Just Bobbing Along….


Pootling about on the Ashby

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll realise that we’re just winding down now and making the most of the mild weather by dawdling up and down the Ashby Canal.

On Friday, we walked to the Globe at Snarestone and had lunch there which was excellent as usual. After lunch we walked back to the boat and then carried on along the restored section of canal to what is now the new terminus. On returning to the service area, we saw that nb Sonia Louise was moored up behind Caxton so we said hello and invited our friends, Martin and Caroline for a drink.

We had a good catch up over a couple of glasses of wine on board Caxton before retiring for the evening. On Saturday morning I helped Martin make some adjustments to the Mastervolt system on Sonia Louise before Sue joined us for coffee. Having stayed for the maximum 48 hours on the visitor moorings, we left and made our way to Snarestone tunnel where I was propositioned by Sue who suggested that if we tied up south of the tunnel, she would buy lunch at the Globe. Never one to pass up the chance of a visit to a pub or indeed a free lunch, I pulled Caxton in at the earliest opportunity and so we found ourselves back in the Globe having lunch. We were soon joined by Martin and Caroline who expressed some surprise at our lack of progress but as soon as we had eaten, we were on our way again.

We moored at Shackerstone for the evening and I paid a short visit to the Rising Sun for a couple of pints.

Sunday morning dawned and we were off again, this time bound for Market Bosworth where we tied on the visitor moorings. Martin and Caroline passed us a while later as they returned to their mooring in Bosworth marina and a short while after we saw Treena and Stuart on nb Carpe Diem. Carpe Diem was moored next to us in Hinckley when we bought Phoenix III and our paths have crossed many times over the years.

Our next port of call was the marina cafe where we had a cream tea before walking up to town. The 1804 cafe is a superb addition to the marina facilities and they are lucky that they have their own pastry chef who lives on a boat there. She happens to be the partner of my old friend, Daz who  we know from Trinity and who also moors in Bosworth now.

We caught up with Treena & Stuart before we went to Market Bosworth and had a bloody good laugh with them, they really are a smashing couple.

On Monday we walked into town and re- aquatinted ourselves with the Dixie Arms where we had lunch and then did a bit of shopping in the local fruit shop and Co-op.

We were up relatively early on Tuesday and went into the marina where we filled up with diesel and bought a couple of bags of coal before setting off again.

Our next stop was Sutton Cheney wharf where we serviced the boat and then carried on to duck bend between Dadlington and Stoke Golding. On arrival, we bumped into yet another of our old friends, Jim Redhead on nb Billie. Jim is an artist who specialises in oil paints and we haven’t seen him since we left in early May so it was good to catch up with him after all of these months.

While I was chewing the fat with Jim, Sue was booking a table at the Dog & Hedgehog at Dadlington. It’s a ten minute walk from the canal to the D&H and as we reached the pub we met our friend Liz who is, or rather was, the postmistress at Stoke Golding. Sadly, the post office was robbed last monday and Liz was assaulted in the process. We were pleased to see that she was none the worse for the ordeal, however she has resigned her post and the P.O. remains closed.

Dinner was excellent as usual and our hosts were as charming as usual, so much so that Sue declared that she would buy lunch the following day. Therefore, on Wednesday, we walked back up the hill and had lunch at the Dog & Hedgehog.

Other than that, we have watched boats struggle in the high winds as well as suffering two boats as they collided with us as they either lost control of their steering or failed to judge the mooring space available.


October 5th 2017

Today is a bit of a special day for us as it marks ten years since we got the keys to our first boat, Phoenix III. It is also five months to the day since I retired on May 5th.

A couple of lazy days were spent at Market Bosworth, we only managed one walk up to town but we did manage to catch up with Chris Hubbard, the manager at Bosworth marina. On Wednesday we decided to move on a bit further, this time getting as far as Shackerstone, where we tied on the deserted visitor moorings.

Shackerstone mooring

Caxton through the trees.

