Monday, 31 March 2008

Friday, 28 March 2008

Warwick here we Come

23 locks, and 5 miles, Now moored at Kate Boats on the Grand Union Canal

Well Tuesday dawned cold and overcast but no precipitation. What a relief. The Hatton flight of Locks dropping a total of one hundred and fifty feet in two miles sure presented a challenge. The paddles at the top and bottom of the chambers are the same as the Knowle flight encountered a couple of weeks ago. The gates are very heavy and although I normally do the locks while Derek is at the tiller I was not relishing doing the flight alone. As in the Knowle flight we changed places and I took over the helm, much easier. Arriving at the top lock with a hire boat behind us we opened the gates for them and they decided they wanted water at the waterpoint albeit with a very soggy towpath. We decided to proceed alone. Once through the first lock with the daunting task ahead I spotted a boat coming down the top lock behind us, Hooray. We will wait for them to catch us up. A pleasant surprise when we found it was Phil and Pat on Nb Hyperion who we had met briefly at Lonsonford, this is their home territory and experts on the area. Together we shared the flight and the two remaining locks into Warwick.

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Pulling into Kate Boats we were hoping to find an engineer who could get our heating sorted. No luck so Derek opted to take the unit out and send it away to Southampton for its annual service. Unfortunately our timing was not good and we may not get it back for 3 weeks or so. We have taken a mooring here with power moored alongside Nb Hyperion so that we can run the small electric fan heater during this bout of cold weather.

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Looking back up the Hatton Flight of locks

We have also managed to find a glazier to get new glass cut for our broken porthole and replace the other cracked one. We will take a look at the castle here over the weekend whilst we have half price tickets after visiting Blenheim Palace in the summer whilst we were stuck at Oxford and these expire on Monday. There are special events this week due to peak times around Easter.

I have an appointment for a haircut tomorrow morning and Derek will pick up a couple of sets of drawers we spotted yesterday for our newly sorted saloon. "Anyone looking for an Argos mdf set of drawers going free", its such a shame to throw them away although they are rubbish compared to the good quality timber that we are going for this time.

We will make a decision after the weekend as to whether we carry on towards Braunston or wait here for our heating unit to be returned. At least the temperatures are meant to be improving.

1028 locks, 1345½ miles, 40 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Locking In the Snow

17 locks, 5½ miles and 1 Tunnel, Monday moored at Shrewley on Grand Union Canal

We knew we had a long way to go so up early and through the first 2 locks before filling up with water at Lowsonford where we met up with Phil and Pat on Nb Hyperion who were out from Warwick for the weekend. We continued up the Lapworth flight to the junction in the most appalling weather, we havent cruised in the snow before, not the most comfortable. But as we had no heating, what was the difference. We had the small fan heater running in the boat all the time to at least keep the chill of the boat. After reaching Kingswood Junction the weather brightened a bit and we headed south towards the Hatton Flight to be tackled on Tuesday morning. Good satellite signal out in the open, the moorings at the top of the flight was shaded and very muddy so glad we stopped where we did.

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Interesting towpath tunnel on the north side of Shrewely Tunnel

1005 locks, 1335½ miles, 40 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Couldn't be a worse weekend

Sunday we were still moored at Wootton Wawen, Stratford on Avon Canal

Unbelievable, come Sunday morning amongst the and snow, hail and sleet our Mikuni central heating fired up and ran for an hour and then died. A quick trip down the engine room by Derek confirmed our worst fears, the glow plug had died again and no replacement available. As we have no other source of heating except a small fan heater which requires the engine running because of the power drain we decided there was nothing for it but make a run for Warwick. After Tracey left for home after lunch we pulled the pins and headed up to the closest lock where we moored for the night. The plan was to leave early morning and at least get as far as Kingswood Junction.

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Kingswood Junction where we turn off for the Grand Union

Sunday, 23 March 2008

White (Xmas) Easter!

1 lock and 3½ miles, Now moored at Wootton Wawen, Stratford on Avon Canal

Yesterday the girl's spent the day in Stratford having some retail therapy. As for me I stayed aboard catching up with some of those little chores that get put off for a rainy day

One lone snowflake on the lens, sorry

Saturday morning we decided to take Tracey over the Edstone aqueduct even though we were getting occasional light snow showers. The problem being her car. We came up with a plan where Tracey and Dot took the car up to the aqueduct and I moved the boat on my own. At the aqueduct I picked up Tracey and Dot stayed down on the road with the camera to photograph the event. We had no sooner got onto the aqueduct when we got the heaviest snowfall of the day with snowflakes as big as my thumbnail which all added to the experience.

