Friday, 8 September 2017


Hi Everyone

Sorry for the absence but as you all know getting back after six months travel there is a lot to do

Just before we retuned to our Mooring we did a detour back into Liverpool where we spent a very good wind down time as from Liverpool its only a two day trip back to Rufford and as the Moorings in Liverpool have electric then it makes a seven day stay very easy and relaxing.
This time we were lucky as the round the yacht race was moored next to us in Albert dock they were due to leave on the sunday as we were leaving on the Friday so at 07.30 on the Friday we set off only to find that the lock between Albert Dock and the Liverpool  link had been opened which meant I had to wait hovering around these million £ boats in a very strong wind. I must admit we did cause some very anxious lucks having a 16ton metal boat getting within feet of these most Beautiful Yachts. However when the Barrier was lowered and we were allowed to sail on we did get some laps and comments of our helmsman. Though our Kieth who was with us thought we got a bit to close ?????
Now we are Back in in our home Mooring though on the way back we found a plastic chicken that had a dead engine who was fortunately for them was heading to our Marina as its all wide canal I suggested he tie along side and we go buttied up as they had just bought the boat the day before they had not a clue what I was talking about after some assurance that I could get them to Rufford we were off and as they had never done a lock the whole trip was going to be a big learning curve
Everything went well and within three hours we had them into their new mooring.
Anyway we are back Noreen has started back at work for the winter and I have started on the orders and commissions I have collected whilst out. so there we have it we are back in the old routine

I have just completed our Boat Log for this years cruise we completed the following:
623 miles made up of       : 76     narrow canal
                                            383   Broad canal
                                            118   Rivers
                                              46    Tidal Rivers
                                             278   Locks
                                             98     Movable Bridges(swing Bridges)
                                             16     Tunnels
I did not make a log of the diesel but hey who cares anyway.

It was a great trip with wonderful weather, meeting great People making new friends what else could you ask for and OF course we had our problems but Buggerlugs completed her task and got us back in one piece though I am now going to spend some time giving her some TLC (and repairs)

Great to be back among family and fiends.

A bit too close

Leaving the Three Graces behind and going home


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

On familiar ground


Well I do hope that someone is reading this although its great therapy for me, its like writing a diary though I have never been disciplined enough for that, I have tried many a time but after a few days it becomes boring. however just like this it does give you a chance to reflect on what you have done and importantly what you have not done.
My Birthday was a brilliant weekend We moored in a place called Trentham just outside Stoke on Trent  (if anyone 10 years ago said I would celebrate my 70th in Stoke on Trent I would never have believed them)  all the kids and Grandkids came they they all stayed in the hotel in Trentham gardens which is a very nice country park supplying all our needs for a big family weekend
I have said it before that God gives us Grandchildren as compensation for getting old. Prior to my birthday I have never felt 70 but after a weekend with three full on grandchildren I Did

In my engine room I have two of those boxes you can get from IKEA that have many little draws. Mine has a rather a large bottom draw that I have filled with nothing but junk, old discarded keys,  a wrist badge of rank, 7.62 shell cases, a SS gunners badge, champagne cork, Rabbit snare, whistle, paint brush, half pens, You get the picture well when Matthew was very young he always made a be line for it and would spend hours rooting though and asking "whats this" now me being me I would always give a story for each item Now Pippa has found the box and is doing the very same thing though she is very astute and I must tell the same story every time for each item otherwise I am told off for deviating from the original.
We have left the Midlands now and well on our way hope, To escape the Midlands you have to take the boat down what is called Heartbreak hill this just a section if the Trent & Mersey canal Noreen and I did 40 locks between Stoke on Trent and Middlewhich It also entails going through the notorious Harecastle Tunnel  which is a 25 min trip in complete darkness. Now before entering the tunnel you must check all your equipment lights, horn etc  Ti my horror the head light would not work I tried everything but soon realised that it was a dead duck I do carry one of these large rechargeable lamps that I normally keep with me at the back "just in Case" well its time had arrived to step into the breach it was hurriedly strapped to the cratch beam convincing the safety officer who allows you into the tunnel that everything would be fine Knowing full well I had no real idea how this emergency set up would work as you cannot test a lamp functionality in day light
So off we go now to test the light you have to go at least 50 metres into the tunnel before you can set it here we go with Noreen on my instructions twitching it left right higher Lower we managed between us to get a light I could steer by with every light on the boat on and me steering with a small torch in my mouth we made it Now in the past with the correct lighting I have managed to knock off a chimney however with this improvised lighting we made it without touching the side once. On exiting the tunnel we had the biggest high five every boaters waiting to go through must have thought us two old crack pots instead of two very relieved boaters.  

