Friday, 29 June 2012

Brighton for the day

Yesterday (Thursday) we decided to go to Brighton for lunch and a bit of shopping. It was gloriously hot but thankfully the sea breeze helped to keep it comfortable.


We decided to have lunch in Hotel du Vin.  This one in Brighton is  very relaxing and the food is excellent.


Champagne on the terrace before lunch.


After 3 hours of lunching (!) we needed a walk around.  Brighton has a ‘buzz’ about it all the time which is why we like it so much and we’re lucky that we live so close.  This is one little corner on a quiet Thursday afternoon about 3’sh.


Not far from the seafront is an area called “The Lanes” – a system of narrow passages, some only 3 feet wide, where there are some interesting individual little shops including quite a lot of jewellery traders and diamond merchants.  There are plenty of places to eat and while away the odd hour.


The chap with the red flashed rucksack seems to be around a lot in some of these pics.  He’s looking longingly into a shop which sells coloured lights.  You can choose how many and what colour shades you want and today there is a set of them neatly positioned in our conservatory!


It takes a bit of imagination, but fascinating to think back 100 years or more to what these streets might have been like then. 


After “The Lanes” we made a visit to the ‘oh so necessary’ T K Maxx, where we picked up a couple of bargains, before returning to the car (and Oscar).  He still loves a ride in the car but he’s past being able to walk around town with us any more.  He was quite safe in the car, with the windows down and under cover, and regular visits by the security man to make sure he was ok.  He had a walk on the grass in Regency Square before we all went home.  Thank you Brighton.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

You have to laugh!

We must a say a big thank you to all the  people who have wished James well for his forthcoming operation – albeit a simple procedure to get the heart back to normal rhythm.  Thereby hangs a story:

Last Friday, while we were still on the boat, James checked his pulse and was surprised to find it had reverted from Atrial Fibrillation (since February this year) to normal!  We were told that this sometimes can happen.  Yesterday (Tues) he had his pre op. assessment where it was confirmed by ECG that this was the case.  His operation was therefore cancelled and he was told to see his GP as his medication may need to be altered.  Armed with a printout of a perfect heartbeat he sat and waited to see the GP, only to feel a fluttering in his chest which could only mean one thing – his heart was back in AF!  Cutting the story short, his doctor was rather taken aback by the sudden turn around.  He made a frantic phone call to reinstate the operation (which thankfully had not been reassigned) organised another ECG to confirm the situation and James is now back to the original plan – a cardio version operation on July 10th.  That’s life! IMG_0917

Now being back at home for a while we have resumed “normal” life – which includes taking Oscar for his weekly swim in the doggy pool.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Back to Brinklow.

We got into the marina this morning. The wind was blowing quite strongly which can make it tricky to get into the mooring.  So it was with relief that we remembered that we passed our marina neighbour (nb ‘Hannah’) out on the cut a while back so, with ‘Hannah’ gone, there would be more room for us to reverse into our mooring.  With extreme luck we managed to slide gracefully in on the first attempt in spite of the strong side wind.  We set about getting the inevitable “few jobs” done and out of the way today so it will be a quick car packing job in the morning and we can be off back to Selsey. 


The marina isn’t all boats – there’s a lot of land to walk around and this lovely pond to enjoy.



Quite a few boats are out of the marina for the summer - leaving us with this view from the bow.  Hence the ease of access this morning!


‘Chance’ for a rest!

Friday, 22 June 2012

More fun at Hawkesbury Junction.

We’re almost at the end of our trip.  In May we planned just a week away but we’ve been out for almost 6 weeks!  We’ve booked ‘Chance’ into Brinklow Marina again for a month so that James can be home for his pre op next week and then the operation on July 10th.

Last night we all went out for a meal at The Greyhound at Hawkesbury Junction a great evening with good company and good food.  We all were invited back by Bill and Eileen on to  nb ‘New Dawn’ for coffee and port, to finish off a lovely evening.


Doug, Chris, Les, Eileen, Bill and James – all very well sated.


Our walk back to the boats was blighted by heavy rain – what’s new!

Today nb’s ‘New Dawn’ and ‘Eleventh Heaven’ left Hawkesbury Junction in the rain to continue their journey,  we finally left around 2 o’clock when the weather improved.  We had a lovely time and wish all of you safe and happy cruising and hope to meet up again in the future.


Bye Eileen.


Bye Bill.