Picnic table overlooking Edstone Aqueduct

Dot and Tracey then helped me through the only lock before returning to the car and driving onto Wootton Wawen where we plan to stay for the next couple of days. It would appear that Anglo Welsh, who are now the only boat yard selling diesel on this stretch of the Stratford Canal have decided that it's a sellers market and are charging 78p per litre. Stratford Cruisers seemed to have changed hands with the new trade name of Ethos narrow boats and have deleted sales of diesel from their list.

Snow has been falling on and off all day but heavier snowfall is forecast for overnight so we will see in the morning. Tracey intends driving back to London tomorrow weather permitting.

988 locks, 1330 miles, 39 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday, 21 March 2008

Stratford canal BEWARE.

16 locks and 3½ miles, Now moored above bridge 59, Stratford on Avon Canal

It was just as well we left Bancroft basin early because we had no idea what lay ahead. Along the way we were looking for somewhere for Tracey to be able to park her car close to the canal. We found somewhere above bridge 62A but a BW worker told us that the road was for BW access only so that put the kibosh on that one. We carried on and made good time until we got to lock 43 in the Wilmcote flight where we found all 3 pounds above were very low. The contractors had lowered the pounds so that no water would pass over the new by-wash's to allow newly laid concrete to harden. Well that was OK, it just meant we had to wait a little longer to get sufficient water to be able to pass over the first lock cill. Eventually we got out of lock 43 and into lock 42 and this is where problem no 2 arose.

Some masonry had fallen out of the lock wall behind the lock gate which was another reason for lowering the pound, so that BW guys could clear the masonry from obstructing the gate. Unfortunately they hadn't checked that the gate would shut because when we went to shut it, it jammed about 6 inches out from being fully closed. I had a poke around with the pole hook and got it to close within an inch but it still wouldn't seal properly. The contractor's called out BW who couldn't have been too far away as one of their guys arrived fairly quickly. He couldn't improve on the situation even though he did move some bricks out of the way but he said to open both top paddles and that should get us through. By this time the top pound only had a few inches of water left in it so we had to open the very top paddles to get the boat out of lock 42, across the pound into lock 41. By the time we cleared lock 41, over 3 hours had elapsed since entering lock 43 and just to top things off it had started to rain. The BW guy said that they would come back tomorrow to try and clear both the gates on 42 and 43 but of course the other problem is that the pounds are still very low so don't be surprised if the canal is closed again.

The foreman of the contracting company said that they will probably have to close the canal again next week anyway to try and complete some of the outstanding work. We noticed down by lock 50 that there is a new lock gate laying there that is still waiting to be fitted which will require another closure.

Another problem which we noticed is that the funny little bridges with the gap through the decking for the old horse ropes to pass through have subsided and the gap in the decking is no longer there. Both sides of the decking are now touching and at water level it is very hard not to scrape the hull on the brickwork. I noticed a couple of them were barely passable. How long before this becomes a major problem?

Sorry Jeremy you didnt leave an email address, unfortunately we won't be travelling up your neck of the woods this time around, maybe next time we are here in a few months.

987 locks, 1326½ miles, 39 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Sightseeing in Stratford

Still moored at Bancroft Basin, Stratford-Upon-Avon .

Although the weather was fine it was still a bit on the chilly side with a maximum temperature of about 11 deg C. We wandered up this street and down that one, soaking up the historic character that makes this town what it is. We walked past Shakespeare's birthplace but didn't go in as a couple of coach load's of tourist's were being ushered through the entrance foyer and it was rather crowded.

This afternoon 2 narrowboats came up through the basin lock from the river Avon so the water level must have dropped allowing boats to navigate the river again but it won't alter our plans to head back to Braunston via Napton junction and out onto the Fen's after the Easter week-end.


Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Stratford Canal Open for Business

16 locks and 3½ miles, Now moored at Bancroft Basin, Stratford on Avon

This morning the tree felling contractor returned with a portable pump to try and re-float his boat. I went and had a yarn with him and he couldn't work out how the boat sank until I pointed out the outflow. After giving him a hand to plug a few holes to stop water re-entering the engine hole he appeared to be making slow progress so I left him to it.

