Standing still for a while

We are still at Hawkesbury junction, (and have been since Friday) on a 7 day mooring. It is handy for the amenities and Tesco is about a 3 mile round trip if we run out of anything. We have had an eventful few days though. Today the forecast rain has arrived so indoors and catching up on baking and blogging!

We have been watching our batteries as Charlie has always been worried about the length of time they have been in the boat (in since the boat was new 8yrs ago). Lately they don’t seem to be holding the charge as well as they have in the past, and we have been thinking we may need new ones. Yesterday we had our engine on to boost them up a bit (something we don’t like doing too often in a built up area). Volt meter out and batteries tested and Charlie decides we will order 4 new ones just in case as we don’t want to be stranded anywhere without them. The starter battery is ok but the 4 domestic ones (that run the 12v system) are waning a bit. So on the phone to the company that provides the ones we have (like for like), and they can deliver to our current position. All good so far. Asked about the cost and what was said sounded good, until they said it was for one battery, and we needed 4!! Yikes. It’s going to be costly, but hopefully they will last until we get fed up boating. Batteries ordered (it will be our xmas present for the next 10 years methinks). Anyone who has a boat tells you that BOAT stands for Bring Out Another Thousand!! How true that is. May have to get out there and sell our bodies.

The other job we wanted to do was fix the perspex to the bedroom windows. Charlie had an idea of how to do it, and we cut the perspex, fitted a sticky sponge to the edges, and drilled holes to the window frame. All was going well until one of the holes drilled into the perspex caught the drill and the perspex cracked! ( the air was blue as you can imagine). A small crack but as Charlie is a perfectionist it wasn’t boding well. We fixed a smaller piece of perspex over the crack and now it is on the window. As it took a while we decided to leave the other window to another day. Low and behold as I was reading FB on a narrowboat users site, someone posted a question as to how to prevent condensation in the winter. Alot of answers were posted, but one in particular caught my eye, and I wish I had seen it before we had started. Perspex ordered from a website (cheaper than Wickes and all cut to size!!), and magnetic tape to fix it from another website. Needless to say we will order some of this stuff when our funds recover from the battery expense.

Batteries ordered yesterday and now arrived. What service.

And lastly a photo of Izzy gutting her toy sheep, which I thought was quite amusing

Don't let me get bored!!

Don’t let me get bored!!

Back at Hawkesbury junction

A few  pictures of Coventry basin before we departed on Thursday. One nice thing noticed whilst we were there were trips of school children being taught the history of the canals; and also given the opportunity to try fishing with the local tackle shop preparing rods for them. Lets hope this will encourage a new generation to enjoy the canals and discourage graffiti and rubbish being thrown into the canal (alot along this stretch).

Breakaway on the left in Coventry basin

Breakaway on the left in Coventry basin

Statue of James Brindley keeping watch over the basin

Statue of James Brindley keeping watch over the basin

Mosaic by a local artist depicting the basin and it's history. Luckily not vandalised with graffiti

Mosaic by a local artist depicting the basin and it’s history. Luckily not vandalised with graffiti

The square with 2 vaults in the background that were used for storing and drying coal

The square with 2 vaults in the background that were used for storing and drying coal

Old wharf buildings with the hire boat company (Valley cruises) boats in the foreground

Old wharf buildings with the hire boat company (Valley cruises) boats in the foreground

Extension of the wharf buildings

Extension of the wharf buildings

Bridge 1 that takes you into the basin (view on leaving; shame about the graffiti). Apparently according to the information board it is the smallest bridge on the canal system. It has no tow path, which was for security; and boats were allowed a certain time to load/unload in the day. If they didn't meet the time frame then the canal company made them leave and moor outside only to return the next day.

Bridge 1 that takes you into the basin (view on leaving; shame about the graffiti). Apparently according to the information board it is the smallest bridge on the canal system. It has no tow path, which was for security; and boats were allowed a certain time to load/unload in the day. If they didn’t meet the time frame then the canal company made them leave and moor outside only to return the next day.

Final picture I couldn’t resist (for all my cornish readers!). It was a street opposite the basin

Links to St Columb??

Links to St Columb??

