Thursday, May 31, 2012

Moored At Sutton Stop, Oxford Canal

Moored on the Oxford Canal

Liz & Nick's present in use

Eric at The Greyhound (after lunch)

The stop lock at Sutton Stop

That bridge

Some sights at Sutton Stop
If you're wondering how we come to be moored near Sutton Stop aka Hawkesbury Junction, we had a change of plan. We chickened out of doing the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal at it's a Bank Holiday weekend and half term. So instead of a right turn at Marston Junction at the end of the Ashby Canal, we went left.

Arriving at the waterpoint we filled up, did the cassettes and got rid of rubbish as well as a pop to the nearest shop in search of fruit. We found 5 bananas and four apples and that cleared out the shop of fruit. We'll need to stock up at Rugby when we get there.

Going through the stop lock and onto the Oxford Canal I said to Eric that Les & Jaq on NB Valerie had mentioned delicious pies in The Greyhound. So to cut a long story short we had lunch in the Greyhound and sampled the pies and the beer. I agree .......I had chicken, bacon and butterbean pie and Eric had steak and ale.........delicious and there followed a lazy afternoon, in fact Eric's now asleep!

Thanks Nick and Liz for the delightful  mooring pin can't miss them!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Drips Drips And Even More Drips!

On Tuesday we stayed put in Stoke Golding and enjoyed a day of glorious sunshine with the solar panels giving us all the power we needed so we didn't need to run the engine. I'd hoped to get a haircut in the salon up the hill but no luck as they're fully booked this week. Even the planned walk on a footpath to the village didn't happen as the route was through a very full field of cows, by choice Ben and I don't do cows!We just went a different way to get the much needed bread and milk.

On Wednesday we decided to move and it was the usual routine as I walked for an hour with Ben while Eric cruised. Near Hinckley we climbed aboard as we needed to get fuel in the Marina. That done we were on our way.

Later we moored up and thought all was well........and spotted ( and felt) all the ants climbing over my feet and up Eric's trousers so we moved a few bridges further ants, satellite TV set up and all OK. And then we had a very heavy rain storm with thunder and lightening, Ben hid as usual and we just sat and chatted. Eric felt water dripping on his head and we looked and found two places where water was coming in, so its either the sealant around the chimney or a mushroom or both. Next job then is to replace the sealant.

Meanwhile the steady drip off the corner under the roof slide hatch continues to drip despite resealing while we were at Tixall's finding it's way in somewhere and a sponge is catching the drips. So in all avery drippy boat!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Still On The Ashby Canal

Near Congerstone
Nothing much happening on the Ashby Canal as we  cruise in the sunshine for a couple of hours and then find a mooring place and stop until the next day. We spent a comparatively quiet night near Congerstone only disturbed by the peep peep of car horns as they approached the narrow canal bridge in the morning.

Yesterday we moved on to get water at Bosworth Wharf before we cruised to Sutton Cheyney Wharf to use the facilities there. We had a no steering moment as we moored up with some rubbish round the prop, mainly plastic, rope and a bungee! We were glad it wasn't something bigger. All the jobs done and ready to go again we cruised to moor at Stoke Golding, a nice quiet spot away from roads so only the birds would wake us up.

I'm enjoying the lock free cruising but soon we'll be doing those Atherstone Locks again as we head back to Fazeley Junction and the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.......definately unexplored territory for us. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Visitors At Bosworth Wharf

Yesterday we had visitors on NB Bendigedig when Paula, Danielle, Robin and Jo came to see us. Today we had more visitors when Howard, Lorraine, Yvonne and Karl came to see our boat. The boat   was very dirty outside and very hairy inside with Ben the dog. We enjoyed a lovely chat before making our move to the end of the Ashby Canal after Snarestone Tunnel. Here we used the services and turned around and headed back to a nice spot we'd noticed before the tunnel.

The canal is slowly being extended towards Measham and the Ashby Canal Society was selling his wares to raise funds. I gave them some books to sell and put a donation in a decorated water can. It made me think of last time we came here when we walked to Measham trying to follow the filled in canal and walked miles. The one good thing I can remember is the fish and chip shop was open!

We passed the motte and bailey at Shackerstone next to the canal and that's the only photo I here it is.

