Sunday, August 30, 2009

These Are Not Tractor Seats

We went to Honiton Hill Rally. It's an annual meeting of steam and agricultural machinery enthusiasts and much more. Oddly, for such a large event it lacks its own web site. There were dozens of working traction engines, steam rollers, classic cars, motorcycles, military vehicles and marquees containing everything from corgi model cars to a bar.

Quite a few exhibitors turned up with their collections, from the man with hundreds of Dinky cars (all in Post Office livery) to the collection of tractor agricultural machinery seats. The collector in question was quite particular that these are not tractor seats.

The best moment was, I think, when all 40 or 50 steam traction engines all blew their whistles at the same time.

A Burrell showman's engine.

A Fowler ploughing engine, built 1872. These used to be used in pairs and would winch the agricultural implement across the field between them.

Sentinel steam lorry.

White steam car disappears into the mist.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Home Again

We arrived back at the mooring in Blisworth at about 11 AM and were back at home sorting washing by 12:30. A brilliant fortnight. We seem to have caught up with the cleaning and polishing just as the holiday finished!

Friday, August 14, 2009

To Stoke Bruerne

We made a fairly late start, passing though over the new (1991) aqueduct over Grafton Street and then over the Wolverton aqueduct. We stopped at Cosgrove for lunch and a play at the park. As we passed Yardley Gobion I saw Kingfisher, the Grand Junction Canal Company inspection launch, built 1928. This is what all those inspection launch narrowboats are trying to emulate.

Kingfisher at Yardley Gobion

Wolverton Aqueduct

Cosgrove Bridge

Total distance is 9 miles, 5 flg and 7 locks.

Moored at Stoke Bruerne.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Past Where it all Started

We stopped off for supplies at Tesco in Leighton Buzzard. After lunch we passed the base of Wyvern Shipping company. You could say that is where it all started, as that is where my first canal holiday began with my parents in 1976. We went as far as Harefield and then back again.

At home at Wyvern Shipping was the Ocean Princess, the sea-going narrowboat built for the owner of the Wyvern Shipping company, James Griffin.

The last but one lock of the day was a trifle traumatic as we managed to hang Syncopation up on the lock side as the water level dropped. I could see the angle of the boat increasing as the water dropped. I shouted to Cathy to drop the paddles and she started doing so. As she reached the paddles on the other side of the lock I could hear crockery falling off the worktop. The boat slipped off the snag on the lock side just as the second paddle was closed. I was pretty sure the boat would come off the snag on the lock side as it was a double width lock and Syncopation was the only boat in the lock but it was a worry until she did.

Syncopation at Leighton Buzzard

Fenny Stratford Lock

Total distance is 20 miles, 0 flg and 8 locks.

Moored at New Bradwell.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Down the Chiltern Escarpment

We left the environs of Berkhampstead, up to the Tring summit level and down the Marsworth flight. We met Chiltern Countess, the trip boat from Pitstone wharf in a bridge hole at Marsworth and had to reverse sharply to let her through. We left the Aylesbury arm for another time.

Total distance is 9 miles, 4½ flg and 18 locks.

Moored near Slapton lock.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Short Stop at Berkhamstead

We made our way from Apsley through Hemel Hempstead, with a stop at the park in Berkhamstead for a play and ice cream.

Cathy finally got a close up of a heron. Normally they tantalise you and then fly off before you can get close enough to take a picture. This one stayed still long enough for us to get close enough for a good picture.

And here is Arrow crossing a lock gate:

Total distance is 6 miles, 2 flg and 15 locks

Moored at Northchurch Top Lock.

Monday, August 10, 2009

We Left London

We made good progress and the weather held today. There was not much direct sunshine but it has been warm all day. We joined forces with Paul and Sharon on the Jennie B for most of today's locks. We passed under the M25 in the afternoon, and I consider that to be the edge of London.

Near the end of the day I saw Banstead, one of the two boats featured in the The Bargee in 1964, the year I was born.

Arrow is tired as he spent most of today off the boat running around the locks.

