Saturday, 30 April 2011

Hawthorn blossom at Armitage, Trent & Mersey Canal

After overnight rain the day started out fresh and clear. Of course, as that was the first rain for a long time it was full of dust and the boat was covered in the stuff.
The clear sky continued throughout the day but the wind did get up a bit. This is one of my favourite times of the year as long as the weather stays good. The reason for this is the arrival of the hawthorn blossom. It covers the hedges in clouds of white and really lifts the spirit.
As we approached Fradley Junction it became clear that our decision last night to moor up well before it was a good one. The place was its usual packed self and we even had to queue for the water point. Having waited to use it we found the thing was so slow that we decided to give up after half an hour and only getting about 10% of our tank capacity.
Turning onto the Trent and Mersey towards Rugeley we joined the queue for the 3 locks. The long weekend and good weather seem to have brought out a lot of boats.
We were soon clear through and running along the 10 mile pound which includes Rugeley where we decided to stop for the night and do some shopping.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Friday 29th April

The day dawned cool and overcast. We set off intending to get to Fradley Junction. As we dawdled along the day slowly brightened up. Very slowly! In fact the sun didn't really come out until we were ready to moor up near Fradley.

On the way this morning we passed 'Sanity Again', our friends and erstwhile neighbours from Great Haywood. They were going the other way and the wind was blowing a bit too strongly to stop for a chat so we just had time to wave and yell greetings.

We decided to moor up before Fradley Junction because it's usually crowded there and getting a mooring is never assured. We got a nice spot quite close to Fradley village and I decided to take a walk to the shop for an ice cream and a look around. It must be some sort of public holiday because it was shut up tight. I think someone's getting married today.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Thursday 28th April

On Wednesday we walked into Polesworth for a spot of provisioning before moving off. It started out quite cold again but it finally warmed up around midday.

The Coventry Canal remains very pretty throughout this length, even entering Tamworth outskirts the properties backing onto the canal are in general well kept.

We decided not to carry on into Fazeley Junction and have moored up in fairly open country just short of it.

On Thursday I made an appointment with the local surgery as I needed to renew some of my medicine. I then took a bus into town. As usual the doctor was running late and it wasn't until 2.30 pm that I got back to the boat so we decided not to bother moving today.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


Monday 25th April

We had a terrific weekend up in Leeds. Thanks to John and Sara for picking us up and ferrying us around all weekend. Saturday night's party was a cracker. The venue was Bibi's, an Italian place in the city centre. Very good food and service.

Sunday we went to Kirkstall Abbey park for a picnic. There's a lovely children's playground there and Daniel really enjoyed all the equipment, and so did some of the adults!

Sunday afternoon saw us pounding down the motorway again, on our way back to Hawksbury Junction where we had left the boat. This is the first time in all the years we've owned Lyra that we have left her overnight on a public mooring, but we needn't have worried as she was safe and sound.

Today we moved the boat to Atherstone, allowing us to run the engine for 8 hours which charged the batteries well and getting two wash loads done as well.

Tuesday 26th April

What a change today. We've been spoiled lately with all the unseasonal sunshine but today it was cold and windy. We set off down the Atherstone flight of 11 locks, dropping us 80 ft. This gave us a chance to try out Cath's new lock handle. It's a great success and Cath is very pleased with it. This one combines in one unit the ability to use it as both a short and long handle version so that if a paddle is very stiff the longer throw makes life easier, but on some locks the long handle fouls because there isn't enough clearance so instead of carrying two handles you can just use the different sets of holes in the one.

We've now moored up at Polesworth for the night and will walk into town tomorrow for some shopping.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Moored at Hawksbury
Align Centre
Pretty cast iron bridge at Hawksbury

Friday 22nd April

Happy birthday to Liz for today, we'll see you tomorrow. This morning, after a slightly disturbed night we set off hoping to get a mooring at Hawksbury Junction (Sutton Stop) so that John can pick us up and take us to Leeds for the weekend.

Yesterdays decision to move into the basin in Coventry wasn't a great success. Cath was worried all night about someone might come and do something to the boat, as can happen in city centre locations. There was some sort of club close by which I hadn't noticed when I decided it was OK to stay here, but actually there wasn't too much noise and the party goers were no problem at all. The only real disturbance was at 6.30 in the morning some charmless nerks banged on the boat yelling I'll have a coffee with 2 sugars. Not too bad for the location I suppose. Sometimes you just wish you could push them into the canal whenever they do something like that.

