|This Month's Totals and Average
Weather generally not bad initially, mostly sunny and fair, with only occasional showers (particularly overnight). Friday turned wet.
General cleaning and clearing up from our summer cruise, then getting things organised for Pat to go back north to the house. Trip to chandlers at Mercia for parts to repair shower and replacement freezer. Trip to Springwood Haven Marina to see what site services were available (entry road only a farm track, very bumpy). Shopping for fresh and routine things. Work on interactive canal map continues with addition of route of Oxford Canal before it was straightened in the 1830's.
Pat back to the house on Thursday (28th) - my plan is to remain until after the MNA Boat Club and BCF AGMs, then head north mid-November till after the new year.
Dull morning, although the sun was trying to get through. Last day of this year's 'Big Summer Cruise'. Moved off fairly promptly, through Dordon and Polesworth. Passed Pooley Hall Heritage Centre and the old wharf used by the colliery there. Continued round through Alvecote and Amington to Glascote Locks (2). Two boats ahead so slightly delayed. Descended and continued to Fazeley Junction (this was the extent that the Coventry Canal actually built their canal, the remainder was done on their behalf by the Birmingham & Fazeley and Trent & Mersey companies). Moored just south of the junction for lunch. Sun really starting to get through, turning into a warm day.
After lunch, continued the short distance to our marina, where we took fuel before mooring up on our berth. General clearing up for the remainder of the day. Beautiful sunny afternoon and evening.
Totally different day, today - nice and sunny. Up earlier than planned (call of nature), so breakfasted and got on the move. Just over an hour took us to Atherstone Top Lock. CRT Volunteers on duty, and they helped us part of the way down the first five. Very busy on the flight this morning. Arrived in the pund above Lock 6 and moored up. Walk into town for lunch at The Larder (been there before, simple 1940's themed food) - excellent as usual.
After lunch, went on the usual shopping walk-round, specifically to Crafty Corner for wool, then the Co-op for stores, before returning to "Paws". Just getting ready to move off when "Rusalka" came past (we had teamed up with Barrie & Margaret on the Knowle and Hatton Flights back in April). They held back for a quick chat and catch-up - great bumping into them again. Continued down the remaining 6 of the Flight. At Lock 9, we found "Ice Breaker" coming up - we had last seen Martin on the southern Grand Union 3 years ago, and it was a pleasure to meet up with him again, although we were disappointed to hear of his health situation; we wish you well. Cleared the bottom of the Flight and continued through Grendon, mooring for the night just after Bridge 50. Had a very brief chat with Peter & Fran as they passed us on "Sonflower". Evening much cooler as the sun went behind the clouds again. Heavy rain showers during the evening.
Damp and drizzly start, and stayed that way most of the day. On the move, knowing that there was only one lock. Noted that the trees were turning brown much quicker now, but there were still some swallows flying around. Continued northwest along the Oxford Canal, past the villages of Brinklow and Ansty, and round to "Sutton's Stop" (Hawkesbury Junction). Moored at the services for water, loo and rubbish. Rain still coming down, harder now. Decided to have a very quick lunch while stopped, to save having to stop again after the junction.
Lunch and services complete, descended the stop lock and did the u-turn onto the northbound Coventry Canal. Continued round the outskirts of Bedworth, then through Nuneaton. Rain eased a little. Back out into the countryside again and looked for a good spot to moor. Eventually moored up just north of Bridge 28. Inside, heating on, attempted to get dried out!
Lovely morning, with the sun out. Headed off round the corner to the Hillmorton Locks - back to narrow locks, so quickly and easily through. These locks are paired to allow twice the traffic, although currently one of each pair is off-line for maintenance. Once down, continued generally northwest through the outskirts of Rugby. Moored at the bridge by Tesco's, noting that new rings have been provided all the way along this stretch since we were last here. Met up with John & Judith from "Serena" again (last time we met was at the Black Country Boating Festival at Bumble Hole, last year). Great to catch up again, particularly as regards our respective grandchildren. Had lunch with them at Costa in Tesco, they returned with us to view pictures of Aria.
Mid-afternoon, we parted company again, and we continued our run out to Cathiron. Very busy with traffic in both directions today - everyone seems in a hurry (one Valley Cruises hireboat was downright abusive when it was suggested he should go a little slower). We moored just west of Tuckey's Bridge 43 (although no TV and poor internet). More cloud gathering by dinnertime.
