Monday, 30 December 2013

'Twas a cold & frosty morning!

The next day after our aborted attempt to get down the Caen Hill Flight the weather was foul so we stayed home. Sunday was better. Rather than rake the family out of be early again (and risk more wrath!) I went to Caen Hill to check that everything was open.
A thick hoar frost covering Constance
With the family alerted to the OK, it was time to get the fire going before setting off. I set the first couple of locks in my favour and started the engine with the first click of the starter. Good stuff that 'Cetane Enhancer'.
Still a thick frost - on the way down
I managed to do at least 4 locks on my own before the family caught up with me. From then on it was a lot easier. I was able to stay on board and let the others set the locks and open/close the gates. It was a lot safer too.
With the day's work done - a quick look back up the Caen Hill Lock Flight
Beautiful sunshine all day even though it was cold. That is quite a magnificent view, looking up the lock flight. I am amazed at the perfect alignments and spacings of all the locks.

Nice try!

It was the day after Boxing Day, I had managed to rake the family out of bed nice and early. We were going to take Constance down the Caen Hill lock flight. We took her down to Caen Hill Top Lock only to find it locked with no one in attendance. Nothing on the web, no emails to the contrary, it should have been open. Frantic phone calls to C&RT. After a while a member of the local team phoned back to say 'sorry - closed for the day'. No further information. So we are stopped at top lock for the time being.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

To Devizes

It was one of those lovely sunny late autumn (early winter?) days. I caught buses to Pewsey and then walked to Wilcot. After a quick lunch I started the engine and moved off. It was not long before I passed through the lovely sunny Wilcot Wide Water. I could easily have been tempted to stay there as there was nobody there, it was wonderfully quiet and peaceful. I carried on, however, past Honey Street, the two swing bridges and arrived at 'The Bridge Inn' at Horton just as it was getting too dark to see. Yes, I did venture in for a pint in the latter part of the evening. I was in bed early as I needed to make an early start.
As the weather forecast correctly said, it was fine in the earlier part of the morning and was getting greyer as I neared Devizes.
Devizes Marina
By the time I had emptied the loo at Devizes Wharf and moored on the 72 hour moorings it had started to rain. As the day went on it got worse. By early evening it was blowing a gale and the rain was lashing. Lovely and warm inside!
Next morning it was all calm and sunshine so I moved from the 72 hour mooring down below the wharf.
First lock below Devizes Wharf
Now I can moor with no restrictions (OK - other than the normal 14 day), all I need is spot where the solar panel can see the sun!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A change of plans...

For the last few months we have been moving eastwards. I always intended to make for Great Bedwyn and spend the worst of the winter there. Sometime during 2014 I need to get a hull survey done for insurance purposes, I also need to have Constance re-blacked.
I made a casual (on-line) enquiry to Semington Dock to see if they had a time slot over this winter period. February would be good, they said.
So, we have turned round from Pewsey and will now head back towards Devizes. The first part of the journey is to move back to Wilcot before attempting the Long Pound. Then it will be down the Caen Hill flight sometime during Christmas-New Year time.

On to Pewsey for a while

Our move eastwards continues.
Autumn near Wilcot village
From our mooring near to Wilcot village we have moved to Pewsey. We are just off the end of the 48hour moorings. Nice an open for the solar panel to charge the batteries. I visit to do various little jobs, maybe spend the night.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Slowly moving eastwards...

It is not often that you can get your car this close to your boat!
View from Galley window
The road runs parallel to the canal for a while and the parking is easy. Lovely place to stop. It made loading a few coal-bags easy.
The maintenance season has started. I have just fitted an inverter/charger/UPS and am currently wiring it in. The unit sits just above the battery locker to keep the cable runs as short as possible. Engine maintenance is due shortly and I think this winter's project may well be one of sorting out the battery locker so that I can get three leisure and the engine starter battery into the space. Whilst the battery locker is out, being rebuilt I will continue with painting the engine space with Danboline. Just go to hope for the right weather. So much to do...