Today didn't quite work out as planned but it all came right in the end. We had only planned to go as far as lock 50 and moor there but the water point wasn't where we expected it to be so we finished up going further than planned. Coming down past Western Road Marina there are supposed to be moorings but with Stratford Cruisers or Ethos hire boats as they are now known being moored 3 abreast there is no way anybody can moor opposite.

We carried on to just above bridge 69 where there are good moorings on bollards but being behind a pub we thought we might be a target for drunken idiots overnight so we carried on into the basin and moored on the pontoons. Due to a massive redevelopment going on at the Shakespeare Memorial theatre and surrounding gardens the whole basin is fenced off and you need your BW key to get in and out so we are very secure here. We will stay here for our 48 hours then move back to the bottom of the Wilmcote flight where Tracey can meet up with us.

While out for a stroll we checked out the river Avon which surprise,surprise has been running fast and high and is not recommended for navigation. Just as well we are not planning on going out there.

Something else that caught our attention was the street lamp's or lamp standards along Waterside which runs from the basin down past the theatre. They are all made about the turn of the 20th century or early part of, and they have been donated by councils from all around the world. Some of them are fascinating. Unfortunately they are switched off at present due to the re-development.

971 locks, 1323 miles, 39 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Edstone Aqueduct, Stratford Canal

Photos taken yesterday of Edstone Aqueduct on the Stratford- Upon- Avon Canal




Shakespeare Country

1 lock and 3½ miles, Now moored above bridge 59, Stratford on Avon Canal

As it was a beautiful morning we took a stroll into the village to have a look at what the village had to offer. St Peter's church is the most prominent feature dating back to 1035. There has been a church on the site since 720 but this was a wooden structure which was replaced by stone in 1035. Various additions have been added in the 14th and 15th centuries. The village was also known for it's paper mill and watermill which I believe is still in working order but we failed to find it.

After lunch we slipped our moorings and headed off but we didn't get far as the Anglo Welsh boats were being moved around and blocked the aqueduct and the basin. It was only a short delay before we were under way again passing over the 30yd Wootton Wawen aqueduct. With only 1 lock, our progress was pretty steady but we did encounter 3 boats in the opposite direction even though we were told that the Wilmcote lock stoppage wouldn't be open for another day, so we are not sure what's happening yet.

Next point of interest was the 200yd long Edstone Aqueduct carrying the canal across a valley above meadows, road and railway. we were hoping for a train to pass beneath us while crossing but no luck, it went past 2 minutes later. The cast iron trough of the aqueduct only comes up as high as the gunnels of the boat so standing on the back deck there is nothing between you and the valley below, Whow!

We have moored up above bridge 59 so that we are able to visit Mary Arden's house tomorrow, too late in the day to visit today. However we did check out the railway station which for all intents and purposes is, as it was in the days of the Great Western Railway.

We noted that the Guide Friday bus from Stratford passes through here so that could be useful. Wandering past Mary Ardens cottage which is reputed to be the birthplace of Shakespeares mother, actually is incorrect as she was born 30 yards away at Glebe farm, we saw some of the workers dressed in period costume and the menagerie which included some unusual pigs, a Buzzard, a Hawk and an Owl. What variety they were I'm not sure as I was unable to read the sign's from a distance.

Due to ominous looking black rain clouds appearing on the horizon we decided it was time to head back to the boat. Moored just ahead of us is a waterways contractors boat that is full of trees that they have recently cut down. Unfortunately they are going to have to pump out the engine hole before they can move it again. It seems that they moored it next to an outflow which may have only been trickling out at the time. With the recent heavy rain the outflow has increased and poured water straight into the engine hole vent sinking it, Oh dear.

955 locks, 1319½ miles, 39 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday, 17 March 2008

Here we go again!

2 locks and 2 miles, Now moored above bridge 53, Stratford on Avon Canal

Yesterday's showers turned into heavy overnight rain which was originally forecast for all day today. But Sunday turned out to be overcast and reasonably mild. Running roughly parallel with the canal is a small stream but this morning it had burst it's banks and was a raging torrent flooding farmers paddocks. We could also see that the nearby roads were badly flooded as cars were sending up spray's of water over the roadside hedge's.

