Thursday, 7 October 2021

Home Mooring

 Yesterday afternoon the sun popped out for a bit, this was the result, a full rainbow. But it was quickly followed by heavy rain for most of the night.This morning we were away before 9-30Am for the 45 minute run back to the marina in fine weather. I was in no great hurry so at one point pulled over to allow a boat to pass, we did meet a couple of boats on the way before turning into the marina and dropping back to our slot.
Once everything was packed away and the car loaded  we visited to Marina Office, last time I was in here it was the function room bar above the pub, to pay our moorings for the next 12 months. Needless to say like most things its gone up a bit, then it was off home. We stopped for a bite to eat at Cambridge Service to find 8 Met Police Officers on their motorbikes parked up. No major incident, just stopping for lunch. 
The rest of the journey was a bit fraught as on the A11 the car decided it didn't want to play any more, I managed to coax it to Lidl's carpark in Wymondham and called the AA, who in turn delivered us and the car to Desera in Diss with another suspected blown injector From there friends kindly drove over and took us home.

Today boat  journey 2 miles, no locks in ¾  hour.

A map of the total trip.



Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Amington

 Last night we moored just in the right spot as we ate in the Lazy Otter and didn't get wet walking home from there as the boat was right by the garden. Overnight it poured with rain once again for most of the night and been showery all day today.

We shoved off around 10 am. the working pair we had seen moored at Great Haywood cam passed just before we set off but moored up about a quarter of a mile ahead of us. We were moored directly behind the ex working boat Dover that Alan Heard restored in a TV program about 15 years ago. We met a few boats as we made our way to Fazeley where we topped up with water before continuing on to Glascote Locks where one was against us and one with us.
Its all change at Glascote Basin with a different hire company now working out of their, Warwickshire Narrowboat Hire. Once clear of the lock we only travelled ½ mile before mooring for the night so we have a bit to do tomorrow to charge the batteries up.

Todays Journey 4½ miles, 2 locks in 2½ hours

Monday, 4 October 2021

Hopwas

 It was a good mooring last night and this morning was again sunny to start with. It was just like old times, Woodend Lock with no top ground paddle. Last time it took about 2 years to fix but I understand there is a stoppage in 2 weeks time to fix it.When we got to the lock there were 2 Volockies  on duty, a lady who is often there and a gent, with their help we were soon on our way. There have been a lot of trees planted above the lock on the offside, I suspect this is screening for HS2 buildings, The actual track crosses below the lock and round the corner a bit. When we reached the sight of the crossing there is little change on the offside, but they have now fenced the towpath side off and started tree clearance, I think the protesters were just arriving on site as we passed.There was a Volockie at both the other two locks so the gates were open ready for us and there was already a steady stream of boats coming up. The Volockie at Middle Lock enquired which way we were going at the junction so that she could let the Volockie at Junction Lock that we wouldn't need his lock. They use to use a sign with a big arrow on it to do this, but now they just use a walky talky radio.
Just beyond Bell Bridge 89 there are two boats moored, a Dutch Barge style Narrowboat and an ex BWB work boat. The Narrowboat has been cleaned and turned round, I can never recall it moving before in all the years that I have passed here. The ex BWB boat sank within months of being moored here, but today it was being pumped out in an attempt to refloat it. The water mark on the side looks about 50mm out of the water so hopefully its on its way up.We were surprised how few boats were moored in the normal busy spots like just before the Litchfield Cruising Club or Hopwas. Our plan was Hopwas for the night and we were very pleased to find just one boat moored in front of the Lazy Otter with room for us behind. We had just moored up and the first spots of rain began falling, not much just a show and its raining again now.

