Friday 28 February 2014

Fazeley Junction Friday 28 February 2014

Not a lot to report today, last night I went down with “Man Flu” so wasn’t feeling great this morning.

We set off at our normal 10 am and did see one boat on the move. Last night was the coldest its been for a while and it was only 3° when we set off, although it was overcast and a bit miserable, or may be that was just me, but we did avoid the rain that lots of other boaters seemed to be enjoying and there was hardly any wind.
The lack of wind was very good because the workmen were busily putting the poly covers on all the poly tunnel frames that I photographed on our way up. Around lunch time the sun started to try to peep out but didn’t really make it until about half two.

WE arrived at the deserted Fazeley Visitor Moorings at quarter to two and we are the only boat here.

I would like to report that the performance of the batteries has improved since I upped the charge voltage. The voltage was down to 24.1volts after just removing 21Ah. Today they were 24.5 after removing 28Ah. Also from reading the Trojan hand book I should have been charging them at 29 volts + all the time, so I will leave the mod in place.

Thursday 27 February 2014

Fradley Junction Coventry Canal Thursday 27 Feb 2014

Well we are just round the corner from last night but it took us all day to get here.

Quite a bit off rain last night which finally made the ducks shut up, boy you know spring is on the way the noise they were making well after midnight last night.

We set off at our normal 10 am in bright sunshine and apart from a couple of showers its been like that all day. We were heading to Barton Turns Marina as that was the last place we could wind before the stoppages. The locks were with us which was handy and we passed one of the other Harnsers on the long term moorings below Hunts Lock.DSCF4697

Below Common Lock a workman was bringing a track driven shreder along the towing path beside the lock. It seems that the boat they are using is unstable with the shredder on the deck, so floats have been fitted to each side of the hull. To pass through a lock they stop, unload the shredder and drive it to the other end of the lock. They then remove the side floats so that they can lock the boat through as its too wide with the floats attached. They then refit the floats and reload the shredder to continue working along the offside bank. Because they have the wrong design of boat its probably taking the best part of a couple of hours per lock. How inefficient can you get. The £25 donation that CaRT asked me for wouldn’t pay to get through the lock let alone fix a breach. DSCF4719All the other gangs we have seen have had the shredder inside the boat, not on top so have not needed floats.

Pushing on we came to the A513 road bridge just above Bagnall Lock which is supporting some fine graffiti on the offside.DSCF4701

Someone has commissioned a very nice wooden bench to be beside Bagnall Lock, I hate to think what it costs, it DSCF4702commemorates we are now entering the National Forest, I expected to see trees but there were no more than I have seen elsewhere.

DSCF4712The river Trent at Alrewas was well down with very  little water going over the weir.  I have not heard how the rest of the Country is getting on with the floods.

We arrived at Barton Turns Marina in the dry which was good, I have been along the stretch of canal that runs parallel to the A38 and the lorries have been sending the spray right across the towing path and onto the canal  and any poor boaters that get in the way. The Marina offers 4 hr visitor moorings along the offside by the marina entrance, so we made use of these, we just tied up and it started raining so lunch was taken, we then went to look at the pub and shops that sit at the back of the marina, maybe we will call in for a meal one evening, its £8-50 for a one night stay. The also sell diesel at a very competitive 82p/lt for heating.

We started our return journey just before half two again in the sun shine but we did have a couple of very small showers and of course the obligatory rainbows but there wasn’t enough rain to wet the dual carriageway along side us.DSCF4707 

We were going to moor somewhere just outside Alrewas but as the weather was fine and rain is forecast for tomorrow we decided to push on and get the locks all done today and turned down the Coventry Canal before mooring for the night at the very end of the visitor mooring, which have filled up over the past couple of days, we are fairly close to the bank, well you can jump it.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Fradley Junction Wednesday 26 February 2014

Last night again was not the quietest mooring we have had with a busy road nearby. We would have been much better a bit further along the canal.

Overnight the outside temperature dropped and the pressure went up a fair bit which meant we woke to bright sunshine and very little wind. Setting off at our normal 10am we crossed the canal and filled the water tank before continuing through Rugeley. On the pay we passed an aluminium boat that we had see a couple of days ago,  it looks as if the owner has extended the stern so I don’t know what the steering arrangements are. DSCF4666The bow has an interesting line to it as well. I have no idea who the builder was.DSCF4676

Leaving Rugeley we crossed the River Trent on Brindley BankDSCF4672 Aqueduct, the river still has a good flow on it and there are still some pools on the fields. In the distance you can see the bridge that was built in 2000. WE couldn’t go much further as Colwich Lock is closed so we had to turn at the winding hole just after the next bridge. CaRT have installed a row of mooring rings all the way from the end of the aqueduct to the bridge on the left hand side as 48 hr moorings. I can’t see that number of boat just wanting to stop there for two nights so maybe its another case of they could have spent the money more effectively.

