Hitting Braunston For The Weekend

We left our beautiful mooring this morning in the sunshine, though not before Cyan had her port-side and 3/4 of her roof cleaned. Her port-side windows also got a sharp polish while we were at it.  Before we set off a wash load was primed in the washing machine, ready for washing as we cruised along.

We headed for Braunston Junction to dispatch our rubbish, fill up with water, and to use the Elsan services.

The cruise was pleasant enough in the sunshine, even with an unfriendly wind from the North. Though by the time we reached Braunston, the day had turned grey, and the wind had done it’s worse to turn our ‘bones’ cold!

Since our water gauge ‘gave up the ghost’, we’re not too sure how much water we’ve left in the tank, and I’ve tried (unsuccessfully) to keep track of how many showers we’ve had, and how many wash-loads has been put through the washing machine since we filled up last Sunday at Wigrams.

The first task after we moored at the service point, was to start filling Cyan’s tank with water. The water pressure must be incredible here, because by the time we’d taken the rubbish and visited the Elsan, water was flowing out of Cyan’s side; the tank was overflowing – it made a change from us glowering over the tank’s inlet hole; wistfully hoping the tank would quickly fill.

In no time at all; Cyan reversed away from the service point, and back under the bridge from whence she came. As soon as she was clear of the ‘island’ she was sailed through the junction’s right-hand ‘fork’, and onto Braunston.

We’re now moored for the weekend at the bottom of the field by Braunston’s famous church with the iconic steeple.

The weather isn’t looking good for the weekend, but I don’t think that will stop us from having a look around Braunston. We’ve also planned to visit Tradline, the rope shop. Looking at their website, it’s enough to make our ‘mouth’s water’. It’s an Aladdin’s Cave.

We’re looking to replace our two centre lines with ropes that are more ‘friendly’ in cold weather. The ropes we have presently are about an inch thick (not easy to tie), and they are made from a sort of cotton fibre that holds water – so when the weather’s below -OC, the rope of course freezes. Hanging tightly on to the centre line when it’s stiff because of ice is miserable.

Planning Our Next Journey

Instead of ‘floating’ around Braunston waiting for Napton Locks to open around 16th March (we’re heading for the Kennet & Avon for the Spring/Summer months), we’ve decided to go the ‘long’ way round!  It’s an extra 38 miles, with an extra 51 locks – but it really doesn’t matter. (Why didn’t we think of this before?)

We’re in no rush, we’re on a ‘continuous adventure’!

It’s been a quiet day, planning, looking at pictures, reading up on places we’ll be passing through. We’ll be travelling on the Grand Union, cruising via Rickmansworth, and popping out onto the Thames at ‘Thames – Grand Union Canal Junction’ at Brentford. We’re planning to sail past Twickenham, Winsor Castle, Marlow… before joining the Kennet & Avon at Reading. It will be a lovely journey during the Spring.

We’ve never been on the Thames before, so it will be a learning curve. We’re always open to advice… 🙂

Last night’s ‘Full, Blue, Blood Red Moon’ was beautiful. We had an extra bonus while admiring the moon, it was a shooting star! (We’re now looking forward to Saturday’s lottery draw 🙂 ) It was extra magical because we’re in an area where there’s hardly any light pollution, making the stars brightly visible.

Life Is Not Always ‘Utopia’ On The Water

Since our last post, we’ve had a bit of a stressful time.

Weathering the storm ‘Fionn’ over the weekend (20th January), we experienced all of her rage; high winds, hailstorms, continuous heavy rain, snow… we had ‘the lot’ thrown at us. It was a pretty miserable weekend, and we were feeling fed up and depressed. The best we could do was to batten down the hatches, and let the ‘rage’ pass.

Monday morning promised us much better weather; and feeling tired of our ‘scenery’ we were anxious to move on. Unfortunately, life would have us tied on this spot for another four days!

We’d been in bed for just an hour on Sunday night when Rusty started! He started pacing up and down Cyan, panting, and acting distressed. John let him off the boat, and Rusty shot off down the towpath, and disappeared into the dark. The rain was pouring down! Whistles and shouts didn’t bring Rusty running back. John got dressed against the weather, and just as he’d put his boots on, Rusty returned wet and muddy. He appeared OK, he was rubbed down with his towel, and his feet were cleaned. He’d never ran off like that before. After everything appearing settled, John got back into bed.

