Monday, 31 August 2015

Tixall Wide.

The last few days we have made our way off the Coventry canal and joined the Trent & Mersey canal. We had a night at Fradley Junction and a meal at The Swan (aka Mucky Duck ). No proper pies from the Swan's kitchen ...  a bowl of stew with a  puff pastry hat. These concoctions served up in 'gastro pubs' are no more a pie than egg & chips .....pie's have a pastry bottom sides and top I had the  steak and kidney pudding instead which was very good.

Fradley is one of those villages that sprang up because of the canals. Both the CC and T&M built homes here for their workers, wharfs, warehouses alongside the pub.

The Armatage Shanks 'head's' factory was passed at Rugeley, an appropriately named boat moored near by.

We moored below Taft bridge, the small holding opposite had fuel for sale for 60ppl. ..we didn't need any. Late evening a balloon was trying to land in the field opposite, the burners soon roared on when the basket drifted near to power cables.... you wouldn't get me up in one of those things.

Sunday we moved along the canal and took the left on to the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal and grabbed a premium mooring at Tixall Wide.

Colwich lock shed.
Lifting a boat shed into position at Streethay Wharf.

Today is bank holiday Monday, it tipped down all night, the rain looks set for the rest of the day. So we might not move unless wrinkly forces me into my wet gear for some quiet time at the tiller ;)

I have now renamed her tuttsey because of the more than occasional tutting sound which seems to be aimed in my direction.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Hartshill to Hopwas.

Up in good time to get to the 11 locks that make up the Atherstone flight. Steamboat Adamant was in front of us descending the locks. They are heading for the Steam boat rally at Alvecote.
Sue & Betty help with the lock for steam boat Adamant.

Betty helps out on the Atherstone locks. No6 -  5 more to go.

Combine harvester has been busy.

Three steam boats moored at Alvecote.

First of the Tamworth two locks.
We've had a long day, sunny spells, a few showers and plenty of banter with other crews. We are now  moored at Hopwas 15 miles and 13 locks from where we started.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Coventry Canal.

It tipped down overnight and a flyboat woke us passing at 01:30.

FL was untied from the bank at 08:30, it was threatening rain but a fellow boater out on the towpath in a fetching onesy walking his dog assured me rain had finished for the day... he was right.

Todays cruise started by passing under the canopy that borders All Oak Wood, the landscape beyond is of rolling farmland angled down to the canal. At Stretton Stop not many of Rose Narrow boats hire fleet are out. Sue opened the small pedestrian swing bridge before capturing the milkman on his delivery's for a bottle of milk - yes a bottle! - haven't seen one of those in years.

A narrow cutting is negotiated with care when passing oncoming craft, the M6 crosses the waterway here on a high perch. 

Beyond the village of Ansty another motorway the M69 is as noisy as it's older brother as it passes overhead. A mile further we have the railway and the M6 for company as they run parallel with the canal for a while. The Wyken Colliery arm now used as moorings for the Coventry Canal Cruising Club under an unattractive towpath bridge is past on the left.

Through Hawkesbury stop lock, I take the sharp right on to the Coventry canal, a quick stop to get rid of the dumpables and top up the water tank before continuing in brightening conditions. 

The canal skirts the town of Bedworth to Marston Junction where the lockless Ashby canal joins from the right. We stop at Boot Wharf (Starline Boats) to top u the fuel tank 65ppl. Nuneaton with it's mixture of canal side allotments and housing estates is soon behind us, we have moored close to Anchor bridge(29).

Stretton Stop.

Coventry Cruising Club.

Hawkesbury stop lock.

Ashby Canal

View from the side hatch.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Napton to All Oaks Wood.

Saturday I took the hire car back to Enterprise at Daventry, they don't do lift's back to the marina on a Saturday - cost me £20 in a cab!. While I was gone Sue and Betty went to have a chat with Linda & Richard.

Final waved goodbye's as FL headed for the Junction the right-hand turn heads towards Braunston, we stopped on a good mooring after bridge 103. The sun is hot, shorts only for me today. We had a quiet night, Wrinkles is comfortable on the new sofa which she makes up herself each night, this puffs her out & ensures she stays quiet till morning.

Sunday we got up to another bright day, setting off to another unplanned destination, which turned out to be at bridge 100 a mile further along the canal from where we started .

