Catch up

Just realised that it’s so long since I last blogged, and so much has happened – so a quick catch up is due. We spent September on Eunoia, travelling up to Nantwich, Cheshire. We decided to spend some time there to see if we liked it. After quite a short time we decided we did, and so started to look at houses. We found a beautiful, much loved Victorian Semi which we were lucky enough to be able to pursue. 

We went back to Hampshire via a course with USPG (more of that in the next blog) in late October. 

Unfortunately Roger’s mum, who had been poorly, died at the beginning of November. Whilst a sad time, it was lovely to celebrate her life and share memories with all of Brenda’s children and friends. 



On 19th December we moved into our new home in Nantwich. We enjoyed a lovely Christmas with Jack and Polly and have enjoyed meeting new friends in our new home. 



2017 has already proved to be exciting, but more of that in the next blog. 

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Friends, Festivals and Furniture

After celebrating Polly’s graduation, we headed to the Wirral to spend time with Roger’s mum. A quiet relaxing week followed, which prepared us nicely for CarFest north, which has become a bit of an annual pilgrimage for us. We had a fantastic time in mostly glorious sun at Bolesworth Castle, enjoying great music, fantastic food and good company. My musical highlights would include Texas, Paul Heaton and Jaqui Abbot, the Proclaimers who are always good live, the Corrs, Kaiser Chiefs – who were outstanding, Bryan Adams and the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band. Got to love a brass band and particularly one as good as them. It was a lovely time. 

We left the festival and headed back to Eunoia for a cruise down the Grand Union Canal. We travelled through Leicester, where Jack came to meet us. Jack and I enjoyed a fun afternoon, carrying out the logistical challenge of getting the car and camper where we thought we might need them at the end of the cruise, and got very wet in the process! 

It was good to have Jack with us as we went through some big heavy locks. With his help we made short work of them and travelled on to Foxton Junction where we turned left and headed to Market Harborough. We’d visited this arm many years ago, during our first ever narrow boat trip with our good friends Rob, Claire, Will and Kate Hodson and it was good to repeat the exercise. Market Harborough was lovely and we enjoyed a walk into the town, as well as the improvements made to the basin. 


We had a good trip up the Foxton Locks, with lots of help from passing children and other day trippers. The flight here is wonderful to see, and it’s great that on a sunny day lots of folk still come to watch the boats going up and down the flight. Fantastic engineering that stills works well today. We soon got to the top and headed to Crick where we said goodbye to Jack and headed on our way. Watford locks were more tricky for us, partly because Jack had left us, but also because we had to wait for boats to come up before we could head down, and also because of a broken gate arm half way down that could only be operated by Canal and River Trust staff. We did get through though and headed to the Braunston Tunnel and into the Brausnston locks. At the bottom of the flight we picked up Friends Phil and Sue who visited for a few days. 


We headed along the Grand Union and then turned north onto the Oxford canal, and were joined by Naomi Read as we travelled through Rugby. It’s so lovely to share our boat with friends. From there we travelled north before heading down the Coventry Canal into Coventry. After some shallow areas, and lots of rubbish, we made it to the basin before heading for the cathedral. Such a stunning building and so lovely that the new building incorporates the old ruins. We had a feast at the Rising, the cathedral cafe before heading back to the boat and moving back up that canal as we didn’t fancy spending the night in Coventry basin.


After Coventry we headed up the Ashby canal, avoiding a car in the water at the junction which briefly presented a challenge. The Ashy is a very rural, but beautiful canal. This was where we ended our cruise and said goodbye to Phil and Sue. We moored up the boat and headed home for a few days of house sorting, packing, catching up with friends and celebrating Polly’s 21st birthday. It was lovely to have the four of us in the house for one last time together before the house was sold, and nice that we could celebrate Polly’s birthday too. I remember her birthday being one of the first celebrations we had when we moved into the house – her 3rd birthday!


We returned to the boat 4 days later to play host to Jack and Eleanor for a quick trip up and down the rest of the Ashby canal. A lovely time, enjoying good company on a beautiful canal. After Jack and Eleanor left us, we continued on back to the Coventry canal, leaving the boat at Springwood Haven Marina, where we moored her for two weeks.


