Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Brinklow to Braunston to Rugby

Last Tuesday we left Brinklow stopping off at Lime Farm Marina to meet up with John to see if alterations we want to do to LJ are possible and at what price. After spending a couple of hours there and him making substantial notes to get prices together we set off for the short journey to Rugby, stopping at Elliots Field. We topped up the cupboards as Tesco was right on our doorstep and we hadn't been back long when Bob on Autumn Myst passed by and hovered mid canal for a quick hello and chat.

Elliots Field
Wednesday Jess was due into Rugby by train for a few days visit, her train was due at 8:50pm so we set of at just after 8:00pm for the walk there, I had looked at Google Maps and there seemed to be a pathway leading down the side of Tesco, across the River Avon and coming out near the station. We set off down the fairly darkwalk way, which had a few street lights down it, I noticed three people walking a little way ahead and James recognised Doug and James (from Chance) along with their friend Manel, they were just as surprised to see us and we them. It was arranged to meet up after we had met Jess off the train, and, as usual, we had a fantastic evening with them.

Another lovely evening
Thursday we pulled pins (well actually we removed ropes from rings, but it doesn't sound as good) and headed for Braunston, passing by Chance the other side of the bridge.

Passing 'Chance'

We got to the Hillmorton Locks, the first narrow locks for Jess. I don't think she has forgiven us yet for her first lock experience when we went through Camden on a Bank Holiday!! The top lock at Hillmorton was closed for maintenance, always interesting to see what is normally below water.

Middle lock at Hillmorton

Empty top lock

 Then along through the lovely countryside reaching a very quiet Braunston, on arrival we spotted Smiffbob the Sandhills latest boat that was launched earlier in the year. We moored up shortly after the junction opposite The Boathouse.

Smiffbob, Sandhills No 25

Moored in Braunston

Out for a walk, the tunnel under the canal just behind

Wolfhampcote Church

Jess and me on the bridge overlooking Braunston Marina
After a lovely couple of days it was time to make our way back to Rugby so Jess could get the train back home. We all went to Coventry and it happened to be the Sky Ride day where one side of the ring road was closed off for cyclists. 

Sky Ride just started
Then it was a visit to Ikea before heading back to the station where Jess headed home and we headed back to Rugby.

Moored back in Rugby, this time at Brownsover

25 miles and 6 locks
Total 472.5 miles and 368 locks

Monday, 15 September 2014

Hawkesbury to Brinklow

On Saturday we had a brief visit from Heather on Smile and Wave, they passed by and moored up on the Coventry Canal side of the junction, Heather wandered back to have a chat and also look out for friends of theirs who were following on a bit behind, we were briefly interrupted by a hire boat bashing its way around the corner, passing by us and shortly after clattering into a boat on the permanent moorings. Thanks for stopping by Heather it was good to see you again.

Saturday evening saw us in the very busy Greyhound Inn, we actually managed to get a table, well a share of one, and had an enjoyable evening.

Our intention was to set off from Hawkesbury on Sunday, but we didn't because it was busy so we thought we'd leave them all to it and not add to the congestion. We took a stroll back to the junction in the morning and did a bit of gongoozling, it just so happen we watched the hire boat from yesterday go through the lock, a member of their crew seemed to have difficultly dropping the paddle behind them so left it up. A couple of guys from the Coventry Canal Society were following on a boat behind them and raised the paddles in front to help them on their way, everyone stood around for some time before James had to go and let them know that paddles both ends were open, luckily its only a stop lock so nothing drastic this time. The hire boat wasn't doing too bad a job of the turn until there were a couple of other boats coming towards him at the narrow section by the pump house, after a bit of confusion as no one was indicating their intentions and at that point it really did look like the hire boat was trying to wind, everyone was soon on their way.

So this morning we set off, but as usual for us not far. We passed through Ansty where the 'Strictly no mooring' section has increased further from the permit holder moorings right through to the M69 bridge. I wonder why there is no mooring here? And is it really necessary for all these signs in about two boat lengths? 

