Monday, July 30, 2012

Visitors At Radford Bank

Gwen waiting to move

Gwen with grandad Eric in Deptmore Lock

On Sunday afternoon we arrived at Radford Bank and decided to stay facing towards Deptmore Lock since there was a space rather than going up to turn around before coming back to Radford Bank. The good thing too was we hadn't eaten so we went and had a Sunday roast at the pub next to the moorings. Ben had a doggy bag of roast beef so he didn't mind us going at all.

In the morning I took Ben for a short walk, his choice not mine as he likes to walk with the boat and it wasn't going anywhere until Lisa and Gwen arrived. I caught the bus into Stafford and did some shopping before meeting them on the platform at Stafford Station. A taxi back to Radford Bank as it's £1.60 each on the bus and a taxi cost £5.30 and it easier anyway with suitcases and shopping.

We decided to have lunch in the 'Radford Bank' before our cruise began. Back on the boat Gwen had her life jacket on and was soon ready to go sitting on the hatch next to grandad of course. We worked through Deptmore Lock and turned around by 'The Moat House' before mooring up  a couple of bridges away from Deptmore Lock.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sun Rise Near Weston

Yesterday we decided to stay put in our peaceful spot a few bridge before Weston. The boat needed a good clean and Eric wanted to check the batteries. The boat looked better for a while until the hairy Ben added hairs to the carpet! Outside the boat has one clean side and one dirty side as it's not on the towpath side so it doesn't get a wash although we have seen some enthusiastic boaters walking the gunnels to do this job!

Ben and I walked into the solitary shop in Weston to get a newspaper, looking at the road signs I hadn't realised we were just five miles by road from Stafford. We enjoyed a lovely sunny day with the washing blowing on the rotary line. Lovely to be able to dry it outside.

I woke early this morning just in time to see the sunrise at 5.30 am, this photos was taken a few minutes before it came over the horizon by the railway footbridge. As usual the photos don't do the sunrise justice but you get the idea.

Today we're off to just above Deptmore Lock on the Staffs & Worcs Canal after we've winded again so we're heading towards Radford Bank......a good place to pick up our visitors tomorrow. Lisa and Gwen are coming to stay and Gwen is delighted with her own suitcase and the fact that the boat will be moving!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Visit To Stone, Trent And Mersey Canal

Travelling in beautiful weather we finally got to Stone after an overnight stop near Weston. Boats are travelling too, up and down the Trent and Mersey Canal so it was a case of one boat up and one boat down at the locks. The towpath was in surprisingly good condition and I only met one section just before Aston Lock where I had no choice but to walk through six inches of sticky wet mud. Lots of bank work has been going on along this stretch of canal with plant filled coir bags making soft edges staked in place and infilled behind and the area seeded with grass, which is growing too.

Through Aston Lock wondering if we'd find a space to moor below the locks as we needed a winding hole to turn around. If there wasn't a space it would have been four locks up to the next winding hole and then four locks down a day or so later. But we were in luck and a space was there on the 48 hour moorings which suited us fine. With overhanging trees the solar panels wouldn't get that much sun but we had a space!

Eric and I went for a wander around the town to find  a lot of the shops shut.......early closing day. But of course Morrisons was open with a amazing display of unusual fresh vegetables, also unusual was the way they were displayed on a bed of ice with a fine mist spray of water keeping them moist. I wouldn't have known what to do with a lot of them. Anyway bags filled we were on our way back to the boat.

Eric had to put the fish aerial as he couldn't get a satellite signal but Freeview was ok. Looking around at other boats and the local houses we  could see aerials pointing in different directions but our finder only gave us one green light when it pointed one way. It wasn't a particularly quiet evening as a house opposite had a noisy barbecue until the early hours of the morning and then the Olympic Bells woke us up about eight o'clock.

We decided against Friday night in Stone and I took Ben for an early walk in the recreation grounds alongside the River. He enjoyed a paddle in the section where the canoe club have a course set up of hanging poles as obstacles........can't remember what they call it! Then we winded to turn around and left Stone behind seeking the comparative peace and quiet of the countryside.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Great Haywood Towards Stone

Winding At Tixall Wide

On the T&M near Shirleywich

Last night on my return to the boat, we decided we'd move in the morning......ichy feet mode. Eric was facing the wrong way to go to Great Haywood so he reversed back to the widest bit of Tixall Wide and winded. Everyone seems to enjoy doing a turn here!  I walked with Ben down to Anglowelsh as we needed fuel, gas and some Morris Golden Film Oil and the wallet was certainly lighter.

