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JANNOCK
2009 Trip Reports

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21st March 2009 Apsley winding point
H.C.8870 - 8876 Distance 5 miles 16 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Dick, Irina, Wally and Peg.

Having finished the paint repairs to the handrail closest to the bank, today was turn-round day to access the other side. Brenda and I were joined by my Mum and Dad as well as my brother Dick and his wife Irina. In sunny, but a little cold, weather we travelled down through eight locks and a swingbridge to Apsley where we moored opposite Sainsbury's for onboard lunch. After that we turned around and headed back to Bourne End against a wind that was getting stronger (and colder) all the way. By the time we were moored up again the beef stew in the slow cooker was ready and so we eat a hearty meal and then abandoned ship for home. Although I normally use this blog to display what has been written in Jannock's logbook, Irina completed her report of the day in Russian so you've got my interpretation instead. That is seven different foreign languages we have had entered in our logbook now :- French, German, Czech, Italian, Greek, Chinese and Russian.

Irina wrote (in Russian) " Dear Graham & Brenda. I was very excited and have unforgettable memories of being on Jannock! Thankyou! Irina Kins."

2nd May 2009 Bourne End to Wendover Arm
H.C. 8876 - 8883 Distance 8.5 miles 13 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Matt, Ben and Rosie

Today was to be a training day with Matt, Ben and Rosie visiting Jannock so that the latter two could get some steering practice in. We left Bourne End just after 10 am and headed North. As we passed through the first bridge, not 100m from the mooring, I was hailed by another boater enquiring whether they could share the locks with us. A good run up to Berko saw us passing Pengalanty and Tiami with no sign of life on either of them before our lock partners decided they needed to visit Waitrose for supplies and so we carried on alone. We stopped above Northchurch lock for lunch as we were making good time and dinner would not be ready if we finished our journey too early. Once we had been fed and watered we continued on to the summit and made our way to Bulbourne before turning onto the Wendover Arm.

Ben : - Travelled from Bourne End to Wendover arm of the Grand Union and finished up at the terminus. Weather was excellent, everyone had a turn at driving. Many thanks to Brenda for all the lovely food and to both for the very enjoyable day. This is the first time I have been on a narrowboat and I have been very pleasantly surprised. I look forward to next time! Very impressed with the boat also.

The water running down this arm is so clear you could spot all the fish darting alongside the boat as we progressed slowly to the end. We had a big fish spotting competition which Brenda was winning with an 18" carp until we got to the bridge adjacent to the flour mill. Here there was a large pike hiding against the brickwork who darted off once Jannock had passed. When we arrived at the winding point (the current head of navigation) we reversed in and moored up with our stern against the end of the canal. Matt and Ben went and did a car shuffle whilst Brenda prepared our evening meal and I did more of those little chores that never get done if you are constantly cruising. After dinner Matt, Ben and Rosie left for Thame and we spent a very peaceful night on the Wendover arm. Brenda had finally sampled one of Matt's famous giant Jaffa cakes as he'd promised for her birthday, only a month and a day late!

3rd May 2009 Wendover Arm to Marsworth
H.C. 8883 - 8886 Distance 1.5 miles 7 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Our plan was a short cruise down to Marsworth today so an early start wasn't required. When we did up pins and set off we hadn't travelled more than 20 metres when we met the widebeam trip boat from Pitstone wharf about to turn around at the winding point. We nipped through smartly before their manoeuvring started and headed back to the mainline with them following. At the junction the wind coming up the Marsworth flight was so strong that I had to pull Jannock's bows round with a rope as she didn't want to turn into wind. We followed a pair of boats down the flight with the trip boat following us. Thanks to the trusty lock wheeling bike they did not catch us up at all. Out of the bottom of the flight and we winded in the junction with the Aylesbury Arm and reversed onto the water point for a refill. We then moored on the end of the 14 day moorings opposite the junction and I washed the side of the boat before doing some necessary paint repairs. Late afternoon was spent walking around the reservoirs before retiring to the Anglers Retreat for an evening meal and two very nice ales.

4th May 2009 Marsworth to Aylesbury
H.C. 8886 - 8891 Distance 6 miles 15 Locks.

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Anne, Lyell and Bob

We had neighbours visiting us today for the trip from Marsworth down to Aylesbury. Anne and Lyell had previously been on Jannock for a day when we were on the Thames in 2003 but it was Bob's first visit aboard. We had been warned that the arm was low on water yesterday and so were very surprised to find all of the top gates wiering down to Wilstone. Bob soon settled into the task of working the locks like a natural and we made very good time. Having had reasonable weather for the start of our journey we decided to stop for lunch after Puttenham bottom lock as the rain was becoming more persistent. Once we were settled down eating the sun came out but the rain returned as soon as we decided to set off again.

As we approached Aylesbury we met nb Brentford near the reed beds but managed to pass in one of the wider bits. Once into the basin, I booked in with Brian on the ACS welcome boat and was allocated a pontoon mooring for the week. Getting Jannock into the mooring involved a 180 degree turn in the middle of the basin followed by reversing through 90 degrees back into it. On reflection I'm glad I did it in the lighter winds as they were a lot stronger there the day after. Bob and Lyell did a car shuffle and then we sat down to 'Basingstoke Air-freshener Biriani' thanks to the slow cooker that had been on for most of the journey.
P.S. the lack of Di Blasi action and reliance on others doing car shuffles is because the Zafira is poorly with an extended stay in the garage due to a broken hose.

Anne :- Meeting Graham at Marsworth, Bob, Lyell and Anne boarded the luxury cruise liner at about 10:30 for a swift departure into a bright clear day although some ominous clouds looked as if they meant business. All concerns were washed away by a cup of coffee and croissant (chocolate of course!) So the day continued, locks were opened and closed, jokes and teasing took place, rain wear was in operation but the sun may as well have shone as nothing could dampen our joyful spirits.
We enjoyed the wildlife, 'amazing', as was Graham's reversing into his mooring at Aylesbury basin - quite a feat.
The food, wine, beer, companionship and fun could not be bettered. Thankyou.

9th May 2009 Aylesbury to Wendover Arm
2009 Spring SODDIT Cruise Day1

H.C.8609 - 8616 Distance 7.5 miles 22 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter

An early rise saw the papers fetched and Jannock easing out of her temporary berth by 9 am. The first three locks north of Aylesbury are fitted with anti-vandal locks but that did not slow the progress at all. By Red House lock we found ourselves following a single hander and so Pete went ahead to assist him to speed our passage. After a couple of locks he returned with feedback that the guy then let him do all the work and just stayed on his boat so we decided it would be a good time to stop for lunch and the first period of non-contact fishing. Whilst lunching (or fishing), John Pattle on NB Brentford passed us heading North. Fishing over still without contact and we were just setting off when Ian received a telephone call from his boss at Vale Brewery. They had a spare 20 litres of Hadders Spring Gold 4.6% prepped for a customer who didn't show, could we use it if he delivered it to the boat? Now that's what I call service (and a silly question), we already had Vale VPA and the first sample of the new Vale Castle on board in mini-pins but now there was no chance of us running out. We followed Brentford up the staircase at the end of the Aylesbury arm and then shared the Marsworth flight with them. Once again Peter went ahead to assist the two boats we were following and so we made a reasonable time up the flight. Having said our farewells to John and his son at the top of the flight we turned into the Wendover arm for a peaceful evening mooring. At 5pm the fresh beer supplies were delivered just as the Castle Ale ran out and a tasty Basingstoke biriani was followed by some more non-contact fishing until the cards started at 9pm. We collapsed into bed around midnight.

Peter :- Surprisingly fishing not the resounding success recorded on previous Soddit cruises. Probably due to the family of 'Robins' stealing the bait out of the baitbox ;^) An investigation of how this was allowed to happen is now underway.

Ian : - Friday evening - The gang gathered in Haddenham and then set off to deposit one vehicle in Bourne End. We then returned to Aylesbury via the Blue Dolphin fish & chip shop, loaded our belongings onto Jannock and then retired to the Hop Pole Inn (Aylesbury's permanent beer festival) for a pint or two before returning to the boat to start the card playing.
Saturday afternoon - Additional, but un-neccesary, beer supplies arrived courtesy of Vale Brewery's new 'direct to boat' delivery scheme.

10th May 2009 Wendover to Bourne End.
Spring SODDIT Cruise Day2

H.C.8898 - 8904 Distance 8.5 miles 13 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter

We were up and breakfasted by 9 am but let the fishists play until the proposed 10am departure time. During this session a modicum of success was witnessed with Ian bringing in a middle sized Roach which beat anything Brian could catch. While all this was going on, Peter and I were around the corner, nearer the winding point, where a local angler was trying to bring in a large Carp on fragile gudgeon tackle. I took this picture for Dave as he had no camera with him and this was a fish worth showing off. I have promised to email it to Tring Anglers for him. Out of the arm and along the summit to start the descent down the 13 locks to Bourne End. At Dudswell lock (47) yours truly almost came a cropper by mis-judging the speed of the boat and almost falling in the lock. Just a wet foot up to the ankle and a few scratches luckily. We found ourselves following a pair of boats down these locks and having to turn every one as there was no Northbound traffic. We stopped for lunch after Bushes lock but the fishists decided to continue onto Bourne End before trying their hand again and so we were soon on our way again. We passed the two boats we had been following when they stopped for water below Rising Sun lock. Unfortunately Tiami appeared empty as we passed and so we could not off-load any beer to Debbi and Simon. The last three locks down to Jannock's mooring were soon passed through and we finally tied up at 4pm. More non-contact fishing then ensued whilst the boat was tidied and belongings packed for the journey home. I was given the left over VPA to take home as the guys know that Brenda likes that one. A great weekend in good company with great weather. What more can I ask for.

Brian :- Jolly Boys Boating Trip - Day 2
Fishing at end of Wendover Arm very peaceful until baliff turns up. Costs approx £1.25p per fish caught. Now 10:30 am and cruising back along the arm to main Grand Union. Can't be a Soddit cruise as the sun is shining and it isn't blowing a gale. Methinks it is time for the 1st beer of the day!

22nd May 2009 Bourne End to Winkwell and then Tring Summit level.
H.C.8904 - 8911 Distance 8 miles 19 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda, Iris and Terry.

