Wednesday, 29 August 2012

A pants day...

I knew the weather was going to be rubbish today, all the forecasts said so. I wasn't really in the mood for a day on the boat. I wanted t get a bit more painting and varnishing done before heading up through some of the flight. We both had a few jobs we wanted to do though.

Deb started by writing a letter to our tenant. She text us a couple of days ago saying the boiler wasn't working when she turned it back on. She had previously said that as the shower was electric she didn't use the boiler much because she always washed up in cold water. So putting two and two together, when she needed hot water she turned the boiler on, ran it up to temperature then turned it off, leaving its internal tank full of hot water and not going through the proper cool down process. After attending the plumber let us know that there would be no charge as the boiler was turned off at the spur and all he had to do was flick a switch. Can't complain, without the rent and the low mortgage interest rates we wouldn't be here.

I rewired some 12v sockets so we can watch the opening ceremony tonight, TV's been off over a week - I don't miss it. I remember when my sister in law chose not to have a TV (hi Lyn) she was probably only in her late twenty and kept getting hassled by the licence people 'but you must have a telly, if we catch you there will be a fine!'

Next, cook up yesterday's blackberries (no pectin or crab apples so its more compote than jam). Finally something for lunch. The cupboard is practically bare. We haven't done a shop for over a fortnight, just a couple of bits at tesco express that is now several miles away. It has been raining non stop and I want something hot. The last of the cheese in the last of the bread just won't cut the mustard I'm afraid. I'm not going to resort to porridge though :-). I've got some yellow split peas that make a nice soup, but they take a while to cook. Red lentils, that'll do, but it doesn't look promising as all I have to fortify it is a stock cube and some slightly mouldy tomato puree.

I've got plenty of spices, if in doubt get the chilly out. I remember the little foraging book my sisters other half bought me when we met recently, not the weather for mushroom hunting. I turn to the nettles right outside the galley window.

'Crew.....need a favour...!!' To make sure the pukka product was being harvested I hid her gloves, I couldn't think of a better way of telling what was what (Only kidding :-) )

I must say the result for only about 10p for the pan full was blooming good.

Tomato and lentil soup with buttered nettle puree

Very shortly afterwards (it was a late lunch) the rain looked like it was abating! XC weather reported a good chance of a dry evening but I wasn't expecting sun. We grabbed our boots and coats and headed off into the water park. The closest entrance being no more than about half a boat length away.

It was pleasant but I think we were the only ones here! If you're visiting make it on a Sunday, especially if you've got kids and it's out of school holidays as the little train only operates then.  We walked the road way back to the canal in the beating sun. Deb suggested a quick break in the dog and doublet canal side pub.... well it would be rude to refuse.

Swan lake

From the hyde

Bit boggy


Back garden of the workers cottages

Strange place, nearly very good but not quite. It was built before the canal as a residential home but changed to a pub only a couple of years later. A magnificent facade fronts onto the carpark, with kitchen and b&b rooms facing the westerly sunshine and neat canal side patio area. There is a beer garden and a play area to the side but no other access except for the main entrance. Without the views or canal there is no different to the atmosphere than any other pub. Very nice pint of mild though. The landlord was stuck in the eighties! He must have been an octogenarian himself. Working in the trade for so long I can spot the characters straight away -his way or no way! He gave an older barmaid a right telling off for serving a pint of lager with insufficient head. Fair enough, but not in the bar or earshot of the customers. He also had his massive 4x4 right outside the front door, how did I know? It was clearly marked in white road type writing all in its own box - 'LANDLORD ONLY'

Definitely not a place to avoid, but as we only get to a pub every month or so I am a bit pickier these days.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

How it was…No not another canal history lesson but a note to self!

Funny things memories, some you are desperate to keep some you can’t wait to shed. Some triggered by the most random things.

