NB Muleless

NB Muleless
Moored at Alrewas Sept 2013

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Our First Christmas Afloat!

So Wednesday last week saw us leaving our mooring at Spiceball Park, and our first job was to fill the water tank! We used the tap just outside the shopping centre.


Whilst we were there, Rudolph contemplated nipping in to Debenhams to get some xmas shopping!


Whilst we filled our tank some CaRT workers brought 3 work boats up the lock.


We then headed off, down the lock and towards the winding hole to turn round.


The winding hole got the better of us this time round – it took a couple of attempts, and as you can see we (and Rudolph) took a bit of a battering!


The wind didnt do us any favours and the trees decided to get in the way! Even the button on the front took a battering and we cant straighten it up until we get some new shackles!

Rudolph soon recovered, and we headed on through the lift bridge – unlike Rudolph, Gary had to duck!


At the first lock out of Banbury we caught up with the CaRT guys and their workboats.


We discovered they were heading for Stockton ready for the works in the new year.

After heading up the lock behind them we decided to moor up below Bourton Lock rather than follow them any further, as the weather had decided to turn for the worst.

Rudolph decided to sleep inside out of the wind and rain.


The heavens opened and the wind and rain got really bad – we even had waves running up the canal!

Thursday was a lovely sunny day with no wind, so Rudolph decided it was safe to come out!


I left Rudolph helping Gary untie the boat and went off to set the lock.


All that rain over night had left the canal topped right up with muddy water.


We carried on towards Cropredy, and who should be coming back towards us but Sue and Vic on No Problem as they headed back towards Banbury!


It was lovely in the sun, so Rudolph caught some rays whilst we filled with water at Cropredy!


We moved on, enjoying the sunshine and blue skies – even when it was a bit of a tight squeeze in places!


We made it to the top of the Claydon flight whilst the sun was still out, but Rudolph jumped on the roof and started to dance about – telling us that the wind was coming up again and more rain was imminent!


So we tucked Rudolph up inside again and settled down in front of the stove for another wet and wild evening!

Friday was another lovely sunny day, but this time a bit gusty, so Rudolph stayed inside, as he was afraid of being blown off the boat!

We plodded along on the Oxford Canal Summit traveling about 10 miles on the twisted route when as the crow flies it is only about 4 miles! Again the sun was out and it was a lovely day to travel.


Again the canal level was really high and the water was really muddy after all the rain draining from the fields.


We stopped at the Wharf Inn in Fenny Stratford to fill the water tank and marvelled at the view across the hills!


The last few miles on the summit pass through sheep fields, and dotted around are all these blue tripod “things” – does anyone know what they are?


We moored above the Napton Flight – and of course it rained again!

Saturday we came down the Napton Flight, and stopped for water outside the Folly Pub – and the black clouds came over again!


We decided not to try to get to Braunston in the rain, so moored up and rang Yvonne and Roy to see if they fancied an evening in the Folly! Of course they did, so we had a very pleasant evening chilling out with them over dinner and a few drinks!

They had a huge Christmas tree outside the Folly, but I didnt take a picture at night with the lights on – only this one!


Again the sun was out, but it was breezy, and it definately got chilly – so we wrapped up warmly.


We arrived at Braunston and were amazed at how much room there was – hardly any boats moored at all! So we picked a nice spot opposite the Boathouse Pub where we could get a satellite signal and settled in for Christmas.

Roy dropped the car up to us so that we could do our xmas food shopping, so whilst the rain fell and the wind blew on Monday, we drove to Morrisons to collect our turkey and other xmas bits.

These hire boaters were getting into the spirit!


By Christmas Eve the wind had stopped howling and the sun was out, so in the afternoon we decided to do the Braunston pub crawl!

We walked up to the Admiral Nelson, almost drowning in mud on the awful towpath! It was quite busy, so after after a drink there we walked up the road into the village and stopped off in the Wheatsheaf. This was much quieter, with only a few locals in. We left there at 6 and headed to The Plough, where it started quiet but very quickly became very busy as the evening progressed.

We then headed back to the boat for dinner and a chill out watching telly.

