Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Long Itchington To Radford Bottom- Nine More Locks

Monday was a day of beautiful sunny weather- most unusual for a Bank Holiday. Leaving Long Itchington behind our first stop was Bascote Wharf for water and getting rid of our rubbish. Then it a staircase lock followed by seven more locks going down with a couple from New Zealand. Lots of chat going on but the paddle gear was still stiff, some a bit easier than others. Lots of free fruit on this canal and I picked apples and blackberries to make a pie by one of the locks. A quick stop to use the elsan before continuing down Fosse Locks and stopping near Bridge 33 for a couple of days. Thanks Ann and Chas on NBMoore2Life for mentioning a good place to stop in their blog. We wanted to be out in the country but within walking distance of a railway station.
We needed some fresh food so we set off with our rucksacks and Ben the dog for a what seemed to be a very long walk to Sydenham part of Leamington Spa. Asda is half a mile from the canal at Bridge 37 but we had about two miles to walk to get there, so in all we did about five miles and we were tired when we got back with the shopping. Ben enjoyed the walk and even had a little sleep while we drank tea!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Stockton Locks - Ten More Locks!

Opposite 'The Blue Lias'

Grand Union- Stockton Locks

Ben and I walked for a while until it started raining, soon we were at the top of Stockton Locks. This is a flight of ten locks ending at Long Itchington. The lock flight was very busy with walkers and gongoozlers due perhaps to there being six pubs nearby as well as a Bank Holiday weekend. We ended up going down the flight on our own as there wasn't a boat in sight. Two boats passed on the way up the flight.

The weather was quite strange, one minute the sun shined and then it absolutely hammered down with rain soaking us very quickly. Ben jumped back on the boat to stay dry it was so heavy! We stopped for water before mooring up just past the bottom lock. The towpath is a cycle route too and we didn't spot a bike coming so Ben barked at him- he really doesn't like men on bikes. The cyclist told us it was a cycle route and we told him its always been a towpath!

We'd planned to go to the shop for a paper but it closed at 12 o'clock on a Sunday. Eric watched the Grand Prix while I read some blogs. We met Ernie and his partner with NB Ten Bob Note coming down Stockton Locks but I'm having problems reading the recent entries on his blog.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wigrams Turn Onto The Grand Union Canal

The fingerpost at Wigrams Turn

Going down Calcutt Locks

Ben and I had a three mile walk today while Eric steered the boat, the towpath was quiet although the canal itself was very busy- it's the weekend and a Bank Holiday weekend. Back on the boat it was turn right for the Grand Union Canal at Wigrams Turn.There's also a marina at this point. A mile or so further on we had a quick stop for water before beginning our journey through the down locks to Warwick. Calcutt Locks are big, wide, double gated at both ends and we needed another boat to come in with us. One came along straight away so going down the three locks was a bit easier. I'd forgotten how heavy the gates are on the G.U and that paddle gear need endless turns to go up and down but it's all good practise for Hatton Locks which are a flight of twenty one after Warwick. We moored up in the sunshine- lots more locks tomorrow.

Hello to the new owners of NB Gypsy Rover- Ray and Dianne who passed us yesterday on their way to Braunston and said they read the blog- we hope you're enjoying life onboard.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Visit To Braunston

It certainly rained last night- I had a drip from a mushroom vent into the bathroom it was so heavy. In the morning we decided to move even though it was still raining as we wanted to be away from Braunston before the Bank Holiday weekend. Ben and I walked and as we got nearer we could see Braunston Church high on the hill. Back on the boat we tried to moor near Midland Chandlers but there was no room so we turned right and moored on the Oxford and Grand Union Canal where we needed a plank to reach the bank. Ben preferred to jump rather than walk the plank!

We had a list of things we needed and managed to get most of except the sealing tape for the new glass for our Acorn stove. We ended up walking up to Braunston Chandlery by the bottom lock of Braunston Locks to get this so we could fit the new glass. We passed by NB Dover moored up in Braunston Marina. By the time we got back to the boat we needed a cuppa and some lunch before heading off to look for a mooring where we wouldn't need to walk the plank. We moored up on our own and soon we had boats either side of us suitably spaced of course.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hillmorton Locks And Then It Rained!

