Friday, 31 August 2007

It's Friiiiiiday

Woolhampton is a nice place providing people are not trying to chop themselves in half. The canal side pub. Rowbarge. is modern in decor and price. I was disappointed that there were not many canal memories inside. Just a few pictures stuck around the corner on one small wall, but that's progress. I suppose the modern decor and art work justifies the excessive bar prices, or do they do that to keep the riff raff out, prolly.

We found the Falmouth Arms on the main road much more to our liking. Good food, good music and much cheaper beer does it for me.

We set off at 10:30 down the lock on to the fast flowing river section and through the bridge. Having only done this section up stream I watched a few others go down to see where the pit falls are. I confess to being a bit nervous, it is so easy to screw up this part. Down the lock and sitting in the lock tail waiting for the bridge to open. Kim gave me the nod and I was away. Lots of revs, tiller to the left to keep the bow into the side flow. Going sideways at an angle. Straighten the tiller as the flow moves down the boat to the stern. Tiller right to keep the stern from being pushed too far out. Now parallel with the moored boat that came a cropper yesterday. Tiller over to the left to tuck in behind him and then line up for the bridge. Ooops!That space looks very small, but through I went without touching the sides. No chance to stop and pick up K&J as 3 boats are now moored up below the bridge. Well that was easy enough cant see what all the fuss is about. I suppose it does help that I have a years worth of boating to count on.

I moved over to the bank as soon as I could to pick up K&J and we were away. This stretch to Theale is a good day out, but it is quite a lot of river and you have to keep your wits about you or the side washes at river sections will catch you out. Aldermaston Lock is a scarey place to get hooked up on the wall. It's an awfully big lock with scalloped edges and at the top for some reason there is a block of wood bolted to the side in just the right place to sit your counter on. Fortunately it is just below the water level as the lock is emptied so though the boat was sitting at an angle that belied it normal floating position it was never in danger of sinking. However a shorter boat may have had a problem.

I must have been in the vicinity of Uffton Swing Bridge when, while waiting for K&J to close the bridge, I thought, "that girl on that boat look familiar just like Bones". I must have it bad seeing Bones on another boat, but Bones it was, what a lovely surprise! She had cadged a ride on nb Spirit of Gizmo from somewhere near Theale. What ever possessed her to seek me out again so soon we will never know, but I am not complaining. She sure is unpredictable! The more I know her the more she gets in my head.

Kim and Jim's holiday has come to an end. It has been great fun having them aboard this week they worked like Trojans both on and off the boat and are always fun to have around. I am sorry to see them go. Packed up to the gunnels we set off to the station. The 1607 was late, 1615 1611 1620 1619 then the screen went off as they seemed to confuse themselves at the announcement desk.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Oh Dear!

We set off from Newbury this morning after getting Shorn at a local barbers. I was well past due. I asked the hairdresser if she could make me look less like a Scarecrow and more like Russell Crowe. The shop collapsed into laughter. An uneventful trip down to Woolhampton ending in near catastrophe for some unfortunate hirer.

On the way to the Rowbarge I spied a boat about to move into the lock from the upstream bridge mooring. I honestly didn't realise it was a hire Boat or I would have warned him about the flow. After getting my Guinness I sat outside not far from the canal. I noticed the boat against the far bank in some trouble. The flow had pushed him there after his stern rope got wrapped around his prop. Silly man had it coiled on the deck. His best course of action would have been to tie off to the nearest tree and sort the problem. No he wanted to push the boat over to my side.

With no power the boat drifted with the flow back to the bridge. I was busy trying to get the young girl at the bow to throw me a rope. When I glanced at the back I looked on with incredulity as the man on the stern tried to prevent the boat hitting the bridge with a boat pole. The pole snapped in two and for an instant I had an image of the pole spearing him. The man the placed himself between the rear wall of the boat and the bridge, he was nearly cut in half by the bridge. Luckily the angle the boat struck the bridge he was spared this very dividing experience. The tiller arm was broken at the weld, but, I dint think he realised just how serious the situation was.

Now wedged between the bridge on my side and the bank on the other side we all had a bit more time to think. I instructed the girl to untie the bow rope and attach it to the centre 'T' stud which she did. This enabled her to pass the rope to me on the bridge parapet and along with others who turned up we were all able to pull the boat over to the safe side of the river and moor it securely. It took about 6 of us on the 'new' centre rope and James on the fouled stern rope to manoeuvre the boat to safety
Where is your camera when you need it? Fortunately the wife of a Japanese tourist, who came to help pull the boat, took the pics while we were all grunting. She has my email address I will post them when they arrive.

Many thanks to Mr & Mrs Taketo Shimizu and all the others who help to avert this potentially mortifying situation, sorry I didn't get all the names.

Though I refused to accept, but he insisted, we were rewarded with a round of beers.

Wednesday 29 August

I walked Bones to the station this morning with a heavy heart. i will miss her a lot, but as I am 25 years her senior I expect nothing. The train arrived, we hugged and she was gone. It will be a long day.

I set off with Jim and Kim to Newbury. not a lot was said, but it was a nice day all the same. We moored behind Shouty Dad, the kids were suprised to see us which is strange because we are both pointing in the same direction and have been for a few days.

