Category Archives: The Long Journey Home

The Long Journey Home – Part 28

The Long Journey Home – Part 28

Saturday 18 August 2018

murpworks - The Long Journey Home - Part 28 - The Caen Hill Flight image

The Caen Hill Locks

Moored between the first and second locks of the Caen Hill Flight, we anticipated setting off early. We didn’t. What we did decide to do was have a big breakfast – a boater’s Breakfast. It consisted of scrambled eggs, Vegetarian sausages, hash browns, beans and toast. The galley coped easily for four as opposed to the two it had been previously used to. George and Tim (Daughter and Son) had arrived to act as honorary crew for the task that was the Caen Hill flight.

Prepared (gastronomically at least) I performed the engine checks and before long, we had set off, aiming for the second in the series of locks, having passed through the first last week. We entered the lock and saw another boat approaching beyond so waited. This hireboat with its crew of 1-day experience from Birmingham were to descend the locks and flight with us and it made for a pleasurable and speedier progress than going alone.

The First of Several

The first several locks until the Caen Hill Flight Cafe are normal, two narrowboat locks and the Cafe denoted the top of the 16 Staircase lock flight. Poised at the top, looking down provides an impressive view of Rennie’s (and more importantly, the French people who built it) feat of engineering.

When with someone else, there is no time to wait and admire the view, you are straight in and once in, there is no stopping as one lock feeds straight into the next – just like a staircase. However, just as we were setting off down, Ian: my Brother-In-Law arrived. Fresh from another Gumball rally no doubt ;-). He was the first of many visitors this day. We started down.

murpworks - The Long Journey Home - Part 28 - A Caen Hill Flight Lock image

We threaded our way through the locks in fairly good time and it wasn’t long before my Sister-In-Law: Moira appeared on the towpath. More descent them my Parents-In-Law appeared. There was little time for stopping but I did get handed a takeaway latte from the Caen Hill Flight Cafe.

Ian Takes the Helm

Several locks in, I handed over the helm to Ian. As an Engineer by trade, he loves all things industrial and mechanical was in his element. This gave me breathing space to admire the 16-flight staircase lock and the crew (both mine and that of the neighbouring boat that went down the flight with us). My son Tim took over windlass duty. He was running backwards and forwards and opening and closing lock paddles and gates. My daughter: Georgina was on Grandma duty. The Grandma was less than keen to step aboard and was adamantly staying on the towpath. This was in contrast to my Father-In-Law who fairly hopped aboard. Once ensconced in a chair, he sat square in the middle of the lounge, commanding a view of the proceedings. He took the whole flight in his stride.

Just so readers know, there does come a point where the thought of

“not another lock?” surfaces.

It can start to seem fairly endless: once is normal, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action. Sixteen times is bl***y ridiculous! 🙂

There was one point where we two boats going down the flight met two others coming up. As this was a staircase lock, the first tendency would be to pull over to the side pound: a small ‘lake’ or reservoir used to feed each lock. However, it transpires that this is only about a couple of feet deep, so we would have got instantly grounded. So not a good idea. A CRT member was on hand and coordinated a shuffling of boats: a bit like the ‘Tile’ game. It worked perfectly. It was also extremely useful as further down, we met two further boats sans CRT member so I could coordinate proceedings like a boss.

murpworks - The Long Journey Home - Part 28 - in a lock image

All Aboard!

After the flight, when the drama had died down and we only had normal locks to contend with, Gloria (Mother-In-Law) was convinced (cajoled!) to allow herself to be hoisted aboard. Once on deck, she loved every minute of it and an ambition (if not quite a lifetime ambition or bucket list tick off) was fulfilled.

We continued on to just before Lock 22/Bridge 146 Lower Foxhangers Bridge where we let the day passengers off . We then moored at the perfect spot. The end of a long day. The funny thing is, we walked straight back up the flight in a matter of half an hour. We stopped at the Caen Hill Flight Cafe!

With the flight accomplished, we were ready for the final phase of this journey – toward Bristol. There were still many places, moorings and journeys before we finished and the destination itself was unclear at that present time. It did feel like a milestone marker had been reached.

murpworks - The Long Journey Home - Part 28 - The Caen Hill Flight end image

Sunday 19 August 2018

Lazy Sunday

murpworks - The Long Journey Home - Part 28 - mug of tea image

A beautiful morning, lazing on the boat. The thing about coming down the Caen Hill Flight of locks is that you have a fairly steep incline to walk back up into Devizes town. By the end of the weekend we knew that hill very well. George and I visited Caen Hill Marina to beg, steal or borrow water (just a couple of litres to get us throught he afternoon). It’s a large modern marina and it looked like a great place to moor. The shop/office had just closed so we couldn’t check out what it stocked. If it wasn’t for the fact that Devizes has no railways station, it would have been a tempting place to residentially moor.

murpworks - The Long Journey Home - Part 28 - G and T image

George and Tim enjoyed their time aboard MIRRLESS, it was great having the family back together but they had to head back to their respective homes. Another walk back up the hill! They’ll visit again soon.

murpworks - The Long Journey Home - Part 28 - MIRRLESS prow moored image

Here ends The Long Journey Home – Part 28

The Long Journey Home - Part 27
The Long Journey Home - Part 26
The Long Journey Home - Part 25
The Long Journey Home - Part 24
The Long Journey Home - Part 23
The Long Journey Home - Part 22
The Long Journey Home - Part 21
The Long Journey Home - Part 20
The Long Journey Home - Part 19
The Long Journey Home - Part 18
The Long Journey Home - Part 17
The Long Journey Home - Part 16
The Long Journey Home - Part 15
The Long Journey Home - Part 14
The Long Journey Home - Part 13
The Long Journey Home - Part 11
The Long Journey Home - Part 10
The Long Journey Home - Part 9
The Long Journey Home - Part 8
The Long Journey Home - Part 7
The Long Journey Home - Part 6
The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1