Christmas day started slowly for us, having a nice lay in, sorting out the dinner ingredients etc. Whilst Gary was in the cratch, he received an invitation from a boater moored behind us to pop along for drinks later in the evening. They read this blog and wanted to meet us!

We visited the Boathouse Pub for a drink in the afternoon before starting dinner, and we duly sat down to our first Christmas Dinner Afloat!


After clearing away we made our way to “Oakapple” moored two boats behind us and had a very pleasant evening with Richard and Sharon, who we discovered also come from Fareham! Before leaving, we invited them for a return visit on Friday evening.

Boxing day Rudolph helped Gary to top up the diesel in the front tank for the stove – there is no way we are getting cold on this boat!


Unfortunately, this doesnt mean we dont catch colds – and yes I had managed to catch one, so feeling a bit stuffed up, we visited Yvonne and Roy for a couple of hours before the storms returned again in the evening, then tucked ourselves up in the warm with a few medicinal drinks to stave off the symptoms!

Friday of course was another windy and wet day, so we stayed on board, cleaned the boat, had dinner and awaited our visitors.

Another lovely evening with great company. Thanks for coming over Richard and Sharon.


Saturday morning saw Oakapple and crew making their way back to their home marina – hope you had a good journey and didnt suffer from the late night!


We had decided it was time to fill up our water tank (we were getting withdrawal symptoms and it was almost empty!) and also we wanted to try the self pump out at Braunston Marina, as our loo tank was just about full.

We duly moved off, after a rush of passing boats, and pulled into the Marina. I popped into the shop to get the token and Gary prepared to do the deed. The machine started – and nothing pumped out! We wiggled the connection, stood on the end, took it off and put it on again – several times and nothing pumped out!

To cut a long story short, after 3 tokens and help from one of the marina guys we still couldnt make it work, so the next customer had a go – and it worked for him – he pumped his tank out fine! So what to do? Whilst pondering (and waiting for the marina “toilet engineer” to finish his lunch and come and help) we decided to use the water tap on the facilities block to fill our tank, and whilst connecting the hose we heard a familar voice!

One of my old work colleagues Janet and her husband Paul (who lives in Portchester) were visiting relatives nearby and had decided to see if they could find us! If it hadnt been for the delay with the pump out machine, they would not have seen us! It was lovely to see you both and your family – sorry I didnt take any pictures, we were so flustered with our problem it didnt occur to me at the time.

In the midst of this chaos, showing people round the boat and chatting, the toilet engineer turned up and proceeded to strip down the pump out hose to check that was working ok. What a time to have visitors. Next time we see Janet and Paul I promise to take them for a lovely cruise!

Our friends duly left and Gary and the engineer persevered with the problem. Eventually after much prodding with the hose and water spraying the pump started working properly – we think we had a blocked breather hose. The engineer said he had never seen a problem like that before! How strange that should happen to us!!!!

He left us to complete our pump out, and by now our water tank was full, so we hurriedly packed away and pushed away from the wharf. We reversed out of the marina and headed back down the canal to the Boathouse pub – and moored up directly outside, as we desperately needed a drink and some food to recuperate!

We are now back on the boat exhausted after our eventful afternoon! – who says narrowboating is relaxing!!!!!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Getting Set for Christmas

We have had a hectic couple of weeks since the last blog.

Before we left Braunston we had our visitors on Sunday – Nat and Matty were joined by Yvonne, Roy and Tilly, and after their tour of the boat they took us back to their new house for us to have a guided tour!

When Yvonne and Roy took us back to the boat, we all decided to have dinner in the Boathouse Pub.

On Monday, before leaving Braunston, I made the trip back up the hill to the shop for some provisions, and managed to get a better picture looking back down to the marina.


On the way back to the boat I came across a boat with some surplus crew members and volunteered to give one a home!

Here is Rudolph keeping an eye out whilst we topped up with water!



We headed back down to Napton Junction and moored up just a few hundred yards from Wigrams Marina – ready to go in on Tuesday.

Gary had bought some cleaning tablets for the diesel stove and it went from this blue flame . . .


to this lovely green flame!


On Tuesday morning we headed into Wigrams Marina – Rudolph assisted Gary whilst I took the photo!


