Monday, April 27, 2009

It was quiet enough to start with!!

The weekend started off quiet enough but things soon changed with the arrival of my able assistant Abz. We stayed the evening at Saxilby and planned the weekend out down to the last detail. As usual we spent too much time enjoying ourselves and soon forgot all about the itinerary.

First thing in the morning there was the ‘Come on Granchie its gone six o’clock. Time to get up’ early morning call and Abz was raring to get on with the day. I did manage to hold out till eight before getting ready to leave and by nine the trip towards Lincoln had started. Dash the ships cat didn’t help in any way towards the smooth running of the program as he had other ideas and fancied a longer stay ashore but with help he was got back on board and the engine started which sent him off under the bed clothes to hide from the noise.

The actual movement between places must be a bit boring for an eight-year-old but Abz managed to keep herself amused by making the living area into a fair representation of a war zone. A skill that she has now perfected to the nth degree. (He said with a big grin)

We stopped at the BW facilities to get rid of the rubbish and after catching the cat again moved through the Brayford Pool and moored up in the middle of Lincoln to do a quick shop so that the making of cheese sauce could be undertaken later. The weather was so nice that we hung about people watching for an hour and Abz caught up with her phone calls home.

Stamp End Lock was more enjoyable than usual with my helper working the gates and snapping photos as we worked our way through the lock.

The opportunity was taken to check out the nameplate and we decided that we both didn’t like the effect of the colours changing to black so its back to the drawing board. I will either use the original as a template and paint it myself or get another one made and paint a white background in.

Chugging along it was soon evident that there was ‘something’ going on on the bank. In the car park on the south side there were marquees and a number of cyclists. During the next few kilometres we were seeing people on bikes every few minutes with the occasional walker amongst them and once or twice another marquee erected near the path.

A snack was called for as we moved and Abz decided that a cheeseball crisp and tomato ketchup sandwich was the thing to have. It must have been good for after a few minutes it was all gone.

On arrival at Washingborough we had a welcoming committee. Not really for us but the top of the mooring had a load of people waiting about. I turned the boat, moored up and we were quickly ashore to find out all the info on the reasons for the activity underway.

It was the official opening of the Water Rail Way path to Boston. The owner of the recently purchased ex-railway station was taking the time to explain to the passersby the plans to renovate the building. He was having problems with the planning people who, it seemed, would rather have the place in its original derelict state than have someone living in it and doing it up.

During the afternoon we took the time to walk a little of the path but would have been better off with bikes. The Saint John Ambulance team were at the mooring and quiet it might have been they were still needed at one time when a youngster had a bike accident and injured his arm. Abz felt very sorry for him but he was soon up and walking but still as white as a sheet.

Several boats came and went at the mooring and a number of rowing boats from the rowing club came passed. Abz spent a lot of time doing acrobatics on the handrails and unlike the cat never fell in the water once. Thank goodness for digital photography. It is nice to be able to let Abz use the camera without any thought to the photos being taken and the cost of getting them processed to find out what is in the camera.

The next day I was allowed a lie-in till 0715. I should think that this was because we watched a DVD last night and it finished later than we hoped. By 0830 we were underway with the cat again safely onboard and not happy at having its shore leave curtailed. Another sunny day and I almost but not quite got the shorts out but didn’t want to frighten the ducks.

We were making a straight run back to Saxilby as we had visitors coming in the afternoon.

During the trip through the Brayford it looked as though every vintage car in Lincoln had made an effort to get out in the fine weather and were holding a meeting at the pool. We later saw them as they passed us on the road to Gainsborough where the road and the canal run close by each other near Saxilby.

We hadn’t moored in Saxilby more than a few minutes when unusual engine noise could be heard from the roadway. It looked as though the farmers had the same idea as the vintage car owners. There were dozens of old tractors tuning into the pub carpark. One very chic lady had a pink Massey on which to ride.

Heidi and Syd had heard that I was thinking of painting the glass on the boat with Abz and kindly brought over a book and some paints for us to use. Heidi brought a food parcel to make sure that we had a snack for later and delicious the buns were too.

Shortly afterwards Ian and George arrived with the car for me to take Abz home. A couple of hours soon disappeared and with the visitors gone there just left the matter of returning Abz to Barton. Another weekend gone and we still haven’t made the salt dough but in three weeks it will be the first thing on the agenda.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A beautiful day for boating.

