Saturday, 28 November 2015

Hazlestrine Saturday 28 November 2015

Well the weather has been very changeable over the past 36 hours. Yesterday we woke to sunshine and by 1030 hrs the sky was black and threatening rain but it stayed dry all day, the temperature was up in double figures, when it got dark it rained hard and at 1930 hrs the wind was doing over 25 mph. It quickly died away, the moon came out and it was just above freezing. This morning started sunny again, then the wind got up and lunchtime it was blowing and raining.

We set off at 10 am meeting the Steve Hudson “Harnser” at Hoo Mill lock. We carried on to Gt Haywood where we topped up with water before turning sharp right onto the Staffs and Worcester canal. There was only one boat moored on Tixal wide. Tixal lock was against us and as we looked up I was able to get this photograph of the entrance to Tixal railway tunnel, its hard to DSCF0914see when the leaves are on the trees. I even managed to get a shot of a train coming out.

There is a lot of work going on on the off side of the canal and I suspect they are planning to tunnel under the canal with a pipeline of some sorts by sinking a hole each side like they have a Fradley.DSCF0915 

There have been some new mooring rings installed betweenDSCF0917 St.Thomas’s bridge and the old junction to the River Sow Navigation. The Staffordshire Riverway Link have erected a signpost at the old junction with one arm pointing to Stafford.DSCF0920 One of the other arms points to the headquarters of River and canal Rescue who also part sponsored the post.DSCF0919

We continued on for about another half mile before mooring for the night in the wind and rain just below Deptmore Lock.

Today’s Journey map 7 8¼ miles, 2 Locks, 1 Junction, 2 canals in 3½ hours

Friday, 27 November 2015

Shirleywich Friday 27 November

Last night we went to Thai Lanna for a meal, It is a long while since we have had a Thai meal so we are not conversant with the dishes, with that in mind we went for the second set meal on the menu that was graded with two chillies for hotness. The curry was literally boiling being served on top of a small burner but the chilly heat was just right, at the end of the meal we felt full but not bloated so that is on the list for a return visit.

Overnight the barometer dropped back badly so it was surprising to get up in bright sun shine. We wandered into town and called in at the butchers in Adies Alley. They shut down last April but there is a butchers there again although it is now split from the shop next door. Also their FaceBook still has up to date postings on it for Christmas cakes. After posting an important letter we returned to the boat and set off about 1030 am, two other boats had already been down the Star Lock ahead of us.

By now the sun had disappeared, the sky was black, rain in the air and I put on a full set of waterproofs. Just as we arrived at the lock so did a large band of CRT volunteers so we had help through the lock. One of the chaps told Diana that he reads this blog, so thanks for your help.DSCF0903

Below the lock we stopped to fill with water, there was not a single boat moored on the 2 or 5 day visitor moorings although there were half a dozen just beyond. On Tuesday I posted aboutDSCF0904the memorial bench just to the south of Stone, since then I have received more information about it.
From what I have been told a young lad from Stone was murdered  and following his wake one of his young friends was making his way home along the towpath when he suffered an epileptic fit and fell into the canal and drowned. More details are available HERE

A little further on we saw some of the CRT volunteers yet again, they were busy planting bulbs on the bank beside the bridge.DSCF0907 The canal was a bit busier today and we met a few boats coming towards us which meant we were able to leave lock gates open, very useful.

We carried on before mooring for the night at Shirleywich about half a mile below Weston Lock, O and the waterproofs worked a treat again as we didn’t have another drop of rain until after we had moored up, these must be the most effective waterproofs I have ever owned.

Today’s Route map 6

7¾ miles 3 locks in 3¼ hours

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Stone Thursday 26 November 2015

Last night we were treated to a large firework display which looked to be somewhere on the Trentham estate. We stayed in the boat to watch as the weather was quite miserable with heavy drizzle all night. It must have been just about continuous as we had 2.5 mm fall overnight. I don’t know what next door made of the fireworks but we didn’t hear any complaints from them.DSCF0897 In case you are wondering what the small notice says its here.DSCF0896

This morning we visited the Wedgwood Pottery works, this is a new works, the old one being pulled down and developed as an upmarket housing estate. There are also plans to build a new marina. Due to the factory moving a bit north and the new building its quite a hike from the canal, not helped by the old footpaths being dug up. We went on the guided factory tour as well as visiting the pottery museum. You get to see quite a lot of the production going on and you are at liberty to walk round by yourself. When we left thankfully the drizzle had finally stopped and the weather felt quite warm.

we left the mooring at 1330 heading down to Stone for the night, of course we didn’t see any boats moving again, that’s 2 days without seeing a single one.
To the west of the canal just above Meaford Locks they are building a new business park and to facilitate this they are putting a new roundabout on the A34 so the road that crosses the canal by the top lock is closed to traffic, at least that means the coping stones will last a bit longer. Also in the estate they are planning to have a gas fired power station .

