Tuesday, 13 October 2009

End of the season for us

Tuesday 13th October

So endeth another season on Petroc. We are both agreed that we have had a good time this year, despite the weather earlier on.

Petroc is now snugly tucked up for the winter at Clifton Cruisers and we are home in Cornwall, which seems very strange at the moment. Barnaby is none too sure where he is. Since we only had him in February he has lived more on the boat than Cornwall so he is still taking stock.

Petroc Moored behind Archie. because they are the same colours a towpath walker asked us if they were related!
Clifton Cruisers with Barnaby's friend Heidi on patrol

Looking down Clifton Arm where Petroc is tucked up securely in the paint dock.

See you all next April!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Working hard!!

Wednesday 7th October
Two busy days and we are both ready to go cruising again.
Yesterday started with having to purchase a new battery for the car.....6 months sitting had done it a power of no good......followed by a trip to Rugby's very efficient A&E dept. Geoff's slight chest pains had not receded and since he is not prone to indigestion and also ordered by elder daughter Emma, we duly paid a visit. They were extremely efficient and quick, and he had an ECG and all the rest of the good things, had his stomach pummelled by the doctor, and was then pronounced fit to work!!!! Personally I had thought all along that his "unwellness" was an attempt to get out of varnished various parts of Petroc amongst other things!!!! Still I must not be uncharitable as today is our wedding anniversary..37 years.... Since we had been out to eat for the past 2 evenings we had agreed that we would stay in and eat the remnants of the freezer and we would not get each other anything as it was just something else to carry home. So I didn't get anything for him.........but felt very bad when I found a bottle of bubbly, a bar of my favourite chocolate of the moment AND a card waiting for me this morning....can't win them all.
Another cleaning and sorting day looms tomorrow

Monday, 5 October 2009

Back at Clifton Cruisers

Monday 5th October
Yesterday was a day of rest......Church at Newbold in the morning followed by lunch at the Barley Mow with friends Fran & Keith.
Geoff has been feeling a little under the weather since Sat evening, complaining of indigestion and just not feeling too good. However being a man he refuses to go anywhere to get checked out, although he has promised that if he still has these slight pains in his chest tomorrow he will consider going.
A very short run today back to Clifton and a phone call to Jim at Rose Narrowboats confirmed that the paint I had ordered was in so after the car's battery was charged I rushed off to collect it. The forecast for tomorrow is heavy rain showers so I was determined to get the sides of the boat done. By 4pm the mission was accomplished much to my delight, the hardest part was getting all the black paint out of my nails....I am a very messy painter!! I had even turned Petroc on my own being to impatient to wait for Geoff to return from his shopping and car wash.
It is very narrow where we moor and lots of boats going up and down so I waited for a quiet period with no boats in sight and managed 50% of the task before boats were coming from both directions........almost like Piccadilly Circus!! However it was achieved without bumping any other boats although I must confess not without the occasional touch on the bow thruster!!
Barnaby was very pleased to see his friend Heide the Alsatian and they have been running and playing most of the day.
We were also pleased to see Victoria and Phil again, although Paul & Helen are away cruising.
More jobs on Petroc tomorrow, a trip to Braunston is first on the agenda to take our cratch cover for some small repairs.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Newbold upon Avon

Saturday 4th October

Shallow Lock at Hawkesbury Junction
Greyhound Pub
Inside Greyhound
Although we had been through Hawkesbury Junction a couple of times we had never been into the Greyhound pub so decided to rectify the matter last night. We found one of the nicest and most convivial pubs we had been in all summer. We were quite sorry that supper was all prepared on Petroc and all we had come for was a pre prandial drink!
I thought that we had not moored at Hawkesbury before and that was the reason we had not been into the pub, but Geoffrey told me that we had moored here but that we had had a difference of opinion over mooring so there had been no point in going to the pub as we weren't speaking!!!!!! I cannot say I remember any such incident........fancy having an argument over mooring!!
This morning we rectified the matter of a meal in the Greyhound by partaking of one of their Boater's Breakfasts...this set us up wonderfully for the ride to Newbold.
We made it to Newbold in about 4 hours. This included a spell behind a ve.............ry slow boat. We do not travel fast but you do need a little bit of power to have steerage way.........anyway they eventually they me go past. Geoff was walking the towpath at the time with Barnaby. It was the windiest ride of the year, but luckily dry. It was an uneventful trip apart from the fact that we think we may have something round the prop, so later on Geoffrey has one of his least favourite tasks to perform!
We shall also suss out the two pubs and decide which offers the best Sunday Lunch where we will be joined by friends Fran & Keith. (Sussed out now and booked at the Barley Mow and checked on Church times)

Friday, 2 October 2009

A week of Junctions

Friday 2nd October
We have not had to do such long days this week. It has been quite a relaxing week in some ways. The weather has been kind...no rain....and although the weatherman has been warning us about how much colder it is going to get, it doesn't seem to have reached us yet. Certainly we have had more clothes on when outside but there have been sunny intervals and even one occasion when I was forced to put my chair on the bank and sunbathe.....it was short lived!!!!
Tuesday was the run from Tixall Wide to Fradley Junction.

