Monday, 8 July 2019

Last leg.

It's been a while I know, but as I write this we are at home again and much taken up with all that happens here, David at losing at golf and me, well I don't know quite what but I am very busy with it.

The last days we had on WaL last week were lovely and hot, actually a bit hot and sticky, actually very sticky and hot.

But we did pass this boat somewhere.  It caught my eye as when we met up with Leon's (Son-in-law) mum last week she told us of how Leon's either granddad or great granddad worked for Hingley's of Netherton and indeed rose through the ranks to become the commander in chief.  They made the anchors for The Titanic.
Leon these photos are for you.








We only had a short hop this morning from Penkridge down to Acton Trussell.  

We needed loo cleaner so at someplace I popped into Midland Swindlers, right next to the canal to get some.  David wanted the brand of toilet blue additive that we had the first time, seven years ago, he couldn't remember the brand, or bottle shape so that was easy then.

As I waited to be served David got talking to an unfortunate boater who had had his car keys knocked out of his hands by his dog.  The kind people at the shop had lent him a magnet to retrieve them and at the time of his meeting the keys did still work.  
David rushed in and brought a magnet.

He did raise the point that what happens if we drop the magnet in the canal?



This was what happened in the afternoon, a few days previously we had the central heating on....



I've retrieved this photo from several days ago.  We passed it and I told the owner that I liked his paint job, he called back that he did it "In a moment of madness"  he said there were five miles of tape involved.



Pretty nice mooring and view

A bit of paddling going on.

Then this cow walked into the canal and spent the next hour or so wandering up and down keeping cool.





 The next mooring we dropped down one lock and saw this what I took to be a young cormorant on the path, unmoving I hope it will be okay.




We pootled along in the boiling hot sun and eventually rocked up at Great Haywood Marina where she is now.  We are home for another couple of weeks then its all change.
Watch this space.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Busy busy


I lied a bit yesterday, when David got back from golf we did set off then.  The forecast for the following day was rain all morning, so for no reason at all we decided to go for another of those evening cruises.  We weren't worried about where to moor as it was going to rain anyway....  I can be picky about mooring up, hard to believe I know, I don't like being under trees, I don't like a high banks and I don't much care for weirs or by-washes.

We didn't see one boat moving that evening and we rocked up here, this lovely spot is below Wightwick Manor  (pronounced Whittock)  and around the corner and on a bit,   HERE
we didn't visit here this time but we did go a few years ago and it's great.



David in his new golf shirt oh and the mooring opposite the cricket pitch.



Lovely mooring, down the canal and around a corner near to Wightwick Manor.




Just before we departed after lunch the following day.  Much brighter sky.


Later on the following day we did move and as we crept around to Wightwick lock there was a boat pulling out 50mts in front of us to go into the lock...  but no matter. 

I went ahead to help and there were people everywhere to such an extent you couldn't tell which crew was from which boat.  But as the dust settled it became apparent that none of the people operating the paddles were from the boat in the lock.  The people from the boat in the lock were milling about..... All became clear when the boat rose up in the lock, it was a Hotel Boat, the milling around ladies were in fact guests, the one lady opening the gate was the Hotel crew.  Finally the Hotel Boat had gone and only as it was going out of sight around the corner did the waiting boat leave the lock landing to come in yawn yawn......

I remember a few years back, Sarah from NB Chertsey  HERE
making me laugh when she wrote about her journey home after being at a vintage boat show and held up at that notorious bottleneck Colwich Lock that the boats waiting to use the lock only left the lock landing when the exiting boat was safely in the next county.....

After what seemed like ages it was our turn and there was a fierce some by-wash to negotiate for David, he was pushed out of position on his approach and I could only think it was going to be a bang but Oh My Goodness, he did some manoeuvre which I didn't see as I was flinching with my eyes shut and he came in without a tink.  The other lady crew doing the lock with me congratulated him too.
I was very proud.


The moment I stopped watching and shut my eyes.  He looks calm...


Well the Hotel boat had long departed, all the ladies had walked on to the next lock.  When we reached the next lock this time they had already gone when we arrived and we pootled on.  

At the third and last lock of the day, in fact the last lock before Gailey we did catch them up, again all the lady guests were milling all over the place,  as the Hotel boat exited and  reached the lock landing I couldn't help chuckling to myself as the owners were trying to encourage their guests back onboard.  Reader it was like herding cats, a couple looked a bit, only a bit frail, but oh my goodness they were so slow..... 
I realised that it was quite a feat the owners had performed.

