Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Few Days At Norbury Junction

Ben's found a big stick!

We've spent a few days at Norbury Junction and Ben and I have enjoyed some nice walks along the embankment and through some muddy cuttings. Ben has enjoyed being able to run free as it's been fairly bike free. Eric has caught up with a few boaty jobs- like revarnishing the bits on a trad boat open to the elements when we're travelling. We also swept the chimney in readiness for those colder evenings. The Mikuni heater has developed a water leak which will hopefully be fixed with some new gaskets. So we may be lighting the fire sooner rather than later. We're hoping to get some painting done on the gunnel's but that all depends on the weather. It's an ongoing job anyway as we gather scrapes on our travels.

Bank Holiday Monday at Norbury Junction brought out all those people peering in through the boat windows! (gongoozlers). We also had the usual questions about living aboard and the cold weather. As usual they were surprised at all the mod cons on board. Moored nearby were Roger and Chris on NB Lacewing who we keep meeting on our travels. We also met John on NB Marmaduke- a fellow blogger and had a nice chat about life on board. We didn't see Cathy until they passed us as they moved on to Gnosall and we waved goodbye!

We've also met some Northwich Boat Co Boats this week - Number 63 NB Annie was moored at Brewood and we had a good chat to new boaters Annie and Peter who'd had their boat just five weeks. At Brewood we sampled Sunday lunch at The Bridge Inn with Alan and Eiddwen (NB Shush)- very nice too! We also met Number 18 a two year old boat with its owners- sorry folks can't remember your names or the boats name- a senior moment. We chatted for a while and came to the same conclusion we love the open plan airiness of NBC boats.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Autherley Junction

NB President

After a quiet night at Penkridge we continued on towards Autherley Junction as our plan was to visit the IWA Boat Show if we could find mooring on the Shroppie and walk back. On the way to Autherley Junction we passed loads of boats moored up at the official show moorings. At Autherley Junction it was hectic to sat the least and we had to queue to go through the stop lock. Then it was slowly slowly past all the moored boats and in some places it was one way traffic. The moored boats stretched all the way up to Bridge 4 and then we found an empty Shropshire Union 48 hour Mooring, which did us fine as we only wanted to stop to visit the show on Saturday. Lots of boats came past us on Friday evening to turn around at the winding hole before heading back to their mooring and the photograph shows NB President pulling Kildare its butty.

We didn't bang about too much on the shroppie shelf as Eric had put down some long rubber fenders to try and stop the bumps. We were woken up by Ben barking at about 1.45am when he must have heard somebody about outside. Eric had a look with our powerful torch and had some nice colourful language telling him what to do with his torch! We went back to sleep until the morning. We visited the show and had a good look around (lots of mud)and bought a few things we wanted. We sampled the Cornish pasties and some liquid refreshment and walked back to the boat. Ben was looking after it for us and as usual he'd been a very good boy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Going Down The Staffs And Worcester Canal

After a few days of peace and quiet at Tixall Wide we headed back up to Great Haywood Junction to Anglowelsh to fill up with fuel, and use the services. Then a big turn around with me acting as traffic controller so we headed down the Staffs and Worcs Canal towards Autherley Junction. Eric had hoped to be able to do a bit of painting while we were at Tixall Wide, there's always scratches to cover up unless of course you leave it in a marina. But the weather has been dreadful just rain, rain and more rain.
Ben and I walked to the first lock and Eric joined a queue waiting to go through the lock. After we worked through the lock I walked on for a few miles so we could leave Ben on the boat while we went shopping in Stafford. It's easy to catch a bus at Radford Bridge and a few hours later we were back on board with two new pairs of walking boot from Millets. Now we're all set for a winter of dry warm feet. We decided to move on and moored above Deptmore Lock as if we went on any further we would hear the drone of the motorway.
In the morning we carried on up the locks with queues at every lock. At Penkridge we topped up the water tank and used the services then moved on through the next lock to stop at the visitor moorings near The Cross Keys pub. From here it was a short walk to the local well equipped shop for some essentials. They even had a new ball (with a bell inside) for Ben as we had only one left. Some of them inevitably end up in the canal, others get chewed up when he feels like destroying them. Eric found the dot in the sky so we could watch TV and then the rain came down again.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back On The Trent And Mersey Canal.

We've enjoyed the Coventry Canal but as it got nearly to Fradley Junction it became much busier and we became target practice for a few Canaltime boats who hadn't mastered the art of steering. One hit a tree on his side of the canal and bounced into us blaming the tree for being in the way. At Fradley Junction we turned left and mayhem began, a boat leaving the lower lock decided he was going to try and beat us to the next lock but we didn't want a race so we let him go first. The first lock we came to has only one space to moor below the lock and with a queue already we had to hover near the moored boats. One boat had the unfriendly sign 'Do not board my boat' , so we decided Fradley is not a friendly place! We finally managed to moor far above the lock as the visitor moorings were full. The problem was the edge was just too shallow. We had a quiet night until the boats started to go past and we bumped and scraped- time to get up!
Ben the dog and I walked for about two and a half miles and we didn't see a soul on the towpath. We then boarded to continue to Rugley where Morrisons is very close to the canal so the shopping didn't have to be carried/wheeled far. Lots of boats were moored up but there was just room for us and NB Shush. We then headed off to moor away from roads and trains as we like peace and quiet at night. In the morning it was only a short cruise to Great Haywood but we queued at the two locks so it took us a few hours. Luckily there was a space to fit both boats above the lock so it's here for 48 hours and then we'll move onto to Tixall Wide.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Meandering Along The Coventry Canal

Our Wedding Day 1971

This week we have been married 37 years , although we have actually known each other over 40 years. This year we spent the day apart as Eric was visiting in Newport for a few days staying with his sister Paula and I was boat sitting in Atherstone. Eric went into grandad mode and visited his granddaughter Gwenllian as well as seeing our daughters Lisa and Clare. Sally was out of the country courtesy of Virgin Atlantic in Dubai but we'll see her soon no doubt.