Then it was under the bridge at Great Haywood Junction and a left turn to fill up with water, get rid of the recycling and rubbish and empty the cassettes. A decision was made at the waterpoint and we're now heading up the Trent and Mersey Canal to Stone........just for a few days as our daughter Lisa and grandaughter Gwenllian are coming to visit on Monday. Maybe she won't need her wellies after all.

Lisa & Gwen with her wellies!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Update From Sunny Tixall Wide

Where have I been you may be thinking? We have been enjoying the lovely weather at Tixall Wide .We have been walking with Ben the dog who spent loads of time cooling down in the canal. It's been really busy here with boaters' out on the towpath sitting in the sun, but still very quiet at night.

On Monday I went by train to Newport as I've had a sore throat and a dry cough leaving me with a funny voice. My doctor operates an open surgery so I could see a doctor a lot quicker in Newport than Great Haywood. I went to see him on Tuesday morning and then came back by train. I stayed at my daughter Clare's house- she's had this bug already! Thanks Clare!

At Stafford I found Tesco with the help of google maps and did a bit of shopping before catching the bus back to Great Haywood. In the heat it seemed a long way back to Tixall Wide and I stopped to chat to Angela & Trevor in their newly painted boat. Back on the boat......Eric & Ben were pleased to see me.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Great Haywood And Tixall Wide

The Gatehouse (again)
Friday came and we decided to head to Great Haywood, as usual we had a fight with Colwich Lock, those bottom gates are heavy and they don't want to stay shut. Ben and I walked until he jumped back on the boat at the lock as he didn't like the railway bridge ahead with a train going over it! We moored below the lock at Great Haywood as we wanted to catch the bus into Stafford as I needed a new phone.

I knew what I wanted looking on the Internet and vodafone matched the Internet deal for a Samsung Galaxy Ace.......Eric liked it so he had one too! The touch screen takes a bit of getting used to but I love the maps, gps and the navigation apps already loaded on it. Perhaps I won't get lost least I should know if I am going in the right direction!

On Saturday Ben and I went for a walk in the wood alongside the canal and he enjoyed the big sticks and a few paddles. After lunch we decided to move up through the lock to Tixall Wide so we could have satellite TV rather than freeview because we'd be away from big trees. Freeview works but seems to more sensitive to boat movement which causes it to pixellate if the signal is poor.

So I still playing with my new phone  at Tixall Wide.................and it's not raining!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fradley To Rugeley And Beyond

Fradley swing bridge

Today we left Fradley Junction after filling up water and went through the swing bridge and turned left heading for Rugeley on the Trent and Mersey Canal. No queues today which is good because there's only space for one boat on the lock landing of Middle Lock and the rest of the approach is full of long term moored boats.  Boats coming towards meant we had some help at the locks as well as a good chat with the other boaters.

Ben and I enjoyed our walk although the weather couldn't make up it's mind whether to stay dry or the end we had some heavy rain. Back on the boat we passed through Armitage where the loos are piled high in Armitage Shanks goods yard.

Loos in the goods yard
We arrived at Rugeley late in the day so couldn't find a space near Morrison's (Bridge 66) and had to moor nearer to Bridge 67. We needed to stop as the freezer was nearly empty and so was the fridge.  Walking back to the boat there were loads of spaces near Bridge 68 we must have been just an hour too early. Usually boater's shop and leave Rugeley but we've stayed many times and it's been fine.

We were moored on  a slope so we moved on to moor near the pigs near Bridge 69, a popular spot but room for a few more boats. Out of the window we can see a field of sheep and  we can smell the pigs but it's fairly quiet until Virgin trains thunder past. A busy day today, tomorrow we'll head for Great Haywood.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dog's Swim And Phones Don't!

