Friday, 15 October 2021


I came up to the boat after work as I have a boat test to do tomorrow, leaving behind a rather dull and drizzly London and arriving in warm sunshine.  It was far too nice to stay in the marina, so I headed out and turned left.

The space I like through Bridge 63 was free, so I carried on to Baxter’s where I turned around, and returned to it.  I moored so I can see through the gap in the hedge from the galley and the dinette.

After lunch I did a few jobs, firstly sweeping the stove chimney, then blacking the stove itself.  Both of them are rather messy jobs.

I needed to get some steps under my belt, so headed through the gap in the hedge and across the field, which has been harvested and ploughed.

Across the next field is a bridge over the River Tove, meaning I was into Buckinghamshire.

The path goes through woods, then a field of sheep.

I turned through a farm yard and across another field of sheep, up to Castlethorpe.  The railway goes through the village in a cutting.  It used to have a station, but it closed in 1964; you can still see the platforms, although the central one is very overgrown with trees.

The village has a nice sign, and there’s a little shop.  I retraced my steps back to the boat, covering almost 5km.

I spend the next little while carefully scraping old adhesive from our licence holders from the windows, before sticking new ones up.  I’ll do another post in a couple of days about how ridiculous they are.  I lit the fire, because I know from experience that the blacking makes fumes if you haven’t polished off every last trace — so I wanted to get it going while it was still warm enough to have windows and doors open.

3 miles, 0 locks.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Kenmillone on test, plus Crick show boats

The November Canal Boat is out, and includes my boat test on Kenmillone by Pendle Narrowboats.

There’s also a review of the narrowboats which were on show at the Crick Boat Show back in August.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

North Kilworth

Up to North Kilworth today for a boat test.  The weather was kind, and the ducks were tame.

Monday, 20 September 2021

Calopteryx on test

The October Canal Boat came out while we were away, and includes my boat test on Calopteryx by Forton Boat Fitters.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

West Mids Meander: Day 24

We were a bit later setting off this morning, probably due to a General Reluctance to end our trip.  It was 8.45 when we left our mooring and headed for the lock.

A single hander was going down ahead, so he waited for us at the third lock.  At the next one, the pound was so full of water there was no chance of getting the top gates open, so we had to run some water off to lower the whole pound.  A CRT man turned up and did the same at the bottom lock.  Once we were down we made a brief stop at the services to use the Elsan and top up the water tank — it’s easier to do it here than at the marina.  It had begun to rain at the bottom of the flight, so I put my waterproof trousers on, at which point it promptly stopped.  It stayed pretty much dry for the whole journey back to the marina.  We were tied up on our pontoon by 11.45.  Adrian had been packing as we came along, so after some lunch we’ll be loading up the car and heading home.

5 miles, 5 locks.  (283 miles, 270 locks)

Saturday, 18 September 2021

West Mids Meander: Day 23

We had a nice evening with the Provincetown boys, including a look at their boat, which is beautiful.  It was very misty this morning when we set off at around 8.  None of the other boats pointing our way showed any signs of life, so we set off down the locks on our own.

As usual on this flight, some locks were full and others empty.  We completed the flight by 9.30.

At the bottom, there was a lovely boat moored up.

We hadn’t seen any boats at all on the flight, but then they came thick and fast.  Similarly, the sun had also burnt off the mist and it had turned into a lovely day.  At Weedon a site on the offside is being cleared — not sure what will be going in here.

We made a diesel stop at Rugby Boats, where the price has gone up to 84.9p per litre basic.  Just after Heyford Fields Marina, a hire boat coming the other way had got stuck on a rock, and we waited while a boat behind them helped pull them off.  Towards Gayton Junction I spotted a heron which had just caught a fish.

At Blisworth, the widebeam trip boat from The marina was moored right in front of the bridge so you couldn’t see anything.  The boat in front of us had had to take avoiding action when a boat came through the other way and ended up aground close to the mill building.  It all took a while to sort out. How the trip boat thinks this is a suitable mooring, I have no idea.

We passed one boat in Blisworth Tunnel, then did the two locks down to the long pound where we moored.  We walked back to the village and called in to see Kathryn, then on to see Jenny and Pete on Momentous, which was moored above the locks.  Back at the boat, we washed and polished the other side which was no on the towpath, and then Jenny and Pete joined us for a drink.  We all ended up going to The Navigation for dinner together — one of those great evenings that’s all the better for being unplanned.  On the way back to the long pound, the moon looked great above the lock, and a boat was coming down in the dark, it’s headlight lighting up the gate. 

16 miles, 8 locks.  (278 miles, 265 locks)

Friday, 17 September 2021

West Mids Meander: Day 22

Some days everything seems to take a long time, and some days things seem to happen quicker than usual.  Today was one of the latter sort.  We started with a plan, having heard how busy Hillmorton Locks can be, especially since the hours were limited: they open at 8, so we’d aim to be there about then.  So we set off at 7.45, and arrived at the bottom of the locks at about the same time.  One boat we passed was just about to set off, and another was already going into one of the bottom pair of locks.  The other was empty and we could go straight in.

As we rose in the middle locks, boats were coming down, so the top locks were also ready — by when a volunteer lock keeper had arrived.

The other boat, an ex-Viking Afloat, stopped at the top for breakfast while we carried on towards Braunston.  It had been quite chilly, but the sun came out and the temperature went up, and before long the spire of Braunston church came into view.

We made two brief stops in Braunston, the first at Midland Chandlers for boat was and polish.  We stopped on their mooring right opposite the junction.

Then we pulled in outside the marina for a quick trip into the village.  We had an early lunch before setting off again.  A boat expecting visitors had tucked in behind us, right by the marina entrance, but was quite a long way out from the edge, so we’re pleased that they could move forward into our space.  Earlier on, I’d sent a message to Mark from the hotel boat, Ellis, as we’d noticed he was in Braunston Marina with alternator problems.  As I walked up to the lock he replied, so came along to say hello.

We were joined up the locks by a nice couple on a boat which they moor at Norton Junction, and who have been boating since the 1980s.  We met no-one coming through Braunston Tunnel, and when we got to the junction there were no boat movements either.  A boat had just gone down the lock but the volunteer lock keepers helped set it for us.  This evening, we are going to the New Inn with Peter and Stu from Provincetown, and I was surprised to find Stu already having a pint outside the pub, many hours too early!  We moored immediately below the lock, and washed and polished the towpath side of the boat, something we have neglected to do the whole trip.  I even polished the tiller arm and pin.

13 miles, 10 locks.  (262 miles, 257 locks)