I am always reminded of a nasty lady when we come through this way. When we very first hired from Lime Farm Marina, which is only about seven miles away, we got to this section and it poured down and hailed as we couldn't really see much and being first timers we thought it would be safer to stop and having spotted the mooring rings and a vacant spot we pulled in, we did overshoot it somewhat and I jumped off in the 'strictly no mooring' section, so we were just going to pull the boat back to the rings. I could soon hear some shouting and a lady appeared from one of the houses, as she got closer I could make out her shouting at us 'you can't stop here, its no mooring' and pointing to the many signs. I tried to explain we were just stopping because of the weather and were pulling back onto the rings, she just continued to shout and scream at me about no mooring here. bearing in mind it was absolutely pouring down I really couldn't understand her actions. Anyway I am always reminded of the incident and unfriendliness of Ansty.

We continued on passing under the M6 and then into a section made narrow by the overgrown reeds on the offside.

Next up was Rose Boats and their little swing bridge, I jumped off and opened it, it wasn't until James was going through I realised there was an arrow on it indicating which way to push, oops I had gone the wrong way, I did try both but pushing it the correct way it wouldn't budge, once James and LJ were through and it did close OK.

We stopped just short of All Oaks Wood on the visitor moorings and had a walk into Brinklow Village, and as it was lunchtime we had a bag of chips and sat on the new benches by the new war memorial. It was lovely and warm this morning with some sun, but this afternoon we've had a few showers.

Tomorrow it's back to Lime Farm Marina to see John, the owner, to get a quote for some work we want doing on LJ.

7.75 miles
Total 447.5 miles and 362 locks

Friday, 12 September 2014

Nuneaton to Hawkesbury

11th September

Well very nearly up to date with the blog at last!!

The last couple of days we have been moored the closest we could get to the Bermuda Industrial Park near Nuneaton, so James could visit the men's toyshop, Axminster Tools and Machinery, and it happens to be the largest of their six stores. It's just a short stroll from the canal up there and on our first trip he got a different type of glue to try, the second trip this morning was to replace an £8.75 collet which unfortunately took a dive into the canal, after an hour and a half looking round we came out with a chuck set costing a little bit more at £130, but I suppose it could have been worse there were some individual ones at close on £200.

Nuneaton's Axminster store
The weather has been gorgeous and James has been doing some woodwork on the lathe, while I have been busy with my sewing machine, it's all been very industrious on LJ and with the sun on the solar panels to power it all. I did venture out to pick some blackberries but it was very disappointing not many collected I guess it is getting a little late for them now, especially as they were so early this year.

There was some work, or possibly survey, being done on the bridge behind us, which a raft arrived for. They set up a scaffold on it and had to keep moving it out of the way for the boats to pass by.

The scaffold raft arriving

Our little neighbour for a few days, she enjoyed floating on her own reed raft
After our little shopping trip this morning it was wise to move on before James could think of anything else he needed at Axminster, that's the problem being near shops - we spend money. We continued on past Marston Junction where the Ashby Canal goes off, past Charity Dock, then arrived at Hawkesbury Junction, where we spent the winter in 2012/2013. 

Charity Dock

This collection seems to grow every time we pass
We did the 180 turn at the junction past the Greyhound pub, which was quite busy for a weekday, on to the Oxford Canal, through the stop lock and then moored up just after.

The familiar view of the Pump House at Hawkesbury Junction

The Greyhound on a lovely sunny day

Moored up just after the stop lock

3.5 miles and 1 lock
Total 439.75 miles and 362 locks

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Atherstone to Nuneaton

8th September

We left Atherstone in glorious sun this morning saying good bye to the lovely dog who had been keeping her eye on us during our stay. 

Everything started to look very familiar to us now we are back on waters we have traveled a few times before.

This stretch also bought back memories for us both as it was here we traveled when we very first hired a boat from Lime Farm Marina back in April 2011, that was the beginning of our narrowboat dream, which we made reality when we bought LJ in December the same year and finally moving permanently aboard April 2012 just a year after having fallen in love with the idea.

