Thursday, 30 July 2015

Wednesday 29 July 2015

What an eventful day we have had today.  Having done the food shopping last night we didn’t have any spare hands to carry any booze and the supplies were almost dry so we popped back to Sainsbury’s this morning.  We then pushed off, literally, we were stuck on the bank so we had to use the pole to get of the canal side!  We both agreed that it is nice cruising early in the day (7.45am) as there is hardly anyone else about and you have the whole canal and surrounding countryside to yourselves.

The countryside around here continues to impress with it’s rolling hills and deep valleys – it looks so different at 3mph on the canal than it does at 80mph on the motorway which is usually how we see this part of the country.
By 10am there are other people beginning to set off too – there does seem to be a lot of hire boats on this canal but it is the summer holidays after all.

I got off the boat and opened a swing bridge and there was a chap coming along the towpath who said he was coming through the other way (in a day hire boat!) so we agreed that we would leave it open and he would close it.  Only trouble is I am now on the wrong side of the canal for Steve to moor and pick me up so he had to come though the bridge at an angle with the back of the boat near enough to the edge for me to jump on board which I did to a round of applause from six cyclists on the towpath who had stopped to see bridge being opened, either that or they were waiting to cross it!
We chugged along this stretch with a hire boat called Leah that had a family on board and the two boys were fishing off the side of the boat.  Just as Steve said they will never catch anything like that the younger of the two boys started to real in his rod – he had caught a pike and had to call his older brother to come and get it out for him!

We then turned the corner and caught up with Rob on Weston Lady in Bathampton – he had overtaken us while we were still in Caen Hill Marina but we stayed in touch and planned to hook up again.  We are going to do the Bristol Channel together.  As we were moored three young people came along and asked if we lived on board so I said yes and they asked if they could ask some questions about alternative energy so we said yes, then Steve and Rob made a hasty retreat so left me to it!!
We left Bathampton and made our way through Bathwick where there are five locks in quick succession.  It was in the last of the five that we had an OMG moment.  I’m still not firing on all cylinders as I still have a sore throat but I didn’t fancy being in charge of the boat either as it was pretty windy and thought operating the locks was less challenging!  Anyway I get the lock open and in chug Steve and Rob.  There are four guys sitting on the grass – not meaning to stereotype... but obviously not at work, look old before their time, tattoos on their faces, not in possession of all their teeth, in need of a good bath and haircut and high on something – you get the type I mean and one says to Rob can I take a line for you.  As Rob is on his own he usually comes into the lock, gets off the boat, ties the centre line onto a bollard then closes the gate behind him on his side and opens the paddle on the front gate – I am on the other side of the lock doing the same, Steve is on the boat.  So Rob thinks ok what harm can it do?  We are at the front gates, we’ve opened the paddles and the water is leaving the lock, Rob would then usually go back and hold the boat steady.   When you are travelling downstream you enter the lock when it is full, the rear gates sit on a huge concrete block called the cill, then in front of the cill is the pound that holds the water at the same level as the canal downstream.  There are always signs on the lock saying keep boat forward of cill marker (you do hear the odd story about a boat getting it’s rear end stuck on the cill then the front of the boat tips so it is under the waterline in the pound and starts taking water on board - and we all know how heavy water is - it is then impossible to re-float the front of the boat as it has so much water on board) you know what’s coming....

Rob looks back and suddenly realises that this guy is holding the boat tight to the back of the lock so he dashes back and says hey buddy we need to pull the boat forward so they start to pull on the rope and it won’t budge, Steve jumps onto Weston Lady to put it in forward gear but the engine is not running so he starts it but the boat won’t budge so he shouts STOP.  Do you know how long it takes to close a paddle when you are in a panic – I get my side closed as quickly as possible, Rob runs back and closes his, I run up to the other end and open the paddle to refill the lock – by this time I can see the rudder and the bottom of the back end of Weston Lady resting on the cill.  It takes a few minutes but thankfully the front re-floats.  We carry on and moor up in the centre of Bath at which point Rob empties a bucket full of water from the front cratch, the carpet and everything in there is wet – we think we were about 60 seconds away from disaster.... can’t believe I didn’t get a photo! We all needed a drink after that.
We had dinner on board and are going to stay here for a couple of days to see Bath and wait for Claire who is arriving on Friday.

