Saturday, 30 October 2010

Avon calling...

 Caxton being reversed off the pontoon by Himself
We slipped out of our mooring in Bancroft basin at 9am this morning to drop down through the lock onto the River Avon.  We have paid to moor on this beautiful river for two nights in order to extend our stay in Stratford-upon-Avon; it's too good to miss!
 Matilda Rose and Caxton in the Barge lock
 The lock gates are open and we are on our way out beneath the new bridge
 Matilda Rose following us out onto the River - a better view of the new bridge that spans the lock
 Approaching the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Moored against the recreational field opposite Holy Trinity Church where the Man himself is buried.

Friday, 29 October 2010

We have callers..

Last night we had a couple of very welcome callers, Pav and Kathy, ex owners of Nb Marmaduke.  Many bloggers will be aware of the trials that our erstwhile couple had to go through to rescue their narrowboat from the bust Severn Valley Boat Centre in Stourport.  However, they sold Marmaduke about a year ago  now and have bought a house in Studley.   Pav follows the blogs still so they knew where to find Caxton and very welcome they were too!!


Here are Nb Caxton and Nb Matilda Rose (MR) moored together in Bancroft Basin Stratford-upon-Avon.  We will be spending a couple of days here enjoying the charms of this town and MR may have  be staying a little longer...engine mount failure means that Graham has had to call in River Canal Rescue (RCR). Hopefully the RCR will be able to complete a repair  today.

What a great place to be.  Late October and Stratford is bustling with tourists, many foreign fortunately-I walk past them silently willing them to spend their dollars/yen or euros and help the British economy.  I have had a couple of sorties around the tourist spots of course and will publish further photo's in another post.   Bancroft basin, in the heart of the town, is commodious and safe and a great attraction for tourists who are fascinated by the colourful boats. 

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Cruising the Stratford Canal

 We woke yesterday morning to a VERY hard frost. The ropes were quite solid and everything was rimed frost but looking quite lovely.  We were planning to cruise a mere 4 miles and eight locks to Wootton Wawen.

 The typical Stratford canal bridge. Cast from iron in two plates that are mounted on the piers leaving a gap between the plates for the towing rope to pass through.
Yarningale Aqueduct leading directly into a lock.  The towing path drops down beside the trough so you are walking along at gunwale level.

 Caxton nosing across the Aqueduct and into the waiting lock.

 A BW work boat was sitting in the next lock and we were wondering if we had cocked-up, had we missed a stoppage?  As the workmen saw us they reversed out of the lock and waved us through. They were setting brand new sandstone coping stones on a new bridge parapet.

Moored at Wootton Wawen. We will stay here for a day or so before venturing into Stratford basin.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Let it be known

Let it be known that Joe relinquished his helmsman's responsibilities today and walked the dogs whilst I, yes I, Queen Wimp, took the tiller and brought Caxton through two locks, seven bridges and two miles and moored up.  Well the mooring up was not too clever but Caxton survived.  It occurred to me at some stage in this trial that I was ALONE.  Joe and dogs had skedaddled and there was just me and  a bloody great lump of steel tube.  I did rather enjoy it though...

Looking for a Sunday Lunch

We stumbled out of bed at 07.10 on Sunday morning to find the God of Fortune smiling at us - the start of the Korean Grand Prix was delayed, we hadn't missed it!!! Hoorah..  The race eventually got started and we watched as 'incident' after 'incident' developed on the new circuit ending in an Alonso win (gnash, gnash) but Lewis and Webber still in the running.  Race over, we pulled pins and headed off in stunning sunshine towards Kingswood junction and the Stratford Canal.

Approaching Kingswood Junction.

 There we go..

 Gongoozelers with attitude

 How inviting is that?
We are heading for Lowsonford, which is just a couple of miles and ten locks south of Kingswood Jtn.  Here we are hoping for a Sunday Lunch at the Fleur-de- Lys pub and we were not disappointed, three roast beefs and one duck, three syrup steamed puddings and one chocolate 'thing' later and it was time to chill. I might add that I didn't consume that lot though I was so hungry by the time we ate that the table was beginning to look appetising!.