Iris :- Have just spent a wonderful morning with Graham and Brenda going through 3 locks and a swing bridge. Having left their mooring at Bourne End the trip was to enable them to turn the boat before returning to the mooring. They are now facing the right way for their journey North. I have done absolutely nothing while on board! Terry experienced opening the swing bridge. A lovely journey - Canadian geese plus their babies with ducklings at one time leading the way. We have just had an enjoyable lunch aboard Jannock but had to be told how to use this pen which is on a pull-out elastic syatem. Quite simple when you know the answer! Thankyou both - great trip and great company. I hope my movie comes out OK.

Today was to be 'starting out North' day. There was only one problem - we were pointing South. So we travelled down to the Winkwell windy point ( 6 locks plus the swingbridge twice) turned and arrived back at Bourne End in order to empty the loo tank. We were accompanied during this short trip by Iris and Terry, our friends from Aylesbury. After lunch we waved them farewell and set off North through Berko and Northchurch to finally moor for the night in the cutting on Tring summit. As we approached Cowroast lock there were four 'civilians' talking to a boater moored below the lock who assured Brenda, who was hovering waiting for the lock, that there was no point proceeding as there were no mooring spaces available above the lock. She asked them for how far and they said that they had walked for 3 miles and no spaces. She thanked them for their advice and assured them that we were travelling further before stopping for the night and then ascended through the lock when I had it ready. Once above the lock it became apparent that there was indeed no problem with mooring spaces which left us wondering what that advice was all about. We finally found an extremely quiet mooring in the Tring cutting, between bridges 135 and 134, which was also very dark due to the tree cover.

23rd May 2009 Tring Summit to Globe Inn, Linslade
H.C. 8911 - 8919 Distance 12 miles 19 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We pulled the pins at 9 am and headed for Marsworth top lock. We shared the whole flight and the following locks to Seabrook with Jarrah, a fellow member of Aylesbury canal society . We also met Peter from nb Gecko (a fellow Cutweb member) several times on the Marsworth flight as he made his way from Bulbourne down to the Marsworth sani-station and back again. Peter mentioned the BCN Society's Summer Explorer Cruise which I am going to try and take part in as I want to do all of the BCN when possible. We moored for the night at the Globe Inn having completed the rest of the locks solo and stopping in Leighton Buzzard for a quick trip to Aldi. After a good steak dinner in the Globe Inn, Brenda decided to follow the Greensands walk which took us via meadows and woods to the outskirts of Leighton Buzzard and back onto the towpath via Riverside Walk

Brenda :- On a summery evening or a dewy morn I can recommend a meander through the meadow, bobbing with buttercups and frosted with cowparsley. Doe eye heifers gaze with not a thought behind dewy eyes. Then on into the Oakwoods - cool and still air holding the scent of the stream as it burbles past - or have I just been watching too much of the poetry season on the Beeb? Perhaps I should just say " Good walk for yer dog!"

24th May 2009 Linslade to Stantonbury Woods.
H.C.8919 - 8925 Distance 13.5 miles 5 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

After a peaceful night we set off towards Soulbury and 60% of the locks we were likely to encounter today. On arrival, the top lock was empty and a single hander was rising through the second lock so I opened the gates and waited for him whilst Brenda held Jannock on the lock landing. Whilst waiting her turn, Brenda witnessed a couple of fishermen pull a 15 3/4 lb Mirror Carp out of the canal after a mighty struggle. This is the second large carp we've seen landed this year. We passed solo down the three locks passing one other boat mid-flight. We then passed through Stoke Hammond and Fenny locks as well before starting the long drag through Milton Keynes. I must admit the MK environs are far more pleasant in the balmy summer weather that we have experienced this trip. It was getting so warm that we pulled over into the shade of some trees whilst we were circumnavigating Stantonbury Park Farm and then decided to remain there for the night. This must be something of a record for Jannock, three nights on the G.U. having to use mooring pins every night. We normally end up using piling hooks for overnight stops on this stretch of the system. After an evening meal eaten on the cratch table in balmy tropical weather Brenda dragged me off for another meadow walk to explore the ruins of St. Peter's Church which lies just north of the canal near bridge 75. I have never seen a canal so still as it is here, once the boats had stopped going past Jannock.

25th May 2009 Stantonbury Woods to Cosgrove.
H.C.8925 - 8926 Distance 5 miles 0 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

A lay in and a leisurely bacon sandwich and then we were off through the last bit of Milton Keynes onto a 14 day mooring at Cosgrove just in time for 11'ses. This left plenty of time for some ackling to be done before returning home.

30th May 2009 Cosgrove to Bugbrooke
H.C. 8926 - 8932 Distance 12.5 miles 8 Locks.

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Perfect boating weather, absolutely perfect. When we arrived at Stoke Bruerne locks we shared with another boat and had an easy passage. Outside 'the Navigation', whilst waiting for a southbound boat to pass through the top lock, Brenda was engaged in light chat by a couple of 20 something lads. Both were quaffing pints and smoking - lads in every respect but one; they were very very badly dressed in women's clothes - all except the black socks - in strappy high heeled sandals. They asked for a lift. She asked where they were going. 'The flower show' was the reply. There was no evidence of a flower show. There's now't so strange as .......

Out of the top lock and onto the water point outside the 'Boat'. Brenda decided she owed me a pint so in she went with her purse and two glasses (so that we didn't have to hurry our drinks in order to return the glasses) and she was declared a pofessional by the clientele. She reckons she's been called a lot of things in her time.
We stopped just past Bugbrooke immediately before the new marina in a nice shady section near the bridge.

31st May 2009 Bugbrooke to Welton Wharf.
H.C.8932 - 8937 Distance 9.5 miles 7 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Another lovely day. Graham got up early and did a car shuffle from Cosgrove to Welton. He then set off solo as we had a way to go before any locks. We pulled into Wilton Marine in search of new centre ropes and then left empty handed to share the locks with a hire boat. It was a challenge to get into the lock as he'd got more or less sideways on as I made our approach. Knowing he'd only picked up the boat yesterday I was philosophic. After the Buckby flight, throughout which I coached him and offered hints and tips he said that he and his chum had been having a week on a boat every year for ages. I am now less than philosophic. He said " all this is the best of boy's toys". "All what I asked?" "These lock thingies, terrific game!" I pursed my lips like Minnie Caldwell (yes, I am that old) and suggested that the boy's toys had in fact facilitated the industrial revolution and changed world history.

14th June 2009 Welton Wharf to Hillmorton.
H.C.8937 - 8941 Distance 9 miles 6 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

A very uneventful cruising day. It was decided that Braunston lock flight was much more pleasant when :-
a. it's not raining and cold.
b. there are plenty of boats coming up when you are descending.
At the top lock we introduced yet another boat to the Jannock tradition of 'Cake Lock' and then shared the flight down with them.

Flowers near Bugbrooke

A surprisingly clear run from Braunston to Hillmorton without the usual hassle of meeting on-coming boats in restricted bridge holes ;^) Once we had moored near Moors bridge, Graham decided to try and remove the two week old duck excrement that adorned Jannocks roof. Copious amounts of water, detergent, scraping and scrubbing was required to shift the stuff. Therefore if you ever run out of Araldite (and no other two pack adhesives are available) - go squeeze a duck!

19th June 2009 Hillmorton to Hawksbury Junction
Northern Oxford Canal
H.C. 8941 - 8947 Distance 16 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arrived at Hillmorton, unloaded the car and set off towards the locks, Brenda steering Jannock and me riding the bike. Down through the three locks following a port, starboard, port formation in cloudy but nice weather but with a strong wind. The weather today is like April, but with end of October winds. Graham remained steadfast in his shorts but we both needed a coat or fleece - yet the cabin temperature remained at 25 degrees with no heating and the hatches open.
Just south of Rugby we passed nb Rosie. I believe it is Bill’s Rosie (intrepid explorer of Billy Bubbles fame) because of the SSR number on the side. No sign of life so we continued on. As we passed Brinklow we noticed Brian’s boat Kyle moored up also with no sign of life.

The bridge at Hawksbury

At the bridge before Stretton stop I leapt off to run ahead and get the swingbridge only to be greeted by Terry Rigden who was on a covert Grace moored immediately after the bridge having her electrics ackled. A quick greeting was all I had time for unfortunately as there was no where for Jannock to stop. We moored for the night just before Sutton Stop feeling very cold and windblown. After tea we wandered down to the Greyhound to see if it has improved since our last visit. Then it was very smokey, now that was outside and inside was very noisy. A swift pint of Robinsons was followed by a walk back to the boat to get the new free Three dongle working. Et voila!

20th June 2009 Hawksbury Junction to Bradley Green
H.C. 8947 - 8953 Distance 12 miles 12 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Beware, banjo tuning in progress

Just before we set off from Hawkesbury, nb Grace appeared alongside and so we arranged to meet Terry and Chris again at the bottom of the Atherstone flight later that day. We then untied and passed through the stop lock immediately behind them and turned onto the Northbound Coventry canal. The weather was a little better today but I believe we have a case against the Met. Office - not as described. We passed Grace when they had to pull over due to some rubbish on the prop. We waited until they indicated that all was well again and then continued on our way knowing that they planned a brief stop with their friends en-route.

At lunchtime we stopped at Hartshill yard for a water fill. We saw a chap unlocking the cellar door - at cut level - of an old building - at road level. It's a very interesting building so we paid attention to his access. He said he was going in to tune his banjo and opened the door of a wonderful music studio. We chatted and he invited us in to look around and then he went on to play Blue Grass music on his banjo for us. Sausage rolls and a serenade during a water fill - how nice.
Once the water tank was full, we moved off and then descended Atherstone flight to moor up after the eleventh lock and await the arrival of Terry and Chris aboard their new acquisition nb Grace. We sat on the towpath and had tea and scones during the first bit of sunshine all day. Simon (No.1 son) came and joined us for evening meal and then stayed on for a days boating on Sunday. A 'boat warming' mini-GiG ensued and our bad diet was rounded off with late night chocolate chip flapjack made by Christine - delicious!

21st June 2009 Bradley Green to Whittington
'Fathers Day' or was it 'National breakdown day?'

