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Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Professor of Fish

Beside the wind-rippled greenish water of the old canal, at the center of Europe’s largest city, a Grey Heron has followed the canal in from the Middlesex countryside sixteen miles away.  Last night, from the stern of our boat in Paddington Basin, I watched this quiet professor of fish hunt in the glom of late evening.

Overall, this is a delicate and elegant bird —  looking as if it were clothed in a trim, close fitting mourning coat. However, up close, one can see a telltale wisp of black feathers dropping down along the back of its head creating the absurd impression of an eccentric professor or vain maestro with one last pathetic length of black hair swept back and down.

The Grey Heron is a shallow-water fisher, tall with long yellow-orange legs, a compact oval grey-blue body and, of course, a long powerful neck and extended beak that resembles a forked spear when open. With a head no wider than its neck — presumably for a swifter strike into the water —  the unsettling effect of a headless bird is created when it turns to look directly at me in the almost night.

On many evenings the  heron come to hunt at London’s Paddington Basin, which is not round, as its name night suggest, but in reality a rectangular channel angling down from Little Venice –  the termination of  the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal. Narrowboats and wide-beams line the edges of the basin, followed by a modern cobbled walkway and then sheer steel and glass commercial and residential buildings ring the water; reflected in it day and night.

Successfully camouflaged amid the blue glass and the darker blue of the day’s last sky shimmering in water, the heron finds its place. Almost beside our boat, between two mooring pontoons,  is a walkway and steel pedestrian bridge with an unseen cement support beam a few inches below the water’s surface. Stalking this invisible path, the heron takes up its work – very, very  slowly pacing the beam  — its entire body a poised expression of focused observation and meticulous stealth.

A grey heron in LondonOften not moving at all for a minute or two, the bird searches  back and forth with a halting but impeccable grace;  step….step….step….wait!  Step…step…wait…step… lifting each individual leg and placing it down with almost unbearable care and slowness.  Then a pause with the neck coiled back in a Swan-like “S”. Then,  SNICK —  the beak, in and out of the water in less than an instant, followed by something toothsome descending a long feathered gullet.

Meanwhile several people have passed over the metal bridge, their steps clearly  tapping or clumping along, faces glowing in the light of their Screens, oblivious to the bird — absorbed into the rapt  pleasure of his hunt only a few feet away.

Most of the kills are swift and ordinary,  but moments of great drama come when the coup de grace is accomplished as the lanky bird sets its feet a little wider and leans out several inches off center to make a “catch” —  every bit like a baseball short-stop, fearlessly off balance,  hauling in a fast ground-level ball in the gap between first and second.

Finally, as the tension begins to ease and the last of the evening leaks away into night,  the heron is discovered and briefly attacked by a flashing white seagull —  threatened by a competitor’s superior skills.

The basin, until now a study in distant muted city-sounds, erupts into a grating verbal war of “kee” kee” kee” from the swooping gull — with each dive met by a  resentful hissing “Geraawk! Geraawkkk!” from the now almost invisible heron who soon peevishly  takes flight – to become a new wonderful airborne version of itself –  legs perfectly trailing, straight neck, sleek body and wings silhouetted against the sky, turning, rising again, turning again, lifted into darkness on extended wings.

Travels of Joanie M – Life as a Continuous Cruiser – Into Birmingham

As our cruising around Birmingham involves back and forth along several of the same bits, I thought that firstly I would split it into 3 or 4 sections and rather than an account of our daily activities it would be more like a travel guide with a few personal bits thrown in.

Travelling towards Birmingham is very familiar territory, having hired from Alvechurch many times since the 80s. Much has changed and yet it is still the same. On the Stratford Canal, there used to be a swing bridge at Tunnel Lane. There us no sign or Blue Plaque to say but this site was famous as where LTC Rolt insisted on the disused lift bridge being raised so he could navigate through, the canal not being officially abandoned. This the Great Western Railway duly did, using a force of gangers and the lift bridge was eventually replaced by a swing bridge. The swing bridge still operated in the 80s and at weekends usually had a gang of small boys who would open it for you in exchange for a handful of coins. When we passed this way a few years ago the bridge was left open and now has gone completely, just the narrows and mooring bollards to show where it was.

Kings Norton Junction looks a lovely spot to moor with its perfect junction house, complete with original toll charges on the board above the door but unfortunately it is not considered ‘safe’. The first time we passed there a boat called ‘Muskrat’ was moored there. Passing the other way about 10 days later there were 3 boys on the deck who ran off as we moored for lunch. Walking back I could see a broken window and paint sprayed over the paintwork. After lunch I noticed the boys were back so I called the Police and CRT. When we came back a few days later I was glad to see that ‘Muskrat’ had been towed to Lyons Boatyard.

The Worcester & Birmingham was originally built to take 14ft wide boats so there is no need to slow down through the bridge holes. At Bournville are some secure moorings to allow you to visit Cadbury World. I’ve not been but others have said how good it is. Besides, I don’t think either I or Jeannette could be treustyed with all that chocolate. Opposite Bournville station the housing lining the canal used to be Cadburys Wharf although it was already disused when I first passed it. The houses are now well established a look as if they have always been there.

