Saturday, 23 July 2016

Saturday 16 July. 10 miles, 12 locks.

Moved off in time to moored up at the pump as they opened at 1000. 80 ltrs of diesel and a few nic knacks later we were on our way. pulled in at Cropredy for a late lunch on the boat. Walked into the village for an icecream, checked out the church and antique store. Cropredy is known for its music festival which is in about 3 weeks. Not sure if we want to participate as have heard stories of boats 3 to 4 deep leaving bearly room for boats to transit over that weekend. Moving on we arrive at Banbury and Diana is sent ahead to see if there is a spot. She finds a mooring in the centre of town next to Castle Quay shopping centre. Had the potential to be a bit noise as we were partly under a pedestian bridge. Turned out to be a very quiet night.

Sunday 17 July. 440yds, 1 lock.

Off in the morning to stock up with food. Found a Tesco local with limited choice and they told us where the Morrisons was. Did a good sized shop, including Vogels bread and lugged it all back to the boat. Back into town again for lunch and check out the buildings including " Banbury Cross". We needed to catch up on the washing and moved out of town to run the generator. Moored up in an industrial area. Nice and quiet till 7 in the morning. we were next to an Iron foundry.

Monday 18 July. 6 miles, 4 locks

Walked back the 440yds into town so Diana could buy some makeup at a very good price and I had a haircut at OAP rates. Lunch was a coffee and pastery before back on the boat and heading off. Turns out we had moored up almost in Morrisons car park so we could have avoided the heavy load yesterday. The temperature was in the mid 30's so stopped for a break at Twyford Wharf. Then we probably made a bad decission and walked over a mile into Kings Sutton. We were joined by a local lass, Naiomi, who gave us good information about and what to visit. We followed her to her place where we were invited in for a drink. A pint or two of water later we were once again feeling like exploring. spent nearly an hour looking around at the Church, thatched cottages and stone buildings before buying an icecream and taking the walk back to the boat. It is now early evening and a bit cooler so put in another 3 miles and 3 locks before stopping for the night.

Tuesday 19 July. 5 1/4 miles, 3 locks, 1 lift bridge.

Another hot day so away a bit earlier cruising down pleasent countryside until we reach the lift bridge. A good basic bridge, well balanced so all you need to do is pull on the chain and it will open. The chain was installed by someone of 6ft stature. Diana can't reach the chain. A bit of problem solving to be done. I nose the boat into the bridge and climb off the front with a throwing rope to puup it down. Don't need to use the rope as I can reach the chain and open the bridge with Diana sitting on the arm to keep it open. Luckly 2 other boats turn up so Diana gives up her sitting duties, gets back on sthe boat and off we go. We will see what happens on the way back. About 1300 we need a break and eventually find a small bit of shade that will get bigger as the sun moves around. A pleasent lunch and after 4 hours the area of shade is a lot bigger, we are a bit cooler so move on. Around the nex corner is a lock and a loverly shady spot so that's it for the day. Walk into the village of Upper Heyford where ther is, surprise, a nice church, thatched cottages , stone buildings of various ages etc. Talk to a local in his garden and told we need to visit the pub. Great idea as we need a drink. Stay for diner and back to the boat in the shade.

Wednesday 20 July. 8 miles, 5 locks.

Set off stopping at Lower Heyford for water. The canal is still much the same wandering around the contours with open farm land and hedge rows, occasional bushy sections to give us shade. Another hot day. We pull in beside a disused quarry as Rachel had sent us some information on face book about an Janes amazing tea gardens. It only opens 4 days a month and today is not one of those. After a bit of a treck we find the place. Talked to Janes partner, although be wouldn't admit to it. Nothing special to us, more a hippy type set up and a very small garden. The treck back was a different route and we went through the old quarry which is now a nature park. Interesting mix of rugged rocks and re-generating floweres etc. Lunch on board then off again finishing the day on the approaches to Thrupp. Walk down the path and end up at the pub for a drink before back to the boat for dinner. Looking at going into Oxford tommorrow.

Thursday 21 July. 880yds, 1 lift bridge

Pretty hot overnight so didn't sleep that well and didn't get up early. Talked to the lady on the boat behind and she suggested we take in the Church at Shipton-on-Cherwell. Again a nice church but nothing spectacular. Had a noisey around what is a small village and found a couple of large houses. Later in the day we are told that is where Richard Branston used to live. Moved off around midday and stopped in Thrupp for water and a pump out. Went through the lift bridge and moored up for lunch. There is a well patronised tea rooms here so would have been rude not to go there for lunch. We have run out of internet at the moment so this was an opportunity to use there wifi and catch up. Later in the day we are told about the ruins of Hampton Gay Manor. They are in a farmers paddock with keep out signs all around but we know that they don't apply to Kiwi's. Can't be botered moving again so a pint to cool off before diner on the boat seems like a good way to end the day. Oxford tommorrow?

Friday, 15 July 2016

Villages

Wednesday 13 July. 12 miles, 3 locks.

With a short day yesterday we need to reduce the distance to Oxford by quite a bit. Within a mile we have the 3 paired locks at Hillmorton to climb. I like paired locks as there is double the chance that one of the pair will be empty. As we come around the corner we see the gates open and volunteer lock keepers on duty. Next lock we are following a hire boat and one lock is set for him. He was making a pigs ear of it so the volunteer sent us through ahead. Third lock, straight in and out. Easy. Drifted on down towards Braunston with many sights bringing back memories of 2010. Turned right at the junction with little other traffic around and pulled in for lunch not much further on. As we hadn't done a village today we walked in to Lower Shuckburgh. I nice stone church with different styles of masonry made it worth the visit but not much else. Didn't get inside unfortunately.  Moored up short of Napton Junction.

Thursday 14 July. 7 miles, 9 locks.

It is not long before we are on the Oxford canal. New territory for us. There are 39 locks to Oxford. the first 9 take us to the canal summit. A bit of a slow start as we pick up water before the first lock then while going up the lock Diana finds out from the lock keeper there is a nice village shop in Napton on the Hill so we moor up and walk up the hill into town. The shop does its own baking and serves coffee etc. Lunch is in order but they were a tad slow with service. While we waited we meet an older couple of cyclist who had just returned from a cycling tour of the Outer Hebrides. The village had a variety of cottage designs and ages. Eventually back to the boat with 8 locks to do. There was a stream of boats coming down so all the locks were set for us and extra hands on the locks. Diana finds out that the last but one lock had gate repairs being done to it and one boat coming down had a 4 hour wait. By the time we got to the top there were still 5 boats in the que to come down. I suggest that our time spent in a village was better than sitting in a que. Moored up near the village of Priors Hardwick. It was such a beautiful evening we walked the half mile across a farmers paddock to the village. We took photos of cottages, churches, manly old but a few new houses. There is a restaurant there which I had wondered if we might stop to eat but when I passed the car park it looked like it was out of our league. Jaguars, Audi's, Range Rovers fill most of the spaces. As Diana walks past the owner insists that she go inside as he has something for her. What an incredible place this was. Owned by a Portuguese, he had bought an old pub site unseen at 2am one morning many years ago and had turned it into a quality restaurant. There were pictures on the walls of many famous people and the motor racing elite had made it there place. Worth a look at www.thebutchersarms.com  Back to the boat for sausages and mash.

Friday 15 July. 5 miles.

Looking to get a bit further down the track today. Stop for lunch at Fenny Compton. Read up about a village a mile to the East so walk up the hill for a look. Turns out to be heaped in history as the village of Wormleighton is the ancestral home of the Spencer's. Once again a variety of buildings dominated by the orange coloured Northampton Stone. Talked to a local and are told that only two buildings in the village are not owned by the Spencer's. Too late to move on and with a pub next door the choice for diner is obvious. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Schools in.

Tuesday 12 July. 2 1/2 miles

Overcast morning. Walked to the co-op for milk and bread and brought crossaints back for breakfast. Had a chat with those on the boat in front and behind before moving off just as the first of the drizzel started. None forecast till late afternoon. A short time later I hear a horn tooting and presume it is a car going over a hump back bridge but the tooting continues so I look behind to where a boat has rapidly caught us up. I get no hand signals but see a kid on the boat and guess he is playing with the horn. A bit later I feel the presure wave and look around to see the boat very close so move to the edge and invite him to pass. As he goes past he asks if this is the way to Braunston! About now the dynamics of two 7ft wide boats travelling in the same direction on a narrow canal take over. As he powers passed me I almost stop with the pressure of his bow wave. When he is halfway past I ride his stern wave which means his motor is trying to pull two boats. I speed up and he slows down. Soon after there is a narrowing of the canal so I power off but we are still travelling at the same speed I ask him if he is going to make the gap. At this point it all gets too hard for him and I go through the narrow first. Soon after we have reached the spot where we are going to moor up and he goes past. I hope he found Braunston.

Drizzel has stopped and we made the 35 min walked into Rugby. It was getting cold and without a jacket I frequent a couple of Charity shops and spend 4 quid on a nice warm one. We take in some of the architechture and then a late lunch. Call into the info centre to find out what to do and what to plan for on the way back. We are given the Blue Plaques brochure and a map that she points out a couple of buildings to look at around Rugby School. We decide to do the school ones. Well when we get to the first we see some more down the road and then some more till eventually we have to turn back towards the boat or we will never get away. As we pass an open doorway Diana puts her head in and starts taking photos. From behind us a bloke on a bike says go on in if you like. Off course we did. Then he says you can go over the court yard and down those step if you like. The place had beautiful buildings and gardens. As we were about to leave he turns up again and askes if we would like to look in the Chapel. Too right we would. Well it was a couple of hours before we got to the Chapel as he gave us a guide tour through so many of the buildings that are not seen by the public. We were lucky that summer holidays started last week.
To Michael the porter, Thank you. I hope Diana will have pictures on her blog to show the magnificence of the buildings and interiors. OK it is now almost 6pm and the drizzle is back as we walk the 35 min back to the boat. I'm not happy where we are moored so don my wet weather gear and head out of town as the rain becomes continuouse. It is not too long before we find a suitable spot for the night and tie up behind the same couple we were behind last night.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Birthday.

