Monday, 16 April 2018

Travelling for a week

We’ve been travelling south for a over a week. We’ve had good lock partners for the journey. Firstly, nb Fleur de Lys, one of our boats elders, a 23 year old Braidbar boat, her new owner’s had her a couple of years. Secondly, nb Annie – hello Angela, who reads our blog.

It’s amazing to see all the fields so badly flooded and the rivers & streams so high. Blisworth Tunnel is always a bit leaky even when there’s not been a lot of rain, so we were prepared for the deluge from the air shafts!!! The end of last week was very damp and misty and pretty chilly too. This time last year when we were in the north west and sitting out and had seen lots of ducklings. We’ve seen geese & a swan sitting on their nests but no wee ones, yet.

So misty the crane's lost it's top

Cosgrove approaching aqueduct



We spent the weekend at Cosgrove and as Saturday was SO glorious we took the opportunity to de-mud the boat, inside & out. And it’s the first day we’ve not lit the fire this year. We’ve not moored at Cosgrove before and have been wanting to visit the route of the temporary canal that was built to carry the traffic until the aqueduct over the River Great Ouse was completed, which collapsed shortly after opening and had to be rebuilt again.
Sunday we strolled along the short stretch of the Buckingham Arm that is in water. Alot of work has been done to prepare more of the disused part ready to be refilled with water. The new A5 duel carriage way cuts the course in half. We completed the walk along the River and under the horse bridge at the viaduct.

Tempory canal course

Horse tunnel beside aqueduct

Lock gates temporary canal

Buckingham Arm
Buckingham Arm

When we lived in a house I was obsessional about my compost heaps, so the last couple of years have been very tricky throwing all our peelings etc away. We saw a little liquidizer in Aldi, which was the answer. I now save the compostable stuff in my lovely new genuine Buckby bucket, liquidize it & tip it on the bank. You often see boaters kitchen waste in the hedges which I think looks unsightly, where as my tippings aren’t visible at all.

I’ve had a bit of a knitting frenzy these last few weeks and have finished John’s jumper and 2 pairs of socks for me, plus I have a third pair with hand spun wool are on the go. Our Canadian friends are expecting twin grand children later in the year, so that’s a bit more knitting too.

We have just arrived in Fenny Stratford after a sunny but chilly cruise through Milton Keynes.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Easter in the north west

I wrote this blog at the beginning of the week, however, where we were moored at Long Itchington there was very little signal, using the internet reminded us of dial up days!!! So as we’re now in Leaminton Spa the reception’s just fine.

Rainbow Long Itchington
Magnus the mud monster

On Hesketh Bank
We hired a car and went to Heather & Jason’s for the long Easter weekend. The journey there was VERY slow as we set off so late Thursday afternoon, the M6 was solid just about the whole way and we did an average speed of 25mph!!! Enterprise the car hire people offer a pick up service, which we’ve not used it before as we’ve been within walking distance of them, however, they were 2 ½ hours late picking us up, they didn’t charge for the second driver as a good will gesture.
 Ada & Dale arrived at Heathers early Good Friday morning. We walked on Hesketh Marsh that runs along the banks of the River Douglas, we didn’t see any narrow boats going along it on their way to the Lancaster Canal though. Nikita was very upset at the amount of rubbish that had been washed onto the marsh, so we filled my collapsible shopping bag and she carried as many plastic bottles as she could. Magnus as usual picked up as much drift wood as he could for us to burn. Saturday we went to Chorley as Ada & Dale think they’d like to move there and the kids did an Easter Egg hunt at Botany Bay’s outlet shop. Plus, we just had to have a pint at one of our favourite pubs The Bob Inn, in Chorley market. The tide was in at Southport when we went there on Sunday and the kids picked up shells. We had a lovely warm sunny weekend, apart from Monday when we had snow and rain for the drive home, but the roads were clear & we made good time. I think the Midlands must have had a lot of rain while we were away as the tow path appeared as deep as the canal and the River Itchen had burst it’s banks.

Hesketh Marsh by River Douglas
Driftwood fire

Nikita's marsh rubbish

The chaps from Colecraft have been and fully assessed our side hatches and front door and will do the work at the end of May. So we’re off for a bit of spring time cruising.

It was lovely to have a brief chat about boating and more importantly spinning, this afternoon with Billy & Jane on Betaine Spirit, 168 as they cruised by.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

A different world on the other side of the tunnel!

This morning we were joking about how the weather is ALWAYS awful on the other side of any tunnel we’ve been through and today was no exception. We woke to a gloriously warm morning at Stoke Bruene so I didn’t light fire as yesterday we had to open the windows & waste all our heat as it was far too hot indoors. As we got towards the end of Blisworth Tunnel the temperature appeared to drop rapidly and indeed it was rather sunless & chilly. Therefore I lit the fire while we were cruising along.

