Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas to all

We have now settled in on our mooring at Ocker Hill where we have been made to feel very welcome by those of the other residents that we have met so far. The site is divided by a road bridge so our contact with people from the other side of the bridge has been limited so far, let's face it the weather hasn't exactly been conducive to socialising!

We did do a bit of travelling in the time between my last post and arriving here. Our friend Sandra who is a solo boater was coming from Walsall into Birmingham so we met her part way to help her with the locks. We then went to Smethwick with her where she was trading at a community event and travelled into Birmingham with her afterwards.

Then it was time to head for Ocker Hill and our new home. We arrived here on the 18th which gave us a day to get a few things sorted before Ray's hospital appointment on the 20th. We are having a quiet Christmas Day but are expecting visitors tomorrow.

Ray's first chemo appointment is on the 7th January so fingers crossed that it doesn't affect him too badly. At least here we have everything we need, even a laundry room with washer and dryer so no more wet washing lurking. We even have a washing line for stuff that can't be tumble dried, weather is decent I'll use that rather than the tumble dryer anyway. There are two supermarkets within walking distance and three 'corner' shops even closer.  If we can ever afford it there is a pub and chippy very close too!

Since my last post we have travelled 19.1 miles, 14 locks and 3 tunnels

This year we have travelled 459.1 miles, 434 locks, 7 swing bridges, 15 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2537.7 miles, 2195 locks, 118 swing bridges, 76 lift bridges and 102 tunnels

Sunday, 8 December 2013

A home for now

As usual everything changed,after I said we had no more hospital appointments to think about for nearly four weeks we got a phone call and Ray had a check-up with the nurse the following Thursday. Then we got another phone call to schedule an appointment with the oncologist on Tuesday so in the past couple of weeks he has had two hospital appointments.That meant that we didn't go very far. We hadn't expected to see the oncologist until after Ray was 'signed  off' by the surgeon. Everything is looking fairly good, none of the lymph nodes were affected by the cancer but there were some cancer cells detected in the blood vessels in the section of bowel that was removed. Chemotherapy will start after Christmas, Ray will have to spend a few hours at the hospital on a drip once every three weeks and then take pills for a couple of weeks, a few days off then back to the hospital for the next session. That will continue for six months, after that Ray will have surgery to reverse the ileostomy, probably about August or September.

As all this ties us to the Birmingham area for about nine months we decided to bid on the residential mooring at Ocker Hill. After a bit of  stressing with CRT who initially weren't happy with us having two boats on one mooring even though the mooring site is five feet longer than the combined length of the boats common sense prevailed. We successfully made a bid which was unopposed so we got the mooring for the reserve price. This means that from December 20th we will no longer be continuous cruisers but it doesn't mean we have stopped travelling. If you can't find Ocker Hill on a map it is almost due west of West Bromwich. Taking the mooring has meant we have transferred Ray's chemo back to Sandwell Hospital as it it a lot closer.

We did take a little cruise round the Soho Loop so that we were within walking distance of City Hospital for Ray's appointments but we are now back in Birmingham to complete the paperwork for the mooring and collect the keys because it is a secure site. My posts here will probably be infrequent, maybe once or twice a month as life will probably be rather boring for a while.


Since my last post we have travelled 3.9 miles

This year we have travelled 440 miles, 420 locks, 7 swing bridges, 15 lift bridges and 28 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2518.6 miles, 2181 locks, 118 swing bridges, 76 lift bridges and 99 tunnels

Monday, 25 November 2013

Hanging around Brum, again

It's been a month since my last blog entry but life has been a bit 'full on' so I hope I'm forgiven.

Ray's surgery went well, and he is now well on the way to recovery. He was in hospital a bit longer than we hoped because he developed a slight chest infection but as he was in less than two weeks I suppose that's fairly good after major surgery.

While he was in hospital I didn't seem to have any time to myself, so much of my time was spent travelling back and forth. When we are both here we share the workload but there was no less work to do on board but just me to do it and only half the time to do it in.

Just to add to my stress Gwynnie decided to go missing for four days. It did result in an example of social media at its best however. I know many people don't like Facebook etc. and there are many things about the whole social media thing that aren't good. However, Tracey, one of my fellow traders put messages out on Facebook and managed to contact the University and because of that Gwynnie was found, she had gone visiting the Uni, possibly followed my scent because I walked through there to get the bus. Some students had felt sorry for her when it was cold and wet and fed her, and even took her into their flat one night. In the four days she was there she became quite well known. Well, she is a very sociably cat. I had tried calling for her in the Uni grounds but it covers a huge area. When someone spotted her photo they got in touch with Tracey, who let me know so I went over and after being pointed in the direction where she had last been seen by various students we were reunited.

The Hobbins clan came to visit while Ray was still in hospital and then last Saturday they and the Bristol Jones came for a visit. We spent some time at the Christmas Market and then managed to all cram onto Morgana for a while. Ray wasn't up to the trek round the market but enjoyed seeing everyone.

Once Ray was back home we moved back into the center of Birmingham which is where we are now. We are probably going to move in the next couple of days as we now have a nearly four week break before Ray's next hospital appointment. Ray isn't yet back to normal but is beginning to be able to do more each day. He took the tiller for our trip to the boatyard and services today, but I was the one hauling 25k sacks of coal onto the top of the boat and replacing the gas cylinders.

Even though we have permission to 'overstay' I don't feel comfortable with it. There is  residential mooring available near here. CRT operated an auction system for moorings so we have no guarantee of getting it but we are considering bidding for it. We will have to remain in the area for at least 3 months, probably 6 months for Ray's chemotherapy so it would be good to have a base.

Since my last post we have travelled 5.4miles and 2 tunnels

This year we have travelled 436.1 miles, 420 locks, 7 swing bridges, 15 lift bridges and 28 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2514.7miles, 2181 locks, 118 swing bridges, 76 lift bridges and 99 tunnels

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Not going very far

In the weeks since the market we haven't travelled very far. Ray has had three hospital appointments which have kept us a bit tied down. We were expecting his surgery to be on November 5th but we got a phone call from the surgeon's secretary on Thursday asking if he wanted to take a slot that had become available next Tuesday. We virtually jumped at the chance, as far as we are concerned the sooner the better. we have arranged for Ray to have his chemo at City Hospital rather than Sandwell which is much closer to the canals. With walks and buses the trip to Sandwell from anywhere I would be happy leaving the boat unattended and being on my own on board is about an hour and a half.

After the market we moved back onto the 14 day moorings for about ten days. while we were there Keith, Leesa and Ellie came to visit which was lovely. Our cat population also increased by four as Nimue had her kittens. Then we went and investigated mooring spots on the Soho Loop, which is the closest bit of canal to City Hospital. There is quite a nice spot by a park which might become a regular stopping point when Ray is having regular visits to the hospital.

After a couple of days there we headed back into the city centre to pick up diesel and coal, then took a trip out to Edgbaston where we are now. It is a bit noisy on this stretch as the railway line parallels the canal but there is space for the cats to have some freedom, it is close enough to the centre when we need the services and only about a 20 minute stroll to Tesco and Morrisons. Since we have been here we have taken one trip back into the city for the market.

Since my last post we have travelled 8.8 miles and 6 tunnels ( well, the same 2, three times)

This year we have travelled 430.7 miles, 420 locks, 7 swing bridges, 15 lift bridges and 26 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2509.3miles, 2181 locks, 118 swing bridges, 76 lift bridges and 97 tunnels

Sunday, 6 October 2013

All change on our plans

Well, real life has caught up with us a bit over the past few weeks. Family and close friends know that my beloved Ray has been diagnosed with bowel cancer, I strongly suspected that was going to be the diagnosis so my thoughts have been with him and his health not with blogging. The prognosis seems positive but he has both surgery and chemotherapy to face over the next few months. this also means that we won't be moving very far as we have to remain within reach of Sandwell Hospital.