Back through Rugeley the owner fitted a dummy speed camera at the bottom of his garden many years ago, he now has a blue light on his boat as well.DSCF4674

Since our last visit to Rugeley Tesco have opened a new 24 hr store right beside bridge 66 which is very convenient with a traffic free drive right to the canal.  It will make it very convenient to run the trolleys into the canal as they are not fitted with locks. Needless to say we stopped for a while and while Diana was shopping I sealed the chimney on the back stove. We also had lunch before setting off.

After lunch it was back passed Hawkeyard Hall with its interesting “gate house” I guess you would call it.DSCF4681

After this we came once again to the “tunnel” with notices saying you should send someone ahead to ensure there is no one coming the other way, but you can see the full length of it so you can see if anyone else is coming, you may need to draw back from the entrance but that’s all. It is hewn from solid rock and goes under a large road bridge at the south end.DSCF4685 DSCF4682 





After this we were treated to a short rain show, but it didn’t come to much.

Arriving at Wood End Lock we found the bottom gates open, it’s not surprising as they are very heavy to close with short right angled balance beams. Its a petty CaRT didn’t lengthen them as they have cut them off recently and bolted them back on.

From Wood End Lock down to Shadhouse Lock there are what I think are Dormouse houses/traps for carrying out population surveys. Each one has a number on the end and they are attached to the underside of branches in the hedgerow. DSCF4692They are about 30-50mm square and about 150-200mm long.

At Fradley Junction we continued straight ahead mooring below Junction Lock on the 48hr visitor moorings at 5pm.
These moorings have a notice by each ring telling you they are 48hr, like wise the bollards which are on the lock mooring each has its own notice telling you they are for lock use only. I have never seen this anywhere else on the system.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Rugeley Tuesday 25 February 2014

We found the trains rather noisy last night, something we are not use to. This morning the batteries were definitely looking just a little bit better, only 0.2 volts for the same amount of power used, bit its going the right way .

Setting off at 10am we didn’t travel far before stopping to look round Kings Orchard marina as a possible mooring for later in the year, while we were there we topped up with diesel at 80p lt. At the moment they only have one vacancy for a boat our length but loads of new moorings for 50ft boat that will open soon. DSCF4654I am not sure they will find enough 50ft boats to fill them.

After leaving the marina we continued on to Fradley Junction where we turned left opposite The Swan onto the Trent and Mersey Canal. DSCF4657 After climbing the two locks which were both against us we did something we don’t normally do and pulled over for lunch. Needles to say when we set off again it was raining, but it didn’t last long and we were treated to a fine rainbow.DSCF4662

One more lock and it wasn’t long before we were at Kings Bromley Marina, so we called in there for a look round as well, this is a much bigger marina but the prices are very similar. So we will wait until later in the year before deciding.

After leaving the marina we carried on along the Trent and Mersey through Armitage the home of toilets, through the tunnel which like Fenny Compton tunnel has had the top taken off to moor for the night at Rugeley opposite Hawkesyard Estate which houses Hawkesyard Priory at about 4-30pm. just before the rain started again.

Monday 24 February 2014

Huddlesford Monday 24 February 2014

The rain woke us during the night and it was still raining slightly when we got up, but it had cleared well before we were ready to leave.

It was bit of a late start as I wanted to improve on the playing I did yesterday to improve the battery charging so that the engine does an equalising charge. Harnser is fitted with an ADVAC alternator controller which senses the voltage at the battery terminals so over coming any cable losses. What I did yesterday was to connect a diode in this line so fooling the ADVAC in thinking that the battery voltage was about 0.8 volts lower than it actually is. The problem was to mount the diode so that it was mechanically strong. What I did was to take an inline glass fuse to pieces and replace the fuse wire with the diode inside the glass tube. This then replaces the fuse in the sensing line in an inline fuse holder, to switch the system back to standard I just take the diode out and put a standard fuse in its place. It was a bit fiddly hence the late start.

It was almost 11am when we set off, much warmer than yesterday, very little wind and the sun was out. The offside bank at Pooley Hall was covered with Snowdrops, I think its the most I have ever seen in one place. I could only photograph a small section.DSCF4622 

Just beyond the Hall standing on the hill is an obelisk, as you can see, by now the sky was clearing out to a nice blue.DSCF4626

We passed through Alvecote where there was a wide beamed boat at the services, I guess it just comes out of the marina to fill with diesel as I don’t think it would get under the bridges. Just beyond here we met Phil and his wife who follow this blog.

