Monday, 31 December 2012

Washing done - time to go

So that's christmas done for another year then.  Didn't watch much telly, but the highlight on the box had to be Morcambe & Wise song & dance hour.  My favourite sketch/routine was included - the two of them preparing breakfast, to the music of the stripteese.  Classic.  Still laughed out loud all the way through, despite having seen all the routines many times before.  Ah, they don't make shows like that any more.  So christmas over and back to life afloat after being in Mums house for a few days.  Whilst we were plugged in to electric and a tap at the marina, we took advantage and set the washing machine to work.

Nemo is still fascinated by the machine
(ignore the piles of washing by the way)

This is Nemo, just a few weeks old watching the spin cycle, grown a bit hasn't he?

Once we had run out of things to wash, we left Brinklow marina and headed off - back to All Oaks Corner, Brinklow - again.  This will be the fourth time we've moored here over the last four weeks, pointing in different directions, due to ice, BSS examination, and waiting for our stint in the marina.  We have moved in between these times - unlike the boat which has been moored there since the start of December, and is still there now.
Nice mooring for Nemo - straight onto the side rather than onto a pontoon.

A few million quids worth of boats in the marina.

We're now heading north again.  Plans come and plans go.  First plan (back in the summer) was to go north up the Trent & Mersey, but the breaches put a stop to that one.  We then decided to go back down to Oxford this winter, but only got as far as Napton due to one thing and another.  So now we're heading back - ish.  We figure we'd head for Stone, and catch up with old friends, then back down, then up the Shroppie.  So that's the plan for now (plan 'E' I think we're on now).  Of course, things may change as we cruise along (weather permitting).   The weather forecast says "unsettled" for the next three weeks.  Unsettled means rain, meaning no ice, fingers crossed!

Rachel (my sister) and her family returned from their skiing holiday yesterday, Sunday, and will stay with Mum for new year, before heading back to Kenilworth, taking Cole the chewing labrador with them.  I was tempted to return for new year's eve - despite there being a houseful at Mums, when I saw what was on the menu ....
The biggest joint of beef I've seen, without it moving!  Like the turkey, this rib of beef is from Nel's boyfriend Arran's farm (link to Abbey Farm Llangollen).  Good luck with cooking that one Rachel!

Just a reminder that we're not finished with the cold weather yet, despite the forecast....
A tree full of field fares yesterday. 

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Fab Christmas Presents...

We spent Christmas up in Chirk, so Nemo cat was booked into the Cattery at Brinklow, Beefur spent a week in Brinklow marina, and we hired a car from Enterprise at Rugby, (who pick you up and drop you off).  I didn't want to mention these plans before on the blog, even though they were made months in advance, for fear of it all going pear shaped at the last minute.  Indeed, things didn't start well when we arrived in Brinklow Marina on the 22nd, as no one knew that we had booked in - and paid - I might add, in the beginning of November.  It wasn't a problem as there was room for us, we just moored up where we moored the year before.  After a couple of phone calls, we located the very nice Harbour Master and got a key for the gate.   There were far more boats here this year than last year, but with not much sign of life.  Enterprise picked us up in the morning, but the second problem was that SOMEONE lost the keys to the gate to get back into the marina.  So we turned the car around, drove back to Rugby, where said SOMEONE had dropped them on the floor when we went to collect the car.  We eventually loaded up the car, deposited the cat on the way, and we were off.  Dave was sweating abit by 12.30pm, as he had ordered himself a christmas present, to be collected in Oswestry by 1pm, and we were still on the M54 near Telford.  He made a phone call, and breathed a sigh of relief when told they wouldn't be closing at 1pm on the dot.  We arrived to pick up the precious package at 12.59!   And this precious package.......
Dave's Christmas present - to himself - A polypin of Stonehouse Brewery's Sunlander beer, which sits quite nicely on the front deck of the boat, now we're back on board (yes, it does travel well)
Back to christmas .......
Just the four of us for Christmas dinner - Dave, Tony, Mum & myself, which was very nice.  We came back to the boat with some of the remaining turkey, and have today eaten the last of the turkey soup.

Dave does the honours.  Lovely food, and very nice wines, thanks to Mum and Tony.