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Once settled on our mooring which is just above the Wootton Wawen aqueduct, we walked into Yew Tree farm which is like a mini shopping mall out in the country. All the old stable's and stalls have been converted to small retail outlets selling home made jams, pickles and baking, art work and frames, art's and craft's, horse and pet requirements, clothing, hair salon, restaurant, designer kitchen's and a huge showroom in what must have been a barn selling outdoor furniture and exclusive designer lounge furniture. We bought a few vegetables and some tub's of Bennett's farmhouse icecream, the latter was yummie.

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This afternoon I had another go at finishing the pump moving project with the usual leaks to try and resolve but I think that the job is now complete. All I have to do is box it all in and sound proof it.

954 locks, 1316 miles, 39 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Sunday, 16 March 2008

History For Sale.

16 locks and 5½ miles, Now moored at Lock 36 Stratford on Avon Canal

With the weather forecast being for light showers we pushed off with the plan of seeing how far we could get before the weather broke. The stoppage on the Wilmcote flight has been extended to the 17th due to problem's refilling the flight so we are in no great rush. It was only a short trip to the Kingswood junction where we turned onto the Stratford canal.

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Stratford here we come

Coming into the basin between lock's 20, 21, and 22 (I'll let you figure that one out) was like going through a time warp back in time. It was obvious from the onset that we are going to enjoy this canal immensely. Of course split bridge's for the horse's rope and the domed roofed lock keepers cottage's are a feature here, some cottages are in original condition and some have been added onto but still retaining the original features.

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There is one on the property market which has been added onto and is now a 4 bedroom house. Handy to the M40, very tidy property with a couple of railway good's wagon's on sight for sheds. They are well maintained and still carry the red light for the rear of the train. I think the owner is a bit of a railways buff as he has a weather vane with a steam train on it. Any offer's?

Talking about train's I had the pleasure of seeing a steam train excursion heading south on the Birmingham Stratford line. Six carriages in GWR colours headed by a Castle or a Manor. It caught me by surprise and I didn't get a real good look at the loco due to it's speed, but it was a grand sight.

This canal is not one that you can hurry because the lock's only have a single paddle to drain the lock giving the lock operator plenty of time to look around. There are still sign's around going back to when the Great Western railway owned the canal and information board's telling the story of the canal.

As we entered the Stratford canal another boater told us we were the 3rd boat to have come through this morning but the other 2 must have gone North as most of the locks were in our favour. It wasn't until lock 33 that we met another boat which was a day hire boat and the helmsman, upon seeing us started to move over to the correct side of the canal but then lost the plot and finished up broadside across the canal in front of us. Unfortunately putting our boat hard into reverse threw us off course also which made the situation worse. I went to use the pole to push our bow away from the other boat but I couldn't touch the bottom so this canal has no depth problems. Eventually we got past each other and it turned out that the other crew were foreign tourist's who don't appear to have been shown how to steer the boat properly. By this time it was lightly raining so we started looking for a suitable mooring and found a nice deep mooring just below lock 36. So many times we have tried to moor only to find that our 23 inch draft was too deep and we couldn't get close to the bank.

We have passable internet connection here, poor phone reception and the TV reception is rubbish on the aerial and no satellite and so it's a book or DVD for tonight's entertainment.

952 locks, 1314 miles, 39 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Double lock country.

5 locks and 5 miles, Now moored at Bridge 67 Grand Union Canal

Oh what a joy to be away from the squalor of Birmingham. We had a pleasant cruise down to bridge 71 where we moored up to walk into Knowle where there is a Tesco Metro supermarket which to be honest we felt was too small for the amount of trade they were doing, it was packed with shopper's and only has narrow aisle's. This town is delightfully Olde English but at a price. There must be a lot of wealthy people living here.

Back on board we decided to attack the Knowle flight of locks first before having lunch. These locks are an engineering marvel when you consider when they were built and the amount of work involved, more so than the Watford flight. Of course we are now back in the land of double locks and at the first lock we found the bottom gate left open. We soon found out why because it took all my weight and effort to close the damn thing with the help of some water being let down to give it a nudge. Needless to say we used the opposite gate and that was much easier.Some of the gates are huge weighing up to 3.5 ton and take a bit of shifting.

At the bottom of the flight we found ourselves having to quietly cruise past moored boats for the best part of a mile which we haven't had to do going through Birmingham because nobody moors along the towpath there.

Yesterday I forgot to mention that we thought we had a fouled propeller again because we were getting slower and slower no matter the amount of engine power. It turned out that we had picked up, literally, an 8 X 4 sheet of quite thick ply, width ways across our bow and it jammed on the base plate and was acting like a sea anchor. Once removed it made one hell of a difference.

