Sunday, September 5, 2010

Out of England.

Friday 27 August. 0 & 0
Weather is fine so it's outside and give the boat a bit of a clean. Only one side gets done as the other is over water and having managed to last this long without falling in I don't want to risk it on the last day. Diana is busy inside doing cleaning and tidying. We take a look at Cockely and then back to the boat for the last Night.

Saturday 28 August
Lynn & David turn up around 1000 giving us plenty of time to put the boat to bed for a few days. By road to Worcester for lunch and then to the station. Train from Worcester to Windsor with a change at Slough. Luggage into the B&B then a walk around town and some diner before into bed. A bed that I can get into without climbing over Diana.

Sunday 29 August.
It's Bank holiday weekend and Frogmore House is open to the public. This is Queen Victoria's mother's house and it is only open twice a year so we have to go. It is outside the Castle wall, not lived in but used by the Royal's for meetings, parties etc. Bucketed with rain on the way back. Dried out at the B&B & started the packing. Weather became fine so off to town again before more packing diner and bed.

Monday 30 August
Up early. Taxi to Heathrow. Plane 30 minutes late. sit in Aeroplane for 9 hours. Unfortunately not window seats as it was daylight and the weather was fine all the way across Greenland and Canada. After passing through customs we managed to catch an earlier flight to Comox and got a message passed from the pilot to Frank who got 10 minutes warning of our arrival. So ended our time in England.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Wednesday 25 August. 6 miles, 9 locks.
Not the best day to start with 2 double staircases. Why not the best day? Well it is the height of the season for hire boats and Wednesday must be the day they all pass through Stourport going down onto the river Severn. Diana goes and sets the bottom lock while I unhook from the mooring. I enter the lock and as Diana is about to fill the lock she spies someone opening the top lock gates. They hadn't even thought about what was happening below them and were most concerned as they had a "70ft boat" and another one was behind them and 2 more boats waiting at the top. The easiest option was to back out and let the two 70-fters come down. Diana negotiated with the third boat, 60ft, to pass in the middle pond so we started up. Of the half dozen or so giving advise nobody seem to read the instructions so every time we tried to fill a lock there was not enough water so we had to cycle it down from the top. On one occasion they stopped putting water in and indicated I should move forward. I did a bit then backed off. They got the message that I would move when I was happy with the depth of water. Eventually 3 1/2 hours later, having had a delay in getting gas we were on our way. So was the rain. We stopped in Kidderminster so we could top up the generator petrol and go to the police to see if Diana's Bracelet had been handed in and make a lost items report for insurance purposes. Back on the boat to move on. one does not moor overnight in Kidderminster. Moored up at Wolverley lock. So to finish a wet day went to "The Lock" for dinner.

Thursday 26 August. 2 miles, 2 locks, 1 tunnel.
Still raining but we decide to go into the village of Wolverley. A quaint place with nice cottages and a unique tearooms/grocery/gift shop/library. On the boat for lunch and then a slow trip to the mooring. Slow because we didn't want this experience to end but end it must. Tomorrow we will pack our bags (traveling for 3 1/2 months without using a suitcase is great), tidy up the boat and, weather permitting look at the local area. Dave & Lynn will take us to Worcester on Saturday to catch a train to Windsor for a couple of nights before flying out to Canada.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Just the two of us.

Tuesday 24 August. 12 miles, 3 locks.
An early start out of Worcester, well earlier than we normally get away, and it was a good decision as the wind got up later. First time I have seen white caps on the canal system. Once again we nursed the engine along and it kept going OK'ish. We are still on the river Severn, moored at Stourport just short of a series of locks to take us up the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal to the end of our journey just 8 miles & 11 locks away. Had a wonder around the town which was built when the canal was built so there are no really old buildings. Diana found a 1904 carousel which she went for a ride on. Carousels are one of her things. After a couple of days with no engine drama, Dave has left us to finish the trip up the canal by our selves.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A good drama to finish

Sunday 22 August. 5 miles (1 1/2 under tow), 1 lock.
A beautiful day. Tested the engine repair and all is looking good to make Upton upon Severn in time for a good mooring. Less than an hour into the day and steam everywhere, engine cover off to find the replacement part missing. Engine off, anchor out, sit and wait. Eventually a narrow boat comes alongside and tows us through a set of locks to Tewksbury. Phone call to Dave and a plan is hatched. Dave arrives at 2000 and puts fitting back on and stays the night. During the last 2 days there has been heavy rain in the Severn headwaters so there is a danger that the river will be closed which is not a nice place to have the boat.

Monday 23 August. 16 miles (0 under tow) 1 lock.
The river is not too high so off we go. A crew of three. Me (Captain) driving and Dave (engineer) watching the engine. Water bubbling all around the place for some time before it settles down and we nurse the boat up river. We stop at Upton upon Severn for a bit of a look. Nice town pity there was a down pour for the hour we were there. Continued Nursing the boat to Worcester where we will spend the night. We have 12 miles before we can get off the river and Dave will stay with us until then.

Anchor Christening

Saturday 21 August. 9 miles (1 under tow), 1 lock.
Not the best of weather but up early to go down the lock and leave the docks. Lock keeper starts at 0800. We were ready to go but a floating crane was in first and no room for us to join him. Went down about 0830 and headed up the Severn with the intention of getting to Upton upon Severn about mid day. Not many moorings there so need to be there when the overnighters leave.
This didn't happen. about 2 hours into our travels smoke starts appearing from the engine room so off with the covers, steam every where and temperature rising. Stop engine, throw the anchor out and settle down in the middle of the river. The anchor is 20 years old and this is the first time it has been used. First boat along was the big tour boat from Gloucester who slowed to enquire about our plight. He was too big to tow us. Second boat was a cruiser (plastic type, not navy) but with a 15 hp outboard he wouldn't be able to pull us. Third boat was the broad-beam boat we had been moored to in Gloucester. They came alongside and towed us about a mile to the next moorings where we tied up and settled in. the fault was that one of the new fittings installed by Dave in Gloucester had failed. After many calls to Dave we decided to replace the part with the old one and after a couple of experiments considered we had a temporary fix but it was better to wait till tomorrow to set out. So the rest of the evening was spent on the boat.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Turning for home

Thursday 19th August. 4 miles, 0 locks.
Before heading off we visited the neighbours for a coffee & chat. Left after midday and then it was supermarket and domestics (emptying porta potties). Weather deteriorated so for a while I was on the back getting wet. Found Mike & Maggie moored up at their permanent mooring so pulled in in front and joined them for coffee. Weather not much so holed up for the night.

Friday 20th August. 7 Miles, 0 locks.
Set off down the canal through 2 swing bridges to Saul Junction where there was a winding hole so we could turn and head north. Generally the canal looked wide enough to turn but it would have been tight and with a reasonably strong wind I didn't fancy straddling the canal. As we approached Gloucester lock the rain bucketed down and the wind got up making holding the boat off waiting for the lock interesting. Nothing was happening so rang the keeper to see when the lock would be ready and all I got was an answer phone. At this point and with a mooring available we came alongside. Once tied up decided that would do for the day. Went to the Waterways Museum which isn't a patch on the one at Ellesmere Port.
Starting the distance to the mooring and time available calculations now the end of our boating is getting close.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gloucester Docks

Monday 16th August. 0 miles, 0 locks.

Tewksbury a very photogenic town. Well it must be as Diana took 604 photos today. She/we started at 1100 and she finished at 1800 (420 minutes later).

Tuesday 17th August. 13 miles, 2 locks.
Backed about a 100yds up the Avon so we could turn into the lock that takes us down to the level of the Severn River. All locks on the rivers have lock keepers to operate them so that helps. At the first lock on the Severn the Keeper gives you a set of instructions on how to enter Gloucester lock as the river runs quite fast past the entrance to the lock. In the lock with us was a wide beam boat who had been to Gloucester before so we followed them down the river. It rained for a while but the river was wide the trees relaxing and I enjoyed being on the boat. As we approach the lock you slow down as much as possible and have to grab at chains hanging from a wall and tie the boat to them, stern first and then the bow. Well I picked up a chain but it was longer than the rest so as I tied to it it rattled and banged around the bottom of the boat until eventually the boat stopped with the chain out of the water. So now it's time to attach the front rope. By now the bow is well out into the river so I'm trying to pull the boat in by hand and get in a position to grab another chain. Achieved this and looped the rope around the chain to find it was a broken chain. Wasn't going to try and move the boat so held on to the front by hand until the lock was opened for us. Into the lock and up to Gloucester Dock. A lovely setting where all the warehouses have been converted to apartments and new buildings built in the same style. Place was pretty full so breasted up alongside the boat we followed down the river.
As we arrived we had a call from Lala & John, friends from Bristol. They were in the area so came to meet us. They took us to a wildfowl sanctuary further down the canal at Slimbridge which we are not sure if we have time to get to. Then to Sharpness to look at the docks there and look down the Severn to the bridges in the distance. The tide was almost out and it was fascinating to see how high it had come when there had been a 9.7 mtr spring tide on Thursday causing the famous Sever Boar. After dinner in a local pub we returned to Gloucester to complete a busy day.

