Friday, 30 April 2010

Another long weekend

Oh, the joy of long, light evenings and time to travel! Out to Braunston on Friday, through very busy locks at Calcutt, and a really nice meal at the Mill House or whatever it calls itself now.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

A fantastic day out yesterday with Paul, Katrina and Christine, who we haven't seen for years, and Ed who we met for the first time. After a coffee at the bottom of the Napton flight - they were last here over 20 years ago - we went up the flight before lunch below the Claydon flight. Not wanting to turn back straight away we decided to go on to Fenny Compton and wind there which was perhaps over ambitious. After a few of the inevitable meetings with boats under bridges we arrived at Fenny for ice creams. Eventually we realised that the way to use the winding point with a boat moored in it was to put the bow into the towpath and motor the back round. The sun started to set as we skirted the scenic and tranquil Wormleighton - catch it now before they build HS2 through there. A long day for us, we moored below Napton Top and walked down in time for last (food) orders at the Folly at 9 pm.

An easy trip back this morning with the only thing of note being the pound above the second lock flooding. There didn't seem to be any flow at the bywash, so perhaps it is blocked. All was well after letting down enough water to get the level below the top of the top gate. From the look of the erosion on the towpath where water had flowed around the lock this has been happening for a while, so someone from Napton Narrowboats who was training hirers called to notify BW.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

On the Medway

Well not really on it to be honest, more of a reconnaisance on foot to see what it had to offer around Teston. It certainly looked pretty, and with only a few boats moving very quiet and peaceful. As you can see from the pictures though not many places with a realistic chance of mooring - and those that did look possible often had signs forbidding it. I think some of the boatyards offered visitor mooring but that was about it. The vegetation caught in this kissing gate shows that the flood level was at least three feet above the towpath last winter, and the towpath was several feet above river level when we visited.

Further downstream we came across the sorry sight of a fairly large wooden cruiser with the bow still stuck in a tree and the port side underwater at the stern. I did look as though someone was working to recover her, but it looked like a long job. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be anyone on the river offering hire boats, so I can't see us cruising it as I wouldn't want to bring Caracol down the Thames Estuary even though I know others have done so.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Just an ordinary sunset

Since the Icelandic volcano was supposed to improve the sunsets, we took a walk down to the beach to see. It doesn't seem to have made much difference so far - but fortunately the sunsets are normally pretty good from here. We had to retreat before the last light died though as it was bitterly cold with a wind strong enough to blow over a lightweight tripod.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

First Bluebells...

Spring has been so slow coming, but now it seems to be racing ahead to make up for lost time. These are the first bluebells I have seen in bloom this year, but I have no idea whether they are early or late.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Wood anemones

Coming back to Kent after the weekend, the spring doesn't seem so far advanced down here as it was in the Midlands over the weekend. Funny that, it is usually the other way around. It is a great time to be in the woods as the plants on the ground green up first and make the most of the few short weeks before the tree canopy puts them in the shade again.

Sunday, 11 April 2010


Sunday dawned cooler and windier, and for most of the journey back to the moorings we didn't see too many people moving. Then we caught up with a boat that was towing NB Juniper off the mud on the offside where it had firmly stuck. Suddenly we were in a convoy of several boats, and met a similar number coming the other way in the narrow stretch just east of Napton junction. With boats moored as well this made for some entertaining steering, although the wide beam crew that we passed just after didn't look as though they were looking forward to it very much...

Saturday, 10 April 2010

This is more like it!

The birds waking up and singing their little lungs out early in the morning is inclined to get me up and out with the dog fairly early. This morning it was perfectly still and the sun, not up for long, was still burning a layer of mist off a garden near our moorings. We set off early for Braunston in perfect weather and moored up there before lunch to spend the afternoon seeing the springtime sights and soaking up the atmosphere.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Bascote and Stockton Locks

Back to the marina today in the nicest weather we've had so far; gorgeous spring sunshine. Vague plans for a pub lunch at Long Itchington were scotched when we found the Two Boats full to bursting with folk enjoying their Easter Sunday lunch so decided to eat on board after all.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Hatton again

Turned at Lapworth yesterday, then moored a mile or so above Hatton for the next bash at the locks. Shared the flight in the very agreeable company of the crew of nb Florian, who, as their skipper said, 'Take no prisoners'; only took us 2:45 for the whole flight which isn't quite a personal best but was still an absolute blast. (Our personal best for Hatton was achieved in about 2:30 with a very experienced single hander, breasted up, with P opening the locks ahead, our companion closing them behind, and me steering both boats and making mugs of tea for everybody. It ain't exactly white water rafting, but doing the flight quickly, safely and with skill and economy of effort is really exhilarating. This is why I keep coming back to the canals!)

Much, much nicer weather than Thursday, with the spring flowers really doing their thing at last. This clump of white violets by the towpath was particularly cheering.

Moored above Radford Semele for the night, where Annie the dog gave me the heebie-jeebies running up and down the steep bank between the river and the towpath. I kept listening for a loud splash but she seems to have no trouble doing handbrake turns on a 45-degree slope.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Lapworth Locks

Modest pootle from the top of the Hatton flight today up through the first few Lapworth locks and back. Moored at Tom O'the Wood where there appears to be a Komodo dragon in the pub garden...

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Hatton Locks the rain. We fortified ourselves before we set off with lunch just after the Cape Locks. Instead of the more usual food frenzy in the Cape of Good Hope pub, we had a modest salad on board the boat instead - yum, yum. Since we were last here the Cape has been dwarfed by these whizzy new apartments built right up against it. It doesn't look as though the inhabitants of the new apartments will be very keen on having narrow boats as neighbours, looking at that fence.

Passed through the first half of the Hatton flight in glorious solitude - hardly another boat moving anywhere. Did the second half in sideways rain, then moored to dry out and get warm...