Perfect Harmony

Perfect Harmony
Moored at Huntingdon

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

30th June '15

Hottest day of the year so far....and what were we doing? Sat in the boat waiting for a phone call that never came. Plus we were surrounded by countless teenagers all bouncing along the pontoon and jumping in the water, meaning a, we were getting battered and b, we had to close the crutch covers as it was getting soaked! That on top of the foul language just got to us so we've travelled back up to Bath, where it's relatively peaceful, Paddy can get a decent walk and I can get to Sainsburys for supplies.
We're seriously considering abandoning the repairs, the boat seems to be handling ok, and it's likely to be cheaper to get it done nearer home, so unless we get a call in the morning we'll call it a day, and get on with trying to meet up with people.
We're back on the Rolex mooring, interestingly, if I mention Rolex in the blog it gets masses more hits than any other time. People must trawl for keywords! Weird!

Monday, 29 June 2015

29th June '15

Yesterday we had a bit of a gloomy start with some slight showers on the way down, but made it to Saltford Lock in good time.
Chloe came over and treated us to a late Fathers Day lunch as we are right next to The Jolly Sailor. The mooring is a bit scratchy, as we're actually on the far side of the finger pontoon that serves the lock. We have to clamber out through the railings to get on and off, but since it's just about the only mooring on the Avon, we're glad to be here!
We actually had to come around the barrier that stops you going over the weir. I was not a happy bunny, but my nerves stood it....just!
Paddy's not impressed as we have to cross the lock to go out for a walk, but luckily they are VERY wide platforms.
Today we were waiting the whole day for word to travel down to Keynsham, where the actual yard is where we'll be lifted, but there was a problem with the crane so we were left waiting. C'est la vie!
This afternoon John realised that we needed a pump out. I've stopped telling him, as he always says 'not yet', so I felt a bit smug.
He looked in the Pearsons and saw that Saltford Marina had one so we manoeuvred out of our 'mooring' and went up river and through the lock. Me being a worrier, tried ringing them to see what the procedure would be, but there was no answer. We get there and there's a sign saying 'no public use of pump out, marina use only'. So I tried ringing Bath Marina but they were about to close so back we came. We'll have to both use the cassette and there's a place to empty it en route tomorrow, so all is well in the short term.
This place is used by all the locals as a swimming post! We've had teenagers throwing themselves off the pontoon into the river all afternoon, plus the canoeists across the way and yesterday there were sailing dingys. It all happens here! Today has been extremely hot and tomorrow is due to be the hottest day of the year.....wish I had some doggy shampoo, Paddy is getting a bit whiffy in the heat, but I ran out and forgot to replace it!
Fingers crossed that the crane is back working tomorrow and that we can actually get going with the boat.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

27th June '15

Today was the day of the stag parties! We had at least 5 boats go past us full of testosterone before we got away this morning, plus one hen party.
This meant of course that when we arrived in Bath shortly after, there was chaos at the lock.
As we arrived there appeared to be boats at every possible angle across the canal, so John dropped me off to see what was actually happening. Two stag parties ( the ones across the canal), were waiting to go down, one stag party was on the end of the lock bollards and said they were stuck, the hen party were distraught because they had come past the winding hole where they were supposed to turn and didn't know what to do!
We came up and held alongside the girls as the 2 boats eventually went down, and then got onto the lock  mooring. John got off to do his thing, and between us we persuaded the girls to ring their hirers and ask if they could go down the two locks with us where they could turn.
In the meantime the boat that was stuck, became unstuck but after seeing them manoeuvre I didn't want to go through with them, and luckily another hire boat had turned up (are you following this?) so we suggested that they went down together as they both wanted to turn.
The sun was beating down through all this, and John was still doing lock operations.
The girls then said they'd got the ok, but we still had to wait for the other boats to go down. Finally it was our turn and we went down quite easily with the girls, who were delightful, and they successfully turned their boat and we continued on our own. It all suddenly went very quiet! I quite missed the girls. One of my worst fears was doing the deep lock on my own, but I did and it was fine, another silly worry I didn't need to have had.
We got onto the Avon and are now moored in the place of the 'Rolex' incident of two years ago! Tomorrow we get down and moor outside the boatyard in preparation for Monday.
We've been to Sainsburys and stocked up again, so at least we won't starve!

