Monday, 28 December 2015

In the Red

Annie moored at Kingfisher Boats, Trent Lock

River Trent in spate at Trent Lock, Long Eaton
Boxing Day, 2015 at Trent Lock

The river is high, with the levels in the red, so no one is travelling on the river at the moment. Trees float by at several miles per hour ..... but Annie is safe in her moorings at Kingfisher Boats, and her batteries are now charged up again. She looks good with  new black bitumastic on her hull.
I am keeping an eye on river levels and Cromwell Lock below Newark, hoping to travel down through Newark and Gainsborough to West Stockwith and the Chesterfield Canal soon.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

..... "We have a problem here!"

December 15 2015 Marooned on the Erewash ...

Kingfisher Boats  have been absolutely great. Thank you, John, Mick and Paul. While the closure of Newark Town Lock has marooned Annie at Trent Lock, near Nottingham, from 19 October to 14 December, Paul has mended the bracket holding our bowthruster pump and drive belt. Having never used a bowthruster (which pushes water left or right at the front to help Annie turn), we haven't missed it, but it seemed a good chance to get it sorted: We will report on its use later.

The plan was to set off on 15 December and travel down the Trent to the Chesterfield Canal, reaching our moorings at the Retford and Worksop Boat Club, Clayworth in time for their carol service on 18 December 

.... so when I checked the stoppages, the River Trent in spate, with flood gates closed not only at Cranfleet Cut, Trent Lock but also above Newark Dyke ..... hopefully for just a few days. 

More importantly, the boom above Cromwell Lock Weir, on the Trent below Newark, has come adrift, so the Canal and River Trust has closed the Newark nether Lock and Cromwell Lock so boats cannot get washed over the weir. CRT intend to fit a temporary boom by 10 January, then finish the job in February, they say. We hope other boaters aren't stuck, too!

.... so it looks like Annie is staying put at the moment ... :(

Meanwhile, we have been busy back home, Liana sewing all sorts for Christmas Presents and John helping Santa to see children before Christmas and raise money for Market Rasen Lions Club charities and good causes  (you can find our club by searching on Google or Facebook).

Saturday, 14 November 2015

A windy trip up the Trent

Friday 13 November  .... and back to a safe haven and victory!

As it was dry and mild, John got the angle grinder out and cleaned rust and paint of the Z bar (tiller) down to metal and put a coat of iron oxide primer on it to weatherproof the new weld and improve looks. After winding (turning round) in front of the Clock Warehouse, we headed homewards, blown by a very strong wind.
Trent Lock is under the bridge, with Cranfleet cut to Nottingham ahead, to the left of the yacht club

Trent Lock. Left to the Erewash, ahead to Nottingham and right to the River Soar and the South
Despite the date, our short voyage ended safely as John turned Annie to face upstream just before entering Trent Lock

Liana definitely needed her coat in the cold wind, despite the winter sunshine

The Steamboat, Trent Lock as Liana crosses over
After a second coat of paint, we journeyed homewards to compete in our local church quiz at Market Rasen, always a good night out ..... and our team won!  :)

Thur 12 November Giving Annie a run

Great to be back on the boat! The day turned out better than the dire weather forecast predicted, so Liana operated Trent Lock to take us from the Erewash Canal down onto the Trent.
John dressed to cope with wind, rain and (hopefully not) total immersion!

Turning upstream in the sunshine, into the wind, we headed up to Sawley River Lock, where Liana hopped off and operated the push buttons herself to open the hydraulic mechanism. The strong wind was bringing lots of dark clouds, past which the bright, low sun peeped. Having popped into Sawley Marina chandlers recently, we idled through, looking at the boats, and headed though the flood lock back onto the river. Soon we passed through Derwent Mouth Lock up onto the start of the Trent and Mersey Canal. Mooring  at Shardlow, on the bend next to the New Inn, we met the Sheffield fender maker Wayne and Jo Fearn, who we bought our new front fender from last year. We bought a front fender with two Turks Heads to hang low down near the water, to protect the bow from lock sills when going uphill. After a walk around  Shardlow in the twilight, enjoying all the old original warehouses and wharves, we had a very pleasant and cheap meal at the Clock Warehouse pub.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Back to the Erewash canal for Blacking the Hull

Fri 16 October 2015 Annie has a black bottom!

Mick and John at Kingfisher Boats are putting on the second coat of bitumastic today, then leaving the hull to dry for 48 hours over the weekend. We visited Annie to admire her hull. John's knee seems better after his op, if a little stiff. Jobs to do include servicing the diesel and cleaning off rust around the engine compartment, when John is able to. It will be nice to see more of our friends at home, now we are back.

Fri 9 October 2015 At Trent Lock

So we are here! Annie is moored up at Kingfisher, for which we are very grateful. As Newark town Lock is closed from 19/10 to about 14/12, we would be unable to get back to our home mooring at Clayworth. We will enquire if there is a brief window when we can pass through Newark, of course ...

