Friday, 29 June 2012

Long day of hold ups

Not as bad as it sounds......we mean to go slowly so what are a few hold ups?  besides which the rain was only intermittent and so much less heavy than yesterday...a positive bonus.
We made an early start (8am) with Barney and I setting off for our early walk but this was soon thwarted as there was a swan either nesting or injured right in the middle of the tow path.   It had been in exactly the same place last night and I had no intention of trying to walk past with Barney so Geoff had to pull in and collect us.
Soon after setting off we passed this bridge with an interesting design, note the blue sky.  This was before it clouded over and the rain came back!
Seen from a distance the sides of this boat may look like a bad paint job, but in fact are all interesting paintings.  When we saw it going along yesterday the skipper was covered in tattoos, he obviously likes covering things up!  A bit like dogs looking like their owners......
Later we saw Bisou, with Patricia and Nick, moored so decided to pull in and have coffee and a catch up.....thwarted again, the bank was too shallow for us.  They have much less ballast than us so didn't have a problem.  

Soon afterwards we passed this badly tied up contractors boat
Then an even worse pair of BW work boats.  
This caused more of a problem as we could not get ashore.   We phoned BW but before anyone arrived a boat came from the other direction and he was able to get on and move it a bit so we could edge up and push it out of the way.  Slightly tricky as it was shallow on the right.  One of his mooring lines had snapped which is hardly surprising as they seem to use very thin bits of rope...more like big string!!
At the next lock there was a queue and lo and behold 3 BW boats double banked on the lock waiting pontoon!!!  Since there were boats coming down the lock as well, with only a narrow gap to get through, we all had to hang back and hover.......and there was a very fresh wind blowing!
Eventually reached Stone which was our intended destination.  There was not any room on the lower mooring so we had to go through a couple more locks.  At the top of the second lock we stopped for fuel at the canal Cruising Company and were not impressed with the price.  Non Tax 95p and he would only accept a 60/40 split making it £1.20.....full price £1.39.   Since I had recently read Iron Butterfly's blog where Pam said they found it at Wheaton Aston for 70.9p (non tax)   I must say 70.9 seems very low so do wonder if it is a misprint for 90.9??  Have emailed her to find out.  Since we are going so slowly and not very far, my spread sheet gives our split as 30/70
Barney is still enjoying his travels we think but does not like going below when we are travelling.  
However when moored he does like his comfort and toys
8.93 miles, 7 locks, 6 hrs 3 min

Thursday, 28 June 2012

On the Move again

Good-bye Tixall Wide, another pleasant interlude......
Barney & I walked up to the junction where I shopped whilst Geoff watered.. Anglo Welsh seem to have added an extra little pontoon just where you come out of the narrow bit, still perfectly passable but it does make life more difficult especially if someone is moored opposite...
As we set off after watering we had the first few drops of rain, but since we were not intending to go far we were not too bothered.   However the few drops gradually increased and then the thunder started.   The rain became heavier and heavier and I had to resort to the umbrella
The thunder kept on rolling well and we made the decision to moor....but no suitable bank....sods law,,,,,,
By now Geoff had the other umbrella up, something he is very loth to do normally.
Eventually our luck was in and we found somewhere that did not have too many trees nearby......which we did not fancy in the storm.
So no further today, an even shorter trip than envisaged.   Later in the afternoon it cleared and we had a pleasantly warm evening..
2.52miles, 1 lock, 1hr 53 min

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Sojourn on Tixall Wide

Well it had to be done, it is so pleasant here.  The original plan was to have the weekend here but as you can see from previous blogs things conspired against us.
The weather has even been cooperative....only the odd small shower and today it has been positively warm...could this be a tantilising glimpse of summer...
We walked up to the village in the morning for the paper etc and Geoff caught the bus to Stafford...he has this fixation with towns.....
Although we had been on twice from Rugeley that was only to out of town precincts for PC World and Maplins, Geoff wanted to see what the centre was like.
He found a mix of the old and the new, not initially impressed but he said it grew on him as he walked around.
Shire Hall Gallery
Elizabethan Ancient High House - largest timber framed house in England


There is a huge church which was full of schoolchildren.   This is the 3rd place we have visited recently where the church was being used by the local schools for various activities, lovely to see.
Sr Mary's Church
The church has a very interesting history and you can see more here
Meanwhile back on Petroc I had a lovely day, I gave the cratch cover a bit of a scrub, did one of Giles' VAT returns, watched some tennis and generally enjoyed the day.....towns you can keep.......
 Two people were also enjoying the sunshine
A while later she even had to put her sunshade up!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Great Haywood

As I took Barney for his early morning stroll along the towpath, I discovered that someone had been up even earlier.
This has been a pleasant mooring, sandwiched in the V between two railway lines, but sufficiently far from both that they are interesting rather than a nuisance.......

cows to the left and sheep to the right, wide open spaces so a good signal for the tennis
Barney and I walked as far as Tixall Lock (must have my little bit of exercise!)....