Shackerstone- the motte and bailey

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Moored At Bosworth Wharf

On the Asby Canal
We cruised as far as Bosworth Wharf, near Market Bosworth and found a space to moor. In the afternoon I took a bus ride into town and walked back with some milk and tomatoes. a pleasant enough walk down hill but I couldn't face the uphill walk in the heat. Back on the boat we continued to melt in the heat, outside others were sitting in their chairs enjoying the sun!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Glorious On The Ashby Canal

Moored just in front of us last night was NB Piston Broke........I didn't know until we passed by this morning going for a walk and a cruise, so I stopped for a quick chat before continuing our walk. The weather's glorious, the sky is blue and the solar panels are working well. We planned to get on the Ashby Canal and find somewhere to moor.

We cruised looking for a mooring near Stoke Goulding as we need to be at Market Bosworth tomorrow. It's been the case if there's a mooring or a bit of Armco then it has a boat attached until we passed Stoke Goulding and found a place for us. The canal is strewn with long grass and plants as the contractors have been grass cutting along the towpath. There's plenty of wild life on this canal including swans which demand food at the side hatch, we've had to shut it otherwise Ben goes wild!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Climbing The Atherstone Flight

Today we climbed the  Atherstone Locks in amazing weather, infact it was too hot to be locking! We stopped after the first six at Atherstone to get milk and bread before we go up the Ashby Canal tomorrow. After a lunch break we followed a boat up the final five locks who kept leaving the top gate open, even though there wasn't a boat in sight, which meant I had to close the gate before I could empty the lock to use it. Just before the eleventh we met a boat coming down, we just didn't time it right today. We continued towards Hartshill, stopping just before with three other boats as the visitor moorings at Hartshill are always full.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cruising In The Sunshine

Glascote Locks, Coventry Canal
Today started off cloudy but turned into a lovely sunny day and according to the forecast we're in for a few more days of sun. Now we'll see how much goes into the batteries from the solar panels. As we now know the state of the batteries it means we haven't needed to run the engine in the evening since we had the panels fitted.

Sunday On The Move....The Coventry Canal

On Sunday we picked up the papers at Morrisons and we were off for a walk and  a cruise. We left Rugeley behind with dog walkers galore and passed the loo place after the narrows at Armitage. It was going to be slow today as we were following a very slow dutch barge behind another boat and everytime something came the other way the dutch barge moved to the right and pulled in so the passing boat had to go the wrong side past him causing chaos........I think he was avoiding overhanging vegetation! One by one the convoy of boats following him pulled in and moored.......there's only so far you can go on tickover!

Loos galore!

After lunch we needed to get a move on as we wanted to get to the Ashby Canal for Thursday as Eric is going to a funeral somewhere in Leicestershire on Friday. We spotted the dutch barge in Kings Bromley Marina. So we headed for the chaos that Fradley Junction on a Sunday afternoon bring but it wasn't chaos. The two locks down to the junction where ready for us and willing helpers were offering to raise paddles and open the gates for us.......can't fault it.

The Swan aka 'The Mucky Duck'

We turned right at the junction onto the Coventry Canal and stopped for water as the washing machine had been busy as we cruised.  Tanks full and emptied we continued a little further to moor up a few bridges away from Streethay Wharf where a new marina seems to be in the process of being built although work has come to a standstill. Don't know why as the basin is dug but not connected to the canal.

We stopped here because there's some Armco to moor against and it's far enough away from the incredibly noisy A38!  A fairly quiet night was had by all.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cruising Great Haywood To Rugeley

We finally left Tixall Wide and headed down to Great Haywood Junction and stopped for water, coal, gas, refuse and emptying the cassettes. Eric had an awkward job reversing back to the water point with the wind but he managed it. Filling with water took forever as we'd not filled up for over a week. The refuse compound had general waste bins overflowing and bags piled up too! There was recycling bins and they weren't full. We had to pay to empty the cassettes, even when it's a fairly basic hole in the ground  but needs must.

We moved off the water point and moored up above the lock so I could pop to the chemist for a photocopy of our solar panel bill for our insurance company and get milk and some bread. Then we worked through the lock and  we were on our way. Ben enjoyed another walk to Colwich Lock where we were first in the queue which soon built up.

