In Atherstone for a few days?

DSCN0414We left our overnight spot at Hawkesbury Junction reasonably early (for us) about 10 am, we met nb Somerton coming through who we had previously seen at Hillmorton and chatted about cats on boats, then in was the 180° turn through the footbridge which went without a hitch, only to meet the historic Royalty class boat William coming through the narrows with it’s Bollinder engine chuffling away. Fortunately I managed to tuck myself out of his way and we continued on our way.

DSCN0416We were soon passing the junction with the Ashby canal where we picked up a bladefull, (got some rubbish around our propeller) this necessitated stop to clear it so we had an early lunch before carrying on.


The may blossom is looking beautiful at the moment and we enjoyed the trip into Nuneaton.


DSCN0418bAs we were passing through we saw nb Esther which used to belong to our friends Barry & Sue and on which we spent many hours getting our canal fix while we were looking for our own boat. As we left the town we had a tiny bit of aggravation with three kids, one of which picked up a handful of gravel which he threw at us, I responded by taking the boat closer to them and asking if I could make it easier for him to hit us. I then ‘playfully’ waved my mooring chain around my head so he asked if I had a shotgun too! So a little bit of banter defused what could have been a difficult situation.

DSCN0451By 3:30 we were in Atherstone and bagged a mooring, which another boat was just leaving, in a nice sunny position opposite the old Wilson & Stafford hat factory. A passing dog walker told us that he had worked there as a lad and that the factory was to be demolished to make way for new housing. A plan to convert the existing building had foundered as they would have had to drain the canal to stabilise the building. Further research revealed that the site is grade II listed so some of it may be saved.

Another gem of information he provided was that the hat making machinery had been sold to ‘The Russians’ and a discussion between ‘The Big Noises’  in a local pub of how the machinery might be moved out as the road access was so narrow was overheard by a local who suggested using the canal! They took up his suggestion and he was apparently well rewarded.

We walked down to the town to do a bit of shopping at Aldi and on our way back we decided to have a takeaway tea prompted by this advert for the nearby Coleshill Chippy.

A bit of a grump here because after ordering our food I was told the Buy One get One Free deal only applied to pizzas… Where does it say that? The chips weren’t up to much either, looking rather anaemic.


No sooner than we arrived I received an email from C&RT telling us that the Atherstone lock flight was closed Due to the top gate [of lock 6] becoming dislodged from its fixed position we have unfortunately had to close off the lock for the remainder of the day. We are arranging for a team to be on site first thing on Friday 29th May to drain off the water and undertake a thorough investigation of the situation.

Never mind, the forecast for Friday was foul and we had already decided that we would be staying put.

Today’s update states:

Investigations this morning have identified that the cup in which the gate sits in has become dislodged from its operating position.

A team will be onsite tomorrow (Saturday 30th May) to carry out the required works.

As soon as the navigation is open we will issue an update to advise.

There now a fine old queue behind us and boats turning around as fortunately there is a winding point before the locks, so we may be here some time, but we’re in no hurry.


A Bostin Time in Dudley & Onwards to Sutton Stop

On Tuesday we had arranged to meet Jer and the grandkids at the Black Country Living Museum , of course that’s not just down the road from Rugby so we arranged to hire a Toyota Yaris or a Fiat Picanto from Townsend Vehicle Hire.   Joy posted our plans on Facebook and was encouraged by friends who speak the local lingo to “Av a bostin time wo yer mar wench” and “Ar, ave a cup of tay our wench an mind it don’t get dark over Bill’s Muthers!”

DSCN0368I hopped on my bike bright and early Tuesday morning and rode over to the car hire depot, I arrived a bit early than I expected and my designated car wasn’t yet available, never mind says the manager “You can take mine, I think you’ll like it!”

Like it? It was a Mercedes  C 220 BlueTEC AMG! I must say all the bells & whistles took a bit of working out and the first time the Bluetec kicked in at a junction I thought I’d stalled it. The journey to Dudley was completed in comfort and style, although my dear son did comment, “Dad, you look so wrong in that car!” .

We had a great time at the Black Country Living Museum , I had some bostin fittle 1, a half of Bank’s Mild & a cheese & onion cob at The Bottle & Glass pub and later sarnies on board Jer’s boat which was moored just outside the back of the museum.