......where we saw that the use of furlongs has not completely died out.
en route, Shugborough Hall can be glimpsed through the trees.
After using the Sani point at Anglo Welsh, seen here in the foreground, we reversed off and went under the bridge for a short diversion to see what moorings were available on the Tixal Wide.
Great Haywood Turn

What could be more rural than this
slightly marred by sods law........
we found a suitable spot and even a gap through the trees to point the satelllite dish (tennis again!!)
Geoff does have the (light hearted??) grumble about the tennis but is hardly in a position of superiority with all the wretched football that has been on recently...
Geoff and Barney took off after coffee to walk back to Milford.  
en route they passed what is reputed to be the oldest Wimpy in the country
the rain came back later but by then we were safely tucked up down below
The day could have ended with a beautiful shot of sunset over Tixall Wide......but instead there is this, still beautiful in it's own way though
1.92 miles, 2 locks, 2hrs 30 min(including watering)

Monday, 25 June 2012

Escape from Rugeley

This was supposed to have been the weekend in the Tixall Wide, but fate had decreed otherwise with all things going wrong.  However the sun was shining this morning(still jolly cold!) so after a shop for paper and milk we were off by 0830hrs.  Goodbye Rugeley....
Geoff walked the first part with Barney which was lucky as just a little way along there was a boat adrift across the canal.  He was able to reach the warp that had become untied and pull them in and tie them up again.  The curtains were still drawn when he left so the occupants had no idea they had been rescued!!
When we reached Little Haywood we saw some nice open moorings so decided to stop and it was only coffee time.....that gave me plenty of time to do a few domestic chores and then get settled for the tennis as Wimbledon started today.
I managed to site my chair in the cratch so that I could see the world (and lots of boats ) go by but also watch the TV and the tennis....a delightful way to catch Wimbledon.
I was visited a a swan family so took a while out to photograph them.
Wait for me Mum
If you look closely you can see the baby has hitched a ride with Mum (maybe it's Dad??)
4.17miles, 1 lock, 2 hrs

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sunday in Rugeley

We went to St Augustine's Church in Rugeley this morning.  This was a strange mixture of High Anglican and not so high, robed choir and incense but slightly off-key for really High Church..........anyway we are seeing all sorts from High to Low and all stages in between.

The present Church is a large Victorian edifice seen here viewed from the towpath through the trees
Just opposite is the original much older 11-12th century church or what remains of it
Later we both took the bus to Stafford to visit Maplins to try and sort out our sky the end, with not a very helpful man in there, it turned out to be a fuse gone in the 12V socket!  At least that saved buying a new box......
No Sunday lunch ashore this week as we had eaten out in the week.  Good decision as there was not really a nice looking pub anyway........
Rugeley has all you need but it is not the most enticing of places.....
That is 3 things failed in a couple of more please.....

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Still in Rugeley

A very slow day today for Geoff....I think it must have been something he ate!!!
I was more ambitious out of necessity.  The bus into Stafford conveniently dropped me right outside PC World and it took them no time at all to relieve me of £49.99 for a new mains lead for my computer...I could not believe the price.  I was so shocked I caught the next bus back and avoided all other shops........
More electronic problems followed as we discovered that our SKY box appeared to have given up the ghost.  This was too much for Geoff to cope with in his delicate state!  So plans changed again.....we stay her and tomorrow after church we will both catch the bus to Stafford and this time will be visiting Maplins.
The mooring is quite convenient here and sufficient towpath for Barney to partake of his favourite occupation which is sitting alongside Petroc watching the world go by.   However Geoff was unimpressed yesterday when a lady walking by with a small dog told him off for allowing his dog to be outside unattended.  She said unattended dogs might attack her dog.  I think he replied something to the effect that it was more likely that hers would be doing the attacking...........
We have a reasonable view from Petroc of pretty back gardens but just over a high bank on the other side is this.
Rugeley Power Station
The day was not finished with us yet as we had a phone call later from our caretakers to say that this week's guests had phoned to say one of the beds in our house was broken.......Arghhhhhh!!   Luckily Wayne is very resourceful and also a handyman so a couple of hours later with the aid of some wood and know-how, had effected a repair which he thinks has made the bed stronger than ever before.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Vacillation Day

