Friday, 19 December 2008

A very Merry Christmas

The festive period is well and truly upon us.

People are getting into the christmas spirit with Job Parties ranging from office 'do's' to disco's on Thames cruisers and theamed dress-up affairs where Henry the Eighth throws a christmas turkey leg across the dance floor for effect.

Our own works 'do' was organised for last Monday which alas, Laura and myself didnt attend due to family commitments. But we heard all about the usual goings on when we all returned to work on be honest, im glad we didnt go

So, We ourselves have been looking forward to our first proper Christmas, off work together.
We have 4 days off ending on Christmas day then back to work Boxing day for 5 days then off again for New Years eve for 5 days........or so we thought.

Yesterday, The management decided to inform Myself and a few others that, due to bad planning they have cancelled my days off on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, and to make matters worse.....its without any compensation!!!!!!!

IM not a happy bunny order to make me feel better and spread a little good news at this time of year it is with Great Pleasure and Happiness that Laura and myself, announce that we are expecting the arrival of our first child this coming July

Mother and Peanut (for that is its size) doing well

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Roy Orbison

Original Post 28/06/08

Day 21

Our original plan for this day was to cruise down to Denham Country Park and find a little spot for 1 final barbie before doing the last 3 and a bit hours back to base camp. The day dawned overcast and very breezey and a few showers accompanied our meanderings through the locks.

At Batchworth we were aided by orange lifejacketed children who were visiting the canal centre and getting instruction on locks and boats....Geoff, one of the staff was telling Nora that when these groups were being shown around the motorboat 'Roger', the question was asked of them what they thought the boat wouldve carried in its hold. Not one of them thought of Coal, Televisions being the favourite guess. I guess not many kids these days have any concept of coal. Funny the way the world changes.

It was about 3pm as we descended Widewater lock and onto the Denham stretch, Looking at the sky we decided to plod on towards the Slough Arm.

At Cowley Peachey juction, my turn was restricted by a boat moored a few feet too close to the opening so a bit of jiggery pokery was needed to complete the swing onto the arm while the boat owners enjoyed the spectacle from the comfort of their chairs on the towpath.

Just over half an hour later saw us at Highline. We decided not to continue up to the winding hole as is our usual thing, but to tie up for a change on the outside of Herbie as Neil and Cath are heading out for the River Wey on sunday and being alongside the bank will be better for them loading up etc.

Our neighbour Lydia waved us in and kindly took the stern rope and we were promptly visited by 3 of her cats who had apparantly been missing their treats due to a lack of Lady Elgar being alongside.
All finally secure and engine shut down and shore line connected saw us relaxing with a chinese takeaway.

All in all it was an excellent trip with fantastic weather. We met some lovely people, maffi and bones by name others just as faces. Visted some excellent pubs and eating places. Enjoyed the drama's of boaters antics and behaviours which although sometimes are frustrating, they are nothing compared to the behaviour of people on our roads, and what may seem like moans by me about folk, are not really moans...just observations on different behaviours, as im sure other folk would observe on our behaviour.

Valuable hands on knowlegde was learned re the boat such as the starter problem and the prop shaft, but even those incidents all added to the enjoyment of the trip and the experience of owning and running your own boat without the need to call on expert help.
These problems were really very minor, the starter problem only being compounded by the fact we were on the Thames and had to shut down the engine at every lock.

Laura's highlights of the trip were the hundreds of baby fowl and animals that all benefitted from her tesco value bread bag, The Blisworth tunnel. Having her hat rescued by the lockie at Brentford and the memory of the Garlic Mushrooms at the Wharf Inn at Fenny Compton.

For me, just being together in our home cruising through varied and changing landscapes is enough. No bad memories and thats for sure.

The log shows the following data
Engine Hours 132
Distance 250miles
Locks 175
2 Tunnels

back to work Wednesday

Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren

Original Post 27/06/08
Day 20
The morning broke dry and lovely. Following a couple of brews we fired up and cast off, Nora working the swing bridge and 1st lock while we kept looking behind us in the hope of seeing a boat coming down behind us who we might share with. Its wasnt to be so we slowly dropped down the heavily locked Hemel Hempstead section and arrived at the santary station at Apsley to take on and drop off fluids.
A boat had decided to chain themselves up to a large portion of the services mooring so we pulled in behind them and in turn took up a portion of the lock mooring. Knowing it would probably be a long fill, I toddled off over the bridge to nip into Sainsburys for a quick top up on supplies. Rather wish I hadnt as it mustve been pension day and the checkout women were more concerned with chatting to each other about Sandra's 30th wedding anniversary than getting me through with my meagre items.
I eventually exited the store and as I crossed the bridge saw 2 motorboats going up in the lock and a couple of boats just exiting the lock above and Nora looking stressed.
Typical, we'd not seen any other traffic all day then it becomes busy just as ive been a bit cheeky and gone shopping while taking on water.
As it happens, it appears no one wished to use the services while Nora had been using them, the two motorboats decamped from the lock and headed on towards the next lock and the two boats coming down started hammering pins into the ground to tie up, so we fired up, packed away the hose and dropped down the lock.
The next lock at apsley mills was obviously in our favour and the two motors had left both gates open, probably re-living old times. I deposited Nora on the starboard side and brought Lady Elgar to a stop on the portside so we could both close a gate each. I then saw a chap emerge at the steps by the bottom gates and could see the roof of his boat just infront of the bottom gates.
Thats gonna get lively when the paddles are raised thought I and as soon as both top gates were shut, this chap began winding. he then darted across to the other paddle and began winding again, wthin seconds two loud crashes occured and I could see both gates bouncing as this chaps boat began to ram into them.
GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME. He very quickly ran back across the gates and down to his boat, then all I could hear was the sound of an engine being rev'd very hard, obviously in an effort to excape from the draw of the gate paddles. Nora then dropped both gate paddles and some normality returned and the chap managed to reverse away from the gates.
Paddles up again and gate eventually open. This chap now placed himself in front of the open gate as I was exiting. The boat was only about a 40 footer at the most and painted in camoflague. He didnt wait for me to clear but came steadly forward. I managed to just get out of the way avaoiding some very nast looking spikes that he had on the front of his Bow, Obviously used for when attacking the Carthaginian fleet.
Once Id got Nora back on board we agreed that he was obviously in a hurry to get somewhere. Apparantly, it was the spikes on the front of his boat that had got trapped in the gates preventing him from being able to reverse away from them.....what a strange fellow.
Unfortunately, no further excitment occured and we made the steady descent sharing the lock work a couple at a time. It was about half four by the time we reached Lady capels lock and our intention to moor opposite the golf course was thwarted by boats there before us so we dropped down into Cassiobury park and eventually tied up just below Iron bridge lock.
Another BBQ was set up rather quickly as the sky was darkening and the wind freshening, and sure enough, just as Nora had watered the plants and I was finishing off caramalising the Lamb chops, the rain began to fall and we shut up shop and settled down to eat while watching series one of Phoenix Nights.A very pleasent days cruising of 6 hours and 19 locks.
We are now within the M25 boundary and already the thought of having to return to work looms.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