A lovely Christmas cake, made by Tony's daughter-in-law and his granddaughter
We made a good dent in the turkey, which, by the way, was raised by Nel's boyfriend Arran on Abbey Farm, Llangollen

We had time for a pint in the Corn Mill, with Hazel, Rick and Dai (not in the pic, which is rubbish by the way) who are our neighbours on our moorings in Froncysyllte.  Dai had come up by boat, the ex FMC boat Fern, who found it particularly difficult to get to Llan this time, and kept getting stuck.  The water level seemed to be OK, but I suppose the lack of boats up and down had something to do with it - and it being 70ft long and 3ft deep doesn't help!

View of the river Dee in Llangollen, with Dinas Bran in the background

Mum had two dogs staying over Christmas:  Cole, Rachel's dog, as they had all gone skiing for the week, and my other sister Bethan's mad spaniel George.  Cole is a typical labrador - he eats most things, including 2 puncture repair kits which were unfortunately left at nose height on a table in the garage.  Fortunately, he didn't puncture the tubes of glue contained in the kits!  Mum now has chewed spare inner tubes.  At least there were a few of us to do the dog walking, saving Mum & Tony from doing it all.

Dave and Mum - looking fantastic by the way Mum!

Dave's Christmas presents:  Pint of Sunlander - don't mind if I do.

Dave modelling his Christmas present from my brother-in-law John - isn't it brilliant!  I've included a link to their web site so CLICK HERE for more details and designs etc.  I'm sure John secretly wanted one for himself, but he's not old enough to wear it!

Another great present for Dave, this time from by Mum - can you guess what it is yet?
No - it's not a bong - although I did wonder when I first saw it!  It's an oil & balsamic dispenser, for those long summer evenings sat outside at our barbeque.  One day they will return. One day. 
The oil is the bottle, with the balsamic in a seperate compartment inside the bottle.  Genius. 
Dave does like his balsamic!  Very thoughtful.  Thank you mum.

Oh, and a present to me from Vodafone.  A new fancy android phone.  However, I don't think I'll ever get to grips with it - far too complicated, with too many button choices for my liking, most of which I'll never use.  Although I can feel more facebook "status" messages coming on .......
Thank you for all the Christmas presents, cards and messages.  We've had a lovely quiet Christmas.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Don't know what all the fuss is about...

We've got christmas sorted:  presents bought on line & delivered direct to recipients.  Gone to someone else's house for christmas dinner.  Simples.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, 24 December 2012


All along this area there are derelict arms veering off from the main line of the canal.  When I "googled" it,  one of the results returned this fascinating article about the "old" Newbold tunnel.  [CLICK HERE] .  We must make a point of finding it. 

The map below shows the old original meandering route of the Oxford Canal, before our old pal Thomas Telford shortened the route. 

Hillmorton - home of the radio masts.
Blimey - is my hair really that red? 
Action shot - does my bum look big in this? 
We couldn't pass through Hillmorton and not put up pictures of the poetry on the lock beams, although it's been blogged about a fair few times now.

They could have got rid of the crayon though!!!

New plaque on the new lock gates

Old carving on thelock wall inside the bottom lock.
Nice sculpture

One of the many murals around Rugby

Don't know who Maurice is, but its a lovely carving of a kingfisher opposite Rugby Wharf
The water tap at Newbold, all kitted out for winter
We had a brief pit stop at Tesco Rugby on the way past, where we bumped into Les & Jaqueline from NB Valerie & had a chat.  Shopping there was a nightmare, choc-a-block. I don't know what was worse - the christmas 'Michael Buble collection' music, or the huge trolleys blocking the isles whilst people stopped for a chat.  No supermarket trolley etiquette at all.  For once, I stuck ridgidly to my shopping list and escaped within half an hour.   Thankfully, the shopping trolleys have been removed, after they were extracted from the canal at BR58.   

Saturday, 22 December 2012

..... and back again

After a few days at Napton, we turned and headed back to Brinklow, where we are booked into the marina for a few days, while we do the christmas visiting thing.   We've been cruising when it's fine, and being very lazy when it's raining (which is quite alot of the time lateley).  Watching lots of telly, though Masterchef, and The Killing (cop out ending), have finished.  We've resorted to watching cooking programmes.  Dave's favourite is Nigella (surprise surprise), I love watching it for her ridiculous phrases, here's just a few I kept a note of:  "golden gorgeousness"  "infused with holiday spirit" "lucious lovelyness", "make sure everything is shine-ily combined", and "when I feel the food, I get excited about eating it".  Don't we all lovey.  Then with one quick flick of the hair, she's ready and made up for her guests.  Yeah right.  Bring back two fat ladies I say, oh, you can't I remember now.  Oops.  Anyway, I'm rambling,  back to boaty things......