 Last night mooring, take this morning when in a frozen state - that bow rope was solid.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

On goes the 'train-spotters-anorak' then

 OK, I am not a train spotter but I do keep a eye out for a rarer thing all together, a Barn Owl boat.  Caxton is Barn Owl number nine and spotted at the service point at Kingswood junction yesterday is Quantum Leap (QL), Barn Owl number eleven.  I had noted the bow as  I approached from the front and it was only as my glance flowed towards the stern that I realised what I was looking at.   A mad woman, that would be me, starts waving and pointing to myself shouts "Hello Quantum Leap, I'm Caxton!"
Martin and Rosie, QL's owners, came across the lock and we spent over an hour chatting together.
The bow of Quantum Leap that caught my attention initially.
 Martin and Rosie, QL's proud owners
Martin and Rosie are making their way in a leisurely fashion back towards Brinklow Marina on the North Oxford canal and putting Quantum Leap to bed for the winter.  Hopefully we will see each other again perhaps next year...

Friday, 22 October 2010

Wooden Tops

On our way up the Stockton lock flight we stopped off to recover a cache of cut logs that Graham had spotted in February on his way south.  We piled the logs into Caxton's well deck and on top of Matilda Rose and on Wednesday we had time, space and perfect weather conditions in which to prepare this free bounty.  Out came the saw horse, the chain saw and the axes and lump hammers and we all set to work to cut and split the wood into usable logs.  The problem was where to store it all when we had it all cut.

Tea break time.  You can see that all the dogs take part in this exercise - bark tastes quite good apparently and small kindling twigs can always be removed from bags and chewed of course...
Where are we going to put that lot?
Jill still at it...

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Hats off to Hatton

After fitting our new battery bank on Tuesday we took our leave of Warwick and started out up the Hatton flight of locks, 21 double locks.  We roped Caxton and Matilda Rose together again and Joe took the two boats up the flight while Jill, Graham and I worked the locks.  We started out in sunshine.  We ended our cruise, soaked to the skin.  The heavens opened after the third lock and while Joe was able to 'slip' into Caxton and get himself attired in wet weather gear helm the rest of us simply got very wet. The dogs, Baxter and Muttley, called it a day when the rain started and simply stepped back aboard Nb Matilda Rose at a convenient lock while Fletcher and Floyd stayed with us in the rain.
Looking down the Hatton Flight towards Warwick.
At some point on the flight I was tipped off of my bike by the ever reliable Floyd, my hand slipped on a wet windlass and freed from my grasp cracked e one across the wrist - no breaks though but I am beginning to feel that I was pushing my luck...  At the top lock we serviced the boats and Jill and I headed smartly for our respective boats to get hot showers and dry clothes on leaving Graham and Joe to take us through the Shrewley Tunnel and moor the boats in a lovely spot overlooking Rowington.

Moored up at last...

Batteries No good - Further information.

Thank you for the comments about the recent replacement of Caxton's batteries and in answer to some of the questions Joe offers the following;
Caxton has a Mastervolt Combi 12/2500 inverter (this boosts 12v electricity from the batteries up to 240volt so we can use domestic appliances, TV, laptops, etc.) this has a sophisticated charging system. We also have a 3.5kw Travelpower as part of the engine installation which provides 240volt power when the engine is running to run the white goods aboard Caxton.  The weakest link in the electrical supply was the lead acid(wet) batteries which have not survived heavy use, neglect and abuse. 
  • heavy use -  the number of domestic appliances we want to operate
  • neglect -  difficulty in checking the electrolyte levels in 30 battery cells, enclosed in a box, on top of the 'swim' in the engine compartment, with limited clearance didn't get done during this summer's hot weather.
  • abuse - an overload which blew the main 250amp fuse to the inverter (hands up Lesley...) and caused irreparable damage.
We could have replaced 3 of the 5 batteries with new 'wet' batteries but we felt that this would have been a false economy because the older batteries could have failed at any time.  We have replaced the 5 110ah wet batteries with  5 120ah gel batteries.

Floyd gets a masterclass in how to catch a mouse

Daisy Cat is busy , there are mice to be caught in this spot and she has been sitting staring at the shrubbery for some ten minutes or so when Floyd spots her.  He stands behind her for a couple of minutes, watching carefully and puzzled by what she is doing (Floyd, bless him, is frequently puzzled) before gently seating himself down behind her.
Daisy is not amused and very quickly she abandons her hunting, with a look of disdain for both dog and human audience, she stomps off - the things a cat has to put up with!!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Batteries NO good..

