Narrowboat Tacet

Silent Movement - Our gap year travelling the inland waterways

Thursday 31 May 2012

Up for a Challenge

On my last post about our journey we had just turned on to the Grand Union Canal and started towards Birmingham. On Monday we moved on to Warwick stopping briefly at Leamington Spa for a bit of shopping. It didn't take long, shoes, sandals and shorts for Ian. In and out of the shop again in no time at all, even with me making him try things on.
As it was not long ago we were at Leamingon (January) we didn't do the tourist bit, just the necessary, then another stop at Tesco before stopping at the bottom of the Hatton flight.
lock cottage at the bottom of the Hatton Flight
The plan for Tuesday was an early start to get up the 21 locks before it got too hot. So alarm set for 6am and we were off at 6.45, joined by Chas and Jan on nb Fuzzy Duck at the 3rd lock.
Looking up the flight about a third of the way up
We made a good team with one going on ahead and setting the next lock, which meant we were up the top at 9.50.
looking back down towards Warwick
Nearly at the top, the BW yard buildings, now offices and training centre

the carpenter's workshops

Old BW van from Fradley
We couldn't resist the temptation of a cooked breakfast at the cafe once we got there. We had worked up a good appetite by then.  It also set us up for rest of the day which we spent cleaning, sanding and undercoating again the roof of Tacet.

Another early start on Wednesday putting the first gloss coat on the roof and gunwales. Giving it a few hours to dry, we set off again.
Coming out of Shrewley Tunnel
A very wet tunnel, hope the paint was dry enough
 Through heavy rain as we went up Knowle locks, we stopped soon afterwards as we were soaked.

Today we have made it into the centre of Birmingham again ready for the weekend.
You see,  we have booked ourselves in as part of Team Yeoford on the BCN Challenge. For the non-boaters this is an occasion where crews take their boat around the canals of Birmingham, covering as many miles and locks as they can, earning points as they go, over 24 hours. Should be fun, a bit mad, and a challenge.  We're looking forward to it.

9 miles, 12 locks
2.5 miles, 21 locks
10 miles, 5 locks
12 miles, 25 locks

NB. I've had a look at the settings on blogger, and have altered a few things, if you have had trouble leavin a comment previously, it may be easier now. I'll look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday 30 May 2012


I have been having trouble with piles.
Piles of crochet squares for my blanket.
Piles and piles of them.
I kept making them until all the wool was used up.
220 in all.

Now they need sewing together.
Pattern or random? Co-ordinated or mixed?

Sitting in the sun at the front of Tacet.
Sewing them one by one, in between locks.
Now I have no more piles.
I have stripes!

Sunday 27 May 2012

Another lovely day

Yesterday morning we moved up to the start of the Clayden flight of 5 locks where we had to wait until they were unlocked at 10am.  There was time for breakfast and to bake a batch of cakes. Then we were off.
There were two boats ahead of us and at the middle lock we met the 1st one coming down. These locks are only open for 4 hours a day at the moment to save water.

Tacet coming under the bridge into the lock.

Some pink may blossom today.
At the top of the lock a swan family looking out for bread.
Three bridges, a concrete road bridge, iron turnover footbridge, and (difficult to see) a brick arched bridge, at the end of the Fenny Compton tunnel stretch. (now opened out)
There was not enough time to get across the summit to the locks at Marston Doles before they are locked at 2pm, so we made our way to another quiet, peaceful spot and tied up there for lunch. Then set about stripping the paint along the remaining gunwale and re-painting that. This kept us busy all afternoon.
So then this morning before breakfast we put on a layer of undercoat, it was already so warm, it was drying as soon as it hit the metal!
We were ready to set off now for the locks, they would be unlocked and ready for us to make our way down now and off to Napton.
I do love these bridges, although many of them have been sprayed with concrete to  keep them together, the brick ones look so much better.
On the way down the Napton flight with the windmill just showing, though in a few more years the trees may well be obscuring it.
A better view of the windmill from the bottom.
And on to Napton junction where we turned left onto the Grand Union Canal once more heading for Warwick.
Just the slight matter of a few locks ahead of us, 3 at Calcutt,
and 10 at Stockton, it was very hot but there were others going down so we travelled together, making these wide locks a bit easier.

