Thursday, 6 August 2020

I said five total not one way!

We had a lovely few days with the Fine Company.  Many laughs to go with serious consultations about paintwork, the need for a new paint job, (sadly this was dismissed by the other two boat owners), toilets, polish and just how on earth Del gets his boat (Derwent 6) to have such an amazing mirror like finish, it looks brand new, honestly brand spanking new, but no, its twelve years old.  Full credit to him and his elbow.

The next morning David and I cycled off.  I haven't cycled in about 18 months, I had my padded shorts but I was happy to go about five miles.  There was a farm shop and that was included in the ride, now David must have misunderstood me and we did 7 miles to get there but a shorter run of 5 miles back and I can tell you Reader that was way way way too far for me after such a long break.  
I will not be cycling again for quite a few days.

But during the ride we passed by that farm that we had partially seen from the canal.  David was intrigued by the byres and the farmers wife told us that no there were no cows here any more, not for 45 years, but the barns were used now for lambing.  I asked if there were any plans for demolishing them but no definitely not.  Good.  Not many echos of former farming lives down our way.

A rare straight section of The Ashby.

I do like gateways, this one is looking over to Market Bosworth.

This is the other side of the farm, victorian barns I would hazard a guess at, how nice to see the remnants of blue doors, at our farm all were bottle green.  Attractive brickwork pattern too. 

I asked David if he missed farming....

An attractive farm house but it was the chimneys that caught my eye.

Beauts, I bet you can't get them like this today.

Back at our mooring.

John & Louise's handsome Jasper.

We had an impromptu barbie queue with Johns supersonic bucket which magically cooked after four minutes, I kid you not but I can't remember the name of it.

It was FA Cup Final day between Chelsea and Arsenal (Del's team)  Al&Del had disappeared in to watch it leaving the four of us to enjoy a glass of but we could hear okay when Arsenal scored, they went on to win and Derwent's crew were jolly happy.

The next morning we all had coffee together before John and Louise made the move to leave first, they are on their way back to their marina a few days away.  
We waved them off and hope that its not too long until we see them again.

Socially distanced coffee on the towpath.

The equivalent of reading tea leaves, what do you see?  Del saw a man playing conkers. 


Off they went, you can see the two doggies, Jasper and the cute as can be puppy Lola.

Photo by kind permission of Al from Derwent6 as we pulled away to continue northwards.

Al and Del, bye for now..

We had the best time meeting up with old friends is the wonderful thing about boating.  We hope to see Derwent6 again when we return this way..... when.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

And we're back....

So Reader here we are, back from home and raring to go nowhere fast.

Our thanks to Amanda & David for the Care and Control of WaL during their  time aboard, Amanda cleaned out all the portholes for me and David has done some engine things which only men understand.

We met up with them finally north of Hinkley on the Ashby canal, it was to have been in Hinkley but it seems that my idea of quiet away from it all boating was not a unique thought and as Amanda coined 'All the world and their mother is here too'.  Well maybe we'll change our plans then says I but they did find the very end of a stretch of armco that they squashed WaL onto for the change over.

I would have dearly loved them to have stayed onboard with us like the old days but there is Harvest and Covid19, so for now this is it.

This photo shown by kind permission of David Lewis 

They stayed for lunch and then departed, its David's responsibility to feed the nation and gather in the harvest.  We stayed put that evening as unpacking takes me ages and it was a nice spot they had landed on.

The next day we did make a move.  It was beautifully sunny, a little breezy but lovely.

The last time we were on here we think was six years ago, David kept saying that he'd forgotten how beautiful it is on this canal.  Judge for yourselves, the weather certainly helped.

Farming news is that the wheat is doing nicely, but no where near ready here yet.

Lots of nice bendy bends with bridges and blind corners along the way.  The progress was medium to slow owing to the famous shallowness of this canal.  But who wants to rush anyway?

There was a boat coming here just out of shot.

Now do you see this barn,  its shape and size?  David comes from a long line of farmers and his grandfather had one of these type.  Its called a Byre, this would have housed cows and they would have been kept in stalls individually, tethered and the farmer (Most likely his wife too god forbid) would have moved from cow to cow with a bucket milking by hand.