‘Chance’ about to enter the “stop lock” at Hawkesbury (about 9 inches difference in the water level between the Oxford Canal and the Coventry Canal).


We travelled for a few hours and moored this evening back on the North Oxford Canal – the weather this evening is a world away from what is was like this morning.  There has been so much rain in the last couple of days the canal is quite a bit higher than normal.  We are only about an hour away from the marina so tomorrow will be our last day.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Another Great Day

Compared to the day before, when we travelled 9 hours, yesterday morning we left our mooring and did all of 30 minutes to meet Jayne and Stephen on nb Dolce Far Niente for a coffee and a chat at the bottom of Atherstone Locks.

We had planned to moor half way up the lock flight and for James to catch the train to Rugby for his Warfarin test but James decided to walk to the station from where we were at the bottom of the lock flight (about a mile!).  Doug sat in the sunshine having lunch with Jayne and Stephen while James got off the train in Rugby for another mile walk to the hospital.  By the time James returned (walking another two miles on the return journey!) we had all decided not to move for the day but to stay and enjoy the sunshine and to round the whole thing off with a nice BBQ in the evening.


We were soon opening the Champagne to celebrate the good weather!


Getting the BBQ underway we had a really good evening which ended with Oscar falling into the canal again!  Stephen quickly mustered his life saving skills and hauled him out.  So it was into the shower for Oscar for a clean up and then we all ended up on ‘Chance’ just after 10pm where we sat chatting to nearly midnight!  Thanks again Stephen and Jayne for a lovely day!

We knew the weather was going to be bad this morning, but we said our goodbyes and both boats left in opposite directions at 8.30. We need to get to Hawkesbury Junction as we are meeting  up again, with nb Eleventh Heaven and nb New Dawn for dinner tonight at The Greyhound, and nb Dolce far Niente is heading to Fradley for the night.


We had a pleasant run through the eleven locks at Atherstone, although we did have some heavy showers in between.  This is us at the bottom lock waiting patiently for it to fill with only one paddle working. (Reported to BW)


A view from the back of the boat from James with his umbrella! – torrential downpour.


Continuing through the Atherstone Flight this is us at the top lock.


Stunning scenery – peaceful and calm after the rain had stopped


Hartshill Wharf with the dock building of blue brick with its majestic arch and clock tower.

We arrived at Hawkesbury Junction about 3’sh, at the same time that nb’s ‘New Dawn’ and ‘Eleventh Heaven’ arrived from the opposite direction.  After a mass mooring up and some catch up chat and a coffee with Chris and Les aboard nb Eleventh Heaven we are now preparing to have a great evening meal together.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A long day on a narrow boat

Starting just after 9 o’clock this morning we’ve covered 16 miles in almost 9 hours today.  Primarily because James has to get to a hospital for his weekly blood test and if we get to Atherstone tomorrow it’s a 20 minute train ride to Rugby. Job Done!
Anyway, the weather has been great today so the trip was very pleasant.  
‘Chance’ approaching Junction Lock at Fradley this morning at the start of our journey.
Leaving Junction Lock, and the Trent and Mersey Canal, and negotiating the sharp left turn into the Coventry Canal. 
Between Fradley and Fazeley we meet the famous steam powered narrow boat ‘President’ pulling the equally famous butty ‘Kildare’.  An exciting moment and quite unexpected.
After seeing one of the largest boats on the system we came across one of the smallest!
On reaching Fazeley Junction we filled up with water at the BW station at Peel’s Wharf and then briefly turned right at the junction to pop into Fazeley Marina for a ‘black’ water pump out and a top up with fuel.  After that we went back to the junction to take the canal towards Atherstone for tomorrow’s train journey.
The lovely old Junction House at Fazeley – ‘Chance’ about to turn right through the bridge.
Approaching Polesworth we were helpfully told by some bystanders that we were “pushing a railway sleeper”.  Bringing ‘Chance ‘ to a halt we found the “railway sleeper” – it was about 4 feet long and 1 foot in diameter!  Heaven only knows how long it been there and how amazing to get the thing perfectly balanced on the bow!
Well, a long day but an interesting one – we’re now moored outside Polesworth near, the wonderfully named, Hoo Hill.  The sun is shining, the BBQ is lit and …….
……. all is well with the world.  Here are two members of the crew relaxing…..
…….in domestic bliss.  The washing is drying nicely but the BBQ is taking a little longer than expected.