Today's Journey 9½ miles 3 locks in 4 hours











Sunday, 3 October 2021

Woodend Lock

 Yesterday early evening the pheasants were very vocal but we had a very peaceful night. By this morning the weather had improved greatly and we were greeted by a sunny morning. Several boats passed before we set off just after 10am. lots of them hire boats and we are now into October. We had a very nice view of the Tixall Gate House glinting in the sun.As we passed the Anglo Welsh hire base at Gt Haywood and  it was empty with all their hire boats out.The wind was whipping up the Trent and Mersey when I poked my nose out to turn right, My plan was to drop back to the services to pick Diana up, but that was aborted as I was just making progress diagonally along the canal so I put a bit of power on and picked Diana up at the lock. There was one boat going down ahead and a couple waiting to come up, so many hands made light work. Opposite Shugborough Hall we passed this pair of old working boats painted in the colours we chose for Harnser and they are still trading.

Colwich lock was its normal muddieness over the bridge, again we had one boat going down ahead and two waiting to come up. I expected the River Trent to be carrying more water than it is with all the rain we have had.
I don't know who the chap with the chainsaw was who carved this woodpecker from a tall tree stump, there is even a hole with the beak poking through. The fuel boat Dexta has now had a cabin fitted and been painted, I suppose this is one way to fit the offside portholes'

When I am this way I always look forward to coming into Rugeley to see what is new at  https://www.facebook.com/naomislanding/ at the moment its Neptune  

On the far side of town both the houses had their birds out on the lawns on stands



We stopped to fill with water at the water point by the Spode hall long tern moorings, there was a motor parked by the tap, I wonder if it was a special birthday present for someone? Its a long time since I have seen so many toilets stacked up outside the Armitage Shanks factory, maybe its something to do with lack of transport. Years ago the whole yard was stacked high with them but in recent times you have been hard pushed to find one. We were now looking for somewhere to moor for the night, but with the wind really picking up I was looking for a hard edge away from the trees, we had to go a bit further than planned and ended up just above Woodend Lock
Todays Journey 13 miles, 2 locks in 5¼ hours















Saturday, 2 October 2021

Tixall

 After hearing the weather forecast we decided to set off a couple of hours earlier than normal to get the hours in before the weather got too hot after lunch, so 8 o'clock and we were on our way meeting a hire boat at the first lock. Not long after that we had the first spits of rain with all over dark clouds. We stopped just above Penkridge Lock to take on water and dispose of rubbish,  it's a tap with good pressure. While the water was filling I turned the lock, a bit slow as only one paddle was operational, in fact we didn't pass through a lock until we reached Tixall where they were all working, one lock had a single paddle both ends.
The canal was quite busy, the rain kept spitting and stopping until about 1130 when it was spitting or raining. I don't know how long this little fisherman has sat on the straight below Park gate Lock but I have never spotted him before.It now looks as if the Stafford Boat Club also have a caravan club as well, the field by the moorings was full of motorhomes and caravans when we passed and I  see they have power points around the field as well.
There looks to be lots of work going on at the Stafford Link, well done them, but I do wonder who will use the river link to get to town once its complete.We pushed on in the showers, Its not too bad when you don't have locks to negotiate as with the coat on, brolly up and back doors closed life isn't that bad. If any single ladies, well I assume ladies are looking for a boat this one looks quite tidy About 12 o'clock it really started to rain and we were approaching Tixall lock so should we stop above or below, a slight miss understanding and we went down the lock and moored a couple of hundred yards below it. I think I should have moored above from comments received, but you don't hear the trains down here. Since we have been moored up it hasn't stopped raining but its not been heavy like a couple of days ago.


