Friday, 31 October 2014

Back in Stone

Thursday.. We moved on from the mooring in warm sunshine, an unexpected day in t-shirts, I would have had the shorts on but they have been moved to that storage area in FL that wont see the light of day till next summer. As we approached Aston Lock the gates were opening for us and we cruised in, up and through.
Cruising through a familiar scene we winded before Star lock and moored on the 5 day Stone visitor rings behind Nb Pendle Water. We took the 101 bus into Stafford, this is the first time for some months that we have been anywhere so busy, strangely we both enjoyed the change. We had a couple of miles to walk from the town centre as one particular shop Sue wanted to visit was on a retail site on the outskirts. Shopping all done we returned to Stone on the 101.

Mile marker at our overnight mooring.
Sheep and cattle sharing the grass.

This was an overnight holding gaol to keep drunks in, it was once connected to The White Lion as below.

Friday... Sue went in search of a haircut while I washed and polished FL's starboard side, this will be the off side when we are on the marinas pontoon so hard to get at.

In the afternoon we had an ale or two in the Royal Exchange among the spider webs, ghoul's and carved fruit.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Cold Wednesday

Just a short cruise today of a couple of hours through two locks to moor two miles from Aston. The morning has cool, dry and still,  hats and fleeces were the order of the day.

Salt Bridge.
Sandon lock cottage.

Sandon Lock.

Todays' overnight mooring.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Weston on Trent

At 09:00 we pulled pins and winded on Tixall Wide in cool sunshine, we crossed the River Trent on an aqueduct before stopping at Great Haywood Junction to top up the water tank. Sue couldn't resist the farm shop while the tank filled.

At Hoo Mill Lock we met a share boat crew out of Aston marina, they quizzed Sue on her knowledge of the  Oxford canal marina's as their syndicate want to move next year.

We stopped at Weston upon Trent and walked to the village green where we had lunch in the Woolpack, The Woolpack is one of those pleasant village pubs with a good atmosphere even though there was only a handful of customers while we were there, the food and ale were very good too.

After the short walk back from the pub we set off again to moor a mile short of the village of Salt. As per the forecast, the rain started to fall at 17:00... it's dark already

Ingestre Bridge

Overnight mooring.

Sunday, 26 October 2014


We have spent the weekend at Tixall Wide chilling out.. It's a lovely spot here, popular with boats fishermen and ramblers. I fitted a new inline fresh water filter and have had the paint brushes out to repaint the top rubbing strake in Hammerite Smooth. I have been trialling it to see if it is more robust than ordinary gloss black, it is not, nothing is going to stick when rubbing along concrete and the masonry found around locks, it's only advantage being that it doesn't require a primer or an undercoat.

We have used the satellite TV  over the weekend, probably more than the previous 7 months put together.

Today (Sunday) we did move down to Haywood marina to get rid of the dumpables and to the Junction for water. On the way back to Tixall Wide we offered a lift to a guy struggling down the towpath with a gas bottle and drum of diesel which he gratefully excepted.

Haywood Junction where the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal joins the Trent and Mersey canal

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Tixall Wide

Tuesday -We stayed put and let the storm blow itself out. We have moored with a high hedge (no trees) between us and the prevailing  westerlies which has given us good protection from the gusting winds, the canal water has hardly got a ripple on it.

In between the showers we walked into the village for supplies, Penkridge has a first class butcher and baker as well as a small Sainsbury's and Co-op, we made use of all of these.

Had to sweep up this morning.

Wednesday- Penkridge has a large Wednesday market where you can buy anything from live fowl and hatching eggs to the usual fruit and veg stalls, meat and fish from the backs of a vans (never fancied buying meat that way). Tools and every under the sink item you could ever need along with those we all have hidden under the sink that never get used. Clothes and pet goods alongside bric a brac stalls, watches, and phone accessories. I thought about buying a turkey to fatten for Christmas but Sue wouldn't let me have any space in the cratch for it.

Thursday- We waved goodbye to Klara's crew, we will meet up with Roly and Bev at our wintering mooring at Aston. We got FL ready, Sue walked down to get Longford lock open. At Park Gate Lock I left FL in the lock  and visited the adjacent Midlands Chandlers for coal and a few other bits. It's a dry day with no sight of the sun as we made our way through three locks to the affluent village of  Acton Trussel, here The Moat House sits in lavish splendour beside the canal with St James church with it's 13C tower overlooking FL's progress.

After Deptmore lock we pass the tidy Stafford boat clubs premises, I may be using the dock facilities here over the winter to black FL's bottom. The canal loops around Baswich  following the River Sow's valley,  crossing the river on an aqueduct. We have moored on Tixall wide which is lake like with tall reeds on it's non tow path side..

River Sow

Nb Tench.

Tixall Wide.

Tixall Hall's large Gatehouse 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Penkridge to Klara

We pulled the pins around 10:00, at the first lock at Gailey there was a sign asking us to wait while water was flushed down the system. An hour and a coffee later the C&RT guy came wandering back.The problem was paddles on the next lock were left open over night draining the pound of water.

When we finally got going lots of boats were heading our way which made locking easier, some of them had been waiting 3.5 hours.

We have moored up north of Penkridge alongside friends Roly & Bev from nb Klara, a liaison at the Boat Inn was arranged and an afternoon of real ale and catch up chat ensued... luverly.

