Friday, 29 March 2013

Spring has Sprung

 Woke up to a beautiful morning - this is what boating is about

Took the bus into Stafford yesterday.  Very good value breakfast in the Co-op cafe - £2.25 for 5 items and including tea or coffee - the very healthy fried bread was excellent.  Went to B&Q and Maplins looking for the foldable aerial which Andrew & Michele have but no luck.  Then tried to find a kettle to replace the one I ruined when it boiled dry.  Finally found one in Argos.
Stafford is a very nice town with some lovely buildings

Rather spoiled by the shop fa├žades.
Lovely indoor market and I bought some steak at the butchers and a roasting tin (more of that later), another fitted sheet (thanks for the suggestion, Margaret, makes life much easier), then Sainsburys to stock up and take advantage of their special offers on whisky and lots of other goodies.  Shopping trolley was essential - so glad I bought one.
I have not walked so far for many years so we required some nourishment when we got back to Gnosall.

The Navigation pub.

Decided it was far too far to walk back to the boat for my steak (must be 200 yards) so very nice fish and chips washed down by some excellent ale.
 More boats and people arriving and the banter is getting going

Now to the roasting tin.  My stove has not been keeping the boat warm enough and every time I rake it out hot coals fall out and have already made several burns in my new carpet.  With Andrew's help we worked out that it was probably a combination of poor coal (Taybrite) and not enough air getting in under the coal as the vents were getting blocked by ash.  Solution - put the roasting tin in front of the fire and rake away to my heart's content - the coals fall into the tin and do no damage.  Andrew kindly gave me some Excel to try and it is pumping out the heat.  Problem solved, thanks Andrew.  And the kettle is boiling on the stove.

Monday, 25 March 2013

First Journey Complete

The way forward
A very, very cold journey with a strong Easterly wind, which at times was blowing the snow straight across the canal. 
Stopped for a warm and was gong to have some lunch but I knew if I did that I was unlikely to get going again. So, made do with a cuppa soup and kept going. 

 Into the freezing cold
Saw several herons, buzzard being harassed by crows, kestrels (I think) and the highlight - a kingfisher, which kept pace with me for a while. Every time I got near to him and ready for a photograph, he would fly a few more yards further on, so no kingfisher photograph. 
Very glad to get to Gnosall and a warm and bite to eat. Only passed 2 boats in the whole 13 miles. 
So, my first journey is complete.  85 miles, 41 locks (30 narrow locks, 11 broad locks) in 13 days, including 2 days stopped.  Photo of Gnosall to follow

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Autherley Junction

Didn't move yesterday as it was pretty cold and horrible.  Had a very lazy day.
The cold continues and does not look like improving. Decided to move on to Autherley and stock up before the run to Gnosall.
 Went through the very narrow cutting coming up to Autherley - would not fancy that much in a busy August.

Got a pump out, coal, gas and water, so that should easily see me through Easter. 
It was still blowing a gale on Sunday morning so I copped out and spent the day doing not very much.
Had a visitor on the gunwales.
Autherley Junction and Napton Narrowboats. 

Forgot to include this video of Matty smashing up my boat on the first day! Matty video (for some reason I cannot get video to embed)

Friday, 22 March 2013

It's snowing!

Spent Wednesday night in Penkridge
Shopping in the morning and could not resist the cafe next door to the Co-op for full breakfast at £5.
Started off 1130 in sunshine but it soon turned cloudy and a bitter wind started up. Had lots of help and advice from a boat following me up the 5 deep locks to Gailey. 
I just had to take a photo of my first heron sighting.
Got as far as the Fox at Cross Green and was very glad to get into the cabin and get the fire going full blast.
Was thinking of moving a bit after lunch today but the sleet started and it was going horizontal - stack the fire, put the washing on and write up this blog.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Tixall Wide

Onto the Staffs and Worcestershire canal yesterday just after passing the impressive Shugborough Hall.  Spent last night on Tixall Wide, which is renowned for it's kingfishers but all I saw were Canada Geese and the occasional coot.  Had my first accident.  I had passed hardly any boats and sure enough one was coming the other way at a bridge with a blind bend.  I had already slowed, not sure about the other boat and I was partially in the tunnel.  Either he decided he could make it or that he could not stop.  There was just room for both of us - but not for his chimney and the top of his boat against the bridge roof.  I had no damage (maybe a bit of paint/blacking removed).  I do hope he did not suffer too much.

I also planted out my primulas in one of the £5 strawberry planters I got from Homebase.  Not sure what I am going to plant in the other one - not strawberries.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Blue Skies!

