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Wednesday 17 August 2022

Back to the Beginning.

 After tying up in the marina we had washed the st'bd side of 'Holderness' in preparation for me to paint it with raddle black paint. After all this time, before I had finished, there were a few small drops of rain. Typical thought I, but it didn't turn into anything and I was able to finish it. It certainly looks better for doing. One reason I wanted to do it was to not such a poor neighbour next to the boat with the live aboard next to us on the pontoon. How ever he has sold up and moved ashore, but I am glad it has been done. There are bits of hull paintwork to do now, but the main place requiring work is around the control stand where the switches and Morso control are. This will require removing them from the steel and I really will have to do that in the Marina so we will have to wait and see when that gets down.

Last night I also tried to replace the fuel filter, but I couldn't budge it. Never mind hand tight. And why have they positioned it just where the dip stick comes out, and with the inlet and outlet hoses make it almost impossible to take a good grip of it anyway! I was sure I had a chain filter wrench, but I couldn't find it last night. However, whilst looking for something else I came across it so that was another job done this morning.

I also filled up with water, without getting the newly painted hull wet either. It was then a case of filling the car up with all the stuff to take home. We left the kitchen sink, but took a lot of the flowers from the bow. The bloke on our pontoon used to water the plants for us, so I'm not sure what will happen now he has gone.

It has been a great almost three weeks and around 167 locks too. Visiting Brum. is always fun, but with the Commonwealth games thrown in it was great.

Whilst certainly not in new condition it made me think of when we were looking for a boat in the first place. Everyone has a list of things they are looking for. Some where marked down as deal breakers and some can be compromised on for other possible benefits. Once the list is created then the trawling of the website magazines and brokerages starts. In fact 'Holderness' was the first boat we physically viewed. We both liked except for the bathroom set up. We still had about a year before we were ready to get use out of the boat so we left. Later on, when we started to look more seriously, we noticed it was still on sale and for a reduced price. We looked at other boats, but still felt this one fitted our list almost too perfectly, other than the bathroom. So I spoke to the builders and we did a deal that included making the bathroom into a walk through, and that works much better.

These are the original details that we saw. As you can see there is no name and now artwork on the boat. It was on the way to the yard to have the name painted in and the bits and pieces been done to the boat that we decided on the name for the boat. There is only one 'Holderness' on the register, and the closest other is 'Pride of Holderness' which was owned by a lock keeper at West Stockwith I think.

All in all we are still really very pleased with our purchase and I think about 3,800 engine hours later, and many days aboard we still so enjoy our time aboard.

Tuesday 16 August 2022

Back to Base.

 We were very close to the railway line last night but conveniently the ASLEF Union had their drivers on strike and we had an extremely peaceful,night with just the occasional bleat of a sheep. In fact a train hadn't passed until after we had arrived at Cowich Lock.

Last night I managed to get the undercoat rubbed down that I had previously done and also washed and coated the partly done area near the stern. It looks a little like the hull has had a dash of dazzle paint applied, but hopefully we are no expecting a submarine attack today.

A little more paint than I want to commit to here, but a great example of dazzle paint work on the SS West Mahomet from WWI. This form of 'camouflage' was not designed to make the ship 'invisible' but to make it very difficult for a submarine of surface vessel to be able to estimate its range, course and speed. This in turn would make it difficult to calculate where it would be in the next few minutes so that setting the direction of torpedoes or shells would not be so accurate.

There was a short queue for us going down Cowich Lock, but about 6 boats waiting to come up. One was the newly revamped 'Caxton' That was owned by two famous bloggers in the past. Helen got the story from the new owner, who told her that they had been pretty well known bloggers. She obviously doesn't read this stuff. Never mind. If she does she may get in touch.

The fields appear to be very dry now, especially as a lot have been harvested now and just the yellow stubble is left. This was rough pasture, but not much there for the sheep who were keeping to the shade anyway. 

No Boats moored near the Trent Aqueduct, but there seemed to be plenty of water in the river as we passed over it.

There were plenty of boats moored up as we approached the centre of the town. We had also caught up with the boats that had gone down Colwich Lock ahead of us. We had seen the NB 'Dancing Sheep', in Penkridge I think it was, and it was only as we passed Naomi's Landing that I realised that this is where it was normally found.

