Friday 31 May 2024

Sunshine and pubs

Last night we sat out for supper in the warmth of the lovely spring day.  This is what happened next. 

The next day we went awalking.  Up the canal to the first bridge and sideways.
It was positively hot and I brought a sunhat into force and along the way we watched the first farmer to be cutting grass.  

So peaceful but these two had rock music BLARING out.


Look carefully and you can see WaL in the centre.  Beautiful countryside.

This is the entrance to the land slip works, not that much to see from here but you can make out the temporary "Road" they had to put in to access the canal. 

So who knew Brinklow had a castle?  Not me, But seeming David found it early one morning just as the sun was rising and here he is on the top of it.  Tiny bit awkward as on the top "Sunbathing" were a courting couple who weren't best pleased to see us..... at least he was topless and not her.

A Motte and Bailey construction

Brinklow church from the top.

We had a drink in both pubs and then ambled back to the mooring and WaL and enjoyed the lovely sun.  Brinklow's High Street is packed full of period cottages spanning hundreds of years, yet I neglected to photo any of them, sorry Reader.

Later the wife on the last boat to arrive was having pin trouble after some 70 year plus old hooligan boater on a vintage boat pulled her pins out of the ground.  David after a nudge in the ribs, went off to lendahand.

He stood there chatting to her for some considerable time and even after the husband returned with the dog post walk David kept on chatting to her.... The husband's body language told a story I can tell you, did David notice????  He did not and after about 40 minutes he ambled back.  Both boats from our marina and they were on a jaunt down to Oxford.

Another lovely warm evening without midges biting too.

Supper was cheese salad again to use up the bits left in the fridge.


Monday 27 May 2024

Approaching D Day.

We enjoyed our afternoon in the sun here with the lovely open views over the fields.  
We set off the following morning not too early carrying on southwards.  In my opinion this is the nicest section of the Coventry canal and this mooring is the nicest mooring of this section, south of the locks at Atherstone and well north of Nuneaton.

Some years back, we found ourselves mooring up on this canal north of the junction with the Ashby canal, we were completely on our own on a post industrial section of the canal with only a few dog walkers passing by, it was scrubby land but oh my goodness not anymore. 

Open fields, great for the solar and lovely views (No owls though were heard)

Definitely a landmark.

I meant to have counted the porcelain cups? but got distracted.

This is what hove into view, a zonking great set of offices.  Its not a surprise it got planning permission as it hasn't spoilt an area but it was just a big surprise since we were last here a couple of years ago.

On we went to where...?  Obviously The Greyhound at Hawkesbury Junction.  
A place I cannot pass by on the boat without visiting.

Fairly busy with moored boats when we arrived and we got on quickly at the end of the line of moorings but on armco, after we were settled we trotted along for a 4pm booking at the pub, there were a few mooring spaces left but we were just fine at the end.  

It was still sunny and several outside tables were available.  So instead of the bar staff just crossing off our indoor table booking, I cancelled the booking on the website as instructed but oh people my age were very happy with a book and a pencil and a rubber.

 Supper was for me calamari with honey and soy sauce, gorgeous then chicken korma very generous with the chicken too.  
No room for dessert and home to the boat for coffee in the cratch.
By now the remaining mooring spots were all taken and the pub was as usual excellent for people watching.
Women in heels and dresses, boaters, men in high-vis jackets, couples with prams but not so many now old men in flat caps nowadays but all the same fantastic.

The next day pretty early we topped up the water and made the sharp turn now onto the North Oxford canal.

Did I tell you already that some years ago while visiting friends on their ocean going yacht in Dartmouth,  (Indeed they had recently crossed the Atlantic from the Caribbean) we popped into the small maritime museum there and there was a display all about the engineer who was local to the area who had invented the steam pump that was located here in this building below at Hawkesbury.  Quite a surprise.

The pump building and WaL coming past it. 

WaL coming round the bend

The Greyhound pub last night.  If you haven't already been there I suggest you go quickly.

This was taken from the ideal spot the previous evening for us to give points to the helming as they passed by, not many boats and a high standard of helming.

He he comes.  I was judging him too Reader.

This next section I find deadly dull so I went inside to clean up.

