Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Middle Levels

Middle levels

Lets start by explaining what the Middle Levels are : They are a mixture of old water courses, Ditches, and drainage channels. That act as flood defences for 700sq. km of fenland farm land some of the productive in the country.  As the Middle Levels has so many back waters, creeks, Flood sluices, Low bridges and shallow un-navigable water ways a recognized “link route has been formed joining the River Nene in the west to the River Ouse in the east
Strange as it may seem I really enjoyed the trip through, though at time youn thought you were on another planet the waterways range from a little ditch rambling through a quaint thatched housed village to a 100ft wide 15ft deep river banked by 8ft embankments the contrasts are amazing. With the contrast in the landscape comes the contrast in the nature today we have been entertained by every type of water foul and bird on the fens foxes, taking an early bath, rabbits just coming out and being nosey, that many people saying hello and waving at times I felt like a missionary
We were expecting the trip across the middle levels to take a few days longer than it really has 2 days in total so we are quite happy with the progress to date
We have now arrived at Slaters lock almost the end of the middle levels just a 10 mins away from Denver sluice were we join the mighty River Ouse We have to wait here now until tomorrow 13.30hrs for the tide, then off we go again.
Many people advised against the trip especially with a 60ft however some of the corners were a bit tight and the fact that it was so narrow in places but believe me the Middles Levels do not have the monopoly on tight bends and narrow stretches its all part of boating?? but! coming through the villages of Upwell and then Outwell this morning I understood why I was treating the trip with some trepidation; as we came very close to turning around and going back and if I could have found a place big enough maybe I would have. The ditch we were in was very shallow but if it had any more water in it ; it would not have been possible to get under the bridges, Our big problem now is we have to use the same route to return ???
But we made it and that’s all that matters, both Buggerlugs and Orion are safely moored up for the night
Next stop is That beautiful city of Ely ( Matthew’s Birth place) we hope to be there on Monday

May your God Bless and keep you


yes we came out the other unscathed

I am sure this was someones ditch at the bottom of the garden

Open expanse of some of the DITCH

Many years agoMatthew and I had three weeks fishing here 
When there was proper wind mills

so straight it became boreing

but lots of beautiful places

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The River Nene

Made it to Peterborough again in one piece I haven’t seen the inside of a hospital for four weeks ???
Northampton to Peterborough on the river Nene, it’s a nice river extremely attractive wide deep water with real English meadows along its winding banks , the natural life of the river is wonderful, Voles, Red Kite, Sparrow Hawks, Great crested Grebe, Herons, the river also holds good quantities of Roach, Bream, Chub, Pike, Perch and a few trout I even caught a few Cray Fish
The river  flows from Northampton to the Wash were it joins the sea just above Wisbech  However we will leave the river about two miles out of Peterborough and cut East through Standground lock onto the middle levels across to Denver sluice where we join the River Ouse and head south to Ely
As I said this is a nice river flowing through Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and borders Norfolk Even the locks are good, different but good, Traveling along the Nene can be at least interesting some very interesting locks where you have no idea how to get into it, many obstructions in the water , lots of multi-arched bridges with no indication of which arch to take its like Russian roulette  the other big drawback is the map we purchased prior to joining the river All I wanted was basic info where the locks are, mooring places, fuel, water etc things that every traveler needs, All I can say to boaters attempting this journey is do not buy a map book , nicely printed, good write ups, but for navigation info forget it! I have read more truth in the Dandy and Beano, the book is a book of pure fiction the mooring are not there  along with water points and pump outs. Moorings are the worst we traveled 20 miles and ten locks to what sounded like a very nice mooring only to find that it doesn't exist and according to the locals it never has. We found it best to talk to other boaters and the locals (them that speak English I now speak pretty good Polish)  Just do not bother with the map book I have rang the Environment Agency and told them I want my £10 back as the book is “not fit for purpose” it should be put on the fiction shelf
Tomorrow we are off to join the middle levels I have been informed that some of the bends are very tight and shallow but hey Buggerlugs will get through even if we take the bank with us??
I will now try for some sympathy I have a bad head cold and chesty cough Orrrrrrr! Feeling quite done in, We have just returned from a walk around Peterborough Cathedral which is well worth a visit you can still see how the town grew up around the Cathedral I should imagine prior TV,mobile phones, football, and graphitee it was a very nice rural town
Speak Soon
Big Al

Noreen leaving one of the guillotine locks

Orion negotiating one of those obstacles try getting mine through there

We decided to use the lock instead of the wier????