Original post 26/06/08

Day 19
According to the Log, we started up the Perkins at 11.30am after I had cleaned away the BBQ from the night before and taken down the Sky dish. The weather didnt look at all promising and there were spots of rain in the air.
Sure enough within 10 mins of setting off a couple of very heavy squalls washed everything down and blew everything about. Then out came the sun for a bit and all was calm again.
Just after passing the flour mill a heavy squall hit us again just at the same point as I saw the nose of a narrowboat come into view. The Wendover arm is very narrow and shallow so trying to see through the rain we slowly passed each other and it turned out to be Ralentando who I think we shared leighton lock with a couple of days earlier. A second boat then passed and out came the sun again this time for good although the wind gusted most of the day.
Turned back onto the main line at bulbourne junction and set off towards Cowroast armed with sausage butties for sustanance. We needed to dump rubbish and the Elsan at Cowroast and as we approached the lock I could see a boat in, about to go down. the gate then opened and it appeared that they would wait for us, which is nice, but I signalled my intention to pull over to use the services and saw they understood by the gate slowly closing.
We pulled over and tied up and were approached by the chap going down the lock.....It was our chums from yesterday on Megan, He said he'd wait at the next lock for us so it was with good company that we descended down to Berkhampstead where we waved goodbye as they stopped to visit waitrose. We didnt need the bank any more as we had solved our problem 'online' earlier.
The wind was still giving it large in gusts but the sun shone throughout. A number of large boughs had obviously been brought down in the strong winds but nothing that blocked the canal. We eventually arrived at our destination, Winkwell swing bridge and the Three Horseshoes pub and moored in the pound just a few meters away from where Lady Elgar once had an old willow tree collapse on her back in 1995.
The guide book states that the Three Horseshoes is haunted by two ghosts. A highwayman and an old lady, So after our very excellent meal we repaired to the tack room and sampled some black sheep ale and a pint of broadside. Although Nora was convinced she had her arm tweeked and saw a shadow in a corner (in a shadowey room) no shouts of STAND AND DELIVER disturbed our evening.


original post 25/06/08

Day 18

We departed the Globe in lovely sunshine and in anticipation of the 18 locks ahead of us.

A planned short stop at Tesco in Leighton Buzzard refilled some cupboards and fluid cabinet however the waterpoint proved to be defective. It doesn't take long to leave the town behind and after Grove lock the rolling hills and fields open up again giving excellent veiws over towards Woburn.

We filled the water tank at the top of slapton lock and noticed a boat just entering the lock behind us. Goodie, if they dont stop for water we can share the climb up towards Marsworth.

Sure enough Megan and crew caught us up as we were preparing the next lock and we spent a very pleasent afternoon working the locks together. Im gonna have to start carrying a pen on the back with me so I can write peoples names down, My memory is shocking. Both the chap and lady were lovely people.We waved goodbye to Megan at Marsworth and we carried on up the seven locks to Bulbourne.

Nora steered the flight. Nothing much worthy of note except when I arrived at the third lock it was half empty or half full depending on your point of view.

I saw a couple of people at the top gates of the next lock but saw no activity to suggest anyone was coming down so I raised the paddles and emptied the half lock of water in our favour. I then saw the next lock being emptied so there was something coming down. They had exited their lock and were holding just in front of ours by the time our lock was nearly full. I think the lady on the narrowboat thought we had deliberatly emptied the lock which was in their favour as my hello was returned by the couple on the cabin cruiser but not by the Nb. Sorry folks, but it really was half an half. I still felt guilty though.

No other traffic saw us at Bulbourne and we turned onto the narrow winding Wendover Arm.
At the terminus 4 boats were in the prime positions but one of which was also moored in the winding hole which the wind managed to lay us alongside nicely. Nora managed to push the bows off and we eventually swung round and plonked ourselves in the same spot we had used last October. Nora made a lovely potato salad with scally onions and chives and I offered up the burt offerings to the BBQ Gods.The Wendover really is a lovely little canal and the moorings at little tring farm are fantastic and quiet.Slow speed on the internet here so no picsToday we start the long descent towards home.

