All posts by Sarah

Birthday Girl

We had our earliest start this week, with a 9am cast off, it was a little rushed as a hire boat was just about to leave the lock, so we seized our chance!  There was a group of swans on the towpath, so I went armed with a few slices of bread as a distraction.

Toby expertly steering us through all the moored boats

Once through the locks, we motored through Blisworth tunnel with only one boat coming the other way.  We wanted to get a photo of the air shafts , although it was a but tricky as you can’t see them ahead, and then all the water is dripping down them!

Air shaft in Blisworth Tunnel

It was somewhat cooler today, so we had our jackets, hats and gloves on.  Toby was the pied piper collecting ducks with the leftover bread supplies

Feeding the ducks
Chilly on the canal

We arrived back at Heyford Fields marina about 12.15.  I was talked in to taking us in to the marina, and then reversing on to the pump out pontoon.  I did OK [Ed: more thank ok!] , although I did have Toby’s expert tuition and light winds!  We finally got Oliver back on his mooring at 12.45.  A cuppa and a cookie with Brian and Lorraine, and then we packed up the car.

What a fab birthday, and a lovely end to our honeymoon.  I felt a little sad that it’s come to the end, Toby said it’s just the beginning.

Wet Wallies

In the rush of getting all our stuff together, Toby managed to forget his PJs (or was it planned?!), so I’ve ended up with morning tea and coffee duties.  This morning I left the pan of milk on the hob, I thought I was smelling toast from another boat, and then the penny dropped!  Thank goodness for non stick pans, although the same can’t be said for our smoke alarm, which was silent throughout.

Burnt on milk dregs – oops

After a breakfast of croissants, we set off about 10ish to a cloudy day, only two locks to do today – and only 16 for the week, we’re used to doing more than that in one day!

Just after Cosgrove and the moored boats are beginning to build
View from the Iron Aquaduct, it’s a sheer drop on this side, with a fenced off footpath the other side

Today is our half way day, so we needed to turn in a winding hole.  As we try and do one way trips (with Peter and Romy’s help), or a circular route, three point turns in a narrowboat isn’t one of Toby’s strengths!  I decided to stand on the bow, I soon had to move inside, and lift any branches to minimise any scratches.

View from the bow in the winding hole

We were very lucky with Herons today, athough the zoom on our camera isn’t great.

Heron at the winding hole
A Heron with some lunch, sadly the quality isn’t great, but it’s the first time I’ve seen a Heron with a fish
A mermaid of rope

In all the rush of packing, we forgot the wet gear.  I blame Romy and Peter, as we cleared out the boat earlier in the year for the return leg from Bristol.  We had a few showers, and managed with the brollie.

My new mug

On our way back to Cosgrove, the canal seemed to turn green, we wern’t sure if it was the rain, reflection, or grass in the canal.  We soon passed the culprit, and some green dye seeping in to the canal

The green waters of the canal

Along with all the apples on the trees, we’ve had the smells of a few log burners going, and the trees beginning to turn.  Autumn is on the way.  We moored up about 3pm, just by the bridge and The Navigation Pub – guess where we’re going for dinner!

A wonderful wedding gift from Richard and Jane on Casual Water. The colours match perfectly, thank you both

In the evening we had dinner at the Navigation, Sarah had the most enormous looking Calzone, though the waiter promised it used the same amount of dough as the standard pizza.

Very impressive looking Calzone!

New Tings

It was a wet and windy night, and we were glad to be on a secure mooring at Stoke Bruerne.  A lazy start and we cast off to blue skies about 10am.

We had a complaint on yesterday’s blog and no selfies, so here you go!

The first lock was set for us, as there was a volunteer lock keeper, apparently Wednesday is a busy day at Stoke Bruerne due to the hireboats.  It wasn’t long before we were exiting the lock, and then a shout from the vlockey – please wait in the next lock as another single boat is on it’s way down.  Great we thought, and then we saw the single hander!!  He was called PJ, and I’ve never seen anyone open paddle gates so quickly.

Looking back in Stoke Bruene top lock
What a cutie of a little narrowboat
The heavy rain meant that the water was flowing over the top of the locks

It didn’t take us long to work through the seven locks, the wind did make steering interesting, especially when slowing down past moored boats.  I managed to lose my mobile phone cosy, it caught the wind and Toby tried to save it (saying it wil be fun!!), but the wind wasn’t playing ball, and we ended up across the canal.

Showers planned for the afternoon, so we decided to moor in Cosgrove.  Soon after, it poured down, and we felt quite smug watching all the boats going past in the rain, while we were dry and warm.