Bad night’s sleep last night. A combination of day three post migraine and chronic indigestion last night, a side effect of my meds. Luckily both are in frequent. Both at the same time did however trigger some memories of my ‘Tuesday after bank holiday Monday’, memories of my last vocation. The dull post migraine thud and the twisted knot of yesterday’s mustard in oesophagus did a good job of emulating how I would often wake up before my brief commute to the high street office I ran as an estate agent in the midst of a double dip recession.  As this blog is foremost a diary of our new life, glimpses of how it was may make good reading when in the future (when I am back in a house doing a usual routine) of why I am now where I am. So I am sitting at my breakfast bar, a little after 6.00 writing this in my merino wool dressing gown with a cup of lukewarm coffee using the last of the water from the flask (too early to fire up LJ and put the kettle on), the dawn chorus has long since sung and the sun is rising over the nature reserve. It looks like it could be a fine day.

Bad night’s sleep last night. I hate the first day back at work after a holiday. More recently even a bank holiday brings more grief, extra pressure of getting six days business from a five day week in an industry that’s not best suited to August. I get a couple of good hours sleep in my luxury deep filled, pocket sprung bed. My Phillips clock radio/iPod dock is willing me to open my eyes and take another look at the over-sized orange numbers. I know it will only be ten minutes after the last time I looked. It is, I give in.

Although my usual morning routine of shower, shave, breakfast bar and a choice of coffee fine teas from my tassimo coffee machine will only take half an hour, I am going to have to get in early today, no time or enthusiasm for breakfast. It is Tuesday, that’s figures reporting day. It’s the last Tuesday of the month, that increases the work load. The end of the month is only a few days away so it is going to be a chocker block week getting all the paperwork in on time; there are so many things to report up, forms to fill and procedures to check, staff performances to appraise, my monthly appraisal to prepare for, managers’ meetings and syndicate group work to organise, petrol claims to check and sign off (I haven’t done mine for a year), league table information to report, petty cash claims – it’s endless . That’s why as a branch manager I am paid on the office income, at least I was in part. Now I am paid half of my commissions on what business I produce myself, so as well as all the other sh stuff I have got to do if I don’t sell I don’t earn. It’s also coming up to an important month, if all goes well I will get paid on anything I sell now in December and it will be a good Christmas. I should start work by 8.30. I will be in by 7.00

I promised myself that if I get all that needs to be done, done by 8.00 I will shut up shop and pop over to Greg’s for  a coffee and a bacon bap. No car-park at work so a few hundred metre walk past the charity shops and waking coffee houses to the office. The sun is already warm and I wished my office had air con, by mid-afternoon it’s going to be a struggle. Secretly I prefer the high Victorian ceilings and leather topped desks over the more contemporary air conditioned offices. I lock myself in and head straight to my little back office where I keep the productivity boards, retrieve them and arrange them around my office desk ready for our daily morning meeting at 8.30. The answer machine light was flashing, do I a) retrieve the calls that could mean business for me as well as lead to personal commission or b) stick to the plan, do what needs to be done and delegate the responsibility to whoever deserves the leads in the meeting. It’s a), any other day of the week or week of the month would have been b) – I am a salesman.

The first board that needs updating breaks down revenue earning aspects of the business down to all fee earning members of staff. I will have to do a similar thing on the computer in a mo but I need this very visual prop for the morning meeting. I would far prefer that my trainee salesman sees the red ‘0’s by his name and concentrate on talking about the areas of the business that will earn me money not fulfil other parts of my obligated contract that I really don’t care about (mortgage advisor costs me, through internal budgets, £4,000 a month. For that I get two days’ work and loose about £1500 a month off my bottom line. My targets for earning are close to unachievable from this revenue source so it is a low priority. I have learnt what questions will be asked of me and what appropriate answers will be required). Boring job but having done it five days a week for a couple of years I do it without too much thought, as long as all the information has been correctly inputted by the team in the electronic diary it is only a case of information gathering.

The next job, start planning my day. A list soon grows in my day book; I have always used the same system carrying forward anything not finished yesterday and then prioritising my work load around the available time. My day book will have to have as many, if not more, specific achievable business targets than the rest of my team. If I have less than them it will lower expectations, they need to worry that I have been in looking for the opportunities and be hungry to not let the old man take any more of ‘their’ potential earnings. Dog eat dog!

