Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Boating With Gwen And Lisa

Lisa and Gwen on the lock beam
Gwen relaxing on the roof
Eric and Gwen on NB Bendigedig
Today was dry when Gwen woke at 7.30am and by the time we were up, washed and dressed it was still dry outside. Boating without rain is so much better. Lisa, Gwen and I walked down to Great Haywood Junction with Ben the dog leaving Eric to steer the boat. We topped up with water and did the cassettes before continuing up the Trent and Mersey Canal towards Stone. Just a couple of locks to do and we moored up just before the rain started.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cruising In The Rain With Lisa And Gwen

Gwen waiting at the station

Today we woke to pouring delightful.....I hoped Gwen had her wellies with her.I took Ben for a walk before catching the bus to meet them at Stafford Railway Station.  I was far too early so I had a coffee while I waited. Gwen and Lisa arrived on time and we took a taxi back to Radford Bank where the boat was moored. They were enthusiastically greeted by Ben and he presented Gwen with a ball to throw for him!

Despite the rain we needed to turn around and the nearest winding hole was at the Moat House Hotel, so that's where we went. We worked through Deptmore Lock then turned further on and came back down the lock back past Radford Bank eventually working through Tixall Lock and mooring on Tixall Wide. Eric was dripping wet but dry underneath his wet gear.

Soon the fire was lit , lasagne in the oven with strawberries and icecream for afters.......lovely......and it's still raining. Guess what the weather forecast is for tomorrow......rain of course.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Waiting For Our Visitors

Enjoying the Wide.......turning around with plenty of room!

A little closer

It's busy on a  Sunday but we decided to go down to Great Haywood Junction and get diesel from the Anglo Welsh boatyard. While we were there we emptied the cassettes, got rid off the rubbish and filled up with water in the boatyard so we didn't have to queue at the water point under the bridge. We bought some engine oil ready for the next service on the boat and they let us dispose of our used oil in their barrel. It took an age to fill up with water, so I put some belly pork in the oven and roasties to cook while we cruised up to Radford Bank. We were hoping to find a space to moor as our daughter Lisa is coming with granddaughter Gwenllian on Tuesday and it's a good place to get into Stafford to meet their train.

Ben and I walked up to Tixall Lock to find a queue, the first of the season.The new owners of the lock cottage (Richard and Joanne if I've remembered correctly) were busy locking the boats through as they enjoy lock wheeling as they can have  a chat to passing boaters.I expect we'll see them on the cut soon as they are looking for a thirty foot boat, the size dictated by the available mooring opposte the lock cottage.

We were in luck at Radford Bank although I did have to ask the boater just mooring up in the middle of a big space would he move up twenty feet so we could get in behind him, and he did so quite happily. He had a good chat with Eric telling him he had hoped to retire and travel the canals with his wife but she had died so he was on his own.

Today it's Bank Holiday Monday and the sun is shining, Ben and I went for a walk following the cycle route into Stafford so far and then coming back a different way. Eric and I then went on the bus to Tesco Extra in Stafford to fill up the empty cupboards, fridge and freezer. We came back by we had lots of bags.

Shopping put away we went and had a carvery meal at the Radford Bank Inn....very nice too. The rest of the afternoon was spent being thoroughly lazy.

Lisa and Gwenllian having a silly picture moment!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Captain Returns

Yesterday Eric returned to NB Bendigedig thanks to his sister Paula driving him home as he wasn't well enough to come back by train. Clare has been looking after him too. He's been feeling decidedly sick for a few days and the bug finally made its presence felt while he was away from home.We're all the same we want to be home when we feel poorly..

Today he's on toast and clear soup and feeling better as the wild wind is pummelling the boat. It's always windier on Tixall Wide and the satellite dish has just come unstuck from it's magmount! Eric's just rescued it.

Ben and I have been down to Great Haywood to get some food......we'd planned to move to Rugeley over the weekend but we'll see what the weather brings. Windy narrowboating is not much fun. You can see a few whiffs of smoke from the chimneys on the boats moored here.....all warm and cosy and  staying put!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Moored At Tixall Wide


Nothing much happening at Tixall Wide, where I've been moored for the last three days while Eric sorts out his prescriptions for the next couple of months. It was a bit of a fiasco when we went to collect our prescriptions a month ago as he didn't have any of his new tablets but he's just rung to say it's all sorted and he has the rest of our tablets. So he'll be back tomorrow.

While he's been away it's been so quiet .....I'll be talking to the dog! I have had chats with boaters I've met while out walking the dog though and lots of phone talks with Eric though. Ben and I have had some lovely walks in the woods alongside the river on the Shugborough Estate. Lots of places for him to sniff and leave his mark although once you pass the cattle grid he had to be on a lead as there are cattle roaming free.....but it's easy enough to stay away from them.