The Long Journey Home – Part 27

The Long Journey Home – Part 27

Friday 3 August 2018

The Quantum Mechanics of Narrowboating

The Long Journey Home - Part 27 - mu in the galley image

Once again we arrived at the boat and carried out those oh so important ‘Safety Checks’

  • Boat still where we moored her? – check
  • Boat still afloat? – check
  • No-one living on board? – check
  • Everything on board just as we left it? – check

It’s a worrying time when you crest the rise of a small hill to the canal or turn a corner or pass through a hedge to return to your boat. There’s a split second when the boat maybe there or may not be there – a real Schrodinger’s cat moment (I knew I could get Quantum Mechanics into this blog somehow. Tenuous is my middle name). There was only one thing, the gang plank had fallen into the canal but luckily we could fish it out.

The Long Journey Home - Part 27 - gangplank image

As we had parked the car (on loan whilst we were approaching a workable destination for living) near the boat, we had bought lots of things to take aboard: quilts and pillows, a new brush, some art materials, two rugs and even a fold-out single bed that doubles a seating (a cube). Once again, just for a change it was hot. We ferried the items from car to boat. One thing you get used to on the canal is displaying everything you own as you traipse it down the canal towpath, on full view for all to see.

After all that manual labour it was time to visit the pub. I hasten to add once again that visiting the pubs gives a feel for the place. They still provided a heart in the many places we visited. We liked to think of it a social historical research.

The Kings Arms

The Long Journey Home - Part 27 - The Kings Arms image

All Cannings is a beautiful ‘thatch-cottage’ village adrift in the Vale of Pewsey with only two things: a local shop and The King’s Arms. The Kings Arms is famous for its yearly rock concert in aid of Cancer Relief. We’ve never been as it’s not widely publicised but after visiting the location and sampling Wadworth‘s finest (Horizon Golden Ale is particularly fine) we would love to go. We sat in the garden.

Back at the boat, it was Vegetarian curry and rice, sat out on the deck in the glorious evening of a peaceful Wiltshire countryside.

The Long Journey Home - Part 27 - evening image

Saturday 4 August 2018

Devizes

Today we decided to stay put and not move on until Sunday. Seeing as we had a car (accessibly near by) we decided to drive into Devizes as it was just a bit too far to walk. Hardware shops, coffee, tea and toast and then Devizes Marina where we bought a D-Ring and a new mooring pin and ordered two boat fenders. We asked about the possibility of parking in the Marina car park next weekend. the very friendly staff agreed.

At the Marina cafe we had tea and complimentary biscuit as the cake I ordered had ‘died’ in the heat and was unfit for serving. We sat, looking out over the boats moored in the marina. It was a lovely spot.

In the Village

We drove back via Horton to see where we would be mooring and on back. We knew it would be very hot on board so went to The King’s Arms, just to check it was as good a second time around – it was. There was a Mini Moke parked outside and it made ‘The Village’ very Prisoneresque. I wouldn’t be indexed, numbered, briefed or debriefed and so had a pint of something. Then on back to the boat.

Sunday 5 August 2018

The Long Journey Home - Part 27 - a moored MIRRLESS image

Staying Put

After breakfast, we decided to work on At The Jumpgate. We only had a shortish journey to Horton so time was on our side (Mick would have been proud). Or so we thought…

The sun started to hit the port side windows so we left the blinds down as we often had it, in an effort to stay cool. Our thoughts turned to setting off. We emptied the bilge of nappies we had left in over the week to soak up the last of the grot in the engine bilge. I performed the engine checks, cast off as the boat seemed pretty much grounded upon some point of the canal floor side so probably wasn’t going anywhere. I then went to start the engine. There was the mistake. Instead of being overconfident, I should have started the engine ‘before’ casting off. I turned the key in the ignition – nothing!

Nothing!

I tried again – nothing!. It was totally dead! Panic! A boat went past and the front of the boat swung out. The stern was held but it was a significant away from the bank. I had to jump and only just made it off. So, we were moored back up where we started, we hadn’t moved anywhere and we had no prospects of doing so anytime soon. Also our RCR cover had run out Friday and to set back up would take days (Direct Debit to spread the cost – doing this on a budget). So, thinking about this logically: Batteries, Starter Motor, other engine type stuff – there was a lot of it…

I fixed something!

I delved in, and after a bit of rummaging about, I found that a wire had become dislodged from the alternator. This must have happened when removing the nappies form the bilge. I reconnected it, tried starting the engine and yes! It jumped straight into life! Hurrah! We were back in business.

We pushed on to Horton without further incident. I was riding on a high. I felt like a real boater having fixed something. All I can vaguely recall was another visit to the Horton pub, probably…

The Long Journey Home - Part 27 - swan image

Here ends The Long Journey Home – Part 27

The Long Journey Home - Part 26
The Long Journey Home - Part 25
The Long Journey Home - Part 24
The Long Journey Home - Part 23
The Long Journey Home - Part 22
The Long Journey Home - Part 21
The Long Journey Home - Part 20
The Long Journey Home - Part 19
The Long Journey Home - Part 18
The Long Journey Home - Part 17
The Long Journey Home - Part 16
The Long Journey Home - Part 15
The Long Journey Home - Part 14
The Long Journey Home - Part 13
The Long Journey Home - Part 11
The Long Journey Home - Part 10
The Long Journey Home - Part 9
The Long Journey Home - Part 8
The Long Journey Home - Part 7
The Long Journey Home - Part 6
The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1

The Long Journey Home – Part 26

The Long Journey Home – Part 26

Friday 27 July 2018

No Blood Red Moon

The Long Journey Home - Part 26 - field image

Arrived at back Pewsey Wharf without incident. MIRRLESS was moored and we got to use the gangplank again…

We went to the Waterfront where Wolf Rock exceptional Red IPA and Orchard Cider from Sharp’s Brewery were the order of the evening.