The phone interrupts my thoughts; the answer machine is still on so I ignore it. It could be a client returning a call or, more likely, a tenant trying to contact the lettings department on the wrong number. It’s not even 7.45; if I answered I will have no hope of getting back on track. My email pings. Ignored, probably spam. My mobile buzzes on the desk. Can’t ignore that, it could be Deb, I regularly got offers to bring in my forgotten lunchbox in at around 8.00 as she was leaving (it would usually be sat on the stairs where I picked my keys and briefcase up). No it’s my far too chirpy regional director, ignored at my peril. I have actually only been at work for an hour since his last call on Friday at 6.30. It’s still not 8.00 but the thoughts of Greg’s bacon bap are fading fast. The questioning starts, always frantic at the end of the month. He will need to know the key business potentials before formal figures that are due in by 10.00 so it’s not a call without at least a reason but my managing director will need at least some of the information from hi, subsidiary director from him  and so on and so on. It is a call without purpose or need, if they could only wait until lunchtime the senior team would have all of their reports they needed and 1200 branch managers would be able to get on with their work – or go to Greg’s.  Difficult to pull the wool over his eyes, he is not fantastically organised but has a memory like an elephant. Previous regional was even worse, he would regularly be waiting at the door at 7.30 – time stealer.

Back to reality, it’s just after 7.00; walkie man has just gone past and is headed for the first lock. And it sounds like Deb is about to make an appearance. She doesn’t, the boat is swaying gently in the breeze and the creaks are coming from the hull being warmed by the morning sun. I wake her, ‘come on we are going to do the flight of 11 locks for walkieman’. Rewarded with fresh coffee gifted to him by boaters that he had helped we are in turn sent away with a pack of bacon to make our early morning sarnies when we bring JL through the 11 towards Brum. I wonder when we will next see Alan and Bracken.

Another report is due to be emailed to the MD’s assistant by 9.30. Only a quick one but if it’s late an email will be out naming and shaming the disobedient ones. I have spent too long keeping on her good side to let a minor misdemeanour send me to the corporate naughty step. I complete the spread sheet with a degree of accuracy, attach a crawling ‘how was your bank holiday’ type message and hammer the send key.

I am running around like a blue ar*** fly by now when my trainee fumbles keys at the door. Eager to please but not yet able to spend time wisely, I wish he would arrive at 8.25 day book prepared the night before, make a brew and sit down at my desk ready. I have to now answer his questions, be empathic with his needs and ask more ‘how was your bank holiday’ questions whilst he steals the rest of my time. My number two is always in early, polite professional courteous and knows what needs to be done and cracks on. I have to delegate my first appointment of the day; the trainee has booked me in for a property appraisal right across the diary slot that says no appointments. I can’t be here reporting figures and miles away in some ones home at the same time. I apologise to number two as there won’t be enough time to fully prepare for the appointment and wining the business from the thirteen other competing agents will be difficult. I add to my day book – ‘trainee observation and coaching, I am now on page two, it’s going to be a late one tonight. I wonder if they will ever learn that now is not the time for trainees but paying experienced people a decent living wage will be more profitable.

The mortgage advisor walks in, grunts and goes through to the staff facilities for a shave (bad night with the kids) the meeting will start without financial input. Previous team member was better, in fact so good that as soon as we were actually making some money they were transferred to a bigger branch. They are employed by a different part of the group. Laws unto themselves. 8.30 here we go…

The day starts…  

Note to self, How it was, not how it’s or going to be.
There were of course good times. When things were a little easier me and my oppo used to get the balance right and were able to laugh it off most days, we would always have the time to reciprocate the lettings girl’s practical jokes. Favorite one was always emptying all the paper hole punches into an umbrella, carefully hiding it and feigning sympathy as one of them was on her way out to an appointment in the rain, waiting at the window grinning like idiots, for the resultant paper mache snow storm. 