Anyway ,to update you on our travels. We headed back through Kidderminster where we stopped for one night and topped up on groceries then we continued to retrace our steps to Wolverley Court Lock where we picked plums and made plum wine, then back towards Stourbridge but without the diversion into the town this time.

Then it was back up the Stourbridge and Dudley Locks and the concrete jungle of Merry Hill, ever onwards to Windmill End were we met fellow traders Justina and Mark. After a pause to pick blackberries and rowan berries it was back into Birmingham, where the blackberries became jam and the rowan began their transformation into wine.

Once we were there I attended the National User Forum of the Trust and Ray at last went to the doctors as I have been telling him to do for ages. Luckily we have had the launching of the Association of Continuous Cruisers  and the Floating Market to distract us.

The weekend of the market was fabulous, the weather was kind and we all made some good sales. It was good for cyber friends to become real friends and we are all keen to do it again next year. This week everyone else made their way in various directions towards where they intend to spend the winter. If our plans hadn't changed we too would be on our way towards Leeds.

We have spoken to various people at the Trust and they have been very understanding, we have basically been given permission to overstay although as soon as we have a reasonable gap between hospital appointments I hope to go for a little cruise, staying in one place doesn't suit me.

During September we travelled 28.3 miles, 39 locks and 4 tunnels

This year we have travelled 421.9 miles, 420 locks, 7 swing bridges, 15 lift bridges and 20 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2500.5miles, 2181 locks, 118 swing bridges, 76 lift bridges and 91 tunnels

Monday, 2 September 2013

Busy doing a few things

I can't believe it has been over two weeks since I wrote anything. We haven't done anything exciting, just a few bits and pieces.

We travelled through the Netherton Tunnel on Saturday 17th and moored opposite the old wharf at Windmill End on the Dudley No 1 canal. We had considered going through Gosty Hill tunnel to Hawne Basin but it is so low it would have meant taking everything off the roof which we weren't in the mood to do.

We stayed at Windmill End until Tuesday and spent our time collecting blackberries and apples, we now have a gallon of each wine brewing. On Tuesday we travelled to Merry Hill for a shopping stop and overnight stay. Too much of a concrete jungle for my liking, I was glad to move on.

On Wednesday we moved on to The Fens Branch, a short length of largely unexplored canal that is only navigable as far as the Stourbridge Extension Canal which is a mere 300 yards long where we spent a couple of nights. After that we made our way down through the Stourbridge Sixteen and along the Stourbridge Arm to the town. This had brought us to the start of the bank holiday weekend and with a bead fair at the Bonded Wharehouse on the Sunday we weren't going anywhere for a couple of days.

The weather on Bank Holiday Monday was so good we succumbed to the temptation to move.There was very little other boat traffic on the Stourbridge Canal but once we were on the Staffs & Worcester we encountered traffic and queues at the locks but we managed to reach Wolverley. We took a stroll and went to meet Tracey and Ray on board their floating cafe, Tea Junction. We have been Facebook friends for a while but it is the first time we have actually met.

Last week I was really suffering hayfever type symptoms, I'm a little better now but it has slowed us down and caused a change of plans. We travelled down to Stourport but rather than heading onto the River Severn we have turned round and are heading back to Birmingham the same way as we came. We are moored at a little spot that was totally overgrown when we reached it on the way down but Ray took a scythe to the undergrowth and it is now a nice mooring spot  It has the added bonus of the remains of a tree that fell across the canal, some of which is now cut up and on our roof ready for the winter.


Over the past couple of weeks we have travelled  28.1 miles, 41 locks and 3 tunnels

This year we have travelled 393.6 miles, 381 locks, 7 swing bridges, 15 lift bridges and 16 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2472.2miles, 2142 locks, 118 swing bridges, 76 lift bridges and 87 tunnels

Friday, 16 August 2013

No news is boring!

Sorry about the lack of news, that's because there has been no news. Well no good news anyway.

Our fridge has died, we had it re-gassed at the beginning of May and were hopeful that all was well as it appeared to be holding pressure. Over the last four weeks it has been getting progressively warmer and now it is back to the same state it was in before we had it 'fixed'. Like everything that is electrical for the boat it is about three times the price of a 240volt one, about £600 which we don't have at the moment so we will have to resort to more frequent shopping trips and using the cold box.

Our progress has been slow even by our recent standards, neither of us have been in the best of health, not ill exactly but definitely below par.

We spent a couple of days at Lapworth, then moved on to Knowle, where we adjourned for another couple of days. Whilst we were there Nimue managed to get herself stuck on the wrong side of the canal, after dark of course which excluded the simply solution of paddling Merlin across. Ray tried to encourage her home by walking towards the nearest bridge, calling her as he went  but she only appeared to follow him part way. She must have got the idea though because she eventually arrived home at about three in the morning.

From Knowle we carried on as far as Catherine de Barnes, pausing enroute to buy a gas bottle,a clear indication that the weather has been warmer, it has already lasted a week longer than normal.It's all the salads we have been eating. Our next stop was at the top of Camp Hill locks, then a couple of nights by Aston University before the trip back into the center of Birmingham.

We have just spent a couple of  nights on the moorings at Brindley Place before heading out to the Netherton Tunnel today.

We went for a wander round trying to identify some of the sites mentioned in Samuel Barfield's obituary where he did work of note, some I am sure no longer exist but the Chamberlain Memorial stands outside the Museum and Art Gallery and the style will be familiar to anyone who remembers my picture of the Clock Tower in Leicester.


Our visit coincided with a food fair which made it hard to get a clear shot, if I had know about the fair I might have skipped lunch, as it was I had to pass on the temptation to try a goat curry or a kangaroo burger.

Our plan is to head down to Stourport, then onto the River Severn and back to Birmingham via the Droitwich Canal and the Worcester and Birmingham.

Since my last post we have traveled 25.9 miles, 36 locks and 3 tunnels

This year we have traveled 365.5 miles, 340 locks, 7 swing bridges, 15 lift bridges and 13 tunnels

In 2012 we traveled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we traveled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we traveled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have traveled 2444.54miles, 2101 locks, 118 swing bridges, 76 lift bridges and 84 tunnels

Sunday, 4 August 2013

A slow boat to Lapworth

After spending the weekend in Birmingham we carried on with the next leg of our exploration of Birmingham's canals.

This week has taken us out of the city and onto the Stratford Canal. The most exciting thing this week has probably been the weather. We have had brilliant sunshine, high winds, thunder, lightening, rain and hail. The only thing missing has been snow.

On Monday we actually sheltered under a bridge for about fifteen minutes to shelter from a hailstorm, we didn't travel far, only about seven and a half miles but that was far enough once the rain started. Tuesday was another lazy day with only just over five miles travelling but that took us to a quiet spot so we could get some more painting done so we now have a shiny boat on both sides.

After a fairly busy but static couple of days we moved to part way down the Lapworth Flight yesterday and then a bit further down in the pouring rain today.  After nine locks I was soaked through, couldn't see because of the rain on my glasses and decided to give up for the day. We are now moored below lock 14 at Lapworth and will probably stay here tomorrow as the rain is supposed to be even worse. The contrast in the weather is amazing, yesterday we treated ourselves to icecreams because it was so sunny and warm and today the rain has been torrential at times.

On our way down the flight we spotted this boat, the colours and badge will be familiar to the 'Jordan' side of the family but for the uninitiated it is the Watford Football Club colours, must be a serious fan!