The next location is Selly Oak. The site of the junction with the Dudley Canal can still be seen here. This area is called Battery Park after the Birmingham Battery Company whose large site is now occupied by Sainsburys. They are relocating the store to across the route of the canal. The original plans allowed for the restoration of the canal and then the idea was dropped. After many protestations the canal route will now be protected. You then come to the new aqueduct built to allow the Selly Oak bypass to go under the canal. This has been named the Aeriel Aqueduct after the old motorcycle works that stood nearby. Crossing the aqueduct gives one a good view of the unusual buildings of the QE hospital that is often in the news.

The canal runs parallel with the busy railway for all this stretch. As you near the city centre, there used to be the Davenport Brewery on the right. I recall this having a pipe about a foot above the water level that belched out blasts of steam across the canal. Housing now occupies the site as it does on the Granville Street Wharf next to the unusual Cube.

Opposite the Cube is Holliday Steet or Corporation Wharf. This has now been completely redeveloped but only the facade of the original building remains. There are three 14 day moorings here with a sanitary station in the middle. Unfortunately, a boat was moored s o as to obstruct the water point which meant if we had moored on the only other space, only short boats would have been able to use the facilities. The Birmingham Registrar Office is here and the moored boats are often used as a backdrop to the wedding photographs.

We moored around the corner, opposite the Premier Inn. We spent last winter cruising around the Black Country and had moored ,many times in the city centre. All very quiet. What a difference in the summer. People everywhere and, being the weekend, late into the evening. We were woken at 5.30am by raucous conversation. I went into the back end and was surprised to find these revellers were on our back deck. I am sure that the site of a 66 year old naked body rising through the hatch was a great shock but they had the grace to say sorry before they dispersed. That was the end of sleep however but at least we got to the shops and market before the rain came down.

2013 06 23 Newsletter – The Cost Of A Two Week Cruise

Living on a Narrowboat News 23rd June 2013

I’ve been back in the real world for a week now. In my previous life as a stressed out business owner, going on holiday usually wasn’t worth the hassle. Even for a two week break I had to spend weeks preparing for my time away. As a small business owner I had to be all things to all men so preparing for a holiday was a nightmare. I had to make sure that staff wages were paid on time, ensure that all outstanding invoices were paid, organise and schedule work for my field based staff, make sure that the office staff knew what they were doing and deal with dozens of outstanding queries and problems. By the time I finally left for my holiday I was usually exhausted. And then when I returned from holiday there would be a new list of problems to deal with.

These days I don’t earn very much but, oh boy, is my life easy. I have no staff to organise, nothing to plan for while I’m away, and absolutely no stress or heartache when I return. I lead a simple life and I love it.

Wildflowers At Calcutt Boats

So I’ve enjoyed my first week back after my holiday. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours mowing a footpath around the edge of two of our wildflower meadows. The grass and flowers were about three feet high so my mower was like a boat sailing on a sea of yellow and purple. And then after my “hard” day’s work I came back to a boat caressed by waving reeds and vivid yellow iris. What a way to earn a living!

Cruising In Your Own Boat – The Cheapest Holiday You Can Buy

I’ve been thinking about our two weeks away over the last few days as I’ve updated my accounts. One of the aspects of a holiday on your own boat is how little it costs you compared with, say, a traditional two week holiday abroad.

A two week holiday in the sun costs you plenty. You need to pay for insurance, the cost of the accommodation, the cost of the flight, airport parking or travel to and from the airport, travel insurance, something nice to wear when you go out, when you go to the beach, when you travel too and from your destination and, of course, lots and lots of spending money while you’re away. In the carefree days before I had children, a two week holiday in Spain for the two of us cost at least £2,500.

Compare that to the cost of two weeks away we’ve just enjoyed on our own boat.

There’s no airport parking, fuel costs to and from the airport, travel insurance or cost of accommodation. And there’s very little need for spending money.

For me it’s enough of a treat to be on a tranquil mooring in beautiful English countryside. I don’t feel the need to dress up and spend a fortune on a meal which, in most cases, I could have cooked better on the boat. I don’t feel the need to dress up and I don’t feel comfortable on the boat wearing “smart” clothes. I would much rather just stay on the James or on the canal or river bank beside the boat, enjoying home cooked food and beer and/or wine at supermarket prices.

Our two weeks away cost us very little more than we would have spent during two weeks at any other time of the year. We used diesel for propulsion which we wouldn’t have used normally. We used a total of 67 litres over 42 hours cruising or 1.6 litres for each hour we travelled. The diesel cost £81.74. Added to that we spent £123.75 on eating out. We didn’t go to any fancy restaurants for dinner in the evening. We had a few fairly low cost pub lunches and a coffee at a waterside cafe every other day.

They’re the only additional expenses for a wonderful two week holiday in beautiful rural England. Less than a tenth of the amount we used to spend on pretty standard foreign holidays.

It’s not just the cost that’s an issue. A holiday abroad, for me, was always stressful. Maybe you feel the same way.

Your location is usually static for the duration of your holiday so you have to ensure that you choose the right accommodation for your stay. It’s always a bit hit and miss because you have to rely on other people’s subjective reviews to find out what it’s like.

Finding the right accommodation is only half the battle. You’ve got to get there first. The journey usually involves a stressful drive to the airport worrying about whether you’ll get there in time, whether you’ve remembered your passports, flight tickets, insurance documents, foreign currency and travellers cheques and your airport parking booking form.

Then you have to endure the tedious wait at the terminal, an even longer and more tedious period on the plane, yet another wait at your destination airport while you collect your baggage, find your transport to the resort and then sit in it for another hour or so. It’s exhausting.