Wednesday 18th August. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Dave and Lynn came over to talk about there NZ trip and replace a couple of fittings on the engine. Had lunch at a Chinese "all you can eat". Don't need any tea tonight. Earlier in the day a woman came past the boat and seeing the flags asked where we were from. They have a house at Waipatiki beach about 10km north of Napier where they spend the northern winters. Then it dawned on me that they, Mike & Maggie, had been to our place to talk about boating back in 2006 or 07. They had to move off to their mooring down stream a bit so we will probably go down a see them tomorrow. The other interesting connection is that the mother of the owner of the boat we followed down yesterday was born in Taradale. So here in Gloucester dock are three boats lined up together all with a Napier connection.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Saturday 14 August. 880 yds, 1 lock.
This mornings lock was a bit different as it is diamond shaped. Don't know why. Took the boat through with assistance from a boat waiting to come up. Down river to Pershore. A pretty village with a mix of building styles. The brochure says one of the best Georgian streets in England. We dogged showers all day. How we miss the verandas of NZ. Back to the boat and a lie down to finish the day.

Sunday 15 August. 15 miles, 3 locks.
The weather was great. They say the lower half of the Avon is the best and we would agree. Just a nice day on the water. For the sailing friends, imagine racing an 18ft trailer sailer in a river 150ft wide with 20ton steel boats going one way and plastic launches going the other way through the course. They get a lot of tacking experience but didn't see any get up to speed. We passed three sailing clubs today all with races in progress. Tonight we are at the bottom (lower end) of the Avon at Tewkesbury which is another town of varied buildings. Counting down the days trying to fit as many places in as possible.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Berry, berry nice.

Thursday 12 August. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Stayed on board this morning. A bit of a walk to supermarket and into town for a couple of photos. Back on board by 1700. I think she overdid it a bit.

Friday 13 August. 5 1/2 miles, 2 locks
Diana had a better nights sleep. Realised she will only get better by taking it easy but we all know Diana can't do that. Set off on down the Avon around lunchtime. Stopped for water and picked blackberries there. The two locks were doubles and Diana was not allowed off the boat. Arrived at the first lock which was set for going down so went straight in with the intention of waiting for another boat and crew to help. One wanted to come up so I had the help needed. Same happened at the next lock. This is working well. Third lock. A boat was coming up so I went to help and they offered to help me go down. As we talked we found out that there were no moorings where we were heading so didn't go down but moored up close to Wyre lock. We are on an Island so there is nowhere for Diana to want to go and walk tonight but there are ripe cherry plums on a tree at the door. Now I spot some blackberries as well.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Diana's moving again

Wednesday 11 August. 0 miles, 0 locks.

Diana didn't have a good nights sleep, neither did I. Feeling a bit better and able to move but still in pain. taxied to the chiropractor who said her back was out a bit but she will get better slowly. "Don't over do it when you feel better." Yeh Right. Had lunch in Evesham and visited their local museum. Once again a great display of local memorabilia that they can be proud of. Back to the boat mid afternoon for a dose of pills and feet up time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Monday 9th August. 9 miles, 6 locks.

Nice to be on the move again. Down the Avon River with clear water. Can see the bottom and sometimes it's not far away. We can now do 6mph and the boat travels better at that speed. The locks on the Avon are all doubles and different. Heavy gates and nothing to spare with a 70ft boat. We paired up with a younger couple so that helped with locking. On one occasion the boat was diagonally across so the gate could be opened. Ended up at Bidford on Avon which again had a variety of manors, cottages and terraced housing from anywhere in the last 6 century's. As there are not as many places to stop on rivers we were invited to breast up alongside another boat.

Tuesday 10th August. 8 miles, 4 locks.

Went into Bidford on Avon as we had spied a nice bakery last night. Very tasty but unnecessary morning tea. Set off by ourselves with the intention of having lunch at the first lock and waiting for another boat to join us. Not necessary as at the first lock there was one waiting to go down so we joined them for the next 2 locks before they moored up leaving us to do the third by ourselves. The 4th lock had a lock keeper so that made it easier EXCEPT this is the tightest lock on the Avon (so far). Ropes needed to be pulled from various directions to hold us back from the front gate and then forward from the back gate. then open one gate and pull the boat into the middle to open the other gate. Not difficult but time consuming and I had lost the use of the crew. As we pulled into the lock Diana passed a rope to the keeper, turned awkwardly and pulled her back so she sat frozen on the front of the boat until we were through the lock and moored up downstream a bit. We were in Evesham where we had planned to stop. After several phone calls to various agencies and a 5 minute walk by me to the local small hospital I was advised to call an Ambulance. They were excellent. Paramedic did an assessment and gave us some options. A Senior Paramedic was called and when he arrived he spent over an hour working out what were the best drugs to easy the pain and get the back working again. Tomorrow will tell how successful this approach is going to be.
He wouldn't tell me when Diana would be fit for full duties!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Water, water.... non in the taps.

Friday 6 August 0 miles, o locks

Market Day so Diana's to town. I tidy up the boat then walk into the railway station to sort tickets back to Windsor on the 28th before we fly out on the 30th. Our time here is running out fast. Latter in the day was a long walk to find a supermarket before we head off down the river.

Saturday 7 August o miles, 0 locks.

No water coming through the pumps again so we are not moving today. Dave will bring a spare down in the morning. Did some more exploring in Stratford and on the way home passed a boat called Kotuku. Must be kiwis so made ourselves known. Turns out to be a guy from Christchurch I had been in contact with in 2006 when we were looking at buying and he was building at the time. He had a kiwi couple with him, one of which is an Air Traffic Controller in Auckland. I had heard of him, must have come across him but didn't remember where. Had a couple of drinks on the tow path. Shower came through so in the good english fashion we put the brollies up and stayed outside.

Sunday 8 August 0 miles, 0 locks.

Dave fixed the pump in the morning. There was a steam boat festival on so decided to stay. Only two steam boats but the Avon was alive. Nice day so every one was out at least half a dozen tour boats and 20 or so rowing boats and motor dingies going all day along with narrow boats and plastic cruiser coming and going. Spent the afternoon listening to a Brass Band playing in the park. Talked to a couple who swap their boat and are keen to come to NZ again. Boats probably a bit small, 48ft, for us.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Bard country

Wednesday 4 August. 2 miles, 5 locks.
Brings us into the basin at Stratford on Avon. Nice setting full of activity. Right in the middle of the tourist industry. It was a bit windy when we moored up and the pontoons were short so the boat had about 25ft unsupported catching the wind. A bit uncomfortable at times. Wondered around the centre of town and a meal at one of the many pubs. Wind dropped for the night.

Thursday 5 August. 200yds, 1 lock.
In the morning the wind was getting up again so bought a licence to go on the Avon river so we could moor alongside the bank. I had it worked out how to use the wind to turn the boat in the small basin. Guess what? wind changed direction to the other side just as we let go. We made it out through the lock and moored up on the river opposite The Royal Shakespeare Company theatre. One of the great things about boating is the places you can stop. The Butterfly farm was the feature of the day. Very good but not as good as Melbourne Zoo's butterfly's. A few more pictures a bit of walking and the day is over.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Down hill to Stratford

Sunday 1 August. 3 miles, 11 locks.
I took the morning off while Diana walked a couple of miles to look at "Packwood House". A National Trust Tudor House. She thought it was well worth the walk. Mid afternoon we moved through Kingswood junction. An interesting short canal joining the Grand Union with the Stratford-on-Avon canal. Once again boats everywhere going in many directions up and down locks. It is now high season with summer holidays and there is an increase in hire boats on the canals with many first timers. Once through the junction it is down hill to Stratford-upon-Avon. With 11 of the 35 locks done we stopped for the night in a country setting 1/2 mile south of Lowsonford. Sorry no post code, using an older guide for the rest of our trip. The boat has developed a bit of a problem with the fresh water pumps not working.