We moored up at Coven.  I'd had a message from friends Lesley & Joe who were aboard their new boat NB Steadfast  HERE,   in our vicinity, come for supper I said and they did. 
We had roasted chicken with salads.  Lovely to see them again.


The next morning on our way to Old Moseley Hall on bikes we visited them and got to see their new boat which is a cracker. 

I wanted to revisit Moseley Old Hall again.   HERE

This house has such an interesting history and a tells of such an important part of English history that the National Trust took it on without any money or contents.

The front gates.

The Hall.  Back in Victorian times it was given a brick skin to preserve the building, so it appears much younger.

Rosa Mundi, a very old rose.

Loving the blue Cornflowers.

Tudor chimneys.




I want to read this, but currently it's £20.

So then, back to Old Moseley Hall, it concerns King Charles 2nd.  He was on the run form Cromwell after being defeated at the Battle of Worcester in September 1561.

So then the King with a small band of those pesky local Catholics, were fleeing and ended up hiding at a nearby house Boscobel House, they tried to get to Wales and a ship back to France from where he'd come from but all the bridges across the River Severn were guarded so back they came on foot and the King on an old cart horse and arrived at Old Moseley Hall.  The family fed the king and hid him.  He was a very tall man and was a bit cramped in the Priest Hole so they let him out at night and he slept in the bed which is here.

A fascinating story.  Another lady on the tour who turned out to live aboard a narrowboat said have you been to Boscobel House and White Lady's Priory?
No says I, she explained that King Charles had been hidden at both properties some 8 miles as the crow flies.

Obviously I wanted to go there too.

Home again to an egg salad, livened up with one of my favourite wines, Mussell Bay, none of David's French muck.



The next morning we pottered off.  Passing by Joe and Lesley enroute.


Here are the lovely Joe and Lesley of NB Steadfast. (Steadfast is not in shot though)

Not many of these about.  David said a British White, but I put my neck bravely out to disagree with the born and bred farmer to say British White Park.  David Lewis knows all, he'll tell us we are both wrong.

We arrived at Gailey where we needed a pump out water and of course to get rid of rubbish.  The pump out was amusing, it was £18 David asked for a wash out.  Reader this is normally a designated hose (dirty one not used for fresh water) so flushing out the dregs of the tank.  We only do this if the customer asks for it he said, (A very nice man he was) so yes please, off he went to presumably get the hose but came back with a bucket and put canal water in the tank, two loads, I went to pay to be told that the water costs £3 extra!!!!!
How we laughed.

Now then, after all this I went to get the lock ready.  A wee boat had arrived at the lock and indeed was in the lock but the man and woman weren't raising the paddles.....?

I asked if I should raise one and the man said "Yes please... It's her first lock"

Now I presumed that she was a guest and it was his boat, but no.  He climbed down the ladder and asked her where the tiller was!!!!!  Yes the boat had got into the lock without the tiller in place.  I kid you not.

I asked her how that had happened and she told me a curious tale.  It was indeed her boat, she had collected it from a marina down the canal, she had had friends onboard helping her get thus far and this man was a PASSER BY who was taking her and teaching her four locks down, only the four as he and a hospital appointment to go to.

So we talked as you do before they shot off, this lady had been thinking about being a Continuous Cruiser for the last three years, now Reader I was here guilty of smirking as I asked if over the last three years it hadn't occurred to her to have hired a boat and driven it?
"Oh no I didn't fancy it!"

At the next lock the passer-by brought the boat in and I tried to briefly and simply explain what we were doing with the paddles, she told me she was a musician and although not working just now hopes to get back to music when she's got a grip on the boating more, she said she had an illness.
She ran off to her boat as it left leaving me to go around to her gate to close it and I could see David staring in curiosity.

Now my turn to feel bad as I had made a judgement.  I know of another female boater who after boating with a health issue and boating had improved her health in a very positive way, besides this lady was way braver than me.

They did let us pass them, and my two pieces of unasked for advice was to ask any other Boater if you need help as we Boaters always do Lend a Hand and to think about as a single hander to wear a life jacket......
So if you do see NB Hobbit, give her a hand.


 We ended up only at Penkridge.  Jumped in the car and went to Boscobel House.

So rewind a few centuries back to 1561 and Boscobel House was almost totally surrounded by an oak forest, a mile away was a Priory, White Ladies Priory.  

King Henry 8th's dissolution of the monasteries had left it in ruins.
When it had been suggested that King Charles 2nd hide here, the tenant farmer took him in, washed his sore feet and fed him.  It was decided it was too dangerous for the King to remain in the house during the day so he and a Colonel Careless went out into the forest and hid in an oak tree, from there they watched the troops searching below for him. 
This is why sooooooo many pubs were named The Royal Oak. 