David's father who was born in the 1920's and some of his twelve brothers and sisters  milked the cows before school, the aim was to hand milk ten cows each, well that aim was probably for an adult.  
Later on an airline was installed so that the cows were milked still in situ, but still several men to milk and care for them.  David thinks that his grandfather had in the region of 40 to 50 cows.
When Tom (David's father) started off on what is now our farm he had a state of the art parlour in the 1955 and milked a revolutionary 60 cows.  When I met David they had another brand new parlour and barn milking 120 cows.  When the herd was sold in 2011, there were 500 cows.  David worked with his brother everyday, all day in the care of them taking their welfare as importantly as that of his children.

A nasty incident occurred on a bend just before we reached our destination, it was a wide bend with moored boats on the bend, a boat coming towards us which took a bit too much of the canal forcing WaL onto what was a sand bank, WaL lurched sideways, the sound of breaking glass sent me RUNNING into the kitchen (Galley for purists) to this sight:

Two bottles of red wine, a bottle of cordial and a brand new bottle of salad dressing had fallen off the kitchen counter.  Red wine was splashed on every surface and I'm still finding it days later.

Not at all annoying.  

Well not too much further to go, our mooring tonight was with a wonderful set of friends, NB Derwent6 Al & Del, if you open this link you'll see when we first met Al & Del   See here   (along with our "Boat Sharers" that is, David & Amanda) 

and NB Ploddin' Along  HERE    John & Louise.  We first met them way back in 2012, literally passing in different directions, but I saw the boat and recognised it as one blog I had been reading, some loud yelling followed and days later we found ourselves behind one another coming down the locks in Stone I think (Could have been Stoke).
We've been friends ever since.  John is a lapsed blogger, but he might up take blogging again.... Go on my son!!  

Del in action here with ropes and John about to take our rope so we could join the party.
A reunion took place with much swapping of news updates and other vital information took place most of the afternoon.  Rain stopped play in the shape of a thunder storm that clipped by the mooring, I tried to get a photo of the fork lightening but failed miserably.  Supper on board our own boats then chairs out again later to resume.

So good to be with Long Lost's, but through the power of blogging you can feel as if you have stayed in touch all these years.

Supper was vegan tonight, falafel  and vegan goujons and salad(Sainsburys), our daughter got us onto these and they are very tasty.  

Please don't tell our farming friends!!


Friday, 24 July 2020

Goodbye for now playmates

Come the morning we had planned to have coffee with Lesley and Joe prior to us departing, I had secured tickets online for the gardens only at the National Trust property Wightwick Manor, HERE      its about a three minute walk from the canal there, although the Manor itself is a big draw for crowds, the gardens are pretty and I love gardens.  
Wightwick was not too far away but mid morning coffee had to be had very early so we could get there at the strict admittance times.

We said goodbye and had big socially distanced hugs (not) Joe and Lesley are going south and are out for weeks.  We are returning to base.   HERE
We left first or I waould have got a shot of the lovely, gleaming NB Steadfast in action.

Borrowed by kind permission of Lesley for that one.

We went off, it was a delightful morning and a joy to be out. The gardens were lovely, modest but lovely.  The social distancing thing worked fine, but I felt there could have been more people allowed in at similar times, plenty of space for all.  Good luck to the NT on getting some money in.  I wanted to make a cash donation to Wightwick, not an online donation to the NT in general.  This proved tricky as there are no tills open, bar the vegetable honesty box.  But the general manager passed by and I was able to put my cash into the parking donation box which is currently in a closed office.
What times we live in. 

Lace cap Hydrangea I liked. 

Wightwick Manor. Not Tudor but Arts and Crafts Late C19th.

Thought we should get under this tree very quick lest it fell on us.

We went on, stopping at Oxley Marine again to fill up with diesel at a good price.  
Over the last couple of days onboard we stopped at Coven and then Penkridge, this time stopping right outside another garden that was full of Sweet Peas.  Every now and then the perfume wafted into the cratch where I was relaxing with a great book, The Dry by Jane Harper.  
Supper that night was tremendous, David had wanted steak for his delayed Birthday Supper, we generally follow a veggie diet these days, unusual for a farmer, don't tell anyone but we also eat a bit of Vegan food too!!   but we had brought fillet steak which melted in the mouth from M&S in Kidderminster, 
plus real chips that were roasted in the oven and frankly were absolutely delicious.
Dessert was strawberries and cream.  

The M6, I always feel super smug looking at motorways from WaL, so glad not to be on there.

Next time we'll moor opposite here to gaze right down this pretty valley

A bit late in the season me thinks to get these grown before winter.

We had our last night on Tixall Wide, as did over eleven boats when I lost count.  David scrubbed the green cratch cover (Its now black again) and I packed our bags.  Next to the boat was this large planty shrub, looking much like thistles but the leaves were not.  It was absolutely buzzing with insects, bees and butterflies.  I was tempted to dig a bit up to bring home for the garden.   