Friday 8 July, 12 miles, 2 locks.

Set off watching the engine temperature gauge very closely. Sat at its normal temp all day so no conclusion on what happened yesterday. It was a bit windy, blowing the boat about and difficult to handle at times. Did the 2 locks through Tamworth and moored up to the east at the village of Polesworth. Walked into the village to a variety of architechture, black & white, thatched, stone and an Abbey dating back to the 10th Century. Found a chippy so had F & C in the park for tea before returning to the boat.

Saturday 9 July. 6 miles, 11 locks.

It absolutly through it down last night and still was when we woke. It is forecast to improve around lunch time so we are not moving. Late morning the rain stoppd and it looked like it would be OK for a while so went back into the village to look in the Abbey that was closed last night. It had an interesting interior but nothing different to others we have visited. A lovely Sensory garden that won a civic award in 2006. The original 10th Century Gate house is all that remains from that era and is now used as a house. Set off about 2pm. Just before Atherstone there are 3 sets of locks, 2 in each. After those 6 we have a choice of  stopping or doing the remaining 5 to get to the top of the Atertone flight. We decide to go on as we should be through reasonable quickly.
Lock one, good. Lock two, A boat comming down decided to pinch our water. By the time the lock is ready we let a boat behind go through because in chatting to them earlier they have just been told they are about to have their first grandchild and need to get back to their marina. Felt a bit sorry for them. They had started down the flight when they got the call and had to contine down 6 locks before they could turn around and come back up the same six. We first meet then on the 5th one going down. Lock 3, 4 & 5 were straight forward except at the top lock and olde guy, about my age started talking and I guess it was 30 minutes later before we got away and then moored up by Hartshill for the night.

Sunday 10 July. 9 miles.

Being Sunday a Sunday roast is the plan especially as it is Diana's birthday. Asked a few people about a good pub and they all recomended The Greyhound at Hawkesbury Junction. We are booked in for 6pm. Off we go through Nuneaton, past the Ashby Canal Junction and arrive at Hawkesbury around 5pm. Tiddy up and walk to the pub for a very nice meal to finish with ice cream and a special coffee. Should have mentioned Diana's treat. I got the generator out this morning so she could use her hair dryer.

Monday 11 July. 11 1/2 miles, 1 lock, 1 swing bridge, 1 tunnel.

An overcast start to the day with wind gusting to 30mph. Not looking forward to the "U" turn required to get onto the Oxford canal. In the end it turned out OK and there were no major crashes. Spent a good portion of the day within earshot of, alongside or under the M6. Passed the spot where we had Dinner on Molly Rose as guests of the previous owners in 2010. Have moored up on the outskirts of Rugby at Newbold on Avon.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

On our way to Oxford

Tuesday 5 July.

A Summers, chill out day. Moved the boat a few yards to where we will get sun in the morning overlooking the wider expanse of Tixall Wide. Farted around on and with the boat all morning. Walked into Great Haywood for a coffee and to take advantage of the cafe's power and internet.

Wednesday 6 July. 10 1/2 miles, 2 locks.

Time to get back on track. Enjoyed the scenery where we were then moved off to Great Haywood Junction. There we had a pump out, filled with water and had lunch at the top of the first lock. On our way by 1400. We decided to make sure we were through Rugeley before mooring up for the night as we had been told not to moor there last time we went through. We were surprised to see a large number of boats moored up in reasonably good neighbour hoods. Stopped to go to the supermarket as there is a good Morrisons not to far from the canal. As we left the towpath, there in front of us not more than 100 yards away was a brand spanking new Tesco superstore. It is great to have these facilities so close to the canal. A bit late away from there but the evening was pleasant enough. I was aiming to stop at a spot we had stayed on this day in 2010 with Robert & Mary. I knew we were close and as I passed the spot it looked familiar but going a bit quick to stop so went for the next good spot. It didn't come so ended under trees about a mile on.

Thursday 7 July. 7 miles, 3 locks.

Only 3 locks on the programe today. Away about 1030 and arrived at the first lock number 2 in the que. There were 4 boats comming the other way. Approaching the top lock at Fradley Junction the mind goes back to 2010 when as we approached this lock the reverse gear failed and we made a controlled crash into the approaches. Today is different. Straight in, volunteer lock keepers on duty to work the locks. At the junction turned right onto the Coventry canal and trundelled on down until the engine overheated so pulled over and moored up in front of a Pub. It was the only thing there. Had a good look to see what the problem was, talked to a couple of boaties and between us decided we couldn't figure it out. Rang, River & Canal Rescue, (AA of the waterways) who made some suggestions which I tried. In the end they sent an engineer who couldn't tell me why we had overheated and checked every thing out as OK. Late now so staying the night next to a busy railway line. Tomorrow I will watch the temperature guage like a hawk.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Half a summers day

Monday 4 July. 6 miles 1 lock.

Beautiful summers day. well it started that way. I went into the "Hough Retail Park" to get a replacement toilet seat for the one that had been holding on by two, then one and eventually no screws. The shop was about a 20 minute walk towards Stafford. Managed to get one that was all the right measurements except its length that was a bit longer than the broken one. Fits but only just. It will have to do. Caught up with Diana at another retail centre where she looked in most shops and bought very little. Back on board for lunch then up the canal to turn around. I was expecting to go 3 miles and 1 lock to turn then back throuh the lock and 3 miles back to where we started from. As it turned out there was a boat club a mile up the canal and before the lock. Their entrance was just big enough to turn in. We also filled with water as the tank was getting very low. Trundled down the canal under an overcast sky and a cool wind to end the day in the Tixall Wide. The canal widens out into a bit of a lake and the bird wife is meant to be good here. As it turned out our summers day had left us by now and the birds were all hidding out of the rain.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Kiwi visitors

Saturday 25 June.

On my own. I get into a bit of maintenance. The front doors have been sticking so after removing some gunk I re-glued the jams and forced them apart. Cleaned up part of the roof and put on some rust preventer and finally a bit of painting. Pity it rained before it was completely dry.

Sunday 26 June.

I have a good book that has grabbed my attention and spent a good portion of the morning reading. Sanded where the rain had affected my painting. Weather not looking like I should try again. Being Sunday considered a roast but didn't think having a roast by myself was worth the walk into town. Added a strip of wood to the engine covers to stop some of the water entering the engine bay.

Monday 27 June.

Diana is due back so a domestic morning. I hear from Diana & Murray that the train trip is a bit of a roundabout way with 2 changes including an hour at Crew. At Murray's suggestion I hop on a train to meet her in Crew, with us back in Stone late afternoon. Wetherspoons for diner, Curry night. On the way to the pub we pass a Kiwi from Taranaki and his partner from England. He is now resident in UK. Had a good natter before continuing to the pub.

Tuesday 28 June. 1 mile 3 locks.

Ray and Rosemary, kite flying friends from Rotorua are joining us today having flown in direct from Auckland this morning.
We have outstayed our welcome above the locks so time to move. Off back up the canal for 10 minutes where we could turn and then head back down, through 3 locks to the centre of Stone. Managed to moor up in the spot vacated by the Kiwi boat. The morning was spent cleaning up the guest cabin which is normally my workshop and storage space. After lunch we walk to the station to meet Ray & Rosemary. It has been a pleasant morning with sunshine and cloud. Shortly after we leave the station the predicted rain arrives, light at first but before we make it to the boat coats are on and brollies up. Settled into the boat then to keep awake it is into town for a look around and a coffee at Costa where power and wifi are available. Rain comes back again so we wait on board for a break in the weather before we walk the 200 yds to the pub for dinner. Rain is back by the time we finish which means a damp dash back to the boat. We have achieved the visitors aim to stay awake till late to reset their body clocks.

Wednesday 29 June.

What a wet and windy day. Do nothing until mid morning then off to Costa's for coffee, wifi and charge the devices. Lunch on the boat and weather still dreadful. Not moving today. Forecast is for a temporary improvement mid afternoon so with the first sign of sun and blue sky we set off to explore part of the canal and buildings around Stone centre ending up at Costa's for coffee, power and wifi. Dinner on the boat with the weather still OK. Looking for an early start tomorrow and show the guest locks and canal life.

Thursday 30 June. 9 miles,  5 locks.

Weather forecast is OKish. A quick breakfast and down the first lock, pull in for water before we head off showing the delights of canal travel to Ray and Rosemary.  About an hour later we moor up to explore the hamlet of Burston. We have been past a few times but hadn't stopped. What a little gem of a place to visit. So pleased we could show off the sort of place we enjoy. Mid afternoon we moor up at Great Haywood opposite a Cafe & farm shop. First stop is for coffee,  then a walk to the marina nearby to get some oil, back to the farm shop for a browse.  We were here in 2010 when it was newly opened by a Kiwi girl. It has developed considerably since then with the cafe being part of it. Then a walk into the village where we found a nice pub for dinner.

