Sunday 4 August 2019

Brentford to Fenny Stratford

Stand by for another blog time. . The last time we left you we were in the company of the other boat Infinity with the lovely couple Susan and Martin at Southall, opposite the local park. They went off earlier than us, stopping to say bye bye, ..Susan looking a lot better than expected after bashing the white wine the night before .. we were a bit slower getting going, we are in no rush. 
The newer Infinity with Susan and Martin

A few miles chugging up the Grand Union we needed to replenish our supplies and there was a large Tesco store backing right on to the canal. Who was moored there as well. .
yep Infinity two !!

The bottom end of the union we haven't travelled before as last time we were here, we turned off along the Paddington Arm to go into the centre of London.
Its a bit disappointing to say the least. A lot of big vessels which are in a very bad state, people living on board, very scruffy and unloved. These boats don’t / can’t move, I wonder how they get water and more important …..what happens to the rubbish and human waste. I dread to think.

After the turn for Paddington, it was good to travel waterways we have been on before.
Brought back memories of a few years back. That was when we bumped into Lord David Trimble and his lovely wife Daphne, he if you remember, was the First Minister of Northern Ireland. We ended up sharing locks and having conversations, a lovely couple, really down to earth. A great few days.

Passing by Uxbridge, we couldn’t get any moorings due to the people living aboard and not moving, but eventually managed to get into the bank, despite a huge silt bar which stopped us getting close to the bank. Shaun my nephew lives in West Drayton so we Facebooked him and over the weekend he popped over to see us, walking the tow path. The pub we planned to have a bite to eat in was very busy ...quoted two hours wait for a beefburger !! .Noooo. Toooo long so we went to a beefeater restaurant across the road.
Lovely meal, lovely waitress, quality time, with a much loved guy.

Although we have travelled this canal a few times its funny how it never gets boring.
Sadly its not as well cared for as we remember it. Again leaky locks and poor maintenance.
I first discovered the canal many years ago when I worked in the area selling cavity wall insulation. Earning megga money, nearly three time the national average. Worked my way up in the company to area sales manager, never thought those days would end. I had a mad idea I’d love to learn to fly,.
I started to do the training for my PPL flying out of Leavesdon aerodrome. After take off we would have the skies to ourself. Alter the radio to Luton air traffic control they would give advise of any aircraft in the area, and an hour of fun. Just keep an eye on what was around, both in flight and on the ground, Berkhamstead, Hemel Hempstead...etc... after a half hours flying, Joy, my instructor would inform me it was time to turn around and head back.
This, when I realised I hadn’t a clue where we were, !! No sat nav in those days.
What did I do ??….followed the canal which we now are cruising. Cow Roast was one place that always stuck in my mind. We came through here last week. Sadly the local public house has closed since last time. Mind you it was rough last time. Happy days, but it didn't last, ran out of money and no private pilots licence.

We have done a lot of hours with the engine since we left Yelvertoft, the manufacturers recommend a full service at every 250 hours we are or were on 270, the oil pressure was dropping to nearly zero on tick over, it was ok when revving. So we decided to get a mobile mechanic to come to the boat do an oil change and fuel filters when we were at a place called Winkwell. Only a 48 hour time limit but, a quick phone call to the canal and river trust and the time was extended to 4 days . .

Mechanic turned up late.. had a bad attitude from the start. Wanted to put off doing the job until a later date..I said no way .. we had arranged a time, date and place and expected it to be done. Today !! Turns out he hadn’t brought any filters with him although we had supplied his office with all the information (including photos of the engine) regarding the engine fitted in our boat.
Also hadn't got the right oil for the engine .. he wanted to refill it with a multi grade oil 10w40 oil.. ours takes a straight SAE 30 oil. We were not impressed.
Off he went to get the filters. Gone for a couple of hours, returned and did the job.
When it came to bleeding the diesel though after changing the fuel filter, he couldn't do it.
Nearly flattened the new starter battery. In a desperate last ditch attempt he sprayed brake pad cleaner into the air intake to help combustion, you have never heard an engine bang, rattle, knock, in your life !!! After he’d finished he informed us he hadn’t fitted a new air filter, that would be posted on to our home marina, and we will have to fit it ourselves

I just sat in the boat and left Jenny to deal with him, in case I said to much. I sometimes do you know.
A few days later we had a lad phone from the RCR contracts office asking what we thought of the service. Both the engine service and the companies service.
Too quote the late magicians words Paul Daniels. . Not A lot !! we were honest, but polite, however we won’t be using them again. 

