Good Bye 2017 – HELLO 2018

Was pleased I managed to bring this website up-to-speed yesterday, it’s essential we have reference points for dates, otherwise our memories are like tangled cobwebs these days, and highly unreliable. 2017 has been our first complete-full year of living, and continuously cruising the glorious inland waterways of England and Wales.

It’s sort of traditional we look back through the past year on the eve of a new year, and make plans for the New Year! We thought this year (our 2nd full year) we’ll cruise South, aiming to spend summer on and around the Kennet & Avon – perhaps we’ll be able to cruise the full length of the navigation, incorporating 105 locks which of course includes the Caen Flight of 29 locks (Note to self: best start getting fit now!).

Loosely our plan is to cruise via the Oxford Canal, through the Napton Flight of locks and onto Pangbourne, returning at the end of the Summer, via the Grand Union.  Returning to ‘where’ is the big question…

The distance between Marston Junction and Pangbourne is 111 miles, and 53 locks.

But (and there’s always a ‘but’) CRT Winter Stoppages come into play! Our plan is to head for Braunston before the start of February (easy peasy), before the ‘Butler’s Leap Stoppage’ starts:

We’ve then got to kick our heals (or rudder) until the Napton Flight Winter Maintenance is complete, around 16th March:

This will give us plenty of time to explore Braunston, and surrounding area. What a lovely time this will be with the ducklings, cygnets, and other young arriving; Spring will have arrived.  Can’t wait now….

First though we’ve got to to sort out our fridge, it’s still not right, and we’ve recorded it as drawing around 7 or 8 amps. Presently we’re purposely mooring away from houses, and other boats, as we have need to start the engine late at night before we go to bed, just so the fridge doesn’t drain the batteries. Despite all of this, the fridge still isn’t cold enough.

Well this our New Year sorted….

Wishing all our Family, Friends, and Fellow Boaters a wonderful, healthy, happy, peaceful, and prosperous 2018!

We’ll be raising a glass of Cava to all our good friends, and we might even keep up the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes, one for each strike of midnight (to gain a bit of Good Luck for the New Year).

Hope Everyone Had A Lovely Christmas

Hope everyone reading this had as lovely Christmas as us.

Obviously, in our quiet secluded mooring, we didn’t have much excitement – who needs excitement when you live on the cut? 🙂 Having a full rubbish bag blow over the side into the canal was about as much excitement we could take. Don’t worry, the bag luckily floated, and with the help of two boats passing by, the agitation of the water caused the rubbish bag to drift back toward the towpath, it drifted at least far enough to get the grappling hook through it to yank it out.

Seriously, we do hope all our friends had a lovely Christmas. This year, we sadly lost two good friends, and our thoughts have been with their loved ones. It’s a stark reminder that Christmas can be a brutal time for some.

The weather has recently been glorious, and very welcome after such cold freezing conditions.

We stayed at our ‘Christmas Mooring’ for 5 days. Yesterday we ventured onto the Coventry canal, and we headed for the services at Hawkesbury. Once the chores completed, we returned in the direction of Marston Junction, highly relieved to see no ice in the canal.

We moored by Gypsy Lane, in the sunshine.

Today we had a short cruise to Sainsburys, by Dewsons in Nuneaton, our mission was to get a bottle of bubbly to hail in 2018 in style.

After Sainsburys we winded (turned) Cyan around, and were happy to moor back at Gypsy Lane, though by this time it was in strong gales.

I didn’t have my camera close to hand, otherwise I’d have taken a pic of a beautiful tree full of catkins. Forgive me for being an optimist, but Spring is now just around the corner!

Onto The Coventry and Down The Ashby

Christmas was approaching fast, and our thoughts turned to what we’ll be doing at Christmas, and that we should start preparing pronto.

We’d had an email from our good friends Mandy and Chris, and their new addition to their family, Henry, a lively pup whom we’re dying to meet. They were asking if we could meet up on the 11th December as they were visiting Mandy’s sister in Oxford. A plan was formed for them to drive to Hawkesbury, where we’d meet them, and where there’s plenty of room for Henry and our Rusty to have a good run around.

