Wednesday, September 30, 2009

From Stone Through Stoke on Trent

Yesterday we left Stone behind, as usual Ben and I walked and Eric steered the boat. We worked through the locks often queuing to go through. Little boat traffic from Stoke on Trent so we had to turn each lock before we could go through. Going up NB Beeston Castle passed and shouted 'I like your blog' but I have no idea who was crewing her. If you read this - who are you?

Finally stopping just after Barlaston before the Wedgewood Factory. A busy towpath with lots of walkers and bikes, bikes and more bikes. Ben had a bark as they passed. I've been trying to distract him with a treat as they pass- sometimes it works! A good satellite signal so I could watch Holby City.

Today- Wednesday we're heading through Stoke on Trent and it's raining but never mind as I won't have to water the pots. I am delighted to say my tomato plants are sporting several red cherry tomatoes - not having grown them before I was concerned we'd have to make green tomato chutney. I doubt if they'll make it to a salad- I'll be eating them off the plant!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bloggers Meet At Weston and Stone

We left Tixall behind on Saturday morning and stopped to use the services at Anglowelsh at the junction. We also needed a new gas bottle. It was busy at the boatyard being a turnaround day but lucky for us the water point was empty. We're now back on the Trent and Mersey Canal heading north towards Harecastle tunnel. I walked from the junction and Ben had a play with another dog who got so excited she was jumping in the canal much to her owners disgust. Ben loves a paddle and a drink of the less than clean water and it's not done him any harm.

A few locks further on and we passed through Weston- no room to moor at the visitor moorings so we moored on the next bit of Armco just around the corner. We needed a good satellite signal to watch the Grand Prix on Sunday. We got a signal and believe it or not the qualifiers were just starting so Eric didn't miss them. Soon two more boats moored up nearby so we weren't on our own any more. Sunday morning came and we walked into the village to get the papers and some milk. They had no bread but I had a pack of part baked bread so it didn't matter.

Eric watched the Grand Prix and I took Ben for a walk and was just passing NB 4 Evermore when he said I read your blog. We had a long chat about life on board- so hello to Kev and Ann and if you click the link you can read their blog too.

On Monday we decided to move on as the cupboards, fridge and freezer needed restocking. I walked with Ben and we didn't meet anyone on the towpath. Eric cruised slowly alongside me and we had a good chat along the way. At the locks there were boats going in both directions and Ben met an assortment of dogs and he was a very good boy. One bitch chased him off as he sniffed her but he just went to see the other dogs.

We finally arrived at Stone and moored up at the end of the long line of boats just next to the 'Welcome to Stone' sign- a good spot as it's right next to the big field where Ben had a run with his ball. He also found the river again and came out soaking wet with only the tip of his head dry and the ball still in his mouth!

He stayed on the boat while Eric and I tackled the big shop at Morrison's. Laden with shopping who should I spy NB Debdale with Adam and Adrian on board. They moored up round the corner from us and called in on their way to town. We had a cuppa and a good chat about our travels and their travels. Ben was pleased to have visitors and greeted them with his usual enthusiasm. He was rather noisy as he wanted to play ball along the boat. Click the link and you can read their blog too.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A September Visit To Newport

Gwenllian (photo by Gerwyn on facebook)

On Wednesday I caught the 10 o'clock bus to Stafford and a train to Newport via Birmingham. I only had only ten minutes between trains at Birmingham but plenty of time to get from one platform to the other. A pleasant journey down to south Wales as the train wasn't packed. Arriving in Newport I headed straight to the hairdresser as I desperately needed a haircut to get rid off eight weeks growth. It felt so much better when it was short again as I don't do wavy hair!

I had a few things to do including getting a watch battery put in my watch and getting a it of shopping. After that I caught the bus to the chemist near my doctors to pick up some repeat prescriptions. I arrived at my dad's earlier than usual and he was busy gardening. He loves his garden and spends a lot of his time gardening. We had tea and my daughter Clare came visiting and Paula brought the post. Thanks Paula -you're a star!

On Thursday I had a dental appointment for a filling but after that I was going to see my daughter Lisa and granddaughter Gwenllian. I thoroughly enjoyed being a grandma for the day as Gwen is such a lovely little girl. She's nearly eighteen months old now. Gerwyn took the photo and put in on Facebook so I get to see lots of baby photos. I didn't get to see my daughter Sally as she was in Shanghai with her job.

On Friday it was back to Great Haywood retracing my journey with the trains much busier. Eric and Ben the dog were waiting for me on a seat there. I had a great welcome from Ben and I know Eric was glad I was back too. We walked up to Tixall Wide where the boat was moored.