Friday 1 July.

Another activity we enjoy is visits to Stately homes. Shugborough Hall, Home of Lord Leicester, is one of the best and canals go past on two sides. We spend the day there. Luckily we are inside the couple of times it rains..

Saturday 2 July. 5 miles,  1 lock.

With a cafe just across the canal we couldn't resist their breakfast and a good coffee before setting off. I  wasn't looking forward to the turn onto the Staffordshire & Worcestershire  canal as the wind strength was up a bit. We made it around the corner and motored up a delightful stretch of canal to Stafford. Bused into the town which is rich in history and many old buildings. Another pub meal before taking a cab back to the boat as it was too hard to figure out the bus timetable. The cab was cheaper than the 4 bus tickets in.

Sunday 3 July.

Today Ray & Rosemary leave us. Once they are all packed up we take a stroll around the local area. We then trundle the bags to the near-by pub where we partake of their Sunday Roast. Next we ring for a cab to go to the station. It was not till the third company that we could get to the station in time to make their train to Manchester Airport.  They fly out to Sweden tonight.  Great to have friends on board. Memories for us in the future.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

China moves north

Friday 24 June.

Diana packed up her large suitcase for her visit to Glasgow. 24kg! 8kg a day! Not quite the full story. Most of her crocker has been taken to Murray's in preparation for our departure for home from there. If we had left it till later we would have had to maneuver 3 bags on and off trains later.
Walked to the station the long way to avoid crossing the railway twice. There we no ramps so I didn't like the idea of carrying the 24kg up and down more than I had too. After she had left it was into town to check out a few places and buy some bits and pieces. I called into all the Charity shops looking for a large scale road map. It can be difficult getting some perspective of where we are when our canal map only shows 1 mile each side of the canal. Stone is not that big so it didn't take long. Lunch on the boat followed by some maintenance. Hope to make some improvements during the few days here. Scraped down some areas of rust and  put some rust inhibitor where necessary.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Rolling to Stone

Wednesday 22 June.  ... miles  ..locks

Starting to wonder if this week is summer!  Set off passing through Barlston,  a place of memories as this is where Robert & Mary, friends from New Plymouth, joined us in 2010 on Lannarrow. Travelled at a leisurely pace through rural tree lined canal arriving on the outskirts of Stone where we can moor up for 5 days. When I say outskirts, we are about 5 mins down the towpath  to town. After lunch on the boat we make the 5 min walk and sort out some of the things that need to be done while we are here. Where  can we moor up at without being moved on,  where is the boat yard to get some work done, where is the station for Diana to go to Glasgow on Friday? etc. Then into the main street looking for a few bits for the boat. Ended up at Costa Coffee to use the free WiFi.  Ending the day with sausages & mash on board.

Thursday 23 June. 0 miles 4 locks.

Summer is still with us.  Leisurely morning chilling out.  After lunch we were planning to go to town, Diana had spotted the most Charity shops in a row so far and was keen to explore.  The boat yard let's us know the part we are waiting for has arrived and they can fit it this afternoon. Down 2 locks and pull into the yard, breasted up 4 deep. Well what an interesting day. They take out the bilge pump and it works OK. They change the switch and it works OK. They put it back in the boat at it works OK sometimes. After many attempts to figure out what the problem is and the time is close to knock off we give up and reinstate the system as it was. This isn't going to be a problem if the sun keeps shining. We get a pump out and spin the boat. I wasn't sure we had enough room but on the mechanics advise we used the pole and turned with a foot to spare. Back up 2 locks and we moor up same place as last night pointing in a different direction.  Been a long day so off to Wetherspoons for diner. Thursday is curry night.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Domestic Gypsies

Tuesday 21 June.

It was a beautiful morning waking to the sun streaming in the window at some very early hour. Not used to this.
Decided not to move and have a catch up day. I dried out the back of the boat and talked to the engineer about why the bilge pump might not be working. We hope to get it looked at over the weekend. It was wash day so the generator came out onto the towpath and after fiddling for a while it leaped into life and purred away for some time. With the generator running we have 230 volts so the vacuum cleaner came out and the electronics were charged up. We looked a bit like a Gypsy camp with the engine boards leaning against the fence, the generator running, clothes line tied to a mooring ring and other paraphernalia beside the boat. Mid afternoon the washing is almost dry so we need a walk and Wedgwood world is about 30min away. They have changed the entrance since last year so within 15 minutes we are having coffee and cake there. Wander through the free bits to see if anything has changed. I'm a bit disappointed in the style they are making at the moment. Only thing that had "class" was a brown and gold pattern. Tempted? No. The espresso cup and saucer were available at $90.00. Nice day in the sun. There is a vintage boat rally further down the track and during the day saw many old boats chugging past us.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Clouds with Silver Linings

Monday 20 June, 5 miles, 6 locks

What a misserable start to the longest day of the year. Woke to steady rain so turned over and fulled the duvet up for an extra hour. The forcast expects a brief improvement around 11, so we wait. At 11 it brightened up a bit, at least the rain had stopped so we walked up to Tesco's extra about 15 minutes away. 2 hours later we head back to the boat for lunch. Rain starts again and the forcast is talking about an improvement around 1500 and once again they we right. It has stoped raining and looking more promising so we fill with water and head off down the first flight of 3 locks with patches of warm sunshine. Stop in Stoke to pick up some rail tickets for Diana to go to Glasgow to do her Florence Nightengale bit for Murray who is having an op this weekend. The time now is 1800, the sun is out and it is a pleasure to be out on the canal. We keep heading south to clear Stoke before we stop. After one more lock we moor up opposite the Wedgwood factory. Visited last year so no need to return this year. Sat on the back of the boat for wine, cheese and bickies.
So you see it's not all gloom and doom.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Steam and pots

Sunday 19 June. 3 miles.

We set off with two plans. The number 1 plan falls into place as we round the corner and a mooring is available outside Middleport Pottery. There was a craft fair on so toured the 10 or so stands 50% a waste of time with a couple of interesting ones. Then to lunch and the days special was the same as 8 months ago. Back pudding & cheddar oakcakes,  yum. Diana did a couple more rooms of Burleigh pottery while I had the chance to see the first days running of the steam engine that ran the factory in the past. The engine had been restored some time ago and they often demonstrated it using electricity. They now have a new boiler to run it on steam. Great to talk to a bunch of enthusiastic guys who had worked to make it happen. Mid afternoon we leave and set off the short distance to Etruria. Not long after we move we realise that Yesterday was summer and are now moored up testing if I have fixed the leaks.

No rain today

Saturday 18 June. 7 miles, 1 lock, 1 tunnel.

Overcast morning.  Worth the risk so put some gunk around the window. On the move by 1030 at a leisurely pace and at times in sunshine. Stopped for water at the not vert deep stop  lock, in fact the drop would have been less than a foot. It was there to stop one canal company from pinching the water of anothers. Just before joining the Trent & Mersey canal we moor up for lunch.  30 minutes after we set off again we are waiting at the entrance to the one way Harecastle tunnel. About an hour later we go through by our selves popping out the other end in 35 minutes,  just 1 mile short of The Poteries.  Moored up at Westport Lake for the 5th time. So ends a day without rain and we spent some of it underground.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Saw the sun today

Friday 17 June.

Need to hang around for a while. The sealant that John left me is a bit old and won't flow so he will pick up a new tube on his way back from Liverpool today. Dried out and prepared the area that needs the gunk in preparation for later in the day. Weather is not too bad with a short showing of the sun around midday. The Gunk is due to arrive just after 1500 and guess what the rain arrived just before 1500 so I need to dry out the area again and then have a window of an hour for it to dry before the next rain. About 1700 it is looking like it might be OK but every time I think I will try, black clouds appear. Good old hindsight say I could have done the job. There is always tomorrow! I need to do the job in Congleton as the towpath is on the right side. As soon as we go under the next bridge the towpath changes sides and will be on the wrong side for about 3 days. We have overstayed the time allowed on this mooring but I don't have any option. I looked at shifting the boat 100yds or so where the boat can be left longer but there is not enough room before the bridge.

June's Rainfall in 2 weeks.

Thursday 16 June.

Emptied the bulges after heavy rain last night. We're invited out for tea & scones. Very nice too. Alan took us to town and dropped us at the Antique Centre. Some nice stuff, could have been tempted if I didn't have to get them home. Did a bit of shopping and stared to walk back up to the canal. It just through it down. We had coats but still got back looking like drowned rats. Too wet to try and seal up the leaks.
Took Alan & Marian to the Young Pretender. Best pub for pies that I have come across. Compulsory stop in Congleton. Back for a cuppa and bed.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

First Locks of 2016

Monday 13 June.

Woke to a bleak day with low cloud and drizzle. Not going anywhere yet. Watch a few hire boats go past in full wet weather gear. Poor buggers, just have to be somewhere today. Heavy rain off and on most of the morning and until after lunch. About 1400 it had brightened a bit so I walked the flight of locks to see how muddy and slippery it was. Not the nicest but not dangerous. Had a discussion about the prospect but by the time we thought the weather was alright, time was against us so didn't move. That marvelous thing called hindsight said we should/could have gone as the rest of the evening was the best weather of the day.

Tuesday 14 June. 5 1/2 miles. 12 Locks.