Tuesday 28 August

Memory fading but I do remember getting to Hungerford and the musician chap we met on the way. We couldn't find a hairdresser who had room on the books for four heads. What is the world coming to?
Dined at the Plume of Feathers. Kim made friends with their black Labrador.
Bones swapped her near empty glass for my near full one. Cheeky!
It has been a great week having Bones on the boat. A normally quiet boat turned into a laughter centre. I enjoy her visits which are over all to soon. If i ever............. but no that is not for her. If you meet her you will know what I mean when I say she is special.

Monday 27 August

Travelling from Honey Street through Pewsey to the Bruce tunnel we happened upon a wide beam trust boat. The father was the most annoyingly loud bad parent. We knew all the kids names before we even saw the boat. Bones called him Shouty Dad.

After spending the night at the top of the flight we descended to the Crofton Pumping House. Today the engine wasn't working. The windmill opens late so we moved on. We have to make Hungerford by Tuesday night so Bones can get a train home on Wednesday morning.

The afternoon found us moored at Great Bedwyn. Lunch was at the Three Tuns a pub once owned by some actor or other. The bar contains the piano played in Casablanca among other things. A walk to Bedwyn Brail, a roman ruin, produced some very nice Russet apples, damsons and sloe berries. We never did find the ruin.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Summer

Has the summer finally arrived? Probably

This from Dru a friend in Saudi

CANNIBAL RESTAURANT
A cannibal was walking through the jungle and came upon a restaurant operated by a fellow cannibal. Feeling somewhat hungry, he sat down and looked over the menu...

+ Broiled Traveler: $10.00
+ Fried Explorer: $15.00
+ Grilled Republican: $100.00
+ Baked Democrat: $100.00

The cannibal called the waiter over and asked,"Why such a price difference for the Politicians?"

The cook replied, "Have you ever tried to clean one? They're so full of shit,it takes all morning".

Sunday, 26 August 2007

A heron's demise

Since I recovered a dead heron from the canal between Avoncliffe and Dundas it has resided on my roof decomposing. While the weather has been iffy this hasn't been a problem. On hot days I simply added another black plastic bag. The last two days have been particularly hot and said heron has responded to this with an ever increasing case of BO making it difficult to find a mooring space. Well Bones came today to stay for a few days and the problem is now hers. We arrived at Honey Street late and had to move a hire boat to get in. I dispatched Bones to deal with the carcass.

She took it into the middle of a field not a million miles away from a packed camp site. A three week old heron out of its plastic bags, of which there were several, is not going to win any prizes in the perfume of the year awards. By the time it was out of the bags I showed my face to see if I could help. Bones was sifting through the remains removing handfuls of feathers and bits of long dead flesh that were not to her liking, trying her hardest not to throw up. The neck and spine came out in one fairly continuous piece, and a leg shed its skin after a bit of persuasion with a Stanley knife. I was surprised that she had trouble getting the brain out, but managed to pop an eyeball in the process of evicting that. Happy with her pongy treasure we cleared up and left the 'mortuary'. These boaty girls are weird, but so easy to please.


I wish I had remembered my camera. A picture of her ladyship dressed, unusualy, in girly pink pawing over a dead heron was a sight for sore eyes.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Untellable story

The other day I came across the owners of nb Chequered Flag who I have seen many times since I have been out and about. She told me not to write on my blog about them, their dogs and some very angry Swans on the tow path so I wont, but it was funny to watch.

T-mobile

It took a while but today I got my T-mobile connection. "Just load the software," said the man in the shop, "and you are on your way".

B*ll*x it took over an hour to sort out his cockup, which included a call to T-mobile to be told the paperwork hadn't been done properly and as such my simm card was not switched on.

Many thanks to Ian nb Brigadier Gerard who proved that it was the simm card that wasnt working by a process of illimination using his own system.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Too many updates

There is so much to put on this time, 4 A4 pages, that I am making a separate entry for each day so you should be reading about 9 separate posts this time but I will be updating nearly every day from now on.

Cyclists

Cyclists on the tow path are to all intents and purposes, perfectly within their rights to be there. I don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is that someone on a bike that can go up and down the side of a mountain expects you to move on to the grass out of their way. F'crisake it's a mountain bike it should be able to handle a bit of grass. It's a bit like a city dwelling 4X4 that never even so much as bumps a curb, what's the point. I can understand those on racers with the very thin wheels wanting to stay on the path but then if you paid 2 or 3 grand for a bike why would you take it on the tow path in the first place. Doh!

Fishermen

I know I have read at the BW site that fishermen should not fish off lock moorings, bridge moorings and winding holes. It probably says it on the permits issued to them as well. So why do they do it. Not only do they do it but they get annoyed when a boater wants to moor to operate the locks, bridges or turn their boat around. Some simply refuse to lift their rods out of the water. So incensed by this lack of consideration I have developed a plan to combat these morons. When approaching a lock mooring or similar I sound my horn. If they chose to ignore me then I moor up as I normally would. Should I happen to damage any fishing equipment or knock them in the water having given fair warning of my intent then I make a point of not feeling guilty. If I owned a £1000 fishing stick I am sure I would take care not to upset someone with a 20 ton steel boat. Though one group of lads fishing off a swing bridge mooring had the common sense to leave the bridge open for boaters.

