Saturday, 19 September 2020

A working holiday.

Dear Reader, 

Small confession to make, in the intervening weeks away, we were sneaky and had a quick week on WaL with a daughter and SIL, but I "Forgot" to blog......ahem.

So by way of an after thought, I'll do a quick recap and post a few photos.

During the time at home we celebrated my mother's 90th birthday, she had all her Grandchildren (5) there and all her Great Grandchildren (7) there too.

A few days later it was our own two Grandchildren's birthdays, Luca and Freya are just one year old now but by golly a lot has happened in their short lives.

So we arrived back at WaL and had a few days before they arrived and by good fortune, we met up with new friends David and Sarah from NB Hodma'dod, they popped down to Tixall to spend a few days while they awaited an important delivery.  Luckily we were at Tixall by then too.  The last time we were together for a few days was last year on the Staffs to Worcester when we were having the solar panels fitted at Wolverley.  We then travelled with then down the River Severn and parted company at Tewkesbury.  Although live-aboards they had spent Lockdown in their sons house whilst he had an extended stay in Portugal, every cloud so to speak.

We were in Tixall to have a bash at painting the other side of the gunwales black, we had managed to do one side while we were up on the Ashby back in August.  Goodness that seems an age ago now.  But we didn't get chance to complete the other side  due to the extra hot heat!

WaL looked a complete mess before, some will say not an awful lot better afterwards, but that's enthusiastic amateurs for you, (Actually I'm not everso enthusiastic)


I might just say that I'm not responsible for many of these gauges and scrapes....

Finished, frankly Reader it couldn't look worse.

The glistening Hodma'dod with its owners Sarah and David.

We said our goodbyes to the Hoddies and after turning made our way back to Great Haywood Marina, thankful that our company were delayed some 15 minutes giving us time to moor up.  They jumped on and off we went again, out onto the Trent and Mersey canal and northwards.

The Hoddies had been this week in the Plume and Feathers pub at Barleston and had rated not only the food but all the Covid19 stuff that goes with these days, so we had in mind to take the visitors there for Sunday Lunch then turn and head back so they could get home again in time for work.

It meant an early-ish start the next morning after mooring that teatime above Sandon, but the insomniac did so and we had a most pleasant cruise over the next few days.  
Our SIL (son-in-law) Mitch frequent flyers to this blog might remember is from NZ, so he spent the week pretty much bare foot, he leaps about like a circus acrobat, I begged him not to jump across the empty lock over WaL as she came in..... I know he can (and has) easily cleared jumping a lock but he was going to do it without a run-up and my nerves really couldn't stand it.

So nice having hardy guests, when it rained they stuck it out and I lounged into the cratch, watching.

We had fearsome card games.  Our favourite is called Hearts and can only be played with four people, so when they come we always play.  Did I tell you Reader that Mitch the acrobat is also a complete Card Shark?  He counts cards and knows by some magic who is holding what, he rarely looses but oh my golly he didn't win on one match.  Usually I come last but on two days running Reader I didn't.

They also taught us a new game that David and I can play, but I hate the name 'Shithead' so I am trying to make another name up.

So it was a lovely few days together, The Plume of Feathers has got Covid19 sorted with very effective measures in place and we were all relaxed and the food was delicious too, we'll go again.

All types of weather were had by us but on the whole nice.  Lastly who do you think she looks like, she is our youngest and she is a good mix of us both me thinks.

More from us later.

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Quick flit to home.

I predicted last night that we would be hard pressed to get through the Atherstone locks,  eleven locks they start off close together but then spread out.
I was correct.

It is such an attractive run up to the flight and again we haven't had the time to stop and explore a little more, in fact I think that between Nuneaton and the flight is the best scenery.  We would have moored up there last night but it was so ghastly hot that we by-passed the views in favour of shade.  
Gently rolling hills, some wooded stretches and some view points over the valley.

Here below is a taster, note the grey cloud but such a relief to be cooler.

Gorgeous countryside along this stretch.

We arrived at the Atherstone locks with the welcomed sight of a boat exiting up the top lock and two volunteers in attendance.
Always nice to chat to these lovely people, but I do admit to being marginally disappointed that the two chaps stayed put at the top lock.... in the past when there have been a few on duty here, one may walk down two or three locks to lend a hand.

Atherstone Top Lock and cute cottage.
WaL exiting the second or third lock.