Frosty Yardley Gobion

Firecrest arriving, bottom Stoke Bruene locks

Knitting before going up Stoke Bruene locks


We’ve spent the last couple of days cruising with Cheryl & Eric from nb Firecrest. Cheryl & I became virtual friends on the knitting forum Ravelry several years ago by chatting on the narrow boats section of the group about our plans to move onto a boat, we met each other face to face at Fibre East, Bedfordshire’s wool festival in 2013. Funnily enough, we both chose the same firm Braidbar Boats to fit out the interiors of our boats. Cheryl popped around to do some spinning once we’d moored at Stoke Bruene yesterday and we had to pop to her boat for tea and cake too.

Spinning nb Burnt Oak
Tea on nb Firecrest, nb in front

Cosgrove horse tunnel
Last Friday at Yardley Gobion, while I was waiting for my sister Louise to pick me up to take me to Birmingham to watch my nephew Jack in his university dance show, we were kept company by a field of ewes and lambs. While at Yardley Gobion we strolled to Cosgrove & walked through horse tunnel, which was adorned with beautiful icicles.
The day we left Yardley Gobion we had a very harsh frost and yet more ice on the canal albeit very thin.

Ford near Castlethorpe

Friday, 16 March 2018

Spring today and winter forecast for tonight!!!

During yesterday’s cruise we stopped off for a coffee break in Wolverton to see ‘Firecrest’, Braidbar 160. Cheryl & Eric’s boat is all electric, which means they are able to cruise silently, powered by their batteries, which are charged by a generator. We have arranged to go up Stoke Bruene locks with them next week.

Near Yardley Gobion

Today we are basking in glorious spring sunshine in the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside, near Yardley Gobion.  However, tomorrow the met office is promising rather different weather. It’s the first time this year I’ve been able to put the washing out to dry. The workforce are out and have just trimmed the hedge along the tow path, luckily John saw them coming as I’d just a few moments before put my bird feeder up, so it quickly came down while they passed and is now back up ready for the poor birds tomorrow. 

We’ve been a bit lazy with the camera this month but have got a couple of shots of a buzzard, kingfisher and lion.

At the beginning of the month we stayed at Marsworth for about 10 days as we were iced in. We strolled into Tring, discovered the farm shop at Wilstone and Puddlestone Distillery that makes three types of ‘Campfire Gin’. We had a taste of the gin & just couldn’t decide which one to buy, so we got all 3!!!! Plus, we had several visits to The Red Lion, as well as for the Wednesday knitting group.


Once defrosted we moved onto Leighton Buzzard. Maggie picked me up & took me to Flitwick for an evening at the Bedfordshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners &Dyers. It was lovely to see all my old friends and meet the new members too. I also attended ‘Knit & Tonic’ at The Black Lion and we just had to pop in there to visit their gin palace last Friday, more than 80 gins!!!!

We had a trip to London to hear Edmund play in the London City Orchestra last weekend. The concert was at Regent Hall, Oxford Street. When we came up from the tube station we both wanted to duck back down there & run away, million of people, we’re just NOT used to such crowds any more and then on our way home there was a rather large political protest in Regent Street, with LOTS of police & mounted ones too and lots of shouting!!

The Whipsnade lion
View over to St. James the Great, Hanslope

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Snuggled in Marsworth

We had a few days of excellent cruising last week in the beautiful sun shine, to get to Marsworth ready to snuggle up and wait for the ‘Beast from the East’ to drop by and as predicted the beasty is here.

We travelled up from Apsley over two days. Sainsbury’s mooring at Apsley was completely empty so we were able to load up a trolley & get right to the boat. I put the shopping away once we’d gone up the next lock to get water. We both got pretty cold steering so took it in turns to do the locks to keep warm, it was delightful with the sun on us though.

Aylesbury Arm

Monday we walked along the Aylesbury Arm and back again. We’ve not walked so far in a good while. The ice was patchy on the canal and a few flakes fell as we were walking. It was interesting to see lots of old wooden boats in different states awaiting restoration at Bates Boat Yard. The last time I was in Aylesbury was May 1994 when we hired a little 4 berth boat as we only had 2 kids then, aged 7 and 4 years old. Aylesbury Basin is VERY different now with huge new buildings, back in the 90’s the Aylesbury Canal Society (ACS) had moorings there. The ACS now has a rather nice club house and mooring at Circus Fields a way out of the centre of the town. We were almost back at the boat and we could see the sky was falling over the Dunstable Downs and just as we got in the snow fell. 

Icicles, Bear Brook, Aylesbury
Bates Boat Yard

Tuesday we did a much shorter stroll up Marsworth flight and along the restored stretch of Wendover Arm and I think the last time we went up there was in 2013 on another hire boat holiday. We bumped into Lynn & Alf, Ada’s new parents-in-law and Rossi the dog.

Last evening we were at The Red Lion for knitting, usually we have to squeeze in to get to the bar and find a seat, however, the ‘beast’ had kept just about everyone at home.

We’re guessing we’re going to be iced in here until after the weekend, however, we did see 2 boats ice breaking on Tuesday, one was moored opposite us, gosh, the noise inside here of the ice breaking was deafening. The sun sets have been gorgeous and we’re still waiting for more than just a tiny sprinkle of snow.

Inside sunset reflection
Sunset through the port hole

Aviary, at Anglers Retreat