Bloggers Meet At Great Haywood

Roger and Pip

Sorry for the week long absence of blogs but I've been visiting in Newport and I didn't take my laptop. Before I left Eric and the boat we cruised a short way to Great Haywood and filled up the water tank and did the cassettes. Then Eric reversed along the canal so he was pointing the right way to go back up to Tixall Wide after I'd caught the bus. Moored in front of us was NB Windsong and the couple on board introduced themselves and told us they read our blog. I admit I'd not read their blog before but I had a look after we'd met them both. Ben enjoyed a play with their dog while we chatted.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tixall Wide- Bloggers Meet

We moved on from Penkridge in the morning, the school children going past the boat meant we had an early start. We didn't go far, Ben and I walked for a while until the canal runs parallel to a road which freaks Ben out and then he wants to get on the boat. A few locks later we were moored at Deptmore Lock for some peace and quiet. It seems to be a popular place now but a few years ago we were often the only boat there.

We moved on towards Tixall Wide with lots of boats on the move out for the weekend from their marina. Arriving at Tixall we had to reverse back as it was full where we usually stop. Some friendly boaters came with offers of help as we moored up and we ended up having a good chat. Eric had to put the long lead on the satellite dish to mount it further along the boat to get a good signal.

In the morning we walked into Great Haywood to get milk and bread stopping and chatting to some boaters on the way. The welsh flag on a boat always starts a conversation and we met a couple from Swansea who now live in Tamworth. We did the shopping and Ben wanted to go over Essex Bridge as he remembered he could go in the river for a paddle on the other side. He had a good splash about and we then decided to walk through Shugborough to Milford and then back to the boat via the canal towpath. We declined the £3 each to go in the gardens and walked along the drive as far as the car park and then cut through the car park to the drive leading out of Shugborough. It's quite a trek and we didn't get back to the boat for several hours.

Paul on NB Waterway Routes had left a note on my comments to say he was coming this way so we hoped we hadn't missed him when we went on our trek. I saw his boat approaching us on the Wide and he pulled alongside for a chat. He then decided to stay at Tixall Wide as there was just one space and came to have a cuppa with his wife Christine and continue our chat. He was kind enough to give me a copy of his DVD Birmingham Canal Navigations so I'm looking forward to viewing some places we haven't ventured yet. Thanks Paul- I've added a link to your site.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

President and Kildare Pass By.

Moored At Penkridge

We had a really quiet night at Swindon even though we moored opposite the cricket club. We were safe enough as there were nets to stop stray balls hitting the boats. There were cricket matches on Saturday and Sunday but I'm not a cricket fan. Eric enjoyed the Grand Prix and I took Ben for a walk. Lots of people passing the boats walking and cycling. One couple asked us about our boat as they're planning to have a boat built beginning next Spring. We were able to answer lots of their questions about life afloat.

On Monday we set off through several locks, sometimes I took the boat in the lock and Eric worked the boat through until we finally got to Bratch Locks. No queues today so we were able to go up the locks straight away. Eric took the boat in while I worked the locks with the help of one of the two lock keepers. The lock keepers here always make a note of the boats name and number as well as whether the boat licence is business or private so big brother is certainly keeping track of us as we travel the system. Above Bratch we stopped and moored up for the night above the visitor moorings which were filled by a boat moored in the middle so nobody could moor up with him. Another quiet night and really dark so we saw loads of stars.

Next day our plan was to get past Aldersley Junction where the Wolverhampton 21 begins or ends and Autherley Junction where the Shroppie meets the Staffs and Worcs Canal. Both junctions were boat free as you can't go up the Wolverhampton 21 and the hireboaters aren't going up the Shroppie as they can't do a ring. We met one couple going south on a hireboat on the Staffs and Worcs who'd gone from Brewood to Llangollen via the Trent and Mersey and were on their way back to Brewood- all in two weeks, they must be exhausted! We went through 'Pendeford Rockin' where the canal narrows as it is cut through a solid belt of sandstone and we didn't see another boat. We passed through Coven as it's far too near a busy road for a quiet night's sleep and finally moored up near Moat House Bridge as it's really quiet there.

On Wednesday morning we had a nice surprise as we were getting up- I heard a steam whistle and looked out of the window to see the steam narrowboat President and it's butty Kildare coming round the corner. They are on a tour of the canal system to celebrate 100 year Anniversary. There's lots of information on their website so click on the link if you want to know more. The canal has been much busier today with boats moving in both directions so locking has been easier. I walked Ben the dog as far as Gailey where we stopped to use the services. We now going down in the locks and I find it harder to get the boat in the locks without any contact with the lock sides. Eric does it so easily- I need more practise!