What can I say

Moored on a PUB car park real good Ale

Eeny Meeny Minee Mo which one to take No Markers

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Who Said Canals Were Boring???

 Sorry its been just a week but we have been a little bust and have had trouble with the electric so we have been conserving it and unfortunately you lot are a long way down on the priority list I am afraid if the choice is a light on and reading in bed or the blog then you dip out. 
I hope now I have solved the problem with the power we were loosing a lot of power overnight from the batteries, we awoke in the morning with no 240v but as very little works on 240v except for the fridge and freezer and they were fine for the few hours it was off anyway we are managing and trying some ideas out if we still cannot fix it then it looks like new batteries (another hole in the budget)
So from Coventry to Hawksbury was quite uneventful, as we arrived to make the awkward turn off the Coventry canal onto the Oxford canal it became very busy it must have been pub throwing out time after we had sorted everyone out into an ordely queue we eventually got through the little stop lock and decided that was enough for one day. The trip from there to Rugby again went well arriving at bridge 58 in time for a few beers in the Aquaduct   This is a great mooring for all your shopping as its a short walk to Tesco and a precinct that has Halfords  were I managed to get everything I wanted to set up my car radio.   A hire boat moored opposite that had a crew of 5 American ladies seemed to having trouble understanding a canal map They seeing two obviously intelligent ask were the next locks were John explained that they were just around the corner about three miles, as they had never done a lock before they were wondering the best time of to do them, we said if you wait until morning they could go along with us and we (meaning Kath and Noreen) would show them the ropes. That was agreed However 30 mins later I noticed that they had left and were now stranded on our side of the canal in a very precarious position. Personally they  exits from the canal and we had to find the Grand union and avoid taking I would have let them sort themselves out but they did wave and ASK our help John and I arrived at the boat to find one lady up to here neck in the weed hatch trying to extract  some kind of netting that had attached itself to the prop thereby crippling the boat and with one other lady trying to hold the boat in from drifting across and blocking the canal, There explanation was they decided to go early as they were very slow and they would be at the lock ready for us arriving in the morning??????  Within 10 mins the whole thing was sorted then to get them off from were they were grounded, John took the tiller I took the pole we got them back in deeper water However  the canal at this point had nowhere to get off so we were marooned on a boat with five American ladies, neither of us were happy about this so we manoeuvred the boat as near to a likey space and we took a leap of faith into the bushes we both arrived on dry land with a much relieved sigh. The Ladies went merrily on there way,  after all that when we arrived at the lock the following morning a couple of CRT  volunteers had arrived and they said they would put them through the lock; we gladly gave up all responsibility for them and went happily on our way.  
At Braunston we left the Oxford canal and joined the Grand Union here now becomes a nightmare Braunston Tunnel It is noted that this tunnel is a two way with ample room for two craft to pass in the tunnel however this rule was made by old working boats that had not had a £4000 paint job (This applies to everything around the Braunston area everything is for working boats if you are a pleasure craft you are not worth putting into a calculation)  anyhow I met two boats coming the other way one has put a deep scratch to my stern but I was ready for the second boat I hit him before He hit me (a tactic I learnt many years ago) I agree that you can get two boats through but NOT without touching. After that it was just a short hop to Gayton Junc where we turned off onto the Northampton Branch. I had read up on this stretch and listened to many stories but Nothing prepared me for he following, we charted that from Gayton Marina to lock 17 Northampton it is 5 miles and 17 locks total 6 hrs we departed 08.00 hrs and moored up in Northampton at 17.30 hrs  9½hours?????????????
