At 58 feet length, TQ (as we call her) is a steel hull narrow boat built by Colecraft and fitted out by Elton Moss Boatbuilders. Currently based at Aqueduct Marina in Cheshire we're able to cruise some of the most popular waterways in Britain. The Shropshire Union, The Trent and Mersey, The Llangollen Canal, The Four Counties Ring and Cheshire Ring and more.

Our friendly Syndicate decided to go down the Self Management route on 1st March 2012 and so far it has been very successful. Please visit the other pages in this blog to see the new Web Site and if shares are available for sale. (There'll not be many).

I am having to place a watermark on the blog content as someone on Facebook is stealing photos and claiming them as their own. I wouldn't mind if they asked first and attributed it to my blog. If it continues I will name and shame them. I hope it doesn't spoil your enjoyment.

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Sunday, 9 October 2011

Time to go home.

Its been so busy in the Braunston area, we've seen more boats on the move in this spot that during the whole time spent on the River Nene.

Seen along the way:-

I had to take a photo of this, I wonder how long its been there.
I'd guess since 1979 when their album The Wall was released.
It's lasted well.
 This is the only piece of graffiti I like, it's plain, simple, uncluttered and I have to say because I'm biased, (they produce some of my favorite music) this should be a listed building, not that appendage, that wart sticking out of the middle of Northampton.

Our final journey of this holiday with TQ was quite short and our first stop was at the water point just above the lock to fill the water tanks, fore and aft. Then it was through the lock and moor up stern end on to the quay, unload all our junk onto the car, fuel up and pump out TQ, pay our dues and make our way back home.

So, summing up, would I go down the Nene again? Yes, absolutely. Its a beautiful river and gets better after Wellingborough, I wish circumstances could have been different and we could have explored the Middle Level, but that will have to wait for another time. The drawbacks - You need an extra visitors license (if you don't have a BW Gold license), and it's not cheap. Additionally you'll need a special EA key to operate the locks and obtain water. This will cost £10, but on the up side, pump outs are FREE - YES FREE! You just have to help yourself. Facilities are scarce, the only pump outs being at Peterborough and Northampton. The facility at Rushden and Diamonds has been closed, moorings only, not even any water. There are some nice places to moor, you just have to find them as they're not always obvious.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the trouble to read my blog over the last three weeks, our next adventure is due in January 2012, though I think we may not be taking it after our last Winter escapade. We'll have to wait and see how the weather pans out.
Cheers for now, K & L

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Our last day

We took a walk around Braunston today, and discovered Dover from the TV series Narrow Boat Afloat presented by Alan Herd. To be honest she looked a bit neglected, being mounted up on sleepers and having plates welded on to the hull. I thought they did all that in the TV series, seems I was mistaken. We continued our walk to the bottom lock where Lin went into The Boat Shop and bought a loaf of bread, and then we crossed the canal walked through a field to the main street of the village.

Dover - out of the water.

Vulcan - on the water

This is on the footbridge over the entrance to Braunston Marina
When we came back to TQ we set off towards Braunston Junction and turned left onto the Oxford Canal. At bridge 102 we stopped for lunch and had soup with some of the bread we bought earlier in the village. Later we pushed on to between Bridge 108 and Napton Junction where we moored up and started cleaning TQ and making ready to vacate tomorrow morning. I polished the brass again and cleaned the gutters around the lockers, deckboard and rear hatch. I also cleaned the front deck and lockers. Then it started to rain - thanks for that. Never mind, at least I know the job has been done.

Fully loaded stern tube greaser
I also filled the stern greaser and looked at why the engine is sluggish to start sometimes. I think I've found out why, there is a badly corroded connection in the starter circuit which needs attention. I tried to loosen the nut but not wishing to break the stud off I thought it best to leave it to the engineer at Calcutt. I gave it a dose of WD-40 to help give it a fighting chance.

Corroded connection to starter motor
Tomorrow morning we head for Calcutt and unload all our chattles into the car, and then its a cross country journey to the M5 and back home. Really looking forward to that - not. 

Friday, 7 October 2011

A quiet day, non-eventful and normal.

I must say it's good to be back on the canals, you can moor pretty much anywhere and you don't have to plan your stops/moorings and have a contingency plan if plan "A" fails for what ever reason.

We popped into Whilton Chandlery at the bottom of the Buckby Locks and got ourselves a new aerial. They had one at a knock down price, so we had to have it to replace the old one which gave up the ghost and it's now up and working.

Our new aerial, installed and working.
We're back in Braunston again and, as luck would have it, moored outside The Boathouse. There was just enough space to get in. It's quite a nice pub for a chain pub, very clean, not what I'd call a sticky pub, (where the tables are sticky), it has a friendly service and the food is good too. Lin had Hock of Ham and I had Pork Loin served with mashed potato and vegetables, and the sweet was good too, Apple pie and Custard for me and Soft Centre Chocolate Pudding for Lin.