We stopped by the retail park near the Ricoh arena. Last time we were here there was just Tesco with a few other outlets. Now this has been extended along to incorporate M&S, Next, Boots a pet shop, and a sports shop. Anyway I needed a top up shop and Tesco being so close seemed a shame not to do it here. A huge Tesco express with everything in it you could want and more. I had to shop methodically to cover all the aisles, but managed to get everything on my list eventually (thank goodness for my rolls royce trolley!). We stayed here overnight, but the next morning the bakery smell was a little too tempting so we moved again back to Hawkesbury junction., with the plan to stay a couple of days as weather forecast not so good for Saturday. And we are near to facilities should we need cassette emptying and water topping up. Only thing is we need to keep an eye on the battery level if no sunshine! We have 7 weeks till the boat is booked in at Streethay Wharf for it’s painting, so we can really slow down and stay on this stretch of canal until that time comes.

Coventry basin to Tesco (arena park Bridge 8)                                                   3.88miles   0 locks

Tesco to Hawkesbury junction                                                                                      1.68miles  50mins  0 locks

 

Coventry

Yesterday in glorious sunshine we set off slowly for Coventry basin. It was a lovely day to cruise, and we were in no rush. Only one boat had gone past us toward the basin, and we passed two going the opposite way away from the basin.

Sculpture along the towpath

Sculpture along the towpath

Looking back at canalside properties

Looking back at canalside properties

We passed the Ricoh arena

We passed the Ricoh arena.

We arrived in the basin around lunchtime, and there was only one boat moored on our arrival so plenty of space. By the time evening came there were seven other boats. The hire fleet boats are moored on the other side and it looks like they are all there. There are a few shops here, but still some units being offered for let. Still a pleasant place to moor with a 48hr stay. Before lunch we went to Wickes, which is just around the corner, as we wanted 2 sheets of perspex to do the bedroom windows for the winter as double glazing. The plastic double glazing is working though doesn’t stay as tight as the instructions say it should.

After lunch we walked into the town centre to get our bearings.

Lady Godiva statue

Lady Godiva statue

Lady Godiva is the heroine of these parts, and this statue takes pride of place in the town centre. There is also an exhibit about her in the museum. Legend has it that she rode through the town naked so her wealthy husband wouldn’t raise taxes. Another interesting area is Medieval Spon street. These buildings were restored and put here (sometimes from other parts of the city) to show the towns medieval history.

Spon street building

Spon street building

These buildings are now used as shops

These buildings are now used as shops

Another Spon street building

Another Spon street building

Coventry was heavily bombed during WW2 so it is amazing these buildings survived. It is also a city of modern buildings because it needed restoration after the war. The saddest building was the medieval cathedral

Medieval cathedral ruins

Medieval cathedral ruins

the altar area of the ruined cathedral

the altar area of the ruined cathedral

The newer more modern cathedral that is built next door to the old. Completed in 1962

The newer more modern cathedral that is built next door to the old. Completed in 1962

Medieval cottage that is in an alleyway next to the cathedral.

Medieval cottage that is in an alleyway next to the cathedral.

Today we set off with the intention of viewing the museums as it has been dull and overcast after rain through the night. The Coventry Transport museum is now housed in a smart modern building, and is the largest collection of transport in the world. It is free to get in (though a donation is appreciated), and we spent nearly two hours there looking around. An excellent museum chronicling the start of the motor industry in Coventry until it’s demise. All sorts of old bikes,cars,tractors,buses etc. Too many pictures taken to put on the blog but a few here to show what is on offer. A must for anyone visiting this area. We were very impressed.DSC01261DSC01270DSC01305DSC01310DSC01320DSC01332

Even a section on modern developments and the future of the land speed record.

Even a section on modern developments and the future of the land speed record.

There is another free museum nearby that tells of Coventry’s history. Ribbon making was the city’s claim to fame, which then died out in the mid 1800’s. The bicycle industry was then started which then led onto cars and motorised transport.

We will have to move tomorrow as will have had our 48hr stay. But certainly would consider visiting again.

