Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Ahead of schedule

We are well and truly ahead of our ‘rough’ schedule for our journey south. We usually choose not to travel at the weekends as it’s too busy. Last Saturday was an exception as we just couldn’t miss help from Jack and we didn’t see another boat in Birmingham until we were our the other side!!! 

Yesterday we were just about to moor north of Hatton flight of 21 locks, with the plan of getting up bright and early today to head down, when nb Briar Rose, Braidbar 76 went by at 3pm. We waved and said we’ll do the locks in the morning. However, they said why not go with them now as they have friends at the locks to help them down, it’d be daft not to accept such help. We still thought 3pm was a bit late to do such a large flight. Adrian and Adam on Briar Rose had their friends June and Bob who were boaters up until lately setting the lock ahead so no time was waisted. Bob wanted to beat his personal best time down the flight which was just over 2 hours, well, he was really chuffed, we did it within the two hours AND Adrian had jump ship as he had a conference call to take. 


We now know we can stand up if we fall in


Mooring at Tesco

Today we travelled just a couple of miles and paired up with a hire boat to go down the 2 locks into Warwick. There was a CRT chap on the bank asking us to go very slowly & carefully past the workmen building a dam for some future work required. It’s been like ‘old mother Hubbard's cupboard’ here for a few day. So we stocked up at Tesco, just one of the 2 super markets in Warwick that have shoppers mooring. This evening we’re moored near the village of Radford Semele, we’re not too sure how to pronounce the second part of the village’s name though!

Going over the River Avon

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Birmingham students

Today the boat needs a good spruce up, as yesterday we were up earlier than usual & cruised all day, so as we could get through Birmingham. We were moored Friday night in a very pretty cutting just after Curdworth Tunnel. However, we have the fall out effects of all the sycamore trees to deal with. The route up through Birmingham we had planned didn’t incorporate anywhere to moor as we wanted to get onto the Grand Union Canal at it’s very beginning. 


Generally we’d only go through big towns mid week, but we really wanted to utilise the assistance of our nephew Jack who’s studying at Brum and he’s tied up with lectures. Bless him, he got his flat mate Archie to get up early and meet us on the northern outskirts of the city at Minworth.


We made excellent time as the canal route planner said our journey would take 7 hours and 51 minutes we did it in 8, as we were able to prepare the lock ahead as we had a good lock crew and just about all of the locks were set against us and the paddles hadn’t been closed on most of the top gates too.

Salford Junction where we turned from the Birmingham & Fazely Canal onto the Grand Union Canal is quite a tight one, which we knew as we’d walked that stretch a few years ago when Edmund was at uni in Birmingham. It’s quite a pretty junction with the River Tame running under the canal in the immediate shadow of the M6.

Friday we strolled to Asda at Minworth to stock up mainly with treats for our unknown number of lock crew. Jack said he wasn’t sure if any of his friends would come to help, but there could be 8!!!!!! Such a culture shock at Asda, with the West Midlands accent and the most multicultural place we've been to probably since we moved aboard.

It feels a bit like being back in our ‘old’ life at Catherine-de-Barnes where we’re moored for a couple of days, with the sound of the planes taking off and the hum of the motorway in the distance.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Harecastle Tunnel

A misty mystical morning today at Barlaston on the Trent & Mersey Canal, we’re well and truly on our southward journey. Once the mist lifted it was one of best days we can remember in a long time. This evening we’re moored in the middle of nowhere, just north of Weston with the west coast main line train way over the field.

There were 4 boats travelling through the Harecastle Tunnel yesterday, we were second in the line. The fourth boat was Freespirit, we met Ian and Irene last year and travelled a bit with them.  The tunnel is about 1.5 miles long and nowhere as leaky as I thought it’d be. For a change it was a lovely sunny day. We had to queue to get down the 5 Stoke locks, however, the hire boat behind us full of Aussies were very keen to assist us. In the interest of water conservation we ended up waiting at most locks for boats going up the locks. With all the amount of water that’s fallen out of the skies I’m not sure we need to be fussed about the water levels, but it’s polite and considerate on the ascending boat.

Harecastle Tunnel heading south

Leaving the tunnel


Yarn bombing in Barlaston

We had a lovely circular walk up through the Wedgwood estate. It was quite sad to see Wedgwood & Barlaston stations are both closed. We use trains fairly frequently since moving aboard and some of the small towns and villages we've been to actually have TWO stations eg New Mills, Derbyshire and Burscough, Lancashire. In addition the huge Wedgwood College, a complex of buildings and large amount of land are for sale, I guess they aren’t training up the specialist potters. We had been back a few minutes from our walk and the heavens opened again.



