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70 now and our five wonderful years aboard our narrowboat Skyy seem along time ago. Jacquie, allowed me to build my replica three wheeler kit car, which was a great success. Now it's time to start on a bigger project and that is to make a good Triumph Stag even better, here goes.

Friday, 20 November 2009



It was lovely, on a sunny Saturday morning, to welcome onboard, my unofficial Step Daughter Tor, who is expecting a baby early next year and her husband Nick. We headed off directly towards Braunston and stopped for lunch between bridges 103 and 104, mooring for the night just passed the main entrance to the Braunston boatyard and marina. I noted the very smart new wooden footbridge that BW had constructed to replace the creeky old one over the other entrance to the marina as we walked up three of the locks to the Admiral Nelson Pub. The offer of a free bottle of wine with a couple of steaks convinced us to stay and eat and it must be said that the steaks were excellent.

Sunday morning also dawned bright and beautiful and an hour earlier than the day before, as this was the weekend that the clocks went back. We cruised on towards Hillmorton giving Nick more time to prove that he was a natural at the tiller. We turned before the locks and headed back towards our home marina at Wigrams Turn, wondering if we would get there before dark. We were right to wonder as during the last thirty minutes it got progressively darker until it was only our bright little tunnel lamp that lit the way. To our surprise there were still several other boats on the move, but by the time I was lining up to approach our pontoon it was seriously dark, however we came alongside very accurately, this has now added a new, but not too scary dimension to our boating experiences. Tor and Nick bade us farewell having rung out of us a promise to do some baby-sitting next year, in return for bed and bath, a deal.
Again apologises for the belated posting of this blog, but apart from obviously getting lazier, a lot has been going on in our lives. Between the stag weekend and Tor and Nick visiting us there has been not one, but two weddings, plus some time in France riding my trusty old MotoGuzzi motorbike with chums Phil & Lynne and subsequently loads more stuff, but for interested followers we are both fit and well and planning for a new arrival in the New Year, exciting, but no more details yet.
In case there is no more SKYY related stuff to blog about until after Christmas I wish everyone a jolly good Christmas and we look forward to plenty of cruising and blogging in 2010 as we head North.

Thursday, 1 October 2009



Our Boating Buddies and Chocolate Chums, Kim & John are getting married in October and naturally there has to be Hen and Stag do’s. The Hen affair was a ‘Bad Taste’ (dress wise not food) weekend in a country house in deepest Hampshire, well away from prying male eyes.

For the boys, well we were much more original!!! A Pirate weekend on board SKYY. Gradually the numbers grew to twelve and Jacquie persuaded me that SKYY would be a bit overloaded so we hired another boat and we had us a convoy. By eleven o’clock on Saturday morning ten of the twelve scurvy knaves had assembled on the quay side of the marina. John the groom had been done up as an unlikely Kiera Knightly, whilst I assumed command as Cap’n Hook. We showed no mercy to Don the Harbour Master despite his desperate pleading, but we went no further than a bit of pillaging, saving the raping for later.

With the Jolly Roger flying from the stern of both boats and Kiera at the helm of the good ship ‘Francesca’ we headed up the Grand Union Canal, through the three locks at Calcut and stopped for ships biscuits and weevils at the Boat Inn, actually for most of us it was a very substantial Boat Burger and chips. We continued down the Stockton Locks with much ‘Arrrrrghing’ and ‘Shivering of Timbers’ until the Blue Lias Inn hove into view where we moored up to refill the barrels and recover one of the Jolly Rogers that had got dislodged by the roof of the bridge just before the pub.

Refreshed and ready for more pirating we moved on through the last couple of locks and moored up at the bottom of The Cuttle Inn garden, where we were joined by the eleventh member of the crew. The Cuttle provided some excellent victuals, beautifully presented and reasonable priced and didn’t seem to mind the good humoured, but noisy pirate drinking games.

