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Showing posts from 2011

Grand Union Canal. Stockton to Welsh Road.

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We’re moored up for Christmas in a beautiful spot just above Welsh Road lock.
It’s very practical too, there’s a proper car park right next to the bridge, so the car is about 100 yards away; very useful when you’ve got a load of Christmas stuff to deliver to various parts of the country.

We chose this spot as it’s 5 locks and 4 miles from here into the centre of Leamington Spa. Anne’s coming to stay with us for Christmas and we’re planning on cruising down the locks and into town wearing Santa hats and playing carols at full blast. We reckon we can fit it in between opening presies and listening to the Queen’s speech on the radio.

We’ve gone from scraping the bottom of the coal scuttle to having enough fuel on board for a small power station. Despite being held up by the ice, Mark turned up with the coal boat Callisto at about lunch time on Tuesday and transferred 176 litres of diesel (ouch!) and 6 bags of Stoveglow onto Legend.
We did a careful calculation with our dip-stick and worked…

Oxford & Grand Union. Marston Doles to Stockton.

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Good Grief! Time doesn’t half fly when you’re having fun!

We’ve both had lock-winding birthdays in the past couple of weeks. We went down the newly reopened Napton flight on Dave’s
and then down the Stockton flight on Ann-Marie’s.
In between the two we went from the old, narrow Oxford canal onto the new (ish; it was widened and improved in the 1930s) Grand Union. We’ve been in narrow locks and bridge ‘oles since June so it was a bit weird steering Legend into the 14’ wide Calcutt top lock.
When we’re on our own and in a wide lock we only use one gate, and once we are back into the routine, wide locks, although they look more daunting, are actually easier and quicker to get through. We’re now moored at the bottom of the Stockton flight, right outside the Blue Lias pub, which is competing with Blackpool for the “Brightest Illuminations” trophy, and a short walk from the happily named Long Itchington and its many hostelries. We’re here for a couple of days waiting for a coal boat to come b…

Oxford Canal. Fenny Compton to Marston Doles.

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Where’s everybody gone? It’s as if someone turned a switch on November 1st and made all the boats disappear. We do know where they are really. They’re either tucked up in marinas, or they’re on winter moorings…… or they’re on a canal that isn’t a temporary dead end. Read on…

After moving the car to Marston Doles Bridge, walking back and filling our water tank, we left Fenny Compton around 2pm with Luke as crew. This, as it turned out, was about an hour too late. The James Brindley designed Oxford is a contour hugging, meandering waterway; there are several horseshoe bends and one place where, as you go round a bend to your right, the bridge you are going to go under in half an hour is across a field to your left!
It’s all great fun, but the twists and turns make a nonsense of our 4mph top speed. On most of it we were lucky to be doing half that and ended up way after sunset on the final mile and a half with the headlight on. We knew we would be ok though; the Napton flight - which sta…

Oxford Canal. Fenny Compton.

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Autumn is getting into full swing now; we’ve been to a 2CV Club Halloween party in the pub, the fire is on all day, there are pumpkins on the bow and we’re going for walks with big boots and woolly hats on. The trees are so magical at this time of year. This is the view through Fenny Compton Tunnel.
Spot the deliberate mistake. In 1860 the top was removed and it was turned into a cutting. Talking of going for walks, we went out a couple of days ago in the afternoon, along the towpath, and then off on two little footpaths forming a loop to bring us back to the canal. It was obvious from the start that the second of these was a rarely used path; there were no other footprints and Old Farmer Palmer had ploughed right to the edge of his field and planted winter wheat, but we plodded on, getting a good workout from the rough terrain. Then we came across an electric fence right across the path. We checked the map to make sure we weren’t in the wrong place before ducking under it and forging …

Oxford Canal. Nell bridge to Fenny Compton.

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The Little Sewing Boat came down to Nell Bridge on Saturday morning. Chris & Cy got straight on with making a pattern on our front deck, while asking us what we wanted in the way of zips, windows and fastenings.
We’ve decided not to have any windows in the canvas; we reckon that we’ll have enough light with the big single window in the front. We’ll have two zips on each side and be able to roll either the doors or the sides up. The top plank is on a hinge at the back so during the summer we can roll the cover up, swing the plank back, and have a big open space again.
On Sunday and Monday they kept popping backwards and forwards between Legend and their workshop boat for fitting sessions, then on Tuesday they put all the hooks and poppers on the boat.
When we got back from the dentist on Tuesday it was all done and dusted. We are VERY IMPRESSED! The quality is outstanding and Legend looks fantastic. When we were deliberating about getting a cover made we looked at internet based compa…

Oxford Canal. Shipton-on Cherwell, Baker’s Lock, Pigeon Lock, Allens Lock & Nell Bridge.

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It’s been very exciting just lately. First, John & Camilla came to see us at Shipton Wier and stayed overnight. We had a walk up to the nearby deserted village of Hampton Gay , then went down into Thrupp and turned round to begin our journey northwards. 
We’ve now gone as far south on the Oxford as we intend to; we’ll be heading in a generally northerly direction, with various meanders sideways, for quite some time to come. Until we get to Preston, in fact. John used to live on a narrowboat called Andante and he took the helm for the day; the first time he’s had his hand on the tiller in 10 years. Andante was the first narrowboat that we set foot on, and was one of the steps towards our life now, so it was nice to get John’s seal of approval on Legend, so to speak. We moored in Shipton-on Cherwell, just down from the church.

We finally got our act together and cycled the 7 miles down the towpath to the junction with the River Thames at Oxford.
We had a lovely day wandering around …

Oxford Canal. Shipton Wier lock.

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After an astonishingly hot week, which everyone who came past our boat commented on, the weather is now much more what autumn should be. Bracing winds and occasional showers make boat painting a challenge, but we’ve managed to do what we set out to and have got red bits on both sides. We tried various methods of paint stripping and found, after wearing out several different types of discs, that this works better and faster than anything else for getting back to bare metal. Even so each side took two days of hard work, and Dave looked like he’d been coal mining each evening. It’s worth it though; smooth, bare steel makes the best start for a smooth, shiny finish five or six coats later.
Now we’ve taken the grotty non-slip rubberised stuff off the gunwales we’ve got to put something else on. What we’ll use is a fine silica product that mixes with the paint. We’ll mask off the edges of each gunwale leaving a strip down the middle and put a coat of that on, followed by another coat without…

Oxford Canal. Pigeon Lock to Shipton Weir.

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While we were at Pigeon lock we got on with hand rail preparation and undercoating, and we scraped all the tatty looking non-slip coating off the gunwale on the towpath side. We also drove about 1,000 miles in the car.

On a whistle-stop tour of England we first went to Lincolnshire for a party, collected some willow from our old house and got back to the boat at 4am. 5 hours later we went to Mum & Dad’s for their wedding anniversary. The next day we drove to Brize Norton to meet Chloe who was coming back from Afghanistan and take her to Frankie’s. That night we all stayed at Frankie’s house, Chloe left for Birmingham in the morning and we went to Karen’s to do some work on her car. After tea we came home again, but not for long. Our next excursion was to Chesterfield for a doctor’s appointment. (We’re registered there as it’s where our postal address is) Dave is diabetic and we needed to get him back into the system of regular blood tests and check-ups. The doctor was very obligin…