We were hoping the Tamworth flight would be with us, but no, both empty and I am sure they are getting even slower to fill. The house part way down the flight still has a bright display of artificial flowers outside their house.DSCF4632

Most of the boats at Tamworth Cruising Club were out of the water with only one moored below the lock.

There has been no progress with the building project at Fazeley Junction, I do wonder if it will ever get finished. There was only one boat moored on the Fazeley Visitor Moorings opposite the CaRT offices. I have never seen it like this before, there were three moored just off the end of the official moorings.DSCF4640

We pushed on through Hopwas and saw a couple of trains cross the River Tame, there is still a bit of water about but the river looks to be running at its normal level.DSCF4646

Next it was the acres and acres of polly tunnels, well they are not tunnels at the moment, just thousands of hoops standing in long rows, if you get the angle right they make pretty patterns as you look through them. DSCF4649By now the clouds had started to gather, but it was still dry.

Many years ago when the canal was built they ran into a slight monetary problem and needed a little extra help, consequently a section of the Coventry Canal is actually the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and the end of this section and return to the Coventry is marked by this shone set on the edge of the towing path. DSCF4650The inscription is the opposite way round to what I would expect and the arrows cross. I had to look twice to make sure I was going the right way.

Last October we attended a gathering at Huddlesford Junction, 3 boats that were moored in the area then are still there, but then again maybe they have been away and returned.
As we passed the pub I spotted this pair eating the hedge in the car park, they had a flat wagon behind them.DSCF4652 But if the owner stays in the pub too long there could well be a hole in the hedge. We pushed on for about another half mile, almost to the marina before mooring for the night.
I then tested my alternator mod and it seems to be working OK, we will see what happens in the morning when the batteries are a bit depleted. I know the lack of water has ruined them, but I am attempting to salvage what I can from them.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Polesworth Sunday 23 February 2014

We woke very early this morning to the rhythmical sound of Donk Donk Donk in the distance but getting louder. It then changed to Donk tDee tDee Donk tDee tDee but much slower. What I have just tried to describe is the sound of a Bolinder single cylinder engine slowing down to pass us. We didn’t feel a thing, I think it was about half four and still dark.

The weather forecast for today was not good with very light rain all day, however we were very lucky and only had the slightest of showers for a very short time, but the wind was very squally at times. I think we met 4 boats all day.

I wonder how many of these there are around now and when this one last had wires attached to it. There is a whole generation that have never seen one.DSCF4601 

As we approached The Anchor Pub this lot came round the bend,DSCF4602mind you, just before that I met a Canadian canoe in a bridge hole, he was on the correct side but had been hanging to the bank and just popped through.

A short way before Atherstone this sign is set in the towing path, I had seen it before but never read it. Hopefully if you click on it it will open big enough to read.DSCF4603 On the offside of the canal there is a large hole full of water, at one time there was a boat moored in here. There is a very narrow strip between the hole and the canal, less than 6 feet. The reeds have grown up at the narrowest point which looks as if it was going to be an entrance I wonder why it was never connected to the canal?DSCF4605

It looks as if spring is on the way, the ducks are mating and the pussy willow is coming out, the temperature is certainly spring like.DSCF4609

I rather like this sticker on the CaRT shed at the top of DSCF4610Atherstone locks. I would like to get hold of a couple of these.
All the locks were with as but a few had leaked off. The carved statue as disappeared from the flats at the second lock down.

The crocodile still guards the field where the horses are between the canal and the railway, I wonder how old he is now.DSCF4613

Its on the CaRT stoppage list for work on the railway bridge part way down the flight but we didn’t see any evidence of it. They have fitted some new lock gates on the flight but have left all the sawdust in the down side of them, I would thought that would be the ideal environment for rot to set in.DSCF4611

The old lock gates are still on the CaRT work boats moored below the flight, complete with the iron worn, I am surprised no one has nicked that for scrap.DSCF4615 

On the outskirts of Polesworth by the disused swing bridge a lady held her hand up for me to stop, I couldn’t see any reason to stop so carried on through the bridge hole when she told me her husband was bringing the boat from the other direction, I still couldn’t see another boat but found him round the bend pinned against the bank by the wind.