One or two of the younger friskier pirates headed to the Two Boat Inn, for what they thought was a karaoke session, whilst Kiera was put to bed to sleep it off.

On Sunday morning dishevelled crew members gradually surfaced, having abandoned their Pirate costumes and amazingly Kiera, now restored to John the Groom set about cooking a full English breakfast for everyone. The last one of our party joined us in time for breakfast, having just arrived home at 3.30 am from a family holiday, that’s true friendship.

We tried in vain to turn the 68 ft hire boat outside The Cuttle, so instead headed onto the Bascote staircase lock where we turned both boats in the pound, came back up the lock and started the return journey up the remaining thirteen locks. By now the crew had some idea of what they needed to do and the locks swiftly disappeared behind us.

A brief stop at lunch time at the Blue Lias for beer, as we were still full of breakfast, sausage, egg and bacon. We arrived back at Wigrams Turn Marina with the flags still fluttering as I am sure must have been the hearts of many a young lady that we had ‘Arrrrrghed at over the last couple of days. Maybe not!!!, but what a great time we all had. Now the wedding to look forward to where there will be time to collectively remember our days before the mast.

Thursday, 17 September 2009



WOW !! have we discovered an amazing gizmo. With our chums coming on board last week we asked hem to bring some CD’s with them. We don’t have that many CD’s on board having ripped most of our collection onto the computer and then onto our MP3 player. We have a little set of speakers for the MP3 but they are no match to the on board sound system and I have been considering buying a more modern radio/CD player that had a socket to plug in the MP3.

Jacquie son Ashley had a gizmo in his car which allowed him to play his IPod through the car radio. It is a little transmitter that plugs into the earphone socket of an MP3 player and with the car radio tuned to the same frequency, perfect sound reproduction came through the cars speakers.

I immediately went onto Amazon and searched for MP3 FM transmitter. And there they were. I selected one at £9.99 called LUPO from GIZMO-DEALS, and a day later it was delivered to our marina. It is amazing, now over 100 albums, 1,500 tracks plus are all available through the on board radio’s four speakers.

I first found a empty frequency somewhere between BBC2 and BB3 and saved that on one of the radio preset buttons and then tuned the gizmo onto the same frequency and instantly there was Freddie Mercury blasting out of the radios speakers. It took a little wandering around to find the best position to virtually eliminate any back ground hiss.

Just another thought for those who are now contemplating ripping CD’s onto their computers. If the internet is available at the same time and the web page
WWW.gracenote.com is online the computer should automatically search for information regarding the disc that is being ripped. The album name, all track details including artist should appear and in many cases the actual CD cover will replace the generic one usually portrayed. It maybe that initially you have to set the programme to search for information, but I have copied copies of some pretty obscure CD’s and all the details pops up. AMAZING!!!



Today we had our four yearly safety check carried out, by Lee Freeman of Northampton, it was Lee’s dad Eddie who carried out the survey when we were considering buying SKYY. Lee was every bit as charming and as efficient as his dad and with no problems being found we are now proud owners of a current certificate

What does surprise me is, that although we have fitted both smoke and C.O. and LPG detectors, this doesn’t seem to be a safety requirement. Having the means to put out a fire is obviously necessary but apparently not the means to be alerted to fire or a gas leak. Seems to me that more lives would be saved and damage to boats reduced if the fitting of these detectors was mandatory. I am not in favour of a Nanny State, but if we have to have these safety checks it might as well insist on these easily fitted, life saving devices.


Not strictly blogging, but I thought that I would take advantage of this medium to advertise my motorbike for sale. Since taking to the boat Jacquie, my wonderful wife, tell me that I can't have a boat two bikes and a wife so my big Beemer has to go.
It is a 2002 K1200 RS SE complete with BMW side boxes and tank bag and a Givi top box. It has done 54,000 miles and has been fully serviced and maintained by BMW at South London Motorcycles. It also has Auto Com fitted for rider to pillion conversation.

