Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Winter cruising

With temperatures dropping to -4'C last night the canal was well and truly frozen this morning and we didn't expect to move, but at 11am a work boat came past pushing an empty pan and breaking the ice. It was closely followed by 3 other boats so after lunch we set off following them towards Fradley.

It was quite cold but we were well wrapped up and had a very pleasant cruise in the winter sunshine.

The snow hadn't quite melted on the lock sides as we came up the 3 locks at Fradley, but at least we're now past Middle Lock which is closing for maintenance next Monday.

It's surprising what you find in the canal at times. I wonder where these balloons came from? They were floating in the canal at Handsacre which is where we pulled in for the night.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Brrr...it's cold!

Hello, nice to see you again. I hope you had a good Christmas.

Ours was very quiet. We'd moored outside the Lime Kilns pub having planned on spending a couple of hours in there at lunch time on Christmas Day before having our Christmas dinner back on the boat. To check it out we went in for lunch on Christmas Eve and while the food was OK the pub itself wasn't. The staff weren't at all friendly and the glasses and cutlery were filthy so we revised our plans and on Christmas Day we walked back to The Wharf pub which is just up the road from Trinity Marina. It was packed with nice friendly people most of whom were wearing their Christmas jumpers. Even though the pub was rammed the 3 bar staff worked wonders and there were hardly any queues. The beer was good too so I've marked it in the book for a return visit in the future.

We've had a couple of good cruising days and are now moored at Hopwas. It was -2.5'C last night and the canal was frozen over this morning.

I was woken up at 7.30 by the sound of breaking ice as a pair of swans went past and the ice has now been well broken up by 3 boats going past. We haven't decided yet whether to move or not, but if the sun keeps shining then we'll probably do a couple of hours after lunch as we need to get to Fradley by weekend.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas

We've just spent two wonderful days with our grandkids who came for their first ever visit to "Granny's Boat". Our granddaughter is now two and a half and could talk the hind legs off a donkey. She's growing up so fast and we saw a really big leap in her vocabulary despite it only being a month since we last saw her. Our grandson, who is almost one, had great fun crawling the full length of the boat and walking about holding on to my shelves. The best Christmas gift ever was him taking his first step while he was with us.

We're now moored up outside the pub so that we can go for drinks before our big lunch tomorrow but we'll be cruising again on Boxing Day to move areas while the stoppages are suspended for the holidays.

Thank you for visiting my blog this year. I hope you've enjoyed following our travels and I'd like to wish you a very

Merry Christmas 
and a 
Happy and Healthy New Year

See you after Christmas

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Internet booster aerial

You probably remember me moaning about the poor quality of the internet signal we've had over the past few months. I can manage without phone signals but feel totally lost without the internet, which we use to keep in touch with family and friends as well as shopping and banking.  Back in the spring we bought a very expensive aerial which we were told would solve all our problems. As we'd bought it on-line we had the usual 14 day money-back guarantee which was a good thing as it was absolutely useless!

Roger kept researching other aerials all over the summer, before finally deciding on THIS ONE

He's mounted it on a pole which fits onto our top box, but it works almost as well when it's just laid down for travelling.

We've been using it for about a month now and it hasn't missed a beat. We haven't found anywhere yet that we couldn't get a decent signal, even here on the Ashby canal which is a notorious black-spot for both internet and phone signals.

It's been another crisp but sunny day, so we set off fairly early (10 ish) and cruised up to the end of the canal at Snarestone. We filled up with water, dumped the rubbish and had a long chat with a nice lady from the Ashby Canal Association before turning round and coming back to Shackerstone. Mark on the coal boat Calisto had recommended the Rising Sun pub here, so we popped in for a pint and lunch. The food was really, really good. I had steak and Guinness pie which had more meat in it than I'd cook for the two of use and which was meltingly tender. Roger had fish and chips which he said was the best pub lunch he'd had for ages. It's definitely one to mark in the book for a return visit.

The only other moving boat we saw today was this one.

They said they were 'electro fishing' and had a large tank inside the boat filled with large fish which we thought were Zander

Monday, 15 December 2014

Ashby Canal

It's 14 years since we had our last hire boat holiday here on the Ashby Canal. It hasn't changed much although there are more canal-side housing developments and a large new marina at Market Bosworth.