Later that night the King returned to Boscobel House and the tall king crammed himself into one of the house's Priest Holes (This house also has several)



Boscobel House in the distance with White Lady's Priory in the foreground.

Boscobel House today, as with Old Moseley Hall, it had been plastered to preserve it in times gone by.

So this door is a possible escape route, it leads to the Garderobe above and priest hole see the tiny window but  it's not thought that King Charles hid in this one.


This raised mound was to observe the Tudor Knot Garden, if you look below its illustrated.

The Tudor Knot Garden and what appears to be an old railway carriage on the top.

The original oak tree died after tourists back in the day chopped bits off for souvenirs, but this was its daughter

and this one its granddaughter, planted after the daughter tree got struck by lightening.


This Priest Hole was only discovered when a staircase was replaced, there were said to be four, but only two have been discovered.....



Looking down into this one, not very long for the tall King to fit.

I guess they were skinny then, I wouldn't get in for sure.

This is the other one, accessed down the privy or garderobe, this one was blocked off but did have an escape route out of the little door by the chimney breast.

Tiny window perhaps for ventilation?

This is an oak chest carved with celebratory scenes of the searching for the king and him hiding in the oak tree.  It is believed to be constructed from the very oak tree he hid in.

And this below is the White Lady's Priory ruin.  So called as the nuns here wore white.  Nearer to Penkridge was a Black Lady's Priory.





And these are the remains of the Priory, of course I wanted to see this too.
A fabulous day of learning stuff.



Supper was a salad of olives, tomatoes cucumber and eggs.





Monday, 1 July 2019

The days roll along.

Last evening we had been recommended to visit a fine house very close by to Wolverley that we hopped off to visit today.

This visit continued on the theme of the Tudor period, the stalwart Catholic wealthy families of the area who refused to convert to Protestant faith.  The individual people who refused to attend church were heavily fined, sometimes for years.  Families held some secret Mass services and this particular house had a priest hole, a secret space that could hide an visiting catholic priest, who if found would face certain death.  

A specialist builder came to this house, Harvington Hall   HERE  
to build a secret hiding place, in fact there are four.

Harvington Hall is a truly wonderful property, an absolute rabbit warren as you might guess from the windows on different levels.  

As events played out in the early part of the last century, the Hall came into the procession of the Catholic Church and has been restored.  Its fabulous, go visit.

Harvington Hall front entrance.

The side view.

The old Brew House

You can see part of the moat here.


The next day having moved up the canal to Greensforge.  We then went out to meet our SIL's mum another fabulous outing this time to her son's favourite pub, The Fountain at Clent.  The food was delicious and we sat in the sun on the front terrace, so warm I brought into play my old trusty sunhat. 


After lunch we drove around the Clent hills and its quite something to be so close to such a major city and to have the feeling that you could be in darkest Devon.



Over the next few days we idled along northwards, can you see what I've done here?  
No?
Well yes it is a bit hard to see, but we have WaL in Debdale Lock and Debdale Whalf written on the side.  




I can hardly read it either.


We passed the fine gardens alongside Ashwood Nurseries, the gardens are alongside the offside of the canal and there is a sign hammered into the grass, asking for boats to refrain from mooring opposite their bungalow.... now I have never wanted to moor at that exact point but there is a streak of wilful contrariness in me that made it a very attractive mooring suddenly..... but David refused as it was only about 10am.






This had the immediate reverse effect on me. 






We rocked up eventually at The Bratch Flight, we were the only boat in sight and moored above overlooking the cricket pitch, David was pleased with WaL's position, until a member of the club called over to say we should rethink the mooring as play was going to start, we did so.



The lock below Swindon.

Swindon Lock, I love the view of the hills here. 

Bratch top lock.


The next day David met Jeff, the husband of his niece.  They played golf at a nearby club.  I had the most of the day to myself.  I walked into Wombourne village for a snoop, saw some nice houses and nipped a sprig or two of rosemary growing in a hedge for my gin tonight, nothing nicer.

Later David and I walked on the recommended walk, down the road and along the former railway line and then back along the towpath, it was a deadly dull walk and we both agreed that the views were more interesting from the boat.  But we did see this hedge, I have never seen a hedge decorated in this fashion.

If anyone has a clue the reason, should there be one do please let me know.



I've no idea what this is for.


Supper tonight was Italian eggs.