Les Lobbs Diary
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
The answers to last months puzzles are available via the home page (link above) and there are a couple of new
In the additions below, all digits have been replaced by letters.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
LA + SI = SOL
What do the complete additions look like in digits?
The equation shown below is not correct:
5 + 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!).
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
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.
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.
'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 !
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.
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.
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.
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.