Hawkesbury junction to Coventry basin                                                                  5.26miles  2hrs 40mins                                                                                                     0 locks

From Hillmorton to All oaks corner

Not long now before we are off the Oxford canal and on to the Coventry canal again. We realised we wouldn’t be meeting with NBPetroc again as they were stopping at the places we did and therefore were about 2 days behind us. Their winter mooring is at Clifton cruisers which is just along from Hillmorton. I’m quite good now at doing jobs whilst on the move (also lovely and warm). I made a cake, Sunday dinner, and swept up. This time of the year the towpaths are full of leaves and mud so alot gets trodden in if not careful. We found a nice spot just past All Oaks wood, and dinner was almost ready by the time we moored. Rugby on TV this afternoon so a restful one. Apart from when fuel boat Auriga passed by and we flagged him down for a replacement gas bottle. We didn’t need diesel or coal, but probably will see him again on our travels along the Coventry as this is his patch. By the time evening came we had quite a few boats moored with us.

Today we set off again. I walked Izzy as it wasn’t far to the swing bridge (maybe half a mile), at Stretton. I had the washing machine going again so we decided to stop for water at Rose narrowboat hire as it was quiet. Looks like alot of their boats are back at base.

Looking back at Rose narrowboats after refilling with water. Another boat behind just coming through the swing bridge.

Looking back at Rose narrowboats after refilling with water. Another boat behind just coming through the swing bridge.

As I approached the bridge one of the workers there swung it open for us and told me to leave it open as he would close it again. Back on board after filling up it was time for coffee. Although a boat moored ahead was keen to pull off in front of us.

He couldn't wait till we passed!

He couldn’t wait till we passed!

This little stretch runs alongside the railway tracks and this time I was quick with the camera.

Izzy can't believe the speed of the train! We could almost shake hands with the passengers!

Izzy can’t believe the speed of the train! We could almost shake hands with the passengers!

My turn at the tiller for a while whilst Charlie made the coffee. A hire boat went past me at quite a pace but otherwise non eventful. The banks are looking very autumnal now. Doesn’t seem that long ago that I was posting spring flowers.

Beautiful autumn colours.

Beautiful autumn colours.

The M6 is also very close by, and Charlie managed to get a shot of one of the signs. I know which mode of transport I prefer.

M6 sign board

M6 sign board

I prepared dinner once again as we approached Hawkesbury junction. Just one stop lock here. This once acted as a toll area between the canal companies. A pub “The Greyhound” is here, and we had a Sunday lunch here back in January 2012, on our second narrowboat holiday.

Approaching Hawkesbury junction

Approaching Hawkesbury junction

We stopped at the sani station to empty a cassette and get rid of rubbish.

Hawkesbury junction Coventry canal view

Hawkesbury junction Coventry canal view

We have now moored facing toward Coventry. The first mooring we tried turned out not to be, so I moved along a bit further as many boats here. I didn’t see a piece of piling sticking out, and one of the rear fenders got caught, broke off and sunk. Charlie was on the bank and I had to tell him the bad news! Luckily he didn’t make much of it (must have got him on a good day!). There is a fishing tackle shop nearby, so I think we may be going there tomorrow. We hope to moor in Coventry basin midweek for a couple of days so we can explore Coventry. There is now a hireboat company in the basin, and it has also been designated for winter mooring permits; so just hoping we will be lucky. The last time we were here in 2012 it was icy and also the basin was empty.

Hillmorton to All Oaks corner                                                                                       6.79miles   3hrs 15mins                                                                                                     0 locks

All Oaks corner to Hawkesbury junction                                                                8.14miles  4hrs 20mins                                                                                                     1 stop lock

Braunston to Hillmorton

Yesterday we did a small shuffle from our mooring just past Braunston turn, to a more open spot further along, which was better for the solar panels, and also easier to do the circular walk we had planned.

Braunston church

Braunston church

We set off for our walk through a field full of sheep and up the hill toward the church.

View from the top of the hill looking down to the canal. Our boat is the one on the right.

View from the top of the hill looking down to the canal. Our boat is the one on the right.

The church had scaffolding around it as obviously renovation work was being done. We walked into Braunston town. We remembered it from the last time we were here as the pavements are raised up from the roadway. Years ago this was to ensure the nun’s didn’t get their habits dirty. I bought some bacon in the butchers and bananas in the convenience store, and we continued back down again to the canal. The narrowboat cafe was still there, but we didn’t stop this time.

canal buildings on the Grand Union section at Braunston

canal buildings on the Grand Union section at Braunston

chimney from same building showing the date it was built

chimney from same building showing the date it was built

Braunston junction

Braunston junction

Before we set off this morning the sheep in the field opposite were all in a line, which looked quite amusing.