There are bits that I miss, but not many.

I look at the Drayton Manor traffic jam photo and think – this is why I am here and you are there.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Burgers, beer but...

Bu**er all sun! Well it is bank holiday so I think the burgers can stay in the freezer a couple more days.

We've travelled all of about two miles today, had the engine running for the washing machine and fancied a change of view. That's what I like about keeping everything shipshape , untie a couple of knots and your off! In fact Deb was still in her jim-jams reading her latest free kindle book when I announced our imminent departure!

Weather for the last couple of days has been quite reasonable, the sun really hot when it was out and a good 80 amp/h coming from the solar panels. With the inside temperature far cooler the old 240v fridge has been a lot happier as well.

The slightly autumnal weather had increased my need to get some jobs done. So first little job was to repair the chimney cowl. Sounds more than it is really (if it was on the house it probably would be an all day job for a builder and no change from £300 at south coast prices!) only needing a rivet drilled out and replaced with a bolt. That reminds me of one of the fringe festival jokes this year, 'I was talking to the skipper of this really old working boat, asking how it was all held was riveting!' OK I may have changed it  bit!

Now all in one piece

 Deb up on t'roof

Next job was to stop the rot in some of our wood work. Plank and poles are 12 years old with some damage where the paint was no longer. As well as that we always said LJ was too blue. Not only is the whole boat painted blue but so are the plank and poles, satellite dish and even the back of the wind gen! We will probably end up painting the non slip parts of the roof a mid grey colour and paint the roof boxes, satellite, wind gen, poles and plank the same colour but for now they are all stripped, sanded and primed/under-coated.

I know I will regret starting as soon as the scraper is out

Now for the long pole

Ready for top coat 

It was nice and peaceful out painting, not as many boaters as I expected. And there was no road noise from what ever A road is the other side of the field... that's because for the last two hours the traffic has been nose to tail waiting to get I to Drayton manor! I took a photo to remind myself why they are there and I am here :-)

We are moored at Curdworth bottom lock. We've passed it a couple of times out walking or on the bikes and it looked a pretty place. There's a couple of old lock keepers cottages and a small terrace of workers cottages, both of which looked a lot nicer in the sunshine. And to keep Deb busy we are between a lock and winding point! A raised track separates us from one of the water park ponds (I may even get up early and take some early morning pics if the weather improves). Of course Deb has just put the final nail in the bank holiday weather by putting the washing out, openeth the heavens!

Curdworth bottom lock

 that's it get the brolly out!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

A friendly face at the window...

A couple of days back I was tidying a few bits away in the office when an inquisitive face peered in. It was 'walkie mans' red headed collie!

Walkie man's boat

Quite a surprise as he had headed off in the opposite direction to us about three months ago. He had been up to Shropshire, down to Gloucester and loads of places in between.  He is on his way to Birmingham and then south on the grand union to the southern Oxford canal. We left him for a day or so to head back to Fazeley ready for Pip and John's day trip.

They made pretty good time arriving at about 10.30 from their 120 mile drive. Deb made some fresh oat cookies (recipe to follow) that went down well with a pot of tea. The weather was warm when the sun was out but cooler when the breeze picked up. We had planned a fairly early lunch of risotto and a fresh seedy loaf of bread that Deb had proving in the airing cupboard. As the weather was pleasant she decided to make use of the Cobb BBQ/oven and we sat and cooked outside. The early afternoon flurry of passing boaters nearly saw me accepting offers to sell hot portions of creamy risotto and pop round to the chippie for our lunch!

Shortly after a rare occurrence transpired. A boat passed that I recognised the name of! Said boat was Fair Fa'. Don't know what I remembered it for though. Deb did. It was Sandhill no 3!