I decided to head back towards Lincoln first thing. At 0900 the mist was still quite thick as I headed down to the lock and the facilities. Turned the boat round ready to leave and moored up.

The sun was soon trying to break through and by 0930 I was underway. As I went along the layers of clothing were discarded. A very uneventful trip for the most part with bright sunshine and it is now official – summer has arrived – Ifor got the shorts out.

Not far from Washingborough I had to do a double take. I have seen the black swan and the Withern Monster but this was something else. There it was sunning itself on a low branch that stuck out of the water. Can you see it in the photo?

I don’t know whether it is a terrapin or a turtle but which ever it is it seemed quite at home and paid no attention to me as I went past. I had to grab the camera fast and only managed to take the one snap.

As I arrived at Stamp End Lock another boat was just lowering the guillotine gate. To do my bit I opened up the other gate and let them off and set it up for me to go in. What is it with locks? Everyone is a gangoozler and takes great interest in the workings.

Quick shop in Lincoln in the sunshine then off again to pick up some firewood and on to Saxilby for the night. It has been a long day and I finally stopped the engine at around 1700. if this is climate change – bring it on. I should last the summer if this is the weather for UK.

Passed a couple of boats moored at the pub just after Burton Water and the BBQ was going full blast and the smell drifted down the canal. Music on, beer cans open and sunshine with the BBQ. You can’t ask for much more.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Then three came along at once!

I had a quiet night at Washingborough. During the day carried out some of the odd jobs that needed doing to fill in time.

While having a skive down below with a cuppa I heard a boat horn going off and went out to have a look. It was the first of three boats from Blue Water Marina in Thorne that were returning from a trip to Boston. They had moored at Saxilby behind Abigail Jenna for lunch on the way down but everyone was out at the time with myself at Barton and Karyn and Andy out visiting. One of the things they attempted while at Boston was to have a look at some of the drains and in the course of which one boat had to be towed stern first to get out.

Some of the bridges are rather deficient in headroom and everything had to be cleared off the roof. They were very nearly stuck on the wrong side of the bridge when the water rose slightly and the clearance became even less. Chris has decided that drains are not fun.

After the three were moored up a long pontoon chat ensued and another three boats came around the bend. These were trailable and they had also been down the drains with no problems. Using outboard motors they are highly manoeuvrable and nip about quite happily.

First thing this morning its off to Bardney Lock to take a look at fixing the name plate on to the boat. I had only just arrived when I had a text saying that Heidi and Syd were enjoying a bit of ‘gangoozling’ at the lock. After letting them in to the mooring I made a cup of tea to go with the Red Cross Parcel of hot cross buns Heidi had brought. And very nice they were to. So as I was to turn the boat around I took them back to the lock were I dropped them off and made my way back to the pontoon.

Fitted the name plate this afternoon but I shan’t put the other on as I don’t really like the effect with the lettering on top of the green paint. I think it needs a white background to show it off. That and the fact that as I got to the end the plastic stretched and I ended up with a few wrinkles in it means that at least it will be better next time.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Which way to Oxfam?

Another short trip to Lincoln for the night yesterday and moored up at the end of the Uni buildings. No noise this time so it must have been a weekend that I stayed there last.

I see that the season has opened. I like to see the Brayford Belle plying the canal. It makes the trip to the Pyewipe Inn and it is possible to get off there, have a meal and catch the boat to return to Lincoln.

Off to Lincoln centre today to get my watch sorted out. I haven’t been able to put the extra hour on it so need to get the winder checked out.

Got that sorted and made a cuppa and was just about to leave when I saw the people congregating above me on the footbridge. It turned out to be a film crew doing one of the make over programs. The boat was moored right under the bridge as the mooring was rather popular today with two boats already moored up. I forget his name but I have been reliably informed that it is Gok Wan and he said that he had returned to the midlands so there you have the excitement for today. He didn't offer to do a make-over on me but did point out Oxfam down the road!!

Shopping done it was on to Stamp End lock. As I raised the guillotine another boat came up the lower end of the lock. ‘Friendship’ crew were kind enough to operate the lock gates (after I had closed the guillotine of course) and let me out which speeded things up no end.