Oh yes, MONEY MONEY MONEY. must vist the bank in Berkhampstead later

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Bucks Fizz

Original post 23/06/08
Day 17
Late start today as we only planned to go as far as the Globe. Hadn't topped up the fuel tank since Reading and knowing how hard we had been forced to punch the flow of the Thames I was keen to top up again and see what we had used.
Milton Keynes marina was the first services so we turned in and approached the fuel landing. It all seemed very quiet. I had managed to get far enough into the marina to make getting out awkward when a chap called out from a boat that they were shut on mondays. Pooh!
Never mind, managed to turn without hitting anything and we set off towards Willowbridge.
At Fenny Stratford lock, Nora kept asking....."whats the point of it?" well, its a lock, and it has a swing bridge across it, and, well, what is the point of it?
We took on 69 litres of the red stuff at Willowbridge at I think 86ppl. We shared the first two of the Soulbury three with a boat who were going to wind above the 2nd lock and as we were coming up the third, a chap waiting to come down mentioned he had almost bought Lady Elgar a couple of years ago. It turns out he is a forum member and we chatted for a short while about his Harbourgh of my favourite hulls they are, So Globetrotter a pleasure to meet you sir. Hope you manage to find out more info on the old girl.
Our destination finally approached and I was hoping that we wern't too late to get a mooring as ive never been here before when it hasnt been packed with boats. Imagine my surprise when, We came under the bridge and not another boat in sight, we had a choice of the whole length. yes folks, MY CAMERA NEVER LIES.

A short afternoon siesta and showered and dressed saw us plonked at our table in the Globe. Food as always was absolutly fantastic. There are no words to add. The Ale was good too.
We think so far The Admiral Nelson and The Globe have been the best eating spots, The Boat at Stoke B was also excellent but was very arty and a totally different type of eating house. The Wharf?.....well, just go along for amusment value really, not for culinary delight.
Nora did hear one bloke at the Globe tonight ordering a bar meal moaning....He was telling the barman that it was a right rip off selling the same weight Sirloin Steak as the same weight Rump Steak for £2 dearer......well you dont have to order it!...nobber.
Long day tomorrow...hope to get to the Wendover arm for a Barbie.....nighty night

Friday, 21 November 2008

Electric Light Orchestra

Original post 22/06/08

SUMMER AND LIGHTNING, all around us.
I think it mustve been about midnight that the electric show began in the sky followed by loud rumblings of thunder across the valley. The rain was so heavy that the plants on the roof took quite a battering so when we woke this morning to blue skies and sunshine evrything seemed so much better, except that is for the howling gale blowing from the sou'west.
The plant pots didnt stand a chance and after the 2nd time of putting them back in place, the third time they blew over...over they remained.
We did the remainder of the Stoke Bruerne flight alone, the wind making us contact the side rather more than we wouldve liked but got through unscathed, I suppose if time was no object and we didnt have to be back for work it wouldve been a perfect day for not moving at all....sigh....maybe one day,
Crabbing sideways was the order of the day and trying to avoid moored boats while slowing down enough not to cause them too much problems .
As we neared Cosgrove, a couple on a Wyvern Boat passing us called out " How far is it to the aquaduct?"I smiled at them and said " Youve already done it.....just before the lock"
They looked longingly behind them.....never mind folks, look out for it again on your way back.
The approach to Cosgrove lock was interesting, Once passed the line of buildings and approaching the sanitary station the wind found its way through gaps in the trees and blew us towards the moored boats, I could feel the hull tilt to port as the gusts hit us, so it was a bit of wellie on the revs and regain some control. The mouth of the lock however has no tree cover and as we slowed to stop we were slammed into the side and held there.....who needs ropes when youve got wind power to hold you in position. All we need now is to fit up some form of Gaff Rig and some Lee Boards down the sides and we'd save a fortune on diesel.
Our planned stop was for Great Linford so we carried on past Cosgrove moorings and approached the aquaduct over the Great Ouse. Being in Wyvern country I could see one approaching ahead of us. As they entered the aquaduct and lost the shelter of the trees the wind caught them and slammed them into the side of the trough. Always nice to see what your gonna have to cope with before you have to do it, so, as we entered, I kept well over to the right and as soon as the tree line finished, i steered to starboard and just managed to avoid clanging the sides....with a bit of power of course....Nora was going to take some pics of the crossing but she just confessed that she was actually more concerned with clinging on for dear life.
Finally arrived at Great Linford and was a bit surprised to see a large gathering of boats on both side of the water. Some tents and marquee's then came into view along with throngs of people all enjoying what turned out to be the "Great Linford Waterside festival."
We tied up just before the bridge and did a very quick shop to stock up on milk and booze and bread and then headed off to see what was going on.
A few stalls, a few childrens rides, a large stage with rock bands making a sort of noise and the usual eating establishments. We milled and thronged with the rest of the population of Milton keynes and then...oh joy of joys......a stall selling stuff and things and there, hanging at the back was a Peg Bag. Not just any old Peg bag but a Peg Bag that obviously had our name on it......Ive been looking for one for ages, No longer will our pegs have to hang on the rotary line awaiting the next load of washing, They can now rest easily between loads in their own splendid Peg bag.

We even found a couple of pegs on board to start the collection

We purchased some rather fine fudge. Rum an Raison for me and Chocolate for Nora and Choc and orange for both of us, and you cant pass the customery burger bar with out sampling the wares, which in actual fact, were probably the best burger i have ever had from a van .....far better than the cardboard I forced on myself at the Crick Boat show.
We got back on board and both sat down listening to the noise of the band on the stage, We were then passed by 7 teenagers with their Lager cans and Jugs of cider and decided maybe we will move up a bit for the night, so we cast off and cruised for an hour and found ourselves a little spot which will suit for the night.
All in all a good days cruise made even more interesting by the wind. Tomorrow will hopefully see us alongside the Globe Inn. We have booked a table for that is....not for 8 people....unless anyone cares to join us

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


Original post 21/06/08

Day 15
Opening the blinds this morning revealed drizzle and then some more drizzle. It was morning as well, about 6am. We knew we might get a bit of noise from the mainline railway nearby but hadn't bargained for the sheep with megaphones.
Actually we did manage to drop off again and eventually arose about 10am....still a couple of cups of coffee and watched Takeshi's Castle.....Love the High Rollers.We cast off around about 11am with yours truly fully decked out in wet weather gear.
It was still drizzling and it was that fine know...the stuff that gets you wet through. At Gayton Junction we took on and dropped off the usual fluids and got chatting to another couple also taking on and dropping off, about sofa's, of all things, We where suddenly whistled at by a boat opposite and asked if we had finished.....ooppps, far too easy to get carried away...sorry folks.
Laura had been looking forward to the Tunnel of Doom at Blisworth and BREAKFAST IN AMERICA/lunch was delayed for it.

