Wednesday, 29 May 2019

A new home at Braunston

A steady run to Braunston with a mooring close to the Boathouse. We had a couple of showers during the day which made a change from the bright sunshine. Not that I am complaining. When we set off from Shardlow the weather forecast for the week was unsettled. We have had a glorious week of sunshine.
All in all, we have had a good cruise. The pups have loved the boat and have started to get into a boating routine. We had a few mishaps and overstretched ourselves on a couple of occasions. We still love cruising on Tilly May and now look forward to cruising from our new base at Braunston Marina.
We arrived at Braunston Marina on Monday morning and were made to feel very welcome by Tim, the owner. We have a mooring is the quietest part of the Marina.

Brea contributing to discussions

In the past, we have been out on extended cruises where we would be on the boat for a month then leave TM in a marina for a week before returning to cruising. The plan going forward is to change how we cruise. The move to Braunston will give us a number of possible cruising routes and many options. If we are feeling tired we can just TM as a flat or a short day trip. We have a list of possible trips ranging from 1 day to 2 weeks and everything in between. Who knows, when we are boat fit we may do the Thames trip.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

For the benefit of Mr Kite and Newbold on Avon

The towpath changed sides once we passed through the stop lock before we moored at Hawkbury, so I was able to clean the other side of Tilly May. Poor girl is by no means perfect but she now looks like someone loves her. No locks today, one small tunnel and a steady chug to Newbold on Avon for a meal in the Barley Mow pub. The trip turned out to be a little more eventful than we anticipated. Half an hour into the cruise we came across a boat on a linear mooring that was well and truly stuck on the mud. They were due to go for blacking so needed to get off. After some serious tugging with our stern line on there stern we managed to get them off. The new mooring ropes were up to the job.

Nice to get a little shade from the sun

We were treated to a fantastic aerobatic display put on by a Red Kite that seemed to follow us no more then 50 ft above our heads. Unfortunately the camera was inside so no photos.
We passed under the M6. Every time we go under a major motorway it reminds me of the days when I was travelling 50000 miles a year. I watch all the poor sods zoom by as we chug underneath. Thank god for boating!

Nice Photo of Maggie

On the home stretch we came across a hire boat with a new inexperienced crew. Sometimes I wonder at the poor training these holidaymakers are given. As we approached a blind bent they appeared and panicked. Engine straight into neutral so all steering gone. Then full throttle and overcompensation and a big bang as they hit Tilly May. Much apologising. Hay Ho boating is a contact sport.
The Barley Mow pub did us a good steak and we sat and chatted to the folks in mother homes parked up at the pub. The Barley Mow is a pub that allows motorhomes to stay for free if they use the pub. It seems to work as there were at least 4 vans all spending money in the pub.
A few spots of rain but nothing to write home about.
The plan is to moor up just short of Braunston because we need to sort the paperwork out before taking our new morning. Best to do it Monday morning rather that arrive late Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Atherstone Flight CRT Hero

We awoke to blue skies and bright sun. We posted a blog yesterday which on inspection this morning has been condemned as crap. This is as a result of trying to write a blog when knackered so we will compose future blogs in the morning when refreshed.
We had a pleasant night moored at the bottom of the Atherstone flight ready for the accent tomorrow. I managed to finish cleaning the roof so Tilly May is starting to look loved again. Tea was homemade meatloaf and Jersey Royal potato’s, one of my favourite meals.
As we were about to set off we spotted a CRT volunteer doing a litter pick of the towpath. He said he would walk back to the services then join us an the bottom lock to help us through. Manor from heaven! I am ashamed to say we did not know his name, considering he spent two and a half hours walking the full length of the Atherstone fight helping us through all 11 locks. We are so grateful to our anonymous hero. Jan managed to help him on the first 6 locks but towards the top there were more CRT volunteers so we both stopped on the boat. Thank you to all the CRT volunteers at Atherstone, you made a hard day very enjoyable. We expected the journey up the fight to take us all day. We planned to take a couple of hours break in the middle then moor for the night at the top of the flight. 

Jan, Maggie and our anonymous hero.

As a result of the volunteer help we decided to push on the Hawksbury Junction. Bad move! By the time we arrived we were both knackered. Too knackered to even walk to the pub so Gammon and fried left over Jersey Royals for tea. We do not seem to learn from our previous mistakes. 

Maggie on lookout

The Maggie roof restraint needed some minor adjustment but is working very well. As official boat lookout she takes her job very seriously. Brea can now spend her time sitting majestically on the stern with us without getting pestered by the “little brown bugger”.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Fazley and a good curry

After a quick check and a sight tighten of the new belt we filled with water and set off from Fradley to Fazley. In the past we have stopped here and had a really good takeaway Indian from the Ivory Tusk. The food has not changed it is still top quality.
We were up early to head to the top of Atherstone flight. Stopping at the Co-op to pick up supplies. By lunchtime we were hot so stopped for a drink and a bite in the middle of nowhere.