Then Rusty started again, pacing up and down, panting, and licking John’s face to wake him up. I got out of bed, putting coat and shoes on, and this time clipping Rusty’s lead on him before landing on the towpath. It was all too clear, Rusty had ‘exploding diarrhoea’. Poor boy looked in quite a lot of pain. He was straining badly, but it wasn’t productive, except from wind exploding from his rear.

This scenario was repeated every couple of hours for three days and nights. Obviously we thought it’s best not to move, giving Rusty time to get better. We were all exhausted due to lack of sleep. The towpath was now wet and very muddy. We gave up trying to keep Cyan’s floor clean, and it resembled a ploughed field (luckily we’ve no carpets/rugs). Despite Rusty’s ‘furious’ bowels, he never had an accident – and for that we’re very grateful!

Thursday night we decided we needed help! Rusty hadn’t eaten since Sunday, and it looked like his symptoms were not getting any better. So Friday morning we made a few phone calls to a vets, to Wigrams Marina, and to Enterprise Car Hire.

We were about a mile away cruise from Wigrams, and luckily for us the weather was quite pleasant. Rusty we thought (Friday morning) was showing slight signs of improvement, but we decided not to take any chances. Poor lad was feeling really fed up, and his collar could now easily slip over his head.

Cutting a long story short, Rusty was examined at the vets, he was diagnosed with having colitis, and we came away with kaolin and probiotics. Eventually he started to take chicken breasts cooked with rice I’d prepared.

Last night was the first night we all managed to fully sleep through, and this morning was the first time we could ‘pick up’ after Rusty.

Colitis starts through something in his diet triggering the ‘episode’. I know pork and chicken skin doesn’t agree with him, but he’s not had any recently. We’ve just got to be careful and strict; it’s not always easy when a couple of doleful eyes pleads for a ‘taste’ of what we’re eating. Rusty had parvo as a puppy, so his tummy might be a ‘weak spot’.

We spent 3 nights at Wigrams, and we couldn’t wait to leave. Tottering along the jetty boards a couple of times a night with Rusty was scary. There’re gaps where there wasn’t a boat moored, so walking along the boards, in the wind, made us nervous.

Our past three stays at Wigrams have been great, but not this time. The place is drenched, and the field for exercising dogs is deep in mud.

As we’ve had a week or so of wet weather, our laundry basket was over flowing. I took the chance to do six washes (we’ve got a small load washing machine), and hauled the wet clothes to the marina’s laundry for drying. Except the laundry was busy with fraught boaters competing for a dryer (they’ve got three, but only two were working). I left my two bags in the laundry, with the plan to use a dryer when the bottleneck had dispersed. After several visits, including one at 11:30 pm, I gave up, and brought the two bags back to Cyan to dry (somehow).

Yesterday morning we left Wigrams in glorious weather.

To dry the clothes; all windows, doors and hatches were wide open, and the central heating turned up high, as we cruised along. Some clothes were placed on clothes hangers and hung from curtain poles, some draped on the clothes maiden, some hung onto a ‘peg rack’ hanging in the open cratch, and sheets were spread over our two chairs to dry. Success!

It was a lovely cruise, and it was fantastic to have the warmth of the sun on our backs! Truly a treat from the weather we’ve had to endure.

Eventually we moored by a place that’s looks to be quite a conservation area. Just across the water from where we are is an owl box! With the ‘blue’ full moon we’re experiencing tonight, we might be lucky and see an owl.

Cyan hadn’t been moored too long when we realised we didn’t have any 240 volts! While we were in Wigrams we were on shoreline electric. We double checked to see if all switches were in the correct position – and yes they were!

We use 240 volt AC for recharging two laptops, two tablets, two WiFi dongles, and the mobile phone (plus obviously other items that are not so important such as the soundbar for the TV). This is a disaster!

John checked the system, looking for fuses, and obvious faults. He was flummoxed!

Before the battery ran out on the laptop, I found three boat electricians in the area from the Internet.

This morning, after a phone call to the service manager at Braunston Marina, the manager said there was a slot available tomorrow morning. As it was raining at the time of the phone call, with the forecast telling us the weather will dry up later, we decided to stay put till this afternoon.