We passed by Hartshill where CRT appeared to being doing some work, they are such lovely buildings there and I'm sure a lot of history.

Hartshill Yard
Just a bit further along there was a stretch of about 500 feet where there were 'no mooring' signs, it was reserved for disabled anglers, I wonder how often it is used and if it really needed the whole stretch reserved, it didn't seem busy with boats there and the tow path was in good condition for a long way.

No mooring between bollard and the back of boat right in the distance
We stopped briefly to pop into Nuneaton and it was good to remember where certain shops were, we got some lunch and sat in the well maintain George Elliott Memorial Garden. We made another short move just past bridge 17 as that's the closest we can get to the Bermuda Industrial Park where James wants to visit the Axminster shop tomorrow.

One thing I have noticed being back down in the Midlands is that canal and locks all seem much better looked after than the North West where they seem very neglected.

Moored up near Bridge 17, Gypsy Lane 

7.5 miles 
Total 436.25 miles and 361 locks

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Alvecote to Atherstone

After sorting out the power issues James got on with a bit of work on the lathe and I set to cleaning and polishing one side of LJ. It's been a while since it was done so it was great to see the difference. 

On Friday we left Alvecote and went through Polesworth and onto Atherstone, where we stopped for the night at the bottom of the locks.

Bottom of Atherstone Locks
Saturday we headed off late morning up the flight, at the first five locks we were lucky and met boats at each one coming down, at Baddesley Basin a boat was just leaving the marina to come down the lock and was almost surprised to see us coming up, saying that he thought all boats would be going down today! Strange thing to say or did he know something we didn't. 

Bottom Lock
At lock three there was a crowd of guys with fishing rods all at the same place, couldn't quite understand why, I'm surprised their lines didn't all get tangled together. 

Wonder if they were all after the same fish
We made it to the top and were looking to stop to pop into Aldi in the town, we couldn't get moored in the first stretch of visitor moorings before the bridge so put in pins just after. We popped into Aldi and then planned on moving on, but it's quite a nice spot, the forecast was good for Sunday and James wanted to get on with some work. So we stayed put. 

Lovely sunny day, at last

6.75 miles and 11 locks
Total 428.75 miles and 361 locks

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Fazeley to Alvecote

Whilst moored at Fazeley we had a couple of visitors, first on 27th August Les and Mea made their way by car from Hinckley to see us. It has been a while since we last saw them when they were over from Thailand last year. It was lovely to see them both again and wish them luck and happiness whatever they decide to do in future.

The next day James was setting up his lathe on the back deck when I noticed a boat approaching the services opposite, nothing unusual there, but this time it looked vaguely familiar it wasn't until it got closer and I could read the name on the side I realised it was Ian and Irene on Free Spirit, I shouted across if they had time to stop for coffee, I knew they were on a bit of a mission to get to Milton Keynes (Irene keeps her blog updated). As there wasn't space nearby they moored alongside us and hopped in. Irene had said they weren't expecting to see us there - that will teach me to keep the blog updated!!  Really nice to catch up again and its amazing how quickly time goes.

Friday 29th saw us at yet another Enterprise branch office to hire a car to visit Mum near Reading. We arrived with her just after 6:30pm after a journey of various hold ups and accidents, you certainly forget the real world when you live afloat. On Saturday we headed into Reading where after a walk around the Oracle shopping centre we enjoyed a drink and lunch sat watching the the boats through the narrow section on the Kennet and Avon. On Sunday Lyn visited and we all went to the Cunning Man at Burghfield, the next village along from Mum, where again we got our canal fix and had a wander along the Kennet and Avon, stopped for a drink in the Cunning Man and then onto the Hatch Gate Inn for a lunchtime all you can eat Indian Buffet. Monday saw us whizzing back up various motorways to drop the car back at Tamworth and back to LJ at Fazeley.

Tuesday we wandered into Tamworth, I still think it's a great town, it was market day and the place was buzzing, the castle grounds and park right by the town centre are still really well looked after.