At the top of the locks there is an amenities block with loos, shower, washing machine and drier. A running water shower was a great way to start the day.
Weather was overcast with the likely hood of rain but today we will set off. First lock was set so straight in and down. Second lock caught Diana out. It needed filling. I watched her go to the wrong end, look puzzled then return to the top end, lift the paddle and fill the lock. It has been a while but it wasn't to long before the old routines came back. A good run down with a number of boats comming up which meant most of the locks were full for us to go into. 2 1/2 hours later we are at the bottom and stop for lunch. There is a boat flying the union and NZ flag so we make ourselves know. They are in their 5th year doing the same as us with the southern summer based in their Nelson home where they also have a yacht. The discussions continued and it turns out that both of the males have the same item on their bucket list. Sailing our narrow boats under Tower Bridge. I think next years plan is in the making. Pity they were travelling in the other direction as I'm sure we would have had good traveling companions. Motored the 4 miles into Colgenton where we were meet by Marion who had sorted a mooring spot close to their home. After a bit of boat tidying it was around to their place for a cuppa before we were taken out to diner at a pub in Astbury. A quick tour to Barthomly to view the church before home to bed.

Wednesday 15 June.

Skyped Richard as it was his birthday. Great to see and talk to him and the kids. Marion was down at the boat by 1000 to take us to the supermarket which was a big help as the canal is at the top of the hill and the supermarket at the bottom. Soon after we arrive back, 5th wheeler friends from Matamata call in on their way south. Lunch on the boat as there is no guarantee that the weather will stay nice enough to be outside. I had asked Marion's son who fits out narrow boats to come around to look at a leaking window we had discovered a couple of days ago. Well it just chucked it down when he arrived so all he could do was give me advice on how to seal it when it dries up. While he was here another leak appears in a roof vent so looks like I am on leak fixing for a few days.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Sunday Roast (almost)

Sunday 12 June. 5 miles.

The day starts overcast with signs of rain not far away. After sorting some internet problems we up sticks and head off for the water point. Should have set off a few minutes earlier because as we approach another boat is arriving. Wait 20 odd minutes before he moves off and we move alongside. 15 minutes later as our tank is almost full the rain arrives. Finish putting the gear away and sit in the boat out of the rain. Within half an hour the rain has abated to a few spots so off we go. Weather stayed much the same until arriving at the top of the Bosley locks and stop for lunch. This is a flight of 12 locks, the first we encounter. They are also the locks that Diana got very cold at last year and probably brought on her Bells Palsy so there is some reluctance to do them in the cold and/or rain. We watch the weather until 1600 which is the cutoff to get down at a reasonable time. We were tempted a couple of times to give it a go when the sun peeps through. Tonight we are moored at the top of the locks under a cellphone tower so coverage should be good.
Not a pub in site so no Sunday Roast. Never mind Diana is cooking a meat and veg substitute. Pork chops, spuds, cauliflower and cheese sauce.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Early start

Saturday 11 June, 7 1/4 miles

A still and misty morning. The canal is looking good. Engine started by 0730, now that's pretty early for this retired couple. Diana did the domestics while travelling. Arrived at the bridge where the canal had been closed just on 0900 to be meet by a group of Canal & River Trust workers. We passed on through and when I looked behind there was a Diver in the water and they were lifting one of the stop planks out. I wonder if the canal had only just been opened and they were removing all the stop planks! When I say Diver, he was in a dive suit without a helmet as he didn't put his head under water, I guess if I had to get in that water I would want a full immersion suit on. Stopped very close to where the leak had been. The only sign of activity was the equipment and muddy tracks left behind. Bollington is one of those places it is nice to re-visit. Diana has a special shop she frequents every time we stop. There is a good butcher and a nice cafe. Back to the boat to head on down country but with a bit of black cloud around I check the minute by minute forecast and rain is due in a few minutes so we have lunch. The rain is an hour late but eventually it stops and we set off with a few spits here and there. As we approach Macclesfield a dark cloud appears and I am calculating when it will strike. Lucked in, as when we come around the corner there is one spare spot on the pontoon. This is the first time we have passed when it hasn't been full. Moor up, heavy rain starts, cup of coffee. We are now spending the night here hoping that tomorrow morning will be like this morning and we will move on.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Canal Open

Friday 10 June, 500 yds

I had a feeling that we were on a permanent mooring last night but didn't worry as we would shift the boat if the owner turned up. This morning I wandered down to the local boat yard to check as I didn't want to leave it where it shouldn't be when we went walking. Sure enough we need to move. 500yds later we find the next available spot and settle in for the day. Lyme Park is today's destination, a National trust property just under an hours walk away. On arrival it is straight to the cafe. Diana has been dreaming of scones, jam and cream since we arrived and she had tried theirs before. This was lunch and very nice too. Went through the house again and because of the wet weather it was not busy giving us a chance to see some things we missed last visit. Walked back in a bit of drizzle which had cleared the air and we could see a good distance. Dinner on the boat. The canal was opened today after a 3 week closure so off south again tomorrow and get a few miles covered.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

On The Macclesfield,

Thursday 9 June, 4 miles.

Another cracker of a day. Headed off the mile to Marple so with hot water we showered and had breakfast. Internet was better than last night so caught up on a few items. Walked into Marple and did some big town shopping. They have hardware shops and bigger chemist shops, 1 pound shops and charity stores. Finised at the supermarket then back to the boat. Still warm and pleasent at 1700 so decided to move on. We are onlly 2 miles from where the canal is closed and about 2 miles from Lyme Park house so depending on the state of the canal it looks like a walk in the park tomorrow.

Anchour away

Monday 6 June. 1 1/4 miles.

Once again we set off up the Peak Forest Tramway Trail. Passed Chinley and stopped at a solitary chimney, the backdrop to an area of rubble being the start of a housing development. I hope it doesn't change the Chinley village atmosphere. I checked the site out on Google earth and they still show the area as a large factory. Nice to see the chimney was still there. A bit further along the trail we had to take a diversion. The trail has been sold to a brake manufacturer for a test track. The diversion took us under two railway viaducts, difficult to photograph but impressive standing under them. A few steps later we are on a B road and heading to Chapel-en-la-Frith. (Chapel in the Forrest). On the outskirts we pass the brake factory and appreciate why they have a test track nearby.
2 hours after setting of we arrive at C-e-l-F which has a long main/High street a number of shops but nothing out of the ordinary. Stopped on the way up one of the hills for a tasty lunch of Derbyshire Oat cakes. At the top of the hill Diana was ready to turn back but I saw an interesting view ahead so on we went for another block. Low and behold the view was a mirage but Diana found one of those shops again. More china. the return, down hill trip took 1 1/2 hours. Nice day out with temperature around 25 C. Time to move. 20 minutes to the supermarket for a top up of heavier items, eg Grog. Another 20 mins and we are back at furness Vale hooked up to water and power.

Tuesday 7 June.

Domestic day. Washing, cleaning, tidying and catching up with internet. Mid afternoon we walked to New Mills. Diana the direct route while I took a walk down to the river Goyt and followed it passed a couple of mills and a very early hydro power station which uses an Archimedes screw to turn the generator. This is located in a deep gorge that runs below New Mills so then it is a climb up to the top to meet up with Diana who has been drinking coffee. Shop closed by the time I got there. We stop at the Beehive Pub for an ale before Buying Fish and Chips for tea and eating them on a table out side. Another nice day. In the evening we head off to the Furness Vale Historical Society meeting. The guest speaker is Andy Russell, a well known traditional boat painter. Andy was demonstrating the traditional art of painting "Roses & Castles" It took him just an hour to paint a bunch of roses and a typical castle scene which are seen on many narrow boats. The old boats wouldn't look right without them.

Wednesday 8 June. 4 miles, 2 lift and 2 swing bridges

We are moving on. Hopefully the canal blockage will be sorted and filled with water by this weekend. A short trip to the New Mills marina for a pump out. Good to start with that tank empty. A mile further on we are thinking about lunch when a huge clap of thunder convinces us to moor up. Good decision as soon after we start lunch it buckets down. After the thunder storm passes the boat that was moored up behind us sets off. OK shall we move too? Takes a while to think about it and as I get motivated there are a few more spits of rain so delay departure. Another good decision as the spits were followed by more thunder and continuous rain. Now waiting for an improvement or we will be here for the night just 2 miles from Furness Vale.
After a 4 hour lunch break the sun started to show itself and we moved on towards Marple junction. Have stopped about a mile short as the better moorings will probable be taken. looking forward to a short day tomorrow.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Work-Walk-Work

Saturday 4 June.

Put the final coat of paint on Molly's tail feathers. Big improvement.
walked to Whaley Bridge for lunch. Diana is back into the charity shops, say no more. Walked back to the boat and sat on the towpath enjoying the surrounds. Finished polishing the second side. Nice relaxing summer's day.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Work & Walk

Friday 3 June.

Spent some time prepping the other side at the back. Hoping to have a pictures on this blog.
The afternoon was spent walking up an old tramway to the village of Chinley. Nice to be back in the village atmosphere. Talked to a bloke and his wife working in a garden. Yep he knew NZ, has a brother in Gisborne who has been visiting recently. Stopped at the Chippy for a snack on the way back. Greeted by the owner singing about frying chips. Entertaining. Took a longer way home and found the 2 pubs we had been told about. Didn't stop as we have left over chicken from last night.

First stage getting rid of the rust.

Chinley Village Centre

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Molly moves

Thursday 2 June. 3 miles, 2 swing bridges.