In April of this year I had new front disc, pads and battery fitted and a new MOT, but is currently SORN registered, apart from that it is ready to go.

It has carried me faithfully all around Europe and I shall be sad to say goodbye. It is up here in the Midlands raring to go and offers in excess of £2,500 would do the deal.

If anyone interested, please leave a comment and a email address or phone number so I can contact to discuss further.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009



This was the final day on SKYY for A & B but the sun still shone on them as they moved down the last three Braunston Locks. I walked ahead as I wanted to pop into Braunston Chandlers to get a pot of paint, as it would soon be time to rub down and repaint the battle scars below the gunnels and always a pleasant place to stop for a chat and get my wallet out.

I jumped back onto SKYY as she exited the last lock and then back to Wigrams Turn Marina in time for lunch and to wave Brian and Ann on their way back home. Another great trip comes to an end; it doesn’t take much, good chums, lovely scenery, the tranquillity of the water, good food, and sunshine, perfect!



As we pulling the pins to leave Crick a couple stopped and said that they had seen our blog and that they had just moved onboard their narrow boat OAKFIELD two weeks previously and so far were greatly enjoying the beginning of their adventure. I see from their blog http://nboakfield.blogspot.com that that they are called Wozie and Bottle, (must be an interesting story behind those great names) and I wish you a happy cruising future.

Our return down the Watford locks was very speedy as we were the only boat there. We did have time to fathom out how the staircase locks actually worked, as no water is passed directly between locks, it all goes via the side ponds, it makes you realise how clever the original architects were.

After lunch it was back down the Grand Union Main Line, through the Braunston Tunnel and a lovely mooring, for the night, between locks three and four. the Admiral Nelson was just a totter away, but it took several goes to pull me a perfect pint of Spitfire, but the bar staff finally and with good humour, managed it.



A windy but bright start to the day. Whilst we were still moored we watched several boats come past us to turn in the junction to the top arm to the Inclined Lift, Brian knew what was expected of him and he turned SKYY like an expert and we headed back home.

A pump out costing £10 at Kilworth Wharf was the best ever value, the normal cost is £12 but as we said to the nice lady we were OK to DIY and she gave Brian a £2 reduction.

A telephone call to Edwards of Crick booked us a table for the evening. The meal didn’t disappoint, the pork belly and the rack of lamb were delicious. I was the only one not having a starter, saving myself for pudding, but sadly I was beaten, I might have felt cheated if I hadn’t enjoyed my main course so such.



Fifteen miles to Foxton Locks, about five hours cruising today. The first thing we saw as we left our overnight mooring, was the huge excavations for a new marina at Yelvertoft. Very attractive location I am sure, but considering that this new marina is situated between the bottlenecks of the Watford and the Foxton Flights, one will not be going very far if just out for the weekend.

Only the junction with the Welford Arm and the Husbands Bosworth tunnel lay between us and Foxton Flight and as both Ann & Brian love Jazz, I set up our little MP3 player and speakers on the rear deck and we jigged up and down to the beat of the music most of the way. We stopped for brunch on the way and eventually moored up just before the Foxton Staircase in time to enjoy the delicious ice-creams sold from the shop at the top lock.

We wandered down the flight enjoying our ice-creams and back up and around the site of the Inclined Plane Boat Lift. We had visited the site, this time last year, but Ann and Brian marvelled at how much the area had improved since their last visit. It will be amazing if the Foxton Inclined Plane Trust does ever manage to fully restore to working order the Lift. It would certainly match the Anderton Lift and the Falkirk Wheel as a major tourist attraction, fingers crossed, but I don’t expect it will happen in our boating lifetime.

We spent the beautiful evening bird spotting and talking to charming towpath walkers and petting their dogs.