Next week will be heading onto a bit of the Grand Union that we haven't visited before and back into Birmingham.

This week's journey has been 17.7 miles, 13 locks, 1 swing bridge, 2 lift bridges and 3 tunnels

This year we have travelled 339.6 miles, 304 locks, 7 swing bridges, 15 lift bridges and 10 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2418.5 miles, 2065 locks, 118 swing bridges, 76 lift bridges and 81 tunnels

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Back in Brum

On Thursday our time was up at the Black Country Living Museum so after winding and mooring alongside a hireboat who had inconsiderately moored on the waterpoint we topped up our watertank, got rid of our rubbish and moved on.

Our journey on Thursday was very short, we retraced our route back as far as the aqueduct by the Netherton Tunnel where we moored for the night. Then on Friday we dropped down through the Brades Locks, pausing only to remove a segment of plastic safety fencing and onto the New Line. From there it was a straight run back into Birmingham where we have moored about fifty yards from where we were moored before.

Yesterday we took a trip into the market, where I was pleased to discover that the herb stall that I remembered from a previous visit still exists, she just isn't there every day. Next time we are here on a Saturday I'll make a list of what I need.

Today we heard that there are problems at the Minworth Locks so the canal is closed there, with the Wolverhampton Flight still closed that is two of  (what I think of) the main five routes into and out of Birmingham closed. Thankfully that is the way we came into Brum and we are heading in a different direction.

Our recent journeys were 8.8 miles, 3 locks and 1 tunnel

This year we have travelled 321.9 miles, 291 locks, 6 swing bridges, 13 lift bridges and 7 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2400.5 miles, 2052 locks, 117 swing bridges, 74 lift bridges and 78 tunnels

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Black Country Living Museum

Like most of the country we enjoyed an enormous thunderstorm on Monday night. It woke us up at about four-thirty. At times when it was right overhead the thunder shook the boat. We managed to drift back off to sleep and once the rain had stopped we decided to cruise up to the junction with the New Main Line, wind the boats and head back to the Black Country Museum.

This is one of my favourite museums, there is so much to see, I recommend a visit even though we didn't go in on this occasion. There is also the opportunity to take a trip through the Dudley Tunnel, one which we can't take Morgana through. There are secure moorings here, confusingly where we are moored says 48hrs at one end and 24hrs at the other but as we are moored right beside the sign that says 48hrs that's how long we are staying.

Today we took the bus into Dudley, it would be walkable but I didn't fancy doing that in the current temperatures and now that Ray has his 'old codgers' bus pass at last at least we only had to pay the fares for me. Dudley has the normal range of shops that one can expect these days in most high streets and also a small market. Towards the mid afternoon we managed to pick up three punnets of strawberries for £1, as they were about 1lb weight each it has given us enough to make a gallon of strawberry wine which is now starting to brew. Some of them were a bit soft but none would have been thrown away even if we had been intending to eat them.

Tomorrow we intend to head part way back to Birmingham and then into the city centre on Friday for the weekend.

Yesterday's journey 1.7 miles

This year we have travelled 313.1 miles, 288 locks, 6 swing bridges, 13 lift bridges and 6 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2391.7 miles, 2049 locks, 117 swing bridges, 74 lift bridges and 77 tunnels

Monday, 22 July 2013

Visiting Tipton

We spent yesterday giving Merlin a good tidy and generally relaxing. This was our little bit of countryside in the urban sprawl of Birmingham and surrounding districts.



We didn't set off until lunchtime today as we didn't intend going very far. The M5 kept us company for about a mile and a half, it was either above us or beside us then we headed westwards towards Oldbury and Tipton and the motorway made its way southwards. We crossed the Stewart Aqueduct and could see the BCN New Line below us. New Line is a bit of a misnomer, it was built in 1827! Although we are on a 'new' canal for us we are very close to a route previously travelled., actually passing over it on a couple of occasions today.

From Stewart Aqueduct under the M5 and over the New Line


This section of canal is definitely the road less travelled, it seems two boats per day is the norm. We are moored at Tipton for the night with the intention of picking up a few bits of shopping tomorrow then moving on either late tomorrow or on Wednesday. We are sat here with the doors wide open still at ten at night, the news reckons it is the hottest day for seven years, and it has just started raining.

Today's journey 4.7 miles

This year we have travelled 311.4 miles, 288 locks, 6 swing bridges, 13 lift bridges and 6 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2390 miles, 2049 locks, 117 swing bridges, 74 lift bridges and 77 tunnels

Friday, 19 July 2013

Back from Brizzle

After a very enjoyable sojourn in Bristol with Keith, Leesa and baby Ellie I arrived back on board Morgana on Wednesday evening. It was a very nice break but I missed my boat and my life afloat ( and my lovely hubby, of course).

Morgana is looking much smarter than she did when I left and my flowers are looking beautiful, Ray has kept them well watered in this scorching weather. We have the official 'go-ahead' for the floating market on the last weekend of September.


It's really quite exciting to be involved in something like this, I'm now busily crafting so that I have lots to sell, hopefully. I can't offer accommodation to any visitors but it would be lovely to see some familiar faces there.

On Thursday I went round the markets and stocked up on fruit and veg plus a couple of nice chunks of cheese. Apart from that I spent the day just enjoying the sunshine. Today it was time to move on, we have decided that  we will spend the ten weeks between now and the market exploring the BCN ( Birmingham Canal Navigations). Birmingham is proud to boast that it has more canals than Venice, over 100 miles, although it used to be over 180 miles. It isn't as picturesque as Venice but it smells better! We may venture a bit further afield.

Today we travelled westwards and round the Icknield Port and Soho Loops before making our way up the Smethwick Locks to Sandwell. It proved to be a rather slow journey, firstly we stopped after less than an hour to clear some debris from the prop, then we had to stop again after ascending the locks as our water cooling inlet had become blocked so we were in danger of overheating and had to let everything cool down and finally the prop again became fouled so we found a spot to moor and gave up for the day. We did have some help at the top lock from a group of youngsters who were enjoying the sunshine and their release from school for the summer. As boaters we do tend to be wary of kids hanging around locks but these were very nice, polite lads.

Where we are moored is opposite the site of Sandwell Park Colliery wharf which was used to load coal onto boats until the colliery closed in 1960. Considering we are sandwiched between two large warehousing/distribution sites and about 200 yards from the M5 bridge over the canal it is remarkably quiet here, the noisiest things are the seagulls. The cats seem to like it here so we will probably stay here tomorrow as they have had to tolerate two weeks in the city center.


Today's journey 4.5 miles, 3 locks and 1 tunnel

This year we have travelled 306.7 miles, 288 locks, 6 swing bridges, 13 lift bridges and 6 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2385.3 miles, 2049 locks, 117 swing bridges, 74 lift bridges and 77 tunnels


Thursday, 11 July 2013

A belated update

Well it has been ages since I posted anything. We moved into the Birmingham suburbs and moored at Star City. It is a really good mooring, I can't see any reason why it is designated a 24 hr mooring. There is space for four or five boats and when we arrived there was one other boat. We were naughty and stayed about 40 hours and although the other boat left no other boats moored so we didn't feel guilty. It is an offside pontoon mooring with secure access to Star City carpark which is patrolled 24 hours by security guards and also has CCTV.

On the Tuesday I took the train from Aston into Birmingham to check out the city centre moorings and have a bit of a look round. I had a good look round the markets which are some of the cheapest I have seen but the produce looks good quality. I didn't buy much as we had a trip to Bristol planned on the Friday.

The moorings were remarkably empty so we decided to move into the city on Wednesday. It is quite a long haul into Brum no matter which route you take, in our case we had 24 locks to look forward to. We soon got into a rhythm and by the time we reached the final 13 lock climb up to Cambrian Wharf  we were making really good time. We have moored at the St Vincent Street moorings which are 14 day moorings.

