Tuesday, 27 April 2010

I'm getting bored now!

This isn't a bad place to be stuck, no problems with any anti-social elements, walking distance to the shops and a bit of space beside us but I'm getting bored with it now.

It has been good to get some DIY done on the boat but I'm fed up with not moving! The latest news is that our cylinder head should be ready for Friday so by the time it is fitted and checked it will probably be at least Sunday before we move on.

We have changed the route we are taking to Leeds, after reading all the info on the Standedge Tunnel website we decided that our size is just too close to the limit to go through the tunnel so we have decided to go via the Rochdale canal instead. In theory it will take longer but we would probably had a delay at the tunnel anyway as only 9 boats a week go through in each direction.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Piston broke!

Well, not actually broken but in need of attention. As you will have noticed we haven't moved since Friday. The cylinder head is with the boatyard being sorted.

We had a lovely day on Saturday with Mandy, Tony and the kids. The weather was kind and we enjoyed a picnic lunch. Had a slight crisis in the afternoon when Mikey dropped his favourite toy into the canal and, of course, it didn't float. Luckily, Tesco's sell it so Ray and Tony took him to get another. Then we had another minor crisis because Dani was feeling put out because she hadn't got anything. I rescued that with one of my pieces of jewellery, which we told her "grandma had made specially for her". Actually it was one of my experimental pieces which I liked but wasn't 100% happy with, so wasn't likely to wear myself.

Since Sunday we have been doing bits and pieces to the boat. We have been rubbing down paintwork, rust treating and undercoating. Yesterday Colin from NB Intrepid, who is moored across the canal gave us some oak flooring that they had spare and we are using it to line and floor the cratch. that's the great thing about boaters, nothing gets wasted.

We are still waiting to hear when our cylinder head might be ready so we don't know when we will move on from here.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Chilly winds and ducklings

This morning had a wintery chill to it, not too bad is you could get out of the wind. There was enough wind to affect the steering but not too badly. As there were no locks until Hillmorton doing the washing seemed a good excuse to stay inside the boat. I was having one of my "achey" days so I didn't want to get too cold. I did take the tiller for a little while after the locks but by then the sun was shining. We saw our first ducklings for this year at Braunston turn. The owner of a house there has put boards leaning against the bank so they can get out of the water!

We had an uneventful journey up to near Newbold on the outskirts of Rugby, I think this is offically part of Rugby. There is a bit of a park here, with picnic tables so a good place to meet the kids. I will go shopping in the morning for picnic goodies, Dani says you have to have jam doughnuts for a picnic! We will be here until at least Monday, we might even stay longer and do a bit of work on the outside paintwork, it needs it!

I caught up with a bit of the practice for the China Grand Prix and saw Sebastian Buemi's spectacular crash. It has to be one of the most amazing ever, and he walked away unhurt!

I missed "the debate" last night but by all accounts Nick did well. I'll try not to get too excited about the latest You Gov poll. After all these years I've seen it all before.

Today's journey 10.2 miles and 3 locks.
So far we have travelled 135.1 miles, 156 locks, 3 swing bridges, 2 lift bridges and 2 tunnels.

Friday, 16 April 2010


Yesterday we felt there was a risk of overheating in Braunston tunnel and after stripping down the water pump we discovered that the impeller was damaged, so we decided to walk into Braunston to the chandlery. They didn't have one but said theycould get one by Friday so we took that option. On the way back we were very kindly offered a lift through the tunnel by some people on a hire boat which saved us a long walk. When we reassembled the water pump, still with the dodgy impeller, it was working better, so we decided that this morning we would risk the trip through the tunnel.

Today we got through the tunnel, no problems, and down the six locks into Braunston. Ray decided to get a new TV aerial to replace the one he drowned a couple of weeks back so he spent part of this afternoon fitting that, then we got a call that our impeller had arrived, so it was off to the chandlery to fetch that. We still have a few problems with the engine that need sorting but we may be able to get the work on the cylinder head done by a garage in Rugby rather than waiting to get to a boatyard that can do the work. I'm being treated to fish and chips as a break from cooking tonight.

