Sunday, 30 April 2017

Moored like grandma’s stockings

For two nights we’ve been moored like grandmother’s stockings.  As a small boy I can remember sitting on the floor of her house and looking at her legs which would be encased in thick stockings.  Invariably they would be wrinkled in heavy folds just above her ankles.

The pound we have been moored in gradually drains during the night and whilst we might go to bed on the level, we’d slowly develop a list as one edge of the boat settled on the bottom.  This resulted in our heads rising on the crossover bed.  Eventually gravity would take over and in our sleep we’d slowly start sliding feet first towards the bottom of the bed. Initially our bodies would brace our legs against the wall as we slept on, but eventually they would collapse and just like grandma’s stocking we’d wake in the early hours to find ourselves in a wrinkled heap at the bottom of the bed.

Last night was different.  At 10pm one of the other moored boaters walked up to the next lock and partially raised one top and bottom thereby ensuring the water leaking from the pound was replaced.    

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Well that was exciting!

Preamble.  I had filled and set the Kipor 2kW generator on the bank at the bow and connected it into the bow shoreline plug. Starting the Kipor was easy and I went to the stern of Waiouru and set the switch on the Victron Inverter/Charger to shore power.  Up until this point everything went well.

The Problem.  Thirty minutes later in an unusual fit of insanity I decided to get the vacuum cleaner out and give the carpet a good going over. When I started the vacuum cleaner the lights went out on the Victron panel and the cleaner stopped. But the generator was still running.  In a state of slight panic (unusual for me Smile) I turned the Victron off and back on. The power returned for a nano second and died again.  After that the charger half of the Victron wouldn’t work.  One of those OMG moments…… I’ve fried the charger half of the Victron by overloading it. 

Now into serious fault finding mode I sensibly started with the Victron User Manual hoping to find some clear instruction regarding a fuse.  No such luck!  The next step was to remove everything off the back bed to gain access to the Victron.  Well that was as dead as the remote panel.  So I removed the front cover from the Victron hoping to see a fuse or circuit breaker.  Nothing obvious!  It was about then that I made the transition from mild panic to logic.  Out came the multi-meter and I tested the incoming 240V terminals from the shoreline side.  Relief…… there’s no power to the Victron and our £2500 inverter/charger is probably OK.  Now I could have started tracing the 240V cable back to the fault but instead had one of those quantum jumps in logic.  Whilst the Kipor was still running maybe the fault was at that end.

The Kipor had a flashing red overload light on the control panel.  I couldn’t clear it so I turned the generator off and restarted it. Problem solved.  Obviously the 2kW Kipor can’t handle the start-up load of the vacuum cleaner.  This was a good reminder “LOOK FOR THE SIMPLE THINGS FIRST!

Now you may know that the crazy fat kid with the weird haircut has been threatening the USA and Australia with nuclear annihilation.  A very good friend has sent me a copy of the Australian strategy to ensure this doesn’t occur.  Apparently the leaflet below is being sent to North Korea.  Well I think it is downright sneaky and not cricket.  But then this is a country notorious for underarm bowling.

NZ-Oz

Thursday, 27 April 2017

WaL and the Kiwi connection

There we were midway through our morning start up routine when Jan glanced out the window and exclaimed “It’s WaL!”  “Grab the camera” says me.  Whilst Jan was taking a photo there was a knock on the side of the boat.

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David

Of course it was Lisa banging on the side to ensure we were awake!  Smile

If my memory is accurate our last meeting was several years ago and right here in Braunston! 

There are at least two Kiwi connections to WaL.   The first is Wal, who is a well known Kiwi character created by cartoonist Murray Ball in the series Footrot FlatsWikipedia describes Wal as

Wal Footrot was born on 26 January in Northern Manawatu. He was educated at Apiti Primary School and later Feilding Agricultural High, where he excelled at tractor reversing and rooster imitations. Wal took a full part in all school activities. He displayed a promising right cross during his time in the front row of the 2nd XV, but was unable to transfer this ability to the boxing ring. He rather let the side down during the inter-school championships by throwing in the sponge, which knocked the referee's glasses crooked. He was disqualified. On leaving school, he acquired 400 acres (160 ha) of swamp between the Ureweras and the sea. He is unmarried, although he has an interest in Darlene "Cheeky" Hobson, who works in the Ladies Hairdressers at Raupo. Wal also plays rugby union for Raupo where he is a Hooker and dreams of representing New Zealand's national team, the legendary All Blacks.

