Les Lobbs Diary
As a bagpiper, I play many gigs.
Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man.
He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the highlands.
As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and,
Being a typical man, I didn't stop for directions.
I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone
and the hearse was nowhere in sight.
There were only the diggers So I apologized to the men for being late.
I went to the side of the grave and looked down to see the vault lid was already in place.
I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play.
The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around, as I played my heart and soul out,
for this man with no family and friends. I played like I've never played before for this homeless man.
And as I played "Amazing Grace", the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together.
When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car.
Though my head was hung low, my heart was full.
As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "I never seen nothing like that before,
and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."
Apparently I'm still lost....it's a man thing.
Barry & Ann came to see us yesterday, and bring us up to date with their news; Dawn will probably be baking again
soon, that lad can eat!
17.30 - Thirty degrees today and Dawn has sold 2 blankets - ice to Eskimos? Most of the day has been spent in the shade
of a tree, watching the world go by and the red kites. We're staying here tomorrow and hopefully meeting a couple of
friends and then we'll carry on a bit further down river.
We had a visit from Rob and Julie this morning and
I think we put the world to rights. With dark clouds
hovering about we set off at midday and, after a
couple of locks, have stopped on the EA moorings
opposite the Mid Nene Cruising Club. I've rung
Oundle marina and they are holding some leisure
batteries for us, which we will collect tomorrow as
we pass. P'boro seems the best place to fit the
batteries in case we need any "bits", though I
should be able to complete the job with what we've
An 05.30 start got us to Oundle Marina in time to have a coffee before they opened; after paying for the batteries a
scotch would have done better! The weather's a bit blowy but still warm, so when we saw a mooring space in the weir
stream above Ashton lock we called it a day and banged in pins.
Our batteries are getting real poorly now; could have
timed it better, as my back decided to give me a belt
yesterday. Dawn is going to "have a go" at disconnecting
all the old 6 volt ones, and if we can just get one of the
new ones fitted it will be better than we have now.
11.00 - All three batteries fitted and working OK - anyone
need 8 six volt batteries circa 2002? My second engineer
is proving her worth now and all the years of training are
paying off; cheeky beggar only asked for treble time as it
was Sunday but, after extensive negotiations, she's
settled for a coffee and a slice of cake.
It's just started to drizzle and the forecast is not very rosy
The dreaded Lock Wheel - this needs turning millions
of times to drop the guillotine gate and then millions
more to raise it again. (according to Dawn)
It's been raining most of the night and doesn't look like
stopping anytime soon, so we're staying here for the day
at least. Tomorrows forecast looks better and, if the rain
hasn't raised the river level too much, we'll probably
move on then. I've been looking for jobs to do but can't
find anything; I'll think of something when we get
moving again. The wifi and phone signal is very weak
and intermittent here but I'm managing to access the
What was the name of the python in The Jungle Book?
Fine weather is forecast for today so we set off at 05.30
and, 3 locks down, paired up with another boat which
made locking easier. Dark clouds started to show about
ten o clock and, as Wansford was coming up, we left the
other boat to carry on and we tied up to trees alongside
the meadow, near the Haycock pub. Getting lines round
the trees tested the crews mountaineering skills but the
possibility of "shops" spurred her on. Today's run should
have given the new batteries a good charge, now all we
need to do is get rid of the old ones.
Crew's back from the shops with bread, sausage rolls and
Ovaltine; sums our life style up nicely
A farmer decided he wanted to go to town and see a movie. The ticket agent asked, "Sir, what's that on your
The old farmer said, "that's my pet rooster Chuck. Wherever I go, Chuck goes."
"I'm sorry sir," said the ticket agent "we can't allow animals in the theatre."
The old farmer went around the corner and stuffed Chuck down his overalls. Then he returned to the booth, bought a
ticket, and entered the theatre.
He sat down next to two old widows named mildred and marge.
The movie started and the rooster began to squirm. The old farmer unbuttoned his fly so Chuck could stick his head out
and watch the movie.
