Wednesday, 31 March 2010

With a Hey Ho, the wind and the rain!

We are still enjoying the delights of the Wellingborough Embankment. I was beginning to think we had made a mistake in trusting the weather forecast and deciding to stay put as the morning was quite pleasant.

Ray had decided to buy a roof box from Halford's so that had to be sorted before we moved on anyway. He spent the morning modifying some fittings to attach the bars for it to sit on to the handrails on the roof. It was dry and the sun even appeared briefly. Then he took our sack-barrow over to Halfords to collect the box, less than a ten minute walk. I had offered to go with him, but he declined, I am so glad he did! He must have been under halfway back when it begun to chuck it down, and the wind sprang up! By the time he got back a drowned rat would have looked in a better state. The box had to be fitted on the roof as there was nowhere else to put it. Trying to fix a very lightweight box to the roof in a strong wind was interesting! I held it in place while Ray fitted it. For once, thankfully, "Quick-fit fixings" was an accurate description.

We have spent this evening listening to the wind and the rain being glad we aren't in Scotland with their forecast of up to a foot of snow.

Here are a couple of pictures to prove it is spring.

I am not sure if we will move on tomorrow as the next moorings are about two hours cruise and the weather forecast is not kind. We should leave here as these are 48 hour moorings but I'm not going to move if the wind is too strong.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Tell the weather it's Spring!

Today we moved on from Whiston Lock to Wellingborough, which leaves us with about 22 hours cruising to Peterborough. At our current rate of progress that's six days. That wouldn't be a problem in five days if the weather forecast wasn't so awful. Tuesday -rain, Wednesday - OK at first then windy and snow, Thursday and Friday not too bad, then Saturday - rain. I'm not a wimp but we are supposed to be enjoying this and getting soaked through is not my idea of fun. At least we have a good stock of beer, wine and food.

The countryside is showing signs of spring with catkins, leaf shoots and  even blossom here on the Wellingborough Embankment. Not surprisingly the rain is lashing down and we are being buffeted by the wind. The mooring here is a bit noisy with traffic and a factory that seems to work 24 hours on the opposite bank but having spent much of the winter moored near a railway that doesn't really bother me.

If we do stop here for the today I will try and finish the grouting on the fireplace and maybe get the undercoat on the wooden surround, time for another photo! Ray is toying with the idea of getting one of the roof boxes you can get for cars to put on Morgana. We have seen a few boats with them and I think that if we get a black one it should look OK, as Morgana will be black instead of black with red and blue patches when we get some good enough weather to paint the outside. I know they aren't traditional but she isn't really a traditional style boat anyway. It has to be more secure than a wooden top-box with a cover.

It is surprising how detatched from what is going on in the world you can become living this lifestyle. I was always in the habit of catching up with the news on the TV at ten o'clock. Since we have been travelling there have been as many days without TV as with. When I did catch the news I thought for a minute that Gordon Brown had already called the election because of the way they were talking. I shall have to make a point of checking the BBC website more often.

Today's journey 5.1 miles and 6 locks
So far we have travelled 70.4 miles, 96 locks, 3 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge and 1 tunnel.

Monday, 29 March 2010

River Nene

Onward, ever onward.

This morning was bright but breezy so we started on our way to Wellingborough. After a brief stop to get rid of rubbish etc we carried on downstream. The twists and turns of the river were made harder by the wind. As it was across us most of the time we either had no problem reaching the lock moorings but a terrible time leaving or vice versa.

Yet again we had problems with the engine temperature and this dashed our hopes of putting in a full day cruising and reaching Wellingborough. As is common with rivers moorings other than finding a good bit of bank, or taking shelter in a marina are scarce. We got as far as Whiston Lock and had no choice other than to stop. The usual quick empty of the filter failed to resolve the problem so Ray had to clear out the entire raw water system, he found that the pulley that drives the water pump had worked loose and tightening it seems to have resolved things.

By the time all that was done it was far to late to hope to reach Wellingborough tonight so we very naughtily stayed put on the lock moorings. there is so little traffic on the river at the moment I doubt if anyone will notice. at least we were able to get a satellite signal and rather belatedly watch the streaming of the Grand Prix.

Today's journey 6.5 miles and 8 locks.
So far we have travelled 65.3 miles, 90 locks, 3 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge and 1 tunnel.

Sunday, 28 March 2010


After our adventures of Thursday we moved the short distance to the moorings at Cotton End, although these are hardly scenic with a housing estate overlooking them and the Carlsberg brewery visible through the trees they are surprisingly quiet. Possibly the fact that the housing appears to be slightly upmarket flats means that they are occupied by singles and childless couples, creating a more peaceful atmosphere than is usual when moored near estates.