So here is a riddle Reader, before we arrived, the locks were full because a boat had completed the flight coming up.  We entered three full locks on our way down.  When I got to the next lock it was empty, completely empty and I "Gave" it to the boat coming up but who hadn't quite arrived.  Neither I not the lady on the boat NB 3 No Trumps, could explain the one and only empty lock, with no other boat having past either of us and she too had had to empty each of the locks coming up.
All paddles down and I am not buying the idea that it was leaky and had totally emptied itself. 
Answers on a postcard please.

In talking to this other boat we both realised that 4 years ago we had come up the Anderton Boat Lift together.  Small boating world.   HERE.

Looks like a good year for Elderberry wine.

Pretty enough for a bridesmaids posy, but it's a Bindweed relative.

Well we stopped in the centre of town and popped into the nice Co-Op here, raced around, back to WaL and then moved off again, we had debated and faffed and thought as the forecast was to have full on steady rain at 2pm we'd have plenty of time to finish the flight before then, so I found the wet weather kit just in case and we set off quickly but not quickly enough and a CART work boat came past us as we were about to undo the ropes, inward groan, he was a single hander so he'd be bound to hold us up.  

Nothing to do about it but go anyway.  I decided to walk the extended stretch to the next lock to stretch my back out a bit.  When I got to the lock a boat was coming up and the work boat was already ahead!  I ate my own words.

One lock done and the rain started, of course.  Well we carried on to Lock nine I think and called it a day, moored up and that's when I found out that I really need new wet weather kit.....

We stopped to the next morning and although rain was due we did set off and stayed dry.

Now some years ago I posted a photo of this hull.... I asked then when does a restoration project tip over and become a scrapage matter...
Worth saving now?  Presumably the owners have not the inclination or perhaps funds or else it would have been done.  

Similar issue here?  Funds lacking so it falls down?
Interesting line in design here.

Not my taste as I don't like black.

 Over the next couple of days, we stopped at Hopwas, and  Fradley Junction.  I was determined to call into the The Swan pub or known widely amongst boaters as The Mucky Duck.  Its changed hands quite a few times over the past years and I just wanted to try it out.  So we walked up to it, tables spread all over the carpark, waitress service, all looking good and then customers food started to arrive and that did the trick, we ordered, two fish and chips for £20 and it was delicious Reader.  They were very busy too so if you are close by give it a try.

We walked after lunch over the fields and far away at Fradley something I've not done before.  Most pleasant.

Stopped here the night and the weather the following morning was damp, we waited and pondered and dithered and eventually us and the boat behind decided to move, I walked to post a letter and the heavens opened, of course again...
There was a wait at both locks and by that time we were both soaked but carried on and moored up again almost at Armitage.

Look and laugh at the heavy rain on the canal......

David bringing WaL through Plum Pudding cutting

And finally the approach to Great Haywood with the hills of Cannock Chase beyond.

It's been a super time this cruise.  We've met up with Boaters that we haven't seen in ages and enjoyed some good weather even if it has been BOILING at times.  

And look who is here Reader!  

Well, if you are not familiar with this boat its called NB Whitefield.  It was built by our boat builder Fernwood Designs back before WaL was started.  The owners wanted it to have the look of a boat from the south of France.  It was shown at Crick too. Its had a chequered past, changing hands a few times already but now its come to live at Great Haywood. 


So that's us for now.  Home tomorrow for our Grandchildren's first birthdays.  How quickly did that happen?

We'll be back presently.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Another scorcher.

So we continued our exit from the Ashby canal early the next morning to try to get some millage before the real heat of the day.
Here are a few shots of the journey.  It was soon very hot.

Such a sad sight of this lovely old bridge with an enormous crack in it.

I mean look at the size of it, a fair wallop

I asked these fishermen were they very early birds or all nighters, it was the later.

So looking at the previous photo of the damage done to these bridges then I was truly horrified to see this combine.  The driver kept getting off to check the width, but does he really have to use this bridge?  It was hardly meant for it.

This heron left it until the very last minute to flee, the closest I've ever got to one.


It took a couple of hours to get to the junction, but there was very little traffic and we slipped around and set course northwards.

We trawled through Nuneaton and then past this famous landmark, famous amongst boaters that is.

I was pretty sure that sure that the china sockets or cups or whatevers are getting fewer.

Shortly afterwards David spotted a great shaded spot to moor up, and we sat under a tree relaxing after what was a fairly long cruise in the heat.
We were in the shade for most of the afternoon and evening which was a godsend and we slept with all the back doors open and what little breeze there was blowing through.