H.C. 8953 - 8959 Distance 13 miles 2 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda & Simon.

Graham left at 6am to do a car shuffle from Hillmorton to Whittington. The Di Blasi decided to stop on the return journey near Hopwas. He pulled onto the pavement and stripped the carburettor and cleaned it. All was Ok again and the journey completed. Once we had breakfasted we set off but almost immediately lost forward drive from Jannock's engine. The gearbox had dumped all of it's oil into the engine bilge from a split cooler hose. A temporary repair using self amalgamating tape did not work and it did it again before we had reached very far. I made an improvement to the repair and used a margarine container to catch the leaking oil so that I could put it back into the gearbox.

Traditional boats outside Alvecote marina

We stopped above Glascote locks and I made a better repair using self amalg. followed by a roll of thin aluminium sheet held together by two jubulee clamps. This worked and the gearbox was now oil-tight again. On through Fazely where we met a highly offensive female live-aboard who started to wind, without any signals to us following, and then got upset because we were too close for her to turn in one go. .

a novel canal boat

At Hopwas, as we approached the main A5 bridge past crowded moorings outside the pub, we came across a determined southbound boater who refused to give way and barged (sic!) his way through the bridgehole. I believe this sort of 'selfish' behaviour is becoming more common on't cut! We finally moored for the night in Whittington and I took Simon back to his car at Bradley Green so that he could return to Salford. Brenda and I had a joyless search for a pub meal around the village finding one pub with no electricity and another with an Anne Summers party in full swing but no food. We finally settled for a Chinese take-away on Jannock before joining Terry and Chris for an evening on Grace.

27th June 2009 Whittington to Colwich lock.
H.C. 8959 - 8965 Distance 16 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda & Simon.

We collected Simon from Stone and then drove to Whittington to find Jannock. Once we were shipshape we set off towards Fradley passing nb Nackered Navvy moored outside the Plough Inn at Huddlesford near the junction with the Litchfield & Hatherton canal. We then preceded to meet an on-coming boat at every blind bridge or narrow section of canal all the way to Fradley. It was so busy I was not looking forward to the likely queue at Fradley middle lock. Through the swing bridge we turned left onto the Trent & Mersey canal.

Through the swing bridge we turned left onto the T&M and had a nice run up through middle and top lock meeting Southbound boats at both. At Armitage tunnel we waited behind a Black Prince hireboat while two craft came through and then followed it through and all the way to Rugeley where they moored up near the town bridge. At the Taft we found Terry and Chris aboard Grace, moored up alongside 'Maid of Oak' , where they were changing her 'covert' status by applying vinyl signwriting for BW number and Owners name. We stopped alongside for a quick chat before moving onto Colwich (just below the lock) for a quiet overnight mooring. I fitted new gearbox hoses and a relay into the starter motor circuit whilst Simon and Brenda went for an evening stroll around Colwich.

Jannock moored across the meadow at Colwich
28th June 2009 Colwich to Aston, Stone
H.C. 8965 - 8969 Distance 11 miles 6 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Simon.

Jannock across the farmyard

After breakfast we joined a small queue for Colwich lock and then made our way to Great Heywood where we stopped for a waterfill whilst Brenda fetched some milk from the farm shop. It was only on her return, when she commented about their stock selection, that I told her how quite a few fellow bloggers recommend their pies. On past the marina to join a queue for Hoo Mill lock. We then managed to arrive at each lock as a the boat in front of us was leaving with a Southbound boat descending so we had a good run up past Weston and Sandon. There were a lot of Southbound boats from Sheffield and so we reckon it was an organised cruise by a club or society. They all seemed a jolly bunch from the banter we had as we passed them, so I bet their evening stops are fun. We stopped before Stone and returned to Whittington to collect the car and head home.

4th July 2009 Aston, Stone to Great Haywood
H.C. 8969 - 8974 Distance 12 miles 5 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Simon.

Simon, having stayed on the boat overnight, took Jannock up to Stone and winded to return to the mooring in Aston. We arrived at 12:30 after a late start from home, loaded our things aboard and then set off down the Trent and Mersey retracing last Sunday's route to Gt. Haywood junction. I refilled the water tank whilst Brenda and Simon paid yet another visit to the farm shop opposite, this time in search of strawberries.

4th July 2009 Great Heywood to Stafford Boat Club
H.C. 8974 - 8977 Distance 6 miles 1 Lock

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Simon.

We turned under the bridge, past the Anglo Welsh hirebase and onto the Staffs and Worcester canal and started exploring a section of the system we have never travelled on before. It was hoped we could moor in Tixall wide but as it was after 2pm there was not a spare 60ft mooring available. We passed nb Waterways Routes as we continued on to the next lock and Paul hailed us and asked if we were "the blogging Jannocks"? How rude! Nice to finally meet up if only briefly due to the impending storm.

We decided to moor for the night just past Tixall bridge. As we approached the bridge the heavens opened. We continued on passing two walkers sheltering from the heavy rain under the bridge. I noticed the train tracks veering towards the canal after Tixall bridge and so went into reverse in order to moor back where the nice piling was just prior to the bridgehole. We passed the two walkers again, this time in reverse, their backs bent to the curve of the bridge arch slowly developing goose pimples as the temperature plummeted, so we felt that the only decent thing to do was to invite them aboard for a cup of tea lest dowagers hump and frostbite set in once we had tied up. The heavy storm lasted as long as it takes to brew and drink a cup of tea whilst setting the world to rights. They departed once the rain stopped and so we then had dinner followed by the wonderful strawberries that Brenda had purchased from the farm shop. They were the best tasting ones we have had, including those from our own garden, for years. After dinner we decided to continue on and moor opposite Stafford Boat Club as it was further away from the railway.

At about 8:50 pm we passed a fisherman who gave us a "look" and pointedly looked at his watch. He got no reaction from us so he started tapping it. We looked puzzled so he explained that it was after 8 o'clock. We said we knew that so he explained that we were not allowed to be boating after 8 o'clock. We pointed out that the sun was still out, visibility was 100% and our licence says nothing about day shifts only. He remained un-convinced so if you wish to boat after 8pm - get a late licence.

5th July 2009 Stafford B.C. to Penkridge
H.C. 8977 - 8981 Distance 5 miles 6 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Simon.

I was up at 5:45 to do the early morning car shuffle. The track from the towpath up onto the A34 at Stafford Boat Club was seriously muddy after last nights rain and so great fun was had slipping and sliding up to the road. On my return, the off-road section was down hill which made it even worse that the earlier passage due to the tendency of the wheels to lock when I applied the brakes. Just after my return to the boat , with the Di Blasi safely stowed away, the heavens opened for another short deluge.

diesel boat passing through a lock

As we were preparing to set off, an Anglo Welsh boat with a Norwegian crew aboard passed us heading the same way. We had exchanged greetings with them last night just after our encounter with the gobby fisherman. At the next lock we caught up with them and I enquired about whether they were pleased with their boat. They were but had a problem with the boiler which would not stay alight to heat the water. It was an Alde Comfort, like Jannock's, so I had a look. It lit OK with a nice clean blue flame but would go out after about a minute. I suggested that the thermocouple was shot and told them to ring Anglo Welsh to get a service engineer to fit a new one. We caught up with them at every lock until Penkridge where they stopped just past the water point to meet the engineer. Later when we were moored up they passed us again and proclaimed the new thermocouple a success.

We had been told that Acton Trussel was a particularly pretty village, so Brenda and I jumped ship to admire it whilst Simon cruised slowly on. We walked along the street parallel with the cut and can only say that the good folks of A.T. keep a lovely garden. Either we missed the village proper or it's just a dormitory full of gardeners!
After lunch we took Simon back to his car at Aston and then had to return to Jannock to resolve three little problems:-
1. We'd left all the frozen food in the freezer section of the fridge that we had switched off.
Doh!
2. We had forgotten to remove the rubbish bag from the kitchen bin.
Doh!
3. Remote interrogation showed that the alarm was not operating correctly and so needed re-setting.
OK, that one's worth it.
It's amazing what happens when normal routine is amended to cater for additional crew.

12th July 2009 Penkridge to Brewood
H.C. 8981 - 8989 Distance 16 miles 6 locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

On Friday night we drove through the storms, the raging thunder and piercing lightning to find that only one little ball of fluff was braving the waves to welcome us. There had been two of them last week. Sadly, just one left but it has gone from the size of a golf ball to a tennis sized ball of fluff.

the two tiny moorhen chicks seen last week

Today has been mostly spent getting Jannock ready for the holiday season. Matt will be borrowing her for the first week in August and then we'llbe taking a fortnight immediately afterwards. The biggest problem with lending her to Matt is that we have to clear out all of our accumulated rubbish to make room for his crew to store their stuff in. We set off from Penkridge at 9:15 and headed south. The sky was overcast but it didn't rain all day. Through five locks got us past Coven, where Brenda fancied joining the aptly named 'Coven Boat Club' , and onto the summit at Gailey. Then on through the narrows to Autherly junction.

