Monday, 30 November 2009

If This is Monday, This Must Be Braunston.
6 Locks And 1 Tunnel.

A good start was made to the day this morning, another tankful of water from an obliging tap and off we went into the sunshine.

Norton Junction in the sun, left for Braunston, right for Leicester. No need to toss a coin or spin a bottle as to which way to go this time.

As Foxton Locks are closed at the moment, we went left and got ourselves swallowed for twenty minutes once again.

On the way to the tunnel the views are simply sweeping for a while, setting you up for your soon approaching self imposed darkness.

This hire boat entered the tunnel behind us when we were about two thirds of the way along.
They had managed to catch us up by the time we had reached the first lock of the Braunston flight, that is going some even for a hire boat!..... still, they were mob handed on board which made the flight very easy going indeed.

A full length, quite empty coal boat returning to base. I think I am right when I say these boats are seventy two feet in length, and when seen like this they do look it.
Spot the helmswoman.

Braunston church and manor house in the late afternoon sun, the light seems to be so clear and crisp today, it was a real pleasure being abroad in its embrace.

Through Braunston itself and past this shed, come conservatory, come trailer,
come butty boat. Mmmm,........ I could do with a shed.

Back out into the wilds for the night, and the company of the lowing cows being the only thing to disturb the peace............. Loverrrrly.

Until next time.................................

Friday, 27 November 2009

Buckby in Waiting.

Having topped up everything that needs topping up, and emptying everything that needs emptying aboard the boat, thoughts turn to food and liquid refreshment.

Ere, that's handy. Stop him and lets buy some.

I will say this again about this service, it is brilliant! he even arrived before our pre booked slot this time.

We are going to hang around this area for a few days now until the weekend has come and gone.
It is interesting moored here and watching an unusual flurry of activity at this BW yard. They seem to be amassing their troops for the stoppage season that is fast approaching.

Come Monday we should be on our way back through the Braunston Tunnel and to whatever lies beyond.

Until next time................................

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Whilton to Buckby Top Lock. 7 Locks.

A little bit of house keeping at the marina this morning (Gas, Diesel etc), and we were once again, on our merry way.

The first lock was so choked with leaves it took me three goes just to get out of it!
They clog the propeller so quickly the boat has no thrust, for a few moments there I thought D would be hauling Ubique up the flight by rope.
But luckily for her the leaves cleared as we moved upwards. Not so lucky for me is the clip round the ear I am going to get when she reads this!!!

Not too many pictures today as the wind is howling through here again, and I can't let go of the tiller or steadying rope too much without being blown somewhere I don't want to be.

That sky lasted about an hour before gradually clouding over until we were in the last lock when the rain paid us yet another visit.
There's something picturesque about locks on a very grey day. Loneliness personified?
Until next time..................................

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Blisworth to Whilton.

A wet and very windy morning discussion:

Shall we go or shall we stay?


Ok.........Sorted...... Simples.

Away to Gayton Junction AKA Grand Junction, and a tank full of water.
Whilst there, the two biggest old ducks that we have seen to date came scrounging. This pair even let us stroke them while they were being fed, they were behaving like a couple of dogs. Crafty!

Well, the wind got worse as the day went on and the rain started sheeting across the boat.
These are just the sort of conditions that you do not want to find someone has parked their wide beamer practically under a bridge. I know these boats are moving into here for the winter stoppages, but a bit of common sense could be applied as to just where the best place might be to moor.
This isn't it!

These long term moorings command quite a high payment from BW for the privilege of living under a main road. Not something we would want to do at any price.

We are back at Whilton this evening next to the ever present M1.

You might well be wondering why we have taken this trip down the Grand Union and back over the past week or so.

It was to see if this might be an area to overwinter in as we have fond memories from here and our first tentative steps out onto the canals.
This, unfortunately though, is not the place.
The area we have finally decided on is going to be around Rugby, Braunston and Banbury, this affords us access to all major services and supermarkets within a two day chug, not to mention the presence of a coal boat........... Nice.

Until next time............................

Monday, 23 November 2009

Stoke Bruerne to Blisworth. Two Locks, One Tunnel.

A quick but quite strange trip through the tunnel today.

By the time we got to the first lock of the day the rains came at us once more, just enough to get nice and damp before the tunnel itself.

As we were entering it the sun came out all nice and bright,..... typical!