Monday 2 August. 6 miles, 7 locks.
Started the day consulting Dave on the pump problem and trying several things. Can't fix the problem so Dave will meet us this afternoon to sort it. Trundle off and the pump starts working. Cancel visit by Dave. Take a walk into Wootton Wawen as it is designated a conservation area. Nothing out of the ordinary but did walk around Wootton Hall, a large country house where a big transportable homes development is. Most interesting looking at this concept that is not in NZ. Stopped in the middle of the sticks. Pump not working. Also found a leaking pipe in engine water system. Another call to Dave in the morning.

Tuesday 3 August. 3 miles, 11 locks.
Nursed the boat a mile down canal to the nearest road intersection which happened to be Wilmcote the home of Shakespeare's mother. Dave arrives and gets the pump going, well for a while anyway. Problem is a loose wire inside the pump so it is intermittent. At least I know what to fiddle with to make it go until we can get a replacement fitted. The engine fault required a bit more thought but by the end of the day we have a temporary patch. Time will tell. Diana wondered off into Wilmcote but didn't go int Mary Arden's house as we had been before and she thought it quite expensive at 9 quid. Late afternoon with boat fixed we decided to move a short distance as we were moored close to a wasp nest. The nest had been killed but still a lot of wasps around. Next place we found to moor was 11 locks away on the outskirts of stratford. At least we have now done 29 of the 35.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Baddesley Clinton.

Saturday 31 July. 2 miles, 0 locks.
Moved up to Kingswood Junction. Walked a mile or so to a National Trust Property at Baddesley Clinton. Interesting architecture as the place was started in the 15th century and had all sorts of alterations and additions over the years all in the stile of the times. It's main feature was that it still had a moat.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Hatton Flight

Tuesday 27th July. 5 miles,2 locks.
Spent some time in Royal Leamington Spar. The buildings here are Victorian & Georgian. Like Bath it was a centre for the wealthy to indulge in the healing properties of mineral water. Then moved on to Warwick.

Wednesday 28th July. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Time to revel in ancestry. My Grandmother emigrated, with her family, from Warwick circa 1907. They used to live in a well know Elizabethan house on High street. in 2006 we met the present owners and were shown through the house so we got in touch and were invited back for lunch. Spent a good part of the day with Shirley and a couple of her friends. It almost feels like going home entering that house. Shirley is a historian so is full of information about the house and previous owners. Since last visit she had discovered where my Granny lived before they moved to High street. I have been there to.
A quick look into the Warwick records office came up with a few more facts but not what I was looking for about my Great grandfather. More internet research required before next visit.

Thursday 29th July. 0miles, 0 locks
Hatton Locks (21 of them) were the challenge for the day but by the time the shopping & laundry was done and both of us with a few aching muscles were stayed in Warwick with a walk around Mill Gardens and a wander through the town. Warwick is an easy place to just wander around.

Friday 30th July. 4 1/2 miles. 21 Locks
Hatton flight of locks today.
Now how long will that take so how early do we start? When planning how long it will take to travel to any particular place you add the number of locks to the miles and dived by 3. 21 locks + 2 miles = 7-8 hours. So off we go. The locks are double and as we approach the first we ask a moored up boat if they are going up and want to join us. They do so now we have two on the locks and one on each boat. Part way up they are joined (walked in) by an older couple. He drives the boat, she makes the tea. Now we have 3 on the locks. Three hours after starting we leave the 21st lock. Had lunch the visited a farm park. Moved on a couple of miles and moored up in the country a few yards south west of CV37 7AA

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Monday 26 July. 3 miles, 10 locks.

Spent the morning looking around the village of long Itchington. Interesting variety of architecture with many photo opportunities. Thought we would be smart and team up with another boat to do the broad locks. We were second in at the top so thought we were made. unfortunately at the next lock there was only room for one boat so we ended up coming down by ourselves with no extra crew to help. Moored up just before Royal Leamington Spar next to a field of Poppies, much to Diana's delight.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back into locks

Thursday 22nd July. 13 miles, 1 lock, 1 swing bridge.
Diana had to go shopping and I went on to the Herbert Museum expecting to see something on Frank Whittle but all there was was a reasonably modern Jet engine. Also at the gallery was a photo exhibition, from one photographer, of early working narrow boats. That was great to see as they had all been taken at Hawkesbury Junction which we passed latter on in the day.
As we left Coventry we had a phone call from the couple we had dinner with on Tuesday inviting us for dinner when we caught up with them. They had left Coventry on Wednesday. Consequently it was a long day motoring with a junction and small lock to negotiate, along with 5 other boats. I feel good when others on smaller boats have trouble and I luck in with a smooth turn, just like an expert. Doesn't always work that way. From the junction we are on the Oxford canal and back into rural peaceful motoring with the occasional motorway passing by to remind us we are travelling at the best speed.
About 1830 we catch up with our hosts to find pre-dinner drinks & a 3 course meal waiting. Great end to a long day. 1/2 mile east of CV23 oLN.

Friday 23 July. 9 miles, 3 locks.
Continue down the Oxford with a stop for groceries at Rugby. The locals surprised we weren't going to the Rugby museum. Went there in 2006. Met our first ignorant boat hirer who wouldn't move to let others get water. Stopped 1/2 mile south of CV21 4PW.

Saturday 24 July. 7 miles, 0 locks.
Today we go onto the Grand Union Canal. Stopped and went into the town of Braunston. While Diana waited for a wedding to come out so she could photograph it she befriended an old lady who later took us through the village and gave us the history of the buildings. From the village we walked down to the big canal centre. We had been to an Historic boats festival here in 2006. On the way down we looked into an allotment. Diana went in to take photos and met a lady who had a Doctor from Havelock North stay with her when they were buying a boat. We have not met the doctor but had heard of him. small world. From the canal centre back to the boat and through Braunston turn, down the Grand union to moor 1/2 mile west of CV23 8AT.

Sunday 25 July. 7 miles, 13 locks (wide ones)
Off in the morning turn right at Napton Junction heading towards Warwick. At first 3 locks we waited for another boat to join us to ease the workload as we went through together. A hot day so found a bit of shade where we put the chairs out for lunch on the towpath. As we approached the next flight of 8 locks we passed a moored up kiwi couple. Caused a bit of a traffic jam as we tried to come alongside to exchange contacts. That didn't work so he walked down the towpath until we could stop. Diana had had a brief encounter with them at the busy Fradley junction with no time to talk. Chatted to him for almost an hour before continuing through the 8 double locks. Time was getting on and the flow of traffic had almost stopped so was looking at close on 3 hours to go through the next 8 locks. Entered the first and about to close the gate when around the corner comes a boat. Great there is a crew of keen kids and 2 hours later we are through 10 locks and ready to stop for a pub meal at CV47 9QZ. Only 12 locks to Warwick then there is a flight of 20 straight after that.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Tuesday 20 July 0 miles, 0 locks.
A day in town visiting the Cathedral. The ruins of the one bombed in 1940 is a very moving place.
The new one is such a contrast. A modern design but still having all the aspects of a big Cathedral. It will be an ancient monument one day. Had an evening out with a couple of Poms who moved to Melbourne 40+ years ago. They have a boat over here and are about to build an Art Deco house in the Dandenong's. Nice couple who we expect to see in Napier next Art Deco weekend.

Wednesday 21 July. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Another day in town. The Coventry Transport museum took 5 hours to visit. Then a quick look at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum. Will go back tomorrow and have a better look. Diana wants to check out the ribbon weaving and I will look at the display on Frank Whittle.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Ashby

Wednesday 14 July. 0 miles, 0 Locks.
Went to do the daily checks on the boat and found the boat had developed a leak in the bit that is below the waterline. The packing that had been put in on Sunday wasn't enough after a good day motoring. I bailed out a couple of litres and added another layer of packing around the prop shaft which seems to have solved the problem. Weather not nice so did some washing and stayed the night again at Hinckley.