Just after leaving Napton, you pass the old Peter Nicholls yard,
where Dave's first boat Sans Souci was built. Now all derelict and overgrown since their relocation to Braunston, where they are now based.

The Bridge at Napton is under new management, as the numerous signs say.

Napton Junction or Wigrams Turn, where the Oxford canal carries on south,
and the Grand Union branches off towards Birmingham.

We passed an old sign for The Folly, when it was known as the pie pub.  There are still pies on the menu now, but they're served in an individual pie dish, where you burn your fingers trying to prise out the pie onto your plate, getting gravy everywhere, rather than have a ceramic bowl sitting on your dinner plate - or is it just me.
Anyone travelling from Braunston to Napton will pass this sunken boat - it's been here for years, in the same spot, with no licence.
The pic above was taken last week.....

this pic was taken on 16th December 2011. 
Still floating at that point. It didn't have a licence then either! 
The lovely bridges at Braunston junction, not many boats moored here either.  Again, we passed a couple of bloggers.  We had a chat with Stein as we passed NB Like Ducks 2 Water, they're staying around Braunston for Christmas, click on the link above to see generous offer from them!

The name says it all.....

A colourful boat, brightening up a dull day.
VERY soggy field of christmas trees of the future.

We didn't stop and visit  The Old Olive Bush pub at Flecknoe this time.  Well, we did stop on the way to Napton, but checked the opening times, to discover that it closed at 4pm on Sunday afternoons, and didn't open on Sunday night.  So we thought we'd call on the way back, but as it was a nice day for cruising with a very wet day to follow, we decided to keep moving.  Shame, it's a lovely little pub, it'll have to wait till next time.

Onto today's bird section......
Spot the interloper .... pink footed goose amongs the canadas. 
He's the one with the bigger white bum, bringing up the rear, boom boom.


A robin, singing for all he was worth, ontop of a crhistmas tree.
The colours didn't come out though i'm afraid.

Friday, 21 December 2012

To Napton

After our BSS examination at Brinklow, we were again frozen in here last week, until Tui came passed & broke up all the ice.  When we're iced in, we always run our engine in gear for a few minutes in forward, then in reverse, which breaks up the ice around the boat, so making it easier for whichever boat comes passed first.  It avoids the large sheets of ice being scraped down the side of the boat, but more importantly, it stops Nemo cat from being too inquisitive and trying to walk on the ice!  We again checked with Shifali, who forecast rain on and off for the next week, so we decided to do a quick trip to Napton, just because we could.  I'm afraid this happened last week, but with such a slow internet signal over the past few days, I gave up trying to blog.  Here's some photos from the past week....

Passing through BR80, the work being carried out by WRG was highlighted in an article in December's Canal Boat magazine.

Braunston church

Lots of space towards heading into Braunston -
with a "winter mooring" hand made sign taped to a bush

Now that's a cover!


This was a bit disturbing - a woman with 2 dogs and a cat in a make-shift shelter just on the outskirts of Braunston.  However, a woman a bit further on shouted to us "have we seen a woman in a tent on the towpath?", so I had a chat with her, and she assured me she was going to get help for her in some form or other.  I hope so, with all this rain forecast.

A case of droopy bottom

The farm on the way into Napton seems to have been tidied up alot, compared to last year....

The field was always full of junk, perhaps there's new people there.
Windmill at Napton

C&RT licence checker at The Folly, Napton.  He must be doing his job, there's hardly any boats about!

I did find this curious - the owners of this boat spent 1-2 hours a day (for the two days we were at Napton) carting water containers and coal from the Folly, to the boat at the winding hole.  As we were leaving, I couldn't help myself and asked the lady carting water in containers in her wheelbarrow why they didn't move the boat to the tap & fill up.  She replied they'd rather do it by container & wheelbarrow in case they lost their mooring!  But there was only 6 boats moored between The Folly and the farm.  Each to their own I suppose, I thought smugly as we reversed to the winding hole, having emptied and filled, and got a HUGE load of logs delivered to the boat at the CRT yard. 
We reaquainted ourselves with the Folly, before checking the weather forecast and deciding to head back towards Brinklow, hopefully dodging the worst of the rain.  The Folly pub is a very friendly place, with good beer and food.  The new people have turned it into a gem - I hope they continue!