Another fine day and after a leisurely start, we turned onto the Leicester Arm and were soon queuing for the Watford Flight. ‘You are not deemed to be in the queue until you have signed in with the lock-keeper’, so says the blackboard, but from joining the queue to emerging from the top lock it still took about two hours. Not a problem, we were in no hurry, the weather was good and the scenery lovely.
The M1 motorway crosses over the canal just after the top lock and the railway line and the ancient Roman Watling Street run just out of sight alongside the canal. We stopped for lunch out of hearing of the M1 before moving on to Crick for water, through the Crick tunnel and an overnight mooring just before Yelvertoft.



We’re on the move again. Good friends Ann & Brian, from the Nottingham area have joined us for six days. Our planned destination was Northampton, simple because we hadn’t yet been there by canal, but the seventeen locks on the Northampton Arm, my sore back and Ann’s stiff shoulder ruled that out. We decided instead to head for Foxton, the short flight at Watford Gap seemed much more appropriate for our creaky joints. A and B had travelled through the Foxton Locks some fifteen on a hire boat some fifteen years ago and were keen to see the changes.

SKYY was moored up just before the Braunston Junction where we lunched and properly fortified we moved up the six locks and on through the Braunston Tunnel with no spooky happenings this time. Brian is a proper sailor and has sailed the world, much of it with Ann, plus several canal holidays so he came fully qualified to take the helm, relegating me to lookout, no complaints, this was a pleasant and relaxing change for me.

It looks as if a start to repairing the major landslip immediately in front of the tunnel entrance is underway. A water run off has been constructed which will obviously stabilise the area and allow the reinstatement of the embankment and winding hole.

We stopped for the night between the tunnel and Norton Junction. The towpath along this section has undergone major repairs. Long runs of cement filled sandbags have been used to shore up the bank and the path above is now in really good order. I don’t know why the more traditional steel pilings weren’t used here, but in time the bank, I am sure, will have a more natural look and I hope will last as long as steel pilings.

Saturday, 29 August 2009



On Tuesday we had some serious locking to do and Johanne quickly learnt the importance of ensuring that only one set of paddles are opened at any one time. A walk into the village of Stockton, with now only one of its two pubs open, finished the day.

Wednesday saw us arriving at Wigrams Turn, to early to return to our mooring so we decided to go East towards the Folly Pub for a lunch time drink in the sunshine. I know from experience that things can get a little congested at the Wigrams crossroad, so as usual I gave a long blast on my extremely loud portable air horn and hearing no response proceeded gently to turn right, as I came from under the bridge, to my surprise there were two boats approaching, the first one attempting to turn under the bridge, some vigorous forward and reverse throttle saved the day, but I just don’t understand why the other boaters didn’t acknowledge with their hooters and slow down when they must have heard my warning blast, this is not an unusual scenario.

The Holly Bush pub in Priors Marston provided us with an excellent meal and good service in attractive surroundings. It’s about to change ownership, lets hope that that’s the only thing that changes.

It was up early on Thursday morning to leave at six thirty to run Agnes and Johanne to Birmingham Airport for their return to Bavaria. We all had had a great time and it was with traditional German hugs that we said farewell.



We spent the next six days slowly wandering back down the locks to Napton and our marina. On Saturday morning Agnes caught the train to Stratford to watch a Comedy of Errors, returning early afternoon, when we set off through the outskirts of Leamington. They were wide eyed, entranced with everything they saw, the ducks & swans, the canal architecture, other boats, our choice of moorings, all delighted and through it all the sun shone, their camera almost went into meltdown.

On Monday morning we walked into the lovely village of Long Itchington, with it’s six pubs and a village pond and the house called ‘Short Scratch’ I like that! The rest of the day was spent moored up alongside the Blue Lias Pub, where we were met by three other friend, Niel, Sonia and Chris and cheekily had a picnic lunch under the willows of the pubs moorings having changed our reservation from lunch to dinner with the pub. The three men spent much of the afternoon napping whilst the ladies nattered. The location was idyllic but the traditional pub food, chips with everything was disappointing.

