Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Polesworth Wednesday 17 September 2014

Back to our normal 10 am. start, several of the boats moored here overnight had already left. We chugged down to Fazeley Junction and made a detour down the Birmingham and Fazeley canal to Fazeley Mill Marina to top up with diesel at 79p the best price we have found since Taft Wharf on the Trent and Mersey canal. DSCF6947On the way back we noticed a banner at Tolson Mill saying  they were doing coffee at the wool centre, so we pulled over and went in. Inside we found a new cafe that does coffee and cakes, served with ice cream.They have only been open a short time but its nice to see the old building being used. While in there we looked around the wool shop with every colour of wool you could imagine and buttons sold on a pick and mix basis by weight, just like sweets.DSCF6943 Moored  opposite was the Fibre boat, this is not painted by the way but vinyl wrapped like they do commercial vehicles .

In the roof of the bridge that leads back to the Fazeley Junction there are two eyes in the roof, these were to enable them to liftDSCF6949 the stop gate for maintenance that would have been at the junction and right under the bridge. The building at the junction isDSCF6952 continuing again, this has been very much a stop start project.

We turned hard right here onto the Coventry canal towards Tamworth locks, on the way we passed The Little Chimney Co. A onboard stainless Steel chimney manufacturer. He had a selection of his goods for sale on his roof.DSCF6953



  The two Tamworth locks are quite slow and someone has posted a little ditty on the bottom lock.DSCF6958 Just along the cut from here was a boat who’s paint work caught my eye, I hope you like it too.DSCF6957Just above the locks we pulled over for a session down the weed hatch where I retrieved some polly, string and a hard piece of plastic that was knocking as it rotated at slow speeds. Once this was sorted it was off down to Pooley visitor Centre where we got invited onto a boat that the fitter was doing for himself and his wife as a new home. He had incorporated lots of good points with the neatest insulated chimney I have ever seen and an electric oven that will run on a 13 Amp supply. After bidding him farewell we moved on to Polesworth to moor for the night, all the visitor moorings to the north of the town were full so we continued on through the next two bridges to moor on rings by bridge 52.

day 12Today’s journey 10 miles, 2 lock two canals and one junction twice.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Hopwas Tuesday 16 Sept 2014

We were a bit late starting again as we didn’t have far to go today. We actually started off going backwards to the water point. I even managed to pick a time with no boats coming by which was a bonus.While the tank was filling Diana walked to the rubbish point, on the way she passed this post at the junction. DSCF6914It looks like a boat on top of a post, but actually its a talking post, well it would be if it was working to tell you about haw a dry dock works. Once full we were away, some thoughtful soul has mounted a nesting box for Owls in the wood on the offside. DSCF6916

We met Rick on his coal/diesel boat Auriga. He was carving a path through the mud and as we passed I ended up briefly on the bottom as he drew what water there was away.

As we passed through Streethay we passed this splendid pair of ex  working boats moored up.DSCF6920

Why do cows like to stand in the canal, These two had just come to drink as they were looking back towards the field, there were not even bothered by the wash in front of their noses as I passed.DSCF6924

One of the gardens in Whittington supports a good collection of garden gnomes, here is just part of that collection.DSCF6927 Not to be out done a house a bit further along had a couple of straw dolls standing by the canal. DSCF6929

Just before we arrived in Hopwas to try to moor near the Tame Otter a Bee crash landed onto the slide, so I took a couple of photos before he departed, looking at the photos later it was quite obvious why he crashed like he did poor thing.DSCF6933 While talking to another boater who has just moored ahead of us Diana spotted this on the towpath and thought it safer to put it in the longer grass so that it didn’t get stood on. DSCF6937The head is to the right. DSCF6942A beautiful creature 


day12Today’s Journey 8.5 miles in 3.75 hrs with no locks

Monday, 15 September 2014

Fradley Monday 15 September 2014

We were all set to go at 10 am when a whole convoy of boats came by, so we stayed put for half an hour to give them space. After crossing the aqueduct and rounding the bend with nothing coming I saw a boat coming towards us, it took a few minutes before I could see it was an ex working boat as it was right in the sun. I also miss judged her speed which meant we met in the narrowest part of that section of canal. i just clipped the offside and she held course close to the towpath and we passed without touching, just. Thinking about it latter if the canal had have been 6” narrower there could well have been a good jam as we went in together.

