Sunday, December 31, 2006

Still here near Welford, as the weather has been less than ideal for cruising. Strong winds and heavy showers do not a happy steerer make! Call me a wimp, if you like.

Had a walk down to the village yesterday, the towpath is extremely muddy, and the wharf itself, although busy, seems to have a general air of neglect about it. Maybe I’m being unfair, but after trudging through 1½ miles of mud, I didn’t expect to see more at my destination. It’s probably very nice in the summer.

Welford Wharf

Pulled the pins this morning (they’d nearly pulled themselves in the wind last night!) and had an excursion by boat this time down to the wharf for water etc. On our return we were able to tie up to mooring rings, which will make us more secure.

This section seems to be popular, with 11 boats overnighting in the immediate vicinity, and quite a lot of passing traffic, even at this time of year. We are between Foxton and Crick Marina, though.

The wind rose again this afternoon, chasing whitecaps down the canal. We’ll stop here tomorrow and plan to move on Tuesday, heading south towards Crick.

Meg was a bit off colour yesterday, maybe something she ate. Seems a lot better today, but I’ve kept her on reduced rations till I’m sure she’s OK. She’s not impressed, she normally eats like a horse!

Miles 3½
Locks 2

Friday, December 29, 2006

A rainy start to the day, so I delayed our morning constitutional until it eased about 10:30.
Spent an enjoyable 1¼ hours mooching about the inclined plane restoration and taking photos.

The Top Arm

Part of the plane

The flight is a lot quieter today than yesterday.

Set off about 12:30, the brisk SW wind not as much as a problem as anticipated, as the towpath side is bordered with mature bushes on most of this section.
Through Husbands Bosworth tunnel and stopped at Kilworth Wharf for smokeless fuel and the Nicholson Guide #2 before arriving at the Welford Arm Junction at around 15:20.
We’ll need this volume if we head towards Birmingham. Immediate plans are dependant on the weather to an extent.

Welford Arm Junction

Miles 7½
Locks None

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A bit of a catch up entry, this. First, I hope all our readers had a good Christmas. We were quiet, tied up to the towpath as planned.

We stopped at Union Wharf until Friday, negotiating an extra night for £2.25 with Debbie in the Canaltime/BW office. Had a walk down into town on Thursday for shopping and to collect Mags’ prescription, but the form hadn’t arrived at the Post Office. (Turns out it wasn’t posted from Bentham till Wednesday night). So we moved off back down the Arm to the winding hole just past Bridge 10, on a fruitless search for a suitable mooring for a few days. We finished up on what wasn’t our first choice near Bridge 14. A bit busy with passing walkers, and a lot of diesel floating on the water, but handy for field walks for Meg.

On Saturday night at about 17:30 we were hailed by a passing Foxton Boat Services boat, who had had a brick thrown through a window at Bridge 15, just ¼ mile further on. He recommended we move. We thought about it, but decided to stay as planned, and had no trouble apart from someone kicking the side of the boat on Tuesday night.

Back down to the wharf on Wednesday to “service” the boat, and hopefully stay overnight on the visitor moorings. No chance! Spoke to Andy on NB Barlby who kindly rang Debbie for us who allowed us a mooring in the basin for 1 night, with shore power, for £4.50! Off down to MH for Mags’ prescription, and shopping at Sainsburys. Did 2 loads of washing as well while we had power. Saves using the batteries for the inverter.

Topped off the water, emptied the loo and rubbish and said goodbye to Union Wharf at 10:30. 2 Canaltime boats had already left ahead of us, so we were in no rush.

Leaving Union Wharf

BW must have been collecting some of the floating weed, there was a barge full near where they were dredging last week, so I only had to clear the prop and rudder once. The water is still as cold as it was though!

Weed Barge
Arrived at Foxton just after 13:00, and was surprised at how busy it was. Queue jumped a Canaltime boat (one of those that left the Wharf earlier) who was facing the wrong way! And set off up the flight. Arrived at the top 50 minutes later, and moored for the night just past Gumley Road Bridge, near the picnic area.

Took Meg for a walk around the restoration works, will return tomorrow morning with camera.

