Wednesday, April 28, 2010

who's for Desperate Dan Pie ?

….. and very good it was too at our nominated Pub of the Week !     At The New Inn at Top Lock no.7 after Norton Junction, polished off with a pint or two of Frog Ale.    Went to bed that night with feelings of a brick in my belly!

Done two big tunnels this week - Braunston at 2042 yards and Blisworth at 3057 yards.    Torrents of water cascading down the ventilation holes in Blisworth but Braunston was very dry.   Foxxie has to be shut down in the boat thru the tunnels as she doesn’t enjoy them!  

Having fun with the wide locks - I’ll soon have muscles like Popeye!   Just wish they’d all react same going up when filling!   Oh - President (steam narrowboat) and Kildare (butty) came by us last Friday, President towing Kildare.    For our non-boatie friends here’s a link to read all about these 2 historic boats    Then the next day they passed us again although this time breasted up (tied together, so side by side).

Bought 3 different types of cheese off the Cheese Boat which was moored at Stoke Bruerne last Saturday.  Tried one that evening which Dai liked and I didn't particularily but then again it was a soft cream cheese (bit Brie like).  We also - for first time since Setting Off - had a lunchtime pint at The Boat Inn in Stoke Bruerne.    Well the sun was shining and we were thirsty.

Saw first moorhen chicks this week and I can now say that I can recognise the call of an adult moorhen as I was studying it with another moorhen who had built her nest in the lower reaches of a tree on the opposite bank to where we were moored.    She kept calling her mate to come and relieve her for a bit !

We’ve had lovely sunshine most days this week - we’re both starting to look like we’ve been living out-of-doors for months.    In fact, 3 nights this last week we haven’t lit the fire so that’s pretty good going for April.     Long may it last !

My daughter Amy arrived back home last Thursday night - only 6 days late from her uni field trip to Spain.   They bussed from southern Spain up to Calais to get the ferry and then bus back up to Nottingham.   Not too happy about everything but at least she is back safe and sound.

Today we are moored - still on the Grand Union - at Marsworth, Buckinghamshire which is where the Aylesbury Arm goes off (we’re going to do this Arm on way back up from London).  

Since last blog we have done 50 miles and  37 locks. This makes total since Setting Off ….. 228 miles and  149 locks.   Average speed of  2.84 lock miles a hour !  

sorry, can't upload any photos today - internet link not strong enough.   Next time we are in a big town (which is going to be Hemel Hempstead probably by end of this week), going to see if we can get a longer cable to connect the dongle to laptop so I can then hang it out the window to get a stronger signal !

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

WHAT! £3.30 a pint !

We went to one of the pubs in Cropedy last Sat night.   I went to the loo and Dai went to the bar.   “Great” I said when I returned “there’s free live music on here this evening.”       “Oh no there isn’t” retorted Dai “I’m not paying £3.30 a pint to listen to folk music all night.”  So, guess what?   Yes, we drank up and walked to the other pub.   I’ve told him to expect to pay that plus over next few weeks as we journey further south!    Looks like we’ll be drinking boat stocks then!

Its been a week of overnight frosts and (mainly) blue clear bright days although the wind at times has had a chill nip to it.    Of course this week has been the UK Airspace Lockdown and I’ve had to smile at the people saying on telly how nice it is to hear birdsong again.   One of the delights of being on the canals is that there is constant birdsong - I’ve really noticed that.  

My daughter Amy is still stuck in Spain though.    She should have returned home last Saturday after a university field trip.    Latest I heard yesterday is that they were just setting off on a coach to drive to Calais and she was hoping to be back in Nottingham Thursday evening.    She’s had quite an “eventful” trip what with that and getting her bag snatched at beginning of the fieldtrip with her passport, money, phone, etc stolen.

Today we are back on the Grand Union Canal having “done” the Oxford Canal.    We are moored at Braunston, pointing south.    General plan is to go down to London - not sure just how far into London.   Think it depends on the price of a pint !

Since last blog we have done 47 miles and  34 locks. This makes total since Setting Off ….. 178 miles and  112 locks.    

pic 1:  where we bought 2 dozen hen eggs and got one dozen free duck eggs!
pic 2: hello from Pigeon Lock on Oxford Canal
pic 3:  sooner be at this Gibraltar than the other !  Especially this week with the UK Airspace Lockdown.
pic 4:  I want some on Jandai's roof (unrepeatable what Dai's response was!)
pic 5:  "just cleaning my teeth"
pic 6: winding (turning around for our non-boaty friends) at Dukes Lock on the Oxford Canal
pic 7:  yes,' works' even on canals - at least these repair works didn't hold us up for hours.  Just had to slow down from 3 miles a hour to 0.5 miles a hour!
pic 8:  6-sided lock on Oxford Canal (L33, Aynho Weir Lock)
pic 9:  after a hard day's boating!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Where is the nearest earplug shop?

