Thursday, 28 April 2016

Short trip to Diglis

On Tuesday I caught the train back to Rugby to collect our car.  On return we checked in with Tony at Grist Mill boatyard where Petroc is going for her facelift.

The place we chose to moor turned out to be not the most a few sharp showers last night have left Petroc dirtier than ever by throwing up all the mud from alongside us!  In addition we have some large muddy footprints on the roof..........and we didn't hear a thing!!!!

Luckily by Wednesday morning all the rain had gone and we had a sunny run down the river and up the two big locks into Diglis basin.
We managed to moor as close as possible to the boat yard where she is going to have a facelift........a paint job and the windows all out to treat the damp patches.

So for us it is back to Cornwall for a few weeks.........with a bit of luck by the time we return the weather may have warmed up a little

Total distance:1.14 miles 
Elapsed time:1h4m32s 
Average speed:1.06 mph (2.92 lock/mph) 

Monday, 25 April 2016

Worcester by the racecourse

Nesting marauding male in evidence
We left our idyllic mooring about 9am, chilly but no rain.....yet.   Barney and I had our early morning stroll whilst Geoff motored on.  The 8 locks taking us down to the river Severn are all in peaceful countryside.   At the 3rd before the end the lady who lives in the cottage very kindly came to help.   She let Geoff embark and closed the paddles and gate for kind.

I should mention that all the locks were set against us and were very slow to fill so it was a very slow cruise down.   After all the boats we had seen going through Droitwich at the weekend we met not a single one.

As we left the last lock we phoned ahead to the lockeeper at our only river lock of the day and confirmed that the river levels were OK.  It was on with the lifejackets and we were on a river again, albeit on for a short while.   We then passed our first boat of the day.

Then came the rain just as we started down the river.   A particularly heavy shower as we were approaching the lock.....nothing to do but endure!!!!

There was plenty of room at the racecourse moorings, only one other boat moored there. 
Total distance:9.23 miles 
Elapsed time:4h28m39s 
Average speed:2.06 mph (4.07 lock/mph) 


Sunday, 24 April 2016

Weekend in Droitwich

Idyllic mooring
We came via Droitwich as the forecast for the weekend was not good and it seemed to be a better place to be stuck than on the outskirts of Worcester.

In the event we had cold but lovely weather with a good deal of sunshine.  We had to move a little way along from our first delightful mooring spot as Geoff could not obtain a TV picture!

We have luckily chosen the right weekend for our visit as they have a gathering here next weekend and we think mooring space will be scarce.   There are already notices going up saying mooring fact we are sitting on one!!

It is delightful to see that this canal, which was only restored and reopened in 2011, is being well used.  On Saturday there was a steady stream of boats passing through.  We are in the middle of 3 swing bridges and at one stage there were 5 boats nose to tail waiting to go through.  More traffic than we have seen anywhere else!   4 of the boats were the bright yellow Viking cruisers(or whatever the company is called now)

Vine park where we are moored is well kept with plenty of rubbish bins, recycling bins and Dog Poo disposal bins.    Barney approves of the situation as he can sit out alongside the boat and observe all the goings on.....plenty of dogs to see.

We are just hoping that we have not used up all the good weather as we must move on down to Worcester tomorrow.   The forecast is not brilliant.

We are just a swing bridge away from Waitrose and the town with a good variety of shops.
Some of the building in the older part of the town
We went to St Andrews Church this morning where the very uneven flooring bears witness to the salt era for which Droitwich is known.   Subsidence has taken it's toll!

We also visited the Gardeners Arms pub for lunch conveniently situated just a stones throw from our mooring.    We ate here on our last visit and it was well worth revisiting.   I was unable to do justice to a dessert after an excellent Sunday roast so about 6pm I made a return visit for my second course!!!   Geoff declined to join me......

Friday, 22 April 2016

Droitwich Spa

A gentle run down the 3 remaining Astwood locks on a cold grey day....but DRY!!!!

Protective Father
The first of the Droitwich Canal locks come just after the turn and we were fortunate to have no less than three volunteers to help us down the first 3........what an idle life for me on the tiller.

A pair and a single followed and then the dreaded low bridge under the M6

A steady stream of traffic above
Will we fit???
We touched the test bar!!!
But we fitted under!!
Two more locks and then we were at Vine park in the centre of Droitwich.  Barge Lock just before the centre is the first of the double locks.   It was a real pain as there is a swing bridge over it which has to be opened and neither of the gates would open fully so Geoff did a lot of walking from side to side and I squeezed in the middle.

