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, 30 December 2012

The end...

But there'll be a sequel, we're back on TQ again for Christmas next year. In fact we're on again in January and September as well. In the mean time I had to get her over to the quay side for fuel and pump-out. The wind was quite strong from the South-West which meant I had to face the wind whilst reversing back, and to gain some shelter, I had to move over to be close to the hire fleet moored nearby. I took quite a while to get back the fifty meters or so because I couldn't afford to get out of shape with the wind direction. When we got there, there was no one available to service TQ and we had to wait half an hour for a staff member to turn up. Anyhow, once dieseled and pumped, we took TQ back to the pontoon which was easy considering the wind and managed to turn her around to face North-East ready for the next owner.

...And I didn't find the cooley hat.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Windy or what?

What a night, so windy it took the cooley hat off our chimney at 02:30hrs. and crashed it on the roof with a clatter and a splosh as it entered the water. That's another job I need to do; fish it out of the water using my Sea Searcher magnet. The wind blows moderately strong for most of the time then very suddenly gusts to twice the speed, side swiping and rocking TQ on the mooring. The forecast is much the same for tomorrow and at some point I have to get TQ over to the quay side to fill the fuel tank and get pumped out. Not looking forward to that!

We're preparing to disembark today and we might even go home later if all goes well.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Back to base, and was it ever windy.

Now all you boaters out there know how the wind is our enemy with rain a close second, but when you get wind and rain together...

I have to admit it was a late start and the best of the weather was earlier in the day. Again, as usual, not long after we slipped our moorings it started raining. So, non stop from just outside Braunston to Wigrams Turn Marina, and the wind was so strong it was whipping the water up into white horses in some places. I was dreading what I was going to find at Wigrams knowing how exposed the site is, but my fears were allayed when the wind direction actually made it easy to get moored on the pontoon, and parking me barge was a doddle.

Turkey for tea again - it's a good job I like turkey.

Tomorrow we unload and prepare TQ for the next owner. I have to wash the outside as an albatross has splat all down the front and starboard side. Two weeks, all bar three days has passed with jet propelled skates on and it's back to work on Monday, and Tuesday, and Wednesday etc., We've had a great Christmas on TQ, and we look forward to the next time - might be next month. TQ goes in for two weeks maintenance soon and I have a week immediately after to check her out to see what's been done. I hope we're not iced in.

Sorry there's not been many photos, the weather conditions haven't come anywhere near good enough, in fact it's been decidedly rough for most of the time.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Longest days' cruise

We checked the weather forecast this morning and it said rain at first, some sun later. Well it was raining first thing and as the morning wore on it stopped and the sun even shone. Great, lets get going. The plan was to get to Clifton Cruisers, wind, and come back all in the day. As soon as we slipped our mooring it started to rain again and it rained for some considerable time. The idea of todays journey was to test out my modification to one of our windlasses, so we needed some locks to try it out on, but not too many and this trip fitted the bill as it was a "there and back in a day" trip. The lock windlass was designed to combine a long handle for more leverage on heavy paddlegear and a short handle for more speed on lighter work or were room is restricted by a balance beam for example. Of course there is a down side to this but it's only minor and it's that it  is now slightly heavier to carry. Hey ho!

It looks a bit odd with a bit on the side, but it works.
Brilliant - pleased with that.

Having tested it out on all six locks (they're duplex) at Hillmorton, the windlass was declared a success and we wended our way back to last nights mooring with best haste, arriving just before dark.

While cruising back, Lin was cooking tea and I can't tell you how welcome it is to come in after a hard days cruising to a warm cabin and the smell of turkey and veg warming on the hob and it tasted even more delicious than it did on Christmas Day.

Back to Wigrams tomorrow.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Napton Braunston, Braunston Napton - Just like that.

We've been two-ing and fro-ing between Napton Junction and Braunston. Today, we were facing the wrong way after coming out of Braunston on Christmas Eve, so we cruised to Bridge 107 where we winded and headed back to Braunston. It's not an official winding hole at Br.107, but the canal is easily wide enough to turn TQ around. Once in Braunston we watered up and dumped the rubbish in the appropriate place, then it started to rain, so we pushed on to Br.87 and moored up along side some pilings. It's quiet here and there's excellent TV and 3G reception.

Lin's been trying out her new camera I bought her for Christmas and it's so complex she hasn't taken a decent photo with it yet. Here's a typical result:-

Unloved and unlicensed

Not Bad, though a better subject would be preferred.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

It Happened Today.

For a long time now, TQ has been playing up. Every now and then the engine won't start, and today it did it first thing this morning. I turned the key to start the engine and all the lights came on but there was no noise apart from a beep. I tried again and again, and eventually it fired up. RCR arrived at 11:30 this morning to carry out our service and electrical safety check, and yes, it did it again. The engineer narrowed it down to either some corrosion on a spade fuse or corrosion on a crimped terminal on the solenoid. He cleaned both and it worked, the engine now starts lively. The other thing about the RCR visit was that he was unable to carry out the service because he didn't have enough oil with him to do the job and I didn't have enough on board TQ to make up the shortfall. He drove to Calcutt but they were closed for Christmas and he tried three garages but they all stock synthetic, something we must never use, so the whole service had to be cancelled and I've re booked it for next month. Oh well, 'it happens.
Tonight we're out in the sticks somewhere between Napton Junction and Braunston, hopefully for a quiet night, so here is the ubiquitous photo.

TQ moored with spring line.