When I bought a 5th wheeler one of the requirements was that I didn't want to take my home to the supermarket. Today we needed to go to the supermarket and to get there we took Molly Rose. We are angle parked at the marina and pointing the wrong way so we need to do a "U" turn. With a 60ft boat on a 14ft wide canal the options are limited. About a mile down the canal the wrong way we get to a winding hole where after a 6 point turn we are heading back the way we came. Rather than go to the supermarket we moore up again at the Marina. Why? The pontoon is on the otherside so I can now start polishing that side of the boat. By mid afternoon it is half done but I can't continue as the steel is to hot. Yes another nice sunny day. Now it is time for the supermarket less than a mile away. 30 minutes later we moor up just a few yards way. The boat is now well provisioned as we head off to Bugsworth basin which is one of two arms at the start of the Peak Forest canal. We have been before but both times the weather was not friendly and we didn't explore much.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Canal Closed. still

Saturday 28 May.

Just the two of us on board so time to sort the boat out in preparation for cruising. Washed the roof and the pontoon side of the boat. She was in need of a polish as it didn't get done before we left last year. I did it twice to bring her up to scratch again. Got 2/3rds of one side done.

Sunday 29 May.

Finished off polishing the first side, looking good. Now for some painting. The mustard colour around the back has a few bruises. You may see a few of them on the head photo. 2014 we started looking for the right colour and in anticipation did some de-rusting and prep work. When we couldn't find the colour I was happy to paint it in a similar colour. The colour consultant didn't agree so no more action in 2014. 2015 I came over with the intention of painting it regardless of a colour match. with the lack of dry weather that didn't happen but a short time before we left Diana managed to get a paint match and we bought some. 2016 we are not going anywhere yet with the canal closed. Great opportunity to get the job done so today it was back to de-rusting and priming the back and one side. Diana also prepared the pole we carry on the top. For some reason it was the only bit on the boat that had some blue on it. That had to go. Finished the day with a Sunday Roast at the local.

Forgot: Painted the boards that cover the engine and form the back deck.

Monday 30 May. Bank Holiday.

Painted the Mustard colour on the back. Makes a huge difference. Molly looks like she is cared for again. The pole got its first bit of colour. Blue gone , Diana happy. My razor gave up the ghost this morning so time to grow a beard!

Tuesday 31 May.

Beard not an option so plan to go to Stockport for a replacement. Diana has been having trouble with the new Photo programe on her Mac so talked to Google who found a Mac shop at Trafford Centre so the destination has changed. Train and Bus gets us there by lunchtime. Quick bite to eat then to the Mac shop where the very helpful staff pointed us in the right direction to be able to do what she wants to. Not far away I buy a razor, same as the one I have at home and at a better price. We had been to the Trafford Centre in 2014 as it is adjacent to the Bridgewater canal and Barton Swing bridge. We were only there for a short time and very impressed with the opulent decor of the place. This time we arrived from a different direction and didn't recognise anything. Late in the day we found the bit we had previously seen. It was separate and connected by an overbridge. In 2014 we saw about 20% of the complex. Back by bus and train. Trains running hourly by now so we have a 45min wait at the station. Home for a quick tea around 2230.

Wednesday 1 June. SUMMER.

We have had 5 days without rain but today it is cold, overcast and looking like rain but it didn't. More colour on the pole. Changed a switch on the engine. replaced another light with LED's. A general catch up day which ends with Sausages and mash. The fridge is now empty so may have to get the boat in gear tomorrow and motor to the supermarket.
As you can see I haven't worked out how to get photos onto this blog. If you want photos to view! Diana has mastered her blog which is full of photos. Try
www.travelpod.com/travel-blog/diana.hough/1/tpod.html

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Tiki Tour of the Lake District

Friday 27 May.

Murray is back to Glasgow and we are off to Preston by train to meet up with Jim & Anne, who last year took us on a tour of Wales. We couldn't get away too early as our rail pass is off peak. We were meet at the station by Jim & Anne who whisked us away to the Lake District. In the back of the car was a gift for us. A Wade pottery narrow boat. This will go nicely with the one they sent us last year which sits in front of the TV at home. OK I have done the bus trip through the lake district back in 1990. Must have spent all of 2 hours as we drove through and stopped in Windermere for a coffee. Today we get to experience the real Lake District. From the bottom of Windermere we head west and stop in a delightful village of Broughton-in-Furness. A bit different in that it reminded me of an English village with a feeling of a Welsh Village but not quite a Scottish Village. (Does that make sense?). Had lunch at the award winning bakery and they deserved it. We then travel further west towards the coast before heading north to the village of Ravenglass. Not much here but a extensive estuary where the tidal range is one of the biggest in the country.
Also at Ravenglass is the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. The trains run 8 miles on a 15 inch gauge track. Beautifully maintained steam engines pulling purpose built carriages up a valley and in some places on a 1 in 35 incline. The railway was originally 3ft gauge and used to bring iron ore to connect with the Furness railway main line. With the close of the line in 1913 a modelmaker bought the line and converted it to 15 inch. The round trip took about an hour through some lovely scenery. Good choice Jim!   Have a look at ravenglass-railway.co.uk to see some of their engines etc.
Talking about scenery the next part of the Jim & Anne tour took us through a spectacular mountain pass. The Hardknott pass over the Cumbrian Mountains to Ambleside. I could not do it justice trying to describe the trip. The road is single lane but two way. The gradient is 1:8 in places. At some places you can't see where the road goes as you drop off the top of a ridge. Search Hardknott Pass on YouTube to get some idea. Scarry? not really for the passenger as so much time was looking at the geography and views. A pity it is not shown to more tourists. Bottom of the hill and we drive the tourist route down the East side of Windermere to Staveley for a bite to eat at The Hawkshead Brewery, Beer Hall. I tried a NZ Pale Ale they brewed. Not the best choice I think I will stick to the Real Ale's I enjoy here. Back to Preston for a cuppa at Jim & Anne's. I had been looking forward to seeing what they had done to their canal frontage since we first passed it in 2014. Looking Good Jim.
Back to the station by 2200 and home by midnight. A great day.

The Guided Tour continues


Wednesday 25 May

With a booking for the tour of Wentworth Woodhouse organised we were away at a reasonable hour. Arrived early enough to go to the Wentworth Garden Centre for a coffee. This place is a destination. The complex is within the walled garden of Wentworth house, An extensive selection of garden products and a gift shop with everything you don't need but would be nice to have. The restaurant was full both times we were there. Coach tour parties of the over 60's and mothers with young children seem to be the predominant customers. It looked like the restaurant was the main attraction.
The tour of the BIG house started with a brief history which brought us to the present day. The house owner is a London property developer who has been restoring one wing for his own use. The anticipated costs are more than he is prepared to front up with so it is on the market. As you walk through you see that all of the valuable artifacts have been removed leaving only the grandeur of the architecture to enjoy. A massive place and it will be a huge asset to the heritage of England if it can be restored. The real estate agents would describe it as "A doer upper". Well worth the visit and would love to be able to see it again in 10 years. On our return journey we took a different route over the Pennines and ended up in a line of crawling traffic. Eventually negotiated our way onto the ring road around Manchester back to Stockport and a familiar road to Furness Vale.

Thursday 26 May

Hit the road again heading South through Buxton to Kedleston Hall, just outside Derby. We entered Ashbourne from a different direction from last time we were there and it wasn't until we hit the main street I realised we had been before and then remembered there was a Waitrose around the corner. Stopped to buy a couple of loaves of bread then into the town center for a bite of lunch. As we left Ashbourne a wrong roundabout exit took us on the circular route to Derby. Road signs had familiar place names and we realised we were not far away from the Trent & Mersey canal where we were last year. We eventually made it to Kedleston hall. I found this the best of the three. Not as big, had all the features of the bigger halls, very light inside so it was easy to see the paintings and sculptures. Trip back was more direct and took us to the Fish & Chip shop for tea.
Thanks Murray for being with us and taking us to these places.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Old Houses

Monday 23 May,

Overcast morning . Up early, ran the engine for hot water and battery charge.  On the road by 0900. Drove to Chatsworth House near Bakewell. Arrived before the house opened so looked around the stables and retail part of the estate before going through the house. Took us about 2 hours. This is not National Trust but is one of the top stately homes to visit. There is not much to see from outside as they are in the middle of an extensive exterior restoration. The interior is extensive with all the rooms well furnished and a great collection of art work. Some rooms are in regular use by the owners, Duke & Duchess of Devonshire. Diana took many photos, a selection of which will be on her new blog site,  https://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/diana.hough/1/1462934244/tpod.html

Tuesday 24 May,

Glorious start to the day without a cloud in the sky although a bit cool. Headed out through the Peak Forest National Park, over the Pennines into South Yorkshire and towards Sheffield. Wentworth house was the destination. This visit has been on Diana's dream list for some time. It is apparently the largest Private house in the UK. Is on the market for the bargain price of 8 million. Restoration costs are anticipated at 44 million so Diana is waiting for Lotto to fall her way. Well they only do pre booked tours. Next one is tomorrow so we will make the journey again. The day was not wasted as the scenery over the Pennines was superb with the numerous drywall stone fences, numerous lakes, rolling countryside and great views from the top. Had a short stop in Sheffield as we had not been there before.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Sunday Roast

Sunday 22 May.

The day starts with the feeling of summer. With nowhere to go we are thinking of alternatives. Murray decided to come and visit from Glasgow and he is bringing his car so we can do a few things away from the canals. Most of the day we fiddled around with little jobs to make life easier. A gentle start to our holiday. Murray arrived late afternoon and after a good catch up we walked to the local pub for the first Sunday Roast of the season.

On the boat with nowhere to go.