While waiting for the rain to pass, John studied Cyan’s electrical system plans. After further investigation with his circuit tester….. Eureka! A loose connection in the ‘Consumer Unit’! A small adjustment to the connection and the 240 volt system sprang into life.

After a quick phone call to Braunston Marina to cancel our ‘slot’, we settled back happy with the thought all is under control for the first time in a week, and with monies saved!

For a bit of amusement, here’s a 70 Piece jigsaw from one of the images on this page. For full screen, click the  at bottom-right of the jigsaw.

Moody Skies

Knew it was cold last night, but didn’t realise we were iced up again.

Had a slight panic; last night we checked the App (Bluetooth access to the solar panel controller) that tells us how our batteries are doing, and how much/little solar energy we’re gathering. We had a good day solar wise yesterday as we didn’t have to turn the engine on to charge the batteries until around 5:00 pm. When we checked the ‘App’ (for want of a better word) just before bedtime, there was a message saying the App needed updating. So we clicked the ‘OK’ button to begin the upgrade…. then typically…. the App wouldn’t connect to the solar panel controller. Sod it we thought, this’ll wait until the morning.

We just thought it was  the App upgrade that was the problem, until we discovered this morning the solar panels weren’t working despite the bright sunshine.

We did lots of tweaks, uninstalling and installing the App, pressing buttons until lights stop blinking, resetting, and pressing ‘this’ upgrade button, and ‘that’ upgrade button, each time we got into a loop. We read the online manual how to fix it, and we wrote to Victron’s help forum. Our head’s were dizzy…

At the third ‘uninstall’ and ‘install’ of the App, it was BINGO all the knobs and whistles worked! Panic over thank goodness. The updated App is a very different layout from the previous level, we are sure we will get used to that. Most importantly the Solar panel output and the boat battery bank condition is now visible with the App.

We set off from our mooring about midday, after about 3 hours of sunshine shining on the ice.

We passed the new Dunchurch Pools Marina.

It’s all looking really grand, and it looks like some boats are already resident. Even though we were just a couple of hundred metres away from where we were ‘iced in’, the marina looked ice free.

The ice was in patches, usually amassed in cold corners.

The huge family of geese didn’t appear to mind the cold water.

We can’t remember when we saw our last wide-beam. This one looked enormous!

Ancient ridge and furrow fields, probably made by ploughs pulled by oxen in the middle ages. Would love to know the history of these fields.

At Braunston Junction we used the rubbish and Elsan services.

Then we turned right to continue on the Oxford Canal.

By the time we moored up the wind had changed to bitter, and we were freezing!

The weather for the weekend doesn’t look brilliant. Think we’ve snow predicted at some point on Sunday, so we might not move for a while. We’re sitting in a lovely spot, quite high up with glorious views and a dry towpath.

Today we’ve cruised over 4 miles. We’ve got about 28 Mbps of WiFi, and great digital TV.

For FUN! Here’s a 70 piece jigsaw. For full screen, click the  at bottom-right of the jigsaw.

Our Blustery Day!

After yesterday being a ‘Windsday’, a ‘Blustery Day’ (and night), it’s fitting that today is officially ‘Winnie The Pooh” Day!

“What day is it?”, asked Winnie the Pooh

“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet

My favourite day,” said Pooh”.

― A.A. Milne.

That’s exactly how I felt at 8:00 am. Rusty and I were walking the towpath, with clear blue skies, and with the sun shining brightly. It was one of those days where everything was still, a huge gaggle of geese were peacefully grazing the grass in the field opposite the towpath, and ducks were cruising gently up and down the canal. Stopping for a moment and taking in the ambience… it’s a feeling rather like entering a cathedral (not that I’m religious), it was a spiritual moment – and yes, ‘Today is my favourite day”! Think we’re very lucky to have the time, and the lifestyle to experience such a day.

Gosh what a night we had last night. As we were nestled under a huge hedge, we didn’t get the full force of the wind. Though there was one gust of wind that gave us a jolt, physically and mentally.

Being in such a ‘isolated’ place, devoid of street lights, and car headlights, the stars were magnificent. It was a cloudy night, but there were long gaps in the clouds where the stars shone through.

