Thursday, 8 January 2015

Not a Trip but Information

Some time ago I posted in one of my Blogs that Tony Redshaw well know engineer of vintage engines was no longer trading in Braunston.
Today I was contacted by Paul Redshaw who informed me that they had indeed left Braunston because they were unable to renew their lease beside the Grand Union canal after the site was sold.
He was also able to tell me that they had not moved far, only to Daventry where they are still trading and that their new address is :-

Unit 13, Riley Close.
Royal Oak Ind Est.
Daventry.
Northants.
NN11 8QT

Telephone 01327 700219

They also have a web site
www.vintagediesels.co.uk

Friday, 2 January 2015

Friday 2 January 2015 Kings Bromley marina

What a difference a few hours can make to the weather. We went to bed about midnight and it was still 11°C outside, blowing a gale, raining and the barometer dropping back. Got up this morning the sun was shining, the pressure back up, no wind but the temperature had fallen to 5°C and a blue sky as you can see from Shugborough Hall.DSCF7999

We set off just after 10 am. expecting Colwich lock to be against us, but the top gate leaks so much it was full, Rick had gone down an hour before with his coal boat.
We only met a couple of boats today and stopped to fill up with water at Rugeley. Here we were adopted by a ginger cat, it was obviously very use to boats walking the gunwale and knowing where the doors to get into the boat would be. I wonder if a boater has lost a cat in the area as the poor thing was quite thin. As we pulled away making sure that puss was on the bank Rick pulled in behind us and puss was on his boat before he had stepped ashore.

By now it was clouding over, feeling cooler and the wind was freshening. Passing through Handsacre a pair of swans were making a start on their nest in front of the houses, it looks like a regular nesting spot.

It was good to see that the fallen tree had been completely removed between bridge 55 and the marina entrance, for once I made a perfect entry, no one to see it of course. Once in the marina we winded and had a pump out, can’t complain, its the first time its been done this year, then off to our berth, as soon as I started to turn round to back into our slot the wind picked up just to make it interesting. needles to say within an hour of mooring up the wind had died away to nothing.

Today’s Journeymap 12 10½ miles, 1 lock in 4½ hours.

Looking at our log last year we spent 176 day on Harnser, that is just short of 6 months.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Thursday 1 January 2015 Gt Haywood

Firstly this is the first blog of the year and I would like to wish you all a happy New Year. Diana and I saw the New Year in by ourselves on Harnser, there were a few local fireworks we could see but it was mainly the BBC and London display. The night was quite warm and raining so this morning there was no ice where we were moored.

Following the late night we didn’t rise to early and heard a boat go by at about 9 am. at 9-30 am the boat ahead set off and we followed at 10 am.  It wasn’t long before we were encountering thin ice, about ¼” and a little later about ½” but it was all broken by the boat ahead.

Passing the houses half way to Aston Lock this family of Swans were looking for their breakfast,  I would guess the householder feeds them regularly. One of the adults remained in the canal.DSCF7983

As we locked down Aston Lock two boats caught up with us, this was the start of a busy day and we have seen over a dozen boats on the move. The sky was very dark and rain was forecast for later so we expected to get wet. The temperature was in double figures but even so as we headed south there was still snow on some of the hills. When we reached Sandon Lock we caught up with the boat that had been moored ahead of us, he had got fed up breaking ice and pulled over so a following boat could take over. It was here that we met our first boat who approached the lock just as the boat ahead was leaving.

In the blog of the 22 December I promised a better photo of the floating duck house in the pond. DSCF7993This is the one tethered on an overhead cable.

We passed a field of fine Long Horned cattle who were just watching the world go by.
DSCF7988DSCF7987DSCF7985DSCF7986

Along this stretch of canal there are quite a few white geese in the fields, this one was showing the classic signs of Angel Wing. There is a strong feeling this can be due to the type of food they eat, but one would expect the whole field full to be feed the same.DSCF7997

Although the actual temperature was between 12 and 14°C all day it felt much cooler than previous days but thankfully the rail held off. Approaching Hoo Mill lock we met a boat and arriving at the lock another was getting ready to come out, we thought it strange that the two chaps working the lock didn’t hop on, but there were actually two more boats below the lock waiting to come up.

