Thursday, 24 July 2014

An early start before it gets too hot

We’ve discovered early mornings!
It really has been so much more comfortable cruising early whilst it’s still cool ...
10 to 8 arriving at Stoke Hammond Lock (once again!)
That’s me bringing Still Rockin’ into the lock - I feel a lot more confident steering her now but need to practice steering amongst the other boats
 No gongoozlers at the Three Locks pub this early in the morning ...
 ... and at 09:30 the sun is burning through the clouds
 10 o’clock and we’re moored up for the day a few miles north of Leighton Buzzard.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Still Rockin’s first service ...

After a busy week and weekend we took a day off (Monday) at Campbell Park Milton Keynes ... Tuesday it was time to get going again ...
 ... but of course we’re facing the wrong way!
 ... we need to go this way again, to the south.  George reversed the quarter of a mile to ...
 ... the winding hole (turning point) where he executed the turn easily.
 The water tank was on empty so first stop was the point at Peartree Marina to fill up but it was so slow we just half filled the tank and for the rest of the cruise the washing machine didn’t stop!
 Fenny Compton Lock and Swingbridge was busy both ways.  Ruth and Richard had just gone through and are on the services above the lock so we let the next two locks go ahead as we urgently needed to empty some tanks and to fully fill-up with water, we were in no rush.
It was another hot, hot day and the journey once again was slow with long lines of moored boats along the 6 miles to our mooring once again before Stoke Hammond Lock.

It’s taken nearly 7-weeks to reach Still Rockin’s first service at 50-hours (engine hours that is)...
 ... tightening the belts ...
... and changing the engine oil and filter ... job done!

Tomorrow we’ll move on to Soulbury Locks again, we’re now heading for Leighton Buzzard as Alice (one of our granddaughters who only left us on Sunday) will be returning to us next Saturday with a friend for another few days cruising ... she loves it!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Hot cruises and a stormy bbq?

Sharon (our daughter) and 50% of her brood are with us until Saturday.
Thursday a 10-am start as we leave our mooring just north of Stoke Hammond
A adolescent male Mandarin duck

Still Rockin' waiting for Stoke Hammond Lock ...
That’s me bringing her into to lock ... (photo by George)

... and Molly supervising events with the very smart lock house in the background (the tea-towel is a warning for the family to ‘duck’ as the hatch is not fully slid back).

Passing the remains of an ancient swing bridge ...
As we approached Soulbury Locks the canal became more shallow and we were having difficulty on the bends with moored boats on either side.  Just before the water point we were so pleased to find a bit of armco to moor against (it was our original intention to ascend the first two locks, wind (turn), descend again and moor for the night).

George contacted C&RT to find out why the water wasn’t being replenished and while we waited for a call back we went for a walk up the locks ...

... another mandarin ... 

 Joanne, Alice and Sharon sitting on the lock 25 balance beam with the Three Locks pub behind them.

The call came through from the local C&RT guy who informed us that due to noise nuisance they were not allowed to pump water for more than 7-hours per day and he advised us to turn around sooner rather than later as the pumps would not be run during the night and therefore the situation could be worse by morning.  Apparently (according to a local chap) Stoke Hammond lock house has recently been sold and the new occupiers have complained about the noise of the pump - surely they knew what they were buying and the consequences - so boaters have to suffer low water levels because someone purchased the wrong house!
Back at Still Rockin' after our walk (photo by Sharon)

It was our intention to have a pub meal in the evening and we weren’t going to be deprived of that!  We had fun and laughter with the girls and their ‘selfies’ while we waited for our meals!
Joanne, Sharon, me, George and Alice.

During the meal it was decided that we would cruise back to our mooring of this morning below Stoke Hammond making our cruise on Friday that much shorter.

 In Soulbury bottom lock - lots of gongoozlers here ...
 I swapped the steering with George for the next lock and the winding. Above he’s nearly completed the turn and heading back through the still open lock gates ... (photo by Sharon)
 ... and these two beautiful girls close the gates as Still Rockin' leaves and pulls over to the water point to replenish the tank. 
(photo by Sharon)

All girls together at Stoke Hammond ...

Alice and Sharon ...

... and me and Joanne.

Friday morning dawned very warm and humid and there had been a thunder storm earlier on.

