Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Leamington Spa (pet passport problems)

Buddy and I set off on a cruise at about nine on Monday morning.  I wanted to get some washing done, top back up with water and get to Leamington by lunchtime.

First, we had to go down the two Cape locks; these locks had been closed for maintenance during January and therefore one reason why we’ve seen such little boat traffic lately.

Top lock nearly emptied – note the new wooden boards on the top gates

The new bumper boards have been fitted as part of the maintenance works.  Most of the previous boards had come off, making it quite hazardous for ascending boats, especially if the driver hadn’t noticed the bow getting caught under one of the gate cross members or the balance beam.  If the bow gets caught under the balance beam when the lock is nearly full it can actually lift the gate up causing all sorts of damage.

If the bow gets caught under a cross member when the lock starts filling, then there is a great danger that the boat will capsize through water flooding in on the front deck whilst it stays caught but the back is rising.  It only takes a moment’s lack of attention to cause a nasty accident.

Fortunately, we got down both locks without any mishaps and pulled up by the water point to wait for the washing machine to finish.

Moored at the water point below the bottom lock

The pair of boats moored the other side of the water point were there when we last came along here in October, so I wondered if they were on a permanent mooring.  I chatted to the guy who was just going off to work and he said it was just a coincidence and he moves every week or two like we do.

After setting off again we approached the Kate Boats boatyard at Warwick.   This is one of their two hire boat bases and from a distance it looked like they had moored their boats right across the cut.  Most hire boat bases are like this in the winter and breast as many boats up as possible to take up less linear space.

They had, in fact, left enough room for a widebeam to get through but it reminded me once again how difficult I find it to judge gaps from a distance.  

Next, we passed another boatyard where Mharie and Andy live on a boat with their three children.  Karen would have been jealous as I noticed quite a few of their daffs were in bloom; ours are still in bud.

Theirs is the far boat with a pot of daffs on the hatch – most of their flowers were on the front of the boat
The two boatyards are on a long straight stretch and at the end is a notorious bridge on a blind bend by the moorings for the 24-hour Tesco.  It is particularly difficult as the road has been widened several times over the years, so it is quite a long bridge and takes a while before you can see if the way is clear.  The last two times I came through here boats were coming the other way far too fast and got themselves into difficulty trying to stop when they saw us.  Narrowboats tend to skew their backs one way or the other if slowed quickly from speed, so you can always tell if someone was going to fast by the fact they end up across the cut. 

No boats coming this time so all was OK

The only other items of canal interest on the journey are the two aqueducts on the approach to Leamington.

Aqueduct over the River Avon

Aqueduct over the Great Western Railway

It was by the railway aqueduct that Buddy and I were watching a grass snake swimming last summer.

Round the next corner was Lidl which was where we wanted to moor for the next week or two.  Once Karen is fully over her flu she will have an easy walk to work from here and I will get the opportunity to do all those things that I have been putting off because we haven’t been in a town.  You know, things like sight and hearing tests etc.

I mentioned yesterday that Buddy has been a bit under the weather, so I took him to our vets at the top end of town in the afternoon to get him checked out and get him a passport.  It turned out he has an ear infection, so he was unable to get his passport.  One of the passport prerequisites is a rabies jab and he couldn’t have that whilst under a course of antibiotics.  That means another trip to the vets in a week or two.

There were four of us moored at Lidl with us at the end; I recognised the two boats at the front as they are local ccers like us but the boat in front of us was brand new and I didn’t recognise it.  I realised that it was built by Aintree boats as it had the same design as our hull.  They are a very popular boatbuilder it seems, Mike and Lesley are due to have their boat finished by them this week and other friends, Chris and Sue, have just booked a build slot with them too!

Moored outside Lidl

I have to admit that one of the advantages of mooring outside Lidl is that they do the best pain au chocolate of any supermarket.  They are also cheap and, if you go at the right time of day they sell them at a discount.  My first of my three daily breakfasts is always a pain au chocolate and coffee – so I’ll be a happy bunny for a while 😊

Monday, 19 February 2018

Cape (moving day)

With poor Karen still not 100% it’s been a quiet weekend, spent mostly on the boat.  Buddy’s not been so well either, so he’s not even been angling for long walks!  We did have some lovely sunshine but still no butterflies seen this year Elsewhere in the country, six different species have been recorded already, but they have been in the southern counties highlighting the different conditions between there and the Midlands and elsewhere in the UK. 

We arrived at Saltisford two weeks ago on Sunday so, to keep within the T’s & C’s of our licence, we had to move on.  T’s and C’s always looks odd with the two apostrophes, but it must be the correct way of writing it as the two words, ‘Terms’ and ‘Conditions’ have both been shortened (or abbreviated for the educated 😉).