One section of the marina seems to be filling up but the pontoons behind and to the side of the building are empty. Maybe they're not finished yet.

It doesn't look like it's been open very long and there are lots of construction works still going on

We noticed Paul and Elaine's old boat Caxton tucked away amongst the moored boats. It seemed strange seeing the boat without them on it.

On Saturday we met Mark on the coal boat Calisto and while he was restocking us with coal and diesel he told us about this farm shop. He was raving about their chicken and ham pies so we moored up and took a look for ourselves. Wow what a shop! The butcher's counter rivaled some of the best and I bought a joint of brisket and some Barnsley chops. I also bought one of the pies as recommended by Mark and he was right.....yum yum!  We had the brisket for Sunday dinner and I'll definitely be stopping off again on the way back for more meat.

We'd moored outside Bosworth Marina to go into the village to stock up at the Co-op. It's almost a mile uphill to get there but thankfully it's all downhill with a full trolley coming back.

On the way, we passed this gorgeous tiny thatched cottage with it's Christmas themed garden

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Sent to Coventry

I'm not very impressed with Curry's PC World.  We went to the store in Rugby last week to buy me a new lap-top as my previous one had just about given up the ghost. The one I wanted was out of stock so the salesman checked online and found that the Coventry store had several in stock and reserved one for us, telling us it would be held for 7 days. Five days later we arrived in Coventry and walked for half an hour to the store only to be told that items are only ever reserved for 2 days.....grrrrr.....

Luckily they had one in stock and we went to pay for it only to be targeted by an over-eager salesman who tried his best to up-sell us everything going. I'm really glad Roger was with me as this guy started telling me I needed all sorts of extra programmes, anti-virus, insurance and data storage which were totally unnecessary and which would have cost us another £100 or so. He got really flustered when we declined everything he offered and started telling blatent porkies. If PC World hadn't been £50 cheaper than anywhere else I'd have told him where to shove his lap-top and gone elsewhere!

We were the only visiting boat in Coventry basin and stayed for 2 days while I stocked up at the market and finished the Christmas shopping. This is our neighbour James Brindley

The Tin Music and Arts Centre at the basin run Yoga and Tai Chi classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays and I'd have liked to stay another couple of days and take part, but there are signs warning of £25 per day over-stay charges and I didn't fancy paying that much.  I'll have to time our next visit to make sure we're there on the right days.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

It's starting to feel a bit like Christmas

We had an even later start than usual today. Although the double glazing had kept the big windows clear, the portholes were iced over when I pulled the plugs out. One of the bedroom ones was even frozen on the inside!

By 9.30 it was still -4'C out and the satellite dish mechanism was frozen solid so we had to wait until the sun melted the ice to put the dish down. The ice was so thick on the solar panels there was absolutely no chance of getting any charge, even though it was very sunny. Once they'd cleared we were getting just over 4 amps which is enough to run the fridge/freezer

When we finally set off late morning it was still bitterly cold but wearing full thermals and padded ski pants and jacket I was lovely and toasty warm and really enjoyed driving the boat while Roger stayed indoors playing his electric guitar at full blast.

I do have a little "secret weapon" against the cold though. I suffer with Raynaud's syndrome which basically means that my fingers go dead at the slightest touch of anything cold, even to the extent that I need to wear gloves to get the milk out of the fridge

and years ago I discovered "Little Hotties"

To get them to work you remove them from the packet and shake well. I have no idea what they're made of but they contain a grey powder which reacts with the air and produces an exothermic reaction which keeps them nice and warm for up to 8 hours.

They're the perfect size to tuck in my gloves to keep my hands lovely and warm while I'm steering the boat. On really cold days I've even been known to tuck one under my hat to keep my head warm too. Now all I need is some way of keeping my nose warm too and I've cracked it......