A line of sheep

A line of sheep

Today we have moved to Hillmorton. Both of the duplicate locks were working and we descended alongside another boat. There was a volunteer lock keeper at the bottom lock who got the lock ready for us.

After lunch I took Izzy for a long walk, and now she is sound asleep on Charlie’s lap. Off again tomorrow to get through Newbold tunnel.

Braunston to Hillmorton                                                                                                   6.80miles  3hrs 05mins                                                                                                      3 locks

Priors Hardwick bridge to Napton then to Braunston

I made my cake (a crunchy topped apple and blackberry streusel cake mmmmm). I didn’t get the chimney cleaned though. I’ll do that another day as although sunny it is quite cold. I did pick a few blackberries as there are many where we moored. And I made a small pot of jam as I only had one jar available that was empty.

Brambles still looking good

Brambles still looking good

Yesterday we moved to Napton. We negotiated 9 locks which was more tiring than usual as the hire boat ahead of us kept leaving the bottom gates open! I did a good deed for the day by topping up a chap’s thermos flasks with boiling water. He was lying beside the brick shed by the second to last lock to keep out of the wind. He looked as if he was down on his luck so I offered the water, and gave him a small piece of the apple cake. He seemed appreciative anyway. There were lock keepers at the last lock in the flight, and we mentioned about the hire boat leaving the gates open. They were aware and had pointed it out to them. Apparently the hirer’s were taking the boat back to Napton hire base. They were supposed to have 4 nights on board, but after 2 they decided they didn’t like it and were cutting their trip short. No excuse though to not work the locks properly. We stopped for water and cassette emptying as the sani station had been mended. Another load of washing completed en route. It dries quickly with the fire on. I walked to the little shop by the Folly Inn and purchased some water buffalo burgers and ice cream. Neither tasted any different from normal, but at least we can say we have tried them!

Today we moved again to Braunston. I stayed inside the boat whilst we moved and made bread, and tidied up a bit. I was lovely and warm. I had to take the tiller though when Charlie needed the bathroom. I quickly said I needed to go back inside though. We last moored in Braunston in April 2011 on a hire boat. After visiting Midland chandlers for a boat hook, we had lunch and were going to walk to the marina here, and the town. There was a narrowboat cafe here last time, and we decided to walk tomorrow and investigate to see if it is still there. Water Buffalo burgers with salad are quite filling! Too many trees around though for a satellite signal. Good job we raided the charity shops for cheap DVD’s in Banbury and Oxford.

Lastly a picture of Izzy looking intelligent (probably waiting to be fed as always)

Izzy

Izzy

Priors Hardwick bridge to Napton                                                                              4.14miles  4hrs 30mins                                                                                                     9 locks

Napton to Braunston                                                                                                          6.80miles  2hrs 45mins                                                                                                     0 locks

Glorious weather

We moved on Saturday from our mooring just below Claydon bottom lock, as although a lovely spot was very overshadowed by trees. We needed to move to try and get more light to our solar panels. The boat traffic has certainly eased. A few hire boats still out, and private boaters heading back to their moorings for the winter. We have to watch out for any stoppages (where Canal River Trust stop navigation to do essential maintenance). We need to get back to Lichfield by December 21st, for the boats paint job. So far nothing that should stop us on our journey.

The mornings have been lovely, with morning mist that clears quite quickly.

Early morning walk in the sunshine

Early morning walk in the sunshine

We navigated the 5 locks in the Claydon flight which took us an hour and 10 minutes. I’m going to start adding our stats at the end of each blog so readers can see what we travel and how long it takes. Saturday we only travelled 0.83m!! We found a nice sunny spot and stayed till Monday.

Our mooring just beyond Claydon Top Lock

Our mooring just beyond Claydon Top Lock

I had forgotten to mention that at each lock since Aynho weir lock there has been a small crocheted item attached to the lock gates. I was curious as to why these where there and was there any significance.

crocheted item on lock. They come in many colours and designs

crocheted item on lock. They come in many colours and designs

Apparently on further investigation they are yarn bombing items. This is graffiti by knitting. It became a game checking the locks for these. A nice touch by another boater.

Sunday after preparing and setting the roast dinner to cook, I tackled the brass mushroom vent cleaning task again. It didn’t take long this time and they are now shining brightly again.