So the second link is that Wal Footrot is also a farmer.  The main character in Footrot Flats is the Dog.  The Dog fancies himself as Wal’s best friend and together they have many humours experiences.

bunnycowdog1 dog2a

dog2Copyright Murray Ball

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The swimming pool and more snow

It snowed late yesterday afternoon.  Fortunately our cruising day was over.  However both of us felt for the widebeam crew that passed by us with their heads down and shoulders turned into the wind!

This morning we pulled back onto the water point at 9am to top up the tank and whilst waiting for it to fill  the CRT Boat Checker arrived with a trainee.  Jan asked him to take our number and he duly obliged (more on that later).  Good water pressure meant it didn’t take long to fill the tank and by 9.30 we were off towards the junction.  Another CRT employee was hard at work with a shovel inside one of their barges.  Jan enquired about his progress digging the swimming pool?  He replied that he just needed to level it off! 

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I then asked how long he thought it would take hilm to fill it with water.  Quick as a shot he told us he didn’t have to as nature would being doing it in the afternoon!

The CRT Boat Checker was at Norton Junction so we again asked for our number to be taken and he again obliged with a small grin. 

At Welton Wharf we could hear and then see a working boat approaching.  It then became apparent it had a butty on tow so we pulled over and let them pass.

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On approaching Braunston Tunnel portal we could see the reflection of an oncoming boat headlamp from inside the tunnel so we careful eased into the tunnel knowing it would take several minutes for our eyes to adjust to the dark.  The oncoming boat was a Black Prince hire boat and we (of course) met it at the “bendy bit”.  After that the tunnel was empty of boats so we engaged the hyper-drive and made the jump to light speed.

CRT were working on the towpath at the other end of the tunnel.  This is a very damp cutting and the surface water turned the path into a quagmire several years ago.  The crew were compacting metal from the barge to produce a dry and smooth surface.  I just hope they were also laying drainage pipes or I suspect their efforts will be wasted.  

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We shared the first four locks on the Braunston Flight with a couple from Leeds who informed us they had visited NZ twice.  It always seems like a long way to go for a holiday and I wonder why people do it.  But then we’ve done it in reverse for similar reasons! 

The CRT Boat Checker and trainee appeared as we were mooring up and we cheekily asked if he would record our position.  He laughed and told us “No!”  I guess that means were now good for 27 days! Smile

To finish the day we had more snow.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Back to Norton Junction

Somehow everything became so busy yesterday that I forgot the blog post!

We locked up the last two on the Stoke Bruerne flight and topped up the water tank before heading towards Blisworth Tunnel.  The Cheese Boat was moored above the flight.  Actually Jan thinks there is more than one cheese boat?

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With nothing coming towards us the passage through Blisworth Tunnel was quite quick.  It was still wet inside but like last time I again managed to manoeuvre around the “gusher”.  Jan sensibly stayed inside the cabin.

On approaching Blisworth I was somewhat surprised to see a boat ahead of us as the tunnel had been clear.  Then the boat started reversing on the other side of the bridge hole.  As we got closer the boat paintwork seemed to be in excellent condition.  Then I noticed the hat the steerer was wearing and I realised it had to be a boat test with Adam (nb Briar Rose) at the tiller.

P1030944No doubt there will be a better photo in the next edition of the Canal Boat magazine.

Another familiar boat near Gayton Junction.  Albeit with a lovely new paint job.

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I think we first saw Duxllandyn at Norbury Wharf and then on the K&A at Great Bedwin.  No sign of Marilyn, but then the cruising season hasn’t started! 

The Owl & the Pussycat was still moored at Camp Hill.  Jan thinks her grandparents would have loved the boat.

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We moored for the night at Stowe Hill.  This morning we started cruising at 9.15 and shortly there after passed another well known boat.

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There has been significant progress on the new bypass around Weedon Bec village.  Earthworks have now commenced on the western side of the canal and railway.

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Earthworks on the skyline.