Towpath Talk

SAFETY

I was somewhat amused to see in Tow Path Talk a headline which read SAFETY BOOMS SAVE BOATERS FROM DISASTER. I would be a bit miffed if they didn’t. Safety booms are there just for that purpose so why did it warrant a headline and a picture plus several column inches?

STUPID PEOPLE

TPT has some good coverage of the recent floods and include the story of some old duffer who, at 3:30 in the morning wearing wellies and pyjamas, shouted at some boaters who themselves were experiencing some considerable difficulties, "I say, why don’t you turn this f***ing canal off. It's flooding don’t you know", then he went home. I wonder how he knew! What was it that gave the game away? I have to wonder why we are so against euthanasia in this country! …….Maybe a Soylent Green programme applied to anyone who isn’t a boater, but excels at being TAPS (thick as pig sh*t) might sort out the problem makers.

Thursday 23 Aug

I am still here at Devizes awaiting the delivery of my T-mobile modem. Considering it was to be next day delivery I am not having good thoughts about this one. If a company like T-mobile cant manage a simple thing like next day delivery then there is no hope for the world. If they can't supply the goods why are they selling them? I will be leaving here tomorrow lunchtime if it hasn't arrived by then it will be up to them to bring it to me wherever I may be. If there is one thing I hate apart from 'poncey' boaters it's bad service.

Wednesday 22 Aug

I made the return trip to Devizes in order to pick up my T-mobile card which should have been delivered today. JAG phones were supposed to have called me when it arrived but so far no joy. When it does turn up I will be able to get online as often as I want to and updates will become daily once again. I have missed the access I used to have to the internet in Saudi so at least that is one positive thing I can say about Saudi. Can't off hand think of any others, maybe that’s because there weren’t any? They still owe me a lot of money.

Tuesday 21 Aug

I managed to get a new lock at Roses hardware store. ABUS is a good lock so I was pleased to find that they sold the very same type of lock I had recently had destroyed and only £20 Back on the boat I reset the code as before and closed the lock. Could I get it open? No way. I now have two locks both set to the same code both won't open. The new lock is currently waiting return to the shop. I am the kind of guy that will do anything for anyone, just ask. You will now understand what I meant when I said last week that my karma was out of sync.

Jenny (nb Amy B Lazy) stopped by tonight with Holley the dog. Holley was pleased to see me again.

I upped sticks and went down the canal to spend the night at Horton near the Bridge Inn. If you have never been to the Bridge Inn might I be so bold as to suggest that you make a point of stopping there next time you are down this way. It's an old mill converted to a pub. They have a lot of canal memorabilia, the owner has her own boat and so is boater orientated. The pub itself is unusual in that it is full of cosy little sections for dining. It has a large garden area. Stoppage Notices are pinned up on the wall for all to see as well as recent newspaper articles relating to the canal. There is a stock of beer in wooden casks. BW has moorings for three 60 foot boats along a hardwood edge that fronts the garden and plenty of soft banks opposite should they be full.

Monday 20 Aug

Today was the day of the Big Hill. I looked up the flight with some trepidation and decided its now or never I cast off at 08:16 first checking back down the canal to see if there was a boat on its way up to pair with. The lockie had set some of the paddles last night to keep the pound filled so the first few were in my favour. The 16 locks rise a total of 138' 8". I was surprised just how easy a task it was. At the hour and a half point I was three locks in front of where I had expected to be. I met two plus one boat coming down and they waited for me to go up the locks that were in my favour. They did offer to help, but I saw this as a personal challenge and declined. I closed the gate of lock 44 at 11:10 so a total time of 2 hours 54 minutes and I wasn't rushing.

Feeling rather chuffed with myself I made the next three locks and moored outside the Black Horse for a swift Guinness. I locked up the boat and realised I had not got my wallet. Doh! Back to the boat and try as I might I could not get the padlock to open. The 4 digit code is my old service number so it wasn’t that, any ex-serviceman will tell you, you never forget your number. It had been working fine right up until I dropped it in the water Saturday. I hadn’t thought to try it, after all it's a water proof lock. So now I am on the outside of the boat and Guinness money is on the inside, ergo mega problem. I managed to get in the boat, no I'm not saying how, but the lock was holding fast and access to the boat through the back hatch was a non-event. I asked at the pub if they knew anyone who could help and I asked another boater (nb Mo Kei) who as it happened had an angle grinder on his boat. We plugged into my mains connection and the lock was off in less than a minute. "There ya go", he said, and I took the padlock off him, DOH! DOH! DOH! ARRRGGGGHHHHH, by the hot end.. Bloody hell that was hot! I now have a blister on my thumb. Once again DOH! Anyway I was in, Guinness finished and I was on my way. Three locks to the wharf where I could get a new padlock.

Sunday 19 Aug

I moored at the bottom of the main Devizes drop last night and found myself on the bottom of the canal this morning. This isn't really a problem as the impending boat movements will refloat the boat. The thing to watch out for is the hardwood edge. My gunnel at the rear manages to fit under it and that could cause a very nasty problem if the water rises too fast. I tied my gang plank vertically to the side of the boat to stop it getting trapped.