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

After the storm.

It was the storm they called St. Jude's Storm. We thought we had better go and check Constance was OK. Of course she was, the solar panel had moved but that was about all. It was a nice day so we decided to move on. With Judy taking the car and operating the swing bridges it was not long before we were at Honey Street.
I enjoyed a couple of pints in the Barge Inn. Lovely place with lots of photographs to look at.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Bye bye Semington, hello Devizes

Our stay at Semington has come to an end. We need to move east. The first night we spent at Seend, opposite the Barge Inn, where I sampled some of the Wadworth ales. You can order 1/3rd of a pint of 3 different ales then have a pint of the one you like best. Good idea.
The Barge Inn at Seend

Friday - leaving Seend going towards Sells Green

A bumper crop of haws
 Friday night we stopped at the bottom of the Caen Hill lock flight so that we were ready to ascend when Heather and Mum arrived to help. We had met up with 'April Rose' as we came up the flight from Foxhangers. They were just ahead of us, waiting for their extended family to arrive, so there would be plenty of help...
On our way up...

A welcome sight - the little café - means you're nearly there.

Looking back down the hill.

Smiling back at the photographers.
With all the help, we did it in the record (for us) time of two and a quarter hours. We stopped at the top for lunch, then leisurely moved on to Devizes Wharf for the night. We went to 'Spoons' in Devizes for our evening meal. So we are now on the long pound for at least six weeks because the Wootton Rivers locks will be closed for maintenance until the end of November.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Another coat of paint

With sunshine like it was on Sunday, it was too good an opportunity to miss; painting the roof again. Another coat of grey undercoat applied in the warm autumn sunshine after a quick rub down and de-nibbing. Now I need another day like that to get the first top coat on. Hopefully soon...

Monday, 30 September 2013


The Boat Safety Test was booked for Thursday evening. I spent some of Thursday checking everything was OK. Mike Price came (he only lives a couple of miles from Semington) and did all the checks he needed to do to satisfy himself that the boat passed her safety checks. Hooray! One less thing to worry about.
Friday I spent preparing the aft section of the roof ready for painting. In the evening I went and joined a number of the local boaters at 'The Somerset Arms' just down the road. One of the talented local boaters provided the entertainment and then handed a great variety of percussion instruments around the audience. With a bit of prompting everyone started to create rhythms and beats, getting louder and faster as the evening progressed. It was quite magical in its own way. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
On Saturday I continued painting then went to a 'Boot & Barge Music Festival' at the same hostelry. This was an all afternoon and evening event. Some of the groups were really good and got us all going. Another great evening.
Sunday was a bit more of a day of rest.
 The aft section of the roof is now grey undercoat
 The stick on the left marks a giant dog turd that I do not want to step on!
The wraps go back on now that the paint is dry.
The next job will be to get some green gloss on the roof so it will all be the same colour. Next spring I will attack the wooden hatch to see if I can re-caulk it and make it water-tight. That is the main reason for having the (faded) orange tarpaulin over it.

Monday 23rd September

'Twas on the Monday morning we set off, heading east. We motored on, passing Bathampton, Dundas and stopping at BoA for lunch. In the afternoon we moved on to Semington and stopped just off the end of the 24 hour. Absolutely ideal position. I fetched the car, loading and off-loading took place and we went home.

Sunday 22nd September

We were joined by four friends from our home village for a special trip to Bath. They arrived nice and early and we went down through BoA lock.

On our way there was a reminder that autumn is on its way, some of the trees are beginning to take on a wonderful colour.
And then we arrived at Dundas Basin in time for lunch.
In the afternoon we moved on to Bath and went down a couple of locks, generally playing about...
 Helena, Jacqui & Brian enjoying the sunshine
 Entering Bath under Beckford road bridge
Going past Sydney Wharf
Going down...
 Treva looking back at camera as I tie up
 Brian lending his muscle to open a gate
 Treva approving the moves
Jacqui & Helena enjoyed it too!
After the locks we all enjoyed an evening meal before returning to BoA to find their car. I left our car at BoA and caught the bus back to Bath.