The new dog rail on the roof works well and Maggie is loving the roof view now she cant jump in the cut.

Brea is taking to life on the stern with the pilot.

The pups have had a good day today they are now both fast asleep.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Were in the Rhythm

After a good meal and a good nights sleep we awoke feeling refreshed and ready to push on. We are starting to regain our cruising rhythm.
We intended to stop at Arewas and then do the same at Fradley Junction. After some discussion we decided to continue through Arewas to catch up on lost time yesterday. The run alongside the A38 is not one of our favourite cruises in fact the only section I like is passing through the 7ft bridge. I have to confess I do this “Thread the Needle” manoeuvre at high speed just for the fun of it - my apologies CART.

After the puppy miss-adventures of the first day we now have a system that seems to work. I have attached two old leads to the stern rail and use these to attach the two pups new leads. This gives them room to walk around the stern without the option of jumping off the side. The pups have such different temperament, Brea (we have now decided she can inherit the title of “Spot”) is very laidback but Maggie is always on the go so I have a plan. We think Maggie will be much happier on the roof but currently cannot be trusted. I have cleaned a section of Tilly Mays old centre line. This is smooth like climbing rope. I will use cable ties to attach this from the centre ring to the central heating vent. This will run the the stern half of the boat. I will attach a stiff webbing lead to the rope with a loop and more cable ties. With the lead adjusted to the right length Maggie can run the roof without the possibility of falling off. Well that is the theory. First Tilly May needs some basic cleaning. As you can see I have started on the roof and have finished one side. I hope to finish the other side when we get to Fradley as the towpath will have switched sides.

We moored at Fradley Junction at 2:30pm. Five hours of cruising. We were pleased with our pace and have adjusted our cruising speed to a maximum 3 lock/miles an hour with a maximum cruising time of 5 hours. That gives us a maximum of 15 lock/mile daily cruise which has us moored up by 3pm each day.

Finally - we had a great meal in the Mucky Duck. I had a fantastic Coates Steak and Ale pie from Arewas that would have choked a donkey (Please do not feed donkeys Steak and Ale pies they are Vegan). See you tomorrow campers.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Old friends and new belts

Sunday morning at Willington. The sun was out and we felt refreshed. We hit a three boat queue at the Dallow Lock and were just cruising past Shobnell Fields when an old familiar face appeared out of the side hatch of a moored boat. It was Steve and Ang. We had spoken to them some years ago when they were thinking of having a boat built and becoming liveaboards. We kept in touch as both me and Ang had out hips replaced in Derby at the same time. They were waiting for RCR as they had a engine water pump fail. 

Crossing The Dove

We moored for a chat and a cuppa and finally decided to stop for the night. Had a great catchup and were in bed by 9pm. Still tired from Saturday so just managed to cook beans on toast for tea. 
Jan slept for almost 12 hours so it was gone 10am by the time we had said our goodbyes to Steve and Ang and headed off to Fradley. Alas we managed only 100 yards before the engine started to make a horrible sound so we limped to Shobnel Marina to try and source a replacement alternator belt. I have to say that Steve and Mat at Shobnel Marina looked after us very well.
We finally stopped at Branston and had a very nice meal at the Bridge Inn.

Finally you can see the state of Tilly May. She needs some long turn TLC. 

Monday, 20 May 2019

We are off! Braunston or Bust!

Finally the day had arrived. It was Saturday and the start of our cruise to Braunston. It was the first time Tilly May had left her mornings in Shardlow for well over two years. Things did not do quite as planned. It took us an age to get everything loaded and ship shape so departure was delayed until 2pm. 
The plan was to reach Willington but I though that a little optimistic so we tried for The Ragley Boat Stop. It being a Saturday the world and his wife was on the move so no moorings at The Boat Stop. The same situation at Stetson, boats as far as the eye could see. We finally moored at Willington at 8pm. We were both totally exhausted! As usual we had overdone our first day. You see, it was not just Tilly May that had moored up for two years. We are both far from boat fit and were soon flagging so 6 hours on the move after spending all morning loading had finished us.
The day had not been without its excitements. Maggie fell into the cut from the roof so Jan had to run back down the towpath to fish her out. Half an hour later she is back in after falling off the stern. Luckily I had anticipated this eventuality and had attached temporary netting around the stern so the dogs could only fall off the side not directly onto the prop. Not to be left out Brea missed her footing getting off the boat and slipped backwards into the cut. Both pups baptised on the first day.
We managed to summon the energy to walk to The Dragon for a pint and a meal but neither of us were much company so we wondered back to Tilly May and went to bed.