Todays Journey 9 miles7 locks in 4½ hours









Friday, 1 October 2021

Penkridge

 We had quite a bit of rain last night, thankfully not while we were walking back from the pub, even if we were right outside the garden.
When we woke this morning it was fine and quite a bit of traffic about on the canal. The chap behind started his engine at the same time I did, I feel a bit better about mine now.We set off at ten past ten, a bit too early as it turned out because at eleven minutes past ten the sky's opened and it hammered it down, but since it stopped it has been a nice day, so an extra hour in bed would have been well worth it.This house has two very nice signs, one at each end of their property on the none tow path side, I wonder who B.W.W. is and what powers they have about people fishing the tow path opposite.
I have seen some interesting covers over the rear decks of boats in my time, from Fools and Horses three wheelers. Landrover cabs, even tents but this is the first corrugated iron shed I have seen.Things were a bit slow at Boggs Lock where they now have a set of stop planks specifically for that lock. When we arrived a boat had just gone down the lock and one was coming up while we were second in the queue to go down. It turned out that the boat that had just gone down was a Training Boat from Gailey  http://gaileywharf.com/training.htm  and they had winded below the lock and would be coming up prior to us going down. There were three people being trained and I would estimate the youngest to be mid 60s and the others probably well into their 70s. The chap doing the training requested we left them to it so they could work under his instructions. I must say he had a lot of patience with them, explaining every step of the way. I hope they all enjoyed their day and got a lot from it. We carried on until finally mooring for the night just above Filance Lock in bright ward sunshine.

Todays Journey 7½ miles 5 Locke in 3½ hours.

Thursday, 30 September 2021

The fox and Anchor, Cross Green

 This morning we visited Wightwick Manor, what a strange house with so many different styles built over a short period of time. Todays planning officers would have a heart attack if something like that landed on their desk today.



It was half past one when we set off and the weather had remained dry all morning, mind you we had plenty during the night. The first lock Wightwick top lock was with us, but I wonder about the tail bridge, when they rebuilt the approach wall why didn't the new arch follow the line of the original. Was it intentional to make it stand out as new on old? Just below Compton Lock we spotted our friends Heather and Steve moored up. I should say Heather spotted us, as I said to Diana, who is that on a boat waving madly at us. I never wear my glasses while boating. They were moored directly opposite what use to be Limekiln Chandlery but now a couple of rather smart houses, in the grounds they have made a feature of an old boat hull, so we moored behind them for a chat before Heather cam and gave us a hand with Compton Lock., then it started to rain. Its not a very good photograph but someone  has hung pompoms  from the tree branches right over the middle of the towpath with a tag on them.A short way before Aldersley Junction someone has recreated a little piece of Greece it there back garden, I hope they get the weather to enjoy it. Shortly after this we spotted more friends moored up so we stopped for another chat, now you understand why todays journey has been so slow. This time it was Anne and Oli with their two rescue dogs, not dogs that rescue people, dogs that have been rescued from life in a dog pound. We pushed on it the rather miserable weather past Autherley Junction and into the narrows, here we met a boat coming towards us, but luckily when he saw us he was right by a passing place so I was able to catty on and go round him. Or stopping place for the night is right outside The Fox and Anchor pub, but they seem to have dropped Fox from the name now. We may even go there to eat tonight.

Todays Journey 6¼ miles 3 lock in 3¼ hours



Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Wightwick

Woke to a lovely sunny morning but at 7AM the weather station indicated it was a little under 4° C. outside, tonight the stove is alight..
 Just as we were untying to boat ahead set off so we would have the locks against us. He did apologise when we met at the lock for pulling away in front , but it wasn't his fault, he was moored some distance from us and probably didn't see us getting ready.
I thought I would try one of my artistic photos at the lock tail bridge where over the years the lines have worn away the steel. I was also very impressed with this offside garden, they must spend a lot of time on it to keep it all neat like that.As we approached Botterham staircase lock the boat ahead was still waiting to enter as they had met a boat coming down. The derelict house at the bottom of the locks has been completely gutted and being fully refurbished.  
I have found a photograph of what it was like in 2017 when we passed, a few less dormers for a start.  

Some time a go a boat sank in the bottom chamber of Botterham lock and the last time we came down the water was like a power hose coming through the intermediate gates.