We moored opposite the pig farm after Bridge 69 on the Trent and Mersey Canal as we decided it was too late to continue to Rugeley for shopping as all the spaces would probably be gone by now. No need to run the engine tonight at the controller told us our batteries were at 12.9v.

In the morning we were up and away, Ben and I walking to Rugeley while Eric cruised alongside. We were in luck there was a Bendy sized space on the visitor moorings and as I blog there's lots of spaces as most people shop and leave Rugeley behind. We've stocked up the cupboards, fridge and freezer with convenient Iceland and Morrison stores. There's also a Wilkinsons where Eric bought some padlocks to secure the solar panels and the usual bits and pieces including some cupboard catches because we can't find the ones we know we have somewhere.

We decided to stay put and move in the morning........let's hope the locals are friendly!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

We've Gone Solar

Our new solar panels
Nice and low solar panels

We've  now got a new addition to the roof of NB Bendigedig with two solar panels from Solar Afloat. Hopefully we'll reduce our fuel costs with diesel prices on the increase. A great service too as he sells the panels, mounting kits and the controllers......everthing you need to install them. We had ours installed as anything to do with electrics........we haven't a clue! An excellent job......all we need lots of sunshine.

Can be tilted when moored up!

Just added a picture to show they can be tilted when moored with aluminium struts when the sun is lower in the sky.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Few Away Days

I've had an enjoyable few days staying with my daughter Clare, getting the prescriptions for the next three months as well as some visiting. I decided to travel from Stafford to Bristol Parkway and then to Newport so I didn't have to change at Birmingham New Street which gets incredibly busy. Bristol Parkway only has four platforms so changing trains there was much better.

It took two and a half hours and I was in Newport. First of all I collected a reserved Kindle from Argos and then I went to visit my daughter Lisa and granddaughter Gwenllian. I was going to see Gwenllian dancing at her classes for jazz and tap. She certainly enjoys the noisy taps of those shoes. After dancing we caught the bus back to Lisa's house as she was making us tea and Clare was coming too when she finished work. Eric's sister Paula came down with the post so it quite a get together. She was kind enough to give me a lift in her car to save me that hill up to Clare's house.

In the morning it was down to visit my dad who was pleased to be asked out to lunch at the local Weatherspoon's. We had a lovely steak too! I hadn't realised it was steak club on a Tuesday so it was a very good price. After lunch I did a bit of shopping before going back to Clare's for a lazy afternoon.

I returned to the boat today to be greeted by Eric and Ben the dog........both pleased to see me.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Moored At Tixall Wide

Tixall Lock
Today we left our mooring near Deptmore Lock  and first of all worked through the lock, which was easier as a boat was leaving the lock and another was waiting so we could leave the bottom gates open. Ben and then walked to Radford Bank  before getting back on board the boat for a cuppa. We didn't stop even though there's excellent value meals at the carvery in the Radford Bank Inn.

A much better today weather wise and we arrived at Tixall Lock, 4 miles 6 furlongs said the sign on the lock cottage from Deptmore to Tixall Lock. Ben and I then walked the short distance to Tixall Wide where there was a space with our name on it. Planning to stay put as I'm off to Newport on Monday to get prescriptions and see the family. Eric is in charge of dog walking for a couple of days!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ten More Locks To Acton Trussell

Locking through Penkridge- Filance Lock
Today I thought I'd ride my bike to Gailey with Ben the dog, while Eric steered the boat but I didn't get  all the way there as I had a was a thorn from the hawthorn hedge. I could actually hear the hiss as the tyre went flat when I removed the twig with thorn attached. Eric stopped to put the bike back onboard and Ben and I continued on foot.

We didn't stop at Gailey for water as a boat was getting diesel so the boats were three abreast with the hire boats and us stopping would have caused havoc by blocking the canal. We stopped at Penkridge instead. We also stopped at Midland Chandlers and bought some spares for the Thetford cassettes.

The weather is certainly unsure what to do, we've had heavy rain and cold winds interspersed with a few spells of sunshine. Eric found it cold on the back of the boat and the wind didn't make boating easy but we worked through ten locks today and moored up near Acton Trussell where a hedge protected us from the wind.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

On The Staffs & Worcs Canal

Today we left Wheaton Aston, working through the lock, after waiting in a short queue. The wind made getting into the lock difficult but Eric managed it.There  was already a queue of boats waiting to come down the lock as most of the traffic was heading towards Norbury Junction.