Peaceful rural scene as we went over the Aqueduct over River Trent
Not so peaceful a little while afterwards. BW hard at work

Just to add a little interest to our gentle ambling we reach the Armitage Narrows. Here the canal negotiates a Rocky narrow cutting which used to be a tunnel (The Armitage or Plum Pudding tunnel).. Single file traffic and Geoff had to go ahead to check that it was clear to proceed.

All was clear so I could meander through

We moored for the night above Shade Lock which is just before Fradley Junction...the first of this weeks junctions.
Fradley Junction was very busy and it is a great place for gongoozlers.....we had a stroll around and joined them.
Off early on Wednesday, turned onto the Coventry Canal and made for our next junction of the week...Fazeley Junction...which is where the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal turns off. That is a route we have not traversed but no time now, it will have to wait for another year

Moored just before the junction. We tried the local pub for an early pre dinner drink......not one of the most salubrious pubs we have visited......

One of the Atherstone Locks

Off early on Thursday as this was our last day of locks....but not early enough....there were several boats ahead of us so it was slow going. However we were not in a rush so just enjoyed the run and the 11 Atherstone Locks. Moored at the top when we eventually reached it.
Found a space and then realised it said "No Mooring. BW Boats only"!!!! However there we BW personnel around who said it was OK. Later that night another boat snuck in front of us when it was pitch black...we have seen several boats moving at night and can't understand how they can see where they are going!
Leisurely start today Friday as we did not have far to go to our next junction at Hawkwsbury.
Here we turned onto the Oxford Canal for the final run home.
We stopped in the basin to use the sani station and then went through the small lock which will be our last for the year. Our timing was superb as we managed to get into the only space we could see and there were several boats came through after us.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Long Weekend on Tixall Wide

Monday 28th September
Friday was another longish day for us but after a week of long days we reached Tixall Wide and managed to find a space. There were quite a few boats there but we were lucky.
It has been a mixture of a relaxing and working weekend.
I have nagged all summer about touching up little bits of paintwork to no avail, but Geoff has now, very reluctantly, got out the paint brushes!!!
I was frustrated as I wanted to do the black along the sides but have run out of paint. Tried in a big chandlers in Stone but they had never heard of International "Interlac". So have phoned Rose Narrowboats just before Rugby who hope to have it in for me by Saturday when we go past. However in between relaxing I have entertained myself with cleaning the venetian blinds.....what a thankless task! I don't regret our decision to have the narrow slat blinds, except when they need cleaning. None of the cleaning solution that have been purchased work...the only answer is to manhandle each slat...takes forever!!!

Tixall Wide
Rural scene on the River adjacent to Shugborough Hall

Unusual Tower on Catholic Church, Great Haywood.
It is a 20 min walk to Great Haywood but sufficient shops there, a good Farm Shop, pub and church.
The visit to the church was unsuccessful however. I checked the time of service online and on the notice board outside the church which read "Service here this Sunday Holy Communion 10am" We were somewhat peeved having walked up specially to find there was not a service there after all, it was in a neighbouring church at 10.30. Since we hadn't a clue where the other church was and being on shank's pony, we abandoned the mission. Later we met our friend Father Colin for lunch in the pub. We had last seen him in the same place two years ago.
All in all a good weekend, no rain and some sunshine but not all the time.
Tomorrow we are on the water again aiming to be back in Rugby and Petroc's winter home by next Monday....how the summer has flown.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Long Days

Wednesday/Thursday 23/24 Sept

We have really been putting in the hours locks and miles for the last 2 days...where has my leisurely life gone??
Wednesday we did 15 miles and 22 locks from West of Middlewich to Rode Heath and Thursday Rode heath to Barlaston was 14 miles, 18 locks, AND ONE TUNNEL...my pet hate. Harecastle tunnel is a LONG ONE......35 minutes. We reached it 10 mins to late for our direction so had well over an hour to wait but I put this time to good use as there is a nearby Tesco......
However although long days they have been enjoyable and interesting. From Middlewich as far as Kidsgrove at the junction with the Macclesfield Canal, it was virgin territory for us.
Although we did have some rain on Wednesday, the weather has been much kinder to us of late........and it wasn't very wet rain!!
When we set off on Wednesday morning to Big Lock at Middlewich we waited for another boat to catch us up to join us in the lock....we thought this was good timing as double locks are so much easier, especially going up, when two boats are in. When we reached the next lock both Geoff and I were so surprised.....we had completely forgotten that Big Lock was the last of the double locks and it is back to narrow ones!!!!
The physical work of all these locks is undertaken by Geoff mainly because my back would revolt but also he enjoys doing them. He is of course ably assisted by Barnaby who follows him everywhere. This makes for a very tired dog in the evening so as you can see below, a little nap is called for!!