Morning dawned damp and foggy, although there looked to be the potential for at least a little sun. Lazy start, and by mid-morning the sun was definitely breaking through. 'Catering' went into the village (mostly for the butcher), while 'engineering' walked round to chandlers (only to find them closed due electrical works, maybe opening later), then returned via the ropery to get a couple of items. Lunch at the Gongoozler's Rest (floating café)
Off after lunch, moving up to the services, then on to the chandlers, but found a historic boat on the mooring, having lunch, so couldn't get stopped. Continued onto the northern section of the Oxford Canal - back onto narrow canal for the first time in 4½ months. Once clear of the village, we were back into the rolling farmland, which continued for the rest of the day. Moored for the night just before the straight leading to Hillmorton Top Locks. 'Catering' decided to do some baking - 'IT' was left to do the usual routine typing and mapping. Lovely sunny afternoon and evening.
Excellent night's sleep despite the trains - the road was much quieter than previously, one possibility is that the 50mph speed limit through the works causes less noise, another is that the new higher central barrier is reducing noise from the opposite side. Day started quite dull, but cleared to a lovely sunny day. Set off to Buckby Bottom Lock 13 just before 09:30 headed for the eastern end of Braunston Tunnel for the night. Noted another boat coming up behind so waited for them. "Sometimes" joined us for the rest of the day. As we were ascending the Buckby Flight (7), Steve & Chris said they were going through to Braunston, so we decided to also continue since we had the company. Easy climb up to the summit pound, and a delightful trip across the top, with the rolling farmland stretching out in all directions. Hurried lunch on the move between the top lock and the tunnel.
Very busy traffic-wise today, including in the tunnel where we met five boats coming the other way. Leaving the tunnel, we started the descent to Braunston - still plenty of boats coming up the flight. The exit from Braunston Bottom Lock 1 just as busy as usual, boats going in all directions (up, down, and using the berths at the chandlery, boatyard and hirebase). Found a mooring just at Butcher's Bridge and stopped for the night - "Sometimes" headed for a berth further along. After a sunny day, rain set in mid-afternoon.
Rain continued into the night, but with occasional breaks. During one of those breaks, around 20:00, we heard a female tawny owl calling as she flew around overhead. No reply was heard from a mate.
After a dull and damp start, the sun eventually managed to get through by late morning. On the move relatively quickly, heading towards Whilton - a lock-free day today. Immediately into the Blisworth tunnel, which we got through in what is probably our fastest transit yet at 30 mins (3.5 mph). Skirted Blisworth village, then passed Gayton Junction (entrance to the Northampton Arm, connecting to the River Nene). Passed near to the villages of Bugbrooke and Nether Heyford. As with the villages yesterday, there is little evidence of the villages on the canal bank. After lunch on the move, moored at Weedon for a quick walk for stores.
Continued on for the last hour to Whilton. Along the way, we came across a boat drifting free - both mooring pins had been pulled out. Managed to get it back alongside and moored slightly firmer. Completing the journey, we moored short of Whilton Marina entrance. Went for a walk to the farm shop, but found it had been closed for several months. Came back to the chandlery and got the parts I had been needing for the engine. Lovely sunny afternoon and evening. Usual noise at this mooring, from the M1 and the railway, but suspect it wont keep us awake.
Found we were getting disruption of TV signal through laptop. Appeared to happen only when intercity train passing. Wonder whether the wifi on the fast-moving train is causing interference with our own static wifi or the cellular signal. Probably never find out.
Sunny start to day, but rapidly got cold and damp, with light rain showers passing by lunch. Set off for Stoke Bruerne, commencing the next climb to the summit pound. Ascended Cosgrove Lock 21, and passed through Cosgrove village out into the countryside again. Travelled past the villages of Yardley Gobion and Grafton Regis, but they do not impinge on the canal at all. Slightly slower run than we would normally have as there was a day-boat in front, obviously with newbies (we all had to learn once, and they seemed to be enjoying themselves). Moored at the visitor moorings below Stoke Bruerne Locks for lunch.
After lunch, moved up to the services berth, then headed up the Flight (7 locks). A couple of the pounds were low so had to be careful. Rain had increased by this time. Another boat caught us up by the time we had completed 5 so drew a paddle for them as we left, then waited for them at the other end of the long pound. Ascended the last two locks (15 & 14) with them - plenty of gongoozlers at the Top Lock. Moored at the first available space, then headed to the museum shop for Christmas present ideas. Rain came on very heavy so stayed for coffee until it died down a bit. Returned to "Paws" and battened down for the night.