Tonight was to be a blood red moon eclipse but blanket cloud prevented any display of the heavens. So, we each had a mug of tea on the deck of MIRRLESS as the night drew in.

The Long Journey Home - Part 26 - MIRRLESS' prow image

Saturday 28 July 2018

An Incident

The Long Journey Home - Part 26 - Pewsey Wharf image

We moved on from Pewsey Wharf which we liked because it had a nice feel. We were headed for Honey Street. All was going well, right up until the point we came to Honeystreet Mill Cafe: a big glass frontage up above the canal with people enjoying tea, looking down onto the canal. People sat outside in the sun watching boats pass by . Me grounding the boat just outside, getting thoroughly stuck and being unable to move.

The Long Journey Home - Part 26 - Honeystreet image

I had the engine in reverse, churning mud and water then back into forward but it wouldn’t budge. I used the barge pole to no effect. We were the floor show for the whole Cafe but at the time I didn’t notice. That 20 minutes passed really quickly. Eventually, a towpath passerby by the name of Ian managed to pull us free with the Centreline. Ian was happy to help as he wanted to liveaboard a narrowboat (hope we didn’t put him off). He really did help us out. We would have still been there otherwise!

The Pub With No Beer

The Long Journey Home - Part 26 - MIRRLESS moored at Honeystreet

We moved on and it had started to rain a little but it soon stopped and was once again hot. We moored outside The Barge Inn at Honeystreet – deceased*. This large stone-built pub had closed down and was left in ruin. Moored up, we walked back to the Honeystreet Mill Cafe for much needed sustenance after the grounding incident. It was only now that I realised just how on show I had been.

Inside we met John of Dolphin Narrowboats. He came over to us and commented on the grounding incident which was not uncommon as there is a shelf and the canal water level was down. However, more importantly, John had owned MIRRLESS or MIRRLEES as it was then called 15 years ago! He had owned it for some time before selling it to Norwegians who turned it into a restaurant in London. Such a small world and so great to learn a little or MIRRLESS’ history.

Visitors

The Long Journey Home - Part 26 - the old man makes it aboard image

Later on we had family visitors who arrived at the deceased Barge Inn (at least there was plenty of free car parking) and they came aboard. When travelling by narrowboat it can seem as though you are miles from anywhere and anyone and have been travelling for large distances but in reality, people can get to visit in mere minutes. That’s canal time.

After a great time and much tea our visitors left and it rained which put us off walking to a pub. However, it did stop later and the sun came back out. We decided to go in search of a living pub and decided to walk to Woodborough where we thought we would find one. How wrong were we? We walked, no paths, only road. For a place so out of the way there were many cars, coming and going, to nowhere! There was no pub! We walked back. Luckily, we were back on board MIRRLESS before the heavens opened once more. We sat and ate cheese & crackers , drank our own beer and cider and sat in newly installed (temporary) folding chairs under our solar colour lights and watched the sun go down, behind the clouds.

It rained in the night.

The Long Journey Home - Part 26 - porthole view image

Sunday 29 July 2018

What is This?

The Long Journey Home - Part 26 - rp at the back door image

The morning started with pouring rain and it was grey & windy

“What is this?”

We pulled off in the rain and as it continued, so did we. The rain brought out the saturation in the scenery all about and nature looked its best. It ran off the roof, down the windows and over the gunnels into the canal. We continued on, past stationary boat after stationary boat – no-one else was about, boating. I wonder why?

The Long Journey Home - Part 26 - blurred vision image

We passed under four bridges which each gave a few second’s respite from the driving rain and just past bridge 128, at All Cannings, we moored. Just.

Driving mooring pins in, in the pouring rain – sounds like a song.

We walked into All Cannings because it had a village shop and it was open. We bought Hobbs House bread for toast and a beautiful jar of honey in a mini wooden beehive. The tea and toast back aboard MIRRLESS prepared us for the walk back to Honeystreet where we had to pick up the car and then bring it back down to All Cannings. This leapfrogging is a common occurrence which many boaters will be able to attest to.

At least it had stopped raining.

The Long Journey Home - Part 26 - grey above image

*The Barge Inn at Honeystreet is now back open!

Here ends The Long Journey Home – Part 26

The Long Journey Home - Part 25
The Long Journey Home - Part 24
The Long Journey Home - Part 23
The Long Journey Home - Part 22
The Long Journey Home - Part 21
The Long Journey Home - Part 20
The Long Journey Home - Part 19
The Long Journey Home - Part 18
The Long Journey Home - Part 17
The Long Journey Home - Part 16
The Long Journey Home - Part 15
The Long Journey Home - Part 14
The Long Journey Home - Part 13
The Long Journey Home - Part 11
The Long Journey Home - Part 10
The Long Journey Home - Part 9
The Long Journey Home - Part 8
The Long Journey Home - Part 7
The Long Journey Home - Part 6
The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1

The Long Journey Home – Part 25

The Long Journey Home – Part 25

Friday 20 July 2018

A Waste Disposal Mission

We had a day working on what murpworks Afloat was going to be, plotting and planning before we set off to try and dispose of our oily water, from the bilge. At the local Waste Management Centre (what we used to call ‘The Tip’), because I mentioned it had got diesel in it they wouldn’t take it. They said the council wouldn’t let them. mu rang the CRT and asked them and they said any boatyard should take it. We visited two boatyards in Hilperton which were side by side. The first one outright just wouldn’t take it.