I was rather taken by this notice just above Newcastle Road Lock, I am not sure what is meant by it.DSCF0902  A short way above the lock there is a bridge crossing the canal and it still has the old rollers on the corners along side the towpath which were to stop the towing ropes rubbing on the corners of the bridge when horses pulled the boat, its such a shame these are being left to rot away as they are part of our heritage and just as important as the turn over bridges etc. soon all the little pieces like this will be gone.DSCF0900

Dropping through Yard lock we were pleased to see one of the boats that had been moored beside the car park had left, so that is where we have tucked in for the night, we were expecting to have to drop through Star lock to find a mooring.

Today’s Journey map 5 4 miles 7 locks in 2¾ hours.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Barlaston Wednesday 25 November 2015

We didn’t go to sleep to the sound of the rain last night but boy did we wake up to it, we had a ¼” fall overnight, so this morning I togged up in all my wet gear before setting off. Good move, it stopped it raining all day.

We were away at quarter to ten heading up the two remaining locks of the flight. Some of these locks still have the very ornate tail bridges with a split to pass the tow rope through, supported by two brackets with hooped infill.DSCF0884 This lock also had an overflow build into the top of the side wall. The bottom lock has a large overflow, I don’t think this one would handle much water now as it packed full of debris. DSCF0886

We were to see several Kingfishers but only one gave me a good photo opportunity and I didn’t take it. He just sat rock still so I didn’t spot him until we were level with him, to late to get the camera on.

We knew that we couldn’t go beyond the bottom Stoke lock, but the Nicholson’s guide mark a winding hole just above bridge 113 which is nearly up to the lock.
We have passed this winding hole many times but I always considered it impossible to use due to shallow water on the off side. As it was very quiet today and we wouldn't be in anyone's way and they wouldn't be in mine, well we are the only boat to move up here I thought I would give it a try. I had 6 attempts to find a spot deep enough to get my bow close enough to the off side to be able to get the stern round with no luck at all. There was only one thing for it, backwards to the winding hole above bridge 108A about 1¼ miles, but the canal is reasonably straight and wide, with very little chance of meeting anyone and no wind, an ideal day for it really.

We passed beneath the A50 road bridge twice, beside the incinerator.  This was approaching it backwards.DSCF0891 Once we had turned round we headed back south to moor for the night opposite the Wedgwood factory where we plan to visit in the morning.

Today’s Journey map 4

10¾ miles 4 locks lots of covering the same ground and some backwards in 4½ hours.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Meaford Tuesday 24 November 2015

Yesterday evening it started to rain, not heavily but dripping from the overhanging tree branches, this continued into the night. Some people say they like to go to bed listening to the rain on the roof, not me thank you. Where we moored we were quite close to the road bridge and it was surprising the number of heavy lorries using it and the noise they made. Another surprise  was the hen house opposite that has at least 3 cockerels in residence. As expected they let fly at about 6 am this morning and then nothing, they went completely quiet unlike the ones at home. I did wonder if someone had dispatched them for dinner but they were out there when we left this morning.

We pushed off at about 10-30 am to a warmer morning, it was already 6°C outside and the rain had stopped. We had several bouts of very fine rain and we wee able to see a rainbow in the sky, at times we had real drizzle but not enough to warrant a rain coat going on.

The canal and railway are never far apart along here and looking over the fields I spotted this building which I guess was something to do with the railways at one time, it was probably the stripped roof that made me look but then I saw the Clerestory roofDSCF0874

Last time we were this way they were about to commence dredging to the south of Aston marina and had all their plant on the bank.[000495] Today its all  been cleared away and you would hardly know they have been here, just a post from where they moored the mud DSCF0879hoppers and darker grass where the temporary road was laid. What you do notice is how much better progress you can now make along this section of canal, I looked down at the Ipad and our speed had crept up from 3½ mph to over 4 mph.

