March 29 2007
We arrived at the boat yesterday afternoon and the first job was to reseal the Bullseye over the bed in the back cabin. This had developed a bad leak last time out and the glass had fallen right out. I want to remove the brass rim and reseal it to the roof removing the rust and
repainting at the same time but as rain is forecast until after the weekend I have just silicone the glass back into the frame.
We had a good run down Napton flight this morning only having to turn one lock. There seems to be quite a lot of privately owned boats about at the moment. At lock 9 Diana spotted a Newt swimming in the lock and then a second just above the top gate. This is the first time we have seen newts in the canal. We had a quick word with Steve the lengths man at the bottom lock and told him that someone had forced the door on the workman's hut half way up the flight, there is a bolt on the inside of the door and it would make a super "Finch" hidyhole, he could get in there and bolt the door safe and sound. We stopped for water at the top of Calcutt and then joined up with an Ownership boat to work down through the locks. The new Ventner Farm Marina still has no water in it. The work men are replacing the pontoon walkways and laying paths. The bridge over the entrance looks complete but the towing path is still closed. The piling at the entrance has been driven in so the tops are about 4" below water level. We moored up about three and I fitted two more LED lights in the lounge, that how brings it up to 6 in the ceiling and two reading led light on the wall. While we have been here there has been a continues stream of Ownership and Kate boats.
We left at 10 am on a hazy slightly sunny morning. We approached Stockton Top Lock just as another boat was about to enter so we slid in beside them. Things didn't look to good as there was a pair of boats going down ahead of us. Diana went ahead to set the next lock as we were dropping down and indicated that there was a boat on the way up, so we were able to leave the bottom gates open as we left. It was the third lock down where we actually passed the boat coming up so that lock was in our favor however the rest were against us. The boat we were sharing with was continuing on down to the bottom of Hatton, so we winded just beyond the pub and came back to the Blue Lias moorings. All the bankside moorings were taken so we breasted up on the outside of Felis Catus III. Just ahead of us are Lord Toulouse and on the outside of them is Fair Fa, then by her self is Otter followed by Willy No Name and out side them is Prairie Crocus and Jannock has just tied out side them. The last boat before the bridge is Nuggler all by themselves as anyone outside them is
libel to get bashed by people coming to fast through the bridge. In the field behind the moorings is Glen in his trailer tent and the Millin's in their camper van. There are still a couple of boats to arrive plus a few coming by car who are staying over with others. Tonight there are 4 tables booked in the pub for those who don't want to cook and tomorrow the festivities start in ernest with Christmas dinner in the function room.
Yesterday the Cutweb Christmas Rally started in ernest (not that one) About 11 am the mulled wine and mince pies came out kindly donated and baked by the crew of Nuggler. This was followed by Christmas Cracker and decoration manufacture with large lope paper chains being strung around, a cracker for every attendee plus table decorations. A decorated Christmas tree stood just in side the door. One or two passerby's stuck their heads in the door but rapidly excused them selves. 7 PM and 34 of us gathered for Christmas dinner. By now there were 12 boats in attendance moored 3 abreast along the pub garden but even the Clara had to moor on the towing path side. When entering the function room for dinner we were greeted by the sight of all the tables laid each with a clacker, carol sheet and menu and a place name, printed on the back of this was that persons chose of food, starter , main and sweet all produced by Brenda. This made serving our meal very smooth except for just one person who it appeared from their place name had ordered started, mince pie and sweet. It was Brenda! Following an exultant meal Father Christmas appeared complete with two sacks of presents which he distributed in his own festive style. ( I thin he may be playing Scrooge next year). We all joined in the carol singing lead by Mr. Morgan (he has this idea that all Welsh men can sing) It should be noted that the words of the carols deviated somewhat from the traditional ones and were mainly aimed at DEFRA and SOW. Then came the highlight of the night, The Pantomime. This was written by Bill, narrated by Graham and stared Guy as the evil Sir Defra, Julian as the widow Kit Crewbucket and her lushes daughter Beta, played by Dave. The Knight in shining armour, Sinbad the Sailor who saved the day was played by Connie and it climaxed with Sinbad in bed with Beta after chasing off Sir Defra, unfortunately the bed, which belonged to the pub broke under their combined weight. This morning started with the presentation of awards, Nuggler getting the award for the best decorated boat, they did have Fairy lights and an illuminated Christmas tree on the roof and we received the "Awfully
Slack Propeller" awarded for or trip to the Thames that only go as far as Enslow. This was followed by an auction, we didn't want anything but still we spent £21 somehow and Sunday lunch produced by the pub. I must say that the rally organisers did a wonderful job putting every thing together and the staff of The Blue Lias looked after us admirably.
