Thursday, 29 October 2015

Autherley Junction to Brewood

At Autherley Junction we turned left onto the Shropshire Union Canal and went through the stop lock. We had intended on going further, but it wasn't to be, we had some more pens to send so needed to get to a Post Office, we knew there was one in Brewood (pronounced Brood) and as there was space on the visitor moorings we stopped. When we past through earlier in the year we didn't stop as there was no room and you can't get into the side to moor anywhere else.

Approaching Brewood with the church in the distance


After a quick trip to the Post Office we had a bit of lunch with the intention of carrying on in the afternoon but instead we decided to stay put, so just a short journey again!

5 miles and 1 lock
624 miles and 489 locks


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Wolverhampton 21

We set off after our quick trip into town, we weren't planning on going far once we reached the bottom so an early start wasn't needed. Once out of the built up area at the top of the flight it was looking very pretty with all the lovely autumn colours.



We met a couple of boats heading up and we had one boat a few locks behind us, we must have been following another boat as the locks were against us even though we had passed some coming up.

I think It took us just under four hours to get to the bottom, I wasn't timing it and don't pay a great deal of attention to time so just a rough guess. 

And the last lock
At Aldersley Junction we turned right onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal for a short time stopping just before Autherley Junction.



2.5 miles and 21 locks
TOTAL 619 miles and 488 locks

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Bentley Bridge to Wolverhampton

Now where were we? Ah yes Bentley Bridge ..  

LJ hiding in the arm
There she is - outside the pub again!
After getting another shopping fix we left the next day, just a short trip back along the Wyrley and Essington turning right at the junction back onto the Main Line and the top of the Wolverhampton 21. We stopped outside the Broad Street Services and walked down the flight to Fox's Lane Bridge where we turned left and followed the road to Wickes. After our purchase we then had to make our way back up the locks to LJ with two boards of hardwood ply so James can make a work bench.

Once back at LJ we pushed across the canal to the section where there is no access to or from the towpath, other than by boat or climbing down a high wall. It was ideal for us as we did't have to worry about Dudley running off as he can't get anywhere. James got on working with some of the historic wood as well as shaping the new work bench. I got on with painting the back deck and finally the gas lockers, which are matching blue now. As the weather was perfect for outside jobs we actually stayed the following day as well and got loads done.

There's LJ in the distance on the left, the services are just under the bridge and the secure moorings are on the right
It's not the most picturesque mooring and there is a lot of traffic noise but as we had the generator running too so it didn't matter and it served a purpose. In the evening we pushed across back to the other side where we went up into town and enjoyed dinner in Johnny Spice, an all you can eat Indian buffet.

The next day, before we set off, we needed to go to the Post Office to send a pen off to it's new owner, the town has some lovely buildings definitely worth a proper visit. As we were getting back to LJ we spotted Mr Jingles and Lyra just mooring up behind us, Dan and Keri were having a lunch break before tackling the 21 - or 42 in their case.

1.5 miles
TOTAL 616.5 miles and 467 locks



Thursday, 22 October 2015

Anglesey Basin to Bentley Bridge

Just after lunch we said our goodbyes to Sandra and made our way back. James still has a couple of commission to complete and we have now also booked in for the Christmas Floating Market in Birmingham so I was on steering duties whilst James was getting on with some work.

Bye for now Sandra and the Boyz
We stopped for the night on the Brownhills visitor moorings with a very handy Tesco just across the road.

Definitely autumn at Brownhills
On Saturday we continued our journey back through Pelsall to Bentley Bridge, James was busy cutting, drilling and gluing pens and managed to get a lot ready for turning during our slow journey. The canal is very shallow so I was taking it slow to avoid stirring up all the rubbish from the bottom. We did have to stop once were James retrieve a huge hook on a rope from the prop along with the usual plastic bags.