Rothern's are contracting for C&RT doing another length of Armco on the way into Rugeley. There will be even more moorings for folk wanting to stop and shop here soon.

I resisted my usual picture of the Armitage Shanks Factory, and istead just passed opted to take a picture of a small read island. It made me ponder if the reed plant is designed to break up like this so as to colonise away from the parent plant. I also wondered if the it carried it's own little world with it. In the 'Old Days' off the coast of Africa and Asia quite a way out to see, you quite often used to see small little rafts of logs or bamboo lashed together with a palm frond sticking up from it to indicate its presence. The local fishermen used them to congregate the fish as they seemed to attract the small fish under them, in the shade, and so the bigger ones knew where to come, as did the fishermen.

We arrived back at the marina and headed straight on to the service pontoon. I guessed 150 litres would be needed, but it only took 147! I should really start logging everything and do my annual comparisons. I got out of the habit over COVID and not having everything to hand. It seems out neighbour has sold his boat and returned to land so we have a space on both sides for now. Helen and I managed to get the st'bd side washed, despite it still being a bit warm to work, but I wanted to get it ready for painting the next day. I tried to change the fuel filter but couldn't budge it, and it was still a bit warm. I was sure I had bought a filter strap/chain wrench but could I heck as like find it! I decided to put it off until the next day, put the TV aerial up and decided to see if we could make any sense of Sean Bean and Nicola Walker in 'Marriage'.

Monday 15 August 2022

To Great Haywood and Beyond.

 First thing this morning Helen went into Penkridge to buy some milk. I set to continuing to polish the port side of the boat. We were off about 10:15 and straight into a slight queue by the services.

Once again it was the hull of this boat that made me look twice. It was an old iron joey boay built in 1896 by Eli Aston at Tipton. It eventually went to Stewarts and Lloyds. In 1976 it was sold out of the company and was lengthened to 69' for cargo carrying. Again in 2009/10 it was sold again and shortened to 57'4" and a Lister installed. It looks lovely, especially the hull.

At Broom  lock there was a little hold up as a boat finished going down and one came up. The boat behind just sat there waiting. Nobody got of the boat to assist or chat, and the same happened at the next look too. There does seem to be much more of this happening with people only coming to the lock when they are actually about to enter the lock!

This is the M6 and the bridge is much longer than some of the tunnels further south on this canal.

At Park Gate Lock the trip boat was just loading up with a set of well dressed passengers. The old Midland Chandlers chandlers has re-opened, but under another name. I didn't go in so can't say what the stock or prices are like.

At Shutt Hill Lock just after the lock and before the road bridge is this painted stump. I think it is the central pivot of a small crane.

The church of St. James' is outside the place it serves, Acton Trussell. The was a church here from about 12 12, and the tower and inset spire date from the mid 1500's.

Deptmore Lock is quite scenic. The green trees stand out against the scorched fields, and even the trees are definitely loosing their lustre. 

Once again it was very pleasant to [ass between the trees and be out of the sun. There wasn't too much moving today, everybody had either gone early or was waiting for later/

I wonder how many bridges we have been under on this trip away? Baswick Bridge is only really remarkable for it being the 100th on the Staffs. and Worcs. Although that wont be true as there will be a few extra for new road bridges etc. I don't suppose too many are knocked down though.

The Stafford Link seems to be progressing. Nobody there today but there does seem to be some of the basin walls in place. I also see that one of my favourite breweries is sponsoring them, Titanic.

That quite rare animal that isn't on the Macclesfield Canal, a turnover bridge where the animal towing the boats of old could cross when the tow path changed sides without unhitching. I think this maybe the only one on the Staffs & Worcs.

The view down towards Stafford down the Sow Aqueduct was still pretty despite the dryness. The river was still flowing quite well.

As usual there were boats everywhere before on and after Tixall Wide., or on old maps, The Broad Water'. Some say the wide was to placate those from the nearby Tixall Hall so as to make the canal lock more natural. Others say that it was a natural feature and was where Izaak Walton, the noted early angler, learned to fish. The canal builders utilised the existing water to assist in their work. The hall was knocked down long ago. (I didn't take a picture of the gatehouse but you can rent it from the Landmark Trust and stay there.

