Monday, 28 November 2011

Jurassic Journey

On Wednesday last week (Oscar’s Birthday) we went to Devon for a few days to catch up with old friends and to get James some much needed dental work as he’s spent all summer on the boat with a very large filling missing from a front tooth!  


This was the sunset on Budleigh Salterton beach on Wednesday evening.


Thursday morning we took Oscar for a very familiar walk back on the beach at Budleigh as this was our previous home town.  Otter Head is in the background where the River Otter meets the sea and behind it stretches the beautifully picturesque Otter Valley.


Another beach walk for the old boy – this time on the sandy Exmouth beach which makes a change from the Budleigh pebbles.


Doug and Oscar on the sea front at Exmouth.


A windy Friday morning and another early walk back at Budleigh Salterton.


We managed to get Oscar to walk down towards Otter Head.  The red sandstone cliffs here are the westernmost part of the Jurassic Coastline which is a world heritage site.  The cliffs and the famous coloured pebbles are 280 million years old at this point.

On Saturday, with friends Ian and Yvonne, we took a trip towards Honiton and then on to Beer.      


Enjoying a drink in a nice little wine bar in Honiton before visiting the Saturday market.


The High Street in Beer looking towards the sea.


The beach at Beer looking west – more Jurassic coastline.

After the enjoyment of four days of seeing old friends on Sunday we headed back along this wonderful coast towards home.  Taking the “back road” from Budleigh Salterton to Sidmouth this is the first view to be had of Sidmouth…….. 


….. more Jurassic Coast! – this bit is only 240 million years old.

Further along we had another break and stopped at delightful Lyme Regis for an hour or so.  Leaving (worn out) Oscar in the car we took a stroll to The Cob – where many years ago they filmed part of the French Lieutenants Woman.


We were very lucky to have had glorious weather for the whole trip – can’t really believe it’s the end of November!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Our dear old friend Oscar has, amazingly, reached his 14th Birthday today! 


We thought we ought to mark this birthday with a special card – trying to get him to hold it long enough to take a photo without chopping Doug’s head off was too much!


He’s always opened his own presents!


Last Christmas he did not want open his presents so there must have been some improvement since then.  He went to the “Doggy Doctors” yesterday for a quick check up and more of what keeps him going.  We left with the same advice as before – just keep on enjoying him - he’s coping very well at the moment.

Monday, 21 November 2011

An Astronomical Adventure!

Today was a truly momentous day!  We were invited to Sir Patrick Moore’s house to meet the great man and join him for coffee and cakes.  This was organised for last week, through a mutual friend who Doug plays cards with, but due to filming schedules it couldn’t happen until today.  Sir Patrick has lived in Selsey for half a century and for a long time now The Sky at Night programme has been recorded in his study and from the observatories in his garden.


We joined him in his study for a chat and a coffee and he answered a number of  James’ questions on astronomy and discussed the remarkable achievements of the Mars Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) and Voyagers 1and 2;  Voyager 1 is now 11 billion miles from earth after being launched 34 years’ ago.  It is still sending back information and is about to leave the solar system and travel into interstellar space.  We also chatted to him about our narrow boat and canal adventures and he said that it was one thing he would like to have done himself but didn’t have the ‘chance’.

He is a really lovely man and, although very advanced in years now, he still has an incredibly active mind. One of the great scientific “movers and shakers” of our age he’s like the Voyager spacecraft – well past his design life but still going strong!

Friend and fellow astrologer John Fletcher of the Mount Tuffley Observatory in Gloucester, who was also visiting him today, kindly took us to see Sir Patrick’s famous 15 inch telescope in one of the observatories in his garden.


We went back to the house for a further chat before leaving this very busy man to get on with his schedule.  We had a fantastic experience today and he has very kindly invited us to go back.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Shore Leave

It’s been three days since we last blogged and we’ve been settling into life on dry land.  While catching up with other blog sites we’ve recently read similar articles from Jo and Keith on nb ‘Hadar’ and Maffi on nb ‘Milli M’ about picking up the litter around your mooring position at the end of the day.  We think it’s a great idea and will take up the challenge as soon as we’re back on board ‘Chance’.  It rather ties in with a similar activity here in Selsey as James joins the regular beach clean up team when he can – so it shouldn’t come as too hard a task on the towpath! 


Oscar and Doug earlier in the week walking on Selsey Bill when the weather wasn’t all that great.  The attractive building in the background is the Bill House with it’s own lookout tower.


Walking round from the Bill, and on our way back home, we came across this view looking east along the beach (where we litter pick) – couldn’t see much past the lifeboat station!