“We don’t do that!”

The second one discussed it but were unable to take it. The issue is that a boatyard would have to pay to have it processed and so taking on anyone’s waste water would incur a cost. They didn’t have the facility. The demarcation of recycling can be seen across the country now with councils only taking their own county’s waste, not enough recycle bins on the canal, limited recycling at council sites, outside of the big centres (only taking cardboard and glass but not plastic).

Recycling, especially plastic is a global problem affecting the whole planet. The petty, divisional nature set up in this country needs to change. We’re drowning in waste that can and needs to be recycled as a priority. There’s no support from the government! We try to use little and thus create the minimal amount of waste we can. We have to by necessity of being on a small boat but we still produce some!

No train, so nothing else for it!

We drove to Pewsey to get the train. There were no trains. One bus which may have been a replacement service bus pulled off as we arrived. If there was another bus (it was difficult to tell from the timetables), it wouldn’t be along for hours. We had already payed an extortionate amount to park and so we decided to walk – 9 miles!

The Long Journey Home - Part 25 - tunnel vision image

It was warm but overcast. The route we would be taking would be the route we would be travelling by boat but in reverse, tomorrow. It was a pleasant but strenuous march, stopping by the odd lock to rest but conscious of the light failing (there are no lights on the canal). It had gotten more overcast and so darker by the time we made Gt. Bedwyn. It was a long journey home.

We threw our things on the boat (which was moored, intact and afloat) and headed straight out to The Three Tuns. It started to rain so we decided to stay a while in the dry and warmth of the pub and had a sandwich. We eventually walked back in a mild shower of rain, torch flashing in and out of the raindrops and fell, into bed, exhausted.

The Long Journey Home - Part 25 - view of the canal bank image

Saturday 21 July 2018

Buddy Up

We got up early, carried out the pre-cruise checks and got off. We past the Wharf and several boats to arrive at our first lock of the day. There was a boat waiting to go through but waiting for a friend’s boat to “buddy” up with. We set of to go on through but in the mean time, another boat had appeared who we would wait for and go throuhg the many locks with.

Sharing locks is so much better than going it alone as help filling and emptying them is quicker. Two boats in a lock also stops the “being thrown about” as the lock fills when the paddles are opened. It also saves water on the canal system as less is lost than by boats going individually.

Jane and Hugh in Nb Pineapple were great. Fellow vegetarians sharing lentil chips to keep us going and swapping stories of canals and adventures. We travelled through 9 locks and the Bruce tunnel with them. We arrived just before Wootton Top Cadley Lock by Cadley bridge. They moored up and we stopped briefly for a cup of tea. A narrowboat runs on diesel, the sun and tea . The kind offer of wine was sooo tempting but we had decided to push on and make for Pewsey as our stop. Everyone thinks that narrowboating and alcohol are a great combination but there are too many dangers. We said goodbye to more friends made on the canal and cast off, heading for Pewsey.

The Long Journey Home - Part 25 - beautiful view image

Walking back from the waterfront, moored outside at the Wharf itself were several narrowboats: one was called Muriel. The owner started talking with us who it turns out was a keen Residential/Liveaboard narrowboater for over 10 years. She had never regretted a moment.

The Long Journey Home - Part 25 - The Waterfront at Pewsey Wharf image

Sunday 22 July 2018

Pewsey

The Long Journey Home - Part 25 - church in Pewsey image

We awoke on our mooring in Pewsey on a hot morning. We decided to walk into the town and look for a church (it was Sunday after all). It was bakingly hot so early in the morning but we walked on, down through an estate of houses. At a cul-de-sac there stood a pyramid of tile and stained glass. The church was however closed. The service was way into the evening and we would have left by then. We didn’t get to explore this modern building, which was a shame.

The Long Journey Home - Part 25 - stained glass window image

We walked back into the centre of Pewsey. Along the way we window-shopped. There were contemporary wood carvings, an ethnic ‘Glastonbury’ type shop, an antique clock menders and a cafe that did just the best Vegetarian breakfast.

Sated we walked back to the boat and schemed & planned on what murpworks Afloat would be.

The Long Journey Home - Part 25 - view from the galley image

The sun hadn’t let up as I walked back to the station to bring the car to the Wharf, where mu sat waiting with the bags. This time I took water from the water point to drink. The Wharf is situated a mile from the town of Pewsey but brought trade and prosperity to it.

The Long Journey Home - Part 25 - Pewsey sign image

Another successful move with no more overheating! No fuel leaks! Oh, I almost forgot, we used our gang plank for the first time. It had just been on the roof of MIRRLESS all this time. It meant that we didn’t have to jump on and off the boat.