I caused a bit of a disaster within Cyan at about 3:30 am. The bathroom was calling, and since I was out of bed I topped up the fire with coal, and returned back to bed. Several minutes later, we were choking through smoke filling the boat. The wind was blowing down Cyan’s chimney, forcing the smoke back into Cyan. We’ve got 3 carbon monoxide alarms throughout Cyan (yes, we’re over cautious!), as they didn’t go off, it didn’t appear dangerous, but we were choking, and our eyes were smarting.

Eventually everything was under control, and we took a mug of coffee up on deck while the smoke cleared. Don’t think I’ll be doing that again! Still it did give us time for stargazing.

Cursed/blessed with having a vivid imagination, I was slightly concerned being moored so near a HM Prison Rye Hill (a Category B men’s private prison, which exclusively houses sex offenders) – it wasn’t until we discovered exactly what’s behind the hedge near Cyan that makes having any concern about safety silly.

The grassed area is open to the public, and Rusty thinks it’s a great place for ball games.

Here’s us thinking we were ‘isolated’ – it appears we’re not. Plus of course, a little further down is the new Dunchurch Marina, which I don’t think is completely finished yet, though there are boats moored inside.

We’re staying ‘put’ today, as it’s such a lovely and quiet place. We’ve had more boats passing us today than I think we’ve had in the whole of the past week.

We’re going to spend about 6 weeks around Braunston, and surrounding area while we wait for Napton Locks refurbs to be completed. So far CR&T website advises they won’t be finished until 16th March 2018.

It’s A Beautiful Day For Yellow Warnings

With yellow weather warnings for later today, we set off from our moorings at Rugby after rubbish, filling water tank, and Elsan duties were complete.

Think we’ve been so lucky with our weather after hearing the news of heavy snow further North. Our weather warnings were to alert us to high winds, which were to arrive at around 4:00 pm., although our morning cruise was pretty challenging due to a strong breeze.

A ‘mother’s union’ of ducks were clearly enjoying the sunshine.

We passed a pair of swans who were busy cadging food as we sailed through Clifton Cruisers.

Passing the civils works which will be the cause of a ‘winter stoppage’ starting 5th February 2018. Believe a new bridge will be built, could this be for HS2? Can’t help but wonder if the Carillion nightmare is involved?

You can just about see the huge, and formidable, but now redundant railway viaduct built circa 1885. The viaduct stands within Clifton Golf Course.

In a short time we were at Hillmorton locks. I did the locking for two reasons, John’s knees suffer through the cold damp weather, and I’d rather John took Cyan into the locks when there’s a strong wind.

Love the quotes on the lock gates: “This Door Makes Depth”, and “Captive For A While”.  The “Captive For A While” lock, Lock #4, was a pig! The paddles at the top gate were really hard to lift, and even harder to let down. I gave up with the one in the middle, and I was just thinking we should let CR&T know. Then John jumped off Cyan to have a go dropping the paddle, with success.

The locks were soon behind us.

At the top of the lock lies Sally’s grave. I’ve no idea who Sally was, whether she was a cat or a dog, only that she must have been well loved.

More ‘earth works’ as we sailed from the locks. Looks like a new water main is being laid.

This cheeky Goldie made sure we’ll not be stopping. The tail up, in dog language means: “I’m in charge here!”

Wondering what these naughty two are up too? You can imagine…..

We could just about see the gathering ‘murmur’ of starlings.

Fascinating to watch, and not one ‘accidental’ crash.

Passing Barby Moorings:   


While typing up this blog, I just had to take a picture of the birds flocking to the power lines. The other ‘amazing’ thing…. the time of taking this photo was 4:55 pm! My goodness, the evenings really are getting lighter – EXCITING!

We moored in a brilliant sheltered spot, right next to a coppice, where there are no tallish trees. We did try and moor about half a mile behind us; but we had to abandon the mooring due to the fact it was difficult to hang on to Cyan while we moored. The wind kept pushing her to the other side of the canal.

Depending on the ‘Yellow Weather Warning’ for tomorrow, we may spend a day or so here.

Just realised, our neighbour is HMP Rye Hill!

Today we’ve cruised 6 miles, and 3 locks. Digital TV is non existent. WiFi is 30 Mpbs!