Let me explain, of course for any non boaters. When you buy a new narrowboat you usually approach the company to fit and finish and they collaborate with the company who manufactures the hull. So it could be and ABC boat built with an XYZ hull. Lois Jane is a Sandhills boat using an Alexander hull. LJ is sandhills no 1 of about 28ish, I'll add some more details to the blog at some point about all that makes up LJ

Fair Fa' is in fantastic condition having had its faded original red paintwork covered in a very well done blue scheme a year or so ago. Pat was chilled out with a brew but Sheila had just done another load of washing for her three visiting grandchildren. To top it off Pat and Sheila also have a young husky size dog and a matching three month old puppy! Rather them than me :-)

We were up and off from Fazeley early today. Shopping done before 8.00 and first boat off the moorings just after. As our patch of a couple of days ago was free we decided to stop here again following a pleasant her or so chug through the countryside. We will be here for a couple of days as it has a nice wide towpath so I can get the log saw out later and do a bit more DIY, half of the skirting boards removed, and re-varnished.

Sanding down the old varnish

Ready for coat two
Walkie man came out to say hi, not impressed with our early start he had walked to the same shop as us and back to his boat before we were even up, completing his six mile round trip by 7.00!! He doesn't even consider that a walk, merely a pop to the shops! He is going out for a WALK! this afternoon :-)

Monday, 20 August 2012

A great way to see the country...

Before the bongo and wild camping across Europe, came 'hermie' our caravan. We had most of our holidays either in France or in the latter stages the UK. 

Overnight stop near Reims 

Our bongo 'Snoop' France

We seemed to always home in on the west country in the caravan, a beautiful location but we always regretted not seeing more of our small island.

I think if I was asked at the time to name an area that would be bottom of my touring wish-list the outskirts of Birmingham may well have won. Not from personal experience but from information that would have been surreptitiously ingested through the years.

Having spent a few days about 15 miles east of Birmingham, I think it would have made an ideal family holiday location.

As soon as you are outside Tamworth (worth half a day in my opinion, more if you try the ski dome) the countryside looms.

Our mooring for a few days

I had presumed that this stretch into Birmingham may well have been far more industrial. The river Tame follows the canal as it passes Drayton Manor Park. Drayton manor boasts a theme park, zoo, golf course and even its own camp site. If you fancy a little more peace and quiet the sprawling Kingsbury Water park comes soon after. Not the slides and swimming pools kind of place it's a massive wetlands park. As well as about 30 ponds and pools to twitch at there are woodland walks and cycle paths, power and sail boating lakes (hopefully we will explore it in the next few days) and like Drayton it also has a campsite. All this and you're still only 15 miles from the centre of brum!

One of the many lakes

I think we would have had a great week here in 'Hermie' with the bikes on the back of the car and the kayaks on the top.

Arriving on a site near St Croix with 'hermie'.

Today we headed back towards Fazeley to get fuel and pump out as the marina was closed on the way through. Reversing in was a bit tricky but I made rare use of the bow thrusters.

Tight angle to reverse into!
And we have moored next to the old mill in Fazeley to make access for Pip and John a bit easier for their visit tomorrow. The nearest road to where we have been was about two mile walk and if the early rain is as bad as this morning I think they would have arrived in a right sorry state!

Fazeley mill, still being used as a mini industrial village. 

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Weird or wonderful #4...No racism intended folks

How many poles does it take to put up an anglers association notice?

Friday, 17 August 2012

How the hell did they manage that?...

Well don't really know how they made it but it was mum and dad's 50th Wedding anniversary last Saturday.

As the joke goes..
Ahh how long have you been happily married for?

20 years... Yup we have just celebrated our 50th anniversary!

Taken a couple of years back!

They have decided to spend a bit of time celebrating with a cities tour of Italy which sounds fab, but to kick it all off we met at a mutually convenient point in the Wye valley. They are on the west coast of Wales, Sis near Cardiff and us... well not too far from Birmingham at the moment, aiming to get city centre when Jess is free for a visit for our 'Bull Ring and Balti triangle Binge'.

Mum and Dad chose a great little guest house in the Wye Valley, quite unusual really insofar as the owners had separate place next door to the guest house. They have had the builders in doing some work, but the place was spotless. We were the only guests there so had the run of the place. They even invited us to have our evening meal in their own sprawling conservatory! Lovely!