Fingers crossed, all should be well now, so tomorrow it will be off up the Oxford Canal, through Hillmorton Locks and up to the outskirts of Rugby. If the weather forecast is right Mandy and family intend to join us there on Saturday.

Today's journey 2.5 miles and 6 locks.
So far we have travelled 124.9 miles, 153 locks, 3 swing bridges, 2 lift bridges and 2 tunnels.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Slow progress

After a late start which included Ray rescuing my handbag from the canal we carried on towards Braunston. Everything in my bag seems to have survived but my phone is being a bit temperamental.
We followed a family on a  hire boat who didn't seem very confident all the way to Whilton Marina at a fairly slow rate. When we got there someone was already on the diesel pump and by the time they had filled up and gone shopping in the chandlery we had wasted three quarters of an hour. Eventually we were able to fuel up and make our way up through the seven locks of Buckby flight.

We had thought we would get to Braunston today but yet again the engine was getting hot so we decided to stop before the tunnel and do the final bit into Braunston tomorrow. I think the engine service we had planned for later in the trip may have to be brought forward. At least Midland Chandlers at Braunston are pretty good, so if we need bits for the raw water pump, or even a new one, we should be OK.

Today's journey 6.1 miles and 7 locks
So far we have travelled 122.4 miles, 147 locks, 3 swing bridges, 2 lift bridges and 1 tunnel.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A short hop

Only a short journey today as far as Weedon as we needed bread and milk.

It is surprising the difference a couple of weeks makes. When we left the Grand Union for the Northamton Arm and the Nene there weren't that many people travelling. Today we must been passed by at least half a dozen boats while we were still moored this morning and met another eight or more on our short journey. We even encountered four hire boats, summer must be coming.

I really must get in the habit of taking my camera with me even when I just go to the shops. I knew there had been a Royal Ordnance Depot at Weedon Bec, but I didn't realise it still existed. The canal branch that served it is still in place within the depot, as is the portcullis but the connection to the main canal no longer exists. I knew about Weedon because it is one of the possible birthplaces for Ray's great great grandfather who doesn't seem to know where he was born as each census has a different place and I haven't found a baptism for him in any of them. Anyway it was a missed photo opportunity.

Today's journey 5.8 miles.
So far we have travelled 116.3 miles, 140 locks, 3 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge and 1 tunnel.

Monday, 12 April 2010

A tiring day

Yesterday we had a cruise-free day. We visited 78 Derngate, which was partly designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and then went into the centre of Northampton. We unexpectedly found a Harley Davidson rally, I think they were doing a charity event of some sort. Ray counted 192 bikes as they moved off! We thenhad a lazy afternoon in anticipation of today's journey.

We made a reasonably early start, stopped to do the usual water fill etc at the services at Beckets Park, the on to the Grand Union. The weather was fairly kind and all went well until the bottom lock of the Rothersthorpe flight  where some brainless oiks had chucked a couple tyres, complete with rims into the lock mouth. As there was a serious risk of managing to wedge ourselves between the tyres and the lock entrance walls I had great fun fishing them out with the boat hook.

Yet again we had overheating problems, I don't think Morgana likes this flight. Once we were through the flight and onto the main Grand Union she was perfectly happy. I'm very weary and looking forward to a day without locks tomorrow as we are only planning to go as far as Whilton Marina.

Today's journey 6.7 miles, 18 locks and 1 lift bridge.
So far we have travelled 110.5 miles, 140 locks, 3 swing bridges, 2 lift bridges and 1 tunnel.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Lovely weather for cruising

After a lovely afternoon with the kids yesterday, plus a bit of DIY putting the sofa together it was time to move on.

The day dawned with that clear promise of a lovely day. The river levels are much lower now but we had made our decision to head back so it was upstream towards Norhampton. The river had barely a ripple on it, the air was still and the sun was shining. It all reminded me why I love this life. There are days when it is chucking it down with rain and blowing a gale when I do question my sanity!

