Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Stoke Bruerne

We are now moored at Stoke Bruerne and have visited the Canal Museum this afternoon.  We spent a worthwhile hour or more wandering about looking at canal related exhibits before taking 'coffee' in the adjoining cafe. 
The trek over the Blisworth tunnel to get here from Blisworth was nothing if not adventurous.  It was like crossing the Somme at battle's-end, no artillery shells but lots and lots of MUD, and, we got lost..  By the time Jill and I and four dogs arrived soaked and liberally coated in gloop we had had enough.  The dogs were either dunked in the canal ( theTibetan terrier clean up methodology) or sponged downed with two lots of warm clean water on the towpath (the Labrador ablution system) we were cleaned up and a hasty dash to The Boat Inn was in order.  Tonight we are going to take advantage of the Indian restaurant that is handily adjacent to the Canal Museum...bliss

Monday, 29 March 2010

Sunday Lunch, that will do nicely..

After watching the F1 GP yesterday morning, and what an improvement it was on the first race of the season, I walked the dogs with Jill and their companions, Mudlark and Baxter.  Bugbrooke is well served with public footpaths in and around the village and our stay here has been pleasant but it is time to move on.
Joe, Jill and I walked took ourselves off to the Five Bells for a Sunday lunch having deposited the dogs back on their respective boats.  At £5.95 or, £4.95 for a smaller portion, I think  it was good value for money.
The church sits immediately opposite the Five Bells and at the back of the church are acres of pasture that still show evidence of the old medieval strip field system.  You can see the ridges and dips in the pasture below.  I think that the only place in England that still uses the strip system is Laxton in Notts but I may be wrong.  The pastures around Braunston were similarly shaped by ancient strip farming.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Race and light

Joe recorded the F1 qualifying as it was broadcast at an ungodly hour this morning, so it, the recording, was ready and waiting when we dragged ourselves from our pit today.  I prepared a cooked breakfast and then we sat down to watch the F1 antics in Australia.  We are, like the rest of the world it seems, hoping that the Australian GP is going to offer more in entertainment value than the first race of the season in Bahrain which was nothing short of dire.  It seems the GP circus IS aware of their audience's feelings however and there may be changes afoot...
Anyway,back to boating..
Joe has been using our time here at Bugbrooke to fit another tv ariel point on the cratch board so we have one at the stern and another at the bow which gives us a bit more flexibility when it comes dodging hedgerows to get a tv signal. Also fitted is a LED spot light in the new well deck which will be augmented with some LED strip lighting in the near future. The new extended well deck is a real success and we have already been making use of this new outdoor space.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Going for Gold

I have just completed the application for Caxton's Gold Licence and it will be winging its way to Leeds some time this morning.  The service pledge ( a lovely word don't you think?) is for my licence to be returned in 15 working days and in the meantime I have to post a wee note on Caxton's porthole saying 'licence applied for' -but  do we have to  moor up as close to a bridge as possible and build a shed in the hedgerow for authenticity?
It seems to me that the licencing 'process' is in need of a little refinement if it is going to take three weeks to check three documents and issue a couple of bits of paper. I can tax a car on line so why can't any goverment 'licencing authority' share software/resource/overhead/technology and streamline the whole process?

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Hanging about at Bugbrooke

Joe took himself into Northampton yesterday, catching a bus from Bugbrooke and using his newly minted bus-pass!  I took the dogs for walk along the towpath to bridge 38 checking out potential mooring spots for the coming weekend.  Graham is away visiting family and we need a good TV signal for the F1 Grand prix.  Mind you, if the race is as boring as the debut race I won't be alone in giving F1 a miss...  I think we will move down towards bri 35 (above) this gives us better access to the village and, more dog walks.
I prepared the planters and seed trays for the summer when I got back from walking Floyd and Fletcher.  Jill was buried in cupboard clearance on Matilda Rose so four dogs and one cat helped with the seed sowing (above). 
And here is Floyd watching his Mum reading her book.. cute.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Right down the middle