To the east a excavator was laying and compacting rock for the bridge abutments and the approach road alignment is more obvious.

P1030949 At Dodford Bridge we caught up with a slow moving ABC boat from Gayton Marina.  It was Day 2 for first time hirers.  They kindly let us pass and then picked up speed to tag along.  We then shared the Buckby Flight with them.

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Jan provided free lock handling instructions and they were so grateful she received a bottle of fermented red grape juice as thanks.

They were heading towards Market Harborough on a six day cruise and planned to spend the second night at Crick.  I suggested they try and go slightly further because their time was going to be tight.

With rain forecast at 3pm we decided to moor for the day above Buckby Top Lock.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Not quite so good

Being Sunday it was time to visit The Navigation for our usual lunch roast.  Jan opted for the beef whilst I chose the pork. 

We are moored in almost the same location as our trip down the Grand Union several weeks ago.  However this time there is more water in the pound and as a result Waiouru doesn’t have a list.

mooring

Adjacent to the top lock is the most obvious sign of the former narrow locks that were originally used when the Grand Junction Canal was constructed.

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For some reason Stoke Bruerne attracts gongoozlers.  There’s no obvious reason apart from the locks and the attractive location.  I guess it’s similar to Foxton Locks? 

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There weren’t quite as many people milling around as our last visit, which was probably an advantage when it came to finding a table in The Navigation.

The Navigation

The one thing Jan doesn’t like about The Navigation is their tap cider is Strongbow and she detests the taste (too metallic).

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Out of focus

Generous portions, but this time Jan found her beef tasty but slightly tough!

On the move again tomorrow……..

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Grove Lock to Stoke Bruerne

Trying to catch up with the blog.  Yesterday we moved from Grove Lock to Fenny Stratford with a stop at Leighton Buzzard to restock the galley cupboards.

This morning we departed Fenny Stratford with the intention of reaching Stoke Bruerne (Sunday lunch tomorrow).

Obviously at least one boater thought we were speeding because she came out to take our photo.

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It’s our second day of seeing some of this season’s ducklings.  The ducks obviously subscribe to the quantity vs quality attitude towards parenting.

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This boat wasn’t so close to the bottom when we came this way about a week ago! No obvious license, name or index number so it’s possible CRT will have to pay for the removal.

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Another link to the history of the canals?

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On approaching Wolverton the railway is the dominant feature.

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Jan noticed this interesting boat painting to go with the name.

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It’s Saturday and most of the Wyvern hire fleet is out.  Fortunately they are all going in the same direction as us!   We paired up with one at Cosgrove Lock.  They were stopping for lunch at the Barley Mow along with a second Wyvern boat so that’s two behind us.

From this point the cruise became rural.  I think I’m going to miss the rolling countryside and church spires.

churchThere was evidence of pumping prior to Stoke Breurne Bottom Lock.

IMG_1638Jan worked Waiouru up the first five locks of the flight and we then moored in the pound below the second lock.   

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Bloggers and the Cratch Cover

Jan got really annoyed with the boater in the photo below.  He was racing around the junction and his wake almost knocked her off her feet twice!  Apparently the “ice maiden” stare from the side hatch was enough to cease and desist.

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This morning we slipped the mooring and moved off to the water point for a top up.  Then it was a matter of doing locks.  A routine was quickly developed.  Along the way we passed two bloggers.  The first was nb Lois Jane (the Pen Boat) with Debbie waving from the window.  The second was nb Chuffed.  There was only time for a brief conversation with Debby as we needed to catch up with Jaq who was forging ahead.

P1030935About 20 minutes later I glanced at a moored boat and received a surprise when I saw the name.

P103093320170420-P1030933Either a recent paint job or there are two Granny Buttons!

The Jules Fuel Boats were moored below Grove Lock.  Jaq decided she want to reverse back for fuel whilst we continued on to look for a mooring.

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We found a suitable mooring about a kilometre later and had just finished mooring  (I was preparing to walk to Tesco in Leighton Buzzard)  when there was a call from Jaq “Help, I have something large around the prop and rudder!”  I walked back to find her being towed to the bank by an obliging passing boater.