Something else which came to mind was all the time we spent on the Ashby canal we only saw 2 Heron's and NO Kingfisher's. Perhaps there is a lack of fish in this canal because we did see some guys with the electronic stun fishing equipment either looking for Zander or doing a fish survey and they were not having much success either so the bird's would probably starve in this situation.

936 locks, 1308½ miles, 39 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday, 14 March 2008

Rubbish and heaps of it!

10 locks and 11 miles, Now moored at Bridge 78 Catherine De Barnes.

We had a nice quiet night last night even though we were right outside the casino and night club. The pontoon moorings were great. We got under way fairly early as we knew that we had another full on day ahead of us. Being the Grand Union we were expecting double locks but was pleasantly surprised that they were singles. With the locks being close together we got a good routine going and the locks just flew by.

Now I know that we were passing through Birmingham's industrial hinterland but the rubbish both in the canal and on the banks was horrendous and we felt as if we were in some third world country, not Britain. There has been quite a few TV news report's recently on the state of Birmingham as a whole with it's mounting rubbish problem and I can see why. The city has a very large recycle and rubbish plant similar to one that we saw on the river Lee in London so there is no excuse for rubbish disposal. I think that councils every where in the UK need to toughen up on the rubbish legislation. They need to look at places like Singapore where they are rubbish free and you dare not drop even a cigarette butt or lolly wrapper for fear of an instant fine. Its a shame really because some of the canals through Birmingham could look as attractive as other canals around the country. Do English people no longer have pride in their country, where is the old Bulldog spirit or does that only come out in time's of adversity?

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At the top of Camp Hill locks we pulled into the services for water and rubbish and what a surprise. What looks like brand new services, impressively clean with toilets, showers, laundry and a well stocked information bureau. We would certainly like to see many more like it. We spent a nice cup of coffee with Jeanette and Peter of Narrowboat Joanie M alongside the services and hopefully we will see them again out on the Nene where they are heading soon.

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Industrial side of Birmingham

Along the way we came across the local canal contractor who was water blasting the graffiti off a bridge. Now we know these guys have been busy because since we left Rugby we have seen plenty of evidence that they have been working hard cutting back tree's and the vegetation but I fail to see how removing graffiti is going to keep the waterways navigable, because you can be sure that the graffiti will re-appear. We are now passing across the summit of the Warwick & Birmingham canal between Camp Hill and Knowles which we understand has had a water problem since inception but it is not the water level we are having problem's with, it's the rubbish, tree's and branches on the bottom constantly fouling the propeller. At one bridge, 86 from memory, we even ran aground underneath the bridge where there was a sole male sitting on the towpath. Dot was concerned that he may have been sitting there waiting for an unsuspecting boater to pounce upon and rob but nothing of the kind took place. We only cleared the bridge by jumping onto the towpath and pulling the boat clear using the centre rope. Now as far as I am concerned what need's to be done and I have said this on several occasions is DREDGING. Now most of these canal's are leased to various angling club's who are only too quick to charge for day ticket's, so why not get them involved in some form of dredging after all it would be in their own interest's as they wouldn't loose as many hooks etc; on sunken log's. Just a thought. After all we are constantly being told it's user pay's!

931 locks, 1303½ miles, 39 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Happy 40th Birthday Karen

40th 2 

Sorry we can't be with you, we hope you like the barbecue

Not a memorable day.

14 locks and 9½ miles, 1 Tunnel. Now moored at Star City Casino, Grand Union Canal

Except for strong winds it was fine when we set off this morning, two boats had passed us going the opposite way so most of the locks were in our favour. As we went up through the Curdworth locks we became more and more exposed to the wind which was straight onto our starboard bow making locking difficult. The only way to combat the wind was to go straight up to the lock gate, and hold the boat steady with a bit of forward momentum against the lock gate until it was opened. Some of the lock entrances were badly silted up and we grounded at about 5 locks which made it difficult to slide over the mud into the lock. At one stage the water was so choppy that it was hitting the bow throwing up spray, it felt like a trip on the inter island ferry back in New Zealand.

At the top lock we met a BW lock keeper who had to clear the rubbish from the top gate before we could exit the lock but before I could do that I had to go down the weed hatch and remove a huge piece of industrial plastic which decided to have a love affair with the prop. The plastic was deposited in the skip alongside the lock which the lock keeper told us that it only took him 2 days to fill the skip but it wouldn't be emptied for a week.