This weekend are on the River Weaver, We go down the lift tomorrow on Friday Maryanne will bring Maurine (Noreens friend ) who will be staying with us until we reach Manchester that should be next Friday where we will then pick up Thomas as its the second week of the School hols

It could be that I have now reached that 3 score years and Ten that I have nothing to rant about Maybe just Maybe I have reached that mellow time in my life BUT I hope not its good to get things off your chest, clear the air and to try and see the funny side of everything maybe that's my military black humour but if you believe that everything has a reason then why not find a funny side.

Noreen have also   decided that before we return to Fettlers we should take another trip into Liverpool so today I have booked our passage for the 11th Aug we have been to so many places we are now required to do revisits this does mean that I know the way and don't get as lost.

Please take the time to write a comment as I said it is therapy for me but to know that someone else is enjoying it Now that was a bit presumptuous expecting that you ENJOY reading it

God Bless

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Time to Relax


Well our Keith and Carol have been and gone, We had a great time as we pulled into Barton Turn Marina we had lovely visitors moorings right outside the pub, Yes a pub on the marina it also has a shopping esplanade containing Butchers, deli, various ladies shops (non that actually sold ladies} three eating places and a cinema So as you can imagine it was a hectic few days, We did however manage to fit in a trip to the National Arboretum  memorial I always go when in the area just to visit old friends Kieth and Carol both find it quite moving. no matter who you are even if you have never had anything to do with the forces I can guarantee that a member of your family will be remembered in there, there is everything from Land girls, trawler men, Miners, Fire service, Ambulance service, Police every walk of life is represented in some way well worth a visit to  reflect just how many people look after us and the great nation,

We are now on the homeward leg, we have rested up over the weekend in Rugeley  where it is only two mins walk to Morrisons, Tesco, and Aldi with the town inly five mins walk its a boaters stop over there are boats coming and going all day all picking up essential supplies.
We had a day away from the boat today we visited Lichfield Cathedral However to get there we travelled on the bus. not such a daunting task I hear you say But I do believe a way of gaining world dominance in formular One racing, all we have to do is send all our up and coming drivers to the Ariva school for bus drivers each one of these racing drivers in charge of a bus of thirty people have scored highly in the academy of maniacs. Our "driver" today was a dower Scott who was intent in breaking all records from Rugely to Lichfield to do so he when at a hair raising speed between stop as this was NOT an express there was quite a lot of stop this entailed the "driver" coming from 60pmh to a dead stop in a matter of 100yards, After the first emergency stop I realised the most of the passengers were regular travellers on these buses because everyone held on to the seat in front like grim death and nobody stood up to get off until the bus actually STOPPED, this of course saved them from being catapulted through the wind scene On finally arriving at Lichfield (5 minutes early)
I thanked the driver and asked did he do Rally Car at the weekends. He did say something in his native Glaswegian tongue but to an Englishman it was lost in translation but I got the drift.
Lichfield is a lovely city with quaint arcades and shops wonderful building going right through the ages But we were there to see the Cathedral it isn't the biggest in the country or the most spectacular but it does have a charm in its compactness. Today however they were getting ready for a performance tonight. it is a performance by a Deaf Percussionist She plays is quite famous and apparently her performances are legendary BUT I went to see the cathedral and as half was blocked off being prepared for the evenings entertainment and the fact that this lady was actually practicing. Now don't get me wrong I am not one for complaining BUT there were people n there who just wanted a bit of peace and solitude I wanted to relax and reflect in a place of calm Not to listen to a drum kit get the shit kicked out of it!!!!!
Anyway the rest of the day went well we even found the tackle shop and got some Maggots, Weatherspoons provided us a very nice lunch then it was time for the return journey, waiting at the bus station the Ariva stage coach pulled up the doors opened and YES you got it the Dower Scott Driver as I placed my bus pass on the scanner our eyes met and I got the message "if you coming was bad see what I can do with this trip"" it was only 3.00pm so the bus was quite empty all I can say is Phewwww Noreen of course blames it all on me for having a go in the morning I accepted her criticism and bowed my head in shame