One of the favourite games we have is narrow boat leap frog. We are all going the same direction. Some start early and do longer days, we start about 9.30 and have 3 or 4 hours a day so we sometimes pass, then get passed. Meeting, waving then continuing on our way.

We are moored this week end at Fenny Stratford. There is a canal festival going on.
We took the dogs down to have a nosy and see what it was all about. We went past a boat who was moored behind us when we over stayed in Winkwell. They had made a comment on Narrow boat users after they left, I made a comment that we had been neighbours the weekend before. Received a lovely reply.

As we came into the village looking for moorings we passed all the traders boats, they were lined up getting ready for the event the next day. When we walked down the tow path we saw the guys trading.. I said hello I’m the guy who said hello on Facebook. What a lovely couple.
Stopped and had a talk for a few mounts. Received a lovely hug from the girl, a warm double handshake from her fella. They are on their way to another festival at Blisworth and staying for a while as he needs to visit Northampton General Hospital, there’s a good bus service into the town.

Fenny Stratford boat festival

The brass boat and crew

Fenny Stratford pub
Jenny has been very busy since we arrived here, she has painted the whole of the starboard side of the boat in Maroon. No matter how I driver her (the boat that is) I struggle some time to get into locks without clipping the sides or bashing into the docks when picking Jenny up after passing through. We start out with a full quota of paint, ending up with loads of scrapes and 50% missing.
She has made a brilliant job and the boat looks like new.
Mind you Jenny is just about knackered . Stiff as a board . painters neck, so she (hopefully) will rest today.

We will be stopping off at Cosgrove village. We need a new button on the back of the boat to protect the steering gear and propeller. Also the side fenders have seen better days and we know a guy who makes them by hand. He made us a new fender for the front and fitted it a few years ago, so we have texted ahead, he's made one to measure and we will pick it up as we pass through to Stoke Bruerne where we plan to stay for a few days.
We love this little gem of a village. Great local pub, good museum and a wonderful restaurant the Spice of Bruerne.

We are on target to return to our home mooring for mid August so. . this will probably be the penultimate blog for this year.

Over to Jenny to add the pictures . . . . TTFN

Saturday 20 July 2019

Reading to Brentford

Reading to Brentford

Well . . . it’s getting near to our entrance back on to the River Thames. Instead of turning towards Oxford we will turn the opposite way and head towards Brentford.
Looking at our maps it looks as if it will take about a week. We again have to part with money to legally run on the Thames. The routine is to buy a licence at the first river lock you arrive at.

Wrong . . . at the first lock for some reason the lockie couldn’t get the safe open. He tried every thing including kicking it all to no avail. So with no licence visible we trundled on to the next lock. However at the next lock they didn’t have a card option, cash only.
Sorry, we don’t use cash as much these days, no card pay..
Off we went to the next lock set up, it was getting late and my energy levels were dropping and we needed a mooring for the night. Whilst the River Thames is a lovely river the places to moor are very limited.
They don’t cater for passing narrow boats. They own the river the authority does but...the adjoining land is owned by farmers or private gardens. We have the added problem of getting the dogs the last lock for the day the lock managers told us of a farmers field where we could possibly stay the night. We did manage to get our 62ft of vessel in but it was very tight. At 7.30am there was a knock on the roof...the rent man !!
£5.00 mooring fee for the night. Oh well that’s life.

Opposite us was an old steam ship moored. A lovely vessel. She was just getting under way. The lovely smell of the coal smoke and the hissing of the steam brought back memories of the steam trains of my youth. I love that smell.
Setting off at about 10.00am we managed to buy the required licence so we became legal.

The locks on the river are very big and they cram as many boats in as they can. They are operated and electric so very easy to use. Narrow boats, cruisers, steam ships !!
As we looked back the steamer was joining us !!
Literally when she came along side there was just 2 inches between us. The ships steward stood on his deck and kept our boat off the hull of the ship. Quite an experience.

We pulled out of the lock first but very soon waved them past as they could move a lot faster than us. In fact everybody over took us although we could go faster here than on the canal we keep her at 3000 rpm which is about 5 mph. Any higher revs she objects and the temperature gauge goes up.

The majority of the boats down here are what we affectionately call yoghurt pots, well these are more like Tupperware big in comparison. Officially the speed limit is 8mph but some of these beauties can do well over that. There is a lot of money down this part of the country. 
One of the smaller Tupperware boxes

We didn’t realise when we set off down towards Henley that it was the weekend of the famous Henley Regatta. That was an experience. I have never seen so many older rich gentlemen with beautiful daughters or nieces on their arms. . well I think that's what they were..(wink wink). 