Two weeks was the allotted time for us to finish packing and sorting, enjoy Greenbelt festival and move house. The packing and sorting wasn’t interesting, aside from the large number of trips we made to the tip and to charity shops, but Greenbelt was fantastic. We went with a group from church and enjoyed a fantastic time. I went to some fantastically interesting and challenging talks about refugees, listened to the Archbishop of Canterbury and Terry Waite, enjoyed some fantastic poetry from Harry Baker, made even better by his partnership with Chris (Harry n’ Chris) and watched the Underground Clown Club perform Love and Rabbits. I also loved the Sunday morning communion which was presented by children and was very inspiring. A wonderful time. 


We got home to greet the removal men, who over two days packed us up, moved us out, and after we’d had a window removed the other end, moved us in. Downsizing has been done and we now have everything we need in a smaller home. Jack’s assistance was brilliant, and I think we’ll be happy in our new home for a while.

That brings us to the end of August, but we hope not to the end of the summer. There’s still time for a bit more boating on the canals before the evenings draw in, and we’re determined to enjoy what good weather there is. 

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Back on the water

My last blog about skiing seems a long time ago, and much has happened since then. Of note Roger and I drove from Austria, stopping in Germany and France on the way, then spent some time at Caen on the Normandy beaches before boarding the ferry home. Once home we caught up with family and friends, did some sorting and attended the wedding of Naomi and Chris before heading off to Eunoia, our much loved narrowboat. 

Our travelling plans had to change due to damage on the Rochdale canal from the floods in January, which means a complete closure until June. As such we headed east from the marina along the Trent and Mersey, quickly covering new ground as we reached Nottingham and then the very beautiful Newark on Trent. We stayed at Newark for a couple of days  enjoying the lovely town and a well placed Waitrose next to the river, whilst preparing to enter the tidal Trent. Our first effort was thwarted by a boom being re-fitted across a weir, which prevented our passage, so we returned to Newark for another night. The following day we set off, through big locks and off we went. It was cold and wet as we crossed, but we successfully negotiated the river without incident and arrived, very damp and cold, entering the lock to pass into the Fossdyke. We moored as soon as we could and hunkered down, with the heating on, for the night. The Fossdyke is the oldest, still navigable, man made water way and was built by the Romans. In common with their roads, it was long and straight. It also had very high banks, which results in a good view front and back but a rubbish view to the sides. We made it quickly to Lincoln and after passing through Brayford pool passed under the Glory Hole before we moored on the Witham navigations.  Lincoln was a new city for us and we loved the cathedral and town. We even ran out of time and didn’t get to see the castle before we headed off again. We also spent a lovely morning worshipping at Live Lincoln, a very vibrant city centre church. 

One of the things we discovered as we travelled was that if we wanted to travel further up the Tidal Trdnt, control becomes the responsibility of ABP and not the CRT, and their rules require boaters to have VHF radio and to be qualified to use it. We duly booked in with the RYA and enrolled ourselves on the relevant course. We spent much of our time over the next week reading and learning for our exam. There were lots of practice Mayday and Panpan calls made in preparation!

We went down the navigation to Boston at the tidal lock with the Wash. As we travelled the weather became very hot and sunny, which greatly enhanced our travels. In Boston we enjoyed Boston Stump and the beautiful windmill Maud Foster. We then headed back up to Lincoln, with 2 tasks in mind, to visit the castle and to pass our radio exam. Both were achieved. 


Lincoln was a good base to go and collect our vehicle that we’d left at the marina when we got on the boat. We hired a car and then took a journey across the north, visiting our lovely friends David and Jane who are hosting our vehicle for a few weeks. 

Back on the boat we enjoyed another Sunday morning at Alive Lincoln, before heading off back up the Fossdyke. On Monday we passed through the lock into the tidal Trent again to head further north to the Chesterfield canal. This time we travelled in bright hot sun which was a great improvement on the first leg of the Trent and arrived safely in the Chesterfield. First impressions are that its very beautiful with far reaching views. A more traditional canal. 