Tomorrow we set for Stoke on Trent  and eventually home

God Bless

Barton Turn Marina

Barton Turn Marina

Lichfield Cathedral

National Arboretum Memorial

The Masonic Garden of remembrance at the Arboretum
Barton turn marina
The Waterfront Bar

Thursday, 29 June 2017



That's it we have now left the rivers behind and are now on the more sedate Canals.
Spending a little time in Nottingham was ok its not the most exciting of towns though it does possess a cat Cafe we went in last year thinking it looked a nice cafe but realised you had to share the whole place with CATS who would do that, Anyway from there we moved up to Sawley where we stayed in a marina so we could get some domestic jobs done its easier that way. and the shops are just a bus ride away in a little town called Long Eaton for such a little town it has everything and all in one place you can walk between Aldi, Tesco super, Sainsbury's, Iceland, B&M and loads of little independent shops including a fantastic Cheese cake shop really nice stuff and cheep.

We also had a sail down the river Soar to Loughborough again a very pleasant little town, we moored at the end of the line.  the river continues to through to Leicester and then joins the Grand Union we just took the arm into the centre very weird moored outside a fitness centre and Travel Lodge travel lodge I don't mind But  a fitness centre Ahhhhhhh Why do they have these great big windows so you can watch is it Vanity is it "look at Meee" is for voyeurism what I  just cannot see the point of it ???

Today we left the rivers behind we left the lower Trent and got onto the Trent and Mersey Canal. You arrive at a junction where the River Dawent , Trent and the canal meet, it is rather a anti-climax no big locks or huge dams just a gentle tootle along if it wasn't for the signs you would never know.

We are now at a place called Shadlow its quite historic this is where the river traffic met the canal traffic in its heyday there must have hundreds of boats here exchanging cargos as the big river boats couldn't go any further and vice versa for the canal boats. We are now heading for Burton upon Trent Keith and Carol are meeting us there and spending a few days with us, really looking forward to that its quite some time since Keith and I did some fishing,

Again I don't seem to have much to say OH yes I am glad to see the back of the Big plastic chicken (cruisers) and Wide Beams they constantly remind me of big bullies you know the sort you had at school because they were bigger they thought it gave them the right to push in and seem to give them that sense of superiority. I never liked them at school in the Army or in the work place in fact I will say I go out of my way to be obstructive with them, they seem to take the centre on any river pushing everyone to the side, except for me I hold my ground and also stay centre (I know I should use my own side of the river BUT why should I?)  I am 17ton of steel they are about 6 ton of flimsy plastic there is only going to be one winner. Now does that make me a bully?? Maybe BUT if they keep to their side of the river I do likewise and we pass in perfect harmony I don't go looking for trouble but if it finds me I will accommodate it . You like Noreen will think me mad maybe I am " I JUST HATE BULLIES) Also there are rumours along the tow path that all boats will soon be paying for their FOOTPRINT, that is to say at the moment I pay my licence fee according to my length (Baot Length)
which is 60ft I am 7ft wide now a Wide Beam at 60ft and 12ft wide only pays the same as me when it come to locks a lock will take two narrowboats (that's what they were made for) but will only take one wide beam. they take up twice the space so they should pay for that space. most canals when very busy will take two narowboats breasted up if two wide beams do it they block the canal.
Glad I got that off my chest All wide beams and cruisers should be resigned to wide rivers and leave the canals to the boats that they were designed for.......

Speak when our kid goes home there should be some tales to tell

God Bless

End of the Line in Loughborough

The junction of the river Darwent, Trent and the Trent and Mersey canal
Thank God there was a sign

Very basic but Necessary ?????? 