I reached Washingborough in the rain and hope to cycle back into Lincoln tomorrow to try out the Water Rail Way.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Canal Hogs?

I have moved to what is usually a nice quiet spot near to the Lincoln bypass bridge and the Pyewipe Inn. Not today. If there were ten boat movements there were fifty. In the main it was the GRP boats from the marina having an outing while the weather was nice. I shall look forward to a dodgy summer!!

The thing that puzzles me is the amount of wash kicked up by the GRP boats. Stop any one of them and they would say that they are going slow but to my mind most have them have never found the slow zone on the throttle. Generally – even narrowboaters aren’t perfect – I only spot a narrowboat after it has gone past but the GRP starts moving the boat about a couple of hundred yards before it gets alongside. I suppose it could always be that the GRP boats aren’t designed for canals.

The cat has gone walkabout again. He’ll be back for his dinner as usual I hope.

A thrilling day has been spent chipping rust and rerouting the bilge pump wiring so that the wires don’t get disconnected by being trodden on. All the jobs needed doing and it keeps me of the streets after all.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Who said ‘A Change is as good as a Rest’?

I have just spent a couple of very enjoyable days being looked after by the original Abigail Jenna. Now back on the boat and in a state of total exhaustion due to the powerhouse that I was with. If only the national grid could harness the energy generated by Abigail all our power problems would be a thing of the past.

Barton has the Waters Edge Centre and very good it is to. We visited the reserve on several occasions over the two days and had a great time. I was also introduced to three of the play areas that are within minutes of each other and each has a different set of play equipment that will keep people amused for hours.

On the first outing we checked out and feed the swans as one does and managed to keep back a slice or two for the ducks and swans. Abbey does like her bread and is always willing to leave some for the birds!!

Calley the dog had a run as we were on the bikes and I had trouble keeping up with her. By the time we stopped for a rest she was beginning to flag slightly but after the rest she was back on form again. I only ended up in the bushes once when she decided to check out a very interesting smell at the side of the path and stopped without letting me know first!!

One swan had the temerity to hiss at Abbey and was somewhat astonished to be hissed back at.

We took Calley with us each time and she was very well behaved in the midst of all the birds that she would have preferred to be chasing but was still happy to pose for a photo. Abbey had prepared us a picnic to have while we were out and the honey hotdog rolls went down a treat.

Abbey and Calley are the best of mates and Abbey is teaching Calley some tricks. One is to tell the dog to roll over and play dead. However the dog hasn't quite got the hang of it yet as she still insists on keeping her eye out for titbits as a well done.

The final visit to the Waters Edge was for the craft fair being held and the entry to the colouring competition. On the way out of the centre there were the first young that I have seen this year. Ten goslings with a Canada Goose. She’s going to be busy looking after all those.

This photo is for Abbey who liked the look of the duck with the blue/grey bill. My book says a Tufted Duck.

Friday, April 10, 2009

(Un)fortunately we didn't see anything...

We've hijacked the boat while Dad regains his land legs looking after Abz for a couple of days. It's very quiet just the two of us, but we're surviving...just :D

We might have taken a trip into Lincoln had the ships cat not done a disappearing act, or the weather not noticed it was a bank holiday and rained most of the day!

It didn't matter though as it gave us a chance to visit Gainsborough Old Hall. Going on our preconceptions of Gainsborough as an industrial town, it was surprising to discover a medieval hall with such significant royal connections, Richard III and Henry VIII with his fifth wife Katherine Howard being on its visitors list.

We especially wanted to see the corridor where a 'grey lady' ghost, said to be Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Burgh, had been seen many times walking down to the end of the corridor before disappearing through a wall to the right. When workmen recently stripped the wall of plaster, a secret doorway was found in the same place the lady was seen to disappear. Spooky eh? lol

Dash is back now asking for something to eat and wont let on where he's been, Dad can take him to task about his desertion when he gets back :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cromwell to Torksey

Leaving Whichwey (the boat with the wood) behind us at the lock a trio of boats moved out onto the Trent at just before 0900. I let the others go first as I was not in any hurry and would most likely go slower than them. With Mucky Duck leading Just Reward we were soon nearing a gravel and sand loading wharf.

The Little Shuva moved off into the gap and I stay behind it. It would leave me on the straighter parts but as soon as a corner came it would slow down to manoeuvre the barge around the bend and I would catch up.