Half of the river was sectioned off for the racing and the other show boats. Hospitality tents on both side of the river. We had to keep to the left hand side of the divide, and moved quite slowly. There were some excellent looking wooden day boats about, they are actually built here. Coincidently there was a documentary about the man who builds them on TV on the evening we saw them.
They take 2 years to hand make and the cost...£150k. Sleek highly varnished wood. Elm and Mahogany. Electric motors.
We sadly encountered a ‘hoo ray’ Henry’ driving one. I’m sure he was under the influence of Pimms or another alcoholic beverage. Certainly on something . . he thought it was clever to play ‘chicken’ with Infinity. 18 tons of steel against a wooden contest.
We missed him but I did give him a piece of my mind, too which he just arrogantly laughed. Idiots come in all shapes and sizes. Wearing white trousers, a blazer and a Billy Bunter type school hat actually makes you look stupid as well. You PLONKER!! . .

The banks of the river can be quite high so its been early start early finish just to ensure we can get tied up. One place we stopped at the quay side was 4 foot above the boat. Throw the dogs off first.. then Jenny and me scrambled up..was quite funny.

The next night we found a piece of a concrete jetty with just enough room to get into. A large motor cruiser was there already. A lovely gentleman helped us to get into position. Bit difficult for the doggies but manageable.
We sat watching TV about 8pm when all off a sudden it felt as if the boat was taking off !!
We looked out of the window as an ocean going yacht style boat went past. The bow wave she made was quite high to say the least. A quick check on our stakes to make sure no damage was done and we weren’t about to drift off. . . all ok
I don't know the prices of these boats but she a was a fabulous vessel. I don't think you'd get much change out of a couple of million pounds.

Talk about mixing with the rich and famous. Plenty of rich people down here, we might have had a few years of austerity but its not the rich who have been effected.
Mind you, to see some people on these tupperware boats ‘rich and famous’ some of them looked more like ‘infamous’ I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but one boat in particular that went past the driver looked very dubious. As did the two guys in the back . Looked like body guards. I didn’t look to long . . just in case they took exception.

The trip down here has been quite beautiful past Windsor castle, Kew gardens, Hampton court and other famous land marks. We sadly didn’t stop at any because we were on a time limit to be clear of the river in 7 days, the length of the licence. Also what we call ‘continuous moorers’ taking up the visitor mooring. So sad when the few abuse the system for the people who play by the rules. We did manage one night at Hampton Court on their moorings. We passed the other Infinity when we were here as we have been playing leapfrog for a few days. Martin and Sue travel faster than us. 

The last day on the river came with no problems so far. To be honest we haven't been able to relax on here. I’m listening to every note of the engine, imagining its about pack up.
Arriving at Teddington lock very early, well early for us we just caught the tide on the turn,
We were told it was ‘slack water’ meaning not a lot of tide. So off we trundled to the next lock, pulling up and awaited the lock managers to open the gate. Nothing happened.
To the left under Richmond bridge was 3 red lights. Red light means stop to me.
A van then stopped on the road along side and the guy explained we could go straight though. The lock is only used when the river under the bridge is being used as a weir.
Apparently at certain time of the day, as the tide goes in or out, there is a barrier that comes down and cuts off the flow.
Our book wasn't that clear and to be totally honest we didn’t understand it.

So we had to reverse up and some how get her into the centre of the river to pass under the centre arch. Reversing up wasn’t a problem. But. . . .
looking from the back of the boat I believed I had enough room to turn her out into the main stream. The tide wasn't a problem. So full throttle and off we go.
She turned out as requested, until at a 45 degree angle to the bridge, suddenly the tide turned (I believe) it took the boat sideways so at full throttle I aimed for the archway.
Its a horrible feeling when to know two things. .

One. . .you ain't going to get the bow around in time,
Two. .there is nothing you can do about it.

We hit the centre stand of the archway at about 5 or 6 miles per hour. I was certain for a moment we were going to overturn. The stone bridge hit us amidships or rather we hit the bridge, the bang was horrendous. Took most of the free standing ornaments flew off the side but we had just managed to get enough of her past the centre and she swung around and I got her back under control. A tug boat which was going the other way reversed up to check we were ok.
Apart from our heart rates going up to double we were.

Brentford turn came up quite quickly after that, a very sharp left turn and we were back on safer waters of the Grand Union to our relief. About 4 weeks and we should be back to our home marina. As we came up the Thames we were watching the planes coming into land at Heathrow on one of them my cousin Allan Stumph was on. On his way to Belfast from New Zealand.