I walked into the center of Northampton for shopping on Friday and found it very familiar after 28 years. Some of the shops have changed, but little else. The market still offers excellent value on fruit and vegetables. There are some shops closer, including a Netto supermarket and a retail park with B&Q and the usual electrical and furniture stores. I looked at possible moorings closer to the town but those at Beckett's Park are currently overlooked by construction work and the moorings I could see at Midsummer Meadow were only a short length, probably two narrowboats, and were already occupied.

It is difficult to consider sightseeing in a town you used to live in but I may be tempted to visit 78 Derngate on our return journey, the house interior was remodelled by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and I love his work.

We spent  most Friday and Saturday doing things around the boat, unfortunately the satellite dish needs to point directly at the flats and the aerial doesn't seem to have recovered from being dropped in the canal, so no TV. Which means we missed qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix. Hopefully we will find somewhere to moor before the re-run of the race on Sunday.

Yesterday's journey 1.7 miles and 1 lock.
So far we have travelled 58.8miles, 82 locks, 3 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge and 1 tunnel

Friday, 26 March 2010

Stoke Bruerne to Northampton

We decided at about 11.00 that we didn't believe the forecast, which was for rain again. The sun was shining, so we set off.

A short hop and we were in the Blisworth Tunnel. For the benefit of non-boaters, tunnels are not dry, the water that pours down the ventilation shafts makes the average power-shower look like a feeble trickle. The sun was still shining when we emerged from the north end of the tunnel so after turning onto the Northampton Arm it was a quick stop at Gayton Marina to buy an EA key for the Nene locks and off down the Rothersthorpe Flight. A quick calculation, sixteen locks and about four miles, we should be able to moor at Cotton End about six. The best laid plans of mice and men, doomed to failure!

The Northampton Arm is a little used waterway, the reeds have been cut back and so the canal is littered with reed cuttings. These tend to clog our raw water filter and so the engine threatens to overheat. The only solution is to stop and clear the filter. This wouldn't have mattered if the day hadn't clouded over and by Lock 5  it started to rain. While we were in Lock 8, the engine temperature was rising so it was a stop to clear the filter and the heavens opened! After a short delay we carried on, the rain eased off and all was well, except that the ground was so slippery that I couldn't manage to get a good enough footing to be able to raise the lift bridge below Lock 10 so Ray had to come and rescue me. The rain was on and off through the remaining three locks of the flight, so feeling cold,wet and muddy I suggested we stop for the night at the first available spot.

Wishful thinking! The Nicholsons Guide mentions excellent moorings at Cotton End Wharf, what it doesn't mention is that there is nowhere sensible to moor before you get there! So we carried on, down through two more locks, through a lot more floating reed cuttings and the engine temperature started to rise, and the sky turned black, and the heavens opened and the rain came down so heavily it was like thick fog. We had no choice, we had to stop! We couldn't even see the bank clearly! My hero, Ray, steered for the bank and took a leap of faith, cleared the two foot fringe of reeds and landed safely rope in hand. He managed to get us safely moored. By this time we were both absolutely soaked.

I am at last feeling warm and dry, two hours after mooring. Oh, the joys of narrowboating!

Today's journey 6.6 miles, 15 locks, 1 lift bridge and a tunnel.
So far we have travelled 57.1 miles, 81 locks, 3 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge and 1 tunnel.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Don't trust the weatherman!

The weather forecast for today was overcast with showers.
We spent most of the day in beautiful sunshine. It did rain this morning but even with a late start we still managed to get to Stoke Bruerne. There seem to be more people travelling the further we get from London. In spite of all the rain we have had recently the water levels seem low. We will soon be on a waterway that is new to us, it may not be tomorrow as the weather forecast is for rain, again.
I have spent part of today playing with my new camera, no shots for publication yet, but soon.
While I am typing this I can hear the rain starting, I don't mind if it rains overnight.

Today's journey 7.3 miles and 8 locks
So far we have travelled 50.5 miles, 66 locks and 3 swing bridges.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Bring back spring

We made it through Milton Keynes, the weather had a wintery feel to it.

I don't like this part of the Grand Union, there are too many places where the water is very dirty with lots of rubbish floating. It is a pity because for a city a lot of the scenery is very pleasant. It was strange to travel through New Bradwell, it has changed in the last 30 years, the house we lived in is still there and the New Inn, where I used to work looks much the same. There is now a nice open space with play area on the canal bank (towpath side) and lots of new houses opposite which weren't there before.

After we moored up for the evening at about five, Ray went on an excursion to buy me a belated birthday present of a new camera. It should have only been four minutes on the train into Central Milton Keynes but when he got to the station the train had been cancelled due to an electrical fault. Taking the bus instead took ages, and then it rained, and it hasn't stopped since. It will probably take me a while to get used to the new camera, so expect some strange photos!

The weather forecast for tomorrow isn't very promising, but we will see what happens.