It was nice to just take it easy and enjoy the weather and the river. The countryside is beginning to look greener, we spotted a couple of nesting swans, a few butterflies and a kingfisher. Perhaps the spring really has sprung at last. We actually met a few other boats today, I think it was the good weather encouraging everyone to be on the move. We had a nice chat with a chap at Clifford Hill Lock who was thinking about getting a boat, he has already down-sized to a static caravan so the lack of space wouldn't be such drastic change for him as it is for many people.

When we got to Midsummer Meadow we found that the circus is in town, right beside the mooring pontoon. The shows don't start until the 14th though so we should be spared the raucous music unless they need to test their sound system. We have a cruise-free day planned for tomorrow. I hope to visit the Charles Rennie Mackintosh house and generally relax before we head up the Rothersthorpe flight on Sunday.

Today's journey 11.2 miles and 12 locks.
So Far we have travelled 103.8 miles, 122 locks, 3 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge and 1 tunnel.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Wellingborough revisited

We are now back in Wellingborough. We made an early start this morning and made good progress even against the current. I am sure that if I had listened in Geography lessons in school I would know why the wind always seems less first thing in the morning.

We have decided that visiting Peterborough is off the agenda on this trip so on Friday it will be back to Northampton and then back to the Grand Union. We will have to plan a River Nene-Fens-Great Ouse trip next year but starting later in the year.

Tomorrow morning we will have to spend some time making Morgana as "child-friendly" as possible, then we can make room for our new sofa.

Today's journey 5.5 miles and 3 locks.
So far we have travelled 92.6 miles, 110 locks, 3 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge and 1 tunnel.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

I prefer canals!

When we got up this morning the water level had dropped a little more but at it's current rate it would be over a week before we could get under the Islip bridge so we decided to head back upstream. I have arranged to meet Mandy, Tony and the kids in Wellingborough on Thursday so today's trip was back to Irthlingborough and tomorrow will be back to Wellingborough.

As with previous days the wind made life hard, we got blown into the shallows on one bend and had a head wind much of the way. That could happen just as easily on a canal but at least you don't have the same sort of current on a canal. Our poor little engine was working very hard and it took us about an hour longer to do the upstream journey than it did the downstream.

Tomorrow's forecast is for a much calmer day so the journey to Wellingborough might be easier.

Today's journey 5.6 miles and 4 locks.
So far we have travelled 87.1 miles, 107 locks, 3 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge and 1 tunnel.

Monday, 5 April 2010

The best laid plans

We spent today doing not a lot and eating chocolate eggs.

The water level had dropped about 7cm overnight and another couple during the day today, not quite enough for us to be confident of reaching the next moorings. Then another narrowboater came upstream and told us Islip bridge was reading 1.6 metres, that left us needing a drop of over 40cm to have any hope of getting to Peterborough. We looked at the maps and debated our options, we reckon we have about five days to reach a boatyard before we have problems with our water and fuel levels. There is one not far back upstream and a marina just downstream too. Of course, all the time we are using fuel and water the boat is getting lighter and floating higher in the water. I'll leave you to follow that to it's logical conclusion.

We have decided to give it a couple more days to see what happens but are beginning to think we aren't going to make it to Peterborough. It looks as if we might have to wait until autumn to replace our chairs with our sofa, which is being delivered to Mandy on Wednesday. Luckily it is flat-pack, so hopefully they can put it in our car and it can sit there and wait for us. If we do turn back we hope they can come and see us on one of Tony's days off before the Easter holidays are over, so at least we will get to see them all. If not we may hop on a coach or train and pay them a visit.

We shall have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

High Water

The day dawned bright and dry, only a slight wind so after watching the qualifying session for the Grand Prix we set off for Islip.

The river was a bit high but with only about 20-30cm above normal levels we reckoned we had enough clearance under the bridges for our planned trip. All went well until the third lock where the river levels seemed to be up about 40cm, we slipped under the bridge with about 15cm to spare, the height board reading 2.3 metres. We re-checked the bridge heights and decided Islip was risky but that we should reach the moorings at Nine Arches near Thrapston. The bridges on that stretch had 2.6 metre clearances with normal levels and we had come under one that was 2.5 metres under normal levels.

The height marker at the old rail bridge.

And here's a close up!

