Sunday, 16 October 2016


At Lapworth on the GU, we were approximately 14 ½ miles to the end of our trek up the GU Mainline to venture in the spaghetti layout of the Birmingham Canals. The GU Mainline flows on for 3-4 miles to the ‘T’ junction with the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. It is a bit of a pasta dish to digest but apparently Birmingham has more Canals than Venice. Anyway, a bit of pondering over our onward cruise up the GU and comparing it with cruising up the Lapworth Locks on the Stratford-on-Avon Canal to get to Gas Street in Birmingham gave the advantage to the latter canal, fewer Locks and more direct. We need to get to the Netherton Tunnel and beyond to the Staffs & Worcs Canal.
The writing on the train says 'a DB company'
So I’ll stick with the recent past, and the here and now. We moved DB to the mooring at The Navigation Inn in Lapworth and tied up for three nights. I went to London to meet a friend, as you do, who was visiting from ‘downunder’. Wow, it wasn’t even a hard day’s travel by train to Marylebone Station (£5.50p each way from Leamington). It was 1 ½ hrs on the train to London! It took us 14 days on DB to get from Brentford to Leamington Spa!! It made me think about the history of train tracks and canals. I’d be mad not to take the train, so I did, and we met at the small London Train Station for a few hours to walk and chat and have lunch. Our first face to face meeting in 23 years is special and our friendship has not been found in a time warp.
Paddington Basin

The media would like you to believe that London is a hotbed of racism, violence, and ‘EU Remainers’. I saw no signs or felt any hostility. We only walked between Marylebone and Paddington as far as Paddington Basin. I wanted to check out the moorings and there were a few, which is 3, available, 7-day moorings. There was one boat I remembered seeing in Brentford! Anyway, the negative news fed by the newspaper wasn’t in my field of vision. We walked along Edgeware Rd thinking the food smelt good and we checked out the price. The Lebanese cafe we went into had a ‘mezza’ (sharing plate of goodies) for £80! What!!!? I didn’t ask how much a puff on a hookah pipe would be, there were women smoking these outdoors and really I don’t see any appeal. I’m an ex-smoker. I remember seeing the hubbly jubbly pipes in use in Dahab many years ago. The roads were busy with traffic, so many traffic lights, and pedestrians waiting for the ‘Green Man’, I certainly felt that I was in another country. I had to keep asking for directions, it is easy to get disorientated. No-one I asked was unhappy to have been asked but most people were unable to give directions. The population of London is getting close to 9 million people. It’s a huge place and I was a pin prick! The Evening Standard paper and Magazine is a freebie, now, at least it is a crossword for the train and the paper can be used to wrap stuff to take to Spain. Cool to pop in for a visit but I’m thankful to be able to return to my floating home and untie the ropes!

Now I am waiting for the return of my software problem Huawei phone. It is supposed to have been repaired and is being delivered back to Leamington Spa. We want to get moving but realise it is better to wait for the phone before we get into the heart of Birmingham. I want my phone!! It’s mainly for the phone camera; point and shoot are my style.
The Navigator is thinking it's very narrow!

We left The Navigation Pub, the sun was almost shining and Cpt reversed DB back to Kingswood Junction where we could get onto the Stratford-on-Avon Canal and head up the Lapworth Locks. The Locks are easy to operate Narrow Locks and we were given assistance by the C&RT Volunteer. By early afternoon we had moored up leaving 4 Locks and a couple of lift bridges to work before the run into Birmingham.
Peace and quiet near Birmingham. No traffic no trains.

You may notice DB is flying the NZ flag. I think less than a handful of gongoozlers have recognised it is the NZ flag. Most comments are “Australia!”
I say “No, New Zealand.”
I say “You will be!”  

NZ had a referendum in 2015, voter turnout was 67.8%. (In NZ there were 3,158,576 registered voters) 2,135,622 voted in the referendum.
Out of the people who voted 56.6% wanted to retain the current NZ flag (Option B) and 43.2% wanted to change it (to Option A.)

New Zealand retained their flag, now I am destined to repeat “I am Kiwi not Australian”.

NZ flag has 4 RED Stars

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A brief history

This is a blog set up by Chris and Sarah so family and friends can catch up with their travels on the British waterways in the summer of 2011. In 2010, I went to England with the idea of getting a narrow boat built. I had specific requirements so I thought that a new build may be the way to go. I e mailed to numerous boat builders, a great percentage of whom ignored me. The problem of having a family name of Laycock is that hotmail and a few others think that I am a porn star. At an early age you learn not to put C Laycock on your school books. But I guess that my nephew Paul did worse. Anyway I spent a very pleasant few weeks driving around the beautiful English countryside visiting boatyards, marinas, boat builders and just a few pubs. I had narrowed it down to two builders and in the last week I was in Devizes Wiltshire when I came across "Avalon Mist" 54 feet of throbbing neglected narrow boat. The past owner had lost interest, hadn’t maintained her and to add insult to injury had been made redundant. After a very short negotiation I was able to buy her for a pretty fair price. On the day the sale took place I had to beg her to take her trainers and a few rather suspect items of clothing, in other words she left everything. Lock stock and barrel.

Soon after the purchase I flew to California to meet Sarah and have a short holiday. Once back in NZ I started to try and organize works. The first thing that I learnt was that the marina does not allow any contractor on site, only their chosen ones, the excuse given is a concern about insurance, the suspicion is, graft, pay back, baksheesh, call it what you like. It is possible to take the boat off the marina to have the work done, but not really practical.

The first job to be tackled was to “winterize” the boat, i.e. drain off all the water, check the anti freeze in the engine and central heating and fit an automatic bilge pump.

No real problem there except communication, the mechanic just didn’t answer e mails. Difficult to do business like that.

The nice marina lady had a quiet word with him, and things did improve, thanks Debs you have been a star through out . He later confided in me the reason for this was that he was dyslexic, apparently a malady [he] claims affects a lot of mechanics.[It turns out that he is a great mechanic and a nice guy to boot].

That goes pretty high on my list of lame excuses, the top one being a really nice Irish guy Pat, who I had employed as a carpenter years ago when I lived in London. He was always a bit late for work, when I finally collared him about it; he said he could never decide what to wear to work.

Nice one Pat.

I digress, the boat was winterized, which was just as well as it was a cold one and the whole marina froze over.

Next job was to have her taken out of the water, have the hull stripped back to bare metal and have a bit of over plating done. There were a couple of areas where there was pitting, and I though if she’s out of the water, may as well do the job right, so a small amount of over plating and then the hull was blacked, and the engine bay partially de-rusted and then back in the water.

Seems like a good job was done, I had the marine surveyor who had done the original survey, check out all the major works and give me written reports and photos, so all good except once again communications.

I then came across a great guy, the partner of the woman who runs the marina and a carpenter/narrow boat fitter outer .He replaced the stern deck and did a great job, also did a great job on de-greasing, de-rusting and painting the engine compartment. A job I should have done myself, but I just didn’t fancy it, not only that be was great with communications and chasing other people up

So that takes us up to present.

There needs to be a bit of electrical work, not much. The outside is badly in need of paint, Sarah and I can do that and a bit of a tidy up inside, and then she will be a really nice boat.