Thursday 15 July. 7 miles, 0 locks.
traveled on up the Ashby to the site of the Battle of Bosworth. There is a visitor centre with a good presentation about the battle. This was 22 August 1485. Last battle in the war of the Roses. Richard the 3rd was killed and Henry the 7th took the thrown. The first of the Tudors.
Spent the night at the battle site. CV13 0AD.

Friday 16th July. 2 m
iles, 0 Locks.
Spent the morning at a well known Antique centre at Shenton. CV13 6BZ. Nothing special here except for the village which had some interesting buildings. Moved on up the canal to Market Bosworth. The town is about a mile up from the canal. Went up to buy some groceries and sample their famous Fish & Chips. What a fascinating market square. CV13 0JW.

Saturday 17th July. 7 miles, 0 locks, 1 tunnel (twice)
Market Bosworth, the photographers delight. Back again in the morning with all the cameras as it was late when we were there the night before. Did the town walk and found many other places worth a photo. Chips for lunch on the way back to the boat then on up to the end of the navigable part of the canal. They are working on bringing the last 8 miles back into use. Turned around and back to Snarestone for the nightDE12 7DB. Other than a pub, nothing there.

Sunday 18th July. 12 miles, 0 locks.
On the return now. Stop
ped at Shackerstone where there is a vintage railway. The station is Victorian and they have a good selection of memorabilia, diesel engines and a couple of Steam engines. The train runs for just 9 miles. No steam today so didn't take the trip. We did see the train later in the day and it didn't travel much faster than a narrow boat. Spent the night at Stoke golding. A dormitory village. CV13 6EZ.

Monday 19th July. 17 Miles, 0 locks.
Nice warm day. The plan was to leave the Ashby canal & get back on to the Coventry. We did that with stops for washing and diesel. Once back on the Coventry we headed towards coventry until we were in the position of stop or go on the last 6 miles. Didn't want to stop on the outskirts of Coventry for personal safety reasons. Arrived 1930 ish tired and ready for an early night. Expect to stay at least 2 days. CV1 4LY.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

English summer weather has arrived.

Sunday 11 July. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Robert and Mary left us this morning. Considering all the complications of taxi's meeting buses, walking between bus and railway stations in Birmingham with a tight schedule to catch the train, they took a Taxi to Stratford on Avon. We have forgotten how close places are. We travel all day for what can be done in a taxi in 10 minutes or so.
Soon after they had left Dave arrived to give the boat an oil change, fix a cable & repack the drive shaft. Thats the only opening below the water line so it's good to know its done. This took most of the day so spent the night outside The King Head.

Monday 12 July. 2 miles, 5 locks.
Provisioned up at the local supermarket and then headed up the last 5 locks before 90 miles lock free. Guess who's pleased about that. As we went into the 5th lock the drizzle of the morning turned to rain.
Stopped for lunch a couple of miles down the track and decided we didn't need to keep doing this in the rain. Stayed the night.

Tuesday 13 July. 10 miles, 0 locks.
An overcast morning enticed us to move on so down the Coventry and turn into the Ashby Canal. Back into the country now with fields, trees, animals & birds, just the way we like it. Stop for lunch, down comes the rain again. After a while it eases up so on we go knowing we come back this way and hopefully it will be fine on the return. Stopped tonight at Hinckley not far from LE10 3ED.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The crew leave.

Thursday 8 July. 7 1/2 miles, 2 locks.
Today it was through Fradley Junction. Not as busy as some days but with boats passing, one lane traffic, locks and turning traffic we made it through. Actually I felt like I had complete control of my 70ft. Even more control than others in shorter boats.
We have headed down the Conventry canal which in hindsight was the best decisssion as they are running out of water the other way we were going to go. Stopped in the village of Whittington, nothing special. or i'm getting used to what English villages look like. Nice church. Mr Spencer of Marks and Spencers is buried here. Moored for the night in a bush setting at Hopwas Woods. Nearest pub a little further on at Hopwas. B78 3AF.

Friday 9 July, 6 miles, 2 locks.
Moved on to Tamworth so Robert & Mary could find train/bus schedules to go to Stratford on Sunday. A surprising town with a heap of history. Castles dated from 1070AD. Moved further down the canal for a safer night mooring outside the Gate Inn. B77 3BY. Birthday dinner for Diana as not sure where we are tomorrow.

Saturday 10 July. 7 miles, 5 locks, 1 Birthday.
Walked back into Tamworth and explored/photographed the old buildings moving on to find a place where it will be easy for Robert & Mary to leave us and also where Dave can find us as tomorrow is oil change day. Best option was morred up out side The Kings Head CV9 1BB. Well it would be rude to moor up and not use the facilities so a nice pub meal again.

Friday, July 9, 2010

for who the bell tolls?

Sunday 4 July. 7 1/2 miles,3 locks.
I spent morning looking after the boat while the crew went into Stone for supplies and photos. After lunch we trundled on down and stopped for the night on a delightful stretch of canal at moo mill lock. Drinks on the tow path.

Monday 5 July. 2 miles, 1 lock.
A few domestics loading water, and clearing out the waste before mooring up at Great Haywood ST18 0ST. Spent the afternoon at Shugborough Hall & Park. Until recently the home of Lord. Lichfield. A big house and grounds. They also displayed some of Lord Lichfields photograph. Nice work. That evening Margaret Mitchell & Jim Taylor from Rotary joined us for a chat before they went off searching for some accommodation for the night.

Tuesday 6 July. 10 miles, 2 locks.
Had a wondered around Great Haywood taking photos, picking strawberries & Raspberries. Talked to a broker at the marina and headed off after lunch. Went into Rugeley and had a quick tea before heading on for a late stop just before Kings Bromley Wharf, not far from Fradley Junction the busiest junction on the network.

Wednesday 7th 2 1/2 miles 1 lock.
We had been told to time our run through Fradley junction at other than mid morning or mid afternoon. We had that about right as we approached the top lock the last in the cue was just going in. Then it all went wrong. Easing over to the side of the canal to let the crew off I put the boat into reverse to slow down. It went faster so I went back to neutral. Not looking good at this point so into revers again and we went faster towards the lock. It this point it dawned on me that something was wrong. this was confirmed as the crew gets agitated and leap of a speeding (2 mph) ship. all ropes try slowing her down and after hitting the lock approaches we finally stop the boat and I notice that it is still in gear. Back on the boat, kill the engine & take a deep breath. That was the end of our travels for the day. Gear box cable broken so it never did go into revers or neutral. Talked to the owner who travelled for 2 1/2 hours to come and fit a new cable. All's well now.

The reference to the bell is:
There is a bell in the cabin and we asked Dave & lynn what it was for. It is to let you know when you hit something hard Well it rang today.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

New Crew.

Friday 2 July.1200yrds. o locks.

Spent a good part of the day at the Wedgwood visitor centre. They have a small museum and demonstration area in the factory where we watched and talked to throwers, turners, slip pot makers, hand painters, jewellery makers, figurine painters and the makers of those raised areas on Wedgwood. A very interesting to do. Turns out that most of the skills demonstrated were being done by the last or the last of a few craftsmen left at the factory. Wedgwood is multi- national and not developing craftspeople for the future. There is also a big museum all about Josiah Wedgwood the founder of the company and important person in developing potteries at the start of the industrial revolution. The museum seems to have an example of every thing ever made at wedgwood. Too much to take in.
Late afternoon left there for the village of Barlaston as a convenient place to meet Robert & Mary. As you can see from above it was just around the corner. Had dinner at The Plume of Feathers (ST12 9DH) a bit of a walk through the village and that was it for the day.

Saturday 3 July. 4 miles, 8 locks.

Not an early start. Needed to introduce the crew into canal time. Typical country canal as we headed south. Diana passing on her knowledge on lock operations. At one lock she heard there was a market in Stone but it was 4 locks away so had lunch on boat instead. before proceeding. Turned out market was only a short walk away. Proceeded through the locks, all moorings full because of the market, eventually rafted up alongside another boat not to far from town. Walked in to see the last of the market being cleared away. The Star Inn (ST15 8UW) for dinner. This is the place where people gather to watch, advise & help boats through the adjacent lock. Great entertainment.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Potty again

Thursday 1 July. 6 miles, 9 locks.