On Friday we both took the coach to Bristol to visit our gorgeous new granddaughter, Ray returned to Morgana on Sunday but I'm still doing the doting grandmother act for few more days.

Ray has been busy on the paintwork on Morgana and Merlin as we are now moored with the other side to the towpath, I'm looking forward to seeing improvements when I get back.

Last week's journeys 11.7 miles, 27 locks and 3 tunnels

This year we have travelled 302.2 miles, 285 locks, 6 swing bridges, 13 lift bridges and 5 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2380.8 miles, 2046 locks, 117 swing bridges, 74 lift bridges and 76 tunnels

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Almost in the suburbs

We had a productive couple of days,although Friday was 'dodge the showers' day. One side of Morgana, now nameless, is undercoated, so is one side of Merlin. The door I am trying to construct for between the engine room and the bedroom is beginning to take shape, although I probably won't get much more done to it for a while as I need to have the workmate out on the towpath and our next few moorings are likely to be a bit 'urban' for that.

We spent today cruising in glorious sunshine, listening to the Grand Prix as we went along, the wind was a bit of a pain when we were travelling slowly past moored boats and we lost our chimney to an overhanging tree.
The chimney was a homemade one and beginning to look a bit battered so I'm not shedding any tears.

We have moored for the night above Curdworth Top Lock listening to the gently hum of traffic on the M6 Toll and the occasional roar of an aircraft on its approach to Birmingham International. Actually it is relatively peaceful for the most part.

Tomorrow's journey will be relatively short as we head into Birmingham, we hope to moor at either Cuckoo Wharf or Star City before the long haul of 21 locks into Cambrian Wharf in the center of Brum.

Today's journey 4.6 miles and 11 locks

This year we have travelled 290.5 miles, 258 locks, 6 swing bridges, 13 lift bridges and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2369.1 miles, 2019 locks, 117 swing bridges, 74 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Onto the Birmingham and Fazely

Another sunshiny day so we got a few more miles under our belt. The weather forecast from here on seems to be a bit of  matter for debate between the various weather sites so we took advantage of the sun while it is here.

Before we headed off Ray picked elderflowers and our first batch of elderflower champagne of the year is now brewing. As there were only a couple of locks on our planned journey today I did some washing while we travelled, not too much I wanted to enjoy the sun.

The fishermen were out in force on the approach to Tamworth but they were all good natured, everything is better when the sun shines.

The two Glascote locks were very easy, straight into both of them and no need to close up because there was another boat waiting to go up. I made a complete pigs ear of the turning onto the Birmingham and Fazely, I don't like it from this direction, you can't start turning until you are through the bridge and then any forward motion means you overshoot the junction. I got us round eventually and then we headed out of Tamworth for a couple of miles and moored before we reached the Curdworth Locks.

Showers are predicted for tomorrow and Friday so we are going to linger between here and Minworth until Sunday so we can do the run through Birmingham on Monday rather than at the weekend.

Today's journey 5.9 miles and 2 locks

This year we have travelled 285.9 miles, 247 locks, 6 swing bridges, 13 lift bridges and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2364.5 miles, 2008 locks, 117 swing bridges, 74 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Atherstone and onwards

We spent the weekend plus a bit at Atherstone, I think we had it all weatherwise, rain, hail, strong winds, sunshine but no snow!

We are moored in about the same spot as where we had the goat on the boat last year. No goat this time but we did have a rabbit for a couple of days. Treat brought it on board, still alive of course and then lost it under the bed. We looked for it and couldn't find it so hoped it would reappear and one of the cats would catch it. The next day, Sunday, we looked again, no sign of it and no indication from the cats that there was anything onboard worth hunting. Then in the early hours of Monday morning I woke to find three of the four cats surrounding my left boot, hiding right down in the toe of it was the rabbit, uninjured. Ray took the boot outside and shook the rabbit onto the towpath where it happily ran off none the worse for it's experience.

This morning I walked up into Atherstone to visit a shop that sells herbs, not the usual cooking ones but medicinal ones so I did a bit of stocking up. Mullein, eyebright, passionflower and eucalyptus. when I got back we were ready to move.

Except that when I started the engine there was no water flow on the raw water cooling system. Turn the engine off check the filter and pipes. Start the engine again, still no water flow. Stop the engine, check the water pump and drive belt. Start the engine again, water flow even though we hadn't adjusted anything. I walked down to the lock to set it expecting Ray to come cruising towards me. No sign of movement, so I walked back. You guessed it, engine off because there was no water flow. On the sixth attempt we actually got everything running and were able to move, and we still aren't sure what the problem was.

We made our way down through the remaining six Atherstone Locks, stopped at Bradley Green to get rid of our rubbish then made our way towards Nuneaton. We moored short of Nuneaton just after Polesworth for the night. The first job tomorrow is elderflower picking for our first batch of elderflower champagne.

We are slowly making our way to Birmingham with the intention of travelling down to Bristol to see the new arrival in about 10 days or so.

Today's journey 4.3 miles and 6 locks

This year we have travelled 280 miles, 245 locks, 6 swing bridges, 13 lift bridges and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2358.6 miles, 2006 locks, 117 swing bridges, 74 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Celebrating!!!

Today's post covers two days and here is the reason why

Eleanor Faith Jones born yesterday
Huge congratulations to Keith and Leesa. She was born two and a half weeks early, a little light but all is well. I couldn't say anything yesterday until the proud parents had made their own announcements. I can't wait to see her.

After a fairly early morning phone call we had a lovely day cruising in the sunshine.We continued up the Oxford Canal to Hawkesbury Junction and onto the Coventry Canal. The brambles around the junction have the biggest flowers I have ever seen, I wonder if the fruit is equally big ? We have also noticed that there seem to be loads of moorhen chicks around this year, I don't think I've ever seen so many. At one point on our journey we heard a muffled bang, a bit like a distant shotgun or a crow scarer then when I went into the boat this is what I found.

Bye, bye ginger beer !!

Now the thing with homemade ginger beer is it carries on brewing in the bottle so you have to unscrew the cap every day to release the pressure. This morning I was a little distracted after my early morning news and forgot! A litre and a half of ginger beer all over the carpet, the couch and probably other places I haven't found yet. What a waste, I bet the cats jumped !!

We moored for the night just north of Bedworth and then continued to Atherstone today. So sad, we saw two sunken boats today. The rain held off until we reached the locks at Atherstone then it started and got progressively heavier. After five locks I'd had enough and we moored in the long pound beyond the A5 bridge. We will probably be here for the weekend as the weather forecast isn't very encouraging. I'm sure lots of things have happened over the past couple of days but my brain has turned to 'new grandma' mush. 

I've just realised that our last lock today was our 2000th since Ray retired !

Yesterday and today's journeys 23.3 miles, 6 locks and 1 swing bridge

This year we have travelled 275.7 miles, 239 locks, 6 swing bridges, 13 lift bridges and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2354.3 miles, 2000 locks, 117 swing bridges, 74 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Keeping you all guessing !


Oops, I didn't realise I had left it quite so long since my last post, very lazy of me. After keeping you all guessing for a week I better update things.

We are now at Rugby, well Clifton-upon-Dunsmore to be exact because the canal doesn't actually go to Rugby. We left Wigram's Turn on Wednesday in rather wild and windy weather, it made it fun on the s-bends between there and Braunston. For once there was nothing coming in any direction at the junction at Braunston so we were straight onto the North Oxford heading for Rugby. As the afternoon progressed the wind got stronger and the sky got darker so we moored a little sooner than planned just short of Barby.

