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The Tuesday Night Club on Tour
1 - Harefield to Bedworth, Grand Union Canal, Northern Oxford Canal and Coventry Canal.
Tuesday 16th March 2004
The boat was loaded Monday evening, heating and fridge put on,
the start was delayed until early Tuesday due to lift available, as Linda goes past Harefield on the way to work.
Eventually we left the marina at 08:20 after sorting out the final expendable food items and other electrical stuff.
The ships ancient 1989 removable Panasonic CD / Radio was found to now be completely
wonky as it has developed a now total dislike to CD-R's. Between locking Neil managed to
find time to open it up and clean laser lens with bog paper and some of the ships finest whiskey!...............it did the trick and CD / Radio will now
play any of the CD-R's that have been brought along for this Tour.
Well.........from tales of cruises only a week or so, Martin Clark and myself had a rather different experience.........certainly no ice or snow, just brilliant sunshine all day and temperatures in excess of 15 degrees C! Martin steered all day so Neil was left to do all locks. As we arrived at Common Moor Lock just as another boat was seen disappearing, so it was a quick passage through and up to Cassio, as we hoped to share with it. The other boat (solo liveaboard Violinist Peter - 70ft NB Oris) had waited for us and we had a well executed bit of lock sharing all the way up to Fisheries Lock, where Peter stopped for the night, as he had to go into work that evening.
The Hunton Bridge bottom lock works were still in full swing, but passage was allowed 08:30 to 17:30, as long as you did not have to use the gates on the new lock wall side. A mini GiG was arranged at the Anchor at Bourne End, with Julian and Caro, Debbie and Simon and of course those Jannocks, Graham and Brenda, that always seem to sniff out a mini GiG!
All was going well and on time until we arrived at Winkwell swing bridge.......broken yet again! Some contractors with a Bantam tug and hopper had got through, going upstream, but the bridge had failed as they closed it. The bridge had closed, but failed at that point, with BW key stuck in, barriers down and jacks still up., The contractors had forced down the barriers to enable cars to go over the bridge.......with jacks up and a lot of crashing as all their weight was put on the pintail! They had left a message on Marsworth's answerfone, but could not get through after 15 mins trying to the 08004799947 BW helpline number.
We moored up on the bridge waiting area and left for the short walk up to the Anchor at 18:30.......just as BW bod arrived. He apparently got the bridge working again and we foolishly decided to leave it until next mornings start. The Anchor now does food again since new landlord had recently taken over, it was certainly OK, with on form Green King ales and of course excellent company.
Wednesday 17th March 2004
07:40 start, cold and overcast all day, but no rain. BLOODY WINKWELL swing bridge bu&&ered again!.................barriers came
down, jacks went up then nothing!...after a few mini traffic jams, cleared by pressing close bridge button to put down jacks an raise barriers, Neil
had enough!................out came the TNC scaffold pole. With a bit of help from a few motorists we managed to push / pry the bridge open enough to
get Earnest through............then shut it the same way, rather difficult to get the bridge hard against the final stop buffer, but we managed it,
then interlock enabled jacks to go down and barriers to raise.
At 08:30 we were on our way again, fortunately the Bantam tug / hopper ensemble had not got going , so we had a quiet run all the way up to the summit, with no other boat movements. As we came out of Cowroast top (12.15) a Bolinder (In fact we found out this was a Seffle!) has heard revving up..........NB Severn soon shot out of Cowroast Marina, and we had a good chase to catch it up, expecting to share Marsworth flight with it.
It was not to be, NB Severn stopped at the dry dock and we started down Marsworth at 13:10 on our own.
We gave up for the night at the new Grove Lock pub at 18:15. below the lock on the offside pub moorings. London Pride was on form in this Fullers "English Inns" bistro pub. Food certainly OK......but with Fillet steak available at 14.50 quid we would expect it to be, we had a slightly cheaper option. Early night as we were both unfit, and had a day of locking each......by the time we reached the BCN we were on form again!
Thursday 18th March 2004
Late start (09:05) as it had started raining. By the time we had got to
Tesco's in Leighton (09:30 - 09:45) it had stopped and the weather gradually improved. The Tesco shop was for bread "grease" that Neil had forgot!
14:30 saw us passing through boring Milton Keynes (Gifford Park).....Neil did NOT steer this bit (for a change). At 18:30 we started Stoke Flight...we could not really moor below, seeing as the waiting area and all the bank up to the Tove crossing / sump was being seriously re-piled. Many new gates on the Stoke Flight, sad sign of the times, most were of Bradley and not Bulbourne manufacture.
We came out of Stoke at 19:50 in the dark, then a slow creep through the boats to a rather handy mooring. There was quite a gap in the first spot we came to, but seeing as a liveaboard had its generator running, we kept away from it and close to the boat the other side - just as well seeing as it ran until at least 01:30!
That night we went to the Navigation, the "new" Mansfield Brewery pub, below the top lock. OK food, but rather more expensive than up north.
Friday 19th March 2004
Rather late start at 09:35 from Stoke Bruerne. We spotted an Alvechurch boat,
claiming to be from their new base at Packet Boat Marina in Cowley - boat probably being worked there from Gayton. 09:45 into a rather wet Blisworth
Tunnel, out at 10:10, so no records broken there!