26th June '15

Getting off our mooring was fun this morning! Bearing in mind we were well out from the side, we were trying to undo ropes and get the gangplank AND john aboard, and the world and his wife decided to cruise past! Talk about Clapham Junction! Anyway we finally got everything sorted and then found ourselves in an orderly queue heading towards Bradford on Avon. We lost a few as the moored and finally got to the lock, where who should be coming in the other direction....our 2 older gentlemen from the Caen Flight!  They hadn't improved their technique at all I'm afraid to say!
As we came through the lower section of BoA, nearly ALLthe moorings were empty! We couldn't believe it....but bet that theylol be busy when we want to moor there on our return.
We ambled slowly on, through the 2 swing bridges and got to Bathampton. As we pulled in for water and were filling up, I took Paddy around to see what the mooring situation was by the pub, and miraculously there was a space right outside, we completed our fill and moved off only to find a hire boat going in....grrr....but luckily we were able to squeeze in a place in front and so there we were!
Paul and Rachel came up to visit and we had a lovely meal in the pub. It's been redecorated since the last time we were there, but the food was still good, and I had a fantastic Pimms.....first of the summer.
There had been a shower of rain in the afternoon after we'd moored but nothing else despite a poor weather forecast.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

25th June '15

We woke late today, probably after the locks yesterday. Another glorious sunny day and we got through all the locks and numerous swing bridges that is canal throws at you ( with alarming regularity) with another couple to share the load.
One lock we arrived at as another boat was about to come up. From where I was with the boat, all I could see was a young lad, about 13ish. Pulling ropes, yelling furiously and achieving little. He spent a lot of the time jumping from the lock onto the roof and back again, so John and the lady from the other boat did the lock for them.
As they came past, there were 2 women on the front and an older man steering, I calked out " just a friendly word of warning, but it's not a good idea to let your lad jump about like that, he could get himself killed". Well you'd have thought I'd insulted them and their ancestors for 7 generations! I got a mouthful of abuse about how she had her eye on him, he was fine, none of my business, keep my nose out of it. So ( because I can't shut up when I probably should) I called that we'd lived on boats for years, and we wouldn't act like that as we knew the dangers. So then I got told that these people who live on boats should maybe move off them and live in the real world. I wished her a happy holiday!
Apparently they'd been out all week, grandad said they couldn't get the hang of it, and the lad had done all the work! Oh well.
John had allocated this as oil change day, and planned to do it at Hilperton, as he knew he could get everything in the chandlers. Could we moor? No, we tried umpteen times but it was so shallow we couldn't get close. We moored here 2 years ago with no trouble. Eventually we pulled in just past a bridge but still couldn't get near the side, but John managed to moor us and secure the ropes, and we've got the gangplank out (again). Have I said that we won't do the K&A again?
Anyway, John has completed his oil change so all is well with our world.
The weather outlook is a bit varied tomorrow, some say rain, some not so much. We've got yo get on yo Bath, but it may be a short stage again if the rain does come as the weekend is set to be better again.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

24th June '15

We got down the Devises,Caen and Foxhanger locks today. 29locks in 5.25hrs. We travelled with 2 older gentlemen in a hire boat, I shall say no more.
The sun was out and the boat handled OK.
Moored now at Sells Green. Well I say moored, more like abandoned towards the edge of the canal with a gangplank. At least we can see the towpath, which is very nice, which is more than I can say for a couple of places we've moored.
As we pulled up, a small cat strolled up and jumped on the bow. Paddy at the back was going crazy, but the cat sniffed around and then jumped off again, completely unconcerned. I got Paddy down into the boat and before I could stop him he charged through and leapt off the front, straight into the canal! I got him out, dried him off and all was well. At least it gave his new Doggy Bag a good test, and it worked beautifully! It wasn't cheap but was worth it.
John is happy as there's a fisherman behind us and he and John have been chatting non stop since we arrived. Not a lot of fish caught I fancy.