The weather on Thursday was forecast to be extremely windy so we stayed where we were until Friday then headed through Hillmorton Locks where we had a very easy passage. For those who don't know Hillmorton Locks are paired locks so although you only have to negotiate three locks there are actually six locks (three pairs). A kind CRT employee who was bringing a workboat up through the nearside lock opened the gate on the offside lock for us so we could cruise straight in, then there was a boat coming up through the next lock so we left the gates open for them and they did the same for us. One more lock to do and there were a group of three CRT volunteers at that one so I just let them do all the work, easy!

From Hillmorton it is about an hour to Clifton,we hoped to be able to moor by the park but there wasn't space so we just moored a little further along beside the retail park.

On Saturday Mandy, Tony, Mikey and Dani came to visit, it was a pity the weather wasn't better but we had a nice relaxing day. Sunday was a bit of a boat maintenance day and Ray discovered we needed a new oil filter so yesterday we walked down to Willow Wren Cruisers and they ordered one for us which Ray has just collected and is in the process of fitting. Hopefully we will move on from here tomorrow,the weather forecast is good although at the moment it looks as if it is about to chuck it down with rain. It feels a bit stormy too.

While we have been here the elderflowers have really started to bloom so I've made sure I have plenty of sugar and lemons ready to make elderflower champagne. The ginger beer tastes good but is a little bitter, I'll have to modify the recipe a bit next time.

In the past week we have travelled 15.8 miles and 3 locks

This year we have travelled 252.4 miles, 233 locks, 5 swing bridges, 13 lift bridges and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2331 miles, 1994 locks, 116 swing bridges, 74 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Wigrams Turn

Yesterday we continued our journey down through Napton Locks and moored at the junction of the Oxford and Grand Union Canals at Wigrams Turn. We had a good journey, it was warm but not sunny. As each day passes the canal gets busier with more holidaymakers out and about either on their own boats or hired ones. I'm sure the trend will continue until the autumn when we will start to have the waterways virtually to ourselves again. Busier canals have advantages and disadvantages, when it is busier working through locks is often easier with either another crew to share the work or the chance to be lazy and leave the gates open for an approaching boat. It gets harder to moor in your chosen spot of course, but as we normally try to moor up by about four in the afternoon we are often moored long before the holidaymakers think about stopping.

When we moored we decided to carry on with the DIY and encountered the five minute job that took two hours. After having made the new seating for the cratch it was time to remove the old cratch board. It was only secured by two nuts and bolts, simple! One bolt unscrewed very easily, on the other the nut had corroded so badly that it was impossible to turn. We tried just about everything and eventually Ray had to take a hacksaw to the bolt in order to remove it. It is so nice to now have a forward view when sitting in the prow or inside the boat with the doors open.


The view from my front doors
I spent some time today 'modifying' a tarpaulin into a cover so that we can keep the rain off our new seats, it needs further work but I'm getting there. My shelves are nearly finished but both they and the seating will need painting. I'm just waiting to decide whether we are heading for Rugby or Warwick and hopefully we will go in a direction tomorrow.


Yesterday's journey 5.7 miles and 9 locks

This year we have travelled 236.6 miles, 230 locks, 5 swing bridges, 13 lift bridges and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2315.2 miles, 1991 locks, 116 swing bridges, 74 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Sunday, 9 June 2013

A nice weekend

Well, we got most but not all of our DIY jobs done then yesterday we were on the move again. The seating proved a bit more work than we anticipated so we didn't get my shelves made and I didn't have enough compost for everything so some planting will have to wait until I can get some more.

We started out mid morning and made our way up through the locks to Cropredy then onwards to the bottom of Claydon Locks where we had considered stopping but a really poor internet signal combined with a complete lack of television signal made us decide to carry on. the weather was kind, not wall-to-wall sunshine but warm and bright so nice cruising weather. We found a good spot not far beyond the top lock at Claydon and so were able to watch the qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix. There weren't even very many boaters on the move when you take into consideration the fact that it is now June.

Today we made another lazy start and had a leisurely three hour cruise to Priors Hardwick where we stopped for the night, again with a decent TV signal so we were able to watch the Grand Prix. After a very late dinner (because I lost track of time watching the Grand Prix) we watched the final episode of season one of Game of Thrones which we have been working our way through over the past couple of weeks. Time to try and afford series two.

I started some ginger beer brewing on Friday and bottled it last night and we are beginning to see the first elderflowers so elderflower champagne will be the next off the production line. Surprisingly all the dandelions seem to have disappeared, I was going to make some dandelion balm for my achy joints, I'm sure they will be back, dandelions always are!

We are heading for Napton Junction but aren't sure where we are heading after that as we might have visitors next weekend so might head to Rugby rather than Warwick as it will be closer for them.

This weekend we travelled 14.8 miles and 12 locks

This year we have travelled 230.9 miles, 221 locks, 5 swing bridges, 13 lift bridges and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2309.5 miles, 1982 locks, 116 swing bridges, 74 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Lazy Days

We have been very lazy for the past week, well lazy as far as cruising is concerned anyway.

Last Friday we made our way back to Banbury and moored on the 14 day moorings below the lock. We did the usual round of shopping, I found the Saturday market in Banbury a bit disappointing, I was expecting it to be better than the Thursday one and it was about the same. I'm hoping that the risk of frost is really past now and have bought compost to refresh my planters.

On Monday we moved up through the lock and the lift bridge, stopped at the boatyard for diesel and. gas, then carried on about another mile before mooring up. This spot is reasonably convenient for B&Q and some DIY is happening. As Ray gets his 'old codger's discount' on a Wednesday we spent Tuesday planning the work and getting the washing done.

Yesterday we did a trip to B&Q, returning with wood, chicken wire, staples, a double socket and plants. The wood is to make seats in the cratch on top of the water tanks,some shelves to suspend between the handrail and the gunwale to display my wares when we are trading and combined with the chicken wire to make a ventilated alternative to the rear hatch in anticipation of hot summer nights. We did have a ventilation hatch but it disappeared from the top of Merlin, we aren't sure whether that was the result of a close encounter with an overhanging tree whilst cruising or the idiocy of the local scrotes in Banbury. The staples were to fix the wire on the ventilation hatch and the plants were to make the boat look pretty.

Oh yes, the double socket, well we decided we could really do with another power socket in the bedroom so that's another job to do.

Yesterday I re-potted my herbs and strawberries and planted up one of my tubs. Today the ventilation hatch has been made, the seating for one side of the cratch is under construction and hopefully we will get both sides done before dark. I might even get some more planting done. Our plan is to stay another day here in order to get the various jobs done and the go and do battle with the SAS. No, not the Special Air Service, the Saturday and Sunday cruisers, I'm sure most of them are very nice people and I sympathise that they aren't able to enjoy their boats more often. Some, however, seem to ignore simple rules like speed limits and not stealing locks because they are determined to get as far as possible on Saturday in order to make the return trip on Sunday. They then want to moor at about eight in the evening and are surprised that the best mooring spots are taken for which they blame continuous cruisers who are "all overstaying". If it get too fraught we will just stop and enjoy the sunshine.

In the past week we have travelled 9.2 miles, 5 locks and 1 lift bridge

This year we have travelled 216.1 miles, 209 locks, 5 swing bridges, 13 lift bridges and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2294.7 miles, 1970 locks, 116 swing bridges, 74 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Thursday, 30 May 2013

A better day, eventually

We lay in bed this morning listening to the rain and so didn't rush to get up. Things did improve and by the time we had dragged ourselves out of bed and had our second cup of coffee the rain had stopped. We managed a few hours cruising without getting wet,I did put my coat on at one point but it was only a passing shower.