Our run to Hawksbury this morning was calm and peaceful in the glorious sunshine, which is promised to continue for some time yet. We managed to get a very good place, only a few yards from the Junction itself and within easy reach of the road for when John comes to pick us up.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Tyrell 6 wheeler & Thrust SST
Wednesday 20th April
Yesterday we finished travelling down the Ashby and rejoined the Coventry Canal heading for Coventry itself.
Passing Hawksbury Junction we entered the last part of this canal as it dead ends in Coventry at The Basin.
You are soon aware that you're approaching an urban area. Rubbish in the canal increases dramatically and supermarket trolleys don't appear to make good boats no matter how often people try to float them.
The last time we were here was over 10 years ago with a hire boat. The canal has definitely improved since then, despite my earlier comment it is cleaner than it used to be.
We continued all the way to the basin at the end then turned around and have moored up just outside.
This morning we walked into the centre to do some shopping, Cath bought shoes and I got another pair of trousers to wear to Liz's birthday party on Saturday. In the afternoon I returned to town and visited the Motor Museum. This is a great place for petrol heads like me and I've included a couple of pictures from it.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Monday 18th April
A long day today. We rose before 8.00 and because we had a lot of washing to do decided to travel a long time in order to get two loads out of the way.
The sun shone brilliantly as we set off and it looked perfect as we wound our way southward. Our first stop was Sutton Wharf where we availed ourselves of the services, water etc., and I couldn't resist an ice cream of course. Setting off again we intended to make it to Hinckley for the night and we arrived here about 4.00 o'clock and were lucky to get the last mooring spot. Unfortunately we can't get tele here so we will just have to feel deprived and find something else to do.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Wednesday 13th to Sunday 17th April

We've had a very pleasant few days cruising up this dead ended canal. The countryside is quite pretty and as spring advances the greens get more intense.

At the end of the canal there is a small cabin selling memorabilia to raise money so that the restoration can continue. We were told that some work will start again in May and will continue until the money runs out again. Their goal is to reach Measham which is the next reasonable sized town, where people can get some shopping done. One of the down sides of this canal is the lack of shopping within easy reach of the tow path. At present the only places are at Hinckley and Market Bosworth, neither of which are really canal side.

On Friday night Paul and Jacqui arrived for a weekend visit. Having access to a car made it easy for us to go for a takeaway that night. Saturday we chugged down to Sutton Wharf where the café does a fine menu. After lunch we took a little stroll to find a geocach before heading back to the Market Bosworth mooring where we decided on a BBQ. Big mistake! While cycling along the tow path Paul had managed to get a puncture in his bicycle tyre so we had to drive to a Halfords to get a repair kit. Almost next door there was a Morrison's store so we dropped in and among other things bought a disposable BBQ. The thing was a disaster. We have used these before, to good effect, but this one was useless and we ended up cooking our steaks in a frying pan. These steaks had been bought at the local butcher in Market Bosworth and they were absolutely fabulous.

Sunday we all piled into Paul's car and went off searching for geocaches. As I've said before this is a great way to see places you would never visit normally. Market Bosworth is a lovely town with a great park area, complete with small lake. There are several geocach sites around the area and got around to 7 of them. Later we went to Sutton Cheney and found a pub to have lunch in.

When we finally returned to the boat it was time for them to pack up and start off home.

Tomorrow we'll head off down the Ashby towards the Coventry Canal again and then into Coventry itself.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Tuesday 12th April

This morning started off cold and windy. When the sun managed to get through it did have some warmth but the clouds kept getting in the way. The wind was quite sharp and occasionally blew us off course but not too bad and the rain held off as well.

Red letter day! We saw our first ducklings of the year today. Fluffy little balls of pike food, and if they survive that the Hoisin sauce is waiting.

Our journey took us past the site of Bosworth Battlefield and we may stop off on the way back for a look

We stopped off at Sutton Wharf where there is a fine little café and had a spot of lunch before continuing for a short while to find our overnight mooring at bridge 37. Another lovely quiet spot.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Monday 11th April

Continuing along the Ashby this morning the weather remained fine if a little cooler. The rural setting of the canal is only slightly marred by the emerging fields of oil seed rape. The slight show of yellow heralding the horrible heavy stench of oil. It's a shame because I like the bright yellow patches which cover quite a bit of our countryside in May.

There is still a lot of blackthorn flower about, but it is starting to fall and the water is covered in places where the wind has carried off. Soon we will have the hawthorn blossom, one of my favourite sights.

We ran for about 3 hours this morning before mooring up at Hinckley. This is a good sized town and I have checked that a local washing machine spares stockist carries the part we need to make good our washing machine. A mile and a half walk into town and I had the part in my custody. Returning to the boat it didn't take long to fit it and we are now back in the laundry business. We'll stay here tonight and move on tomorrow.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Sunday 10th April

Friday we took a walk into town to find the market. It's a lovely little place, but the market was a disappointment. A few stalls selling not a lot of interest. There was a fishmonger and a butchers van but we didn't need either.

The car finished at auction Friday afternoon and I was soon contacted by the successful bidder to set up a time to pick it up. Saturday suited us both, and very helpfully he came from Rugby which meant he could pick me up here in Atherstone as he was passing.