IMG_20150526_153651732As it happened ‘twas a bit dark over Bill’s Muthers  but just as we decided to go on a trip into Dudley Tunnel the sun came out, but it was still out when we had completed our visit to the limestone caverns with our very entertaining guide, the highlight, of course, was seeing the entrance to Wrens Nest Tunnel (see photo).


Before we said goodbye to the family we had a meal at the nearby “Bostin Fittle” pub.


1) Bostin fittleGreat food
For  50 top words and phrases that say you’re from Birmingham or the Black Country
click the link, it’s from the Birmingham Mail so it must be true.

DSCN0369This morning I had to give the Mercedes back but before I did we used it to do get our ‘Click & Collect’ shopping from Tescos. Then it was off, headed north. It was another lovely morning , we passed through Newbold Tunnel (which now has none of it’s lights working) and  had a good road  (made good progress) until we met a boat who warned us that there were delays at a bridge up ahead.


There’s some serious repair work going on to stabilise  Bridge 34, Easenhall Lane (commenced on the 11th May 2015 and will take 11 weeks) and boats were being let through every two hours, fortunately we must have timed it right as we only had about a 10 minute wait until the convoy of waiting boats was waved through.



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We took the opportunity to get out of the convoy by stopping at Rose Narrowboats for diesel, a pump out, lunch & a top up of our water tank.  We have been seeing a lot of workboats bearing their name and apparently they now have as many workboats as hire boats. Not a bad plan, buy BW workboats and hire them back to C&RT or their contractors.

DSCN0402The canal first has the railway alongside and after a while, the M6 (we saw these Big Boys’ Toys between the Wyken Arm and Aldermans Green) but the motorway is just a faint noise now  we are on the 7 Day moorings just short on Hawkesbury Junction (aka Sutton Stop after the stop lock where Mr Sutton the toll keeper presided for many years).

A Weekend at Hillmorton

Saturday – A Visit to Crick Show

We had arranged to meet our friends and wannabe boaters Barry & Ruth at the Canalchef Cafe  for lunch and after (me) enjoying an excellent Full English and the others more modest fare we set off, replete and chauffeured by  Barry to the show.

Barry & Ruth looked at boats while we wandered around the stands where we were tempted to part with our ‘hard-earned’ money. Some stands were singularly unsuccessful, as despite singing the praises of their products (we were looking for varnish and USB charging points) had none to sell on their stalls, advising us to order on-line or visit one of their stockists.


In the end, however, we purchased some Le Tonkinois Varnish which we were assured was ‘The Business’ being a linseed oil based product with no petroleum based solvents. We were also fortunate to find the USB charging sockets we wanted on Brian Ward Marine Equipment’s stand, they were also kind enough to respond to my cheeky request for discount as I was buying two!

Our major purchase however was a Fuel Guard Decontaminator / Water Separator as their demonstration was very convincing. We’ve fortunately never suffered from this sort of problem but this piece of kit should ensure we don’t.

Sunday – A Visit to Church, Chandlers and some Mechanics

IMG_20150521_205807026_HDRWe went to morning service at St John the Baptist’s church at the bottom of the locks where we received a warm welcome and enjoyed both the lovely old church and the service. A nice atmosphere and a growing church, we felt.

After lunch I walked (!) to The Canal Shop to buy some fittings needed for the new Fuel Guard filter  and dodged a light shower on the way back.

DSCN0361Of course, fitting the unit was not just a matter of replacing the existing water trap, as mounting hole spacing was different and the inlet & outlet connections were the opposite way round so it involved making up new pipework too. It was achieved in a couple of hours though in time to enjoy toad in the hole which Joy had made meanwhile and a restful evening in front of the telly.


Monday – Onwards to Rugby

DSCN0355Today it was time to say goodbye to Hillmorton so it was down the three (duplicate) locks and after filling with water we headed on down to Rugby Visitor Moorings where we found a convenient space to moor up.



We’ve had  spot of lunch and now to compile a shopping list for Tesco’s.


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Arrived at Hillmorton – An Anniversary and A Mystery Solved?

DSCN0320Yesterday started pleasantly sunny, we reversed to the water point to top up, disposed of our rubbish and bought a bag of coal from Midland Chandlers, who thought we would still need the stove on some nights in May?