"Marge," whispered Mildred.
"What?" said Marge.
"I think the guy next to me is a pervert."
"What makes you think so?" asked Marge?
"He undid his pants and he has his thing out", whispered Mildred.
"Well, don't worry about it", said Marge.. "at our age we've seen 'em all"
"I thought so too", said Mildred, "but this one's eating my popcorn!"
There was a thick mist when we set off at 05.30 and it had just cleared as we left Orton lock, on the outskirts of P'boro;
the tunnel light has never been on for so long! As we got closer to P'boro the amount of floating rubbish increased and
the banks were dotted with cans and bottles; a shame because it's quite a pretty section.
We filled and emptied (management was not impressed with the state of the Elsan facilities!) before tying up opposite
the grain wharf amidst piles of duck and swan poo - I think it rivals Ely for guano. We had a phone call yesterday from
Gloria, who is back in the UK for a couple of weeks after finishing her treatment; she was telling us about the changes
to the aires in Portugal.
17.00 - Busy afternoon! Barry and Ann popped in and we were below having a cuppa and a chat, when Gary and Sheila
called. It's good to catch up on all the news of family and friends. The river level was up and we were using the plank
for boarding; there was an ominous creak when it took Barry's weight, but it held fast.
It was a quiet night and the level is down to the "dry feet"
stage now. Two trips to Asda under her belt yesterday, and
the crew still plans another one today. We need battery
boxes for the new additions, (if they leak acid it could eat a
hole in my bottom) so I've added them on t'list. Dawn's
brother Trevor and wife Sue are calling this afternoon; a
bonus with having visitors is that the cake box is filled with
17.00 - Another afternoon of entertaining; Trevor and Sue
came over and, a little while later, Tracey brought the
children to see us. No battery boxes to be had locally so it
looks as though we'll be visiting a chandlers when we're
back on t'cut.
06.00 - I haven't looked out, but we've had some rain this morning or lots of gulls jumping about on t'roof. The new
batteries are proving their worth, with no need to run the engine for 2 days, but I think we'll go to up to the Ferry
Meadows moorings this afternoon and that should keep them topped up. They are good moorings and are popular, but
the limit of only 24hrs makes them an overnighter only.
We had a tootle up river for half an hour and then back to the embankment, that was enough to top up the batteries
and give us a couple of days hot water. Julie, our neighbour when we lived in P'boro, came to visit us yesterday
afternoon with her husband Ken; we had a brew and a good chat about times old and new.
It's a bit overcast today but there's no rain forecast. Barry and Ann are coming for lunch so I've done a bit of tidying up
and got the lunch prepared, it just needs cooking when we're ready.
19.00 - A very pleasant lunch with good company, takes some beating. We heard this morning that my sister Jean is in
hospital with a chest infection; Ivan rang later to let us know that they are keeping her on fluids and antibiotics and she
should be home on Monday.
We really are very lucky; yesterday we went to Gary and Sheila's anniversary lunch at Orton Hall and most enjoyable it
was, unfortunately I had to call it a day at four o clock cos my back was sending warning twangs. We had not seen
Simon, G & S's son, since his 21st birthday and he is now 47! Jean is off the drip now and should be home today; a
shame Ivan and she had to miss the party. Sue kindly drove us to and from the hall.
On the down side, I've broken a tooth and today we're going to try and find a dentist to yank it out; seems better to get it
done here than wait until we are out in the sticks and it starts to give me worse gip.
Wot a busy day - I got an dentist appt at 10.45 and Barry kindly took us there; after having a temporary filling, Barry took
us to Chateaux Barsby for a coffee, before returning us to the boat. When we got back to the boat, Harlan was waiting
for us along with Gavin and Tracey. As the weather was OK, we decided on a trip up river and Gavin drove most of the
way. We went down the rowing club cut and turned in the basin and then back to the embankment for a cuppa.
Gary and Sheila called in later with bags of goodies and more wool for Dawn; that called for another cuppa and a slice
of apple tart that Sheila had made - scrummy!