When we arrived at Southall there was a hoot behind us..the other Infinity had caught us up. We were thinking of going to the pub for a meal but the girls checked it out and weren’t impressed. Only serve Indian food and didn’t look that clean. So an evening of a few glasses of wine, a chatter on the back of their boat.

Enough for now. Over to the picture department and Jenny's magic touch.

Sunday 30 June 2019

Slowly heading home from Bristol

Bristol heading towards The River Thames

Where is the summer cruise time going too !! Its the end of June already.!! We have had every sort of weather possible. Had to light the fire because we were frozen up to yesterday when we had 38 degrees in the saloon and 41 degrees in the cratch.
Carly and Jake have been suffering with the heat, so glad we bought some cooling blankets last year.

The last blog found us leaving the Floating Harbour in Bristol. There are two ways out.
One. . . back the way we came or . . . out of the harbour lock on to the River Severn,
turning right and going up to Gloucester. To travel this way you have to have an experienced pilot to navigate the tidal river, and of course this being boating world it doesn't come free. I believe its fee is about £150ish depending on the guy you have.
Jenny is not to happy about riding rivers and so after a short discussion.
ie. I’m not going to do it !! . . Jenny . . . . . so we turned around and headed back the way we came.

It’s surprising how different a canal is just going the other way. We tended to notice things on the way back that we missed on the way down. We were heading into the current so a different style of skippering comes into force. A few extra revs on the engine and moving about a bit differently, having said that, the ‘driving’ of the boat is now coming second nature. As with driving a car, you don’t think ...I must change gear just do it.
The boat is the same. Only time I have to really concentrate is when it’s windy.
She develops a mind of her own!! turning left or right as she feels she want too.

I have loved the Kennet and Avon canal. Its so different running from rivers and man made bits. The canal falling into disrepair in the 1950’s the last commercial barge ran in 1960’s carrying grain, but after years of neglect it became unnavigable until a group of enthusiasts got together and raised money to bring it back to life.

The Caen flight is a great example. The various locks in the flight are dedicated to the local people who helped ether with time or money for the project.
Going down the flight we were luck to have the company of Annie and Allan both experienced boaters. Coming back up we had the company of a holiday making family. Father and Mother .. daughter and a dork .. sorry her boyfriend.
Jenny took control of the lock crews and I was in control of the boats in the lock. Dad under supervision . . . but…it can be hard work when you have to cope with people who don’t know what to do andprefer to look around at the scenery. Ie dork boyfriend. .
I believe he was punching well above his weight. Sarah the young lady was a bit of a flirt.
We got on very well, lots of giggles and sly winks. She made an old man very happy.
Good job Jenny is used to me and trusts me…
Sharing Caen Locks

The biggest problems have been mooring. Not many ..also the lack of maintenance by CRT. . locks with bricks falling out, locks which have such leaking paddles it’s a job to empty them. The water is leaking out as quick as its going in from the other way.
Such a shame. If they don’t do some repair work and spend money on them it will soon not be a viable way of travelling. The ‘charity’ sadly thinks it is better spending money on re-branding, new signs and uniforms for the wonderful volunteers who help on the locks.
Two Million pounds to put a new logo out to the public. Not money well spent in my opinion.

Leaving out over the summit we started to experience very low water levels. We had to keep very much to the centre of the canal because to far to the bank we were running aground. Hard work when we meet a wide beam boat. ….we were both scraping the silt.

The canal rises some 185 meters and water is pumped from a pump house at the bottom of the flight.
The pumps carry water to the top lock at the rate of about a lock full every few minutes. But a week after we rose up, the canal was closed due to a pump failure.
On inspection the other pump, (there are two), was taken out of service forcing the closer of the canal for a while luckily we had passed this point so it didn't affect us.

The White Horse
The hills here are the bottom end of the Cotswold’s passing through the rural areas, look to the right and you look uphill, look to the left and your looking down hill. Some lovely views on a clear day.

On one of the hills we passed is the world famous white horse (well, one of a few I believe) some years ago the local wag's, on I believe April 1st, they turned the white horse into a black and white Zebra.
Locals were quite shocked when they saw the sight. However the perpetrators of the deed had the sense to only use black bin bags so no permanent damage was done to the ancient land mark. Quick pick up of said coverings and all was back to normal. 

