Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Dry Run

It was a calm and pleasant evening we enjoyed above Deptford Lock last night….


….as this photo shows.  The mornings and evenings are, more often than not, some of the best times of the day on the cut.

This morning, which started off very damp indeed, did keep dry for us on our two and a half hour run up to Penkridge.  What luck!


On the way our approach to Acton Trussell was heralded by immaculately manicured properties, in fact,virtually every canal side property was equal in its presentation right through the village and out the other side.  It was all rather nice.


Lawns like billiard tables wherever we look!


At Shutt Hill Lock the approach needed some care – especially when handling a camera at the same time!

We stopped off at Midland Chandlers to get a few items we needed  (Elsan loo blue 2 x 4 litres for £20 on offer) after reading in a recent boating magazine not to use yeast tablets in the tank as this causes a build up of sludge and gassing off.  We have decided to go back to loo blue after trying the tablets over a couple of months.

At Penkridge we made several attempts at trying to moor up below the locks but there just wasn’t quite the depth of water we needed to get into the side.  We don’t often have trouble getting in even though we draw 30” but, failing to find a suitable place, we went up through the locks to the 5 day moorings above Filance Lock.  Getting out of Filance lock, however, was another matter………


…….this was the scene which greeted us as ‘Chance’ came up in the lock.  A working boat with its butty in a somewhat compromising position.


We waited patiently while the debacle was sorted out.

Safely moored now, we’ve done a quick shop at the co op and back for a bit of Olympic viewing.  We noticed on our way into the village that it’s curry evening in ‘The Boat’ at bridge 86 tonight and, with nothing planned for tonight’s dinner, that's where we’ll be.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Lazy Days!

We had a leisurely day on Sunday staying at Tixall Wide.   Ian and Irene invited us on board ‘Free Spirit’ for coffee and wonderful homemade cake mid morning.  We then wandered into the village with Ian to pick up a paper and had a pint on the way back at the pub.


Nb ‘Free Spirit’ winding in “the wide” so they could polish the other side!  James didn’t waste the whole day – he stuck the anti slip bits on the gangplank. In the evening we were invited back to ‘Free Spirit’ for wine and nibbles before returning to ‘Chance’ to cook dinner.


Doug, Irene and Ian enjoying a glass of wine or two!

Today produced a leisurely cruise towards Penkridge but firstly we went back to Great Haywood to fill with water as the water point at Penkridge is above the lock and we planned not to go as far as that today. Oh the complicated and testing logistics of narrow boating!


The view from the side hatch this morning about 6am.  We said our goodbyes to Irene and Ian before they headed off. We’ve had a fantastic weekend with them – they left us with a big chunk of Irene’s superb coffee sponge which we’re having to anchor down to stop it floating away!  We hope to meet up again soon guys!


Ian and Irene on their way to the Trent and Mersey Canal.


Our journey has been punctuated with some short but very heavy showers of rain.  This is the remains of the heaviest one!


The lovely cross-over Milford bridge (no 105) .

We decided to moor up at lunchtime just above Deptmore Lock so we could settle down and watch some of the Olympics.  After another heavy shower just after we got the boat secured we put the washing out and amazingly it has stayed dry all afternoon!  James was soon out tending to ‘Chance’……….


………..another polish so its bound to rain now!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Weekend at Tixall Wide

We didn’t have time to blog yesterday as we spent a lovely day with Irene and Ian of nb Free Spirit.  We knew our paths were going to cross at some point and they arrived this morning just in time for coffee and home made bread pudding!


Irene and Ian’s arrival at Tixall Wide.


Catching up on all the latest in the sunshine.

Doug walked down to the Canal Farm Shop at Great Haywood which was recommended by Caroline and Martin on their blog comment yesterday and brought back a selection of goodies including some PYO raspberries.  James spent much of the day “information gathering” (i.e.talking to other boaters!) and, in between that,  giving the gangplank and pole a final coat of paint before sticking on the anti slip material.  In the afternoon we decided to have a BBQ to make the most of the weather.  We shouldn’t complain but the wind today has made things slightly uncomfortable but the BBQ went ahead in true British style.  Eventually we decided to take everything on the back of ‘Chance’ where it was less windy.


We had a lovely evening with lots of food and drink and we chatted and laughed away for hours!  Occasions like this that really make boating life such good fun.


Doug having to share his meal with Oscar and his new friend Jade.