Our companions chose to come down the last two locks backwards, a there is no winding hole for quite a distance and they will be making the return trip up the locks tomorrow.
Don't know if I'm coming or going!
A bit odd, but I think they have done that before, I suppose it works.
So a busy day, but with just time for another layer of undercoat on that gunwale just before we stop for the night.  Another quiet spot with the birds singing all round us.

8 miles, 5 locks
13 miles, 22 locks

Friday 25 May 2012

Highlights of the Oxford Canal

It's not so long since we wrote about out journey through the Oxfordshire countryside on the lovely South Oxford Canal.  We were last here in January, we had good sunny weather on the whole then, but of course not as hot as this week has been. I don't want to repeat myself about the places we stop, but hey the countryside is decked out in all her spring glory now!  Hope you enjoy a peek along the way we've travelled.
The hedgerows are full of white May blossom on the hawthorn trees, while the towpaths are lined with the white flowers of the cow parsley. It is all so pretty.
The iconic lift bridges of the Oxford Canal are so attractive too, thankfully many of them are permanently raised nowadays.
Silaging being done in the fields yesterday, happy memories of younger days on the farm with our cousins during the silage and hay harvesting.
Had to put in another photo of Somerton Deep Lock House, it is so pretty standing up so tall at the side of the deepest lock on the canal. Do you remember their only access is by boat or along the towpath, with no services, electricity, water, gas etc. They run a generator for electricity and filter canal water for use indoors. They also get no bills!
They have super views all around them, a really lovely place to be.
At Aynho, we spotted  "Reckless, the boat that Guy built" from the tv series. Looks like it has been made into a more conventional boaty home now. Edit:  Apparently not the tv one, thanks Adam.
At King's Sutton Lock the Union Jack bunting was out, dancing in the breeze.
More of the May with a yellow oil seed rape field in the distance.
We made an early(ish) start, we have slipped into lazy ways over the bad weather, so we have been trying to get going a bit quicker in the mornings to make the most of the day.  So at Banbury we stopped about 10.30, I washed the boat down whilst Ian checked on e-mails and work. Then we looked around the town, bought a few bits and bobs that were needed before setting off again.
At Little Bourton Lock, our canal guide said this was "a beautifully kept lock and cottage". Sadly not so now.
Windows are boarded up and although the sign says it is owned by local boaters, I'm not sure what they are doing with it.  The garden has signs of previous care, with blackcurrant bushes, roses, bluebells, and geraniums making a valiant effort through the grass and weeds. I must admit to wishing I could bring it all back to life again, so it could be "beautifully kept" once more.

We had to stop for a walk around Cropredy, it is such a pretty village.  And we needed wanted an ice cream from the shop by the bridge too.
village sign

village church
village pub

And another hawthorn tree, it was just stunning against the blue sky and fresh green grass.
Warm, warm sun, cool water and a gentle breeze, a beautiful way to spend the day.
Tonight we are moored in a very quiet spot, no buildings in sight, and birds singing all around us.

9 miles, 9 locks

Thursday 24 May 2012

Feeling At Home Back On The Canal

Today we have a decent broadband signal, so hopefully we can manage to post a blog. And with pictures.....

After spending about six weeks on rivers, the Lee and Stort, then the Thames and Wey, it was so nice to leave the wide fast flowing stuff behind and get back to the calm of the canal.
leaving one of the big, wide locks on the Thames
back on the quiet waters of the Oxford Canal.

Once we got back to Oxford we managed to meet up with our son, who fitted us into a small window of his busy schedule. Exams are over, social activities are full on, life is busy you understand!  An offer of lunch, Dad paying, helped.  We enjoyed the hot sunny day, finding a shady spot in a pub garden and then had a wander round the Botanical Gardens together.
tiny plants in the alpine house
pitcher plants in the insect plant area
iris in the species area
Chushan palm,
the dense yellow fibres at the base of the leaves are used to make rope, sacks and other coarse cloth.
A black pine planted in 1800
it's cones were dropping, and someone had been busy using them for 'art attacks'.
so much fresh bright green
one of the great glass houses.

So we are back on the canal network, heading north again, back to the Pennines and Yorkshire.  It's not long since we were on the South Oxford, (January) so we shall be moving fairly quickly through and with this lovely weather, enjoy cruising in the evenings again.

Tuesday: Wallingford - Sandford, 17 miles, 6 locks
Wednesday: Sandford - Shipton-on-Cherwell, 11 miles, 7 locks, 4 bridges
Thursday: Shipton - Kings Sutton, 16 miles, 11 locks, 1 bridge