There we are, second boat along - wedged on the canal side in Bradford on Avon!

The booze run at 7.30am!

Bradford on Avon

All hire boats should have 'L' plates!

Mr and Mrs River Rat!

Manned swing bridge - that's handy.

Every canal should have one!

Shame they were closed!

Approaching Avoncliffe Aqueduct

Stunning views.

I'm standing on the roof trying to get a better picture!

The wier

Can you spot the rowers at the top of the wier?  No neither can I but I did see them when I took the photo!

At last a nice boat with nearly my name!

Limpley Stoke Bridge

Must have taken ages to paint this.

And ages...

Fishing boat!

Dundas Aqueduct

Entrance to Somersetshire Coal Canal - it is only about half a mile long.

Our niece!

Moss - the new paint!

Drowned Rat!

Great catch.

More babies.

Happy grass!

We can't go much slower than this...

Bathampton - meeting up with Rob.

Not sure what this is supposed to be or do!

The beautiful Bath Tunnels

And ornate bridges

The second tunnel.

Small world - Steve our mechanic from Caen Hill Marina fixing a hire boat in Bathwick!


Bath Deep Lock - apparently the second deepest in the Country.  This kind chap let Rob and I get back on the boats as we didn't fancy climbing down these steps.

Look at the size of the cill - thank goodness it wasn't this lock hey Rob?

I said to Steve only this morning that I had only seen two Kingfishers since we left Roydon and this one stayed still long enough for me to get a photo!

Arriving in Bath.

A room with a view.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Happy Birthday Mo!

Another bright, sunny but windy morning.  We were up early as we had to be at the boatyard by 8.00am – we were moored just opposite so got there at 7.45am!  They tested the diesel and said it wasn’t too bad but there was a trace of some water and rust in the tank so we decided  to go ahead with having the “fuel polished” – not sure why they call it polishing?? In preparation for our trip up the Bristol Chanel (a requirement apparently).
We finished at the boatyard at about 3.00pm and filled up with diesel as the fuel barge was going by at that time and were on our way by 3.30pm shared Buckley lock with a day hire boat so they did most of the work so we let them through the next swing bridge.

Lucy asked me when she was here the other week how many locks we had now been through so while we were in the boatyard killing time I worked it out.  Here are a few statistics for you.

After we arrived in Roydon at the end of April we did one trip up the River Stort and Two down the River Lee then began the journey which brought us here to Semington so as at last night, 31 July, we have been through another 184 locks and chugged a further 188 miles so in total since 2 April we have been through 316 locks and have navigated 355 miles of rivers and canals and now have 1013.5 cruising hours on the clock.

Fairly uneventful chug today – still beautiful countryside but we can see why some people say that the Kennet & Avon is full of River Rats – we passed several moored up.  We are heading for bridge number 171 which is a couple of miles short of Bradford on Avon where there is a supermarket as we are out of food.
Chugged past Iothanthe moored up and waved to Steve! 

Moored up at 7ish and found Sainsbury’s – there is also a Chinese takeaway and Fish & Chip Shop next door – Steve said “Great I really fancy Chinese”.....but  they are closed on a Tuesday so Fish & Chips it is!  It’s much cheaper here than it used to be in Barnet – shames Sainsbury’s isn’t too!

Another great name for a boat!

Having the fuel polished - get out of the way Steve - let's see what's going on.

The machine sucks the diesel out of one side of the tank passes it through a filter and puts it back in the other side - we repeat this process for 3.5 hours until all the rubbish is flushed out.

Some of the rusty bits from the bottom of the tank!

One for the girls - diet coke break - I'm talking about the one on the left - refuelling!

It's great that they bring the petrol station to us isn't it!  Why is it that all these good looking young men are growing big beards these days?

Goodbye Semington.

Bradford on Avon here we come.

Another Aqueduct - over a railway this time - shame I can't get high enough to take a good photo!

River Rat Steptoe!

Seems to have lost the front of their car!