Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Here endeth this years cruising.....very sad

Yesterday Monday was just one of those days when you close everything up and sit out the weather.  However because of Barney we did have to take it in turns to don wet weather gear a couple of times each.

We had also arranged a meet up with Helen and Paul, ex Clifton Cruisers, which was why we had moored close the the Willoughby Bridge.    Of all the days of our summer to choose this was the wettest.  However, intrepid boaters as they were, they braved the rain and walked down the towpath to Petroc where we shared the bottle of bubbly Geoff had bought for our anniversary a few days ago.
We then drove to the Dun Cow at Dunchurch and had a very good meal and a great catch up,

Today dawned dull and still somewhat windy for out last trip of the year but at least the rain had stopped.

Going down our last lock of the year at Hillmorton our 447th this year

So is is farewell for the year, see you all in 2015

Barney says cheerio also
Total distance:6.74 miles 
Elapsed time:3h45m50s 
Average speed:1.26 mph (2.41 lock/mph) 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Weekend in Braunston

In all the times we have been to Braunston we have never set foot on the Gongoozlers Rest but we made up for it this time.

Saturday is the day I normally cook a fullish English but this week we let the Gongoozlers cafe do the work  and it was well worth it.   We both ordered the large breakfast and only towards the end of eating it did we realise there was an even larger one called the Gongoozlers Breakfast.     So the decision was taken to stay over a day and not head for the country as we were on a 48 hour mooring. 
We both managed the gargantuan plateful on Sunday morning,although I saved my black pudding to take home for Barney!   

Afterwards we walked up to Braunston Church and joined them for their Family Service.   The vicar had a problem with her microphone so I struggled to hear what she was saying.   Either my hearing is getting worse or could it be that people now longer enunciate properly??

We declined the offer of coffee and cake (still full) as we wanted to move out today instead of tomorrow.  The forecast for Monday is dire so we thought we would get settled in a quiet spot and sit it out.    

I turned Petroc at the marina entrance whilst Geoff went to empty the rubbish

We seem to generate an inordinate amount of rubbish, a lot of which is all the food wrappings that are used nowadays.

We are moored a couple of miles out from Baunston and there are a couple of other boats here now but what has been so surprising is the number of boats who have gone past,  in both directions.   More traffic than we have seen all summer........

Total distance:1.92 miles 
Elapsed time:0h54m39s 
Average speed:2.11 mph (2.11 lock/mph) 

Friday, 10 October 2014

A beautiful day

Well it was rather chilly and the wind was still blowing although not as hard as yesterday BUT the sky was blue and it was one of those beautiful mornings on the canal.   However we did not have far to go.
Braunston Church was soon coming into view
and then Braunston Junction

The church peeping out 
Still blue sky
The cloud did build up later in the day but it stayed dry for us to go up into the village to shop.  One of our purchases was two ginormous pork chops from the butcher.   We were fortunate to get on one of the 48 hour moorings close to the marina entrance.  We deliberated about whether to stay after shopping or go out into the country but I fancied trying the Gongoozlers Boat for breakfast tomorrow as a treat.........so we stayed.....

We also found the Round House open for the first time.  It was manned by a CRT volunteer who told us they tried to keep it open for most days of the week, all with volunteers.   Barney did well as she was a dog lover and kept biscuits there.

Total distance:1.84 miles 
Elapsed time:1h16m49s 
Average speed:0.56 mph (0.56 lock/mph) 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The wind did blow

It was certainly windy this morning but most importantly it was not raining, in fact it was a nice morning.
 a fair bit of blue sky but we did wonder how long it would last.
Barney and I walked to the Calcutt Locks which we ascended in splendid isolation.   No lock buddies around, maybe it was to do with the time of day....it was only 9am when we started on our way up.   Once again using only one paddle they are quite gentle.

The billowing of Geoff's coat reflects the strength of the wind as we approach Napton junction.
I think all the marinas in this area must suffer from the wind.....Ventnor Farm, Calcutt and Wigrams Turn.

After turning left at the junction our goal was moorings after bridge 101....the question was would we reach there before the rain.......

We were lucky, although the wind increased the rain still did not come, and by the time it did we were snugly tied up and down below.   A steady stream of boats in both directions have passed us all day.

Total distance:5.37 miles 
Elapsed time:2h10m41s
Average speed:2.47 mph (3.84 lock/mph) 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

To go or not to go

It was one of those days.   The forecast was now not as bad as they said last night and in addition Thursday which they said would be good, now looked not so good!!!!
So we decided to walk across the fields to the shop for a few things and make a decision on our return.......it rained well on us whilst we were out so it was nearly a 'no go' but once back at the boat there was a glimpse of blue sky so what the heck we decided to go.....
One is spoilt for choice of pubs in this area.......Two Boats on one side
The Cuttle Inn on the other side
and two locks up you have The Blue Lias
and in the village there are 3 more I think!  Spoilt for choice but we had food on board so apart from a drink last night at the Two Boats we did not avail ourselves of any of them.