Cool morning but with some sunny spells. Intending to get to Cosgrove, headed off downhill, descending Stoke Hammond Lock after half an hour, then a longer gap to Fenny Stratford Lock (only a matter of a few inches - more of a stop lock). There then follows the long wind round through Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Willen, Newport Pagnell, Great Linford, New Bradwell and Wolverton. Far more traffic once we were into Milton Keynes. Lunch on the move. Cloud increased during the morning, with occasional spots of precipitation. Considerably more moored boats than when we were last this direction - I trust it is a measure of the increased feel of security in mooring in the Milton Keynes area.
With no locks for the rest of the day, 'Housekeeping' decided to get some chores done, while the steerer got cold and damp with the increasing showers of drizzle/rain. Cleared the outskirts of Wolverton and, about 0.5 mile short of Cosgrove Lock, saw a good mooring at Galleon Wharf so pulling in.
Quiet night and good sleep - didn't really want to get up. Overnight rain finally cleared during breakfast to a bright morning with one or two occasional light showers. On the move fairly promptly, moving on to Church Lock 29 where we were joined by a Wyvern Shipping hireboat, "Daffodil". Descended Church and Grove Locks in company, but we stopped just before Tesco's to take water. After watering, moved forward to the Tesco mooring for a few stores and lunch.
After lunch, moved forward to the Wyvern Shipping berth for a quick chat with our friends there - they were the last, and the best, company we hired from. Moving on again, we descended Leighton Lock and started looking for a mooring - 'Entertainments Manager' gave specific instructions for tonight, we had to have TV and should be "on our own" (not sure of the logic, but that's what was required). Unfortunately, having turned down about four possibles because one factor or other wasn't right, we came across dredging work which didn't stop until the top of Soulbury (3). Had to descend. Fortunately, there was a mooring (although it didn't comply with the instructions) just below the locks, so the skipper put his foot down and stopped! Just as well, as the rain came on again just after finishing mooring. No cellular phone signal or terrestrial TV! (Good job there was a space between the trees for the SatDish)
After a wild night - very high winds, peaking around 02:00 and believed to be about 60mph - the day dawned bright and sunny, but still with a fairly strong wind. Let go and returned to Bulbourne Junction and started down the Marsworth Flight (usually known as 'Maffers'), with the assistance of a CRT Volunteer, Bev. Descended 6 locks and moored in the long pound by the reservoir. Noted a kingfisher sitting on the railing at Lock 42. Walked to Bluebells Tearooms for lunch. Our favourite is their eggs royale, but they stop serving that at 11:30 so we have to be in early! Had a quick chat with Bev and her CRT colleague, off for a quick break.
On the way back to "Paws", we met one of the crew from "Chatsworth" who said they were going down so we headed to Lock 39 and waited for them. Bev was back on duty and assisted us down - many thanks for the help today. "Chatsworth" pulled in shortly after for lunch, and we continued to Lock 38 where we saw another boat at 37. They saw us and waited while we caught them up. Continued down in company with the ABC hireboat "Garden Warbler". Much discussion as to how far we would go, but eventually we pulled over below Slapton Lock 30, and they continued. After a dry and mostly sunny day, we just got moored before getting caught in a shower. Wind had decreased but was still fairly strong.
On the move promptly, and moved over to the services for water. Cath & Carol passed us, then waited at the first lock. Ascended Rising Sun and Raven's Lane Locks. Ascended Berkhamstead Top, then held while Pat nipped to post a letter (took longer than expected). Continued on uphill. At Gas (2) we caught up with a single-hander who was going quite slow, so we breasted "FreeBird" to "Paws", Cath worked our lock with Carol, and Pat went ahead to assist the single-hander. Continued like this through Bushes and Northchurch Locks. With a longer pound, we singled up again and continued to Dudswell (2), where the single-hander was just clearing. Ascended and continued to Cowroast Top, taking us to Tring Summit Pound. Said goodbye to Cath & Carol in case we didn't see them again - "FreeBird" went into the marina for pumpout, we moored for lunch, loo and chandlery. After a slightly dull start, the day had brightened nicely.
Set off again along the summit - lovely run along the wooded pound headed for Bulbourne Junction. Unfortunately, slight rain showers began but, as quickly, died out. Passed the old Waterways workshops - although some are still used by CRT, the remainder have been sold/leased to small business enterprises. Waved to "FreeBird", moored just before the junction (she had passed us again while we were at lunch), then turned left onto the Wendover Arm. Although it is very shallow, it is a lovely 1.5 mile cruise, passing the Heygates Grain factory, to the current head-of-navigation at Little Tring Farm, where there are good moorings and a large winding hole. We winded and moored for the night. Wind was rising and the clouds were gathering again by evening.