I've also sampled some rum and raisin icecream from the farm shop .....delicious and some lovely sausages which I had for my tea tonight.Before Eric went we bought a mixed basket of plants to put on the bow of the boat but it's so windy today I've had to put it in the cratch until it calms down here.The boat is rocking as I blog with waves on the Wide.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cruising On A Sunday Afternoon

A good mooring spot.....opposite the pig farm
This morning it was such a lovely day we decided to leave Great Haywood to cruise just short of Rugeley to turn around, rather than reversing back to a very busy waterpoint on a busy junction. Basically a there and back cruise but we enjoyed moving. First of all we worked through Great Haywood Lock and I walked the dog to the next lock, Colwich Lock. Both of these locks have short arms so closing them is hard work on your own. Plenty of boats on the move so help was at hand.
A black lamb exploring
We passed plenty of wild life including a black lamb exploring, the pigs on a small holding, and a pair of swans with their cygnets. Even the cattle in the fields alongside the River Trent were lazing in the sun. There were also loads of dogs with their owners and cyclists enjoying the sunshine.

Cygnets on the bankside

NB Bendigedig in Colwich Lock
We didn't stay in Great Haywood after doing the filling and emptying but  went up on Tixall Wide for a few's such a lovely spot! Shepherd's Pie for tea to make our day complete.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Wildflowers In The Woods

A bluebell

For reasons best known by Blogger my photos can only be uploaded by sharing them singly from Picasso Web Albums! They won't upload from my computer either! I give up........three separate blogs for three photos! See update below photos.

Bluebells in the wood

Red Campion


White Flower? Stitchwort

More white flowers.....Stitchwort

Today (Saturday) Picasa Web Albums  showed my photos so I added them to this blog. Thanks to those who told me it was Stitchwort.......not sure whether it's Greater or Lesser though......I just don't know!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Just A Little Cruise To Great Haywood

Today we woke early, the fields next to the boat were  all misty but the sun soon burnt it off. After breakfast we were on the move as we hoped to be able to get on the waterpoint without queueing. It's not the easiest waterpoint to get to as you need to reverse back if you plan to go towards Colwich.We managed it after a short wait to let a couple of boats cross the Trent Aqueduct. Everything filled and emptied we moved a short way to moor at Great Haywood.

We seemed to have loads of rubbish to get rid of and it was good that at this Services there's a recycling point. I needed to recycle a Dyson cleaner and the lady in the boatyard said leave it by the bins with a label to say it still worked and it wouldn't be there long. It was there when I took a bag of rubbish later, so I didn't need to feel guilty about leaving an electrical item at the refuse point. All it needed was a  new wand (not magic) as the handle was held together with black tape.and a new carpet/hard floor attachment as the plastic tubing had split.

I am really pleased with my Dyson Animal as it has a tangle free turbo brush attachment which really does pick up dog hair and we've plenty of that, and it still fits under the bed.

Ben and I had a lovely walk in the woody area on the offside of the canal , it's owned by the National Trust . I enjoyed all the wildflowers, there were bluebells, red campion, violets,  little white flowers whose name escapes me and  the bird song. Ben enjoyed sniffing and smelling and paddling in the shallow sides of the canal. It's been a lovely sunny day, so much better than rain.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

At Tixall Wide

We're sitting tight enjoying the peace and quiet of Tixall Wide. The weather has been variable with blue skies and sunshine but  we've also had rain, hail stones and wind as well as more sunshine. Just half a dozen boats moored here and just four moored at Great Haywood at the beginning of the week but it's filling up at Great Haywood today.

Last night the rain hammered on the roof for most of the night but we had a lovely sunny afternoon. I caught the bus from Great Haywood into Stafford for a little retail therapy while Eric looked after Ben after I'd taken him for a walk of course. The bus service is hourly, so you need to plan which bus you're getting back as there's times when the next bus is more than a hour apart.

Tomorrow we need to top up with water so we need to move down to Great Haywood, empty the cassettes and get rid of the accumulated rubbish. I hope it manages  to stay dry for an hour!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Radford Bank To Tixall Wide