Saturday 18 Aug

The pound between Locks 19 and 20 loses water very fast so be aware!

Waiting for a boat coming down lock 20 on the K&A above the Barge at Seend I noticed that a girl pushing open the gate dropped her windlass. She was quite resigned to leave it there having apparently, I found out later, dropped and lost one only a few days ago at Hungerford. I asked if she wanted it back to which she seemed very non-committal. Anyway as I entered the lock I got out the old magnet and fished for her windlass. Not only was I successful but as I was lifting her windlass to the surface I was pleasantly surprised to see another. That ladies and gentlemen is 'instant karma'.

So why then when I got to the swing bridge did I drop my padlock overboard? Try as I might I could not pick it up with the Sea Searcher and all attempts to retrieve it with a landing net failed. Nothing more for it I wasn't going to leave an expensive padlock in the water so I stripped off to my birthday suit and went in, surprisingly the water was quite warm, I found the padlock with my toes in about a minute. It actually took longer to get out of the canal than find the padlock. After a good shower we were on our way. What kind of karma was that? Bad karma.

Friday 17 Aug. 07

Left BoA and headed to Semington. Moored there temporarily is a new Coffee shop on the canal aboard an old working boat called Actis. Actis is a butty and is towed by *****rats, Actis has a 7foot 1 inch beam so they have to take each lock singly This boat, only been at it a week, is moving around the K&A serving Tea, Coffee light snacks, home made ice cream and cream teas. Friday night is Boaters night where a meal is served (bring your own wine) plus desert at a very reasonable price. Their next stop will be at Bradford on Avon. John (a Colonel Saunders look-a-like) and Cath (a very nice mumsey lady) are very amiable people who between them have many years of boating experience, I am sure you will like them. I am not so sure about their daughter, who we didn't meet, simply because she got lost taking the dog for a walk. Doh!

Thursday 16 Aug

I wasn't able to moor on a 'good' edge last night so when I got up this am I went off to the aqueduct at Avoncliffe turned the boat and ticked over back down to the Lock Inn. By the time I got back there a mooring was available, several in fact. I moored up behind long term hirers aboard hb Galahad and was greeted by Reg and his wife who were prospective live-a-boarders. Mrs Reg had recognised the boat from the internet. We had a long chat about living on a boat.

Tony (Tee EL) nb Elmirah from the forum came to visit today, made a special trip he did. Nice to see you Tony, thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday 15 Aug

Well there I was at Seend doing very little except contemplate my navel which is very easy to do when you are bored and can't be bothered to get dressed. What to do today? I know I think I will go into the lock and get wedged in by another boat. Well that wasn’t the plan but that was the end result. I have three side fenders which are down when moored and up when not. I forgot to put them up this morning when I cast off which is unforgivable, to a point. After all one set of fenders on one side shouldn’t be such a huge problem. In truth they are not, but if you then let another boat into the lock that has fenders down on both sides then trouble is just around the mitre post. We were wedged solid for over half an hour. I didn’t want to say that reverse in tick over wasn’t going to do the job because if I did I would have certainly shouted it and one doesn’t shout at older ladies its not good form doncha know. Most annoying is that I was only going to the winding hole to go back to Bradford-on-Avon. So a simple 30 minute exercise took me well over an hour.

At Semington it started to rain, and rain, and bloody rain. By the time I reached my destination I was soaked right through my waterproofs. My toes were crinkley having spent most of the afternoon awash in my good boots. I could see clear sky to the left and to the right, but the route of the canal was under a street of thunder clouds all the way to BoA. Must be my lucky day I thought, well think about it, I didn’t get struck by lightning. Yes I know about the Faraday cage, but I wasn't in the 'cage' I was standing on the stern deck with my hand firmly on the 'brass' tiller.

Last Sunday while I was filling up with water some bozo came out of the Somerset Coal Canal and turned across the aqueduct. She, yes she, completed the manoeuvre in tick over right up until she had her prop inline with the self draining hole in my deck, which as it happens exits from the side locker where I had stuffed my hose down a hole to fill the water tank. Well do you need me to go on? Oh I see can't work it out eh! The prop wash partly filled up the side locker and my water tank with water that only last week I pissed in and doubtless many others since. Oh poo!!! Well f'crisake it don’t take much to work out that if a boat is on the water point then full throttle could cause a problem apart from slamming my boat up against the wharf. What is more annoying is that two years ago when I was walking down the towpath a girl asked me if I would open the swing bridge for her which I did and I am sure it was the same girl. If I should ever refuse to open a bridge for you it is nothing personal just my karma is out of sync and I am just trying not to tempt providence.

The last paragraph is a precursor to the rest of my day at BoA. I had been boiling all water since that weekend and decided at B-o-A to wash out the tank. I emptied the tank with the water pump, well you would wouldn't you, then poured in a litre of Milton and filled it up again. Pumped it out and refilled it the whole process took about three hours. During the pumping out phase two other boats were re-watered and an elderly gent on the trip boat nearly burst a blood vessel because I spent so long on the WP. All this time it continued to pee down. And I got wetter and wetter and bloody wetter. My brother and sister were at the WP when I arrived and Annette made coffee and bacon butties and laid towels down on the floor to absorb the wet stuff I trailed around everywhere I went. My whole body was crinkled all over, like staying too long in the bath, when I got changed later.