Alrewas to Fradley Junction

After a quick walk to the co op we prepared to leave this lovely village and head to Fradley Junction.  We had a nice farewell chat to Bruce and Sheila on nb ‘Sanity Again’ (our neighbours last night) before finally leaving at about 11’sh.


Our mooring at Alrewas.


A breakfast guest – he occasionally reared up and looked us in the eye through the galley window!



Thought we’d take another couple of shots of this pretty village while we walked back from the co op. 

It was a quick trip of  an an hour and a half to Fradley Junction - a very busy and popular spot on the canal system.  We managed to get a mooring and took advantage of the working “coal” boat  Callisto moored close to us where we replaced an empty gas cylinder.  We had a very relaxing afternoon in the sunshine with a couple of jobs to be done on the boat, then a nice (and very slow) walk with Oscar along the towpath - popping into the The Swan for a pint on the way back.  It was all so relaxing we forgot to take any photos!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Heavy showers to Alrewas

Too late to go to press for the last blog – James went out last evening to take a picture of the lovely view we had from the boat and a steam train went past – as they do!


The lake is an old gravel pit which has been landscaped and is now very pleasant.

Today we have experienced some very heavy and sudden showers and not at all what you would call warm.  However, we should not complain we’ve had lovely rural countryside to enjoy.


Here we are at Branston Lock having just passed through Burton on Trent.  This lock always seems to be in the middle of nowhere but Branston (where the pickle comes from) is not far away.


They were very mean with bricks at this bridge (36) – it’s one of the narrowest we experienced.


This is Wychnor Lock – entering the lock through two bridges with a narrowing of the waterway as well makes for an interesting approach.


Arriving at the lock at Alrewas – a perfect rural scene. Bruce and Sheila and family on nb Sanity Again just entering the lock. We have been trailing them all day.


After mooring up we took a walk through the very pretty village of Alrewas which is a real delight.  Nearly all the properties are well kept with lovely gardens and there’s a wonderful range of architecture. 


This scene (opposite the lady who sells jam with an honesty box) could be out of a Miss Marple episode.  Doug’s looking at some hand made birthday cards for sale.


Our mooring tonight in Alrewas, with nb Sanity Again in front.

The impromptu photo shoot we had the other day, at Barrow Deep Lock on the River Soar, was Matt Preston who is currently setting up his own photography business and very kindly sent us some of the pictures he took.  This is one of them – a lot better than our pics!  His web site if you are near Loughborough and need a photographer is


Thanks again Matt.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Mercia Marina

We set off at around 10am this morning, the weather was overcast and windy but at least it was dry.


This is Swarkestone Lock.  On this part of the Trent and Mersey canal we have double locks and with only one boat in the lock, if you don’t tie the boat up (which is a bit of a chore as you have to keep tightening the ropes as the boat rises in the lock), the boat gets thrown about a bit - unless the steerer keeps it under control. When we get to Burton on Trent the locks become single ones which is much easier. 


Above Swarkestone Lock we passed the old wharf buildings.


A bit further on and a fairly rare sight of a couple of working boats – the first one is ‘Bath III’ .


This is Stenson Lock , the deepest of the double locks with a rise of 12 feet 4 inches.

We arrived at Mercia Marina at lunchtime, moored on the visitor moorings and walked round to meet up with Bruce and Sheila on nb ‘Sanity Again’.   They had e-mailed us earlier, as they knew we were on our way, and invited us to call in to see them if we had time.   By now the rain had started with brief but heavy showers.   We had an enjoyable hour or so aboard “Sanity” where we met Bruce’s sister Jane and also their daughter Elanor with the wonderful Sally, a very posh dog indeed!  After saying our goodbyes we walked round the marina to see Heth and Dave for a cup of tea and a tour around their boat ‘takey tezey’.  We were amazed how much more space you get on a wide beam!  Thanks again for a lovely afternoon to everyone.


Mercia Marina with the defunct Willington Power Station in the back ground.  ‘Chance’ can be seen on the visitor moorings just below the left chimney.

We left Mercia  at around 4pm and passed through Willington (very busy with boats as usual).  Doug did one of his party pieces where he gets off at one bridge, runs to get some shopping while James takes the boat on to the next bridge, and then gets back on board again.  We soon found the mooring which Sheila had suggested - just past bridge 25 overlooking the, now very picturesque, gravel pit lakes. A very nice mooring thank you Sheila!