We moored up at Penkridge because I needed to get some fresh fruit and vegetables, milk and bread and there's a big Coop in the village. We left Ben looking after the boat. On our return we decided to stay put and move in the morning as it was already 4 pm. Finding the dot in the sky wasn't easy with the trees but Eric managed it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Retracing Our Steps

We left Stourport behind and we all enjoyed a pleasant cruise reaching Falling Sands Lock without even meeting another boat. At Caldwell Lock an interesting sight greeted us- a boat going up the lock stuck half in the lock and half out- jammed! They had tried to use their boat to open a gate which failed to go back properly and got stuck. We offered to pull them out and with both boats in reverse and a flush of water through the gate we managed it. Next job was to try and find the obstruction with the long pole as BW could be ages. We closed the gates and filled the lock for a hireboater who offered to try and dislodge the obstruction when he went down the lock. Luckily he managed to move the offending masonry with his boat hook so the gates opened properly and he could get out and we could all use the lock.

We passed through Kidderminster without stopping today- cupboards and fridge still full from our last visit to Tesco. We didn't see any boats but lots of gongoozlers about at all the locks. At Wolverley we felt like the floor show with the pub right next to the lock. We passed through Kinver and headed for Stourton Junction where the Stourbridge Canal goes off- it's closed at the moment. Lots more boats about now and the locks were easier as we could leave the gates open for the oncoming boats. We finally moored up at Swindon (again) as we knew we could satellite TV and Eric wanted to watch the Grand Prix on Sunday. I wanted a nice lazy day reading the papers and using my laptop after I'd taken Ben for a long walk. But he wouldn't go far as I'd planned he freaked at some gun noise and wanted to go back. He's now curled up asleep!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stourport On Severn

Boats Everywhere In Stourport Basin

Bendy At The Waterpoint

At Stouport we moored above York Lock on the 5 day moorings, a bit noisy but once the traffic stopped it was OK. We couldn't get any TV signals where we were so we listened to local radio ( couldn't get Radio 2 either) and watched a DVD later on. In the morning Eric washed one side of the boat while I took Ben the dog and his ball thrower down to the big playing fields next to the River Severn. We had a lovely time and Ben had several paddles in the river, while playing roll the ball down the bank and go and get it without any help from me. When I got back to the boat we decided to go down the lock and get some water before turning around and going back up the lock and moving on a bit. Don't know where we'll stop tonight but I know it will be away from any roads.

Beautiful Weather Again!

Devils Den Staffs & Worcs Canal

Kidderminster Lock

We left Swindon after a lovely quiet night on our mooring. When we got up most of the boats had already gone! The sun was shining and this canal is so green and rural we enjoyed our cruise down to Kinver. More boats about so we met some chatty people at the locks. On the way down you could various outcrops of Triassic rock and the photo is of one called 'Devil's Den'. The outcrop has an opening at water level which is boarded up. (Health & Safety!)It was probably an old boat house according to Pearson's. Further down the canal there another of how the rock can be excavated as there's a man made cave next to one of the locks. We stopped at Kinver and walked into town for a few bits and pieces. All the moorings are 24 hours only but we didn't want to stop longer. Kinver is renown for Kinver Edge where the Triassic Rock was carved out to make cave houses.
In the morning we moved on, once again enjoying beautiful sunshine making the lock work a bit hot. Nevertheless we had a lovely day. We stopped off at Tesco in Kidderminster where I did a food shop before finally cruising on towards Stourport. At one lock we met a family from Bridgend who picked up our accent and asked what part of south Wales we were from. He borrowed our anti vandal key and managed to drop it in the lock but luckily we had a spare which know has a piece of string on it attached to my belt loop as we can't lose this one in the cut.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Bratch Locks- Staffs & Worcs Canal

We arrived at Bratch Locks to find a queue but luckily we were third but we still had a long wait as there were boats in the locks going down and then some boats coming up before we could go. Plenty of time to have a sandwich and a coffee then chat to the boaters in the queue. Unusual locks with three locks telescoped together complete with side ponds and worked more like a staircase but the paddle gear is colour coded and its blue before red according to the instructions. The two lockies made it easy as they worked us through the three locks.
We've had a busy day with lots of locks and walks for Ben the dog. All the locks had to be filled before we could use them as there was no northbound boats at all. There was also a normal staircase too which we didn't have any problems with but a few holiday makers were a bit confused. We told them not to empty the top lock into the bottom lock until we'd closed the gates behind us or we'll be there forever. We moored up below Swindon locks (not Swindon Wilts - we're in Staffs) at the end of a long line of boats. We'd had enough boating for one day! The dot in the sky was found by Eric while I cooked tea and then we had a lazy evening- we needed it after our busy day.

Monday, September 07, 2009

What Have We Done Today?