Tuesday 17 May,

Arrived in Manchester after my first ride in a 380 around 1900 then off to an airport pub for a snack and sleep. The flight was mostly over cloud until we dropped out under a 4000ft overcast. Nice to see the green green grass of Home! after the desert around Dubai.

Wednesday 18 May,

Picked up the rental car. A Renault Twingo, very tiny and a bit short on power with 5 months luggage in the back. Set off for Stockport to sort out our internet. Got lost in the same place as last year (slow learner). We managed to get a reasonable deal on  a contract but it did involve a trip to the bank to change my address to a UK one so I had a post code. It was mid afternoon by the time we got to our holiday let at the New Miles Marina. This is about a mile down the canal from where Molly Rose is moored. We eventually got to Furness Vale and surprised Nick the engineer. He wasn't expecting us till Saturday. Boarded Molly to see the engine is not connected to the prop. We had a lot of prop noise last year so had decided to move the shaft back a bit. when they did this they found a leak at the back of the gearbox and were expecting a spare part that afternoon. Molly was looking pretty good after her winter of disinterest, Very dry inside with a few spiders and a bit of dust. Back to the holiday let then out for fish and chips. Watched an episode of Emmerdale which was not to much ahead of where we are at home. Coronation street is a bit different, many characters we had not yet meet and those we did know were in some different and interesting relationships.

Thursday 19 May,

Today the engine is being connected to the prop. lots of interesting comments being heard from the back of the boat. In the end the prop and engine are aligned and it looks like one of the vibrations that worried me last year may have been reduced. We have had an extra bilge pump fitted. The design of the boat is such that the outside rear steps drain into the bilges and this requires a mop and bucket to empty out, so after this being a bit of a pain during last years wet summer the steps now drain into a bucket that has an automatic bilge pump. We are hoping not to need it this year. "yeh right". Inside we are pretty much tided up with bags unpacked and stowed. New mills pub, "Pride of the Peak" for dinner then back to the let. Tried to licence the boat but couldn't because our address was different to what the bank had.

Friday 20 May,

Up early so we could get a load of washing done before we went to the bank to change the address back to our NZ one. Next off Tescos for provisions. Mainly bulky and heavy stuff as we will have to carry every thing from now on. The new bilge pump needs a bit of final work. 3 hours later after fixing all the leaks the job is done. We now have to wait for things to dry so we head off early for tea at the let and a bit of Telly as we won't have one for 4 months, GREAT.

Saturday 21 May.

Busy morning. Take the last of our stuff from the let and say goodbye to the managers. Lovely people who we will meet again. Back to Molly Rose and empty the car. drive into Havel Grove to renew our Rail pass, drop off the car then visit Uncle John. He had been thinking it was about the time we would call in. Catch the bus back to Furness Vale. There is a fair down the road in a farmers paddock so we have a look. It is very local with a few crafty stalls, a bit of food and some good and otherwise music. A heave rain shower had us sheltering in the face painting tent. The most interesting part of the day was to watch a rental van trying to leave the paddock. we gave up watching after  about10 attempts left a huge mud bath and several vehicles still in the paddock.
By mid afternoon we are settled into our home for the next 4 months wondering where to go!
From Furness Vale we can go a mile to the end of the canal at Bugsworth, nice spot or we go the otherway for a couple of hours to Marple Junction. At this junction it is 16 locks down towards Manchester. Cant go that way there is a damaged lock. Wouldn't want to, been there, don't need to do that again. So the other option is down the Macclesfield canal. That is the intention BUT about a day away at Bollington they have found a leak in the embankment and have drained the canal. So where does that leave us? We are going to stay put as Murray has decided to drive down from Glasgow and spend a week with us. Having a car available will get us to places a bit further away from the canal.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Bugger

I've just lost all I have written to cover the last 4days

WATCH THIS SPACE

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

17 hours in a metal tube.

Not as bad as it sounds. The trip from Auckland to Dubai was all in the dark and I guess  that helped. We settled on to the B777 a couple of hours after sunset. Had a nice (airline) meal. Watched a movie and got a few hours sleep. Woke at my usual 7.30 NZ time took a walk around the plane and turned on a morning movie. Got the chance to watch Star Wars. Still dark so some more shut eye. Woke again for breakfast, still 4 hours out. A few episodes of The Big Bang Theory before touch down just after 5am local time. Walked for miles to pick up luggage and an easy route through processing. Shuttle to the hotel and all checked in by 6.30. Not tired but the internal clock a bit confused with a 20 hour night. Interesting fact is we followed a 380 from Brisbane into Dubai. That aircraft left Auckland about 4 hrs before us. Would I do a long flight again? Yes Westbound, not sure about other way. Will let you know when we are back home.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Increase in speed

Sunday 20 September.

Tonight we are in a wide bed and have access to a shower with running water. All the lights are on and the TV is going but not necessarily being watched.

Tomorrow we catch the flight towards home. Farwell Northern Summer 2015.

PS. An Indian summer is predicted for the next couple of weeks

Friday, 11 September 2015

Home at Furness Vale

Friday 11 September. 5 1/2 miles.

In to Marple this morning to buy the last few things on my DIY list. Diana did her favorite Marple, Charity shop. Made it back to the marina by 1600 to a welcome from members of the Furness vale Boat Club (FVBC) and others on the Marina. Tonight was the first FVBC meeting of the winter which we attended to hear stories of others travels. Once again we had done the most miles and been away the longest this summer. I received devastating news. the local chippie closed down a month ago and I had been looking forward to a couple of their meals this week. It was one of the best we have tried in England. I wonder what will close next year as the Post office/corner shop closed last year while we were traveling.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Top end of the Macclesfield

Tuesday 8 September. 8 1/4 miles.

Headed off north with a stop at Macclesfield. Diana wanted to go to a couple of the larger chemist chains to stock up on product to bring home. I checked out a DIY to start filling the list of what I need to get Molly ready for winter. Carried on to Bollington for the night.

Wednesday 9 September. 3 1/4 miles.

Walked into Bollington. Wanted to go to the butcher there. Before that we climbed the 500ft up to "White Nancy" A great lookout where we could see almost all of the area we covered last year and across to Wales this year. Walked down again to see the butcher. Sorry, half day Wednesday. Had a late lunch at a cafe we have passed before but has always been closed. Very nice. They have a gold award for their sandwiches. Back to the boat via a Charity shop. Moved on up to Higher Poynton for the night.

Thursday 10 September. 4 miles.

Caught a bus to Poynton. Only 2 miles away but up hill all the way back. Diana had heard she would find the best Charity shops there as it was on the edge of the "footballers triangle". I didn't look in too many so can't comment but I did find the best small town DIY shop so far. Found a number of goodies that were on my list. We also found a place to mix the paint to match across the back of the boat. It has been bugging me for the last 2 summers. I hope to get it on this coming week. Moved on to Marple, where the second best DIY shop is although there aren't many things on the list now. There is an old Cinema here so went to the movies tonight. They still have an interval with the ice cream girl moving through the theater. The movie was "45 years". Not bad but wouldn't put it on the must see list

Monday, 7 September 2015

Top of the hill

5 September, 8 miles, 1 lock, 1 tunnel.

Away from Stoke after a quick farewell to Peter and Jennifer. Arrived at the Harecastle tunnel entrance with the expectation of a bit of a wait. As we pull up the lock (tunnel) keeper arrives to give us the briefing about the transit, A little more detail since last years incident when a bloke fell of the back of his boat and drowned. How long before we go? your on your way now. Took a few minutes to set the boat up for the trip and we were away. 40 minutes later we were out the other side into sunshine. Turned up the Macclesfield canal and motored through delightful countryside to Congleton. Wandered around to Marian & Alan's where we were invited for tea and to use the washing machine. Back to the boat for a not to late night. The autumn evenings are starting to get a bit cool so the heater was run for an hour or so before bed.

6 September. 0 miles.

Went down the hill to the town centre and their Sunday car boot market. Not a lot there but a big variety. Diana picked up some Art Deco stuff and I picked up a couple of prints. After lunch and a bit of food shopping I left Diana in the Charity shops and went back to the boat to do a bit of maintenance. Walked to the bowling club where Alan was in a competition and Marian was making cups of tea. At the completion of the bowls we picked up Diana and went to the Young Pretender. A boutique bar/restaurant. They have award winning pies which are something special. This was our second visit and I expect it will be a regular stop in Congleton. Alan & Marian's son, John and Grandson Harry were also there. We have heard a lot about the family so it was great to meet a couple of them. Back to the house for tea & coffee before returning to the boat.

7 September. 5 1/2 miles, 12 locks.

A beautiful day. Set of mid morning and stopped for lunch at the bottom of the locks. Nobody was coming down so thought we had better start. I went to empty the first lock and was pleased to see a boat a couple of locks away. We waited for them to come down so we could go straight in. This set the trend for the rest of the day except for 1 lock which we had to empty. Part way up we chatted to a couple who were at the next table when we were having coffee yesterday. A bit further up we got chatting to a couple walking towpaths. They opened gates for us and generally made the day easier. After the top lock we stopped for water and they walked on. On their way back we offered them a cuppa tea which they willingly accepted so we had a good old chat on the towpath  for an hour or so. The weather remained nice so we had dinner on the towpath as well. "Top of the Hill". We are now at the same height as the marina so no more locks this year.