We have not past one moving boat in the whole length of the Wryley and Essington and apart from the five permanent moorings just after Sneyd Junction there were only four other moored boats, one at Bentley Bridge on our first stop, one just before Sneyd Junction, one at Brownhills and Golden Boyz in Anglesey Basin, so it's very quiet in these parts.

16.5 miles

TOTAL 615 miles and 467 locks

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Pelsall to Anglesey Basin

On Thursday we left Pelsall and headed through Brownhills having to stop again to clear rubbish off the prop, we usually take it in turns to do this, but as I have a nasty cut on my finger which I did a couple of days again chopping some kindling, James cleared it again, this time part of a rug. The water being so clear really does make a difference, at least you know what you are putting your hand into. At Catshill Junction we turned left on to the Anglesey Branch, straight ahead was the Daw End Branch.


That's the Daw End Branch
We reached Ogley Junction where we went left again, straight on here is now a dead end until the restoration of the canal down to Huddlesford Junction on the Coventry Canal is completed. (If it ever happens).


Turning left here, straight on is another dead end
After going under the M6 Toll we approached Anglesey Basin where there is space for two boats, Sandra on Golden Boyz was there so we reversed into the space beside her and needed the plank to get to the bank.

Golden Boyz and Lois Jane in Anglesey Basin
After a stroll round Chasewater Reservoir, which is a feeder for the canal, Sandra joined us on LJ for dinner. Friday morning the Golden Boyz (Cosmo and Daquiri) came to call for Dudley and we went along to the 'beach' with Sandra. 

The three enjoyed running around together and leaping into the water fetching sticks, Dudley even went swimming. When he managed to get the sticks before the Boyz he ran off to a grass area and started a little collection.

Chasewater Reservoir

Having a paddle
And then a swim


5 miles 

TOTAL 598.5 miles and 467 locks



Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Bentley Bridge to Pelsall

After getting our shopping fix we headed off for Pelsall, the canal since Tipton has been so clear it's lovely going along being able to see under the water and watching all the little fish dart away, there's been a fair bit of rubbish too and it's very shallow in places.

It's a very interesting canal and I can see how it got the nick name of the Curley Wurley, being very twisty, there are lots of little arms, wharves and junctions along the way, unfortunately many of the junctions are no longer as the canals leading off are long gone.

The Wryley and Essenington Canal was opened in 1797 and connected the Birmingham Canal with the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal running from Horseley Fields Junction down to Huddlesford on the Coventry Canal. It no longer runs the entire course as the canal between Ogley Junction and Huddlesford was abandoned in 1954 but there are now plans to restore it.

We continued on our journey to Sneyd Junction and turned a sharp right under the bridge, ahead is a derelict lock and beyond the old Wyrley Branch once linked with coal workings and the Essington Branch, it is 533ft above sea level and the highest point reached on the BCN (Birmingham Canal Navigations), it was never successful due to water supply problems.



Next up was Birchills Junction where we turned left to continue on the Wryley and Essington, straight ahead is the Walsall Canal. We continued through housing estates, with James having to clear the prop once, we couldn't get close to the edge so just drifted whilst he cleared the plastic bags and grey car boot storage bag off. Suddenly we were out in the countryside with fields and cows, such a contrast.




We moored up at Pelsall with only one other boat, which left the next day so we had day two to ourselves.


View from the front
Whilst James got on with some commission work for the pens I took Dudley for a walk long the dead straight Cannock Extension Canal which leads to Norton Canes and home of Norton Canes Boatbuilders. It was along here that Dudley was leaning too far to the water and toppled head first in, luckily he was wearing his harness and was on the lead so I could just haul him out. He didn't seem bothered by his first experience in the water he just kept shaking.  

Stood at the end of the Cannock Extension Canal

And where it stops

11.5 miles

Total 593.5 miles and 467 locks

Monday, 19 October 2015

Tipton to Bentley Bridge

Last Tuesday we left Tipton and after a brief stop to drop off Anne's pens we continued on through Coseley Tunnel and followed the Main Line on the Wolverhampton Level to Horseley Fields Junction.