Beautiful day with mostly blue skies and jacket off for quite a while. Stocked up on supplies in the morning with mutton chops (long time since I had mutton) and lots more from the local butcher. Vacuum packer in full swing and fridge crammed full. 
Had a bit of help at the first few locks. The last 5 were all set against me so a bit slow progress. Back a bit sore by the end of the day.  Moored at Kings Bromley.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

On my own

Gorgeous blue sky morning.  However, there was ice on the canal - dare I risk my new blacking?  Yes I could! Video 
I have not dared look at my blacking.
Sat out with lunch and quite warm in the sun. 
10 miles and 5 locks, including two 11ft ones, which I was pretty pleased with.  But these were my first narrow locks - what bliss.  I was a bit sad - how Lisa would have loved all the little bridges.
 Moored just before Stenson lock as the light was going and I did not fancy it - Matty had warned me that it was a bit of a  bu****.  Not a good spot - no phone and next to the train line. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The start of my adventures

Time to get going

After fitting my solar panels on the Monday, Matty from Old Friends Canal Services cycled down from Shardley to hold my hand on the Trent.  A beautiful day despite a few snow flurries.  Matty was a bit bored on the journey - the Trent was only on amber.  But he took lots of pictures and video which I am looking forward to seeing.  He was going to put them on the usb stick I left with him - except I gave him a wifi dongle instead of the stick.  I still have not found the dongle and some other things I thought I had brought - how can things get lost in such a small space?

About 5 hours to get to Shardley and Matty's boat and, more importantly, the pub.  I could only manage a couple of pints - I was exhausted - had not slept much the previous night (too excited) and Matty sat back while I did all the work at the 6 locks.  Only joking - many thanks for your help and friendship, Matty.

Saturday, 9 March 2013



After my wife died last year I put into action my plan to buy and live on a narrow boat.  Although we had been on quite a few boating holidays on the Thames, the Broads and the Caledonian Canal, these were all on cruisers so I hired a narrowboat at the start of October to see how I got on with handling a 60ft boat.
I loved it - perhaps aided by it being one of the best weeks of the summer!  Thanks to my cousin, Margaret, for agreeing to come with me (solo hirers are not allowed) - I think she enjoyed some of it!

I started looking at boats for sale, first on the internet and then at marinas.  Also reading as much as I could about what was involved in living afloat. Canalworld Forum and Paul Smith's  livingonanarrowboat proved very useful.

It is said that the boat picks you and that is indeed what happened.  I was about to start negotiations on a boat on brokerage with Nottingham Boat Sales.  Excellent service from them by the way and I can thoroughly recommend them.  Unlike some brokers I have read about, they went out of their way to be helpful and are a great bunch of friendly guys.  Thanks Findlay, James, Dean, Brian and Bruce (and others whose names I have forgotten).  I started calling Findlay, Bob - his reply to my requests was inevitably "We can do that" - until I asked if he could install a larger shower!  The day after I  had viewed the boat Findlay telephoned to say the price on a similar boat had been reduced and now came within my price range.  So, another 4 hour trip to Nottingham and as soon as I saw Lucy Lowther I knew she was for me.  Offer accepted and works to be carried out were agreed, the most important being installing a stove and a washing machine.  And blacking.  And resealing the windows.  And painting the engine bay and front lockers.  And having the engine serviced.  And........  You get the picture.

On the 19 December I became the proud owner of Lucy Lowther, a 54ft Nottingham Castle Class by SW Durham. I spent a couple of cold nights onboard, despite the gas central heating going (expensively) full blast - I need that stove!

So why is the blog called The Lovely Lisa?  Well, I was going to rename her after my late wife but, if I take to the boating life, I suspect I will want to upgrade when I sell the house - an extra 6ft, a larger shower and not a cross bed.  I will rename the new boat or this one, if I keep her,  when next repainting but in my mind she will always be "The Lovely Lisa".

Drove up to Nottingham again on mostly deserted roads on Xmas Day (what a treat) - reminded me of being in France - we have too many cars! I had a lovely cruise down to Beeston and back on a beautiful but very cold Boxing Day 

 No way was I venturing onto the Trent - not that I could have got through the lock even if I had wanted to.

The works were carried out on schedule including the most important

On the 3rd of March I packed the car with most of what I thought I would need

Now, what have I forgotten?


And on the 9th I took the train to Nottingham to move on board.  Travelled first class of course - it was a pound cheaper than standard!!!!!!!!!