Monday, 28 March 2011

NEW BLOG. NEW BLOG. NEW BLOG.




If anyone is interested we will be starting a new Blog about life after Ubique
here.







There is still a lot to say about the waterways but it might be interesting to see what happens next, because one thing is for sure, we haven't got a clue....... as yet!


Hope to see you over there.




Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Brick House.



Well....now it's time for....







The Overview.




Well, where have those two years gone?





We are both in a bit of a state of shock at the moment, but as a consolation we are taking away two years worth of the best memories and experiences that it would be very hard to find elsewhere.






Highlight:






Compared to living on land, the whole time we have spent afloat was just the best, but, if we have to choose, the Standedge Tunnel stands out head and shoulders above the other features of the system. It was a very big problem to get to it but well worth the effort once you got there.






Low point:






Not too many of these thankfully and those were only engine or tenant related.


I did have the head off twice - the engine that is, not the tenant - to fix some dodgy seals but that was not really a problem.


New injectors and a new gearbox oil cooler with high pressure pipe is all that I have had to fit in the past two years, so on the basis of running the engine for at least four to five hours a day minimum, I think we can class ourselves as pretty lucky.


Tenants on the other hand……………………well, lets say no more!










The Myth Of The Canals:






Continuous Cruising is not really possible no matter how hard you might try.


Let me explain…… Starting around the beginning of the summer you are faced with hire boaters aplenty, these are like a breath of fresh air really with their antics and “we are on holiday” attitude. But you are also faced with marina based craft. Most of these boats - and I mean this most sincerely - are the biggest pain on the waterways.


They bring their boats out once in a blue moon and expect everything and everybody to get out of their way as they make their way to “their” favourite mooring or pub. This is usually the same as everyone else’s favourite place and leads to huge congestion.


Congestion is the main problem at this time of the year and this lot are very responsible for causing most of it.


Think expensive toy and you are on the right lines.






Moving on from the summer, autumn is soon upon you and the leaves abandon the trees with a vengeance. These leaves unbelievably clog the boats propeller that is spinning at around two thousand revs.


This might not seem too important but the only way to clear them is to run the engine astern. This goes on for weeks and weeks and if you are trying to move, the wear on the gearbox is enough to keep you awake at night.


By now you should also be planning as to where you want to be trapped for the winter. This is not only whether you might get iced in or not, wherever that might be, but also having to work around the BW winter stoppage programme.


This starts in November and finishes at the end of March.


Some continuous cruisers take winter moorings and pay BW another small fortune for the privilege of …………..staying put!!!!






Then, all of a sudden the ice has gone, the sun peeps through, daffodils are around along with the new born lambs and it wont be long before the ducklings arrive.


It is still not quite time for the scourge of the marina boats to infect the waterways so therefore this is it.


The best possible time to be out there.






But………………. the summer approaches once more.










BW Maintenance:






This is now fast becoming almost non existent.


The winter stoppages just haven’t done anything really this year.






To escape the onslaught of boats in the summer we found the Leeds Liverpool to be nice and quiet but the main problem up there now is no water due to an absolute lack of maintenance.


This is a big canal in terms of length, shutting the whole of it admits to serious decay in the infrastructure, not - as they say - just being short of a little rain!


A canal without water is just a heap of mud and dumped rubbish which, given time, will always attract more rubbish.






Only time will tell how they get on now they are a charity.


Well thats it for us...... so as this door closes we are now looking for the next one that has opened. Thanks to you all for reading my drivel and i'll leave the last words of this blog for Ubique.








Goodbye old girl and thanks............you did us proud!




   The end.







.












Monday, 21 March 2011




Buckby Top Lock To Whilton Marina, 7 Locks.




Oh..... if you have ever had a surreal day this one takes the biscuit!!! 





Setting off for Whilton on an idyllic canaling day, we were just about as fed up as something very fed up in a very fed up place.
Did I mention we were fed up? 
No?
Well we were!




.

Mooching through what must be some of the heaviest locks on the system - they have nicely painted in the cill markers over the winter though - gave D her final workout.





Then, the final doom laden lock and we were out and moored for the last time.

Now for the surreal bit.....
The man from Whilton appeared in the bow doors with a bankers draft handed it over.........and that was it!
 Ubique was gone!

Just like that, no form filling no post mortem...... nothing.






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






.





Sunday, 20 March 2011



Buckby Top Lock.


Ousted by boxes.........just as well!





Isn't it funny how things work out?