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Canal Adventures

Friday March 13th saw Roger and I leave home to begin our longer term adventure on Eunoia. We arrived and packed all of stuff that we thought might be necessary for a longer trip and then left the marina.We turned right onto the Trent and Mersey and headed into Willington for the night. We also took the opportunity to do the first of many moves of the car so that we would have it conveniently located at a railway station when we needed it. Saturday saw us head to Arewas just in time for me to visit my favourite canal side butchers and for Roger to settle down to enjoy the 6 nations. Sunday brought us to bits of the Trent and Mersey that we hadn’t travelled previously. We went through some very narrow bits at Armitage that literally were hacked out of the rock. We were glad not to be travelling this way during a busier part of the season. We stopped at Rugeley – a town with two railway stations which was the main attraction.

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On Monday we took trains back to Willington to collect the car again in order to go to Derby to collect Jack from the station. Many hours later we had Jack, and all his belongings (including a trombone) stashed in Eunoia ready to go and then headed off to Hayward Lock, ready for our left turn onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal. This was a beautiful canal, very rural and we headed south towards Autheley where we joined the Shropshire Union Canal. We travelled through the Autheley junction lock, which had a fall of about 6″ – definitely the smallest fall in a lock we’ve encountered so far.

Our next stop was Brewood – pronounced Brood, which was a lovely stop. A beautiful little town with lovely shops, another fantastic butchers and historic buildings. We stopped at Gnosall Heath where we met up with Cheryl and Tony for a lovely lunch in the pub Very relaxed lunch before heading down to Goldstone Wharf ahead of a day of locks.

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On Friday 20th March we travelled 25 locks through Tyler Locks, Adderley Locks and Audlem Locks. We had to fill most of them before we could travel down, but were very proud to have got through all of them on one day. I was really grateful for Jack being with us for that bit, it would have been really hard work without him.

Saturday saw us travelling over the aqueduct into Nantwich in time for Roger to watch the finale of the 6 nations, for Jack to go and collect the car (he has a young persons rail card!) and for me to stroll around the shops and collect some provisions. Beautiful town with friendly people and lovely buildings. I particularly liked the walk into town from the marina, going past the Alms houses and the old Police houses.

Sunday was a no travelling day as we spent it with the lovely Emery’s firstly at their church and then at their house for a lovely lunch.

With the car with us, on Monday we were able to go and collect Polly from Crewe and do a bit of bigger shopping. Once Polly was with us, having packed much lighter, we were able to set off towards Chester. North of Nantwich the Shropshire Union canal changes from narrow to wide and you get to use the huge wide locks. They are much more dangerous as a narrow boat gets thrown around in them but are manageable with care. We went through the interesting Bunbury staircase. Two locks with no pound between them. Required a bit of thought but we got safely through with a bit of help from the volunteer lock keeper who was just checking that everything was working properly. Would have been an even more pleasant morning if it hadn’t rained – but the smiles stayed and the waterproofs worked well.

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We stopped at a pub for lunch with friends, but unfortunately chose the one pub on the cut that was closed for refurbishment! Fortunately Jane was able to take all of us in her car to another pub where we had a lovely meal. After lunch we got back to the boat with the bonus of having collected the car and cruised to Egg Bridge where we met Adrian and Lisa with whom we had a lovely evening. The next day we completed our cruise to Chester with Adrian’s help. We then found the mooring of my dreams, right outside of a new huge Waitrose. Fantastic facilities together with a paper, hot drink and clean loos. Wonderful.

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Thursday saw us have a nice potter around Chester and then turn the boat around to go to Tattenhall marina as we were returning home for the weekend.  When the boat was safely moored off we went back home leaving Polly for her onward adventure. What a great couple of weeks, cold but mostly dry and fine. We met some of our lovely friends and relatives whom we’d not seen for ages and spent time as a whole family without much internet or telly!!IMG_1955

A fantastic weekend and then back to the boat on Monday 30th together with Snowy, our elderly, but gorgeous cat. This was always going to be interesting, but he survived the journey there, his first night and his first day of travelling, including 5 locks. He seems to have settled and doesn’t look too anxious now. Not sure that waiting until your cat is 19 to try him out of a new adventure is the best idea, but all well so far. I’m sure he’ll feature in future blogs!

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Mum, Music and Walking

It was lovely to be home, sleep in our own bed and cuddle the cat after 6 weeks away. On top of this we enjoyed 4 nights with all four of us in the same house at the same time – the longest we’d managed all summer. This quickly came to a close with the kids holidaying in Jersey and Greece which left Roger and I to head off to Eunoia for a trip with my mum. This was her first visit to the boat and hopefully it didn’t disappoint. Mum came up on the train and we collected her from Burton on Trent before heading up the Mersey and Trent Canal and then into the Coventry canal. Mum jumped off at all the locks and helped with the paddles and gates and we were blessed with glorious weather. A real treat. Here’s a picture of Mum and I enjoying the peace in the sun.