I know where I would rather be these days. The weather is often frustrating in England, but when it’s good, it’s just unbeatable. Our recent two weeks away was typical of a two week period in June. We had four or five days of very warm weather. The rest of the time we experienced some cloud – a lot of cloud – some heavy showers, a period of very blustery weather and some decidedly chilly days.

The weather really didn’t matter. On the hot days we cruised for shorter periods and spent longer moored enjoying stunning views of rolling countryside as we relaxed on the towpath. If the weather was too cool to sit out, we cruised instead. We didn’t have to worry weather we had the right clothes with us because we had all of our clothes with us. We took our floating home on holiday.

As you can probably tell, I love just about every aspect of narrowboat ownership. Super cheap holidays really is the icing on the cake.

New Liveaboard Case Study – Etive II

Mary Anne, fed up paying rent to unappreciative landlords, took out a personal loan and bought herself a floating home. Now she runs her own business from the boat. Just look at the view from her new office!

Life As A Continuous Cruiser

It’s the Holy Grail for many narrowboat owners; the ability to wander along the canals and rivers, without a care in the world, stopping as and when you choose enjoying a life filled with variety and adventure. It’s a goal achieved six years ago by retired narrowboat owner Peter Early. Just over a month ago he started writing weekly blog posts for the site. You can read them here. A word of warning though – if you are disenchanted with your current lifestyle, Peter’s posts are going to turn you green with envy!

Smoke Detectors – Why You Should Have At Least One On Your Boat

In my humble opinion, every narrowboat should have a solid fuel stove as the backbone of their narrowboat heating system. Modern stoves are easy and safe to operate but, of course, there’s always a risk of fire. A smoke detector is essential. Here’s a short article on the subject of smoke detectors and links to a comprehensive online supply.

 

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • Visitor Moorings With Shore Power – Sometimes you need to hook up to the mains when you moor for the night. Where can you find these moorings?
  • Steam Power – Are there any steam powered narrowboats on the network?
  • Lightning – Is there a risk of your narrowboat being struck by lightning?
  • Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
  • The Logistics Of Buying A Boat – A fascinating account from a potential narrowboat owner as he tried to get a boat out of the water so that it can be suryeyed.
  • Winter Stoppages 2013/2014 – The Trust carry out essential scheduled repairs during the quieter, cooler months. Here’s their planned stoppages for the coming winter.
  • A New Narrowboat Dog – Alan recently moved on board his own floating home. He loved his new boat but something was missing. Now he has a new best friend and he’s in love, although his new best friend has proven a bit of a challenge.
  • Electric Boats – What do they cost to run? Why would you want one? There’s a huge amount of information for you here if you’ve ever considered an alternative to a diesel narrowboat engine.
  • Pram Covers – “Pram cover” is the term for a cover over the rear deck, usually on a cruiser stern narrowboat. Here are the pros and cons.
  • The difference between cruising on canalas and rivers – This is a very popular thread for very good reason. It’s packed with advice if you’re new to river cruising.
  • Checklists – What do you need to check before you set off on a cruise? There’s some very detailed information including a very useful post by fellow Calcutt moorer Graham who has issues with his mobility after an RTA many years ago.
  • Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
  • My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
  • Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
  • Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

 

Narrowboat Smoke Detectors: Why You Need At Least One Fitted In Your Boat

Narrowboat Smoke DetectorIt’s just as important to have a fire safety system in place on a narrowboat as it is in your home, and a fire detector can mean the difference between life and death if an accident does happen. Those in charge of a narrowboat are encouraged to regularly maintain their fire safety systems to ensure that they are offering the utmost protection. It can be all too easy to underestimate the importance of fire safety on a boat, but many fatalities have resulted by not having the right infrastructure in place. Even though they do tend to be fewer fires on water than on land, this does not mean that you do not need a smoke detector on your boat.

Smoke Detectors Save Lives

What makes on-boat smoke alarms even more important is the fact that it can take firefighters longer to arrive at the scene. This is largely due to the fact that boats tend to be located in remote or rural areas, giving the fire more time to spread and destroy everything in sight. If those on a boat are made aware of a fire as soon as it starts to burn, they may be able to put it out themselves with an extinguisher or will at least have more time to escape the boat if this is not an option. Those residing or staying on a narrowboat are urged to constantly be aware of their geographical location so that fire rescue teams can reach them if a fire does strike.

Narrowboat Smoke Alarms: As Important as Domestic Smoke Alarms

It’s important to devise a fire safety plan as soon as you get on board, and ensure that everyone staying on the boat is aware of the steps that they should take if a fire does occur. Smoke alarms need to be tested at least once a month, and the batteries should never be removed unless they have stopped working. Many people do have a tendency to ‘borrow’ batteries from items such as fire alarms before forgetting to replace them when they have finished with them – with obvious risks being involved. Cooking should never be left unattended when on a boat, and it’s also advised that alcohol is consumed responsibly to reduce the chances of accidents occurring.

Put a Procedure in Place with Hard Wired Smoke Alarms

Smoke detectors do not need to be expensive, but the difference that they can make is worth its weight in gold. You can never have too many smoke alarms, and if your narrowboat is particularly large, it may be an idea to install two or three detectors. Some people even choose to install detectors inside bedrooms too to ensure that deep sleepers can be alerted to a fire alarm. A fire can change, destroy or even end lives within minutes, and it’s not just the obvious dangers of the flames that you need to worry about, but the poisonous components of a fire such as carbon monoxide too. Whether it’s hard wired mains smoke detectors or wireless smoke alarms you’re looking for, never let your narrowboat be without a robust fire safety system.