There had been quite a fair bit of traffic this morning in spite of the rain and the tunnel mouth had the usual exhaust fumes shrouding its dark depths.
We chugged through and only met one boat coming the other way. I always think to myself what if this is a widebeam that aint arranged a passage, But no. twas a tug style Nb and we hailed each others dark shapes on the tillers as we passed.
No space at the top of Stoke Bruerne so we dropped 2 locks and tied up to cook the breakfast we had missed for the tunnel. The full works except for my black pudding which had been taken over by mico organisms turning it an interesting bluey black colour....Its my fault for it being hidden at the far end of the fridge.
Seeing the state of the sky and the prospect of further wet clothes we decided to set up the Sky Dish and close up for the day. Nora settled down to watch Hollyoaks and I for some strange reason fell asleep for the next 2 hours....
For the evening meal we patroned the Boat Restaurant....An excellent meal of Wild mushrooms and fillet steak for Nora and Crayfish and Red Mullet for me.We skipped pudding and had a pint outside while watching an Alvechurch boat and a Bromley Youth Trust boat negotiate the top lock.Marstons Pedigree was very good.Weather report shows rather promising for tomorrow
our mooring for tonight

Saturday, 15 November 2008

The Beatles

Original post 20/06/08

Day 13+14
YESTERDAY saw us moored at Braunston and no phone signal and no Web an Walk signal for the first time this trip so no post was possible.
We cast off from Fenny Compton and negotiated the lovely summit level of the Oxford winding around the hills and farms. Saw loads of young lambs and hundreds of tiny Moorhen chicks all along the level.
Finally Napton windmill came into view in the distance and we started the descent at Marston Doles. Ive always enjoyed doing the Napton flight, the locks fill and empty pretty quick and its got lovely open views. We passed one or two boats coming up and there were about 2 boats following behind us.
Still playing catch up on our sched, we didnt stop at the Folly but plodded on towards Braunston passing the new marina at Wigrams. I also noticed a boat builder had vanished since my last vist....or so i think, Im sure there was a boat builder not far after the bottom lock and before Napton Narrowboats, as we came under the bridge where I remembered it being, there was just a collection of demolished buildings. Perhaps I dreamed it all.
Approaching Braunston We passed the sad sight of Forum member Carlt's boats Usk and Lucy. We really hope he manages to find someone who can rescue them even if its a hard standing place, before BW run off with their remains.
Braunston certainly hadn't seen much change since my last visit unless I go back of course to the days of Ladyline in the Marina. Long lines of moored boats and no space. We eventually found a gap just before the Union Canal Carrier moorings but as I tied up I noticed that the bollards had Wheelchair symbols on the top of them, so I guess they were for disabled moorers, however no sign confirmed this but we wernt happy.
We took a walk up the locks to the Admiral Nelson and saw a couple of spaces suitable in the pounds between other boats. Ive never been keen on mooring in pounds for obvious reasons but thats preferable to being pointed at for taking up disabled moorings.
We eventually tied up between Locks 3+4 and after a shower and a rum an coke livener we mooched over to the Admiral Nelson to try and improve on the night before's meal. We needn't've tried. Just by looking at the menu it was obvious that everything was cooked fresh and all home prepared. Also, Adnams Bombadier and a couple of Ales which I cant remember the ale was called Doombar and was very smooth and hoppy. Laura chose the local butchers Sirloin on the bone and I had their allegedly famous Cod and Chips. All was fantastic. The batter on the Cod just flaked off and not a smudge of grease to be seen on the plate. Laura's steak was just sooooo tender......Well recomend the place if you wish to eat out in Braunston.
This morning saw us both up and about by 9am and by the time I had prepared the engine for start up and took down the Satelite pole one boat had already gone up the locks, I saw movement at the lock below us and thought oh goody, maybe we could share with these.
As I held Lady Elgar in the side, One of their crew walked past and asked if we were going up and would we care to share the the pope etc etc.
Our companions for these 3 locks were on a Black Prince Boat but the boat name escapes me. It turns out that as they approached the bottom lock, the boat that had just gone up ahead of us was in the lock and our Black Prince chums asked if they could share the locks, The private boat owners declined stating they were in a hurry!!!!!! there was only 2 of them and 4 of our BP friends. They were in such a hurry that they didnt even bother to close the top gates.
Their loss was our gain and what lovely people these 4 were. They were a day early on their reconning and had decided to go up the flight and go through the tunnel and then wind and go back again as they were not due back at Napton till kinda adventurers. Lauras first ever Tunnel then appeared and to say she was excited was an understatement. The landslide from last year still blocks the apprach a bit but once lined up we could see the approch of at least 2 boats coming towards us.

The first boat we passed was actually towing another boat which explained all the clanging noises I could hear as we approached. It bounced from side to side in the tow boats wake. We eventually passed 5 boats in all, without incident.