Soon after leaving our mooring I was lucky enough to have my camera ready when I spied this Heron waiting for his breakfast ... and he’s got it!
(click the picture to enlarge it)

The day just got hotter and hotter with just George and I on the back and the girls inside where it was a little cooler.  We had to stop a couple of miles after Fenny Stratford Lock and its swing bridge as we had no steering and George had to clear the propellor of plastic bags etc. so we decided to have lunch before continuing.  We really didn’t enjoy the rest of the cruise it was just too, too hot, and we were so relived to arrive back at Cambell Park, Milton Keynes at about 3pm after 5-hours in the scorching heat.
A wonderful sunset at 21:35 ...
... and a spectacular electrical storm just an hour later before the rain came down with a vengeance! (photo by Joanne with her phone!)

Saturday was BBQ Garden Warming at our son’s house so we hired a car and left Still Rockin’ at her mooring.  We’d been travelling north for less than an hour when the rain started and it became heavier as we reached Codsall.  Mark and wife Ange had been planning this garden bbq since August when they started the landscaping of their garden promising themselves that they would celebrate with family and friends when it was completed.

The storm continued whilst the plastic gazebo was erected on the lower patio and the bbq was lit under the awning, we were so disappointed for them after all the good weather we’d been having that it had to change today.  But miracles do happen and we saw a bright blue gap in the dark clouds, the rain eased and the clouds gradually dispersed.  The cushions came out for the furniture on the top patio and guests spread out about the garden using it to its full extent.  The weather had done us proud and a good time was had by all.

On Sunday morning Sharon and family hitched up the caravan that we’d borrowed to live in whilst Still Rockin’ was being built and headed off for Scotland - a long 6-hour journey for them.  We returned to the boat and had a very lazy afternoon.

Today we took advantage of still having the hire car and did some shopping where we met Pat and Chris who have been following our blog (also Seyella, Moore2Life and No Problem) for about 6-years now after they were forced to give up their narrow boating due to Chris’ ill health.  George and Molly had been waiting for me outside one of the shops and Pat recognised them from the blog - how amazing is that!  It was great to meet you both and we wish you both well in the future.

Tomorrow we will have an early start and do the same journey again ... River Thames here we come!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Family banter and a surprise meeting

The family has arrived! Our daughter Sharon and her two youngest Joanne and Alice ...
It was Alice’s birthday on Monday so it was a cake, a candle and a song as soon as they arrived. 

Off cruising today in the hot sunshine a bit later than we would usually set off ...

 ... there was a lot more traffic about - the wide beam on the right wanted to pass us and then he met a boat coming round the corner and ended up in the trees.

 Alice helping Grandad to open Fenny Stratford swing bridge and lock gates - thank you AliB!
 A wide canal - thank goodness

... and the surprise meeting?  We’d just come through bridge 102 to see someone waving to us from the off-side... who can it be?

... of course we pulled alongside and had a quick catch-up, they both looked very well.  Sorry we couldn’t have the visit we planned but hopefully we’ll see you when we return to Militon Keynes at the weekend.

And the family?  A lovely lunch, a relaxing afternoon and a bbq to end a great day.  Fantastic!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

We left our Cosgrove mooring at 06:45 descended the lock at filled our water tank at a very slow tap!

Raymond and Nutfield just below the lock waiting for the festival this weekend

Crossing the 200 year old Iron Trunk Aqueduct ...

... and not liking heights this was as close to the outside edge of Still Rockin’ that I could stand to take a photo!

Love this place G dad’s
Collectables, Curious and the quirky!

Blooming Buddleia ... georgeous!

Wolverton near Tesco’s is this amazing statue but I couldn’t see what he’d got on his arm ...
 ... cyclists through the ages and a sparrow!

Another statue in motion on the roof of the smaller building
 A blending of old remodelled and new

The wall mural has recently been renovated/restored

Sods law says it would happen on a bend ... breasted boats ahead!

According to the Historic Narrow Boat Club 104 is Aston and not Ascot(?) with butty Beverley

The Old Wharf House at Linford and Molly keeping an eye on things

 Plenty of herons about today

... and babies - titchy cygnets and even titchier moorhens on their mobile home!

Nearly at our destination just past that boat ...

11:30 all tied up, it’s been another slow cruise today past lots of moored boats and of course we need to go so much slower now through those bridge holes!

A quick lunch, washing on the line to dry and off to do the last bits of shopping - we’ve got visitors coming tonight!!!!!!!