Hillmorton Bottom Locks

Somewhere to sit!

Moored near a golf course the grass cutters woke me this morning, but we needed to move fairly early if we wanted to avoid the forecast rain. A walk to the locks with Ben the dog was planned with a stop to top up the water tank after doing some washing. Hillmorton water tap must be the slowest on the system- it took ages. An old pair of lock gates now adorns an area with large stones as a visitor attraction- a picnic area perhaps.

We worked through the duplicated locks at Hillmorton fairly quickly with no queues at all but the boaters we met coming towards us in the flight shut the gates as they left a lock - a 'should have gone to specsavers' moment. There's been a lot more sections with Armco on this canal since our visit a few years ago.We passed another new marina being dug out at Barby where there was an old loop of the canal- I wonder how many empty spaces there'll be as new marinas are popping up everywhere. The long lines of boats moored online don't seem to have decreased but the cost of marina moorings is an obvious factor. We moored up just in time- the forecasted heavy rain came but we were snug and dry watching some very wet boaters go past the windows.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Newbold Tunnel And Rugby

Pretty lights in the tunnel

Coming out into the light

This morning we cruised on passing the black and white iron bridge at the entrance to Brinklow Marina where the wind was whipping up waves. Ben and I walked for a while but got back on to go through Newbold Tunnel with its pink, green and blue lights. Very soon we were moored up to visit Tesco's in Rugby. The cupboards and fridge were empty so we needed a big food shop. We also spotted a small microwave which would fit in the space we had. Our pockets were certainly lighter by the time we finished. Time was getting on so we needed to find a suitable mooring and we were in luck as there was a space on a section of canal with Armco. NB Harnser passed us today going towards Hawkesbury Junction and shouted 'a blogger' so hello to Brian and Diana who also do a blog.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hawkesbury Junction And The Oxford Canal

The Greyhound at Hawkesbury Junction

Leaving the Ashby Canal behind we turned left at Marston Junction onto the Coventry Canal. After last nights torrential rain the towpath was very wet and muddy, more a case of avoid the puddles as Ben and I walked. A cyclist went past as I dodged the puddles, he just cycled through them.

At Hawkesbury Junction we topped up the water tank before joining the queue through the stop lock. I popped to the nearest shop to get some milk and a paper. We had to wait on the Coventry Canal and do the U turn to the lock when there was room to manoeuvre. Space is tight and a boat followed us through which made it difficult for the boat exiting the lock.

Soon we were on our way on the North Oxford Canal in the pouring rain. Lots of boats moving and moored up, it's a very busy canal. It's not easy to moor on this canal as the edges are shallow in places and the banks soft. We finally moored on a section of Armco with rings as well near Bridge 34. We'll have to remember this spot for future visits.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cruising And Walking-Stoke Golding To Marston Jabbett

Just checking where we're going!

Sunday morning we decided to move, Ben and I walked a couple of miles and I was feeling hot and bothered in the muggy heat by the time I got back on the boat.When I took this photo Eric was looking at the Pearson wondering where we could moor up later on. First of all we needed to get fuel at Trinity Marina and yes they do allow you to self declare-good because we needed 118 litres. It was unusual because we had to fill the tank ourselves and then go and pay. Obviously not concerned we'd make a run for it! It cost us a pound to empty some cassettes but it was worth it- there's only one BW Elsan and that's at Snarestone, the other end of the canal.

We filled the water tank at a BW point near 'The Lime Kilns' pub and Eric went off on foot up the A5 to a garage to get a paper. All we needed was a nice place to stop to hang out all the washing to dry. We finally moored up on Armco near Marston Jabbot- there's some amazing names on this canal. We've enjoyed our week of rural peace.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Return Journey -Shackerstone To Stoke Golding

Are you going to play ball?