So today was Friday 17th May...... remember what's happening today?

Yes correct, the land slip was due to open.  Suddenly there was a boat coming towards us, then another and another and a whole line of narrow boats who must have been ready and waiting.  I called to one man and he said it was absolutely fine.  This was correct.

First glimpse of the work achieved.

The fallen trees and it must have been many had landed on the other side of the cutting so much work had been done to clear that debris.

This is the vast space that's been left.  

The other side of the cutting

Two landslips in all.

More work to be done to stabilise the whole site.  But a tremendous job.

Oh and another tree here....

I understand that for this weekend it was free passageway then on the Monday it was restricted opening to allow the contractors to continue the work.

We managed to get on the moorings at All Oaks Wood just down the way from here.  The boat we were following kindly bunked up a bit to let us in to what proved to be the two of the best spots.

We got the chairs out in the sun and what was right in front of us?  Three cardboard boxes, two carrier bags of boaters rubbish, a life rubber ring all pushed into the hedge.

Boaters rubbish, what's wrong with people?  There are rubbish point in both directions from here.

Supper was chicken salad in the sun, with the fabulous view over the countryside.  We moved our chairs away from the rubbish.

Thursday 23 May 2024

No owls.

Off we trotted the next morning down to do the locks, it was about 8am and no boats in sight.  A few had come down the locks the previous day but only a few.  You might be aware Reader that much further down the canal there had been a serious landslip close to Brinklow Marina.  It had happened in February and was due to be opened in a few days time....  I had seen some video footage on Youtube and frankly thought it impossible that CART and its contractors could possibly get it cleared.

The scale of it was staggering.  So this morning doing the Atherstone flight of locks I talked to the volunteers who said the same as the CART website, that the opening was due on the Friday 17th May 2024.  I was still uncertain that this was achievable.

As we got to towards the top of the flight one of the volunteers came out to say that yes it was opening on Friday (A few days time) and that from Monday 20th May it would be restricted hours to allow the ground work to be completed.
Terrific work.  When you see the task on Youtube you'll understand enormity of it. 

Atherstone Flight has been very quiet as you might imagine, the Boaters who needed to get to Crick or elsewhere have made taken other routes, via Birmingham, but now our own trip is back on target so to speak.

WaL entering the second lock.

Ox-Eye daisies, I've loved these for years.  Last year David planted a packet of seeds for me.  My mother nurtured them for me while we were away and David planted them out  and what a lovely show for spring they made.  They were very happy and have seeded all over the garden, all over my mothers garden and I predict the entire neighbourhood before much longer.
It might have been an error.


The path is strewn with the petals of the hawthorne blossom, its like confetti and looks gorgeous, however in a few days it will all be brown.

I call this Queen of the Meadow, also so pretty.

Someone has done lovely planting on the towpath, so attractive.

Nearly at the top.  A most enjoyable morning.

We said our farewells to the friendly crew of volunteers and headed on.  Not too far but passing a marina this chap popped up from nowhere, he followed us for a distance and then suddenly he'd gone so we didn't get to see where he was going and what he was doing.


We moored up at lunchtime enjoying on of the best moorings on the Coventry.
There was reading and knitting to be done in time for this new baby's arrival.

This was the afternoons mooring.  I kept being distracted by the view.

This was sunset.  I was disappointed not to hear any owls at night time.

Supper was chicken salad with pear surprise and cream afterwards.  The surprise is that it was apricot flapjack, I made a traybake of it so fingers crossed it will last a while.
Sadly I didn't hear a single owl that evening.  I hoped we would have.

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Jack and Jill went up the hill

 We left Whittington, it was grey and threatening rain.  I had another instruction on weather apps and their shortcomings.  No Lisa 30% chance of rain does not mean that 30% of the countryside is going to get rain...  it went on and I went inside to hoover.

I think this stretch is a rather dull section, apart from going through Hopwas, I have very happy memories of this pub with friends and last summer was it we were sitting in the garden when an unknown to me lady approached the table and asked if I was Lisa, she was a blog reader, however I digress.
The Tame Otter at Hopwas.... a nice place.