We arrived here a day ahead of schedule, we packed like demons yesterday until we could not move on the boat due to the piles of boxes and have had to transfer to the tow path or cratch for our meals.
This morning was a bit chilly for breakfast but we had to brave it as there is no room to set the table up inside.
Sitting there we could here this crackling noise start up which gradually got louder and louder and sounded like a bonfire.
This turned out to be the hedgerow going up in smoke next to the boat moored ahead of us.
Dashing down there with buckets and banging on their roof to get them out we all got it under control and then managed to put it out.

It seems they had emptied their ash bucket in the hedgerow last night where a not quite out ember must have smoldered away and suddenly burst into flames this morning.

Had circumstances not led us to being right there just when we were needed, that whole hedge would have gone up as it is as dry as tinder.

A salutary warning to make sure your ash is definitely out before dumping it!




Off to the Marina tomorrow...........Ooooeer.







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






.





Saturday, 19 March 2011

 
 
 
 
Willoughby To Norton Junction, 6 locks And 1 Tunnel.
 
 
 
 
It's nearly all over now......and out comes the sun!





 


Away we went on this our last real cruise. One last picture of the bridge that has managed to stay up in this state for the last two years.

 




One last shot of the approach to Marmite land.........

 





...........where the marina is full to bursting and waiting to fill the canals with weekenders.........


 






..................onward past the myriad of hire boats being made ready for the fast approaching silly season...........





 


........until we were back out into the country once again.






Not for long though as we still had to negotiate our final tunnel and make our way to.......






Norton Junction and Buckby top lock where - and this is typical - the sun came out with a vengeance.
Forgetting the packing for now, tables and chairs were put out on the side and we soaked it up.




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








 

.

Thursday, 17 March 2011





Stretton Under Fosse To Willoughby...ish,
3 Locks And One Tunnel.


Nearly at Marmite land now!








Yet another trip through the strangeness that is the Newbold Tunnel, will they ever turn those lights off?
Wasteful or what?







Scooting along to Hillmorton, we find that the winter stoppage program has had BW changing all the balance beams on this lock but seemingly they could not find a pot of paint to bring them up to scratch.
It's not quite the same is it?






The second set of beams - from this angle - look like they could well and truly tangle themselves up




This is the marina that was going to be opened in Autumn last year.
All the plant has now gone and that looks like a very expensive hole in the ground!




We are now within shouting distance of Marmite land, aka Braunston - you either love it or you hate it - and the packing has begun.
When you start, you suddenly realise the enormity of the task ahead. Just exactly how much stuff can you cram onto a narrowboat over two years?

Boxes, we need boxes, many more boxes.





Until next time..................... 







.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011




Hartshill To Stretton Under Fosse, 1 Stop Lock.





Decay in abundance along here......








This little ladybird seems to be around a little too early if you ask me.






Nuneaton......What on earth has happened to Nuneaton??

This was the only bit of colour in the whole drab, dreary and filthy place it is now. The canal is a bit of a joke as it is just a mass of floating debris.
Polythene is the name of the game for the propeller around here.

We were only saying yesterday how much Atherstone had gone down hill since our last visit but..........Nuneaton, that wins hands down and I am sorry to say that on balance it is far worse than Blackburn or Burnley.
For those of you whose boats are too big to get you there, that is really saying something, believe me!






This is a bit out of sync but I thought I might as well go with the theme. The BW yard at Hartshill has been like this since last year, when they cannot even be seen to fix their own yard........ alarm bells should be ringing.






The poor old Navigation, a canal pub for years. Now just a boarded up ruin.







Moving on...................


A quick left turn  through Hawkesbury Junction/Sutton Stop onto the North Oxford.......







.........found us in a completely different world. This one of no prop clogging rubbish and a little bit of obvious maintenance.






The only things marring this bit of the system are the M69, the M6 and the high speed rail link, but hey, you can't have everything.




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





.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Fradley Junction To Grendon, 2 Locks. Then Onto Hartshill, 11 Locks.




Flying along now.





Heading off to Fazeley Junction we passed quite a few encampments along the way, this boat has got to be the smallest livaboard we have seen in our two years.
How they manage beggars belief.





Passing through a very empty Fazeley Junction we could only stop for some chips from the local chippie as we must press on.





Passing through what must be two of the slowest filling locks on the system, Glascote Locks - A whole hour it took us just to get through these two - we went off to a favourite mooring of ours in the middle of nowhere.

After setting up camp we were just settling down and guess what?










Oh yes........Along came the usual boat.
All the canal and any mooring that they want to choose, so where do they stop?
Twenty feet from our bow!!! 
I know I keep harping on about this, but....politeness and common sense would dictate you leave at least a seventy foot gap so even if these completely empty moorings suddenly filled up, a boat could still get in and moor. Nothing could get in the gap these "people" have left.