No locking buddies today and we only met one boat on the way down.   However the rain held off for all 10 of the locks and only started again when we were in the middle of mooring up just a short distance beyond the top lock.   It was a pleasant and relative easy run up by just using one paddle in each lock it saved Geoff's efforts and I didn't get banged around......

Total distance:2.37 miles 
Elapsed time:2h27m17s 
Average speed:0.96 mph (5.04 lock/miles

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Long Itchington

Geoff started the day gaining lots of Brownie points.  I awoke to find a card, a bottle of bubbly and 3 of my favourite chocolate bars of the moment.............Guess who had forgotten it was our 42nd wedding anniversary??  My only excuse is that I was so intent on remembering it was grandson Oscars 4th birthday........

With not much hope of a locking buddy we were pleasantly surprised to see a boat behind us as we rose in the first lock.   So we waited for them and managed two together but we then had to stop at the sani station.  We needed water as it had been a week since our last fill up so knowing it would take at least 1/2 an hour we sadly told them to carry on.  The sani station was a pleasant surprise.  last time we came through here, the elsan point was quite disgusting......lo and behold there is a brand new one!

Our luck held as a boat went past just as we were finishing so we were able to team up again for the rest of the locks to Long Itchington.  He was a single hander who was extremely nimble, running along his roof and swinging himself up to the lock side.......Geoff reckoned he might have been the same about 20 years ago!!

Plenty of mooring here but only mooring rings for about two boats and we lucked in again.......

We took ourselves off to the Two Boats pub before supper to have a celebration drink.    Instead of my normal 1/2 of cider I decided to have a Bombay Sapphire & Tonic...really pushing the boat out!

Forecast for tomorrow not good so may have to stay a day.

Total distance:4.94 miles 
Elapsed time:4h31m0s 

Average speed:1.09 mph (3.31 lock/mph)

Monday, 6 October 2014

The day the rains came down

Well we were warned.  So no travelling for us today.  Instead I had a great day on my computer doing some housekeeping and caught up with some of Giles accounts.
Guess what Geoff was doing

To be fair he did also take Barney for a couple of walks.......as did I.    
The forecast for tomorrow is slightly better but worse again on Wednesday, so we shall move on hoping to reach Long Itchington tomorrow.....just a few locks to do.   Unfortunately we will be going up and they are wide locks.   Although there are quite a few boats moored here now I doubt if we will be lucky enough to find a locking partner at the time Geoff wants to depart!!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Weekend in Radford Semele

Saturday morning dawn

The forecast for Saturday was for rain but at the early hour we were up and about there was no sign of it.........   but it didn't take long to appear.  So I settled down to do a few VAT returns.....as you do......
By late morning there were signs of improvement so I took myself off on the bus to Leamington for a bit of a mooch around.  

When Geoff took Barney for his early morning walk on Sunday he reported that Autumn had definitely arrived......even a slight hint of ice around. 

Dawn on Sunday
St Nicholas Church peeping through
 I snuggled down when I heard those words.......Church was not until 10.30 so plenty of time for it to warm up.
and it did warm up, plenty of blue sky and sunshine
We went up to the service of Holy Communion at St Nicholas.   Last year when we came through (not on a Sunday) I went to see the restoration work but Geoff missed it, so he was interested to see what they had done.  The church was almost gutted due to an arson attack in 2008.  Click on the link above to see.  It is a fantastic feat of restoration, the only part I find sad it that they cannot leave the church open during the week.

Restored St Nicholas
The outside belies the inside which is very modern and really quite beautiful, albeit in a very different way.

Later we walked up to the village again to go to the White Lion for lunch.   This is a Chef and Brewer and the menu looked inviting.   Unfortunately outward appearances were a little deceptive.  Although not a complete disaster the meal left something to be desired.  My Pork Belly had a very soggy top and their second attempt was no better.  There also seems to be a breakdown in communication in the kitchen as the service was very slow.   Still we were not in a rush so we went with the flow.........but it very difficult in these circumstances to know what to reply when they ask if everything was alright with the meal.....I don't think they really expect any other reply than 'lovely thank you'....well they were disappointed today!!

Back to Petroc for a last sit in the sun...the forecast for all next week is wind and rain.......our good luck is about to change I feel.

Friday, 3 October 2014

The two faces of Leamington Spa

Two short hops today.  First one was to position ourselves at the bottom of the town so I could walk up and find a hairdresser.  The moorings are OK but the first part of the walk is through a grotty end of town where the streets were full of litter.   However I knew that I would eventually reach the better part.   The centre of the town has wide streets, many tree lined and lots of Georgian buildings....the litter did not seem so apparent either!
One impediment on the way...he did move and we managed to squeeze through
The second short trip took us out into our destination at Radford Semele, nicely out in the country. Only a couple of boats there so we had a good choice of places.