I finished all this about 8 pm and dropped down the lock to moor up. There must have been enough room for two or three 60 footers had all the space been in the same place, but no, everyone seems to want to have there own piece of canal and so moors up 20-30 feet from other boats, what is it about that space? Cant they see there is not much space to moor up in and as such should moor button to button. I bet they would be the first to complain if other motorists took up two parking spaces to park. I said, last week I think, that I do like hire boaters, but my charity is beginning to wear a bit thin this week. By the end of the season I just might be getting the voodoo dolls out.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Ambling around

Wednesday 08 Aug
Neil was up with the larks and on his way by about 8 o'clock. I took Milly up to the bottom of the main Caen Hill flight. Jim came to take me home to feed me and use the internet.

Thursday 09 Aug

This morning I looked up the flight and decided against it. I turned around and went back down to Semmington.

Friday 10 Aug

Jim's brother Michael happened upon the Milly M as he walked along the towpath with Holly his G/f. He was quite impressed with the boat. Holly, a blonde, was quite impressed with the patterns on the graphic equaliser, nuff sed?

I have always had an eye for a pretty girl. Today a young girl passed by the boat totally inappropriately dressed, both for the canal path and her apparent age. I was sat on a stool busily polishing some brass. Her friend saw me look up and said so to the girl at which point said girl pulled her bikini bottoms up right tight resembling a thong and screamed at me, "PERVERT!" There are names for girls like that are probably best not mentioned here, but I really hoped that she would go home and tell her dad so I could enlighten him about his little 'angel'.

Kim, Jim and Tom came over for a drink and a feed.

So there I was telling K&J that I was called a pervert today and Kim said, "So what else is new".

Saturday 11 Aug

Candy and Julie came over for a trip out. Julie discovered that steering a boat is not as easy as it looks. We went up to Claverton where we found a small nb full of girls moored at the winding hole. Doh! They did offer to move even though they were in the middle of their lunch, but I declined. I did the necessary winding with out the use of the bow thruster.

Diesel Duck (forum member) stopped by the boat tonight for a chat and a look at Milly. We had quite a long chat about boats and I met his wife on their boat Drifter.

Keith, old RAF buddy, came to help me polish off a bottle of Bacardi. Success!

Sunday 12 Aug

We reversed up the canal for half a mile or more to turn the boat around for our day out.

It is not often you see a dead heron. It is not often you know someone who would like one. We spotted a dead heron on the way to Claverton pump station this morning. Sent a text to Bones, to ask if she wanted it. "Yes!" I really know the way to a girl's heart.

Today was notable because the Beam Pump at Claverton was to be run. Keith and I took a slow cruise up the canal to see this near 200 year old engineering marvel operate. What a machine! Quite incredible. If you stand at the end of the water wheel and look through it the effect is quite scary, especially as I was still feeling the effects of last night's bottle of Bacardi. I think the Coke we had was tainted. We will have to find a new mixer.

We picked up the heron on the way back. It now has to reside on the roof for two weeks till Bones comes to collect it by which time it will be 'flying' again.

Passing a Tupperware hire boat he was going so fast his wake lifted me up and dropped me on a rock under the water. Crossing back over the Avoncliffe Aqueduct some pillock had moored a plastic hire boat right on the corner of the aqueduct, just out of sight of boats crossing the 'duct, while he went for a beer. It would have served him right if some unsuspecting narrow boater had squeezed it tight to the side and sunk it. Some people are dumb. Not to be outdone, sounding my horn rounding the corner, yet another idiot decided at that minute to turn his yogurt pot right in front of me and did he make a hash of it. Don’t these twits realise that it takes a foot or two to stop a 60 foot steel box even at tickover.

Keith and I sat at the Lock Inn and pondered the antics of the hire boaters who it would seem had taken no notice of any instructions given at the hire point. A narrowboat came down the lock and moored up for a meal at the pub on the lock moorings. His companion following down on a widebeam loosely tied his stern rope to the narrow boat and then ignored the boat while the bow drifted to 90 degs across the canal. Don’t get me wrong I like hire boaters, they can be very entertaining, but such blatant stupidity bears no excuse. Off with their heads!

This was amplified this evening when we were told that a hire boat had got hooked up on the cill at Bath top lock. The headline in the Bath Chronicle on Monday said 'LUCKY ESCAPE FOR HOLIDAY BOAT FAMILY'. The first paragraph read, 'A family of five had a lucky escape when their narrow boat became trapped in a lock'. I of course would have said it very differently. Well at least they will have lost their deposit, serves them right. I can't help wondering what would have happened if it had been the Bath Deep Lock.

Monday 13 Aug

Well what a slow day. Made it to Semmington. Nothing Further To Report.