Our cosy warm evening with a bottle of wine plan, was to attack the Atherstone Flight at silly o'clock in the morning.
Silly o'clock arrived but..... good evening ideas don't seem quite so good in the cold light of day.
In our defence though, it was cold and it was misty and it was quite dark.
The warm duvet soon won.


We moved on much later!




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





.

Sunday, 13 March 2011



Great Haywood Junction To Fradley Junction, 4 Locks.


Who on earth.............




Picture this.
It's a quarter to eight in the morning, it's pouring with rain and it's Sunday.
People are walking through the mud on the towpath past the boat with animated and happy voices.
Now.....to me, there are only two types of people in the world who would do this, Fisherman and Ramblers.
Today it was the turn of the Ramblers, loads of them all bouncing along and laughing. I tell you, that is serious dedication or..........is it total lunacy?
Warm bed?  Wet muddy towpath? 
Warm bed?  Wet muddy towpath?
Decisions decisions!






We had no choice, we had to go. Coats, gloves and hats were the order of the day when we set off.
I do have a lot of faith in weather lore though and I was relying on the one that is  "Rain before seven, fine before eleven".
True to form the rain stopped at ten thirty and by the time these volunteers were out and about to clear some more BW bank side, it was a lovely sunny day.  





Even Rugeley looked great in the sun today.
If you look closely on the right of this picture there is a boat moored up, that boat has been there since we passed through here on the fourth of October last year.








The friendly local power supplier at the end of your street.
This is a fairly new estate built more or less in the grounds of the power station, all the houses are sold though and someone even seems to be trying to sell on.







Another day and another canal.
We are now on the Coventry in what seems like a headlong rush to get back to the beginning.



The removal van is booked!





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






.

Saturday, 12 March 2011



Penkridge To Great Haywood Junction, 7 Locks.


Not too sure if we are actually enjoying this trip.....




Many heartfelt thanks to those messages of support, they do mean a lot......honestly.

There were a few questions in there from various readers so I thought it might be easier to answer them in a Blog.

Yes we are taking Ubique back to the Marina and I think they have bought her to sell on, but you never know.
One door closes and another one opens, so as to what we will be doing next, Who knows? certainly not us at the moment and that, to be honest, is quite exciting!

A letting agent was never for us owing to the huge fees involved, also we would still have had to return for painting etc on changing tenants.

Ruth, as soon as we have bought a car we will be over for a visit.

As for returning to the cut...........again, who knows?



Now, how cute can you get?
This was a field of new borns who could hardly even stand to follow mum as she wandered off.
They seem to know what a camera is though.









Continuing in a spring theme.
Cygnets are on the way here, and if you point that at me again.... I'll fix you good.





This, unbelievably, is Tixall Wide on a Saturday afternoon. A distinct lack of boating activity here today.
Not so early this morning, as not one but two yellow perils passed us heading for the first lock. Half an hour - and one breakfast later -  they are still there.
Off goes D to find out what's going on buy a paper, to find them trying to fill the lock with the bottom paddles open.
Bearing in mind that they must have worked through six locks yesterday from when they left the boatyard to arriving here, they messed this one up with style.

Big ole smiles and the explanation that they are doing the four counties ring and need to travel at least eight hours a day to get round.
Best they turn back now then.


Another day under the belt and no one's feeling any happier.




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





.

Friday, 11 March 2011



Penkridge, 8 Locks.


A Digest of a Blog today....... to catch up.








After selling Ubique on Tuesday morning we set off on a two week cruise to get her back to Whilton.
First though, we had to get past the rest of the Shroppie which is in a terribly unstable condition through most of the cuttings, this fall has only been partially cleared for reasons best known only to BW.

Leave a seven foot gap lads and bung some fenders on it, that should do for a few years.


A bit of a beer, music and wine fueled night later we were off to Gnosall on Wednesday.
It was here we worked out our trip and realised that we have left ourselves too much to do in our normal mode and will have to step up a gear and go whatever the weather.





Thursday, of course, was blowing an absolute gale and we made a very slanted, crabbing, four hour trip to Autherley Junction to find - yet again - a boatyard taking over everything in reach. Where do you drop off or pick up crew at this lock?







Friday is here and we are off to Penkridge.
A few locks to do first though and five hours later we arrived.
We are now actually wondering if we are in the right place for tonight as there are so many students - of all ages - hanging around on this towpath making a huge nuisance of themselves.





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





.