Starting off at Hopwas this morning on foot with Ben the dog and it was actually dry....well the day started dry. Progress was slow following two boats going so slowly we were on tickover and we didn't arrive at Fradley until 1pm,it took  three and a half hours! Atleast there was a space before the waterpoints on the Coventry Canal.

We moored up with the stern sticking out a bit because it was a bend and didn't give it another thought except Ben was playing on the bank and fell into the water with a great big splash, into  the gap. In my haste to drag him out by his collar  after he'd gone under once as he couldn't get out with the sides having piling, my phone fell into the water unnoticed by me. Ben soon dried off but I couldn't find my phone despite getting out the fishing net and trying to find it in the silt.

So now I've lost all my phone numbers, so if you get 'this phone is turned off' please email me instead

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Short Trip To Hopwas In The Rain

NB Bendigedig
Today it was just an hour's cruise giving Ben a walk with me and stopping at Hopwas when the rain became really heavy.

I've had a couple of odd emails from people on my contact list with the subject matter 'Private message' with this being a link to another site. Others have had them too.......what's going on? I emailed my contacts asking them to delete any messages with this subject from me as I don't want to cause anyone a problem.

Hello to 'NB Have A Lark' who we passed this morning and they told Eric they read my blog. I hope I got your boat's name correct!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Moored At Fazeley Junction

We had a very quiet night near Bradley Green, at the bottom of Atherstone Locks so made a note on the book for future stops. It wasn't an early start today leaving about eleven o'clock and stopping first at the Bradley Green services. Once the water tank was full we began our cruise, Ben and I got off the boat to walk and for change the towpath wasn't just mud and puddles, it was grass. When we reached a very bad section Ben and I got back on the boat.

We planned to stop at Polesworth but there wasn't any room so we just carried on cruising. With the dry weather there were people, bikes and dogs enjoying the great outdoors. We reached Glascote Locks to find a boat leaving the lock so we didn't have to queue but it was a different story for boats coming up the locks with a long queue taking over an hour and a half to get up the flight of two locks.

We finally moored up after Fazeley Junction on the Coventry Canal with the sun shining. We popped up to the Tesco Extra in the the village for a paper before coming back to make a rather later than usual Sunday roast. Two hours later we had roast lamb with mint sauce, fresh veg and now we're suitably full and having a lazy evening......once the dishes have been washed up of course.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Back On The Coventry Canal- Atherstone Locks

Mud and puddles!

We left the Ashby Canal on Friday morning, Ben and I started our walk at Marston Junction as the towpath is much better as you head towards Nuneaton. We walked for an hour or so and then got back on board. At  Bridge 21 we had a lunch stop as there's a really good fish and chip shop just over the bridge, the small fish at £1.80 is the same size as large fish in most shops and the chip portions were far too big for us.

We continued cruising and stopped overnight just after Hartshill  near Bridge 34 and all was quiet apart from the railway. When it started to rain very heavily it was incredibly noisy  on the roof of the boat and it went on for hours, so I didn't get much sleep. In the morning the rain had stopped so it was time to move a little further. The picture above shows mud and puddles on the Coventry Canal and Ben needed a wash before he could get back on the boat.

Approaching Lock 1 of the Atherstone Flight
We arrived at the top lock of the Atherstone flight to find a boat leaving the lock and as there were quite a few boats moving progress was good for the five locks before we stopped for shopping at the large Coop which can be reached from Bridge 43.  After shopping we stopped an hour and then decided to move down the next six locks to moor at Bradford Green which will hopefully be a bit quieter as long as the rain stays away.

We followed a boat down these locks which meant we had to fill  locks before we could use them as there wasn't any boats coming uo the lock flight. Atherstone locks are slow fillers but they empty quickly so despite having a busy day we were moored up by five o'clock. So we've worked through eleven locks today and there are only two more until we reached Fradley Junction and the Trent and Mersey Canal.

NB Bendigedig near Atherton

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Back To The Beginning Of The Ashby Canal

Stoke Golding from the Ashby canal
 Today we left Market Bosworth and had a long day by choice as the weather was beautiful- sun, sun and more sun. Ben and I had a good walk, not too much mud on the first few miles towards Sutton Cheyney Wharf. We pulled in there to top up the water tank to replace water used over the last few days and a load of washing done on the way.

