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Building the Butty

We are always looking at old boats out in the cut and often thought about having a Butty to sell my painted bits and bobs and Richard's ropework, but never found one at the right price. So why not build one!

"Richard can do it" I told him, so we brought the 'Ugly Butty' as he called it from Lichfield.
This was a new ball game and the first set of locks on the way back was Fradley Junction, on a Saturday morning 'o joy'!  Onlookers thought we'd negotiated locks before, no, first lock and no incidents!
Back to Chapel Hill near Boston and lift out with a crane and then the fun begins. Our friend Andy gave Richard a ton of help to get started.
Richard hired a big welder and ordered lots of steel and set to work. 
No fancy plasma cutters, jigs, years of boat building or fancy design, just a big welder and an angle grinder! Richard was not that happy with his welding as he says he's not a welder but a grease monkey, but it started to take shape. It was beginning to look like proper butty.  He constructed a stern with cabin above complete with rudder.  Not a bad job!

2011 Things can only get better

The end of 2010 saw us with a mooring at Chapel Hill, Lincolnshire.  It was not what we wanted, but it was very quiet and gave us time to regroup and get our thoughts back together as well as catch up with friends and family locally.
The River Slea at Chapel Hill is a lovely little river, which would have carried goods from Sleaford to the Witham and off into the big wide world.  Grain was it's  main cargo, but latter Beet, for the sugar factory at Bardney and then sadly, like most of the waterways, in fell in to disrepair.

There was a big problem with weed later in the year and where it is shallow in places. when you need 3 foot to move, can cause problems.We decided to stay for a year as Martin had mest up a bit at uni and was going to have to sit another year. This was not in the big budget and so we both needed to go back to work.(kids don't you love'um).

May Bank Holiday
Every May Day, the village of South Kyme has a village fete and boat gathering.  This has gone from strength to strength and 2011 was no exception. The weather was kind and was on during the Royal wedding and the whole place came alive. The villagers really make everyone feel welcome with offers of water and even electric.

More boats this year and the field that the fete was on was really well supported.

2010 Thames ,Reading to Brentford

May 2010 saw us going from Reading down the Thames to Brentford.  We only got a two day past for the Thames and I wish we had got longer, but Richard's brother had just been diagnosed with cancer, so it was going to be a mad dash for Leicester where he lived.
The rest of the journey was a bit of a blur.  We stayed a lots of places on the Grand Union, hired cars along the way, in order to visit Stewart.
Stewart died six weeks later.  We headed for Lincolnshire to be near Richard's parents.

March - May 2010 The Kennet and Avon Canal

The K and A was the route, so off we went towards Bristol. The plan being to see Martin our oldest who is at university there. The closer to Bristol you get, the more boats there are.
Miles off them!
There were loads more photos, but I lost  the camera in a lock! Luckily Richard had downloaded some to the laptop. Dundas Aquaduct near Bath - a marvel of engineering and a lovely place to stay.
There are two ways back from Bristol out to the River Seven or turn around and go back the way we came. So, to me, there was only way.back, the way we came! So we retraced our journey back to Reading.

Well 2010 was.......

Well it was.....It was one of those years - we had left Kings Marina at Newark at the end of March heading for the Kennet and Avon via the Oxford Canal and The Thames.  Richard had been working for British Sugar all winter and was getting tiller happy desperate to get the boat out and about.  The plan was to go along the Kennet and Avon Canal, so went down to Oxford.  This is a beautiful canal with heavy lift bridges and cummulating in our mooring in Oxford itself for a while. Due to high river levels on The Thames from Lechlade we had to sit and wait for the rain to stop and the levels to drop, which took all week.
Then down the Thames to Reading.

For the eagle eyed out there, this is going downstream, but there's a story behind that which we'll get to later.
When we turned off the Thames up the Kennet, it was still in flood and did we let the poor old Lister have it!  In the middle of Reading the river runs through the shopping centre where there is a traffic light system to control the passage of boats, as those coming downstream tend to be pushed along swiftly.We didn't see the switch for the traffic light, until we were level with them, so me on the tiller and Richard 'ballet dancing' on the gunwhale, we hovered at the side and pressed the button.  It was a good job we did as a narrowboat came broad side under the bridge from around the bend!  Missed us by about 2 feet!

The K and A is a lovely canal , the east side is not so busy and is showing signs of lack of use and maintenance.  I tended to be on the tiller as I found the locks too much like hard work!  We did do lots of cycling though in case it sounds like I was being a diva!