I heard on the VHF some chat from another boat moving up towards us and it soon came into view. I was pleased to be behind the barge as it was then easy to follow his line.

Then things got hairy. A tight bend and the tug couldn’t take the corner. The next thing was that he had slowed right down and I did the same but with the flood with me it made little difference to my speed so I went astern to keep away. Before I knew what was happening he was going full astern and heading straight for me. The barge by this time was taking up ¾ of the river and the only thing left for me to do was to go full ahead and head for the gap between him and the bank. The engine was throwing out smoke and I had never given it that much throttle before. I slipped through with feet to spare.

By the time I reached High Mareham he was catching up so I stopped at the pontoon and made a cup of tea and let him pass.

Now it was a more restful part of the trip. I spotted many Sand Martins digging out their nest holes. Naturally as soon as I got the camera I was left with just a couple in view.

Near Newark there is a firm that digs out the gypsum seam that runs through here for use in plasterboard etc. The veins are visible on a bend as I neared Dunham. Another good place to see it is at Gunthorpe.

Dunham Toll Bridge that is seen today replaced one built in 1832 and the book says that there was one there before that. The river at this point becomes the boundry between Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.

Finally I arrived at Torksey. The other two boats were already through and on their way to Saxilby. With the lock closing at 1300 I made it with 30 minutes to spare. Then it is on to Saxilby and mooring up for the night. I was ready for a sit down by the time I arrived.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Cromwell Lock

Rarely is the a day passing without something going on on the canal. Today was no exception.

The day started with the nearest thing you can get here that would be classed as a traffic jam. They all went through Cromwell Lock with out incident but then things started to go wrong for others.

The lockkeepers had to go to a meeting so all the locks that are usually manned – weren’t. This is not a problem at Nether and Town Locks but Cromwell can not be operated by boaters and needs a keeper to do the business of gates and filling and emptying the lock. No lockkeeper. No movement. However one boater had booked passage and the keeper had been taken off to the meeting and a relief had to come from Gunthorpe. Unless one has a powerful engine then you don’t want to go out on the Trent without the assistance of the tides. This one eventually went out on hour late and hoped for the best. As I was told it reflects badly on the lockkeepers if they say the lock is open then when the boats arrive it is closed even though it is out of their hands.

In the afternoon Mucky Duck arrived. It seems that he had been delayed in Newark. Someone of a moronic frame of mind had thrown a rope off one of the barges into the water and it had caught around his propeller. The action of the rope trapping swung the boat right over and across the canal. If a Tupperware had been in the way then I shudder to think of the consequences. It was that big that there was no way that he could remove it. In the end a crane had to lift his stern out of the water so that the prop could be accessed and the offending rope cut off.

The boat I mentioned yesterday with all the wood on the roof turned up. He was going to Torksey but with the lock closed had to stop. The wood was from Gunthorpe where a load had been cut down and needed to be got rid of. Never pass up the chance of free heating he told me.

During the evening I disposed of the contents of the ‘thunderbox’. Too much info I know. But while there I noticed a memorial to the 131st Independent Parachute Regiment (Volunteers) Lest We Forget.

It is to the ten men that died at Cromwell Weir during the Exercise Trent Chase on 28 September 1975

Nearby is another stone which marks the site of the Roman Bridge. You are too late if you want to see the remains as they were moved when work was carried out on the lock in 1884.

High tide tomorrow is at around 0830 so I shall be on my way to Torksey by 0900 I hope. It looks like a foul weather gear day.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A very interesting day.

Leaving Hazelford after seeing Beth and Christine yesterday I headed off for Newark. As soon as I cast off I saw a boat that believed in carrying spare firewood just in case. Well I carry some but there is nothing like being on the safe side.

One always returns faster than on the outward journey and with what seems like minutes I was at the Bromley Arms at Fiskerton. Well worth stopping at for a pint etc if you can get a space.

The river is rather busy on a sunny Sunday. I had to move out of the way for some of the fast women of Newark. The coach in the launch had trouble keeping up with them and they soon disappeared from view.

One starts to think that there are suicide swans on the river. This pair came galloping along the water straight towards me before taking off and banking over and coming by rather close to the boat. I guess they know what they are doing.