Here are the promised pictures of the cavern in the tunnel. The trouble is our little camera has not picked up on any of the photos the lit chamber at the end of that off shoot.

You will have to take my word for it but it is lit up in red, I think it must be daylight reflecting off of that sediment.

Moving on, we were enveloped in what must have been fog or a heavy mist, at first I thought it was smoke but there was no smell. It was then we heard our first "scream" of the trip.

What on earth was that? says I Oh, you heard it as well says D. (This is the polite version)

At this point the exit portal looked a very long way off, there was one more, louder and easier to hear before we made a bemused exit. We have been talking quite a bit about that trip this afternoon.

Until next time....................

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Cosgrove to Stoke Bruerne. 5 Locks.

Saturday morning and the weather was holding for the better again. Not quite believing our luck we headed off for Stoke Bruerne again.

I have described this part of the Grand Union before as "Like being in Chocolate Box country", but today with the winter sunshine weakly breaking through and a fair wind blowing, it took on an air of desolation and loneliness.

This sign is always good for a chuckle, one of them is smoking a pipe and holding a walking stick, while the other has a Zimmer frame.

The bottom lock had its own collection of very free range chickens.
No free eggs though.

We were only ever going to do five of the seven locks in this flight today, but at this stage it looked like we might not even manage three.
The water level in the pounds (area of water between locks) was down by a good three feet causing Ubique to run aground on the top cill of each lock as I tried to get out.
When this happens D has to let more water into the pound from the next lock up but being careful not to drain the pound above that one.
You only need a few inches of water under the baseplate (Keel, if you like) to float and move on so it is a bit of a balancing act.

Reaching the last of the five we found the water pouring over the bottom gates.
This brought back memories of our trip up to the Standedge tunnel where we witnessed the exact same problems. That time though there were lots of BW staff on hand to make sure you didn't drain all the water from one pound to the other.
A good bit of training for us.

Before I could even get into the lock the "Gongoozlers" arrived as if by magic with their comments and questions such as,
We have never seen this done before, do you really live on board? and aren't you worried that your boat might blow over in the wind!!!!!!!!........ Classic.
Then they got stuck in helping with the gates....... which is always good!

It's Sunday now, the wind is strong and the rain wet, moving on?

Until next time.............................

Friday, 20 November 2009

Stoke Bruerne to Wolverton then back to Cosgrove. 7 Locks.

The wind had reduced to a moderate force four and the rain had eased to a drizzle this morning (Friday),..... so away we went.

We were heading down the Stoke Bruerne locks on the way to Wolverton where we know there is a petrol station at the local Tesco's. The genny is getting thirsty again.

Out through the bottom lock and past this elaborate water point, there are five taps along there with lots of bollards to tie up to and a concrete walkway to keep your boots clean. OOOoooo posh!

Slightly further on and we passed "That Place" again. Yes, this is it, this is where D fell in!!
Strangely she was down below this time as we slid by.

Reaching the outskirts of Milton Keynes, we could see that they had been busy clearing the canal,

VERY busy indeed.

Two barges full of shopping trolleys, old motor bikes, traffic cones and anything else that wasn't nailed down at the time. Mind you, its easy to tell you are in Milton as the towpaths are immaculate and every where is clean and tidy.
Those barges prove that work goes on.

This tiny little thing is no bigger than a Pedalo, but there is a chimney poking through the roof and paddle wheels on the sides. I wonder if it is powered?

Having made it to the garage and paying off half the national debt for two gallons of petrol, we decided to turn around and head back to Cosgrove for the night. Once more over the Ouze Aqueduct, this time in the late afternoon sun.

This picture of Cosgrove's unusual bridge was taken on the way through the first time.
When we eventually got back here, it was dark, very dark indeed.
This did not seem to bother the very zealous mooring warden around these parts though, who still managed to put a piece of paper on the boat for us to find in the morning.

This informed us that we can stay for no more than forty eight hours, that part is also highlighted!!!
This, I can only assume, is because he/she must think that boaters are incapable of reading the clearly sited BW mooring information posts for themselves.

This is the only place that we have come across in our travels around the country that does this, could this be the reason why there are no boats on the visitor moorings?........

Until next time..................

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Blisworth to Stoke Bruerne. 2 Locks and 1 Tunnel.

A very short day today as the wind was still "giving it large" through here.