We have just tied on the long uphill lock rope, in preparation for our return trip up river, which we hope to start
After filling and emptying, we left at 07.00 and had a good
trip here through wooded countryside. The flow through
Water Newton Mill had decreased since we came down
and it looked very picturesque as we approached the
lock. There were no boats tied up here when we arrived,
so we had a choice of trees and shortly after we arrived a
cruiser pulled in behind us.
A family are using the clear water under the old bridge
for swimming and they are having a whale of a time with
a squeal every now and then - I think the water is cold!
Dawn has just written a couple of letters and is going to
pop into the village later to post them; that's near the ice
It rained last night and we were a bit dubious about leaving this morning, but we set off at 08.00, after the rain had
stopped and had a dry trip here. At Elton lock we paired up with Don & Chrissy in a small cruiser and then left them to
continue on to Wadenhoe when we moored up here, just before 14.00. We have cleared three of the six, wheeled locks
today and should do the others tomorrow, weather permitting.
A brunette tells her doctor that her body hurts wherever she touches it ''impossible! show me'' says the doctor'.
So she touches her elbow with her finger and screams in pain, then her knee, same result, then her foot, same again
''see what I mean?'' she says. ''You're not really brunette are you?'' says the doc, ''no I'm blonde'' she says.
''I thought as much- your finger's broken!''
Wadenhoe, Kings Head
Slight change of plan; we started off in dry, if overcast,
weather and then 'im upstairs decided to dump a week's
worth of rain on us before we had passed the first lock.
By the time we reached Wadenhoe lock I was soaked
and the crew was not much drier so, for that reason
only, I moored at the Kings Head pub. Don and Chrissy
on Dragonfly were moored in the weir stream and Don
took our lines which made landing easier. After a
shower, it seemed rude not to make use of the pub as
we were parked on their lawn; we both had Tempura
prawns with a honey/chilli glaze and they were
gorgeous. The sun appeared later on this afternoon and
we have sat out, between snoozes!
Two Yorkshire men are out fly fishing on the river Wharfe.
Almost silently, so as not to scare the fish, Bob says,
'I think I'm gonna divorce my wife, she hasn't spoken to me in over 2 months.'
Harry continues quietly fishing, then thoughtfully says,
'You better think it over, Bob - Women like that are hard to find.'
Thrapston - Yacht club moorings
A very peaceful night and a bright morning, so we filled
with water and set off. After Titchmarsh lock, the wind
started to get up and gurt big black clouds appeared; as our
wet weather gear was still damp it made sense to stop and
we pulled onto these excellent moorings. I've just pumped
a few gallons of yesterday's rain out of the bilges and
emptied the calorifier overflow receptacle (bucket on a
13.00 - Still blowing, so we're staying here for the night; it's
no pleasure when it's windy and anyway we're in no rush.
The yachts are just over the bank from us and the sound of
halyards rattling in the wind takes us back to our sailing
days. Dawn's just had a stroll into Thrapston for essentials
and returned with fish & chips, which was a nice surprise.
Antiques roadshow goes to Dublin. Paddy is there with two stuffed dogs. On arrival at the table with the expert, the
expert examines the specimens and declares "These dogs are amazing" he says "They were done by Whitehouse and
Co London in 1877 one of the best taxidermists in the world; they are somewhat distressed now, but do you know what
these would fetch if they were in excellent condition?
Paddy thought for a moment... "Sticks?" he asked.
There were a few clouds about when we set off, but we
had a dry, if somewhat blowy, trip. We were undecided
whether to continue on to Wellingborough, but the
Sunday market here made the decision for us.
That was a waste of time, the stall holders were
packing up, so we had a hot dog each and that was all.
Housekeeping spotted some blackberries as we moored
- guess who's having crumble for pudding! We have
done all the "wheel" locks now and on the next stretch
we have some with pointed gates at both ends; these
tend to be quicker because we can squeeze through
one gate and the gates don't need to be closed when
Earls Barton Lock
An excellent mornings cruising; we covered 9.5 miles with 7 locks and were tied up here at 11.10. That includes an
hour in Wellingborough, where we filled and emptied and Dawn took the trolley for a walk round Tesco. There are a
few dark clouds about, but it's mostly sunny with a light breeze - time now for a cuppa and a ticky bun.