Here ends The Long Journey Home – Part 25

The Long Journey Home - Part 24
The Long Journey Home - Part 23
The Long Journey Home - Part 22
The Long Journey Home - Part 21
The Long Journey Home - Part 20
The Long Journey Home - Part 19
The Long Journey Home - Part 18
The Long Journey Home - Part 17
The Long Journey Home - Part 16
The Long Journey Home - Part 15
The Long Journey Home - Part 14
The Long Journey Home - Part 13
The Long Journey Home - Part 11
The Long Journey Home - Part 10
The Long Journey Home - Part 9
The Long Journey Home - Part 8
The Long Journey Home - Part 7
The Long Journey Home - Part 6
The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1

The Long Journey Home – Part 24

The Long Journey Home – Part 24

Friday 13 July 2018

The Long Journey Home - Part 24 - Gt. Bedwyn - Railway Line

Gt. Bedwyn

We took the train from train from Great Bedwyn in torrential rain, back to MIRRLESS. It did clear up and so we took a walk to The Black Cat pub. I had Crackendale Pale Ale and mu sampled the Thronbridge Perry Medium Sweet Cider. We met a couple Sharon and Michael and chatted about boating.

The Long Journey Home - Part 24 - Gt. Bedwyn - Church at Gt. Bedwyn

Afterwards we took a walk around the local church as the sun started to set.

Saturday 14 July 2018

We walked to the local bakery for bread rolls.

Upon setting off we were assaulted with Lock, swing bridge, lock and swing bridge, lock after lock after lock. It was now very hot again and the rain was a distant memory. We finally arrived at Great Bedwyn. We moored up at yet another shallow bank (the torrential rain of yesterday had done little to raise the level of the canal’s water) trying as ever to get nearer the bank but getting wedged. This time we would have to now jump off and on the boat to alight and board. We walked to the local shop (which we knew about as we had visited Great Bedwyn before we had a narrowboat) and bought an ice cream to cool down. We walked back to the boat listening to sounds of ducks on the river, children playing in the distance and someone mooring up.

Later on, we walked back the short distance into the village to go to The Three Tuns. A nice pub where we sat out in the garden.

The Long Journey Home - Part 24 - Gt. Bedwyn - Gt. Bedwyn Sunset

Don’t Let The Sun Go Down…

Back aboard MIRRLESS we ate, then sat out as the sun started to go down. We watched a barn owl hunting over and down the valley of the river that runs next to the canal. It was a spectacular view. The area is a haven for them. A natural habitat.

Sunday 15 July 2018

The Long Journey Home - Part 24 - Gt. Bedwyn - MIRRLESS Moored

An enjoyable morning before heading back. Getting the boat ready to leave involves a lot of preparation and it’s never a great feeling. We locked up and jumped onto the towpath. No matter where you are, there is normally some kind of trek involved in getting back to civilisation.

Here ends The Long Journey Home – Part 24

The Long Journey Home - Part 23
The Long Journey Home - Part 22
The Long Journey Home - Part 21
The Long Journey Home - Part 20
The Long Journey Home - Part 19
The Long Journey Home - Part 18
The Long Journey Home - Part 17
The Long Journey Home - Part 16
The Long Journey Home - Part 15
The Long Journey Home - Part 14
The Long Journey Home - Part 13
The Long Journey Home - Part 11
The Long Journey Home - Part 10
The Long Journey Home - Part 9
The Long Journey Home - Part 8
The Long Journey Home - Part 7
The Long Journey Home - Part 6
The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1

The Long Journey Home – Part 23

The Long Journey Home – Part 23

Saturday 6 July 2018

The Long Journey Home - Part 23 - Running Hot and Cold - MIRRLESS Moored at Newbury

Running Hot and Cold

It was very hot. The train was late. We therefore missed the connection so had to go to Reading, then back, to Newbury. We shopped in Sainsburys because that was to hand and not because of some particular brand loyalty. Here, as in every supermarket, we struggled to buy anything that wasn’t in plastic – we managed to purchase two tomatoes and salad onions. That was all! We took the ‘produce’ back to MIRRLESS. Plastic is an issue both for the planet and being on a narrowboat. As we were late due to train delays, we decided to go straight out for chips and then on to The Elephant at the Market. Orchard Thieves cider and Shipyard Pale Ale. Both were very cool…

The Long Journey Home - Part 23 - Running Hot and Cold - Orchard Thieves

Saturday 7 July 2018

Destination Kintbury and Beyond!

The Long Journey Home - Part 23 - Running Hot and Cold - Not In Our Name

We set off early at 07:45. Two boats had passed us, coming up the canal, so it boded for a busy day. We therefore weren’t the first off and it seemed the etiquette of not running a boat engine before 08:00 had been relaxed or stretched a little. We didn’t feel too bad. I passed narrowboats moored two a breast and GRP Cruisers with flags in the centre of Newbury. There a gala of some sort be we were pushing on. I twisted MIRRLESS around, past the Lock Stock and Barrel pub to the first lock of the day where mu was waiting, having walked on ahead. In, up, out and one…

What the Hell is He Doing?

Newbury – West Mills swing bridge was surrounded by beautiful cottages. Just on from there were moored liveaboard narrowboats. Between two were surfboard ducks with ducklings aboard. mu came to the stern to photograph and I got so engrossed in watching that when I looked up, we were about to ram one of the boats. Just seconds of lost concentration and I was out of control! I managed to just avoid ramming any boats I just cruised past moored boat after moored boat, mere inches away with people no doubt wondering

“What the hell is he doing?”

They must have thought I wanted to ‘Breast Up’ or that I was just generally nosy. The ducks put up with it for as long as they could but hung five and took a wave at some point in the proceedings. I do hope they were back on board their floating home, dreaming of surfing.