The Fuel Boat

After dominating inland trade from about 1790 to 1840, the canals as a means of commercial transport were gradally eclipsed by the railroads until most boat traffic had ceased by the 1930’s.  Almost all working boats have now disappeared from the cut as it is called, with some few remaining to haul gravel or sand mostly over short runs. However, the rise in “leisure boating” has brought some of the old 70′ working boats back into service as travelling vendors of fuel of many varieties — coal for stoves, propane for “cookers” and diesel for engines. These fuel boats generally work a certain stretch of a particular canal and have regular customers among those live-aboards with long term moorings. Or, as in our case,  you hail a boat when we see it coming and need fuel. This particular boat travels back and forth on the Grand Union Canal from Berkhampsted to Leighton Buzzard (about 20 miles).

The fuel boatWe’ve bought diesel from this crew three times now,  and so know each other by sight — and there’s now a bit of joshing — they will laugh (and make faces) and say that they will sell to Americans, but, had we been Australian, that would have been a different matter entirely….. The man making faces did so because Valari had sincerely said he looked hard working — and that was too much for him to stand for what with his mates there and all.

Today we saw the boat coming up the canal our way and waved it over. We were just about to leave a lock, so the fuel mongers told us to stay in the lock to make coming alongside easier. No boats were coming either way and this worked very well (usually the boats need to be tied together mid-canal with someone on the fuel boat keeping both craft aligned with the cut and out of shallow water).

We took on 100 litres of “red diesel” (half our capacity) and the JCC fuel boat continued along toward Leighton Buzzard as we pulled over and moored up just below a renown pub in Marsworth.

It’s a good life.

Travels of Joanie M – Life as a continuous cruiser – Stratford to Birmingham

We left Stratford in the sunshine, planning to stop near the Park & Ride where we expected to find Tom & Christine moored. Unfortunately they had the same idea and had started down the canal the other way. Isn’t communication wonderful! After a hurried conversation we moored below the Wilmcote flight and after lunch cycled down to meet them just before the bottom lock into Stratford. After they had moored we joined t hem onboard for a cold drink before returning home.

The 7th was Joanie Ms 6th birthday and after a celebration breakfast we started up the Wilmcote flight with the assistance of a volunteer lockie. We moored at Wilmcote for lunch, intending to stay the night but it was quite a dull mooring, with trees obscuring the sun so we decided to continue. Just at the end of the moored boats was a fender maker and after another shouted conversation we decided to treat Joanie M with a birthday present. A new bow fender. The old one had always hung a bit lop sided so for £50 including fitting, it now looks great. Crossing the aqueduct at Brearley/Edstone is not my cup of tea. As I have got older I seem to suffer a little from vertigo and an aqueduct that seems to have nothing to stop the boat from going over the side is a bit dis-concerting. An AW hire boat was waiting for us to cross but unfortunately went aground. We left them thrashing the engine in forward. You like to shout ‘that’s not the way to do it’ but most words get lost in the general engine noise.

Wotten Wawen was our next night stop, opposite the AW hire base. A bit upsetting to see how few boats are out on hire but I supposed it made the mooring quieter. There is a well stocked shop at Wotton Wawen so I was up early on the Saturday to get a Daily Telegraph. I find many small shops don’t have large stocks of papers so the earlier the better, not that I needed to worry. They had a stack about 2 feet high.

We moored again at Lowsonford in company with a boat named ‘Ami Bovard’ (it took me a long time to get the name!) who we had last seen in Stratford. We didn’t move on Sunday but stayed to enjoy the sun with a walk across to Shrewley on the Grand Union and along the canal to Turners Green before walking back down the Stratford and home. We only saw one moving boat on the two mile stretch we walked and at Rowington embankment, a very popular mooring spot because of its views, again only one boat. To the Fleur de Lys on return for an excellent pint of Hook Norton Lion in the sun.

Next day was Kingswood Junction before heading up the Lapworth flight, again assisted by volunteer lockies. We stopped at Hockley Heath for a couple of days as it is a convenient place to get a bus to Solihull (John Lewis, M & S, Lakeland, etc) and to meet up with Ann & Alan who we first met on the Caen flight of the K & A and have kept in touch with ever since. We filled with diesel at Lyons Boatyard before arriving at Yardley Wood to fill the water tank and meet my sister-in-law who lives nearby. Just as the tank was filled the Nb ‘Michaelmas’ arrived who we spent some time with last year on the Ashby, walking the route of the infilled canal together to Measham.

This is obviously our time to meet old friends as n ext week we are due to have lunch with Rolly and Paul & Christine. More about that next time when I tell you about the delights of Birmingham and going into the drydock.

2013 06 16 Newsletter – Considerate Boating On The Cut

Living on a Narrowboat News 16th June 2013

We’re back “home” after two weeks away. I’ve faithfully recorded our journey each day. Writing the daily updates has taken up much of my free time. I know I’ve been on holiday so it’s all been “free” time but there’s only so much time I can spend sitting hunched over my laptop and still maintain a relationship. Sally’s very good about the amount of time I spend working on the site, but I’m sure I’ve seen her recently looking at the power lead thoughtfully while she reaches into the cutlery drawer for a knife.