23rd June '15

Set off for Devises bright and early after filling up water, chugging along our merry way and we come to the first swing bridge. Normal routine, I jump off, pull boat in, John opens gate, I cruise through, John shuts gate, I pick him up. All went well until the last bit when I caught a rock or something on the prop! Couldn't go backwards, boat making horrible noises, I yelled to John who jumped back on ( thanks to the walker who secured the bridge).
Boat then making horrible noises as we're going forward. I ring RCR and we arrange to meet further along the canal.
The good news was that we managed to get to the Bridge Inn, and there were moorings! James turned up and managed to straighten out one of the blades, but couldn't get to the other, and our prop won't come out unless the boats out of the water. He was concerned the our engine mountings are insufficient and showed us the vibration. He reckons this caused the problems we had last year with some valve or another ( I'm not really that technical) does stern gland sound right?

Monday, 22 June 2015

22nd June '15

Woke up to rain and waited until 11.30 when it seemed to break.
Alan and Lynn left the same time as us and we shared our last lock before they turned to get back to the marina. We had no more locks and had originally planned to get to Devises. However after the late start, intermittent showers, wind in our faces and a brief stop for Paddy to have a wee and John to have lunch, we stopped at Honeystreet and without wishing to sound snobby, it's like the bad end of a council estate! There are dogs barking and fighting, kids paddling around the canal (why weren't they at school at 3.00 pm?) adults standing around, drinking with 'f's every other word. Delightful. I'd thought we'd go into the pub to see if it's changed but I'm not keen, I don't even want to go out on my own with Paddy.
We had several showers of rain during the day but it's glorious now. I've just heard on the TV that pollen is going to be very high tomorrow so hope to get out of jeans, socks and fleeces again. It's midsummer for heavens sake!
Tomorrow we shall get to Devises and I need to stock up so we plan on spending the rest of the day there and then make an early start on the locks on Wednesday. Nobody to help this time so no records will be made, let's just hope we buddy up with another boat to share the load. Not likely to find another Alan and Lynn but we shall live in hope!

21st June '15

Mid summers day!
We are really blessed with our travelling companions. Today we met a couple going into our first lock on a hire boat. We'd seen them at Kintbury and I'd thought then that he looked as if he knew what he was doing.
It turns out that Alan and Lynn had done a narrow oat holiday before and were falling in love with the life. Alan and I on the back of the boats (doing the skilled bit) and John and Lynn operating the locks (manual stuff) got a really good system going and we reached the summit, went through the tunnel and came down to Wooton Rivers, a total of 13 locks and 6 miles in 6 miles. We were delighted with it.
We were all getting on so well that I invited them to come around for a roast and really enjoyed cooking for a party. We eventually got up to the pub and had a drink then discovered that they shut at 10! Anyway we'd had a lovely day, and hopefully made some new friends. They may well hire a boat on the T&M next time so we shall see them in our neck of the woods, hopefully.
The moorings are again somewhat dubious. We're tilted at quite an angle, and have to jump off the front and stretch to get on again, Paddy is once again not too impressed.
It's 22nd now and raining, so we're hanging on for a bit as its due to dry up later, then head off towards Devises. Whether we get there or not today is another matter.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

20th June '15

An early start (for us, 9.15) and as we we're undoing our ropes a day boat goes by, so we say, we'll see you at the next lock! Well we did, and they were 8 of the most delightful young people you could wish. They'd never been on a narrow boat before so we showed them what to do and gave advice and they were lovely. It meant that we arrived at a lock and John started the process, they joined us and then we left the lock and they did all the paddles and gates! Bliss. We were with them for 7 locks and 2 bridges and we were sorry when they had to turn around. They seemed very happy to help out and were grateful for our aged wisdom.
How different from a pair of boaters we came across moored at the base of one of the locks, no sign of life so we 'accidentally' bumped into them as there was no room, plus we had the other boat following us. A chap jumped out and said he didn't hear us coming and had just stopped for a cuppa, thinking he was a single handed I was about ready to calm down a bit, John had given him a piece of his mind as he scrambled along the gunwale through the brambles to get off. Then the wife appears, so I said we have our drinks on the move. He replied well good for you and they pushed off. Trying to be reasonable I thanked them for moving, when wifey points to our boat name , laughs and says what a stupid name for a boat. Charming!
Once we'd lost our escort, we did one lock on our own only to find Brimstone and Michael etc. our New Zealand chums at the top, so they follow us and we do the next few locks with them, so all in all its been a pretty good day.
Our mooring tonight is horrendous though. We're tilted up on a stone ridge with the gang I hate that thing. We're at Great Bedwyn and John reckons we'll reach the summit tomorrow so it will be all downhill to Bath then!
Now all I have to do is get him out of the way, find his Fathers Day stuff and get ready for the morning!