I forgot to mention, and this photo reminded me, I fitted the final two brass protector plates under the rear door hooks today.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

All Three Emergency Services...

...Were called to the scene in Braunston this morning. We were walking up the hill to the village when there was a loud bang followed by another and another. We looked back to the main road just in time to see a lorry come to a grinding halt in front of the industrial estate building after taking out a lamp post, a telegraph pole and three brick walls. We rushed down to see if there was anything we could do but the emergency services had already been called. The driver was very poorly, and I heard from an eye witness that he was slumped over the wheel some fifty metres back up the road. Lin ran to our boat to get a blanket for the driver and it was clear that he was in some pain and not as a result of the accident. A single policeman was first on the scene and then it seemed like it was ages before a paramedic arrived. It was clear to them both they needed back-up for this one and it wasn't long before another police car arrived then a fire engine, an ambulance, another fire engine and another police car.

Approaching the scene, the blue pole is a camera

The third brick wall is under the cab. The sump was ripped off and the oil
dumped on the doorstep of the building. That white upright to the right of
the front bumper is the top of the street lamp dragged down from the
main road.

Looking back to the main road from the rear of the truck. Two brick walls
knocked for six

Just managed to stop short of the building.
It's a stay hospital for the driver, but he's going to be OK.
No other vehicle was involved and no-one else injured - lucky.

Changing the subject, TQ is back in the marina tonight and a man from RCR is (hopefully) going to service our engine and carry out an electrical safety check. Results tomorrow.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Braunston - and the World hasn't ended.

Phew! we're all still here, but if the World did end I can't think of a better way to go than chugging up the cut to Braunston on a day like today. Light winds and a little sunshine made the journey a real pleasure, but tomorrow is going to be back to normal, heavy rain and high winds and we have to make our way back to Wigrams. Braunston is surprisingly empty, so getting a mooring spot was no problem. We winded in the marina entrance and a fisherman commented on how well I turned TQ. It's not often you get that sort of comment from a fisherman. Our choice of mooring is alongside The Boathouse and we popped in for a pint after a little shopping in the village, and this evening we went back for a meal. We had salmon from the specials board and it was very good, though could have done with being a bit hotter.

Back on TQ now and watching Text Santa (yawn) but HIGNFY is on at 9.

I've heard they're going to equalise insurance for men and women as a result of new equality legislation from Europe. It's about time they made insurance for male drivers cheaper!!! Oh! Have I got it wrong?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Rain wind, wind rain - just like that.

It's one of those days today, too wet and windy to move anywhere, but we're nice and warm and dry in TQ. The rain hammered down for most of the night and is continuing horizontally throughout the rest of the day.
The view from our window today
Never mind, tomorrow will be bright and sunny - tomorrow never comes.


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Braunston? No way, not today.

It was a lovely day yesterday and today, in complete contrast, is really bad. Our Tesco order arrived shortly before 11 O'clock, so by the time we'd hauled it all over to TQ and packed most of it away it was fast approaching lunch time. But before all the shopping was put away, I got to grips with the water pump under the galley sink. This was a lot easier than I thought; switch off the 12volt supply, close the main isolating valve to the pump, disconnect the 12volt and water connections to the pump and remove it. Re connect with new pump, turn on main isolating water valve and switch on the 12volt supply. Hey! Presto - it works and it's a lot quieter than the old one. On examination of the old pump, evidence shows the filter is doing its job, there was a fair bit of crud in there, together with a live spider, would you believe.

The horizontal rain didn't start until lunchtime, so we're not going anywhere today. Braunston tomorrow maybe.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

At last, we have arrived.

This morning we packed the Polo with all our worldly goods and trundled up the M5 to Gloucester and then followed the Sat Naff to Wigrams Marina. Poor old Polo suffered a bit on some of the hills, with pedal to the metal all the traffic queuing behind overtook us. There were a lot more lorries on the road today, but of course it’s a Tuesday, and we usually travel on a Sunday.

We acquired a Magic Circle TV aerial to try out on recommendation from a fellow syndicate member and first impressions are very good. It’s outside on the roof , but it’s not weather proof so I can’t use it out doors in the rain. I tried it at home knowing we can’t get terrestrial TV, and we just managed to get a signal in our bedroom so I thought I’d connect it into the main TV aerial circuit in the attic - nothing, not a glimmer. I think if you can’t receive a signal with this, there’s no signal to be received.

Our Christmas Tree and (despite what you see) an excellent TV picture

TQ has had a little work done this week, a new mains power inlet has been installed, so now we can charge the batteries again without running the engine, and light up the Christmas tree. I changed the glass and seal in the Bubble stove this afternoon, and tomorrow I'll change the water pump.

We’re stopping in the marina tonight, and weather permitting, cruise to Braunston tomorrow.

Monday, 17 December 2012

"Smile", he said, "Things could be worse". So I smiled, and sure enough things got worse.

Well, that's it, the garage people tell me the parts won't arrive until at least Thursday, so it'll be at least Friday before we can get get away. That's nearly a week out of our holiday, but not only that, it means parts are becoming scarce for my ageing Vauxhall Omega. That worries me because the car is is in excellent condition for its age, and I don't want to change it. I've owned it for nearly thirteen years and there isn't much on the market to equal it or even come near. But if spare parts are going to be hard to come by then I might have to bite the bullet.
So, plan B, (to be made up as we go along), we'll take the Polo instead. Tomorrow, we'll pack it to the gills and forfeit a load of other less essential equipment and stores. Food won't be a problem as Mr. Tesco is going to deliver to the marina, so that'll relieve a whole load of space for the essential essentials. We don't plan to go too far with TQ so the marina should be within a day or twos cruise if needs must. We have an appointment with RCR for a service and electrical safety check (sounds a bit like what I've just had done to my car) on the 23rd, so we'll be back in the marina for that. I hope it's not going to cost mega-bucks like my car has.