Looking back at the sign post 
We had decided to stop off at Bentley Bridge as a few people have mentioned it being a good stopping place before (or after) doing the Wolverhampton 21. So at the junction we turned right onto the Wyrley and Essington Canal and new waters for us. After about a mile we came to Wednesfield Junction and the site of the Bentley Canal, there is just a short section remaining it provides three moorings at the Bentley Bridge Retail Park. 

Nice sunny morning

Approaching Bentley Bridge moorings
So there we were next to the Fayre and Square and opposite the massive Cineworld as well as a view of KFC and McDonalds. 




We had a stroll round the shops, stocking up at Aldi for us and Just4Pets for Dudley, and a visit to Hobbycraft, Home Bargains and B&M.

It's so handy for the shops as we are moored up by the car park.

6 miles

TOTAL 582 miles and 467 locks

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Birmingham to Tipton

We did eventually leave Birmingham, we decided to go on the Old Mainline this time having done the New Mainline a few times. It is slightly shallower and twisty turny but that adds to the interest, the New Mainline can be a little dull as its very straight and wide. 

So it was up the Smethwick Locks and we were soon going under the M5, it is always quite an experience, I bet not many drivers racing on the road above realise what is actually beneath them.

Under the M5


This section always fascinates me too, at the bottom is the New Mainline with us on the Old Mainline crossing above it, we are just about to go under the railway and the M5 above everything. Lots of bridges and different ways of travelling all crossing each other.



We arrived at the Black Country Living Museum moorings and as we were turning we noticed filming going on, it was the next series of Peaky Blinders. A short while after mooring up a lady from the museum staff and a guy from the film crew came over and asked us very politely if we could keep off the bridge in case we got in shot and also if we could keep quiet (not that we were making a noise).



Filming in progress

On Saturday we were up early and took a stroll into Dudley, our Dudley's home town. It was really misty and we couldn't even see the castle as we past by. In town the market was just setting up and we enjoyed a reasonably priced bacon bap and cup of tea, before going to explore the Wren's Nest.

In the afternoon we left the museum moorings and headed into Tipton where we moored on the Health Centre side. We had a visit from Linda and then later Anne who both made pen purchases. On Sunday Chris, Yvette and Holly came to visit Dudley, their two Patterdales are Dudley's Mum and Dad. They said he was just like his Dad even down to the little ginger beardy bits. Once they left Dudley wore himself out playing with Alfie the golden Labrador from the Beverage Boat who was moored in front of us.



12.5 miles and 3 locks
Total 576 miles and 467 locks




Saturday, 17 October 2015

Birmingham

Wow, our couple of days in Birmingham turned into two and a bit weeks and it could have been a lot longer if we didn't need to move on. There is soooo much going on, the improvement works at New Street Station are finished and Grand Central was officially. The Arts Fest was on for our first weekend with loads happening and of course the RCTA Floating Marketing. We have also been kept busy with visitors to the boat and also going out the friends and fellow traders.

So on our first Thursday it was off to the market to pick up some bargains, in the afternoon we had a surprise visit from Kirsty.  On Friday the floating market opened and we had wander around meeting a few traders we haven't met before. In the afternoon James caught up with a bit of turning before we set off to the ICC for the JazzLines performance in the Symphony Hall cafe. After that it was back to the market for the big illumination switch on, Kev kindly said I could use his photo of the boats, mine attempt was very poor in comparison.


JazzLines

Then to Centenary Square for the Maudits-Sonnants.



Saturday Chris and Karen came to visit, they were up in Birmingham for the day from Hawkesbury Junction and popped into to say hello, in the afternoon Rebekah and Beth who live in Birmingham popped in as well. In the evening we walked down to Millennium Point and the Rugby Fanzone to watch the England/Wales game, it was packed with thousands of disappointed England fans.