We’d planned on getting to Leamington over the weekend but decided to leave it for me to do during the week.  Instead, it was a short trip round to the Cape where I could take on water ready for doing the weekly wash before cruising on down to Leam.

I left it until about 3 o’clock and it was still really rather mild, so I went the whole way really slowly, switching between tickover and idle, taking in the sights and sounds.  Karen and I have both noticed the birds singing in the evening now as well as during the dawn chorus.

Buddy steering the boat with his tail

Karen and I both felt a bit sad about leaving Saltisford as it had become our patch; no boats had passed us during the whole fortnight.  That’s the trouble with this time of year, you get to feel you’re the only one on the water and it sort of belongs to you.

Before we left I had one last look at lock #27 and saw that they had started pumping water out; I assume to get it ready for working in the lock from Monday.

Also, the stank that had seemed excessively high had had its top three planks removed:

Having rounded the bend where the Saltisford arm goes off to the right, we went under the A425 or the Birmingham road that runs into Warwick. 

The bridge was rebuilt in 1992 hence its modern appearance

After passing Warwick cemetery we were in sight of the Cape moorings.  For the first time we could remember there were no boats moored at the visitors’ moorings, just the two permanent boats outside the Cape of Good Hope on the opposite side.

Unusual not to have any moored boats here, whatever the season

We pulled up opposite the pub and took on water. Once full, I pulled the boat back a few metres onto the visitors’ moorings so that we would be clear of the water point.  Mind you, it seems very unlikely anyone else would be along to get water.

Our mooring for Sunday night at least

Friday, 16 February 2018

Saltisford (and another mini cruise)

I seemed to spend all day on Wednesday traipsing to Warwick and back.  The first visit was to Sainsbury’s but the other times were to get my phone repaired.  The phone had stopped accepting a charge so the charging port needed replacing.  It couldn’t be done whilst I waited so that’s why I had to make two further trips into town; once to drop it off and then another to pick it up.

In the end I went up a fourth time!  When I got home after picking up the phone, one of my daughters called and, after about 10 seconds the line started buzzing and she couldn’t hear me.  I tried a few more people as a test and they were the same, so it was back into Warwick to tell the repair shop that they had mucked something up.  This time they fixed it whilst I waited and it all seems to be OK for the moment 😊

We’ve not had a TV signal since leaving Lapworth over two weeks ago, and it hasn’t been a problem as we can always use the internet to watch or download TV programs if we want to.  We have found, though, that since we have been at Saltisford junction that our internet signal seems to disappear at about six in the evening until nine the following morning.  We’ve not encountered this anywhere else on the canal system and find it most strange.

To get over the intermittent internet signal, I decided, on Thursday morning, to move the boat back to below Hatton bottom lock.  It required quite a lengthy reverse and I was glad there were no boats on the move as I had to keep stopping and correcting my direction of travel.  I blame the wind of course 😉

Moored back at the bottom lock (again!)

The boat moored behind us appears to be on a permanent mooring.  This is an unusual place to find a single permanent mooring as it is alongside the towpath at the back of houses.  The tall pipe, aerial thing sticking up from its stern deck is housing an electrical feed from the house alongside where it is moored.  

Karen went back to work on Thursday but was home again by four and went straight to bed; obviously not fully recovered yet

Later on, on Thursday I went to check up on how the works were progressing at lock #27.  Three more stanking planks had been added to the stank below the bottom gates:

I’m not sure why they had been added as there would have to be a terrific amount of water for it to come up that high.  Also the ends weren’t secured in anything so water would just run round them.  I’ll have to go back when the workers are there and ask them the reason.

The picture above shows the new bottom gates in the closed position.  The balance beams and walkways haven’t been put on yet.  It looks like the old ones are going to be put back as they are both laying alongside the lock still.

One of the balance beams

At the top end of the lock, a stank had been put in place ready for removing the top gates for repair:

Stanking planks in place leaving the top gates clear for removal

The ground paddles have been left open in order to drain the water and pipes had also been placed in the water and connected to a pump driven by a large generator.  They will pump the remaining water out when they start working on the top gates. 

The blue box is the generator.  The ground paddle is lifted showing the hole through which the water runs when filling the lock.

This next picture shows the paddle winding gear in the up position – the rod with a white top above the white cylinder is fully extended.

The lock ladders on this lock are also being replaced as they are not up to standard apparently! 
There is one lock ladder in each wall of the lock. One can be seen in the picture above.  We use the ladders when climbing back onto the boat once the lock is empty and ready for us to move the boat out.

We'll have been here two weeks by the weekend so we'll be off to Leam next.  It's only three miles and through the two locks at Cape so it'll be an easy cruise.  Once down the two locks we will be at the lowest point of the canal; from then on all the locks climb uphill on the Grand Union until the other side of Braunston.

Publishing this blog entry proves that the internet is OK here!