Mum waiting for the pub

Us all ... at the pub, a few hours later

It was quite an experience not having to rush around getting prezzies ready, we started buying in Tamworth the week before! I even had the time and just about enough equipment to make a cake!

Deb made Jess's 21st so my turn this month

Anyway, congratulations both ;)


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Life with no lights ...

We had decided to move to a new location to do the battery maintenance and had ear-marked a nice place only a mile or so from where we were, and as it was only a short distance and we hadn't moved for a while we decided to have an evening cruise as there were a couple of convenient winding holes, that would also mean our side hatch would be on the canal side too which is always nicer and with the weather forecast to be nice it's always good to have this open. So off we went along a residential section of the canal with lots of very well maintained and pretty gardens going right down to the canal, we successfully turned at the winding hole unfortunately disturbing a young lad fishing and got back to the spot we had sussed out only to find it was too shallow to get to the edge .. so that's why one-one was moored here!! We had to go further down and then were shaded by trees so it turned into an overnight stop and we headed off the next day for Fazeley.

We went down through three locks and passed Tamworth Cruising Club, who were having a bit of a do, over the aquaduct and then stopped in a straight open section just before Fazeley. This was the spot for the battery maintenance to be carried out. This is no easy task - we have a bank of five domestic and one engine starter each weighing about 25kg each, but James and I make a good team and one by one out they came. The starter one had to come out this time as the compartment where they live had to be scraped and painted. With the batteries all on deck James set about checking water levels and topping up where necessary, I had the delightful task of scraping, rust treating and painting the housing to match the bilges. As we had to wait overnight for the paint to dry this meant no power whatsoever! As it got dark I suggested an early night but we ended up reading our books with head torches instead!

Empty battery compartment in need of some attention

Batteries ready for checking

Next day, after a little shower the paint was dry and ready for the batteries to be put back in place, putting them back isn't the problem it's re-connecting all the wires and tidying them up that takes the time, but all done ready for the next check in two months! We had a day to pick up the Bongo and get organised before Mum and Jess came for a visit.

Birmingham and Fazeley Canal 
Jess, as usual bought the lovely weather with her, it was warm and sunny with a slight breeze, we had planned a little cruise with them and the weather was perfect so it was finished off with a BBQ. The next day we had a wander into Tamworth, it was under a mile from where we moored and a pleasant stroll along the river, we had a nice relax in the castle gardens with an ice cream, then back to Lois Jane for a late lunch before Mum and Jess headed back home.

Ice Cream time

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Big Brown Scouring Pad...

Yesterday I changed our blog profile photo. The previous one was taken when we had a few days off work last September when we were suitably coiffured. Well before the last suit went in the bin I put it to friends at work and family as to whether I buy some clippers and keep everything short and neat or let it all grow. I was quite surprised by the unanimous vote for letting it all grow with Pip even voting for dreadlocks. I must say that I am not bothered either way.

'After' photo to follow
My last shave was 29th March, my last haircut about the middle of January. Looking in the mirror a face stares back through a big brown scouring pad. Its time for a trim, nothing drastic, just a rewind by a few months.

Tamworth was a bit of a surprise when we went in a couple of days ago. We had picked up the Bongo after the docs and stopped briefly on the way through to our newest parking hidey-hole. For some reason I had put Tamworth in the same category as a lot of Birmingham suburbs that I had heard of but never been to, Wolverhampton, Solihul, Edgebaston. I do hope when we eventually travel through those that they are all as nice as Tamworth.

Some of the tick list for a nice town to visit or live in have to be – a good mixture of shops with a pedestrian area, a good degree of historic buildings, open parkland, clean and tidy, countryside close by (within a mile or so), good value places to eat and drink, plenty for kids to do (either entertain you own, or keep everyone else’s off the street corners), out of town supermarket/leisure complexes, river/lake/coast. Now a lot of towns have all these and more. Poole has a lot although very spread out with no room for any more because it merges straight into Bournemouth, then Christchurch. Ok the upsides are the Purbecks and New forest within ten miles or so but that is further than ideal.

