Saturday, 2 July 2022

North to Fradley Junction

 Tuesday 28 June Rugby to The Greyhound at Hawkesbury Junction

Up at 8, showered and walking into Rugby town along this long straight footpath past Tesco’s, enjoying the decent weather. Found a statue dedicated to Sir Frank Whittle, jet engine designer.

We collected our new glasses from Boots Opticians and had a good coffee in the Bacca Lounge, very shabby/industrial  chic!

On the way back we moved the car to a quiet parking space, then had smoked salmon bagels on the boat. Lianas watched tennis on tv while John fell asleep. Lots of boats passed in both directions.

Setting off after 2pm, refreshed, we passed fewer boats. 

Under heavy skies and windy, the scenery was ok but not inspiring, John felt. The last miles after Ansty are noisy next to the M6 and M69, so we were glad to reach Sutton Stop. Lianas urged John to take the first available mooring, but he continued. We were in luck, as the mooring nearest the stop lock and Greyhound was free!

We were soon in the pub.  John scanned the table code and managed to order and pay for beer and meals over the internet - a first! Quietly proud!! John’s curry was good, apart from burnt onion bhajees, which they replaced. Liana’s Hunters Chicken was fine. 

Back to the boat for more Wimbledon!

Thursday 30 June Atherstone  to Alvecote

Hoorah, a sunny, blue sky morning! Shorts and sandal time. Lianas did housework while John drove the mile to Atherstone top lock. We moored at the services and filled up with water. Half a dozen CRT volunteers and workers were busy gardening and repairing the rubber edge near the lock. It was all action!

Eventually we set off, with help at the top lock. Further down, there were several low pounds, so maybe CRT workers could have sorted that before gardening? Just a thought.

Friday 1 July Alvecote to Glascote and on to Hopwas

At Glascote there were four boats waiting to come up, but we only had one boat ahead of us descending. Liana  helped out at the locks while we waited, and we chatted with other boaters. Once through, Liana spotted fuel boat Auriga, so we stopped and replaced a 13kg propane Calor Gas bottle. £43.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Braunston Working Boat Rally

 Thursday 23 June Winwick to Braunston (7 miles, 12 locks, 2 tunnels)

We set off early at 8am this sunny day, and we’re soon past Yelvertoft and Crick marinas. Crick Marina is now owned by Aqua Vista. The Moorings restaurant seems closed, sadly.

We met no boats in Crick Tunnel, which was pretty wet. Passing a favourite mooring place by bridge 9, we arrived at the top of the seven Watford Locks, where we used the water point, rubbish and Elsan services, checked out the book shelves and chatted to the CRT volunteers. 

The four staircase locks use side ponds to conserve water, with red and white ground paddles, just like at Foxton.

We passed two oncoming boats slowly and very carefully in Braunston Tunnel. It has little bends in it to make life a little trickier. We were belted hard by an oncoming boat here once, so are wary! The banks of dog roses after the tunnel were beautifully scented as we passed by.

We were lucky to get a mooring Liana spotted above the bottom lock, as most were taken. Then we visited Daisy’s Baking Butty nearby and had excellent coffee and cake, plus a cheery chat. No phone signal or internet down in the valley, though!

We looked at working boats as we walked up to the village, used our phones and John rang at the weekly Thursday ringing practice in Braunston  All Saints Church, led by Glyn. We ran rounds, call changes and plain hunt, all suitable for the ringers, who ranged in experience from beginners upwards. John was made most welcome, rang on four of the six bells and was invited to ring on Saturday at 10am to start the Rally, plus at 9.30am on Sunday, before the Sunday Church Service in the marina.

Friday 24 June at Braunston 

This dull morning we took our rubbish on our walk past the marina, enjoying all the working boats moored abreast each other, ready for the weekend. At the Old Turn we had a signal, so checked our emails. We visited Midland Chandlers on our way back to the marina, where we had breakfast at the Gongoozlers Rest cafe boat. Ok, I admit it, I had the Full English, while Liana had a sandwich plus chips!

Back at Annie, Liana watched tennis from Eastbourne while John snoozed. Liana visited Daisy’s Baking Butty for coffees and choc & walnut cookies, which we both found delicious!

Lianas made frittata for tea - not bad! Walked down to the marina, where the arm was now full of boats and people having a bbq. We got talking to the couple off Arabia, who lived at Dhepshed and moored by Zouch Mill. Ended up having a drink with them. It was too cold to stay long, sadly.

Saturday 24 June Braunston Working Boat Rally

We walked up to the excellent Braunston Butchers, buying their very tasty sausages, four varied kebabs, Braunston pasties and Haslet. Liana returned to Annie while John rang the bells with Glyn and the local ringing team.

First, we looked at all the moored boats on our walk past the marina to the Old Turn.

We always enjoy sitting between the two bridges on the island at the Old Turn, watching the old boats doing three point turns around the island, which is at the junction of the North Oxford Canal and Grand Union Canal.