We pootled off to Weedon this morning and moored by the second aqueduct so that we could have a mooch around the village, buy a paper and amble back to the boat.  The canal is up above the village on a substantial embankment next to the church and on the opposite side of the old church is the railway viaduct, religion in a transport sandwich... After a quick cuppa we moved the quarter of a mile or so on to the waterpoint.  The water pressure was dire and it took two hours to fill the water tanks on MR and Caxton.
After watering we moved on again ahead of the promised rain and moored between Nether Heyford and Bugbrooke. This is really  a pleasant stretch of canal with wide well maintained towpaths and lovely understated and under appreciated Northamptonshire countryside. 

Monday, 22 March 2010

North Of Weedon

Here we are moored up just outside/north of Weedon Junction in Northamptonshire.  We left Braunston Saturday morning and headed for Buckby where we watered and serviced the boats and dropped down through the first lock, taking us under the A5 road and moored just after the bridge.   We had met a fellow blogger, Les on Nb Valerie,  by the water point and enjoyed a bit of a jaw together before we locked down and Les continued on towards Braunston.
We stayed put over Sunday and enjoyed glorious spring sunshine, Jill and I venturing into a garden centre at Whilton to buy seeds and compost and new troughs for our joint horticultural enterprise of growing our summer supply of salad leaves, herbs etc.   Mind you, I am having to rein Jill in a bit as she is intent on turning Nb Matilda Rose into a mobile polytunnel with thoughts about growing rhubarb, tomatoes, sprouting beans and much, much more - I think there was also a mention of pigs and chickens and a boat-cow, so you might begin to see where her ambitions are taking her.....
Today we pulled pins at 8.15 and headed south through the remaining six locks of the Buckby and Whilton Flight.  It took three of us to open and close some of the gates because of the level of water in the pounds and we were glad to see the back of them. 
We moored at bri 21 and visited Bedazzled, buying more LED's for Caxton and a supply of their free range eggs before moving on to our present mooring.  Since arriving the rain has started and the wind has built up so we not moving from our warm hearth - if the dogs will let us near it that is...

Friday, 19 March 2010

Nearly time to go

Today should be our last day in and around Braunston for the foreseeble future.  Nb Matilda Rose will have her new cratch cover fitted this morning, Jill and myself will get our hair cut in Daventry, provisions will be purchased from Aldi and Tesco and then we should be off through the tunnel and starting our journey towards Aylesbury.  Although we are going onto the Fens for the summer we don't intend to start up the R. Nene until the beginning of May so we thought a trip southwards to Milton Keynes and Aylesbury would suit our plans.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

New cratch cover fitted

On Monday we moved back into Braunston in readiness for the fitting of Caxton's new cratch cover.  The new cover has two doors/windows each side and the windows are also fitted with covers to provide protection for window plastic and privacy when required.  AJ Canopies were our supplier of choice, they had fitted Caxton's last cover (now on Ebay if anyone is interested - fits a JG Reeve hull with a 43.75" top board/4' well deck)

Braunston turn above and below, Caxton on the waterpoint in Braunston Marina.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Foxes Gate

We are currently moored at Foxes Gate just outside Braunston.  The towpath is wide and well maintained which has proved rather useful because I have been able to clear the clutter fron Caxton's roof and give it a good scrub down and Graham on Nb Matilda Rose has been similarly occupied with his well deck.  And all this activity without tripping up the towpath walkers...
While I was scrubbing Joe was occupied changing Caxton's oil, engine and gearbox and the Honda generator as well.  So maintenance tasks done it was time for me to walk the four dogs - Jill is away visiting her Mother in Norfolk so Baxter and Mudlark have to put up with me I am afraid. 
And here they all are, tramping back to their respective boats..

Friday, 12 March 2010

Oy, big nose!

Look at the 'nose' on that! 