Sue set off on foot to shop at the Braunston butcher which is handily open Sunday mornings. I MIL sat, got the bankside chair out for her to sit in the sun so she can wave to the passing boats, she moaned that I had placed it too close to the canal edge on purpose  - she did have a point. I pulled the chair back a few feet, this put her in danger of speeding towpath cyclists.. oh well. Sue arrived back on the boat with a leg of lamb and soon after the heavens opened and didn't stop all afternoon.

Monday - I  tipped got Wrinkly off the sofa at 07:30, wanted to cast off earlyish before the forecast rain turned up, it never did, just a few spots. We made our way into Braunston where I ordered two sausage and a bacon sandwich from Gongoozlers Rest while the water tank filled. The sandwiches were delivered as we untied to wind FL at the marina entrance.

We turned right at Braunston Turn towards Rugby, cruising through fields of cows, sheep and hay sloping down to the waters edge. Two hours later we have moored below Wise's bridge (No- 80). It has just started to tip down.

Tuesday - We pulled the pins at 07:50, the M45  was already noisy when we passed beneath and on to the Barby Straight, at  Hillmorton bottom lock a lock keeper is letting water down to a shallow pound below. Asked Wrinkles if she would like to get off the boat for a bit of exercise walking between the locks, she refused - finding it much harder to get her moving on this trip.

At Masters Bridge in Rugby, we pull a huge plastic fence out of the canal, a Willow Wren day boat nearly sideswipes us coming out of their boatyard cutting. We overtake them before the Newbold tunnel, Lime Farm Marina has a sign up for cheap diesel 65ppl for domestic and 115ppl for propulsion- we paid 107.9p for fuel for the hire car so not that cheap here. We moored half a mile north of Brinklow Marina on the boundary of All Oaks Wood just as the skies were darkening

View from the hatch.

Saturday, 22 August 2015


We have just got back to the boat after leaving it in Wigrams Marina while we attended our nephew Stephen's wedding. On the way we picked up my outlaw in Somerset, she has come back to the boat and I wont be able to get rid of her for a few weeks unless she get's pushed falls into a lock.

The wedding was lovely individually crafted by the couple with some nice original touches, the best man speech had everyone rocking with laughter, the day was a little overcast with sea mist which meant the ceremony had to be switched to inside the venue, but the love glowing from Stephen & Bridget plus the beaming smiles of both sets of parents, family and friends kept the occasion bright and sunny.

Stephen, Bridget, Kyle & Chris.

Sue with the happy couple.

Carol, Betty & Sue.
It was gone midnight by the time we got to bed, (we aren't used to that these days), not because we were jiving on the dance floor all evening, these days a comfy seat and watch the youngsters do their thing is more our style.

Me & the Mrs.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Goodbye friends.

Since the last post life on the canal has continued in the same vane as the previous 6 weeks. That is to say we have had quiet days where I have put more bl##dy paint on the roof (I once said maintenance on a boat was enjoyable) - after two and half coats of primer and one of undercoat it's started to get a bit monotonous. 

As well as being hampered/rushed by the weather, the high density rollers that I bought from Midland Swindlers are useless (after a short time the foam sleeve detaches from it's own inner core and bits of the foam come off in the paint). I used all six I bought to do one undercoat!

To offset this we have had some good times with our boating pals, Saturday evening at the Folly Inn was great fun, thanks to Linda for booking the table. 
The Folly Inn

Ray, Andy & Richard - happy in hats - ( pic by Linda)
So that was to be our final get together for some time, and as with the general rhythm of the canal it was time for us all to go our separate ways. We headed  to Wigrams Marina to leave FL while we attend a wedding. Our sofa and dinette cushions have arrived from Elite Furnishings and the leather captain chairs have found new homes in two different narrowboats.

One last sit in the captain's chair.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

To Braunston

The plan for a sunny day like today was to stay put and rub-down the last section of FL's roof, but before the second wake up cup of tea of the morning, it had changed. Sue still needed a hairdresser- we have a wedding to attend next week - so we pressed on destination Braunston, I need more paint and Braunston has two chandlers to choose from.

Marston Doles our first lock of the day has a lock keeper, once FL is through the lock the water levels improve and are good all the way to the top of the Napton flight which is a first for FL when passing this way. 

Napton Hill, the windmill, locks, boats and the water buffalo all looked super in the afternoon sun. 