I wanted to do a pumpout and fill with diesel so we went down to Oxley marine. I called across to ascertain that they were open and a bloke there suggested we wind at the bottom of the Wolverhampton flight so that the pumpout connector was on the right side. Having winded we returned and Orph did a pumpout before he pointed out that he could not fill our diesel tank as we were facing in the wrong direction. So we went up to Autherley junction and winded there to return pointing south again. 135 litres of diesel later I paid the bill and we set off to turn at the Wolverhampton end again.
We passed through the stop lock onto the Shroppie and headed North. Once we were tied up near Brewood I fetched the car and we filled it with crates of tinned food and other stuff that would not be needed by the Matt cruise. We then headed home and met our first rainstorm of the day.

fascinating architechture near Aldersley junction
26th July 2009 Brewood to Long Molls bridge (76)
H.C. 8989 - 8994 Distance 12 miles 1 Lock

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We set off North and winded at Brewood wharf. Then back down the Shroppie to Autherly junction where Brenda executed a nice tight turn onto the Northbound Staffs and Worcester again. An uneventful day, unless you consider that it didn't rain. Something of an event this week - however it still wasn't much to write home about. Certainly not as photogenic as last weekend when I snapped a heron on the finger post sign at Autherly junction, all azure sky and white fluffy clouds. The Beeb were asking for weather photos so I sent it in on Monday. On Wednesday lunchtime news my photo was broadcast to introduce the met-report. Was I proud? Heck no! I was at work and didn't see it. Bah! We only learnt about it when Graham received a text message from Yorkshire.
Mid afternoon we met two pirate boats heading South. The crews were all thigh booted, tri-corn hatted, jolly rogered and be-wigged. It began to look like Panto season! Oh no it didn't! (ed)

heron at Autherley junction

Matt's Holiday Cruise 2009

2nd August 2009 Long Molls Bridge to Black Country Museum
H.C. 8994 - 9003 Distance 16 miles 21 Locks

Crew - Matt, Ben, Jonny, Robin & Rosie.

loading up in Thame

Once Graham dropped us off at the boat we had a cuppa and set off. The weather was unusually dry compared to the last week or two which made a nice change and a great start to our holiday. After cruising for a couple of hours we thought we deserved some food so stopped off at a nice pub for lunch (Fox and Anchor? Ed.) nearly got beaten by the wasps so we had to move inside. Sustenance gained we felt ready to tackle the Wolverhampton flight of locks. We were lucky to have most of the locks ready, but as a team we soon started working them efficiently. We made our way to the Black Country Museum where we had to turn due to lack of mooring spaces but found a good spot nearby.

3rd August 2009 B.C. Museum to Cambrian Wharf
H.C. 9003 - 9006 Distance 10 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Matt, Ben, Jonny, E.J. , Robin & Rosie.

Up and at-em around 9:30am, we had breakfast and headed into the Black Country Museum where we are to meet E.J. , the remaining member of our band of six canalboat holiday goers. The museum was quite interesting with lots to see, mainly the sweet shop, pigs and the fish and chip shop - which was everything we'd hoped for. I (Ben) was first to make use of the on-board shower - cosy! We finally moored up for the night in Central Birmingham outside a pub called 'the Flapper & Firkin', quite a nice spot and after cooking we went and had a drink to end the evening.

Robin, Rosie, Jonny, E.J.  and Ben
4th August 2009 Cambrian Wharf to Bodymoor Heath
H.C. 9006 - 9013 Distance 11 miles 33 locks

Crew - Matt, Ben, Jonny, EJ, Robin & Rosie.

Captains log, stardate ..... um ..... 1 (Jonny has always wanted to write that!)
The day started out well! I got to make a massive mess in the kitchen whilst making a healthy amount of pancakes, bacon and honey. After filling our bellies it was thought best for the greater good that we should probably get cruising. We made progress for a while until we encountered a vicious set of youthful locals who threw plums. Matt was wise to the happening and had already started running towards the reprobates ready to dispatch some justice. Unfortunately they ran faster than him and got away :^(
The lovely roast dinner that Matt and Rosie were planning was foiled by the chicken smelling of death. This was probably the best thing that could have happened, call it fate. We had to find some other food so we happened on a lovely pub called the 'Dog and Doublet'. They serve good portions of amazing food, with a friendly welcome/exit/general chat. Strongly advise experiencing the atmosphere for yourself.
Finally, I'm here writing this log, as I finish Matt informs me of many things that I have left out and for this I am sorry ... but pah!
Love and kisses, Jonny

Things Jonny left out :-
1. Angry Dutch people insisting we pass on the right (non towpath side) rather than my proposed manoeuvre of pulling into the left on centre rope between the locks.
2. Angry fishermen trying to feed me some bull$h1t about a 2mph speed limit past fishers despite us having already slowed down.
3. How amazing Jonny's pancakes really were.
4. Boat getting stuck in a lock due to faulty gates wedging the fenders - all resolved peacefully.
5. How we're working as a team and I've (Matt) finally fully relaxed.

5th August 2009 Bodymoor Heath to Hilliards Cross
H.C. 9013 - 9019 Distance 12 miles 2 Locks

Crew - Matt, Ben, Jonny, EJ, Robin & Rosie

Jonny at the tiller

After the usual round of tea in the morning and some toast we were pretty quick to head off. After a slightly drizzly start and the two locks the sun decided to appear raising everyone's already quite jovial holiday spirits. Out of the city the countryside becomes more and more beautiful and the canal banks and tow paths more wild. We had a short stop in Whittington to gather from the Coop food for on board meals and because of the good weather BBQ munchies. A couple of miles after, at about 3:30 we moored up in a lovely quiet spot and decided to stay for the rest of the afternoon with lots of drinking, eating and card playing going on until late. A very lazy and lovely day.

where's Robin?
6th August 2009 Hilliards Cross to Great Heywood
H.C. 9019 - 9027 Distance 16 miles 5 Locks

Crew - Matt, Ben, Jonny, EJ, Robin & Rosie

Fradley middle lock

We got up late this morning knowing we are in easy reach of our destination. After a delicious breakfast of scones with butter and honey we set off at about 11:30. It's a lovely sunny day perfect for a relaxed cruise through the beautiful countryside. After we turn onto the Trent and Mersey canal at Fradley Junction the locks become a lot more busy. For the first time on this holiday we have had to queue for the locks. By 3 oclock we had reached our final destination for the holiday but since we still had another full day left we continued past to see how far we get. We made it to Great Haywood where we turned onto the Staffs and Worcester canal. We found a nice spot a short way down and moored up for the night. Matt and Rosie cooked roast chicken and vegetables in the slow cooker which was incredibly tasty. We finished the evening in a similar vein to previous evening with music, drink and cards.

7th August 2009 Great Heywood to Armitage
H.C. 9027 - 9031 Distance 4 miles 2 Locks

Crew - Matt, Ben, Jonny, EJ, Robin & Rosie.

Today was a super relaxed cruise to get us back towards our final destination. We left Great Haywood and stopped almost immediately for water and a pump-out at the Anglo Welsh base. With a breakfast of "Round 2 of Jonny's pancakes" this time with icecream served at around midday, we carried on leisurely until Rugeley where we stopped for booze at Morrisons. We had a spot of lunch and then carried on slightly further down and ended up mooring straight onto a pub's beer garden. You can figure out the rest of the evenings antics from that plus we had a delicious spaghetti carbonara courtesy of EJ and Jonny.
All that's left to be said is that this week has been fantastically relaxing, hilarious and best of all cheap. I'd recommend any of my crew for further hire. Skipper out!

the crew relax at the end of the week



The Captain and First Mate regain control of Jannock ;^)


8th August 2009 Armitage to Bridge 56
H.C. 9033 - 9035 Distance 4 miles 0 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We set off at 8am from home with a loaded trailer & car. All our junk plus enough extra for a fortnight cruise ending in a GiG needed to be re-installed aboard. We met the holiday crew exactly as planned and they helped manhandle the trailer, topped with the car contents, down the towpath so we could unload and reload in one. They had everything ready to go home and so Graham had a quick turn round. Back to Thame for a trailer dump, bike and Di Blasi collection and return to Jannock. then onward to Stafford boat club to stow the car and return for the off. The equivalent of a few hours hanging around departure lounges at least.

I shoe-horned everything aboard. I then read last week's log and was glad that as much milk and eggs had been left for us as we had brought. Jonny - I'll be making pancakes.
As the holiday makers left for home I was a good tour company rep and encouraged them to book for next year. No promises, or even hints, as to when they could borrow Jannock, but they seemed keen. No evidence of scurvy, but the B vitamins and yeast in beer failed to stop the biting bugs. I made sure Graham brought some extra anti-histamines from home.
As I bobbed in and out to the bow deck, whilst stowing stuff, two passing boaters told me how lovely the roses painted on the cratch table are - well done again Terry.
We then set off and moved out into the countryside, near bridge 56, for a peaceful night.

9th August 2009 Bridge 56 to Hopwas Woods
H.C. 9035 - 9040 Distance 10 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

A late start today as we'd planned tomorrows timing to suit a slow cooked "Basingstoke Airfreshener" curry for when we arrive at Minworth for a pre-arranged pre-BCN Explorer mini-GiG. Past Kings Bromley marina and then joined a queue of three for Wood End lock. On down the next two and turned right at Fradley junction onto the Coventry where we immediately moored up for lunch, to skip the rubbish and a walk around the nature reserve before continuing our journey south.

Fradley nature reserve
Passing boats on the Coventry canal

We stopped for the night in Hopwas (Hooty Wol - see previous trip on website) Woods and then went for a walk around Hopwas where we discovered St. Chads church. This is one of the more unusual and most pretty churches we've seen. Dedicated in 1893 it's, as far as Brenda's limited brain power can deduce, mock Tudor or Arts & Crafts - possibly both.It looks like a cross between a church and an olde worlde village hall. We'd have loved to have a look inside.

As we walked down the towpath into Hopwas we heard the strains of a fairground organ. Round the bend came nb Marden. ( video on YouTube ) It was the source of music to make you smile. The steerer was about 80 years old and sprightly. He had an organ mounted in the foredeck of his boat. The music may have been from a cassette or CD but it doesn't matter a jot. There was an organ and there was music, smiles all round.

Marden's music machine
10th August 2009 Hopwas to The Kingsley, Minworth
H.C. 9040 - 9047 Distance 10 miles 11 locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

We set off from Hopwas Woods in the drizzle at 9:30 in a boat covered in leaf-drop, the price you pay for a peaceful mooring in the woods. As we approached Fazely the showers ceased and the sky started to brighten up. At the junction we turned right into the B & F canal, yet more territory that Brenda and I have never done before.

one of the most photographed bridges on the canals

On arrival at Curdworth bottom lock we were 5th in line with Brian and Diana on Harnser just entering the lock at the head of the queue. We were following a charity boat from Maypole that had a completely novice crew and skipper. We assisted to work the locks whilst trying to ensure they were safe. Not an easy task but they were very appreciative of our help. We stopped and filled with water at Dunton Wharf and then joined the group of boats moored at Minworth for the BCN Explorer Cruise. Brenda opened "Megapixies Curry House" on Jannock and 8 people sat down to a delicious "Basingstoke Airfreshener Curry" and rice. During the evening we also consumed a whole box of Vale VPA. We are scheduled for the 9:30 start slot tomorrow.


