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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.

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.