Later, back on TQ, we watched TV. Well, the new aerial had to be tested.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Stray boats and fallen trees

There's never a dull moment on the cut, apart from the wind making steering difficult and uncomfortable, there are events that occur as a result. Leaving Bugbrooke this morning we intended to get to Buckby Wharf but, canals being canals, there are often many things that can hinder your progress. Two things today,  first we stopped to fill our tank with water at Stowe Hill. When finished we were just going to pull away when a boat appeared and going quite fast through the moored boats, then another two boats at a more sensible speed. Then we noticed a boat moored ahead of us had moved out across the canal, not quite able to fully turn in the width and became stuck in the shallow water on the off side. And there it stayed until enough blokes gathered to heave on the centre rope to haul it back to the canal side. The owner was asleep inside and was woken by someone on his boat finding a decent rope to heave on. We all eventually managed to get the boat to the side and the canal was open again. It all happened because someone was going too fast and pulled the mooring pins out of the ground, such disrespect.

Then we hadn't gone far when we were stopped by a boat moored under bridge 23. "Stop, there's a tree down" they hollered, but by that time we were too far ahead to stop and were through the bridge when another boater kindly said to moor alongside his. So that's what we did. And there we waited for British Waterways to turn up which they did after about an hour and a half. Just the one guy on his own who assessed the situation and made a phone call and then said their contractors will be along when they can.

Tree down just North of Bridge 23

We thought this could take hours and decided to take matters into our own hands, so we moved the purple boat and another moored in front up the cut about thirty metres and managed to squeeze a narrowboat throughthe gap. Then another and another until the queue had gone. Free at last. By now it was mid afternoon and the wind had taken its toll out of us so we found a nice spot just up a little ways and moored not too close to the M1. If we went much further we'd follow the M1 very closely for around two miles including the along the Buckby Flight, not so comfortable for a nights' peaceful mooring.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

And yet more wind!

We started off early again today and moved up to the services near the moorings for a pump out (FREE - YES, FREE) which meant winding so that the port side of TQ was nearest the quayside. When done we went back to the moorings to wind again. Whilst we were filling with water, Lin spotted some of those Signal Crayfish easily seen in the shadow under the nearby bridge. They seem to spend most of their time fighting and hiding in the holes eroded in the bridge foundations. Shortly after we negotiated the last lock on the Nene, Northampton Town Lock and made our way toward the junction with the Grand Union Canal and up the seventeen locks in the Rothersthorpe Flight.

No, I can't put a caption here!
The first four locks are well spaced but then the next thirteen are very close, close enough to set the next lock ready.

Lock 17, River Nene behind, Grand Union ahead
On the way down some two weeks ago we spotted some logs in a pile between Locks 12 and 13 and thought we'd have some of them on the way back if they're still there. Well they were and I set to with the chain saw and cut up two logs into rounds in about ten minutes. Best leave the rest for someone else.

So I turned a couple of these...
...Into these.
Now we look like real liveaboards.

Two weeks ago at lock thirteen all the land adjacent to the canal appeared to be a site dedicated to nature and I was quite horrified to see this:-

The site is massive and the dust being whipped up by the machinery and the very strong wind is phenomenal. I am convinced the councils and governments of this country will not be satisfied until every square inch of this green and pleasant land is covered in concrete. It is absolutely criminal.

The Express Lifts Tower
Here's another odd structure. Would you believe some idiocrats have made it a listed building? It's not even slightly glamourous and even looks unfinished. If it had a designed top and was open to the public, then maybe it could qualify, but as it is?

As I said earlier we're back on the Grand Union and we ended up at Bugbrooke and have been in The Wharf for an evening meal. We had Steak and Ale Pie. It was delicious and very filling. Back on TQ and it's now raining, something we've not seen since the 19th September. Tomorrows forcast is dire, very strong winds and heavy rain. We could be tempted to stay here.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

You wouldn't believe this...

Oh! yes we would!

We left Billing Aquadrome at 08:00hrs this morning after dropping our mooring fees through the letterbox in the reception. Then made our way toward the exit which is diagonally across the lake, first by reversing away from our mooring, then once far enough away from the other boats, engage forward gear and 1/3 throttle and rotated TQ around to face the exit. It's a bit tight here, the angle is quite acute and there is the road bridge to contend with. All my concentration is required to get TQ heading in the right direction.

The Clubhouse at Billing Aquadrome

Reversing away from our mooring on the far left

Our first lock is Billing Lock, and it's just around the corner. Not much in the way of weed today which is a great help. At Weston Favell Lock it all happened, or didn't would be more correct. Once in the lock I needed to select reverse to help position TQ along side the lock wall. Reverse gear engaged OK, but there was no throttle response. None whatsoever. The throttle cable had broken. We managed to get TQ through the lock and moor up on the lock landing where I went to work to investigate exactly what was wrong and if there was anything I could do to repair it. No such luck this time and a phone call to Ken meant a two hour journey for him from Sandbach to find us and do a twenty minute job. While he was on his way I removed the old cable and made ready for fitting the new one. If we'd had a spare on board I could have done it all myself and saved a call out. Hey - ho!