I finally reinstalled Enuff on the laptop today as I have had enough of the children bickering over whose turn it is and complaining that the other has had longer on it. We have Enuff installed on the computers at home as well. It saves so much parental effort as it automatically regulates the hours the computer can be used by each user.

The water pump filter cover cracked again today. After we had mopped up the water I fitted the last spare filter housing. Still no idea why these are failing. Each one seems to fail after about a week in use. When we get back to Blisworth the water pump is to be replaced with a different make.

Total distance is 10 miles, ½ flg and 18 locks.

Moored at Apsley Top Lock.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

I wonder when we'll reach the M25?

We passed under the A40 this afternoon and I took a picture because I usually pass over the same bridge on my way to and from work.

Water quality in the Grand Union has improved as we move North, probably due to the use of the river Colne as a feeder. We keep seeing coconuts in the cut. It appears that if you are a Hindu born at a specific time of year you are expected to throw a coconut into a river on your birthday.

We spotted Columbia (ex-FMC motor) at Cowley Peachey as we passed. She was the next boat fitted out by Mill Wharf after Syncopation.

We also passed nb Tafelberg going in the opposite direction near Bull's Bridge. Aha! According to their blog they've just started their holiday!

Total distance is 15 miles, 5¼ flg and 15 locks

Moored near Stockers Lock, Rickmansworth.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Back on the Grand Union

We're back on the canal system again. We went to look around Hampton Court Palace in the morning, having lunch in the Privy Kitchen cafe at the palace. There is a lot about Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace and part of it is the recreated kitchens of that monarch. Much of the food on display in the kitchen consists of pies and bread, along with fish and roast meat, together with food and cooking smells. In a brilliant piece of marketing you can buy a lunch of an authentic looking Tudor pie and a slab of bread served on a wooden trencher in the Privy Kitchen cafe nearby.

King Henry VIII's portrait

The King in person.

We had to go into the maze as well of course. When we reached the centre there was a lady giving out stickers to all the kids (big and small). We took the short way out from the centre rather than find our way back to the beginning as we had a tide to catch at Teddington lock, scene of the Monty Python Fish Slapping Sketch.

After leaving Hampton Court we continued downriver to Teddington and on to the tidal Thames for the transit to Brentford and the southern terminus of the Grand Union canal.

Stealth houseboats at Richmond

The origin of the phrase "Floating Cottage" (narrowboaters take note).

Working boat Falcon and butty Venice on the Thames at Richmond.

The rubbish and the smelly water were an instant reminder that we are back on the canal system again.

Arrow made use of his lifejacket for the first time, falling into Osterley lock as we were going up it.

Total distance is 11 miles, 6 flg and 5 locks.

Moored above Osterley Lock.

Friday, August 07, 2009

In London

We passed under the M25 this morning, mooring at Staines for lunch. I was pleasantly surprised by Staines. I was expecting a place like Luton but it has a very pleasant town centre and efforts have been made to make the town attractive to boaters.

This fountain overlooks the town centre moorings at Staines.
Moorings are free and very close to the shopping centre.

We continued to find moorings at Hampton Court.

Total distance is 14 miles, 4 flg and 6 locks.

Moored at Hampton Court.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

We Did the Castle

After a leisurely start we made our way to Windsor Castle. The children were not particularly impressed by the longest inhabited royal castle in the world, the weekend home of our monarch. What really fired their imaginations was the room where they could make their own armour, shields and helmets from cardboard. We didn't queue to see the State Apartments or Queen Mary's Doll House as the children were getting bored. We headed out to find some lunch in Peascod street.

We left Windsor late in the afternoon, stopping early in the evening as the rain was becoming rather tiresome.

Windsor Castle from the Thames.

A Cute Boat

Big Wheel in Windsor.