At Norton Junction we teamed up with Narrowboat DJANGO for the descent of the Buckby flight. A lovely couple who where heading down to London after having wintered on the Llangollan. They stopped at Whilton for the chandlery and we waved goodbye.....if they ever read this then I hope you manage to get onto the Thames eventually. We finally came to a stop just past bugbrooke following a provsion stop at Weedon.
We have the smell of a chicken Tikka simmering in the pan at the moment mmmmmmmm

Friday, 7 November 2008

The Beach Boys

Original post 18/06/08
Day 12
Fired up the engine by 10.30am and toddled up towards the windly windly hole come water point at Cropredy. While I held Lady Elgar into the side waiting in the queue, Nora plodded over to the Bridge Stores for some supplies.
I was still queue waiting when she returned, Her bags seemed rather light. She was outraged! " they hardly have anything" said she......"No bread, no veg, no potatos".......I sent her back with instructions for more Coke and Tobacco.
She returned heavily laden and sheepishly said she found a back room this time with all we needed lol.
Finally got our turn at the water point which has water pressure of biblical proportions. After our hose had flown out of the filler hole for the third time searching for suitable victims to drench we resorted to holding it in place. Eventually water tank full and toilet empty we set off up the first lock towards the summit level.
There was a steady procession of boats coming down and at least one following behind us. Intermittant rain and strong winds were the order of the cruise. A young chap working a boat coming down the Lock at Cropredy informed me that he had dropped his windlass in front of the bottom gates at the next lock so if I had a magnet I might get some results. We had a good few attempts at trying to find his handle but eventually the boat behind us came into view so we had to leave if your in the area with a magnet.....Broadmoor Lock bottom gates may prove fruitfull.
At Varneys Lock we waited for another boat to come down and again the boat behind us caught up just as Nora was steering through the bottom gates. I was just starting to pull the gates shut when, imagine my surprise to hear the top paddles being drawn by Mr Nobby Nobster of Nobbsville. Anyone who has cruised the South Oxford knows that most of these locks have a vicious draw on em so I have always taken the boat right upto the top gates where the water holds her in position. Lady Elgar suddenly shot forward in the grip of the flow and I called out to Nora to go full reverse. This made little difference and LE's button fender smacked into the cill. Nobby Nobster had toddled off back to his boat......I guess he mustve been in a real big hurry.
The annoying thing, When things like that happen, Nora thinks its something shes done wrong and knocks her steering confidence when in reality there is nothing she couldve done to prevent the collision.No visable damage done to either LE or the lock, we exited, and approached the next lock
. As I came in to drop Nora off I put LE into reverse and there was an almighty juddering and shaking from beneath me.....they certainly wernt GOOD VIBRATIONS. So I leaped off with the centre rope and we dragged the boat to a stop. Being so close to the lock we pulled her back off the lock holding area and tied up.
I gave her a quick touch of reverse and the shaking and shuddering happend again with the steering step also vibrating, a short burst of forward gave no vibrating at all. I shut down the engine and had a smoke.
Having read Trevors book 'Living The Dream' I had a slight inckling that the prop shaft had shifted backwards. I just didnt know if there where any sheared bolts or loose nuts. I lifted the floor in the Boatmans Cabin revealing the propshaft and it looked like it had shifted backwards a good half inch or more. What I couldnt see was the connection with the gearbox. There is an access hatch under the Battery box to assist in this so I set to, removing 2 of the four domestic batts to allow access to the joint.With everything eventually undone and 2 batts removed I checked the UV joint and found all secure? very strange.

I went back to the BMC and pushed the propshaft, forward, back into its normal position.....I then tried to pull it back again but found I couldnt budge it.....the only thing I could find to tighten up was a small nut with an allen key head on the rear bearing. Everything else was tight.I reconnected all the batts and restarted the engine.

Forwards gear no probs either....all very strange....The only thing I could think of was that Noras emergency reverse from forward gear direct into full reverse mustve been enough to throw the shaft backwards......We both made a mental note to always pause for a second or two before engaging reverse from forward.
No further problems or troubles and we eventually tied up on the summit just past The Wharf Inn where we had promised ourselves an evening meal in the pub.

Our evening meal proved to be quite amusing.

Nora's starter was described as Mushrooms in a creamy garlic sauce.......They turned out to be thinly sliced button mushrooms in an hint of garlic oil. I had Filo Prawns with sweet chilli dip....Being a customer of Costco, I recognised them as coming from that fine emporium..."ya cant go wrong with deep fried stuff" I proudly announced to Nora as she fiddled with her mushrooms.

While waiting for the next course a couple next to us were served their main....He complained that his Sausages in onion gravey ....had no gravey...The waitress said she would bring him some in a jug.

Our steaks finally arrived but not the onion rings...We asked the waitress for vingegar, a fork and if our onion rings where expected...she said, " oh sorry, I normally work the bar, Im sure they will be here shortly, Ill just get your cutlery"

The man next door finally got his gravey as he finished his last sausage.

Our steaks wernt too bad but the chips were oven chips and Nora's veg were Raw, not even Al Dente. However, when the onion rings arrived they were spanking hot...see ya cant go wrong with deep fried food.

I appreciate that they must find it difficult surviving on summer trade but youd think they would at least get a chef who could cook instead of leaving it to Darren in a back room with a Deep Fat Fryer and a large bag of Tesco Value Mixed Salad.

Braunston tomorrow....all being well .

PS its blowing a gale outside and I think ive just heard one of the roof pots of flowers blow over

The Specials

Original post 18/06/08

Day 11

We had cast off by about eleven and chugged through the lovely winding countryside hoping to arrive at Banbury in order to stock up at the supermarket.
The sun was out but a bit of a breeze kept the heat down as we passed through familiar places to me from 15 yrs ago.
Laura decided there was no way she was going to steer in Somerton Deep Lock so that honour was left to me. Its still a great feeling going into that narrow chasm and seeing that huge slab of wood close behind you.