Tuesday 13 Aug

Decided to go for Seend to get this internet connection. There is a very sweet young girl working the bar at the Barge, I didn't get her name, but she is off to Thailand tomorrow and is scared of flying. I tried to put her mind at rest.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Bath to Caen Hill

Friday 03 Aug

Well a slow get away from Bath and even then I stopped past the first bridge to get some 'D' shackles. There was a party of girls just receiving some instruction on how to steer a narrowboat. Later this evening they came through Dundas. It was plain to see they hadn't listened to the guy at the marina. They bounced off several boats, though not mine. I had moored just through the swing bridge and was passed by several boats full of girls on hen night parties. The bat boat was moored on the same stretch and I said hello to Justine as she came home from a long day out. Apparently she was supposed to move her boat today but friends got in the way. Nice to see she has her priorities right.

Saturday 04 Aug

This morning I got underway then remembered I had to pick Allan up after the Aqueduct. We went all the way to Bradford on Avon marina and turned around, then back to the Cross Guns at Avoncliffe where we met up with Kim & Jim and Jims Mum and dad for late lunch. Trying to get my sister to the Lock Inn to pick Allan up later proved somewhat difficult. The Lock Inn is not well signposted on the roadside. She did find Sainsbury's though.

Lucy's replacement turned up. Allan acquired her from a garden gate sale. He was also quick to spot that the boat that had moored in front of us had left their pins when they left, dumb dumb, dumb.

Sunday 05 Aug

Long hot summer day spent watching the antics of newbies. Candy came to visit with her friend Julie in tow. Julie likes the boat and is keen to take the tiller. Yeah right! By the evening I was ready to move on and made my way to Semmington.

Monday 06 Aug

More hot summer day up to the Barge Inn. As I was locking through a hire boat was taking on water. Nothing unusual about that you might say except that he was at 90 degs to the bank blocking off the canal. I didn’t seem to be able to get in to the side at the pub, not much water under the prop.

Managed to cross the canal this morning to a vacant spot on the 24 hr mooring which was handy coz Neil Dudman is on his way down the flight today in a wide beam. ETA 6 pm.

Tuesday 07 Aug

Neil started down the flight at about 10 am. They arrived down this end about 5 ish. I went up the way to open a few locks for them. Young Adam had grazed his knee and skinned his chin in a daring dive off his bike.

Must be stupid week this week, Saturday a pair of pins and today someone left their BW key, PO key in the water lock all neatly attached to a cork float. Wracked with guilt I cycled up the path to see if the two boats going up had lost their keys, they hadn't so it looks like they are mine. Cool!

Saddest thing of all this week is the Grey Wagtails nest on Lock 20. The two chicks, which could only have been born a few days before we came down the Hill, have gone and one egg is left abandoned in the nest.

At dinner this evening an unknown lady made herself known to me having recognised the boat. As much as I like the attention I have to wonder how celebrities cope with their lot.

Friday, 3 August 2007

After Caen

Sunday 29 Jul

Following an early rise, early for me, I found my self on morning tea duty. When we were both up and about we watched for departing boats on the other side of the canal. Eventually they did move and we were able to slide across and fill the gap. Well we couldn’t really stay there outside the pub, could we?

As the morning rolled on towards noon the Scouts came out to play with their canoes. Not just any scouts you understand, no they were French, including a French Arkayla (is that the correct spelling) in this case a very short dumpy one. True to form when you are messing about in boats and there is an audience something always goes wrong. One of the young girls and the SDO ended up in the water. Bones and I split our sides with laughter. As you can see from the picture the others were having a hard time getting SDO out of the water. After we finished our laughter and I took the pic we went to help. Bones and I together lifted SDO on to the bank and rolled her over to dry in the sun. We really did struggle to contain our laughter. One of the two English pack leaders was heard later to be explaining the situation on his mobile. "Yeah", he said, "SDO got wet and we pulled her out". No mention of us or the fact that a mere girl had done it, no smarty points for boaters. Dib dib dib, dob dob dob don’t admit someone else did the job.

Well anyway it kept us amused, for a while.

Wriggle Fingers was planning a visit so we dropped down a few locks in the direction of Semmington to meet her. Her daughter Ellen, redhead with glasses, was very cute and grown up for her 18 years, while her (WF) male friend, a wiz at all things electric is also good at knocking off door catches. Three times now I have had to fix those wet locker doors. Ellen is now a convert to a sweet perversion of mine, McVities chocolate digestives with Butterscotch.

Went out for dinner with K&J. There was a price to pay. We spent an hour or two dragging Ragwort out of a hay field. Not an unpleasant task but there was so much of it. Now I can spot a Ragwort plant in my sleep.

Monday 30 Jul

I met my brother Allan at Hilperton Marina while I was re-fuelled and de-pooed then we travelled to Dundas Wharf stopping to tie up a loose boat and again at the Lock Inn Bradford-on-Avon for a meal. While Allan did some fishing I took a walk along the bank where I caught sight of the 'bat' boat. Nigel Carton had turned this one around earlier this year. It's proper name Pipistrelle.

My sister Annette came to retrieve Allan after 9. You know the car park at Dundas Wharf? Well they lock it at nine pm and it’s a long walk back to the boat to get a BW key. Doh!

