Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Bank Holiday Monday

Mrs EB and I went to TRB after Sunday Evenings service, we had a nice evening of just relaxing. Monday morning we had a nice planned trip, Cathy, Gaye, Andy and Zach arrived and off we set.

Mrs EB and I planned a short day trip heading north to Sandon Lock it's about a 3 hour trip with 3 locks and some beautiful countryside.

Entering Sandon Lock
Andy trying to do the splits via a Lock wall and The Robber Button

The Day Crew minus the Galley Slave

The trip had a short break at Weston where Andy and I went for a swifty at the Woolpack (Mmmm sweet sweet beer). Then Mrs EB had the brightest idea ever, she decided to light the disposable BBQ in the galley, this was quickly put on the roof of the boat, and even quicker some logs were put under it until I could find a mooring!!!! To make it worse, Mrs EB left the cardboard wrapper on. (a quite scary few minutes)

I have to say we had an amazing day and Mrs EB cooked us a wonderful lunch and of course we had a small glass of wine or a little bottle of beer

This was a fantastic day out with some great friends.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

a little update

A little update:-

Sorry I haven't blogged, there is no excuse really.

So after our little week trip up the Caldon, we returned home for a few days then we did an overnight trip up to Handsacher as Mrs EB hadn't been along that part of the Trent Mersey as I had done that part with a friend Martin when I brought TRB to Great Haywood.

This was a really nice little trip that we both enjoyed. We have been up to the boat a few times and had a little trip out with Amy. Mrs EB also popped over on her own one evening and had a wonderful peaceful evening on her own.

I have popped up a couple of times to just check that all is ship shape and Bristol Fashion and it is, I have also taken my Hammock that Mrs bought for me from Brazil. I have asked John and Jon to put the fixing hooks up for me. I have also spent some time doing their website and putting them and the Marina on to Google maps.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Days 5 & 6

Day 5 we started to head back to Great Haywood, though did do a U Turn up the Leek Branch of Caldon Canal. That was so beautiful and so pretty.
After that little trip we just kept going..... It was very interesting to notice once 6 pm came most boats were moored up for the night. It is mid summer and the nights are very long, we got to Hanley Park at about 7 pm and watched a few drug deals!! and something else...not very nice but I am guessing that is life there. I really think that the Police should be there.
Anyhoo we went through Stoke and out the other side and by 10 we were both shattered and moored up in a park.

Day 6 we awoke about 8:30 and about 10 am we set off again and just took it nice and steady at about 1200 rpm and by 7 pmish we were at Great Haywood, coming down the Trent & Mersey at about 6pm the sun was amazing it was Golden Hour and the countryside was ablaze with gold’s and other rich colours, both Mrs EB and I were just so enthralled by the light and colours.

Highs of the trip.

Spending some great us time with Mrs EB
Seeing all the wildlife and countryside
Going to The Railway at Froghall
Meeting all the nice Narrowboaters


The Black Sheep Pub
The ignorant Narrowboaters (only met 2)
The Rain

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Day 4

Well we didn’t manage to go any further yesterday…Mrs EB’s joined us and we migrated to the pub then back to TRB and that was it for the evening.

Today after Mrs EB’s brother left us we headed for Froghall, after a mile or so we got held up by two BW worker who had felled a tree across the canal, so we made them a cuppa and had a chat as they cut it all up. … a nice half an hour, after we got underway the heavens opened up and did so most of the way to the mooring we are at, we stopped off at a pub "The Black Lion" for a bit of lunch and we were met with the most surly pub landlord of all, I didn’t fancy my usual tipple of real ale so looking at the beer taps I saw Grosh and I asked for a Grolsh, his reply was “We have no Grolsh!!!” as if I should have known? so I asked for a different Lager and the pub menu..again “ We are not doing food!” again as if I should have known…out side it did say Good food and Ales…stupid us for thinking they did food and ales huh?

So we are now at Froghall and we have a fire going and are showered and as warm as toast and just thinking about tea…..

And what a difference a pub makes!!! we went to The Railway at Froghall for tea...it was fantastic, I had a Fillet Steak "rare", and it was cooked perfectly. Mrs EB had a Rump steak medium and that was to die for, we then had pudding. I had Bread and Butter pud with custard and Mrs EB had Orange and Passion teardrop both were amazing, the service was great, loads of smiles and nothing too much trouble, the manager came over after we had finished and had a nice chat with us and made us feel like old friends. The meal was a good price and we felt valued customers....all in all well worth a visit if you are ever down the Froghall way.

P.S. Timelord will be pleased we have met no Klingons or Pirates so far

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Day 3

Foxleys to Denford

We woke up to rain!!! I actually didn’t wake up until 9:30!!! Oh well I am on holiday. Anyhoo I set us off and within 5 minutes it was belting down, so I moored us up and battened down the hatch only for it to stop…ho hum.