You can buy them in chandlers at around £1 a pair but I buy them in bulk so they work out a lot cheaper. They're also available on eBay HERE

It was lovely cruising in the bright sunshine but just as I was going through the swing bridge at Rose Narrowboats a stupid woman pulled right out in front of me. She could see me coming but was determined to get away from the water point in front of me. It was a good job I was only on tick-over and that our boat stops on a sixpence otherwise I'd have rammed her. She then proceeded to scrawp and bash into every one of the moored hire boats. At first I thought it must be malicious as she had plenty of room to pull away from the moored boats but watching her travel down the canal in front of me I decided she just couldn't steer her boat. Once past the moored boats she put the throttle down and rushed off zig-zagging across the canal as she went. One minute she was in the bushes on the off-side, the next she was in the reeds on the towpath side. This went on until she pulled out of sight. As we went past a long line of linear moored boats a few miles later a man who was cleaning his boat thanked me for going slowly, saying it was a shame he couldn't have said the same to the woman on the boat in front who was going like a bat out of hell!

This afternoon I put our Christmas decorations up. All I need now is a tiny Christmas tree to go on the table.

Don't look at the scrawped paintwork on the gunwale. That was caused by dodgy Armco pilings when the pound emptied overnight at Braunston. It's on Roger's list of jobs to do, I just haven't given him the list yet...........

Friday, 5 December 2014


We've spent the last couple of days on the visitor moorings at Rugby. It's a very handy place to moor as it's only a couple of hundred yards to Tesco and then another few hundred yards to the retail park. I'd been running down the cupboards and freezer over the past few weeks so we needed 2 trips to Tesco to re-stock. Thank heavens for "granny trolleys" I dread to think how long my arms would have been if I'd had to carry it all in bags.

We also needed to visit PC World as my lap-top is almost old enough to draw it's pension, but the shiny new one I'd set my heart on was out of stock. I've reserved one at the store in Coventry so that will be our next port of call.

Today we moved to the 14 day moorings at Brinklow which were almost full, in fact we just managed to slip in between two other moored boats. 

It's been a beautiful sunny afternoon so after lunch we took Chico and went walkabout into Brinklow village. There's not a lot in the village apart from a Post Office and two chip shops, but they do have a really nice, well cared for, war memorial

and a fancy name post

Oh, and they've also got a castle which dates back to the 12th century

although all that remains is the grassy Motte

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

A good weekend

We had a really good weekend moored in Branston.  It was lovely to catch up with old friends Joan & John from n.b. Tagine Queen which is one of the boats we built. They've been living on board for the past 9 years and are still loving it.  It's the sign of good fiends when the time passes in a flash and almost four hours later we said our goodbyes.  The Sunday lunch served in the Admiral Nelson pub was very nice too. We all had the 12 hour braised and roasted brisket of beef and can highly recommend it. I'm glad the pub has re-opened and is serving food again and it's to be hoped the new owners last longer than the previous ones.

Over Sunday night the water level in the pound had dropped by almost 2 feet and we were firmly on the bottom.

There was no obvious reason for the drop in level but when we managed to re-float and set off down the next lock the leaking doors showed just how much water was being lost. As one of the bottom gates had been left open all that water was just running away.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Now that's what I call a Snowman!

We had a wonderful few days away with our children and grand-children and now we're back we've started cruising again. I don't like being in a marina and just pottering about killing time was really boring, but now we've got a plan and are heading to Braunston for the weekend to meet up with friends. Next week we're heading to Rugby and then onwards to spend some time on the Ashby Canal.  It seems like the Ashby may be quite busy this winter as almost all the continuous cruisers we've spoken to recently are heading that way too.

Coming up the Buckby flight of locks yesterday we came across this huge snowman.

At first glance he appeared to be in the middle of nowhere but as we cruised past we could see that he was in the car park of a pub/restaurant and was actually a bouncy castle. There were a couple of young men inside having a really good jump around too!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Still Killing Time

We've just been pottering slowly along for the past few days as we don't need to be in the marina until tomorrow ready to go away for a few days.

On Friday afternoon we moored at Cosgrove to go to the Barley Mow pub. To get to the pub we needed to go through the horse tunnel under the canal.

It's very narrow and quite low but an excellent short cut when you've got a bit of a thirst.

The pub is quite quaint and we were expecting to have a few beers followed by a nice meal but it wasn't to be.