I set off towards Hillmorton in shirtsleeves, but the weather proved deceptive as a cool breeze sprung up and a jacket was needed for a while. There was little traffic along this stretch which had considerable widening and straightening  in the 1820s and the remains of the original less direct route (which hugged the chosen contour) can still be seen in places.

DSCN0330The Waterway Routes maps on my tablet show these old sections and have (I think) solved a mystery which had puzzled me when passing on previous occasions, the alignment of what appear to be old stables/workshops(?) now converted to housing.

My theory is that the canal originally ran between them and the houses on the right of the picture. The map below shows the old alignment and you can make out the old course by the curved hedge line on the Google Earth screenshot and the winding hole being the stub of the old route. Do you think I’m right?

At the top of the Google Earth screenshot, marked Saison’s Narrowboat Hire is where we hired from Hillmorton Narrowboats; our first boating holiday, with our friends Ted and Carol and all our kids, back in 1983.



22a Oxford Canal Holiday May 1983
1983 – Oh the kids will love this!


DSCN0345As we neared Hillmorton Top Lock we spotted nb Gosty Hill which used to be based at Claydon and sold coal & diesel on the Oxford, Coventry and Ashby canals. Ian & Ali stopped trading some while ago and I had heard it had been sold although it didn’t appear to be trading at present.

IMG_20150521_134538998We moored up above the top lock and had a very nice lunch at the Canalchef Café, Whitebait for Joy & Tempura Vegetables for me.

Today was spent doing a few chores in the morning and this afternoon we caught a bus to Rugby and back. When we returned we found C&RT had finished working on the locks, one of each pair had been closed for repair for about the last month. So the locks will be fully operational for the Bank Holiday weekend but no moorings free this side of Bridge 72 as they are full of C&RT workboats!

So here we are for a few days arriving on the fifth anniversary of buying our boat and celebrating five years of being liveaboards on Saturday. Smile

A few days at braunston

DSCN0301It’s been fun  being moored by the junction, here at Braunston, we got to see plenty of boats passing by; for some the junction seems to take them by surprise and frantic manoeuvrings take place, and for others yesterday’s stiff breeze pushed them towards the boats moored opposite us.

We have had two sets of visitors since being here, yesterday Gordon & Jane called by and later fellow blogger, Halfie on nb Jubilee came into town and later Jan & John called by to introduce themselves. We have followed their blog for a long time but never actually met before.

DSCN0302Since we were on a 48 hour mooring and we want to stay here a couple more days we have moved around the corner to 14 day moorings where we were amused to see this sign saying we were in a residential area and entreating us to keep engine noise to a minimum, there is actually just one house sandwiched between the canal and the busy A45 and the adjacent paddock was being mown by a tractor and flail mower making an horrendous noise!

It’s a nice enough mooring though and it’s nice and sunny when it’s not raining or hailing. We have the A45 road bridge ahead at which it is difficult to see if there are any boats coming through and the water & rubbish point behind which gets a bit congested, so ample opportunities for more entertainment!

Napton to Braunston

IMG_20150516_170325539_HDRYesterday Joy finished the rag rug she has been making over the last few months and it is now installed in our kitchen.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast is looking a little doubtful so we decided to head off to Braunston today. So after another trip to Napton Village Stores we set off about 11am.

The weather clouded over almost immediately we left and caused us to don coats and hats. We met Jan from nb Captain Pursue on the way and grumbled how summers never used to be so changeable when we were young. :0)

Joy took some arty photos (she says) while I snapped Bridge 100 with its chained sides instead of parapets, while waiting for a boat to come through. When I took my turn to go through blow me if there wasn’t another following through, why the first boater didn’t warn me I’m blessed if I know?

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As were approaching Braunston three ducks decided to hitch a ride on top of our boat, Joy even managed to get a shot of them flying off.

Immediately after we came upon Gordon & Jane’s boats moored up (from back at Banbury) although no one was at home.

At the junction we turned right and filled up at the water point when who should walk past but Gordon & Jane. We winded at the Marina entrance and are now moored up near the junction.