Aynho, where we moored and fitted out our old Harbourgh boat had seen quite a few changes. There were now moorings both sides of the canal and not just the offside where we were. Those offside moorings had also seen big improvemnets, In our day the path was an over grown muddly affair but was now neat and gravelled.

Aynho wharf itself seemed a little sad from the days of it being an Anglo Welsh base with all the usual activities but a sign in the window of the Wharf building stated it was under new management so maybe it is up for a looks like boats are still either built or fittedout in the yard so its good to see its still a going concern.

My timings of canal travel never seem to work out properly and it wasn't till half six that we exited Banbury lock into what I can only describe as a GHOST TOWN.
All the shops were shut up, Plenty of boats yes but where was everybody?
We tied up just under the main road bridge and set off armed with our Tesco bags to find Morrisons.This was my first visit to Banbury since it had all been done up and I didnt recognise the place. We wended our way through narrow allys past shops all shuttered up for the night and pubs with lights on but no noise from within, not even the customery smoker outside.
It was as if the towns folk had all hidden themselves away after 6 lest the dreaded Banbury Boggart should take them unawares. The Boggart had also stolen or demolished Morrisons and with nobody around to ask for directions, after half an hour we hotfooted it back to the boat and cast off towards cropredy.

Again, timings and memory failed miserably...I didnt recall it being that far.....we eventually exited Slat Mill Lock at 9pm. The pubs would no longer be cooking and yet again I had managed to avoid buying Laura an evening meal.We found a mooring, set up the Sat Dish ready for Deadliest Catch and settled down for a Fry Bentos steak pudding each......smashing.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Make and Model?

Original post 17/06/08

Day 10
I was up and about by 8am and following the first brew of the day, left Nora sleeping and I set off down the Botley Road to find Halfords armed with my electrical component complete with box and Lucas part number.
I passed a cycle shop on the way and looked longingly at a smashing little folding pushbike in the window but payday is still to far away for toys like that plus the car needs MOT'ing when we get home.
Found Halfords and presented me at the parts desk. I showed them my item and enquired if they had any in stock?..." what make and model is it from?" they asked, "erm...its not, its from a boat" says I. A long sucking in of breath through teeth and shaking of heads brought the response,
"We can only search our records if we have a make and model" "what about the part number? are you not able to look through the store room to see if you have one?"
" Not without a make and model of car Im afraid"
Thankfully they did suggest a local Motor Factors which was another 20 mins walk further along the road....(oh for a folding push bike) so I plodded off and found the place in a little industrial estate. I showed the chap my Item and within 2 mins he was back with a replacement. smashing.
Arriving back at LE, Nora was up and about and not fancying any further exploration of Oxford we cleared the roof of all protrusions above pigeon box height in readiness for navigating under Osney Bridge.Following comments from Trevor, Lady Elgars original owner I decided to hold fire fitting the new part and waiting till we return to Iver to speak with Steve at the yard who has already mentioned his thoughts for the starter problem. Thanks Trevor, will check out your suggestions.
We Cast off and fought against the current towards Osney Bridge. We passed under with reasonable headroom although I did have to crouch down. Once through the bridge and the narrow sections we increased speed on the wider sections towards Godstow Lock

At Godstow lock, The Lockkeeper said he'd remembered our engine from a few days earlier. It appears he likes to have a decko in the engine room doors of passing craft and state he had already seen a 2 cylinder Gardner, an old Lister and now a 3 Cylinder Perkins....It seems he does different locks on a daily basis.
Finally through Kings lock and the sharp right turn towards the Dukes Cut, and then back on to the calm waters of the Oxford Canal.
Nora, having been spoilt by Thames Locks had a momentary lapse of lock working memory and walked upto the top gates of a full lock intending to wind the paddles to empty the lock. I promised her I wouldnt mention it.
Bridge 228 managed to do what Osney Bridge couldnt, All looked good on the approach but as we went under I noticed a nasty sagging bit in the centre. This managed to topple the coolie hat off the stove chimney which luckily plonked itself down onto the roof without going overboard but then the sag collected the exhaust pipe.....just on the top leading edge and brickdust and soot and a slightly bent pipe where the remains of the contact....Think I will use Trevors 'Titch Pipe' for the next days.
At Thrupp we took on water and emptied the lav.We finally tied up just before Northbrook Lock by about 7pm and as the evening was so lovely, the BBQ was fired up and burnt items of meat were offered to the Gods.
a few more pics

Back on the Canal

Thursday, 30 October 2008


original post 15/06/08

I think we eventually got to bed about 2am. So this morning when the church bells of Abingdon rang out it was a bit of a shock. They wont continue for long thought I, just calling the faithful to worship, but no, It was obviously a campanology convention calling the faithful who had quaffed a skinfull the night before to clamber out of bed and put the kettle on.
Maffi and Bones where already up and about and after the first brew we were ready for the last haul to Oxford. So we waved farewell and passed on our thanks again for such an excellent evening and cast off.
Nothing of real note for the four hours it took to reach Osney Lock except that again the going was slow in places but the sun kept playing on us and making the criuse very enjoyable.
The public moorings above Osney lock had a number of free spaces so we slotted in just past the pub and took a walk into town to get some lunch.
We stopped at the castle and took a table outside one of those grill type places, this one was called Tootsies. They brought the menu's to the table and that was the last we saw of them for 20 mins, So enough was enough and we went elsewhere. Gordon Ramsey wouldve been outraged.
Back on LE sleep overtook us both and our afternoon nap ended at about 7pm !!!!! so its now 12.20am and we are still awake. Tomorrow we'll have a wander round town and also a visit to Halfords to try and get the part for the engine then set off for the canal. if we wake up in time that is