Walking down to the marina to join Liana for the Rally opening event, we saw Tim West and Prunella Scales by motor Nutfield and butty Raymond, before  the first of two boat processions . 

John watched tv later, from 9 until 1am, as the Glastonbury Festival is on this weekend. Noel Gallagher was a good warm up act before Sir Paul McCartney performed a very good 2.5 hour set. His back up band included superb musicians and singers. Near the end he was joined by Dave Grohl and ‘The Boss’. How he did this at eighty years old, I don’t know. Wow!

Sunday 25 June Braunston Working Boat Rally 

John was at church before 9am to ring, while Liana listened in the church. After giving our thanks, we walked down to join in the Sunday Service at Braunston Marina. The preacher had a deft touch, aided by their bell ringer church warden.

Afterwards, we had breakfast at the Gongoozlers Rest cafe boat, then sat at the Old Turn again to watch the working boats manoeuvre in the strong wind. 

Private boats kept arriving, to add to the fun! Some working boats were leaving, and eventually the cold drove us back to the shelter by the marina entrance, where we watched the mayhem there.

Later, we walked up two locks to Daisy’s Baking Butty for coffee, cake and a banter, before returning to Annie to read and watch more from Glastonbury. The Braunston Pasties went down well!

Monday 26 June Braunston to Hillmorton and Rugby (4 locks, 8 miles)

What a wet day! Liana got a lift from a kind boater to Market Harborough and returned with the car. Once it stopped pouring down with rain, John set off just as Liana arrived. We passed down Braunston bottom lock, then Liana left to take the car ahead to the three paired Hillmorton Locks. Annie squeezed past the remaining working boats, the marina and Old Turn, heading North to Gloucester! This is a longer way, but has only about 46 single locks to Worcester, half the number going via the Birmingham plateau (200 feet high), or via Stratford.

Quite a few boats were travelling, some homewards from the rally, under cloudy skies and showers, but the scenery was pleasant past Barby Moorings and the new marina nearby. The Royal Oak pub is now The Waterside, and housing estates continue to cover the countryside as you reach

The three (six) Hillmorton locks are quite scenic, and have always been some of the busiest locks in the country, hence the dualling.

Liana had struggled to get coffee at Hillmorton, so had popped into Rugby, returning to chat to the owners of NB Arabia until John arrived. As Liana had eaten a panini at Rugby, John mare himself a very quick Braunston haslet (pronounced “hay slet” in Linkisheer!) sandwich, which was delicious.

A volunteer helped us through the bottom lock, after which Liana waved farewell again and drove to Tesco’s at Rugby, via the town centre, where she got lost and rang John. He managed to help, and then moored Annie at our usual park mooring a few hundred yards from Tesco’s. Lianas soon arrived and we watched Wimbledon.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Summer Cruise Market Harborough to Braunston

 Tuesday 21 June Market Harborough to Foxton Locks (6 miles, 2 swing bridges)

Last night, John had to run the engine to recharge the leisure batteries, a rare event in summer, so we guess the deep shade prevented the solar panels doing their job while we were away. 

 Up late again to a sunny blue sky first day of Summer! John steered while Liana tidied, passing those fancy houses, then the overgrown canal meant we had to keep an eye out for oncoming boats.  

It was quiet all the way to Foxton village, where Liana needed help with that heavy, sticking swing bridges. The lady from an oncoming boat helped, too.  Again, a kind CRT volunteer helped her with the pedestrian swing bridge at Foxton Locks. 

Once Liana’s sister Alison had arrived, we soon got called to go up the ten Foxton Locks, with plenty of gongoozlers / visitors watching and chatting to the girls and John. The CRT volunteers are helpful and professional. 

Once up, we moored, relaxed and played a few games of Settlers of Catan. Liana and Ali both won - guess who didn’t!

Wednesday 22 June Foxton Locks to after bridge 23 near Yelvertoft (15 miles, 1 tunnel)

Bright sun and a clear blue sky saw us leave the metal canal horse and our moorings into the quiet, tree-lined country canal through the sparsely populated high Leicester plateau. Gliders scudded by cotton wool clouds.

CRT had built a scaffolding towpath for fifty metres. We were surprised they hadn’t driven new piles in to do a proper job.

Apart from occasional oncoming boats, we were alone, with Liana washing the roof and solar panels as we went along. Husbands Bosworth Tunnel is quite straight, and we passed through alone. 

North Kilworth moorings were full up, so we congratulations  past the large new marina, the junction with the Welford Arm to a lovely shady mooring before bridge 38, where we got the chairs out for a relaxed lunch.

This rural canal is quite overgrown in many places, so we had to take care on blind bends and bridge holes. John had to take avoiding action several times.

We moored a mile before Yelvertoft, got the chairs out and chilled. Red wine and reading seem to go well together!

Thursday 23 June Yelvertoft to Watford Locks and on to Braunston