Slowing down to a 3 miles an hour life style is now getting the norm. I never realised how much great things in life we missed, when, as needs must, we had to rush about to make a living. We are so blessed. Our close neighbours, beautiful Swans, families of ducks. All with little ones in tow. . wait for me mum !! I’m sure this is what the chicks are sometimes saying when they squeak towards they mum.
Then suddenly one disappears under the waterline.. the pike has just found its supper. All part of natures food chain. I read, of all the eggs that hatch a very small percentage actuality make it through to adulthood. Ducks seem to be hatching later this year and there a lots of old chicks in with new hatched ones.

Swans with cygnets

Canal Geese (I think)

On our travels we met a horse drawn widebeam canal boat at a lock. The boat was taking people out for a day with lunch provided. We had to wait for the boat to be towed out by the horse before we could enter the lock. Later we moored up for the evening when the widebeam came back. The horse towed the boat on the tow path with the crew lifting the rope up to clear the moored boats. Lovely to see the old ways are still used in some places.

Horse drawn boat in lock

He was happy, grabbing a snack of grass on the move

Waiting for boat to be towed out by horse

Horse taking boat home, crew holding rope up to avoid moored boats.

Sitting at the end of a day watching the local flies assembling to do their duties, flying about annoying us before they settle on the water and wait to be devoured by the local fish. The ones that are left gain altitude and wait for the local bats.
Its a wonderful different life.

Our senses seem to have changed also. Our sense of smell. We often cruise sniffing the air. With out the atmosphere which is contaminated with the exhaust fumes of motor vehicle in towns and cities, we can smell a bakery making bread...biscuit factories ..McDonald's…. pig farms.. our two closest friends run a pig farm in Wisbech, we can sniff out a piggery from a mile away. Brings happy memories of good times there, with more to come we hope. Dairy farms have a different smell and of course hay making in the summer.

Wild garlic was the aroma of the day last week. Thank goodness for Google to confirm what it looked like. But the one that always makes my mouth salivate and it carries miles up the cut !!! Someone cooking bacon !!
Guaranteed to make me hungry no matter what time of day it is.

We, as I write have a bit of a poorly doggie at the moment. Our Jake is not feeling him self.
He’s been off colour for a few days, started with sickness and a loose bum. Not his usual playful self. Mind you its very hot at the moment. It was the hottest day yesterday.

At Woolhampton today, well for the weekend.

A couple of days off before we head back to the Thames, after a big service stop tomorrow we will pass through the locks on to the river. Heading past Reading on to Brentford before rejoining the Grand Union and heading north towards home.

Bye Bye for now.

(no film this time as on return journey not so many photos taken).

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Bath to Bristol Harbour

Bath to Bristol Harbour

On leaving the Kennet and Avon canal, A sharp left turn, a quick stop at the water tap to top up the drinking water and prepare the Hanham lock to leave the waters run by the Canals and River Trust, the people we pay our river tax too.

The next lock will be the Netham lock and our entry into Bristol harbour authority. Mooring outside the lock keepers office after phoning ahead, the first thing was to check the height of our boat, its to make sure we can get under a swing bridge before we meet the floating harbour. There was plenty of room on the measure, but when we arrived and went under the swing bridge it was very close..about 2 inches clearance.

The £1000 we pay each year doesn’t cover some rivers. We had to pay to use the Thames, also have to pay Bristol Council to use the harbour. . . £168.00 for one week !! What do we get for that ? You may ask.
The permission to float on a mooring !! That's all.
Well that not quite true, we received a map of the harbour and a very nice book about the area.

Jenny was/is very apprehensive about the last part of our epic journey. She has an aversion to wide rivers and much prefers the narrow canals. Neither of us are strong swimmers and its quite possible to ‘walk’ to the bank when on a canal as they are not that deep. Rivers are a lot deeper.
We are quite used to being alongside large river boats and Dutch barges but, pulling along side sea going ships is another thing. It makes us feel so small.

The main reason I wanted to come to Bristol was to see the SS Great Britain as I was able to have a look around this wonderful unique vessel built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

I was able to have a look around it when it was first returned to the docks in the early 70’s. She was only a rusting heap of metal, a ship that had lain sunken in a cove on the Falkland Islands. A wreck which no one wanted until some one realised how special she was and brought her home. But more about her later.

The run into the floating harbour was very interesting, past old rejuvenated factories turned into expensive but lovely looking apartments. Alongside new architecture and modern places to live in, all fitting in well side by side. Just for a laugh I checked out the property available for sale. A one bed apartment £350.000 . . .a three bed ….up to and above one million. . , it must be lovely to be rich.