When we reached Woodford Lock the clearance at the lock was 2.2 metres, we exited the lock and moored up. The old rail bridge was showing 2.1 metres, we had a quick measure, we reckon we are 2.07 above the waterline, far too close to risk it.  We had three choices, turn round and go back, take everything we could off the roof including our new roof box or sit it out and hope the level drops. We decided that we would stay here overnight and reconsider our options in the morning. We don't really want to go back but even with everything off the roof we would still have the gas flue from the water heater to worry about so we would still be about 2 metres.

Ray took a walk back to Woodford Village to get some milk and coffee then we settled down to an evening of TV,with homemade pizza and jacket spuds.

Today's journey 5.5 miles and 4 locks
So far we have travelled 81.6 miles, 103 locks, 3 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge and 1 tunnel.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Going nowhere

Today we haven't moved.

I woke up this morning feeling a bit off colour and by the time I was feeling a bit better it had started raining so we decided to stay here until tomorrow. I had already given up on reaching Peterborough by Sunday so I wasn't that bothered.

I've had a fairly lazy day, although I did make double chocolate cookies this afternoon. I think an early night is called for and an early start tomorrow.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Why can't rivers be straight?

This morning all went to plan, we got the Morgana turned to face the right way and off we went. It was still very windy but not as bad as it has been. The main problem was that every twist of the river brought the wind at a different angle of course. We had just got used to correcting the steering to account for the wind and then we had to adjust it all again. Our journey continued without major incident, I was using the lock ladder to reboard whilst still in the locks, no problem.

As we approach Irthlingborough, our intended destination we could see the two bridges we had to negotiate to reach the moorings. The first one, the A6 bridge, nice and high, straight through. The second one is a beautiful 14th century arched bridge, the height boards were reading 2.4 metres, we are less than 2 metres above the waterline, no problem, through the bridge easily. Problem - there is a very sharp left turn after the bridge followed by a sharp right. Ray managed to get the boat turned but, you guessed it, the wind just carried us on sideways to the reeds. Luckily there is still plenty of depth and we were able to creep along the reeds until we were able to make the right turn. There was loads of space to moor by Rushden and Diamonds Football Club so we stopped.

The next moorings are about half a day's cruise and as the weather forecast for the afternoon was for stronger winds and rain we decided to stay here. We will probably head for Islip tomorrow, which will leave us about 22 miles, or half an hour by road from Peterborough. Unfortunately, by boat it is 34 miles and 22 locks which is about 18 hours!! I don't think we could manage that on Saturday, even if it was glorious weather and midsummer!

Today's journey 3 miles and and 2 locks.
So far we have travelled 76.1 miles, 99 locks, 3 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge and 1 tunnel.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Lez and Ray and a very windy day

When we woke up this morning the wind appeared to have dropped, so we decided to head for Irthlingborough where the next recognised moorings are. About fifteen minutes into our journey the wind began to gust making steering 'interesting'. We managed to get through the first lock without too much difficulty. Luckily it is acceptable to leave lock gates open when you leave a lock on the Nene so I was able to get on board in the lock. Trying to fight with the wind to reach the lock landing would have been virtually impossible.

The next two miles to Ditchford Lock were a battle, including a close encounter with a willow tree. We collected a few twigs from where it overhung the river but managed not to entangle our chimney or satellite dish in it. When we arrived at Ditchford there was another tree which forced us towards the left bank to avoid it. The lock moorings were on the right, as Ray turned towards the moorings the combination of the current and the wind slewed the boat sideways and carried us across the lock entrance. Boats don't fit through lock gates sideways! After a 'heated debate' I took the bow rope and pulled us round onto the lock moorings, however this meant we were now facing upstream when we wanted to be travelling downstream.

As we were both now very cold and stressed we decided a cup of coffee was called for. The wind got worse and we decided to stay put. Tomorrow morning we should be able to push the bow out whilst holding the stern rope and let the current turn the boat to face the right way.

My day probably won't get any better as I expect Arsenal to lose to Barcelona tonight.

Today's journey 2.7 miles and 1 lock.
So far we have travelled 73.1 miles, 97 locks, 3 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge and 1 tunnel.