Ben and I had a very muddy walk after all the rain in the night. It was boots off for me and washed feet for Ben, when we got back on the boat at the Aqueduct. Then it was slowly past all the moored boats before We stopped at Brewood just to do a shop. We needed some fresh fruit and veg and Coopers had what we wanted.

Back on the boat we travelled to Autherley Junction, just the stop lock to do and it was turn left onto the Staffs  and Worcs Canal heading towards Great Haywood. The lock only has a shallow drop so it's sometimes difficult to see if it needs filling or emptying.  There was a boat coming out of the Pendeford Rockins, a narrow section of the canal, so we waited until the boat came out. After that it was under the M54 and under the A449 with all their noise before going back into countryside again.

We stopped just after Coven in a favourite spot with two other boats (their favourite spot too!) and the rain came down, but it didn't last long.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Cruising- Gnosall To Wheaton Aston

Coming through Cowley Tunnel

We spent a quiet night at Gnosall, apart from the noisy crows at four o'clock in the morning and their deposits on the boat. Eric got a Freeview signal so we watched that as he couldn't get a satellite signal with all the trees. We bought this gadget from It's got 27866R-UHF/DVBT Signal Finder on the box.You join the aerial cable to it and rotate the aerial on the pole until you get a green light. Usually we have no idea which way to point the aerial!

A late start after yesterday's long day and we cruised to Wheaton Aston stopping to get diesel at Turners where at about 79p for 0%. We usually claim 20% propulsion, making it a bit dearer but 117 litres cost £101 so I'm not grumbling. Ben and I had a three mile walk according to the mileposts, but the last mile seemed a lot longer.

There was actually a mooring space after the bridge so we moored up to await the rain. It came as we reached the boat after a walk to the local shop.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Cruising- Cox Bank To Gnosall

Locking Through Addersley Locks
Pig Heaven
We decided on  a marathon journey today as we need to be in Great Haywood next week and the weather forecast was good. Up with the larks and away by nine- a feat in itself. Then two locks to complete the Audlem flight.

Ben and I walked to Addersley  while Eric steered the boat. Luckily the wind had dropped and he didn't end up across across the canal as did yesterdays boaters. A steady stream of boats coming towards us meant some help at the locks and the ability to leave the top gates open for the next boat.

We passed the pig sleeping at the lock side before reaching the top lock where there's a stall for the Addersley Farm Shop. I bought some meat and potato pies £ 2.50 each but delicious when we finally got around to eating them.After Addersley I had a ride to Market Drayton where we stopped to top up the water as I'd done a wash load on the way.

Next stop Tyrley where the fun began. The pound between the two bottom locks has a rock shelf making it impossible to moor up and a sign on the lock beams warning do not moor in the pound, but one of the boats ahead of us ignored it and got stuck. It took four bodies to push him off and tell him what to do as he was new to boating.

The next boat read the notice and waited in the lock until the next one was ready just as we did. So eventually we were on our way. Woodseaves Cutting showed evidence of small landslides and the one that closed the navigation was marked by large buoys where the width was reduced. The towpath was the usual linear bog..........definitely a wellies situation.

Lots of moored boats between Woodseaves and Grubb Street Cuttings so it was a go slow area. We arrived at Norbury to find no room at the inn or should a say moorings. There were some spaces if the boats didn't have half boat length spaces separating them........don't they like each other? They don't seem to share mooring rings anymore.

We continued to Gnosall and found a space- definitely an evening meal for us today.......must be getting posh! .......but no serviettes or wine glasses and no wine either!  Eight hour cruising means we're cream knackered.......Goodnight.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Lots Of Locks To Cox Bank

Eric heading for Lock 14 (Audlem Flight)
We woke this morning to sunshine, such a lovely day too. We were pleased to be on the move after our breakdown meant we had to stay put. If you decide to stay somewhere it's a diferent matter to when you have to stay put. Ben and I enjoyed a walk alongside the boat and then had a ride to the bottom of Audlem Locks. We worked through two then stopped for water, while it was filling I went to the Coop for some bits and pieces and Eric sorted out the rubbish and cassettes.