On Tuesdays we usually take Oscar for his swimming therapy session in a purpose built “doggie pool” which is only a couple of miles outside our village……


…’s generally a matter of luck these days if he finds his toy as his eyesight is so poor.  But he seems to enjoy himself!


Swimming over, and after a warm shampoo and shower, here he is in his dressing gown with his friend and swimming partner ‘Skye’.

Yesterday and today have both been lovely sunny days……..


…. today we got this view from Selsey Bill with the Isle of Wight in the distance (it looks closer in real life!).  From here we can see cargo ships and cruise liners going in and out of Southampton Docks.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

First Weekend at Home

The weather has been so warm and sunny this weekend (not unusual in this part of the world) it’s weird to think it’s November.  So we ‘ve taken the ‘chance’ to get Oscar out and about and give him some different walks to his normal beach outings.

Yesterday (Saturday) we took the car all of 2 miles to the lovely Pagham Harbour nature reserve.  Fortuitously the tide was in which makes it prettier to look at as there’s less mud!


A view across Pagham Harbour with the Village of Pagham to the left in the distance and the sea (The English Channel) out to the right.

Today we took the car in the other direction for about 20 minutes to arrive at Bosham (pronounced Bozam).  This is one of the prettiest villages on the waterfront around here and is situated within the huge expanse of Chichester Harbour.  Bosham is well known for its road and car park being flooded twice a day when the tide comes in.  Visitors are well advised not to forget they have parked their car at the waterfront!  It’s a local sport to watch and wait to see whether all the cars are retrieved in time – quite often the rewards are worth the wait!


Bosham waterfront where the swans swim freely in the road.


Doug and Oscar in the “High Street” which is very narrow and lined with old cottages and houses.  The doors in some of the buildings in Bosham are made to withstand high tides and storm surges and, as in this photo, don’t reach the ground!


Bosham is the oldest site of Christianity in Sussex with parts of the church dating back to Saxon times – in fact most of the tower is Saxon.  The Bayeux Tapestry shows Bosham Church with King Harold entering it. 


Bosham is also a popular place for dingy sailing and racing.

We completed a walk around the village (at Oscar speed) – well the bit that wasn’t under water,  and finally ended up at the pub.  The Anchor Bleu is a great old pub which is good for beer and food and there is a small terrace overlooking the water (which is good for relaxing with a beer and taking part in the local sport!)


The Anchor Bleu with the sea against its walls and half way up the road.

Bosham is a very busy place in the summer months – especially the pub – but at this time of year, with the weather as glorious as it has been today, it’s a lovely place to visit.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Back Home

Yesterday (Thurs) we got up quite early to complete the winterising jobs on ‘Chance’ and to pack the surprisingly large amount of “stuff” into the car.  We got going at about 12;30, had a pleasant journey home in good sunny weather to arrive at 3;30 in plenty of time to unpack!

Before it got too dark we gave Oscar his customary evening walk along the sea front.IMG_3635

He’s getting very old now and his walks are getting shorter but he very much enjoys getting out all the same.


A few yards further on!!


We are about 100 yards from the sea wall and, after a short walk from the house, we get this view of the lifeboat station.  This was a great view for us as the moon had risen early on this occasion but, as is so often the case when you want to capture something great – the camera doesn’t always perform.  It’s just visible above the walkway to the station, half way along – oh well.

Being at home for a while now gives us a ‘chance’ to look back on the last six months.  Since we took ownership of ‘Chance’ back in  May this year we seem to have experienced so much and met up with so many people.  Friends and family have travelled to be with us, friends from our previous voyages on our last boat ‘Spirit’ have met up with us on their boats and we’ve met and made new friends this time around.  We’ve also been very pleased to have had contact with so many of our blog followers and amazed that so many of you read our progress.  One follower enjoys it more than her daily newspaper – so kind!

We have been delighted with ‘Chance’ – the build quality, the layout, the finish and the way it performs -  MGM have done a great job for us!

A couple of statistics for those who are interested – since leaving our builders, MGM, we’ve  completed just over 900 miles and passed through 460 locks.  It’s amazing how far you can travel at 4 mph (or less).  Much of the system travelled this time, we’ve passed over on our last boat but next year we hope to experience the waterways on the east side of the country and to do the trans-Pennine routes which will be new to us.

Here are a few of the highlights of the past year:


It seems a long time since this moment.


After a great six month’s build with MGM here we are on our maiden voyage.

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A very busy weekend at the Crick Boat Show during the late May bank holiday.  We were all so delighted to be voted Runner Up!


Sky high on the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal, North Wales.

