Sunday, 30 August 2015

Saturday 29 August 2015

I can’t believe that it was a year ago today that I left work!!  No regrets, living the dream...

We had a short cruising day today.  We left our nice quiet spot and set off for Hockley Heath.  We had four locks and two draw bridges to do and only saw one boat moored between locks 3 and 4.
When we arrived at the first lock I opened one of the gates and a chap walking along the towpath opened the other one for me.  I thanked him, we closed the gates behind the boat then walked to the other end at which time he produced a windlass and opened the paddle.  I asked him if he was on a boat to which he replied that he was an off duty volunteer!!!  He stuck with us and went ahead and set the next lock whilst I waited to close the gate after Steve. 

It turns out he was originally from Massachusetts.  In 1968 he came to the UK and hired a canal boat for a week and that was it.  He moved here and lived on a narrowboat for 40 years.  He now lives in a cottage by the canal!
We stopped at a little boatyard to try to replace the tiller pin that I dropped in the river last week but they only had brass ones and everything on our boat it chrome! 

We moored in Hockley Heath and walked into the village.  We left the towpath through the pub car park and right opposite was a car showroom – McLaren and Rolls Royce!  There were not many shops but a great little butchers – S H Mills!! - which sold pies, veg and fruit as well as meat!
We got the feeling it is an affluent village judging by the cars driving up and down, even the fish & chip shop and Chinese take away here are posh!

We have the canal all to ourselves!

First lock of the day.

Off duty volunteer!

We did stop hoping to find a tiller pin but when we knocked on the open door only a black cat came out to greet us!

The first draw bridge

The volunteers told me to let Steve do this one as it was tough - I think he needs a lie down now!

No boats for miles and then miles of boats!


When I took this photo I thought it was a horse this side and a soldier and shield the other?? it was only when I downloaded it that I realised it was a dog - I guess I'll never know what the other bench really was!

Little boat yard.

Bird of prey.

McLaren showroom.

The sun is a bit bright to get a good photo.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Friday 28 August 2015

This morning had a real autumnal feel to it first thing.  Pretty but chilly and damp.  We didn’t travel very far in miles but we did negotiate 22 locks known as the Lapworth Locks.  We started with all the locks being against our favour and they are still single locks so there is no sharing with other boats which means we had to do it all ourselves.  I started but they were tough going so I got Steve to swap just at the point of the first flight (several locks very close together).  So back onboard I had a quick read of the book that told me the flight locks have double doors making it much easier going....!

A few locks into the flight a Canal and River Trust volunteer offered to help us – that was a welcome hand – all that hard work for a cup of tea!  It made sense as he and Steve were both tall enough to jump across the double doors – I did have a look when I was on duty but decided that my little legs were too short to stretch that far!  He also told us that there was a nice quiet spot to moor just after lock 6 so we took his advice and spent the night there.
No spectacular crashes today – just one hiccup when we offered the volunteer a cup of tea we were in a lock with me on the helm so I popped down to put the kettle on then they opened the paddles at the other end sending the boat surging backwards towards the doors so I had a mad dash up the stairs and wacked the throttle in forward just saving the rear bumper from getting trapped between the doors and managed to give the deck a wash with the wave that was created!

So here we are north of Stratford upon Avon and just south of Solihull – we will chug on a little distance tomorrow to Hockley Heath where there are some shops as we are in need of a restock.

Misty morning!

But at least the sun is shining.

Another lovely barrel cottage.

Hi mum - this weathervane reminded me of you - no you horrible lot not because of that - when I was little mum used to collect pigs - china pigs, glass pigs, pictures of pigs, tea towels with pigs - you name it, if it had a pig on it mum had it until one year she announced she didn't want anymore pig presents!!

That's the M42 that we are about to go under!

A very extended barrel cottage!

The bridges used to open - the narrowboats must have been loaded high for these to have to have been opened!

They don't look big enough for cars!

Well done Steve, we're getting the hang of these narrow locks aren't we!

Pulling with all my might!

A plastic boat - in disguise - they are not usually painted black!

Guess what that is?

Can you see how small it is?

Of course, the entrance to the Grand Union!!

Double doors, and yes that's rain again!

A bit blurred but at the bottom of one of the flights.  Also the run off from the pounds that you can see on the left make it difficult to go straight in as the force of the water pushes the boat over! 

Our handy volunteer!

and looking back down.

It's a bit of a tight squeeze when a boat comes the other way.

and a nice quiet spot to stop!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Thursday 27 August 2015

As I opened my eyes this morning I could hear sheep barring!  We pulled pins at 9.15am and it was nice and sunny.  We went over Edstone Aqueduct – we had been told that it was quite scary and as we were approaching couldn’t understand why but suddenly you are half way across – it is 145 metres long and must be about 35 metres high – you pass over a road and a railway but the aqueduct itself is a narrow cast iron trough only about a foot wider than the boat!  Steve is not too good with heights and it was at the half way point that he got what was meant by it being a bit scary!  Thankfully today the wind wasn’t blowing too hard otherwise there is a good chance that we would have made the whole journey bouncing off one side and into the other.

We are still very much in Narrowland – I wonder whether all the bridges and locks are this small for the rest of this canal.  It means that only one boat can go through a lock at a time and mostly we have been following another boat so have to empty the lock before we can carry on.  We have both had a couple of crashes today and I am pleased to say that the prize for the biggest one goes to Steve – I was inside at the time and it nearly knocked me off my feet!
We have passed over two more but much smaller aqueducts and through 11 locks as well as a pit stop at Anglo-Welsh boatyard for four new domestic batteries and a top up of diesel while we were there.

After leaving the boatyard we had two heavy downpours of rain (even though none was forecast!) and got soaked both times!  At 5pm we decided to stop so we are moored up in the middle of nowhere just north of a village called Lowsonford.  Now the sun has come out – typical!

Good morning - so you thought it was time for us to get up did you?

One thing about having narrow locks and bridges - it means that you never see a widebeam or cruiser - just narrowboats!

Approaching Edstone Aqueduct - it doesn't look much from here does it?

1816 - hard to believe that this has been here for nearly 200 years.

Not a lot of room between us and the road below!

ok Steve you can breath again, we are nearly at the other side!

Zooming in on the boat behind us - gives you an idea of just how narrow it is.

Comparing notes - she was in the boat behind us crossing the aqueduct.

How sad - a field of dead trees.

Heading for the second of three aqueducts.

and it is just as narrow!

Even older.

Don't look down Steve, although this one isn't as high as the last.

Our new batteries waiting to come on board!
Even the benches talk to you on this wonderful canal!

Cute bridges


Stand still mum - I'm hungry!

And the third aqueduct - I took this photo standing at the side, rather than from the boat - this one carried us across a stream below.

Iron man - this was a bit disconcerting - looking down at me from the edge of the lock - amazing that they have got the stance exactly right.

A barrel cottage - I wanted to take the photo when I was next to it but there was a family sitting in the window playing cards and I thought it was a bit rude - you can just see mum as we left the lock!

Second soaking of the day!

Christmas trees!