The Rickmansworth Canal Festival

Bunting on Narrowboats

As our narrowboat is in the yard having major engine work carried out on her 1956 Lister SR3 we were at a bit of a loose weekend so we decided to jump in the car and head off to the Canal Festival at Rickmansworth. I did not really know what to expect from this one as a few we have been to have been little more than car boot sales with a few boats moored up for good measure. This one was different, very different.

When we arrived in Rickmansworth it absolutely poured down with rain – not a great start but as we were directed into a field to park the car the sun broke through. After a little bit of puddle dodging along the walk to the festival we were pleasantly surprised as this one looked epic. The deal was that you paid £3 for car parking and then a ‘voluntary’ £2 donation so it cost us as a couple £8 (we gave a fiver) which was well worth it as this festival really was quite a big one.

Music Tent

There was the odd bric-a-brac (car boot) stall but there was also a plethora of arts and crafts stalls, canal related stalls and lots of weird and wonderful food on offer. Of course there was also the obligatory beer tent offering a wide variety of ales and a main stage if live music is you thing.  We love food and beer (what boater doesn’t?) so we indulged in some Thai food and washed down with some Timothy Taylors.

Beer Tent

The one slight criticism, and it is only slight was that we had no idea where the actual canal was as from the direction we came in there was nothing telling us where to go after we had visited all the stalls which were situated away from the canal. Google maps to the rescue. Of course the main attraction for us was the boats and once we had found our way onto the tow path we were in our element. It was a great turnout of working and private boats and we were kept entertained by the working boat ‘tug-of-war’ competition although I am not sure I would like to put my engine through that!

Narrowboats

Apart from the odd heavy downpour we really enjoyed this Canal Festival and it’s definitely one we will be watching out for next year, perhaps we will even potter down the Grand Union Canal aboard Hannah the Narrowboat!

 

 

A walk along the towpath around Gayton

Sunset at Gayton

We are so lucky to have such an amazing back garden, yes that is how we see this beautiful part of the Grand Union Canal around Gayton in Northamptonshire.

Although the day started off quite misty we watched it lift from the warmth of Hannah the Narrowboat before deciding to get out there and enjoy the countryside on our doorstep. This video gives a good idea of what life is like when you abandon the confines of a brick box and get out there and enjoy life. The music in the background is by yours truly, a bit of a rest bite from the usual pop rock I write with Sanity Bypass!! Hope you feel completely relaxed after watching.

A Winters Walk around Stoke Bruerne

Stoke Bruene in Northamptonshire

We awoke up to a lovely warm and cosy boat this morning whilst outside the marina and canal was frozen over. We decided there would be no going out ice breaking on the canal so instead took the short drive down to Stoke Bruerne to blow off the cobwebs from our chinese and pink wine night the evening before!

Stoke Bruerne is a lovely place whatever time of the year it is and there is always a bit of a buzz about the place with people meandering around out for a walk or just to take in the idyllic sight of working boats and private narrowboats alike. We decided we would take a walk up the ‘Woodland Walk’ which takes you up and over the Blisworth Tunnel.

Above Blisworth Tunnel

Once we decided that we had burnt off enough calories it was time to go and put them back on again at Tea Junction, a narrowboat run by Tracy and Ray. If you get the chance then pay them a visit, they often post up on Facebook where they are going to be and they make a great selection of really naughty but nice cakes! After a bit of a chat we said our goodbyes and headed off up the towpath to the car and then back to Hannah the Narrowboat at Gayton Marina. Going to be freezing again overnight but we will be warm as toast again! We may have to pop to the Royal Oak in Blisworth for a pint of Timothy Taylors first though!

Tea Junction

Rewind – Back to Base

Heading back to base

Unfortunately we decided that we should head back to our home mooring as the temperatures were forecast to plummet for the next few days meaning a high probability of the canal freezing over again and the good lady of the boat has to go and cut some hair on Friday! We have had a lovely time with Martin and Sarah from Narrowboat Pride of Nuffield who are heading off to to the Llangollen Canal but on the bright side we had a lovely little cruise back to the marina at Gayton.

Once back in our berth we did not want to just sit on the boat so decided to drive to Sixfields in Northampton to have a walk along the upper Northampton Arm of the GU and River Nene at Upton Park, walking off tonights rum!