Not much hope

I hadn't heard from the garage by 14:15hrs so I rang them. I don't hold out much hope of the job being finished today. Not all the required parts have been delivered yet, so by my reckoning it won't be ready until lunchtime tomorrow.

Waiting for the phone to ring.

This is really frustrating, we should be waking up to a bright sunny marina view but we're stuck at home. Not that there's anything wrong with being home, but hopefully our car will be ready by lunch time and then we can pack and be on our way soon after. Lin will take Lucy to the zoo this morning where she'll enjoy (endure) Christmas in the salubrious surroundings of her heated isolation pen with outstanding views of the garden and regular visits from the residential ducks. She knows something's up as she's just hidden herself away behind some boxes in the lounge.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Look what Lin made...

...I downloaded and printed this from Herbie's Blog and Lin cut it out, embellished, laminated and assembled it - Brilliant!

S Oxford Canalometer.
Thanks to Neil Corbett.

Saturday, 15 December 2012


Way back in August we were going to drag the caravan down to Cornwall for a week-end break. As I was placing the gas bottles in the caravan the car alarm sounded - quietly. I thought it was so far in the distance, I didn't take any notice. Then it stopped; and started again. I looked around to see the car with smoke emitting from under the bonnet. I ran to the tailgate to get the fire extinguisher out, but the car was locked, so I ran indoors to get the key, got the fire extinguisher and I opened the drivers door to gain access to the bonnet release. Got it open just a little bit, enough to locate the fire and let rip with the extinguisher. What a mess, powder everywhere. Turns out the ni-cd battery pack on the supplementary alarm had shorted out and caught fire. I just managed to catch it in time before any real damage was done. It could have been a lot worse, the car could have been in the garage overnight parked next to our Polo. The caravan is parked right next to the garage, and then there's my workshop! Doesn't bear thinking about. Needless to say, we didn't go that weekend.

Integral alarm and battery pack. Burnt to a crisp!

And now it's happened again - well almost. This time the car was booked in for a Winter Safety Check two weeks ago, but we couldn't get the car there because of the floods, so it was re booked for Friday. Now I knew it was going to cost me because the last MoT test commented that the brake discs were pitted. So, new discs and pads all round, PLUS a change of cam belt and idler pulleys, apparently there's a nasty knock, and a vacuum hose has split; advised not to drive it. I'm worried what they're going to find next. Any way, I can't have the car back until Monday, so we've lost a couple of days aboard TQ. Oh well, 'it happens.

Monday, 12 November 2012


On the whole a very successful week-end. Got loads done:-

Swept the chimney and got the upper air wash working on the stove
Fitted new bow thruster brushes
Fitted closure bolt for galley glass cabinet
Fitted four paint protectors
Fitted a new radio
Pressure washed the engine
Cleaned out the bilge and engine bund
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

The weather made most of it possible, Saturday started dull an drizzly but turned fine later and Sunday was wall to wall sunshine, and it was warm with very little wind.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Maintenance fortnight

I'm writing this at 04:56hrs and I'll be leaving soon to drive the three hour journey to Wigrams Turn Marina to work on TQ. I've got a list of jobs to do and I'm hoping to get it all done by Sunday afternoon. First I have to pack the essentials, food, drink, toiletries etc, It's not the thing I usually do as Lin does it but she's away at a show at the NEC this week-end so I'm on my own. And coping well. All the tools and equipment I need are in the car ready to go, that was the easy bit. It's just making sure I've not forgotten anything.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Home again.

Well, that's another holiday over, back to work tomorrow. I have to say it's been really good despite the weather butting in and changing our plans for us. And didn't it go quick, three weeks gone in a jiffy.When I look back it was a bit risky knowing TQ had to be back at base by a certain date, but at the time we didn't know we were going to be caught out by the weather. Twenty-six hours of heavy rain made the River Soar rise by at least eighteen inches over night, and at Kegworth Lock it almost went above the red level marker, stopping short by an inch. After four days waiting for the level to drop back into the amber we decided it was too late to go on let alone do the Ashby Canal as well, so we turned back the way we came.
This morning we were up at 05:30hrs. to prepare TQ for the next owners and the syndicat walk-through before the AGM, all of which went very well and now I have a lot of work to do arranging the Winter maintenance programme.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Preparing To Go Home

Yes, it's the end of our holiday and it has flown by. I'll be back in work on Monday morning and within the hour it'll be as though it never happened.
Today we started unloading TQ and cleaning her up ready for the walk-through as part of the AGM tomorrow morning. It was perfect weather for hosing down the paint work and I managed to obtain a washer to seal the fuel leak - thanks for your help Keith. I cleaned out the gutters around the deck board and counter hatch and polished the brass. Oh! And I painted the gunwales and cleaned out the stove. We've been busy.

For the first (and last) time this holiday we had lunch in the cratch, the weather was so good and the windsock nearby has been hanging for most of the day.

Tomorrow we get dieseled up, (no!), pumped out, and vacated by 10:30hrs. ready for the other syndicate members to arrive prior to our AGM.

