Sunday, 26 March 2017

Blacking Weekend: Day 3

The clocks changed to summer time during the night -- but some of us were so tired we put our watches forward at about 9pm, to justify going to bed right away! During the evening, there had been a robin singing his heart out in the hedgerow right next to the side hatch.

This morning we were up and ready in good time, and set off just before 8.30. It was another fine day with a chilly wind. Brian and Mike got off at a bridge to walk for a bit.

Adrian was packing up as we went along, so by the time we had turned into Heyford Fields Marina and moored at the bottom of the slipway, we were pretty much ready to go. It was just a matter of transferring stuff into the car, and heading off back to our marina to pick up Brian's car. They headed off, and as it was still really early in the day, we called in at Stowe Landscape Garden in Buckingham on the way home. There are 250 acres to walk round, with more follies than you can shake a stick at.

We had an early lunch and then headed home on very quiet sunny Sunday lunchtime roads.

2 miles, 0 locks. (16 miles, 9 locks)

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Blacking Weekend: Day 2

We woke to sunshine but a chilly wind. Having had breakfast, we set off at 9am towards Cosgrove Lock. This is Mike's photo -- in which the sky looks amazing.

Brian and Mike walked all the way from there to Stoke Bruerne locks, which is a good few miles. Along the way we saw Fields of tiny lambs.

We gave our guests a necessary coffee at the bottom of the locks, and then set off. It soon became clear that we were following a boat up, which turned out to be a widebeam. It also became clear that they were having trouble with low pounds up ahead. The problem seems to have been that the lock by the A508 bridge has new bottom gates, with new paddle gear -- which is very stiff. That means it's easy to not fully wind down the paddles, meaning the pound above is drained. So with up waiting in that lock, and the widebeam in the one above, I ran some water down through the lock from the long pound.

The long pound was also getting quite low, so I phoned Kathryn and asked her if she could run some water down from the Stowe Hill pound. After a bit of a pause, we were on the move again, and we met up with Kathryn below the second lock. Stoke Bruerne was busy in the lovely spring weather.

We moored up just beyond Sculptor for lunch, and Kathryn joined us -- so we had a very merry hour or so. We set off again at around 2.30 for the tunnel, which was very cold and wet. We came through Gayton Junction and continued to a spot we haven't moored at before, just short of the new Banbury Lane Bridge. Here the trains aren't quite as noisy. This evening we have a roast going in the oven.

12 miles, 8 locks. (14 miles, 9 locks)

Friday, 24 March 2017

Blacking Weekend: Day 1

After a slightly complicated process involving meeting up, a course, shopping, and a car shuffle, four of us (we have our friends Brian and Mike with us) were at Briar Rose at about 3.30, and ready to set off. We're heading up to Heyford Fields for blacking -- but actually set off in the wrong direction, towards Cosgrove. It's just that we have plenty of time overall, but not much this afternoon. We went down Cosgrove Lock, went along towards the Galleon where we turned around, and came back to moor just past the aqueduct. Brian and Mike had got off at the lock to have a walk, and Adrian joined them for the last bit and went down below the aqueduct to take a photo of Briar Rose going over.

It's been lovely and sunny this afternoon, but with a chilly wind. Tomorrow is also forecast to be nice.

2 miles, 1 lock.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Wine Not Whine on test

The boat test in the April edition of Canal Boat is Wine Not Whine, built by Smithwood Narrowboats. It was at the Crick Show last year unfinished, but has now been completed for the people who bought it.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Mercia again

I went up to Briar Rose yesterday afternoon, as I had a boat test planned today. I knew there was very little solid fuel on board so I bought a very expensive bag of logs at a garage on the A34 on the way. The boat was fine if a little chilly, but I soon got it warmed up.

This morning was nice and sunny, and I drove up to Mercia Marina for the boat test. It was reasonably sunny there too, although by the time we'd finished in the boat it had clouded over and there was some rain.

I could see that friends Jayne and Stephen were aboard their boat in the marina, so I sent them a text and they joined Andy and me for lunch, and also brought their son, SJ, whom I'd heard about but not met before. Our usual lunch spot, the Willow Tree, was heaving so we went to The Boardwalk instead. The food there was excellent, and it was nice to catch up with Jayne and Stephen.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Ortomarine on test

The March edition of Canal Boat is out, and includes my boat test of the first private boat built by Ortomarine, who are based near Droitwich.

Saturday, 21 January 2017


Frosty, frozen, and foggy this morning at the marina. I did the little bit of winterising that we normally do, then got in the car and drove up to Ventnor Marina for a boat test. It was foggy there too, and not quite as frozen; then about 11 the sun broke through, and we quickly went and got some running shots of the boat. The drive home was trouble-free.