Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Chilling and walking

We are still moored at Nether Heyford and are enjoying bouts of winter sun . Carolyn has booked in to get her hair done tomorrow at 09.30 in the village so after that we will pull pins and continue our journey down the Grand union canal.

 Our time here has been taken up by chilling out, walking, walking and more walking and a bit more chilling. But with views like this it is well worth it.

                Just around the corner from our mooring we came across this part of the canal frozen over.

                                                                               Carolyn still searching out my final resting place .

                                       This weather vane on Nether heyford church is one of the best we have seen.

                                                  There is a very good one stop shop and Post office in the village.

                                   Also there is a hairdresser's butcher's and baker's. But no candlestick maker.

 When we were down in Devon we bought a new chainsaw. And what a difference to the old one. It cuts through the wood like it was going through butter.

 Being one for gadgets I picked up this Stihl moisture meter to go with the Stihl saw. All wood that you burn needs to be less than 20% moisture content to avoid filling your chimney with tar and creating vast amounts of smoke. The tar also runs down the outside of the boat and looks horrible. At 25% this log will have to season for a bit longer.

It was good to get a mention and a link to our blog in November's TOWPATH TALK the newspaper for waterways users. It relates to the fitting of our solar panels. (Fame at last).

The panels as you would expect are not putting a lot in to the batteries at this time of year. Although when we get full sun we are seeing 8 amps and in cloud at most just 1 or 2 amps, but every little helps.

                                          Happy Days



Sunday, 24 November 2013

To Nether Heyford

Friday started with a heavy frost and a visit from Wilson's the makers of our rear pram cover . They fitted the zip ends and also fitted the tube covers so after 3 months the cover is now complete. We then pulled pins at 10.45 and made our way down the Buckby flight of locks.

This is one of the heaviest gates on the flight and what a struggle it was. If only I could have jumped off to help !. And look at those lazy little dogs.

When we got down to the bottom of the flight Carolyn spotted this chap. And no we are not having one, it will not fit on the boat roof Carolyn.
                                                                  That's one way to mount the engine. Directly onto the tiller.
                                                               Whilton bottom lock over flowing. Carolyn off to investigate.

                           Are you still awake Nicholas ?  

On route to the Chandlers we came across this tanker taking out the elsan holding tank.. That brings back some old memories.

On Friday afternoon we visited the Chandlers, the Farm shop and for some reason we had to go to the garden centre, Just to look around apparently although we did end up buying a couple of sets of battery operated Christmas lights. (Who said I was worse than Scrooge)

We spent the night at Whilton then pulled pins at 10.15 on Saturday morning. The temperature was just nudging 3 deg but the sun was out which made it feel a lot warmer. We stopped off in Weedon bec to pick up a few supplies and then another couple of stops to pick up wood we found on the towpath.

We eventually arrived at our present mooring which is just outside of Nether Heyford. Not long after mooring we had a visit from Ryan on the coal boat. We bought 5 more bags of coal a gas canister, diesel and toilet blue. They give cold weather coming next week but we should be OK.......Fingers crossed.

                                            Happy Days

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Norton Junction

We are still moored at Norton junction. We were going to move today but we have an appointment with Wilson covers on Friday morning. Wilson's are the company that fitted our rear pram cover . We first contacted them in August and they came to measure up on the 3rd of September. The cover was then fitted on the 4th October but during this time we had 2 appointments cancelled after we had got to a good mooring for ease of access for them . Some parts were missing when it was fitted on the 4th of October but they promised to come back the following week and fit the parts. We paid them the full amount which was over £1100 and waited for them to arrange a visit. After a couple of weeks of hearing nothing we contacted them and they promised to get back to us which they didn't . Another phone call this week and they promised us it would be Friday.
 So that will be several phone calls, 2 cancelled appointments and 4 visits. And from our initial call to Wilson's it will be nearly 3 months. We can not fault the cover or workmanship in any way , but the service has not been the best and I think we would certainly think twice before using them again.......End of rant.

                                                         Our 48 hour mooring for a few couple of days at Norton junction.

 Looking back to the Junction. This end just next to the lock started to freeze on Tuesday night when the temperature dropped to minus 2 .

        We have had a couple of days of very good weather and we have been out walking and making the most of it. The sun has been putting between 5 and 7 amps into the battery bank when it has been direct onto the panels so that free electric is most welcome.

On Wednesday it rained for most of the day but that gave us the chance to catch up on some maintenance. We have now changed the gearbox oil as the engine has now done over 750 hours. We bought a small hand pump to suck the oil out of the filler bung and this made the job a lot easier and saved a mess in the bilge. The oil came out looking very black so it certainly needed doing. We will see if it makes the gearbox any better when we next move. I have also tidied up the roof as it was looking so untidy. Now the cycles have gone back to Devon for their winter visit it now looks a lot better on top.