Consequently there’s not much to this newsletter other than links to my daily blog posts. I hope you find them useful. If you’re new to boating they’ll give you an insight into cruising in a typical British summer, some sun, lots of cloud, light rain, heavy rain, threats of rain, a hailstone or two and plenty of wind. If you’re already a boat owner, maybe the blog posts will remind you of your own experiences and fill you with enthusiasm for your next trip.

Day One: Calcutt To Braunston
Day Two: Braunston To Brinklow Marina
Day Three: Brinklow Marina To Burton Hastings
Day Four: Burton Hastings To Stoke Golding
Day Five: Stoke Golding To Sutton Cheyney Wharf
Day Six: A Lazy Day At Sutton Cheyney Wharf
Day Seven: Sutton Wharf To Congerstone
Day Eight: Congerstone To Gopsall Woods
Day Nine:Gopsall Woods To Sutton Wharf
Day Ten: Sutton Wharf To Marston Jabbett
Day Eleven: Coventry Basin
Day Twelve: Ansty To Hillmorton
Day Thirteen: Hillmorton To Willoughby Wharf

Most Popular Narrowboat Names

Which are the most popular narrowboat names and how many boats are registered with these names. Here’s a current list of the top 200 names. There’s also a link to an A-Z listing of boat names. If you want a unique name for your boat, make sure you check here first.

Considerate Boating

I encountered very little inconsiderate boating on my trip. Most of it was probably just down to lack of knowledge rather than pig ignorance. Here’s a very informative post by long term continuous cruiser Peter Early with some tips on how to maintain peaceful relations on the cut.

 

Comprehensive Site Article Listing

There are dozens of helpful and interesting articles on the site, but have you found them all? I thought you might appreciate a list of the more popular articles that you can glance through and click on the ones that take your fancy. Here it is.

Popular Forum Posts

There’s a wealth of information on the site in general, but if you’re struggling to find the answer to a particular issue, the forum is the place to find it. I’ve listed some of the more popular posts below but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask your question on the forum. If you don’t know how to create a post, or if you can’t log in, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to get you up and running.