I’d heard about the ‘floating harbour’ but too be honest, I didn’t understand what it was.
In my ignorance presumed it was an area on floating pontoons so it rose and fell with the tide. . Nope !!
Many years ago when it was a tidal port the ships being unloaded would often be beached when the tide went out, leaving big ships at a very steep listing to the port or starboard sides making loading and unloading difficult.
Part of the harbour is controlled by locks. Placing locks above and below the harbour it trapped the flow of water within the floating harbour area. We didn’t go up and down at all when the tide came in. On the River Avon they close the locks until it goes out again. When we were leaving we had to wait until the lock gate was opened then we turned into a river flowing against us, but that was coming out ...

Entering into the city of Bristol we first noticed a large shark coming towards us at speed !! We were running at 3500 rpm 5 mph on our Sat Nav The shark was doing a bit more. , it was a ferry boat with big teeth on the front, used to move people around the area.

The next obstruction was a ferry boat taking people over the harbour mouth to the other side just backwards and forwards.
Then as we turned the corner she came into sight, the wonderful ship..SS Great Britain. .

Passing the ship and the small mini marina we saw our home for the next 7days.

Over looked by new flats on one side. On the other side old houses which missed the bombing of 1940 / 41. Going back from the edge of the water modern, new property and higher up the hill the older houses look over.
We passed an old sea going ship which looked familiar to me. The MV Balmoral.
As with all old things Google usually has the answer or can point you in the right direction.
It, after a bit of a search, gave up its life history. It started off life from the day of launching till 1968 it was the Isle of Wight ferry. As a child in about 1964 I went to a camping holiday on the Isle of wight and was a passenger on it.

The area outside of where we are is so busy !!…. kids in canoes, kids in sailing boats,
Looking out of the windows its not unusual to be eye to eye with a paddle boarder, struggling to stand up (if its wind or there's a few waves) I am naughty sometimes if the side hatch is open and they come past closely ..if its a young girl passing I stick my head out and say ‘HELLO’ rather loudly.
So funny to see them jump and then regain their balance. Nobody has fell in yet .. but I keep trying. I know . . I'm naughty.

The ferry boats run all day taking people to different place about the harbour. There are pleasure cruisers running up and down and in the evening they take out hen parties and stag parties with loud music. It is certainly a place which is lively.

I was not ready for a surprise I had while cooking for breakfast, a crispy bacon sandwich. Also doing a safety check at the same time.. . if you cook the bacon until the smoke alarm goes off.. the bacon is perfect and we know the alarm is OK. But I was shocked to see a dog swimming past about 3 foot from the boat ..I shouted to Jenny to get into the cratch try and get it to come in towards the boat. However, as we jumped to action stations we noticed a lady with a lead was walking up the jetty. . she was having a walk, her doggy was having a swim. Going at a bit of a pace also, panic over.
Its a thing we are always on the look out for. If a dog goes into the water on it own it often can be fatal as they can’t get out. We passed a body of a Jack Russell on the way down to here. So sad. Someone must have lost their pet.

When we are settled in on a mooring we have a routeen. Check out the area.
Provisions, Aldi or similar. Quite a walk but also needed a chemist. I’d run out of my drugs and was unsure if I could get a repeat prescription where we were. We could and now have enough supplies to get us home.
While at Aldi there was a BBC west local film crew doing a piece on a new mural. Guess who was interviewed on camera...yep yours truly.. I appeared on the local news two days later.

We were only a five minute walk from the SS Great Britain. As this is not an area that appeals to Jenny, we parted company for the day. . I wandered off and had a great day looking around a beautiful ship and really enjoyed it .. took me five hours and I still didn’t see it all. But with the ticket I can go back any day I want for free ..however its a long way from Northampton.

In its day it was a luxury liner taking people to Australia, then onto many other duties as a sailing ship (her engines were removed to get more cargo area) carrying coal until she was badly damaged in a storm off the Cape. She limped into the Falkland islands but so badly damaged she was classed as beyond economical repair. She ended her days as a wool and coal warehouse until she couldn’t even do this, when she was towed out of Port Stanley around the corner into a cove and unceremoniously scuttled. Punched holes in her hull so she wouldn't move. She was raised and brought back to her birth place on a floating barge in the early 70’s and restored. Well worth a visit.

Inside SS Great Britain

We did the usual tourist bit and had a tour bus trip.
Clifton suspension bridge over the River Avon

Enjoying the weather in Bristol near the Harbour

You get to see all the areas and find out things of interest. We had a drop off ticket and had a look around the area and stopped for lunch in a tourist area...a lovely Cornish pasty and a pint of cider was very good (both).