Saturday 21st September

Judy & I came to Constance to tidy up, move and prepare for Sunday.
We then turned round and found a spot on the 24 hour just above Bradford-on-Avon lock and went to Sainsbury's to buy loads of stuff for Sunday. I made loads of space in the cratch by off-loading some of the winter firewood to the back of the car. I then took the car to Bath and caught the bus back to BoA.

Monday, 16 September 2013


I said today would be different. The sun was shining for an early start and the drive up to Stoke Pound at the bottom of the Tardebigge Lock Flight between Bromsgrove and Tardebigge village. Chas 'n' Ann from Moore 2 Life were friends from long ago, Chas & I worked together in a former life & we have kept in touch ever since. They were on their travels from the Droitwich Canal and finding their way back to Kings Norton Junction - this would mean going up the Tardebigge Flight.
We met at the prearranged location and after a short 'catch-up' we were on our way.

With Ann's vast experience and my bit of fresh muscle we soon dropped into a rhythm and in only three hours we were moored beside the Tardebigge pumping station (now an Inn) in time for lunch.

We all enjoyed a lovely hearty soup made by Ann before having a long chew over the past, present and future. We will all meet again soon.
I cycled back to the car to go home, stopping to admire a couple of cottages which were sprouting aerials -

Somewhere in the back garden of the top picture there is an 80m 3 element beam which can be lifted by crane and rotated as required. I suppose, being that far 'out in the sticks' the background noise levels are lovely and low.
It was a lovely day, meeting up with and helping old friends and the weather stayed good all day.

To Bradford-on-Avon in the rain

My time on that lovely mooring where I could do the work has come to an end and I need to be nearer to Bradford-on-Avon for next weekend. The forecast was not good. With bicycle on board I turned and set off for BoA. Sure enough it started to drizzle, then the drizzle turned to rain. Anywhere after Widbrook Bridge would do, but it was pretty much nose to tail with boats all along the straight bit before Sainsbury's bridge. The short term moorings on the approach to BoA were no good as I need to be able to stop for a week, so it was down through the lock and hope for the best.
The volunteer 'Lockies' were a welcome sight and cheerfully helped me through the lock in the rain. Beyond the Tithe Barn it was boats as far as the eye could see. Eventually there was a Constance length gap and a mooring was made. It was hissing down by now and I had to cycle all the way back to Hilperton to retrieve the car. Nothing for it but to grin and bear it. Luckily it was not too cold.
With car retrieved and parked near the Tithe Barn it was batten down for the night and dry off. Tomorrow will be a different day...

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Taking advantage of location 2

More cleaning, preparation and painting.
The engine bay area - I decided to clean out a much greater area. I liked the grey of the Danboline, it made the deck much lighter coloured and easier to see. As the vertical surfaces were black, I cleaned them up and painted them with the grey Danboline.
You could eat your dinner off the clean surface! Having put two coats on, it will take a while to completely harden, so it was left in favour of another paint job.
Some while ago I started cleaning and painting the gunwale walk ways. Both sides have been cleaned, primed and had two undercoats. As the port side is alongside a coat of black gloss was applied, followed, the next day, by a coat of non-slip black gloss. The kind of paint that has sand in it.

It is impossible to see the graininess of the sand, but it can be contrasted with the glossy half inch of gutter nearest the vertical panel of the cabin-side. It is now non-slip.
Carrying on - the panel below the gunwale takes a bit of a beating and has been looking tatty for some while so that go the rubbing down, de-rust, priming and first undercoat treatment.
Now ready for further painting. My time on this wonderful location is coming to an end, the weather is closing in and becoming very autumnal so my chances of getting another coat on over the next few days is getting a bit slim.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Take advantage of location

Currently Constance is moored miles from anywhere. Nobody to disturb. Alongside a bit of Armco, so the 'bank' is excellent. The end of the Armco had a concrete cill at two inches above water level. This is absolutely ideal for working on the boat.