We completed this great day inside with home made dessert (Lemon Torte with PYO raspberries)  and more wine.  Thanks Ian and Irene for a lovely evening. 

We have decided to stay at Tixall Wide again today while the weather is good and James needs more time to get to end of his jobs list.  We’ll probably move on pastures new tomorrow.

Friday, 27 July 2012

A leisurely journey to Tixall Wide

After an enjoyable musical evening and meal in The Swan at Fradley Junction last night, we managed to get an early start this morning (for us anyway) leaving at 8am!


Having just left Fradley we’re taking to new water this year at last.  The wild “Astilbe” along the banks is superb at the moment and the Rose Bay Willow Herb is just starting to look it’s best.


The “crew” putting his back into it at Wood End Lock.  The sun was bright but it was a chill wind first thing this morning.


It wasn’t long before we were at Armitage – home of the Armitage Shanks who we couldn’t really do without!  The canal runs right past their factory.


Soon we were in the Armitage “tunnel”.  Subsidence by coal mining caused its collapse and it is now partly covered by concreted and partly open to the sky.


It’s very narrow in places and concentrates the mind a bit!


Some great engineering and architecture at Colwich Lock.

After getting through the lock at Great Haywood we turned left onto the Staffs and Worcestershire Canal  and were amazed to see the number of hire boats still at the Anglo Welsh yard.


We counted seven as we went past, no wonder why the canals seem to be so quiet with so few hire boats about.

We arrived at Tixall Wide at 1.30pm and were surprised to see plenty of room for us so we moored up, put the washing out on the line and went for a walk into Great Haywood.  When we got back, James washed the roof and cleaned the sides as well as doing a few other jobs.  We are now sat in front of the TV waiting for the Olympic opening ceremony to start. We will probably stay here tomorrow  as there’s more work to be done (painting gang planks and things) and then move again on Sunday.


The view at Tixall Wide from the side hatch this evening.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Forward to Fradley.

We started at 8.30am this morning on our way to Fradley Junction before the weather got too hot.  Oscar swapped between his cool spot on the bathroom floor and……..
……..his favourite spot on the boat roof (closely monitored of course!)
As we travelled through the outskirts of Tamworth it was nice to observe and ponder on the ways that some none boaters make use of the wonderful asset they have at the bottom of their gardens.
We could have taken many pics. but this is just one.
We had to take this one at the Glascote Locks.  Not a great picture because we couldn’t get it all in but the entire garden is plastic!  All the plants, window boxes and the astro turf outside the house! Not so sure this is the way to go.
Blog followers Caroline and Martin asked for a picture of Doug with his hat on after we showed James looking ridiculous the other day.  He  is not looking  quite so silly as it’s a posh leather one!
‘Chance’ making a deft manoeuvre  through Fazeley Junction.
We passed the half finished entrance to the new Kings Orchard Marina near Streethay – it now seems to be opening in Spring 2013.  Talking of passing things – we met nb ‘Moondarra’ right at Bridge 90!  It’s so often the case – all that canal and boats have to meet at bridge holes and narrows – sorry you had to do an emergency stop guys but thanks for letting us know that you read our blog.  Its always nice to meet followers of our blog.  Great to see you and enjoy your cruising.
There was no space to moor on the Coventry arm at Fradley Junction when we arrived at 3pm as expected at this time of year. So we decided that we would carry on towards Great Haywood,  just as we got to the junction, Doug noticed two spaces  below the lock towards Alrewas, So James reversed Chance into the lock so we could descend and moor facing the correct way  for when we continued in the morning.  Luckily, the manoeuvre went off without a hitch as there were a lot of gongoozlers about.
We moored next to Janice and Dai on nb Jandai, after spending an hour chatting to them we then strolled up to The Swan for a pint, after meeting and chatting to another couple of boaters we returned Oscar back to Chance for his dinner and are about to go back to the pub for a meal and enjoy the live music they have on a Thursday evening.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

It ain’t half hot mum!

Today started off with the temperature very pleasant and it was just right for our descent down the Atherstone flight of locks.  There were a few boats coming up the flight so we had the occasional lock in our favour but we still think it’s very quiet and, contrary to what we would have expected at this time, very few hire boats.


‘Chance’ at the top of the Atherstone flight.  No queues!


Roughly half way down.

By the time we were approaching the last few locks the sun really took hold and for the rest of the day it has been hot, hot, hot.  We moored up at Badley Green at about 1:30 as it was getting too hot to travel and Oscar was certainly not comfortable…….


