Thursday, 1 June 2023


After leaving the boat yesterday, we didn't actually go home.  For various logistical reasons, we were staying the night at the glamourous Travelodge M4 East at Reading.  But it turned out this was just a 20 minute walk from the Kennet and Avon (which is actually the River Kennet hereabouts).  So we walked up to the river and first went along to Burghfield Lock.

Then is was the other way to Burghfield Bridge, and we had dinner at the Cunning Man -- sitting in the sunshine with a view of the boats moored outside.

Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Post-Crick: Day 2

It appeared to have rained in the night, which wasn’t forecast, and it was still dull and dank this morning.  We set off at 8, along the familiar waters to Blisworth Tunnel.  Three boats came out just before we got there.  As we went through, I could see a light behind us.  At Stoke Bruerne Locks, the top lock was ready for an upcoming boat, so we waited a few minutes, by which time the boat behind us had arrived.  It was Elk, who’d been at the Crick Show.

There were several volunteer lock keepers on duty, all in radio contact, so all the lock were set for us.  Things were going well until the penultimate lock, which always takes a while as there’s only one bottom paddle.  It seemed to be particularly slow, however, and we couldn’t get the bottom gates open.  Then I noticed that the pound below was getting lower and lower, so walked down to see what was happening at the bottom lock.  It was set for us, but the volunteer had left a paddle half up, gradually draining the pound and meaning our lock was unable to make a level. I pointed it out and he closed it, and by the time I’d walked back up to the previous lock the gates had been opened.  As the boats came into the lock, the volunteer came up with a story about how the previous lock gates sometimes close in such a way that they’re then difficult to open.  It’s funny how him closing a paddle he’d missed sorted it all out though.

The five miles back to the marina took the usual hour and a half.  I did a good turn into the marina, but could have done with some more help from the wind to reverse into the berth.  We had lunch, packed up (although Adrian had already done most of it), and set off in the car,

10 miles, 7 locks.  (96 miles, 44 locks)

Tuesday, 30 May 2023

Post-Crick: Day 1

We set off at 8 this morning, with me walking down to the top Bucky lock and Adrian bringing the boat.  It was grey and rather chilly — last week lulled us into a false sense that we were already in summer.  As I got to the lock, I could see that two boats were about to go down.  They turned out to be being moved by CW Boat Mover so I knew they were going to be efficient.  I went and opened a bottom gate for them, and later they lifted some paddles for us which was very kind of them.  As we waited for the lock to re-set, a boat came round the corner.  The couple on Venitia had been moored on the Braunston side of the junction, saw us, and got themselves moving!  They were very good locking partners, and we made rapid progress.  Eventually we started meeting boats coming up.

At the bottom, the boats being moved were moored outside Whilton, and Venitia was stopping for diesel, but we carried on.  We stopped for water between Weedon and Stowe Hill, and even though we haven’t topped up since Thursday, it didn’t take too long to fill up.  We also got a wash load on, to reduce the amount of dirty clothes we’re taking home.  We had lunch on the move, and then stopped for the night on the piling before Nightingales Bridge, which is a favourite spot.  It’s the sort of place you start off on your own, and then more people join you later in the day.  It was only 2pm and we could have gone further, but it was really quite cold and windy, and we have time for the rest of the journey tomorrow.  We have the trains for company, and among them has been a Greater Anglia branded one, which was empty and looked as though it might have been brand new and been on its way to its home area.  

During the afternoon, Adrian has checked my Crick boats reports and they have gone off to the editor, and I have made an apple crumble.  We’d thought the wide towpath here would be ideal for getting the Cobb barbecue out, but with the sun having failed to make an appearance I think it will be sausages and roasted veg in the oven instead.

12 miles, 7 locks.  (86 miles, 37 locks)

Monday, 29 May 2023

Crick Show: Monday

It was pretty grey and cold this morning.  We went for a walk up the steps by the tunnel and into the village, then through the Millennium Wood and up Cracks Hill.  There’s a massive solar farm beyond the canal in the Rugby direction, and we also got a view of the show site in the opposite direction.

We went over to the show site for a further wander round, and watched Mark from Brinklow playing in the Aquavista stand.

We had lunch and some doughnuts, then returned to the boat where Adrian made a chilli for this evening.  I needed to go back to see who the winners were of the public votes for Favourite Widebeam and Favourite Narrowboat.  The wide title went to the Bespoke Boat Co, and Braidbar won the narrowboat title, much to their delight.

I dashed back to the boat and we set off at 3pm, straight into the tunnel, and then onto Watford Locks.  There were a couple of boats ahead of us about to go down, and we followed them, so the wait was pretty short.

At the bottom of the staircase a boat was waiting to go up, so we could leave the gates open, and another boat was waiting at the very bottom so we could leave those gates too.  We carried on, first trying to moor by Bridge 3, but the stern was sitting on the bottom way out, so we gave up.  There’s room for three boats there, but the two already there weren’t as far forward as they could have been.  We got a spot just before Norton Junction, though, so it worked out ok in the end.

5 miles, 7 locks.  (74 miles, 30 locks)

Sunday, 28 May 2023

Crick Show: Sunday

As it was Sunday, we had scrambled eggs on toast with mushrooms for breakfast.  Then I carried on writing up the mini reviews of show boats, while Adrian made another visit to the Co-op.  I can’t really do much more work on the boat reports until I know who’s come where in the public vote for Favourite boats.  Later we walked up to the show site, over the temporary bridge.

I needed to check a few things out that I’d either not noted down or had forgotten.  We had interesting chats with the guys on the Water Freedom stand, about their canal water filtration system, and various other people, before we had lunch and returned to the boat.  A little later there was a knock on the boat and it was Lesley and Joe, formerly of Caxton, Yarwood, and Steadfast — now of Toulouse.  We gave them tea and caught up on the news.  It was really great to see them, after quite a big gap.  I ducked out just before 3 because I needed to go to one of the seminar tents, to watch a discussion with Richard Parry of CRT about future funding of the waterways.  The government grant runs out in 2027, and news of the replacement settlement has been ‘imminent’ for months.  I got a couple of news lines out of the session, which was good.

This evening we went to The Wheatsheaf in the village for dinner.  The food was good, and I was particularly pleased with my choice of lamb chops from the specials menu.  We’ve been amused all weekend by the antics of a family of swans who live on the grassy knoll by the water point.  They were absent all day yesterday but arrived back this evening with all four cygnets clambering out of the water via the slightly collapsed concrete edging.

Later we’ll probably go back over and see the Queen tribute band, Mercury, who are playing tonight.

Saturday, 27 May 2023

Crick Show: Saturday

Another sunny and warm day. I did some writing in the morning, then we headed over to the show site, seeing a few people we knew and having lunch. More writing in the afternoon, then back over to the site when it was a bit quieter. We had dinner there and went for a walk along the towpath, then I headed back later as Dr Feelgood were playing the beer tent. 

Friday, 26 May 2023

Crick Show: Friday

Friday is press, trade, and preview day — so it’s much easier to get on board to look at the boats.  Andy the photographer arrived just before the gates officially opened at 10, and we were quickly under way looking at boats, him taking photos and me taking notes.

In the past few years, wide beams appeared to be taking over the show but this year they seem to be in retreat — with only six fully fitted wide beams plus two sailaways. There also seem to be more narrowboats this year.  In all, we looked at 27 boats, giving us options for which ones to feature.

Adrian meanwhile went for a walk, did some shopping in the village, and went for a drink at the pub in order to get Wi-Fi.  The signal here is as dreadful as usual.