beacon Works Bradford Street Birmingham were manufactures of ship,railway & road vehicle lamps. The Company was established in 1870, still trading in 1940 and was voluntarily wound up in 1963.
Manufacturers plate - H355
It was originally supplied galvanized - Stowe Hill Marine painted it in traditional style and added a car spot light. It would have had  an oil lamp fitted.

Stowe Hill Marine open weekend May 2004

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

I was sorting out my picture files the other day and found some photographs of the first Stowe Hill open weekend we attended with Black Bess - we had taken her over two weeks before. Pete & Julie Hill  held the open weekends during the weekend of  the Crick Boat Show and was supported by as many owners as possible. We had been to the Boat Show in 2003 to have a final look around some other builders and then visited Stowe on the Sunday. We placed our order for BB about 7 days later - a huge decision at the time but one we have never regretted.

The following pictures are of the 2004 weekend meeting and show what a great sight it was. The 2005 meeting was the last open weekend as the business had then been sold.

Cryo Ablation and then a trip to Market Harborough

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Another  post I'm afraid after our trip out last month to Market Harborough on the lovely rural Leicester Arm of the Grand Union Canal. Although that may change as another marina at North Kilworth is nearing completion. The problem is that I use an EE pay as you go dongle to do my blog posts when we are out cruising. I went to activate it before our trip but could not access it and no time to sort out an alternative arrangement! Again our trip was delayed as I had a cryo ablation,at the end of May, to stop the additional electrical signals that cause the atrial fibrillation. The NHS team who performed the procedure in Eastbourne were absolutely brilliant again and it seems to have worked as my blood pressure monitor does not show that I have AF-long may it last. 

Our trip was in the first heat wave when the temperature hit 34 degrees- although the following week it rained all day and we had the fire alight- a typical English summer then. A few pictures of the trip follow

A hot day at the start of our trip with even the cows taking to the shade

We had two helpers for a few days -Dusty and Krysha. Dusty usually does offshore sailing and they were both experencing ditch creawling for the first time up Watford flight

We had a lovely mooring made for a 50 footer just before bridge 39 near the Welford Arm.

I just love this view of the Leicestershire countryside as you plunge down the escarpment  at Foxton. This flight is a staircase flight of two groups of 5 locks with side ponds and a lot of gongoozlers. Next stop Market Harborough primarily to see Anne's aunt 

We stayed at Union Wharf for 3 nights as we wanted to go into Leicester by bus to see King Richard III's grave in the cathedral and visit the excellent visitor centre The above  is a 3D model of his skeleton as found.

Going back up Foxton flight this Robin followed up through 2 of the staircase locks, I assume looking for any bugs on the lock gates.

Our mooring after leaving the top lock at Foxton just before bridge 50- who says you cannot get away from people in this country!
This most unusual boat was outside North Kilworth boat yard 

The new marina just south of North Kilworth bridge nearly ready to take its first boats.

These boats are just past bridge 16 going north and  on the start of a tight right turn- we had to make an emergency stop on the way up as a boat came round the bend rather fast- who said canal boating was easy!!

This and the next picture is of a rather unusual boat. It seems to be a modern copy in steel of  an early canal hire boat/river cruiser.

Working in the cratch back at the marina these two ducks refused to move obviously waiting to be fed. The one on the left has menacing eyes

Into Braunston and hull painting

Monday, 15 May 2017

We had a few days free last week and the weather looked promising so a quick trip to the boat to do a bit of tlc to the hull. I thought it looked alright last year but obviously our trip to the Basingstoke Canal and River Wey  in 2015 had taken its toll. Its always much nicer to do the work out on the cut so a nice cruise into Braunston was definitely on the cards.

Even though you travel the same piece of canal' each time you do it there is always something new to do or see- the trip was no exception.

Our first stop was just before bridge 100 near Wolfhampcote where I was able to rub down and prime the worst of the chips and scratches. After this was completed I decided a walk in the sunshine was in order. As you go into Braunston from Napton you pass the remains of the old Great Central Railway bridge (easily seen with  Pink Floyd painted on it) between bridges 98 and 97. Nature has taken over the cutting leading up to the bridge from the site and an old bridge has been demolished and filled in for access.