BCN Explorer Cruise 2009
The BCN Explorer Cruise is a guided trip around the Birmingham Canals organised by the Birmingham Canal Navigation Society.

11th August 2009 Minworth to Digbeth Branch
H.C. 9047 - 9054 Distance 6 miles 14 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We started at our allotted time of 9:30 under an overcast sky. On arrival at the first lock we were third in line and that set the scene for the rest of the day. At the second lock we met Aiden who was out helping the boats work through. He mentioned that he's found our blog via Andrew's Granny Buttons site. Once through the third lock we continued down to Salford junction and turned under the second bridge into the Aston flight.

queuing for Aston flight

Once again slow progress was being made due to the numbers of boats and a couple of pounds were a bit short of water. 'Uncle Albert', an old ex-boater with an eye for a comely wench, helped speed us all up the Aston flight and increased our knowledge of working boat practices as well. We made the top just after 4pm and turned onto the Digbeth Branch. We were supposed to continue down the next 4 locks to Digbeth basin but there were a group of boats moored by the University who said the basin area was pretty busy and so we stopped at the University as well. Graham took the bike down the 4 locks to check for mooring spaces at the bottom but returned saying there was not much room so we stayed put up by the Uni.

dinner for six

We set up a dining suite, candles, flowers and pleasing muzak, on the wide towpath and six sat down to dine. Two more joined us for cheeses and port after the meal. Thanks Harnser crew , delicious. We laughed until bedtime.
We'd been told that a meteor shower was to be seen after 9:30. The skies were clear and darkening. We got excited twice only to realise that we were gazing at Herring gulls underlit by the city lights. Not a quiet mooring due to the abundance of gulls and nearby roads.

12th August 2009 Digbeth Branch to Perry Bar toplock
H.C. 9054 - 9061 Distance 7 miles 24 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

As we had stayed up near the Uni instead of finishing in Digbeth basin we had to set off 1 hour earlier than our alotted start time to ensure we were at Digbeth at the right time. It was raining for most of the morning so we followed nb Misty down Ashted locks getting wetter as we went. Once clear of the locks Brenda went inside to dry off and I took the helm. Round through Digbeth Junction t'other Brenda (the organiser) was awaiting under the bridge to count us past. Down to Bordersley Junction where a warning blast on the klaxon reverberated around all the tall building magnificently. We turned onto the Grand Union heading back towards Salford junction and met a queue of 5 boats at the top of Garrison locks. Whilst waiting Megapixie's Curry House turned into a tea-bar. Down through Salford turning left onto the Tame Valley Canal brought to the first 2 Perry Bar locks. This canal has far more rubbish in it than we have seen elsewhere and I had to assist Misty to get a carpet off their prop. We overtook them at this point but we later learnt that they picked up a bucket on their prop as well a bit further on.

The Tame Valley Canal appears to be frequented by grumpy fishermen who do not believe that boats should be allowed along it at all. One miserable git, who wasn't even fishing at the time, vociferously described us as "a bunch of w@nk$rs coming along here and ruining the locals fishing spots". We finally moored for the night above the top lock in a wonderfully quiet cutting, which in itself is amazing considering how close we are to a main road and the M6. There is a water point and sani-station here so we filled Jannock's tank and later Graham wandered down and used the nice shower there.

Perry Bar toplock.
13th August 2009 Perry Bar to Longwood
H.C. 9061 - 9066 Distance 5 miles 36 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Brenda decided to visit the Perry Bar sani-station for a shower this morning but due to a series of problems took about an hour and still failed to shower. We've detailed her ordeal below.

We set off and headed towards Rushall Junction but I wanted to do a detour. For more years than I can remember, I have driven up the M5 and passed underneath the Tame Valley Canal aqueduct without ever seeing a boat on it and so I wanted to go there on Jannock. As the official route was not planned to pass across it Harnser and Jannock winded in the junction and reversed back the half mile to the aqueduct so that we could say we'd done it.

Jannock and Harnser over the M5.
the explorers moored at Longwood.

After tea and cake we then retraced our path back to the junction and set off north towards Longwood Junction and it's boat club where we are stopping tonight. Once through the top lock we moored outside two other boats before the bridge. We had fish and chips on the towpath outside the clubhouse on a nice sunny evening before being entertained with a few songs by one of our fellow boaters.

How many BW staff and how long does it take to not take a shower!
Or - how I came to be walking along the towpath with no knickers!

starring - Brenda.

For various reasons I decided not to have a shower on Wednesday evening, preferring to have the luxury of plenty of room and lashings of hot water in the BW shower block at Perry Barr top lock on Thursday morning. He and I had already had words because Graham was under the misapprehension that we’d be starting out at 09.30 and it was at 09.30 that I took the rubbish and my washbag and marched off to the shower block. Rubbish was skipped and I entered the sani. station with joy in my heart and shower gel at the ready. The ‘his’ and ‘hers’ loos were freshly painted and were unavailable just as the highest number of boats in one visit turned up; they say timing is everything. My needs were immediate so I entered the disability enabled loo. It was very dark in there. I patted the walls about the door hoping to feel my way to a light switch: there was none. I checked outside the door: there was none. I went back in, and in the gloom I could just make out a pull cord on the far wall. So I pulled it.

There was no light, but all Hell broke loose on the alarm bells front. I had pulled the disabled persons’ emergency alarm cord. Well how was I to know? It was dark. What I do know is that despite there being a British Waterways staff meeting two rooms along, some 7 souls, no-one came. I knocked on the office door and asked for help. Help came. We all looked about for a means to stop the flashing and ringing. Phone calls were made, button codes were suggested, tried, and then just invented in desperation. All to no avail. Eventually I looked to the heavens and my faith was rewarded as I espied a switch marked ‘Disable alarm’. I suggested a 6 footer try it out. Peace at last. I made fulsome apology, much to my embarrassment, for having disrupted BW’s meeting. The good folk went back to it apart from the lass who said that since the light was now on did I mind if she just nipped in and used the loo. Since it was now occupied I went outside to tell our cruise organiser that the emergency was now over, as she had been concerned. After all, I figured, it is she who will get the bill for the disruption of the meeting and wasting BW’s time.

I went back in and started over. I was not about to pull that cord a second time, but there was no light on in the loo again and I still could not find out how to switch one on. So I yelled for help pronto. The BW lass came out of the meeting and explained that the toilet lights were actually automatic and would come on as one entered the room. ‘Just go in and the light will come on’ she explained. ‘Show me’ I suggested. She opened the door wide, went in and was as much in the dark as I was. She thought maybe you had to go right up to the loo pan. She did, and was still in the dark. It turns out that you have to open the door, fumble your way (in the dark) to the loo hoping that the door stays open enough to let a little light in and then put your arms in the air and wave them about as if you are at a rock concert or some such. Then, let there be light! If you are in a wheelchair, well your guess is as good as mine.

Now after wasting half an hour, time for the shower I came for. I knew to press the button on the box outside the shower room which was signed WET PAINT because Graham had told me so. There was nothing else to say that that was what one did that I could see. Nothing that I saw to indicate that the box or button were anything to do with the shower come to that. The was an instruction sheet on the wall above the box, but it was in small print that I’d have needed my reading glasses to read, and I tend not to take them when all I need is a shower. Anyhow, it turned out they were out of date and referred to the now defunct payment cards and a price rise. I pressed the button, went in, got naked, stood under the shower, switched on the hot water and....nothing whatsoever happened. I pulled a towel about my person, grateful that I had a large towel with me, went back to the foyer and pressed the button again with more positivity. I returned to the shower, got naked, stood under the faucet, switched on the tap and you know the rest. Up until that point it had seemed quite funny. But now I was upset. I pulled on trousers and tee shirt and went outside to see if our organiser or anyone else could help. I was far too embarrassed to ask the BW people. Our organiser was elsewhere and no-one else had a clue. So, nothing else for it but to disturb BW again. The poor chaps must have been losing patience with me by now. They came and showed me how to press the button, proceed to the shower, turn on the water, and you know the rest.

Then someone’s penny dropped. ‘Oh, there was trouble with one of the outside taps yesterday. Perhaps the water has been turned off!’ Out came a phone. Someone had indeed turned off a tap but had not thought to install an out of order sign. A man had obviously been sent for as it was suggested that I could finally take my shower if I waited for about fifteen minutes as someone could then restore the water.

Well, you remember those words that Graham and I had had about leaving at 09.30; well that was an hour or so ago. So I politely declined the offer of a shower, grabbed my rubber duck, thanked everyone who had tried to help and walked back to the boat with tears of frustration and embarrassment welling up in my eyes, and no knickers on.

How many BW staff, about 5

How long, about an hour

And all I got was a wee and a cuddle from a kind stranger who was about to embark on her first canal boat trip to celebrate her birthday. She had seen how upset, embarrassed and frustrated I was by the whole affair.

Back to Jannock for a lukecold shower in a cramped bathroom. Oh, and I broke a nail!

14th August 2009 Longwood to Anglesey Basin
H.C. 9066 - 9070 Distance 8 miles 0 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Mooring 5 abreast in Anglesey basin.

A shorter day with no locks today. We bade farewell to Longwood boatclub and set off North. After about 40 minutes we pulled over and went for a walk around the village of Rushall and enjoyed the nice sunshine and an icecream. On arrival back at Jannock we pulled the pins and set off again and found ourselves immediately in front of Brenda and Brian, the trip organisers, who always bring up the rear of the convoy. We continued up through Wallsall Wood into Brownhills where we got the bows stuck in a bush whilst trying to turn at the junction and became totally wedged blocking the cut.

A little reversing by Brenda combined with shoving by me up the front got us going again. We pulled over onto the 14 day moorings and wandered down into Brownhills for some shopping. New sandals for me as the old ones were written off in Wednesdays rain and some food for the BBQ tonight. We found some Ostrich steaks in Aldi so got them to give them a try. Onward into Anglesey basin where we moored against the bankside and soon had five other narrowboats breasted out from us. A sociable even was spent BBQing and chatting. The Ostrich was excellent and Brenda complemented me on my marinade and cooking.

The explorers moored in Anglesey basin.
15th August 2009 Anglesey Basin to Pelsall Wood
H.C. 9070 - 9074 Distance 7 miles 0 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Harnser follows us through the bridge.