We were up and about a little before 8 am this morning, shuffling boats about. Felis Catus III who were moored inside of us were leaving at 9 am and heading up the flight. Lord Toulouse who were on the inside in front of us were going with them but they were facing down the flight so they had to get out and wind to head back up with FC III at 9. We slipped off backwards and moored on the other side of the canal and then walked round to help the others sort themselves out. We also left at 9 heading North towards Birmingham, we were only planning to get as far as Hatton so we were just chugging along. The only lock we had in our favour had leaked off so we had to turn every lock. At the bottom of the Cape Locks there was a boat moored on the lock moorings with there water hose taken forward to the water point so we had to pull in before them and Diana walked forward to set the lock while I hovered. It turned out they didn't even have the tap turned on, so the were hogging the water point and on the lock moorings. We filled up with water at the top of the locks and then moored for the night in sight of Hatton Bottom Lock at a few minutes to 6 pm.
Firstly a couple of items I missed from yesterdays log, in Lemington Spa we saw our first baby ducks of the year, there were only two and they were no more than a couple of days old. Secondly Tesco at Warwick had their great big magnet switch on again that pulled Harnser against their short stay moorings and it only let go after Diana had been in and bought a trolley full of stuff. I wonder if releases when they scan our Tesco card? Anyway last night we walked up the flight a bit, there had been two boats come down since we moored and there was one in the bottom lock going up as we moored, this meant that the first two locks were with us. First thing this morning a hire boat went by before we were ready to go so when we left at 9-30 all the locks were against us and it started to rain. I had pumped the bike tires up while I was stuck at Tesco so it was put to use chasing up and down the flight while Diana drove the boat. At the lock by the garage a BW man told Diana that she should close the gates behind her, she pointed out there was a boat coming down so he went away mumbling and started painting the gates, I noticed that he closed the gate I had left open but then opened it again when he had finished, the boat coming down was actually still two locks above and then low and behold there were another pair of boats just two locks behind them, this sit every thing in our favour and I pushed ahead on the bike opening bottom gates while I could still move them before they were held shut by water leaking from the top. We didn't meet another boat until we were 3 locks from the top by when it had stopped raining. We just pulled into the arm linking the Grand Union with the Stratford canal to check the toilet tank as I believe that BW have a card operated pump out there, however we still had a few days capacity left so it was not needed, Before I could get back on the GU I had to let a day hire boat from Copt Hill Wharf pass, the only way it could have gone any faster would have been if it had had hydrofoils fitted and it passed the moored boats with a breaking wash and then accelerated. We continued on until the Knowle flight of 5 locks came into view and decided that we didn't want to do them this evening so we have moored just before all the long term moorings. One thing I have noticed this week is the lack of boats on the official BW long term moorings, there were very few at the top of Hatton or at Rising Bridge however the boats at the 2 boat clubs MWYC and Black Buoys seamed to go on for ever.
We set off at 8 30 am to a cool but fine morning. BW were removing rubbish from Knowle top lock. We were to see two more groups of BW men cleaning up, and approaching Birmingham there was plenty to do. We met 4 boats this morning and none this afternoon. It was very slow going through Solihull and the canal was quite shallow with loads of rubbish, our progress was not helped by a load of wood and polly bags getting hung up across the bow some way under the surface where it was not immediately obvious. After Knowle every lock was against us, BW have a very smart visitors facility at the top of The camp Hill flight with water, showers, toilets and elsan disposal. I often wonder how many boaters want these posh expensive facilities and how many would be happy with a water tap and disposal point. After Camp Hill we turned right down Garrison Locks, again all against us. Just after the last lock of the flight we had to have a weed hatch moment where I removed load of polly bags and a big lump of greasy rag. BW have installed mooring bollards in a couple of places on the towing path side and just prior to the junction with the Birmingham and Fazeley they have installed a pontoon visitors mooring on the off side by the casino. We turned right onto the Birmingham and Fazeley and headed towards the Minworth flight. We hadn't seen a boat all day and then two pulled out in front of us between the bridge and the first lock. They were obviously travelling together and there were 3 crew between the 2 boats which effectively meant that the last one was single handing. We followed them down the 3 Minworth locks until we moored Minworth Greaves just prior to Wiggins Hill Bridge at 1830 hr.