Well we just pootled up the cut and stopped off between two locks at Stockton Brooke and found a really nice pub for lunch. When we got back a boat was just coming out of the lock so I made for that and Mrs EB ran up to warn the next boat coming down.

The sun was out the sky clear, it was quite windy but a wonderful trip. As we made for Denford, I called Mrs EB’s brother to warn him we were near by and to ask him if he wanted to join us for the evening and we are sat outside the Hollybush at Denford with beer in our hands waiting.

More later.

Shelagh, Sunburn & Stoke

Shelagh here! .....After only one day in the great outdoors I'm as pink as a lobster. I've even had to resort to wearing a hat - (I don't do hats).

I'm not quite sure what will end up in my sections of the but I did a lot of reading up on our destinations(s) as I always do before any trip & found a lot of useful info on other narrowboaters' blogs that wasn't in the 'official' guides, like, "when is it safe to boat through Stoke?"!

Although we've had the Robber Button since Sept, this is the first longer trip we've done & it has been wonderful to move into unchartered territory. The furthest north we had previously made it up the Trent & Mersey canal was just past Weston. Stone was absolutely charming (the restaurant was called 'La Dolce Vita' by the way ) and travelling through the locks in the centre of Stone & then Meaford (pronounced 'Method' apparently) was an absolute delight in the glorious sunshine. We encountered a couple of very helpful British Waterways guys who were repainting Trentham lock. In fact there were lots of pleasant conversations at locks, finding out where folks had come from & were heading to. I took the opportunity on each occasion to ask where to moor in Stoke having read a few scare stories in guidebooks & on the net. Everyone advised stopping anywhere on the Caldon in Stoke, and advised it was best to either moor up at Etruria by the old Festival Park site, or better still, just don't stop at all! However, as we'd set off much later than planned yesterday I couldn't see how we could get all the way through Stoke & out the other side as we would need to be travelling the reported 'dodgy' area in the late afternoon/early evening which we'd been told to avoid at all costs. More on that later!

Coming into Stoke is fascinating - there is a sudden change from rural bliss to industrial cityscape with factories, 'A' roads & train lines literally next to, or over, the canal. Having worked in Stoke at one time, Davie was intrigued to see it from such a different perpective. It was late afternoon by this time & there were lots of ordinary folks walking or cycling the towpath & it didn't feel scary at all as we went through the flight of 5 locks, the last of which (Summit lock as it is one of the highest in the country) was absolutely huge. Rather than turning into the Caldon Canal just there we continued straight ahead for 5 mins to moor at Festival Park as recommended. I didn't feel unsafe there, unlike Davie, but it did seem such a shame to moor up on about the least interesting stretch of canal we have encountered with a busy traffic bridge & Toby Carvery for a view! The advantage of being out around Midsummers day is the number of daylight hours & being only late afternoon, we still had a number of potential cruising hours left. So we made the decision to press ahead & do what everyone had said to avoid.... and I'm so glad we did!

Our first challenge was our first ever staircase locks. Fortunately British Waterways had put up idiot proof step-by-step on the lock-side. We were taking it in turns to work the locks & the paddles were so stiff I could hardly move them - I shall have huge muscles by the end of this holiday! After a stretch of 'Coronation Street' style housing we went through Hanley Park - beautiful but a couple of anxious moments as the canal is very narrow with the tow path so close to the boat, groups of lads we passed could have stepped onto the boat very easily if they wanted to. There were lots of people around & it was a beautiful stretch with overhanging trees & beautiful old victorian iron bridges. The scenery then changed to a more industrial style with old bottle kilns & derelict factories -but rather than being ugly as we had been led to believe, we felt there was so much character & we gave a few moments thought to the hundreds of boatmen travelling this route who would have seen much the same views in previous centuries. We saw signs saying Stoke Council & British Waterways are undertaking a regeneration project in the area & this was very much in evidence with a stretch of beautifully paved towpath with new moorings & other restoration work. The Ivy House lift bridge was the next challenge. Despite numerous searches on the interweb I had not been able to find out how it worked. Davie eventually figured it out but won't tell me! He says it's similar to a Krypton Factor challenge & it looks like I'll have to do it on the way back - I don't mind except that you have to stop the traffic to let the bridge come up; I really don't want to have queues of impatient motorists watching me trying to solve the puzzle!
As we exited the suburbs. pleased we had not encountered groups of towpath yobs, a rain of stones clattered into the roof of the boat & fortunately not on our heads. This happened twice more at bridges further on. At one point the perpetrators peeped over the wall of the bridge so we could see their faces - I would guess at their ages being 10 or 11. I was just thankful it was small stones & not bricks!
A sudden downpour happened just as we were passing a pub that offered an overnight mooring - how convenient! We moored up & headed for a pint after a fascinating first full day.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Day 2

We set off a little later than maybe we thought we would due to my not waking up until 10am!!! Ho humm.

