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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.

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.