On the run into Braunston an Armada hire boat was holding a queue of boats up as the skipper did the right thing and slowed for moored boats. Unfortunately, he almost came to a standstill, when confronted with the oncoming craft he did in fact stop - this caused the boat to have no steerage and the bow swung into the path of other boats. 

When Sue suggested to the skipper that he would have better control by keeping the revs a little higher she was met with a " Don't kin patronize me". Well, we were, but in the verb sense of 'support' or 'assist' - as we try to do with all crews needing pointers whether they are hirers or not. We cruised past them and wished them well.

We moored just before Butcher's bridge, Sue went to the hairdressers while I went to Midland Swindlers Chandlers where I paid £54 for the same tin of primer I paid £42 at Oxford Cruisers on the Thames, who said the Thames was expensive.  Wharf House chandlers didn't have the undercoat I wanted but it should be in stock by Friday.

We got rid of dumpables and topped the water tank before leaving busy Braunston and mooring for the night below bridge 100 on the GU canal.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Slat Mill to Knotts Bridge.

4.57am photo of a misty Slat Mill lock.

We pulled the boat forward on the ropes to Slat Mill lock, we didn't want to disturb the neighbours, it was 06:30 when the gates were opened, the engine started and FL tiptoed into the lock.
Slat Mill lock

A few boats were moving at this hour, all having the same idea of getting through Cropredy early - we did get through smoothly, there was only one pinch point but nothing to concern skippers too much.

We were on our own through Broadmoor, Varney's and Elkinson locks but at the Claydon flight, other boats with colourful crews were descending towards the festival

Some boats were getting in the festival mood.

Double mooring both sides of canal in Cropredy.
Fenny Compton was our lunch stop, Sue went to have a haircut at The Wharf Inn while I did a bit more painting. The painting got done, the haircut did not as the salon was shut.

At 15:00 we cruised 4 lock-free miles to moor above Knotts bridge from here we can see the windmill on Napton hill across the valley.
Sheep line up to get to the top.

Thrupp to Manly Ferry Wharf

Saturday - we set off from Thrupp in good sunshine for a short cruise to the old quarry moorings (now a nature reserve) near Kirtlington. There we met up with Linda & Richard and after a cuppa and a quick walk around the nature reserve for the men and Muffin we all set off again, we were on a bit of a mission to get far enough up the canal that Sunday would be a short hop to Aynho where we were to have lunch at The Great Western with Paul & Elaine arriving by the Manly Ferry.

FD headed the convoy finally finding a good mooring above Deep Cutting bridge. Chairs came out on the bank we had a lovely evening enjoying Sue's lamb if it's stew.

Thrupp service's

Satellite telephone communication dish's at Enslow

Quarry nature reserve

New Brighton bridge.

Stacked high.

Hay bale round making

Ray's OCD gets the better of him, so he tidies the farmer's field.

Sunday -  a lazy start to the day, the six pins were pulled at 10:30. Paul, Elaine and the boys walked up from Aynho to meet up with the flotilla, at Somerton Bridge hole Elaine and Paul boarded FD & FL. Paul got his tiller fix by taking FL to Aynho which allowed me to help at the deep Somerton lock, where there was a  queue of boats forming to get through the lock which took over an hour to get through.

This blog reader was strumming a good tune as we passed by.

Paul at the helm in Somerton lock.

It was time for lunch when we reached Aynho - a table was arranged at the Great Western - the meal was first class - as usual, the company was fantastic and laughter flowed along with the ale.

Picture loaned with kind permission of the owner.

Afterwards, we retired to the camper van which was moored canal side, for afternoon tea and biscuits with the odd beer and red wine. Here another Richard (NB Pendle Water) and boat dog Sadie visited with a tale of woe involving Banbury lift bridge & the cratch before long Sadie dragged Richard away to finish the exercise she craved.... we heard later that all was fixed up at Aynho Wharf... relief for the skipper.

Monday - the three boats staggered their departure - we left about 09:30, stopped at The Manly Ferry Wharf for coffee & biscuits while the fuel & water tanks were topped up.  We said our farewells to Paul & Elaine who leave for more adventure's on the continent later this month where we hope to catch up with them in January.

On route we had a few showers, passed FD moored at Kings Sutton, we carried on as we needed to run a couple of errands and shop in Banbury. We continued afterwards to moor at Slat Mill lock a mile from Cropredy. We want to be up early and through the village as Fairport Convention are in town and the canal will be manic with moored craft.