In the run up to Christmas, we thought it would be a good idea to moor Cyan in a marina for a week, and for us to hire a car so we could pay Christmas visits, and stock Cyan up with Christmas goodies. We could also take in a Christmas treat of a restaurant meal.

We formed a plan to cruise down the Ashby to Hinckley; I used the post office to post our Christmas cards, visited the corner shop, called into Trinity Marina booking Cyan in for a week, and stocked up on diesel, coal and logs.

We didn’t want to stay in a marina for Christmas, therefore we planned to leave on Friday 22nd, and to cruise to one of our favourite places where it’s quiet, and the TV and WiFi signal is brilliant.

On Friday, 8th December, we moored at another of our regular places, just before Hawkesbury Junction on the Coventry canal, where it’ll be handy for us to make a short journey to Hawkesbury to meet Mandy, Chris and Henry.

What a surprise we had when we woke (on 9th December) to find this at the back of Cyan….

Now that’s cold….

But we were snugly warm inside because of this….

Our daft dog Rusty saw a lady German Shepherd dog on the other side of the canal, she was wiggling her tail at him, which was too much of a temptation. He had this crazy idea to go to her over the ice, resulting in….

Luckily he had his safety jacket on, so he could be yanked out of the canal by the handle. Result, one wet dog….

The saddest bit about all of this, is that Mandy, Chris and Henry’s visit had to be postponed because we couldn’t move nearer to Hawkesbury, and also the roads were treacherous.

We did have one scary moment though; remember the boat’s engine is the beating heart of the boat. The engine tops up the batteries, giving us light, charging phone, laptops, tablets etc. If the engine fails, it’s a disaster. One of the first things we do in a morning is to fire up the engine to recharge the batteries, and when it’s cold like this, it helps start up the central heating boiler. The engine started first time (good girl!), but when we came to turn the engine off, it wouldn’t. The ignition was turned off, and eventually the engine came to a spluttering halt due to lack of fuel. This wasn’t ideal. At this point I took Rusty off for a walk to get out of the way, while John put on his engineer’s cap. Like magic, on our return John had solved the problem. John changed the fuel filter, the filter had iced up with water that had managed to get into the system, restricting fuel flow to the engine.

We waited a couple of days for the ice to melt, but it was just so slow, we had our eye on the 15th December which was when we’d hired the car, and when we were booked into Trinity Marina. On Wednesday, 13th we left our mooring after a boat had passed us, breaking up the ice. We followed in the swim of the ‘icebreaker’!

We didn’t like doing this to Cyan, but needs must. Thursday night we moored outside the marina, ready for an early morning arrival. John was being picked up by Enterprise Car Hire at 11:00 a.m. to collect his hire car.

We didn’t like the marina at all, the pontoons were exceptionally slippy with ice. They have a policy of NOT putting down any salt or grit on the pontoons because of Health & Safety issues (?). They provide a bin of salt and grit, for us to use (at the far end of the pontoon), which is not a lot of use if your mooring is 30 metres away from the salt bin. I was terrified of getting on and off Cyan, and terrified of John slipping – Rusty was less than happy too!

We never managed to do much with the car, the roads were bad with ice, and the freezing fog didn’t help much either. Plus I’d forgotten how frenzied shopping is at Christmas time. It took us nearly an hour to get out of Morrison’s car park!

We were pleased when we left Trinity Marina on 22nd December. John returned the hire car to to Enterprise, and by the time he arrived back, Cyan had been topped up with water, she was prepped to leave, with her engine running. On the way out we brimmed the tank with diesel, and bought 10 bags of coal. John was a bit miffed that no one helped him with the coal, in fact an assistant told him to take the trolley and to help himself. With a parting shot that he was being trusted. Wow that didn’t go down too well with John! On top of that, while we were loading the coal, the assistant appeared asking if we’d settle the bill as soon as possible, he wanted to free up the pump because a man with a jerrycan was waiting to fill it with diesel.  Whoops…. I doubt we’ll be back there soon!

The weather was glorious as we started our cruise to our favourite Christmas spot, with lovely blue skies overhead, though it’s still very cold. As we cruised down the Ashby, drinking whisky and ginger (cos we can), and munching on Ferero Roches, we had a few renditions of our favourite carols too…. well it is Christmas!