Although the hall has gone the Tixall home farm is still there to the east of the site of the Hall. Just off the left of this picture is also a bottle lodge that is a small round house with a central chimney. Similar to those found on the canal towards Chester.

Great Hayward Mill seems to be isolated between new tin industrial units. It doesn't seem to be used much now.

We turned easily at the junction and headed to the lock. A boat had just left the water point ahead of us but they moored up just before the lock. There was even one coming up and this gave us just enough time to go to the ice cream boat next to the lock landing, and for me to eat it before the other boat had left the lock. Just a tad longer for Helen. In fact there was another ice cream boat below the lock, but we didn't stop. We carried closer to Little Haywood to find a bit of tow path suitable for me to do a bit of sanding and painting.

Sunday 14 August 2022

Pottering along to Penkridge.

After my disappointment at the beer in the Anchor I managed to talk Helen into helping wash the port side of the boat this morning. The sun was on the other side and as it was early there was no heat in it. With two of us it didn't take very long at all, and it made a big difference. However it made me think it needed polishing too.
We were off by 10:30 and passed the pub and on the straight. I boat spied us and pulled out quickly.

These poplar trees seem to be suffering and the leaves are really coming off quite quickly. The water is full of leaves and the 'fluff' from the Rosebay Willow Herb. I suppose that although the trees are by the canal I suppose that the clay puddling of the canal means that not too much water escapes through for them to use.

WE had passed a couple of boats coming our way, but when the canals were working there would have been a ton of coal loaded boats coming down from Cannock area pits and scattering hither and thither at the junction. I wonder if I will still be boating when they get the link open again?

The marina basin at the junction has an 'industrial' look about it. However looking on the maps it seems that it wasn't established until the 1970's so there would be no working boats by then.

The Staffordshire County Council's Energy Recovery Facility is run by Veolia and is in essence getting energy from burning waste. It opened in 2014. I quite like the building as it has a pleasing shape. It seems that all the handling goes on within the building so reducing, noise, dust, smell and visual harshness. The green roof seemed to be quite green. I wonder if they have to water it.

Just past the Veolia works is the Shenectardy works. I have poosted about this before, but it started out as a tar works before WWII and was taken over by the American company. There is no stopping or mooring in this stretch in case of trouble at the plant.

On the other side of the canal is a massive building that belongs to Gestamp. It is a Spanish company but has factories and office all over the world (China, Spain, Argentina, Thailand, Brazil, Germany, Czech Republic, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Slovakia, USA and Hungary! They make car components and system. This factory opened in 2018 and has taken over from a much smaller one in Cannock. Apparently it too 43,000 tonnes of concrete and £50 million.

We stopped for water before the lock at Gailey. It was good to see that the round house has reopened for business. Helen got some cards and more importantly, ice creams!

Another gratuitous photo of the Round House, but really to get the nice flowers that Helen has cultivated this year. She has gone mainly for dahlias and they have come up trumps.

We seemed to meet a boat at each lock as we pottered on. The original plan was to aim for Acton Trussell, but we needed a few things and didn't need any urging to alter the plans. Otherton Lock (I think, but it may be Rodbaston Lock) is always like a Jacuzzi. There is always a bit of a chemical smell and there are always many bubbles in the lock. It just looks like a hot tub when you fill it. There must be something leeching out from somewhere near here as no of the other locks, up or down from here, have the same smell or bubbles. 

Otherton Marina seems similar to the other at Hatherton Junction, but again it is a relatively modern one. It is nothing to do with the colliery basin that was a little further up the canal.

We found a spot to moor before the first lock and as it was before 16:00 we went in to town so that Helen could have a poke about the charity shops. I was promised a drink too, so I tagged along. We were going to go to the Star, that seems to be the one most speak off, and it is years since we have been in for a drink. However I noticed that the Horse and Jockey had been refurbished and had been acquired by Black Country Pubs last year. We like the way they 'do' there pubs and after a few poor results the last couple of pub visits we would be assured of a great range of beers too. They had their own range on and about 6 quest beers too, and a couple of draft ciders to. It was beautifully cool in inside too, so we were reluctant to leave, but we did.
After tea the heat finaly got to me and I went outside and started polishing the port side! I got a couple of metres done before I had to retreat as I was getting eaten alive.