We tried to moor just before Tesco in Rugeley  but could only get about 3ft from the towpath. I had just pushed out when I heard Bop Bop Boppidy Bop, the sound that only a Bolinder can make. Seconds later Spey came into sight towing a butty. Nice and wide here so I just held back and we passed the time of day.DSCF6899  The butty has just changed ownership and as you can see the owner is quite pleased about it.DSCF6902

Once they had gone we managed to moor just before the bridge, as a couple returned from shopping were about to set off, just the job. After doing a bit of shopping we were off again, It seems that both next door neighbours on the edge of town keep birds of prey. The photos are of both birds.
DSCF6904 DSCF6903 

Needless to say we met a few boats in awkward spots but notDSCF6912 many, we Passed our marina where we had just a few spots of rain, the first all trip and continued on down to Wood End Lock, where to our surprise we joined a queue of two and one going own in the lock. The two directly in front where hire boats from Stone who we had seen set off on Saturday, chatting to them it turns out they were travelling together and both come from East Anglia.

At Shade house Lock we waited for a boat to come up and there was another waiting when we left. A CaRT volunteer lock keeper was on duty at Middle Lock and she had a notice with chevronsDSCF6913 on it that she swung to point straight down for boats continuing on the T&M or to the  right for boats like us going onto the Coventry canal. This was so her partner on Junction Lock knew whether to turn the lock or hold it for approaching boats.

Again with our luck a boat was just coming out of the Coventry as I wanted to swing in, but Diana had walked ahead and warned us both of the situation. Our plan was to moor for the night just passed the water point, but we were  lucky to get in on the end of the visitor moorings.

day 11 Today’s Journey 10 miles 3 locks and two canals in 5.5 Hrs.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Taft Wharf Sunday 14 September 2014

We started the morning with a walk round Burston, it has an interesting little church as well as a mill pond in the village. As a result of this it was 11 am before we were on our way.

At Sandon Lock there were a couple of boats ahead, one of them being a hire boat, with one man and four ladies onboard, one of the ladies explained that they had were doing team building for a client. I took this to me that the couple had hired a boat for a weekend then charged a company a fortune to take three of their employees on a team building weekend. The three ladies looked suitably bored sitting out on the bow of the boat when we passed them a little later.

By the lock moorings there is this mound but there is no information about it, but it seems its an old lime kiln.DSCF6884

There were a collection of small tugs and Canal and River Services yard at Western Wharf as well as the back end of a butty and several other interesting boat.DSCF6889

On the way up last week I photographed a horse drawn delivery van, I got a slightly better shot of it today. The car is still there DSCF6892but the other wagon has been moved.

Above Hoo Mill lock there are three concrete structures standing in the field beside the canal. They look like old air raid shelters, but why there?DSCF6896 Just below Hoo Mill Lock there is a very ancient fuel delivery arm from a fuel pump in the shed. You can just see the glass bowl on DSCF6897the right hand end of the arm.

We stopped at Gt Haywood just before bridge 74 and walked across the the Farm Shop where we bought a few odds and ends, it has a very well stocked butchery department as well as other fresh and frozen foods.

After this brief stop we pushed on, there were lots of mooring spaces above Haywood lock, but we had to wait for a boat to go down and another to come up before we could continue. Although the boat in front moored just below the lock we were in the same situation at Colwich lock. We were going to moor at Wolseley bridge but the moorings above were all full and below under the trees so we went a bit further just through Taft Bridge. There was one other boat here when we arrived at 1645 hrs but it soon filled up. I spent a bit of time changing the red blodges on the roof to a shade of grey, not quire the same as the rest of the roof but better than red.

day 10 Today’s Journey 10 miles, 5 locks in 5 hrs.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Upper Burston Saturday 13 September 2014

We set of at 1020, I wish I had stayed in bed another hour as this is what we found at the first lock, a queue. We were thereDSCF6875 for just over an hour and only one boat behind us. after this things singled out well, but the time some people took coming into or leaving a lock is unbelievable. There are 4 locks in this flight, but originally there was a staircase on a slightly different line, it joined the present line at the top of the third lock,DSCF6877 Meaford Road Lock.  It came in on the right.