Sunday, 17 September 2017

Heading south for the winter.

So we’re heading south for the winter, it’ll take us about 15 days to get to Leighton Buzzard as we’ll be just pootling along. We’re planning to spend winter between Northampton and Uxbridge, possibly, as plans do rather change. It’s a good job we don’t need to go via Manchester as there’s major subsidence on one of the locks on Marple flight, so it’s closed indefinitely.

Congleton Wharf

 We spent last couple of nights in Congleton, one of the nicest little towns we’ve moored at. This morning John went for a stroll to take some pics and I wiped the port side of the boat down and cleaned the portholes. Yesterday I polished the brass. We moved just a couple of miles today, it was a lovely warm and sunny morning, however, we’d not gone far before the heavens opened. So, the fire’s on.

Dog Lane Aquaduct Congleton
Congleton Wharf

Last weekend we were at the Braidbar Owners Group annual gathering (5 days of socialising, eating & drinking….perfect), which incorporates the boat yard’s open day. It was the third time we’ve attended, but the first time on our own boat and for the whole 5 days. The year before last our boat was a bare shell with just the insulation foam on the walls. Our boat was the third youngest there and we had lots of visitors view the boat on the open day. The weather was atrocious with just short breaks in the torrential rain, the tow path was a canal too. 

Higher Poynton

My sister Samantha, Paul & boxer Blue came for the day while we were at Poynton. They were holidaying in a cottage just 26 miles from where we were. We actually managed a nice walk along the Middlewood Way without getting rained on.

I’ve had my fold up ‘Joy’ spinning wheel for 4 years now and have only just started to use it. It’s much more versatile and user friendly than my previous ‘Ashford’ wheel. I’m having a plying frenzy at the moment and using the large bag of drop spindle singles I’ve accumulated. I’ve now got 14 hanks of yarn which add up to 1.4kg. 

Tomorrow we’re entering unfamiliar territory and the Harecastle Tunnel. This year we’ve only covered 56 'new' miles that we've not travelled before, as we spent our first winter on the Macclesfield & Peak Forest Canals. Once we get to Norton Junction on the Grand Union Canal we’ll be on familiar ground (or water) as we holidayed between there and Limehouse Basin when hiring.

Someone's pet hawks
Thirsty cows

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Keeping cool?

Lots of friends and family in the south have asked how we’ve kept cool over summer, well, put the fire on frequently is my answer. I’ve only sat out late to watch the bats just twice this year and we’ve needed all our blankets on the bed with the summer quilt.


We are having an amazing time relaxing and walking up the nice big hills of the Peak District and mooring in familiar places. John’s done a bit of routine maintenance and painted the bow locker.

I have knitted a hand spun blanket for Nikita’s first Brownie pack holiday at the end of the month. I’d planned to sew all of Heather’s and my Brownie & Guide badges onto it for her, but the wool’s so springy I think the stitching would pull, so I brought a synthetic fleece blanket and sewed the badges onto it instead, so she’ll be very cosy with two blankets. I’ve completed 3 rag rugs and now have no old clothes left to shred!!

We had our second trip up to the ‘White Nancy’ in Bollington. A very steep climb up, which is an excellent work out and the views are breath taking over the Cheshire Plain and Manchester. It was built as a Victorian summer house which now has it’s door bricked up. Last time we were there it was painted to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo, now it’s been redone since the Manchester terrorist attack. 


We were disappointed with our walk up to Bollinhurst Reservoirs, on the edge of the Lyme Hall estate in Disley, as you aren’t able to walk along the shore. It was a tremendous climb up the hill to get there and the views were excellent. 


 We just had to go and see the ‘pee stones’, that we’d heard about, where the lads from Oldknow’s Mill relieved themselves after the long walk up before going to church.


Someone had left the ground paddle up over night and drained the pound, so John called CRT to inform them a hire boat full of Norwegians were stuck on Marple flight of locks.

Heather made us some sun catchers which we gave to ‘New Horizons’ the charity boat in Marple for them to sell for their funds.


Lance had his 2nd birthday and we caught the train and bus over to them for the day. As it was the bank holiday weekend Ada & Dale were there too. We had an excellent day celebrating together.