Friday, 5 October 2012

A bit of shopping, then back to base.

Had an easy morning as it had been raining all night and the trees were dropping water on the roof. Never mind, bacon and egg for breakfast, lovely jubbly, that makes up for it.
Took some measurements of various bits of TQs anatomy and then took a walk to Midland Swindlers Chandlers and bought a new centre rope and a bow line as the old ones were getting frayed. In fact the other day I was pulling on the centre rope and it went twang as another strand broke. Also bought a new chimney stack, twin walled as before, and now it stands proud on our roof top, with its shiny brass rings and fittings. Midland had a 20% off day today, and it was quite busy. Question for you, if they can knock off 20% for one day, why can't they knock it off every day? They'd sell a lot more stock, and make more profit.
We have developed a fuel leak, nothing serious, although it must be stopped, our fuel filter housing has a bleed screw on the top and the sealing washer has seen better days. I've tried in several places this week to get a bonded Dowty seal but I've had no success. I feel a trip in the car coming on tomorrow.
Talking of tomorrow, we've got all day to spruce up TQ and get her ready for the AGM walk through on Sunday. Better get started now!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

"Nothing" at Yelvertoft and little room at Braunston.

Two days blogs in one today because there was no internet, mobile phone, TV, or satellite TV here at Yelvertoft.
First day (Wednesday).
Up with the lark this morning and we're third in the queue for the Foxton Flight of locks. These are a doddle compared with the heavy beasts encountered on the River Soar and elsewhere on the Grand Union. Ten locks in staircase, (two sets of five) in an hour and then there's a twenty mile pound to Watford. We got as far as Yelvertoft and we called it a day, not bad, we were short of Watford by about three miles. Mind you it was windy, but sheltered in the places that matter. As we approached Yelvertoft there was a large dark cloud on the horizon and it was definately full of rain, and we just got moored up a short way past the marina when it started to pour, but a it didn't come to much in the end.
Second day (Thursday).
Marvellous innit! Didn't only start the engine this morning, but also started the rain. I might have known, there was a lovely rainbow ahead against the black sky. It was time to press on and it wasn't long before we arrived at Watford Locks. These like Foxton are also a doddle, but there are only seven with just four in staircase. And strangely, like those at Foxton, are single width. Either side of Foxton and Watford they're double width and I wonder if there were any plans to widen them at some time.
Back to Braunston and the tunnel is a bit wobbly inside, we met two boats coming in the opposite direction and you have to be extra careful you don't collide or hit the tunnel side as the starboard navigation light comes alarmingly close to the wall. Panic over and at Braunston Locks we waited for the boat that was behind us in the tunnel to buddy up with us through the locks. There was a boat moored just short of the locks an I asked if they were going through and he said "No, I'm going to turn around". He proceeded too ram his bow into the opposite bank and try to get the stern past the concrete edge. Eventually he found the right hole to poke his nose into and managed to get the stern around. It provided a bit of entertainment, though.
Had a bit of trouble mooring in Braunston, it was packed and there was one boat moored outside the pub and I tried to get in between it and the end of the hedge, but there wasn't enough room by about two feet. We decided we'd try to moor the other side of this boat, but just before we pulled out another narrow boat bagged the space. So we moved on, and further along there was a space just big enough to get in. No pub for us again tonight, (we've been in three in three weeks) so a walk into Braunston to get fish and chips - just the job.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Tranquility of Canal Boat Holidays on Britains Waterways.

This is probably the best way in the world to escape the rat race. It must be one of Britains finest secret assets, a legacy left to us by an era set in the industrial revolution by the engineers and navvies who changed the face of our landscape for ever. Names like Thomas Telford, William Jessop and James Brindley were the main pioneers and in more recent times Tom Rolt and Robert Aickman. These two men were responsible for the revival and restoration of many waterways after canal transport was superseded by rail and road. For years since the Second World War the canals were left in decline and many turned into stinking ditches filled with mud and litter. After countless man hours by enthusiasts and volunteers many of these canals have been restored to a navigable condition for us to enjoy today. Although there are still some areas where commercial traffic is utilised, the main traffic on the canals today is from the leisure industry and there are many companies now offering canal boat holidays like Anglo Welsh all over Britain.

So why choose a canal boat holiday? Well, there are many reasons. Britain holds some of the very best scenery in the world, much of which you can't see from a car or coach and in a canal boat at four miles an hour there's plenty of time to enjoy it. And then there's the wild life. Herons adorn the banks and towpaths and then you get that glimpse of electric blue as the kingfisher dashes past on its way to the next over hanging branch to await and capture it's next meal. Red kites patrol the skies and voles swim the waters, and if you're very lucky you might even see an otter.

The landscape is forever changing as you move along, from the rural and isolated to the industrial and derelict to the modern and redeveloped, and with careful planning you can choose your mooring. In fact you can wake up in the morning to a different garden every day and you don't have to mow the grass. Restaurants and pubs are in plentiful supply if you choose not to eat on board and there's often one or two nearby to choose from.

So what are the boats like? Today they are well equipped with all the galley facilities you would expect in your own kitchen at home. There's central heating for Spring, Autumn or even Winter cruising, and for those who like extended cruising there's even a washing machine/tumble dryer. Bathroom facilities include a shower, basin and pump out toilet and some boats have a bath. The boats are easy to handle in the water and a crew of two or more make light work of the locks where you can meet other boaters and you always get a cheery wave and a "good morning" from people you meet along the way.