The old GCR looking south-the  remains of the Pink Floyd bridge is behind me.
From the above spot you do get a different view of the Braunston church spire and the old windmill
We had to turn the boat so a trip into the winding hole outside the marina was required plus a trip into the butchers in the village for two pies, pork pie and some of his lovely sausages.

Coming out of Braunston  a lot of tree felling has been carried out which really does open up the junction area

The old butty at Wolfhampcote has now sunk and is probably  beyond salvage

Rain was forecast so this sheep has taken appropriate action to be ready for it.

I noticed this Great Dane by one of the residential moorings on the way in. On the way back it was still in the same position- the penny finally dropped that it was a statue and very realistic too!!!!

Bird on a hot felt roof.

We stopped  just before bridge 103 to enable me to do the other side again in sunshine although it did rain overnight.

A trip to North Wales including the "Monty" Canal and a date for an ablation procedure

Friday, 5 May 2017

No spring cruise again this year as the saga of atrial fibrillation continues to impose itself on what we can do. Whilst my last cardioversion in January has me still in normal rhythm its also due to medication. The tablet has some major side effects and is not suitable for long term use. Therefore an ablation procedure is to be carried out at the end of May. It  is non surgical and should be done in a day 

 We are therefore waiting for this now but in the meantime have been up to North Wales to help a very good friend downsize to a flat in Llandudno. It was hard work but it did allow us to do a few other things including a visit to the isolated section of the Montgomery Canal through Welshpool.

Welshpool town lock-its a bye wash on the right which used to power a watermill of an old corn mill. This is an isolated section of the Montgomery Canal which leaves the Llangollen Canal at Frankton Junction onto a section of the canal which is navigable.

The impressive warehouse now a museum

Another view of the warehouse which shows its size-it must have been a busy place

The old bridge which was used by Welshpool & Llanfair narrow gauge railway

A view from the top of the Great Orme with a tram coming up from Llandudno

We had to have a trip on one of the Great Little Trains of Wales.This is the Talyllyn  and the loco is Edward Thomas,only built in 1921. The two oldest on the line are Talyllyn- 1864 and Dolgoch-1866.

A view from the train as we climb the valley towards Abergynolwyn

Hull blacking and a trip to the "new" end of the Ashby Canal

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Yes we are still boating but since Sept last year I have been awaiting another cardioversion my 3rd and for a small operation on a trigger finger. This getting older lark is a pain in the everything! As I had said that I would come in for the ops whenever required we couldn't go on long trips. So a 2 week trip to the Ashby Canal in September, back home for an appointment and then a trip to the US in October. The US trip was to New England to see the New England autumn colours which were fabulous. I eventually had the trigger finger done in mid December and the cardioversion in Jan 2017.

It is 2 1/2 years since BB was painted and she now needed her hull blacked.Coming onto the trolley at Calcutt Boats after we had taken all loose items off the shelves and taped over the heating exhaust. She comes out at a bit of an angle and as we sit low in the water it could enter the heater exhaust pipe. 

Safely on the trolley and now on dry land and it clearly shows how the hull has been built to sit in the water

The power end not looking too bad but does show the size of the rudder which makes the tiller a little heavy but she does hold a course well

A few photographs of our trip to the Ashby Canal last September.
Whenever you muck up a manoeuvre there is always a large crowed around -  never when you do it flawlessly!! 

Our very pleasant overnight mooring on the Ashby just before Burton Hastings and the very sharp bend

The new last navigable bridge on the Ashby Canal is now Br 62. The canal finishes at a 50ft winding hole just past this bridge which we didn't use as we had been warned that because of little use its a bit shallow. It was still good to walk along the new length of the canal from its existing terminus and look forward to future possibilities.

This lovely classic tug went past us as we moored up in Rugby for Tesco's

I had a bit of deja vue as we approached nb Yavas , from a distance it looked just like BB- you do not see many black boats on the waterways.

How about this for a different bird house

and finally one picture of the colours in New England
The Conway Railroad which goes through part of the White Mountain National Forest towards Mount Washington