Will we....won't we..... Plan was 10 ish departure for the short hop to Rugeley to shop and then move on to Tixall Wide....BUT. .. it was pouring with rain yet again so we um'ed and ah'ed, chickened out, so I settled down to do other things, then about 1045 Geoff decided there was a break in the weather so it was down tools and go. We were lucky to reach Rugeley in the dry and even managed the shop almost in the dry. By the time we were almost back at Petroc the rain was with us again. Since the mooring place was perfectly acceptable we decided we had used all our luck for the day and would stay put and have a quiet time...........then fate took a hand...... First of all I had computer problems which I think is the mains lead giving up the ghost, so I was in the midst of googling the closest pc world and the necessary buses to reach there, when a shout was heard. Lo and behold Perintis with Dick and Jill hove into view. On board were also their friends Sue & Tony. There followed an extremely pleasant pre dinner drinks and supper and catching up session. In addition to Dick and Jill's dog Beth, Sue & Tony had their spaniel Stella with whom Barney fell promptly in love. It was quite comical to watch....
1.19 miles, 0 locks, 30 min

Thursday, 21 June 2012

No go day

Forecast foul so decided to stay put. Geoff walked into Rugeley to obtain milk and bread and I did some work. Rain was off and on but we were warm and dry below apart from walking Barney.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Onward again

After our leisurely day yesterday the skipper (Geoff!!) decided we would have one of our early starts.  I was not too sure about this as I am out of the habit, but being a dutiful crew member I was up raring to go and we departed at 7am.........luckily the weather still held so it was too much of a hardship.  I also knew that more torrential rain was probably on the way for the next day and the weekend....where has summer gone......
We had moored before the village in case it was full further along and this proved to be a wise decision.  We had thought we would have to go through 3 locks to the next turning point beyond Wychnor lock but were pleasantly surprised to see a new turning point just after Bagnall Lock so we only had one to go through.
Bagnall Lock looking back to where we moored
As we approached the lock to go down at 7am another boat appeared behind us.  I think they must have been quite disappointed to find someone else up so early.  However as we were turning and coming back up we did not hold them up for long.

Back through Fradley Junction where it remained quiet, unlike two days ago when it was like Piccadilly Circus.......we even managed to get on the sani point so stopped to do all the necessary filling and emptying.
We had no particular goal in mind apart from wanting to be at Tixall Wide for the weekend.   In the event we moored  between Armitage and Brereton or to be more accurate between the Plum Pudding and the Ash Tree pubs!   The skipper wanted to go on the moorings right outside the Plum Pudding but the crew were not keen, too near the road for Barney amongst other the Skipper had a sulk and when we were eventually coming into a better place (in the crews estimation!) he was still cross and so managed to knock off the fender as he stepped ashore with the line......needless to say it promptly sank.....however with his navigators eye he marked the spot and when we were safely moored he managed to retrieve it with the aid of the boat hook. This was lucky for him or the crew might have been cross......

Guess what we passed as we went through Armitage
and he was alongside a permanently moored boat...any guesses???
7.67 miles, 9 locks, 5hrs 05 min

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Leisurely Day in Alrewas

How lucky we are to be able to have these stopover days when we want.  Either because the weather is awful or as now when we are in a lovely place.  We see all these hire boats with people who have paid a fortune for 1 week's holiday.  It does make me wonder if I should forgive them when they go rushing past us without slowing down.............however, having said that, sadly it is not the hire boats who are in the majority who choose to ignore moored boats, it is longer term boaters.  Grrrrrh!!!
This has to be one of the best kept villages one can see.  The canal banks are lined with houses with beautiful gardens

Away from the canal it is the same story, everything looks very neat and tidy.  There are sufficient amenities for our needs in the town, pubs if we want one and also buses.
Below the last lock on the way out the canal briefly joins the River Trent...........................coming in under the bridge on the right
....................but soon rushes away again after just a brief time.

Along the banks are these two delightful resting places.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Detour to Alrewas

After a walk to the village for the paper etc we set off on a reasonably bright sunny rain....shhhh!!

Geoff walked with Barney as far as the junction with the disused Wyrley & Essington canal.  
Our book calls this junction Huddlesford Junction but the sign says differently.
I can't say I fancy his mooring place
the trains are quite frequent...
A little while later I had just gone below when a loud burst of reverse sent me up top again to see what was amisss........however nothing wrong but Geoff has spotted Tickey coming the other way.   Tickey was our previous boat in which we had a quarter share.   We had two delightful years enjoying her whilst we decided whether we could live together peacefully in the narrow confines. We decided we could (well most of the time!!), hence Petroc.  Aboard Tickey were Dick and Libby.  Dick had originally built her and decided to sell off 3 shares as they were underutilising her.
Luckily we were by a suitable bank so after we had both tied up we had a delightful reunion over coffee.
Petroc in the background
We continued on to Fradley junction and it seemed very busy this morning, boats coming every this way and that (slight exaggeration), the junction was also busy.  It is always a good spot for gongoozlers here.  
Our original intention was to turn left but decided on a short detour to Alrewas as it is such a pretty place.  It is also the place to stop to visit the National Arboretum which is well worth a visit.   However we have been twice before so may give it a miss this time.
Moored in sunshine...still no rain...shhhhhh....
6.34 miles, 4 locks, 5hrs 46 min (includes very long coffee stop)