The canal was fairly busy, all the 'half-term hirers heading back to base but only a couple of delays so not too bad. By the time we came up through Somerton Deep Lock the sky was getting darker and the wind was getting stronger so we decided to call it a day and moor. Within about half an hour of stopping the rain was coming down so it was a good call.

We should have a fairly easy run into Banbury tomorrow which will allow us to go to the market on Saturday, hang around on Sunday then head for the boatyard on Monday for fuel and gas.


Today's journey 7.5 miles, 5 locks and 1 lift bridge

This year we have travelled 206.9 miles, 204 locks, 5 swing bridges, 12 lift bridges and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2285.5 miles, 1965 locks, 116 swing bridges, 73 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Kidlington to Kirtlington

We decided to let the 'Bank Holiday Weekenders' have their fun and we would stay moored up until Tuesday but then when Tuesday came complete with torrential rain Wednesday became the new Tuesday.

At least this morning we only had mizzly, drizzly rain so we donned boots and raincoats and got on our way. It wasn't the nicest cruising weather but we have travelled in worse. The water level in the Cherwell was higher than it had been on our way downstream but not enough to cause any problems.The rain got heavier as the day progressed so we made an early stop near Kirtlington Quarry. Apparently all sorts of fossils have been found there but the weather was too awful to contemplate going exploring.

The TV signal here is too poor for us to watch the football so we will just have to listen on the radio.
Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be a bit better, we shall have to wait and see.


Today's journey 5.2miles, 3 locks and 1 lift bridge.

This year we have travelled 199.4 miles, 199 locks, 5 swing bridges, 11 lift bridges and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2278 miles, 1960 locks, 116 swing bridges, 72 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Farewell to Oxford

Yesterday we took a stroll by the river, down past the college boathouses. This weekend is the Oxford Summer Eights Regatta so there was lots of activity on the river. I didn't envy the crews, the wind was cutting across the bend not far downstream from the boathouses and causing all kinds of problems. It was very cold considering it is nearly the end of May. Yet again I got totally drenched, I hope this summer is not going to be another one where the 'drowned rat look' is to be seen everywhere.

Today, when we had to move on, the weather improved. We thought about mooring a bit further out and walking back in but decided against it and headed back to Kidlington. An incident packed journey meant that it took us nearly twice as long as it should have.

As we were leaving our moorings there was a boat exiting Isis Lock, about 150 yards from where we were. That boater obviously didn't believe in slowing down past moored boats as he rapidly caught up with me and at one point actually partially overtook Merlin, this at a point where there are boats moored on both sides of the canal. My language was not very ladylike and I pulled over as soon as possible to let him past. A little later in our journey I felt a catch on the propeller but before I could knock the engine into neutral the engine had stalled, awkward enough anywhere but just going through a lift bridge with a long line of moored boats both before and after the bridge, it couldn't have been worse. We managed to get Morgana through the bridge hole and breasted up to a moored boat while Ray cleared the prop.

On our way again, surely nothing else could go wrong, apart from my key getting stuck in the lock at one lift bridge which took much wiggling and jiggling to free it. With only a couple more miles to Kidlington I was looking forward to mooring up and relaxing with a cuppa. Then, as we approached a bridge less than a mile from our destination, a boater came towards us on the towpath waving for me to stop. There were two boats adrift one either side of the bridge. The one on the approach to the bridge was still moored by its bow line but had drifted diagonally across the canal. The one beyond the bridge was one of the open unpowered boats which the Trust use for carrying supplies when they are working on the canals. Two boaters managed to get aboard the Trust boat and pole it to the bank but were struggling to get it close enough to be able to moor it securely. Ray got aboard the other boat and managed to re-moor it securely. We made our way slowly through the bridge and used a bit of deliberate wash from the prop to push the workboat closer to the bank.

After all that we eventually got to the mooring spot above Roundham Lock where we stopped on our way south. It's such a relaxing life on the canals!!

Today's journey 4.8 miles, 4 locks and 3 lift bridges.

This year we have travelled 194.2 miles, 196 locks, 5 swing bridges, 10 lift bridges and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2272.8 miles, 1957 locks, 116 swing bridges, 71 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Oxford


Yesterday we continued our journey to Oxford, there was some traffic on the canal, inevitably I met two incoming boats, both at bridges and we were following another boat so the locks were against us. It was a fairly pleasant day so a slightly slow journey was quite enjoyable.

Unusually the final three lift bridges are actually operable from the towpath side which must be a very welcome innovation for solo boaters. The final approach to Oxford is lined with towpath moorings and conservation areas marked as no mooring areas. There are a couple of short stretches of 48 hour moorings but the edge is very poor, so much so that to label them as mooring sites is quite frankly laughable. If a site is designated as a visitors mooring I expect it to at least have a decent edge. We managed to take the last space on the 7 day moorings just over a mile from the end of the canal. The edge there was no better but we had heard tales of how hard it is to moor in Oxford so decided to play safe.

As it was a pleasant afternoon we walked into Oxford only to discover we could have moored a little closer at the 24hr moorings where there are mooring rings and a decent edge and that there was loads of space on the 48hr moorings, some of which has a decent edge and rings and some, a little less desirable, has neither and is opposite some flats.

This morning we moved down to the 48hr moorings and are now moored within easy reach of the city centre. My hopes of spending a day wandering round Oxford taking photos were somewhat dashed by the typical spring weather, rain and hail! The forecast for tomorrow doesn't look very promising either.

Yesterday and today's journey 4.6 miles, 4 locks and 3 lift bridges

This year we have travelled 189.4 miles, 192 locks, 5 swing bridges, 7 lift bridges and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2268 miles, 1953 locks, 116 swing bridges, 68 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Ray can't swim,official


Yesterday was a bit windy so we remained moored up and tried to get some washing dry. Today we pulled pins and headed for Kidlington. The journey included a short stretch where the River Cherwell and the canal share a mutual course. The indicator boards were on the amber but there was barely any difference between being on the canal and being on the river. The locks on the South Oxford are hugely variable,some are quite easy to work and some are very hard work.

We had hoped to moor at Thrupp but there wasn't a space big enough for us to fit into so we continued to Roundham Lock near Kidlington where we found loads of space. It was only about a mile and a half further on. From our mooring it was an easy walk to Kidlington High Street where there is both Tesco and the Co-op so our bread and milk got replenished.

Our excitement for the day came at Thrupp, the map appeared to show the waterpoint and other facilities after the lift bridge so we were lining Morgana up for the turn and the bridge. Then we realised that the facilities were before the bridge, narrowboats don't do sudden manoeuvres very easily. I was edging my way closer to the bank with a forward and back shuffle when Ray decided he could jump the gap, rope in hand. Guess what? He couldn't!! He almost made it and ended up hanging onto the canalside trying to haul himself out. I couldn't help him, I had knocked the engine into neutral when he hit the water, the most dangerous thing when someone is in the water is a rotating propeller. Because he had let go of the rope I couldn't put the engine back into gear until I had rescued the trailing end of the rope from the water in case the rope got caught round the prop. He managed to pull himself out onto the bank and I managed to get Morgana onto the mooring. He escaped without injury thankfully. Wet  through and slightly embarrassed but OK.

That was the story of our day!!

Today's journey 6.7 miles, 4 locks and 1 lift bridge

This year we have travelled 184.8 miles, 188 locks, 5 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2263.4 miles, 1949 locks, 116 swing bridges, 65 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sunshine cruising


After a 'day off' yesterday we now have a huge pile of washing to get dry and a bucketful of dandelion flowers soaking ready to make dandelion wine. The cats enjoyed a day of freedom and thankfully didn't bring any mice home.