After a walk around the corner we realised we were on the opposite bank to where we were moored called it a day as I was running out of energy...jumped on the little ferry boat and walked back to Infinity.
We used the rest of our jump on ..jump off ticket the next day. Just as we jumped on the open top bus . . the heavens opened and it poured with rain. Guess who hadn’t taken any wet gear with them ?? yep

We had two lots of visitors while we were here..Great to meet up with Adrian and Lesley over here from the South of France...they live in Carcassonne, then the next day our friends Gregg and Jane called in they were our next door neighbours at Yelvertoft.
Now living in South Wales...always a warm welcome aboard Infinity guaranteed… do a good lunch as well.

Well after a weeks holiday we are now on our way back to the Thames and heading home.
More old age travels next time as we check out the K and A going the other way.

TTFN for now.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Bradford on Avon to Bath

Bradford on Avon to Bath

Well !! what a week we are having !! since leaving Bradford On Avon.
I’ve come to the conclusion the Kennet and Avon is a fabulous canal’s got so many different aspects. Some parts are boring standard canal, narrow and uninspiring, just a water supply from one place to the other to float boats on. Then suddenly it breaks into a beautiful wide or wider river with lovely trees and other things to see and admire.
We have a game we play ‘I wonder what that was’??
So many unusual buildings.
Barns might... have been?? A kiln ?? ...great looking but unusual housing now.
Big factories sympathetically altered into flats or canal-side apartments.

When we were down in London we commented on the amount of wide beam live aboard vessels. Our floating home is 62’ x 7’. Some of the bigger floating homes we are encountering are dwarfing us. The biggest so far 60’ x 12’ the trouble was..
it was on a narrow bridge on a tight 90 degree turn in the waterway over an aqueduct!!,
also there was another one behind. A quick emergency stop and reverse into a quayside on the right hand side. What a great start to a weeks cruising. Friendly people on board, the usual funny quip and quick chat, before we continued on our way to the planned overnight mooring place.

The vessels we are seeing are ranging from 24ft Shetland cruisers up to, well, sea going ships, they are not narrowboats or broadbeams. Dutch barges, are quite popular. some are excellent looking vessels quite capable of going to sea I would think.

Homelessness in the UK is a problem (for our readers in Australia, Canada, USA and Israel) the down and out population are turning to floating homes and the state of some of these is pity-full, but, they are causing lots of problems on the cut.
Some have jobs and need to commute to work, so have stay with in a close area. We call them bridge hoppers. They moor very close to a road bridge and have a car parked nearby. Not a problem most of the time, but not the ones who set up home on the visitor moorings who are a pain!!

Visitor moorings are for a max 48 hours, but some boats haven't moved for a long time by the look of it. We try to get into a place by 2pm. . nothing worse than seeing a holiday boat looking for a night stop at 7pm when you know there ain't any.

We moored at a place called Claverton with a lovely pub and as we had few bob left out of the food budget for the month we had a cheap and cheerful Chef and Brewer meal. Also used some Tesco vouchers which we had accumulated over the last few months. Glad we hadn’t paid in full because.. we weren't impressed the steak was chewy.

Just as we were leaving the next morning there was a woman's voice in the distance.
I thought it was coming from a block of flats. It was a mouthful of profanities. Get off you F***ker...What you doing you ****...sounded as if she was being attacked but it was getting louder. Very confusing. All of a sudden a beaten up old cabin cruiser came around the corner, flat out with a young woman at the controls. She hadn’t a clue where she was (presumably) literally bouncing off the banks and other moored boats. It was as if she was on drugs of some sort. We had a chat with some other people and they were going to inform the authorities, not just for her safety but the safety of others.
We don’t ‘arf’ see life don’t we?? 

We are on our way to Bath and then on to Bristol. We were under the impression we needed extra insurance to navigate the river into Bristol but after checking with other boaters on ‘The Narrow boat Users group’ on Facebook we double checked with our insurance and they/we had got it wrong. (or were trying it on for an extra premium payment)

Thursday evening 23 May found us in the beautiful city of Bath. After a rest we wandered off for a quick look about and a taste of the local ale of course. Making plans we returned to Infinity for a meal, glass if wine and an early night. We were at the city moorings just few minutes walk in the centre. It appears to be the favourite meeting place for the local youngsters on terraced concrete gardens. It was lovely watching them trying to impress the date they had. Some girls were dancing and moving it was quite good I love people watching.

It took me back to when I was a youngster on the street corners of Northampton. Mind you I know its the 21 century but, sorry, in my opinion, its still not right young guys holding hands and kissing each other in public .
Also it not acceptable to practise writing and singing rap songs at 1.30 am out side our boat window. !! . . . .it was rap with a capitol C….CRAP !!