Saw one of my pet hates today…..

Who’s bright idea was it to put speed limit signs up in KPH? Everyone who uses the canals should know the limit is 4 MPH, and even this is often not achievable. This canal was built in the early 19th Century when Kilometers had not even been heard of in this country.
And anyway, 6.43 KPH? Why not just make it 6.5? As if the extra 7 meters per hour, if you could judge it that accurately, is going to make a difference. The signs would be cheaper.
Whinge over, but if anyone from BW would care to reply………

Locks 10 (Foxton)
Miles 6

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A cold night, but no frost. At least the cold makes the mud on the towpath a bit stiffer.
Away from Ross bridge at 10:10, in another dull overcast morning. 5 minutes took us to Saddington tunnel, but once again no bats to be seen.

Bat box in Saddington Tunnel

On to Debdale wharf where we both took on fuel, diesel at 45p can’t be passed by. How long for, I wonder now that we have lost the “tax break” for red diesel.

Debdale Wharf

Arrived at the bottom of Foxton Locks at 13:30, and turned on to the Market Harborough arm. With just 5½ miles to go to MH, we expected to be at Union Wharf not long after 15:30.
However BW had other ideas, and the dredging operation between bridges 7 & 8 held us up, not because of restriction on the waterway, but because of the amount of weed disturbed and floating on the surface. I’m sure I saw a duck WALKING across the channel, without getting his a**e wet! Anyway, the debris caused 4 trips down the weed hatch to clear the prop. The water is bl**dy cold!


Floating Weed

We finally reached the wharf at about 16:00, and secured a couple of adjacent moorings. It’s pretty busy here, but we’ll only be staying till Thursday lunchtime, when we’ll move part way back down the Arm, and then return for the weekend.

Union Wharf - In fog

Had a chat with Mo and Vanessa on Balmaha, who we’d last seen at Thurmaston before the protest weekend.

Apart from the problem with the weed, the Arm is very attractive and rural. Lots of kingfishers to be seen. We’ll probably return in the summer, but away from Canaltime changeover days.

Locks none, miles 10

Monday, December 18, 2006

Took Sunday off. A fine sunny day so I took Meg for a couple of long walks. No murder attempts today though.
Managed to “womble” a discarded folding chair near Double Rail lock that will yield some useful tubing and brackets for new table mountings.
Is spring coming early this year? This primula was on a bank alongside Kilby Bridge bridge.

Today got off a little later than planned after filling (and emptying) both boats at the service point. Left at 10:40, in a dull, damp sort of wintery morning.

Ready to leave Kilby Bridge
Followed a wide beam boat from the mooring, so I expected to have all the locks against us today. Not disappointed! The day brightened but got colder in the afternoon.
A very pleasant run, climbing steadily up from the Leicester plain, with the views getting wider with every lock passed.

Good job the last week’s wind has stopped though, as the route is mostly exposed, a penalty you pay for the view.

Arrived at Ross bridge at about 15:30.

12 locks, 5 miles.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A very wet and windy night broke to a beautiful morning. Took Meg for a good walk, and she succeeded in embarrassing me by sending another dog into the cut! She only wanted to play, honest! But she is a little high-powered, sometimes.

Butter wouldn't melt.....

Or would it?......

Travelling with Carol on Corbiere again today, followed her away from Gee’s through a smoke screen. Turned out she was burning house coal as that was all she could get. It looked like she was steam driven!

We set off at 10:00, in a sunny and windless morning. The canal steadily improves as you get further away from Leicester. Less debris in the water, and more rural in appearance. The locks kept us busy today, 6 in 4 miles means that there is no more than 15 minutes between each.

Leaving Lock 29

Arrived at Kilby Bridge at about 13:20, took on water and emptied the loo and rubbish, and were eating bacon butties by 2 o’clock. Staying here for Sunday, leaving on Monday morning.
This is a handy mooring, but not so good for walking Meg, with only a muddy towpath or a busy main road. But she’d had a good run around in a large field next to Double Rail lock.
Upset to see the body of a labrador floating in the cut. This is the first large animal we’ve seen drowned.