We made a fairly late start this morning but when two boats that we suspect were on a stag weekend came past we decided that if they were up and on the move it must be getting late. The keg of beer on the back of each boat and the all male crew were a bit of a giveaway. We seem to have reached the cruising area for the hireboats from Oxfordshire Narrowboats, we have seen more of them than anything else.

We had some help at the first lift bridge of the day from a couple of walkers, very kind of them. Then, a little later, it was our time to be the good samaritans. The couple on the boat we followed through Somerton Deep Lock had engine problems just a bit further along the canal so we towed them to a suitable mooring spot. It isn't easy to tow with Merlin already in tow but we managed. The day was lovely for cruising, warm,mainly sunny and virtually windless. The canal follows the Cherwell valley fairly closely and tends to meander river-like through the Oxfordshire countryside.There is no shortage of mooring spots, the visitor moorings are well subscribed but if you just cruise five minutes or so further on you can moor in splendid isolation.

We have moored for the night in a lovely spot below Dashwood Lock, we have about twelve miles plus locks and lift bridges until we reach Oxford so only about five or six hours cruising over the next couple of days although the weather forecast has stolen my sunshine for Wednesday.

Today's journey 7.7 miles, 4 locks and 2 lift bridges

This year we have traveled 178.1 miles, 184 locks, 5 swing bridges, 3 lift bridge and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we traveled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we traveled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we traveled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have traveled 2256.7 miles, 1945 locks, 116 swing bridges, 64 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Friday, 17 May 2013

Onward towards Oxford


I've had to do a recalculation of the 'story so far' mileages etc. as I noticed I reckoned we had only been through one tunnel this year and we have been through both Blisworth and Braunston which even with today's educational standards makes two. I discovered I had failed to include Braunston tunnel and also miscalculated the number of locks.

On Tuesday we moved from the 48hr moorings down through the lock to the 14 day moorings. A bit more cat friendly, the towpath runs alongside an industrial estate so not very pretty but at least it isn't next to a car park.

On Wednesday I went off to my RCTA and C&RT meeting in Milton Keynes, with the obligatory meet up in the pub before of course. Things went quite well, there was the inevitable 'you can't please all of the people all of the time' situation but overall it looks as if we are being listened to and that there is some progress.

Thursday was a trip into the center of Banbury to visit the market, not very big but a nice one, we might try and catch the Saturday market on our way back. We also did a bit of a supermarket stock-up at Morrisons as it is an easy walk from the canal.

Today we moved on from Banbury heading for Oxford, we are hoping to reach there on Tuesday evening as at the moment the weather forecast for Wednesday and Thursday looks pleasant for sightseeing. There are lots of lift bridges on the South Oxford canal but thankfully most of them are fixed in an open position.

This part of the journey also includes the unusually shaped Aynho Weir Lock. It is a sort of diamond shape, designed so that it holds more water because it is not very deep and the next lock downstream is Somerton Deep Lock which at twelve feet deep is one of the deepest narrow locks and without the extra capacity built into Aynho Wier Lock it would be easy for the pound between the two to be drained. I realised when I looked at the photos on the computer that a shot from the bridge would probably show the shape better, maybe on the way back!


Aynho Weir Lock
Tomorrow is washing day and dandelion collecting for dandelion wine, then on Sunday we will head for somewhere near Lower Heyford, weather permitting.



Tuesday and today's journeys 6.3 miles, 5 locks and 1 lift bridge

This year we have travelled 170.4 miles, 180 locks, 5 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge and 2 tunnels

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2249 miles, 1941 locks, 116 swing bridges, 62 lift bridges and 73 tunnels

Monday, 13 May 2013

Banbury

I realised when I started typing this that I had carefully typed but not published my last two posts so there are three to read today!

As I need to be in Banbury on Wednesday for my lift to the Roving Canal Traders meeting with C&RT we decided to spend Sunday where we were. I didn't want to spend too many days moored in an urban environment.

We had some entertainment yesterday as a cow (generic term not sure if it was female or male) came running along the towpath past the boat. At the same time all the cows in the field opposite went galloping along the canal bank.I'm not sure if they were cheering it on in it's bid for freedom or telling it to get back where it belonged. About five minutes later we had the repeat performance in the opposite direction.  When we did move this morning it seemed as if everyone was on the move, at least six boats came past us before we pulled pins and headed for the lock and there were another three following us down.

It was only a short journey from Slat Mill to Banbury so the slightly slow journey, having to refill every lock,didn't matter. It was yet another wild and windy journey, I had hoped to moor by Spiceball Park but the visitor moorings there were fully occupied so we carried on,stopped for fuel at Sovereign Wharf and moored on the 48 hr moorings at Castle Quay. It is convenient for the shops but no good for the cats so we will probably move a little way tomorrow but still within walking distance of the town centre.

Today's journey 3.1 miles and 3 locks


This year we have travelled 163.9 miles, 173 locks, 5 swing bridges and 1 tunnel

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2242.5 miles, 1933 locks, 116 swing bridges, 61 lift bridges and 72 tunnels

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Cropredy and beyond


We spent Thursday and Friday sitting out the worst of the winds,our weather station registered winds of 35 mph and we were sheltered a bit. Ray braved the wind and rain to walk to the village shop which is about a mile each way from the canal but I stayed on board.

We had planned to make an early start this morning based on the weather forecast for the day but Treat (the kitten) decided to go missing last night so we had resigned ourselves to another day at Fenny Compton. she reappeared at about 8.30 this morning so we then got on the move.

From Fenny Compton it is a little more than three miles to the top of Claydon locks where we begin our descent down towards the Thames at Oxford, although we aren't planning to go onto the Thames on this trip.
The three mile stretch take you through Fenny Compton tunnel but I didn't think Icoould count it as it was opened out into a cutting in 1870. There weren't many other boats on the move today so we had the canal pretty much to ourselves.

Our later than planned start meant that rain I was hoping to avoid caught us as we were working through the last couple of locks before Cropredy. We stopped in Cropredy for some groceries then carried on until we were in sight of Slat Mill Lock for the night.

Today's journey 7 miles and 9 locks

This year we have travelled 160.8 miles, 170 locks, 5 swing bridges and 1 tunnel

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2239.4 miles, 1930 locks, 116 swing bridges, 61 lift bridges and 72 tunnels

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Fenny Compton

After having a really good day's cruise yesterday we only made a little progress today.Our journey was hampered by strong winds and the winding course of the canal gives little opportunity to get used to the direction the wind is hitting you from before you go round a bend and are being buffeted from a different direction. We managed to reach the moorings at Fenny Compton before we decided to call time on our journey.

It was an uneventful day, photography wasn't an option, I don't think I could have held the camera steady!
The next couple of days don't seem to have a lot to recommend them as far as the weather is concerned so we may stay here until Saturday. It is a pity that cowslips are a protected species, I could have picked enough to make some cowslip wine.

Today's journey 5.7 miles


This year we have travelled 153.8 miles, 161 locks, 5 swing bridges and 1 tunnel

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2232.4 miles, 1921 locks, 116 swing bridges, 61 lift bridges and 72 tunnels

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

New territory, the South Oxford


We have spent a few days at Braunston, enjoying the sunshine and meeting up with a few familiar faces. We were originally moored on the 48hr moorings but once we decided to stay over the bank holiday weekend we moved round the corner onto the 14 day moorings.

Braunston was, as expected, very busy at the weekend, everyone enjoying the sunshine.There were the inevitable speeders on the cut, but not as many as I might have expected. We really didn't feel like joining in the cavalcade of boats, we can cruise any time so there was no point in adding to the congestion.We got some painting done and I crocheted myself a sun hat.