Mum and I

Our next occasion was Radio 2’s festival in a day at Hyde Park. We went with our good friends Chris and Sara and having sorted out that the trains were going to be useless due to works, Chris drove us up to Richmond then we hopped the underground and bus to Hyde Park. We got through all the security checks just in time to see Chrissie Hyde starting off the music. They were followed by Bellowhead, Gregory Porter, Paloma Faith, Kacey Musgrave, Blondie, Billy Ocean and the headliners Jeff Lynn’s ELO. It was a fab day out and ELO were simply fantastic. Jeff Lynn was so humble and seemingly overwhelmed by the audience response. To hear songs that I remember as being so intricate and complicated played live, and sounding so wonderful was great. On top of all the great acts we also enjoyed seeing loads of the Radio 2 DJ’s that we’re so familiar with including Sir Terry Wogan, Chris Evans, Johnny Walker and Ken Bruce. A brilliant day. If ELO do tour again, I will be there and I would recommend them to you all.

Festival in a daySince then we’ve had a hasty trip to Sheffield to drop Polly back to Uni and we managed another chunk of our Isle of Wight Coast path – 2 down, 3 to go. Jack drove us to Lymington to make the early ferry to Yarmouth and we walked the coast path to Cowes. We had a lovely day on what turned out to be a very long walk. We estimate it to have been 18.5 miles (my phone with its mapping ran out of battery at 17!) but we were very proud of ourselves as we boarded the ferry. It’s such a shame that the IW ferries are so expensive, especially if you want to travel with both companies having walked between their respective ports. So prohibitive that we’ll wait to do the other bits until we have time to go over and stay in the camper for a few days and do the last 3 chunks in a big hit.

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Other than that I’ve visited my favourite local National Trust, Hinton Ampner, with the lovely Katherine who’s now gone off to University at Bath, and visited the other local one, Mottisfont, with the gorgeous Roger. For any locals, it’s well worth another visit as they’ve opened up some new rooms on the first floor and it all looks a bit different. It’s so lovely to be able to make repeat visits to these beautiful houses.  We’ve caught up with our friends and I’ve got back into my banding. All lovely.

The next week is set to be busy, but I’ll update you next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eunoia and Jack

Having collected Jack from Durham and spent a brass banding weekend at home, we set off again to Eunoia with Jack. This was to be the first trip with a guest. We decided this time to turn left out of the marina and head west. This part of the Trent and Mersey canal is wide and allows the passage of wide berth boats.

DSC01530 This means that the locks are wide too, which creates the issues of heavier lock gates, seemingly stiffer paddles and more movement to the boat in the lock. We travelled off through numerous locks along to Shardlow which is a very pretty place. We then travelled through Derwent Mouth which is the start of the river and end of the canal, when it becomes very wide and we passed lots of signs to avoid the weir. A picture of a boat capsizing by a weir worked for us at keeping us straight.
We then came to the big junction which was right for River Soar which leads to Loughborough, straight on for the Cranfleet Cut which leads to Nottingham and left up the Erewash canal. We turned left.
The Erewash canal isn’t, it appears, much used. It’s a dead end canal, so you have to travel up and back. Along both sides, at the Trent end, were lilies that were beautiful but did restrict the passage. The other thing about the Erewash canal is that the locks are protected by anti vandal locks. This creates an extra challenge for those of us operating the locks in unlocking the paddles, before they can be lowered, passing the key across the lock, and locking up again when the paddles were closed. Another key might have been useful! As the canal wasn’t well travelled we found some of the locks really hard work, and Jack and I worked hard to open and fill the 15 locks as we climbed in one day up to the basin at Langley Mill. Having said that I really enjoyed the Erewash. We travelled through some very industrial, but beautiful buildings and you could imagine the business of those buildings and the canal in their heyday. We also passed some more rural areas and met lots of people. At the locks on several occasions there were groups of people, mostly young, fishing. Almost without exception they offered to help and engaged in amusing conversations about what they were doing and where we were going.