So when your nearest and dearest asks "Let's go to the beach", or "let's holiday abroad", or "let's take a coach trip this year" - I've got a better idea, why not go on a canal boat holiday instead? You won't be disappointed.

Christmas liqueur in the making.

Had a day off from blogging yesterday, actually I couldn't, there was no signal at all where we were moored. That was out in the sticks again between bridges 68 and 69. We'd moored there on the way up and found it such a nice place. Reeds front and back and a clean well maintained towpath with pilings. Not only but also, SLOES. Not in bucketfuls, but nearly enough to make a litre of sloe gin for Christmas.
Talking of sloes we had a slow journey from Newton Harcourt through five locks and Saddington Tunnel, to our chosen mooring spot, to find someone had already bagged it, but not to worry there was another just like it a few yards before. No internet connection here but good satellite TV, Er'll was happy.
Made it to Foxton today and we wanted to go in the Museum, unfortunately it was closed, but we could take a walk around the grounds and see the remains of the Incline Plane. They're very optimistic about restoring it, but it's going to cost mega bucks.
Here's some Foxton photos:-

We went in the Bridge 61 pub for lunch and very nice it was too. We only had a pint and a baguette and both were very good. The Foxton Locks Inn didn't appeal to us as we like the more traditional, but we're prepared to give it a go one day, but not this evening as it's now raining quite hard. Tomorrow it's the locks and then the Laughton Hills.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Fourteen locks later

We're out in the sticks again, and I've bagged a huge log for the fire. Well is was lying there along side Whetstone Lane Lock and looked like it had been washed up by the tide. Too big to handle, it was out with the chain saw and swiftly cut up into three manageable pieces and carefully loaded up into the cratch. Soon I'll have it cut into rounds ready for the axe.
Yes, fourteen locks and about eight miles, and all double locks to boot. Not bad for a days cruise. Some of the locks have their paddles removed which makes these locks very slow to fill or empty and the gates are very heavy. The bow thruster has performed perfectly today and it's as powerful as ever.
The weather forecast is spot on tonight, it's just started raining and it will become heavy and go on through to the early hours. Let's hope it's clear by sun up and that the wind abates. It's been blowing a hoolie this afternoon.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Back on the canals at last.

We had a great days cruising today, leaving our mooring at around 09:50hrs and arrived at our first stop Birstall. After two, yes two trips to the Co-op and posting a letter, we wended our way through Leicester, which in the excellent weather we had today was a very pleasant trip. Leicester isn't at all as bad as we've heard in the media, although the Northern side is somewhat more decrepit, but we didn't feel even slightly intimidated at any time. Back out to the countryside tonight and we're through Kings Lock which signifies the start (or end) of the Grand Union Canal.
I spotted an adder today, clinging to a twig growing out of the wall close to the waters edge in Birstall and I tried to take a photo of it but as soon as the camera was ready it unraveled itself and swam off in the water along the edge of the wall. It was definately an adder as it had the black zig-zag down its back.
I had the bow thruster out this evening and inspected the brushes and commutator. It's not a horrific sight but we need a new set of brushes, two of them are down to their limit and the other two are OK, so I'll keep the two good ones as spares when I fit a new set soon. The commutator is worn slightly and was covered in a thin layer of black carbon and the brushes had lumps of carbon adhered to the joint face. I cleaned it all off and also cleaned between all the segments on the commutator, and then reassembled it and tested. They work better than I've seen for a long time. Having sealed up the two holes in the floor where the cover attachment bolts screwed in, the cavity is now bone dry and I'm wondering if cutting ventilation holes in the hull are necessary. Something else I've noticed, the brushes have a high cupric content hence the coppery colour, Vetus specify carbon which is black.

Right Style, wrong material?

Minimum specified demension is 14mm

Currently moored a short way South of Blue Banks Lock on the Grand Union Canal.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Out in the sticks after a night in the marina

I managed to change the oil and oil filter today, with thanks to the good people at Pillings Lock Marina for their help. Initial thoughts are that the engine is in good condition as there are no carbon deposits on the inside of the oil filler cap or the rockers and valve springs. It all looks as clean as when it was new.
We left the marina at around 14:00hrs after Lin washed some clothes and we filled the water tank and now we're moored a short distance South of Bridge 19 after a really good cruise in fine sunny weather. Despite the water level being in the green, there were some places where the down stream from the weirs was quite strong and I had to be careful to keep TQ on the right track.
Leicester tomorrow...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Thursday evening and we've moved... Pillings Lock Marina. Yes we're on the move, decided to go at 13:30hrs straight after an early lunch when the water level dropped to right on the red/amber border. By just after 17:00hrs we'd arrived here at Pillings. So we self pumped out, self dieseled up, self watered and self moored in the visitor moorings in the marina. Just because it's all self service doesn't make it any cheaper.We had a meal in the restaurant here, it was very good but a little too restaurant and not enough pub for me. There are no real ales, just Guiness and some Spanish or Italian lager.
Back on TQ and we discover there's no TV signal, terrestrial or satellite, but 3 is good so it's BBC iPlayer on the iPad. Our satellite system is very disappointing, we've only been able to get a signal on just one occasion this holiday, and as for terrestrial, forget it!