Anyhoo we left stone at about 10:30ish and headed off towards Stoke…and what a really nice journey it was, we just carried on until arrived at Eturia …we got there about 6pm-ish and moored up, after about 10 minutes I really thought, I don’t want to pitch up here, and we went up the Caldon canal and hey ho after about 2 ½ hours we found this little pub The Foxley and have moored up there.

On the downside once on the Caldon canal and way past Stoke in the near countryside we were pelted with stones? Not once but twice…. Anyhoo enough of this Mrs EB has a large fillet steak cooked with my name on it.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Our First full Holiday on The Robber Button

Day one

Well today is the start of our holiday, we are heading to the Caldon Canal to Froghall. We had hoped to get away early, but a serious fault with the toilet put a stop to that. I tried to fix it on Sundaywhen Mrs EB found the fault and couldn’t so a frantic to Jon from Great Haywood Marine Services Sunday afternoon to see if he could squeeze me in Monday morning was made. Jon had a look first thing Monday and we tried several things but it had him stumped. So John was called for, and after a 30 minutes he found the problem, and a good hour or so later and after I had done a journey into Rugely to get a few bits and pieces it was repaired.

Just after 3pm we set off!!!! And we had a nice journey up to Stone and found a mooring. Stone is a really pretty stop off point, we got here just after 8pm and had a wonderful Italian meal at a Canalside eatery. I am sure Mrs EB will be adding to this and she will remember the name… Anyhooo I am pooped out and as its just after 10:30 I will hit the hay.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

An Update

Very sorry we havn't blogged lately. Here is a little bit of what we have been upto on The Robber Buuton.

We took Stephen and Vivian out for a trip up tp Weston, and passed Granny Buttons!!! though Andrew wasn't in..he had left the power on and had flat battery's for his return. The trip wasn't without a problem...our inverter went into safe mode? it also blew the main 30 amp fuse!!!! meaning no microwave or radio.....John and John at Great Haywood Marine services soon fixed this problem in the wek for us.

John and John at Great Haywood Marine services are the nicest and most friendly of guys and always do a top job if you are reading this and need some work doing.

Anyhoo last weekend we couldn't go out as I ripped a muscle in my chest, we did manage to get back up to Weston on Monday with Martin, Georgie and Adam and we had an excellent day, even if it was a tad wet to start off with.

We are off to Froghall in a few weeks.....we are both really looking forward to this trip.

Saturday, 23 February 2008


We spent Friday evening on the boat, Mrs EB had been in London since Wednesday and it was a nice place to meet. I cooked us Venison Steak and chips for tea Mmmmmmm scrummy.

In the morning after breakfast we had a visit from two really nice firemen who were at Great Haywood Marina to do fire safety inspections if you wanted one, they also fitted a new sort of smoke alarm. They are optical and are not set off by the usual cooking or burning of toast. I have also booked TRB in for a service before we start our outings for the year.

We are hoping for some nice weather and a few long weekends and then we are off on a few trips.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

The Boat and Caravan Show

Mrs EB and I had the afternoon's off work and popped to the NEC for the Boat and Caravan Show, it's a much hyped show and I had high expectations, thinking there would be stacks of stuff for the narrow boater...and I was quite disappointed. There were a few boats and a couple of chandlers and it was nice to view some narrow boats.

The show was huge and we both had never seen so many camper vans of sizes so big that they would struggle to go down some roads here in the UK. All in all a nice afternoon out, but I am a little disappointed that there wasn't more for us narrow boaters.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Toasty warm

Last night was spent on TRB after work we met at the boat and Mrs EB cooked us a valentine tea (big fillet steak) I had lit a fire and fired up the central heating and it was soon like a hot oven!!! over night it went very cold, so cold the marina froze solid....me I slept like a baby as warm as toast...I am guessing that the bottle of red wine helped a little.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

A short and eventful trip

We spent Friday night on board and had a wonderfully comfortable night, the central is now working!!!! Huzzah. Amy joined just after 9am Saturday and we set off for a little trip, well that was the idea, unfortunately we had an overheating problem so just after Hoo Mill Lock we had turn around and head back to the marina....grrrrrrr
It took a few hours to travel about 3 miles as we had to keep stopping and I had to keep topping up the water in the engine reservoir. Anyhooo the guys at the marina will have a good look in the week so hopefully the boat will all be fit and well for next weekend.

Apart from that it was a wonderful day and all 3 of us a had a nice time I cooked steak, sausage and chips for lunch which was scoffed down rather quickly by all of us...though we didn't get a siesta as I had hoped for as it was stop start all the way back. I think Amy saw some amazing things in the canal even a crocodile!!!!

