Cutting on the Shroppy
Ashby canal
Ashby canal
Ditchford railway bridge
Vertical lock
Useful gangplank
Sue and Harlan
Denver windmill
Denver sluice
Les Lobbs Diary
June 2011
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Taunton, sunny
Julie brought the boys to the boat on Tuesday and we had a tootle along the cut, a pub lunch, and a tootle back. After they had left on Wed morning, we sorted the boat out and drove to our friends in P'boro, where we spent the night. By lunchtime Thursday we were in Devizes, market day, having a mosey round the shops and the stalls; we came away with netting for the boat curtains, and more importantly, a real pork pie from Roses butchers. We are now at the campsite near Julie, in Taunton, and have visited Mum, and Andrew, who has just had another operation on his leg. This afternoon I tried to phone our correspondent from the Limousin but there was no answer, so will try again tomorrow.
The answers to last months puzzles are available via the home page (link above) and there are a couple of new video clips.
In the additions below, all digits have been replaced by letters. Even letters represent even digits and odd letters represent odd digits.

RE + MI = FA
DO + SI = MI

What do the complete additions look like in digits?
The equation shown below is not correct:
+ 5 + 5 = 550
The Question: Can you make the equation correct by placing just one stroke? (putting a stroke through the equal sign is an inventive solution, but not the one we are looking for!).
Taunton, sunny
Julie is coming after work this evening to fetch her car back, then we will set off in the morning, to call at P'boro on the way back to the boat. We have collected various bits and bobs to do a few jobs on the boat. When we fill our water tank, which is mounted under the fore deck, we have to clear the deck and get access to the filler in a cupboard and then watch the hose while it is filling to prevent the deck flooding; the plan is to fit a deck fitting and connect it to this filler with a flexible hose. There is one problem which is causing us a lot of running round, that is a way to fit a breather into the new flexible hose; we have tried copper fittings and waste fittings, with little success, the old filler cap had a hole drilled in it, which worked well in the cupboard, but on the deck it would be open to all the "nasties" found in canal water. We bought a new teapot for the boat, which Mum has knitted a cosy for, but found that the spout hole is very small and it dribbles, so admin may take that back, when we return to Taunton next.
Gt Haywood, rainy
We arrived back here at 11.00, after spending the night at Chateau Barsby, where the chef was in fine form. After a lot of sorting, we managed to get all the "stuff" we had brought with us distributed (hidden, never to be found again) about the boat. Tomorrow, if it is fine, we will try to fit some of the skin fittings we have been meaning to do for ages; one in the engine room for our spare bilge pump and another to split the shower and sink wastes, which now share a joint outlet and flood the sink when the shower is emptied. If all goes well, we will then attempt the water tank filler described above.

Hopwas, Coventry canal, rainy
Well, yesterday we got the spare bilge pump fitted up and mounted the deck filler for the water tank. This morning, at 04.30, I slipped while the crew slept, but before the first lock a hooded figure appeared on deck muttering about bldy silly time to start. At 10.30 we reached Fradley junction and turned onto the Coventry canal; we covered 21 miles with 5 locks before it started to rain at 13.30, so we tied up and have had a lazy afternoon, after looking round the village. Last year we went straight past the turning to the Ashby canal, so this year we are going to give it a go, before heading towards Northampton and then the river Nene.