Now back to reality! Fitting a dutch airer at Sarah's and celebrating her birthday; fitting bathroom cabinet and new loo plus washing machine plumbing for Rachel; and doing some of our own jobs, too, before John's arthroscopy operation on Tuesday.

Thur 8 October 2015 Sileby Mill to Trent Lock
Liana at Sileby Mill, with Annie in the background

John and Annie moored at Sileby Mill

Liana joined at Sileby Mill (with a decent little chandlery shop) for the trip to Redhill Marina, where she walked to Parkway to get a train back to Sileby Mill, then joined John at Trent Lock later. Barrow on Soar is a lovely scene as you pass through the watermeadows, contrasting with the caravan park at the lock to the north. Pillings Lock was closed, but with a paddle open at top and bottom, as it is really a flood lock.
Annie in Loughborough basin
Loughborough basin - handy for the town centre, shops and market
Maffi has a blog, too
Reaching Loughborough, John moored Annie in the basin, after which we both visited the large, thriving street market. Remarkably, we met Ian Sharpe, recently retired, who lived in Market Rasen twenty years ago. It's good to know his family are doing well. Setting off, we were asked to wait for a narrowboat by CRT workers, so did so. Yvonne and husband David Pullen on NB Rhoda Ellen accompanied us all the way to Trent Lock, making for an enjoyable trip as we chatted. There happen to be many similarities and common experiences, as they live at Scothern, near us, are Christians at the church my ancestors are buried at, and have similar interests. Aren't canals wonderful! They moored on the wall before Cranfleet Cut, then David kindly helped John lock up onto the Erewash. Later on, after liana arrived, the four of us met up for a drink at the Steamboat pub. A good time was had!

Wed 7 Oct 2015 Leicester Castle to Sileby Mill (8 locks)

As Annie set off, John and Maureen on NB Cor Blimey! (They said they weren't Pearly King and Queen when John asked!) asked to accompany him. The Mountsorrel area is very pretty.
What a team! John made sure he helped with gates and paddles, and the two boats made great progress all the way to their base at Sileby Mill, where John moored for the night and watched .... rugby.

Tue 6 Oct 2015 Singlehanded from Kilby Bridge through rain to Leicester (12 locks)

Annie moored opposite the services at Kilby Bridge
After night rain, John had a windy but fair start to the day. I have to say that some of those wide lock gates are  pretty stiff when you are on your own! On the good side, Annie is travelling down hill and northwards, so the top gates are often blown open for easy entry, due to the North wind! On the bad side, at least one of the bottom gates blows open after you leave the lock .... hmm...
John had a nice chat with the chap living at the nearby lock cottage below Kilby Bridge, but only saw two boats the whole day until Gee Lock. Here, heavy rain forced a halt for a couple of hours around lunchtime. The sun came out and surprised him into continuing through the southern approaches to Leicester. Every time we return to the river Soar and Leicester, we like it more and appreciate the countryside and green corridor into the city.
Robin Linklater on NB Corinthian kindly let John breast up, as the Castle mooring pontoon was fully occupied. Then tea and Rugby World Cup on the tv!

Monday, 5 October 2015

The Leicester Line

Mon 5 Oct Singlehanded to Kilby Bridge

Set off in light drizzle from Foxton Locks, and worked hard but steadily, after Saddington tunnel, through twelve locks to Kilby Bridge. I was well ready to sink a pint and listen to the conversation in The Navigation, and catch up on emails, Facebook and the text for this blog. I will have to wait for adding pictures until I can link my camera to the Internet , the iPad cannot do this :(

 Sun 4 Oct Autumn across the summit to Foxton locks

An early start from near bridge 9 above Watford locks in the mist, with Ali. Overcast but the sun came out at times as we made our way across an autumn canalscape towards Foxton. After the collision yesterday, it was good to meet no one in the Crick or Husband Bosworth tunnels. We met three boats only, then burst onto a crowd at Foxton Top Lock - no pressure, then!

Crowds at Foxton Locks
For once, we had to wait above the centre pound, while a boat rose three locks and came into the pound. Then we crossed over. We really don't think the volunteer lock keepers understand the locks totally. Water was pouring over the weirs from pond to pond, so was this necessary? We weren't hurrying, anyway.
Annie crossing over with NB Iron Maiden, half way down Foxton Locks
It was great to see Sarah and Rachel with Honey, and Nephew Scott arrived to collect Ali, so we had a family meal together at the new pub, after a pint in the 61.
Foxton Locks Inn for family meals
The shop and 61 pub - for boaters
 Liana disappeared with Sarah to get the car and re turn to Lincolnshire to do a day's work, leaving me on the boat to watch Match if the Day2 and consider life without Rogers at Liverpool FC.