May 2021 leaking gates

It  looks as if CRT have fixed some rubber sheeting to the faces of the gate to reduce the water flow between them.
We stopped for a bit at Wombourne bridge for a visit to Sainsburys to top up supplies as its the most convenient place for the next few days. I love some of the names you come across on the canals, today we have had Giggetty Wharf and Bumblehole Bridge.Then it was on to the famous Bratch Locks, this is a set of 3 locks that at first appear to be a staircase but are in fact 3 separate locks with remote pounds between them with only a few feet between the top and bottom gates of each lock.
There was quite a bit of water coming out of the bywash below the flight which pushed my bow to the off side so I had to give it quite a bit of power to get back on line, this didn't impress the row of fishermen sitting on the offside bank, below the lock on the bend .By now there were several dark clouds about and I could see heavy rain falling to the North East of us, but thankfully we stayed dry today.
Lots of people on several Facebook groups have warned of the dangers of drinking water straight from the water tank and suggesting filters or bottled water, after seeing this chap that may be good advice.


We carried on meeting the second boat of the day right in a bridge hole, we both stopped and gave way finally mooring  just below Wightwick Lock for the night, not the quietest of moorings with a road running parallel to the canal on both sides and a road bridge across the canal just ahead of us, but as we plan to visit Wightwick hall tomorrow its the most convenient place to stop.

Today's Journey 6 miles, 11 locks in 5 hours

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Hinksford Lock

 Apart form a fox barking in the early hours we had a very quiet night but you need good curtains as the area is well illuminated. I looked out this morning about twenty past nine as a chap on a bike came up the locks with a bag on his back and stopped by the bottom gate which made me wonder if there was a boat coming up. It turned out it was Jim, a friend of John who has helped us up and down the flight many times. I always gave John a couple of bottles of beer for his trouble but Jim informed me that John doesn't drink. Anyway we were in the top lock at nine thirty and Jim was off on his bike setting ahead, this resulted in us being at Wordsley Junction at ten past eleven. I thanked him kindly and gave him a few bob asking him to also get John a couple of Mars bars, we said farewell and he headed off on his bike to Kidderminster. 
I was surprised to see this lock beam is still hanging on to life, its not far short of just being a skeleton of its former self.

The Red House Glass museum had no sign of life but a nice display on their end wall.

Just past lock 13 we passed a boat "moored" with a couple of ropes from its roof the the top rail of the railings just below the lock moorings. not an ideal place of method to moor.
Once clear of the flight we decided not to visit Stourbridge but carry on down to Stourton Junction and there at the Stourton top lock was Jim on his bike with the lock full and the top gate open ready for us. One of the houses in the flight has an impressive bird box, or house.Lots of the houses have very smart gardens leading right to the canal side and some have even used a bit of the offside land at the locks. We said goodbye to Jim for the final time at the last lock. If all the official Volockies worked like this it would be just great, every lock full and open for us all the way down. not two or three standing around just one lock of the flight.At the junction we turned right on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal and it wasn't long before we met a boat coming down. We have come down 39 locks since we left Titford Pools on Sunday. Someone left a comment were the Titford Pools the highest point on the system. They are not the highest on the system but the highest navigable section of the BCN canals at some 38 feet above the Wolverhampton level and some 300 feet above Stourton Junction, from here we would be going up hill again. We stopped for lunch at Prestwood Bridge on the visitor moorings where another boat went by, so hopefully the rest of todays locks would be with us. After lunch we wet off in light rain which just got worse, as expected the locks were with us and Just as I was approaching Rocky Lock a couple walked down from above, thankfully looking before they turned it and seeing me approach opened the bottom gates. From here the rain got even heavier. Passing Hinksford Wharf  we see that Heart of England Narrowboats now have their hire base there.
As we went up through Hinksford lock God stopped the rain, he just decided to pour it out of a big bucket instead, it just fell down, we called it a day about a hundred yards above the lock, needles to say, once all the wet stuff was stripped of, a cup of tea brewed, it stopped raining. 

Todays Journey 7¾ miles, 24 locks in 5½ hours.