Friday, 28 August 2009



First job was to fill with water before we went back up the two locks and second job was to get the loo tank pumped out at Kate Boat yard, just after bridge 49, where the nice lady asked if I was OK to DIY, no problem. Now it was on to bridge 43 where Tescos provided what Lidl couldn’t the day before. We stayed here in the sunshine before moving on to the tree shaded canal immediately opposite Leamington Railway Station, having already sussed out that there was Armco here that we could moor up to, just before the short flight of steps that ran up to the main road.

Agnes and Johanne, very good friends, had flown from their beautiful town in Bavaria, to spend a week in Bournemouth and having spent a week there, soaking up the sunshine they caught a direct train to Leamington to spend a week on SKYY, soaking up the rain, at least that was what the forecast promised us. However we had supper on the stern of SKYY watching the sun set over the canal.



We left this pretty mooring behind and as we cruised along we could clearly see the strata’s of the turquoise blue stone that had been cut through in the digging of the canal.

The upward climb continued through the well spaced twelve locks with the exception of the staircase lock at Bascote. An education, for we realised that the lock can accommodate two boats one way and one boat the other, with a little shuffle when all three boats arrive at the middle level, very neat.

There is a four mile summit level through Leamington and Warwick, we carried on passed Leamington railway station where we would be collecting some friend tomorrow and stopped for lunch and provisions near the handy new Lidl store by bridge 41.

The weather was being very kind to us despite an indifferent forecast so we continued after lunch down the two locks to the West of Warwick and turned around at the junction with the short Saltisford Arm, just before the 21 locks of the Hatton flight, returning the way we had come, mooring up just before the two locks and resisting the temptations of the Cape of Good Hope pub.



We actually set off on Tuesday, leaving our Marina and heading straight across the junction and up the Grand Union Canal, final destination Leamington Spa. Today we completed the climb up through the Stockton flight of eight locks until we reached the lovely moorings alongside The Blue Lias Inn, where we popped in for a drink and booked a table for seven persons, for lunch on the following Monday. We decided that we had proved our patronage and decided to stay moored up under the weeping willows for the night

Blue Lias is a clay like stone quarried hereabouts and used in the production of cement. It is a very white cement and was used in the construction of the Thames embankment. The pub sign shows a dinosaur, I assume that this is because many fossils from the Jurassic period have been found in the clay.

Sunday, 23 August 2009



One of Jacquie’s Belgium Cousins was arriving on Monday at Birmingham airport. Wilma’s plane landed a few minutes early but I was in place at the arrival barrier and swiftly conveyed her back to SKYY and introduced her to the narrowness of our boat.

Sadly the weather on Tuesday was extremely wet so we left SKYY at the marina and drove into Daventry, I had a dental appointment to restore my smile, courtesy of a new crown, the girls did some essential shopping, when isn’t it essential? Back on SKYY we ate well, drunk lots and enjoyed the wonderful Belgium chocolates that Wilma had brought with her.

By midday Wednesday it looked like it might stop raining so I headed SKYY towards Braunston. This is our favourite place to bring short stay visitors as visually and historically it is very interesting. We sneaked into a mooring just after the entrance to marina and with the sun now warm on our backs we wandered around the village and the marina.

Much to our surprise when we turned the computer on, to check on train timetables for Wilma’s onward journey, we found that we had an excellent internet signal via our T-Mobile dongle. We still had no reception on either of our O2 and Vodafone mobiles or TV, as the canal at Braunston is much lower than the surrounding countryside it is to be expected, but I guess a new transmitter must have been installed by T-Mobile, well done.

The sun still shone on Thursday morning as we reversed back to the entrance to Braunston Marina and executed a neat about turn before heading back to Napton. We stopped before Bridge 103 to enjoy the view whilst lunching in the sunshine, but within the hour the rain returned and it was a soggy cruise to our pontoon at Wigrams.

Late in the afternoon we drove Wilma to Leamington Spa to catch the train for the rest of her UK holiday, as we waved her off she assured us that the rain had not spoilt her canal adventure and we returned to SKYY to scoff the remaining delicious chocolates.