Moving on (now more in the centre of the canal and away from other narrowboats) we went through locks without issue. In the wide Kennet & Avon Canal locks, using the centreline to anchor around the steps or a capstan stops the boat from thrashing about when the paddles are opened and the water rushes in. Previously, the boat wash crashing into the sides of the lock when one paddle was opened before moving across the lock when the other one was opened. The sun beat down and this time it was ourselves who were overheating rather than MIRRLESS.

As we approached Kintbury, the heat was taking its toll. It was fast appearing time for England’s kickoff with Sweden so we wanted to get to a pub and watch this and to be honest, a pint of something cool and refreshing would have gone down a treat at that point.

Two Distinctly Separate Tasks

We needed to stop at the services point to fill our water tank and drinking water flagons. We also needed to empty our chemical toilet at the Elsan point . Two distinctly separate tasks. At Kintbury, the two points are suitably separated but it meant mooring up to use the Elsan then moving a very short distance to moor up again, or twice if you’re me and miss-judge it by 2 feet! To be fair, I was trying not to hit a GRP cruiser that was moored between the two points. One bump and it would have see its outboard engine dropping off and the boat being hulled, taking on water and dropping to the bottom of the canal. They are not as forgiving as metal-hulled narrowboats. Recycling was non-existent. The CRT and the local councils need to do much more, along with ourselves as boaters consuming less.

Just beyond all this activity were 48 hour moorings. They were tempting. We could have pulled up, watched the match, stayed the night and then moved on in the morning, in order to find a longer mooring. I started to pull over but mu wasn’t sure. Then I wasn’t and started to pull away, mu had a change of heart but the plot was lost. We moved on, shouting to each other along the length of the top of the boat. Neither one of us could hear what was being said over the distance and the noise of the engine.

Just a Little Further…

Just a little further on we found what looked like one of very few mooring spots It was just before a Wide Beam, just after a River Kennet outlet. We were pushed and pulled with currents from the outlet. It meant that no matter how I tried, I couldn’t get close enough into the bank (mu had got off the boat and could now not get back on again). She walked on, looking for other breaks in the abundant, overgrown edging (courtesy of the weeks of sun). She did find breaks but the canal edge was too shallow. Before we knew it, we had reached the next lock. Kintbury as a stopping place was gone and the England match was a distant memory. We went on to Hungerford.

We were now in the phase of the long journey home where we were only able to move MIRRLESS at weekends. Things become sporadic, just by the very nature of travelling back and forth…

The Long Journey Home - Part 23 - Running Hot and Cold - Aspiration!

Here ends The Long Journey Home – Part 23

The Long Journey Home - Part 22
The Long Journey Home - Part 21
The Long Journey Home - Part 20
The Long Journey Home - Part 19
The Long Journey Home - Part 18
The Long Journey Home - Part 17
The Long Journey Home - Part 16
The Long Journey Home - Part 15
The Long Journey Home - Part 14
The Long Journey Home - Part 13
The Long Journey Home - Part 11
The Long Journey Home - Part 10
The Long Journey Home - Part 9
The Long Journey Home - Part 8
The Long Journey Home - Part 7
The Long Journey Home - Part 6
The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1

The Long Journey Home – Part 22

The Long Journey Home – Part 22

Sunday 31 June 2018

The Long Journey Home - Part22 - Open the Hatch!

Open the Hatch!

The worry continued throughout the night. We awoke at 01:00 in the morning to a strong smell of diesel, voluminous clouds of it congregating at the back of the boat. There was nothing else for it, we had to open the hatch.

With the hatch open, visions of bats flying in on some nocturnal visit not to mention insects or spiders (I said not to mention them!) weren’t conducive to sleep. However, the hatch open removed the fumes and by now we were so tired we slept (or had fallen unconscious) until the morning. Upon waking, a Continental breakfast saw us waiting for the RCR.

We waited and eventually I rang the RCR. Thety were struggling to get someone out to us but would eventually. We went into Newbury.

Engineer Appears

The call came. An engineer was on the towpath, with bag of tools on his shoulder. After obtaining the history of our problem, he honed in on a leaking fuel pipe that was dripping onto the gearbox, around and down into the pan below the engine. By ripping off an offending joint and repairing it with a union clip, the dripping stopped. He then proceeded to point out a series of things that were wrong with the engine. I soon had a list of items and further discussions in general gave me a wealth of ‘mods’ that would help in the future smooth running of MIRRLESS. The guy actually owned a BMC-engined boat so all the information was pertinent.

With the fuel leak halted and still some time left before we had to catch the train back to Wiltshire, we took one last walk into Newbury and purchased two small pieces of material to make blinds for two of the portholes. We had been thinking of colour schemes for MIRRLESS lately so a change was on the cards…

Another Journey

We now had another journey but this one was via train. The train back was delayed but the journey back took us through countryside we would eventually be travelling by narrowboat. Albeit at a much slower pace. It had been a packed weekend. The journey we had made was successful, to a mooring that was hopefully safe until we could return the following weekend. Our destination then would be Kintbury.

Here ends The Long Journey Home – Part 22

The Long Journey Home - Part 21
The Long Journey Home - Part 20
The Long Journey Home - Part 19
The Long Journey Home - Part 18
The Long Journey Home - Part 17
The Long Journey Home - Part 16
The Long Journey Home - Part 15
The Long Journey Home - Part 14
The Long Journey Home - Part 13
The Long Journey Home - Part 11
The Long Journey Home - Part 10
The Long Journey Home - Part 9
The Long Journey Home - Part 8
The Long Journey Home - Part 7
The Long Journey Home - Part 6
The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1

The Long Journey Home – Part 21

The Long Journey Home – Part 21

Saturday 30 June 2018

The Long Journey Home - Part 21 - Drip Drip Drip - MIRRLESS Moored Above MML

Drip Drip Drip

The day started grey and cooler but by the time we had finished tea and croissants, the sun was showing and another hot day was immanent.