Another good mornings run has brought us to Northampton wharf, where we'll stay until we start the Rothersthorpe
flight tomorrow; there are 17 narrow locks and that will take us up to the Grand Union canal at Gayton. We need to do
an engine oil & filter change then, before we head towards Braunston. There were lots of geese on the last stretch,
canadas and grey lags and there were a few egrets fishing alongside the herons.
06.00 - Weather looks OK so if the crew is feeling up to it, she was a bit under the weather yesterday, we'll set off later.
This flight is notorious for low water levels and first thing in the morning is not a good time to start, as some pounds will
be low or empty.
13.00 - Well we've done the flight and the crew did us proud. We topped up with diesel to see what we had used over
the month on the river and it was £132.80 so we were quite chuffed as I had hammered it a bit in places; the river is the
ideal place to get the exhaust temp up and clear it out a bit. It's too hot to be messing about in the engine bay now, so
the oil change will have to wait, a pint of the dark stuff sounds more inviting.
Mary found out that her dog (a Schnauzer) could hardly hear, so she took it to the veterinarian.
The vet found that the problem was ear wax and hair clogging the dog's ears.
He cleaned both ears, and the dog could then hear fine.
The vet then proceeded to tell Mary that, if she wanted to keep this from recurring, she should go to the store and get
some "Nair" hair remover and rub it in the dog's ears once a month.
Mary went to the store and bought some "Nair" hair remover.
At the register, the pharmacist told her, "If you're going to use this under your arms, don't use deodorant for a few
Mary said, "I'm not using it under my arms."
The pharmacist said, "If you're using it on your legs, don't use body lotion for a couple of days."
Mary replied, "I'm not using it on my legs either, if you must know, I'm using it on my Schnauzer."
The pharmacist says, "Well, stay off your bicycle for about a week."
05.00 - It's been raining on and off since last evening,
which will wash some of the dust and leaves off the roof;
there are a lot of willows on the river and they drop
loads of leaves and "fluff", which gets everywhere. If it
eases off, we'll head for Weedon; there are no locks and
plenty of moorings there and I'll definitely do the oil
13.00 - Steady run here, after filling and emptying at the
junction. It has drizzled a bit this morning, but when we
had tied up we got stuck in and changed the oil and
filter while twas nice and warm. An Ice Cream boat
doing cornets just pulled in and so we had to try them.
Well my back has just made the decision to tarry a
while, ******* thing. We could be in a worse place I
suppose, there are shops here and we're full of water.
Staying put has it's advantages!
Every cloud has a silver lining; catering produced the
two cakes in the pic and on her return from the shops
she brought a Chinese "meal for one". They must have
good appetites in China, because we shared it and
were both pogged.
There's rain forecast for tomorrow so we'll probably stay
here and give my back another day to settle down; then
07.00 - Staying here today as weather and back are looking iffy.
13.00 - Purchasing has just returned after a bus trip to Braunston via Daventry. Midland Chandlers in Braunston had
battery boxes on offer this month; we needed three for the new batteries and we were not sure if they would be open
when we passed. Dawn used her bus pass and fortunately took a folded up refugee bag; they only just fitted in it!
Battery boxes are more important on boats because if any acid leaks it can eat through the hull and then it's glug glug
A Vicar went to the dentist for a set of false teeth.
The first Sunday after he gets his new teeth, his sermon lasts for only eight minutes.
The second Sunday, it lasts for only ten minutes.
The following Sunday, it lasts for one hour and twenty-five minutes.
His Churchwarden asked him after the third sermon to explain the reason for the different times.
The Vicar explained that on the first Sunday his gums hurt so much he couldn't preach for more than eight minutes.
The second Sunday his gums hurt too much to preach for more than ten minutes.