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Slug Speed

Original Post 15/06/08

What is the differece between slug speed and snail speed? Are slugs faster because they dont carry a shell on their backs?
Today saw us awake at just before midday thanks to our evening with Kath and Neil in Goring......mmmmmmm sleeeeep. So when Nora got up and asked the time and she said quarter to 12. I said...."no its not" she said " yes it is" I said "no its not" and so we continued for a couple of mins but yes it was indeed nearly midday and we had 8 hours cruising ahead of us if we were to meet Bones and Maffi at Abingdon for our BBQ.
Within 20 mins we were ready to cast off but a quick visit to the loo was required, just as I entered the Big Boys Room, Nora informed me that she had flushed a Wasp down into the cassette.......Great thinks I, Im gonna sit on the throne and suddenly feel a stinging sensation in regions best left to the imagination. As it happens all was well and no trace of a pooh wasp.
Again the flow of the river was decidedly strong causing us, at times to struggle to maintain 2mph on the narrow bits. We were also delayed at one lock thanks to two narroboats tying up opposite each other instead of indian file thereby filling the lock with their presence, Admitadly I thought the lockie wouldve shepherded them better but he didnt, so,.....that lock took 50 mins by the time we exited.......
Time on boats is only ever important if your running to meet a deadline.....the knock on effect of that lock however, was that we arrived at the next lock 2 mins after the lockie had knocked off for the day. So, anyone who has ever worked a Thames lock on their own without any Power assistance will know that by you have have turned the Wheel 3 million times to raise the paddles, then another 3 million to open the gate and another 3 milion the close the paddles ect ect ect, its no longer that lock took us half an hour.
We finally arrived alongside the infamous 'Milli M' at 8pm. Maffi had already let us know that the barbi was lit. I find it quite bizarre that folk who have never met before and only seen each others writen words can sit down together and enjoy an evening as if they had been chums for years.
We have both enjoyed our evening with Bones and Maffi very much and I thank them for providing us with an excellent meal in the excellent surroundings of abingdon.To Bones and Maffi I say you have converted us to Waitrose Burgers, and I just wish our time to get to know each other had been longer.

Nosy Visitor
Lady Elgar alongside Millie M

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Snail Speed

original post 13/06/08

No photo's tonight as we only have snail speed connection which kinda matches our snail speed while under way.

We had probably the quietest ever night at Henley, you know, its so quiet that you cant hear anything at all except the noise from your ears.
We woke to spanking sunshine and clear blue sky, By 8am the Henley rowers where out and about practising for next week's ladies Regatta and the Cox's were being rather vociferous....Typical small person syndrome lol.

We Cast off and got under way by 9.30 am hoping to make Goring for the evening stop. River flow's were still causing us problems, sometimes managing 3mph other times dropping right down to 1.8 on the narrows. The river was quiet again untill we approached Shiplake lock and two boats hove into view behind us who were obviously stemming the flow better than ourselves...One was a Thames widebeam cruiser and the other a narrowboat, I presume the Narrowboats are either giving it full wellie on the engines (which im not prepared to do) or they have larger props suitable for river cruising.

We enterd Shiplake lock first and were joined alongside by a Nb (Mention no names). No drama in the lock, and we intended to pull over on the left to take on water and empty the toilet cassette.
Due to our starter problem I said to the chap on the Nb that he may like to go first, He said that there were stopping for the pump out in any case....I went below on the opening of the gates and Lady Elgar kicked into life with the magic wire on the first go. I returned topside to see the Nb already out of the lock. We followed them to the Pump out and Water point mooring. The Nb promptly pulled in alongside the Pump out and I expected them to pull back to allow us to use the water such luck. He secured his tail rope and she secured her rope at the front.....she then walked upto the water hose and fed it back the 30' to their they obviously intended to pump out and fill up at the smae time, knowing full well that we also required water and couldve done this while they pumped out. Never mind, we plodded on as there was insufficient room in front of them for us....I wasnt overly bothered but it did seem to annoy Nora......Its just uncivil thats all......
By comparison......we approached the Tesco mooring at Reading and every space was full apart from a very tight gap I thought i might be able to slide into on the very end....Full marks to the Chap and lady inboard NB Cygent who came outside and pulled their boat back to give us full length on the mooring. Civil an decent...dont take much does it.

We eventually spent a couple of hours at Reading, While shopping at Tesco I put the Genny on and we did some washing while wandering round the store. Upon our return the wash cycle was just finishing and we turned round and took on 54.5 litres of Diesel at Reading marina also water and empty the elsen.

We then made all haste for Goring which should only have been 3 hours away.We texted Neil and Kath our neighbours at Iver on Herbie that our ETA at Goring was appx 7pm, well, 7pm came and went and we eventually ariived and were met on the tow path at 8pm.....Neil and Kath had already done a recce on the moorings and found all the ones below the lock taken but he guided us into a nice little spot a little way back with two trees placed perfectly for our bow and strn lines.

The four of us then wandered into Goring and plonked ourselves in the first pub where 3 ales on pump attracted our attention.
We had a really smashing evening and were really pleased that they met us but as always the evening went too quick.
Tomorrow will hopefully see us in Abingdon and a rendevous with Bones and Maffi, Ill pm then after this to make sure all is as planned.

As an aside, we shared a lock with some young folk on a Thames hireboat...The two chaps were dressed up in naval getout. The chap in the admiral hat told me that he lived in a little village alongside the kennet and Avon Canal, he said that LE was the best looking canal boat he had ever seen......Makes ya kinda proud of your home.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Its a Contact Sport Pt2

Original Post 12/06/08

9.30am saw us under way from Windsor and within minutes the rain was pelting down. In fact it had been raining most of the night and now I was concerned that river levels were going to rise again and see us stranded waiting for them to fall.

I was seriously considering turning round and heading back to Brentford, However just after Boveney lock the rain dried up and we had a mixture of sun and cloud, and the very occaisional light shower.