  • Visitor Moorings With Shore Power – Sometimes you need to hook up to the mains when you moor for the night. Where can you find these moorings?
  • Steam Power – Are there any steam powered narrowboats on the network?
  • Lightning – Is there a risk of your narrowboat being struck by lightning?
  • Overplating/Replating – What’s the difference between the two and what’s involved in having the work done?
  • The Logistics Of Buying A Boat – A fascinating account from a potential narrowboat owner as he tried to get a boat out of the water so that it can be suryeyed.
  • Winter Stoppages 2013/2014 – The Trust carry out essential scheduled repairs during the quieter, cooler months. Here’s their planned stoppages for the coming winter.
  • A New Narrowboat Dog – Alan recently moved on board his own floating home. He loved his new boat but something was missing. Now he has a new best friend and he’s in love, although his new best friend has proven a bit of a challenge.
  • Electric Boats – What do they cost to run? Why would you want one? There’s a huge amount of information for you here if you’ve ever considered an alternative to a diesel narrowboat engine.
  • Pram Covers – “Pram cover” is the term for a cover over the rear deck, usually on a cruiser stern narrowboat. Here are the pros and cons.
  • The difference between cruising on canalas and rivers – This is a very popular thread for very good reason. It’s packed with advice if you’re new to river cruising.
  • Checklists – What do you need to check before you set off on a cruise? There’s some very detailed information including a very useful post by fellow Calcutt moorer Graham who has issues with his mobility after an RTA many years ago.
  • Television Aerials – If you can’t live without your Corrie, you’ll need a decent aerial for your boat.
  • My New Life – I urge you to read this forum thread. If you dream of living on your own narrowboat one day, reading this post, written by a new liveaboard boater, may well prove the catalyst you need. It’s essential reading for any aspiring narrowboat owner.
  • Narrowboat Ownership – How do you prove that the person offering a narrowboat for sale is the real owner?
  • Tips For Continuous Cruisers – He’s making a bit of a habit of it; Pearley’s back with some great cruising tips
  • The Llangollen Canal – One of the country’s most beautiful canals discussed
  • Deliveries to your boat – Excellent information from regular forum contributor Pearley
  • Mobile Broadband – All you need to know about internet connectivity on board
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that fellow boaters can steal your internet data allowance?
  • Boat Planning & Design – Is there any free software available to hel you plan your dream boat?
  • A Narrowboat Checklist – What checks do you need to carry out before you set out on a cruise?
  • Tunnels – How do you navigate them? Who has priority?
  • Windows Or Portholes – Round or square, which is best? Is it just a matter of personal preference?
  • Day To Day Questions About Narrowboat Life – How can “newbies” find out the answers to questions about day to day life on a narrowboat? The answer is simple. Find out by reading this post.
  • Beds – The pros and cons of fixed doubles and cross beds. You need to read this if you are taller or slightly wider than average.
  • Flushing Out a Toilet Waste Tank – Emptying your pumpout toilet holding tank isn’t just a case of sucking out your unmentionables. You also need to flush water through the tank to remove the built up solids. Here’s how to do it.
  • Narrowboat Knots – Do you know your bowline from your buntline hitch, your cleat hitch from your clove hitch or your poacher’s knot from your square knot? No? It’s about time you did!
  • Free Narrowboat Heating – Is there any such thing? Read this post to find out
  • Narrowboat Furniture – Not everyone wants fitted furniture on their boat. Here are a few ideas if you want to add your own.
  • Weight on a narrowboat – How many people can you carry on a narrowboat, and how much luggage can they bring with them?
  • Narrowboat Finance – A Canadian hoping to move to the UK, buy a boat and cruise the network.
  • Internet Data Theft – Did you know that you can have your boat’s broadband allowance stolen? Here’s what you can do to prevent the theft.
  • Problems Powering An Inverter With A Generator – Why didn’t it work and what’s the solution?
  • Diesel Costs – You need it to run your boat and maybe your heating system. How much can you expect to pay for it?
  • Stove Top Fans – Are they worth the money?
  • Mooring Pins and Piling Hooks – What are they and when do you use them?
  • Water Pump Problems – What to do if your water pump appear to have a life of its own
  • Fuel Contamination – How do you know if you’ve water in your diesel… and what do you do about it when you have?
  • Anchors – What’s the best size and weight anchor for narrowboats on tidal rivers
  • Single Handed Boating for Ladies – Can a lady on her own pass safely through locks?
  • Different Types of Mooring – What’s the difference between residential and leisure moorings? How long can you stay on your boat with each type?
  • Which Ropes To Use? – There are so many different types available. Are the more expensive ones worth using or is it just a case of money for old rope?
  • Windows – Why do narrowboat owners tolerate condensation? Why don’t they have modern uPVC windows fitted?
  • Best Ex Hire Boats – Are you considering buying an ex hire boat to live on? Should you? Here’s some important information for you.
  • Liveaboard Conclusions – Mel Davies has been doing  plenty of research into her hoped for lifestyle afloat. Here are the conclusions she’s reached and comments from a few existing liveaboard narrowboat owners.
  • Handling Floodwaters – How safe is a river mooring during and after heavy rain? Can you stay on a river when the level rises? What can you do to minimise danger?
  • Narrowboat steel thickness – How thick is your boat’s steel? How long does it last?
  • Retro fitting a solid fuel stove – Where’s the best place to put your stove and what’s involved in fitting it?
  • Converting from a cassette toilet to a pump out – A pump out toilet is far more convenient to use than a toilet with a portable cassette but how easy are they to retro fit in a narrowboat?
  • Gas free boating – If you don’t fancy heaving unwieldy gas bottles into a difficult to reach bow locker, a gas free boat might be the solution
  • Winter on the cut – Are you able to cruise all year on your boat or should you find a mooring for the winter?
  • Transporting your boat – Sometimes you may want or need to take your narrowboat by road rather than cruise along the canal. Here’s an idea of the cost
  • Bike types and preferences – If you don’t have a car parked near your boat, you’ll probably want a bike, but which type of bike is best?
  • Towing a butty – I’ve upset someone. I didn’t mean to. Wainbody wanted to know the best way of towing an unpowered second narrowboat (butty). I came across as patronising when I replied. It was unintentional but to make amends I thought I would ask anyone with boat handling experience to reply to his thread with some constructive advice. If you can help him, please reply to the post.
  • The best flooring for a narrowboat pets –  What’s the best way to protect your floor from a dirty doggy?
  • The best time of the year to buy a boat – Is there a deal to be done by buying a boat in the winter?
  • The best length for a liveaboard narrowboat – What’s the best length to buy? What are the pros and cons of different length boats
  • ONE tip to offer a potential narrowboat owner – If you are already a narrowboat owner, you can share your experience. If you haven’t bought one yet, you need to read this thread.
  • Powering your computer on a narrowboat – Can you power your computer/laptop from the boat’s 12v supply or do you need mains power?
  • Must-have gadgets and necessities – The most useful/useless gadgets for life on a narrowboat
  • Choosing a stove for your boat – Are domestic solid fuel stoves as good as the ones designed specifically for boats? Which is the best one to buy?
  • Diesel heating for boats – How important is a solid fuel stove on a liveaboard narrowboat? Is a diesel heating system OK as a primary heat source?
  • Computers on boats – Can a computer be powered from your boat’s 12v system or does it need to be plugged into the mains
  • Receiving post on your boat – How does the postman find you when you’re cruising? How do you apply for a driving license, a TV license or a bank statement when you have no official address?
  • Bikes on board – Many boat owners do not have cars so they rely on bikes to get them to the shops (or the pub). Some use bikes to collect their cars after a day’s cruising. There’s a huge selection of bikes to choose from. Which are the best for your boat? To tell you the truth, I don’t know the answer. Can you point forum member Ainslo in the right direction?
  • VAT on narrowboat sales – Does the price of your narrowboat contain a VAT element? Can the VAT be reclaimed?
  • Internet access – How do you connect to the internet when you live on a boat?
  • Living off property rental income – Do you have a property that you indend to let while you cruise the waterways? Read this before you work out your budget.
  • How to find a narrowboat to live on – Here’s an article about choosing a liveaboard narrowboat, and a question about finding a narrowboat with a steering wheel.
  • Vertigo – How to deal with walking over lock gates if you’re frightened of heights.
  • Long term narrowboat hire – If you aren’t ready to buy a narrowboat yet, what are your chances of hiring a narrowboat for more than a few weeks?
  • Residential moorings and single handed boating – How do you handle a narrowboat on your own? What do you do about a mooring if you live on board and only want a mooring for part of the year
  • Too tall for a narrowboat? – Is a narrowboat suitable for you if you are above average height?
  • Dealing with condensation – Do all narrowboats suffer from damp? What can you do about it?
  • Solar panels – More information about portable and fixed solar panels
  • Heating systems – Hurricane and Mikuni heating systems discussed