We left Shackerstone and cruised as far as Bosworth Wharf. I walked with Ben to give him some exercise before we left him on the boat to go food shopping in Market Bosworth. We were going to walk it's about a mile into town but I saw a bus approaching and stuck out my arm, it stopped and took us up the hill into town. It must be luck as it's an hourly service and we just happened to be there. We found the very small Coop, got the things we needed and caught the bus back to the wharf-again an hourly service. There and back in under an hour so Ben couldn't have had chance to miss us.

Back on the boat we had a thunder and lightning storm and Ben hates bangs so it was just as well we got back quickly. Once the rain eased we decided to move as I wanted to watch the final of Masterchef and we couldn't get a satellite signal where we were. After several attempts to moor up as it was too shallow we finally stopped near Stoke Golding. There's some footpaths for me to follow with Ben the dog while Eric services the boat engine.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Current End Of The Ashby Canal

As planned we cruised for two hours to reach the current end of the Ashby Canal. I walked for three miles to give Ben a good walk along this lovely rural canal. To reach the end is through Snarestone Tunnel which is a one way working tunnel and we were in luck as nobody was coming the other way. At the end we turned around with great difficulty due to the wind! We used the facilities and bought some 'loo blue' from the little hut run by the very friendly Ashby Canal Society before retracing our steps as there was no room for a 57 foot boat. The canal always looks different coming the other way and I spotted a kingfisher as we cruised through Gopsall Wood apparently a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Eric saw a deer drinking underneath a canal bridge when we passed here two years ago.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Haircut At Stoke Golding

In the morning we walked up the hill to the shop for milk and bread and saw there was also a Post Office and a hairdresser. I made an appointment for the afternoon and we moved the boat a few bridges as there was a footpath to Stoke Golding (1/4 mile) much closer than our previous mooring place. On my way to the hairdresser (Tammy's) I saw the visitor moorings but they looked pretty full so we stayed put until the next day. I just got back to the boat in time as the forecast heavy rain arrived although it didn't last long. The footpaths are well marked around here with sign posts actually telling the distance and destination which makes a change from following little yellow arrows unsure where you are going to end up. I could do with some OS maps!

We moved the next day hoping to be able to moor on visitor moorings to walk into Market Bosworth but the moorings were full just like the last time we came up the Ashby Canal. We topped up the water tank and then cruised further stopping near Shackerstone. The canal was rather shallow so the back end was out a bit but we moored just in time to miss a heavy rain storm. Shackerstone is the nothern terminus of 'The Battlefield Line' a preserved section of the old Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway. When they are running steam trains puff up and down the five mile section to Shenton

We're about four miles now from the end of the navigable canal so tomorrow we'll use the facilities at the end before turning around. Last time we came on the Ashby we moored at Snarestone and walked into Measham trying to follow the route of the canal but it was difficult to see the route in some places so we ended up on the roads. There is a new 100 yard section in water so the restoration to join the gap between Snarestone , Measham and Donisthorpe is still ongoing. The canal between Donisthorpe and Moira has already been restored.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rural Peace And Quiet (Ashby Canal)

We're enjoying the rural peace of the Ashby Canal, other than at Hinckley most of villages are away from the canal so it you want a shop it's time for a walk. We spent our first night at a favourite spot near Bridge 3, but we had to share it as it was another boater's favourite spot too! Even this moorhen liked this stretch of canal! There's plenty of water in the canal after all the rain as we had concerns about getting stuck in shallow water.

After a quiet night we moved on in the morning, nobody was walking so Ben and I had the towpath to ourselves. I do love rural canals! There's milestones along the route so I know I walked two miles before getting on the boat for a ride at a bridge. It was a beautiful sunny day and we really enjoyed our cruise before stopping near Stoke Golding for the rest of the afternoon. The farmers have been busy up here as lots of the fields of corn have been cut, but we also saw the combine harvesters still busy in a few fields. Some fields are still untouched -I hope they are cut before the forecast rain soaks them. We decided to stay put for the night opposite a field of Shetland ponies peacefully munching on the grass.

Eric managed to get rid off some rust which had got under the protective pads where we step on and off the boat. Now they are removed and we have some red oxide patches awaiting further coats of paint. It's a bit like the Forth Bridge as far as painting is concerned- you do a bit and it's never finished. The list of jobs is endless.