A hullo to Peggy, who recently left an interesting comment on the blog, about gaining more confidence in boat handling, please leave another comment with an email address, so that we can discuss further.

More blog soon.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009


Not strictly blogging, but I thought that I would take advantage of this medium to advertise my motorbike for sale. Since taking to the boat Jacquie, my wonderful wife, tell me that I can't have a boat two bikes and a wife so my big Beemer has to go.

It is a 2002 K1200 RS SE complete with BMW side boxes and tank bag and a Givi top box. It has done 54,000 miles and has been fully serviced and maintained by BMW at South London Motorcycles. It also has Auto Com fitted for rider to pillion conversation.

In April of this year I had new front disc, pads and battery fitted and a new MOT, but is currently SORN registered, apart from that it is ready to go.

It has carried me faithfully all around Europe and I shall be sad to say goodbye. It is up here in the Midlands raring to go and offers in excess of £2,500 would do the deal.

If anyone interested, please leave a comment and a email address or phone number so I can contact to discuss further.

Sunday, 2 August 2009



It rained all the way back to Wigrams Turn Marina. Brian, bless him, had full waterproofs and stayed on deck with me all the way, whilst the girls kept us provided with coffee and sandwiches. I thought it was letting up as we approached the turn, but as we entered the Marina the wind and the rain got turned up several notches, the rain was horizontal making our approach to our pontoon interesting, but we avoided bumping anybody and by the time we were tied up the weather started to improve.

Before Marilyn and Brian left us a couple of ducks brought over their latest brood of chicks, which just had to be fed and photographed, we have become a bit blasé but Marilyn was entranced with these little animated bundles of fluff.

No sooner than M & B had left than I whizzed off in the car to collect Ashley, Jacquie’s son, He was working for a couple of days at a nearby University and SKYY would provide a useful base until the end of the week.

That’s it blog wise until the next time we head out and apologises for the delay in writing and posting this epistle.



The rain had gone away by the time we surfaced and we continued a short way along the Oxford Canal, over the little aqueduct that takes the canal over the embryonic River Avon before we turned and headed back, with the village of Willoughby as our destination.

There was hardly any traffic in contrast to the weekend and we slid through the Hillmorton locks on our own. We stopped at Willoughby Wharf, had lunch on the stern and then set of on foot for the village. The footpath saved us from trudging along the road, but just as we came to the last style our way was blocked by a small herd of cattle. No problem says Brian and I until we realised there were calves in the herd and the latest advice is to avoid cows and calves, however they got up and wandered off a little way and then the bull got up and boy was he a bull?? No question of it, but Marilyn, a country girl at heart, said that they were Banded Galloways and a gentle breed, he also wandered off and then posed for photos whilst we scrambled over the style.

The village was pleasant with a traditional pond from which mother duck brought her teenage children to meet us. The church was sadly locked and the Rose Inn was closed, but by the time we had finished wandering around it was six o’clock and the Rose Inn had opened her doors and refreshed we set off back to SKYY and dinner.



The weather was still OK, but rain was threatening whilst we moved on through the three locks at Hillmorton, these are unusual in that that they are single locks, but paired, in other words two single locks side by side, simultaneously allowing one boat to ascend and another to descend, saving a lot of time on this busy Sunday.

Dominic from Rugby Canal Boat Sales popped out of his office to say ‘hullo’ as we approached the locks, he was instrumental and helpful in our purchase of SKYY as at that time he was with ABNB at Crick. It was nice that he remembered SKYY and us and he told us he was about to move to Stowe Hill at Weedon where he would be able to offer all the usual boat services, diesel, pumpout etc. as well as boat sale, we wished him success.