Every lock and bridge , although similar are different on the canal system. The swing bridge past Monkey Marsh Lock is extremely difficult for one person to operate. It took the both of us to open and close it and as a consequence, it tool a lot longer than anticipated. The next lock wasn’t too far on and was different to the previous ones. The next swing bridge was however, easy. Mu pushed it open by herself without any trouble whatsoever.

Between the aforementioned stretches were reeds. They were barely moving as there was no breeze to talk of. Just our wake, such as it was pushing them into motion. Birds flitted in and out of the reeds, as did Butterflies and dragonflies.

Stop Press – Pug in Overheating Drama

At Ham Lock mu helped a dog that was overheating by taking our portable water carrier and a blue and white enamel dish so it could quench its thirst. It was very hot. The dog was a black pug and seemed to be in some distress but after several dishes of water, it perked up. It lived to bark another day to both its owners and our relief. All of this happened whilst MIRRLESS was in the lock with us trying to hold the boat on the centreline, me dashing backwards and forwards, trying to source water and drinking vessel. All the while, MIRRLESS was bobbing about mercilessly as the water poured in from the open lock gate paddles. The rough ride was due to the back lock gate paddles being open also (they should be down when moving up in a lock). They had been forgotten in all the drama.

With the gate paddles closed, everything calmed down and we got through and on, to Newbury. A little later on, we saw owners and dog from the drama catching us up. I don’t know what was in that water…

Approaching Newbury

The Long Journey Home - Part 21 - Drip Drip Drip - Newbury

Approaching Newbury, industrial buildings set back from the canal were a contrast with the greenery we had previously been treated to. It was still green, just less so and as we passed the trees hiding industry we came upon Newbury Marina.

The Long Journey Home - Part 21 - Drip Drip Drip - MIRRLESS Moored at Newbury

We contemplated using the Elsan point and filling up with water but you had to pay, so we continued on past and pulled up to Arncote on the opposite side of the canal. We were two minutes walk from the bridge that went up to the centre of Newbury. The weather was really hot now so we closed up MIRRLESS and went in search of refreshment.

The Long Journey Home - Part 21 - Drip Drip Drip - Newbury Bridge

We entered Newbury via its new precinct of shops: Waterstones, L’Occitane, Neal’s Yard, Paperchase. This eventually led out onto the main street but continuing to explore led to places of interest. Turning right, just before crossing the balustraded bridge over the canal led to the Lock, Stock and Barrel: a Fuller’s pub. We decided we would visit here later

An Aside

The Long Journey Home - Part 21 - Drip Drip Drip - The Lock, Stock & Barrel

The reader may now be gaining an impression that narrowboating is basically just one long pub crawl. You would be right in some respects. Our previous lives precluded frequenting pubs as we always had to drive to get to any. Here, on the canal, you stop and walk and there is always a pub withing barge pole distance. We paced ourselves of course. We did not want to wake up on water, with a banging headache and an upset stomach and a days boating ahead.

I like to think the fresh air and exercise counterbalanced the alcohol intake. However, please do NOT take this as health regime…

Over the balustrade bridge, across the canal and to the left led to Market Square and the magnificant Town Hall and Clocktower.

Moored Up

We eventually traced our way back to MIRRLESS after coffee, iced tea, water and ‘vittles’ for tea. The boat was stifflingly hot but opening both ends allowed a breeze to flow – ‘open’ air conditioning.

A cup of tea revived us which was Enquiring about a water point (other than the charging marina) one of the staff kindly filled our 5 litre water bottle. Thanks so much!

I left mu aboard and headed back into Newbury (the sun was still burning down) to catch Waterstones. No, not for a book. I know, there’s no room aboard MIRRLESS. It was for Magic the Gathering CCG cards 🙂 I returned victorious with cards and orange juice.

The Long Journey Home - Part 21 - Drip Drip Drip - meal

We had a wonderful boat meal and before heading off to the Lock, Stock and Barrel I decided to check the stern gland and give the grease handle a turn. I dismantled the floorboarding (a pain every time) and once again found the bilge to be wet. I gave the bilge pump a run and removed a small amount of water from the back bilge, under the prop shaft (there are several bilges). The noise of the pump stopped but a dripping sound could still be heard. The dripping was into the bilge under the engine/gearbox. Upon assaying it, it looked and smelt like diesel – not good! I called the RCR who indicated they would struggle to come out that evening (it was approximately 8 pm) so would respond in the morning, first thing. There was nothing else for it – we went to the Lock, Stock and Barrel.

Lock, Stock and Barrel

The Long Journey Home - Part 21 - Drip Drip Drip - The Lock, Stock & Barrel I

The Lock, Stock and Barrel was a nice canal side pub with outside tables (if you could get one) looking onto the Kennet & Avon and lock. Beachcmber Summer Ale and Cornish Cider. We took up residence in a little alcove on a green leather settee. I felt I was ona set of a Sherlock Holmes mystery

“Watson, bring me my pipe!”

Oh, I dont smoke…

We walked back to MIRRLESS and sat on the deck drinking tea and eating patisserie being pestered by Swans for scraps of food as the sun went down. The temperature returned to something we could consider a little more normal. Mu installed a curtain made from a recycled coffee bean bag in the front window.