Total distance:2.23 miles 
Elapsed time:1h04m50s 
Average speed:2.11 mph (2.11 lock/mph) 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Where does Warwick end and Leamington Spa begin

A gentle start to the day as we were not going far.   This stretch of the canal does not see much of Warwick and Leamington certainly turns it's back on the canal.    However we stopped to shop at Tescos which I think was Tesco Warwick and then carried on a little to see if there was space to moor by Lidl...must be Leamington now!   There was almost enough space for us to squeeze on by using a stake for the rear line.   There are 4 other boats moored here but no sign of any bodies on them.   However neither is there a mooring limit notice so it is obviously all up for grabs.

Boat of the day
Geoff walked into Leamington and back to find a barber....he is now much sprucer!   I plan the same tomorrow morning but I shall take the bus, at least one way.

Total distance:2.87 miles 
Elapsed time:3h13m16s 
Average speed:0.89 mph (1.82 lock/mph) 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Luck at Hatton

Wonderful layover day on Tuesday, in a sunny secluded spot.
We had company on Monday evening, but not a soul on Tuesday night.   The sun shone and it was pleasantly warm.   It was just a couple of miles to the top of the Hatton Flight

We set off about 7.30 but there was no danger of queue at the flight as there are so few boats around.  We were hoping to meet at least one boat with whom we could share the locks.   We stopped at the top to water etc and it looked as though we would be unlucky.  Lo and behold just as we finished watering a diddy CRT aluminium boat appeared, together with it's two man crew.

As we were in the first lock two volunteers also appeared and then wonder of wonders as we were in the 3rd lock two more volunteers appeared.  It was our lucky day.

Half way down we met a single boat on the way up and two of the volunteers carried on with him but we were still on a roll!   We had a slight pause whilst I made them all a cup of coffee and then we made a cracking pace until the last 3 locks when we picked up a pair ahead of us.  There must have been moored part way down.....One was a hire boat and they didn't seem to be in the swing of preparing the lock ahead so progress slowed a little.
We decided to moor before the last lock just opposite the station and gave heartfelt thanks to our cheery volunteers and CRT staff.   How lucky can you get?  The 20 locks had taken us just under 2 1/2 hours

Total distance:4.96 miles 
Elapsed time:3h59m12s
Average speed:1.24 mph (6.26 lock/mph) 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Lapworth Locks......not a layover day!

Having taken Barney for his early morning stroll I settled myself back in bed with my cup of tea all prepared for a nice lie in ......................................WRONG.   Geoff decided that we should push on and do the Lapworth locks today.  So being the obedient crew that I am we were away by 8.30.
I even said I would do the first lifting bridge which was a mistake as it was very stiff and took far too many turns to lift the tiddly little bridge.
Unfortunately a boat moored ahead of us had left even earlier so all the locks were against us.  Still they are in a nice setting and still single locks.  The possibility of a shower spoken of in the forecast did not appear and it is still incredibly mild.  In fact we have had several very warm days recently.
We met a couple of boats coming up which makes passing in some of the short pounds quite interesting.
After 13 locks we moored below lock 33 where there are 48 hour moorings as I wanted to visit the canal shop nearby.  I was also in need of my morning cup of coffee.  The shop also sells home made cakes and I bought us a piece each which sadly has to be kept until tomorrow as today is one of our 2 days (doing the 5 and 2 diet!)
The moorings are not unpleasant and I casually suggested we call it a day as it was about 12.30 by then but no luck...Geoff was determined to carry on.

and so to the last lock, our 19th of the day
We pulled across to use the sani station where we had to wait for someone to finish.   A reverse out of there and onward we went and turned onto the Grand Union.   If we had had more time it would have been nice to carry straight on down to Stratford but that will have to wait for another year.

Once we were round the corner I was sent to sit in my preferred position in the bow to watch the world go by.   Geoff had a mooring place in mind which we reached after about 3/4 of an hour.  Quite up to our standard....lovely and open, not hemmed in by trees.  


Total distance:4.1 miles 
Elapsed time:5h35m40s 
Average speed:1.05 mph (3.61 lock/mph) 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Hockley Heath

Geoff assured me that the walk to the church at Hockley Heath was not far, but that depends on ones interpretation of 'NOT FAR'...It was about a mile so by the time I had walked a mile back I decreed that I could not walk another mile for my lunch at the pub.......so we moved Petroc onto the visitor moorings which ware adjacent to the pub.  The lunch at the Wharf was OK apart from the Yorkshire puddings.  They shattered when you tried to cut into them...  much to Geoff;s dismay I complained so they brought me a replacement eventually.......that one was like rubber......