So, one outstanding job was putting in the exhaust skin fitting for the central heating. Not a big job in itself but the location (beside the Armco & cill) made simple work. However...
To get to the inside of where the skin fitting had to go meant emptying out all of the ballast weights. You know, those heavy bits of metal - odd castings, engine flywheels etc., that hold the back end of the boat in the water. Well, this revealed a load of rust. After a lot of cleaning, rust treatment, priming etc., then Danboline - a much better appearance.
Now the boat has a list to starboard and lots of scruffy weights distributed around because I can't put the weights back in until the Danboline has fully dried.
That's how one job leads to another!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Making the most of the fine weather

The weather forecast looks good for the next couple of days. Time to do some (long outstanding) painting on the roof. Back in the late spring I managed to get one of the roof sections up to the 2nd undercoat stage. The summer has been too hot/threatening wet, too windy etc. to paint.
I moved from Hilperton to a bit of Armco that I could remember about 1.5 miles east. This would give a good surface to work from.
It looks better than the grey undercoat. Now I need to wash the front section so that they both look good and green. The towpaths are good on the western end of the K&A, this is because it is a National Cycleway. The down-side of this from a boating perspective is the dust. As the cyclists pass at speed they kick up a cloud of dust which settles all over the boat.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Busy, busy Bank Holiday weekend on the canal

Ok, I should expect it, or rather, hope for it. The weather wasn't too bad for a Bank Holiday weekend. There were masses of hire boaters around, they weren't too bad. The ones to watch are the day boaters. Most of them haven't a clue. Too fast, wrong side of the canal etc.
We stayed in the Bath area, on the end of the esplanade Friday & Saturday, doing a bit of shopping and Raven pie & pint.
On Sunday we decided it was time to move on. We needed water and loo emptying so we moved off...
There was a bit of space along the promenade because one or two had moved on, previously it had been completely full.
We turned at the winding hole at Sydney Wharf and made our way back towards Dundas. The offside bank is very overgrown in many places and this makes the canal seem very narrow.
We had to back up into the offside bank to let this wide-beam through on the approaches to Dundas.
After Dundas it was on to Bradford-on-Avon. It was busy there too, so we stopped behind the Tithe Barn on the restricted area for the night.

@*&*@! RANT - CaRT have allowed a wide-beamed boat (business) to moor on one of the first visitor moorings near the smelly (scented soap?) shop. The congestion at that point has to be seen to be believed. The number of boats waiting to go up BoA lock, then some coming down picking up crew etc. I just do not believe it!!!! RANT OVER!

Sunday we went up through BoA lock, having joined the queue, not quite having to double park with the aforementioned wide-beam, but only just!
Judy had to hold on to the mid-line.

Lunch was a much quieter affair.
Just past the winding hole between Widbrook and Biss. We needed to find somewhere to stop for the night so eventually, reluctantly, we moved on.
Past the Hilperton boat yard until we found somewhere to stop. I cycled back to fetch the car.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Porthole liner finally in place!

The culmination of the weekend's work is that the porthole liner is now in place. A suitable piece of self-adhesive plastic bath strip was procured from B&Q. This was cut and moulded to the porthole liner to give it the extra depth needed to do the job.
All was sealed with silicon caulking and it looks OK. I am proud of the whole job and the difference it makes to the bathroom. Previously there was no outside light and very little ventilation, now there is a removable porthole. Whilst I had the caulking gun in my hand I re-did the perimeters of the sink and cooker worktops.
During the weekend I moved Constance, first to Claverton Bridge, by Ferry Lane, so I could have the car nearby, then on towards Bath, so I could leave her for the week until Judy & I can get back.