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Boat Props and Paint

This post was from 10th Spetember 2007

Today Jim came to the boat, he brought his paints and talents, and has painted the one side, tomorrow he does the other side. These photo's are only when he was painting and don't really give the artwork justice, I have some better photo's taken with my camera and not my phone (These are phone)

I will blog those tomorrow if I remember to bring the right leads home!!!!! Like a numpty I left my camera leads on the boat

Anyhoo the marine engineers took some photo's of the bent propeller which I have posted at the the end of this blog...they break my heart, but as you can see by the last picture the bend isn't as bad now. Well done John and John.

TRB's Artwork by Jim McCormack

This post was from 12th September 2007

For the last two days I have had a privilege and honour to spend time with Jim McCormack ... who? well he was the signwriter for "The Robber Button". He is a real talented man who knows his job. He does boats in two ways either all free hand or a way called masking. Some say this cheating...I don't. It's a slightly quicker way of doing it, but it still takes an artist to do it.

Jim is someone who knows his job, he doesn't mess, he just does it at a steady pace, as long as he has plenty of mugs of tea and the odd bacon butty.

Jim designes the wording and scrolls in his studio, he emails his ideas to you. He then does all the cutting out then brings the stencil to the boat. He cleans the panel and measures and adheres the mask to the panel, he paints the open bits, lets it dry slightly, then takes the shading parts out, does that bit, removes the stencil, and does the free hand stuff. It saves two days work and saved us two days payment.

I am very happy with Jim's finsihed work, it looks a 100% profesional piece of artwork that is just amazing and stands out, and is far better than some on the canal network we have seen.

Below are a series of photo's of Jim transforming "The Robber Button"

Fixing the Mask

The Mask

Mixing the paint

Filling in the mask

Filling in the shade and blending the shades (a real peice of art)

Doing the shading o
n the nose free hand

Doing the Free Hand on the panels

A Finished Panel

The Other main Panel Finshed

The Double Panel full view

A long View of "THE ROBBER BUTTON"

I am so pleased with Jim's work it has made the boat "Ours" he is a dying breed of men who served a 7 apprenticeship and worked for and with his dad. It's a talent that isn't being passed on these days, which is a shame. Jim has ambitions to only do narrow boats working from a narrow boat, at the moment he still does lorries trailers and trucks and the odd food caravan.

As I said earlier it was a real privalidge to spend some time with Jim, learning about his job and things, I hope to bump into him again soon, knowing the talent it wont be long before he is working at Great Haywood doing more boats.

How we chose the name "The Robber Button"

This post was from 27th December 2007

I have been asked again a few times about how we got the name for our Narrow Boat "The Robber Button" so here is the explination in video and transcript.

The video is from Blackadder 3; in the first episode, Dish and Dishonesty; this is the transcript:-

Edmund Blackadder: Sir Talbot represented the constituency of(Dunny-on-the-Wold, and, by an extraordinary stroke of luck, it is a rotten borough.
Prince George: Really! Is it! Well, lucky-lucky us. Lucky-lucky-luck. (as a chicken) Luck-luck-LAKK-LAKK-LAKK-LAKK-cluck-cluck-cluck-cluck- cluck-LAKK-LAKK-LAKK.
Edmund Blackadder: ...You don't know what a rotten borough is, do you, sir?
Prince George: No.
Edmund Blackadder: So what was the chicken impression in aid of?
Prince George: Well, I just didn't want to hurt your feelings. Erm, so, what is a robber button?
Edmund Blackadder: *Rotten borough*.
Prince George: Oh, yes, you're right.
Edmund Blackadder: A rotten borough, sir, is a constituency where the owner of the land corruptly controls the both the voters and the MP.
Prince George: Good, yes...and a robber button is...?
Edmund Blackadder: Could we leave that for a moment?

This sketch still makes both of us laugh, Richard Curtis and Ben Elton's wonderful script writing, Hugh Laurie and Rowan Atkinson's impeccable timing and humour at it's best. So that is where The Robber Button's name came from.

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Hello and welcome aboard

Hi and thank you for visiting The Robber Button Blog, The Robber Button (TRB) is a 57 foot semi-trad narrow boat, she is moored at Great Haywood Marina Staffordshire.

Mr and Mrs English Blogger (EB) try and spend most weekends on her and love the peace and tranquillity of the canals and the friendliness of the canal boat community.

We bought TRB at the end of August after a few months of negotiations and a marine survey completed by Trevor Whitling from the lovely people at Braunston Marina as a new boat made by Keith Woods and fitted out James Baron-Clarke. Mrs EB and I had a 1 day course run by James from Braunston on our run up from Braunston to Great Haywood. We are both new to narrow boating and I think we have taken to it like ducks to water..so to speak.

Anyhoo this blog will about our times and trips onboard TRB and the friends who join us.

If you do pop onboard, please sign the visitors book