We woke to thick fog but this soon cleared as the sun came through. After taking the dog for a walk I put our emergency 20 lt. diesel into the main tank, I hadn't planned to come this way and now we were running short of diesel, on the plus side with the warm weather we turned the stove out yesterday so that's saved a couple of gallons. We pushed off about 9 30. Just before Curdworth tunnel we passed the pair of boats just as they were starting their engines and about to pull away. These are the boats that had pulled out in front of us yesterday afternoon, At the top of the Curdworth flight the first of them was right behind us, we locked down and then stopped to take water half way to the second lock so the boats behind could come passed, that way they wouldn't be breathing down our necks. No sooner had the first one passed and a boat came the other way, We had just given away a good road with all 10 locks set for us, not only that but we caught the second boat up at the next lock and we set of most the locks for him all the way down. Since we were last this way a new marina has opened at Fazeley offering diesel and pump outs. We pulled into the marina only to find out that their pumpout was out of order as their tank was full so we just took 120 lt. diesel at 48p / lt.. After leaving the marina we turned left at the junction up the Coventry Canal to get a pumpout at Streethay Wharf, unfortunately when we arrived they were closed but a gent on a boat on hardstanding told us that they opened at 8 in the morning and that we would be OK if we moored at the service point. We didn't fancy this to
much so we reversed about quarter of a mile, the length of their mooring basin and then passed 3 boats and through 2 bridges to moor for the night.
We slipped away from our moorings about 9-30 and stopped at Streethay Wharf for a £14 pump out. They still show their diesel price in gallons £2.27 per gallon, I think this is a bit more than we paid at Fazeley Marina yesterday. We then continued on to Fradley Junction where we filled with water before winding at the junction to retrace or steps. I think we probably saw more boats this morning than we have all week and in the course of the day we defiantly have. It started a bit cooler this morning with bit of a breeze but this afternoon is quite pleasant. We have moored outside the The Tame Otter at Hopwas, we have just managed to get in at the far end of the moorings, having said that a Canaltime boat has left from the other end since we have been here. We have been to look at the menu at both The Tame Otter and the Red Lion on the other side of the canal and have still not decided where to eat tonight.
Last night we visited the Tame Otter, it was packed, it was smoky and we couldn't find a table so we left and walked over the bridge to The Red Lion where we had a very reasonable priced meal and some Pedigree bitter. The boat moored behind us were a bit noisy last night, about 8 of them on board and they were singing with a guitar until the early hours, not very loud but as our back cabin was right up against their stern it was enough to disturb me. By the time we were ready to go this morning they had left and a hire boat had arrived to take their place. We set off at about 10 am to a very sunny morning with lots of boats about. When we arrived at Glascote locks there was one boat waiting to go up but about 6 waiting to come down, We met "Daniel Oakley" between the locks, last time we saw them was at their winter mooring in Banbury, but now they were out for their summer cruise. We had to stop at bridge 66 as Tesco have installed a big magnet, I don't know how they know we are coming, it doesn't seam to effect other boats like it does us, mind you they had caught a wooden cruiser, it must be the nails. While Diana was in Tesco I tried to see if I could get an internet connection, I hit a BT locked site on the bows but just got an open site on the stern. it was so flaky I only got I e-mail down. We continued on and have moored for the night at 3 30 just above the second lock on the Atherstone flight and as I write this at 6 o'clock the BBQ is getting hot and there are still boats going up the flight.