Wednesday it was time to move on our seven days at Fazeley were over and we had a call that the inverter and charger were ready to pick up, so we moved back to the aqueduct which is the closest access to the road to collect it. Sellweb is the company that did the repairs and they were brilliant. I thought our inverter would be beyond repair and a new one needed, but they managed to save it for a cost of £170 plus VAT instead of at least £1200 for a new one and they give a 12 month warranty. They explained to us that we were indeed very lucky not only to have the inverter mended but also to still have a boat! The inverter had suffered a serious melt down caused by the supply cable inside the unit becoming loose and causing excessive heat. The guy at Sellweb explained that he hadn't seen one that had survived this kind of melt down and they normally result in a fire, so maybe someone is looking out for us!

Once back at LJ we continued on through the two Glascote locks - again, and moored up opposite a much quieter Alvecote Marina, where the following day James re-fitted the charger and inverter, so all is good again on the 240 electrical front.

Unfortunately I haven't been very organised with taking photos, so this blog is seriously lacking them!!

The new housing at Fazeley Junction is coming on at last

Moored at Alvecote

3.75 miles and 2 locks
Total 422 miles and 350 locks

Monday, 8 September 2014

Fradley to Fazeley

22nd August

On Friday after another leisurely breakfast we set off with Tamworth being our destination. We had lunch on the go and typically had a few spots of rain just at that time but not enough to stop us eating.

We passed Whittington, where the Coventry Canal becomes the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal for a few miles until Fazeley junction where it goes off to the right, we continued straight ahead where it becomes the Coventry Canal again. We intended going up through the two Glascote locks, but there was a queue of five working boats waiting to go through to get to the Alvecote Historic boat festival. We decided, as time was getting on, to moor up at the bottom and walk to Tamworth station from there so Laura could collect her car, it was only a short way off where we were going to moor anyway.

We said our farewells at the station car park, we had an absolutely fantastic time with Laura and really enjoyed the last couple of days.

James and I carried on up to Alvecote to check out the festival, we decided to moor up a short way before to keep out of the way of the 'goings on', but as it turned out we had our own private parade of boats pass by as they used the winding hole which was a short way behind us.

We went down to the marina both Saturday and Sunday to watch the boats in the winding competition, and Sunday evening the illuminated parade passed by us at around 9pm so I think we had the best view. Bank Holiday Monday was typically raining so we wimped out and didn't venture out.

Historic Boat Festival

The parade

Emu, which was fully laden

And this one is Birmingham, which was empty

Note 1899 - Marquis rammed and sunk Jubilee in Braunston Tunnel

And here's the culprit, the 2nd oldest self powered narrowboat

The illuminated parade

Tuesday morning we left Alvecote early to head back down to Tamworth where James had arranged to take our poorly inverter and charger to be looked at to see if repair was possible. It is surprising how heavy the inverter is, so wrapped in a blanket and secured to our sack trolley we made our way through the industrial park and left them to be looked at.

We spent a night just after the Tame aqueduct and then made our way back to Fazeley Junction and moored opposite the water point at Peels Wharf.

Opposite Peels Wharf

16.5 miles and 4 locks
Total 418.25 and 348 locks

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Tixall Wide to Fradley

21st August

After a leisurely breakfast James did the 180 turn in the wide without having to use reverse.

Lovely wooden boat moored at the wide
It was back up to Great Haywood junction where there was chaos with boats in all three directions trying to negotiate the junction. We were eventually through having turned right onto the Trent and Mersey again and were at Haywood Lock, then through Colwich Lock. Then it was a lunch stop just before the aqueduct over the River Trent.

Laura and me enjoying lunch
Back on the go, Rugeley came and went, through Armitage tunnel and past the loo factory, another three locks down and we were at Fradley Junction were we turned right onto the Coventry Canal, through the little swing bridge and moored up at the end of the visitor moorings. We had a wander back to the junction and into the Mucky Duck leaving the braised beef cooking away on the stove.

Armitage Tunnel

The loo factory

Swing bridge just after the junction

Fradley Junction

Moored near Fradley

13 miles and 5 locks
Total 401.75 miles and 344 locks