Now fingers crossed that Wilsons turn up in the morning. We will then move down through the Buckby flight of locks and moor at Whilton. Carolyn wants to visit the farm shop and I could do with a couple of bits from the chandlers (Strange how I can't pass a chandlers without going in even if I don't want anything). We may spend the night at Whilton depending on what time of day it is. The only problem with Whilton is that you have the M1 Motorway 100 meters away on one side and the High speed trains 100 meters on the other side. But then after a few glasses of wine the noise tends to stop.

                                      Happy Days

Monday, 18 November 2013

On the cut

Crick marina is a very good marina and after talking to many of the residents there they certainly recommended living there. We had a couple of days on Inca in the marina and could see the benefits especially the electric , water and all the other amenities. The other thing they all said was that it would not be very good without a car and that is one thing we definitely do not want. We would also get a bit of cabin fever if we stayed in one place to long.

We left the mooring at the marina at 09.00 just as it started to mizzle (mist and drizzle). We started off by getting Inca wedged between the boat next to us and the bank behind us but after getting off and pulling like mad we eventually got unstuck. Then we had a quick look around to make sure nobody had seen what a mess we had made of getting off the mooring. Luckily I don't think anyone saw us.

After Crick tunnel its not long until you get to Watford locks. This is where there is a kind volunteer lock keeper to help you down the flight of locks.

                                             Carolyn setting the top lock while the lockie sets the staircase locks.

On the staircase locks there are different coloured paddles. The paddles must be operated in the correct order and there is a saying so that you don't forget ... Red before white and you will be alright...............and................White before red and you will be dead.
All was going fine and Carolyn was having a good old chat with the lockie as we descended the flight. He had a pair of Westie dogs like us . Then at the third staircase lock down someone lost concentration and started to do white before red!!!!..............well luckily we are not dead.

                                                                       This coal boat is the only boat we passed all day.

                                                                                                   Not many leaves left to fall.

              We saw this dog just before Norton junction he was having a good swim in the canal.

When we arrived at Norton junction there were plenty of moorings on the Leicester arm but the towpath was a bit muddy so while Carolyn held Inca I walked around the corner to see if there was any available moorings on the junction where there is a good towpath/road. There were plenty of moorings available so Carolyn decided to steer Inca around the corner and onto the mooring, and what a good job she did ..                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Today we cruised for three and a half hours and now have a good mooring with good TV reception and 9 mb/s of internet. The weather tomorrow is going to be fine and sunny but cold, then on Wednesday there are high winds and heavy rain forecast .                                                                
We don't have any plans set In stone for the rest of the winter . The only plan we have is to cruise  down to Milton Keynes and then as far as Leighton Buzzard then decide from there what to do next .                                                                                                                                                                                             .                                                                      
Happy Days                                                            

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Back to Inca

On Saturday we made our way back to Crick marina to pick up Inca. After Chloe's trip to New York she was so tired and swollen that she couldn't drive us back. Carolyn's brother Michael and sister in law Lorraine kindly offered to drive us back up. We set off at 09.00 and got back at 15.00 after finding the M42 closed and going miles out of our way.
When we got to the marina we were joined by one of Michael and Lorraine's son's Matthew and his girlfriend Valentina and their friend Nicola who is a singer. They were on their way down to London to perform on tonight's X-Factor. Matt and Valentina are both very good dancers and in January they are off performing on a world cruise ......Lucky them.

                                                Left to right.....Michael, Valentina, Nicola, Matt, Lorraine and Carolyn.

We had a chat and a cup off tea and before long it was time to say good-bye. Thank you very very much for dropping us back we really appreciate you doing it.

On Sunday we had a very busy day. It seemed like we had been away for months not just a week. In the afternoon we had a walk around the marina. There are several hundred boats moored here with most of them paying well over £2000 a year. A right little gold mine me thinks.

                                                                              Another good boat name........That's us.

We leave the marina first thing on Monday morning . They give the weather getting very cold so tomorrow we will head down the Watford flight of locks and head for Norton junction. It should take us about 3 hours. Then see what the weather is like for the rest of the week before deciding what to do next.
Happy Days

Friday, 15 November 2013

Back to Devon

We arrived back in Devon on Saturday after a 4 hour trip down from Crick marina. The main reason for the visit is to look after number 1 granddaughter while number 1 daughter swanned off to New York for a few days.
We are staying in Chloe's house and it certainly feels like home. With some of our old furniture and  watching our old TV and sky+ and even driving around in our old car.
We got a call on Monday from our good friend Richard ( Big Dick ) to ask us out for something to eat on Wednesday night and meet up with some old friends from South west water. It was so good to see so many there and we had a great meal and a brilliant evening catching up with all the news. Thanks to you all for coming and we hope to meet up with you all again soon.

The rest of the week so far has been busy. We have been taking advantage of having a car (our old one) and picking up a few bits and pieces like a new Stihl chainsaw as we want to burn more wood on Inca.
The week in Devon is now coming to an end and it will soon be time to get back afloat. The weather forecast for next week is for very cold weather with temperatures to minus 9 in the midlands. That should be our first test of real cold weather aboard Inca.

                                     Happy Days

Monday, 11 November 2013

On Friday we entered Crick marina for a ten day stay. Number one daughter arrived at 5 o clock to spend the night then take us back down to Devon on Saturday morning.