Monday, August 16, 2010

On The Ashby Canal

BW Yard at Hartshill

Marston Junction

We stopped near Hartshill and decided to move again in the morning as we wanted a paper and neither of us couldn't face the walk up the hill to the village. Lots of boats about travelling in the sunshine and we plodded along extremely slowly following a Canaltime boat. He did pull over and let the queue of boats pass eventually. Ben and I walked the towpath as usual. We stopped in Nuneaton where the graffiti told us we were in a built up area and got some milk and a paper before moving on. We turned left at Marston Junction so we're now on the Ashby Canal. Eric's been busy washing one side of the boat and Ben and I are playing ball on the towpath.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Moving On -Up Eleven Locks At Atherstone

Restoration In Progress


NB Jaguar

An old boat with a new cabin

Moving on towards Atherstone Locks we passed 'Narrowcraft' near Bradley Green which specialise in restoring old boats. I took some photos as we love old boats. Lots have passed us with their distinctive engine sound announcing their arrival. Ben and I walked while Eric steered the boat. We stopped at the services at Bradley Green to top up the water tank after doing some washing.

Very soon we were at the bottom of Atherstone locks, a flight of eleven well maintained locks and we were in luck as boats were moving in both directions so it was open gates for us to go into. After six locks we stopped for lunch and a trip to the Co-op for bread , milk and some fresh fruit and vegetables. As we got back to the boat there was a really heavy rain storm so we stayed put until it stopped.

We finally moved on about four o'clock and did the next five locks before stopping for the night. We can hear trains but there's no roads nearby so we're in for a peaceful night.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

No Road Noise Here

We started the day with a walk along a shale track which was once used by miners to reach the pit head of Alvecote Colliery- now called Alvecote Pools as hollows created by subsidence were filled by water. Ben managed to find some smelly black mud so he needed a wash with a bucket of soapy water to clean him up. We didn't move far just two miles to moor up in the countryside between Polesworth and Bradley Green. It was pouring with rain but it's only water and the canals certainly need it.

Our daughter just rang to tell us a short video clip of NB Bendigedig was on the BBC programme 'Gimme a Break' about children choosing holidays. It showed Eric steering Bendy over the Pontcsyllte Aqueduct towards Trevor. It's not available on i player so we won't get to see our big moment.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Further Along The Coventry Canal

The crane at Peel's Wharf

A line of geese pass by

Ben playing ball (as usual)

Leaving our mooring this morning first stop was Peel's Wharf where there are facilities as well as a BW Office with useful information leaflets. I tried out my new camera with a picture of the crane. We had to wait for a boat to clear the single water point before we could fill up. I walked for a while even though it was raining as Ben needed a walk. Passing over the River Tame Aqueduct we could see the high rise buildings of Tamworth. The river was really clean while the canal is the usual muddy brown. Two later we were moored up near Alvecote Nature Reserve where Ben can have a lovely muddy walk in the morning.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fradley To Tamworth

The Swan at Fradley Junction

We cruised as far as Tamworth with loads of boatings moving and lots moored up progress was slow. I had no trouble keeping up with the boat as I walked Ben the dog infact I had to wait for Eric to catch up. We planned top stop at Tamworth as I wanted to take my camera back to Asda as it had died after just six months. A refund was given after the contents of the box were checked and the receipt with no fuss at all. I chose another camera and received a new year's guarentee- well done Asda for excellent service. It looks like another night with ear plugs as we are moored near busy roads but tomorrow night will definitely be an out in the country stop.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rugeley To Fradley Junction

Interesting Sign!

We walked past an interesting sign on the way to Rugeley- you can read my picture of the sign. Ben and I walked all the way there as we wanted to leave him on the boat while we did the food shopping. As we arrived a boat was leaving so we had a good space to leave the boat for an hour. Shopping done we moved off quickly as a boat was waiting for a space. Ben and I had a ride past all the loos stacked up at Armitage waiting for a new home.

Look at all those loos!