Amongst the boats for sale at Canal Craft at Blisworth was 57ftish red / blue cruiser stern NB "Andromeda"...........Earnest's liveaboard neighbour at Harefield...........I wondered where it had got to the last week!
Gayton Junction was passed at 10:40. IWA NB Jubilee was moored just before. As we past Waterways Services at Nether Heyford, we got a cheery wave from Phil Gardner............dunno if he actually recognised Neil in "new" boat. Into Buckby Bottom at 13:45.... "Trad" hire boat NB Blue Nun looking very smart on OS before lock.
Out of Buckby top at 15:05. Norton Junction passed at 15:10. All the towpath washwall near the junction was now serious piles, BW sorting out rings and towpath. Braunston Top at 16:05, met UCC hire boat coming up.
We stopped on the empty 48hr Visitor Moorings beside Braunston Marina at 17:00. The Plough was the venue for the night, we met up with John Pomfret and his old boating mate Chris, who were off the next day to check out a new NB for Chris at Sawley. Afterwards to "The Pig" for normal welcome from John. Neil's interest in inland shipping, caused John to get out his many albums of pictures.
Saturday 20th March 2004
Even later start from Braunston at 09:50...........well at least it was not
raining at that time.........but as for the wind! At one point N Bear Nest, not a totally lightweight NB was
crabbing along so much (at just about max canal speed), that the front doors and large drawers flew open!!! We
followed Ownerships NB Rowington for most of the way until Hillmorton, but we came out of the paired locks
first. Looking back Neil spotted NB Rowington in a rather serious skeg / top cill interface situation.
Stopping at Rugby - Brownsover Visitor Moorings was easy, for 50 minute Tesco shop............but getting away was another question!!! Hawkesbury Junction at 17:35, OK turn round onto Coventry main line. Rather rainy and overcast, we nearly gave up for the day, but soldiered on to just past Marston Junction (with Ashby) - 18:30.
Here there is a quiet deep mooring, the other side of the "slag heap", overlooking fields / river, not at though we could see any of this as it was rather dark by that time. Stayed on board, to a rather large and Commode D' Or prepared Spag Bol. Managed to set up laptop with old 12v computer speakers to watch DVD of Bladerunner.
Earnest slips its moorings at Harefield Marina. Grand Union Canal.
The entrance to Harefield Marina. Grand Union Canal.
Hunton Bridge Bottom Lock, wash wall just re-built. Grand Union Canal.
Rising Sun Lock and "The Risers" pub at Berkhamsted. Grand Union Canal.
Braunston Arches. Grand Union / Oxford Canal.
Bridge No 84. Northern Oxford Canal.
Wise's Bridge No 80. Northern Oxford Canal.
M45 Bridge. Northern Oxford Canal.
Northern Oxford Canal.
Tarry's Bridge No 74, Hillmorton Wharf. Northern Oxford Canal.
Wharf Bridge No 73, Hillmorton Wharf. Northern Oxford Canal.
The Old Royal Oak pub at Hillmorton Wharf. Northern Oxford Canal.
Hillmorton Railway Bridges. Northern Oxford Canal.
Hillmorton Top Locks, No 6 and 7. Northern Oxford Canal.
Hillmorton Middle Locks, No 4 and 5. Northern Oxford Canal.
Hillmorton Middle Locks, No 4 and 5. Northern Oxford Canal.
Looking back at Hillmorton Top Locks, No 6 and 7. Northern Oxford Canal.
Bridge No71 Hillmorton locks. Northern Oxford Canal.
Grantham's Bridge and the arm at Hillmorton locks. Northern Oxford Canal.
Hillmorton Bottom Locks, No 3 and 4. Northern Oxford Canal.
The start of the Brownsover loop. Brownsover, Rugby. Northern Oxford Canal.
Rugby Aqueducts. Northern Oxford Canal.
The Willow Wren hire base at Rugby Wharf. Northern Oxford Canal.
The other end of the Brownsover loop used to exit here, opposite the entrance to Rugby Wharf, which was the start of another loop. Northern Oxford Canal.
Bridges No 53 and 52. Northern Oxford Canal.
Newbold Tunnel. Northern Oxford Canal.
Fall's Bridge No 48 and exit from stub of old loop. Northern Oxford Canal.
The start of one of the old loops has recently been dredged out for moorings. Northern Oxford Canal.
Yes the boat really is going along at that angle!...rather windy. Looking back at Bridge No 38. Northern Oxford Canal.
Hungerfield Bridge No 35. Northern Oxford Canal.
Rose Narrowboats hire base at Stretton Stop. Northern Oxford Canal.
StrettonWharf loop. Northern Oxford Canal.
"Maid" missing from the left hand door! Maidboats (Brinklow) used to be the the Stretton Stop site. Northern Oxford Canal.
The bank is being raised at Smeeton Lane Embankment. Northern Oxford Canal.
M6 Motorway Bridge. Northern Oxford Canal.
Nettle Hill Bridge No 24. Northern Oxford Canal.
The site of long demolished Hawkesbury Power Station. Northern Oxford Canal.
Hawkesbury Junction and Lock No 1. Northern Oxford Canal.
Hawkesbury Junction, old engine house. Northern Oxford Canal.
Hawkesbury Junction, the Greyhound pub. Northern Oxford Canal.
The Tour Continues...
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