We saw a lovely spot by the park just after the bridge so decided to moor there instead of going onto the pontoons in the central area.  There is a boat moored ahead of us and no signs to say we cannot moor here and it is much nicer for Barney.  Last time we were here and on the pontoons it took him quite a while to summon up the courage to come off the boat onto the unstable side.   It is also much closer for shopping.

So here we will stay for the weekend.  We have checked ahead and the Severn levels are OK.  Weather permitting we will do the run down to Worcester on Monday.

Total distance:3.27 miles 
Elapsed time:3h25m54s 
Average speed:0.95 mph (4.16 lock/mph) 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Yet more locks

The Stoke flight and the Astwood flight were the goal today.   In fact Geoff had a bigger goal than me.   We have decided to go via Droitwich and the Severn as Droitwich Spa seems like a better place for the weekend.  Geoff had designs on reaching there today, but after the first few locks I decided that after 29 yesterday, another 20 today would be too much.   So after a little bit of grumbling( it is a male thing!) we found a very congenial spot in the middle of the Astwood flight.  Lovely countryside and great view, even some sunshine to sit out in for a while.  Sadly thin cloud slowly built up and I was driven indoors but it was good whilst it lasted............we hear the promise of colder weather again for the weekend........
Total distance:2.40 miles 
Elapsed time:2h20m42s 
Average speed:1.03 mph (4.86 lock/mp

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Tardebigge Phew!!!!

Only 30 locks difference between these two notices!!!  However our guide book is correct, one needs to embrace them and not fear them.   We had a lovely sunny day, albeit chilly at times and once we had a good routine going between the two of us we were able to enjoy them to the full.   Mind you we were slightly jaded by the time we reached the bottom lock after 4 hours.   Exactly four hours from entering lock 57 ( we had done lock 58 yesterday so really only 29 today) to exiting the bottom lock.

Whoever lives in this lock side cottage must be an amateur radio buff....
unless he has trouble receiving a TV signal!!
The Queens Head pub lies at the bottom of the locks and I decided that we had earned a look at their 2 for 1 Pizza's (before 7pm) instead of cooking.   Accordingly we paid a visit there early evening for a drink and we hoped a meal.  We were nearly out of luck as it proved to be an extremely popular place.   Every table in the dining room was booked, something which it had not occurred to us to do on a week night.  All the bar tables were full except for  one small table for 2 in not the best position....but .....any port in a storm!   The pizzas were excellent as was the service so can thoroughly recommend the pub (Pizzas are not the only thing available)

So Tardebigge has been done, we have only done it once before and that was in the opposite direction.   WE only met 3 boats on the way up.   We were the first of the day down but later 2 more joined us at the moorings.  Not exactly Piccadilly Circus in this neck of the woods.

Total distance:2.12 miles 
Elapsed time:4h19m29s 
Average speed:0.49 mph (6.96 lock/mph)

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Tunnels and Sunshine

No less than 3 tunnels today!!!  The first one, Wast Hill Tunnel, was 1/2 long.   I measure tunnels by the time Barney and I are incarcerated below and I am not sure which of us dislikes them the most.

However I was just a tad braver this time as I went forward to take a couple of pictures.   We only passed two boats all day in the other direction and both of those were in Wast Hill tunnel.   It is wide enough for 2 boats.....just.....
Boat approaching, very difficult to judge how far away
Getting closer
By the time we emerged from the tunnel the weather was warming up and it was a very pleasant run.

I has called ahead to both Alvechurch Marina and Anglo Welsh at Tardebigge to check availability and price of their diesel and of course the ability to declare our own split.  We couldn't believe the difference in price.  79p at Alvechurch and 65p at Anglo Welsh.  Needless to say we gave Alvechurch the big swerve!  It proved to be such a wise choice.  Admittedly we had arrived on one of their quieter days but the 2 members of staff were not only helpful but quite delightful.   The dragged their big hose along for us for water and when I had bagged up the rubbish one of them took it from me and deposited it in the really enhances ones day when people are so welcoming and helpful.  I chatted to one of them, remarking that anyone who hired a boat from them situated where they are, are then faced with a long tunnel in one direction or 2 tunnels and 36 locks in the other, before there is any chance of a leisurely time.  He told me that most of the boats going in the Birmingham direction (long tunnel) are stag or hen parties.  When I enquired about the state of the boats on return he pulled a face.  He had one recently where they had broken the toilet, broken the sink and emptied the contents of the BBQ into the sink!!  It took him all day to sort the boat out.

