Wednesday 12 October 2022

Oak on test

The November Canal Boat is out, and includes my review of Oak by Darren Aldridge Boats. 

Monday 3 October 2022

Stowe Hill

We were seduced by yesterday’s warmth and didn’t light the fire last night — which meant the boat was pretty cold by this morning.  Adrian was up and off to work very early.  I had a more relaxed start to the day, and then drove up to Rugby Boats at Stowe Hill for a boat test.  When I got back at lunchtime, the marina ducks were making the most of the sunshine on our pontoon.

This afternoon I have been writing up the boat test, and then went for a long walk, down to Cosgrove Lock, across the fields to the mill, back to the aqueduct, and back along the canal.  Then I noticed there was another footpath from Cosgrove on the other side of the canal, so I used that for a change.  Some is not very user friendly though, so I think I’ll stick to the towpath next time.

I’ve also been doing to packing up and have begun loading the car, to make for a quick getaway straight to work tomorrow morning.

Sunday 2 October 2022

Autumn Cruise: Day 13

Our moorings were particularly quiet last evening and overnight, because of the rail strike.  In fact we saw only one train, a very long freight one, the whole day.  They also seemed very late starting this morning.  We were also later than usual, probably just trying to delay the end of the trip.  We cobbled together a cooked breakfast, using up remaining eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, and some black pudding bought in Braunston.  It was just before 9 when we set off, on a much better day than forecast.  We were soon going through Gayton Junction.

We plodded through Blisworth, then just before the tunnel there’s a tree down over the towpath and quite a width of the canal.  Narrowboats can get past ok, but I suspect a widebeam might have problems.

In the tunnel we met a plastic boat with just a torch and no headlight.  Then Mike on the trip boat, Charlie, came in as we neared the far end.  We just had time for a little chat, with him telling me that for once he was going right through the tunnel with his passengers, not just a little way and then reversing out.  At the locks, we joined a single hander for the top two locks, and there was very little water in the pound between them.  He moored up in the long pound, and we went down the next lock.  A boat had just gone down, and waited for us, so we shared the lower four locks with a nice couple who have lived aboard in the past, but currently just spend long periods on their boat.

We met boats coming up, and there was great discussion about which pair would stick to the middle of the pound and which would go round — but in fact what happened was a bit of a free for all.   By now the sun was out and it was properly warm.

There were boats coming up at the next lock, and one at the bottom.  Our companions stopped for water while we carried on to Grafton Regis where we moored up for lunch, and then washed the towpath side of the boat while it was accessible.  We then did the final hour back to the marina, where we followed another boat in, and were soon secure in our berth.

This has been our shortest autumn trip for a while, and we haven’t done anything new.  But it’s been nice to revisit some favourite areas, and we’ve met some lovely people along the way.

10 miles, 7 locks.  (169 miles, 162 locks)

Saturday 1 October 2022

Autumn Cruise: Day 12

We had a lovely visit from my cousin Catherine, Nigel, Grace, and Matthew last night — they brought fish and chips with them, and we had plenty to catch up on.  It rained pretty much the whole evening, and by the time they left, the roof was covered in leaves!  This morning it was a very different day, with clear blue skies and sunshine.  We set off just after 8.

Through the junction and round the corner, we arrived at the top lock.  It just needing a little topping up before we could go in.  At one point it looked as though one of the moored boats was making preparations to join us but nothing came of it, and another boat came through the junction but moored up.  So we set off alone.  The next five locks were all in our favour, and we made good progress in lovely conditions.

For some reason the bottom lock was almost empty, but by the time we were down a couple of boats had arrived to go up.  Along the next section the sunshine was so bright it made it difficult to see.

We passed a lot of boats going the other way, including one which had just been picked up by new owners, who hadn’t rally got the hang of steering.  We stopped at Rugby Boats for a top up of diesel and a replacement gas bottle.  As the day wore on, the cloud built somewhat and the wind really got up.  We stopped early afternoon at the moorings just before Nightingales Bridge.  We walked across the bridge and up the footpath to Gayton, where we had a look in the church and walked round the village.

There have been lots more boats past, many of them Gayton hire boats with people battling the wind.  Tomorrow is supposed to be calmer, but possibly wetter.  We’ve made sure we have working tv tonight, so we can watch my colleague Richie on Strictly.

12 miles, 7 locks.  (159 miles, 155 locks)