I sat with the two dogs in the well deck while Joe winded (turned) the boat at The Bridge Inn Napton, what a LOT of space!  Mind you, we are gradually filling it up with the usual boating detritus at the moment.. 
We went for a meal at The Bridge Inn on Wednesday evening and VERY good it was too.  Dog friendly, so all four mutts enjoyed the evening in front of a roaring fire with the inevitable  pork scratchings rations.  Meanwhile the humans enjoyed somewhat finer home cooked fare.  Whitebait, chicken liver pate and garlic mushrooms, sea bass, steak and ale pie, spaghette bolognese and butternut squash bake followed by ice and bread and butter pudding to die for - and that was just Graham's dinner!  Joke...  It was excellent and I would make a point of dining there again when in this neck of the woods.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

A flying catch-up

I arrived back from Essex on Tuesday morning.  Departing at 6.50am  I had encountered my first rush hour shunt within minutes; the A127 London to Southend Arterial road, here was the first accident and associated backlog of traffic. Now the infamous M25 and the second shunt in the Bell Common tunnel, yet more traffic backlog and last minute lane changing.  Now on the M1 just north of Luton and here was yet another tail ender... and fortunately the last of the journey before exiting the motorway network into lovely Northamptonshire countryside.   I diverted into Braunston to visit thePost Office and General Store for a loaf of bread and a paper then it was off again to see if I could remember the route across country to Bridge 102 where I expected to rendezvous with Caxton.  The grey matter still worked and I found the bridge and the boat with no hassle.
I had brought with me 250kg of brick pavers to act as ballast for the newly lengthened Caxton and these had to be carried from car to boat, a tedious 12 trips.  We did look at using scrap lead because it is non-ferrous and has a very high specific density but sadly it also has a high scrap price at the moment so rather than pay £275 I opted to pay £30 for the pavers. I still think that Caxton needs a little ballast to improve her trim but Joe is not convinced.  That said, she is sitting much better in the water now so a few extra bags of coal should do the trick.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

A right carpetting..

Here I am back in Essex visiting my Mother for a few days.  Joe has moved Caxton out into the countryside and is now moored up alongside Nb Matilda Rose and Nb The Old Bovine, Jill and Graham and Leon and Rae respectively.  Don't worry, I have left Himself with a list of jobs to do one of which is to lay the new carpet tiles we have bought for Caxton.  Although Caxton has hardwood floors and they really look great we don't find them easy to live with given the other two occupants of Caxton, the dogs,Fletcher and Floyd.  Photo's on my return...

Friday, 5 March 2010

Caravan returned to storage

Joe went off yesterday morning with the caravan behind him.  He should return today having safely stored the caravan again until we need it next time.  We did seriously consider selling the 'van but living aboard a boat in a ditch miles away from where it is stored was not conducive to this plan and the benefit has meant we had somewhere to live in comfort while Caxton was stretched. 
So, with Joe gone the boys and I washed and waxed Caxton - I did the work and they did the supervising..   The roof also needs a good scrub but I cannot lift the top-box off so Himself will have to do that and instead I will catch up on shovelling out the inside of the boat today.  Where does all this mess come from I ask? - the answer might be two great hairy black labradors sprawled in front of the fire - they might just have be something to do with it..

Thursday, 4 March 2010

New Hatch Inserts

We have had made a couple of hardwood, tougthened glass, inserts made for each hatch.  Simon of Peter Nichols Steelboats, came along this afternoon and fitted them and what a difference they make.  These are weatherproof which means whatever it is doing in the great outdoors we can enjoy the light and the view from the side hatches.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Finishing Touches

 Today the wiring was reconnected, the cratch board and top plank were refitted and Fraser of AJ Canopies
measured and created a new template for Caxton's much extended cratch cover.  AJ will take approximately two weeks to manufacture the new canopy- we will move out of Braunston in the next few days and then trundle back for the fitting.  Tomorrow we move back on board!

The template in the making.

Monday, 1 March 2010