Following the usual pattern, we showered and had lunch before venturing out to the preserved station, home of the Battlefield line heritage railway.

Shackerstone Station

Wednesday’s services carried out by the railcar on the right.

Tea for two.

Memorabilia all around.

Victorian Tearoom

There is a Victorian tea room on the platform so of course we had to pop in and have a cuppa before we returned to the boat and battened down the hatches, ready for the forecast wind and rain to arrive. The rain arrived at around seven o’clock and the wind speed built up steadily after that. By the time we were ready for bed, the noise of the wind blowing through the surrounding trees was terrific, so much so that Sue was unable to get to sleep until after two (I was out like a light within ten minutes though!).

There were more high winds forecast for Thursday but when I went outside just after eight o’clock to check that everything was intact and where it should be, it didn’t seem too bad at all. Just over an hour later, we set off again and made the trip along the last part of the Ashby canal to Snarestone. It was a quiet journey and we met only two boats travelling in the opposite direction along the way. The phantom leaf ball intervened a few times in some of the wooded areas around Gopsall but it didn’t hold us up at all. Snarestone tunnel seems quite tame after Blisworth and Braunston, despite the fact that it has a bend in it and a low roof caused by mining subsidence.

On reaching the end, we again found the visitor moorings deserted so we headed for the service block at the end and did the necessary. By now the wind was really picking up again but for once it was a good thing because after reversing from the services, I brought Caxton to a halt and just let the wind blow the bow into the winding hole. Having let the wind do most of the work, it was simple enough to complete the manoeuvre and tie up at the bridge end of the moorings.

After lunch, Sue walked back to the canal shop and paid for membership of the Ashby Canal Association. We’ll go and inspect the restoration development on Friday when the strong north westerly wind has dropped.

Lazy Saturday

We had a lazy start today, it was raining and the wind was blowing hard so there seemed little point in getting up early. We switched the heating on and drank a couple of cups of coffee before we dragged ourselves out of bed. We showered, pottered about and had lunch before we ventured out and walked to Shackerstone railway station. We had a bit of a wander around and took a few photos before taking tea in the station buffet. The train arrived and after a few more pics we left and walked to the Rising Sun pub where we had a drink and watched the Grand National. As soon as the race was run we returned to Caxton, fired up the engine, untied and made our way back to Market Bosworth marina. It was still quite windy when we drove in and we were unable to reverse on to our berth but after a bit of manoeuvring we got ourselves tied on to the pontoon and settled down for the night.



Off we jolly well go again!

After three days of travelling for work, I was glad when we moved back aboard Caxton yesterday evening. After a decent night’s sleep, something of a rarity for me lately, I got up and went to work in Coventry for the day. Sue visited the barber had a hair appointment in Market Bosworth but was back on board by the time I returned in the afternoon. I had picked up my new car today so we went for a drive around the nearby villages before parking up again at the marina. At 7am there hadn’t been any wind and the water surface had been like a sheet of glass but nine hours later and it was a different scene with the wind whipping across the basin. We untied and made our escape, heading north and almost following the same route as we had just completed by road but at about a tenth of the speed. We turned at Shackerstone and moored opposite the canalside farm. We were soon joined by a pair of swans and were later treated to a beautiful sunset over the village.Inquisitive Swans image

Back to base in relative warmth

We slept in. We had watched a couple of films so it was late when we had gone to bed but nevertheless waking up at nine thirty came as a bit of a surprise to us. We decided to get up and go, so after reviving the fire which was just hanging on to life with a few glowing embers, we got dressed. Rain had been forecast for the afternoon and by the look of the sky, it wasn’t too far away. After the usual preparations we were underway but with one difference which was a bit of an experiment.