We carried on through Polesworth and moored on the visitor moorings on the far side of town where there is a nice concrete edge and mooring rings, I am getting lazy in my old age.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Coventry canal, Marston Junction Sat 22 February 2014

We set off at our normal 10am just as a boat load of pirates went by, that’s right a Willow Wren in a stag do. They did pass all the moored boats very slowly and when we got a closer look at them they were not teenagers by a long way. We were quite surprised how many boats we met just after starting out.

The CaRT contractors have  made a good job of cutting the offside vegetation back. I hope they have the budget to get beyond Ansty.DSCF4581

After All Oaks Wood moorings I could see a small green boat paddling around in the canal where it passes through the cutting that suffers badly with landslips. I thought they were removingDSCF4582 more off side vegetation, but as I got closer I spotted a chap up a tree on the towing path side. Rather him than me. Of course they stopped work while we passed by.DSCF4585

There were four Buzzard circling very high above us. Suddenly one dropped like a stone to just above hedge level a few minutes latter followed by a second, I would say they were well over 500 feet.DSCF4587

Approaching Ansty CaRT have seen fit to put a couple more signs up on the towing path, there is already a great big orange marker buoy tethered over the obstruction, so to hit it you would need your eyes shut, in which case you wouldn’t see the sign. Cost?DSCF4588

I dont think the chap almost opposite the now closed, Elephant and Castle will be able to get any more cars and vans onto his spit of land.DSCF4595

This was just after we were overtaken by two motorbikes, strangely they both had helmets on and both had their headlights on. I think they even had number plates. They were off to play on the old colliery just before the moorings at Sutton Stop. DSCF4592 We filled with water just before the lock at Sutton Stop of Hawkesbury Junction. The lock only drops you about 6” onto the Coventry Canal, but the lock gate is still one of the few with a strapping post that the working boaters used to both close the gate and stop the boat when they came into the lock using a rope.DSCF4596

Swinging under the bridge I spotted this cat, I had actually seen it before but been to busy getting round the 180° bend to photograph it, today I had to wait while Diana chucked a sheet of bubble wrap in the bin, so had time on my hands.DSCF4600

We carried on along the Coventry Canal to Bedworth where we stopped for afternoon tea with Terry and Christine, as we are trying to lose weight we said no to her home made cake, which was a shame. As we were about to leave them a boat came by, I nearly pulled away in front of it and realised that would have been the best option as I waited for them to go by. we then followed them at a maximum of 2 MPH until they moored up a short way beyond Charity Wharf, we continued on and moored just past Marston Junction at 5 30 pm. the nights are really drawing out now.

Friday 21 February 2014

Newbold Friday 21 February 2014

We we did take the car back to the moorings and walked back down the flight last night, it was a gorgeous evening, clear, starlight with no wind and not too cold.

After abusing the batteries like that the voltage was a bit low this morning but hopefully with some good runs it will improve as the week goes on, if not we can live with them in this state until the summer. Then I will check the water when I do an oil and filter change.

We set off at 10am to a bright, sunny, wind free day, but by 11am a cold breeze had picked up making it a lot less pleasant.

There was only one boat moored by The Bridge Inn but most of the 14 days at the Folly were taken. Surprising as these are such good moorings with a handy road nearby.DSCF4552

Napton Narrowboats had 22 of there boats moored up but there looked to be several vacancies in the marina. We met quite a few boats between here and Braunston where we turned left onto the North Oxford. It was along this stretch that we saw our first lambs of the season.DSCF4557

The strange boat that was on the long term moorings at Hillmorton last time we came this way is now moored at Willoughby. It is further from the bridge than it looks in this photo.DSCF4558

The black rabbit was still about on the towing path opposite the winding hole at tarry’s Bridge. I shot this just before he slipped down his burrow.DSCF4571 As we approached Hillmorton locks the fields had quite a bit of water in them as well as some higher ground, but the water didn’t seem to bother this sheep who was happily paddling around nibbling the grass.DSCF4572

The next port of call was Hillmorton locks, These are twin locks as the single lock slowed the heavy traffic down to DSCF4576much. At one time it was possible to save water by emptying one lock into the other, This would half empty the first and half fill the second, of course this was only practical if one was already empty, the other full and two boats waiting to use the locks, I do wonder how much it was actually used. There is still the remains of the paddle gear between the locks.DSCF4574 We decided against stopping for water but did have a quick chat with a friend who was moored there, about a mile further on the bank has slipped with all the rain we have had recently. I wonder what it will be like passed All Oaks tomorrow?DSCF4579 Diana gave me the news that Great Britain had picked up a silver medal in the men’s curling by quite a margin and we continued on to the visitor moorings at Newbold where we tied up at 1615hrs for the night, about half an hour later the forecast rain arrived so that wasn’t to bad.