We do like our comfort

Today's trip took us through Stoke on Trent which cannot be said to have the most beautiful canalside, however once through the urban area there are much nicer stretches as can be seen above.

A lot of the locks are twinned which could theoretically cut down waiting time, but since the second lock in a lot of cases is either out of action or just grown over, it doesn't achieve very much! Our early start in the mornings has stood us in good stead, and it wasn't until the last few locks that we had to wait for any length of time

Twinned locks

A very rural scene by one of the locks
The only bad part of the last two days was a hire boat ramming us!!!! An Anglo Welsh boat came round a blind corner far too fast, couldn't turn and we ended up with him on the wrong side of us and giving us a hefty whack. The air was blue for a while. There was a certain amount of shouting from both Geoff and myself and a lady on the other boat. She was not the helmsman who kept notably quiet!!!
So another early start tomorrow making for Great Haywood and the Tixall wide, where I have been promised a relaxing weekend off!!!!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Going Home.......

Tuesday 23rd September
Another early start but not quite so cold today. We are putting the miles on now as we are in the last two weeks of our trip. It was somewhat slow in places today as there were quite a lot of boats around in both directions. We managed to hit Preston Brook Tunnel dead on 0830 and since you can enter southwards from 30-40 minutes past the hour, we though we had been exceptionally clever. However when we reached Saltersford Tunnel there was a queue of 4 waiting and we made the 5th. It was slow going after that. A couple of them stopped at the sani station at Anderton so we moved up a couple of places!!!
We had wanted to go down the Anderton Lift on this return trip but we have lingered too long further north so it will have to be saved for another year.
Eventually moored just before Bridge 80A by one of the flashes. Lovely open mooring and Geoff has even managed to get a satellite picture on the TV.
Another early start planned for tomorrow.....can I stand the pace.........we will be back to locks again after a long stretch with only the one small one just after Preston Brook

Peaceful Mooring

Does this evening sky bode well for tomorrow?

Monday, 21 September 2009


Saturday 19th September

Short hop into Manchester today. We were last here 2 years ago so we know the way in now!

Throstle Nest Bridge

Getting closer
Just before the turn into Castlefield Basin

Not sure who was watching! But we didn't have any trouble

Last time we were here we turned left and moored by the YMCA but this time we thought we would try the other side. We hadn't seen many boats so did not expect it to be full.......wrong!!!

It looked very full right down the arm so we stopped short whilst I went on foot to explore. There were two spaces further up but not so much sunshine so we decided to stay put.
There are restaurants and bars all around the basin

Hilton Hotel is quite a landmark as you approach

Our Mooring Spot
After we moored about 10 boats came past and we couldn't work out where they would go. When we investigates they were doubled and trebled up at the end making it very difficult if you wanted to go up and turn. Luckily we were far enough out to reverse if necessary. We did watch (aren't we rotten!) several boats reversing out......it's always great to watch other people.

We had a good weekend here sampling a couple of the restaurants whilst Emma was with us. It has been a great week with her, she has even cooked supper a couple of nights, although she has led us astray on the drinking side!

She departed by train on Sunday afternoon and shortly afterwards we had Bill & Hilary to visit. They had driven down from Walsden near Todmorden where they live in a converted barn with fantastic views over the Rochdale Canal just before the Summit. We took Petroc up there two years ago for their 60th Wedding Anniversary. We spent the rest of the afternoon pleasantly catching up. They had previously visited us at Tarleton before we did the Ribble crossing in early August.
Monday 21st September
Early start today as we now have to have some longer days to try and reach Petroc's winter home in Rugby by the first week of October. After yesterdays beautiful sunshine when Emma and I sat out in our chairs on the quayside, the temperature this morning was a bit of a shock. It was hat and glove and even scarf weather for a few hours. It is also back to more towpath walking now so I did the first couple of miles with Barnaby and a little later Geoff did considerably more! he walked all the way into Lymm where we stopped to do some shopping.
We carried on for a couple more hours and passed this sight below........wonder what caused it?

Eventually moored in the open just short of Higher Walton beyond Stockton Heath.
After a suitable siesta Geoff decided he had to investigate the weed hatch yet again. We have spent the first 4 months plus with no problem at all but recently he has had to go down several times......I steer clear because his language is not good!! Today's haul was yet more wire and as a bonus part of a discarded bra! At least I hope it was discarded.......