Thursday morning and the Soar has dropped further

But not enough to allow us to travel safely. I can see the amber below the water level and I reckon there's about a further four inches for it to drop before we can make progress. I'm now feeling optimistic about tomorrow morning and maybe even later today at a push. We're running out of provisions now and I have to make another trek into Kegworth for some more. I'm also getting concerned about the water tank and poo tank situation, we really need to service these tomorrow at the latest, otherwise we could be heading into trouble.
It's a beautiful morning here, the sun is shining and our local kingfisher is enjoying the warmth sat in the branches on the other side of the river waiting for a fish.
I see Blogger has messed up the photo I managed to place here in yesterdays blog, I'll have to replace it when I get home to my pc - blogger!

Not the best photo in the world.
It's cosy inside. Note the slight list to port.
Luckily the water level didn't rise above the mooring above the lock.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Right then, decision made.

Time is going on and if we continue to the River Trent we may be stopped again. I've just checked the Environment Agency website and although the Soar is falling, the Trent is actually rising. This is due to the heavy rain falling in Derbyshire recently. So as soon as the level on the Soar drops into the amber we'll go through Kegworth Deep Lock, wind and come back up again. We can't risk getting stopped again on the Trent, so it's back on the route we came. It's very frustrating after months of planning that the weather has to mess it all up again. Hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to move, though I'm not that optimistic. Whatever happens we'll have to move by Saturday and the weather forecast is good so I don't anticipate any problems there.
I walked into Kegworth this morning now that the water level has exposed the towpath again, and bought some provisions. There is a Co-op in the village and I bought some steak from the butchers. We had it for tea this evening with caramelised onions and mushrooms - delish!

Now the towpath is exposed we can walk to Kegworth, but the level is still in the red.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Water levels are going down but not very fast

Spent the whole day here at Kegworth Deep Lock again just waiting for the level to drop. It's fallen about an inch and a half and hopefully it'll drop some more overnight but there is a long way to go yet. Trouble is, more rain is expected tomorrow, not as much as we've had but possibly enough to slow the rate of decent. There's nothing here, Kegworth is about  200 yds away as the crow flies but to get there is probably a two mile walk and then if the towpath isn't flooded. I'm beginning to dislike river cruising, better to stay on the canals. It's quite frustrating as we've only about four miles to Sawley Lock and the Trent and Mersey Canal. On the bright side we've our own personal air display going on all day every day (and most of the night), if you can call it a display. I've tried to photograph one or two but when I go out with the camera the show stops. I wait and wait a bit longer then get fed up waiting and go back to TQ. Then instantly, the show starts up again. We've seen loads of everyone's favourite airline, Ryanair (not), it's probably the same plane doing circuits and bumps.

Gotcha! Oops, sorry about your nose!
More tomorrow...

Monday, 24 September 2012

Heavy rain calls a halt on cruising the River Soar

Yes, it could only happen to us, twenty-six hours of heavy rain has put paid to our plans of cruising the Ashby Canal. We're going to have to stay here for a day or two to let the river level go down. It has risen eighteen inches over night and hopefully has peaked at the time of writing this. The red amber and green water level board is almost at the top of the red this evening and the lock landing below Kegworth Deep Lock is under water.
This is near the spot where Captain Kevin Hunt arrived on the M1 Motorway with his stricken Boeing 737/400 back in January 1989. If you take a look on Google Earth/Maps you can still see the scars in the field where he touched down just before the Motorway. We can see aircraft coming in to land at East Midlands International Airport through the trees and they're not very far away.
We're on the upper lock landing at Kegworth where the water is slack, but further back it's a raging torrent where it falls over the weir, and the noise is like thunder. I hope we have enough water and provisions for our stay as there is no easy access to the village from here. Watch this space...

It was as high as the little weed growing out from behind the board at the top

Kegworth Deep Lock lower lock landing - under water

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Zouch and not far beyond

Another early start today and we managed 17.5 miles and 10 locks from 07:50hrs. Actually, it was only nine locks as Pillings Lock is a flood lock and was open at both ends. It's a bit weird going straight through a lock without stopping, something we've not done before and it's only closed from October to March or when high water is expected.
After Thurmaston Lock there is what sounds like and is described in the guides as a good pub but on arrival the Hope and Anchor is a theme pub geared for children, so not for us. In contrast at Mountsorrel is the Waterside Inn which looked well attired with a restaurant but it was too early in the day so we had to pass on through.
Onward through Barrow upon Soar and Loughborough and it looked like the weather was beginning to close in. I'd been feeling the odd spot of rain for some time and just after Zouch Lock it started to take effect so it's time to find a mooring. We're at Devils Elbow (sounds like a strong ale) on pilings and there's a pub a few hundred yards ahead, but it's on the other side of the river with no way of getting across and it's raining heavily, so it's on board pizza for tea tonight. That'll do for me.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The 'F' word.