Hopwas, Still raining.
What's all this about droughts, we've had enough rain to last us all year! Told a fib yesterday, we are actually on the Birmingham & Fazeley part of the Coventry canal.
Today we decided we would stay put and tackle the job we had been putting off for ages - splitting the shower and hand basin wastes onto their own skin fitting outlets. All the pipe work is inside the small cupboard below the hand basin and we had to drill a 25mm hole in the hull to take the skin fitting. It went better than we were expecting, until someone dropped the only 7mm spanner we have; it went between the hull and the internal lining and was heard to drop into the bilge, gone forever! Now we can empty the shower without the waste water bubbling back into the hand basin, and the basin empties a lot quicker also. As it is still raining we have lit the stove and are both kindling.
Atherstone, sunny
I was in the dog house yesterday afternoon, when the head of catering went to the fridge and found that I had not turned it over to 12v when I unplugged the mains at the marina. We had a mad couple of hours cooking all the frozen stuff which had just defrosted (we threw the mussels); we now have variations on the theme of minced beef for the rest of the week. The people on the boat behind us came back from the pub at 01.00 and stood about laughing and shouting and waking up all us wrinklies - this morning at 04.30, when we left, one of my mooring pins got stuck and unfortunately it took quite a lot of hammering to free it !! On the bright side we had a good run through 13 miles with 13 locks and are now moored up at Atherstone. As we missed our Sunday lunch we visited the White Hart and had lunch and a pint, before we both crashed out for a couple of hours. It is about 7 miles to the junction with the Ashby canal with no locks; the Ashby is 22 miles long with no locks, so the windlasses are put away for a few days.

Hinckley, Ashby canal, sunny
I set off just after 06.00, with the crew still abed, beautiful morning. As there are no locks, the head of housekeeping decided to do the washing as we travelled and brought me a bacon batch and a cuppa between loads. We reached Marston junction at 09.15 and turned onto the Ashby canal; the change is almost instant as you leave built up areas and enter farm fields and tree lined banks. The sun was really great so we stopped just short of Hinckley at 11.00, and have been sitting out soaking up the rays since then. I've done a modification to the water filler and painted the ladder to ease my conscience.
Hinckley, changeable
'twas a bit cloudy when we set off this morning, but not cold. As we neared Sutton wharf, the canal got shallower to such a degree that if we got off the centre we were sliding on mud; our boat draws 2'6" which is quite deep for a narrowboat. We had an ice cream at the wharf, winded, and are now back at the same mooring we used last night. After an hours travel this morning, another boater told us the canal was blocked by a fallen tree at bridge 21, so we tied up and waited a couple of hours, until boats started coming through, then continued on. On the return trip we came round a bend, to find a boat across the canal with the chap trying to pole it back into the middle; it was quite windy and took him some time to get sorted out; a combination of wind and shallow water!! During the trip we had a few spots of drizzle, but nothing much, until we got 10 mins away from the mooring, when we were hit with really heavy rain, which continued until we had the boat tied up. Near Stoke Golding I spotted what could be the prototype of the pedalo, see pic.