Rugby, Our ‘Home’ For Four Days

Nothing much has changed with the weather, it’s still grey, damp and brrr cold! Though having nighttime temperatures just above freezing makes such a difference. I can remember kicking off the duvet because it felt too ‘hot’ in the night.

We set off at about 11:15 am., with an anticipated destination being the moorings at Rugby, very near to the Bell and Barge PH. Just as we were setting off another boat past us. We followed the boat (at a distance) until we arrived at Rugby.

Our journey today took us under the M6.

At Brinklow the boat in front left the swing bridge open for us, and we closed the swing bridge after we went through. Here we met a young swan who was busy trying to ‘preen’ itself of its cygnet feathers.

On leaving Brinklow we spotted a bold clump of snowdrops – a welcome sight!

Cruising through cuttings, there’s plenty of trees blown down through recent winds, making it an ‘interesting cruise’. The badgers (or is it rabbits) have been busy undermining the cutting’s bank, and loosening tree roots. Don’t think I’d like to cruise this culvert in high winds though.

Rusty still has a fit of shivers as he travels through tunnels, and he always gets a cuddle which I hope helps. The lights on Cyan’s roof automatically turns on as we travel through the dark tunnel.

Towpaths are pretty dire around this area.

Looking back through the bridge towards the Barley Mow PH.

We arrived at our destination at 1:30 pm. We quickly moored, and were soon toasting our feet by Cyan’s stove.

After the problems we’ve had regarding our old fridge/freezer hammering the batteries, and recently our new fridge/freezer which has been filled with food (consequently the food had to be frozen or cooled down), we’ve had to run Cyan’s engine to charge the batteries late at night, just before retiring to bed. This has been the reason why we’ve moored away from homes, and other boats. Tonight will be the first time in a while we’ve moored next to houses. According to the Canal & River Trust license TOC’s, boat engines and generators have to be turned off between 8:00 pm, and 8:00 am. Tonight we’ll keep a close eye on the batteries, and if necessary, we’ll have to be frugal with the electric.

Our plans are to stay here in Rugby for a family visit and retail therapy, until Wednesday.

Warning, Diesel Thieves Are About

Love this ‘tweet’ from BBC Weather: “Noticed how much lighter it’s getting yet? We’re racing to more daylight with an extra 2 mins today on yesterday. By 21st Jan it’ll be up to a rate of 3 mins/day!” That’s a cheery thought on a grey day such as today!

Last night’s fog had lifted by the time we rose at around 7:00 am. We were soon on our way to Hawkesbury Junction for Elsan and Rubbish services.

We bumped into one of the boaters we’ve met quite a bit on our travels around the Oxford and Coventry canals, after telling him we were on our way to Braunston, probably staying overnight at Ansty, he gave us some good advice. He said to be careful as he’d just had some diesel stolen from his boat’s diesel tank. He wasn’t sure whether the crime was at Ansty or Brinklow, though his friend had recently lost about 100 litres of diesel, siphoned out of his boat’s tank at Ansty. Since hearing that, John’s now locked our tank; I know we should have done this anyway, it’s a bad habit we’ve got into. Think from now on we’ve got to be more careful.

There were ‘some’ anticipation that the day might brighten up, but it wasn’t a ‘real’ prospect.

Despite the ‘grey’ day, it’s a different world cruising along the canal, while the ‘rest’ of the world is busy rushing about. In the pic, we’re just about to sail under the M69 motorway.

We passed Ansty’s ‘resident’ geese. They’re looking very well too.

Think we’ve had enough water now, the Oxford is full!

One boater and….  

….his dog! (Who’s never far away).

John didn’t want to moor at Ansty, he said the towpath was too muddy, he was right, though I think there’s more to that decision.

Eventually we’ve moored next to the Trent Valley Railway line. The trains are quite close, though with Cyan’s hatches battened down, the noise of the trains is not a problem. What’s good about being here is that the towpath is hardly used, especially by bikes, so it’s relatively mud free.

Make Bed While It Rains

We haven’t been too happy with our bed, the mattress of thick foam, layered on top with a couple of inches of memory-foam, is brilliant. It’s so comfy. But the bed’s base of marine ply is awkward, and it’s difficult to get to the storage area underneath, it needs two pairs of strong hands to lift the 16mm ply base.