The next two tunnels were somewhat shorter thankfully.

Tardebigge tunnel was next and then mooring up for the night whilst we gather strength to tackle 30 locks tomorrow.   Lovely views up here.

Even blue sky
Total distance:8.51 miles 
Elapsed time:3h40m15s 
Average speed:2.32 mph (2.59 lock/mph)

The map shows nicely where we are with the M5 and M42 showing.  Sometimes friends with whom I am speaking on the phone ask me where we are.  Some of the places I name which seem so familiar to us mean absolutely nothing to them.  At least today I could say we are south of the M42 and not far from Bromsgrove!!

Monday, 18 April 2016

no locks today, but no sunshine either.

We must have used up our sunshine ration yesterday.   Today dawned bleak and cold again, however we must look on the bright wasn't raining!
This strange block of flats with steps cascading down to the canal
is at Dickens Heath 
A couple of lifting bridges today,
but this one was easy as it was electric.
So far this year the towpaths have been appallingly muddy so when we came across
 this beautifully tarmacked one Barney and I hopped off the boat for a decent walk.
 However a little further along we met diggers and workmen
who told me the towpath was closed!!!   So back on the boat for us.
They are making this expensive path all the way to the junction at Kings must be for cyclists!
Just before the junction is what used to be a lock.
Just the guillotine gate is left
and this tells us why.
If we had turned right here we would have been on our way to Birmingham, but not for us this time.

Left hand down and Worcester here we come.........
We moored just after the junction, only one other boat here so we could pick our spot.

No locks tomorrow again, just one of my bete-noirs......a tunnel and a very long one, about 1/2 an hour.

Plenty of locks ahead though as we have the 30 locks of Tardebigge to do, probably on Wednesday so if any friends are feeling energetic just give us a call!!!

Total distance:10.67 miles 
Elapsed time:4h27m34s 
Locks:1  (and that was open......)
Average speed:2.39 mph (2.62 lock/mph) 

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Lapworth in the sunshine

....and not a drop of rain all day

One of Geoff's favourite pastimes......gossipping at the locks!
Well that was a much better day......the promised frost was there at 7.30 when I took Barney for his first walk but the sun was also there so it was very pleasant.

Lots of sun all day and 19 locks completed!!  We were slightly tired to say the least when we moored just before Hockley Heath at 2pm.   However the thought of not having to cook was enticing so we walked another 3/4 of a mile to the Wharf pub at Hockley Heath and partook of their Sunday Roast.
By the time we had walked back to Petroc we were completely done it something to do with ones advancing years???
Total distance:5.56 miles 
Elapsed time:4h54m48s
Average speed:1.13 mph (5.00 lock/mph)

Saturday, 16 April 2016

On the move again

Company today
After a week at Saltisford Canal Trust Centre we are on the move again.  The delay was because I had a reunion to attend in Salisbury and I managed to fit in a night with Emma.   
The return journey was via one of Giles' kitchens (to persuade me that it was what I wanted in my new granny annexe)to dinner to celebrate ( just a few days late) Geoffs birthday.

It was an excellent stop off at Saltisford and wonder why we have never been in there before.   The place is beautifully kept and Ian who seems to run everything was extremely helpful.. The place is very clean and has a good laundry.

Friday was departure day but the weather decided otherwise..........also Giles decided he could come back on Saturday and give a hand up the locks.   So we decided to wait another day which was quite fortuitous as another boat came in and also wanted to go up Hatton on the Saturday.   John and Sue on (cannot remember the name of the boat.....shall have to ask Geoff when he wakes up in the morning).

We arranged a 9am departure but it was still pouring with rain so we had a delay.  None of us had any desire to start the day by getting soaking wet.......however by 9.30 things were looking up so we were off and in the first lock by 0945.    By lock 5 a volunteer appeared and gave us a hand all the way to the top.   We stopped by the garage above lock 7 for Geoff to buy a couple of jerry cans of fuel.  It has been so cold we have had the heating on more than usual and there are no fuel barges around and the next filling place is some way ahead.

By the time we reached the 20th lock Giles and the grandsons arrived!!!  So much for help up the locks.   However it was lovely to see them 

A visit to the cafe ensued whilst Geoff had a much needed siesta!   Later we moved on a little way and the boys took turns driving Petroc........
Giles had brought his running shoes so managed his exercise for the day by running back to fetch the car.

After their departure Geoff and I collapsed!!  21 locks and a 7 and 5 year old are quite tiring.......