FROST, yes, it was cold last night, nothing to do with Gordon Ramsay this time, and we had an early start at 06:30hrs. We wanted to get through Leicester before the bandits got out of their flea pits and found amusement by lobbing missiles at a slow moving target. It was a beautiful morning and we were on the move just as the sun was rising. First stop, water up at Kilby Bridge at the BW works, then it was the big push to get out through the other side of the City. Shortly after Kings Lock in Aylestone there is a pack horse bridge and this is where the River Soar joins the canal. From here on the river is interspersed by short stretches of canal all the way to the end where it merges with the River Trent. Leicester is nothing to fear, yes it's a bit decrepit in places but there's not much of it and the City Centre soon looms up with its ornate bridges along the mile straight. I'm not so sure about parking my barge here on a Saturday night, but I'd guess a week day would be OK. Through Belgrave and you're into the countryside again and there are excellent moorings just after Birstall Lock where there three takeaways, three pubs, a large Co-op supermarket, two taxi companies, a bookies, a hairdressers, an off license and more all within a short walk of the quay side. We had fish and chips from one of the takeaways and it was delicious.
It's been a lovely sunny day all day although a little chilly at times. Tomorrows forecast is not good, cloudy early, rain later.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Bridge 85 near Kilby Bridge

Not traveled far today, only about seven miles (and twelve locks), but it was all very interesting. In Saddington Tunnel there were a lot of bats, none we could see hanging from the roof, but actually flying around inside. Lin found it a bit spooky. When we got to Top Half Mile Lock the next pound was about a foot or more down on water and we had to go very carefully keeping to the centre of the channel. Finally we made it to Bottom Half Mile Lock after scraping the hull in places where the next pound was much fuller. Don't know where all the water went, but we were just about take more water out of the pound by passing through Bottom Half Mile Lock. 
We moored up just short of Bridge 85 in a peaceful spot.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Bridge 68 Grand Union Canal (Leicester Section)

The blog is a bit different this time as I'm using Lins iPad, and I'm not used to it. I can only load one picture per blog and it produces some unexpected results at times.
We're right out in the sticks in an SSSI where there are designated mooring spots. We've picked one where there are tall reeds growing to the front and rear of the mooring. It's very secluded. Been through Foxton Locks today and had to wait half an hour before we could go through because there were boats coming up the flight. We haven't been up here for twenty five years and it hasn't changed much except more of the buildings are now in use.
I was about to upload a photo from our camera but the iPad has stopped communicating with it - most frustrating.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Welford Arm

Haven't been able to blog for while due to too little signal or none at all. There's absolutely none at Welford, not even TV. So we had to make our own entertainment and we went in the Wharf Inn. It's a bit run down and the toilets "hit" you as soon as you walk in the front door. Never the less the ale is good and so is the food and at a very reasonable price. The bar is popular with the local permanent boating residency, probably due to the attractive bar staff.
A pleasant journey today through the Watford Locks, where John the Lockie was very helpful with advice and knowledge of the canal and River Soar.
Watford Staircase Locks

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Moved to Norton Junction

A quiet spot just North of the junction after a visit to the chandlers in Braunston. Didn't buy anything but had a good look around. Then up the six Braunston Locks and a very pleasant journey to the junction. Oh! Jenny Wren just cruised past - They didn't recognise us.
I just love this cottage.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Battery chargers fitted

All working correctly, though I've had to take one battery out of the circuit because the charger isn't quite man enough to charge all five. On the upside, it won't take so long to charge them, the alternator doesn't have to work so hard and for a shorter period, and it frees up space in the locker once the excess battery is removed.

M300 domestic battery charger and relay interlock box

They seem to last just as long in the evening after four or five hours of telly, and there's still plenty of juice left for the following morning.

M300 Starter battery charger
The battery pack is in a bit of a muddle, there are three down below in the engine room together with the starter battery and one above in the locker. During Winter maintenance, the plan is to have all four domestic batteries in the engine 'ole, and wired properly and the starter in the locker above.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Some new parts for Tranquility

I've made some brass plates to protect the paint where the door retaining hooks hang and leave scratches. I'll fit them soon.
New brass paint protector plates
Also the new battery chargers have arrived. I say chargers as there are two - one for the domestic pack and one for the starter battery. I'm very impressed with the quality (it's made in Sweden) and has the robustness of an old Volvo.

Ctek M300 Marine charger set

There is a very clever programme for night use, it reduces the charging amps to a maximum of five and stops the cooling fan hence any noise. It does this for eight hours and then reverts to normal. Further, it remembers the setting for when its switched off for cruising or when the engine is running and restarts the eight hour cycle again when its switched on. It can be over ridden at any time by pressing the blue button - easy innit.
The power supply will come from the shore mains and will be interlocked with the engine ignition via a relay. This will also need to be mounted in an enclosure with a double 13A socket.
I'll have to find a place to mount them, not in the engine 'ole it's too dirty and it requires human access without having to go down there.

Friday, 15 June 2012

June! Roll on summer.

Inexperienced Sailors!