Not long after this we had to stop for another visit down the weed hatch to remove yet another sheet of industrial plastic. After we had been underway again for about 15 minutes I noticed that the stern of the boat was sitting rather low in the water so another hasty stop to find the bilge half full of water, luckily no damage done. The weed hatch appeared to have sprung a leak and soggy newspaper had clogged the bilge pump. I got the pump working again but it was going to take for ever to empty all the water so out came our self pump out gear again which made short work of the job.

By this time we were in the industrial heartland of Birmingham and what with the previous problem Dot was starting to get the heebie geebies especially when we passed under one building that has been built over the canal and we were in the constant shadow of the M6. At Salford Junction we had to do a very sharp left turn and the easiest way to do it was as if we were winding the boat.

When we were about half way round a couple of young hoodies stopped on the bridge above the bow of the boat and we were not sure of their intention's but it turned out that they were concerned we might have got stuck because once they could see we were OK they gave us the thumb's up and left. As soon as we moored up on the pontoons outside the Star City Casino I returned down the engine hole to finish cleaning up the rest of the mess and thoroughly check everything.

A big thank you to Paul from Waterways Routes and Adam from N/b Debdale for the emails with help on the moorings in Birmingham.

921 locks, 1292½ miles, 39 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

I'll Huff & I'll Puff

4 locks and 10½ miles. Now moored at Fishers Mill Bridge, Birm and Fazeley Canal

We experienced some wind and rain overnight but this morning was a clear sky and moderate wind's. There were a few other boat's on the move but it is still quiet on the cut and we had some time to make up after spending extra time at Hinckley.

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Lots of lambs in abundance now and looking about a month old

The first call was at Bradley Green to use the BW services and then onto Grendon Bridge where we got a couple of bit's and pieces at Narrowcraft boat builders. At Fazeley junction we turned onto the Birmingham and Fazeley canal which is new territory to us. We kept going until we found a suitable mooring and the weather held up. We are moored alongside a huge aggregate quarry which appear's to still being worked.

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Beautifully maintained Drayton footbridge, far too grand for a footbridge

Since about 5pm we have been buffeted by strong wind's but after 3 hour's they seem to be easing. Tomorrow's weather is forecast for more strong wind's but we hope to make it through the Curdworth tunnel tomorrow weather permitting, a distance of about 4 miles and 11 locks and 1 tunnel so it will be a long day, we would like to get as far as Salford junction but at this stage the weather looks as though it will be against us.

907 locks, 1293 miles, 38 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Storm, What Storm?

4 locks and 1½ miles. Now moored above Lock 10 Atherstone Flight

The storm warning that was forecast for early this morning was a bit of a fizzer, sure it was windy and it did rain but nothing unusual to what we have experienced previously. I think we must be on the cusp of the storm as the radio station is reporting damage in Wales and the South of England. Even London and Heathrow have been affected with many flight cancellations.

First job of the day was to reverse back to bridge 43 where there is better road access for Pete to come and collect the timber and foam. When Pete arrived the weather was sunny and dry which was good as we could transfer the gear without it getting wet. After topping Pete up with a coffee for his trip home we walked into town where we found the ALDI store and bought some fresh vegetables and the usual bread and milk. Once this was stowed away on board we opted to move on even though there was still a storm warning in place. It was becoming overcast and windy but nothing too serious. At lock 7 we met up with Iain and Alison on the coal boat "Gosty Hill" who were heading back to Hartshill. As we exited the lock we ran aground as the pound was at least a foot below normal. Iain managed to squeeze past us which allowed us to slide into the main channel and deeper water. To start with we didn't make much head way but Iain spotted that we had picked something up off the bottom and fouled the propeller. A couple of blast's in reverse and we cleared the prop and were under way again. We carried on to Whitley bridge which is a decorative iron footbridge but minus it's decking so it doesn't get used these days but somebody keeps it beautifully painted.

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At this stage it was just starting to spit with rain so we moored up just before lock 10 to wait and see what the weather was going to do. We will probably stay here overnight and carry on tomorrow. As I sit here writing this blog the sun has just broken through the murk, funny old weather eh! Now I think I will go and try out one of the new armchairs, wow are they comfortable.

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903 locks, 1282½ miles, 38 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006