Went to the Emma Bridgewater pottery factory shop. They have re-established a pottery in the traditional hand made style. Emma is the business woman and husband is the artist. They are doing very well even though it is expensive. While talking to the staff about missing factory tours one arranged a tour even though they were on holiday and a lot of maintenance going on. Some workers were there doing hand painting & stencilling. Well worth the visit. After lunch we came off the Caldon and went to a boat yard to get some gas and had a nose around what Black prince had to offer. With the prospect of rain we headed south down tjhe trent & Mersey again and have made it past the industrial parts and parked up tonight by the bridge next to the Wedgwood Visitor Centre. ( ST4 3FB) Another day going potty tomorrow before we join up with Robert & Mary.

Picture: Caldon Canal ......Steam railway station at Consall Forge. Train platform hangs out over the canal.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

will a 70ft boat fit in a 68ft hole?

Sunday 27th June. 5 miles, 6 Locks, 2 lift bridges
Wandered on up the Caldon and pleased we did as it is a nice place to be. Still narrow and tight in places and in one place there is a big round thing in the middle of the canal that one squeezes past. Spent the night at the junction of the Leek branch, west of pub ST13 7JT. As part of the Leek branch was closed we walk into as far as we could motor and were happy that we had seen all we could and didn't need to go there again. Bit of a pitty as Leek is meant to be worth visiting.
Monday 28th June. 6 miles, 7 locks.
the Churnet Valley where we visited the Cheddelton Flint mill museum with working water wheels. Interesting to see how all the cogs connected to keep various parts going. The canal drops down into the Churnet river for a short time before a lock takes us back onto the canal. Arrived at Consall Forge which is the middle station on a Steam train line. The canal runs beside the station and as room is so tight the platform is cantilevered over the canal. Another tight fit but not the tightest. We knew we were close to the limit of our travels as we had been told the last place to turn a 70ft boat was at the next lock. Looked very tight but gave it a go. Didn't fit the way I tried it so back off and try another method. I'm sure the turning bay was 68ft with a little knick in it. Put the nose in the knick hop of the back of the boat and gentle pull it around. Yes a 70ft boat will fit in a modified 68ft hole. Now we are pointing back towards the way we came its back past the station again and par up at Consall Forge. Deserved a pub meal tonight at the highly recommend Black Lion.ST9 0AJ.

Tuesday 29th June. 4 miles, 7 locks.
As we couldn't take the boat to the end of the canal we walked the tow path to Froghall. they have developed a great place for mooring narrowboats but it is a bit untidy as it looks like no narrow boats can get there. There is a tunnel just before the end of the canal that is very low roof clearance. There are gages by the last lock to see if you can fit. There were about 5 boats at the tunnel that hadn't/couldn't go through so the mooring basin was empty. Great potential if they make the tunnel bigger. Sailed off from Consall Forge late in the day. Stopped at Cheddelton Station, the home of the Steam trains. One was in steam for Wednesday but they only do school trips on Wednesdays so I wasn't tempted to stay. Decided to make for another recommended pub but all moorings were taken so stopped where we had on Sunday night.

Wednesday 30 June. 8 miles, 5 locks, 1 Lift bridge.

Pretty much a trundle back through all those narrow bits, obstructions and tight turns to stop for the night near Hanley park with 3 locks left before we get back onto the Trent & Mersey.
Tonights post code is a factory shop 1/4 mile back up the canal. I guess we will visit tomorrow. ST13EJ.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Going Potty

Friday 25th June. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Today was a day of walking the streets finding pottery factory shops.
Royal Stafford, Moorland, Dudson - closed down, Moorcroft, Burleigh & William Edwards.
An interesting fact: All the potteries close at the same time for 2 weeks holiday. Guess when they are? No factory tours for us although the Moorcroft Heritage visitor centre did put on a video which did a good job of showing what they do.

Saturday 26th June. 7 miles, 3 locks, 1 lift bridge.
We headed off south to the junction of the Trent & Mersey with the Caldon Canal. Visited the Industrial museum which is based around a Flint & Bone grinding mill. We now know why some pottery is called bone china. Bone is added to the clay. Spent some time trying to stock up on food as there were no supermarkets within easy walking distance form the canal.
Up the canal through a 2 lock staircase and then Diana was confronted with a "Lift Bridge". This requires her to stop the traffic, lower barriers both ends of the bridge and (Lucky her) push a button to electrically lift the bridge. To close repeat in reverse order. This canal is narrow with some very tight corners especially with 70 ft to get around. I'm a bit concerned how far to go as the two winding holes I have passed so far, I doubt I could turn in. Dave has done it before, just hope it wasn't in the shorted boat he used to have. parked up across from some nice canal side homes, went to the pub and then bed.
For those who want to have a better Idea of where we are I'll add a post code of the nearest pub so you can find it on Google earth. Tonights is ST2 7DU

How good is it with an IT son.

Now how did I manage to get photos on?
Richard in Sydney picks up photos sent out by Diana and adds them for me.
Thanks Richard.
One day, maybe, I will work it out.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Proud to fly the NZ flag on English canals

Tuesday 22 June. 5 miles. 5 locks.
Another pleasant day in the country. Very hot with no shade until 1400. Found the only tree overhanging the canal and stopped for lunch (2 hours) then moved on when it cooled down. Spent the night at Wheelock, the bottom of what is known as Heartbreak hill.

Wednesday 23 June. 5 miles, 20 locks.
An interesting day as we climbed up the hill. This was our first experience of paired locks. Independent locks side by side so you have double the chance that one will be "set" for you. In our case empty as we are going up. Worked pretty well as 15 out of the 20 were set. spent the night at a quiet spot just before Kidsgrove. 6 locks short of the tunnel.

Thursday 24 June. 5 miles, 6 locks, 40 minutes underground.
Climbed the last 6 locks, passed under the Macclesfield canal. Been told by many we should do that canal. Next time? Had lunch at the Harecastle tunnel entrance while waiting for the northbound traffic to come through, one way. Then around a very tight turn for a 70ft boat into the black hole. The further in the narrower it got, the fumes were thicker and the noise from engines an fans got deafening. Kept looking for the light at the end of the tunnel and eventually saw a shaft of light. Looked like light from a ventilation shaft. Next minute out of the gloom comes a big "STOP" sign which had me confused, then full reverse, end of tunnel, doors closed. Diana says Bang I say small nudge. Tunnel keeper was saying al sorts of things I couldn't hear. doors open. Brilliant sunshine. Make peace with Keeper and park up a mile down the canal beside a lovely Westport lake. Off to find a pub to watch All whites. First 2 pubs didn't have football on. 3rd was watching Italy but were more than happy to watch the All Whites since we were there. After 20 minutes of trying to tune the TV to ITV4 we watch Italy miss out on going through. Only then did we hear that we had ended ahead of Italy on points.

Photo is: "Trent & Mersey Canal........John entering a lock. Diana is closing the gates & winding the paddles to fill the lock."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Heading south

Saturday 19 June 8 miles, 2 locks (Manned)
A beautiful morning and a gentle cruise up the Weaver with a stop at the "Farm shop" We were there on thursday so had to go back and buy some more bread, cheese and Pontefract cakes. (The original Liquorice). arrived at Anderton Lift about 1600 but no more slots today so booked one for the morning and parked up close by next to an extensive park with bird life and bush so went walking for a couple of hours.

Sunday 20 June 6 miles, 1 lift
Up the lift at 0930. Moored at the top and went through the exhibition about the lift and watched the process from outside. Very simple operation. Clever engineers back then. Spent an hour or two at a British Waterways Service Centre. Water available, rubbish disposal, S..t
disposal and a washing machine and dryer. The boat got a wash down as well. At least one side did. Off then towards Middlewich where there had been a boat festival. We would have liked to have been there but didn't make it, stopping about 5 miles short in a big lagoon full of bird life.

Monday 21 June 5 miles, 5 locks (1 was a double)
Another beautiful day where I flew the flag and pointed it out to a couple of Italians. Middlewtch for supplies and then the DIY locks. A bit of a delay caused when someone before us left all the paddles open and caused a huge flood. We didn't see it just the results. We are now on a part of the Trent & Mersey canal that we haven't seen before heading off to wedgwood/pottery country. many locks ahead and another engineering feature. The Harecastle tunnel is the longest canal tunnel in the UK.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Planes & Boats & Trains &

Sunday 13 June 0 miles 0 locks.
Decided to visit the Salt Museum in Northwich but it wasn't open till the afternoon. The 3 of us wandered into town looking at the swing bridges and variety of house architecture. A bit of unplanned redevelopment with old and new and not so old and not so new in a higgelty pigelty pattern. Murray shouted us to lunch at the Old Post Office, now a Wutherspoon's Pub. On the way to the museum we stopped at an old Pumping station but the very keen retired engineers couldn't get it started. Museum was good in that it told of the salt industry in the area and that is why there is a water way to enjoy. Rained on the way home and the lock keeper had gone home again so another night under the lock and a railway viaduct.