We sneaked our 57 ft. SKYY into a 56 ft. mooring space between two other boats whose owners were pleased that it wasn’t a hire boat trying to do this as they were entertained by the antics of hire boat skippers in this restricted stretch just before bridge 58. This is very handy mooring for the Tesco store and the girls set off for essential supplies, but got wet on their return. Sadly the rain poured for the rest of the day, putting pay to our plans to go Ten Pin Bowling at the nearby entertainment area, but the DVD film of Ian McEwan’s Atonement kept us entertained for the evening.



Marilyn and Brian had arrived Friday evening and were staying on board for four days; they were old hands having spent a couple of weekends with us last year. We delayed our departure from the marina until all of the Black Prince hire boats had returned and were safely tied up, but one of them escaped early and we followed it out of the marina on way to Braunston. By the first bend they lost it and were hard up on the wrong side of the cut, which gave us the opportunity to pass them and impart some hopefully helpful advice.

We tied up just before Braunston Junction in time to help the hire boat we had passed earlier to moor and apparently they were grateful for the advice given. We walked up through the delightful village before dropping down to the locks and having a lunch time drink at the Admiral Nelson.

We have been through Braunston many times but we saw it afresh through the eyes of Marilyn and Brian, it being the weekend the place was buzzing and giving plenty of photo opportunities and it is M & B’ photos I have used here.

Whilst we relaxed in the sunshine on SKYY another hire boat came stomping towards us with a mighty bow wave, it had only just left its base at Braunston bottom locks so had hardly had time to get up such a speed, my polite suggestion that all would be easier if they slowed down, was timely as the helmsman lost it and was heading towards the stern of a moored plastic boat which he only avoided by ramming the bank a few feet short of the boat. Already our decision not to be out permanently cruising during the holiday period was vindicated.

As the weather was good despite the forecast we decided to move on towards Rugby, stopping in a lovely spot between bridges 80 and 81 supposedly adjacent to a Young Offenders Institution and just short of the M45 motorway, but neither spoilt the peacefulness of the location.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009



I awoke early considering how I was going to lift the old batteries out of the wooden battery tray, which is tucked right under the rear deck The 135AH batteries are as big and as heavy as marine batteries are likely to get and having lifted the four new batteries on board yesterday I knew it was going to be a struggle, but whilst lying in bed I devised a simple and hopefully effective plan.

The sun was shining and straight after breakfast I got stuck in. The easy part was removing the lid to the battery tray, un-strapping and disconnecting the old batteries, firstly making notes to ensure I knew which cables connected to which battery. As I thought, because there was only about twelve inches of space above the batteries it was impossible for me to lift them over the six inch deep surround of the battery tray, but by inserting the ball end of my boat hook through one of the batteries carrying handle and with Jacquie bearing down gently on the other end from the towpath, the front end of one of the battery rose above the tray edge allowing me to pull it towards me and lift it out on to the bank. The other three followed just as easily and the four new ones were lowered into place without problem and quickly reconnected and strapped down. I love it when a plan comes together.

We stayed where we were for the Williams sister, Wimbledon final and then set off for the last couple of miles back to our permanent mooring at Wigrams Turn Marina at Napton Our intention is to stay marina based whilst all the hire cruisers are out and about during the summer school holidays, but we do have several friends coming to stay and whilst they are on board we will be out cruising locally, and hopefully I will have something worth blogging about, until then I will sign off.

What a fantastic time it has been, we started on the 14th of April almost three months ago. Nearly 40 friend/relatives have visited us in that period, some just for the evening, others much longer, but every visit has been hugely enjoyable for us, if not for our guests. The highlight of the trip has to have been traveling down the tidal Thames, from Teddington to Limehouse and through it all the weather has been wonderful, with just enough rain to spice things up, now we just need to decide which direction we head off to in the Autumn.

Keep watching this space!!!!



A heavy morning shower of rain cooled and freshened the air and flattened the flowers on the roof but I’m sure that they will recover. By the time we got going the rain had stopped and within half an hour we entered Braunston tunnel. This tunnel was opened in 1796 and I don’t think that it has been closed foe any length of time in the intervening years, but there is a kink half way along the 2042 yds. where the builders made a mistake in its alignment.

