Saturday 31 March 2012

Northampton to Billing Aquadrome Marina

I left the mooring with my boys this morning about 20 minutes ahead of the boats. I felt terribly guilty about not taking Floyd and Fletcher with me, but I didn't feel I could take responsibility for the 4 dogs whilst locking the two boats down the river. It's always more difficult on the rivers as the boats move faster and the footpaths don't always stick to the river banks.

I made good time to the first lock (Rush Mills) and headed off towards the second through my own little tunnel
 The daffs were gorgeous and the lock was waiting for us with the top gates open
 leaving me time to take a few pics as Yarwood approaches the lock first
 and leaves last
 Then it's out across open meadowland where a fisherman had set up camp to enjoy a bit of nature (plus a telly!)
 The third lock of the day, at Weston Favell, was the first of the push button guillotines and I hitched a lift  on MR to Clifford Hill Lock and then swapped onto Yarwoods front deck after Billing Lock - the idea being to help find the dreadfully sharp turn into Billing Marina and it really IS sharp; pretty lousy choice of lookout given my lousy eyesight.

 The nose swinging to the left in front of the road bridge
 past the pub
 and into the large marina
 I hope the Environment Agency River Patrol boat isn't going anywhere soon
 as, to the stern of the boat next to the outboard, is a Coot sitting on eggs
 the male is working like the clappers trying to stop the eggs from falling out as the nest keeps falling to bits, it's enough to break your heart and I'm not sure he's winning
You can see MR behind the EA boat above - we are actually moored across the end of 4 bouncy finger pontoons. The marina offers terrific value for money with free access to the aquadrome events, swimming pool etc but, whilst hook up makes a luxurious change, marina living is not for me.

PS. Lesley is fine and took her mum to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel today - they loved it too. She'll be back on Tuesday.

Friday 30 March 2012

Midsummer Meadow

Every morning BW have spent an hour or more setting the levels in the pounds on the Northampton Arm, washing goodness knows how many gallons of water down from the Grand Union in the process - hence the decision to close the only access out to the Fens rather than fix the leaks. When NB No Problem arrived at the top of the flight yesterday it hadn't been done as all available staff were trying to re-open the bottom lock down onto the R. Nene and release the 4 stranded NBs. The BW guys worked hard for us and couldn't have been more helpful within the constraints of available equipment and 'elf and safety.
Having been stuck above that last lock the night before (3 of us initially) we were joined by a 4th NB at 9.45 pm - a newbie lady boater on her own. Self same boater went passed us this morning at 6.30am!!! Now what's all that about?
Here we are occupying the mooring pontoon in Northampton - where the moorings are busy we would stick the front end on for access and sling the back out on a mud weight or breast up. Even here on the river, the levels are right down and we struggled to pull in behind NB Yarwood.
We did a bit of shopping in town and found a 70% sale at Sports Direct - lined Craghopper trousers for £15 (normally £40-£45)!
As Lesley is away for a few days and our Grand daughter is appearing at The Derngate Theatre on Sunday, we are moving into the Billing Aquadrome Marina for a few nights.
It was freezing, by contrast, today and at 2.30 we gave up and lit the fire; just as the sun finally came out and we had to throw open all the windows and doors to avoid cooking. The sunset was pretty.
Daisy spent most of the day catching and eating mice and most of the evening thowing up all over the boat and all over Muttley - yuk!!!!!

Thursday 29 March 2012

Best laid plans of....