We had planned a visit down south from Wednesday, but decided to get into the marina early to catch up with some washing in their big machines before we left.

Gary had been trying to adjust the alternator belt without any luck, and Sam from Beta had arranged to call in to do it before we left – but he took one look at the alternator with the belt off and announced that it was “buggered”! and this was the “replacement” alternator we had already had! So we had to leave Sam organising a replacement for us from Beta (under warranty of course) whilst we were away!

We were only down south for 3 nights, but had to squeeze in a lot of visiting, late nights, food and drink!

This is Garys son Matt enjoying a combined Birthday/Xmas dinner!


Whilst Gary visited his old workmates in Eastleigh, I spent some quality time with my Mum and Lola her dog – it was a very blustery and cold day!


We managed to fit in an Indian takeaway with my Aunt Julie one night, and a Chinese takeaway with friends June and Chris on another.

The original plan had been to return to the boat on Saturday afternoon, and leave the marina on Sunday, but we couldnt leave before getting our replacement alternator – and this took slightly longer than anticipated!

In the meantime I thrashed the washing machines some more and Gary washed both sides and the roof of the boat.

We had a terrific sunset one night.


Sam arrived with our new alternator on Wednesday afternoon and soon had it fitted. We did some last minute shopping to top up supplies for the long journey ahead, and got ready to leave the marina on Thursday morning.

We had to visit Calcutt Marina for diesel – so had to drop down one lock, run some water down to fill the extremely low pound so that Gary could reverse Muleless to the service point, and then go back up the lock and head back towards Napton.

Rudolph kept lookout to make sure we didnt hit the gates!


We reached the top of the Napton flight as it started to get dark – I had forgotten how different these narrow locks were, and how slow compared to the double locks of the last few weeks!! (The blue ball is part of our xmas decs).


Friday we headed off on the long summit pound – Rudolph was keeping an eye out for approaching boats!


We had made a start with the xmas decorations, but I was on the lookout for a tree to complete them.


Saturday we started down the Claydon flight in strong gusty winds and sunshine.


On the way down we passed this poor sunken boat!


We passed the new marina at Cropredy, and even the second phase is now filling up with boats fast!


By the time we reached the 24hr moorings above Cropredy lock we had had enough of the wind, so decided to stop and booked a table in the Brasenose Arms for dinner as a treat!

On Sunday, as we filled the water tank it decided to rain – and carried on raining for the rest of the day!

We plodded on down the last 4 locks towards Banbury, getting wetter by the minute, but were cheered up by this chap on the final run in.


Is this an unusual place for a photograph? Outside the house!


We moored up in Spiceball Park and decided to chill out for the rest of the day!

Monday we did a bit of christmas shopping – and I found my tree!


I have been planning my flat xmas tree since before the boat was built – and this is just perfect!

Tuesday we managed a quick chat with Sue and Vic from No Problem before they moved off towards Cropredy – we will catch up with them again later, it was nice to finally meet them after reading their blog for years!


We popped over to Tesco to stock up again (who drinks all the alcohol – Rudolph!!) and now we are all set to head off again tomorrow. We are aiming to be at Braunston for Christmas!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

To Warwick–and back again!

So Thursday last week saw us leaving our mooring by the Two Boats pub in Long Itchington, and stopping at the water point just half a mile on!


As you can see, the sun was out again!

We headed off towards the Bascote locks and were enjoying working our way down in the sun.


Leaving the staircase pair and heading for the next two locks.


It amazes me how fast the water comes through when opening the paddles, so I got Gary to wind the paddle so I could take a picture!


We made good progress, and moored for the night below Radford Lock (again!)

On Friday the plan was to find a nice mooring in Warwick so that Terry and Wendy could visit on Saturday, so we set off and headed through Leamington, no rain this time, so I managed to take some pictures!

I think this little sailing boat had taken a wrong “tern”!


Passing the mooring we used last time for Asda!


Passing through Leamington Old Town where old bridges are followed by new flats!


We spied Morrisons, so decided to stop for brunch in their cafe and some shopping!


We passed this posh looking pub


Then we passed more new flats by the winding hole we used last time and spied another shopping opportunity ahead, but didnt stop this time!