It cost us £10 a night in the marina with electric thrown in for free....... (Free is one of my favourite words). Most marinas make you pay through a meter so this is a very good deal. And what a difference it makes not to worry about generating electricity. Just plug in and forget it.

                                                                                                  The boats are all packed in very tightly.

We don't think we could live in a marina for the winter. The boat is very dark inside as the boats are moored so close together. When you look out of your window you look straight into the window of the boat next to you. It maybe better on the end of the marina but even so I don't think it is us....But never say never..
We were told that last year the marina at Crick was frozen solid for 40 days and you couldn't move anywhere. I don't think we fully realise what winter afloat will be like , but we are going to stay out on the cut and give it a bloody good go............ watch this space.
Now back down to Devon
Happy Days

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Off to Crick

We pulled pins from Bugbrooke on Monday morning at 08.50 and started our cruise to Norton junction. The weather was good with sunshine but when we set off it was only 6 degrees.

                                                                  We passed this boat on route , I think he likes his Golf !!!!.

                    When we last passed this boat at Weedon it was starting to sink. Good job they got it out.

 Approaching Whilton and the wind picked up. I had as much trouble controlling Inca in the wind as Carolyn did with controlling her hair.

 After 6 hours of cruising we finally arrived at Norton junction and found this mooring on the Leicester section of the Grand union canal.
 On Wednesday morning we met Jill and Paul from nb Falcon. They were on their way down to Braunston and stopped for a yap as they passed. They are from Devon like us and have been aboard for about a year longer than us. It was good to see you both again and we look forward to meeting up with you  Have a good cruise.

 On Thursday morning we pulled pins at 08.45 and headed towards Crick marina were we are booked in for a week while we go back down to Devon. We soon reached Watford locks and the four staircase locks. This is were there is no pound between the locks and you go from one lock to the next and each lock is filled from a side pound. There is a lock keeper on duty at all times to see you through the locks.

                                                                         These are some of the biggest gates we have ever seen.

After the locks at Watford you soon reach the 1500 yards of the Crick tunnel. We got through without meeting another boat.

Passing ABNB boat sales at Crick you can see nb Dover which was the subject of a TV series several years ago.

We found a mooring outside of Crick marina. We will go into the marina tomorrow and leave Inca in the safety of the marina while we go down to Devon to look after our number one grand daughter Curly.
 Tesco update
We had a phone call from Tesco customer services to apologise for the cock up last week. We ended up with a £15 credit for being messed about..... It should buy two or three bottles of wine.
Happy Days

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Back to Bugbrooke

We had intended to spend a few days at Grafton Regis but with very high winds forecast for late on Saturday and into Sunday we decided to move. It was not until 13.00 on Friday that we pulled pins. That is very late for us but as the heavy rain that we were supposed to have didn't arrive and only one boat had passed us all morning we went for it.
 After the short cruise to the bottom of Stoke Bruerne lock we filled with water and got rid of waste.

 We were joined in the locks by nb La Belle Brigitte. All was going well until we came to the lock under the A508 road. Carolyn walked up one side and the lady off the other boat walked up the other side of the canal. After passing under the A508 bridge the lady was nowhere in sight. We waited in the lock and waited and waited. By this time her husband was starting to get very concerned and thought she might have fallen in and went off to look for her . Then Carolyn went to look as well leaving me in an empty lock with the two boats. Eventually all three of them returned. It turned out she had taken a wrong turn somewhere and had lost the canal !!....Anyway it all ended well.
 We soon got to the top of Stoke Bruerne locks and decided to get as far as we could before nightfall.

 Not far after the locks you come to the 3076 yards of the Blissworth tunnel. It is usually very wet especially after any rain. There are several air shafts in the ceiling of the tunnel and the water pours down through them. So its water proofs on and in we go.
The tunnel is wide enough for two boats to pass but it can be very tight and you have to slow down to tick over to pass. It is also very difficult to judge how far the boat coming in the other direction is away from you. So if you can get through with out meeting any boats all the better and as we had only seen one other boat all day we thought there wouldn't be any boats coming through...... But guess what...We passed 6 boats on our journey through and it took us 35 minutes to go through. And we got a bit wet but its all good fun.

 We found a lovely rural mooring the other side of Gayton junction and just got moored up before it got dark.
On Saturday we pulled pins at 08.55 and cruised for an hour to Bugbrooke. Then later in the afternoon the wind started to pick up. It was a lot stronger than last weekend and we really got rocked around all night. We have 25 mb/s of Internet which is really good . We need good Internet as Spurs are playing on Sunday and we watch it on the laptop with Sky go thanks to my lovely parents and we also have BT sport thanks to my lovely sister. (Got to keep them happy).
It is now 09.30 on Sunday morning and the sun is out and putting 12 amps into the batteries. We are just about to walk into Bugbrooke village and pick up a newspaper then its back to Inca to settle down to watch the football
                                       ..................COME ON YOU SPURS..................

                                   Happy Days