Below the locks someone has put a pair of old lock gates to very good use as a landing stage at the bottom of their garden.DSCF6880

We stopped for a few hours in Stone and did a bit of shopping as well as a bite of lunch. Once back onboard we arrived at Stone Basin just as Canal cruising Holidays were seeing their final boat off down the lock. They instructed the hires at this lock and then made that were OK by accompanying them to the next lock before waving them goodbye. One of the dry docks at Stone is interesting as it has what looks to me a curved wooden lintel above the entrance. It would be very interesting to know how they bent such a piece of timber to that shape. I guess its a listed building, I wouldn’t want to replace it.DSCF6882

We bid goodbye to Stone and carried on to Aston lock where we watched the Black Prince hire boat first try to turn into the marina and finally reversed in. I have no idea what his plans were. Another mile and a half and we pulled over for the night at about 6 pm just before Upper Burston Bridge.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Barlaston Friday 12 September 2014

This was the result of yesterday afternoons labours, later it will get dabbed with primer, this is just the rust convertor. DSCF6848 10 am and we were off, unfortunately following another boat, but today we were to meet a few more so that helped with the locks a bit.

We passed the point where the Foxley Arm use to go off, but is now only a right angle bend.DSCF6851 The Foxley Arms stands on what was the junction. As well as doing food they offer overnight moorings as can be seen by the white post.

Some of the bridges along here have taken bit of a bashing from boats, the bridge profile is deceptive as its pear shaped with a shallower arch profile on the offside. CRT have tried to protectDSCF6852 these by fixing wood in the crash zone, they would probably do better to float a wooden sleeper through the bridge to act as a fender.

Work is still ongoing at Ivy House lift bridge and it has two chain blocks to ensure it doesn’t drop. Although the one this side DSCF6854doesn’t look to be doing much. I am sure that when we came this way last there were industrial buildings on both sides of the canal, with the one on the left being a pottery, today its all houses.DSCF6856 

Old Bottle Kilns are being preserved but its only the actual kilns and they look quite out of place when surrounded by houses like some on the T&M, I expect this will be the fate of these two soon.DSCF6857

We moored up between bridges 8 and 8a to visit one of the potteries, but because they had two coaches of school kids and a WI party there all other tours were cancelled. Bridge 8a is of a modern design with the right hand end of the bridge seemingly unsupported. DSCF6858

We pulled over for lunch on the end of the 24 hour moorings by the Etruria Museum which was closed. I am sure this is another new addition since our last visit. So we sate on the front deck and ate our lunch under the watchful eye of Mr Brindley.DSCF6862

Once fed it was off again and another 350° turn onto the TrentDSCF6863 and Mersey canal at Etruria Junction.To the left of the photograph is the Caldon canal and to the right the Trent and Mersey which also continues on behind us.
Right on the point of the junction is an old dry dock which IDSCF6865 understand was also used as a gauging dock, where new empty boats would be loaded with weights so that their gauging tables could be produced. Boats were gauged it the top Etruria Lock on the T&M as they passed up and down the canal so the toils could be charged.

We had just left the top lock when the volunteer lock keepers came back to work, and by then there was also a boat coming up the next lock so we had a decent run down the flight meeting boats ether leaving  or waiting below a lock for us.

We passed Stoke Bottom and as you can see there are ground paddles at each end.DSCF6867

We stopped just through Stoke on Trent to enjoy an canal side Staffordshire Oatcake from the Oatcake boat. They don’t have room for customers on board so setup a table and chairs on the towpath. We had cheese ones.DSCF6871

Tummies full we continued on for one more lock, Trentham Lock, as a boat had come by while we were eating we were now behind them, but even so there was a boat waiting to come up so halved the work. We moored for the night on the visitor moorings just above Oldroad Bridge in sight of the Wedgwood factory. The black spots on Harnser’s roof have now turned red, thanks to a tin of red oxide primer I have onboard.

day 8Today’s Journey 10 miles, 2 canals, 1 junction, 7 locks, 1 staircase in 5 hr 40 min.