The river was still flowing rather fast and again on the narrow sections our speed dropped to less than 2 mph making progress very slow indeed. Eventually we reached Marlow lock and On speaking with the lockie he stated the levels were still dropping despite the rain and we should find the going much easier now.

We had seen very little other traffic and most of it going down stream so it was nice for the majority of the locks we encountered we were able to keep the engine running (with permission of the lockie) as we still have starting problems.

Just after Marlow bridge we encountered a couple of sailing dinghy's spanking along 'close hauled' tacking one side of the river to the other. The first one passed by with no probs at all but the second, Tacked from our starboard side, shot across the river and then tacked again and crossed our bows from the port side.

At the end of that leg he was now parrallel to our starboard bow. I fully expected him to spill his wind and let us clear but instead he tacked again and shot forward hitting our starboard bow just behind the stem.

He shook his head, I said nothing, We disengaged, I saw he was ok and off he went again. We parted company turning our backs to each other without any spoken word....I think we both learned a lesson there.

Nora managed a School girl error when throwing a rope onto a bollard in lock, she caught the bollard perfectly and then proceeded to pull the line tight.....the look on her face was probably priceless as the bowline end also followed the rest of the line through the bollard and then back on board after having jumpped off the T-stud when she intially threw the rope.......I gave her much words of wisdom about making sure all was secure when catching a bollard......three locks later I managed to do exactly the same for my own school boy error.

We eventually arrived at Henley and found a mooring (the first we have paid for so far) just before the town bridge. Nora managed to feed a large flotilla of goslings and 1 duck the majority of a loaf of bread while I toddled off for a walk into town to find an Offie and or a bread shop......I found a Circus, a cinema down a small alley and and offie but no bread shop.

As I approached the boat on my return laden with Rum and coke and 2 packets of Pork scratchings I saw the flotilla of goslings now behaving like sheep and doing their best to keep the grass short surrounded on all sides by adult Geese who honked noisily at my approach.

I then noticed lots of little mounds on the grass opposite the boat and thought, strange, I didnt remember those mole hills before.....they turned out to be Rabbits all enjoying the evening sun.

We finished the evening with a couple of episode of Fawlty Towers and a smashing Spaghetti Bolognaise....Also some custard and midget gems.
other pics.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

A Slopey Start

Original post 11/06/08

Day Five
We were up by half eight for an early start to give us a full day in Windsor stocking up the larder and visiting the Castle.
We were at an alarming angle despite leaving slack ropes and it appears we had settled on some mud. No real problem coz when I pushed at the bank, both the stern and bow began to slip away from the edge.
Following the first coffee and cough and a drag of the day I did the usual engine checks and prep ready for the off. With some trepidation I turned the key and .....'click'....I attached the wire and ....'click'......I bumped the power by connecting the Domestic Batts and .....'click'.....I started the gennie and at 14v's ......'click'.....Nothing.....I spent half an hour faffing and messing and changing the starter battery for one i had with more cranking power and still nothing.
I returned to the galley for another brew and to get ready to call RCR. Not being happy with giving in, I returned to the engine room again and remembered that Trevor had mentioned that he had replaced the .....its either a relay or a solenoid. I found the old item and took off the current one and replaced it with the old one.......'click'.......I attached the wire and this time the starter turned and we were off.......I must try and get hold of a new thingy asap.
The plod to Windsor was still slow due to the flow of the river but the sun kept popping out and making it a very pleasant morning cruise....
We arrived and moored at the Island just past the railway bridge by about 1pm. We locked up and walked over to Waitrose to stock up on essential fluids.....its also Fajitas for tonight.
Once the stocks were back on board we then headed off to the castle.
Now back on board and a quick twiddle of the Sky Dish sees us ready to settle down later and watch the final of the Apprentice....Hoping the river flow decreases tomorrow to aid our passage but there are rain clouds gathering......wonder if I should water the plants?
Some pics of the day

The Sound of Silence

Original post 11/06/08

Day four
Our evening with Phil alongside Hampton Court turned into a very early morning. I think we eventually retired about 5am.
By the time we woke up and set off it was 1pm. Phill decamped at Moseley lock for his return home by train from Hampton Station.
We have still been having trouble with the starter and having to resort to the magic wire which engages the solenoid prior to turning the starter. Our progress was very slow as there was still a tremendous amount of water coming down the river, Mostly just managing to make 2.5mph and in some narrow sections even down to 1.9mph for the same revs.
We got to Penton Hook Lock and duly switched off. Once ready the lock was full I returned to the engine room and turned the key and got the usual 'click'....I attached the wire and this time still got a 'click'. I engaged the switch for the domestic batts for a bit of extra power and still 'click'.... nothing would induce the starter to turn.
We hauled Lady Elgar out of the lock by rope and were passed by 'Magnetman' on his way through into the lock...... A nice old boat he has there and his Dog standing on the top Boards enjoying the view.
Once clear of the lock I hummed and arred for a while and tweeked wires and tightened connections but still no movement from the starter motor. I was about to resort to calling RCR but then for some reason I turned on the gennie. As the 240v kicked in, the Inverter/charger bumped up the power to the batts from 12.5v to 14v, I quickly connected the wire, turned the key and starter turned as it should and the Perkins kicked into life..... Gennie off and we were on our way again.
By the time we got to Bell Weir Lock the lockies had gone home so we didnt need to switch off. It was slow progress all the way and our goal of Windsor for the night wouldve taken at least another 3 hours at those speeds, so, as we approached Magna Carta Island I remembered a mooring I had used previously. It is a fiver a night but a nice spot. It was clear of boats and we tied up and shut down by 8.40pm. Laura had by now recovered from her hangover and we settled down to watch Deadliest Catch and a Fray bentos steak pie each......mmmmmmm Fray Bentos. We were fast asleep by midnight.