Today's journey 9.9miles, 1 lock and 1 swing bridge
So far we have travelled 43.2 miles, 58 locks and 3 swing bridges

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

In search of concrete cows

After a 'lazy' Sunday doing the washing and hoovering while Ray did various bits of maintainence we went to the pub for Sunday dinner.
Today the weather was horrible, but we managed to move on to Milton Keynes. We stopped off at Tesco at Leighton Buzzard for some shopping and I got the form to reclaim my unused car tax.
I got very wet and cold and by evening my hip and knee were very painful. I think it must be the weather that affects them because it wasn't a strenuous day of walking or working locks compared to previous days. Tomorrow's trip will take us through Milton Keynes and hopefully back out into the countryside. From what I remember going through MK isn't too bad but I wouldn't want to stop overnight.

Today's journey 9.4 miles and 6 locks
So far we have travelled 33.3 miles, 57 locks and 2 swing bridges

Sunday, 21 March 2010

I can see the pub from here!

A rather grey and horrible day, but at least it didn't rain until we were working through the last lock we intended to tackle today. Another half mile and we were moored up by the Grove pub just south of Leighton Buzzard.

We had company of other boats for most of the day which made travelling easier. Tomorrow is probably going to be a cruising free day to get a few more DIY jobs done on board. I am looking forward to getting to the Northampton Arm so we are on a canal that is new to us.

We should have no problem reaching Peterborough for Easter as long as we don't have too much rain that affects the River Nene.

Today's journey 6.7 miles, 10 locks and 1 swing bridge
So far we have travelled 23.9 miles, 51 locks and 2 swing bridges

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Marsworth in the rain

I think we have had Spring, I guess we will now have to wait until about July for our two days of Summer 2010.

Today didn't start too bad, the weather wasn't too unkind and we had the company of L'Escargot for six of the seven locks up from Berkhamsted to Tring Summit which meant I had a fairly easy time. Morgana was running a bit hot and when we stopped Ray checked the raw water filter and we had collected enough twigs and grass cuttings to restrict the flow. Once that was clear all was well.

We decided to carry on down the Marsworth flight and it started raining quite heavily after the second lock but we had no choice but to carry on through the remaining five. By the time we moored up on the visitors moorings by the White Lion we were both very wet. If it stops raining we might even go for a drink tonight.

Today's journey 6 miles, 14 locks
So far we have travelled 17.2 miles, 41 locks and 1 swing bridge

Friday, 19 March 2010

Lazy day,but some photos at last.

My posh glass handbasin

My bath, with very expensive mosaic tile detail and very cheap shelves!

My over-bed cupboards, which need finishing, but look good!

A very lazy day today, we only cruised until lunchtime.

When we stopped in Berkhamsted we went in search of a branch of the Halifax so I could pay a cheque in. We found the Halifax but also found a craft shop. Those who know me will know this was bad news for my bank balance! We went back to the boat and had lunch, then I went spending in the craft shop while Ray sorted out the wiring to the tunnel light and hooter.

Depending on what the weather does tomorrow we might try and get through the Marsworth Flight.

Today's journey 2.8 miles, 9 locks, 1 swing bridge
So far we have travelled 11.2 miles, 27 locks and 1 swing bridge

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Nothing to report

Like the title says nothing to report.
An easy day cruising in fairly good weather.It is a good job we are used to the noise of trains as we have moored for the night on a stretch where the mainline is right by the canal.
If all goes well we should be in Berkhamsted tomorrow afternoon.

Today's journey 4.6 miles,9 locks
So far we have travelled 8.4 miles and 18 locks

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Today is the first day of the rest of our life!

At last, we are on our way!

Rather a late start,it being my birthday but after a nice breakfast and Ray going off to buy me flowers we eventually pulled pins and headed north. At least we had saved a bit of time by fueling up when Archimedes and Ara came past yesterday

It was a glorious day for the start of our trip, very uneventful which was nice. After lunch at "The Grove" (well, moored by their golf course!)we carried on to just south of Kings Langley by which time it was starting to get a bit cool.

I'm now going to cook a very indulgent dinner and enjoy a nice bottle of wine.

Today's journey 3.8 miles, 9 locks

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The final week is here!

Only a week now and we will be pulling pins and be off on our "grand tour". I might find time to put the photos of the inside of the boat on here at last once we are cruising.

So far this week is fairly hectic, trying to get as much done on the inside as possible. We now have our cupboard over the bed in place at long last and the new carpet tiles are down in the lounge. Ray is still working on the trunking for the wiring and gas pipes. The painting, inside and out will have to wait. We still have to get up to Peterborough to leave the car with Mandy until the autumn.

However, I don't feel like I'm living in a floating building site anymore as Ray has just gone to the tip with most of the redundant construction materials, except for wood which will go on the stove.