Just to finish the day I managed to tip Jan out of the bed a 3am by slipping and falling on her side of the bed. Hope tomorrow will be a better day. Too tired to take photos will do better tomorrow.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

The flying dog buggers off!

The sun had not yet broken through the cloud when we arrived at today's designated dog walking spot. The air was warm and still, so a pleasant morning for some puppy training. Armed with whistle and a bag of treats we set off along the concrete road, not a sole in sight. Three quick pips on the 210.5 whistle and both Maggie and Brea came hurtling back for a treat, all going well. I took the opportunity to take a couple of videos of the pups running about before spotting Phil a fellow dog walker on the other side of the field with his three charges. Maggie and Bob are old friends so she shot off to play. Poor Brea is still a little unsure of the wide world so she stayed close to me but by the time we arrived back at the car she and Bob were best mates.

Maggie has started to not come back when we get to the car because she knows we are going home. Today I sat with the boot open for half an hour feeding treats any pup what would come to me when called. It seemed to do the trick. Just as all was going well a lady with a pushchair and a Boxer dog appeared. Maggie decided to head off with the two of them and no amount of whistling and calling had any effect. The lady with the pushchair just kept walking and talking to Maggie so I had to chase after them until I could get in front and grab the little bugger.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Crew training continues at a pace!

Brea the Munsterlander and Maggie the Border Terrorist
Yesterday was the first day that Brea was allowed out into the real world. All her jabs are done and she is now 13 weeks old so off we went for her first walk. Maggie as senior crew was leading the way.
Armed with a bag of nice training treats and my trusty whistle we were off! So this is how it works. I blow the whistle, you two come running back to me and then you get to eat nice bits of Hot Dog sausage. Alternatively, I blow the whistle, you two take no notice so I eat the Hot Dog sausage. No change there then! Maggie is the self appointed leader of the pack and is unsure about the whole bribery with treats thing.
As you can see from the photo Maggie does not run she flys a few inches above the ground. To the naked eye she appears to run but every photograph clearly shows her with no contact with the ground.

We now have a plan. We set off to Braunston on 18th May. This gives us some time to get the girls used to life on Tilly May and allows us a little more time to get her ready for her first cruise for 2 years. We are not sure how we will hold up stamina wise but we have plenty of time so we can build up the stamina as we go. The great thing about narrowboats is you can stop almost anywhere.
Maggie learning to fly at a very early age

With two new puppies on board I have been considering safety issues. To that end I have acquired some blue plastic safety fencing which is now cut down to fit around the back of the cruiser stern. This should stop the little darlings falling off the back straight into the prop, plus with a little extra fence we can enclose the stern to keep the crew on board when moored.
Maggie caught just after takeoff.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Boot camp training for new crew

The new crew are now living and training together. Maggie the Border Terrier is now 19 week old and Brea the Munsterlander is 9 weeks old. They are bonding well. Neither have been on Tilly May as Brea cannot go out for another 4 weeks.
The plan is to move Tilly May starting the second week in May. This means both dogs will be out and about so most of the boat training will be on the job. We have started a sweepstake on who will fall in the cut first. My money is on Brea. Maggie is very nimble and quick. Brea is a bit less coordinated. However you never can tell, quick can get you into all sorts of trouble.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

We are back!

Well we are finally back blogging and getting Tilly May ready for cruising. A lot has happened in the last couple of years. Both Jan and myself have been a bit under the weather. The good news is we are both on the mend and looking forward to cruising Tilly May in the spring of next year.
Poor Tilly May has been seriously neglected and is in need of some love and attention. We have only just been able to get down to see her so now we can spend time getting her ship shape. Mechanically things are not too bad because the chaps at JD Narrowboats (where she is moored) have looked after her with regular services and a new boat safety certificate. Bloody hell the spiders are massive!!
Its going to take some time to get the old girl back to her former glory but the same could be said for Jan and me.
We will be moving TM to a new mooring at Braunston in the spring to take advantage of some new cursing destinations. The move in tinged with sadness because we have enjoyed our time at JD Narrowboats in Shardlow. The boys have looked after TM and us very well and we will miss them greatly. Heartfelt thanks to Andy and Darren.
In preparation for a new cruising season we are recruiting new crew members. Unfortunately we lost Spot (Ships dog) before Christmas, she is now cruising the great waterways in the sky. The new crew will be Maggie the Border Terrorist, currently 8 weeks old and due aboard next week. We will be joined in April by Brea the Munsterlander. Not exactly sure of the date because she is yet to be born. Watch this space for more updates.