We set off this morning after evicting a toad from our fender and headed for Wigram's Turn where the Grand Union turns westwards towards Warwick and the Oxford continues south towards Banbury and Oxford. The Oxford canal follows a meandering almost river-like course as it follows the contour round Napton-on-the-hill, crowned by its windmill. 


From Braunston we had a journey of about eight miles to reach Napton bottom lock where we dumped the rubbish we had accumulated during our stay at Braunston. With that job done we made our way up through the locks, a very easy journey today as there were plenty of boats heading down the flight so locks were set in our favour, mostly with the bottom gates left open for us by an oncoming boat.

We carried on beyond the moorings at the top lock at Marston Doles for just over a mile and moored near Priors Hardwick for  the night.


Today's journey 11.9 miles and 9 locks

This year we have travelled 148.1 miles, 161 locks, 5 swing bridges and 1 tunnel

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2226.7 miles, 1921 locks, 116 swing bridges, 61 lift bridges and 72 tunnels

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Braunston Turn

Ok, I confess, I had a blonde moment yesterday, quite clever for a redhead! Braunston, as any boater knows, has six locks not seven like I said yesterday.

Anyway, I woke this morning to find that my bucket of herbs which I lovingly planted at Fenny Stratford had been totally trashed. No, it wasn't the local youths it was the local feathered vandals, they did leave me a present of a duck egg. I almost feel guilty that when that duck comes back to her 'nest' she will find it is no longer there.

We made our way through Braunston tunnel, meeting just one boat on the way, at the kink of course. Then it was down through the six locks to Braunston in glorious sunshine under cloudless blue skies. I felt quite envious of the customers at the Admiral Nelson enjoying a lunchtime beer beside the canal. I left Ray to work through the bottom lock solo while I went into The Boat Shop and bought us an ice cream each.

We moored by Braunston turn and phoned Brian to let him know where we were and he was with us in about twenty minutes to look at our fridge/freezer. It has now been regassed and seems to be working well. After that we wandered over to Midland Chandlers to get the part to fix the leak on our water pump. We found they had a similar pump on a special offer so we had the choice of £30 to repair our old pump or buy a new one for £60 with a 3 year warranty. we decided to opt for the new pump. so we now have a working fridge/freezer and a new water pump, fitted by Ray this afternoon. So all is well apart from our bank balance!

We have loads of time to waste now as I need to be in Banbury on the 15th which doesn't really give us enough time to go to Oxford and back, not the way we like to travel, so we will slowly make our way to Banbury, with lots of days off.

Today's journey 3.3 miles and 6 locks


This year we have travelled 136.2 miles, 152 locks, 5 swing bridges and 1 tunnel

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2214.8 miles, 1912 locks, 116 swing bridges, 61 lift bridges and 72 tunnels


Tuesday, 30 April 2013

At the tunnel end


Our planned day off turned into two, the weather continued to be very blustery so we decided not to move.
After a day of getting the washing done and a bit of boat tidying on Sunday we had a fairly lazy day yesterday. I did some crocheting, porthole lace coming off the 'production line' and also owl keyrings.



Today the wind had dropped and we pulled pins and made our way to Buckby flight in cool but mainly sunny weather. We experienced the amusing scenario of overtaking the traffic on the adjacent motorway for about a mile, it's such a slow life on the canals!

When we had readied the bottom lock there were two boats heading up the straight towards us so we held the lock, then both of them moored up. It always seems to work that way, if you wait people are stopping and if you don't they are carrying on. There was a fair bit of movement through Buckby flight today, not busy but a few boats on the move. We did the usual 'facilities' stop at the top lock and were going to moor there for the night but the 'fridge man' phoned us to say he can see us tomorrow in Braunston so we moved up to the east portal of Braunston tunnel. We took a stroll to the shops and got some bread, milk and a few bits then made our way back to the boat fortified with a portion of chips to eat on the way. We can both remember not being allowed to eat in the street, even at the seaside we had to find a bench to sit on if we were allowed some chips, it's probably a generational thing.

We will have Braunston tunnel and seven locks to look forward to tomorrow and after that it will depend on what the diagnosis is on our fridge.

Today's journey 8.4 miles and 7 locks

This year we have travelled 132.9 miles, 146 locks, 5 swing bridges and 1 tunnel

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2211.5 miles, 1906 locks, 116 swing bridges, 61 lift bridges and 72 tunnels

Saturday, 27 April 2013

A very wet tunnel


We had to start the day with Ray sorting out the tunnel lights, it transpired that there was a slightly dodgy connection in the switch. While he was doing that I wandered back down to the blacksmith's hut. There was a young man working there who wants to try and find funding to allow him to serve a proper apprenticeship. If there are any very rich people reading who would like to sponsor him contact him via Bob Nightingale at Blisworth tunnel!




Once the light switch was sorted we made our way through the tunnel which was very, very wet. There were waterfalls down the ventilation shafts and mini waterfalls through the brickwork of the walls in places. We made good time through the tunnel and soon reached the north portal.


After leaving the southern end in a hail storm we emerged into sunshine 40 minutes later. We stopped briefly in Blisworth for some bread and milk then carried on cruising to Heyford Fields Marina, well just past it. Sunday being a day of rest we will take tomorrow off, it probably won't be very restful as there is a basket full of dirty washing that needs doing.


Today's journey 7.8 miles and 1 tunnel

This year we have travelled 124.5 miles, 139 locks, 5 swing bridges and 1 tunnel

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2203.1 miles, 1899 locks, 116 swing bridges, 61 lift bridges and 72 tunnels

Friday, 26 April 2013

A different sort of day


Although this is Friday's blog it probably won't appear until Saturday because we are moored close to the south portal of Blisworth and the internet signal is a bit hit and miss.


Blisworth tunnel entrance

The day started with Ray managing to leave a mooring pin behind at our overnight mooring, he normally hands me the pins before he steps on board but because the wind was making Morgana behave badly he stepped on in a hurry bringing the rope with him but not the pin.

We made our way to the bottom of Stoke Bruerne, got rid of our rubbish and decided to wait a while to see if another boat came along to share with. Just as we decided to move Shaun (Sean? forgot to ask the spelling) and Mary on NB Zygmena arrived so we shared locks with them. When I walked on to set the second lock I found that NB Victoria, Royalty Fuels was loading with coal there, they said they would be about 15 minutes, it was obviously canal time more like half an hour. Whilst chatting I discovered he had 2 bags of coal to go to the blacksmith's hut at the tunnel entrance, we had intended to stop before that but I volunteered our services to take them, it was easier than him having to walk up the flight with a sack barrow. They were loaded on board as we worked through the second lock and it meant we had an extra pair of hands to work the lock flight.

We made good time up the flight and were soon moored up near the blacksmith's hut and the coal was delivered. Bob Nightingale, the blacksmith makes excellent mooring pins as well as other things. They are more expensive than the standard ones you will find in a chandlery but are worth the extra in my opinion. Our pin obviously got left behind so we could justify buying a new one.


The blacksmith's hut at Blisworth tunnel


The weather has thrown a bit of everything at us today, sunshine, wind, rain, sleet and hail. I'm glad I didn't buy flowers for the boat as there is the chance of frost for the next couple of nights.

Today's journey 5.7 miles and 7 locks

This year we have travelled 116.7 miles, 139 locks and 5 swing bridges

In 2012 we travelled 876.9 miles, 675 locks,  55 swing bridges, 23 lift bridges and 31 tunnels

In 2011 we travelled 461.4 miles, 444 locks, 3 swing bridges, 34 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels

Since Ray retired we have travelled 2195.3 miles, 1899 locks, 116 swing bridges, 61 lift bridges and 71 tunnels