Thursday, 22 June 2017


Hi Everyone

Well that's 99% of the River Trent behind us we are doing a little detour off the Trent and down the River Soar to Loughborough only take a couple of days sentimental really as my Dad always spoke of the place with awe as he took an engineering degree there.
Lincoln and Boston were worth the visit though  Boston we thought was a disappointment. We remember going there a about ten years ago and thought then what a quaint place it was But now all the quaint shops are East European Supermarkets, the only other shops are hairdressers, Barbers, Bubble pipe coffee shops or the ubiquitous Charity shop I thought Peterborough was bad but Boston being smaller is in one word Awful it has just been taken over.
Lincoln is lovely though again not as quaint as we remembered I know we cannot live in the past but surely we should retain some of our heritage  soon all we will have left is a few Postcards to remember it by. The east  of the country really seems to be getting overrun by the Eastern Block, I know that we are a tolerant and hospitable nation and long may we be so But when it comes to our heritage being taken away along with our district customs and dialect it time to stop and think.
Leaving Lincoln and Boston behind we set of back down the Trent into Newark making go speed we were ready for a few days off in Newark However at the last lock before Newark the lock keeper informed us that due to the FESTIVAL moorings are very sparse, On arriving we could see why there wasn't enough room to moor a canoe however we did spot a Narrowboat that was gesturing for us to pull alongside which we did and since then we have become great friends of Mary and Sean who we have been meeting up with on a regular basis. the Festival was POP with groups like UB40, Storm Patrol and Oasis, they may mean something to some of you but nothing to me, But on the whole it wasn't bad because we were over the other side of the river the noise was quite acceptable and the music not bad AND to us on the river it was free.
From Newark to Nottingham the Trent was as usual wonderful we are above the tidal section the river just meanders along it is wide and slow so beautiful and majestic arriving in Nottingham we spent the first two nights on what is revered to as the steps outside the County hall and next to the cricket ground  plenty of moorings, shops, museums and fishing nice place
leaving Nottingham it beautiful weather we were all set to have a gentle cruise to Sawley where we are at the moment However yesterday morning we set off after about an hour cruise Noreen nipped in to make a brew and came back with the news that we had a burning smell in the boat Noreen took the helm and I went to investigate I soon realised that we were in trouble and that yes we had a problem in the engine room. Under these circumstances "Don't panic Mr Mannering " I through the isolator switches for domestic and Engine switch the engine off and glided Buggerlugs to the tow path After lifting the engine covers I found that the 175am Domestic alternator was very hot not being able to find the cause I decided to run the engine with the covers off that lasted about ten minutes when the bloody thing just burst into flames now we were buggered ( It  reminded me of when I was at school in the music class we sang a song ""Fire! Fire! Fire! down below its bring a bucket of water boys there's fire down below I wanted to sing it start singing but thought better of it. again Noreen took the helm and guided it into the side whilst I got the fire extinguisher and dealt with the fire, on inspection this time, we did have a problem but at least now it was obvious what it was as the alternator was now a smouldering mess. It was now time for a brew and give the job a "coat of looking at" As this alternator has now been in the hands of three experts I considered it time to close the door on it, my decision is to now charge the batteries using the Power pack, disconnect the alternator removing the van belt and isolating the wiring and leave it until we get back and let Danny have look. that was yesterday and touch wood everything is working  sort of??????
But in true Hodgkinson spirit we continue until something else happens But hey I keep saying if everything goes according to plan how bloody boring would it be....

Stay safe,,, Stay well.

The Steps in Nottingham

Nottingham central Arch

The Glory Hole Lincoln leading to the river Wethem

Noreen getting measured for her roll as Captain

The Boston Stump
Its is the biggest Parish Church in Britain
Called the stump because seen from the surrounding fens it looks like an
old Tree stump

Taken by our friends Mary and Sean
who we met in Newark

Friday, 9 June 2017

The River Trent


As I said earlier we were to arrive at Keadby on Tues ready to go down the River on Weds prior to going down the river you have to have a briefing from the Lock keeper its just a case of telling what time you are going, what the tide will be doing and the weather conditions. I started to become concerned when the lock keeper checked to see we had Navigation lights and that they all worked.
We  were going down on a late slack tide leaving at 16.40, which to me seemed on the late side as it  normally takes  about 5 hours on a slack tide to reach Torksey Lock , that  meant  that we would be arriving at Torksey Lock at around 21.30 which even at this time of year is getting dark. 16.30 arrived the wind was still blowing at 18/20 mph feeling a bit apprehensive we sailed out of the lock and onto a very low river wind blowing like hell I was warned about the dangerous sand banks we weaved and dodge (as much as you can do with a 60ft 18ton narrowboat)   narrowly avoiding the sand banks that had suddenly appeared due to the low tide. We missed them all. After 2 hours of riding a slack tide we eventually found that river had started to behave itself however the weather was still gloomy with no moon the sun disappeared behind a huge bank of heavy cloud and would no be seen again until the next day, as it was now quite dismal not dark but that awful dusk when everything becomes distorted in dim light the river was quite full of debris have trees, tons of garden waste and the usual flotsam and Jetsam of any commercial waterway
I was now getting concerned that there was a chance in this dim light with that part of the Trent being mainly farm land and the beginning of the Fens it is quite featureless so maps are not a great deal of use about half a mile from the turning you pass under a railway bridge where there is an island that you have stay to the port side once passed that we had the turning in our sights Noreen on the bow giving directions and keeping us clear of the mounting Flotsam and Jetsam we sailed in a very quiet deserted mooring. Big high fives all round and we settled into a peaceful nights sleep.
I would recommend that trip to anyone really exciting fun.
We have now travelled down the Fosdyke canal into Lincoln, Mooring are few and far between so we have had to go into Brayford Pool that is now a CRT (marina sort of) we are here until Sunday then we go down the river Witham 31 miles to Boston I do believe that this is as far east as you can go by narrow boat I know some have gone straight through and across the wash with the aid of a pilot BUT well if I wanted to do that I would have bought a Coaster
Stay well
God Bless