A boat coming towards us, waited just before the kink and as we approached my large torch, which was well inboard on the cabin roof was suddenly swept overboard. The torch is waterproof and bouyant and crew on the other boat tried to recover it as it floated passed them. I went into reverse and the torch slowly bobbed back towards my stern and I was able to grab it, to cheers from the other boat, thanks guys for your help. Why the torch got swept overboard is a complete mystery, it was tucked up beside the rear sliding hatch, well out of harms way, has anybody had a similar experience in this tunnel? Spooky!!

Back into daylight and down the six locks to moor up outside Wharf House Narrowboats, to collect four new 135ah batteries. Our domestic batteries have slowly been losing their ability to hold a charge, resulting in having to run the engine in the evening, even after cruising for over six hours and again first thing in the morning. They are over four years old now and that would appear to be average life expectancy. With four new batteries lined up on the stern we set off in bright sunshine to moor a little way before bridge 103. Our intention was to head for home today, that being Wigrams Turn Marina, but the setting here is so beautiful and Jacquie wanted to watch the Murray/Roddick semi final so we decided to stay the night.



It was only a few miles to the village of Weedon, where we stopped briefly and walked to the petrol station for supplies. After another couple of miles the M1 came alongside and the canal was sandwiched between the motorway and the railway line with the old Roman Watling Street, now the A5, just the other side of the rail track. It was in this area when we saw coming towards us ‘NB MOORE TO LIFE’ followed instantly by Sue & Vic on ‘NB RETIREMENT NO PROBLEM’ a quick wave and enquiries as to how we all are and on we go. Sue’s blogg was a must read (and still is) when we were planning our adventure and amazingly we dumped into them on our very first days cruise last year

As we moved up the seven locks towards Norton Junction the canal swung away from the motorway and railway and life got quieter again. We had hoped to find a good mooring at the top of the locks but lots of BW work barges were taking up all the space, but rather than turn left to Braunston, we continued a little way along the Leicester Section, before turning round in the entrance to Welton Hyde Marina and stopping under the welcome shade of the trees for the rest of the day.

Monday, 6 July 2009



It was going to be another hot one, and an early start was the only option, but by the time we had gone up the seven locks and arrived at the entrance to Blisworth tunnel, it was seriously hot. I had missed the water point in the centre of Stoke Bruerne as our guide showed it to be close to the tunnel, I stopped there to check, but no tap. Not a problem, but as we are having lots of cool showers I don’t want to run the tank dry.

I pushed off from the bank to line up with the tunnel entrance, and heard a shout, I reversed as a bow of a boat started to emerge shrouded in smoke and steam, it was a very old steam powered working boat towing an unpowered boat otherwise called a ‘butty’, returning from the Historic Working Boat Festival that had been held at Braunston over the last weekend. They thanked me for waiting and apologized for steamy state of the tunnel and when I fully entered the 3075 yd. long tunnel it was impossible to see the sides because of the steam and I bounced from side to side until it cleared.

The tunnel was originally opened in 1805, but was closed for four years, reopening in 1984 whilst major repairs were undertaken, this involved relining a long section with interlocking concrete blocks, the same technique that was later used in the construction of the Channel Tunnel. There are regular openings in the tunnel sides that drain water into the canal, as I probed these with my torch, I was surprised to see a pigeon looking back at me, it didn’t blink or move as my torch illuminated it, so I feel that somebody was having a laugh and had planted a dummy pigeon. Check it out and let me know if it is still there, on the right side coming from Stoke in the concreted section of the tunnel.

Within a couple of miles of leaving the damp coolness of the tunnel we reached Gayton Junction where a five mile arm runs down to the town of Northampton and from there onto the River Nene and the Fens. We would leave this for another trip for another time, but we did stop at the junction for water and then moved on a few more miles before mooring alongside the Wharf Inn at Bugbrook to fill our personel tanks with cold cider, lovely!!