Another short easy day with a shopping stop.
We set off from Anglesey basin once the five boats that were moored offside of us had departed and followed Harnser down the arm to Brownhills for a provisioning stop. There were plenty of boats moored outside Tescos so we tagged onto the end. As we slid in towards the bank something under water guided us in and wedged us so tight that we could have safely left the boat there without tying off any mooring ropes at all. When supplies had been procured we had to reverse out the way we came in order to leave the side. I expect it was a submerged trolley.
Once underway again we moved onto Pelsall Wood where we turned into the Cannock Extension Canal to knock another one off the 'to do' list. Up to the end where we winded in the entrance of the dry dock and then reversed towards the end of the arm to visit the farm shop on the main road there. Welcome back to reality with cars rushing past in both directions at great speed! After purchasing one of their ice creams we sat on the seat located by the canal to eat them in the sunshine.

The Finger Post coped pretty well with what threatened to turn into a 'Saga-lout' cruise - we tried to help by spreading out eating across the evening so as not to overwhelm the kitchen. The food was reasonably good going for posh pub food. As we left, our esteemed leader sunk her spoon into what I believe was described on the menu as 'spotted dick' - that well known sponge desert. It was ably described by another diner as 'small fender in custard' and was being sent back to the kitchen as we left.
In Brownhills. Graham had chosen lamb chops for an up-coming BBQ but was gutted to find that we had no mint sauce aboard Jannock. At the Finger Post, the sauces and condements were presented in sachets, so the plan was to liberate some Mint Sauce to take some back to Jannock for the lamb chops. There was none in the sachet selection on the table but when asked, the young waiter rushed off and returned with a jug full of fresh mint sauce! Doh!

16th August 2009 Pelsall common to Wolverhampton
H.C. 9074 - 9080 Distance 12 miles 0 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We had a leisurely start today and actually set off from Pelshall Common behind Brian and t'other Brenda who has been playing 'tail end charlie' for most this trip. There were still two more boats behind Harnser and Jannock and so we were not last. Brenda had the slow cooker on today with beef for us and lamb for Brian and Diana both cooking together. Todays route map showed why the Wyrley and Essington canal is known as the "Curly Wyrley". It is frequently the subject of tales describing what people get wrapped around their propellors when traveling along it. Before long we had the engine slow right down and the usual burst of reverse and then into forwards again did not clear it so it was off with the engine and down the weedhatch to investigate. I pulled out a large (2m x 2m) waxed type waterproof sheet which had securely wrapped itself around the prop and shaft.

Approaching Wolverhampton centre.
3 dodgy blokes outside the GWR.

Once on our way again we had no other trips down there until we arrived at Wolverhampton. It appears that some of our party took the wrong turning at Birchills junction and so we do not have a full complement of boats here. We had arrived at Horsefield Junction (with the BCN) and immediately turned left instead of right and so we had to wind and retrace our steps to Wolverhampton. After a wonderful roast beef dinner we then went ashore, which involved swinging a boat across from the towpath side to pick us up which was then pulled back by rope to get us across the cut, and tried the GWR public house which came highly recommended by our guides. A Holdens house with a great selection of beers that kept us amused for the rest of the evening.

17th August 2009 Wolverhampton to Oldbury pumphouse, via Titford Pools
H.C. 9080 - 9085 Distance 13 miles 6 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

Sign inside BW shower block at Wolverhampton.

Today is the last day of the cruise organised by the Birmingham Canal Navigation Society and most boats set off eager to reach their HQ building in Oldbury Pumphouse. We moved across the canal and into the basin at Wolverhampton so that Brenda and I could take a shower in the BW Sani-station. This objective successfully achieved we then reversed out again and set off down the Wolverhampton level with Harnser towards Oldbury junction and the 6 locks up to the pumphouse. Not long after starting I had to make a visit to the weedhatch to clear some plastic and rope off the prop. As we passed Factory Junction a permanent moorer congratulated us for slowing down nicely "unlike those others in our group"- Ooops!

The water in the old BCN mainline was not as clear as the last time we passed down it, must be something to do with the number of passing boats. When we arrived at the bottom of Oldbury locks we were 6th in the queue and so Brenda occupied herself picking blackberries while we waited our turn. Out of the top and we continued up to Titford Pools where Harnser attempted to go up the Causeway Green Branch whilst we winded at the junction. We then retraced our route back down the branch and moored opposite the old maltings. Our final evening of the trip involved a communal BBQ in the clubhouse with presentation of certificates and awards followed by some in-house entertainment from members of the cruise. Brenda received an award for her Perry Bar shower episode on day 3 whilst Jannock and Harnser both achieved certificates for reversing along the Tame Valley canal to the M5 aquaduct.
Many thanks to Brenda and Brian Ward for organising this great week exploring new canals for us, they will be doing the same next year but it will be in June and not August.

The Old Maltings at Oldbury.
18th August 2009 Oldbury pumphouse to bottom of Delft locks
H.C. 9085 - 9092 Distance 11 miles 17 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We bade farewell to our fellow explorers as we/they/both went on their ways. Our first weedhatch visit was in the last lock of the Oldbury flight - and so the day went on.
All proceeded in a normal fashion until Merryhill. Brenda had convinced Diana ( nb Harnser ) that a slow cooker was a good galley aid. In Sainsburys they got several models out of their packaging mid aisle. A choice was made so they can't moan. As we returned to the boats a group of people were admiring them and photographing each other with one as if they were the proud owners. They walked to the Delph flight alongside us and were genuinely interested in the whole process. After one lock Brenda asked if they'd like a ride down a lock. They piled aboard, all 6, and stayed for 2 locks. One of their party got more and more involved and crewed for us for 6 out of the 8 locks. He weilds a mean windless now! Thanks to our Irish tourists we worked two boats down the 8 locks in just over 1 hour.

.

After we'd moored for the night a hire boat steamed past us with crew on the roof. They were swigging red plonk straight from the bottles. That probably led to the near miss we witnessed. The steerer didn't account for the very low road bridge, the roof toppers didn't bother to get out of the way. Only some very rude words suggesting the steerer engage reverse gave the roof passengers time and space to avoid losing skin at the very least.
Brian and Diana came around for an evening meal before we all decided to call it a night early as we were all suffering from an early start this morning.

19th August 2009 Brettel Lane bridge to Hinksford bridge
H.C. 9092 - 9098 Distance 8 miles 23 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

We left our peaceful overnight mooring (with useful built in 7 o'clock alarm from the scaffold yard opposite) at Brettel Lane Bridge by 9am and made our way to the top of the Stourbridge locks. I used the trusty lock wheeling bike to set locks in front as well as behind for Brian and Diana on Harnser. At lock 3 I met the first set of bottom gates that would not stay shut for re-filling. After running back and forth a couple of times I opened a top paddle before returning again to close the offending bottom gate. Although I did manage this lock on my own I had to enlist the help of a woman walking her dog to get the bottom gates of lock 16 to close even with all the top paddles up.

Harnser leaves a lock.

Above lock 9 there was a BW work boat (reg. no. 4000001 - what a cool number) that was blocking the canal. I climbed on and managed to pull it back across to the offside where I found that the padlock tethering it to a tree had been bolt-cropped. I re-secured it using ropes I found laying around and then had to be rescued from the off-side by Brenda on Jannock who had been worked through lock 8 by Diana. I phoned BW to advise them that it required urgent attention to it's mooring security. Down through the clear waters from Wordsley Junction to lock 17, there were a group of kids jumping and swimming in the canal. As we slowly passed I enquired of them if they were aware of Weil's disease (Leptospiral Jaundice) and then explained to them what it was, how you got it and then wished them good luck. As we left they were busy re-dressing themselves.

Graham working? a lock.

At lock 17 the local trip boat "the Blackcountry Man" was tied to the lock landing whilst all the customers were partaking of their lunch. Very useful!
Down to Stourton junction where we turned right onto the Staffs and Worcester canal and another section that neither Brenda or myself have ever travelled on before.

Down to Stourton junction where we turned right onto a section of canal that neither Brenda or myself have ever travelled on before. We moored for the night at Hinksford bridge, only after I had reversed across the canal to harvest ripe plums from an overhanging tree before tying up. We are dining aboard Harnser tonight before going to try out the Old Bush up the road.

20th August 2009 Hinksford Bridge to Cross Green
H.C. 9098 - 9108 Distance 12 miles 16 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

A long day today. I got up and refilled Harnsers water tank from ours using our water hose and the galley tap. We set off at 9 am and it started raining before we reached the first (Hinksford) lock. As we approached Swindon lock I asked a passing dog walker for directions to the Post Office and then went and posted my dads birthday present which Brenda had pre-wrapped and stamped but would not fit through the common-or-garden post box slot. As we approached Wombourne we met the "Blue Moonies" (fellow BCN explorers) heading South after a night out with Gerry and Murial (nb Moonstone) at Compton.

following Harnser up the locks.
Jannock ascends the Bratch

At the Bratch,Harnser got through but we had to wait for three southbound boats to pass before we were allowed to ascend. I have looked at a painting of these locks, on our chimney breast at home, for more than 10 years but this is the first time I have been here. We caught up Harnser, taking tea and cake aboard Moonstone, at Compton. We continued on to Cross Green where we moored alongside a golf driving range and had another curry evening on Jannock. It would seem that some of their golfers need more lessons. You'd need a good physics degree to work out the parabola and angles achieved such that golf balls bounced off our roof.

21st August 2009 Cross Green to Stafford Boat Club
H.C. 9108 - 9114 Distance 14 miles 11 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda.