A posh lock cottage at Deptmore Lock

Approaching Deptmore Lock
On Saturday we decided on a short cruise as Eric accompanied my walk to Radford Bank after we'd worked through Deptmore Lock with it's posh lock cottage. Not a boat in sight and when we arrived at Radford Bank there were only two boats moored up there.
We tied up and decided on lunch at the Radford Bank Inn, which is a carvery with amazing prices £13.95 for two carvery meals and two drinks. I had roast gammon while Eric sampled the steak and kidney pie, with an assortment of help yourself to as much as you want vegetables.
Eric went back to the boat to watch the Grand Prix qualifiers and I escaped to Stafford for a little retail therapy. M&S didn't have anything I liked other than some nice  food but Eric had some new socks and undies. I caught the bus back to Radford Bank and we had a quiet night with a nice coal fire because it was cold.
This mooring we decided to move just an hour and a half away to Tixall Wide just in time to watch the Grand Prix of course. Ben and I had a good walk but he had to stay on his lead 'til we were away from the dog walkers, cyclists and runners nearer Stafford. At Tixall Wide the wind is blowing....nothing unusual and there are just a few boats moored up. Satellite signal found, fire lit so we're all settled for a quiet afternoon.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Gailey To Deptmore.....Out In The Country

Last night's mooring wasn't the quietest place with the A5 passing just a few hundred yards away, it's a very busy route. We just needed to stop as the wind got much worse. A few stoppages on the Shroppie with fallen trees show we left there just in time.

Our cruising today was accompanied by the M6 for most of the way, so rather noisy! I wonder if any of the motorway travellers are even aware there's a canal nearby. We worked through nine locks, mostly nearly full needing just topping up before we could open the gates. Ben and did a lot of walking between the spaced out locks. 

We topped up the water tank above Penkridge Lock which now has a posh stainless steel waterpoint. A quick pop to the popin shop near the canal for bread, milk and a newspaper.Plenty of room to moor above the lock too, but we decided to keep going.

The forecast showers managed to stay away while we cruised.It's been really quiet very few boats moving today. We'd just moored up on the pound above Deptmore Lock and the heavy rain came down, but we were OK now. Ben is fast asleep! Peace and quiet ......superb! Although you can see from my screenshot the M6 is still very close.

The blue arrow is our GPS position

Thursday, May 09, 2013

A Windy Cruise......Coven To Gailey

Gailey Lock ( picture taken previously)

After leaving Oxley Marine we headed down to the next junction to wind (turn around) then cruised past Oxley Marine and Autherley Junction. We were lucky today as we didn't meet a boat in the narrows called 'Pendeford Rockin' by the old boatmen. It's a narrow cutting through a solid belt of sandstone with a couple of passing places.We passed under the noisy M54 and moored up just after the 'Fox and Anchor' canal side at Coven.

In the morning we were up and away early enough to miss the rain forecasted for midday.Ben and I enjoyed our walk passing a CART man taking boat numbers. Our number was also taken as we moored up below Gailey Lock. Eric was glad to moor up as it has been extremely windy in places making cruising interesting to say the least. Below the lock the satellite dish on a magnetic mount was getting blown over by the wind so we resorted to using the freeview aerial. We are moored up on rings so the boat's going nowhere, so we'll be OK.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Oxley Marine To The Rescue

Our morning didn't start well today......the central heating used to heat the water didn't come on because of low batteries and then the engine sounded like a bag of nails on tickover. We decided to head for Oxley Marine just south of Autherley Junction on the Staffs and Worcs Canal to see if they could help us.

On the way Eric got water near the junction while I got on my bike to get a few things at Morrison's as it's just ten minutes by bike. As soon as I got back we worked through the stop lock and turned right for Oxley Marine pulling in alongside some moored boats. Eric went to find someone and the man came to listen to the engine even though he was eating his lunch.

He thought it was the drive plate but decided the noise was coming from the front of the turned out to be the bottom pulley (crank pulley) needed tightening.......his words 'it's lost it's newness' made us smile! Thanks to their very prompt attention we were soon on our way. The bill wasn't bad either and the boat engine sounds so much better.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Slowly Does It....... Wheaton Aston And Brewood

Sunshine on a Bank Holiday Monday was great. Just a short cruise yesterday as far as Wheaton Aston where we found a space in the visitor moorings before Turner's (great diesel prices) but closed yesterday. We bought diesel at Norbury Wharf (best boatyard diesel price) as we didn't know whether we'd be passing through Wheaton Aston when Turner's was open. I walked to the local shop for a few bits and pieces, well stocked and open too.

In the cutting after Wheaton Aston

After the sunshine this week the trees and bushes have opened up their buds and now it's green again, much later than usual. In the cuttings though the new growth on the ferns are only just starting to appear, I like the way they uncurl. Lots of people and muddy sections on the towpath near Gnosall but away from the villages Ben and I had the grassy towpath to ourselves. Eric loves the Shroppie with it's long straight, wide path along cuttings and embankments.