Just preparing to head off, and a couple of ladies walking the towpath asked if we were going up - yes - could they join us. Their boat, "FreeBird", was moored further back - one was a complete novice meaning the other was effectively single-handing. Headed off together up Fishery Lock 63. Cath & Carol stayed with us for the remainder of the day. We continued up Boxmoor Top, Winkwell (3) and the swing bridge, and Bourne End (3). Noted a pair of red kites circling overhead. Weather couldn't make up its mind, changing between drizzle and sunshine and back. Eventually moored below Rising Sun Lock 55, and headed to the pub for lunch and a pint. Cath & Carol came up for a pint later, and we had a long chat. Left them to get a lunch and stores. Heavier rain showers during the afternoon.
Moderate fog greeted us this morning but it very quickly burned away and, by the time we were ready to move, the sun was out. Just ready to move off when another boat, "Centurion", came past. Joined them at Home Park Mill Lock and climbed to Apsley with them (Kings Langley, Red Lion and Apsley Bottom Locks). We both pulled in for stores at Sainsbury. "Centurion" moved on, but we stayed to have lunch before the next batch of locks. Cloud had built again and it was much cooler out of the sun.
On the move eventually, and ascended Apsley Lock 66. Were told by the boat on the services point that they would be watering for nearly an hour (we elected not to wait), but that they didn't know whether the next loo point was operational (we were forced to stop in case it wasn't). Did loo but will have to make second stop for water (sigh!).
Moved on again up Apsley Top and Boxmoor Locks on our own. 'Navigation' suddenly said we would be stopping earlier than planned, on a remembered good mooring. Moored below Fishery Lock 63. Still cloudy, with increasing wind and threatening rain. Rain finally arrived in the evening.
Up and on the move promptly, on a nice sunny morning. Moved round the corner to the Tesco moorings for an item not in stock at the last two branches - still not in stock! Continued on uphill up Batchworth and Lot Mead Locks. On approach to Common Moor Lock, noted another boat catching up so waited and ascended with "Hillingdon Star", a community narrowboat from Hillingdon Narrowboats Association. We travelled together for almost the rest of the day. Continued up through Cassiobridge and Iron Bridge Locks, and Cassio Park (2) Locks into the scenic contours of Cassiobury Park with its decorative bridges. Lunch on the move between locks. Although the canal skirts the edges of Rickmansworth and Watford, there is hardly any evidence of the towns canalside. Continued up through Lady Capel's Lock and Hunton Bridge (2) Locks to the outskirts of Abbots Langley where we parted company with "Hillingdon Star" who stopped for lunch and a pint. We continued up through North Grove Lock (71) and moored just short of Bridge 160 on the outskirts of Kings Langley. Unfortunately, we didn't get moored fast enough and got soaked while tying up. Dried ourselves out for a quiet remainder to the afternoon. The rain didn't last very long, clearing to a sunny evening.
Rain overnight continued into the day. Got away just after 09:00 and headed northwards. Passed through Cowley Peachey Junction, the end of the Slough Arm (canal festival to be held there over this weekend, unfortunately not able to attend due rush to get back to base for Pat's medications). Ascended Cowley Lock 89 and pulled in briefly for services before continuing uphill. Ascended Uxbridge Lock then on up through Denham Deep Lock. Rain easing slightly, with brief spells of dry. The surroundings start to generally improve from here as we get more out of the city. Noted a large flock (possibly around 60) swallows milling overhead - first sign of autumn? Lunch on the move between locks and between showers. The locks start coming faster now, and the scenery is getting quite pretty. Up through Black Jacks and Copper Mill Locks. Hung back at Copper Mill as we thought there was a boat following, but it never came so we moved on. Ascended Springwell and Stockers Locks 83 & 82. The rain had now died out giving a sunny late afternoon. Moored just after 16:00 immediately above Stockers beside the lake and about 3/4 mile short of Rickmansworth (usually known as 'Ricky'). Very pleasant quiet mooring; used it before.
Admiral up early and pushing to get going. Sunny start, but cool out of the sun. On the move by 08:30 and heading back towards the main line. Quiet, steady run, with very little traffic. Returned through Greendford, Northolt and Southall, with the cloud slowly building all morning. Arrived back at Bull's Bridge and moored for the day. Quick trip into Tesco, then lunch. Couple of spots of rain, but came to nothing.
No intentions of moving on as awaiting a phonecall from son-in-law re tech. Dealt with by 14:30, so quiet afternoon after that. Sky brightened again during afternoon.