Total distance:2.49 miles
Elapsed time:3h56m34s
Average speed:0.63 mph (5.96 lock/mph) 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

To the Saltisford Canal Trust

We had checked ahead and discovered that there was room for us to moor at the Saltisford Arm Canal Trust Centre, so after a leisurely start on Saturday (and a cooked breakfast!)  we meandered gently past the back end of Leamington Spa and Warwick.   There is no indication of where one town stops and the other begins.  For the most part it was a lovely morning albeit still a little chilly.
We stopped to shop briefly at Lidls as they sell the chocolate Geoff likes!!  A slightly longer shop at Tescos to stock up for Geoff whilst I am away next week.
En route there are several places to moor but where there are rings it is not so salubrious and where it is nicer there are no rings and no means of getting stakes in to tie up to,

We squeezed past Kate Boats, just......with boats moored 3/4 abreast it was a close call......

The rain started just as we reached the first of the two Cape locks...sods law......

However we managed to get into Saltisford after after turning at the end of the arm we are moored right outside the office.   Electricity and water alongside.  It is really lovely in here, the grounds are beautifully kept and scrupulously clean.  Why have we never been in here before??

On Sunday we walked up to town to the church which is huge and had a lovely Choral Communion service.....this was another first as in all the times we have come this way we have never walked into Warwick itself before.  Originally Giles was coming up to take us out to lunch for Geoff's birthday but Geoff has now developed my cold....cannot think why because it has not departed from me yet!!!
But that has been postponed in the hope that he feels better by Thursday.   Giles will now drive me back from my visit to London and we will do dinner instead........we hope......

London and Salisbury here we come tomorrow....well at least I do.

Total distance:4.66 miles 
Elapsed time:6h19m43s
Average speed:0.74 mph (1.05 lock/mph) 

Friday, 8 April 2016

So much for weather forecasts!

Feels and looks more like Autumn than Spring
The bare rushes seemingly standing sentinel along the bank
We decided to stay put on Thursday as not only was it wet and cold but also very windy.  The forecast said Friday would be much better with sunny intervals, less wind and maybe the occasional shower.
Well they were correct about the wind!   

There were very few boats around, so no chance of sharing locks.   We did meet one as we reached the Bascote 4 and we did share in the staircase up, one down.

After the 4, Geoff decided to ride between locks as the towpaths were very muddy.  We made it as far as the facilities just before lock 21 before the rain came.  This was not one of the 'occasional showers' we had been promised but very wet prolonged rain.  With no option but to carry on we just stood and got wet!   The expression.....IF YOU CANT TAKE A JOKE YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE JOINED ' came to mind.

Geoff decided to walk with Barney from the last lock to the moorings at Radford Semele which was our goal but was thwarted when he encountered a roosting swan on her nest with Dad patrolling the towpath very purposefully.  A passing cyclist also had to turn back....we would have given him a lift past the swans but he had a large muddy bicycle........and he did have an alternative route through the village.

Eventually moored up and retreated below to divest ourselves of a lot of soggy clothing.......good job the water was hot for showers.   We had our pick of places as there is not another boat in sight.

Total distance:5.23 miles 
Elapsed time:5h6m8s 
Average speed:1.03 mph (2.99 lock/mph) 

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Long Itchington and a new inverter

....and a reduced bank balance!!!!

Tuesday was a bright but cold day as we set off from Braunston after watering etc.  At Calcutt locks we caught up with the new hire boat Kate from Clifton and shared the last two locks with the 3 ladies who were aboard.   Another 10 locks at Stockton saw us into Long Itchington soon after lunch.   We would normally have carried on through the first two bridges and moored on the nice long straight stretch, but with the hope of a visit from Clifton the next day we stayed closer to the pub car park.

I am still coughing well and not quite back to normal.......we were a couple of old crocks on Tuesday with my cold and cough and Geoff suffering with his back....out of practice with lock wheeling!

However Wednesday early afternoon saw Rob and Chris arrive with our new inverter.   So we hope it is all systems go again........

Onward tomorrow, gently making for the Saltisford Arm and the Canal Trust Centre there.  They say they have room for us to moor for a few days whilst I head off to London and Salisbury for a reunion.  I can catch a train from Warwick Parkway station conveniently.

Total distance:9.43 miles
 Elapsed time:5h9m50s 
Average speed:1.83 mph (4.15 lock/mph) 

Monday, 4 April 2016

Waiting at Braunston

Today was an enforced layover day as we awaited the diagnosis on our inverter.

The morning was enlivened by a coffee meet up at the Gongoozlers Cafe.