Sunday evening there was a most spectacular sunset (I shared on FB). I just had to get a picture

lovely sunset

lovely sunset

Off we went again Monday morning. We were going to stop for a water top up at Fenny Compton, so washing machine set off again. We also needed a longer run as the batteries needed a boost.

View of Claydon top lock in the early morning mist

View of Claydon top lock in the early morning mist

we passed under this bridge, and now I will have to try and find why it was put there.

we passed under this bridge, and now I will have to try and find why it was put there.

After topping up the water tank at Fenny Compton we carried on through the winding bit of the Oxford summit. Met a couple of boats coming the other way. At one bridge there was poor view so I blasted a long blast on the horn, didn’t get a response, so proceeded to then have an encounter with a boat coming through (who didn’t respond to our horn blasting). Crash avoided quickly and no harm done!

Travelling the winding Oxford summit

Travelling the winding Oxford summit

Beautiful autumn colours

Beautiful autumn colours

There are sings along this stretch objecting to HS2, and this is the countryside that will be affected if it goes ahead..

HS2 planned route that will go over the canal

HS2 planned route that will go over the canal

Rolling hills of the Warwickshire countryside

Rolling hills of the Warwickshire countryside

We are now in Warwickshire and moored near to the bridge that has a footpath to Priors Hardwick. We were last here on the 11th September. Plan for today is write blog. clean outside chimney, and bake a cake (I did say I wan’t going to as it is having an adverse effect on my weight, but cake is so nice!)

Bridge 144 Claydon Top Lock to Bridge 124 Priors Hardwick.                 8.70 miles                                                                                                                                   4hours 5minutes

To Banbury and beyond

We left Kings Sutton on Tuesday morning. The weather had forecast rain, but it was dry when we set off. We stopped at Banbury sanitary station and did the necessary there.

Banbury sanitary station

Banbury sanitary station

We moored in the shopping area of Castle Quay so we could access the town easily. We just got moored before the rain arrived. Opposite was a work boat that was full of shopping trolleys, bikes, wheels and even a toilet bowl! After chatting to the CRT workmen it transpires that all of that detritus was dredged from the canal within a half mile stretch of Banbury. People pull up in their cars and just chuck it in! Terrible. No wonder the boat feels like it is catching on things occasionally. Have people no pride in their environment? Not to mention what it does to the wildlife. I wish I had taken a picture now of the rubbish.

Through the lock and into Castle Quay

Through the lock and into Castle Quay

We walked into the town and did the shopping we needed in Wilko. We had already looked around on our last visit so didn’t need to do it again. The rain was on and off all day. In the afternoon I took Izzy for a longer walk to check out the moorings further along as we wanted Aldi (one of my favourite shops). It was fine when I set off, but as I turned to return to the boat the heavens opened and all the clothes including my raincoat where soaked. It was more like a cloudburst! Good job the fire was on so I could dry all the wet clothing.

Wednesday we set off with 2 shopping trolleys to Aldi, about 1/1 a mile away if that. We did a big shop and took it back to the boat. Had coffee and cake then set off again for another load. Another surprise on Wednesday was the passing of NBPetroc. Now this belongs to Geoff and Gill Lovegrove who live in St Merryn; and it was their talk they gave in 2010 to a local club I belonged to, along with a blog of another Cornish couple Fiona and John Slee (ex St Mawgan vicar), that got us thinking about narrowboating. We met up with Gill later in the day for a chat, and had another chat with Geoff on Thursday morning when he walked the dog past. They will be returning to their home mooring in Rugby at the end of the month so they may pass us again.

Thursday we went to Home Bargains (same distance) and purchased some of their bargain smokeless coal, transporting it back to the boat in our green garden trolley. After 2 days of long walking we were feeling the aches and pains. We wanted to get some perspex to cover the bedroom windows (like double glazing), but Wickes didn’t have any. Currently we have a plastic secondary glazing film on 4 of the windows. It has improved the condensation problem that occurs this time of the year.

We decided to move today and head to wherever we fancied stopping. We set off in mist…

Misty morning

Misty morning

And most of the journey till lunchtime was looking like this…

Autumnal fields

Autumnal fields

until suddenly after Copredy the sunshine appeared. We wanted to stop at Copredy for the sanitary again but working boats were there in abundance, so we decided to carry on. We are somewhere between Copredy and Claydon! Sun is still shining and we are chilling after lunch.