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At Langley Mill there was very restricted room, so we moored partially alongside a brand new boat called Just The One. The owners Bruce and Judy had only picked their boat up at the Crick show and we had a lovely time with them over a bottle of wine putting the world to rights and sharing our stories.

The next morning I was woken by banging and went out to find that we had moved since the night before. A temporary pontoon was being dismantled and had needed to move the moored boats in order to make room. We re-tied and spent a few hours watching the workers work whilst we drank tea. When the pontoon was removed and out of the water, off we went, back down the Erewash. The locks seemed easier for our efforts the previous day and we arrived safely back down above the Trent lock by some of the widest variety of house boats that I’ve ever seen. This one particularly took my fancy as it’s front end is completely within a lean to.
House boat and hut.

Gin and Tonic Cake

 We set off through the Trent Lock back onto the river and then back into the Trent and Mersey Canal. We moored overnight at Sawley where we had great pleasure in welcoming visitors. Jackie, Graeme, Alex, James and Alison who joined us to toast Eunoia and partake in some Gin and Tonic cake that I’d baked to test both the oven and the recipe. A success on both counts from my perspective., and only 10 units of gin in the cake and icing!

Sunday saw us travelling alongside a range of steam boats who were enjoying their annual rally. We travelled the short distance to Shardlow passing a lovely house with a train set that travelled all around the garden. We’d seen it on the way through but without enough time to take any photos. This time we captured some, including pictures of the two engines that were both steaming nicely and awaiting the return of the steam boats who I think went there later in the afternoon.

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We then moored and found a pub that had the Wimbledon final showing. After 5 exciting sets we returned to the boat and a quiet evening.

The rest of the trip passed gently, as we cruised back along the Trent and Mersey, back into the marina. Only one incident and that involved a dog on another boat, a herd of sheep and an irate farmer. Fortunately I think there was no harm done.

A lovely trip with lots of locks, all made so much easier because Jack was there to help. Brilliant. Now home, sorting and getting ready for the Commonwealth games.

Being Relaxed

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Eunoia’s maiden voyage (with us) and CWG training

Monday 9th saw us up early and away to see Eunoia for the first time since she was ours. On our arrival it took a few journeys to and from the camper to load on all the goodies that we’d brought in order to make Eunoia into a home from home, but we were really pleased with the result. Definitely homely.

The galley with wine rack.

The galley with wine rack.

The dinning area

The dinning area

 

The Saloon

The Saloon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bedroom

The bedroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cratch

The cratch

We spent the afternoon and evening just gently finding our way around the marina and the boat and discovering things that we hadn’t realised were there when we’d viewed her.

Tuesday arrived and we asked Justin from Aqua Narrowboats (the builders) to come and give us a run through of what did what and how. After a very useful time we felt brave enough to set off out of the marina, turning right toward Burton on Trent. We had a lovely first cruise in the sun, admiring the view and gaining in confidence. Only a few scary moments! Lots of people recognised the boat and we proudly said that we’d just bought her. Happy days. It was beautiful and sunny for most of the trip, but we did have a shower or two on the way back when I left Roger to get on with it. He is the one with the ‘skipper’ hat! Here’s a picture before the storm.

Before the storm

Before the storm

Wednesday was the day of farewell. We had a few tasks to sort out before we left and so i decided that I’d have a go at some of the portholes. I think this brass polishing is going to be a task!!

Brass polishing.

Brass polishing.

We then set off to Glasgow to do our main training for the Commonwealth games and to collect our accreditation and uniform. The uniform was first and the staff were so efficient and speedy that both Roger and I got through in fairly quick time. I had two sessions of training on Friday and Saturday, both of which were pretty good on the whole. Met some lovely people and found out what task I’ll be completing during the games. Just got to confirm where I’ll be now so that I turn up at the right place. Roger had his training too and knows both what he’s doing and where he’s doing it. If we can get the public transport sussed we’ll be on a roll.

We left Glasgow on Saturday night to start our journey south so that we could collect Polly from Sheffield university to bring her home on the Sunday. We packed the van to the top with all of Polly’s stuff and then had a trouble free trip home. Just got a 36 hour turn around with her now ready for her flight to Singapore on Tuesday – but that’s another story….

 

 

 

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