Norton junction, drizzly
We started yesterday at 06.30 and reached Marston junction at 08.00; from there to Hawkesbury junction was only an hours trip and we joined the north Oxford canal there. After Newbold tunnel we stopped for fish & chips (the low calorie variety!), and then continued to Hillmorton, where we stopped for the night. Today we joined the Grand union (wide locks) at Braunston and, after the first flight of locks, we moored up at Norton junction. Luckily we met up with another boat, who came through the locks with us, and is also heading down the Nene. They are live-aboards and don't start as early as us, but I expect we will see them along the way. The marina at Gayton junction sells the Env. Agency visitors permits, so we will get one tomorrow and start through Northampton on Monday morning - Northampton hasn't got a very good reputation, so we will try to do all 17 locks and get out into the country before we look for a mooring.
Gayton junction, changeable
The six remaining locks of the Buckby flight were completed by 08.30 and we had a somewhat windy trip down to Gayton junction, where we are now moored for the night. At Alvechurch marina, management bought a 7 day E.Agency licence for the Nene, which starts tomorrow (shouldn't make plans!). We hope to get through Northampton tomorrow and that the weather is kind to us. People keep saying how brown we look - don't know if it is wind burn or rust. Lots of cygnets about now and the male parents have changed from doing their exocet impressions, to teaching the young how to beg bread from the nice people on the boats.
Above Earls Barton lock, sun & wind
Another early start and we had done the Rothersthorpe flight and joined the Nene by 09.30. The first few locks on the Nene were manual and quite hard, but then the Vertical gates were electrically powered, meaning only one paddle to open, and a lot easier. It's good to be on a river again and have a decent depth of water under the keel - the only problem is the shortage of mooring opportunities. We've met a boater from P'boro, who has given us a lot of info on places to moor, they are often near pubs !
Thrapston, cloudy
A great days cruising through really lovely countryside; weather was brilliant. Now that we have got the hang of the vertical gates, the locks are fairly easy, with the exception of a few that are not yet electrified and are operated by turning a gurt big wheel. I saw a kingfisher today, a very rare occurrence for us this year, lots of herons and some fair sized perch (the water is gin clear). On the down side, we also saw a dead sheep and a dead cow trapped against the weir barrier. There are not many boats cruising, but those we have met have been very friendly and helpful. I nearly missed the moorings at Thrapston, as they are tucked in next to the nine arch bridge, which carries most of the traffic through the town. A couple were watching us go under the bridge and waiting to see us come out the other side, but I saw the moorings at the last minute and stuck it in reverse while we were under the bridge; don't know if they are still waiting. It was quite tricky manoeuvring backwards against the current with very little room to turn, but we are now settled and will have a day off tomorrow and look round Thrapston.
Thrapston, changeable
This morning we had a stroll into Thrapston and found it was market day; after a browse and a coffee we came back to the boat. Late morning, Dawn's brother and his wife, Trevor and Sue, brought their Grandson, Harlan, to visit us. Harlan found a new use for the gangplank, as a downhill track for his toy cars, while we had a bit of lunch and chatted over a cuppa. We have a couple of children's buoyancy aids, which Harlan was happy to wear, after Dawn put on the other one. Tomorrow we are aiming for Fotheringhay, where we have been told of good moorings.
Peterborough embankment, sunny
On Wednesday we left Thrapston at 04.30 and had a good trip through to P'boro - beautiful river that reminds us of the upper Thames. We saw deer, red kites, kingfishers and lots of churches; if you look round 360°, chances are you will see a church steeple. The river does not pass through many villages/towns and is a good mix of tree lined banks and meadows; Wadenhoe must be a twitcher's paradise!
We have booked a lock passage from the the Nene to the Middle level for 10.15 Saturday.
March, sunny
After filling up with water, we tootled along to Stanground lock and arrived 45 mins early; no problem, we were locked through and on the way by 10.00. In Whittlesey, we had one lock to do ourselves and then clear cruising through to March, where we are now moored by the town bridge. We stopped at Fox narrowboats to put in 100ltr of diesel, which should last a few weeks. The route was not a particularly attractive one as there are tall banks on both sides and the views are not very exciting when you do see them. Blanket weed was a bother on the first stretch, with the prop needing clearing at Whittlesey and I think it will again, before we move on.
It was good to see family and friends, who visited us in P'boro; we hope to catch up with the ones we missed on our return trip. Tomorrow we are staying put and will move on towards Denver sluice on Monday.

Denver, raining
On Monday, we left March, in blazing sun, and had a 5 hour trip to Salters Lode, where we waited for the tide and left at 16.00; the tide was still making, so it took us just 10 mins to travel to the lock at Denver sluice. We had bought our Gt.Ouse licence, from the Denver lock keeper, and were moored up by 17.00; the evening was warm and calm and we were able to sit out until dark.
This morning we set off to see a working windmill, just a short walk away, the guide book said; after yomping across Norfolk for the best part of an hour, we eventually arrived and treated ourselves to a pot of tea in the tea room. It started thundering as we returned to the boat and it is now raining, so we will stay here for the day.

Ely, warm, but cloudy
Another 06.00 start - we had filled and emptied by 06.30 and had a boring run through to Ely. The Gt. Ouse is wide and featureless, but has a good depth of water and is easy to cruise. A nb had just left a berth at the town quay in Ely, so we were able to moor near the town centre and have already visited a chandlers to buy Dawn's xmas present - a new horn, because ours is playing up. This mooring is surrounded by geese who stroll about on the roads and have taken over an area, which must have been a nice flower bed once. Good business opportunity for someone to sell the guano - the place is covered in it!

Ely, warm sun and cloud
Market day today, so off we set, bargain hunting; we bought a few bits and pieces, that I suppose we didn't really want and a body warmer for the crew. We also found an osteopath and booked the chief lock operative in for 08.00, to have her shoulder "looked at". Weather permitting we will travel further south tomorrow.