Crab apple trees are aplenty on the canals

As for the blog title, we’re both still getting used to the ting noise of our new rings, it was noticable today with the windlass in hand, and holding on to gates, or in Toby’s case with beer in hand.

Ting Ting!!

 

 

Aussie aboard

After a breakfast at the marina cafe, Toby, Mum, Dad, Keith and I set off in full sunshine.  We decided to head towards Buckby locks,  with Keith sat in the bow enjoying the English countryside.

We stopped for cream tea aboard,  and turned around in Whilton marina just before Buckby locks.  We arrived back at the marina at about 5pm, and enjoyed a feast of local cheeses, homemade chutneys.  We had such a lovely supper, we’ve decided on a monthly cheese night.

Tourists for a Day

Our last full day, and what a belter, with glorious blue skies, and the warmest day yet – warm enough for us to put our shorts on!

A quick hop across on the ferry to the other side of the harbour, and the star of the show, the SS Great Britain museum.  The boat was launched in 1843, and returned back to Bristol and the same harbour, after being towed back from the Falkland Islands.

View from the stern
View from the top deck
Next to the bell

The boat is split in two for preservation reasons. The iron hull is contained, as it requires a much drier humidity level to minimise corrosion.  It does mean you can walk all the way around it.

The original iron hull

A walk across Pero’s bridge, and we left our own padlock.  It seems a fitting end to the most amazing holiday, to think when we next do a blog update, we’ll be married!  We wish Peter and Romy safe passage, and hope they have as much fun as we have.

Padlock at Pero’s bridge

 

We Made It!

A lovely sunny, calm morning, and with very few moving boats, it felt like we had the river to ourselves.

Toby pulling on a lock gate

 

Going down one of only two locks for today
A familiar image on the River Avon, steep banks with lush vegetation, and very little mooring

We followed the instructions at Hanham lock and called the lock keeper, we were told it was safe to proceed and to go straight through the next lock as it will be open – well that doesn’t happen very often….both sides of the lock open!

Netham Lock, with both sides of the lock open

We duly paid our mooring fees to the lovely lock keeper, and we were given instructions of where to moor.  We offered sticky date cake and continued our journey.

An old Royal Mail and Parcelforce depot – it doesn’t look like it’s been used for a while!

As we entered Bristol, the river widened and the buildings and people increased, it was a sunny lunchtime after all.  There was one foot bridge that we were told would be tight, and touch and go if we would make it.  Oliver went through fine, we had to duck though!

The low footbridge – will we make it?
Toby ducking under the low bridge while steering

We decided on the harbour inlet mooring, as it overlooks SS Great Britain.  Toby did a grand job of reversing us in on the pontoon – to quite an audience.

 

The lock keeper called to say I’d left my jumper behind and they’d leave it in the office, not long after we see the harbour master’s boat – I thought he was checking for boat licences, he was hand delivering my jumper!!  Last two slices of sticky date cake given as a thank you.

We had a wander around the harbour, and with such a lovely evening, we decided on a BBQ.  Romy and Peter joined us for dinner, having arrived that afternoon in their camper van.

Avon Calling

A lovely Monday morning, with all the hire boats and stag-do boats gone – no doubt a few of those will be nursing a few hangovers!

We left about 9am, with a boat just in front of us, yey we thought as we could share the locks.  They then pulled in five mins later to their hire base.

The bridges through Bath are very different to those we’re used to, quite ornate
A new crew member decided to join us
Plenty of tourists in Bath taking photos/videos of the boat. It bugs me, as they never ask, so I sit with my back to them
Young Freddie wanted to push/pull on the gates, we get lots of little ones wanting to help

We had six locks through Bath, which run right though the city.  All the locks are well cared for, and Bath seems to embrace the canal, rather than hide it away.  One of the locks is the second deepest on the network at 19ft 5in, (a result of combining two locks when the roads were designed).  It was quite scary, with the biggest lock gates I’ve ever seen.

Bath deep lock at 19ft 5 in
Leaving Bath deep lock – you can just about see me in the top right hand corner

We left the Kennet and Avon canal, and joined the River Avon, it was quite a contrast as it’s so much bigger than the canals. A few locks, which were like the Thames locks in size, one grumpy yoghurt pot cruiser, but otherwise just lovely narrowboat folk.

View of the River Avon

Very little moorings on the River Avon, folk just seem to use it as a transit pass between Bath and Bristol. There was space on the floating pontoon, where we decided to moor for the night.

I washed below the gunnels, and all the deck boards, Toby was a bit braver than me and washed the river side of the boat. Toby also did an oil and filter change.