Next we passed over the railway – and the river!


and then just round the corner loomed Tesco!


Then unfortunately there was nothing much of interest (or any nice moorings) until we reached the Cape locks.


At the top we found the Cape of Good Hope Pub


There was a water point opposite the pub and a large area of 48 hr moorings. As we were only about half a mile away from the junction with the Saltisford Arm where we had to turn round, we decided to turn first before mooring up.


We couldnt go any further along the Grand Union, as just a bit further up the Hatton Flight started, and as there were works on the top locks there was no passage through! Do them another time!

We moored up just before the water point (so it would be in easy reach on Sunday). Unfortunately the flats opposite meant that the sun couldnt find us!


We had to check out the area for possible parking places for our visitors, and found ourselves in the Cape of Good Hope Pub (which according to ECanal Maps which I have on my smart phone was closed!) As we sat having a drink I made sure I sent an update message stating the pub was definately open!

On Saturday we spent time giving the boat a wash and brush up to make sure she was respectable for our visitors who arrived at around 3pm.

Unfortunately I didnt take any photos – again!! I must try harder!

We had a lovely afternoon and evening catching up with Terry and Wendy and showing them around the boat. It was lovely to see you guys, and next time we will definately take you for a cruise!

They left about 9pm as they were going to have a busy day on Sunday at the Birmingham Christmas Market – maybe next year we will be able to visit Birmingham by boat whilst the market is on!

Sunday we decided to walk round to the bottom of the Hatton locks to check out the moorings there ready for our trip up or down, whenever that might be!

We then moved the boat forward to that convenient water tap to get a top up!


We then headed back through the locks and around Warwick again. Passing this blogger on his winter mooring (no sign of the Old Salt).


This time we decided to pop into Tesco for some supplies, and lucky for me they had a tent outside GIVING AWAY MAGNUM MINI ICECREAMS WITH BAILEYS!!! Gary had to drag me back to the boat!

We moored up below Radford lock again!

Monday saw us moving on through the familiar Radford lock, and the Fosse locks. We stopped to top the water tank too – whilst I sorted the washing (I wont be giving Gary the camera again!)


We decided to stop at Welsh Road Lock as the mooring was empty, and after mooring close to flats and trees it was nice to be in a more open spot!


Tuesday we decided to tackle the Bascote staircase locks and the Stockton locks all in one go!

Heading up the Bascote locks.


Starting up the Stockton flight.


Luckily for us two boats had just come down the flight, so most of the locks were ready for us to go straight into, especially as a passing dog walking narrowboater pushed open the gates for us too!

We virtually flew up the flight making it in one hour five minutes, even with our chat to the gate opening dog walker – thank you sir!


We moored up between bridges 19 and 20, knowing we only had 3 more locks to do on this stretch of the Grand Union for the time being – we wont be back this way for a few months, what with xmas commitments and winter stoppages!

Wednesday we set off up the Calcutt flight – and stopped for water at the top! (Sorry no picture today!).

We turned left on the Oxford/Grand Union and then moored up at our favourite Foxes Gate mooring – ready for the short hop to Braunston the next day.

Thursday was rather misty – but so lovely!


And the mist didnt stop boaters moving about – we soon followed!


We found a mooring opposite the Boathouse Pub, and are enjoying a few days staying put!

Thursday, of course, is Pie and Pud for £6 night, at the Old Plough, so of course we had to partake again – fantastic offer, and fantastic food!

We are expecting visitors on Sunday – Nat and Matty are coming over – they havent had the guided tour of the boat yet, and one day soon we will be taking them on a cruise up the Braunston locks and through the tunnel – as a special treat for Matty!

I will try harder to get photos this time!

In the meantime, today was lovely and sunny and I tried to take a photo of the marina as we walked up the hill to the shop (after visiting the butcher yesterday to top up meat supplies!).


This was the best I could do – with the winter sun (lovely as it was) just in the wrong place for a picture!

And here we are, nestled under the trees (yes James, Gary has been clearing the leaves regularly!!).


Next week we are back in Wigrams Marina whilst we journey south for a visit!