When we walked in there were quite a few locals at the bar, who stopped talking and turned to stare at us as if we'd interrupted something important. It was a bit like walking into one of those old "yokel" film sets!  The bar man wasn't interested in serving us as we were obviously interrupting his conversation and served us cider when we'd ordered "Tiger". He wasn't happy when we pointed out his mistake either. The locals returned to their conversations but the language was absolutely disgusting! We used to run a construction company so I'm well used to men swearing but this was awful. Every other word started with either F or C!!!!   We took our beer into another room and left as soon as we'd finished it which was a shame as it was really on form too.  It was their loss of two meals but I'm sorry, I don't expect to pay good money to listen to that sort of language.

On Saturday we carried on up to Stoke Bruerne, sharing the first 5 locks with a small boat whose owner told us he was stopping to fetch his van and then carrying on later to go through Blissworth tunnel when it was dark as he didn't like meeting other boats half way through. We moored up in the village well before dusk and expected to have a nice peaceful night but once it had gone properly dark the traffic started coming up the locks and 5 boats went past us in the pitch dark and gathering fog. The first one was the little boat we were expecting, the next 2 were speed boats with only tiny headlights which were obviously not good enough to navigate by as they both came extremely close to us, despite us having all our indoor lights on and the blinds still up. They certainly couldn't say we were inconspicuous, the canal isn't particularly narrow at that point and we weren't moored on a bend, they just couldn't see where they were going. The next one was a well known blogger who I won't name, who bumped into the side of us as he tried to moor up in front of us. The fifth one came past at 9pm again going far too fast and with only a tiny feeble headlight on, obviously on a mission. Considering that the last time we moored in Stoke Bruerne we were rammed by the wide beamed boat it's obviously just "one of those places" and is now on my list of moorings to be avoided.

The good thing about travelling slowly is that I've had plenty of time to make things for our grandkids and my crochet needle has been going like the clappers!

It's been a good excuse to use up some of the stash of wool that lurks under the bed. Only trouble is now I need to go wool shopping again......and I know a really good on-line wool shop with fast delivery.............don't tell Roger!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Its Blowing a Hooley!

We were going to move today but the weather has taken a decided turn for the worse and it's wet and VERY windy so we've stayed put. There have been a few boats going past, including MAFFI, and the steerers haven't looked happy at all.

I've recently updated my winter footwear and have invested in two new pairs of boots.  The first is my "bargain" pair of waterproof, thermal boots that I bought on-line from Regatta Outlet. If you're interested the link is HERE. I like the Regatta Outlet as you can get some real bargains on boots, fleeces and waterproofs.

At only £24 including delivery they're comfy, waterproof and very warm but despite having good soles they are a bit slippy.

The other pair that I bought are something I've lusted after ever since I saw them a few years ago. As I've fallen & slipped a few times recently I finally used that as an excuse to indulge myself in these Doc Martens.

Not only are they perfect for boating as they're sturdy and extremely slip-proof but they're pretty cute too. It seems I'm not the only one who likes them either, as a woman came up to me in Aldi the other day and said how much she loved them and then the same thing happened again in Leighton Buzzard shopping centre. I worried about them being uncomfortable as I'd heard horror stories about having to "break in" Doc Martens and about them causing blisters and bruises but I have to say I'm really impressed. I wore them around the boat for a few days before going out in them but now they're as comfy as slippers!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Just pottering

We've got a couple of weeks to kill before we put the boat in a marina and head off "up north" for a hospital visit and a short family holiday, so we're just pottering about here on the Grand Union. We've both been very pleasantly surprised by this canal and have been mooring in some beautiful spots in the middle of nowhere.  It's obviously a very popular canal for winter moorers as there are LOTS of boats setting up small communities, many of whom have paid for the winter mooring permits which allow them to stay in a certain area. Of course there are still the huddles of "pikey" boats that moor together and don't show either mooring permits or C&RT licences. Once we get back from our holiday at the end of November we'll be carrying on cruising properly, although we haven't yet decided exactly where we're going.

Yesterday we had a visit from our old friends Martin & Maggie who came to stay for the night.

We had a really good meal in The Three Locks pub, which as you might guess from the name is beside Soulbury Three Locks. The Hobgoblin ale was on top form too.  Maggie is a vegetarian and usually struggles finding good pub meals but we both had the butternut squash and halloumi kebabs with rocket and parmesan salad and sweet potato fries and I can honestly say that if all veggie meals were that good I might be tempted to turn to the green side..............until the next Sunday roast that is.