Sunshine at last on our mooring

Sunshine at last on our mooring

Next stop Fenny Compton.

Have been off the grid!

We stayed for 2  nights on our quiet mooring above Dashwood’s lock. The weather has really been exceptional for this time of year and we made the most of it and had a BBQ (we had one bag of charcoal left). I had enough chicken in the freezer, and made burgers with mince, and managed an assortment of salads with the ingredients I had available. It’s amazing what can be achieved with a little imagination.

We set off again on Thursday and we needed to fill up with water along the way. I set the washing machine off whilst cruising so the batteries maintain their charge. The water point at Lower Heyford is just before the bridge and is patrolled by a rather unusual character…

He is in a garden opposite the water point

He is in a garden opposite the water point

After filling with water and emptying the rubbish we set off again and made it to Upper Heyford, above Allen’s lock. We try and moor in open countryside if we can so the trees don’t block the solar panels. There were a few boats moored here but we found a quieter spot around the bend. We stayed here for 3 nights, and as the weather was  still fair we cleaned the pram and cratch covers, and applied dubbin as this helps to protect the stitching and keeps the covers soft and more rain resistant. I also cleaned the mushroom air vents. Up till now I haven’t found anything that cleaned the brass, so they were looking very dull. Hey presto would you believe it I tried some Hob cleaner (citric acid based). and now they are looking lovely and shiny. This is good news as this product only cost a £1 as apposed to Brasso that is much more expensive and didn’t work.

Misty morning sunrise in Upper Heyford

Misty morning sunrise in Upper Heyford

Saturday we had a stroll into Upper Heyford. Not alot there as no shops, but some very lovely looking houses built in Cotswold stone. I expect very expensive. There are also ex RAF houses (unmistakeable), as there was an RAF base here (now abandoned since 1993).

Upper Heyford church

Upper Heyford church

The church dates back from the 13th century, but only the tower is original. The rest was restored in Victorian times. The churchyard has an area dedicated to WW2 pilots killed in action, and also to 2 american pilots who were killed in 1993 when they had to land their plane in an emergency, but managed to avoid the village. Inside there are strong links to the RAF with memorial plaques on the wall.

After lunch it was time for a Rugby fest!! And Izzy was also busy digging holes. Shame the England team weren’t as good as the weather!!

Think she can sense a mole!!

Think she can sense a mole

We moved again yesterday and wanted to stop at Aynho where we had moored on the way down. The 2 locks ahead were set in our favour which is always good. At Somerton deep lock there was a boat coming down and I helped him as he was single handed. We entered the lock and 2 boats arrived also wanting to come down. One of the boats had to get back to College cruisers in Oxford so they were in a hurry, and they negotiated to go first, as the other boat had only just started their holiday. As I closed the gate the hire boat crews were a little too quick in getting the paddles open thus sending our boat back and forth in the lock. I gently explained the correct procedure to prevent that happening. As we exited the lock the College cruiser boat entered and it was being steered by Michael Fabricant MP. I had to google his name but knew his face from watching “Have I got news for you”, as he has appeared on there a few times. They had a long day ahead of them to get back to Oxford

Along the way we saw……..

Cows having breakfast

Cows having breakfast

A line of white cattle

A line of white cattle

A gaggle of Canada geese. Not seen many of these since leaving the T&M

A gaggle of Canada geese. Not seen many of these since leaving the T&M

We didn’t stop at Aynho as there were too many boats and we would have been nose to tail (or bow to stern).

Aynho Wharf

Aynho Wharf

So we carried on through Aynho weir lock (diamond shaped), Nell Bridge lock, past the farm shop and finally found a mooring past Kings Sutton lock. A bit further than we wanted to travel but now we are nearer to Banbury for a quick cruise in the morning.

Kings Sutton church spire in the distance seen from our mooring

Kings Sutton church spire in the distance seen from our mooring. It’s not leaning it was me trying to stay straight with the telephoto lens!

We have to move tomorrow as our 3 cassettes will need emptying, and more water will be required. That will be the first job on arrival in Banbury. The second will be find a mooring, and the third fill up on supplies.