NB Muleless

NB Muleless
Moored at Alrewas Sept 2013

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!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

A change of plans!

On Friday evening we had some visitors.


Gary was having a cigarette with the cratch cover wound up, and these two cheeky chaps decided to pay us a visit and get fed! We couldnt refuse.


At the same time we noticed how good the Boathouse pub looked reflected in the water!


On Saturday morning Martin arrived to have another go at fixing the leaking window. This time he removed the window and added more sealing tape before replacing the window. This seems to have worked (so far). When we return to MGM in the Spring the windows will be checked and adjusted as necessary to make sure no further problems arise.

We were keen to do a test run with the “fixed” engine, so after 4 days moored opposite the pub we headed off – to the water point (first) and then turned in the marina entrance and headed off (with quite a few other boats) back down the Oxford Canal towards Napton Junction to give the batteries a good charge!

We ended up in a 5 boat convoy all the way to the junction, where we turned round (along with one of the others in the convoy) and headed back towards Braunston. We moored up by Foxes Gate after 3 1/2 hours running – very pleased with the performance, batteries charging nicely, both alternators working as designed AND NO HUNTING!!!!! Bliss.

Sunday we had decided to stay put, but then we had a phone call from Niece Natalie asking if we would like to go for Sunday Dinner at Yvonne and Roys with the rest of the family – and they would collect us if we wished. So we moved back to Braunston so we could take up the offer, as it was easier to collect us from there.

Pulling away at Foxes Gate, who should we find moored a few boats ahead but more bloggers!


Graham was inside, and Jill was outside with the dogs – we waved on the way past!


Sunday lunch was hectic with 8 adults, 2 kiddies and 2 dogs – and I forgot to get the camera out again! Thanks to Yvonne and Roy for a lovely meal, and Nat and Matty for collecting us, and Nicole, Ben, Riley and Freddy for being there too!

We had a change of plan on Monday. As we had moored to the left of the junction at Braunston (opposite Midland Chandlers) and were facing north (ish), our original plan had been to head towards Rugby to shop in Tescos, but first we had to fill with water at the tap opposite!


As you can see, we are not the only people that do this!

Looking back at the junction at Braunston.


As we headed off, the weather decided to deteriorate and the drizzle started!

The weather forecast for this week is mainly cold, but with heavy rain forecast for Wednesday, so we decided to leave Tescos in Rugby for another time, as we had decided to head back to Warwick for the weekend, as my brother Terry and his wife Wendy were heading up to Birmingham for the Christmas Market and were going to visit us on the way.

We headed up the Oxford and turned at the winding point by Hillmorton Wharf, and headed back to Braunston, another battery charging test run successfully completed. We arrived back at Braunston just as darkness fell, and we moored back in the spot we had left in the morning!

Tuesday we made a fairly early start for us – 10.30 am, and headed off towards Napton Junction (again!). We turned right onto the Grand Union (dejavu here definitely), and headed down the Calcutt Locks after a brief stop to fill our diesel cans ready to top up the tank for our diesel stove – we didnt want to get caught out with this cold spell upon us!

We steamed on, determined to get through the Stockton Locks in the sunshine and started down the flight at 3pm!


We made good progress – and not a drop of rain in sight!



We soon got in to the rhythm – I went on to each lock to fill it ready for Gary to drive into


leaving Gary to move Muleless out of each lock and shut the gates behind him!


and then move on down to the ready lock ahead!


We made it to the bottom of the 8 locks in 1 hour 15 minutes! Now we just had two more locks to go through before mooring for the night just below the Two Boats pub – of course by the time we got through them the light was fading fast and Gary had to put on our super bright LED tunnel light to see where he was going. He was running on electric drive and several boaters peered out of windows to see the “ghost boat” float by!!

There was a brilliant atmospheric scene as we passed the Blue Lias Pub and the boats on the moorings there – but unfortunately the camera decided it was full so I couldnt take a picture!

Wednesday, we had a lazy day sitting out the rain, just going for a walk to the Co-op in the village in the afternoon and returning via the locks to take a picture - not as good as last nights shot would have been!


Just then the rain came down again – so we sheltered in the Two Boats with a couple of drinks, before returning to the boat to prepare dinner and write this blog!

Blog posted from Warwick on Saturday, as no internet signal for a few days. The rest of the journey will be in next blog!

Friday, 15 November 2013

An eventful trip to Asda!

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!!