Friday, 19 June 2015

19th June '15

Got Google back!
Lovely start to the day as there was a volunteer lock-keeper at the lock coming out of Newbury, plus one to operate the tricky bridge there as well. Then we were pleased to see a boat waiting at the next lock! Wrong. It was a single handed boater who was pleased to get help, but didn't contribute much, so John ended up doing twice his normal work. Luckily he was only with us for 3 locks.
The rest were done on our own as usual.
The sun was glorious again today and we arrived at Kintsbury wanting to get water, empty Elson and off load the rubbish. As we came up the lock there was a boat at the water point, 3/4hr later he was still there. It then took us 1/2hr to fill while other jobs were done.
We checked the map and decided to stay here as Hungerford has a few lovely moorings that are like gold dust and plenty of others that are not so good. The ones here are great.
John gave the roof a proper scrub and washed the near side of the boat, it had got disgusting when moored under trees, plus dust from cyclists on the tow path.
I had a half hearted attempt to clean up a bit inside, but spent most of the time walking Paddy or trying to get enough internet to see Facebook.
We've met our New Zealand friends again but they have a different schedule to us, so although we're  likely to see them along the way, it's unlikely we'll travel with them.
We keep hearing that rain is threatened but we're enjoying the sun so much, I'm not sure how we'll cope with wet, hoping that any rain is overnight and sun comes out during the day! Not a lot to expect is it?

Thursday, 18 June 2015

18th June '15

More problems with the iPad. My Google has gone wrong so I'm doing this through Safari, just hope it works.
We had a quick day today and left our slightly naughty mooring and have got to Newbury. In fact we were in time for lunch. We actually had 2 locks with another boat with 3 New Zealanders. Michael and John really bonded and we've exchanged details. If we could ever get out to New Zealand at least we have someone who has offered to show us Lord of the Rings places. Oh I wish! They are on a scheme where they come over and have someone's boat whilst the owners are over there using their motor home. John was very excited about this but they do it for 6 months and we've got Paddy so now we've got a disappointed John :-(.
We went to Tesco and got a huge shop....we seemed to forget that we didn't have a car outside and ended up with my shopping trolley packed to overflowing, two light bags that I had on my shoulders, two heavy bags that John carried and a wine carrier that I carried (somehow). At least we won't be hungry for a while.
I wanted to go into town mainly to get John a bottle of malt for Fathers Day (from Paddy), then he said he'd come with me....argh! Luckily he decided to have a pint and I was able to dash off and do the biz.
It's been very hot today, and we are definitely changing colour, but the forecast is getting worse so we shall see.
The last bit of the river will be over tomorrow which will be nice, the anchor can go away for a bit!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

17th. June '15

Phew! What a day! 9miles, 7 locks and 8 bridges (lift, swing, electric or not). 7 hours
The first two locks were not brilliant, wind, current and my lack of confidence from yesterday were all to blame, nothing desperate, just not that good.
However I got the boat around Woolhampton bridge and lock, that only means anything to someone who's steered a boat around it! My adrenaline levels were off the scale! Done without a knock or scrape, unlike one of the earlier ones, where I caught the back of the boat under a shelf before a lock, John had to get the barge pole and lever it off....oops, he's painted the scar.
We are moored just under Monkey Marsh lock, the second turf lock on the system. I'm not keen on them, they feel wrong somehow.
We've got our system going for uphill, double locks, with the boat hook and ropes ready.
All the locks were against us, as expected, apart from one where a boat was coming down. Just one lock, at Aldermaston, we actually shared a lock with a lovely couple, Ian and Jill, but they were mooring at their home mooring before the next lock....typical,so otherwise we were on our own, very hard on John.
Anyway the good news is that we're almost at Newbury, so it's a short day tomorrow and some shops! A quick warning for other boaters.... Moorings at Monkey Marsh are minimal and there's NO-WHERE to moor before Woolhampton....just saying...we're actually at the very end of the lock moorings here, we just couldn't go any further.....