Up another lock and past the Shroppie Fly on our way to Cox Bank above lock 3. We worked through thirteen locks in all and don't we know it, we're certainly out of practice with lock wheeling. As we relaxed on the boat voices came from a passing holiday boat....."Dad what do we do about the lock?" said some boys......."You'll have to get the spanners out" said the dad! It certainly made us smile.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

RCR Came Up Trumps

I've been for a four mile walk this morning along a muddy towpath to Nantwich to get some milk and a newspaper. When I finally got back to the boat.....surprise surprise the  RCR guys were busy in the engine hole. Aquadrive had replaced the failed half of the drive under guarantee so we just had some labour charges to pay because it's only the first two hours is free with RCR.  Yippee!! we can move in the morning as Eric wants to watch the Cup Final this afternoon.   

Friday, May 04, 2012

Still Going Nowhere! (Update)

Well we're still going nowhere, RCR called this morning and asked us to email a photo of the Aquadrive to confirm it's a model with a ten year  guarentee. That done another phonecall to say they're coming to remove the Aquadrive and get it repaired. Don't know how long it'll take.......maybe Bank Holiday at Hack Green!

RCR came and removed the Aquadrive and it was taken to a firm near news since so it looks like we're still going nowhere.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Busy Going Nowhere-RCR To The Rescue!

This morning we walked up to Nantwich Chandlery to get some oil filters  but ended up with just one. They had a couple of pipe fenders as we'd lost one in the locks. Then we planned a trip to Coole Pilate Leisure Area and a quiet afternoon, but it was not to we approached Hack Green Locks there were strange clunks in the engine hole.We got through one lock and then the drive died in the middle of the pound........we always wanted to stay at Hack Green.......thank goodness for long ropes so I could pull the boat across.

In the pound.......going nowhere

A call to RCR and they'll be here in a few hours, we're third in the queue for this area, so someone else is having a good day too. Attempted a walk with Ben the dog but as he could hear gunshots or a bird scarer he wouldn't go further than the top lock. Been here three hours already so getting a bit fed up!

RCR came after four hours but after working for two hours they couldn't get the Aquadrive to grip the shaft. Eric and I  became work horses to pull the boat as we needed to get the boat out of the pound and up the top lock to moor on the visitor moorings. Apparently we'll get a phone call in the morning about the repairs. So we did get to stay at Hack Green after all.......and I don't know how long we'll be stuck here!

Hack Green Top Lock
At the top lock there is an information board telling you about Hack Green Secret Bunker which is now open to the public and no longer secret.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Hurleston Locks To Nantwich

Yesterday we stayed put a few bridges up from Hurleston Locks as the weather forecast was  grim. Ben and I managed a walk down to Hurleston Reservoir without getting wet, although there was plenty of water in the reservoir. I enjoyed walking around it's perimeter with the wind blowing off the Cheshire Plain and then back along the towpath to the boat. Ben decided to bark at the BW man checking boat numbers on his computer, but he said he usually spooks dogs as he was dressed all in black, so was used to being barked at. 

Today it was a different day, no wind and sunshine! We decided to go down to Hurleston and use the facilities before working through the locks. We had a chat to Linda (ex Lockie) who now runs Cheshire Cat Narrowboats at  the Top Lock. She's lucky enough to live in the lock cottage with Mark (Yellow Van) a marine engineer who has helped us many times with the Mikuni and water pumps.

No lock keeper at Hurleston Locks today which was unusual and it wasn't dinner time. But no problems going down as long as you don't leave any fenders down.We had one problem though.... I thought the washing machine had  failed until we realised we were trying to run it off the  1800 watt inverter rather than the that's why it wouldn't go. It was soon doing a load of washing as we headed for Nantwich.

Ben and I walked the towpath to the embankment where we hoped to find a big enough space to moor, but there were quite a few smaller spaces but no room for us. We needed to stop to get some fresh food  and we were in luck as there was one space on the visitor moorings after the Aqueduct and we just fitted. So Ben stayed on the boat and we walked into Nantwich. An hour or so later the fridge was restocked but we decided to stay put until tomorrow......let's hope we miss the rain!