Caxton is a semi-trad boat and like many boats of this design has a canvas tonneau cover which protects the back deck. Unlike most others, this cover has a zipped section which rolls up to give some protection to the steerer from the elements. I have never tried steering with the tonneau in place so I decided to give it a go on the short hop back to the marina. The ambient temperature seemed lower than the day before, the wind was colder and there was no sunshine so it was the perfect test. With the rear doors closed and the hole in the cover being only two feet square, I was protected from draughts. The cabin doors were open so there was a gentle warmth emanating from inside the boat which made the trip a relatively pleasant one given the conditions. Sue reported that it was still warm enough inside and since I didn’t freeze, the experiment proved to be a success, Joe and Lesley – thanks to your design skills, we are once more, forever in your debt!

The trip back was quiet, we only passed two boats on the move, a very short narrowboat with an outboard engine and a two man canoe paddled by two bearded guys who looked like a pair of backwoodsmen. There was a fishing competition near Congerstone but there were only half a dozen anglers there, most of whom were surprisingly talkative. There were another couple of fishermen opposite the winding hole to the north of Market Bosworth and when I asked one of them if he had caught anything, he replied, “Not much, only a f*ck*ng cold”.

It was a bit windy as we entered and crossed the marina which is par for the course where there are wide open spaces but as I have mentioned before, Bosworth Marina is so spacious that there is plenty of room to manoeuvre and very quickly we were safely tied to our pontoon. Within ten minutes, the heavens opened – we had just made it in time!

We had some lunch and then did a bit of cleaning and tidying before packing up the few bits and pieces that we had to take with us into the car.

That was it, our boating weekend was over and despite the temperatures that we had endured, it had been a really enjoyable one.

The House of the Rising Sun

It’s been almost two months since Caxton cruised a canal, we have been on board for a weekend or two of course as well as having a weekend in London and ten days in Tenerife. It was Sue’s Mum’s birthday on Friday so we paid her a visit before calling in at Hartshill yard on their open day and then landing up at Bosworth Marina late in the afternoon.

We plonked our stuff on board and lit the fire before making our way up the hill to Market Bosworth where we did a bit of shopping and had a refreshment stop in The Dixie Arms. We returned to the marina and Caxton just after five and then had dinner before flopping in front of the fire, listening to the radio until eventually we both fell gently into the arms of Morpheus.

The fire stayed in and as a result Caxton was still warm when we awoke on Saturday morning so we got up, showered, dressed and prepared for a cruisette.

It was cold but bright and dry as we pulled out of the marina and headed north on the Ashby canal on the mini cruise which would take us to Shackerstone. By the time we reached the village my toes were becoming numb and my fingers weren’t too far behind them but we plodded on past all of the moored boats until we reached the winding hole where we turned around and then found our own mooring spot just in front of the village bridge. Once we had warmed ourselves through, we took a walk up to the pub in the village, The Rising Sun, where we enjoyed a well earned drink and had a laugh with the landlord and some of the locals who were drinking in the bar.

An hour later and we braved the elements, hailstones mainly, returning to the safety and warmth of Caxton’s cabin where we had dinner as we listened to music and then settled in for the evening.

Can life get any better than this? Probably not!

