Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Stoke Bruerne

We managed to get off at 7.45am yesterday on a grey & cold morning, definite touch of autumn about it.
 A very long mural next to the railway in Wolverton which surprisingly doesn't seem to have been defaced by graffiti 

A brief stop at Wolfreton Tesco to stock up the cupboards & then on to Cosgrove. We did really want to top up the water tank but the tap is almost on the lock mooring & as a Wyvern hire boat was in the lock kindly waiting for us we decided to fill up later. Once through the lock & it's straight onto the service point & another tap except one boat filling up & another waiting so we pulled in behind, emptying loo cassettes & disposing of rubbish whilst we waited. It seemed we would be in for a longish wait as the tap was slow so feeling impatient we decided to push on.

under the elegant Solomon's Bridge, Cosgrove...

then over the Great Ouse Aqueduct...

 We spotted some good moorings just before Stoke Bruerne locks so decided that would do for the day. After lunch we had a walk up into the village & as far as the tunnel, we noted some 24 hour moorings after the 5th lock & decided they would be okay for to overnight before going through the tunnel on Thursday.

Up early this morning, on the water point by 7am (!!) a good fast filler so it didn't take long & all but the 5th lock were in our favour so we were on the 24 hour moorings by 8.30am. As the towpath is on the port side I decided to give the gunwales on that side a coat of blacking as it will be a while until we have the towpath on that side again. It was quite pleasant being outside doing the painting, much warmer than yesterday ( when we nearly lit the fire!) & the sun poked it's nose out now & again.
After lunch we had a walk up into the village to check out the museum, we enjoyed the exhibits, our daily grind ( well not really now I'm retired but you know what I mean) pales into insignificance when you consider how the navvies that dug the canals earned their crust & then how hard the boat people worked. Hard times though for them just life as it was....

Anyway we looked out of the window to see...
 hire boaters enjoying their lunch oblivious to the fact (or maybe don't care) 
that they are moored on the water point
 a busy top lock... 
& in the eaves a house martin nest with young, 
the parents dashing back & forth to keep them fed.

I though it was a bit late for young but my RSPB book says that house martins can have up to 3 broods & as late as October before flying to Africa for the winter.

We are planning to get through the tunnel early doors ( knowing Mark it'll be a 6am call!) then press on, we are hoping to 'do' the Ashby Canal this autumn then plan to head back up to the Shroppie before winter sets in, stoppages permitting as usual.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Milton Keynes, thereabouts...

On Monday we cruised the 3 miles or so to Milton Keynes & found space on the Campbell Park moorings. It's a very pleasant half hour stroll through the park to central Milton Keynes where there are  more shops than you can shake a stick at although all I wanted was Boots to collect my prescription.
Campbell Park moorings, we are in there somewhere

A view of Campbell Park

The towpath was a fair step down from the boat meaning the gunwales were high out of the water so one side got a coat of blacking to cover some of the scrapes we've accumulated, the other side will get done eventually...

Tuesday was wet & chilly so I spent most of the day painting indoors, I think I have mentioned that after the success of the ceiling being painted the rest of the boat would be done, the bathroom has been already been done & now it's the kitchens turn.

Wednesday was a better day weather wise & as I needed some more paint we had a walk to Homebase which is the other side of the shopping centre. One thing we had noticed about Milton keynes was the number of loose & sticking up paving slabs & as I'm accident prone at the best of times I was being extra careful but I still managed to take a tumble as we crossed in front of Toys'R'Us, fortunately there was no one around to see it &  apart from a sore ring finger I was in one piece. We got the paint & walked back to the shopping centre as I had promised Mark coffee & a bun in return for carrying 2 tins of paint, by now my finger was swelling up with my rings getting tight, not fancying having to spend the afternoon in A&E if my finger turned blue I went into a jewellers to see if they could cut them off for me, which they very kindly did.
 My rings will be repaired when we are next spending some time handy for a town with a jewellers, probably Rugby. The finger has been colourful & sore but much better now.

Thursday started wet but turned into a fine afternoon so we decided to make the best of the sunshine & move on as the forecast didn't look to good for Friday & we needed to fill the water tank.  As lots of boats were on the move we expected to find a queue at Gifford Park service point but we struck lucky as it was empty

any readers who are fellow boaters might want to skip the next bit....

In case you wonder what us boaters do about getting water & getting rid of rubbish etc well, we use one on these...
Water & rubbish bins one side, a place to empty the loo cassettes (or do a pump out) on the other. These services are reasonably clean & pleasant to use, they are not all like this!
The tap was really slow & it took 50 minutes to fill the tank, a good job no one else was waiting.

Not having anywhere in mind to stop we just pottered along but it wasn't long before we found a likely looking spot  about a mile or so past Great Linford. Nice open views, a sat signal for the TV & no trains or roads too close, perfect for the bank holiday weekend.

 We passed this interesting boat
It is really 2 boats, the front 'bit' comes off - some locks are only 58' long (thereabouts) which is why we have a 57' boat. These boats, Alice & Alice Too mean Alice Too can be removed for shorter locks, Alice Too then goes through the lock side by side with Alice. Clever...

 Well, it had to happen sometime....
Sid fell in yesterday afternoon, Mark was tidying up the roof & I was painting in the kitchen when there was a lot of splashing & crying which I thought was a child till I heard Mark shout. Sid has had his freedom here as it's quite safe (apart from the canal!) & he'd been off exploring all morning then in the afternoon decided to explore the roof & gunwales, found out the hard way that it's not a good idea to turn round on the gunwale.
 We had a long rope fender on the stern just for this eventuality & he managed to clamber up, still howling! Anyway no harm done & hopefully a lesson learned.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Fenny Stratford

Yes, it has been a while!!  Apart from a bit of boating to get us from Cowroast  I have been otherwise busy visiting family so not a lot to tell you really. We are currently moored just above the lock on the 14 day moorings in Fenny Stratford, it's a pleasant enough spot & handy for Ikea ( new throw for the sofa & assorted bits & bobs) Tesco & B&Q but after being here 5 days we are more than ready to move on. 
We had a walk into Milton Keynes yesterday so I could collect a prescription from the post office & leave it at the handy Boots just across the way, as usual they don't have my migraine meds in stock but will have them by Monday afternoon. So the plan is to move up the three or so miles to Milton Keynes in the morning. 
I must say we have been impressed with Milton Keynes so far, lots of open spaces especially Campbell Park that we walked through on our way from the towpath into town. There are some visitor moorings adjacent to the park where we hope to find a mooring spot tomorrow.

On Friday we had a walk up through Back Wood, Bow Brickhill & Caldecotte Lake & the hedgerows were laden with blackberries, they seem very prolific this year, often so large & juicy they are more like cultivated fruit,  it didn't take long to fill our now empty sandwich boxes...

the result of our efforts, Blackberry crumble...

A swan family on the peaceful Caldecotte Lake hoping for a nibble 
but we had already scoffed the sandwiches

Soona enjoying the solar panels..... 
 we painted our roof cream as it is cooler to the touch in the sun but she likes the heat so the panels for her are a better choice, I don't think she is too bothered about reducing the output to our batteries!