I have to say this is the first time I have removed a cratch cover via the weed hatch.  Smile  If anyone needs a cratch cover they should contact Jaq.  It might be useful if they own, or have access to; a sewing machine. Smile

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Wrong Green Boat

This morning Waiouru had some further TLC when I repainted the TV mast support, the rivet heads on the front hatch and a damaged section of paint near the starboard recessed stern panels.  The TV support and rivet heads look good but the paint near the stern looks #$%^&.  It’s going to need to be sanded back and repainted. <grrrrrr>

In the afternoon I walked up the Marsworth flight to Bulbourne Junction.  I was looking for a green boat and after waiting a couple of minutes it appeared from the direction of Tring.  I do like it when a plan comes together.  It didn’t take long to fill the lock but as the boat got closer I realised there was a second person with the solo lady boater I was expecting.  Had she collected a passenger?

About then I realised it wasn’t the green boat I had been expecting.  Still, the couple from Newcastle, Australia were grateful for my assistance in setting the lock and happily waited for “my” green boat which arrived five minutes later.

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Two green boats

My boater was of course Jaq Biggs on nb Valerie

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Jaq’s boat handling skills have significantly improved since I observed her steering Valerie up the Hatton Flight (9.75 out of 10 [well I have to leave her room for improvement]).

The Aussie couple on the “other” green boat travel over every year and spend the summer on their boat.  He told me they were “10 pound poms” who had emigrated in 1962.  They are now retired and enjoy summer all year round.  Part of a growing group!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Marsworth Walk

Thank you to those readers who provided feedback on my attempt a video embedding.  I can see the video on our laptop but the plug-in isn’t supported on the Android Tablet.  That’s a mystery to me as the tablet will run almost all video formats.  I’m going to continue experimenting but for those readers who couldn’t view the video I’ve pasted a link below which will hopefully work!

https://youtu.be/d8ymgwnvdeM 

I went for a 20km circular walk this afternoon picking a rural route to the south-east of our mooring at Marsworth.

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It was a clockwise walk with the return via the canal towpath.  I wanted to explore the lake to the north of the canal thinking it might be part of the Tring reservoir system.

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The edges don’t look as well formed as the reservoirs on the opposite side of the canal so it’s either newer or a flooded former quarry.  There’s a second body of water slight south which is still being quarried so that solves my query.

P1030912 There is a high ridgeline to the south of this quarry marked on the map as Pitstone Hill.  When I reached to top I realised I’d been here before.  Only last time the hill and countryside was covered in snow.

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Today

distant hill February 2015

Off to the north a solitary windmill stands in a field.

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It’s Pitstone Windmill and dates back to 1627.  The windmill is believed to be the oldest in Britain. The mill ceased operating in 1902 after being seriously damaged in a storm.

My route took me in the opposite direction and I very quickly entered an area of clever horses and ponies. 

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These are the first horses and ponies I’ve come upon that can read! Smile

The route took me southwest and up into an area of woodland.  I started to see more and more walkers before entering a clearing where there was a high stone column with a viewing platform at the top.

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There was a fee to climb up the column and then I realised I’d entered a National Trust estate via the back door.  However it was the writing above the entrance to the column which particularly caught my eye.

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“In honour of Francis Third Duke of Bridgewater Father of Inland Navigation 1832”

Well that was a surprise.  The Bridgewater Canal is miles away near Manchester.  So why is the column here?  This is the Aldridge Estate, owned by the National Trust.  The land belonged to the church until Henry VIII seized it during the Reformation.  Thomas Egerton, chancellor to Elizabeth I, bought the estate in 1604.  The Egerton’s are an old British aristocratic family.  Branches include:

  • Barons Ellesmere
  • Viscounts Brackney
  • Earls of Bridgewater
  • Dukes of Bridgewater
  • Earls of Ellesmere
  • Duke of Sunderland

Francis Egerton was the Third Duke of Bridgewater.  So that’s the connection.  However he had nothing to do with the nearby Grand Junction Canal.

From here the walk was southwest with valley views through the woodland towards the west and the canal.

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Eventually I arrived at Dudswell Bottom Lock where I turned north and walked the towpath back to Waiouru.

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By the time I reached the old Bulbourne Workshops my feet were starting to feel as if they had a good workout.

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