woke early this morning and when I looked out the sun was rising like a big red ball. Already a boat had been passed and may more were to do so before we were ready to go. At 9-30 we thought it was time to make a move and when we went out we found we were on the end peg of a fishing match, this was better than the next boat up the flight, they had a fisherman at the bow and the stern. We had timed our departure to perfection, we met a boat at every lock and when we reached the top the last boat was waiting to come down. Barry hawking's yard is part way up the flight and he was selling diesel at 49 p/l. we carried on and at Hartshill we met a working boat selling coal and diesel, there price was also 49 p. As we approached Springwood Haven Marina we were attracted by calls and waving from the grassed area by the entrance to the marina, it was the crews of "Stewkey Blue" (how many of you know what that means) and "Minnehaha". Of course we pulled over to partake of a glass of wine and look at the new boat and the new paint job. We continued on through
Nuneaton, here diesel was 55 p/l and pulled in for the night about half a mile before the junction with the Ashby, we were unable to get close to the bank and there were several boats still passing that dragged us about a bit. It came to a climax when a working boat towing a butty on a long line came passed very slowly which washed us right against the piling, so we decided it would be quieter to moor down the Ashby. We turned left at Marston Junction and went about 5 miles down the canal to Hinckley Wharf where we winded in the arm and retraced our steps to moor for the night between bridges 13 and 14. I said I thought it would be quieter but as I write this at quarter to eight yet another boat has
just come by and moored 2 boats ahead of us.
We pushed off at 10 with Diana driving and me walking the dog, after a bit we got back on board and I set to mending 5 punchers in the rear wheel of our bike, its all caused by the blackthorn when they flail the hedges. When we reached the Coventry Canal we turned sharp left. Diana was at the helm and unlike the boat behind got round without using the bow thruster. It was a gentle run into Hawkesbury and we stopped for water just through the stop lock. Between Hawkesbury and Newbold we passed both Fair Fa and Liberty Bell, both were unattended so we spoke to none of them. We passed the new Brinklow Marina who are advertising that they still have vacancies , I noted the telephone number if any one is interested. One of the things that did jar me slightly is that they have had the cheek to erect dead slow notices each side of their entrance, it may have been better if they had erected a mirror so that people leaving the marina could see if anyone was coming. We had intended to moor for the nigh at Newbold to eat at the pub, but unfortunately all the moorings were taken right south of the long term moorings so we have continued to just prior to bridge 68 by the end of the golf course right by one of the greens.
Last nights mooring was right by the green of the 16th hole of Rugby Golf course and by the time we set off this morning there were a few golfers who had made it that far round the course. It was a bit strange standing there with people hitting balls straight towards you. We arrived a Hillmorton Bottom and had to hang about a bit as there were 3 boats waiting to go up and one down, also the line of entry to the left hand lock was not the best in the world with several BW boats moored just below the lock. BW have done quite a bit of landscaping in the area, I'm not sure of the relevance of the large boulders. We locked up with another boat who had followed us off the Ashby and between us things worked quite well shearing the work, us closing up behind them and them drawing the paddles for us, working the inside gates etc. It turned out they are presently moored at Wigrams still waiting to get into Ventner Farm. At Braunston we passed Draco but saw no sign of life and then be made a brief stop at MS for Diana to buy the latest edition of NarrowBoat magazine. While we were there things got a bit interesting with the traffic, moored boats and boats stopping at the water point. I noticed that we have several new residents along the Puddle Bank but I
didn't notice any more current BW licenses on display than there have been in the past. All the Napton Narrowboat hire boats were out so the weekend must have been quite busy. Approaching Napton Bottom lock spotted Steve our lengths man so we had a chat as we went up. The people who bought the lock cottage have a large caravan in the garden and have made a start on renovation work. The have to barrow all the debris across the lock using a plank between boats to put it into a skip they have in the BW yard opposite, It seams they were unable to get permission to take the skip lorry over the bridge to their side of the cut. We met a couple of boats in the flight and had one going up ahead of us, just as we left lock 13 I spotted my first Swallows of the season, 3 of them climbing away into the sky. Once through the top lock I thought I would moor in Draco's old spot for the night making it easy unloading the boat and reducing the walk as we were going out that evening, I couldn't get within jumping distance, in just over a week it had silted up as Mike had only left on the second and he draws well over 3 feet, so it was up to the arm, wind and drop onto our own mooring at around 5-30 pm.
There is a selection of photographs from our weekend at the Blue Lias on
the CIBC web site http://www.cibc.org.uk/rally2007.html