Friday, 4 September 2015

These Potteries have us in their grip

Friday 4 September. 2 miles

We are off, heading to Congleton hoping to make it in time for Fish & Chips with Marian and Alan. Well that didn't happen. Moored up outside Burleigh Pottery and went in for coffee. Left Diana working her way through the factory shop while I did a couple of jobs on the boat. Cut off time to get away is 1400. This will give us plenty of time to get through Harecastle tunnel if we just miss a northbound convoy. As we pass Westport Lake I spy a familiar boat belonging to a couple from Tasmania. Pull over and chat to Peter until Jennifer arrives back from the charity shops in Tunstall. By this time we wont make the tunnel tonight so socialise some more. Great to catch up with friends we only see occasionally. Maybe Congleton tomorrow!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Potteries

Wednesday 2 September. 5 miles. 6 locks.

Set of on a 30 minute walk to "World of Wedgwood". We were here back in 2015 and the route was almost direct to the museum/factory. Since then the place has changed hands and a developer is building a large estate of quality housing so we have to walk around this to get there. Talked to the reception about the changes. The Museum is the same. The Factory tour is booked until 1200, that's a bit late and once again we are in the potteries during factory close down week. So we decide to do the Kiwi thing and look around all the free bits. Their new display area is brilliant. The designer of the whole complex has shown off the quality and elegance of the Wedgwood name to the highest standard. The place has only been open 2 or 3 months so there is a lot still to be done around the fringes of the complex. Will visit again in a couple of years. Had lunch on the move as we continued north towards the Macclesfield. The last few locks took longer than expected so cut short today's journey at Etruria. While we were in the top lock I stuck my nose around the corner and saw a couple of spots to moor. Turned the corner and decided stop for water. So while there two boats appear from nowhere and grab my spots. That turned out to be a good thing as there was a boat "Whio" flying the NZ flag so asked to Breast up, which we did. A very social couple of hours with Don & Val from Auckland who are in their 3rd year of no winters.

Thursday 3 September. 0 miles.

The day is a bit grey and cold. Lunchtime before we are organised. Take a walk to Stoke to visit the Portmeirion pottery. On the way we see a sign for the Spode Visitor centre. It is closed but we wander in as the door is open. Get some funny looks but after we say we have come from NZ to visit we are invited to have a look around. One of the Trustees of the preservation society takes us under his wing and explains what they are trying to do. Turns out he retired a few months before the receivers moved in. He was their top engraver so got a very good insight into that side of the operation. Most impressed. We did get to Portmeirion but it was just a factory shop. I had thought we had been to all the potteries but we seem to keep finding more. Diana has at least 2 to visit next time we are passing.

Weather

Monday 31 August. 5 boat lengths.

Wet, Wet Wet. Mid morning took a walk down a muddy towpath to see if there were any moorings closer to town. No but there was a concrete path a bit further along. Lunch on board then with a bit of a break in the weather wandered into Stone. Had a coffee and used their internet. Rachel rang to see where we were as they were looking at the option of a night with us. Did some food shopping then back to the boat to see where they could park their van. Moved the boat down to the area of sealed path and found a carpark about 100 yds away. Rang Rachel with the details and they turned up after 6. Spent the evening on the boat chatting about where they had been and done before they went back to the van for the night,

Tuesday 1 September. 4 1/2 miles, 8 locks.

Rachel & Trevor joined us before breakfast before they headed off to Liverpool. Better weather today so after watering and a Pump-out we joined a queue of 3 to start up the locks. A good day as there was traffic the otherway emptying locks for us. Still passing through places we have seen before but have to look back to recognise a lot of them. Going to have a look at the new Wedgwood World tomorrow so moor up opposite the factory

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Sunday is Roast day

Sunday 30 August. 7 miles, 3 locks.

Still cruising up the Trent valley towards the Macclesfield canal. Stopped so we could go to the village of Salt. Why? Because it is Sunday and the "Holly Bush Inn" is there. Reputed to be the oldest Inn in Staffordshire, dating back to the 16th century. A quaint thatched roofed black and white. Nice roast but not a patch on last Sunday's in Willington. Other than the Inn, the church and one row of old cottages the rest were 20th century plus. Have moored up tonight a bit out of Stone. Being Bank Holiday weekend the place is full. The upside is that there was enough traffic on the canal so at every lock there was a boat to come down and empty the lock for us.

Cruising

Saturday 29 August. 11 miles, 3 locks.

A day of cruising through the Trent valley. Passed through Handsacre, Armitage, Rugeley with a stop for lunch at Wolseley Bridge. Took a walk into Little Haywood to look at an Abbey but you couldn't get passed the front gate. Moored up for the night a couple of miles passed Great Hayward.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Another tick

Friday 28 August. 5 miles, 8 locks.

We went to the butcher in Alrewas to stock the fridge. Then off towards Fradley Junction. This is a place we remember well. Back in 2010 on Llanarrow as we approached a lock I lost reverse gear. Thats not too bad except when you put the controls into reverse the throttle is opened. Here I am approaching a lock, wanting to slow down so into reverse I go and the boat accelerates, something wrong, try again and we are going faster instead of slower. Leap off the boat, grab the centre rope and struggle to stop the boat with brute force. Once we have stopped I noticed that the prop was still turning. I now have some idea of what has happened so kill the engine. Well that is why we remember Fradley. The other significant thing about Fradley is that passing this point means we have now navigated the entire length of the Trent and Mersey canal. Tick in the box. Travelled on up the canal until it started getting very windy and uncomfortable so pulled over for the night. Moored up amongst the weeds. Happens that it is the same spot we  moored up on 6th July 2010 with friends Robert and Mary, from New Plymouth, on board.

Touristy things

Monday 24 August. 7 miles, 2 locks.

Took a walk up to Mercia Marina which I am told is the largest inland marina in England. Talked to a broker about the process of selling, not that that is the plan just yet but a bit of preliminary research. Talked with the Marina staff about their conditions of mooring there in case we decide to move the boat further south. Back to the boat for lunch then set off south, up the canal. Passed through Burton upon Trent as we hadn't read anything about the place that made us want to stop. Finally moored up next to Branston Water Park. The sunset was so spectacular that all the boaters were out to watch the fiery sky.

Tuesday 25 August. 2 miles, 1 lock.

We took a walk around the perimeter of the water park expecting to see a lot of wildlife but we probably see more on the canals every day than what was there. Perhaps there is more to see during breeding season. Walked into Branston, a town cut in two by a major highway. The smaller part, nearer to the canal was older while the other side was being developed with a large housing estate and new shopping centre. We set off again for the short trip to Barton Turn where we were going to stop only for a short time to visit Barton-under-Needwood. We had read that it was worth the 1 mile walk. Another lovely village with a variety of buildings worth looking at. On the way back the rain came down so we stopped at Barton Marina for a coffee. This and Mercia have been developed as places for the public to visit. Large restaurants, Pubs and farm shops are there to make it attractive for other than boaties to visit. Too wet to move on so here for the night.

Wednesday 26 August. 2 1/2 miles, 3 locks.

Still raining when we woke so no rush to get going. Late morning the sun started to poke through so off we go straight into the first lock. The next lock is a couple of miles away as we follow alongside the same noisy highway that had a continuous stream of traffic all night. At the second lock we moored up well back and Diana went to set the lock. The heavens opened so I leave the boat and take the brolly up to her. Through the lock, back on the boat, rain stops and the sun is out for the rest of the day. Interesting how the heavy showers know when Diana will be standing beside a lock. Next stop is Alrewas where it is reputed to have the best butcher on the canal system. After lunch we walk the mile or so to the National Memorial Arboretum. 150 acres of woodland with 300 memorials to groups and individuals. There were two memorials that got my attention. "Shot at Dawn" 306 posts representing the British and commonwealth soldiers shot for cowardice or desertion during WW1. They have recently all received a pardon. The other was the Armed Forces Memorial with the names of all service personnel who have died on duty since the second world war. There were thousands of them and the sad part is that there is room for thousands more names to be added. I found the name of a family friend from New Plymouth who died in a Jaguar crash while a member of the RAF. Returned to the boat via crossing that busy road just after 5pm. Dual carriageway with a safety zone in the middle. Waited 6 minutes to bet to the safety zone and then another couple to make it all the way across.

Thursday 27 August. 0 miles.

Decide we would take a bus to Lichfield today. The bus runs every hour and we missed one by 5 minutes. Spent the time looking and photographing some of those typical english village houses. One was having the final touches of a new thatched roof being put on. Looked so fresh. In Lichfield we visited the Cathedral. Probably not quite as big as Liverpool but most impressive. Wandered around taking in the variety of well presented old buildings. Visited Erasmus Darwin's house and museum. He was the grandfather of Charles Darwin. I think they promote it the wrong way around. It should be that Charles Darwin was Erasmus's grandson. I had not heard of him before and was fascinated with his inventions. Now back on the boat for the night.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Last of the biggies

Saturday 22 August, 4 1/2 miles, 3 locks.

I walked to the Marina below Shardlow on the River Trent. Plenty of boats and a great variety of narrowboats, cruisers & sea going  launches.  A bit of a tidy up around the boat and some R & R before we went to visit the Shardlow Heritage Centre. Once again a small museum that excelled in the displays because it was operated by enthusiastic volunteers. Set off on a beautiful, warm to us, hot to the locals, day. Meandered along with pleasant surroundings but nothing spectacular. Due to the heat of the day the thunderstorms started to build up about 1600 so we watched them closely. Continued motoring through the edge of some rain until a big one threatened. Moored up just in time. 20 minutes later we could continue on but decided not to. Nice evening followed although a bit noisy. Commercial airfield and race car circuit within 5 miles. The farmer was disking the field next door till late in the night. I guess he was trying to beat the storms that are forecast. The odd coal train rattled by and the dogs in the pound stopped barking after dark. The police helicopter was not far away searching for something about 0100. Despite this it was a nice place that felt like it was out in the sticks, to spend the night.