The broken throttle cable.
The photo shows the mechanism on the back of the control lever. The part in my left hand had the cable crimped into it. You can't "uncrimp" it and re crimp a shorter length, a new cable is required.

Here's some scenes from today at Weston Favell Lock

There's nothing like having a good scratch

"So tell me, why the long face?"

"'ere, your bowthruster needs more horsepower"

I hope you don't mind, I'm having a lunch break.
More tomorrow.

Monday, 3 October 2011

WWW - Wild Windy and Weedy plus a couple of confessions.

Oh! what a day, started off fine but as the the day wore on, things got more and more difficult. We slipped our moorings at 08:00hrs and started what was to be a long journey to Billing. Our first stop (barring locks) was Wellingborough where we went into Tesco to do some (no, a lot of) shopping. We came out with four brimming bags and they were heavy, toddled off across a busy main road and nearly got knocked down twice, they drive like maniacs around here, back across the parkland to the Embankment where we moored TQ earlier. The wind was beginning to pick up by now, but nothing too serious yet. Onward, and as we left the comparative shelter of Wellingborough the wind picked up and blew quite hard, I reckon around 30 mph gusting to 40mph at times. Although the wind was mainly head on, any slight angular crosswind made manoeuvring at locks very difficult. As if that wasn't enough, there was a lot of weed about and one boater we spoke to said he had to call out the Environment Agency to clear it for him as he couldn't get into the lock. All the locks from Wellingborough to Billing have had weed to some extent, but three of them were so choked we had to fill the lock without TQ in, open the top gates and let the wind blow the weed into the lock and empty it again and then, with the lower (guillotine) gate raised, open the top gate paddles to flush the weed out of the chamber. In other words, we had to operate the locks twice each, once to let the weed through and once again to let TQ through.

After the weed had been cleared

In these large locks, going upstream, we find its best to tie up TQ fore and aft to the bollards conveniently placed on the quayside, and open the paddle only on the same side as TQ is tied and by one third to start as some can be quite fierce. This way the water enters the lock across the bow of TQ and hits the opposite wall keeping TQ pinned to the quayside. There may be some forward and back movement, but nothing the engine can't handle.

You'd never believe it could be so windy

We've had to contend with chunks of weed like this jammed in lock gates.

Now Lin and I have a confession each to make. First mine - I lost control of TQ in the wind today. Well that's a slight exaggeration, although Lin would disagree. What happened was, Lin opened the top gate of Doddington Lock and I tried to get on the lock landings on the starboard side while Lin emptied the lock. (All guillotine locks have to be left empty). The wind blew me across the river toward some sticky outy branches, so to avoid broken windows I opened the throttle and went forwards away from the lock and got stuck against the bank where I thought Lin could walk to and board TQ there. Not so, it happened to be someones garden and access was impossible. So I went forwards again, of the end of a headland where the wind caught me good and proper and forced me to do a 180 so I then headed back into the lock landing and just managed to pick up Lin on the bow of TQ. Then I had to back out into the area where I did a 180 earlier and somehow do another, without losing it again down someones private backwater. This time it was successful and I managed to miss all the obstacles and head off in the right direction.

Now for Lins confession. We entered Cogenhoe Lock and I was just mooring up on the starboard side, Lin was on the roof with the centre rope ready to jump up onto the quayside. Instead of waiting for me to get TQ closer she decided to go for it and jumped up onto the quay and then discovering she didn't have enough inertia to get her all the way there, did a half turn in mid air and landed back on TQs roof now with too much inertia, and only just managing to stop herself falling off the port side. Lucky or what?

We're tucked away safely in Billing Marina now. Hopefully nothing much can happen to us here. Its been a long day, maybe tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The heatwave continues and we make up some distance.

An early start and we topped up with water and slipped our moorings at 07:50hrs. Thats early for Lin, half the morning's gone for me.

Early morning mist at Wadenhoe Lock.
The sloes are in the hedge at the lock landing.

We made passage through ten locks today, and there was low water along the stretch between Titchmarsh and Islip Locks, apparently an automatic weir had acted on a malfunction and lowered letting thousands of gallons of water out of the pound overnight. Some boats tied up at moorings had a bit of a list on.

Big locks here.

This is the biggest - Irthlingborough Lock

Our stop for the night comes shortly after this lock.
I tried to get our new satellite system working again today but it seems to be configured for the foreign market as reception from the Astra 2 satellite is not possible. So its back to the old piece of welding rod bent into a circle. It works.

I'm going to watch the rest of the Star Trek film - more tomorrow.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

October 1st and temperatures are soaring.

Its been really hot today, so we made only a short journey to The Kings Head near Wadenhoe Lock. The intention was to stay for lunch and then press on in the afternoon. We had a round of sandwiches and a pint and it was so pleasant in the pub garden we decided to have a meal there in the evening and leave early in the morning. Lin had cod and chips and I had belly pork with crackling and potato gratin. It was delicious. When we came through here before we stopped and picked sloes next to the lock. They're now steeping in gin and it'll be ready for Christmas.

On the way...
The Mill at Oundle - posh! We didn't patronise.
An early start in the morning, we've some catching up to do.