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

16th June '15

Short day today, we got to Sheffield Lock and moored. First reason that either the boat or I lost the power to steer. Bow thruster didn't want to know and I ended up in the hedge....twice! Thought there was something around the prop.....there wasn't. John checked the bow thruster and after initially not working it then did, so all is well....apart from no one checking me. Hopefully I'll have found my steering skills by tomorrow. Another reason for stopping was that John took a blood pressure tablet this morning, and he really shouldn't have. Hot weather and working the locks bought it down to a level that made him light headed. He's ok now.
Yesterday I think I forgot to mention the abundance of red kites we saw, they were everywhere, right up until I get my camera out, then magically they disappear! Also, apparently, the geese were Egyptian and not hooter, I had a photo thrust at me to prove I was wrong. Oh well.
The locks have all been for us today but we've been on our own, since mooring about 5 boats have gone past and none towards us, so I suspect tomorrow might be different. One of the boats was a wide beam, announcing itself to be the Cinema Boat. It looked amazing and we hope to catch up with it for a show at some point. We need to check their itinerary on line.
The Navigation is a lot easier than last time, when we had extremely high water pouring towards us, we did the trip today in 30minutes less than then for exactly the same distance last time.
Off to cook a fish pie now!
Oh and incidentally there were 3 Mandarin ducks here when we arrived, a mum and two youngsters, that's about it for today.

Monday, 15 June 2015

15th June '15

Well we're moored in our usual spot by the back of the Gaol at Reading!
Have had a day filled with wildlife spottings!
We saw a cuckoo; lots of proper geese; lots of crested grebes, including a baby diving alongside a parent (very sweet); a grass snake swimming in the river and some hooter geese ( they look as if they're wearing glasses!).
We've spotted several places we fancy mooring and getting a closer look at, and so we want to spend a bit longer going upstream. We've pretty much decided we won't go on down to London as it would simply be a rush and we've got down here so quickly we want to savour the journey back.
So far we've got Jess and Ju coming for a weekend, and Jan and Rog visiting us at Bradford on Avon. Hopefully some others will come and find us somewhere or another! No help as yet offered for Caen Locks but I live in hope!
We've found Dave and Sharon but they are going to wait here a few days so we shall be off tomorrow and hope the going is a bit easier than last time! No more white water rafting I hope.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

14th June '15

I'm getting to hate this iPad! I just can't get the blog to work. Despite my best efforts I can't add photos and now it's lost 20 minutes of post and I'm starting again.....grrrrrrr.
We spent 3 days at Oxford. Arriving and mooring one boat away from Free Spirit, I got us a very late lunch, hung all my washing out (bliss) and then went into town on my own and had a good mooch around, buying some new t shirts in the bargain. That evening we went out with Allison and Dave, to the same pub we went to 2 years ago. Excellent food, company and conversation! On the way home, john and Dave spotted a rat near some bins, John exclaimed "a rat!" And a bloke going past said, "yes it was". Said chap was Will Gompertz! How's about that?
Friday we just hung around, doing very little. Saturday we were going to head out, but the weather was so horrible we stayed put.
Today after a bleak start the weather brightened up considerably. The Thames is as lovely as ever. I remembered how worried I was last time and compared it to the excitement I felt this time.
I'd forgotten how much faster you travel on the river, and we made good time, coupled with having staff at all the locks, makes it all so lovely. We've even seen a lot of 'proper' geese. Still way too many Canada's, I feel real violence towards them, but it's nice to see native ones hanging in there.
We are moored above Days Lock and Paddy thinks he's died and gone to heaven. He was able to run around with no lead in long grass. At one point he ran through the boat, up the back and around to do it again! Just like a child! He's shattered now!
The weather clouded over again, but no rain is forecast. We hope to be at Reading tomorrow. The final cherry on the cake was hearing a cuckoo after we moored! The last time I heard one was on the Kennett and Avon 2 years ago, must be just up country they're not around any more.
Sorry about lack of pictures, any advise would be very welcome!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

10th June continued.