Castle and Gardens

Bandstand overlooking the Anker

What I really liked about Tamworth it that it is all so central. There is a pretty castle overlooking the river Anker. Why did towns expand away from their castle rather than keeping it central? The shopping precinct has large glass doors that provide access directly to the pleasure grounds, castle and river, the older part of town runs parallel to the precinct so everything is central. Across the river bridge is more parkland, kids play area, tennis courts and skate park. There are the usual names for eating and drinking which are as popular as ever but an independent place that looked worth a try if we go back was a 99p cafĂ©. Everything was 99p – tea, coffee, baguettes, jacket spuds (plus a further 99p for any two toppings) – great idea but subway still had a queue of holidaying youths spilling through the door waiting to spend £3 on their chain brand sarnie.

The Old Market Hall

One of the many little side streets
Even Thomas Guy had a hand in some of the local architecture, building a terrace of almshouses in the centre of town. Not as well known as his London hospital but still very pretty and still used as it's intended purpose hundreds of years later.

Housing firstly seven poor women and extended to home seven poor men.

Some of the showers have been really sharp over the last few days and we have been lucky to escape them. Never passing up an opportunity we had our foray into the woods to scout for wood. Of course we don't need any right now but if we find some nice fallen oak, ash or beech then it's worth replenishing the stores.

Deb weighs up the afternoons tasks
Today, among other little jobs we sawed, chopped and stored the majority of our collected wood supply. Harder work than previously when the sun is out. The canal has been much busier than the last few days, as I type this ready to post later an old 70ft British waterways working boat and matching butty have just chugged by under the boughs of the crack willow trees.

We will move on a couple of miles later. Although it is a nice spot, we have been here a few days now the trees are blocking a lot of light from the solar panels and blocking the satellite reception so we have been making use of BBC’s digital Olympic radio channel.

Tomorrow, painting out the battery compartment - or maybe the day after, no hurry J

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Back to Polesworth for my monthly check-up...

We decided to leave ourselves a good bit of time to get from LJ to Polesworth for my check-up. Misjudged it slightly as we covered the couple of miles along the footpath and had arrived in the village in just over ten minutes. Never mind, time for a look around and let the blood pressure settle.

It really is quite a nice village. It should never get any bigger as Tamworth is only about four miles away. Most villages that I have seen recently are property rich and facility poor. Not Polesworth though. There is quite a bustling little highstreet with only a spar and co-op provided from the corporate crowd. Post office/diy store, pub, small butcher and a flower/veg shop - even a small (and very friendly cafe). Any bigger and it would have a super market and another housing estate and be regraded as a town. It has got some history as well with old Egbert building another nunnery (think he had a bit of a thing about nuns) in the 9th century with the site of the old gateway still there!

Originally just a wall with a pedestrian arch, rebuilt 13th C to gateway

'Modern' extension to the side is from the 1500's 

Between us and Polesworth is another colliery spoil heap nestled quietly between the canal, the M42 flyover and the railway. Its not a small one this one and it was a bit of a hike to get to the top. It also looked quite a struggle for the silver birch tree's to stay put as well - not much in the way of top soil.

Far reaching views from the man made mountain
The M42 and Polesworth in the distance
To celebrate their achievements an obelisk looking like it was manufactured out of matches adorns the summit.

Not matches though 

Although it looks like a pile of matches sticking out of a spoil heap. It is in fact made out of metal.

Tower of tin

A local canal association 'The Neighbours of Nuneaton' collected approximately 2.5 million Tennents Super cans from canal verges between 18th April 2012 and 18th April 2012 at teatime, to facilitate the construction.

Tomorrow onto Tamworth... and Deb Googles how to cut curly hair.

Weird or wonderful #3

Why is there never a posing squirrel when you want one?

The caption competition is now open -