To add insult to injury Emma sent me a picture of the ones she made for their dinner

After lunch we moved again..Geoff was determined to find somewhere in the open, not a lot of choice as the canal was very tree lined.  However we eventually found somewhere reasonable about a mile before the start of the Lapworth locks.....and there was talk of a layover day tomorrow.  Mind you there had been talk of this since Friday and it hasn't appeared yet.

Total distance:0.59 miles    (Journey to the pub for lunch)
Elapsed time:0h21m14s 
Average speed:1.66 mph (1.66 lock/mph)

Total distance:0.68 miles 
Elapsed time:0h29m8s 
Average speed:1.40 mph (1.40 lock/mph)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

A much longer day than we bargained for.

We decide to beat an early retreat from Birmingham as it was all gearing up for the Conservative Party Conference.   After a bit of reversing from our mooring spot we gently meandered through Gas Street basin.  There were quite a few security guards in evidence behind the ICC centre just over on our left

spot the security guard!
Parts of the towpath blocked off

Somewhat quieter this morning than it was last night!
Once were were clear of the town Barney and I alighted for our morning perambulations.  An incredible amount of resurfacing has been done along a very long stretch of the towpath.  The railway runs alongside for some miles.

 There are convenient moorings for a couple of boats at Selly Oak which we availed ourselves of to nip up to Sainsburys
This boat apparently belongs to Birmingham Uni and is Hydrogen powered.
Classy Graffiti
Kings Norton and what used to be a lock with guillotine gates at both ends.
We had thought we might moor at Warstock but when we saw the visitors mooring we abandoned that idea.   As with most of this stretch it was tree lined and gloomy....admittedly the sun was not shining.  By now we had picked up what must have been the slowest boat (hire boat) on the system.   After following him for about 3/4 hour we managed to pass him, although we were not sure if he had put himself in the bushes by accident or by design so we could get past.  ( 3 hours later he passed our mooring and a boat behind him told Geoff he had been following him for an hour and a half!)

We continued to have no luck in finding a decent mooring, so Saturdays brunch was abandoned and we had sausage sandwiches instead whilst we carried on.....

We saw very little signs of habitation and it was all quite drear so I occupied myself with a little boatwork(just like housework but it doesn't take as long).

As we passed Dickens Heath, out of the blue was this huge block of apartments.   Straight afterwards we were back to countryside

The central white steps have water cascading down
Eventually just before Hockley heath we found a short bit of piling that was reasonably in the open, but not quite up to our expected standard of mooring!   Still it was past Geoff's siesta time so we decided to call it a day.

Total distance:14.65 miles  (Too far)

 Elapsed time:6h20m40s   (Too long)


Average speed:2.31 mph (2.47 lock/mph)

Friday, 26 September 2014

Into the big city of Birmingham

We decided to fore go the exploration of the Dudley No 2 canal as we wanted to be in Birmingham early enough to have a look around so we could depart early on the Saturday morning.

View from our mooring at Bumble Hole Bridge
Lovely bridges on this stretch.....all similar so they must have come as job lot!
No early walk for Barney and I as the Netherton Tunnel was just around the corner.    At over 3000yards it is about a half hour transit but dead straight and you can see the far end as soon as you enter.  I occupied myself down below needless to say.

There are then long straight stretches with a good towpath either side so Barney and I were able to hop off.  
Passing under the M5
wonderful aqueduct
Eventually we reached the centre of Birmingham and made for the sani station just outside Cambrian Wharf.   We were hoping to find a mooring space in there but it was chock a bloc.    The mooring signs are confusing in there.   There is a sign that says long term and visitor moorings, and another one that says 14 days.  But alongside what seems to be the 14 day spaces there is painted a sign saying private mooring.  There is only room for about 2, maybe 3 boats there anyway and it was all academic as there was no space.  Three of the boats on the 14 day/permanent moorings had CRT warning notices on and no sign of any bodies aboard.  So we turned round (not that easy as it is quite tight) and came out and took one of free spaces just back along a bit.   There was not a lot of choice, more boats than we have seen for a while.  

I took myself off to town after lunch and became quite lost.  I eventually found the Bull Ring Shopping Centre where I was searching for the EE shop.  How I arrived there I had no idea and by the time I found my way back to Petroc I was fit to drop.   Still, a couple of hours rest and I was fit to go out to the Mail Box area for drinks and a meal.

Whilst having our pre dinner glass of wine this party boat pulled up outside, and shortly afterwards filled up with a couple of dozen people intent on a good time, they pulled away and we wondered how far they were taken.
Afterwards we went to COTE for our meal and had their Early Bird 3 course menu for 11.99 which was excellent(You have to be seated before 7pm)

and so back to Petroc 
We shall depart early tomorrow, we have managed to hit Birmingham on the eve of the Conservative Party Conference!!

Total distance:9.2 miles 
Elapsed time:4 hours