Rewind – New Years Eve

Cosy Boat New Years Eve

Well here we are, the very last day of 2016 looking forward to another wonderful year in 2017 messing around on our narrowboat! As the ice had finally melted we thought it a good idea to have a little potter along the Grand Union Canal up to Heyford Fields to turn around, a round trip of about 2hrs. We wanted to end up back with our friends on narrowboat ‘Pride of Nuffield’ moored stern to stern to make the food and drink transfers easier for tonights festivities. Although it was a bit chilly it was a nice little cruise and no matter how many times we chug along this stretch there is always something new to see on the cut.

After our turn at Heyford Fields I needed to pop inside for a wee and to stoke the fire so the good lady took over the controls. When I returned around five minutes later I was greeted by excess exhaust smoke and a lack of power! I was in a quandary here as I did not really want to pull over just in case we could not get her started again so elected to plod along at tick-over all the way back. In fairness the smoke did subside but the power was lacking, I feared the worst and that our slightly sticky valve had stuck once and for all, or on the brighter side it did pass through my mind that it could be the exhaust manifold. We managed to get back to our mooring spot easily enough and Martin from Pride of Nuffield shouted over to us that we should check the weed hatch. Once we were tied up I put her into neutral and gave her some revs and she seemed absolutely fine with no load on so Martin could well be right. He is such a nice chap he was down our weed hatch like a Jack Russell down a rabbit hole and we did indeed have rags around the prop although it would seem not enough to have had the effect it had. Perhaps when we stopped some fell of naturally as when I put her back in gear under load she seemed fine! Let’s hope that is the end of that little drama!

After a little siesta in preparation for this evenings shenanigans the good lady started cooking the food and by 7.30pm we were aboard Pride of Nuffield enjoying a few drinks, laughs and too much food! As the clock struck midnight we toasted the new year in with some Babycham (a bizarre tradition now between us and Pride of Nuffield!) and were treated to some fireworks coming from Gayton Village.

Have a happy, peaceful and enjoyable 2017 everyone!

Rewind – Misty Waters

Mist on the Canal

After a rather enjoyable evening aboard our friends boat ‘Pride of Nuffield’ last night we awoke this morning to a frozen canal and an eerie mist. After a bit of breakfast and a cup of tea we headed out for a walk to blow the cobwebs away after perhaps one or two too many rums last night! I love days like this on the cut, misty outside but warm and snug aboard Hannah the Narrowboat. People think we are all mad spending winter aboard our boat but just look at what we get to see, better than siting in front of the telly watching yet another festive repeat or some reality TV nonsense! The brick box dwellers are the mad ones!

Rewind – Ice Breakers in The Grand Union Canal

Ice in the marina

We were pretty determined to spend New Years Eve out on the canal rather than in our marina berth as our friends aboard narrowboat ‘Pride of Nuffield’ had come down this way for the Christmas period. Temperatures overnight had plummeted and the canal was frozen and worse still was that the marina itself had also frozen too and it seemed a lot thicker than the canal was. By lunchtime it was not looking any better so we made the call to give it a go and tentatively nudge forward out of our berth to see just how bad it was. Once I had started going forward I thought ‘I’m not stopping now, lets just go for it!’. Turning was the hardest part but with a bit of forward and backing we broke enough ice to get out and onto the mainline canal.
We only traveled around 30 or so minutes north from Gayton towards Bugbrooke but we had already talked about a spot that would be good which gives plenty of sunshine for our solar panels (if it’s actually sunny), a TV signal and internet – what more do we need apart from beer and wine, and yes we have plenty of that on-board too!

Rewind – The Grand Adventure 2016

Sunny Evening on the Canal

An entertaining and often funny look at our journey chugging along the Grand Union Canal aboard Hannah the Narrowboat with our friends Martin and Sarah aboard their own boat Pride of Nuffield. We travelled from Gayton Marina in Northamptonshire through the Blisworth Tunnel, which is one of the longest in the UK and through Stock Bruerne, Cosgrove, Milton Keynes and on to Leighton Buzzard before turning around and heading back to Gayton Marina. We really do take life slowly on our canal journeys preferring to stop at any spot we feel like rather than pile in the miles! You could probably do this journey in under a week if you wanted but that’s not the way we do things. This light hearted film takes a look at where we went and what we got up to, including a spot of Pokémon hunting!

Apologies for ‘Lee, what ya doing’ – holiday joke!

Rewind – A Jaunt Along the GU

Although this is a brand new blog started 16th January 2017 I thought to get things starting I would post some of the videos from ealier. We won’t go all the way back but this video seems to be pretty popular on YouTube. Pretty much all the music featured in our videos were written by yours truly – I hope you enjoy this one.