….. because Janice needs a new pair !    Fun and games for Dai changing the fuel filter this week when the old one wouldn’t screw off !    He ended up puncturing it with a screwdriver (ohmigod, diesel pouring everywhere) and bashing, bashing, bashing with the lump hammer - I just hope no-one went by with a delicate constitution !   Once punctured it had to come off else we weren’t going to be able to move ever again.    Much bashing and cussing later, it came off and the new one screwed on ever-so-nicely!!

Wasn’t there such glorious sunshine last Saturday 10 April ?   We were moored up by lunchtime in Cropedy on the Oxford Canal to enjoy it.   Unfortunately since then, not seen much of it - just the occasional tantalising glimpse but, as we Brits always say-  “at least it’s not raining” !!

Janice nearly set fire to the pub the other night when we were out for a meal - the menu caught fire by one of those little tea light things.     Waitress said “oh, someone’s set fire to the menu again” - apparently it happens often !     (Or else she was trying to be nice by inferring it’s a regular occurrence!).

Today is Day 18 - the longest time we have been on the boat  (during last summer we had 16 days holiday) and loving it.    Still on the Oxford Canal - moored today at Thrupp - but have now turned around and making our way back up to the Grand Union.    Couldn’t get all the way into Oxford by canal as there is not enough room at the end to turn a boat over 50 foot (and Jandai is 57 ft) so we were about 3 miles short.

Since last blog we have done 47 miles and 39 locks - oh, and a few lift bridges.    This makes total since Setting Off ….. 131 miles and 78 locks.      Janice made a mistake last blog entry when said we were averaging 4.5 miles a day.    This should have been that we were averaging 4.5 hours of boating a day and 11 lock miles a day.    This is still significantly down on what we used to do as hirers !

(sorry - not a good enough internet connection to upload any pictures)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Big Scrap !

No, not us ….. but 2 swans the other night!    We were quietly watching telly about 9 pm and suddenly there was a terrific noise outside which set Foxxie barking.  A kind of  frantic, frightful whoosing.   We looked out the window and 2 swans were going at it hammer and tongue, beating their wings and trying to get one another’s heads held under the water - feathers flying everywhere.    We guessed it was all down to one male defending his mate’s nest from a wanna-be-daddy.    Unfortunately we couldn’t get any photos as for some reason the camera refused to play.    Don’t know what the outcome as they were gradually progressing down the canal and round a bend.   Next morning, mummy swan on her nest and daddy (or was it wanna-be-daddy?) drifting around without a care in the world …. and no loser around for our dinner!

We are now on the Oxford Canal and moored up for the day at Napton Locks as for the first time since we set off, the sky is blue and the sun shining - we even celebrated with an ice-cream this morning after climbing six thousand feet up Napton Hill to see the restored windmill and church.  OK, maybe not that much but pretty steep as apparently you can see 9 counties from the top.    It was well worth the climb for the view, even though the windmill is privately owned so not open to public and, as a bonus, we passed a farm selling free range eggs at £2 a dozen.

Since last blog we have done 61 miles and 23 locks.    Since setting out we have averaged 4.5 miles a day which has took some doing as when we were holidaying it must have been about 20 miles a day!    We are trying very hard to get into the fact that we don’t have to go mad and don’t have to move every day!

pic 1: first violets of 2010 in churchyard at Napton on Oxford Canal - spotted April 8
pic 2: our first visitor on the boat
pic 3: man at work


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Off We Jolly Well Go !

Yes, our New Life has started and it is now Day 5 !    We are now Continuous Cruisers.
Just how many people can say their dream has come true?

Left Trent Lock at Long Eaton, Notts on Sunday 28 March afternoon and today are at Alrewas on the Trent & Mersey Canal making our way south to London via T & M; Coventry, Oxford and Grand Union Canals.    Don’t know how long it will take - doesn’t matter!    Since setting off we’ve only done 24 miles and 16 locks - there is just no rush anymore.  This is first time we have ever stopped in one place for more than a night - feels very strange!   Weather has not been at its kindest with cloud, drizzle, wind, rain and a sighting of sun this morning.

We managed to get everything stored away except for 3 boxes of falling down water (aka perry); Janice’s Treasure Box and a plastic box of yeast and Christmas Puds (Dai’s fav), so they are stacked in the saloon for now.    Cupboards full of food and drink and Jandai’s got a list to the left because of all the sacks of flour stored under the bed (we make our own bread).  Once some of the food/drink  from home has been consumed, then we’ll have plenty of storage space - might even be able to see what we actually have got.

Today we went to the National xxx which is about 20 mins walk from the canal and were quite amazed just how many different memorials there are as well as the Wall of Names (all service men/women who have died since the end of WWII.     Very recently they have constructed the Basra Wall which is an actual wall from Basra encased in marble with plaques of all servicemen and women who died there.    In fact, we didn’t see them all because it was quite cold and windy and then started to rain.      On walk back called in the village butcher to buy our Easter Day meat joint.   We have had meat from there before and has always been fantastic.   There is also a small Co-op supermarket, newsagent, fish & chip shop, Chinese takeaway, 3 pubs, pharmacy and what seems like loads of hairdressers!

We are wondering when it will stop feeling like we’re on holiday - hopefully never.     Life is now just one long holiday!

Have a great Easter Holiday everyone.