So much to do here

One of the principal reasons for moving to Market Bosworth was that we would have more to do than when we were at Braunston. This weekend kind of confirmed that we had done the right thing. We made our way to Bosworth Marina on Thursday evening as usual and settled in for the evening, the continuing warm weather makes one forget that autumn is upon us but the early sunset is a stark reminder that we are just ten weeks away from the shortest day of the year!
I went to work on Friday and left Sue to her own devices on what turned out to be an absolutely beautiful day. By the time I returned to Caxton, Sue had been up to town and shopped for dinner. The leg of lamb and the fresh veg made for an excellent meal eaten out on the front deck for maybe the last time this year.
It was a bit dull on Saturday morning so after a lazy start we walked up to town and paid a visit to the butcher, the fruit shop, the newsagent and then the bar of the Red Lion for a light refreshment. After we had returned to the boat we decided to drive the short distance to nearby Coalville and have a look around. I’ve never been to the town before and it’s been a few years since Sue has visited but it was a worthwhile trip because there is a good variety of shops there, plenty of parking and, most importantly, a Wetherspoons! After a good wander around, we drove back to the marina and decided to go out for a cruise. It was almost five o’clock when we emerged on to the cut and headed off in a northerthly direction. The sun was bright but was being dragged to the horizon like a giant circular kite being pulled in by a child after a day’s play. The journey was lovely, the sinking sun casting long shadows and picking out the yellow and orange leaves still clinging to the trees, the green leaves trying to convince us that winter is still a long way off. We encountered no boats on the way and were amazed to find the visitor moorings at Shackerstone completely empty. We tied up and then enjoyed the lamb chops that we had bought earlier in the day accompanied by the vegetables from the local fruit and veg shop.
It was misty when we awoke on Sunday morning so we decided to walk to the station at Shackerstone and have a bite to eat. The moorings to the north of the village bridge were almost empty but we noticed that our old friend Jim was tied up there so we resolved to drag him to the pub on our return.
We spent an hour at the station with a light lunch thrown in for good measure but by the time we reached the canal again, Jim had gone.
We returned to Caxton, cast off and headed to the winding hole before starting our return journey. We pretty much had the canal to ourselves again as we made our way back in the direction of Market Bosworth on yet another unseasonably lovely day. We found Jim moored between Congerstone and Market Bosworth, slowed, gave him a bottle of beer and had a chat. Not quite like going to the pub but the next best thing. We’ve made a tentative arrangement to meet in a couple of weeks time but we’ll have to see how that works out. Eventually we reached bridge 42 and pulled on to the water point and filled the water tank before we chugged into the marina and found our berth.
We decided to have another night on board so we walked up the hill to town and had dinner at the Red Lion. It was dark when we made our way homeward down the hill but we were soon in the comfort of the lounge of Caxton where we relaxed and watched some telly in front of the fire which was burning some Irish turf.