Monday 14 June. 6 miles, 2 locks (big and manned) 1/2 a million litres of water used to raise a 20 ton boat.
Went up the Weaver to Winsford. As far as you can take a narrow boat. Parked outside the Red Lion Pub. Walked around Wharton which is on the east of the river. Found the railway station so Murray could find out the best way back to Glasgow on Tuesday. A visit to the supermarket had Murray introduce us to Morrison's Cafe. A big meal for a very reasonable price. This has been noted for future reference. Latter in the day we went walking down the Weaver Way, a series of walking/cycling tracks. Very pretty. As time was getting on called into a pub and they had such a good meal deal we enjoyed their Carvery before continuing the walk back to the boat.

Tuesday 15 June. 2 1/2 miles, 0 locks.
Today was to look around Winsford on the west of the river. Nothing special about this town, just another town in the salt industry. Had lunch on the boat and the Red Lion was showing world cup games so Murray & I went to watch the second 1/2. Makes us proud that the Kiwi flag is flying on the back of the boat. Now its off to the station again so Murray can head home. Back to the boat and up river a bit into a shallow lake so we could turn around. By now all the lock keepers had gone home so stopped at a lovely spot just short of the first lock down and had tea on the tow path enjoying the nice weather and peaceful place.

Wednesday 16 June. 9 miles, 3 locks.
Motored down stream and went through the first lock with 3 others. second lock not as big so 2 went through and we followed through on the second drop. Passed a large barge coming other way. Continued down the Weaver past the Anderton lift through another large lock to Acton swing bridge where we are to meet friends tomorrow. So noisy we went further down and stopped before the next lock. went for a bit of a walk through the country side following a public path. Thought about an hour would do it but with photo stops, talking to locals, climbing over styles that were a bit high for a short person and a stop at a pub we got back to the boat 4 hours later.

Thursday 17 June. 6 miles 0 locks.
Headed back up river to Acton swing meet Lala & John. They are a couple we happened to get in conversation with in a Greytown cafe while we were traveling in February and they were on holiday from Bristol. As you can tell contact has been made since we got here and they were going to be in the area. Took them up river as far as the lock and had lunch on board. Didn't have time to go through the lock so came back down to drop them off again at the bridge while we continued down to the same spot above Dutton lock. No walk tonight.

Friday 18 June. 11 1/2 miles, 1 Lock.
Down the Weaver to the Manchester ship canal. A beautiful part of the river almost all the way. Last mile is beside a huge chemical plant. Stopped for lunch. It rained. Turned around and headed up river again. Very gentle trip as we knew we wouldn't get to the lock before closing. Early closing fridays. It's great that one minute you are in the centre of industrial England then around a corner and all there is, is water and wild wife. Stopped several times to photograph different birds. Parked up at Devils garden with 3 other boats. just a river bank and a grass paddock.

Planes, Boats, Trains.
For the last week or so we seem to park up under railway viaducts or near the railway line that carry the fast trains to the north. We have also been under the flight path for planes arriving at Manchester.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Anderton Lift

Friday 11 June. 7 1/2 miles, 6 locks.
Meet some Aussies on the tow path and chatted for an hour before heading off to the end of the Middlewich Branch where we turned left to head down the Trent & Mersey. Restocked from the supermarket at Middlewich and then through the last double lock for a while. Spent the might at an isolated spot next to bridge 176 near Bulls Wood.

Saturday 12 June. 10 miles, 1 lift.
Headed off in brilliant sunshine through the industrial outskirts of Northwich. Went to look at a salt works museum but it is being renovated so continued on to arrive at the Anderton Lift about 1500. Next available slot was 1645, last of the day, so had a cuppa and waited. The lift was no great drama but great to be able to travel on this historical engineering marvel. Took about 45 minutes to get into the lift and go down the 50 ft.
Now we are on the River Weaver. By the time we got onto the river all the moorings in Northwich were full so we continued up river to the first lock. Couldn't go any further as this is a BIG lock and is operated by a lock keeper who was just on his way home for the day. At least there is no lock work for the crew.

Photo is: 'Exiting at the bottom onto the River Weaver. The whole process takes about half an hour.'

Friday, June 11, 2010

Castle or Ice Cream?

Wednesday 9 June, 10 1/2 miles, 6 locks.
Set off with the intention of looking at a working mill at Bunbury and to visit Beeston Castle. Made it as far as Tattenhall and the sky was looking black so we turned in to look at a new marina to see what you got for your money. Well it .issed down. Luckily we were moored by then. When it stopped raining we talked to the marina people and she mentioned there was an ice cream farm just over the road. The choice was Ice cream or castle, bearing in mind the castle was a 500ft climb the ice cream was a winner. Great ice cream. It then .issed down again so we waited and now there was no way we could make the mill either. Trundeled on down the canal and parked up just below the last double width locks.

Thursday 10 June. 7 miles, 4 locks.
A short run, a left turn and onto a new canal. Middlewich Branch Shropshire Union Canal.
This is a pretty canal that takes us across towards where the Anderton Lift is. Stopped at Church Minshull as this was a place near the canal with a bus service. Today Murray, Diana's 1/2 brother from Glasgow joined us for a few days.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chester Tuesday.

Sunday 6 June. 8 1/2 miles, 0 locks.
Rained last night and drizzled in the morning. Spent 4 hours looking around the Boat museum. All associated with the canals. Gave a good in-site into building canal boats, the different types, how they were used and how people lived. We were so impressed that although we got free entry we were happy to pay the OAP price. Headed back to Chester in the afternoon and moored below the 3 flight staircase locks. We'll think about them later.

Monday 7 June. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Walked around Chester. Visited the Cathedral & John the Baptist church, Feed squirrels in the gardens. Crossed the suspension bridge to see what was on the other side. then back to the boat. with plans for a 8 mile day tomorrow.

Tuesday 8 June. 1 1/2 miles' 6 locks.
Raining so we waited to see what the weather would do. Went in to the supermarket to top up supplies as it is a few days before we reach a town again. By 1500 the day had brightened up a bit with no rain so decided to get the 3 staircase locks out of the way while it was fine. Another drama as a number of boats were going through. Water was a bit short and every one was an expert on how to get things done. I did it my way without incident but took the best part of an hour. We are moored up just outside Chester with only 2 locks to do tomorrow.
Chester was full of boats today. There is a rally of boats that have Russell Newbery engines at Ellesmere Port Museum this weekend. About a dozen or so rafted up 3 wide in the basin . Also Chester must be the Tuesday stopover for hire boats as there was heaps of them to negotiate in some tight spaces.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Thursday 3 June. 2 1/2 miles, 5 locks.
From the pleasant village of Cristleton just outside Chester we descended the five locks and parked outside the city wall. Walk on down the tow path to check out any safe moorings for the night and also to look at the 3 lock staircase we have to negotiate. Couldn't find a better spot than where we were so decided to see what it was like. It was not far from a big pub. Walked the chester wall then back to the boat for tea and sleep. Pub was noisy but at 11 o'clock at all stopped and had a peaceful night.

Friday 4 June. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Into the centre of Chester to look at the buildings and shops. Found a new camera to replace the underwater camera. It has two straps so I hope this one will be used only for above water photography. By mid afternoon I had had enough of shops so Diana went off on her own and I went back to the boat.
That evening the pub was just as noisy but expected it to quieten down at some stage. I went to bed and Diana stayed up doing photography things on the computer. Next I heard was Diana yelling at someone. They had got on the front of the boat. They then got off very quickly and that was that, except now Diana can't sleep.