……..this is where he spent a lot of the day!


Here we are this evening – after 11 locks and 4 1/2 miles. We’ve  had a restful afternoon (lazy in other words) and, later on,  we’ve been able to do a few jobs now that it’s cooled down a bit.


Our view of tonight’s sunset.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Cruising Again!

We had a good journey up to the boat yesterday (Monday) with no hold ups on route and arriving at Brinklow around 1pm.  We had soon unpacked so Doug went off into Rugby do get the shopping leaving James to prepare the boat. We stayed in the marina overnight and headed off this morning.


Monday sunset from the back of the boat


A final fill with water before we left at 9:30 today.

The weather has been glorious -  dare we say a bit too hot!  We had a lovely, quiet  journey to Hawkesbury Junction with surprisingly few boats for this time of year!  There was no queuing for the stop lock.


‘Chance’ in the stop lock at Hawkesbury.


‘Chance’ leaving the lock.

As it was such a nice day we decided to continue on and get through Nuneaton and look for a mooring somewhere in the countryside beyond.


Oscar with James (looking ridiculous in his silly hat) enjoying the summer weather.  Someone’s knocked the lifebelt of one of it’s hooks!


Passing alongside Charity Dock – not one of the most picturesque corners of the canal system!  We may have shown this before.

Tonight we have moored  just after Hartshill – a pleasant mooring with five other boats for company.  It’s 8:30 and the temperature is just beginning to become comfortable.  At the moment we’re all being treated to a practice session of the local brass band in a barn about 100 yards away – they are in urgent need of some musical direction!  Tomorrow we’ll tackle the Atherstone Lock Flight.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Ready, Steady, Go!

This has been our last week at home and tomorrow we’ll be on our way ‘Chance’ward.  We’ve been catching up with people all this week – which means the inevitable, and enjoyable, wining and dining.  So much so that we decided we ought to have Saturday evening in.  The weather has been great this weekend and promises to be so for the rest of the week so we’re really champing at the bit to be off!
Oscar is not so good in the heat so he needs his “lie downs”.
This afternoon we took him down to the beach for a cool paddle.  Selsey beach is always so busy on sunny weekends!
Contemplation was all we got out of the old boy!
We should be on ‘Chance’ tomorrow afternoon and hopefully we’ll be meeting up with old and new friends on the canal over the next few weeks.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

A Catch Up Blog

We’ve had a lovely, but busy, time this week with Vicki and Ernie -  it’s definitely gave Oscar a boost having the young Ernie to stay with us.  We’ve had some lovely days out together – on Tuesday we all went to Carluccio’s  in Chichester for lunch to celebrate James not having to have another op. and, as usual, it was excellent food and service.
On Wednesday we travelled to Old Portsmouth and had lunch at the  Spice Island Inn on the quayside -  always a handy and pleasant place to be as we can take the dogs in.  For the whole time we were there we had torrential rain and, to prove that the sun doesn’t always shine in our part of the world (as some of our readers think it does!) we took a photo from the window of the pub. 

After a good lunch we went to the outlet village at GunWharf Quays which gave us a break from the rain as it’s mostly undercover.  The underground car park is superb as it has sensors at each parking space which show little red or greens lights so that you can see at a glance where the spaces are.  A brilliant idea, which we’ve not come across before – so simple.
On the way home we popped into Makro at Fareham where Vicki was very pleased to pick up a bargain Bodum BBQ.  Let’s  just hope they get some decent weather to use it!

Vicki modelling the BBQ so we could send the picture to Tom to check that he liked it as well.

That evening (lovely sunny weather back in Selsey!) Ernie and Oscar decided they’d take a rest after a busy day in Portsmouth.
Thursday saw some good weather and, after Vicki and Ernie headed home towards Swindon, we did a bit of gardening.
On Friday, after meeting friends for a drink at lunchtime, we spent the evening catching up with more friends over a Chinese takeaway.

Julia, Patrick, James and Eve having a very in depth conversation!
This afternoon we went into Worthing to have a look at a new car and it rained on and off all afternoon.  We’ve never seen the coast so quiet on a Saturday in July and we feel so sorry for all the holiday makers trying to enjoy their breaks.
We have one more week at home before we return to ‘Chance’ on Monday and we’ll be busy catching up with people we haven’t managed to see yet.  We very much hope, for everyone’s sake, that the weather improves soon as, hearing from fellow bloggers on their boats, it certainly hasn’t been great on the waterways as of late.