Roly & Bev with Sue.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal

We didn't move FL yesterday, we had a slothful day, reading, cross-stitching, sketching and in the evening we had the TV on and watched 'The Good the Bad and The Ugly'. The wind had been aggressive most of yesterday and is continuing in the same spirit today. The colourful trees opposite are getting threadbare before our eyes.

It has been a mild day with lots of sunshine despite the wind. Autherley stop lock raised us a foot onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal where we turned left and skirted the edge of Wolverhampton, through a very narrow cutting and under the M54.

A fishing match was in progress as we cruised towards Hatherton Junction, I always slow down and cruise down the middle of the canal as invariably the guys have their hooks in close to the opposite bank to where they are sitting. One fisherman asked us politely to move closer to his bank, I prefer this type of contact from the anglers rather than the quiet heavy scowl from under a Shakespeare cap, to be fair this group of guys were all friendly.

The Hatherton branch used for transporting coal from Cannock was abandoned in the 1950s but there is plans to reopen it sometime in the future.  We moored a little further on at Calf Heath, a peaceful four hour Sunday cruise.

Autherley stop lock

We are heading for Great Haywood

The Jam Butty

Friday, 17 October 2014

Autherley Junction

Two feature's of the Shropshire union canal are it's straightness, arrow straight in places and the long wooded cuttings that envelope the canal, the trees branches knitting overhead to make a living tunnel to cruise through. This time of year the falling leaves makes it feel like we are in one of those snow globes but instead of white flakes we have green, red and browns. 

We stopped at Brewood to visit the butcher and green grocer before continuing out into the open countryside to moor a couple of miles from Autherley Junction. It's been a warm sunny day, we have been so lucky the last few weeks but the weekend isn't looking too good.

On the radio Steve Wright has just said  "at the age of 58  people have got their work-life balance right" .... I can't  disagree with that.

A5 aka Watling Street

Phoebe definitely has spirit.

School children out for a run with the PE teacher.

Avenue Bridge

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Wheaton Aston

Before we left Norbury Junction we filled the diesel tank at the boatyard, 0.79p a litre. Out of the shadows the morning sun was warm. South of Norbury we cruise on the huge Shelmore Embankment which used all the spoil from the Grub Street cutting we passed through yesterday, the canal village of Gnosall and it's short Cowley tunnel are left behind as we continue on to High Onn and Wheaton Aston. 

A all female hire crew on a day boat from Norbury turned at the winding hole at Lord Talbots Wharf, after ramming the bank at full throttle they started pin balling their way of moored boats and the opposite bank, Sue went forward to advise them to stay still until FL passed and to keep their boat hook off other boats. 

A boat going slower than  FL's tick over speed waved us through, which was nice as some boater's seem to take pride in holding other boats up unnecessarily.

The garage by the canal at Wheaton Aston has a sign up 0.709p a litre (Doh), we moor in sight of the first lock of tomorrows cruise.

Had a walk into the village and bought milk in the village shop and vegetables in the pub.  

Not sure what that big lump is called.


Cowley Tunnel

We will be waved through soon.

I apologise for the amount of bridges I photograph and post on the blog, I just like bridges over water.

Used the boat hook to get an evening snack.
Chestnuts cooking

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Norbury Junction

A seven mile cruise through farmland, some big machinery helping the last harvest of the year while on the other bank a multitude of black and white cows rest there legs and udders and lie around the pasture. We have crossed the border from Shropshire to Staffordshire, Grub Street Cutting must have been a challenge for the navvies of the day, being a mile long and eighty feet deep. The much photographed telegraph pole in High Bridge is a relic from a past communication link.

In places the canal is a mat of fallen autumn leaves that stick to the prop lowering the speed of FL through the water, when we feel her start to labour a short blast of reverse clears the prop.

The autumn colours of the trees are a reminder of how short the seasons are. It only seems a few weeks have passed since we were cruising past trees in bud, a look at the calender tells me it's been seven months.

We have moored at Norbury Junction which hasn't been a junction since the Newport Branch Canal, which joined at the site of Norbury boatyard, was abandoned.

It's pie night at the Junction Inn...may just have to sample one.

High Bridge with telegraph pole.

Newport road bridge with Knighton bridge in the background. 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Wharf Inn Goldstone.

Birthday girl got a cup of tea brought to her in bed, the same as every other day aboard FL. I have told her she is to put her feet up and not do any lock wheeling today "I will do it all"..... the 17 mile lock free pound will help. A celebratory fruit smoothie was whizzed up in the galley, Sue had while listening to happy birthday chorus's from friends left on her Viber App.

A bit of a glitch when Sue realised I had left the cassette behind at Tyrley's elsan point. I held FL to the bank while Sue trudged back down a soggy towpath to collect the vessel... not the best start to a cosy put your feet up birthday cruise that I had in mind for her. A half hour later we are on our way again, it's grey and overcast without wind or rain as we continued through Woodseaves atmospheric narrow cutting, parts of which were dug by hand out of the solid rock, trees cling precariously to the steep cliff-like walls, two high bridges appear to be holding the cliffs apart.

We moored at Goldstone just after the cutting opposite the Wharf Inn a cruise of a mile and a half. I can recommend the pub good ale good food and large portions to boot.

High Bridge.(57)

The Wharf Tavern