Cruising Notes

We have had Deborah aboard the boat for the last few weeks. She has a real camera and is a far better photographer than I so I have handed over “cruising notes” this month to her.


To which I have to say that this has been a wonderful few weeks visiting on the boat. As a boaters daughter, not a boater myself, I still find myself amazed at some of the things Mum and Dad take for granted, or have seen a lot of. In the spirit of that and All Hallows' eve coming up, I thought I'd share some of the recent wacky and wonderful sights spotted (and duly photographed). Enjoy!

My trip started in Canada, so my photo's will start there. Mainly because this one amuses me a lot. Its called the Happy Face Barn and it was en route to the airport.

But more on boating now....

First of all an interesting mural we came across while cruising...

followed by a nice little wind generator seen in Milton Keynes, that took my interest as it looked more like a work of art than a functional device. Who says form and function are mutually exclusive?

And then of course there is cruising. We were doing some locks around Milton Keynes, when we ended up doing one with another boat, which seems to be a tight fit to me but boaters seem to be quite happy with it.

If you look very carefully you can see dad at the back of the Beech Nuts. Mum and I were working the locks but I got distracted by these little fella's.

The beam by the way? Is part of the lock I should have been moving instead of taking photo's of, but it was lovely to see them growing there.

And while you're doing locks you do have a little time to perch and sit and look out over the world, which is lovely. See if you can spot mum and me doing our gargoyle impressions here! (incidentally – pushing those beams back does wonders for the leg muscles!)

Similarly, I got distracted by this bridge.

as I rather liked the stonework on it and its general shape. Of course, visibility on that one is pretty good. I did some steering but here's one dad wouldn't let me take on as it was a bit of a blind one.

Which gives you a real big amount of warning if a boat is coming the other way, doesn't it?

Having said that, the canals are full of beautiful and interesting sights too. And boaters are an eclectic bunch with their tastes.

Why, in the last few weeks I've seen herons,


designed to load boats into the water and lift them out (What? You expected the birds?),

wind generators on boats,

wood for generating heat on boats (Dad did most of the cutting, Mum and me most of the stacking. I am and have always been, a clutz)

you spy the one lone bag of coal on the top there? There are more now.

(of course, as a side we did do locks that day and chop wood. As the saying goes...before enlightenment, chop wood and haul water. After enlightenment chop wood and haul water...Does this mean we're enlightened?)

We have also seen at least one spectacular ending to solar power generating on boats (I know you've seen photo's of the solar panels so I thought I'd show you the other side of the equation).

Of course all the solar cells in the world don't do much if you do as the parents did, and take me through the Blisworth tunnel. Supposedly the 14th longest in the world, and the 9th longest boating one...its just over 3000 yards long, and a great place for interesting pictures! Look at some of these mineral deposits on the walls!

The ventilation is scant and reminds me of the mouth of Scarlac from the Star Wars movies

Not that you need a lot of ventilation in a tunnel like that mind you but it does get a bit tight when a boat squeezes past. This is not a trip I'd recommend for anyone with claustrophobia, although it was pretty amazing and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. That said it was a bit chilly so I was quite happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

That's not to say there weren't some other stunning sights around, ones I could write about until the cows come home.....

But the canals are really very plentiful, as lots of people throw their apple cores away, resulting in new crops years later...We've seen rosehips, apples, sloe's and haws!

Making for a lovely colourful tapestry. Having said that, I find something appealing about simply watching water too. We came past an overflow and I got a lucky shot of it.

Of course, on the canals you end up dealing with a lot of waterfowl too.

And some people grow rather fond of their waterfowl, as evidenced by this 'elderly ducks crossing' sign we spotted....

Although I did simply get lucky getting a picture of this pigeon.

But swans are perennial as well. We actually ended up with two tapping on the boat looking for dinner at one point (a sound that quite puzzled me as mum and dad didn't seem to be alarmed by this knocking on the boat at all.....). I got a picture of them trying it on someone else though. With a nice local castle or tower or something in the background.

But, like every population, even the waterbirds have their immigrants...although I've seen a lot more Canada Geese in the UK than I have in Canada!

Enough about the fowl though, there are more interesting sights! After all, boaters being a frugal and creative lot, they let nothing they come across go to waste. After all, if you're missing the hat for a chimney? They have a solution!

Boots worn out and have holes? They too can be reused. Never let it be said boaters aren't eco concious and green....

We have been coming across some great big piles though, obviously stacked up for bonfire night (5th of November for the non-British, the night the Brits celebrate – with fireworks and bonfires – the one man who went into the Houses of Parliament with honest intent. Of course that intent was to blow it up and that probably made Guy Fawkes a terrorist in those days, but that is a different matter. He got caught, and supposedly that is the reason for a yearly shindig. Imagine if we could have a party for every terrorist caught!). Here is one such pile, spied in someone's garden.

Imagine the size of the marshmallows you could toast on that!

This poor boat however was either the early victim of Guy Fawkes, victim of the cherubs who sometimes haunt the waterways doing damage, or met with an untimely accident.

Although sometimes the owners are as much to blame. This poor ship has rotting wood, damage around the waterline and we spotted holes large enough to put fingers through. (forget the Dutch and fingers in dykes, the owner of this one needed to put a finger or two in his hull!)

Although conversely, some owners are very very militant about protecting their property as that on top looks very much like a mock-gun turret.(I certainly hope its not a real gun turret although on the canals, it wouldn't totally surprise me......)

Having said that, being on the canals has been a lovely holiday. I've had a little exercise, a lot of good food, plenty to see, some steering time and most importantly, time to ponder the age old question....

Why did the moorhen cross the road?

Answers on a postcard please.


Very reluctant to rejoin the non-wobbly world.