Rain or storms were forecast tonight, there were a few drops then a few more, but not the promised storm, the grey clouds blew away north but it had cooled considerably thank goodness.
Rain due tomorrow in the afternoon so we'll press on to get down through the Atherstone flight beforehand.

Monday, 17 August 2020

I was close to killing him.

We left early from this morning, leaving Derwent6 and another boat to sleep.  It was partly to avoid the expected soaring temperatures but also time for us to make a move, not only to water up but to get back to the marina as we are expected home.  My mother will be 90 this month, but don't tell her I told you.
This photo below was not taken this morning but on that mooring, hard to see but there is a rainbow with WaL at the end of it.

We wanted to stop at Ashby Boat Hire to drop off some used oil, David had asked them on the way up and yes they would take it.  They are situated at Stoke Golding, and below is the lovely view of Stoke Golding church as you approach.

Several years ago when we were moored here, late one afternoon the farmer was spreading lime and a white cloud engulfed the moored boats with WaL just escaping by a few metres, today in the same field the farmer or 'Bloody Farmers' as they are called in my house, was harrowing or similar but causing a cloud of dust, we raced past as fast as an even shallower than two weeks ago canal will allow, again just avoiding being covered in dust, I mean what could be nicer? 

Stoke Golding  as you approach.  Great view.

Not at all annoying.

The Ashby Canal Society given more, much more money and many volunteers has a lot work to do with cutting back I feel, in places the navigation is down to a single boats width, and that's before we even get talking about dredging, goodness knows what the answer is apart from financial.  But I do get a bit twitchy about these over hanging trees.

I'm not a fan of willow on a good day.

So we arrived at Ashby Boats.  I held the middle rope whilst David jumped off with the oil.  On the opposite side of the canal a hire boat arrived, it became clear that they wanted to stop, moor for a short time and pop to the shop for ice-creams, the chap from the Ashby Boats when asked called back that it was shallow there but more spaces through the bridge.  So anyway, the poor wife jumped off and took the front rope trying to pull the boat in, non boaters may not know that this has the effect of pulling the back of the boat out in a see-saw action, but many hire boats do not have middle ropes provided..... The husband shouted to her to come and get the back rope, which he threw and hit her on the head with it. No word of apology, 
"Come on" 
"Stop now and get the front rope!"
"Come on PULL, bend your back right into it"

Then this poor woman at one point ended up pulling both ropes in at once, not that it did any good because it was shallow there.

"Well I'll just have to jump then" were his last words.  He did and disappeared up the path to the shop presumably leaving her and the two boys behind.
I resisted telling her to put the rope around his neck but frankly Reader it was a hard call not to. 

We left.  
Next stop Sutton Cheney Wharf, to be rid of the rubbish.  Luckily the mooring was free, we were going to fill with water here too, but in the heat the over flowing piles of refuse all over the ground and stacked up the smell was appalling.  
We'll water up further down.

The sun was up and it was boiling by now.  Sun hats and that 50SPF sun cream was used as I could feel my arms burning already and it wasn't 10am yet.

Del had advised us to head for bridge 3 on the Ashby, that's way down not too far off of Marston junction with the Coventry canal, but frankly after about 5 or six hours in the heat, we'd had enough when some pleasant moorings came into view and the boat in front of us also pulled over.  He was a big heavy trad boat but managed to get in, we are a modern dainty and not too deep semi and didn't get fully in.  We didn't care but pretended it was a river mooring and in that case was an excellent one.  
We got the chairs out and cold drinks and sat under a spreading chestnut tree.  There we sat pretty much until 10pm.  There were a few midges about but as David said, there are not many of these fabulous summer evenings left so lets enjoy it.
Did I say it was hot? 

Supper was wild salmon with a lemon and horseradish sauce.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Dragged on another bloody hike.

The next day was hot again although looking at this photo it looks cloudy, but it was hot and 50SPF suncream was deployed.
David came up with this walk, he said not too long as it's hot, so down the lane, around the gate, over the steam railway line to where the path goes right through a wheat field.

Someone should have told Theresa May that you are allowed.

Highly scientific method of wheat testing for ripeness, not nearly ready as still marginally green. Years of experience needed here.

The way we had come over two fields, I do love a gateway.

The path led us right past this house's lounge windows... I hope its owned by a Russian, ghastly leylandi trees planted, the owners must be bonkers.

Really a question for David Lewis; Why is the margin cultivated?

So the other day I was saying about footpaths being "Fenced in" here you might be able to see that the brambles have got mission creep and grown across path, the walkers (me) have walked the other side of the electric wired fence to escaped the stinging nettles whilst wearing shorts, the the effect is to steadily lose acreage, not much you may say, but farmers need all the help they can get.