We pulled over for water in Gt Haywood before continuing through the village and dropping down through Haywood lock to look for somewhere to moor for the night, we finally pulled in just passed bridge 72A where there are open views of Shugborough Hall, not that we wanted to look at the Hall but I try my hardest to avoid mooring near trees at any time and especially when its windy, by now the wind had picked up considerably, so much so that I had to help Diana moor the bows of the boat as she couldn’t hold it in and fit the piling hook.
We had not been here many minutes and it started to rain and the wing has also increased quite a bit.

This years Journeymap 11 5 Locks, 1 Junction, 9½ Miles in 4¼ hours.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Wednesday 31 December 2014 ½ mile outside Stone

Well its been bit of a trial the passed 12 hours. Last night we were cold. It was -5°C and the Dickinson our only form of heat was not performing, so this morning that had to be sorted.
Firstly I removed the diesel feed to the control valve and virtually no flow. I had only changed the filter a few weeks ago, but I opened it it and it was all still spick and span, the oil flow from the tank to the filter was fine and also through the filter. I blew the oil back from the stove to the engine room and no blockages, put it all together as still next to no flow. I think the problem is the anti vibration loops I put in and air collecting in the top of them, after a lot of sucking and blowing, flowing oil in the wrong direction I finally got a mediocre flow, better than first thing but not as good as I would like, still we have heating for tonight. By now it was gone 12 mid day and we set off down through Star Lock, There was clear water behind us but about half an inch ofDSCF7981 ice ahead. The boat moored in front came out and gave us some dirty looks as I slid passed him.

Below the locks the ice was worse and I got some verbal from one of the boaters moored there, thanking me for damaging his boat. Half way passed the moored boats the ice had been broken, we were on to a winner, but the broken ice only went just beyond the moored boats so someone must have moved up closed to the town. We pushed on breaking virgin ice that was between ¾ and 1” thick which we found a bit heavy going so we pulled over. We had been here about an hour when a boat came passed in the same direction as us, he got some verbal as well near the locks so we were ready to go again only for him to moor up in front of us for the night, he also thought it a bit heavy going. The outside temperature had been up to 8°C outside today and the forecast is for a warmer night and much warmer day tomorrow.

Today’s Journey map 10 1 Lock, ½ mile in ¾ Hour.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Tuesday 30 December 2014 Stone

Last night was the coldest this winter, it may have even been the coldest of the year at –5.6°C which left the cut well frozen this morning and as we were only going to Stone were in no hurry to leave. Just before 11 I started the engine and was making ready to leave when an Anglo Welch hire boat came steaming through the bridge towards us, they had come all the way from Stone and broken a nice passage all the way. Although last night was colder and it was not so bright this morning it wasn’t long before it started to thaw and things were dripping wet. If it had remained cold all day it may have caused problems tomorrow as in places the broken ice was 10mm thick.

Barlaston Boatyard has a rather nice private mooring with a lift bridge across the entrance and room to moor just two boats.DSCF7971 in the garden he has a pair of lock gates set up in the lawn and its a good place to show off his plastic sheep.DSCF7972 

With the thaw setting in but still very cold in other places icicles had started to form in some places like under this bridge.DSCF7974 When we arrived at the top of the Meaford we found the lock empty so there must be someone a short way ahead of us, as we left the top lock there was a boat coming up about to leave Meaford Road Lock so hopefully he will have turned everything for us. I waited where the old flight of locks use to rejoin the new DSCF7975line of the canal. The boat ahead must have been closer than we thought as all the other locks were against us including those in Stone.

The foot bridges over the tail of the locks here on the Trent and Mersey canal still have the decks in two parts with a slot left between them where the tow rope would have gone when the boats were towed by horse. DSCF7977 Another feature still standing is the posts that were erected to protect the bridges from the how ropes as the horses pulled the boats through, the ropes would cut large groves into the brickwork so on the corners some form of protection was fitted, on the Caldon we saw hard wood, some places have rollers, most common is a strip of iron on the brickwork, but here there are DSCF7979wooden posts with iron strips attached to them. It even looks as if the posts were made to rotate at one time.

We wanted to moor in town for the night if possible and there was just one space in the 24 hour moorings by the car park just above Stare Lock, it was also the end of the broken ice, so no one has used that lock today.