The Town Lock had its fair share of gangoozellers. There is not much of a mooring here but I moored up next to a floating tank that gave access to the lock. Into the lock and as I returned to the stern to move – disaster – I caught my jeans on the window drip ledge and ended up with a tear in them. Got to the stern and found that I had torn the pocket as well and my mobile dropped out on to the deck. Close. It could have gone overboard.

Today’s lesson in ornithology was in view. The Oystercatcher. I bet they haven’t found many oysters on the Trent.

I was going to moor for the night at Nether Lock so that the cat wouldn’t have to negotiate the fence to get ashore. I found nowhere to moor above the lock so went through and tied up the other side. This was not a good place to stop. The gunnel of the boat fitted under the lip of the mooring and would have been hitting the cabin all night. A lovely day so moved on towards Cromwell Lock.

The village of North Muskham is quite picturesque with the church near the river side. It has a fine east window. There is a pub with moorings if you fancy stopping. Just the other side of the village is a long sweeping line of weeping willows. What a pity that there are a few missing in the middle.
And thus to Cromwell Lock.

Here was the most memorable part of the day. A gentleman came down to the pontoon and asked if it would hold a number of people on it to which I replied in the affirmative. There were a number of people on the bank and I then realised that it was a Sikh funeral. I asked if I could take a photograph and with permission given I watched from the boat.

Firstly a service with prayers was held on the bank.

And then part of the group came onto the pontoon to scatter the ashes of the departed on the water.

After the ashes had been immersed white roses were scattered on the water. One gentleman came up afterwards and apologised for intruding. I felt like apologising for being there. I was privileged to be there at a lovely sort of final send off.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Newark to Hazelford

The mooring outside the BW Offices is to be recommended. I had a very quiet night and didn’t hear a sound. The mooring is very long and the only people that come along that way are those going to the houses and that’s about it. The cat – Dash – did his best to give me a heart attack. He wanted a run ashore and who was I to stop him. The only small snag was that the top of the bank was a large concrete block and to reach it he would have to jump through the fence. This had two rods running only it and he had to miss these on his way up. I did hear his back come into contact at least once while he jumped. However he never fell in so I must be thankful for small mercies.

A fairly typical spring day. Chilly and slightly misty with the hope of the sun coming out later.

Leaving the pontoon one almost immediately reaches the old Town Bridge. Throughout Newark is quite photogenic and with the scene astern of me still retaining the old wharf frontages it is a vast improvement on what was here on my last visit. A gazetteer I have says that there are five arches to the bridge while Nicholsons says seven. The picture says that there are –

Through the bridge and there is the castle. Opposite it was once a car park but now it is a public garden/park. It looks nice but the drinkers inhabit it much to Newarks detriment. They can be seen just standing in the open having a pee on to a bush without the slightest attempt to be under cover. Such is todays responsible drinkers.

Past the castle and into the Town Lock. As at Cromwell and Nether Lock the area is very clean and tidy. There must be a competition going on or are the lock keepers just a dedicated bunch.

The other side of the lock has the feel of the way it was at the beginning of the last century but without the smoke and drabness. Many of the original building now house restaurants and the like.

From here on the canal/river has a much more interesting feel to it. It meanders along as though the bend had just been invented. As soon as one bend is complete there is another.

Going around one bend and it is bit of a surprise when you first see Averham Weir. Not as big or powerful as the one at Cromwell but is does seem so very big. Keeping to the left and it is not a problem but you can still feel the pull from it.

With that out of the way one can then see that Credit Crunch or no Credit Crunch building work is still under way at Staythorpe Power Station. Its going green and becoming a gas powered version of its former self. It really is on a massive scale.

There are two marinas along here and the second one comes up at Farndon and then its Fiskerton and the Bromley Arms. I manage to slide in to the gap left on the pontoon. The trip boat from the pub is moored up and as I take up every inch of the remaining mooring I decided to make a cup of tea and move on to let the customers get to the beer.

Its only a couple of bends to Hazelford Lock and it is here I will spend the night and turn around for the run back to Lincoln. Hazelford Lock is as pristine as all the others. There are plenty of picnic benches and BBQs and the lockkeeper has some disposable ones if you forget to bring one. The lock is on an island but access ashore is via a bridge and a BW key to get out.