At Sutton Cheyney Wharf we spotted NB Plum with  John and his wife. They sell solar panels and John fitted two onto NB Bendigedig when we were at Tixall Wide. He's still  a very busy man and we told him how pleased we are with the panels he fitted and the difference they have made to diesel consumption.

We passed Stoke Golding, didn't fancy all the ants anyway and Hinckley. Near Burton Hastings the moorings were full so we continued on our way to Bridge 3 hoping for a space and yes there was a space so we moored up. It rained just after we finished our chilli con carne- it was a hot one so we needed a beer to cool our mouths- good job there was a bottle in the fridge!

Moored at Bridge 3 on the Ashby Canal

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

About Turn- Snarestone To Market Bosworth

The current terminus of the Ashby canal
We spent a very quiet Monday night at the end of the canal and in the morning we decided to use the facilities and then turn around and begin the return journey. One of the reasons we didn't stay another night was there was nowhere to go to walk the dog with the unnavigable canal closed off by Leicester County Council. Towards Snarestone Tunnel it was just a bog all the way so not much fun going that way.

On Tuesday we  cruised past Snarestone, Shackerstone and Congerstone  without a single rain drop falling and moored up about a mile out of Market Bosworth where we stayed overnight. Plenty of rain came later but we were fine indoors. Ben and I walked along the section from Gopsall Wharf through the woods to Shackerstone where I knew the towpath was good. Plenty of big sticks to keep Ben happy too.

Today we did the final mile to Market Bosworth, Ben and I bog walked as that section of the towpath is really wet in places. We were early enough at 11.30am to find a space to moor but we only just was close. We moored up and walked into Market Bosworth for supplies with Ben the dog. We caught the bus back with the shopping and the driver was kind enough to drop us just before the canal bridge, maybe because we were the only ones on the bus.

So the shopping's put away and I feel a lazy afternoon coming on.......Ben is fast asleep!

Monday, July 09, 2012

At The End Of The Ashby Canal

The north portal of Snarestone Tunnel

The Battlefield Line is quiet today with no steam trains running and Ben is more his normal self rather than hiding either in the bathroom or under the breakfast stools where he obviously felt safe. We set off for a walk  and walked a few miles getting back on the boat at the aqueduct just before Shackerstone.

The canal was busy today with boats leaving the Sea Otter Get Together at the terminus. They had fireworks last night so we knew they'd be coming back towards us today and there would be room to more at the current end of the canal. Nevertheless it was pleasant cruising, the rain kept away and the sun came out. We followed another boat through the bendy Snarestone Tunnel  and then  cruised to the current end of the navigation.

Arriving at the end of the canal we moored up on the 48 hour moorings and I went off on the bike to Measham, the nearest place to get some food. As the contractors are working extending the canal you certainly couldn't get through on foot, in fact the only way to the road was through the usually locked access road to the site, but it was open as the Sanitary Station was being cleaned. So I left on the bike before he'd finished cleaning!

I found my way to Measham, I didn't realise it was hilly so progress was slow on the ups but whizzing on the downs! On the way back I got a bit lost and missed the turn off into Quarry Road and ended up going a longer way round to Snarestone Tunnel and then I was at the wrong end as there's no footpath through it. Opposite the Globe is a footpath to a playground with a stile (oh no) but luckily I climbed over and there's a gate further along so we went back and came via the gate. I didn't know which way to go so asked a man in his garden and found the way to the northern portal of the tunnel.  Then the fun began is was boggy back to the terminus and I had to walk and push the bike through it.

Eric and Ben were waiting on the next canal bridge and Ben came running to meet me and covered me with muddy footprints.......he was filthy too. A quick wash in the canal and he was cleaner and the bike got a wash too with a bucket of canal water. I've got jelly legs again but the fridge is fuller and we have chocolate!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Cruising On The Ashby- Just A Little Bit

Yesterday the rain eased so we decided to go and get some essentials in the Coop in Market Bosworth just over a mile away. There is a footpath on the road but in places it was narrow due to overgrown hedges. The rain water was pouring down the hilly road from the town so you can see why towns were built on hills. We filled two rucksacks and headed back to the boat, down hill this time so a fair bit quicker.Back on the boat we had lunch and then the really heavy rain started once again.We were on 48 hour moorings so stayed put hoping for better weather on Saturday.