We passed some interestingly marked sheep on one of the canal side fields, they are probably a specific bread which I don’t know but I bet someone out there does.DSCF0877

Just before Stone there is a manorial on the tow path, I am not sure how I really feel about this sort of thing, I know someone wants to remember a loved one, but is this the best way to do it?DSCF0880

All the visitor moorings below Star Lock were empty, maybe half a dozen moored a little lower down, but once through Star Lock they were all taken.
We stopped briefly at Stone Boatbuilding where for the grand sum of 62p I bought a new seal for the diesel filler, I was so pleased they had them I even bought a spare. I changed it there and then, it was not is as bad condition as I thought, I am sure they last better since diesel went low sulphur or maybe the last one was better rubber.   We continued north as the drizzle stopped, saying hello to a couple of friends moored out side Roger Fuller’s boat yard.
Meaford Bottom Lock was the first one we have turned today, all the rest have been with us and in a couple of cases there were people waiting to come down so we didn’t even need to close them. We only did the first two Meaford Locks before mooring up for the night. We hadn’t been inside long when it started to rain properly, so stopping was a good move.

Today’s Journey map 3 7¾ miles 8 Locks in 3¾ hours

Monday, 23 November 2015

Western Monday 23 November 2015

Well it dropped to -2° C outside at 2am this morning. This morning was bright and a bit chilly. We set off at 10-30 and was please to find no queue at Colwich Lock, no surprise there, but I was surprised there was not a single boat moored to the West of DSCF0871 Wolseley Bridge, its normally a popular spot, likewise there were only 4 boats moored between Colwich and Gt Haywood lock, where have they all gone?

We stopped for water at Gt Haywood where we had to wait, one boat filling with diesel and one with water. The both finished and pushed off at the same time, its not a bad tap here. Once full we continued up the T&M and as we approached Hoo Mill lock a boat had just come out, however by the time we arrived the boat behind them had turned it round so we had to wait until they came down as well, much to our surprise there was yet another boat waiting above the lock to come down after we left. We carried on just through Weston Bridge where we moored for the night and since we have been here another boat has gone by so that is ten or a dozen boats we have seen on the move today, a lot more that yesterday. When we moored up at 3 pm it felt quite cold but it was actually 6°C but there was no sign of that bit of sun this afternoon.

Today’s Journey map 26 Miles 1 Junction 4 locks in 3½ hours.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Sunday 22 November 2015

OK, its time for me to bore you all again as we are back on the boat. The plan, remember them? was to come to the boat last Sunday but unfortunately Diana had a root filling fail so had to have a tooth extracted which was done last Thursday so it delayed us until this weekend. We find travelling much easier at the weekend and today we did the journey in under 3½ hours. The car was well iced up when we set off a little after 8 am and there was quite a bit of slush in the road until we reached Norwich.

They are making good progress with the A14 M6 the Catthorpe interchange and for the first time we used the new connection to the M6 avoiding the old junction roundabout.

When we arrived at the boat the inside temperature was a not very welcoming 6°C. We didn’t lose anything off the roof in last weeks gales but the stove chimney had wandered over and was against the hand rail. Lunch was a sandwich taken on the front deck as it was warmer than inside the boat and by 12-30 we were on the move. Out of the marina and sharp left.

The afternoon was fine with some sun and hardly any wind making it quite pleasant travelling along the canal, it got even more pleasant after I light the back cabin stove and was steering with the back doors closed. We did meet a couple of boat but that’s all. Of course we made the compulsory stop in Rugeley for a “quick” Tesco visit before caring on our way. Leaving Rugeley and the power station was working hard helping to keep theDSCF0869 National Grid going, well the wind generators and solar panels are not doing much, by now the sun was getting low in the sky and as we passed the fuel boat Dexta at Taft Bridge, who incidentally is now charging 60 lt for diesel, the sun disappeared behind the hills, a signal to look for a decent mooring for the night. The only reasonable bit between here and above Colwich lock is at Wolseley where there are some visitor moorings. As we arrived we could see several boats there but there was a reasonable length right at the very beginning with mooring rings which suits us fine, Its well away from the road bridge and we are not planning a visit to the pub so here we are. At the moment we are thinking of going to Stone, but that is only a plan and you know what happens to our plans!

As I type this the temperate in the lounge is a healthy 24.5°C at gunwale height, warmer by the ceiling and cooler by my feet. Outside it is down to 2°C with a clear sky so it will probably be frosty again tonight.

Today’s Journey map 1

7¾ miles, no locks in 3¼ hours