Saturday 5 June. 9 miles, A 3 lock staircase.
The staircase was at the beginning of the day and an interesting engineering design. I've drawn myself a picture so if you really need to understand how it works, ask me when you see me. Reasonably simple with one boat only but one boat was coming up as we went down so passed them in the second lock. meantime 2 more boats came up together which required a change sides passing manoeuvre. With 1 a 70ft boat, 1 a 68 foot boat and the 3rd a 60 footer in a couple of locks 72 feet long there is not much to spare. 9 miles latter we are moored up outside the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port. We will visit there tomorrow. While sitting here a reasonably big ship went passed a matter of a few yards away on the Manchester ship canal. We can also look across the Mersey to Liverpool

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Wednesday 2 June. 81/2 miles 2 locks.
Day started with fog in the valley. Made the canal look a bit airy. Headed into the Beeston market. mainly agricultural stuff going under the auctioneers hammer. A few things like NZ markets like fresh veg, fish and meat plus the usual lines of cheap imported junk. Bought a cold Pork Pie, not something I have thought much of in the past but have got a bit of a taste for now.
Rushed off down the canal towards Chester where we think we will spend a couple of days or more. Made it to the outskirts at Christleton so we can had a good go at the 3 miles & 8 big locks tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bank Holliday

Sunday 30. 3 miles, 2 locks.
Holiday weekend and all the boats are out. Moved about 500yds to the first lock of the day. # 6 in the cue. now a cue of 6 doesn't seem many but for every boat that goes down, one comes up. 90 minutes latter we are down the lock and on our way. no further delays as all the boats are now evenly spaced. Moored up at Nantwich. lovely town with such a variety of buildings. Elizabethan, Tudor, Georgan and up to modern day. Excellent for photos as almost all shops shut and very few people about late heading back to the boat so Italian tonight.

Monday 31. 0 miles, 0 locks.
Spent some time in the morning on boat maintenance then lucked in with a visit and tour Dorfold Hall, a lived in Jacobian house. Only open because it was bank holiday monday. Beautiful gardens.

Tuesday 1 June. 8 miles 4 locks.
A day of drifting along. Drizzle in the morning but fined up after lunch. Feature of today was our first acquaintance with double locks. They are twice as wide so two boats can go through together. Not too much drama here except the gates are bigger and heavier and you need twice as much water. Moored up between the Beeston Stone and Iron locks. Went for an evening walk and came across a pub (Beeston Castle) so another night dining out. How sad.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

UK Secrets

Friday 28. 0 miles, 0 locks
We stayed put in Audlem for the day. Bank holiday weekend and they are having a music festival. Intended to go to a couple of pubs last night to listen to the local talent. In the end it was so cold out and we had the fire on so we stayed in.
Friday we wondered around the village and did a walk through the country side. This is secret #1. It is so different to be able to walk across paddocks and cultivated fields owned by some unknown farmer. Couldn't help feeling like a trespasser. Intend to do it more. We got to a couple of gigs. Nice music if your ears could take it. Were a bit disappointed to see 75% of the patrons were not interested in the music and talked all night. Suppose it's the same in NZ but we don't go to the pubs there. Met a local who is a friend of someone Diana knows in Napier.

Saturday 29. 3miles, 3 locks (Raining)
If we hadn't need to empty the loo's we wouldn't have moved. Also filled water tank and cruised on to Hack Green, moored up, lit fire and settled in for the day. Mid afternoon rain stopped so we walked the 200yds to the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker. Fascinating museum in the underground complex which would have been the centre of regional government in the event of Nuclear war. Fires on again. Forecast better for tomorrow.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Polish the brass

Thursday 27. 2 1/2 miles 12 locks.
We were not looking forward to a wet day with a flight of 12 locks in front of us. Turned out cool and passing clouds but no rain. A bonus. Dave and Lynn, boat owners, came to join us for the day. This was a great idea as having rushed through how the boat worked on day one there were a few things that we needed to have a chat about. I also had to find the paint to touch up a scratch down the side. We enjoyed the day with them as we went for a pub lunch at the "Shroppie Fly", voted 3rd best pub on the English canals. Another big bonus was that Dave and Lynn joined us at lock 3 and helped through the last 10. I also had the chance to wind some paddles up and down, open and close a few gates while Dave drove the boat. Normally I sit on the back while Diana does all the work.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

English weather

Well it had to happen but are pleased it took 10 days. Other than a bit of drizzle when we arrived from Dublin the days have been glorious with temps in the low to mid 20's. Just like back in Napier before we left.
Wednesday 26th. 3 1/2 miles, 5 locks.
Started off cold, I , l even put longs on. It was market day in Market Drayton so we spent the morning looking and buying local food. Wondered around the village, looked in their local museum as Diana clicked buildings, doors, flowers and all sorts of other pictures. Back to the boat for lunch about 1430. with rain on the horizon we set off for todays short run. Started to rain just before we hit the locks. Wet and cold so once we hit the bottom of the locks we moored up for the night and lit the fire. The sun has just shown itself as it dips delow the horizon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Down the Shropshire

Saturday 22. 4 miles, 0 locks.

Well we are right into the swing of things now.

Today were mostly straight canals through bush-lined cuttings and rolling farmland. Passed a moored narrow boat called Water Gypsy. She was owned by a couple who did 6 months on the narrow boat with paying guests on board and 6 months in Auckland yachting. Well this is the couple that got us thinking about doing something similar after they had an article in the Air NZ magazine.

Stopped at Brewood (Brood). Wondered through the village and meet a bell ringer. Stopped at the butchers and had a chat. They brought out a staff member who had lived in NZ for 17 years. Back to the boat for cheese and crackers on the towpath.

Sunday 23. 3 miles,1 lock

Straight bush lined and rolling farmland canals. Crossing over a motorway watching cars racing by confirms the delight of our slow pace. While racing down the canal at walking pace we started to talk to a couple walking on the tow path after about an hour we stopped for lunch and asked if they would like a cuppa, well they did and it turned out we met her sister at the butchers yesterday. Small world. It even got smaller when we stopped for water and spotted another kiwi flag. They had been doing the last 8 summers on the canals. She said her name was Brenda from Whangaporoa so I said that must be Brenda & Tony. They were a couple we had had contact with 5 years ago when researching buying a boat. Tonight we are at Bridge 20, Wheaton Aston.

Monday 24. 10 miles 0 locks.

A lovely bit of canal to putter along, with no locks it is called the long pond. Bushy cuttings and high embankments where you can see out over the countryside. Stopped at the village of Gnosall Heath. 15th C Church. Next stop at a marina for an ice cream. We walked into a “floating bog” at Loynton Moss where they are doing work to restore the bog back to its original state. Then to finish the day it was less than a mile to the Anchor, voted “2nd best pub on the canals”. Tied up looking forward to a Night in a real English pub. Closed! Met a couple of locals that were also looking for a drink so we followed them down the tow path for a mile or so to the Wharf Inn. Home made food etc, sounds good. “Closed Mondays”. Back to the boat we walk. Anchor now open so in for a pint and cider. Real quaint but no idea how they make a living. We were the only customers. No food though.

Tuesday 25. 9 miles, 5 locks.

Another amble along day through some nice bushy areas. Diana lucked in with the locks today. As we went down 5 boats were coming up which meant all locks were full of water, gates open and others to wind the handles. Long may that last. Weather a bit cold this morning. First day of cool temperatures since being on the canals. Sun came out later and warmed up a bit. Parked up at Market Drayton tonight. Think we will stay for a couple of days and do the town tomorrow.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

On the Shropshire Union

We had lunch at Wightwick Manor and then the tour of the house. Diana was thrilled to get inside at long last. We had a very good guide. Back on the boat just after 4 and then motored for three hours to avoid overnighting in Wolverhampton. we are now into new territory and looking forward to the next 20 miles, no locks.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Paid our dues to the English Canal Gods

We are parked up for our fourth night out just south of Wolverhampton. Diana has a need to visit Wightwick Manor, a historic home. Last trip here we passed it by road twice but couldn't stop or it was too late. Then when on the canal we realised we would go past. Closed Monday's & you guessed it it was Monday but she had a bit of a look around the gardens as they were making a film. Well tomorrow is Friday and after another three locks she will get the chance to visit.

Wednesday 19th. A quiet gentle day with a stop and wonder around historic Kinver. Met a couple who were painting an old Elizabethan house and they showed as through some caves behind their house that had brick frontages and doors. It was the old Jail cells.

Thursday 20th. Snails pace again. We are doing about half the distance per day that we did last time on this canal. So nice not to have a timetable to get the boat back in a few days.