Braunston Pumphouse

Poppy's Craft/Tea Shop

It was a lovely quiet mooring at Bridge 6 so we had a peaceful night. The sun shone early on, promising a good day. Captain finally managed to publish my blog of yesterday; many attempts were made last night on our return to the boat but the signal was just too weak, it seems. Of course the rain was terrible too. While still at the mooring this morning we saw ‘Dragonfly’ (Elton Moss) go past, followed by ‘Jenny Wren’, also EM. We had seen ’Bittern’ moored at the Wharf on Wednesday- these EM boats get around….
We didn’t set off until 1150 as we were in no rush and as we entered Braunston Tunnel we noticed another boat coming our way quite a bit further back. We slowed down and waited to see if they were going through the locks too and discovered that that was their plan. There were six men on board so that was quite good for us! We worked four locks together, then they stopped for a pub visit.
The towpath between these locks was terrible: a real quagmire in parts, with walking boots sinking deeply into squelchy mud, as there was no way to get away from it. The delights of the June weather. (I thought I wouldn’t mention it again, but it’s inevitable, I’m afraid. Have never mentioned the British weather so much in all my life.)
We finished the fifth lock at 1330 and moored before the bottom lock. We walked up into Braunston and got the newspaper, then crossed the road to Poppy’s Craft Shop/Tea Shop. We have never managed to get in there before- shop closed or we were too late in the day. So at last we made it and it was good! Lovely crafty things in the shop, nice knitted wraps, lots of toys, baby goods etc. Took a photo of just one section of it. We enjoyed a great ham & cheese toastie and nice coffee. It’s only a small place but well worth a visit if you can get in.
We got back to TQ at 3 o’clock and set off through the last lock - couldn't resist a photo of the Braunston pumphouse! Have I mentioned the weather? It just went (about every 10 minutes all day) from being very nice and hot, even, to being grey/cold/raining/very cold/hot. Unbelievable. Had to keep putting jackets on/off, pulling hoods up/putting umbrellas up/stripping off again.
About an hour and a half before arriving at the marina, the wind picked up into almost hurricane mode. The photos of the 'pirates' don't show the mess they made of their turn which forced us to stop and pushed us on to the banking! However, despite the strong winds, the captain did a brilliant job of getting TQ carefully and smoothly into her mooring place at the marina.
Later we drove to the ‘Bridge’ at Napton and enjoyed a really good meal; can recommend the Lamb for the main course. Now back on board and will be starting to sort things out tomorrow for leaving on Sunday, when we are going to our daughter’s for a few days, so looking forward to seeing our darling granddaughters!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

On the move again.

Had a little lie-in this morning and woke to find a nice sunny morning. We set off about half past ten; the sky was so blue and the white clouds so fluffy that I just had to take a photo to prove it. Occasionally the wind was a bit cold, but that didn’t matter. We managed to find a good mooring spot at Weedon Bec at midday, right next to the steps down to the village, so we nipped down for a couple of things. This morning there was a nasty accident on the M1 near Weedon about 6 a.m., necessitating the closure of the motorway, at least southbound, for many hours. All day we were catching glimpses of the standing traffic, or -in the late afternoon- very slowly moving traffic. What with the frequent whizzing Pendolinos on the other side of us, we were very glad we were on the canal. Then suddenly, as we approached a lock, the Pendolinos whizzed across a bridge over the canal, so we were then on the inside of the three transport routes. Didn’t count how many of the trains passed over the bridge while we were working the lock, but it was easy to get a photograph to display on the blog!
It was a lovely day, weather-wise, and was the first day that we didn’t have to wear jackets until the evening. We were also getting quite hot when doing the locks as some gates/paddles were very difficult. Some gates needed two adults to open them and one only budged when three people pulled it. Does it have to be like this?
We finished the seven Buckby locks at half past five, then tied up near bridge 6 by six o’clock. By that time, the weather had changed again -well it is June 2012- and it was getting a bit grey and colder, so by the time we left the boat just before 7, it had just begun to rain lightly. We walked the three-quarters of a mile up to Welton, as on last Saturday night, and enjoyed another good meal at the White Horse. On our return the rain was heavier and we got rather wet despite the great Windbrella. However we are feeling lucky now because since we got back inside the boat, the rain has been even heavier!
We realise the bad weather is nothing compared to the awful day that so many people must have spent on the M1, especially the 21year old female lorry driver who is critically ill from her injuries sustained in the accident and pray for a miracle for her.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


We spent a quiet night at the mooring at Bugbrooke and woke early to a lovely summer morning. The captain cleaned the nearside of TQ, while I did some other jobs, then we had an early lunch before going off to explore Bugbrooke. The weather was fine, but we weren't sure how it was going to turn out as we walked the three quarters of a mile to the village. Not long after we arrived, the sun really came out and it was very hot, just like last Sunday. What a delightful village Bugbrooke is! The old cottages look very striking, with their ochre-coloured stone and thatched roofs. We had a very pleasant walk around. It was so peaceful and seemed like a lovely place to live. Enclosing some photos of the old church and some of the houses/cottages, including the driveway of one habitation, which obviously belonged to an avid collector!
We were thinking of having a BBQ this evening, but the clouds came over before then and it got cooler, so we went back to The Wharf for another delicious meal.
A nice, tranquil day.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Wow, no rain!

Wonders never cease, as they say. It didn’t rain at all today.
We spent a very quiet, peaceful night at the mooring next to the blocks of flats at Cotton End, but following the advice of a local boater, we didn’t leave the boat unattended and therefore we didn’t have a visit to Northampton, as we had originally planned. Before we left, we talked to a young chap who was walking his dog. He was the only person we saw all the time we were there.
It was quite windy this morning but at least it was dry -and it was still cold. Summertime?? I can’t believe I’m talking about the weather so much because it doesn’t usually bother me at all, but it really has been exceptional this year, with very cold temperatures after lovely hot days.
We started to make our way back up the Arm at 1015 and, as yesterday, we did not meet another boat. (We were the only mad ones.) We did meet quite a few people on the towpath today ‘though, compared to the five yesterday. As we cruised along we could see this tower for a long time- quite a landmark.
We also passed some beautiful horses, one of which had her cute little foal close by.
Some of the lift bridges on this stretch are being renovated and put back in place (open) just for show.
We came out of Top Lock at 1530 and went to Gayton Junction for water, then on to Bugbrooke moorings.
Tied up at 1715 and later went to The Wharf and enjoyed an excellent meal. We hadn’t known before we went that they had such a good, varied menu. The pate and anti-pasto starters and Sea bass and Salmon main courses were beautifully presented and most delicious. Made a change from the meals on board the last two nights!