Our mooring at Atherstone was far from quiet with the proximity of the busy railway line so were glad to move on when Eric returned. As promised it was wet wet wet so we got all the wet gear on and worked down the final six locks of the Atherstone Flight. Ben and I walked in the rain and he needed a good rub down with a towel when we boarded again. At Bradley Green we caught up with NB Shush at the waterpoint. The locks on the narrow canals are so much easier than those on the Grand Union and we were soon looking for a suitable mooring place as we wanted to watch some of the Olympic Games on TV.

On Sunday we walked a couple of miles to Polesworth to give Ben a walk and pick up some newspapers. There was a well stocked Spar shop open. We walked back past Stiper's Hill listening to and watching the scrambling bikes on the dirt track. We arrived back at the boat just as the heavens opened , we were so lucky to escape getting soaked. Then I put a chicken in the oven and we had a late lunch and Ben enjoyed chicken, green beans and carrots too! We all had a lazy afternoon and the sun finally came out but not for long. Tomorrow we'll be on the move again towards Fazeley Junction and the weather forecast is rain again - but who cares!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Going North- North Oxford and Coventry Canals

An interesting house at Hartshill

Close up of the sign

Leaving Braunston and back on the North Oxford Canal and the towpath grass has been cut and in some places BW has been busy repairing the places where the towpath had been almost washed away. Ben and I have had some good walks with not a bike in sight meaning Ben could run free.
We had a quiet night out in the countryside and headed for Tesco in the morning to fill the food cupboard and the fridge. Hillmorton Locks were busy but with two chambers for each lock we moved quickly through. We didn't stay long in Rugby preferring to stop near Brinklow Marina and it was surprising how many boats are out and about. As usual lots of friendly boaters as well as those who look away-( too posh to speak), rather than acknowledge we said good day.

At Hawkesbury Junction it was very quiet and we filled up with water and passed through the lock to enter the Coventry Canal. We used the services and then we were off on our travels again planning to pass through Nuneaton as far as Hartshill for the night. The Coventry Canal is certainly busier than the Oxford and as usual we always met another boat on a blind corner or a bridge hole. One boat narrowly missed NB Shush, the skipper was making hand signals and expecting Alan to get out of his way. We were in luck near Hartshill as there was just enough room for us to stop away from trees so we could get a good view of the dot in the sky. It's only occasionally we can't get satellite TV.

In the morning we headed off down the first five locks at Atherstone where we stopped so Eric could catch a train to Tamworth. 14.07 on the Internet (British Rail Site) and the station timetable said the same but the train didn't arrive. We knew only a few trains stop at this station (two platforms with bus shelters) but we did expect the timetabled train to arrive. At the bus station we found out that the next bus to Tamworth was an hour later and this meant he'd miss the train from Tamworth to Newport. A taxi to Tamworth solved the problem although £15 lighter in the pocket.

Meanwhile on the boat Ben is sleeping after his evening walk, and I know he'll soon be wanting to play ball along the boat.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Another Weekend At Braunston

St Peter's Church, Wolfhampcote.

Eiddwen and I have had a very busy few days with lots of locks to work. We had worked quite quickly through the locks at Stoke Bruerne but the flight of locks rising up to Buckby Wharf were a different story. Starting at the lock next to Whilton Marina when we couldn't shut the bottom gates without help they were to become increasingly difficult to shut as we progressed through the flight. Had we turned into weaklings? Did we need to start eating spinach? (Popeye the sailor!) Well by chatting to other women working through the flight we were all finding the gates very heavy indeed. By the time we reached the moorings below the top lock we decided to stop and recuperate. I didn't sleep too well with the M1 noise and the nearby railway so I was glad to move in the morning.

It was only a short distance to Braunston Tunnel and it we followed two other boats through and again we passed two boats near the other end. Not many drips in this tunnel and quite pleasant to be in the cool. Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush came through unscathed with strategically placed fat fenders protecting the navigation lights which suffer in tunnels. We queued to come down Braunston Locks but gates being left open for the boats coming up made life a little easier. Lots of holiday boats about with children on so Ben enjoyed lots of attention as he waited attached to the bollard. BW bollards are great dog moorings!

We then found a space on the 48 hour moorings to go and have a chat to Wharf Narrowboats at Braunston Chandlery about our problem with batteries again. According to the voltmeter and hydrometer readings we have a problem getting them charged. They were very helpful and called up their electrician (Tim Scoones) who came on Saturday and checked everything out. He checked the electrics with some high tech equipment and told us the voltmeter was reading 1.5 volts too low, and the batteries are fine- so panic over.

Eric is doing the visiting this month and collecting our repeat prescriptions and I am staying on the boat with Ben the dog. We are planning some nice long walks. We've already walked to see the isolated medieval church of St Peter at Wolfhampcote.