An early start under an undecided sky. By 09:00 the heavens had decided and it became monsoon season. Each drenching was interspersed with glorious sunshine . Graham decided to take his shower between Shutt Hill lock and Deptmoor lock so that he'd arrive at the GiG all fragrant. Instead he took a bath! He saw a fat and fruity scone floating in the canal by the lock gate and to show his devotion to me thought to fish it out of the water as he knows I enjoy a nice scone. That was fine until he slid on rain soaked green goo and ended up in the canal. I had just untied Jannock and so ran away from him - rubbish wife I turned out to be! I retied the boat and went to his aid. Luckily Diana was already there and was wise - she dropped the paddle to stop G. being sucked in. She and I then helped haul G. out just as Brian arrived to assist. He was hauled out safe and well . Thank you so much to the crew of Harnser. That whole episode was bad enough but he was absolutely gutted to find that he'd lost his 'goggle-eye' glasses off of his hat. We looked in and beyond the lock to no avail. All that could be found floating in the vicinity was the scone that started the whole episode. We arrived at Stafford Boat Club mid afternoon and moored bankside ready for nb Justice to come alongside when it arrives.

more wonderful brickwork
R. I. P. Google Eye Glasses
17/04/2006 - 21/08/2009

Me wearing my glasses

During my accidental immersion yesterday the only real casualty were my beloved Googly Eye glasses that normally adorn my hat. I found them floating in a lock on the Deepcut flight (Basingstoke Canal) on 17th April 2006. They always caused a bystander to smile and generally started a conversation by people who admired them. I was once accused of being blind by a group of women who I met on the Northchurch locks who then had to retract the statement when I found and returned their BW key they had left in an anti-vandal lock. They have even been worn by esteemed visitors to these shores ( aka George Pearson of Canals List fame - see picture below ) as well as appearing in the photographs of many bystanders who took pictures of Jannock working through locks. Alas they were lost in Shutt Hill lock on Friday 21st August 2009 when I took my sudden and un-expected submersion above the top gate. What puzzles me is that I found them 'floating' in a lock but there was no evidence at all of them floating at Shutt Hill after my swim :^(
The end of an Era.

George Pearson with glasses



21st August 2009 to 23rd August 2009
Great Internet Gathering (GiG) 2009

The 2009 GiG was held at Stafford Boat Club who were wonderful hosts. They provided the superb venue, did not run out of decent ale all weekend, supplied copious amounts of Sunday breakfast under extreme conditions, supplied a good selection of home cooked cakes etc, for us to buy and even allowed us to fill our boats with diesel at a very competetive price. The GiG is open to any boaters who use any of the internet forums and it generally moves around the country depending on where the IWA National Festival is located. The original arrangements for 2009 fell through and so Stafford saved the day at the eleventh hour. Luckily it was still within 5 days cruising for those boaters that wished to attend the national as well. Saturday evening entertainment was provided by Benny Graham who also camped upon the sofa-bed in Jannock's lounge. It was great to catch up with old friends and meet some new friends too.

29th August 2009 Stafford Boat Club to Handsacre
H.C. 9116 - 9121 Distance 12 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda and Simon.

We collected Jannock from Stafford Boat Club in fairly good August Bank Holiday weather – a little sun and a cold wind, but dry. We experienced no problems up to Great Haywood, through plenty of free moorings in Tixhall wide (just when we don't need one), and turned right onto the Trent and Mersey.

At Heywood lock we were 6th in the queue to go through and so were dreading Colwich next. We were 8th in line, the longest queue I have ever been in, there. Simon put the waiting time to good use and picked blackberries from the towpath hedge as we shuffled towards our goal.
We stopped at Bridge 58 (Handsacre) and moored for the night and he knocked up an excellent batch of blackberry muffins. We planned to have them for desert, however our plan was foiled by getting three portions of haddock and chips from Michael’s Fish Bar – just over the bridge from the towpath. The portions were so big that we didn’t have plates large enough. Some of the chips had to be eaten before mushy peas or beans could be added to the meal. The batter was tasty and crisp and the fish was fresh and delicious, chips were cooked until brown and not the anaemic beige that we are used to. If you are ‘Hungry of Handsacre’ then we recommend you go and see Michael and his lovely missus.

30th August 2009 Handsacre to Alvecote
H.C. 9121 - 9129 Distance 18 miles 5 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brenda & Simon.

The day started out promising but traditional bank holiday weather prevailed after all, cold wind, then drizzle into wet drizzle and then real rain for the last hour of cruising. When we arrived at the first lock (Wood End) we were eighth in line to descend and at Fradley top lock we were ninth. That soon put paid to a couple of hours spent chatting to some interesting folk, boaters since the 1940s. Mid morning we snacked on Simon's blackberry muffins and we shared with the boat in front of us in the queue cos we were brought up proper. Our reward was a big bag of plums from the same boaters garden. They made a lovely crumble. Simon decided his new found baking skills so satisfying that Jannock was yet again found in a tree on the offside while we gathered more berries. They are to be holiday gifts to his friends and neighbours in Salford, again in muffin form. We turned onto the Coventry canal at Fradley.

sculpture at Fradley.
Working boat at Alvecote

We left Fradley, pleased to be moving at a reasonable rate again and headed down the Coventry canal as the weather threatened to get worse. No problems meeting other boats today so we assumed they were all at the National Festival. Through Fazely yet again we arrived at Glascote locks in the rain and once through, Graham stayed out to complete the journey to Alvecote while Simon and I retreated indoors to avoid the downpour. There were so many boats 'out' but moored bankside that progress was well below 2 MPH for most of the day. After dinner Simon took Graham back to Stafford to collect our car and then he continued on home to Salford whilst Graham returned to Jannock.

31st August 2008 Alvecote to Hartshill yard
H.C. 9129 - 9134 Distance 8.5 miles 11 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

It was not bank holiday weather today, neither was it summer. Mediocre but dry is the best description. Graham was up and at-em at eight o'clock whilst I laid abed until my brain functioned. A full english breakfast was taken on the move so we were fed ready for the Atherstone flight. We whistled through the first two but then slowed right down due to all the slowcoaches and lock-hoppers that were about. Hey-ho! At lock 4 we met a fellow blogger who introduced himself once he saw the boat name rising up in the lock. On the subject of boat names this weekend:- I can see how a boat comes to be called 'Kazi Minghi', some just are, but 'R Swipe'?

6th September 2009 Hartshill yard to Ansty
H.C. 9134 - 9139 Distance 12 miles 1 Locks

Crew - Graham & Brenda.

Brenda was still feeling sore after her facial operation to remove a carcenoma and so Margaret joined us to keep her company (and inside the boat - hopefully) for a trip down to Hawksbury and onto the North Oxford canal.
Margaret : - Weather disappointing but dry and warmed up eventually. An abundance of Blackberries on the right side of the canal for a change!, we could not reach the egg plums though. Brenda is suffering from Post Operative loss of faculties.

Brenda took this lovely flower picture
the Greyhound

On arrival at Sutton's Stop there was a queue of southbound boats waiting to pass through, from both directions, and it made for some interesting manouvering for Graham. Getting everyone in and out of the basin outside the Greyhound needed careful orchestration. Once through we had an easy run to Ansty where we moored just past the village bridge (14) on the fourteen day visitor moorings.



19th September 2009 Ansty to Wises bridge (80)
Autumn Soddit Cruise day 1

H.C. 9139 - 9146 Distance 15 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian & Peter.

After a delayed start the crew set off from Thame in two vehicles for the drive to Stockton. After leaving one car there we travelled via Coventry, and a fish and chip shop found using Google, to Ansty where Jannock had been left 12 days ago. Un-packing followed by 4 games of Soddit found us well into Saturday morning before retiring to bed.

A lovely day (weatherwise) started with Peter going on a 'fools errand' in search of a papershop in Ansty ;^)
We set off after breakfast and headed South, under the M6, to Stretton Stop where the keen crew were robbed of the task of opening the swingbridge by a kind boatyard member of staff who did it for us as we approached. Just beyond the road bridge we came across a "Mary Celeste" boat floating across the canal with both front and back ropes hanging down into the water. The trusty crew sprung into action getting the boat back against the bank and re-pegging the mooring ropes. We did notice a third line, still firmly attached to it's stake in the ground, that had a T stud and four screws attached to the other end. This had obviously been the last remaining mooring point when the pressure became too much. Feeling very proud we continued down the North Oxford where a stop was made for lunch just before Newbold tunnel.

The boat we rescued near Stretton Stop

After lunch (and No fish caught) we passed through the tunnel with 'Jerusalem' playing on Jannock's stereo much to the amusement of the crew of the boat moored immediately South of the tunnel entrance. They even complained about Brian turning the volume down as we left the tunnel because they were enjoying it so much. A brief stop was made at Rugby Tescos to allow Pete to fetch a newspaper as his pre-breakfast papershop hunt had been as fruitfull as the fishing has been. During this long stretch with little phyisical activity to perform, the crew have adopted a pet spider - Boris - who was found wandering around in the bath.

Ian - Any trip on the canal is enhanced by the flora and fauna identification as we glide by. The 'tit - tit - tit' call of a Wren, a loud rasping sound far in excess than one would imagine for such a small bird.
The next paragraph making graphical comments about a female tug boaters ample proportions has been removed (ed) . It's not all about fishing!

20th September 2008 Braunston to Stockton
Autumn SODDIT Cruise Day2

H.C.9146 - 9151 Distance 10 miles 3 Locks

Crew - Graham, Brian, Ian and Peter

A bad start to the morning as during the fishing, the Cap'n evicted Boris from the bath into the cut. Ian then caught him on his fishing rod as he passed the front of the boat (the only thing he caught all weekend I might add) but then flicked him back into the canal for some unknown reason. Down into a very busy Braunston we went meeting more than a dozen Northbound boats en-route. We wanted to use the rubbish point as well as a water fill but another boat had just pulled onto the waterpoint so we just dumped the rubbish in the skip and made for the junction to turn right towards Napton. Still more craft coming in the opposite direction specialising in meeting at bridgeholes and sharp bends. The sun finally appeared just as we decided to stop for lunch near Flecknoe.

After a good lunch and more fruitless fishing we set off and almost immediately found a sheep stuck in the canal unable to get out. The Cap'n put Jannock into the bank in front of the frightened sheep to corner it and Ian and Peter then hauled it out of the canal whilst Brian held the bow rope to stop the boat moving. Once out onto the bank the sheep ran as fast as it could away from the canal and the rest of the flock started following it in a sort of mini-stampede. At this point I must praise camera phones as I never would have got this shot if I'd had to find a camera first.