Saturday morning we again strolled into town and did some provisioning at the local Co-Op. In the afternoon Neil and a friend picked me up and we drove to Stafford. Neil was pleased with his purchase ( he should be!) and drove me back to Atherstone.

Today we set off heading for the Ashby Canal. Since climbing Atherstone Locks on Friday there are no more locks for quite some time making this a lovely lazy cruise.

At Marston Junction we turned up the Ashby Canal and have moored up at Attleborough for the night.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Lovely countryside around Atherstone on the Coventry Canal

Thursday 7th April

Back to normal with the weather forecast today. Although it didn't rain, they had promised us sunshine and that certainly didn't appear.

Lyra motored her way through the excellent Warwickshire countryside until we encountered Atherstone Locks. This flight of 11 locks raises the canal 80 ft. into the town of Atherstone. Here we'll stop for the night and treat ourselves to fish and chips from the local. Tomorrow we will go and have a look at the local market and haven't decided if we'll stay here or move on after that.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Wednesday 6th April

The weatherman got it right for a change! It's been a glorious day. We travelled along in lovely sunshine and some very nice surroundings. At Dunstall Farm Bridge we came across the same team of BW workers as yesterday, doing the same sort of job on this bridge. Vandals have knocked the coping stones from bridge into the canal and they must be retrieved.

After about an hour they finished and let us past to continue along to Fazeley Junction where used the facilities and visited the BW office to check on our licence renewal. We have in the past had some trouble renewing on line because they hadn't sent us a code number. They were very helpful and gave us a phone number to call when the time comes.

After the Junction our lazy mornin came to an end with Glascote Locks, just two of them raising the canal 13' 8”. Above the locks, even though it is still in Tamworth, the canal remains very pretty and it seems a lot of work has been done to keep it nice. The tow path is in excellent order.

We carried on as far as Polesworth where we have decided to moor for the night. A delightful little town with an interesting history; There are the remains of a 10th Century abbey here where Egbert, the first Saxon King of England built a nunnery.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Cleaning out the mess
Tuesday 5th April
Despite the weather forecast we decided to move on today because we were badly beached last night with the boat listing a lot.
Once again the Met Office seems to have got it wrong. All we got were a couple of drops of the promised lots of rain. We made good distance and have stopped about 4 miles from Fazeley Junction.
Yet again our washing machine has played up. This time the over temperature one shot safety failed, it will still wash though, so the next time we are in a big town I must try to find one.
While travelling today we were held up for a while at Hademore Farm Bridge while BW cleaned out some Debris which had fallen in the canal. It looks as if it was the bridge parapet that had fallen in and was getting in the way of the grooves cut into the sides to allow planks to be put in so that parts of the canal can be drained.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Monday 4th April,

What a day! We set off from Great Haywood at just gone 9.00 and plodded towards Rugeley where we intended to shop. We easily found a mooring and did a raid on Morrison's before continuing towards Fradley Junction.

Just after Rugeley it started to rain so we thought about finding a mooring but nothing showed up and the rain abated, so we continued on our way. Then the wind got up and made manoeuvring very tricky. Our first attempt at mooring up was a disaster because the side was too shallow and the wind kept carrying us into the bank so getting going again turned into a drama, taking several attempts. Very embarrassing. Our intention was to stop around Fradley but when we arrived there were no vacancies so we had to continue down the Coventry Canal for about a mile before we found anywhere to put out our pins. Even here it is very shallow and we are tilted over by being grounded.

We had hoped to do only about 4 or so hours today but ended up doing nearly 8.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

The River Trent in the Shugborough grounds

Sunday 3rd April,

Yesterday we turned around an headed back towards the Great Haywood and the L&L. Our plan was to spend the night near Shugborough Estate and then today visit the house, where there is an exhibition of Lord Litchfield's photography.

The day started quite bright but showers developed as we walked through the grounds to reach the house. This is a lovely place, in good order and is also a working estate, themed in the Victorian era. After looking around a bit we had lunch in the cafe and then a short walk around the gardens.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Free at last!

We're off at last! Despite not having sold the car yet we left the marina this morning to continue our journey. In truth we haven't gone far yet because we had to take the car to John in Stafford who has very kindly offered to look after it until it sells. Anybody want an '02 diesel Xsara? It's on ebay.
This morning was interesting for me because while Cath drove the car into Stafford I handled the boat alone for the first time. No trouble apart from the wind while trying to get out of the marina. A very pleasant short run down to Stafford during which I at last saw signs of most of the trees starting to green up.
Cath has now planted up our flower boxes so the top of the boat is looking a little brighter. Tomorrow we'll set off back towards the Leeds & Liverpool and turn east heading for the Ashby Canal.