Monday 24 September 2018

Summer on the Basingstoke Canal (and probably winter as well)

Hello again, Dear Reader. The last blog update was in July. It’s now September. Oh dear.

Several things have happened since last we spoke, the most significant of which is that although the broken gate on the Deepcut flight has now been replaced, the prolonged period of dry weather has meant that there is now not enough water to refill the drained pounds and allow navigation down the locks. Furthermore, unless there is - in the words of the Basingstoke Canal Authority - “prolonged, significant rainfall” (which looks more unlikely with each passing day) we are going to be here until the canal re-opens next March. More in-depth details about this later.

Of course other things have happened as well: Rob & Nikki’s house-warming party in Todmorden.
Bonfire ring in the Fairy Glen 

 Rob & Nikki's fabulous house.
We helped with a bit of gardening before we left.
(The last time we were in Tod we won £100, no such luck this time but we had a fabulous weekend.)

An engine de-coke and valve re-grind on the towpath which attracted a lot of attention from gentlemen of a certain age who all remembered using a hand valve lapping tool.

Over 50 years old and still looking good.

An amazing, weekend-long, joint 50/60 birthday party for Dave and Anne at a campsite near Hope in the peak district, which they went to when they were children, and to which numerous friends and relations came from far and wide and went totally bonkers with the “Carnivals Around the World” fancy dress theme. 
We thought that was rather apt.

A visit to Longshaw lodge and Padley on the way home, then Bradgate park a few days later.
Longshaw NT. 
Longshaw NT. King Arthur's seat

Paddling at Padley 
Bradgate park. 
Bradgate park.

A lovely impromptu day at the seaside at Bognor Regis.

A new cratch board because the one we made seven years ago had gone rotten at the bottom corner.

A week house sitting for the Margees on Wenlock Edge. (or was it chicken sitting?)

A walk from the tunnel up to Little Basing following the line of the canal. most of which has disappeared, but a few clues still remain.

A canal bridge parapet on Church St in Little Basing.
You wouldn't notice it if you weren't looking for it. 
A dry canal bed in a back garden in Hatch 
Little Tunnel Bridge being used for storage

A mid-week break consisting of two nights with Diane & Richard in their new (and very swish!) caravan at Beeston Regis near Sheringham.
Sheringham Lifeboat.   
Pipers at Sheringham Carnival  

Followed by a night with Martin and Yvonne where we spent a balmy evening star-gazing from the unfinished roof beams in their new build. - It’s amazing and we cant wait to see it finished.

A couple of days spent moving WRG vans and kit trailers between canal camps.

A fantastic week on a WRG canal camp where we returned to Ty Coch on the Mon & Brec canal. Ann-Marie did a stunning job cooking for the volunteers, and Dave was assistant leader. We carried on with the archaeological dig we started last year to find the lock keepers cottage and workshop, and generally tidy up the site.
It was a bit overgrown and looking neglected when we arrived. 

 Mon & Brec Canal Camp 2018. Week one, day one. 
A well earned break. 
Helping out at Goytre Wharf. 
Dave getting Sticky 

Back on site, trowels in action.
The wall that Dave (re) built.
More tea.

A weekend at St Neots on the river Ouse where we helped out with the car-parking and rubbish collection at the IWA Festival of Water.
The event was a stunning success, thousands of people, terrific turnout of stalls and despite raining all day on Sunday, it cleared up in the evening just in time for everyone to come and watch a brilliant illuminated boat procession and firework display. That weekend we found that our new tent (well it’s new to us, we found it in a skip on the G&S) wasn’t as waterproof as we’d assumed. Luckily, despite everything outside the bedroom getting soaked, our bed somehow remained dry!

We’ve had two foreign trips, one to Bordeaux to see Frankie, Harry and our gorgeous little grandson Thibault.

And one to Belfast to see Chloe, Shandy and our just as adorable other grandson Caleb.

Obviously they are both our favourite.

We also went out for evening to the Mosely Folk Fesival. Friday night - Show of Hands and The Levellers. Wow!!!

On board this summer, apart from the de-coke (which didn’t cure the smoky engine, by the way. Injectors perhaps?) maintenance has been mostly in the way of painting. The little drawers in the dining room, the engine covers, the top of the gas locker, the big roof box and the fire all got a fresh coat.

Bake-off returned to the telly and we decided to do the technical challenge each week. Week one was Wagon Wheels; Dave had a go at them and they came out pretty good. the next two weeks were rubbish, so he did wagon wheels again. Word has now got around so we now take the ingredients with us everywhere we go.

Boating wise, we went back up to Odiham and the limit of navigation again, then had couple of weeks moored up next to Ken &; Annie in the reeds at the Hart aqueduct near Crookham Wharf, until the 3rd of August when we got a phone call from the canal centre informing us that because of the low water levels, (a taste of things to come) Ash lock would be closing that weekend, whereupon we flattened our roof (again!)
...and headed back through Ash lock to Mytchett lake.

Coming back through the Fleet bridges brought home to us just how low the water was; we had a good 8” more head room than we’d had on the way there.

And as the 72 hour mooring restrictions have been suspended, apart from a couple of trips to the canal centre for services, Legend and Ceilidh have both been moored in the glorious summer sunshine at Mytchett lake. We were very happy there, it was wide open so there was bags of solar, the natives were really friendly, car parking was easy and there was a corner shop, a tiny Tesco and a Co-op a short walk away. Along with Ken, Annie and Peggy, we had a drive down to the bottom of the Deepcut flight then walked back up to lock 18 to see how the repairs we going.
The Basingstoke Canal Visitors Association.
Lock 18 and one of the drained pounds behind us. 
Lock 18 with it's new gates all ready to go. it just needs water. 
Lock 178 with a big hole. Someone might want to look into that.
Yesterday, due to the ever falling water levels - which is now a good foot down from where it should be - the Basingstoke Canal Authority announced that it was shutting the Mytchett pound to navigation from tonight. We wandered down to the canal centre and had a chat with the deputy manager, which is when we found out that in the BCA’s view, it would be unlikely that we would be going anywhere till March. This is because even if it does rain, it will take a good month before the levels are back up enough to fill both the pounds they had to drain to fix lock 18 and allow proper navigation, and there isn’t any rain on the forecast for the next two weeks. That means that it will be six weeks and probably longer, by which time they will be into their winter maintenance program, as will the Wey navigation. If, when it does rain, there is a deluge that fills the canal up quickly, it could also put the Wey and the Thames into flood conditions, which will leave us no better off. Of course - technically - with a navigation ban we could have stayed at Mytchett lake and not moved, but we wouldn’t have had any water, so we elected to move to the canal centre. Here we’ve got a car park with a key-coded barrier, free showers and toilets, water, rubbish and an elsan. There is also an electric point, but they want £250 up front for the duration so, as we only spent about £80 -£100 a year on petrol for the gennie before we got the bigger solar panel, we have politely declined.
No one is in any doubt that sooner or later it will rain; when it does and we’re allowed to navigate again, we’ll go back up to the lake, but until then this is going to be our home. Not boating and having the same view every day is going to take a bit of getting used to, we’ll just have to go and visit all our friends instead!

1 comment:

Janice said...

Are you still alive? XX

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