Settling in at Market Bosworth

We took the opportunity to visit the top of the Ashby a couple of weeks ago when we made our first trip out of Bosworth marina. Friday saw us easing out on to the cut and making our way to Shackerstone. After mooring near the aqueduct, we took a walk to the village and had a pre-dinner drink in the Rising Sun. We had passed by narrowboats Billie and Mister Pip tied up before the aqueduct so it came as no surprise to find their respective captains, Jim and Phil in the pub. We joined them for half an hour of catching up and talking nonsense before wandering back to Caxton for something to eat.
We got up and ready on yet another warm and sunny Saturday, Jim and Phil passed us as we were untying the ropes, we fell in behind them and headed for Snarestone. It really was a beautiful day for cruising, we took our time and gradually lost sight of the other two boats. Eventually we reached the tunnel and with nothing coming, entered the darkness. Emerging into the light we soon passed Jim who had turned and was now heading back through the tunnel, eager to claim a mooring close to the pub – a man on a mission! Phil was topping “Mister Pip” up with water when we reached the winding hole. We turned and moored up for the day in a beautiful sunny spot. We walked to the end of the navigation to inspect the extension work but some heras fencing protected the site so were unable to see where the canal now ends. We decided to inspect The Globe at Snarestone instead so walked along the towpath to the tunnel and then made our way up to the village. Passing through the village recreation ground, we saw the groundskeeper gassing moles with his car exhaust fumes. Very strange! Needless to say, Jim and Phil were settled in the bar by the time we reached the pub. We passed the time of day with them but went out to the garden soon after, the bar being warm and a bit noisy.
The groundskeeper was behaving more conventionally, cutting the grass as we passed by on our way back to Caxton a while later. Apart from eating our evening meal, we did nothing but laze around for the rest of the day.
Sunday dawned fair again so we had breakfast and then set off on our return journey. Through the tunnel and into the smell of bacon cooking, Jim was sorting his breakfast out too! Leaving Snarestone behind, we plodded back to the marina in the September sunshine. The wind had picked up by the time we reached Market Bosworth but the generous space in the marina meant that we slid on to our berth with ease. We were having such a good time that we decided to stay another night so we started with a walk up to town where we wandered around for a while before strolling back to Caxton in the early evening.
After almost a fortnight, we came back to Caxton on Thursday afternoon with the intention of spending the weekend in the marina. I went to work on Friday while Sue cleaned the inside of Caxton from end to end. After dinner we climbed the hill to town and did some exploring before popping in to the Dixie Arms for a refreshment.
Saturday seemed to be a busy day but in reality we just pottered around. We went for water but had to wait while nb Chardonnay filled their tank first. I waited with Caxton while Sue chatted with the crew, a couple who spend their summers here boating and their winters in New Zealand, very nice. By the time we had sorted ourselves out it was time for lunch, after which we walked into town again. The fabulous weather was still with us which made for a pleasant afternoon meandering around. It’s thirsty work of course so we sat outside the Black Horse with a (rather expensive) drink and watched the world go by for a while. On returning to Caxton, our thoughts had turned to dinner and eventually we decided to try the Italian restaurant at the Dixie Arms, so after a quick phone call our table was booked. It was still warm and sunny at five o’clock when we emerged on to the back deck and chatted to some of our new neighbours. One of them, who introduced himself as Pete Bytheway (strange surname ha ha!), took up our offer of a cold beer and we were soon joined by his wife, Pam who we quickly furnished with a glass of wine. Pete and Pam own nb Seventh Heaven which is about five berths away from ours. We spent the next hour or so, chatting and laughing together in the evening sun. We eventually had to say goodbye because we had our table booked for seven o’clock. It was great to meet Pete and Pam and we look forward to spending more time with them soon.
Our meal was excellent, the atmosphere was relaxed and the service was lovely. We will definitely be returning to that restaurant in future. It was half past nine when we got back on board and not too much later when we turned in for the night- well it had been an extremely busy day after all!
We didn’t get up until nine o’clock but we were soon ready and had breakfast before heading uptown to the monthly farmer’s market. Sue bought a piece of lamb as we wandered around but despite the sunshine and the fact that it was even warmer than the day before, we resisted the charms of the various hostelries that the town offers and skipped cold refreshments, electing instead to take coffee in the courtyard.
We then returned to the marina where we gathered our things and went home, we could have stayed longer but unfortunately there are too many jobs to be done around the house and we have spent so much time away from it this summer that we just have to start tackling them.

Something sad.

When we had our first boat trip to Shackerstone many moons ago we went to have a look around the very pretty little village with its just as pretty church. In the churchyard near the front entrance to the church we spotted a gravestone which filled us both with sadness. The gravestone tells a very sad story of the demise of a boy who was born the same year as me, and his younger sister. When we were moored at Hinckley we travelled up and down The Ashby Canal on a regular basis and we often used to call at Shackerstone and pay our respects to these young children and very often I would pick wild flowers on the way to put on the grave. We took the train to Shackerstone and visited again today and we were both touched by the same sadness.

A tragic tale

A tragic tale

Another weekend on Caxton

The hot summer continues.

We drove to Braunston on yet another sunny Thursday evening with the intention of eating out before boarding Caxton. Both the Admiral Nelson and the Boathouse were packed so we settled for cod and chips from the Braunston Fryer and they were delicious!
After sitting out in the cratch we had a relatively early night as I had to get up at 4.30 on friday to fly to Edinburgh.
I awoke before the alarm went off, showered and got dressed before driving to Rugby where I caught a train to Birmingham Airport. Sue meanwhile was carrying out work on Caxton – well she said she was!

Hard at work!!!

Hard at work!!!

It was almost 6pm when I returned to Caxton where I quickly got changed, had dinner and then went for a walk with Sue up and around the village.

A plaque marks Braunston's canal heritage.

A plaque marks Braunston’s canal heritage.

The bottom lock absolutely full of water.