Friday, 18 September 2009

The Leaving of Liverpool

Friday 18th September
The trip out Wednesday went well once we were on our way. There were 6 boats in and just 3 out. The other two paired up so we had to climb the locks alone but BW did most of the work with some assistance from Geoff and it was all very smooth

Our Mooring complete with electricity and eventually water when it is connected
Approaching Canning Lock

In Canning Lock
This lock has a very small rise and fall and is only there because they can raise and lower the water in Canning Dock to allow the passage of bigger vessels
Approaching one of three short tunnels. New Pierhead Building left and Liver Building right
One of the new channels linking docks
Approaching bottom of Stanley Locks
Once we reached the top we turned left to position ourselves at Litherland so that we only had an hours trip the next morning before meeting the BW staff at Bridge 6. Litherland is not the most salubrious of moorings but seemed safe enough and had a sani station.
We set off about 6.45 on Thursday morning and were soon through Bridge 6. The next meeting point was Hancocks bridge but we reached here about 0840 and BW said they had to wait to open it until all the cars with school children had gone through as they feared for their life if they held up any of the mums(or dads!)
Once through there we just had lots of swing bridges to negotiate. We soon lost the third boat as he was ultra slow and it all worked very well with the two of us alternating the opening of the bridges.
Part way along one of the other boats had to give a tow to this unusual boat which had broken down..... it seemed to be an upside down car body!
Eventually reached Parbold just after 3pm.........long day for us!
Friday was just a moderately early start for us at 0810, but Emma thought it was very anti-social! Since we had several locks to do Geoff had told her he would appreciate her help....... After the first two we caught up with another boat and life became easier for us all. Geoff and Emma don't have so much energetic work and two in a double lock is much easier for me.
We met quite a few boats today which is a novelty, we have become used to seeing very few. I think a large number from a boating club are descending on Liverpool.
Passed the famour WIGAN PIER which did not impress Emma!
Eventually moored in Worseley where we watered. Geoff had thought of a pre dinner pint at the pub by the mooring but he was disappointed as it is another hostelry which has shut down.
Just 8 miles to go tomorrow for the run into Manchester. We are going in there as Emma will catch her train home on Sunday. We will depart there on Monday for the trip back to Rugby....where has the summer gone...or should I say the summer months. We have had some better days recently but quite chilly at times, autumn is certainly around.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Sojourn In Liverpool

Wednesday 16th September
A good time was had by all...a very successful visit to the 2008 City of Culture.
Geoff and I visited both the Anglican and the Catholic Cathedral on Monday morning. On entering both of them it was a great WOW factor but in a completely different way.
They are at opposite end of Hope Street and this is the Anglican viewed from the Catholic(locally known we gather as Paddy's Wigwam.!)

These two interior views of the Anglican do not really give a true impression of the vastness, it is truly majestic. See http://www.liverpoolcathedral.org.uk/content/Visiting/GreatSpace.aspx for more pictures and info

High Altar Anglican Cathedral
The Catholic Cathredral is of a very different style but we thought extremely well done, although I was not too sure about the outside as we approached it......I thought the top looked a bit like a gasometer!! The very modern interior sits on top (or part of it does) of the original Crypt designed by Edward Lutyens who had originally been commissioned to build the whole Cathedral. You can see more at the following link and much better pictures than mine.


Entrance to China Town

Gill between two great men!
David Shepherd and Derek Warlock

Unusual Street Sculpture
Apparently suitcases of various stars.
Emma arrived by train on Monday afternoon, we explored the Albert Dock with a brief pause for a cocktail and later found a good Thai & Chinese Restaurant for an "Eat all you want" meal......
Tuesday Emma and I left Geoff to visit more museums and, together with Barnaby, we took the Ferry across the Mersey. We alighted at Seacombe and walked into New Brighton and eventually caught the bus back to Liverpool (Don't these bus passes come in handy). In the afternoon at Emma's insistence we visited the "Beatles Experience" but did not think much of it.
Emma treated us to an excellent meal in a Tapas Bar later on. We have been living the high life here, it will be back to the more normal tomorrow.
This morning we were told to be ready by 11.30 to depart, but were delayed an hour. We found out later that a huge crane was towering over one of the locks on the way up and BW had deemed it inadvisable to let the boats who were coming down, into the lock until it had deposited its load.......very wise. 3 of us going up and we drew the short straw and were the single. However it was relatively painless through the locks and we then pressed on to Litherfield for the night. Tomorrow we have to meet BW at 8am at Swing Bridge 6 so it will be an early start, at least it will be for Geoff and me, I doubt we shall get Emma up that early.......