Useful Links

Living on a Narrowboat: The REAL Cost of a Life Afloat – Narrowboat costs explained in detail. My own maintenance and living cost on narrowboat James for a full year. Use this information to work out your own costs.
Find out what parts of the canal are closed and for how long. Essential cruising information for you.
Do you need to find a home for your boat? Here’s a comprehensive list of the narrowboat friendly marinas in the UK
Do you want to see where these marinas are on a map? Here it is.
Here’s a map of all the canals on the system to help you plan your route.
Newsletter Archive – Browse through a wealth of useful content in the newsletters over the last year.

 

A two week cruise to the Ashby canal – Day Thirteen: Hillmorton To Willoughby Wharf

Yesteerday was a relaxing and extremely enjoyable day; a day at odds with the plans we’d made.

Our intention was to cruise from Hillmorton, up through the six locks of the Braunston flight, through the mile and  a quarter long tunnel, cruise another hour and a half to Norton Junction, turn round and look for somewhere to moor for the night before a 6-7 hour cruise back to Clacutt today.

We just couldn’t be bothered.

After a very pleasant, rather blowy cruise from Hillmorton we stopped at Willoughby Wharf to let Charlie and Daisy out for a run before the planned lock flight and tunnel at Braunston. There’s no wharf at Willoughby Wharf now, just a very pleasant view of hilly meadows. We liked the location so much we decided to stay for the day, forget about the additional cruising and just cruise two and a half hours back to Calcutt today.

Weatherwise, yesterday was the best day of the week. Sun wasn’t forecast until the end of the day but we were blessed with clear skies for most of the day. We walked along the towpath two miles into Braunston, enjoyed a coffee overlooking the canal in the garden of the boathouse and ambled back to the boat to spend the rest of the day relaxing in the sun on the towpath, me reading and Sally chatting via her iPad with her cousin in Manilla.

I love the simple life on the boat, but I also appreciate the technology we have at our disposal. Our Three dongle hasn’t failed to provide us with an internet connection at any one of our mooring spots over the last two weeks. The Edimax WiFi router allows us access to web world throughout the boat. Yesterday I finished my current book. A quick search, a couple of clicks and there was another book waiting to be read on my Kindle. I love it!

 Update Day Fourteen: Willoughby To Calcutt

After waxing lyrical yesterday about my wonderful Three dongle and how it always allows me to connect to the internet, yesterday it failed for the first time. I had just about finished writing the day’s post when I noticed that I had no connection. In poor reception areas the signal often cuts in and out which allows me to compose a post offline and then publish it quickly when I have a signal.

Yesterday I couldn’t manage a connection at all. I tried constantly over an hour before we set off for the day but then gave up. By the time we arrived back at Calcutt and I had finished one or two maintenance jobs, we were into the afternoon so I decided to wait until today to update you on the last two days of the cruise.

We were moored just a couple of hours from Calcutt. The route was familiar, the landscape stunning and navigation was a bit of a challenge. Gale force winds were forecast for later in the day but the wind was brisk enough to make steering in a straight line at normal cruising speed very difficult and cruising at tickover past moored boats virtually impossible.

I had one near miss with an out of control boat on a particularly windy corner. The boat’s bow appeared around the corner cutting across my bow and over to the towpath on my starboard side. I had to take evasive action and pass it on the port side to avoid hitting him square on on his starboard side. I managed to pass him without touching. I was very lucky there wasn’t anyone following him.

The (new) owner of the boat apologised. He said that the wind had caught him as he rounded the corner. He’d tried to correct the drift with his bow thruster but he had pressed the wrong button and had helped the boat further in the wrong direction rather than back onto the right hand side of the canal.

The rest of the journey was uneventful apart from a tricky turn into the marina. It’s always difficult getting into the marina when there’s a stiff breeze. The prevailing wind blows out of the marina entrance towards the towpath side of the canal which means that it’s very easy to get pinned against the towpath when you come out of Calcutt Bottom lock.

The choice is to either charge out of the lock and start to turn towards the marina before you reach the entrance or, if you can’t get the bow around, turn away from the marina and reverse through the entrance. I just about managed to get the bow in afer a bit of a bump.

So, we’re back on our mooring now. We’re back “home”. It’s great to be back (and slightly disappointing to find out that Calcutt Boats hasn’t fallen apart without me). The reeds next to the boat have grown about a foot in the two weeks we’ve been away and there’s a welcome splash of yellow from half a dozen iris which weren’t there last year.

Front-fender-old-and-new

Yesterday I collected a fender for the front of the boat, a button fender with wings, ordered at the Crick show and delivered to Calcutt reception while we were away. The old fender was, quite frankly, an embarrassment. You can see what I mean in the photo. The old fender was on the boat when I moved on board. I had so many other improvements to make that I didn’t notice just how tatty the front fender was until Sally pointed it out to me a few weeks before the show. The back fender wasn’t in much better condition. We managed to pick up a new rear fender at the show but the only trader selling fenders at the show ran out of them on the first day. We ordered one from them but knew that it wouldn’t be delivered to Calcutt until after we left on our cruise.