We had a full day in the fabulous city. Acted like tourists apart from one thing. .
we (I hope) weren't rude and pushy like the Chinese and Japanese. Checked out..the Roman ruins, Bath house, Abbey, Shopping….Sausage roll. The Roman ruins are quite interesting using the hand held commentary kit. . it took me a few attempts to sort out how it worked because I’m not good with the technology. Then to end the day the obligatory tour bus with commentary I got that right straight away.
Just pushed the ear pieces in my head and plugged the other end into the hole in the bus bulkhead !!….Hee Hee. 

Opposite where we are moored is a, well what I presume is an old corn store. This is because of the overhead part jutting out made of wood. But they have been restored and turned into flats. Where the lifts were, to unload barges, they have been turned into windows so you can look out over the river / canal.

Just down stream there was a similar building but it has been demolished apart from a great looking archway made of stone. It has a preservation order on it, Jenny, while walking the dogs down by the park, she spoke to a local who was not happy about the redevelopment. It was a beautiful building and according to him the new plans, although modern, he would have preferred the old one(s) being left and converted.

Well we are on the last leg of our run into Bristol leaving Bath we have seen some quite attractive new blocks of flats. Spaces to tie up are a bit on the short side, where we had planned to stay we were very annoyed because when we arrived there was a big boat which was covered in rubbish moored on the visitor mooring right in the middle !!
At the side two ‘undesirables’ standing...sneering as we had slowed down, then revved up to go past. There are a lot of old boats here and how some are still afloat its a wonder.
We started to have a problem...Oh NO !!! ….Infinity has been behaving fantastically since we started. Starting first time, running at right temp and good oil pressure. Using a bit of oil but she is old technology.
But!! all of a sudden, as we joined the last bit of river to go to our last place for the weekend, her engine wouldn’t rev faster than 2000 rpm . ,Oh NO !!
We were in the middle of nowhere, no tow path, in the middle of the river.

If we had to call the canal version of the AA or RAC..RCR..he'd have a long way to walk.
We were running low on drinking water also needed a bog emptying facility so, slowly chugged onto the jetty on the next service area and filled up.
I switched the engine off and we did the jobs. Because of the type of jetty the dogs couldn’t get off the boat, it was a wire walkway with big gaps and their little legs would go though. I made an executive decision ( Jenny does let me make them occasionally).
We would struggle on for a few more mins and try to find a better place so the crew can have a squat and a leg lift.. when I started her up.. guess what !! She ran perfectly. Revving up to 3500 if needed. (only needed in an emergency stop . .full reverse !!) She has taken us to our weekend mooring here at Hanham lock, the last few hours before we arrive at Bristol harbour.

All moored up, good TV signal so I can see the hi-lights of the F1 Grand Prix. When suddenly a boat breaks down outside. What is it ?? a beaten up old cabin cruiser with ….. rather dubious looking skipper.
Ok nodded in greeting.. I try to give everyone a chance. . don’t judge a book by the cover..we will just see what happens.

A few minutes later another narrowboat pulls up in front of us. 6 youngsters 3 girls and 3 lads on board. Bottle of beer or a drink of some sort, all happy and enjoying themselves.
As they moored I quipped. . ‘Are you planning a late night party??. . . with half naked girls running about later!!….too which he answered. . ‘Possibility’
I laughed and said …Wwooooo …...I'll look forward too that !!
We both had a laugh. He thought for a minute I was being serious, then realised I was messing about.

Sadly an hour or so later it turned nasty.
The dubious character, for what reason I don’t know suddenly attacked the young lad who was driving the boat and knocked him down. There is not a lot of room for fighting on a metal jetty over a river.
A load of what looked like ‘new age travellers’ who were in a car park above all came and joined in but...calmed the situation down. Someone wanted to call the police but the skipper, who was by this time throwing his girlfriend off the boat doubting her faithfulness.
Quote. . ‘Don’t call the police, I don’t want to end up inside again’.

If I'd not had an afternoon kip I could perhaps told you why. She (the girl friend) wandered past and off with the travellers..
A bit later the narrow boat moved off to find another mooring. Chatting to the lad who I'd spoken to as they arrived, it was his first day as a narrowboat owner. What a sad start to a wonderful way of life. However the rest of the day passed with no other problems. A very quiet night was enjoyed by all..

Don’t we see life ?? You don’t get this in a care home. Next blog will be from Bristol harbour .. over to Jenny for pictures and Video TTFN