On we went and at a bridge north of Tamworth we moored up and took David's bike into the Retail Park.  He'd got home this am and his bike would not fold down, a bit irritating as the name is on the tin and it was slightly large on the deck.  David had located an independent bike shop on the far side of the park, to get the bike there would require carrying, now this model can easily carried, maybe into the boot of the car or onto a bus but to stagger 1.1miles was quickly proving to be a challenge so instead of having some fun time unsupervised in M&S I offered to "Jack and Jill" it with him to the shop, about 30 metres along the pavement I had to swap arms and so it continued until I spotted a Halfords and we detoured into there where somewhat embarrassingly a schoolboy fixed it in about 45 seconds.

Schoolboy in action.

  Back to WaL and away again, through the two locks at Tamworth.  As we approached the lock a man was up by the gates, I thought he was with a boat so I hopped off early to walk up and lend a hand, but in the event he was a dog walker and had opened both gates for us.  I thanked him profusely of course as he walked past in a cloud of marijuana smoke... 

Past Polesworth and I spotted this boat, a little unforgettable,  I've seen it in this area a few times before, I wonder if it's travelling the onward journey that CART say have to be journeying.

Approaching the service point at the bottom of the Atherstone flight.

Now I was trying to find a photo of this some years ago, I think its was in the region of 6-8 years ago, my question then as it is today is when does a restoration project become a salvage and disposal job?


We moored up opposite the service point, jumped in the car with David's bike which was found to have a puncture, Halfords didn't have the correct size inner tube so off we went to Nuneaton.

The bike was mended and I spotted a branch of Dunelm and in that wondrous shop I bought a new mattress topper, a memory foam one and oh my goodness every bed should have one, comfort beyond belief, I wonder if I will sleep any better......?

Back to WaL and we did several trips to the rubbish bins, the old flat topper, our own rubbish and I picked up with my bare hands a split bag of cans, burger plastic packaging and various other items on the towpath that can only have been dumped by a moored boater.  My mother would say Litter Bugs should be taken out and shot, I'm slightly more liberal.

Supper was splendid, Ottolenghi baked rice with tomatoes, feta and most interestingly cinnamon sticks, a meal in itself but we had it with roast chicken.

Sunday 19 May 2024

Another fabulously hot day

 In the morning we pulled the pins and filled the lock.  I walked past Wood End Lock and down to Fradley Junction, about a mile.  The new gravel path that HS2 have put in (That is to say you and me tax payers) has it downsides as within seconds tiny pieces of gravel flick up into your shoes, some of them agony, but let's not complain.

As usual the volunteer Lock keepers are a jolly bunch and are also enjoying themselves.

We turned right at the junction, onto the Coventry canal and headed south, but first dropping off the rubbish and watering up.

We thought Fradley was very quiet.  Looking past the junction onto the visitor moorings there were three boats in the distance and one was pulling off.  In the past, on occasions it's been so full we've had to go straight through.

Where is everyone this lovely sunny weekend?

The previous night I'd heard from my son-in-law in London that the Northern Lights had been seen from their house and even from our town on the south coast, we had an early night but at about 2am I climbed out the back of the boat and took the following shots....


This one is better I hear you say, sadly it's Lichfield city lights.
back to bed.

I've since heard that there might be more opportunities later....

WaL leaving the picturesque Wood End Lock.

Wood anyone?

The Mucky Duck pub in the background where we had supper last night.

Now on the Coventry canal.

We made our warm way along and you can easily see the problems that this wet weather has caused farmers.  Crops have laid in the wet and not germinated.  This will be very expensive to do again.

We moored up a little before Whittington that afternoon hoping to see in the sun, I was coming towards the end of a cracking book (Wake by Shelley Burr), but in the event I had to sit in the boat until the sun went far enough behind WaL to get a bit of shade.

Later that evening we were royally entertained but tractors, they were prepping the fields for potato planting, then one got stuck, wheels slipping at one point I thought he might end up in the drink.  A second tractor failed to rescue him.  
Retired farmers are allowed to chortle at other farmers as in the past it's a certainty that you have had worst troubles.  
I could list some of ours.

The blue one had sunk into a muddy hole.

He slipped and slithered closer to the edge.

We went to bed and the tractors carried on to about midnight.

Supper was beans on toast with cheese on the top.

Cracking book.