Sunday 31 March 2019

Birthday Locks

I drove up to the boat after a night shift, dropped off my things, opened my birthday cards, got changed, and headed out again to Braunston.  My route took me along the new Flore Weedon bypass, which crosses the canal on a big new bridge that we’ve watched go up over the past couple of years.  I parked in the village and walked down to the locks.  I was meeting James and Amy from Willow who are heading to London with new Baby A.  We were pretty mob handed, as also helping out were Maffi from Milly M and Ann and Simon from Melaleuca.  We started off up the locks with one boat, but they soon decided to moor and were replaced by Water Jester who’d just set off.  We flew up the locks, and at the top we all went on board for tea (and to admire Baby A, who was very contented and cute).

We all agreed to go and help at Buckby too, so while Amy and James set off through the tunnel, the others drove to the top of Buckby Locks while I drove to the bottom.  I was starving so popped onto the marina cafe for a baguette to eat while walking up the locks.  As I got to the top lock Willow was just coming down.  With plenty of crew, we made rapid progress down the locks; the sun had also come out and it had warmed up considerably.

At the bottom, James and Amy set off to make some progress towards London.  Ann, Simon, and Maffi turned down the offer of a lift back to their car, so I headed off back to Briar Rose, via Tesco and Towcester for some food.  It was too nice an afternoon not to move, so I quickly prepared the boat and headed down to Cosgrove.  I turned around above the lock and moored in a nice open spot just by the horse tunnel under the canal.

I’ve lit the fire and will be having an early dinner and an early night — partly because I’ll soon have been up for 24 hours, and partly because of an early start tomorrow when we hope to get two boat tests done.

1 mile, 0 locks.

Wednesday 27 March 2019

Vagabond on test

The May issue of Canal Boat is out, and includes my boat test on the Aqualine boat, Vagabond.  The front cover is one of Andy’s drone shots.  If you’re wondering about the headlines, it’s because this is the first boat we’ve looked at with an incinerating toilet.

Friday 15 March 2019

Goodbye Paul

This morning was very windy again, with the odd squally shower.  Adrian did work while I did not much, apart from a trip to get lunch and dinner.  This afternoon was the reason we were up here — to go to Paul Macey’s funeral.

It was a very nice service at the crematorium in Milton Keynes, and it was also good to chat to his family afterwards.  We’d followed the blog for a long time and met Paul and Elaine a few times, most notably at Paddington Basin on the day Prince George was born.  He also often used to message me when he was listening to the radio.

Back at the marina, just where we parked there were sparrows going in and out of a little hole in the wall.

On the boat, we spent a mucky half hour trying to stop the bilge pump running — not pumping, just running — something that will require more work on another occasion.  Tomorrow, we’ll go back to London as I have work, and Adrian will go home from there.

Thursday 14 March 2019

New lock gates

As usual after night shifts, I went to bed early and got up quite late.  It was another blustery day with squally showers blowing through from time to time.  The boat has been bouncing about in the wind.  The forecast calming down sort of happened after lunch, but I still didn’t fancy heading out, partly because the forecast is pretty windy for tomorrow too.  However, in a sunny spell this afternoon I walked the mile or so down the towpath the Cosgrove to see the new gates which have been installed at the lock.  They have certainly stopped the continual flow through the previous leaky gates.

There were some daffodils by the bridge, which looked very nice in the sunshine.

Adrian is coming up on the train, so I’ll drive to Wolverton to pick him up.  A sausage casserole has been simmering away on top of the stove all afternoon.

Wednesday 13 March 2019


I came up to the boat this morning after my night shift.  I was meeting someone at the marina at 10, and was early enough to stop at Tesco in Wolverton to buy some food.  Just after ten, a director of RCR arrived to fit a remote monitoring device which is undergoing testing before being launched later this year.  It was all installed by lunchtime.

It has been extremely windy all day, with waves on the marina.  Every now and then a squally shower blew through too.  I had originally planned to head out of the marina this afternoon but there was no way I was going in strong winds like this.  I did see one boat going past, a Wyvern hire boat.  It has calmed down in the past hour or so, so I’ll see what it’s like tomorrow.  Instead, while the engine boards were clear I checked and topped up the batteries, and then filled the water tank.

Tuesday 12 March 2019

Joy Louise on test

The Jim Birch Boat, Joy Louise, is the test boat in the April edition of Canal Boat.

Tuesday 5 March 2019

Mercia again

It was pretty chilly when I got up this morning, even though the fire had stayed in.  I made a prompt start with the drive up to Mercia Marina for a boat test.  I arrived about 9.30 having had a test from Andy the photographer saying that traffic meant he would be late.  It meant I managed to get all my note-taking done before he arrived.  When he did turn up, not really late at all, we set off to do the running shots in sunny but rather cold and blustery conditions.  Once back at the marina, the owners and I left Andy to do the interior shots while we went to the Beetroot Tree cafe, which is new since we were last here, and was right next to the boat.  Andy joined us afterwards, and treated himself.

The drive back to the boat was easy, and as there’s a quick turnaround on this boat test I’ve spent the afternoon writing it — which just goes to show that it is possible if you put your mind to it.  Tomorrow, a very early alarm for work, then back home.

Monday 4 March 2019

First visit since New Year

I came up to the boat this afternoon, as I have a boat test further north. tomorrow.  Everything on board was fine, if a little chilly.  I got the fire and the Eberspacher going, put the shower bar back on, and turned the water on.

It was fairly bright and sunny, but there was a very stiff breeze making waves on the marina.