Sunday 23 August. 6 1/2 miles. 2 locks.

A lovely morning to continue our trundle through Derbyshire. At the first lock there was a bit of traffic so we waited our turn which was lucky as another boat arrived in time to join us through the lock. They then followed us the three miles to the next and last double lock. The two lockies went up to the lock and then came back with smiles on their faces as there were a couple of lock keepers on duty and they wanted to do all the work. It should be a bit easier from here on as we are back into single locks again. As we approached Willington the drizzle threatened so Diana walked ahead and found a big enough slot just 4 boat lengths away from one of three pubs in the town. Sunday Roast sounds good. Checked out the first pub which was more a restaurant type overlooking the canal. The second one advertised food but when we went in they didn't. Third time lucky. Went in to what had a nice english pub atmosphere and asked for a menu. "Don't have a menu, all we have today is a Roast". Well I have to say that was the best Roast so far with the tenderest cut of beef I have had for some time. So with belly full of roast and a pint the rest of the day was very relaxing.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Anchor Away

Friday 21 August. 11 1/2 miles, 4 locks

A day of travel. First 3 miles were on a wide deep canal which took us to Beeston where we locked up about two feet onto the River Trent which we followed until locking up onto the Trent & Mersey Canal just past the intersection with the River Derwent. Moored up in Shardlow. Now we are off rivers the anchor can come off roof and be stowed below.

Nottingham

Wednesday 19 August. 0 miles.

Touristy things today. I went into town early to the information centre then did a bit of a scout around to hind the Castle etc. Took a wrong turning and ended up back where I started. We both set off later and walked to the Robin Hood statue. Took a look at the, so called Castle. There has been a building in some form here for centuries and the sandstone rock it stands on gives magnificent views around the area. The latest building on the site is now a museum. We took the tour where all we did was walk around the outside and hear the history of all the previous owners and what buildings had been there. The second part of the tour took us into the caves and tunnels of the rock with some gory details of what had happened down there. After lunch went to the  Nottingham Contemporary gallery where there was an exhibition about Chatswood house and its furniture. A house to visit that is on Diana's bucket list. The next two recommended visits didn't make us want to rush in so gave them a miss. Back on the boat for tea.

Thursday 20 August. 1/4 mile, 1 lock.

A bus trip today to visit Wollaton House. The very impressive  house of the Willoughby family whose fortune is from coal mining and other industrial enterprises. Massive gardens which now belong to Nottingham council and are free to visit. We also took a tour of the Victorian Kitchens. They were closed up many years ago just as they were. They have now been renovated to as they were. Wandered around Nottingham taking photos of a big variety of buildings. Back on the boat we turned it around, came up one lock the moored up again. I now have a 3 mile run in the morning without needing Diana for locks. We had not been to the oldest Inn in England , "Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem" so went in for a drink and stayed for a meal before returning to the boat.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Book 6

Monday 17 August. 8 1/2 miles, 4 locks.

Up Early and polished the side of the boat I washed yesterday. Set off Northeast through countryside keeping clear of weir's that are just before each lock. Called into Loughborough where there is a large Tesco's beside the canal basin. Leaving the townscape behind we trundle along until we moor up at the last available spot. Happens to be opposite a nice pub, That's a positive. Over a mile each way to the nearest bridge to cross the river. Thats a negative. Sat on the towpath watching the wild life, picked a few blackberries then washed the other side of the boat. We are right under the final approach to East Midlands airfield and Ryan Air are doing circuits in a B737.

Tuesday 18 August. 12 1/2 miles, 8 locks.

Polished the other side of the boat before heading off. Caught up with a boat and went through the next 7 locks with them. Although the mileage was high for the day we were on rivers where the speed limit is 6 and 8 mph. Molly can produce a mighty bow wave. I have decided that we are a few hours travel in credit to get back to Furness Vale so at the Junction of the Rivers Soar and Trent we turn right heading down the Trent to Nottingham, where we are now moored. As we approach Nottingham Jim, from Preston rings to find out where we are. He and Ann are in the area and join us for dinner in town before they continue on their way.

The title refers to the Waterways guides I use. We have not been on the River Trent before so I had to open book 6 as my guide to where we were going.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Austin's

Sunday 16 August. 1 1/2 miles, 1 lock.

Beautiful morning so chated to the neighbors for a while. Walked back to the village and Farm shop. Nothing great in the farm shop but there was an attached Motor Museum. No one was around to get information from but I think it is one guys collection. He was into Austin's so that made it very interesting to me. The one lock we did was easy. Went through with a family and the kids were keen to do everything. During our long travels between villages to day we stopped for water where there was a lot of activity which meant dodging families in row boats, canoes, bicycles on floats and a pedal power dingy. Stopped before the next lock and walked into "Barrow upon Soar". Another delightful village.Visited a pub for an ale on the way back to the boat where it was domestic time with Diana washing cloths and I washed one side of the boat.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

On the River Soar

Saturday 15 August. 10 miles 8 locks.

The only boat going our way was breasted up with us but got away well before we were ready. Sun's shining and off we head. As we are about to close the gate at the first lock Diana sees a boat coming so we wait. It is a 28ft cabin cruiser that had been behind us on the moorings but was facing the other way so had not considered them as company in the locks. The difference is that at 28ft they could do a "U" turn. Today we had company on all 8 locks. It was a lovely run on the River Soar with deep water making the boat work better. The only hitch was a rubbish filled section where the cabin cruiser got stopped with a plastic bag around the prop. As we went past we picked up a plastic bag and part of a pack which stopped us in our tracks. We both got the props cleared and carried on. Moored up tonight at Mountsorrel. Took a walk into the village where there are a number of stone buildings. this probably because there were a number of Quarries in the area. Walk to the top of a hill where you could see for miles. Nice to be up a bit and get some idea of where you are and have been.

Rain Delay

Friday 14 August. 0 miles.

Although the forecast was for heavy rain and thunder not much feel on Leicester overnight. At the first lock we drop down onto the river . There are warning boards to tell you what the water level is and whether one should proceed or not. The difficulty is that you don't know till you get there. I phoned a lock keeper and he said that there was no warnings at the moment but it was bucketing down where he was and the river could be in flood in a couple of hours. After further discussion we decided to stay another day as where we are is secure from water level changes. Found a good sized Tesco supermarket two blocks away so did a big shop. I went back again just before tea to top up the cellar. The day was drizzly and after pottering around town we gave up, found a very good local museum and then came back to the boat by 1700.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

VJDay

With VJ Day celebrations this weekend there was the added pleasure of motering down the canals with a Spitfire doing aerobatics overhead and then looked like it joined up with three others in the distance. The next day a hunter jet passes overhead in it's way somewhere. No photos, just enjoyed the experience.

On our own.

Monday 10 August, 11 miles, 3 locks, 2 swing bridges, 1 tunnel.

Rachel & Trevor are all packed up and waiting for their rental to arrive between 9 & 10. After a few delays it arrived and they were on their way by 1100. We set off just before 12 and motored back down to Foxton where we turned north. A nice rural run with many twist and turns. As we were going through the Saddington tunnel, which is two way, I missed a great photo opportunity. The reflections were perfect and the exit portal was a complete circle. Half way through I could see the shape of a narrow boat on the other side of the tunnel. As we got closer to the other boat, still outside the tunnel, it looked like it was suspended in the middle of the portal circle. Quite eerie and confusing on the brain. Did three locks after the tunnel then moored up between locks for the night. That proved to be a good decision as there were no places to moor during the following days run.

Tuesday 11 August. 4 1/2 miles 9 locks.

We set of for Kilby Bridge, the recommended last place to stop before the run into Leicester. On the way we pass the only small village for miles. There is no where to moor up so I sit on a lock mooring while Diana takes a walk into the village. While she is away I help 3 boats through the lock. Diana returns disappointed as she didn't find anything interesting. We continue on to Kilby Bridge, Fill with water and moor up for the night watching for boats that may be going to Leicester tomorrow. The local pub is recommended and it is Curry night. Very nice it was. Back to the boat and there is one moored up pointing our way. No, they are having a day off and not going our way in the morning.

Wednesday 12 August. 8 miles, 12 locks.

Away at a reasonable hour and plod off by ourselves. Beautiful warm day. After 7 locks we stop under some trees, get out the chairs and enjoy lunch on the towpath. Not a common activity this summer. The next lock takes us down onto the River Soar where the water is a bit deeper and Molly is happiest. Finally we arrive at the mooring alongside Castle Park. All spots taken and nobody around so we breast up alongside a boat we had been through 3 locks with yesterday. Of the 24 double locks we have done in the last three days these were the only ones we paired up for. The moorings we are on are fenced off from the park and the gate is locked, also the park is locked at night so feel safe here. After tea we take a walk into to town to see what's there. Locate the market, Cathedral, and part of the shopping centre. Found a Gelato shop, one of the top 6 in the country. Prices reflect that but the quality was superb.

Thursday 13 August. 0 miles.

Shuffled the boat around to let others out and end up attached to the pontoon. Into the market where it was interesting listening to the banter of the sellers. Mid afternoon friends from Bristol join us in town for lunch and then they come back to the boat where we chat for a couple of hours before they resume their journey to Sheffield. Nice to have a bit of a gentle day.