I’ve had this idea in my mind for a while now, to have a bed base like an ottoman, that easily lifts up on gas struts. I found just the base, compete with beech slats, sold on Amazon (made by Bishops Beds). We had the base delivered to Springwood Haven Marina for us to pick up while we were visiting. Together with the ‘gas strut ottoman hinges’ needed to lift up the bed.

The base is extendable, and is suitable for a single, small double, or a double bed frame. It’s just perfect for what we need.

Seeing that the weather was very wet, and the bed base was taking up too much room, and scaring the dog. We decided to moor up and rebuilt our bed.

Three days later, we’ve a lovely comfortable full sized double bed that retracts by 12 inches during the day, giving us the space we need. Another success, though the gas struts do need to be replaced, as the 900Nm pressure is far too fierce, so much so we can’t close the bed! We need to replace the struts with a much lower pressure, possibly 400Nm. When we bought the gas strut hinges, the seller did say he’d replace the struts to a suitable pressure foc. (This problem will have to be shelved for a short time.)

Over the next few days, it was a cold damp cruise to Rugby, where we moored on the public moorings by Tesco, Debenhams, etc., plus of course next to the ‘Barge and Bell’ pub and restaurant.

The fridge engineer visited us here, we temporarily moored (only one day mooring) on the services side of  the canal, right next to a car park, which was convenient for a visiting engineer.

The image shows our first hard frost and snow of the winter.

Dave gassed up the fridge/freezer, and over the next couple of days, I enjoyed a little bit of retail therapy. Three days after Dave’s visit, we phoned him again, as the fridge still wasn’t cold enough. Dave returned, bringing with him a new thermostat. After changing the thermostat we started our journey back to the Coventry Canal, but not before continuing down the Oxford and winding (turning) Cyan at the bottom of Hillmorton Locks.

We had another cold journey through the Oxford canal, before mooring at Ansty, where we woke to a freezing cold morning.

There was nothing for it, but to batten down the hatches for a few days. Eventually we left our mooring on a beautiful sunny winter’s morning.

Settling Down For The Weekend

We left Ansty with the sun shining this morning. Hardly any wind, nor boats for that matter. Think we’ve only seen 4 boats on the move for the whole of the day.

After about an hour and half of cruising we passed through Hawkesbury Junction, and turned left towards Coventry. We’d ran out of milk, and one or two other items, so our plans were to visit Tesco at the Ricoh.

Can’t help but think that when they built the Ricoh Centre, Tesco missed a trick. It would have been great if they’d embraced the canal, and built moorings for shoppers with boats. Perhaps this would help regenerate this bit of the Coventry Canal? It’s a shame really. We had to dodge a floating easy chair, a couple of supermarket trolleys, and other sundry detritus.

We cruised on past the Ricoh until just before Bridge 6 where there’s a winding hole.  We ‘about turned’ Cyan, and retraced our ‘swim’ until we moored just after the bridge by Tesco.

John and Rusty stayed behind on Cyan, while I got out the ‘old lady’s’ shopping trolley. Perhaps I am an ‘old lady’ now, though I don’t feel it. Maybe I’ll feel old in three days time, after 5th November, as that’s the day I’m formally going to be an OAP! The cheery cashier in Tesco said, “Good bye dear“. She called me DEAR! Isn’t that what old ladies get called? It’s starting….

It was rather nice to have a good mooch around M&S, and Tesco. Christmas shopping was also officially started.

When I got back to Cyan, John was sitting on the stern ‘sunbathing’! Best make the most of the weather as I think it’s going to be a cold weekend.

We made our way to our ‘regular’ mooring just after Hawkesbury Junction, passing underneath the M6. The M6 bridge carrying busy motorists on a Friday afternoon, who were no doubt relishing their weekend off work. Been there, done of that, now I’m going to enjoy the result!

Wondering what makes a boater moor under a bridge when there’s plenty of room before and after?

Or what makes a boater leave two empty plastic coal bags in a hedge? Surely they’d know what it’s like to have one of those wrapped round the propeller?

Babies are changing the colour of their feathers. Can’t help but wonder if this process is itchy?

One of the 4 boats on the move we’ve seen today, manoeuvring outside the Greyhound pub at the Junction.

Looking forward to a lazy weekend….