For some reason it all went square shaped and I couldn't delete the last sentence or two so please ignore the second Barby bit that went in the wrong place!
8th June. We got as far as Cropready and decided to go out for a meal to celebrate a week on the cut! Went to the Brasenose and had a superb meal and met a lovely couple of boaters, Peter and Sue, who we chatted with across our tables! They were going up and we're going down so we we're not likely to see them again this trip, but a lovely couple on nb Blue Jacket.
9th June. Weather turned really cold today and we were bundled up again after being in shorts and strappy t-shirts ( well me not John) for days. We stopped at Banbury( one of my favourite places) as I needed to get some fabric to line a bag I'm making. I've got into patchwork since I was last on here in a big way. We headed off for a few more miles and moored above Kings Sutton lock where Paddy could have a good run. Lovely little lock cottage there for sale.....nearly half a million! Who has all this money? It was so cold during the evening that we put the heating on.....its June for goodness sake!
10th. June, today. Weather started cold but improved although there was a nasty wind, matched with some awkward lock angles and some very shallow patches, made for an interesting day. We're moored just below Pigeons Lock. The towpath is terrible on the Oxford, in places it's completely overgrown and along from here most of it seems to have fallen in the canal! No wonder it's so shallow!

I don't seem to be able to access my photos, so I'll have to look into that but at least I can satisfy my need to record our journey!

10th June '15

Hooray! I've got my Google accounts sorted out and ( for today at least) I'm able to get onto the blog!
Well those who follow me on Facebook will know that we are currently on the South Oxford and hope to be in Oxford tomorrow.
We've had a great trip so far....précis as follows.
2nd June. Set out on a cold and windy day and braved the river section at Wychnor and moored at Alrewas. We had a beautiful Indian take away that night to celebrate the start of the trip.
3rd June.  Had a relatively easy trip through Fradley ( I managed not to fall in) and the only tricky bit was a boat coming out of the Coventry going south and so I had to do a bit of a wriggle to get around and through the little swing bridge. We moored at Hopwas that night.
4th June. Shortly after leaving we were flagged down by a young girl who asked if we could tow them as their gear box had packed up. We'd never towed and they'd only just bought the boat so it was a new experience! We got them to a wide section just before Fazeley where they were collected by someone from Streethay Wharf where they were towed back to for repairs. When we were making our farewells they explained that they did pet portraits and wanted to paint Paddy as a thank you. How lovely was that! After leaving them we moored at Fazeley opposite Peels Wharf, that place has changed beyond recognition. It's really lovely now.
5th June. Our Roberts birthday! Glascote locks were fine, extremely slow to fill as usual. John disappeared with the guy who lives in the cottage there to see his brick collection. How come I miss all the fun? We went on to get up the Atherstone locks as well and moored at the top. Amazingly most of them were set for us, very unusual. That night I took Paddy out for a late walk and found two youth Aussie guys coming up the top lock. They'd left Birmingham that morning, and were on a mission to get to London as one of them was going to live on the boat with his wife. They didn't seem to know much (anything) about boats but they were lovely!
6th June. The weather had been improving every day, and it was lovely again. We got through Nuneaton and around Hawkesbury Junction, which was the first time we'd really seen many other boats, but Hawkesbury was busy. We moored out in the middle of nowhere that night and thought about a bbq. Then it clouded over so we didn't. Naturally it brightened up after we'd eaten. During the afternoon we had a bit of an incident when a golf ball came flying across and hit the roof of the boat. A few more feet and it could have been one of us. Very shaken by it. We saw a lovely mooring for sale, but when we rang about it they wanted £96,000 for it so maybe not! Moored by bridge 79!
7th June. We stopped at Braunston for water, and a duck decided to jump on board. She stayed all the time we were waiting and negotiating the junction. Eventually she jumped off and a boater told us she does that all day! Paddy was not impressed.We went past Barby Wharf and saw a lovely mooring for sale. We rang and went off the idea when they said they wanted £96,000 for it! That is not a typo.....