So Monday last week we decided it was time we explored the Grand Union some more, and since we needed a few staples (wine supplies were low), we decided to head towards Leamington Spa to visit Asda.
As we were leaving Braunston we passed this famous blogger but unfortunately didnt get to say hello! We keep missing people – as the weather has turned chilly we just dont hang about outside our boats to chat as much!
We didnt get far, just 3 miles, and decided to stop by the Bridge 102 moorings.
Tuesday turned out to be a very windy day – not good! We needed a pump out and were heading into Wigrams Marina for this.
Getting into the Marina through the narrow entrance was the easy bit – much more difficult was trying to spin round and reverse onto the service wharf, which the wind wouldnt let us do! Luckily the service chap was on hand to assist and the manoeuvre was accomplished in the end.
After being pumped out, we filled with water using the hose normally used for topping up the hire boats – the fastest water top up so far! We waited on the service wharf (no other boats needed to use it) until the wind had dropped a bit and then made a dash for freedom before the wind trapped us against the hire boat fleet!
Heading out of the marina we had to head straight across the junction and onto the Grand Union heading onto yet more new territory!
Just a short distance took us to the three Calcutt Locks – big double locks again, like we had last seen at Stenson on the Trent and Mersey, but these on the GU are a bit different with hydraulic paddles.
We decided not to tackle the Stockton flight of 8 locks until the next day – which turned out to be a mistake, as it rained steadily all day!
Kitted out with our wet weather gear we started down the Stockton Locks – despite seeing no other boats and having to turn each lock before going into it we were making good time until one of our fenders leapt off the boat just as we headed into lock 5 – and disappeared into the deep water!
We had already “lost” a fender twice so far on our journey since Leicester, and usually the wooden hook (that Mark at MGM made for us) will float to the top of the canal, even though the rubber fender sits on the bottom attached by a thin rope, and we can usually just pick it up. This time the water just above the lock was much deeper – about 5/6 feet, so the hook couldnt float to the top! We havent got a boat hook, so after poking about with the pole for a whilst decided we would have to leave the fender to its watery grave!
We carried on to the next lock and then noticed a boat just starting up the flight 2 locks ahead. We exited our lock and pulled up in the pound to wait for them and save turning the lock before they got to it, and I walked down and asked to borrow their boat hook! It was a hire boat and the crew looked at me a bit strange as I explained I needed the hook to retrieve a fender – but they let me borrow it. Off I trotted, leaving Gary with Muleless, and on my hands and knees started fishing about with the boat hook for the fender.
After 15 minutes, I was about to give up as the hire boat were just approaching the lock, when suddenly I hooked something! Result! I triumphantly returned the boat hook to the hireboaters whilst brandishing my fender – now they were sure I was loopy!
I rejoined Gary and Muleless, and we carried on down the flight – even with our hold up for the fender we did the flight in 1 hour 50 mins, which we were quite pleased with.
We found the water point, and of course had to stop to fill the tank!
The Blue Lias Pub has a large beer garden and a caravan site attached, it must be really busy in summer, but no one was there that day!
Just two more locks took us to the bottom of the Stockton locks and our mooring for the night. We were glad to get out of our wet gear and into something more comfortable!
Thursday turned out a much nicer day – no rain! So we set off again looking forward to descending locks in sunshine!
The first locks we hit were the Bascote Staircase (where the front gates of the top lock are also the back gates of the bottom lock), followed by two separate locks.
Notice the fender is now safely on the roof whilst we are travelling!
And the sun was definitely out, even though it was still chilly!
We had six more locks and 3 more miles to go before stopping for the night after Radford Bottom Lock.
We were now only one mile from the mooring for Asda, but decided to leave that for the next day.
Friday, the weather turned again! We managed to get to the mooring by the Fusilier pub just before it started to rain – but found it difficult to moor as the edge was shallow.
We walked up to Asda (about 20 minutes away at my slow pace) and proceeded to shop – and shop and shop! We ended up with way too much to walk back to the boat with, so had to get a taxi!