Tuesday 31 Jul

I had just set out this morning when I noticed a young lady sitting on the back of the 'bat' boat. I slowed down and said, "Hello", as you do. I mentioned that I knew Nigel and was invited for coffee, well you know me never one to turn down a cuppa so I stopped and introduced myself to Justine. It would appear from my conversation with her that of all the people moored along that stretch of the canal she is the only one to have had an epic journey on a boat. Most just moor in one place only going for water when required or up to Bath for a short trip out. Justine, a total newbie had brought the boat from Gayton Northampton all the way to Dundas. Fair play!

Once again on my way to Bath (aren’t swing bridges fun on your own) I stopped to let a hire boat through a bridge. He called out to me as he passed by that the boat on the other side of the bridge had lost a rope and was floating across the canal. So why didn’t he stop and make it fast? Yet another job for the Maffster, this is the second loose boat this week. As luck would have it after I got the boat properly along side his mooring pin was still attached to the stern rope so it was just a case of banging it back in. what got me was there were two or three local boaters, moored up nearby, who must have seen the boat and did nothing. Cheers guys! I blame speeding hire boats for ripping the pin out in the first place or am I being unfair? Yes because I have seen many speeding owners on this canal this week.

And so on to Bath. As lovely as that stretch is that Deep Lock is a bit scary!
Bath is fun, but, I would hazard a guess that it is more fun when the place is full of nubile young student babes. Some non English speaking visitors (young and female of course) were trying to take a picture with the boat as background I mosied on over and in the best sign language I could muster got them to stand on the stern deck and took a pic of them. They in turn wanted a picture with me and the boat. Cool babes too.

If you visit Pulteny Weir in the near future you will get a good shot of a tree hanging on the weir.
The moorings between the bridge and the weir are £6 a day payable at the sports centre. Er sorry but if they want my money they are going to have to come and get it! I stayed there a while, well until all the totty had all gone, and went back down and along the Avon. Just past Churchill Bridge there are moorings on the right hand side FREE! Sainsbury's isn’t very far away.

Derek and Dot are still stuck at Osney Lock for another week at least.

Kim and Jim had spent the evening in Bristol and came to stay the night. They both work in Bath.

Wednesday 01 Aug

Another month passed by. I did some much needed house work this morning; well I was going to have visitors tonight. A drunk decided to spend some time near the boat. I don’t understand what it is that makes these people tick. Yeah sure they have problems but the answer isn’t at the bottom of a bottle. How do I know? I've been there! He very kindly p*ss*d on the towpath before he left.

After lunch on the boat with Kim & Jim I set off for Keynsham to meet up with two old friends I have not seen for a long time. Dave and Carol were the parents of Kim's best friend, Bethany, when we moved to Calne in '94. It's about 10 miles to the Lock Keeper at Keynsham Lock I must have arrived about 5 pm. D&C arrived about 8. It was good to see them again after such a long absence, mine not theirs. They were impressed with the boat too.

Thursday 02 Aug

Oh God will these rains ever stop? Well yes actually about 1 pm. So off I went to Bath again. This is a nice part of the system. From Bath it's all river with the exception of the lock cuts. Some of the weirs are quite spectacular and the pubs too!

The boat club at Swinford is peopled by idiots. As I left the lock I sounded my horn merely to draw their attention to me. They took this to mean 'OK time to be stupid'. One rubber dinghy towed about six mirror dinghies out into the river across my bow. This was then superseded by an instructor and novice in kayaks crossing in the other direction, they then stopped right in front of me and out of my sight. Horn again, they moved over.

The instructor asked " How are you?, as I passed him.

"Not happy," I said.

"Why," said he.

"There seem to be a lack of common sense", I replied. "This is a 20 ton boat and it won't stop on a sixpence. If I hit one of these kids I will be in the shit".

No reply.

Later I passed three quite young kids in a canoe. Young as they were they made a point of keeping my eyes in their sight. So simple. So the right thing to do.

Idiots aside I did enjoy the trip back to Bath. I moored up near the weir and waited for Kim & Jim to visit. After they left I took Milly up to the weir, well as close as I thought was safe. With a few dozen tourists on the main road looking down I wasn't going to risk Gongoozelers Syndrome. I had planned to stay the night, but instead did the flight up to the top. At 18' 8" that deep lock really is scary. Good job I didn't have to go in it. Locks are for boats not people.

I breasted up to a hire boat that moored on the water point. The flow was oh so slow. It was dark by the time I was full so here I will stay. S**t happens. Moored just along the path is Tarifa, Tom and Sophie's wide beam. They were not at home.

Good night virtual world!

Friday 03 Aug

It has taken a long time, but I finally got around to taking off the side hatch doors and sorting out the stiff hinges. Stern tube grease is good stuff. Now when I push the doors open I nearly fall out of the hatch. Gently does it! It would have been much easier if Bones had helped.

Spoke to Tom on wb Tarifa this morning.

Picture Book 2


Self and Bottle



Short Dumpy One not being got out of the water



Sunset over Kim's field

Picture book 1


Kim on the gate.



Bones and Bottle doing what comes naturally



Yours truely



The nest of a Grey Wagtail on a lock gsate. Two chicks.