Well we finally got the six pack to stand still but, by then, the six pack became an eight pack on an impromptu Sunday afternoon bbq. On Monday Lesley and I trundled off for one of our 'short' walks taking in Milton Malsor
 and a rescue farm for horses - plus this little star

 Milton Malsor was looking very pretty in the sunshine

 and after a four hour walk my boys were fair worn out

 So we waved goodbye to the crews of The Boat (heading off for a wedding), Darling Budds II (heading off for a wedding anniversary cruise) and Imedit (not sure going where but somewhere) and we headed down the Northampton Arm through 16 of the 17 locks in the sunshine
 rumours abounded of insufficient water in the pounds but all was well and we made good progress

 after lock 16 we pulled over for a bite to eat and suggested Yarwood went ahead of us through the last lock onto the river so that Lesley could cycle on and check out moorings
 Neither paddle on the bottom gates was operating so we couldn't empty the lock and, in the end, we gave up and Joe reversed Yarwood out of the lock. We 'phoned BW who, very promptly, sent out some guys who struggled valiantly for several hours, but to no avail - we were stuck for the night
In the morning they sent out reinforcements with pumps and pumped Yarwood and then us down before declaring a closure

They must have fixed things one way or another as NB No Problem came sailing past later on

Saturday 24 March 2012

It's a six pack

How much are we all loving this weather! The boys sit and soak up the sun whilst we service the boat at the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne Flight

 Passing under the bridge with the mosaics
 and waiting for Joules 5 locks up for diesel, gas and coal
                            we may be in short sleeves at the moment, but I don't believe that the cold
 weather has finished with us yet
 Whilst waiting for a single boat coming up or a pair coming down, G set about the finishing touches
 to our new gang plank and gave it a quick bounce to check it's strength. After 3 hours we gave up waiting and turned the top two locks before heading through Blissworth Tunnel with a couple of chaps on board who blagged a lift - they loved it
 So Friday morning saw me setting off down the towpath with the boys to meet the crew of NB Yarwood who were heading towards us from Weedon
(I love the underside of this railway bridge, I wonder who cares enough to paint it blue?) After about 3 miles we met Lesley, Floyd and Fletcher (Joe behind on Yarwood) and walked back together. The boys' reunion was enough to soften even the hardest of hearts. In no time we had Yarwood secured and it was off to the pub fro a well earned pint and a catch up, where we were joined by Debs and Dave and their two Salukis from NB Imedit
 So here is our six pack
 Below to the back is Fletcher, comig forward Baxter and Muttley then Amber with Floyd to the right of her and bits of Willow at the front corner - well you try and get six excited dogs in one pic!
 So what did Daisy think of this little lot on her patch - she wasn't much bothered really, just sat soaking up the sun and looking supercilious

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Cosgrove to Yardley Gobion

This blog takes me up to date until I went to see my Mum last Thurs. We moved up through Cosgrove
and it's fancy bridge
to the moorings by Isworth Farm (aka Who lives in a house like this), as we walked I spotted this fishing Heron
So intent was he/she on their fishing that it didn't even move when MR cruised past
I hung around for ages with my camera at the ready and eventually gave up. When NB The Boat pulled up behind us shortly after, Fran said, 'did you see that Heron catch and swallow the fish?'. Grrrr....
Co-incidentally both we and NB The Boat had run out of chopped wood so we spent the following day in the sunshine; happily sawing and splitting wood, drinking tea and nattering and generally replenishing both boat's wood stocks.
One of the nicest things to do on a boat is logging with friends in the sunshine

Monday 19 March 2012

Playing around the Great Ouse River

With G away and the sun shining I found a lovely (different and longer) walk along The Ouse to Old Stratford - the village boasts  a pub and a small store but provides a centre for some lovely circular walks - taking in the disused Old Stratford Cut which has moorings closer to the Grand Union end
It was warm enough for the boys to enjoy the water

 Although I had some interesting 'bridges' to cross - for someone who lives on a boat I can have some very wobbly moments with narrow planks or stepping stones around water! The faster the water is moving, the more wobbly I get. When Lesley and I walked Dovedale (and one or two other Dales) I walked  the long way round and ended up crossing water above the height of my boots rather than go the direct route across the stepping stones

 Some of these weren't too special - I don't know why I have this problem (it's nothing to do with danger) but it upsets my balance

 We crossed the River again by The Mill (proper bridge this time).

 and returned via the Iron Trunk aqueduct with it's new paint gleaming in the sun