Ben and I had a good walk southerly down the Staffs and Worcester Canal while Eric steered the boat. The weather is great today- so much sunnier and warmer now that the children are back in school. We got back aboard and went through the narrows called 'Pendeford Rockin' by the old boatmen. We had to pull over to let a trip boat full of oldies past but we didn't meet anything else. We passed Autherley Junction where the Shroppie joins the Staffs and Worcester Canal and followed it going south towards Stourport. We also passed Aldersley Junction and saw the first lock of the Wolverhampton 21- not going that way this time. Next stop was Compton where we stopped at Limekiln Chandlers to get some some Comastic for blacking the hull. I looked on the Internet and it's the best price we've seen here. We also got some diesel to fill up the tank as we could self declare 30/70 rather than pay 60/40 which some boatyards insist on. The lock gear today has had plenty of grease which means the locks were easier.
On our travels today a narrowboat called Calando ( Northwich Boat Number 29) passed and shouted " we read your blog". So hello to you both -it's always nice to meet someone who reads our blog. We moored up and after tea I took Ben for a walk and he was very interested in the spam cubes the fisherman were using- anybody would think I didn't feed him.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

On The Move Tixall Wide To Gailey

We finally left Tixall on Saturday when the wind had dropped so boating would be more fun. We'd had an entertaining few days watching the boats battling with high winds as they wind (turn around) on the wide water that is Tixall Wide. Not much in the way of wild life only a grebe with a baby, loads of swans and an odd (not odd just on his own) duck compared to last time we were here.

We moved on through Tixall Lock and Deptmore Lock where the Lock Cottage is all bolted and padlocked. I wonder where the old lady who went shopping in her dinghy is now? I hope she's OK. At Penkridge we used the services and after that we didn't stop until we'd worked through 12 locks in total. Eric and I shared the steering and working the locks- so know he's aching as well. Note that I didn't crash into the lock walls to add to BW's troubles. We've passed through quite a few bridges in dire need of repair, one supported by scaffolding and a barrier to keep boats away from the damaged area.

We moored above Gailey Lock- my choice as it's far away from any roads and their noise. The M6 is too close to the Staffs and Worcs for my liking when I want a peaceful nights sleep. Due to my mooring choice Eric couldn't get satellite TV- too many trees but the aerial picked up TV and the pictures were clear so he didn't mind. His actual words "I'm not moving now".
On Sunday we went down to the garage to buy bread and milk and then walked back to the boat stopping to chat with a couple of boaters sitting on the towpath. We decided to move on for an hour or so as Eric remembered a nice open spot we had stayed before where we could get satellite. Ben and I only had a short walk as Ben was stung on his leg- and didn't want to walk anywhere. He was licking his leg, holding it up to show me. I suppose it was a wasp but I didn't see anything. I dowsed it with vinegar and the lump grew! He wanted a fuss then he curled up and went to sleep. A few hours later the lump was going down and he was ready to play ball again. We still had our walk a little later.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Tixall Wide-One Of My Favourite Places!

The Gatehouse- a view from our boat

It was busy in Stone with lots of boats moving but still a great place to moor up for a few days. Ben really enjoyed his walks by the river and as usual had several dips as he loves a paddle and drink at the same time. On one walk he came out with black legs covered in yucky mud but I told him to go and have a wash a bit further on where it's shallow by the canoe club and he did! Once he was clean we went back to the boat for a towel dry.

We left Stone with Ben and I walking ahead to get to the first lock before the boat. We were obviously going in the right direction as all the queues at the locks were for boats going north not south. I found working the paddles much easier now I've got a new long handled windlass- I'll try not to drop it in the cut. We passed the new Aston Marina being excavated south of Stone- it looks huge. We had a pleasant cruise today with the rain holding off until we got to Great Haywood where we stopped to use the services at the Anglowelsh Boatyard. We managed to get rid off our waste oil and filters for a small fee.

There was no room on the moorings before Haywood Lock so we decided to turn right and more up at Tixall Wide on the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal. Now the rain is hammering down- we got here just in time. We lit the fire for the first time this year too. We moored opposite the Elizabethan Gatehouse at Tixall which is all that remains as there used to be a hall too but it was demolished years ago after a serious fire.

The weather got worse during the night and the Wide looked like the sea with all the waves. The rain hammered on the roof, the wind rocked the boat and I spent a lot of time awake drinking tea and reading a book. We decided to stay put rather than cruise in very wet and windy weather. Ben and I walked into Great Haywood to get some papers, bread and milk and on the way back I spied 'Blue Diamond' moored up a few boats down from ours. Maggie and Bernie were on board and we had a good chat as we hadn't seen each other since we all spent the winter moored at Llangollen.

Ben's been a very good boy today and now I'm going to take him for a walk as it's not raining at the moment. Let's keep your fingers crossed I don't want a soaking this evening.