Tight squeeze

CAEN HILL

Kim phoned this morning she was on her way over with her bicycle. I popped up the road to ensure enough supplies and by the time I arrived back there she was, but more important the locks were open and one boat was on its way in. Bicycle on board I slipped the ropes and joined them. I went up the first three locks and moored outside the Black Horse. Having not expected the gates to open so soon I needed was slack in getting my shower I should have had it earlier. As I let the other boat down the 4th lock an officious look chap walked towards me. I thought it was BW asking why I had not joined the other boat but it turned out to be Bottle from the forum (Keith). He made the coffee while I showered.

Jennifer came down with her cute grandaughter on board nb Amy B Lazy and we let her down. Bones sent text "We are nearly there" So I set the lock for Milly M, by the time she was in the lock Bones, Kim and Jim were arriving. Hugs all round and we set off down the flight. Kim and Jim were happy to wind paddles, to his credit Jim did this nearly all day without complaint. Bottle took the tiller for part of the way after which I took it back then Jim's Mum and Dad turned up who I hadn’t seen for over two years. Bones took over while I did the pleasantries with Fernando and Janet. Bottle did a sterling job all day, I wonder what he is doing next week when I go back up.

Bones was overwhelmed by the sheer number of locks and people. Later she made herself useful as a galley slave producing copious quantities of bacon and egg sandwiches and also as the official photographer.

Near the bottom of the main flight my brother Alan and sister Annette arrived. Allan you may remember is recovering from recent heart surgery at my sister's house in Westbury.

Arriving at the bottom all we wanted was a pub which wasn’t to be found for another few miles.

So after a few more locks we arrived at the Barge Inn at Seend. As luck would have it the mooring on the pub garden was vacant so in we went. Bones took my wallet and got a round in while I was sorting the boat. In the pub I asked for a table for dinner only to be told they were fully booked. When the drinks were all in I told the barman to keep the couple of quid change for a tip. A few minutes later he came out side and asked my name for the reservation list. It just goes to show that a good tip will get you a table even when they say FULLY BOOKED.

At some stage during the proceedings a strange face appeared and shook my hand, "Hello Maffi", he said to which I had to ask "Who are you". You see I am no good at names or for that matter faces. It was Neil who I had met on a couple of occasions before. "And you," he said talking to the Amazon, "must be Dr Bones," she was quite amazed. The story is simple, every time I had met him Bones was supposed to meet him too. She had never quite got there in time and so assumed that Neil did not actually exist. Not any more! How strange that Neil should be in the same pub as us?

Big John and Fiona nb Epiphany arrived just as dinner was being served. I really should have told Bones that John was a vicar before she went off on her religious diatribe. John, now an ex-vicar wasn’t fazed, but I think Bones was, if only a bit. The whole evening was a wonderful end to an exhausting but equally wonderful day.

Everybody had departed by 08:30 and Bones and I retired to the boat. After a short discussion about the day's events we found our way to our respective sleeping quarters and were asleep within minutes.

Hungerford to Devizes

Tuesday 24 Jul

Well, away from Hungerford today on my way to Devizes.

Overnight Great Bedwyn moored near the station. Good job the trains didn't run all night.

If you should happen to visit GB then be sure to go over the railway bridge turn left and find the Bakery. Warm bread, tasty cakes and Steak and Kidney pies to die for.

Wednesday 25 Jul

Leaving GB this morning I reached the first lock as another boat was leaving the top. He called back we will wait for you at the next lock. That was the last I saw of him. I rather hope he found someone else to go up with or he would have wasted 1/2 million gallons of water rather than wait ten minutes for me.

I cruised towards Honey Street hoping to find a mooring at The Barge and passed Jennifer (nb Amy B Lazy) on the way. I managed to find 50 ft of nice hard edge to squeeze my Milly onto. Of course this meant getting the Gang plank out again. I had a few moments of Dejavu imagining the other door taking an unauthorised swimming lesson, but put it out anyway, Bones wasn't coming down today so it should be safe.

I came to HS and the Barge two years ago with Kim and Jim while I was home on vacation and I wanted to see if I remembered it. That was the year I crashed my hire car at one in the morning. I really must remember not to drive whilst I am sleeping.

Thursday 26 Jul

Weather was not too bad when I started out this morning, but by the time I got to Devizes marina it was chucking it down. Lucky I was stopping there to get some oil. The lady in the shop remembered me from 2 years ago when I paid a visit for some maps. Whilst there I noticed nb Epiphany moored in the marina and called on John for a quick cuppa and chat. Mrs John wasn’t in.

Just the last 25minutes to the top of the Caen Hill and still it managed to rain on me soma cruel. I was surprised that there were not many waiting to go down the flight.

Friday 27 Jul

Engine oil change today. Simple task nothing could go wrong. B*ll*cks. The filter wouldn’t come off and when it eventually did the new one wouldn’t go on. Bah humbug! I had to go into town to get another. It would seem that there are two filters listed as alternatives for mine the one I bought first was the larger of the two and so wrong. The lady in the shop found the smaller one on the shelf at which point I asked her to marry me. Well if they hadn’t had been able to help I would have been stuck waiting for another one and I have Bones and others coming to visit for the trip down the flight on Saturday.

Kim & Jim came this evening and took me to see Helen her horse. Did I take my camera? NO? Doh!