The Long Journey Home - Part 21 - Drip Drip Drip - Night Light

The worry of the drip in the bilge continued. It would be a long night…

Here ends The Long Journey Home – Part 21

The Long Journey Home - Part 20
The Long Journey Home - Part 19
The Long Journey Home - Part 18
The Long Journey Home - Part 17
The Long Journey Home - Part 16
The Long Journey Home - Part 15
The Long Journey Home - Part 14
The Long Journey Home - Part 13
The Long Journey Home - Part 11
The Long Journey Home - Part 10
The Long Journey Home - Part 9
The Long Journey Home - Part 8
The Long Journey Home - Part 7
The Long Journey Home - Part 6
The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1

The Long Journey Home – Part 20

The Long Journey home – Part 20

29 June 2018

The Long Journey Home – Part 20 - The Return - MIRRLESS Moored Abive MML

The Return

I left work (I’d been back a week, it seemed like a lifetime) and went to catch the train to Westbury station. It was late but the next train was late so it all panned out quite nicely. I met mu on the station at Westbury, I couldn’t miss her as she was laden down with boat paraphernalia.

The Long Journey Home – Part 20 - The Return - Thatcham Railway Station

The train journey from here provided air conditioning and plenty of seats. It was a pleasure to travel. The towns passed and we journeyed through fields of green at breakneck speed (remember we had got used to 4 mph maximum). However, apprehension started to set in

Apprehension

The apprehension was about the boat being

Being there!
Being afloat!
Being empty i.e. no stowaways

We arrived at Thatcham, the boat was

There!
Afloat
Empty

MIRRLESS sat in the water, in the early evening sun. All was as we had left here. We were happy.

There is More than One Kind of Swan

We checked the boat, then went off for supplies in the town which wasn’t next to the canal but not too far. Back to exercise after a week of sitting at a desk. We checked the boat again and then did what any self-respection people would have done on such an evening – we went to the pub. The Swan.

It was a beautiful evening in the garden of The Swan. We had a spot of food and Cider. Afterwards, we walked back to MIRRLESS, past Monkey Marsh lock, marvelling at the light. It fell on the river running next to the canal, through the trees and on the cows in the field with their calves and the narrowboats moored near MIRRLESS.

The sun went down in silence on a wonderful day.

The Long Journey Home – Part 20 - The Return - Porthole Sunset

Here ends The Long Journey Home – Part 20

The Long Journey Home - Part 19
The Long Journey Home - Part 18
The Long Journey Home - Part 17
The Long Journey Home - Part 16
The Long Journey Home - Part 15
The Long Journey Home - Part 14
The Long Journey Home - Part 13
The Long Journey Home - Part 11
The Long Journey Home - Part 10 
The Long Journey Home - Part 9
The Long Journey Home - Part 8
The Long Journey Home - Part 7
The Long Journey Home - Part 6
The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1

The Long Journey Home – Part 19

A Short Move to the MML

The Long Journey Home - Part 19 - MML - outside the lock

Sunday 24 June 2018

Awoke, walked into town, which in this case was Thatcham, had a coffee, used the toilet, the WiFi and the charging for my phone – all the old favourites. Today’s boat move was a very short one: through Monkey Marsh Lock to moor between the lock and the swing bridge, just ahead of it.

Monkey Marsh Lock

Monkey Marsh Lock is one of the old, historical locks. It has ‘living sides’ of mud held in place by plant life. It looks kind of magical as greenery is revealed when the water drains fro

Pulling away from our overnight mooring it appeared deceptively easy but proved staggeringly difficult. The flow from the Kennet river pushing against, pushed us out and across to the other bank as soon as we released the mooring ropes. I was once again deep in the undergrowth, trying not to get grounded. It was our shortest journey to date and I was having problems the instant we cast off!

Finally off and down the short distance to the lock. A river flows in from the left so a ‘hazard’ of sorts. It was just our luck, a wide beam was coming down the lock. I was manoeuvring like a fish in a fast flowing stream. However, I was without the benefit of tens of thousands of years of evolution to fall back upon.

The Long Journey Home - Part 19 - MML - Monkey Marsh Lock - side

Wide beam gone, I could pull up to the lock gate (it was left open as the boat had come down, through it). This nearest one had a very narrow path across the two lock gates over which mu merrily skipped while I took the boat into the lock. With the gate paddles opened, the vegetation of the mud lock walls started to submerge. The seemingly fragile vegetation survives the aquatic world it is frequently plunged into, every time a boat enters and moved up or down. After use of this lock, you are requested to empty the lock whereas normally, you would leave it full.

Beyond the Lock

Beyond the lock is a serene world of still water, countryside and trees on the canal banks. The upcoming swing bridge which can be seen in the near distance. A boat was moored under a tree and we had decided to moor next to it earlier in the day (on a recce walk). Safety in numbers. Even if that number was only one more than one!

The spot was quiet: only the occasional boat passing, walker on the towpath and nature. We checked and re-checked the securing of the lines and the locking of the doors, then made the short walk back the way we had come, for the train. We were leaving to return to land for a week. Our only thought was whether or not we would see MIRRLESS in one piece again.

The Long Journey Home - Part 19 - MML - MIRRLESS Moored

Boat name of the day: Ozymandias – reminds me of Watchmen although a more literary association was probably intended…

The Long Journey Home - Part 18
The Long Journey Home - Part 17
The Long Journey Home - Part 16
The Long Journey Home - Part 15
The Long Journey Home - Part 14
The Long Journey Home - Part 13
The Long Journey Home - Part 11
The Long Journey Home - Part 10
The Long Journey Home - Part 9
The Long Journey Home - Part 8
The Long Journey Home - Part 7
The Long Journey Home - Part 6
The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1