Tuesday, 29 April 2014

On the river at last.

Early start and off we went.

Top off the flight on a misty moisty morning. We were soon stuck into the rhythm of the locks.

All the way down the hardware tells the history off the flight, not many places where one hundred and fifty year old equipment is still in everyday use.

The lift bridge below lock five looms through the mist, reminiscent of the Llangollen bridges but fixed permanently open.

As Jill emerged from lock five I had gone on ahead to set the next lock and as it filled I wandered down to peer at the next pound.

The view that greeted me was not exactly what I was hoping to see.

Just a pair of mallards dabbling forlornly in the three inches of water left in the pound.

Fortunately the local C&RT chap was on the scene and was soon running water down to top it up, seems this pound drains out overnight so it is part of the routine to nip along and top it up
At lock seven we met Leon, a local character who turns the odd penny helping boats up and down the flight. Borrowing a windlass he soon had us organised and we were going like a long dog. We flew down the flight, not only was he an expert locker but he was an amusing companion as well. An echo of the hobblers from the days of the working boats.
Almost before we realised we were snugged in at Northampton and Leon had found another crew in need of a helping hand and was heading back up the locks.

Morrison's is about two hundred yards up the road so having topped up the stores we took a stroll up into the town.
Everybody seems to write Northampton down but we were pleasantly surprised by the number of interesting buildings in the centre.

The wonderfully ornate Victorian Gothic Guildhall.

All Saints Church from the 17thC.

The market square has been in use since medieval times, now surrounded by modern buildings it still fulfils its original function, albeit on a smaller scale.
Snooker still absorbing our time but tomorrow we head off down the Nene, pronounced Nenn hereabouts.

Watch this space..........

Monday, 28 April 2014

Gayton Junction.

Having surfeited on snooker over the weekend; today we moved on.

Gayton Junction, last year we went straight on, heading for Brentford and the Thames. This year we are aiming for different waters so we took a swift left onto the Northampton arm. We stopped at the marina and obtained the obligatory E.A. key for the Nene and some slightly more up to date Imray guides to the Nene, the Middle Levels and the Great Ouse. It's the first time we have ventured in this direction so, just before the Rothersthorpe Locks, we moored.

Feels a bit  like the K&A, can't get the boat right in and have to take a flier to get ashore.

Tomorrow it's off down the flight to join the River Nene in Northampton.

Watch this space.............

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Man dressed as lighthouse.

Sorry about a dearth of posts recently. Rotten rain inhibiting camera use and snooker on the box curtailing computer time.

Plodding down Buckby locks yesterday. Fortunately we managed to pair up with another boat and Jill snatched a couple of pics. between showers.
I don't normally dress up as a lighthouse but during a tidy up under the dinette the hi-vis jacket came to light. It was acquired a while back by nefarious means from a well known building firm and had been stowed away as it was too small for me, weight loss now means it fits, might as well use it.

Watch this space.........

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Through Braunston.

Nothing unusual about this boat you may think, except it is north of bridge 89 on the Oxford Canal and that is a narrow canal. It must have been really tight getting it this far through the bridges and there isn't a winding hole until just before Hillmorton. It will be interesting, trying to get it back onto the G.U.
We passed it yesterday on our way to Braunston.

Compulsory picture of Braunston church up on the ridge.
We moored on The Boat House's moorings and nipped up to the Braunston butcher's shop. Always good meat from there. A couple of beers in The Boat House at lunch time and in the evening, as it was St. George's day, we put on our best lagging and dined in the same establishment. I wore my St. George's cross cufflinks, dead posh.
This morning we made an early(ish) start up the locks.

At lock two a breasted up pair were just coming out. An evocative picture, it could have been a pair heading back to the Moira Cut for another load of coal for the jam 'ole at Kearley and Tonge. It was actually motor Swan, last seen at Atherstone and another motor, ex G.U.C.C.Co.  Renfrew, on their way back from Foxton.

There was a continuous stream of boats coming down from then on, at least all the locks were for us.