Our floating pontoon mooring
View from the Avon Valley Railway Bridge that’s now a cycle route
A zoomed out view from the cycle path

Busy Bradford on Avon

We had heard that our end destination of Bradford On Avon gets really busy at the weekend, and the moorings are limited.  Toby suggested we cast off at 8am (and instantly regretted staying it!!)

A pit stop at ‘The Boatyard’ at Hilperton to fill up with fuel, pump out the waste tank, and purchase a second centre rope, we were soon on our way, and managed to find a mooring at Bradford On Avon; it felt very much like Stratford On Avon, and full of tourists.

A moggy walking along the canal side of a boat
Toby topping up the greaser

We took a walk round Bradford on Avon, and the 14th Century tithe barn was open, what a wonderful building with the most amazing roof beams.

View across the River Avon and the honey coloured buildings
Originally, this little building was a chapel, it sits neatly on the top of a bridge. Later it was the town lock up

We took our first known bump to the rear with a hire boat trying to moor up.  I was out there like a flash, and not to impressed, especially when she didn’t even apologise, and asked were the local pub was!

Ann and Martin arrived late afternoon, after putting the world to rights, we had dinner at a well chosen restaurant by Toby called Timbrell’s Yard  – the salted caramel sundae was yummy.

 

We ‘Caen’d It

What a day!!  This trip has all been about doing the Caen Hill flight, and it didn’t let us down.

Lunch, goodies, and extra squash were all prepared and ready in the stern. We set off sharp at 8am with Chris, Tim and Harvey the dog on their narrowboat ‘The Stoker’ which had a lovely pup…pup..pup sound from the Gardner engine.  What a coalition, they knew what they were doing, and Tim was a powerhouse on the paddles.

Toby and Chris lining up for the lock

The first locks were against us as they’re left empty overnight, so these took a bit more time.

Toby and Chris entering one of the locks

We had some fun with two boats going up, and they didn’t really know what they were doing.  There isn’t much space, so you have to swap, it’s a bit odd seeing two boats in a lock, one facing down, and one facing up.

Changeover at the lock

 

View looking back at the locks

We nailed the 26 locks in 3hrs and 45 mins – what a result.  As we’d made such good progress, we decided to carry on for a bit, and get ahead of the hireboats.

Fatigue set in, and the swing bridges and six remaining locks were a bit of a struggle, but you know me, a stubborn old mule!

Taking a rest on the lockbeam while the lock empties

Finally moored up at Semington, which sets us up nicely for tomorrow, and Bradford Upon Avon, which we’re told is a bit of a boaters’ tourist hotspot.

Toby cleaned one side of the boat below the gunnels using the squeegy mop (having seen a fat boat doing the same a couple of days ago).

Toby cleaning the side of the boat

I’d been waiting for a special day to have my choc cake slice that mum so kindly made., well it was today, and I had the biggest bit in the box, and enjoyed every crumb.

Today has been the bees knees, what a day

In position and ready

Today was all about lining up for the Caen Hill Flight tomorrow, it ‘should’ have just been a simple two hour run in.  We left early, as we wanted to keep in front of the miserable pair of boats (known as the miseries) from yesterday.

Last night’s mooring, we just squeezed in
Toby’s breakfast, a coffee and two choc digestives….hmmmmm. I on the other hand had weetabix, it’s usually the other way around

We reached Devizes, and the rain started, luckily we already had our wet gear on.  We had hoped to moor at the top of the locks in Devizes, unfortunately CRT are replacing the towpath so no moored boats allowed.  We were forced to go down the first lock – not the plan!  We tried to moor in the pounds in between, but we just couldn’t get close enough to the bank.

Lock no 1 at Caen Hill – that was supposed to be tomorrow

So we then had to go down lock number 2, Toby managed to get us in, but we needed the plank, and the chances of me falling in were high!  So through lock number 3 and we moored in the pound, on the moorings for the pub.

We felt we should at least have lunch at the pub seeing as we’re on their mooring pins.  I wouldn’t recommend it, my tuna jacket was OK, but Toby’s baguette was somewhat of a fail.

Stretchy Toby waiting for lunch – it’s just weird!!
Toby’s coronation chicken baguette – over baked as Paul Hollywood would say

We wandered down to the flight and chatted to the CRT man,  we also made our own early coalition with another boat to go down the locks tomorrow.

A walk in to Devizes to top up food supplies, and then a bit of pottering.  An early start tomorrow with an agreed 8am kick off – much to Toby and the chappie on the other boat’s frustration….I’m keeping in front of the miseries, they can continue to cruise in our dirty air (I’ve been watching too much sailing on the Americas cup!)

Our mooring for this evening