Saturday 13 August 2022

A 'B'ratch, Two A's Aldersley/Autherley, and a 'C'ross Green.

 First thing after breakfast I was out and washing off the Feratan that I had put on the sanded bit of the st'bd side I had done previously. As soon as it was rubbed clean and dry I was slapping on the primer. It was so warm that I managed to get a second coat on too. Whilst I was doing this a gentleman came up to me and asked if there was a rally here at Bratch this weekend. I had seen a poster in a boat window about a rally, but I didn't know when it was (Bank Holiday weekend it seems). This chap lived next door to the moorings and it seems that the gates had been lifted off and dumped next to the gateway. The lock had been left intact! He was worried that it may have been travellers, but we hadn't heard anything. Later the Police were there. I got some other bits done and was ready for off about 11:00. A boat had just started up the flight so Helen went over to ask the keepers if we could follow them up. The answer was yes and we set off up the locks.

There were quite a few older people at the locks having a constitutional but no ice cream van! It is a very photogenic flight.

They may look like a staircase, but they aren't. Here in the bottom lock the red paddles above let the water out of the middle lock into the side pound. The blue paddles let the water into the bottom lock from the side pound and the middle lock

Here we are in the middle lock and the same is true. The Octagonal toll house is always interesting, be it at Stewpony, Smethick Locks or disappeared from the toll bars on the rest of the BCN.

Wightwick Manor just peaks out from among the trees, and is well worth a visit, but not time today

We passed the Jam Butty once again. The last time was at Whittington. Whilst I was waiting for Helen to ready Compton two gentlemen passed and said you are stopping in a very important spot. I guessed they were referring to the fact that theCompton Lock was the first built on the Staffs. and Worcs. Cana, and not only that but the first narrow lock ever constructed by James Brindley, the engineer in charge. We went on to have a nice chat about canals etc.

I love this bridge, and it looks so good in the sun. It is an old GWR bridge that was built for the old Wombourne branch railway, but now acts as a cycle and pedestrian way.

The trees make a lovely break  break from the sun as they give that dappled shade. The water was quite clear and it was nice to watch the small fish scud about in the sun. The Mobil sign makes a basin that is/was used by the Girlguides of the area.

We approached Aldersley Junction with the Wolverhampton 21 heading off to the right. The remains of a stables at tow path level and a further three storeys of rooms of a lodging house for boaters and their families can be seen at the junction. The toll house and lock keepers house are no longer there to the extreme right of this photo.

This junction was so very busy that in it hey day boats could be waiting up to three days to ascend the flight as the traffic in both directions was so heavy.

Very soon you are at Autherley Junction. The water here is crystal clear as it is constantly been replenished from the large water treatment works by the junction. Where the water streams out of the works, almost opposite Oxley Marine, there was a short arm that served the waterworks with coal, sand etc. I think that these iconic finger post on the canal should be regularly painted up as they must figure on everybody's photos that travel this way.

These poplar trees are extremely tall and mask the playing field of the local high school. I think they would cause havoc if they came down in a gale. The area is quite flat so they must do a great job of cutting the wind down in the winter. I could have done with a bit of a breeze today.

Not the best photo but it is supposed to show one of the 'passing places' in the 'Pendeford Rockin' where the width of the cutting is down to one boat width. The rock was too hard for the technology and so the minimum delay was caused to completion by reducing the width but creating the odd place to pass.

I reckon that studies would find that the cutting has its own micro climate, and I wouldn't be surprised if they found some species of plants and animals that exist nowhere else, as it always appears other worldly, no matter the time of year, to me.

This has been a grand day. The weather has been hot, like being on holiday in Greece. Languid is the world, everybody and everything seems to be going at half speed. The heat lays heavy on the land, sound is subdued, and limbs seem heavy, but not in a bad way. It makes me feel that to relax and soak it up is the only thing to do. We moored up before the Anchor Inn, and after getting a change of clothes we were off. Nice pub but once again they only had Doom Bar on so quickly lost interest. The pub used to be called the Fox and Anchor, but interestingly in 1890's it was the Anchor, so where did the fox come in? The length of car park after the pub is where the Cross Green wharf was.