However, on the third Sunday, he put his wife's teeth in by mistake and he couldn't shut up.
That's it! We did 13 locks today and that's the last of the
wide ones. Now we are on the North Oxford canal and
tied up in the country. Braunston was busy and we had to
queue a few times at the locks; fortunately the shop was
open at the bottom lock and it was ice creams all round.
The most notable changes from the river are blackthorns
instead of willows and mallards instead of moorhens - so
now it's a case of "sloe sloe quack quack sloe".
Just a gentle tootle this morning; about 5 miles and the
three locks at Hillmorton. We're now moored up below
the water point at Hillmorton and enjoying the
sunshine, which broke through as we stopped here, just
The dogs all had a party
They came from near and far
Some dogs came by taxi
And some dogs came by car.
Each dog signed his name
Upon a special book,
And each dog hung his tail
Upon a special hook.
One dog was not invitied
And this aroused his ire,
He stormed into the party
And loudly shouted "FIRE!!"
In the scene that followed
The dogs forgot to look,
And grabbed just any tail
From off any hook.
So that is the real reason
Whenever they meet or roam,
They sniff each others tails
To try and find their own!
The Dogs Party
A half six start got us to Tesco at Rugby for 7.30, just right
for all the bargains! The next stop was at Newbold to top
up with water, then through the mini tunnel and on
towards Hawkesbury. I pulled in here because we were
meeting a lot of oncoming boats and I was doing a fair bit
of bird nesting and getting told off for scratching the boat.
We saw these calves near Brinklow, splashing about
in the water like young kids in a puddle; shows how
shallow the margins are in places!
Hawkesbury, Coventry Canal
Another 06.30 start and clear weather, with the sun
breaking through as we neared Hawkesbury. The
gauging lock at the junction with the Coventry canal has
a fall of about a foot, but we still had to queue while 2
other boats went through. It is not often that moorings
are available here, but arriving at 09.30 meant we had a
choice of places and so we tied up, rather than continue
to the Ashby junction where we have stayed before.
This morning's trip was a peaceful, lock free journey to Atherstone with only 3 oncoming boats - left at six arrived at half
nine, 10.5 miles. There was a queue waiting to go down the locks, so I think it will be an early morning job tomorrow
for us. Dawn's got the trolley out ready for the trip into town and has got the blankets on show already.
13.00 - Guess who brought fish and chips back with her? No wool today, but a visit to the "2 for £1" cake shop means
that the cake tin is full again. Lots of the boats who were camped on the visitor moorings here and at Hawkesbury have
been moved on, which makes mooring a lot easier.
After filling and emptying, we entered Atherstone top lock
at 06.20. I had a few excursions into the overhanging trees
and the result was a bowl of damsons and greengages,
which are now being cooked - yum, yum! We exited lock
11, Atherstone bottom lock, at 08.30 and tied up after
bridge 50 in a pretty country mooring at 09.00; only 3
miles but a busy trip.
18.00 - Damsons with sponge topping and custard, proper
'ansom; how I keep so trim is a mystery. It's clouded over
now, which must be a worry for the farmer who's
harvesting all the fields of wheat around us. Weather
permitting, we should get through Tamworth tomorrow
and then we can stop at Fazeley or carry on to Hopwas,
where we like mooring near the Hopwas Wood bridge.
05.00- Still dark here; aren't the nights pulling in now?
Black clouds kept passing over last evening, but it stayed dry until we came in at dusk and they were still harvesting
when I turned in; I've not heard it rain in the night so hopefully they got finished OK. Moving off when it gets light
enough, with the hope of reaching Hopwas, where there are moorings in the woods that we prefer to the town ones,
which usually have dog poo liberally scattered about.
10.00 - Still some wheat to harvest, but they'd got a lot done. Both locks were in our favour at Glascote and the bottom
one even had the top gate open. The wind picked up as the sun showed and it had a chilly nip to it, so we decided to
stop on the town moorings rather than the shaded woods at Hopwas.