The waterpoints at Wheaton Aston
Just one lock to do today after using the facilities below the lock, no queues here as there's four water taps. After that we're heading for Brewood to get some shopping, there's a nice fruit and veg in 'Coopers'. There's also a Coop and a lovely butcher with great meat pies.....I usually put some in the freezer as well as having one for tea. We 'll just go a little further and moor near Bridge 8 as you don't get any sun in the moorings at Brewood ......and the solar panels need sunshine.
The aqueduct over the A5 before Brewood

A view of Brewood from the canal

Sunday, May 05, 2013

A Day In Gnosall

The day started with sunshine so I decided to take Ben for a long walk along the Stafford to Newport Greenway. This is a leisure trail for walkers, bikers, dog walkers as well as horse riders. We started by bridge 35A which is railway bridge which used to carry the Stafford to Shrewsbury Railway over the canal and headed towards Newport, Shropshire.

It was a lovely walk with lots of greenery for Ben to sniff and water. The wild flowers were amazing with masses of primroses, wood anemones and celandines. We met other dog walkers, a few cyclists as it's part of Route 55 and a pair of horses with their riders which Ben looked warily at from my side on his lead. Back on the boat he needed his legs washed as he'd found some dirty black mud in a ditch.

We decided to have Sunday lunch so we went to 'The Boat' .......very nice too, no dishes to do today.The rest of the afternoon was spent being thoroughly lazy reading the newspapers......oh what a lovely life  we lead.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

A Short Hop From Norbury To Gnosall

Cruising the Shelmore Embankment
We decided to leave Norbury to it's Canal Festival as we'd prefer some peace and quiet. First of all we pulled in to get diesel, gas and a couple of bags of coal as you never know what the weather will throw at us. It wasn't easy as a boat was moored next to the diesel pump and we had to moor alongside. It was fun getting the coal  and gas across the bows but one of the staff at Norbury Wharf helped. Nearly all the visitor mooring was reserved for the festival so we must have been very lucky to find a space last night on the unreserved section.
Finally walking along the Shelmore Embankment with Ben, Gnosall wasn't far away so we moored up after a very short cruise. It was lunchtime so we walked into Gnosall to find the fish and chip shop on Newport Road. On the way I spotted a hairdresser who was willing to give me a cut, just up the road from The Boat Inn. Back to the boat to cover all the grey hair with natural I feel better!

Friday, May 03, 2013

Another Busy Day.......Tyrley Locks

Blue skies and sunshine leaving Market Drayton

In the cutting below Tyrley Locks

Going up......Tyrley locks

Into another lock

In a lock pound.....still  lovely blue skies

The high bridges before Woodseaves Cutting

Hessian covering  to stabilise a landslip

Lots of ground clearance has been done

We left Market Drayton behind and headed for the flight of five locks at Tyrley expecting long queues as many boats had passed our mooring. But only one was ahead of waiting, Progress was slow wthout any boats coming down the locks but we didn't mind as the sun was shining and Ben had found a female collie friend to play with.

At the top of the locks we used the facilities and waited for a very slow tap to fill the water tank of the boat ahead of us. We had a lovely chat with the couple on it who also live aboard and were the owners of the female collie so Ben was delighted to be outside. We found out later there was another waterpoint at Goldstone Wharf.......we didn't remember that one.

After the locks is Woodseaves Cutting well known for slippages, lots of work has been done clearing fallen trees an land slips and in one place a hessian cover over a slippage was in place to stabilise the ground. A bit further on is  Goldstone Wharf and we decided top stop and sample the food in The Wharf Tavern. The service was really good with no long waits for ordered food and we had a lovely steak with mushrooms, onion rings, salad and chips ......all lovely and hot except for the salad and this was followed by a naughty pudding of course. A very busy place, lots of people had booked their tables in advance.

A quiet night followed even though we moored opposite a caravan park. It was a pity there was no internet signal to do a blog but that's just one of those things,  but we did have satellite TV.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Seven More Locks To Market Drayton

We decided to leave Coxbank and cruise a bit further as for once there was no wind and we had sunshine so Eric didn't have even have a coat on. We worked through the last two Audlem locks with their ferocious lock bypass streams. After that Ben and I walked to Adderley and  worked through the flight of five locks, before going  onboard to cruise to Market Drayton. A lovely day, the birds were singing and the tree buds are bursting with new leaves with the warmer weather.

We moored up on the Visitor Moorings on the embankment, after we tried one place we needed to find another as the rings weren't spaced correctly for our boat......afterthought we could have put a pin in! The moorings soon filled up during the afternoon. We had a quiet night too.

In the morning we woke to sunshine, so we wouldn't need to top up the batteries until the evening. A lovely day (no coats needed) we walked into Market Drayton and found a street market in full swing. We sampled the hot baps and Ben shared my hot chicken and stuffing bap.....he thought it was delicious too. Eric had a haircut at a traditional barber's and it was first at pensioner prices so he felt his age today. Later we walked back to the boat with bulging shopping bags.

It's the first day we haven't lit the fire.......perhaps Summer's coming after all! Forecast looks good so I'd better get the high factor sun cream out!