It was still raining, but we didnt want to stay where we were and we didnt really want to moor up in the main part of Leamington, so we moved on to find a turning point – but decided as we were getting wet (again) anyway, we might as well go on to the further away winding hole, to check out Leamington for the next visit and to get some charge in our batteries!
It was too wet to get the camera out, so no photos of Leamington until next visit!
We ended up back at our mooring below Radford Bottom Lock – but facing the other way!
Saturday we decided to stay put – we needed a rest day after all that rain again!
Sunday was a lovely sunny day, and just as we were about to set off, who should turn up but Yvonne and Roy and Tilly again! This time they had walked to us from home three and a half miles away!
After a cup of tea, we set off back up the locks, Yvonne and Roy travelled with us to save their legs for a bit, Tilly is getting the hang of being a canalboat dog, and sits by Gary watching the world go by – I will take a photo next time!
We pulled in for water just before the Fosse Locks, and Yvonne and Roy left us to walk home. There was a boat on the water point already filling, and it was about an hour before they were full! As we topped up our tank, we decided to have lunch whilst we waited, so at least we didnt have to stop again.
Although the sun was out it was low in the sky, and we were mostly in the shade as we motored along, but the locks were evenly spaced to warm us up as we went!
We arrived back at the Bascote locks at about 3.50 and debated whether to go up or not – yes we would go for it.
As the locks are close together I could ready the next lock as Muleless ascended the first one, and we emerged at the top at 4.30.
The lovely clear sky meant it stayed light enough for us to travel the next mile, to moor up just before Long Itchington.
Monday was supposed to start drizzly and then clear up – but our luck was not with us – and it decided to drizzle and rain steadily until well into the afternoon.
At this stage we were resigned to travelling the Stockton locks in the rain – so on we plodded again! We managed to ascend the flight of 8 locks in just 1 hour and 15 minutes – even turning each lock first! We were pleased with our progress!
We had decided to pop into Calcutt Boats by Calcutt Locks to get diesel – this meant a tricky manoeuvre between locks 2 and 1 and Gary reversing onto the service point! This achieved, we filled up at a very reasonable 87p/litre on self declaration!
It was rapidly getting dark as we went up the last lock and turned onto the Oxford Canal to moor for the night – no pictures again today – too much rain!
Tuesday we made the short journey to Braunston, where we had arranged for Martin from MGM and Graham from Hybrid Marine to visit us to sort out some problems.
Graham arrived on Wednesday afternoon and spent a few hours checking things over and left still scratching his head! We had a problem not before experienced by other hybrid owners, but armed with first hand knowledge of what was happening he journeyed on to his next customer still thinking about our problem!
We decided to visit the Boathouse pub to try their 2 currys and 2 drinks for £11 offer – which was well worth it!
Thursday morning Martin arrived – we had a leaking window that urgently needed attention – all that rain was taking its toll! He made a few other adjustments to things whilst he was here – shaving a bit off the cupboard door on the integrated freezer, filling a few settlement gaps etc, and after (hopefully) fixing the window leak he left us contemplating dinner at the Old Plough, up the hill.
Just then, Graham rang to say he was on his back down country and was going to pop in to see us as he had a theory about our problem!
He arrived at 5.45pm and proceeded to check out his theory in a very dark engine bay by the light of a torch!
Eureka!!!! He found the problem! We had a blown 24volt 70amp fuse on the alternators and this had been making the dual alternators “fight” each other and had been causing the engine to “hunt” at a certain stage of the charging process.
Graham went on his way, and we went up to the Old Plough to celebrate with their “pie and pudding for £6" offer – which was delicious!! We rolled back down the hill very full at 10pm – a very late night out for us!
This morning (friday) we had to test the “fixed” window by pouring water over it – unfortunately it still leaks, so Martin is coming back tomorrow morning to have another go!
This is the longest we have stayed in one place since leaving Leicester on 14 September on our great adventure 9 weeks ago!
Next week we are planning a trip to Tescos in Rugby – exciting stuff!!