The new fender is a huge improvement both aesthetically and practically. The old fender didn’t offer any protection at all. We just need to take the boat out now for a cruise to test it out.

We’ll be planning our next cruise very shortly. Sally and I love living on James at the marina. We have a beautiful mooring on a stunning marina in a tranquil part of the country, but we’ve now been bitten by the continuous cruising bug. It’s always been our intention to uproot ourselves and travel extensively as soon as we are able but we now want to do so sooner rather than later.

I’m fifty three now. Sally’s probably a similar age but she’s not letting on. Neither of us are getting any younger. We’re both seeing an increasing number of friends, relatives and work colleagues suffering life changing illnesses. I watched an item on the news last week which claimed that 50% of the population can now expect to contract cancer at some stage of their lives. It’s a frightening statistic. One of the guys working at the marina had a very close call last year. Thankfully he’s on his way to making a full recovery but over a year later he’s still not fit enough to come back to work.

I see far too many moorers here at the marina, who spend a lifetime working very hard towards their goal of owning a dream narrowboat and the financial resources to enjoy it, only to find that health issues – sometimes terminal  – prevent them from realising their dreams. It’s such a shame.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Sally and I can’t afford to retire yet, but neither can we wait until the time is “right” before setting off on our travels. We met a couple on our recent travels on NB Cream Cracker. They took the bull by the horns, gave up bother their jobs, sold their household possessions, rented their house out and set off to cruise the network in March this year. They’re loving every minute of it. Their plan for the end of this year is to find a winter mooring, work as hard as they can over the colder months to build up their financial reserves then set off on another six months’ cruise next spring.

There’s no reason why Sally and I shouldn’t do something similar so watch this space!

A two week cruise to the Ashby canal – Day Twelve: Ansty To Hillmorton

Yesterday was a late start. We slept surprisingly well considering we were moored closed to a busy railway line – a railway line which was our companion for much of the day.

The weather forecast warned of gale force winds and heavy rain. However, most of the cruise was in bright sunshine with little more than a strong breeze. The wind speed increased as the day progressed which meant passing moored boats slightly faster than normal to avoid being blown into them.

2013 06 12 Ashby Canal Cruise-031

Sally has been spelling me at the tiller more and more frequently recently. She enjoys steering the boat but she’s frustrated because she can’t easily see where she’s going. She’s only five feet tall so she has a problem looking over the top of the boat and over the sides when we come to bridge holes or moored boats. We’re going to buy a removable step for her to stand on. She experimented very briefly with a paint tin. It worked perfectly for her until she fell off it.

We had a bit of an incident in the heavily wooded area just after Brinklow Arches. A large oak had fallen across the canal fairly recently and had ben cut to allow passage for single boats around it. The blocked section of the canal was on our port side. There was a boat coming towards us as we approached the blockage but as our side of the canal was clear, and as we were slightly closer to the narrow section than the other boat, I assumed that they would slow down and wait for us to pass. They didn’t. They headed for the middle of the gap which meant that they were coming towards us head on.

I slowed to tickover and moved to the right as much as possible – which meant that the front of James was aground. They hit the bow a glancing blow which, I was secretly pleased to note, redirected their boat straight at the fallen oak. I managed to back James off the silt then squeeze past them as they were busy untangling themselves from the tree.

Normally I would have stopped and offered to help. As the very angry looking couple were addressing me in terms that I haven’t heard since I was manager of a rough estate pub in south east London twenty years ago, we decided tha they were better off on their own. I don’t know why they were so angry but I didn’t want to hang about and get into a heated discussion.

A little later we caught up with a hire boat which was enjoying a very leisurely cruise at tickover. I know that different people like to travel at different speeds but in order to keep a reasonable distance behind them I had to go so slowly that I almost had no steering at all. Given that the wind was increasing all the time, passing moored boats was a very hit and miss affair.

The hire boat finally pulled over at the visitor moorings just afer Newbold tunnel (I remembered to take my sunglasses off in the tunnel this time. I could see so much better). As I passed the hire boat they were busy tying it to the railings.

We stopped by bridge 58 so we could stock up at Tesco and treat ourselves to some Danish pastries for a late lunch. Dark rain clouds had been building for the previous hour. We managed to get the shopping back to the boat before the heavens opened and the wind picked up to gale force.

After about an hour the rain stopped and the wind died down a little so I decided to carry on. I knew that if the rain continued I had my super waterproof Guy Cotten top to keep me dry.

Five minutes later and the heavens opened. Rain was bouncing six inches off the roof hatch. Although I could feel the impact of the rain on my shoulders, not a drop found its way under the waterproof.

Unfortunately I had forgotten to put my waterproof trousers on so the rain was cascading down my top and onto my shorts, down my legs and into my trainers. I cruised for the next hour in the rain squelching every time I moved my feet (Note to self: must put waterproof trousers and wellies on in heavy rain).

We topped up with water below Hillmorton Bottom lock, emptied the Porta Potti between the Bottom and Middle locks and moored up above the Top lock. That’s where we are now, with our dear friend the West Coast Main Line just a couple of hundred metres away. I’m getting quite used to the noise now. It certainly didn’t prevent us from enjoying a very sound sleep last night.

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