An unidentified piece of canal equipment gave Bones pause to ponder
whilst Maffi looked on giving not a lot of advice!
Early afternoon Rob called with the sad news that our inverter was quite sick.    We had feared as much, so it is bite the bullet and have a new one.   Midland Chandlers say they will have it it by Wednesday morning and Clifton will fit it for us the same day.   So onward we go tomorrow, we hope as far as Long Itchington where there is easy access for them to reach us and still not far from Rugby.
The joys of owning a boat!!!!

Meanwhile back at the ranch, building work on our Granny Annexe has commenced....or rather the demolition of garage and sheds has commenced prior to building.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

A fall at the first fence

What did I say about everything being fixed on Petroc!!!

Braunston Turn
Early Friday afternoon our 240V electricity failed.........the inverter had packed up had been back to the factory over the winter to be repaired and we thought all was well.    Needless to say, himself was most unamused.   He thought it was his fault as he didn't realise the microwave was on and he switched the kettle on.   However we have had both on numerous times before with no problem.

A call back to Rob at Clifton resulted in Chris coming out a bit later to see if he could diagnose the problem.     No Luck but after consulting with Rob a new smaller inverter was brought from Midland Chandlers and fitted by Chris as a temporary measure with the promise that Rob will try and get ours going back at Clifton after the weekend.  At least we have the essentials (like Geoff's electronic cigarettes!!) but no washing machine, hair dryer etc.  However we were so grateful to Clifton for getting us up and running.

Whilst Chris was fitting it we disappeared to the Boat House to meet up with Helen, Paul, Victoria and James where we had a good catching up session.

During the night I was still pondering why the inverter had suddenly decided to pack in when I had a blinding flash....had we switched the immersion heater off before we left Clifton and mains power?????    The short answer was no, we  (or do I mean I ) had not.    This seems a likely explanation......the only question now is whether it is fixable or whether we are in for more unexpected expense......  We will wait for Monday.

Saturday we discovered that Maffi was here with the Milly M & Molly.  Barney was very gentlemanly when Maffi came for a cup of tea in allowing Molly to take over his bed.  Another catch up as we had not met for a couple of years.

My Saturday walk found this nifty gateway for Barney
All looks quiet here but in fact there are a lot of boats around this weekend.
Sunday we had a leisurely morning before church at All Saints.  Always an enjoyable service here as the Reverend Sarah is such an enthusiastic person........mind you it didn't stop me nodding off during her sermon but I put that down to my cold which I cannot shake off....Geoff had to dig me in the ribs.
At one stage I thought I would have to leave as I began to cough.......

We had intended to move on after church but it seems wise to stay here until we see what can be done for our electrics.  We are close to Midland Chandlers and easily accessible for Rob or Chris to do whatever needs to be done.

Friday, 1 April 2016


Well were are off.........a day earlier than planned.

Petroc was ready and waiting for us on Wednesday, thank to Rob and team.  Moored conveniently where we could unload.....this is the bit we both dislike........the unpacking bit!

Having said all was ready for us......we then discovered that the heating was not working.   Since it was only March it was a bit necessary.   Rob scratched his head over it for a while but eventually diagnosed a seized compressor.   He changed that for a reconditioned one(new ones are 3 times the price) and all seems to be well.

Since all the jobs were done by Thursday lunchtime (including a large shop at Sainsburys) we decided to make ourselves scarce.   There were 11 boats due in for turn around on Friday and we would have had to move off the quay and breasted up further down.   This is never ideal with Barney...he is a bit of a weeny going over other boats!

I was not full of enthusiasm for moving as, having avoided a cold all winter, I was now feeling decidedly under the weather with one.   I might even go so far as to say it was the woman version of man flu!   So we pottered just over a mile and moored at the bottom of Hillmorton locks.   Then I could try to die in peace.......

Today after a very gentle start for us (9am) we went up our first 3 locks of the year at Hillmorton.

Weather wise we have have been very lucky.   The sun sun for us all day Wednesday and Thursday and today was almost as good.   The wind is quite chill when the sun disappears but we had a pleasant run up to Braunston and I even feel somewhat more human.

Braunston seems very busy and most of the 14 day moorings closer in were full, but someone was looking after us as there was a Petroc sized space opposite the Boat House pub.   We have planned to meet Paul, Helen & Victoria there early this evening so it is very convenient.

Thursday 31st March

Total distance:1.37 miles Elapsed time:0h57m Locks:Bridges:4

Friday 1st April

Total distance:7.1 miles Elapsed time:3h 03m Locks:Bridges:18