Wandering up into the Village once more I remembered to take the camera this time.
This house strikes me as very odd indeed the more I look at it. So many questions.

Off we went back to the shower tube.

This time though, it was nowhere near as wet as we knew it, a few drizzles from the vents was just about it.
I did try this time to find the mysterious chamber that is on the left from this end, there are plenty of tales about it and maybe a few elaborations too.
Having seen it before I had a rough idea of where it is, but once again ......"there it was, gone"...... missed it! and there was no way I was reversing back. Maybe next time and hopefully there will be a picture.

Out of the gloom and into what would be the first of only two locks today.

This was the first lock that D ever worked through, being nervous at the time and not wanting to make a mistake she was relieved to see that there was nobody around.

That was until we started to wind the paddles!!! Then people seemed to come out of the woodwork, it all went well in the end though.

We have stopped for a ritual "Chainsawing" to clear the roof this afternoon. Once that was done neither of us really wanted to move on again into the wind....... so we didn't, fire on, bottle open and a nice comfy chair.

The much better option.

Until next time...........................

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Blisworth. Staying Put.

Well, the promised wind arrived with a vengeance last night.

We were kept awake for quite a while by little wavelets slapping onto the hull. This sounded like water running in the bilges.

As we have not had this happen before there was a certain amount of concern for a while aboard Ubique!

All was well though and as it is still blowing as hard we are not moving, no,no, no.

On our way here yesterday we came across this BW crew chopping trees, great! we thought, free logs.
Not for us though, another boat had just snaffled them all, he had nothing left other than a few twigs. Humph!

More imports coming to the canals. It seems odd that to build them out East and then ship them over here, is cheaper than to build them here in the first place. These are not small items that you can chuck in a van, the transport costs alone must be huge.

A "Broads Cruiser" looking strangely out of place here on the canal. They are nearly twice the width of the Narrowboats.
This will be the first season for a very long time that we will not be hiring one of those for a week. No need to now.
Check out that wood on the roof, more chainsawing coming up.

Should the wind drop a bit we will be off back through the Blisworth shower tube as we like to call it.

Until next time.........................

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Whilton to Blisworth.

Last night we read through our respective Blogs/Logs (D keeps a written one) and thought we would recreate our original trip on Ubique which took us to the mouth of the Blisworth tunnel.

Leaving Whilton with this veritable waterfall cascading over the gates of the bottom lock,

we were soon back in "canal country".

Albeit chilly today we were sheltered from most of the wind by an abundance of trees, this lead to a very pleasant days chug indeed. Combining that with some (lots of) wood collecting, today was a good day, a very good day.

This tree was alight in the autumn sun, the colours of these things at this time of year are spectacular to say the least.

Colours of a different sort, these four people (cant tell if male or female) were each painting a leg of this pylon.
Oh that must have been cold up there in the wind, we think they started at the top and are painting it grey, they could just have easily started at the bottom and are painting it brown...ish.
Next time through here will tell.

Another one for my list of odd boat names.

May Contain Nuts.....Love it!!

Until next time.......................

Monday, 16 November 2009

Buckby Top Lock to Whilton Marina. 7 Locks.

This is almost like a homecoming, back to the marina where it all started for us.

It was a very wet, windy and overcast morning that we set off into.

If we had not needed to refill the water tank there would have been every chance of another day spent alongside.

The rain did ease off fairly quickly though, just leaving the wind to give me some gyp. Ubique has been at a forty five degree angle as she crabbed her way along the canal for most of today.

Entering the locks has been more like making a successful landing than a good bit of boat handling.

The Buckby end of this flight has some very big and heavy gates to contend with.

Especially the bottom sets, even the balance beam is dwarfing D.

A moment of quiet contemplation.

This was just before, "I say dear, would you mind awfully opening the gate?" (or words to that effect) came wafting up from the bottom of the lock.

This part of the canal is very deceptive, all sugar and spice but on one side runs the M1 motorway and on the other a very busy high speed rail link. The noise!!

Very novel set of patio furniture here. Mr DIY has been active but it works well.

Moving ever closer along tree lined avenues, until

the last lock was in sight. Whilton!!

This was the first lock D had ever seen, and at the time was a tad nervy at having to operate them.

There has been a lot of water under the bridge since then (did I just say that?) now she loves them and can put a lot of people to shame when it comes to working through.

Off to the Chandlers (Toy shop) now.

Until next time............................................