6 Locks, 4 miles.

Just been adding up, since we left Northwich in August, we’ve covered 513 miles, and passed through 373 locks.

Friday, December 15, 2006

We’re off at last!

Ready to go….

After what seems like ages, the water levels on the Soar are now in the amber, and we can get on with heading south.
Set off from Birstall at about 09:50 in company with Carol on NB Corbiere. A steady run down through Leicester, no showers as forecast and the wind easing.

St Mary’s Mill Lock.

Taking it in turns to set the locks broke up the work and made for a very enjoyable day.
This was the first proper run for Meg, and on the whole she did well. Quite happy to sit or lie down on the counter and watch the world go by. I tried a short lead and chest harness initially, but she kept tangling herself up, so we dispensed with them and she was far more relaxed. She was keen to get off at every lock, though.

When we stopped at Gee’s Lock at about 15:20, I took Meg for a walk south along the towpath, and turned on to the line of the old Great Central railway. Came across a viaduct over the river Sence that the local “wall artists” had used as a canvas. Pretty impressive, and not offending anyone.

10 locks, 7½ miles.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sorry it’s been a while again, but we’ve not got a lot to report.
We’ve had to stay in the area so that Meg could have her post-op stitches out, and then to have her 2nd stage vaccinations.
We moved out of Raynsway on Saturday, just 20 minutes upstream to Birstall so we are in easy walking distance of the vet for the last visit on Tuesday. We had intended to move straight afterwards but the river levels are too high for safety so we’re stuck here for a bit. Still, it’s handy for the shops, and the mooring is secure, if a little variable in height!
I’ve taken the opportunity of being in the same place for a while to spend a lot of time with Meg, on a crash training course, as she knew almost nothing when she first arrived. She’s coming along well.
In between we’ve had visits from the family, I’ve been pottering about doing bits and pieces on the boat, and we’ve got just about all of the Christmas shopping done.
We’ve had invitations for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but we’ve decided to move south as originally planned. We’ll probably be somewhere around Market Harborough for the festivities.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Thanks to everyone who sent messages of sympathy during this last week.
Sorry I’ve not been posting for a while, we’ve not moved out of Raynsway Marina yet, so we’ve no travel news to impart, I had trouble continuing on from the last one, and when I started to “get it together”, time was at a premium. The reason for the latter is MEG.
She is a 7 month old Bearded Collie cross, and has moved in with us. After Bruno’s loss we both felt that we had a huge gap in our lives, and that we could offer a lot to another dog. So we visited the local RSPCA kennels, and that is where we met Meg (at the time, known as Twinkle!) last Sunday.
After filling in the appropriate forms and explaining that we lived on a boat and would this affect the application? we left them to organise a “home” visit to judge if we would be suitable “parents”.
We didn’t expect to hear anything for a week or so, then were amazed when they rang to say she had been spayed and chipped and was ready for collection on Thursday! They had decided not to proceed with the visit after all.
When we collected her, we found out that she had been spayed by the vet who looked after Bruno, and it is possible that our attitude towards looking after him may have influenced the RSPCA’s decision.
So here we are, with an unhousebroken older pup, having to re-learn all the old training tricks we last used (with good effect) 10 years ago.

Meg, fitting in to her new home.

Other news, we had a walk up to Thurmaston lock on Sunday to sign the SOW petition, but there were only 2 local boats there due to the high water levels on the river. But apparently a lot of interest was shown by local people out walking, so the group of organisers didn’t endure the appalling weather for nothing. See the reports on

We were invited to tea by Andy and Nyree on Monday, and really enjoyed the evening. Been down and fed the swans and geese on Watermead a few times. The ducks don’t get a look in!

I’ve done a few bits and pieces on the boat, like panelling the insides of the side doors and making a new shelf.



We’re here till the middle of next week, Meg has to have her stitches out next weekend, so we will stay local till then.

I don’t think we’ll be venturing far from the boat for the next 48 hours, judging by the forecast.

I always thought that having a phone with a camera was a needless fad. Well, I stand corrected. The pics on this entry were all taken using my new Nokia N73