Into Braunston Tunnel, after Harecastle a couple of weeks back, this one is high, wide and handsome and wide enough for boats to pass, with a bit of a squeeze. We met five, one of which had no tunnel light on. I pointed it out to the steerer and he said that our new light was so bright coming towards him that he hadn't noticed, he then turned his on! I must admit our new light is brighter than our old one but not that much.

At Norton Junction we decided that three hours and six locks was enough for the day and as the visitor moorings were empty we moored.
Off down  the Buckby flight tomorrow, I don't suppose they will have got any easier. Jill has handed the windlass to me again, just for the day.

Watch this space...........

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A few notes on poetry appreciation.

Trip from Rugby to what are generally known as the prison moorings, there being a large house of correction nearby.

Ex L.M.S. butty Alsager and tug Zulu were moored by the golf course, both in fine fettle.

As was Barrow which we passed later.

At Hillmorton Jill decided it was her turn to do the locks, I've been entrusted with the task since we left the Shroppie but as we're heading for Braunston Locks she has handed the steering back to me. She is not keen on steering wide locks.

The notorious poetry on the lock beams. I fail to see why some people have a problem with it. My appreciation of poetry is generally limited to poems with five lines, the first of which normally refers to the geographical origins of a young lady. Very few of them are suitable for mixed company.

The limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical.
But the good ones I've seen
So seldom are clean
And the clean ones so seldom are comical.

Watch this space...........

Monday, 21 April 2014

Cast iron bridges from the Horseley Iron Works.

We travelled as far as Rugby yesterday, this length of canal is marked by a succession of Horseley Iron Works towpath bridges.

These are over the entrances to old arms, the remains of the original route of the Oxford Canal. By the 1820's the meanderings of the original line were making it uncompetitive so the northern section was straightened. The old loops were left to serve local wharves and eventually silted up and became abandoned.

One or two have found a new use though.

As has the Rugby Arm, now a hire base and moorings.
Horseley Iron Works was situated alongside the Toll End Communication Canal in Tipton, near Birmingham and became famous for cast iron canal bridges, the B.C.N. was a big customer and besides the signature design it was also responsible for the Engine Arm Aqueduct and the high Galton Bridge. They also were major suppliers of railway bridges.
Today it was a serious raid on the oh so convenient Tescos and after stocking up the store cupboard and the wine rack we had a wander round the local retail park. We found a store called Range, it's amazing the things you suddenly discover you just can't survive without. Like a new laundry basket, a cast iron trivet, a new set of wooden spoons and a couple of cheap dvd's. And we never knew we needed them.
Now watching the snooker. Mark Selby, the jester from Leicester, playing Michael White. Six frames to four at the moment, close match.

Watch this space.............

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Coal from the Ashby.

The day turned into two, well the weather was lovely and I had some maggots left over and it seemed a shame to waste them. Not that the fish were cooperating.
I do wonder what farmers put on the fields these days.

Perhaps he wanted his field to be the same colour as the neighbours, should he be told you need to grow oilseed, not spray paint the soil?
Yesterday we were caught on the hop and only just grabbed the camera in time to catch the moment

as Aquarius passed, loaded with coal off the Ashby. Behind her on a long line was

her butty, Ilford, similarly loaded.

They will be touring the system this summer to bring publicity to the Ashby restoration. How long since a loaded pair came off the Ashby?

It is also to celebrate receiving a cheque for £250,000 from British Coal who are mining coal up Measham way and have agreed to put £1,280,000 towards the restoration as part of the conditions for getting permission to mine.

This morning it was our turn to go through Marston Junction, not up the Ashby this time though.

Passing Charity Dock under the watchful eye of the local mutt.
The inhabitants seem to be full of the joys of spring,

an homage to Sgt. Pepper? And as the poet says,"In the spring a young man's fancy turns lightly ..........."

Seems to be serious about it.
On through Suttons Stop, as I braced myself to make the dreaded hairpin turn onto the Oxford a little white cruiser shot out into the middle of the junction and proceeded to perform a couple of pirouettes. Most unnerving, however I managed to avoid him and get round without hitting anything.

Yarn bombing is alive and well at the stop lock.
Stopped for the day a mile or so south of the junction, snooker from The Crucible on the telly. That's it for three weeks, she'll be glued to the box.

Watch this space........