10ft of field lost.

The most beautiful garden we have seen all holiday was this one, in Barton-in-the-Beans.
A modest bungalow, but the garden was packed full of flowers and colour, it was alive with insects and butterflies and this is the way all gardeners should be heading to increase insects numbers which are so critically important to us all, who started me on that rant?  

A truly stunning garden, I would have taken more shots but the owners were at home and the windows were open!

We would have stopped for a drink in the village pub only Barton-in-the-Beans is a dry village owing to being an important centre for the Baptist Church in the area.   

It was a great walk, did I already say it was hot?  But it was interesting with a variety of scenery.
Almost at the canal, there was this car, anyone want it?  I was tempted to take it for a spin.

Look carefully and you'll see the keys in the boot, we never do this, however David has left our car unlocked several times.

Back on WaL we had cold drinks then untied the ropes and set off further southwards.  This evening cruise was for different reasons but we were getting a tiny bit low on water, it was much cooler now and the canal was quieter now.

Our end of the line mooring, the back end was in the reeds.

This was here, we chatted to Mr Wolfe, very nice chap.

The maize is coming up well, but not ready until the end of summer.

It was a very relaxing trip back down the canal, the sun had lost its blistering heat.  Only one run in with a boat that drove us into the shallows again, but we're getting used to that by now.

A quick phone call to Mrs Heaseman to just see if there was space for us at bridge 45 and yes there was.  They were out to meet us, Al and Del that is from NB Derwent6 that is;
HERE  pulling Derwent up a bit to get us in. 

Last week we had all enjoyed a bottle of Bollinger Champagne gracefully donated by Al, I couldn't match that, at short notice, but I did have a bottle of good cava, chilled and ready, luckily Al had no other prior engagements so I popped the cork.  Cocktails lasted some five hours.... after which I'm glad I didn't have far to walk to WaL and my bed.  I blame Del of course and his generous nature.

Now as I look back on that night a few days ago, sat here in the pouring rain with acorns being thwacked down on the roof of WaL I can feel the warmth of the evening suns rays making it the most lovely summer evening and one to remember.

Thank you both

Supper was of the liquid variety, I'll say no more.

Friday, 14 August 2020

A short cruise, ever such a short cruise.

Time to go.  
We pootled off southwards, we'd been here for almost four days, eeking out the water supplies after filling up at the top at Snarestone, I also filled the saucepans and the kettle and David's cycling bottle!
I have a plastic water container onboard that we use on the Thames mostly, as not all that many water points there.  
It holds about a gallon, we use that for washing up, and when we have a shower, we collect the water in the kettle and saucepans until the water runs hot.  This way we can last  ten to twelve days instead of the usual five to six.

My only teeny weeny grip with WaL is that I would have liked a bigger water tank.

But anyway, we landed at Shackerstone.  You might remember its the village with the large crescent of moorings, some private and quite a few visitor and the Motte castle remains.

It was only about 11am after about a 40 minute cruise, when we arrived, there was a WaL sized space at the beginning of the moorings on armco and we dithered about shall we shan't we.... well we did and although David thought it was better through the bridge and around the corner, he came to my way of thinking and decided that it was beautifully open with lovely views.

A lady was sorting ropes on the boat in front, we got chatting as you do and it turns out that Linda, is the founder of a group of single handed boaters who are women, on Facebook, guess how many members there are?
I'll tell you at the bottom.

Linda started Meet-Ups for the women members, then dinners, then overnighters and now they do weekenders!  
I asked to join there and then but sadly I don't qualify. 

This was taken last evening, I was playing Peek-a-Boo around the side hatch, forgetting for a minute that these were not my grandchildren, they seemed to enjoy it.

The mooring we left this morning.

Bit of a dodgy footpath along this stretch, easily loose and couple of old ladies.

 It was boiling hot, so after mooring and faffing, we hid from the worst of the sun and relaxed..... again.

That evening we walked all around the village, the church was still closed due to Covid19 but the village is quite unspoilt although a large number of Range Rovers and big fat Audi's which is always a bad sign.  I picked out several properties that we could "Retire" to, not me this time Reader, but David, he absolutely loves the countryside around here.

After doing our bit to support the local community centre (Pub) we made our way back to WaL to enjoy the rest of the evenings warmth.

Supper was mushroom omelette with copious salad.

Approx 45 single-handed Boaters who are women, I've only ever met a handful.