The bottom lock absolutely full of water.

On our return we invited Mike and Kim, who moor their boat Claire Louise next to us, for a few drinks on the bow deck of Caxton. We had a good old chinwag for a few hours until we parted company around midnight.
Despite the late night, we were up and about reasonably early on Saturday morning. I paid a visit to Midland Chandlers where I bought a new water filler cap which I fitted upon my return.

Nice and shiny!

Nice and shiny!

At midday we walked up to the village where we met Joe and Lesley from nb Yarwood at the Old Plough for lunch. A couple of pints of Doom Bar and a lime and soda for Sue washed down a variety of delicious meals. We chatted for more than a couple of hours in the sunshine before we went our separate ways.
After we had done a bit of shopping, Sue and I returned to Caxton where we sat in the cratch. Sue baked a couple of cakes for our visit to Bosworth marina on Sunday and then we waved goodbye to Mike & Kim as they took nb Claire Louise out of the marina and started their journey towards Oxford.

Mike operating the tiller.

Mike operating the tiller.

Kim operating the bow thruster!

Kim operating the bow thruster!

Our main reason for not taking Caxton out this weekend was we wanted to visit Bosworth marina to view the progress and to meet some of the other boat owners who will be mooring there. It didn’t take us too long to get ready and leave Caxton for a few days. We drove straight to the marina, arriving just after ten o’clock. Helen, the owner of the marina was chatting to a couple of people who were moving from Springwood Haven which lies between Nuneaton and Atherstone on the Coventry canal. We were soon joined by Martin and Caroline from Somerset who are having a new boat built by Bluewater Boatsand will be mooring just two berths away from us. Their build slot is booked and we are hoping to follow the construction of nb Sonia Louise, a semi-trad reverse layout boat of around 65′. Caroline found our blog after first following Joe & Lesley and then Paul & Elaine who were of course our predecessors as custodions of Caxton. We all had a wander around the marina, found our new berths and then made our way to the new facilities building where we bumped into Chris Hubbard who is the marina manager and a friend of ours from Hinckley. The building is impressive and there still seems a lot to do but the plumbing and electrics are all at the first fix stage so their target to finish in September is probably achievable. We expect to move Caxton sometime in late September or Early October and that is also when Martin and Caroline are going to be cruising around the Leicestershire ring with a short diversion along the Ashby to Market Bosworth. We hope to catch up with them, our new neighbours to be, when they visit.
We left the marina and drove to Market Bosworth station which is the midpoint of the Battlefield line preserved railway. This was the weekend of the annual “Rails & Ales” beer festival organised by the local CAMRA group. When we arrived in the old goods shed, we discovered that they had experienced a really busy day on Saturday and had almost run out of both beer and cider! They still had some though and so we had an experimental half pint of beer and a half cider, very nice too. There were a number of old motorcycles on display, mainly BSA and Triumph alongside traction engines, steam rollers and tractors.

How we used to make roads.

How we used to make roads.

Fordson Tractor

Fordson Tractor

Trip in a brakevan anyone?

Trip in a brakevan anyone?

GWR 2-8-0 No. 3803 Click Pic for more info.

GWR 2-8-0 No. 3803
Click Pic for more info.

GWR 2-8-0 No. 3803 at Shackerstone.

GWR 2-8-0 No. 3803 at Shackerstone.

Cab and Tender

Cab and Tender

After we had taken a look around, we wandered over to the other side of the tracks, bought a couple of tickets and waited for the train to arrive. We travelled 1st class to Shenton and then moved to a different coach for the return journey to Shackerstone at the other end of the line. We had a light lunch in the station tearoom at Shackerstone before walking around the village and back to the station to catch the next train back to Market Bosworth.

47 640 "University of Strathclyde

47 640 “University of Strathclyde

We ended our day with an ice cream before driving back home.

Here are a few links.

The Battlefield Line

Hinckley and Bosworth CAMRA

Bosworth Marina

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