The Northampton arm is quite nice with locks that are easy to open, we did notice that the further on we went the shallower it became but always the optimist we battled on literally. Have now scraped along the bottom for 6 locks it all came to a head at WOOTTON lock number 1 when first but could not get out of the lock I was well and truly grounded we tried everything, no mater how much water we sent down the distance between lock 14 and 15 was about a mile now that takes an awful lot of water. Whilst pondering our problem we obviously had the passer by giving all the usual advice ( most if not all was in part from the ridiculous  to the sublime, I always accept politely and say thank you for those pearls of wisdom. All our efforts of moving the boat had left her in the centre of the canal with no one onboard you may consider that careless I just say, you had to be there, we still had the centre line and stern line so when eventually we did get some water in the canal we would be able to retrieve the boat We were then joined by another boat wanting to get past He proceeded to tell me his tail of woe that there was no water in the canal and he had only just made it this far. I explained  my predicament and then it started as he was in charge of a bloody great dirty old working Boat (remember what I said before about them, this emphases my point he proceeded to tell me what to do with my boat so he could get past and into the lock  being the kind chap I am I listened and heeded but as I explained I had tried all that for the last two hours things got to the stage of me having to point out that one more condescending word out of his mouth and his next sentence would be coming from his bum as that’s where his teeth would be. I think he got the message that just because he had a historic wooden working boat it did not entitle him to ant more of the canal than I have. As it looked like that we were not getting any help from the Canal owners it seemed to John and I that there was only one thing that could help and that was for me to get back on my boat and force her through what water we had So emptying my pockets of phone, keys and all other valuables I waded in to the canal as I said it wasn't very deep having now climbed  up onto Buggerlugs it was my turn to do the pushing getting back on Buggerlugs also put me in punching distance of the now cowering, supercilious, bighead on the working boat and after Noreen giving his wife a good talking to she had disappeared below which made things a little quieter. I keyed Buggerlugs into life and asked her to behave slowly at first with the gravel bed grating on the hull she inched forward, I could fell her starting to go I had had worked it with John as soon as I started to move he would flood the lock behind me and would float out on that surge of water. It worked and soon I was along side the offending boat whose skipper was looking very perplexed as this adapted strategy was not in his book. Buggerlugs could now feel that she was now in charge as she pushed forward heaving the hulk of the working boat to the side of the canal, were it was very very shallow. As I passed the other skipper I remarked that the canal now was all his, though getting off from were he was now stranded I thought may take some time.  All in all a very pleasant day ?????
We then of course had to get to Northampton on still a very shallow canal so it was very slow indeed
On arriving at the last lock before the River Nene we had been told of a brand new marina recently opened, So as we had Mat, Lorraine  and Thomas for the weekend we would book in and get ourselves cleaned up
Other than gale force winds we have had a great weekend  Mat Thomas and I got some fishing in we all caught a Crayfish of the American type which are Signal Crayfish as they had red underclaws apparently they are very tasty We Declined and put them back. Thomas loves Scones so him and Noreen sett too and made some  all in all another good day. John and Kath are now moored alongside and first thing in the morning we are setting off for Peterborough
God Bless you all