No queues at Shadehouse Lock

Travelling down the locks to Fradley Junction was slow as it was one way traffic and some of the gates didn't want to shut. It took two of us to get them off the lock walls. At the junction we turned right off to explore the Coventry Canal.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Great Haywood To Rugeley (Trent & Mersey Canal)

A view from the boat
After a few days at Tixall we left NB Shush and headed to Haywood Junction to get some water before we turned right to continue our summer cruise. We had to queue for water and then the tank took an age to fill so it was quite a while before we headed for Haywood Lock to queue again. Staff from Anglowelsh were showing a new hireboater how to work the lock and this lock loses so much water through leaky gates it takes an age to fill anyway. Finally on our way it was queues at Colwich Lock too but there was lots of help so were soon on our way. We decided to stop before we got to Rugeley but we could see the power station not that far away. We planned to stop for a quick shop as Morrisons is very near the canal the next day.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Enjoying Tixall Wide

Bendy at Tixall Wide

After a few days I returned to Eric and Ben the dog moored in the peace of Tixall Wide. I was having trouble downloading an antivirus so we decided to cruise up to Radford Bank so we could take a bus into Stafford to get one from PC World. We left Ben looking after the boat and caught a bus into Stafford and found the store near the cinema. I bought an internet security package but this still needed updating on the computer. The signal was 3G being moored just a mile from Stafford so I was able to do a Windows Update as well to get the new computer up to date quickly.
In the morning Ben and I walked towards 'The Moat House' at Acton Trussell which was the nearest turning circle to go back to Tixall Wide while Eric steered the boat. We had a ride back but Ben would have been quite happy to walk back too. Alan and Eiddwen on NB Shush has passed us the day before going to Tixall Wide so we planned to meet then there and spend a few days.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Busy Days!

After a quiet weekend at Tixall Wide it was time to go visiting to see family and friends in south Wales. I caught the bus to Stafford and then trains to Newport changing at Birmingham New Street. In Newport I met Pat and Wendy some old pals of mine from working days and we had lunch. It was nice to catch up as I hadn't seen them for a while. After lunch I went to see my daughter Lisa and granddaughter Gwenllian- stars of the photograph. After an entertaining few hours it was time to go and see my dad as I was staying with him and he was expecting me for tea. The next day was sick visiting- Paula with her leg in plaster and my daughter Clare who had trouble with a dislocated hip.
The next day it was time to go and look at some laptops as mine has terminal symptoms as it's five years old. The screen has two wide vertical bands on it , the battery lasts for twenty minutes and it's incredibly slow even though I defrag and clear of unwanted files. I realised it was past it and headed for Curry's/PC World for a replacement and ended up with a Toshiba laptop on offer with £100 off. So I've been busy getting to know my computer although it frustrates me because I can't use some software I'm familiar with as it works on XP but not on Windows 7. I don't think my printer or scanner will work either. Luckily there are alternatives on the computer so it's another learning curve. We ended up going to moor near Stafford for a few days as there's an excellent 3G+ signal so I could do all the Windows and AVG updates much more quickly.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Stone To Great Haywood and Tixall Wide

The fingerpost at Haywood Junction

Leaving Stone behind at midday Ben and I walked for a while to Aston Lock before I got back on the hairy boat to do some cleaning - the carpets needed vacuuming as Ben's hair was taking over. It was all done by the time we got to Sandon lock where a couple of boats were waiting to go down and also some waiting to come up. After working the lock Ben and I walked for a mile or so and by the time we got to the next lock there was no queue at all in fact we had to turn the lock before we could use in it.

I arrived on foot at Haywood Junction with Ben the dog and Eric pulled in to the space on the water point to use the facilities. The Anglo welsh boatyard charge £1 to empty cassettes but with no BW elsan disposal you don't really have a choice. We filled the water tank and then took a right turn to make a short trip on the Staffs and Worcester Canal to find a space at Tixall Wide for the weekend. It was very full unless you count the large gaps between the moored boats. We managed to find a space and moored up and Eric found the dot in the sky for satellite TV.