Sunnier day, today, but with a stronger wind. Up promptly and on the move by 09:00, heading out from Paddington basin. Stopped at the services berth. Another boat was watering - took over an hour to fill their tank before we could take for ourselves. Finally on the move again late morning, westwards towards Bull's Bridge. Cloud had gathered again and it wasn't quite the pleasant cruising we have been having. Stopped at Alperton for lunch, then Sainsbury's, and decided to stay put for the night. Tidied out the forward hatch, and stowed the "river" gear. Pat announced last night that she didn't have enough medications so we would have to go straight back to base, rather than stop off at the Slough Festival this weekend - disappointed.
Another dull morning. Tube to King's Cross station for a visit to the London Canal Museum - small museum in an old ice warehouse at Battlebridge Basin, concentrating on the London canals and James Brindley. General wander back via King's Cross and St Pancras main-line stations, then tube back to Paddington. Rain finally arrived mid-afternoon.
Dull and damp morning. Tube to Temple station and walked up to the Strand to have a look inside St Clement Danes church (always been a service on when we have passed before). Walked back to the Embankment at Temple station to visit the exhibition entitled "Abandon Ship!" at HQS Wellington. Walked along to Embankment station, noting the plaque to Sir Joseph Bazalgette (responsible for creating viable sewers for London, under the Embankment). Tube round to Baker Street station and walked to Moxon Street where we were meeting Pat's cousin, Freddie (who visited us at Oxford), for lunch at La Fromagerie . Unfortunately, Julie was unable to join us due to pressure of work - shame, we would have liked to meet up again.
Headed back to "Paws" by mid-afternoon for a quiet seat after all the walking. Rain just managed to stay off for the whole day.
During WW1 and WW2, British Merchant Fleets lost 52,000 men, women and boys to the sea, and that is their only grave. September 3rd was chosen as the memorial day for two reasons -
1. it was the day WW2 was declared,
2. SS Athena was sunk by a German submarine on the first day of war, with the loss of 117 civilian crew and passengers - the first merchant ship sunk in the war.
Up promptly on a bright but partly cloudy morning. Tube to Embankment station and a walk along to Tower Hill for the annual Remembrance Parade and service to honour those of the Merchant Service who were killed in conflicts as a result of supporting our armed forces or keeping the country supplied with provisions while it was 'under seige'.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the MNA member who passed away at his hotel last night before the parade.
After dismissal from the parade, had lunch at Zizzi's . Great meal as usual. Got tube back from Monument station, arriving on "Paws" just as the rain came on. Quiet evening.
Lazy start, on a nice sunny morning. Inside boat said they would be going about 10:00 so hung back to help them switch the boats round. By 10:30 no signs of movement so asked if they would care to do it 'now'. The boat behind was moving back, but there still wouldn't be room for us. We moved clear to allow the inside boat out, but he didn't, he only let us get alongside. Poorly moored (in our opinion) we tied up and left, not wanting to lose further time.
Took the tube to Oxford Circus station and went for a walk along Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus window-shopping, but did drop into Hamley's. Found some lunch, then walked on to "Chinatown" to visit the ethnic supermarkets. Continued our walk on to Covent Garden and had a wander round the markets there, before returning by tube to Paddington.
On arrival back, found that Mark & Ann had arrived so chatted for some time before dinner. Sun had continued all day, but never over-hot.
Beautiful start to the new month - nice and sunny, but cooler and fresher. Away shortly after nine, and turned onto the Paddington Arm, headed for the basin in the hopes of a mooring. Water clear, but it meant we could see the rubbish lying on the bottom. Not as much as I recall from previous visits, and the whole area seemed much cleaner (maybe just my imagination). Wandered round via Northolt and Perivale, and stopped at Alperton Sainsbury's for stores. Bumped into Ann again whilst shopping - may see them again at Paddington. Lunch before moving on.
Let go after lunch and continued inward, the rubbish both underwater and on the surface increasing. The number of boats moored on "visitor" moorings, but blatantly do not move, has also increased since our last visit here. Slower going, but still managed a reasonable speed in the circumstances. Arrived at the services point at Little Venice as another boat was moving off, so took their place. One of the "floating classrooms" came through the bridge'ole looking to do a pumpout before finishing for the day - blocked the bridge'ole until finished. We finished just as they did so we followed them through and into the basin arm. Down to the end and round the corner, a kind gentleman realised there were no other moorings so offered a breast-up for the night. We noted that one of the normal mooring pontoons is now being used as a landing stage for a 'day-boat' hire business - disappointing that CRT allow this continued reduction of moorings whilst purporting to encourage visitors. Sun continued throughout the afternoon, but still never really got to the unbearably hot. Looking forward to a weekend in the Centre.