Saturday came, with some sun again so we decided to move a mile or so, not wanting to overstay on the moorings. I walked with Ben and Eric steered the boat. We found a bit of piling and pulled in so Eric could set up the satellite dish to get TV as he wanted to watch the F1 Qualifiers. Ben and I continued our walk, not that Ben was happy as the steam railway (The Battlefield Line) runs quite close and he didn't like the steam whistle!

Now the view from the window is greenery rather than housing, which suits us much better.

Friday, July 06, 2012

One Sunny Day On The Ashby Canal

Cruising in sunshine!

Plenty of vegetation!

We've been cruising, sometimes in the rain and sometimes in the dry but one thing remains the same it's called bog walking on the towpath with Ben. Some places there's a hard surface and you feel pleased and then it's back to a hundred yards of paddling reminiscentof the cuttings on the Shroppie!We travelled as far as Stoke Golding and stayed put for a day before moving on a bit more.

Yesterday we had a pleasant surprise there was actually warmth and sunshine, so we decided it was time to go but no difference on the towpath as overnight rain kept the towpath good and muddy. Ben definately needed a wash when we got back on the boat at Sutton Cheyney. We pulled in at Sutton Cheyney Wharf to use the facilities, the bins  were overflowing but the water and Elsan were working. There's a shop so we had an icecream as the water tank filled.

We'd hoped to stay on the visitor moorings there but we were too long for the space left so we had to keep going. I planned to walk in Bosworth Fields but it was not to be, we'll have a look on the way back. The Ashby has a lot of soft shallow sides so we needed to find an unoccupied length of piling or Visitor Moorings with rings. We were in luck at Bosworth Wharf when a boater offered to move up a bit so we could get in a space which was just a few feet too short. We were soon moored up next to a hard path on rings, lovely after all the mud.

Today we planned to walk into Market Bosworth about a mile or so from the canal but it's absolutely chucking it down and Ben hasn't even left the boat for a comfort break after being in all night......he doesn't like the noise of the rain on the cratch cover! Hopefully it'll stop soon and we can go for our walk.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

On The Ashby Canal- Mud And Ants!

Yesterday we moored up a  few bridges up on the Ashby Canal but you could hear the trains overnight so we decided on a move in the morning. Ben and I had a two mile walk but it wasn't pleasant as the towpath was a muddy bog after all the rain and progress was slow. Ben was absolutely filthy so he had a wash using a bucket of water and a sponge, followed by a rub down with a towel.

We cruised as far as Stoke Golding and pulled in to moor between bridge 26 and 27, but there seemed to be ants everywhere and yes a few went up by trouser leg and bit me. We had trouble finding a spot where we could get the back end of the boat in and not have the ropes next to nests full of ants. The heavy rain started when Eric had finished finding the satellite signal so we stopped just in time.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Back At Hawkesbury Junction

The Greyhound at Hawkesbury Junction
Sunday found on moving on, stopping at Rose Narrowboats to fill up with water and get rid of the rubbish.We visited the chandlery and bought a couple of oil filters as Eric used the last one he had last week. They only do Fram filters but we knew the number we needed for our Beta 43 (PH3589). The guy in the chandlers told us they do a PH8A filter which is slightly longer which fits if we had the room, it depends on where the alternator is sited and it's £10 cheaper so we bought one to try as it shouldn't foul the alternator.

Ben and I stayed off the boat for a walk but Ben wanted to get back on as there was a shoot on the left of us and noisy rains hooting on the right of us, but the boat wasn't near the bank. We walked for a while until he jumped back on at a bridge hole, so I got back on too.

We enjoyed our cruise passing under the M6 and M69, you could smell the exhaust fumes. We moored on the Oxford Canal just before Hawkesbury Junction, you could hear the hum of the M6 which runs closely by but we didn't want to cruise any further.

Ben enjoyed a ball playing session on the wide grassy area next to the towpath, so he was happy and then even happier when he found a place for a drink and a paddle in the canal taking his ball with him. Back on the boat one wet ball still in his mouth!

Tomorrow we're heading for Marston Junction as we fancy some time on the Ashby Canal before we tackle those lovely locks at Atherton.