Total distance is 5 miles, 2 flg and 2 locks

Moored at Runnymeade.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


After taking on supplies at Henley we set off down Henley Reach. We were overtaken by a large plastic gin palace at Temple Island just at the end of the reach. He was going too fast and almost swamped a single scull who shouted a few choice words about his ancestry. The rower following asked if we should not all have been in the other channel around the island but I checked my Nicholson's guide and it distinctly says take the channel to the West to avoid rowers. The sign at the north end of the island says all upstream traffic should take the West channel as well. Somebody neglected to tell the rowers to take the East channel.
I saw this floating stand on Henley Reach although the official Regatta site tells me the Regatta was on the last weekend of June.

There were still marquees in the process of being dismantled as well.

As we moved closer to London, the houses became increasingly grand and the boats larger.

We spotted this sign at Bray lock:

Total distance is 21 miles, 3¼ flg and 8 locks.

Moored at Windsor railway viaduct.


We set off from Wallingford after I had fitted the spare belt to the Travelpower alternator. I screwed my courage up and tensioned the new belt as much as I dared. I feel the previous one may have failed because it was too loose.

Another blogger's boat spotted although not photographed was Pukeko. Looking at the blog now I realise it has not been updated since 2006!

We fuelled up at Reading.

I spotted several interesting boats including Cygnus and Albert in Ovaltine livery.

Total distance is 25 miles, 5¾ flg and 8 locks

Moored in Henley Reach.

Monday, August 03, 2009

First Full Day on the Thames

We left Christchurch Meadow and headed south, passing through Abingdon. Moorings were few and far between at Abingdon. Our first attempt to moor did not go too well. You're supposed to be able to get of the boat after you've finished tying up. We couldn't fight our way out of the trees. As we were expecting guests for dinner we moved a little further away from the bridge and another less than optimal mooring but one on which it was at least possible to enter and leave the boat. We still had to make Jeremy and Fiona walk the plank before we could serve the dinner.

Also, the drive belt failed on the Travelpower, so cooking was done with the domestic alternator trying to drive the electric hob. By morning the batteries were down to 45% according to the Smartguage.

Total distance is 21 miles, 2½ flg and 7 locks.

Moored at Wallingford Bridge.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Christchurch Meadow

We spent the day mostly in Oxford. Plan A was to do some culture and take our brood to the Ashmolean museum. It would have been difficult keeping all three interested but we were willing to take a crack at it. As it was we found the museum closed for building work until November. Plan B swings into action and instead we spent the afternoon in Oxford's Natural History museum (Yes, they have a T Rex skeleton) and then the Pitt Rivers museum. I love the Pitt Rivers; it's just like an attic, dark, mysterious, cluttered, full of treasures. A recent extension has seen the floor space increased so it is less cluttered but the lights are kept low (presumably to avoid damage to the more fragile exhibits) and you can borrow a torch to help you read the hand-written labels on many of the exhibits.

Carmen Miranda hat made from used cans.

After returning the to the boat we moved Syncopation down onto the Thames opposite Christchurch meadow where we had our dinner before going to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at the Odeon in George Street. I kept boring the children by pointing out all the colleges as we passed them on our way to the cinema.

Salters' steamer Wargrave passing the college boathouses near Christchurch Meadow.

Total distance is 1 mile, 4¼ flg and 2 locks.

Moored at Christchurch Meadow.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Bones Wasn't There

We managed to join the boat by about 11:30 in the morning, just Ewan, Siobhan and I. We had to drop a car in Blisworth for our return home in two weeks time. We also needed to pick up two replacement filter housings for the fresh water pump from the boat yard. The filter housing cover cracked again last Wednesday night. When we arrive back in Blisworth the current Johnson pump will be replaced by a different brand of pump. This one has failed four times now.

I was hoping to capture a photo of another blogger's boat: narrowboat Bones at Thrupp but when we passed, the mooring was empty.

We made our way down to Jericho where Cathy joined us, having taken the car back home and obtained a lift to Oxford. The edge of the canal is very shallow here so we have had to use our new boarding plank for the first time to reach the land.

Moored at Jericho Footbridge.

Total distance is 6 miles, 0 flg and 4 locks