Today’s Journeymap 9 7 Locks, 4 Miles in 3¾ hours.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Monday 29 December 2014 Barlaston

As we were moored outside we ate in the Toby Carvery last night as well as using their free WiFi. The canal had already frozen over when we returned to the boat and overnight it dropped to about
-3°. This morning was again bright and the three boats in front set off at 8-30 AM kindly braking all the ice as far as Etruria locks. I tried to get a photo of them leaving but the camera batteries decided they didn’t like the cold sitting by the back door all night.

We set off at 9-30 following the channel the others had cut. the ducks for some reason where waddling about on the ice, maybe they think its fun.  DSCF7968

Bridge 117 has been treated to some heavy graffiti with every inch of the tow path side wall covered. DSCF7970

When we reached the junction with the Caldon canal at Stoke Locks we turned left and went up the Caldon for about 100 yards to fill up with water, it pays to keep the tank full in this weather as we could get stuck in the ice somewhere or the next lot of taps may be frozen. That job out of the way we backed up to above the locks and set off down Stoke Locks, the first two were with us but after that I had to fill them all. I worked the locks as it was quite icy and slippery around them. From here Diana was breaking ice, thankfully it was only about ¼” thick so not a problem. Not long after Stoke Bottom lock, just before the Dolphin we met a boat coming the other way, so now we both had a nice channel of broken ice to follow and he had all the flight with him.

We didn’t see another boat on the move until after we had moored up on the visitor moorings just above bridge, since then there have been several go by including the Bolinder engined Kangaroo.

Today’s Journeymap 8

6 locks, 1 junction (just) 5½ miles in 3¼ hrs

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Sunday 28 December 2014 Festival Park Etruria

Last night was cold, -4° but today has been wall to wall sunshine. The first section of iced over canal we uncounted was not until we were back on the T&M where it was about ¼” thick,DSCF7955 this was after we had broken it.

We pushed off at 10 am and the other boats moored here had left before us so we knew the locks would be against us, not that it makes much difference with a stair case as you always have to turn one chamber  regardless of which way the last boat was going.

CaRT have tried protecting the off side brickwork on some bridge with wooden battens but even these are getting split at the ends.DSCF7936On one of the bridges they have actually fitted sheets of material to protect it.DSCF7937 

Ivy house Lift Bridge goes up much faster that it comes down, you can see the control box tucked away to the side.DSCF7941 For some reason the bleeper sounds before the barriers go up as well as down which seems a bit excessive for the people living nearby.DSCF7943

The new houses built along the offside have a communal area with some steel bull rushes growing out of the brick weave and even here someone managed to find a Lifebelt and rope to play with.DSCF7947  

We remembered bridge 9 and removed the exhaust, Dickinson chimney and back cabin chimney in good time, as you can see its a low one.DSCF7949 Just beyond here on a sharp left hand bend I met an ex working boat, he was coming into the bend and I was going round when I first saw him coming out of the very bright, low sun. I am sorry to say I caused him aggravation, something I didn’t chose to do but the only course I could see was go wide round him, maybe my first response of slowing down was wrong and if you are reading this I am sorry.DSCF7952 This was my last view of him across the bend. If anyone can Identify and knows the boater please apologise for me.

I still cant get my head around the difference in capacities of the two chambers of the stair case locks, Was the overflow cut lower to save flooding, or where the walls raised by two foot leaving the overflow channel at its original level, the brickwork suggests the latter.DSCF7954

Back out on the Trent and Mersey canal we carried on north to Harecastle Tunnel. DSCF7961On the way we uncounted the first frozen canals we have come across this winter.  We passed the site of the old Burslem Port on our right with just a sign to say where it was. DSCF7957There are ambitious plans to restore the arm and port which can be found HERE and also the buildings of Middleport PotteriesDSCF7958 which does factory visits see HERE.

After winding at the tunnel mouth, (there is room for a 62ft boat to get round if there is nothing moored in the way) We headed back to Westport Lake where we had planned to more for the night, but considering how clear the sky was and how cold it was last night we decided to continue to moor outside the Toby Carvery at Festival Gardens. Well if it does freeze hard where would you rather be stuck? 

Today’s Journeymap 7 1 normal lock, 1 Staircase Lock, 1 Junction 2 canals, 11¾ Miles in 4½ hours.