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Loaded onto the Anderton Boat Lift (the Cathedral of the Canals)for the 80 foot drop to the River Weaver below.


We spent quite a while moored in Castlefield Basin, Manchester enjoying the sights and sounds of this terrific city.

‘Chance’ has taken us into the heart of the cities, towns, villages and countryside of England.   Every day has been a different day and occasionally we would wake up and have to think a while as to where we had moored up the night before! 

The next few months will be a change and a ‘chance’ for us to catch up with dry land things but we will continue the blog through the winter, looking forward to more adventures next year on the canals and rivers of England.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

End of the season!

Yesterday we pulled pins and left our mooring on a misty overcast morning on the Oxford Canal and soon met Jo and Keith on nb ‘Hadar’ coming the other way -  a quick and pleasant exchange and off we all went, maybe next time we can meet up for longer.
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Jo and Keith on nb Hadar disappearing into the mist.
With only an hour and half cruising we were soon at Brinklow.   The colours of the oak trees as we approached the marina are lovely.
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Passing a family of swans with the young ones now well on the way to getting their adult plumage. 
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We then made the right turn under the lovely original bridge into Brinklow marina.
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We entered a very misty marina where ‘Chance’ will be safely moored for the next four months.  We will spend the next couple of days sorting out a few jobs then we will return to our home on the south coast for the winter.
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We pumped out the black water tank and then settled onto our mooring pontoon – luckily there was no wind so we got in between our neighbouring boats without incident.   In the afternoon we were joined by the crews of Nb ‘Toulouse’ (Janet and Gerald) and nb ‘Triskaideka’ (Ali and John) on board ‘Chance’ for coffee and home made cake.  By 7pm we all decided to head into Rugby and have a meal at Titash - an excellent Indian restaurant which we can highly recommend and a very good evening was had by all.  We finally got back to ‘Chance’ at 10.30pm after a great final evening to this year’s cruising.
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James, Doug, Ali, Gerald, Janet and John having just wined and dined.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Brinklow Bound

Saturday night as we were promised, we had a lovely firework display, free of charge, courtesy of The Globe at Snareston.


Due to camera limitations the only half decent photo we could get of the firework display.

Sunday morning dawned bright and with one of those wonderful misty canal mornings and heralding a fantastic sunny day ahead.


The view from ‘Chance’ on Sunday morning with bridge 61 (the last bridge on the canal) ahead of us.


A wonderful autumn sight in the grass around the basin.


A view of the basin and winding hole at the end of the canal.  Beyond the little white foot bridge is another 9 miles of canal, under restoration at present (albeit very slowly!), ending at Moira.


On the way back on Sunday and our first treat – the Snarestone Tunnel – only 250 yards long but nonetheless exciting as always.

Our next treat on our journey back was Shackerstone and ……..


….. the wonderful Victorian station which forms the headquarters of the Battlefield Line.  We moored up and took Oscar for the 1/2mile walk up to the station where we had a coffee in the equally well presented tea rooms.


The tea rooms were quite busy but everyone scattered when I got the camera out.  However, they were very pleased to know they would get some free advertising on our blog site!  The station is well worth a visit even if you don’t go on the train ride.


Back on the “road” again and our next treat was to see working narrow boat ‘Gosty Hill’.  It’s great to see a coal boat trading on this canal as it was originally built to transport the good quality coal from the pits in the area – Moira coal was highly sort after on the London market.  Although we knew ‘Gosty’ was somewhere in the area we were fairly desperate for coal last week and bought it elsewhere. Pity.

Today was very different, weather-wise, to yesterday – very dank and gloomy and quite cold at the tiller. It doesn’t bode too well for the rest of the week so we’ve  decided to press on today and get back to Brinklow marina a day early.


Not many photos today due to the weather but James decided to take this one of these very old hawthorns and also the smoke coming out of the chimney – little things please little minds!


Deciding to push on and get off the Ashby Canal we came to bridge 1 (the first bridge on the canal) and, shrouded in the mist ahead, the junction with the Coventry Canal.

Tonight we moored at, what is fast becoming, one of our regular moorings just after bridge 19 above the aqueduct.  We’re on our own with just the trains again.

Tomorrow we’re due to arrive at Brinklow Marina mid morning and will spend a few days winterising ‘Chance’ before we go home for a while.  We still hope to use ‘Chance’ in the winter, if the weather allows us, and we shall still continue to blog whatever we’re doing.

As another lovely treat we are meeting up with John and Ali from nb Triskaideka for a farewell meal tomorrow night as they’ve also just winterised their boat nearby.