Sat 3 Oct Marston Doles to above Watford Locks 20 locks 10 miles

Down 7 locks to the Folly Pie in the sun, empty the holding tanks and on to Braunston.
This volunteer lockwheeled for us down the locks. Thank you! :)

Emptying holding tanks at Napton bottom lock services, by the Folly Pie
 Visited Wharf House Narrowboats chandlery and bought six led lights and the white ash coating the chaps from the workshop recommended for exposed surfaces of doors and hatches. They always like to chat about their boat, which won the Crick favourite Boat of Show award in 2005, an achievement they are proud of.

Dent and scrape near deck level
We passed five boats through Braunston Tunnel. We were hammered by a hireboat in the middle: See the scrape. Quite a shock, which makes you realise how much you trust the other boater to stay near the wall as they pass!
Picking up Liana's sister Ali at the New Inn, Long Buckby, we went up Watford locks by ourselves in the gathering dusk
Watford bottom lock

Liana, Ali and Annie at Watford Top Lock
and moored before bridge 9, a favourite spot of John's, a pretty scene barely a stone's throw from M1 and Watford Gap services!
Sisters, sisters! Liana and ali at Watford Locks

Evening at Watford locks

Thursday, 1 October 2015

On the South Oxford Canal

Thur 1 Oct Northwards through Aynho

Set off in the mist from above Somerton Deep Lock near the lift bridges, passing NB Conqueror, we enjoyed yet another sunny morning travelling north through Aynho Wharf. We passed Mortimer Bones, complete with face mask, working on NB Bones. No doubt we shall read about this in CanalBoat, soon.

Mortimer Bones saying Hi

Our old share boat NB Osprey was moored there, so John patted an old friend as we went past. The canal was quite busy both ways, but we didn't have to wait too much, enjoying the usual friendly chats.
Reaching Banbury, we moored below the lock as we were fourth in a queue, and found our favourite pizza restaurant for lunch. Food shopping followed, then Liana bought herself a duffle coat, complete with furry hood, for the winter. The car was ok, so off we went again, towards Cropredy and Claydon.

Wed 30 Sept from Thrupp to Somerton    A Berry beautiful day!

The Ladies Liana helped near Thrupp
Sunny but autumnal, we photographed the rose hips, thorn haws, elderberries and sloes decorating the   hedges. We shared locks with several boats, including the diamond shaped lock below the River, with a cheerful inexperienced group of ladies having fun on a day boat. One slightly disgruntled angler commented that the cut was like a motorway, today! It was busy, but most old were determined to have fun!

Tue 29 Sept Sandford to Thrupp
Liana at Port Meadow on the Thames at Oxford

Liana at Dukes Cut Lock
A gorgeous day saw us up, passing through Oxford and across beautiful Port Meadow to Duke's Cut. Negotiating the liveaboards there, we found ourselves back on the narrow canals again ......
Annie moored at Thrupp
Thrupp beckoned, and we moored outside the Boat pub again, enjoying wine in the sun.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Up the beautiful Middle Thames towards Oxford

Mon 28 Sept Another idyllic morning from Wallingford to Abingdon

Setting off in the misty early morning, the sun was burning off the dew from the water meadows as we took our time. The river was like a mirror, so the camera was in use: What a really well used present it has been! Thank you, Sarah!
No one else was on the water. Arriving at Day Lock, we operated it together, as the lock keeper was not due until 0900. Soon the river became busier. We shared locks with a pleasant group of South Africans on a hire boat. Emerging from Benson lock, we waved to NB Epiphany, who were just setting off. We read their interesting blog. At Abingdon, the park was full of moored boats, so we moored opposite, helped by the gentleman off NB Black Swan. Popping into town for shopping, I wondered how Wetherspoons do a sirloin steak for £4.99!

Sun 27 Sept Cavendish to Wallingford

Apart from conkers falling on the roof, we slept surprisingly well, next to the Cavendish Bridge, in front of the Crown Plaza hotel. The bow rope was tethered to a cannon!
Another glorious day travelling up river, with lots to photograph.
The pub at Goring was expensive, so we had lunch on board, followed by a delicious spag bog in the evening.
We waved to bloggers NB No Problem and widebeam Still Rockin' , moored at Beale Park.
The day was so lovely that we continued steadily, mooring opposite the Boat House pub at Wallingford.

Sat 26 Sept Startrekking across the Universe!

Setting off from the Cunning Man, we shared the locks to Reading with a lovely couple (their name was Kirk and their dog was Bones!) on NB Enterprise ( logo Boldly going where everyone has been before!) , which gave us laughs and help.
The guidance for boaters going through the narrows at Reading
you don't get many red lights on the canal! this is for the narrows through Reading

Enterprise setting off from the traffic lights below the lock at Reading

the narrows in Reading

Dinosaurs in Reading


We left them mooring at Reading by the Abbey, and continued on to the River Thames and headed upriver, finding a mooring just above Cavendish Bridge.

The Reading riverside is surprisingly scenic: Other towns could take a hint ...

Moorings for smaller boats. We moored at the castle/prison loop

In the afternoon, we trained to Thatcham, John drove to Banbury, then we returned to Annie by train. That Two Travel Together card is very useful.