Peacock butterfly?

Unknown butterfly

I would hazard a guess at a Red Admiral 

No idea.

We are home again now, WaL was delivered into the careful hands of our "Boat Sharers" Amanda and David.  They have her for a week so they could easily do the Llangollen canal and get to Braunston, possible down to London.  If you see them say hello.

We'll be back later.

Forgot to say another visitor at Tixall, it stayed quite a while too.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

A long day but worth it

So we left Kidderminster after I had returned three pairs of jeans to M&S and brought a quite different fourth pair.  David's 85th birthday fast approaches and we had brought all sorts of edible goodies for his "Birthday Week", I had a birthday week last year and now he wants one.  I shall be extending mine to a Birthday Month next March (Its a WHOPPER!).

It was finally a really lovely day, we did retrieve the sun cream too.  Below is a most attractive lock that I have certainly photographed before, is it Falling Sands Lock or the other one? Either way its pretty impressive.
The sun shone, hardly another boat anywhere and everything in the garden is rosy.

WaL coming into the lock, is that faded red paint I can see?  Maybe we should have her repainted....

Looks like the paving stones have been replaced but I hope these are protected, I love these echo's of former lives spent on the canals, by folk with a lot harder lives than we have.

I was hopping on and off here, trying to get a shot of WaL coming through the viaduct, its not a bad shot I guess but then walking on a bit I realised that I had missed out the original canal bridge out so here's another.

So faded......

We carried on to Stourport, the chandler shop has still got stock in it but not open, so you call them and go find them in a warehouse away a bit.  Evidently the lease is up on the shop and they are not renewing.  The business will go all online.  

We filled with water and departed the way we came.  Back through Kidderminster, quite a few boats there now.

The iconic church view here.

Around the corner at Sainsbury's was a very recognisable boat, NB Chuffed, home to Dave and Debby,    HERE
I look upon Debby as my Wild Flower consultant identifier, she has commented many times on this blog to help me out, Debby I was sorry that we couldn't stop and meet properly but next time!

NB Chuffed and Debby.

Below this is James, he works all week he told me but he does not want to sit in a pub all weekend so he bikes out to help with locking, today he was here at Debdale Lock but sometimes he cycles over to the Delph Flight or the Stourbridge Flight to help any boater.  Lovely chap, broad Yorkshire accent and he wants to retire to Scarborough.
Say hello if you meet him.

James, Lock helper.

We have friends in Kinver and we were delighted to receive them onboard for dwinks and even more delighted to be invited for supper at their cottage too.  Sarah and Chris, a very interesting pair, Sarah also has blogged about their time afloat  HERE , she is currently working on her blog and will update it soon.

Lovely to have caught with you both, next time we are down the supper will be on us.

The next morning very early at about 8am, we were up and at 'um, as we pulled away a boat moored just in front of us had its captain on deck preparing also to pull away, we had come up behind them yesterday and they weren't fast, so we were delighted to have the lock advantage this morning.
The Vine pub was closed last year, its had a chequered recent past, but today it has new umbrellas and a lick of paint too, looking very much smarter.  Good luck to it.

The Vine at Kinver.

So looking at the boat below, its moored on the CART line moorings, I object to the paint which is totally flaking off into the canal and later into the sea from an environmental position, I had thought as we passed it on the way down it was deserted but no, its someone's home, but how long till it sinks and becomes a major environmental problem? 
Who's problem then? 

Glorious sunny views across open meadows, a few boats here today.  

He's listening to the cricket!

He always copies my ideas and beats me to Instagram to post them....

There's something about how the canal disappears around the hill here just north of Swindon that I love.

I absolutely believe in free will but I still was surprised that this man was washing the outside of his fence.... Nice garden and all but the outside of his fence...? 
Strange I call that. 

Now if someone can tell me if this below is Japanese Knotweed, that introduced and highly invasive weed that cannot be pulled out or destroyed by any known means to man, then we do have a big problem as its all though this patch of woodland growing unchecked....

We pushed on, a five hour cruise, unheard of for us but we did it for them....
Joe and Lesley of now NB Steadfast.  HERE  We have had a bucket full of adventures with them in the past with them on their other boat NB Yarwood  HERE this was when we crossed the Wash back a few years....

NB Steadfast looking totally glistening David after their repaint!

Supper was a great feast together with much giggling again after a long while.