Sunday we spent the majority of the day at the floating market talking to all the traders, there were about twenty boats trading, Dudley was loving it meeting all the peoples and dogs. There was also a parade with a giant puppet of Lady Godiva.








Monday we moved round to Cambrian Wharf with the only available space under the pub, we managed to get on with painting the gas lockers and back deck though. In the evening there was a boaters get together in the Figure of Eight, as more and more people arrived we ended up taking over a huge section of the pub, I think it's fair to say we all had a great evening.



On Tuesday bleary eyed we moved across to the mooring by the lock as a couple of historic boats had vacated, at least we would now get some sun for the solar panels and get the painting finished. The weather had turned lovely and warm again.

We had Peter and Heather for a visit too, they were up in Birmingham for the day, we were in the spot where they used to have their permanent mooring so it must have been strange for them to see another boat there.

The rest of the week was taken up with visits to the market and shops and also pottering around with little boat jobs. We were also told about the University of Birmingham's bakery, where the bread the students make go on sale to the public at very reasonable prices. If there is any left over it goes on sale the next day for 10p a loaf. We've made a few trips down there coming back with various flavoured breads, tea cakes, scones, chocolate ├ęclairs and doughnuts. We managed to resist the swiss rolls and various other yummy things.

I was out on our front deck doing a bit of sorting and sweeping when a boat arrived into Cambrian Wharf, the couple shouted out to the CRT fundraiser, who sets up a stall near the lock, asking which were the moorings for visitors, she wasn't sure so I pointed them to the last two spaces remaining. As they were pulling in I mentioned to James that they looked like Les and Jaq, but that it wasn't nb Valerie. It turn out it was them and they had painted Valerie so were in disguise. It was lovely to finally meet them after spending years following their blog. We have enjoyed a lovely lunch aboard Valerie with them and they came to us a few evenings later.

Jaq, Les and James
James had found out about Aston Hall on the LiveBrum website and they were holding free tours on Sunday, so we trekked the two and a half miles down to Aston Hall and managed to get onto one of the tours. I'll do a separate blog about it soon as I found it very interesting.





For about the last week we have been say we'll leave tomorrow, but something always comes up. On Tuesday we said we would definitely be leaving Wednesday, but when it arrived it was pouring, windy and quite chilly so we stay put. Later in the day we had a phone call from James' uncle Dave, Dave and Liz were on their travels in their Campervan and were staying at Kingswood Water Park at the bottom of the Curdworth Locks. So a visit was arranged for Thursday morning, we gave them a postcode of the Flapper pub and told them where we were.

Thursday morning arrived and was a beautiful day lovely blue sky and feeling quite warm. We took Dudley for a stroll and saw Keri and Dan just arriving back with their Butty Lyra. After chatting with them for a while we went back to LJ and were surprised to see Dave and Liz had already arrived. Whilst inside enjoying coffee and catching up with them Annette, the local CRT Enforcement Officer knocked to say hello and introduce herself (after our communications earlier in the year it was good to meet her). We set sail shortly after just going up past Gas Street Basin to the Mailbox and return, we moored up by the ICC and popped up to Brindley Place where enjoy enjoyed a lovely lunch with Dave and Liz followed by drinks outside the Malthouse in the sun. All too soon it was time to say goodbye to them so they could continue their journey south. It was lovely to see them both again and really nice they popped over to see us.

James with Liz and Dave


We moved the boat from outside the ICC back to the mainline outside the NIA (or Barclaycard Arena aas it's now known). We walked round to Cambrian where Tom and Jan, Waiouru, has taken our space, they were outside chatting to Les and Jaq so it was a quick hello, catch-up and goodbye. It was sad to say goodbye to Les and Jaq too but hopefully we'll see a bit more of them in the future months.

Inside Grand Central at New Street Station
Outside the Council Offices, "this stunning display is a section from Birmingham's award winning entry at the Chelsea Flower Show".