Saturday at Napton

DSCN0267As I got up to make a pot of tea this morning & spied a Bullfinch outside the kitchen window, needless to say by the time I turned around to grab my camera it had gone never to return! There’s a tree opposite with  little hole where another small bird flits in and out but it was so fast I failed to capture that too so you’ll have to be content with the hole in the tree unless my bird watching skills improve.


After breakfast the generator & washing machine went on for a quick wash and half an hour boost on the immersion heater as the solar panels are taking care of everything else.

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The chores done we took a stroll up into the village and patronised Napton Village Stores which have a good selection of stock at reasonable prices plus a Post Office and cafe. The owners have worked hard over the past 16 months to provide a hub for the village and a useful facility for visiting boaters. Read what the Rugby Advertiser has to say here.

DSCN0277After lunch I finished my Hamish Macbeth book and managed to upload my latest gpx data so you now have our correct location in the little panel on the right. Oh and snapped these cuties.

I think it will be a quiet night in front of the TV if the neighbours keep the noise down, there’s a field of lambs just beyond the hedge. :0)

Fenny Compton to Napton

DSCN0256As promised this morning dawned sunny and bright, but by the time we had filled up with water and disposed of the rubbish the clouds had covered the sun as we wound our way along the summit of the South Oxford canal. We spotted some lop eared sheep and a curiously immured boat.

Just as we arrived at Marston Doles, however the sun came out for us to descend the nine locks of the Napton flight. The Napton buffalo were enjoying the sunshine too and it was nice to see the lock wing wall that collapsed last year had been repaired over the winter and a couple of volunteer lock keepers were on duty to help us through the two penultimate locks.


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IMG_20150515_160511984We found a sunny mooring just around the corner from the locks where Catty lay on roof enjoying the sun and I read a ‘Hamish Macbeth’ book while Joy prepared a tasty lasagne and the local Jacob’s sheep came down for a drink.


Fenny Compton to… err…Fenny Compton

DSCN0244We have spent a fairly quiet few days here at Fenny, not only is it one of our favourites as it’s a lovely sunny spot, Catty can keep herself busy inspecting the hedgerows and we spoilt ourselves by eating out at The Wharf Inn twice! We had only intended to indulge once but my erstwhile colleague, Colin (aka Digger) came to visit yesterday  and as it was his wife, Maureen’s birthday it would have been rude not to join them and their friend Philippa for a meal.


Yesterday morning  we heard the sound of oars, and were surprised to see three skiffs? which would have looked more at home on the Thames passing by, shades of Three Men in a Boat!

Today’s weather was pretty damp and miserable, so we didn’t feel too bad spending the day in Banbury (thanks to Digger for a lift into town) getting the laptop checked over at PC World as it had been playing up lately [anyone know what BAD_POOL_CALLER means?], visiting the optician to get new lenses fitted to my glasses and they kindly put the old lenses in another frame so that I have a spare pair. We visited Steve Betts butchers and the market for veg before catching the bus back to Fenny.

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Lovely weather for ducks!

The weather forecast is better for tomorrow so it’s Napton here we come.

Cropredy to Fenny Compton

We spent a pleasant weekend in Cropredy visiting the Brasenose Arms both Saturday and Sunday!

Barney Newman was performing on Saturday night and very good he was too.

We got chatting to another boater who it transpired was moored behind us and it was only when we returned to the boat we realised that he was the new owner of nb Katherine which we had shared many locks with back in 2010.

After our visit to the marina we were now facing the wrong way and had to go back to Cropredy winding hole to turn around and moor up on the 48 hour moorings.

On Sunday night we took part in their quiz with our friend and fellow boater June and didn’t disgrace ourselves but neither did we win.

So this morning we were off again, headed for Fenny Compton and had a pleasant journey with sightings of baby ducks, geese and swans on the way. All together now… Aww!


DSCN0226At Broadmoor lock we spotted the Hesperus which was looking as if it is having some serious rebuilding done on it, which is good news as this historic old boat was sunk last time we passed.

We also met nb Calm Down as we came up the locks and it was good to see Lillian & Dave who are also off cruising.


DSCN0241We arrived at Fenny before 2pm and slotted into a space on the 14 day moorings where we will stay for a few days. Catty is happy and already been off reacquainting herself with the area, but is now worn out and asleep on her ‘Princess Cushion’. Oh, and regular readers will notice I’ve been tinkering with the blog’ theme again.