Into Hawksbury under bridge 11

Willow art on the Oxford Canal

Under the M1 Northampton Arm 

Settled in at Northampton / Becetts Park Marina 

Thomas making Scones 
they were very nice

Something we did not have for tea

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Coventry (the phenix)

Hi Again

Well really the trip from Hawksbury down to the Coventry Basin was well lets say different, in many respects much like going through any other inner city canal though not as much rubbish as some I have been through But here Coventry have devised a system to alleviate rubbish from the tow path and waterway people just leave it in a carrier bag hanging on the nearest fence totally bizzar and utterly useless??
A warning for boaters the canal has some tight bends I am 60ft + and managed but you do need to take the revs off, it is very shallow.
The Basin itself is great some really good moorings only mins from the town centre again the winding is tight especially when idiots moor in it.
The town as we all know received heavy bombing in the last argument we had with Europe and was virtually rebuilt in the 50s and 60s and is now represented by some very much iconic 60 concrete architecture;  Give Coventry its due what it lacks in architecture it replaces in vitality there was so much going on, street plays, really good Buskers, adventure for the kids, we had a really good day.
The whole purpose of course was to visit the Cathedral and it was well worth the visit though I am not really excited about the art work if it works for you that’s fine with me. The idea of walking from the ruin of the bombed out old Cathedral into the new one is very dramatic, the whole concept of the two Cathedrals is reconciliation, the art old and new, the inscriptions all lead to the wonderful peace that reconciliation can give. That’s it done my bit for humanity????
Maryanne and Steve came on Friday night stayed until Sat night great to see them again we had a some lovely food, good wine and plenty of fun.
I promised I would not mention the walk that Noreen took us: John Kath and I on walk to Aldi we walked 30min through a torrential rain storm that was so bad the main raid was blocked by floods, when we got to Aldi I was so wet my pockets had filled up with water, inside was my wallet and mobile, the mobile is now knackered and cannot be replaced as it is water damaged, I had to dry my money out before I could spend it However Noreen suffered the worst as she stood by a 4inch puddle as a speeding car went past even her trench coat couldn’t save her WE GOT A TAXI
We are now just off back to the Cathedral for morning service I want to experience the acoustics; we then are meeting Kath and John in Weatherspoons for Breakfast.  Then this afternoon we all sail back to Hawksbury where we join the Oxford Canal down to Braunton.

May your God bless and keep you





This guy had no idea where he was
you can just see Noreen on buggerlugs wondering whether to advice him

Coventry Centre Kids on a sustainable Train 

Coventry Basin

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Short Post

Today we have left the Ashby canal Behind in a violent storm, I was soaked to the skin we had enough rain in two hours to last us until July and winds that sent Buggerlugs sideways. The Ashby was a very pleasant canal full of  interesting places, moorings are not to bad and the traffic light though we are still in the quiet season I imagine in the high summer it would get chaotic. We hung around a bit as John had an appointment with the chiropodist as he had a bad foot, we used the in forced lay up to visit Leicester by bus we thought its not far 20 min on the bus, no way 80 mins of bone shaking therapy. Leicester  is not a bad little city but it has nothing to make it stand out, the cathedral is quite small, and the centre is very confusing, we walked in circles, but it does have a nice covered market. The fishing was good on the Ashby canal plenty of decent Bream, shops were in short supply but really if you want peace and quiet you have to give up something.  Tomorrow we will be in Coventry, we are hoping to get moorings in the town centre where we shall reach the terminus of the Coventry Canal.    Maryanne is coming for the day on Sat so that will keep us on our toes.  Looking forward to her visit

Speak Soon


Monday, 10 June 2013

The Ashby Canal

Another grand few days
Today  Sunday 2 June

After leaving Kings Barton Marina we met up with Kath and John.  As planned we all caught the bus to visit the National Arboretum this is the national memorial to the all those who have died whilst serving their country since the end of the 2end World War;  Not just the armed services but the police, fire brigade, life boat service and many others. The memorial to the lifeboat men was something I found the most beautiful in carved stone  rough typifying an old sea dog in his Mae west and southwester hat very rustic, The great wall with every name of every serving Soldier, Sailor and Airman killed on active service since 1945 is most impressive I found a number of my friends among them and paid special respect to Col H Jones, not only a hero but a right good guy. The Arboretum is a really beautiful place Unfortunately we did not realise just how big it is and as we had to catch the last bus back so we had to cut our visit short which is sad as I wanted to visit a few more memorials of regiments I served with, another time perhaps when we have more time.
I never thought I would say that whilst cruising with Buggerlugs because time is something we have in abundance. 