though be now things were getting dim

Tuesday, 6 June 2017


Hi everyone

I am now convinced that all boat yards/Marinas have the same method of working and management I know that this is not universal and maybe it is only the ones that I visit. so far this trip I have been held up for three days because waiting for a simple job like buying paint all because the guy a few domestic problems Family must come first I know that so I will dismiss that one, then another two days because a part that was ordered took three days to arrive they say because of the courier I say because they forgot to order it and now we have been in this boat yard three days just waiting to do a 5 hour job. before coming here I ordered 5 110 batteries no probs I have 6 in stock. could I have assistance to fit. no probs I will assign someone to assist you. 
great we thought and headed down river to do the job, on arriving we found that there was no mooring for us so we have sat three days on a slipway though they did manage to give us a shore line and electric when I ask if I could have the batteries I had ordered I was inform that his assistant had sold two of the  AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!. Here we go again so I spent a day clearing the engine to make better access to the battery bank and the next day waiting for batteries to arrive, Yesterday morning I was informed that they had arrived so I went over to the office to collect them NOW we are talking about 5 110 leisure batteries each one the size of two car batteries I ask if they had a truck to get them to my boat I will find you one the lad says and returns 30 mins later with an very old truck with four flat tyres having vented my displeasure at this young man and pointed out to him the pure impossibility of transporting this half to loan on THAT LOAD OF SH----, it was then refered up the chain of command were a decision was made to put them on the pickup, the young man could not drive so I did that Ahhhhhhh!! I was then loaned the same young man to assist with the fitting. For those who have never fitted Batteries on a boat let me explain the fitter ME has to accommodate himself in a little hole 5ft wide 7ft long and 3ft deep however in that space you have an engine, with all its accoutrements making a total area of  3ft wide  6ft long and 3ft deep now the batteries live in a cosy little space that you have to arc lights to see it. Now I am the fitter and to save me having to extradite myself from this glory hole everytime I need to take one battery out and put one in, you have a loader who sole job it is, is to take the old battery off me and then pass a new one.  this was going so well until after the second one he was called away to hold the rope of a boat going into dry dock AHHHHHHHH! however before he went on this errand of mercy I insisted he carry the remaining batteries so I could reach them.
After two and a half hours of cursing I eventually arrived at the stage when you turn the battery isolator switch ON keeping all fingers crossed that nothing blows up UREKAH nothing did then the engine on and everything works I was elated. feeling like King Kong Noreen and I rebuilt the engine room replacing all the panelling
To celebrate this achievement we decided to have lunch out and do a bit of shopping. the sky was looking very grey and overcast so we donned our heavy coats its only about a 30 min walk into the town BUT it is surprising just how wet you can get in 30mins we were both wet though to our nickers shoes socks everything was soaked our Brolly  was blown inside out and our teeth were chattering.
into Lidl where we left a trail of devastation behind us and another trail of slippy floor signs
As we left Lidl we decided as it was cold, wet and windy we would have lunch in the best Ice Cream Parlour in Yorkshire where we made a bedraggled spectacle. though we were welcomed and had a great lunch I celebrated our achievement by have a whopping great big TUTI FRUITI .
That was yesterday it is now 08.00 and we are going to get ready to fill up with Diesel and put water on then we are off to Keadby Where we join the River Trent

God Bless everyone

My celebration Ice Cream