My reference to the title:
Tuesday - Diana discovered she was missing one of her Pandora bracelets. Had it on in the morning and after one lock discovered it missing. Went back to the last lock to look but who knows when it came off.
Wednesday - I know exactly where my camera is. Bottom of the Bumblehole lock. It was such a nice setting that I needed a picture as we got to the top. Grabbed camera looked down to check the gap to the side of the lock, stepped off, knocked arm, dropped camera, camera floated, was going to pick it up and decided if boat moved I get crushed arm. Grabbed boat hook and almost got it out but it slipped again and that was enough to remove any floatation that was left.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We are on the water

Sunday 16th. Once again we lucked in with ash clouds. Due to leave Dublin at 1030 with the airport due to close at 1200 due the ash. While waiting at the gate the "flight canceled" sign appeared on the board. General panic amongst the waiting passengers. Diana was involved in something else and didn't notice. I wasn't that impressed with the idea but decided that Air Lingus would tell us sometime what was happening. Next thing the board changes from flight cancelled to a gate change. Pick up all the gear and off to the new gate which wasn't that far away. another delay while we load the aircraft, settle in and the pilot blames ATC for a 20min delay for the new slot time. In the end we leave Dublin before the ash closes the airport. The ash is not expected to effect Cardiff today.

Dave and Lynn, the owners of the narrowboat met us and take us the couple of hours back to their place in Herefordshire, stopping on the way for a picnic. Spent the afternoon discussing boat things and getting to know Dave & Lynn.

Monday 17. Up a bit late. Getting over rushing around Ireland. Loaded the car again and drove through some lovely Herefordshire villages, arriving at the boat over an hour later. Diana was shown all she had to know about the from half of the boat while Dave took me through all the man bits about operating the boat and systems. I'm sure I will figure it out in the next 3 months.

The Boat is on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal north of Kidderminster so the four of us head to Tesco's next to the canal in Kidderminster, several locks are en-counted on the way. Dave unfolds the bike and cycles back to get the car, Lynn goes shopping and we stock the boat with food. We are now on our own. Two more locks and we stop for the night.

Tuesday 18. Another sleep in (we are on holiday after all) then turn the boat around in a winding hole. Winding hole is about 80 feet across and the boat is 70 feet, we did it. Back up the canal with a stop at Tesco's to buy the bits we forgot yesterday then up to where we started from. Interesting to travel the same canal as we did 4 years ago. We came past a pub on a busy highway at rush hour. It wasn't until later I realised that it was the delightful little pub that Des and I went to watch a football world cup game at on a quiet Saturday. Not sure if the memory has discounted the ugly bits or 4 years development have made the changes.

The tourist bits of Ireland

10 May touring Northern Ireland

now it was let’s see Ireland in the few days left. Back to Greelough to walk around the graveyard again an take some more photos then east we go. Through Ballymena to Carnlough on the coast then north stopping at various beauty and historic spots. You can guess how many photos Diana is taking. First well know tourist spot was Carrick-a-Rede, The rope bridge. Got tickets but was not anticipating Diana needing hers. Walked the mile or so to the sight and having seen it Diana wasn’t interested so I went on over the bridge onto the island. Soon after I see a group of tourists give a cheer. The man (Billie) at the gate had convinced her that she would later regret not going so he walk backwards across the bride and talked her over. Had to do the same going back. Next the Giants Causeway. It’s as good as the photos show. Stayed the night at Bushmills, Famous for its distillery.

11 May, back into the Republic.

Followied around the coast visiting Dunluce Castle, ruins. Mussenden Temple & Downhill Demesene. Crossed Lough Foyle by small ferry to Greencastle, County Donegal. From here it was just drive with a few quick scenery stops to Donegal for the night. The B&B sent us off to a little pub that has music. Great night with locals giving impromptu turns. Some really good talent and some drunks.

12 May, Driving.

We needed to get south so it was Main roads to Westport. Sorted into B&B and he suggested we go to Achill Island and drive the Atlantic Road. A couple of hours he said. 5 hours later we got back. The most rugged coastline and isolated location you could imagine but there were cottages everywhere. Fascinating. The nearest thing to what I imagine Eskimo’s live. The B&B owner said we should go to the last beach on the island as the next stop was the Brooklyn Bridge. Beautiful, pristine, cold and they had lifeguards.

13 May, Connemara.

A long day on the road driving south the coastal route to Kylemore Abbey. Nice spot but didn’t get to see much in side the Abbey. Followed on around the Connemara coast to Gallway and through the Burren to Doolin. Had to spend a night at O’Connors Pub. Nice meal and then there was the music. Must have got spoilt at Donegal, as this was a bit bland.

14 May, To Tralee & Dingle.

Started the day with a look at the Aran Islands from the ferry terminal. Not enough time left to make the trip. Spent some time at the Cliffs of Moher. A very well presented tourist attraction. Through to Killimer and the ferry to Tabert and then Tralee for the night. Booked the B&B and off to the Dingle peninsula via Connor pass. Don’t think I would take the 5th wheeler there. Stunning topography. The Atlantic side of the peninsular was very rugged but not to the same extent as Archill. Fascinating ruins of “Beehive Huts”, built of flat stones and clustered into small communities. Wondered around Dingle with bright coloured buildings before back to Tralee for the night.

15 May, Motorway to Dublin

Had been told 3 hours. Locals say that’s right except for on Saturday, need to allow 5 hours. Had an hours stop at Foynes to look through the Flying Boat Museum. Interesting information on the main flying boat base for trans Atlantic flights. Shannon airport is just up river a bit. Then M7/N7/M50/M1 to a hotel on Dublin airport. Return rental, repack, eat, sleep & check the news on ash clouds.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Clady we were looking for.

Success today. Did a bit of country lane driving to get here. Loverly scenery so didn't consider ourselves lost at all. Arrived outside the church where Diana's Grandfather was baptised in 1885. Met a lady in the cemetery who insisted on taking us across the road to the Greenlough Bar, the local pub. When I say local pub thats all there is there. Church on one side of the road and Pub on the other. This was at 1200, we left at 1600. The publican and wife had been in the pub for 27 years and lived in the area all their lives and new the Madden name well. Any way the publicans wife got on the phone and within 30 minutes a lady her brother and a cousin turned up with so much information on Madden's. In the end Diana has now meet a new relation, got contact details for another in Perth WA. and expects a mountain of papers via post. Shortly (2100) we are off to see the parish priest and check out some of the church records.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Clady, Claudy, Clady

Today has been a day of wondering around Ireland looking for the Birthplace of Diana's Grandfather. We headed for Clady on the Border to the Southwest of Londonderry looking for the church where grandfather was baptised. No churches there so ask a local. No this is Clady, Strabane - you want Claudy not Clady. East we go to Claudy and find the village, not very pretty though. Getting a bit late so look for a B&B and get sent to a country hotel to the east of Londonderry. Diana asks some questions of the staff and told. "No you don't want Claudy you want Clady, Magherafelt. "Very helpful staff Googled the place another hour east of here and have provided maps and instructions.
There's always another day tomorrow, especially in Ireland.


The Icelandic Volcano Gods were on our side. Arrived in Heathrow to read the headlines that Dublin Airport had been closed in the morning because of the ash. Flew out on time with Air Lingis and enjoyed my first taste of the Irish. Sat in the row behind the emergency exit to see that the "remove before flight" tag was in during the whole flight. Arrived in dublin and then by bus and a 10 minute walk collapsed into the hotel bed absolutely bu---red.

Loved Dublin. Toured the city sights by hop on hop off bus. Stopped at the Guinness factory for a free pint. Diana only had a taste of hers, how sad. Did the tour of Kilmain jail and learn't a lot more about Irish history. Did the pub and show night, great music and food. Did a lot of walking, Probably too much as both of us were stuffed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hong Kong

We had a reasonably smooth flight from Auckland arriving in Hong Kong 0630 local (1030) nzst.
A trip through security was a bit of a walk and then the return walk has us back in the departure lounge. Total on the ground time is 2 hrs. First time into here in daylight. Looking forward to being in daylight over Asia and Europe.

Monday, May 3, 2010


First leg was just fine.
Aircraft Captain was the daughter in law of a fellow retired Chief Controller.
The passengers in the row in front of us were the Pilot for the next leg and air hostess through to London. I suggested an upgrade but not holding my breath.

Leaving Town

On our way, almost.
Taxi due any time now to take us to Napier Airport for the first leg of 4 through to Dublin. Looking forward to going, looking forward to arriving, not that fussed about the 34 hours in between