We are now upon the Ashby canal which is a branch off the Coventry canal, it’s a very nice little canal that runs through rural Warwickshire and Leicestershire it doesn’t really go anywhere as the link is still to be completed.  however its 27 miles of lock free very nice, well maintained, and attractive canal in a very beautiful and much ignored part of this Sceptred Isle. The more I travel to the unexciting or shall we say less publicised villages and hamlets the more I am astounded at the beauty, charm and history that these places are steeped in. At the moment we are moored up; not a boat in sight except for Orion, no bus route, touring coaches, flashing camera’s or any other mass media distractions, and we are only a couple of miles from Bosworth village and the Bosworth field site of one of the battles that helped form this great nation, and where the house of  Lancashire beat the S--- out of the house of York ( Had to get that in) and the start of the war of the Roses. How fickle are the tourists who prefer Alton Towers to this. But that pleases us as we have it all to ourselves even if it does have a 2 mile walk attached to it; to be there on the field where Englishmen fought Englishmen is enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end
We decided to go by train as there is a lovely little steam train only two stops but it makes a good day of it. Tomorrow we will reach the terminus of this canal where we will turn around and start our trip back. As I have said there is no rush so we will just saunter our way back. One of Johns friends has brought Johns anchor as he has to have one to go on the rivers Kevin and his wife Pauline came on Friday and intended staying on a camp sight for the weekend however Friday night the inflatable mattress decided to go down and neither got any sleep so last night we became a hotel boat. It was no trouble to us and they enjoyed there short but pleasant stay.
Sorry that this is so short but since joining this particular canal it has been very quiet the weather has been great and incidents nil I know that sounds quite boring but that’s what we came out for

Speak soon

May your God bless and keep you


Our transport to the Battlefield of Bosworth

Buggerlugs snugly moored up in Bosworth

                                                         Fishing was very good here

 The statues are so stunning
The walk up to the wall of remembrance  starts to prepare your mind.

The settings are so peaceful

If you ever get a free day with nothing to do take a drive and have a look 
Its Free

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Hi Everyone
What a cracking few days we have had, we have spent it just on the outskirts of Lichfield in King Bromley Marina, it was handy as we were near the Hospital and as Thomas was joining us for the weekend it seemed daft to give up the opportunity of a few days R&R. We have had a great mooring with electric and water it makes life so easier when you have guests and all the facilities. The Marina staff are great when we arrived on Thursday Sue who runs the place even ran us to the hospital as there are no buses. Its high on my recommendation for Marinas its very well run, very well kept, everyone is friendly kind and helpful. A wonderful place to stay well done!  Kings Bromley Marina.
Hospital was great another very well run hospital no real A&E only a minor injuries unit (so what was I doing there at first it looked as if they were not going to be able to see to me, but two great proper nurses decided that they would cut through the bureaucracy, remember them days when nurses could make a decision without fear of being sued, anyway they both decided that my wrist was not broken, maybe me picking a chair up one handed proved the point? But I do have some torn muscle tissue, so I am back in a very comfortable splint. thanks to two kind and very knowledgable nurses.
Friday we all went to a park Rossling Country Park its ran by the National Forestry Commission another cracking place, we had a great fun and activity packed  day. £2.50 per car to park all day and the only other thing to pay for were the activities like, Bike hire, Archery, Falconry, and so on however there was so much else to do that only Thomas bothered with the Archery we were too knackered. Today it was hit the shops for Matt Lorraine and Thomas in Lichfiled Noreen and I walked around the Cathedral another good reason to visit this part of the world. Lichfield the only Cathedral in Britain with three spires. The west end of the Cathedral settling between the NW and the SW tower has the most highly decorative facade  I have ever seen, over thirty statues of I assume saints in gothic niches very impressive indeed the rest of the cathedral was also impressive and for a building founded in 1300 years ago still in very good order.
Thomas as just gone home it has been great having him here but all of a sudden the boat seems very quiet, what a breath of fresh air he is. I hear people constantly complaining about children and the youth of today, I say Give them a bit of slack and remember when you were their age ????????? Yesterday in the parks there was hundreds of kids all ages and sizes and the only trouble I saw was with the parents???

Tomorrow we are leaving here quite early as we want to catch up with John and Kath we all hope to be going to the National Memorial Arboretum together in the afternoon
That I am really looking forward to I have polished my medals for the occasion. A report on that will follow.

May your God Belss and Keep you

Thomas as usual having a good time

Thomas The Falconer

I wanted the Gargoil for the head of the Boat

Lichfield Cathedral

Impressive Facade