There were delays at Calcutt locks due to boats leaving the service wharf, below the first lock, and interfering with the smooth passage of boats up and down the flight. We finally moored Jannock, packed up and tidied and then drove back to Ansty to fetch Ian's car before heading home. A great weekend with good company, good weather, good food, good beer, a few rescues and not many fish.

25th September 2009 Stockton to Blue Lias
H.C.9151 - 9153 Distance 1 mile 8 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arrived at Jannock about 11 am and took her down the Stockton flight to Blue Lias where we winded at the end of the arm and moored alongside Harnser for the Cutweb rally weekend. Friday evening was spent in the pub having a meal and social evening with fellow club members, some of which we had not seen for a while so a lot of catching up was in order.

26th September 2009 Cutweb Rally 2009

I appeared to spend most of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning rushing around getting things sorted for the weekend and taking everybody's rally money, the joys of being a treasurer! After lunch Bob from Sambuka arrived and so some of the rally attendees spent the afternoon learning how to do Samba drumming etc. In the evening we had a very entertaining solo performance by Kate Saffin about a 'boat of ill repute' based on the Oxford canal, followed by a ploughman's meal, an especially speedy version of the Cutweb raffle and all culminating in a performance by the Cutweb samba band (thanks to Andrew Dyke for recording the video).

27th September 2009 Cutweb Rally 2009

The morning started with the charity auction followed by Sunday lunch in the function room. In the evening we rounded of the rally with a Bingo quiz read by Glen assisted by Brenda.

28th September 2009 Blue Lias to Braunston
H.C.9157 - 9161 Distance 9 miles 11 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We left Blue Lias and shared the Stockton flight with Harnser, but we got split up at Calcutt locks by a boat out doing a training course. Brenda was of the opinion that the trainer could do with some training, let alone the student. We met up again and did a communal self-pumpout at Braunston before we left Harnser at the water point and made our way to U.C.C. where Jannock was booked in the dry dock for a blacking. As we passed under Butchers bridge in Braunston we met the Irons' coming the other way on Quidditch, they had left the rally on Sunday morning with firm plans for a route back via the G.U Leicester section and the Soar but had decided they were short of time so had turned about to retrace their trip along the North Oxford, Coventry and T&M.

4th October 2009 Braunston to Weedon
H.C.9161 - 9166 Distance 8 miles 12 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We are a lock missing. We left Jannock below the bottom lock last weekend and appeared out of the dry-dock above it sporting a shiny black bottom and gleaming tunnel bands. We joined a hire crew in an ABC boat for the first lock. They were apologising to all cut users for some of their less than professional cruising over the weekend. They'd even had one moored boater throw a mooring stake at them as they passed. The problem was that no one at the boat yard had told them about the 4mph limit or even slowing down past moored boats. They had figured it all out for themselves from the angry shouting they attracted. They complained that all the boatyard told them was how to do a lock. They were totally un-aware of boating rules and etiquette and even had to work out how all the on-board appliances worked for themselves. I am amazed that there wasn't even a manual on board. Once up the Braunston flight we passed through a surprisingly dry tunnel, across the summit and then down the Wilton flight and continued on to Weedon where we stopped on 14 day moorings until next weekend.

10th October 2009 Weedon to Milton Keynes
H.C.9166 - 9175 Distance 20 miles 8 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We travelled to Jannock on Friday evening and spent the night aboard ready for an early start.
Graham got up and cast off at 7am whilst Brenda spent some time catching up with consciousness. After Blisworth boatwash tunnel we teamed up with a day-boat crew and descended the locks with them. - Oh that all day-boat crews were as skilled and sober! - They had met up for a family re-union, coming from all over the country, and got the weather to suit. It was a glorious day and Brenda took photos to prove it, so why did she not have her camera handy when I spotted a large kingfisher sunbathing on a bush? The sunshine made the best of his magnificent colours - and he knew it, sat there showing off as we passed.

As we approached Cosgrove lock there were boats in all directions, 2 of them widebeam and one winding. On the lock landing there has been an outbreak of bollard-rash, the worst we've seen and one boater said she'd hurt herself getting off her boat as she'd crunched into one. They are taller than standard rope bollards and each has a red band around the top. A local residential boater said the only reason for them being there was " that BW had too much money and not enough to waste spend it on. I suppose, as shown in the photo on the right, they are useful for attaching dogs to!     A cynic then, any thoughts anyone?

As we approached the Grafton Street aqueduct there were 2 women and a child in a pushchair on the offside looking very perplexed. I realised they were trying to work out how to get to the towpath side. I suggested they board our back deck and we ferried them across with a little push from the bank. Not only did this solve the problem but it seemed to be the most exciting thing they'd done in years. Brenda pointed out that they must have very boring lives; the response was "oh yes! we are from South Africa!" Now, I might be wrong but I believe that recent events in South Africa can not be described as boring. We moored up at 4pm and Graham went to do a car shuffle on the Di Blasi calling at Ikea on the way back to exchange some items that we'd bought too many of last Thursday. The mooring out in the wilds of Stantonbury Park farm were very peaceful.

11th October 2009 Milton Keynes to Soulbury
H.C.9175 - 9180 Distance 10 miles 5 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

A later start today at 8:30 but still Brenda remained a-kip. The run down through Milton Keynes is very slow, working out at below 3mph, due to the number of bankside moorers about. We passed Thorn and Persephone moored near Black Horse bridge resplendent in their new grey livery. When we arrived at Fenny lock there was a short Wyvern boat tying up to get the lock ready, as I had walked ahead from the bridge I had the gates open and Brenda put Jannock in before he'd even got his boat untied. Another short Wyvern boat was approaching from the North and so we managed to squeeze them in as well. Three boats in one go - I wouldn't try this with these craft on a lock with a deep fall, but Fenny was OK. We stopped at Willowbridge Marina for diesel and two 13kG gas bottles. They allow you to select your tax rate here and then charge the extra duty as a separate item. It obviously helps them keep track of what they owe the taxman. Base price was 60ppl for domestic use. At Stoke Hammond I hopped off armed with my windlass and moved the car to Soulbury where I had the bottom lock empty and open when Jannock and another boat arrived. We shared with them up the three locks, following a single Wyvern boat, with no-one coming down and then moored Jannock on the 14 day moorings above.

17th October 2009 Soulbury to Marsworth
H.C.9180 - 9186 Distance 12 miles 7 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

We arrived at Jannock just before 10am and were visited by three canoes whilst I was untying ready for the off. These three turned about above Soulbury top lock and were off back towards Linslade before we got underway. They were soon followed by many more who were launching themselves into the canal above the locks for a one-way trip back to the school at Linslade. Just around the first bend we met a Wyvern boat that was weaving all over the cut on their way towards us. Even though we kept over their steerer applied the wrong movement to her tiller and gave Jannock an almighty crunch on the bows as we met. I pointed out that she needed to point the tiller towards what she wanted to miss - not the other way round. They then proceeded to hold up two boats behind them as they had got themselves completely across the canal blocking it. We passed Pengalanty moored outside the Globe Inn but Allan was concentrating on something on the table and was shielding his eyes from the sun coming through his window. On through Linslade and out towards the Grove Lock where a new boatyard has appeared at the old wharf, just before the ring road bridge. Their sign writing states that they do engines, painting and all manner of repairs. They also appear to have a chandlery but we didn't stop to explore.

After passing through Grove lock we found a new marina that also wasn't there when we came North last May. It's not open yet but it wont be long I'm sure. At church lock we waited for a boat that had arrived at Grove, just as we were leaving. After quite a long wait, I enquired of a towpath runner whether they had passed through Grove lock or stopped at the pub and he replied that there was not a boat coming through the lock when he passed. So I closed the gate and up we went - only to be joined by the other boat just as we were leaving. I apologised but they said they were going to stop for lunch above Church lock and not to wait at Slapton. Once we reached Slapton lock then the trusty lock wheeling bike came out for the final run up through Ivinghoe to Marsworth. We shared some of these locks with a day-boat from Pitstone wharf that was crewed by a couple of families, they were eager to know how to do things correctly and were very quick learners. A run back to Soulbury on the Di Blasi fetched the car for a short trip home.

18th October 2009 Marsworth to Bourne End
H.C.9186 - 9191 Distance 11 miles 21 Locks

Crew - Graham and Brenda

Having returned home on Saturday night, the weather forecast for Sunday was now good so we returned to Jannock first thing in the morning and completed the run back to Bourne End. It proved to be a journey slowed right down by locks set against us and fishermen. We started up the Marsworth flight and soon caught up the single boat ahead and so we shared the last two locks in the flight with them. They were stopping at Cowroast marina so we set off down the other side of the summit solo again. Cowroast lock had the bottom gates and both paddles all left open when I arrived and so I had to turn it as no-one was ascending. Dudswell top lock was in the same state and between the two locks was a broken down narrowboat. They asked for assistance with their gear selection and I asked them if they had been leaving all of the bottom paddles up. They firmly denied this but admitted to leaving the gates open as this was normal on the Grand Union. Obviously there must be a Gremlin following them and raising the paddles again after they had passed through the lock. They found the fault in their gear cable and fixed it but decided to remain tied up for lunch so we continued on solo.

Brenda decided that the big fishing match that was going on along this stretch of the G.U. should be available as an advice notice through the BW stoppage notification system. At least we could then choose not to boat and then not have to suffer the miserable looks and muttering that accompanied our passing every rod. A Northbound boater told us about how they had an altercation with a fisherman who had positioned himself on Winkwell winding hole. This fisherman decided that the boat owner had no right to turn his boat during the match and it almost came to fisticuffs with the boater getting off and squaring up to him on the towpath. Some match pitches were adjacent to the public car park at Berkhamstead. As Brenda moved Jannock past one fisherman slid his rob back across the grass and gave a parked car a heavy clout with the end of his pole. He didn't even bother to look round so we wondered how many times he'd done that during the day. Brenda had to wait for a northbound boat to ascend topside lock where one bloke was fishing off of the lock landing so she slowed right down and waited with the engine out of gear in order to not ruin their swim. Was it appreciated? Not likely, she was moaned at for taking too long to pass his rod. We arrived back and tied up to our mooring before I got the Di Blasi out and fetched the car from Marsworth.





Here endeth 2009 - Visit the Blog for 'as-it-happens' reports.



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