Joe straddling the engine to get at Caxton's batteries
Yesterday morning we moved Caxton along the Saltisford Arm with its large WELCOME sign (the meaning of the word 'welcome' is open to interpretation however...) in order to get as close to Warwick Batteries as possible; it was time to bite the bullet and replace Caxton's battery bank.  We were getting increasingly less power from the batteries and checks revealed that of the five batteries only two were functioning.
Graham came along and helped lug dead batteries out and get the new batteries from just across the road.
The last two lead acid batteries are awaiting disposal and the new gel batteries are installed.  All done within the hour...
That will be £735 please Sir....Ouch

Monday, 18 October 2010

Two years and counting

L-R Graham, Me Jill and Joe.
This weekend was the anniversary of our second year aboard Caxton and today we start our third year as liveaboards.  We marked the occasion by going out for a celebratory meal - here's to many more years of this wonderful lifestyle!!! Cheers!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

All roped together

 To ease our progress down the Stockton lock flight we roped Caxton and Matilda Rose together leaving Joe to helm both boats through the locks while Graham was freed up to lend a hand operating the locks with Jill and me.

This successful operation will be repeated on Monday morning when we go up the Hatton flight... whether it will be Joe or Graham at the helm is yet to be decided though...

A visit from a fellow blogger

L-R Graham, Joe, Greygirl and Jill
We had just pulled pins and started to move Caxton from her mooring outside the Cape of Good Hope pub in Warwick when the phone trilled and a voice said "I'm in Braunston, where are you?" Forty five minutes later Greygirl arrived to regale us all with the latest on her boating activities - another boat no less, share a bit of lunch aboard Caxton and scuttle off back to husband 'A'and their six greyhounds. It was lovely to see her and catch up with each other again.

Boatmans explained..

Leon emerging from the boatmans cabin in readiness to go into Braunston and collect his wife Rae.

The last time we met Leon and Rae of Nb The Old Bovine was in March when we passed through Braunston Junction en route for Aylesbury. Surprise, surprise here they are again out on Foxes Gate when we turned up last Monday.   Over a cup of coffee aboard Caxton Leon offered to show us the modifications he had made on The Old Bovine and show Joe how a Boatman's Cabin (BC) was laid out - I have been waxing on about what a great use of space the traditional BC is and that in any replacement for Caxton I would definitely want a BC and an engine room. The problem was that Joe had never seen a BC so may powers of persuasion were falling short.... then along comes Leon and his kind offer.
We spent an hour aboard the delightful The Old Bovine and every intricacy, nook and cranny of a BC was explained including how the bed 'ole operated.  My thanks to Leon for taking the time and sharing his boat with us for an hour - Joe now understands my enthusiasm - step forward!!!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Delayed start from Foxes Gate

We moved out of Braunston late on Monday after the welding on Caxton and moored up at Foxes Gate. Here there is plenty of room and Joe could finish the gas locker with filler and paint.  We had planned to move off towards Long Itchington at 09.00 on Thursday but when Joe took the dogs out first thing we found the Gosty Hill, the fuel boat, had moored up behind us.. too good a opportunity to waste of course so we delayed our start and had Ian fuel Caxton and Matilda Rose as well as buying 10 bags of coal for each boat.

below, Ian and Joe putting world to rights...

And we are last.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Gas locker changes

In the photo above you can see where Joe as changed the fixings for the gas locker top/seat.  The gas locker height is to be increased by 5.25 inches not the 2.75inches I originally posted.

 Barry (welder) has measured and cut the steel and is welding it in place - room is limited so I was banned from suspending myself above the deck to get the 'action shots' - "bog off" was the term I think....
Locker extension in place and awaiting the finishing touches from Joe, filler and paint.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

In anticipation....

We are moored at Braunston this weekend awaiting a slot on Monday afternnoon with David Thomas, he who did the stretch on Caxton in February, as he is going to modify our gas locker a little to allow us to use 13kg bottles of gas rather than the 6kg bottles we currently use.  The cost of a 13kg bottle is only a little more than a 6kg bottle yet we get more than twice the gas!  To stay the right side of the boat safety standards we need to have the height of the gas locker extended by 2.75inches and welded properly to secure the bottles, hence another visit to Dave...bless him.