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Thursday 6 October 2022

Wind Assisted?

 A quiet night was had by all last night, despite the wind blowing. It is one of our favourite moorings, but \i'm not sure what it will be like when HS2 is completed and running, as I'm not really sure what the line here will actually be. Just a feeder to Stafford 'normal' lines I think.

Last night the night was very clear and the moor light very bright. The moon rose up between the trees either side of the lock. This was the best I could do. The bright line is the moonlight on the top of the swan's neck.

It was a lovely bright day this morning and we were away not long after 09;00. It was even warm when you were out of the wind and we both had our last day in shorts.

Another of those low autumn sun photos on the lovely stretch of canal from Woodend to Kings Bromley. We sawe no boats along this stretch at all.

Just to show you how much shelter the Black Slaish woods give, with the wind coming from the left about 12 to 14 kts there is still a reflection in the canal. I was hoping there would be this much shelter in the marina as we have to swing to go stern on to the fuel berth and then swing back into the wind and once again to back onto our berth.

The turn into the marina was easy as was the turn to back onto the fuel berth as the wind helped the bow round and I just needed to make sure the stern was close enough for me to jump off. We took 78.25ltrs onboard as £1.30 a litre. Not bad for a two week holiday. Getting off the fuel berth and the wind back through the wind was not so easy, but we did it with using an extended spring that helped the bow round until the stern was clear and I could go ahead to complete the turn. The run down to our pontoon was okay, there is a little more shelter there and I just had to get the bow generally pointing into the wind with the stern close enough to the pontoon for me to jump ashore with the centre line and stern line to ensure that the boat doesn't blow down either way. We were all tied up just after 10 AM.

It is always sad to pack up the boat after being away on the canals. It is a well oiled machine now and doesn't take us long. It is when I wish I could have managed to get round to some of the outstanding jobs. We were off on the road by 12:00 and were back home with no delays. First wash on and after a video from our grand daughter I was out of the door again to get some training wheels for her bike we got her for her birthday as she is coming round to stay tomorrow, after our flu jabs,  and wants to try her bike. 4 years old and already bossing me about. We are also having 8/9 month old grand son to stay for the night again, so he must have been fully okay after the last time. Good job we are well rested. Singing at Hull Minster on Saturday along with my No.1 daughter so that will be good, and a very busy programme set out for me foir a week or two. I wonder when we will be back on the boat now.

Wednesday 5 October 2022

Biding our Time.

 In line with the weather forecast we decided to stick on the mooring at Whittington until after 1pm. I was getting well on with my book about Stephen and Matilda in the 1130's and 40's about who would succeed Henry I. One of Stephen's Generals, William Le Gros was the founder of Hedon, where we live, as a port on the Humber. I was just about to set off when a last heavy shower started so I sat back down and read another chapter before getting dolled up and heading out to cast off.

We didn't see anymore ran and the wind was only any problem at all when at an exposed spot of the canal, but even then not too bad at all. There was blue skies as a sign of better things to come. The sun did pop out for a very short time but it is definitely cooler than previously. When I got up this morning it was showing as 17 C outside!! 

I only saw one moving boat after we had set off, well two as there was one approaching Shade House when we got there too. The wind has definitely blown more leaves in the canal and I needed an occasional period out of gear to shed them after passing through accumulations.

I love the Lichfield Cruising Club's club house, especially the windows. Part of it was the lengthsman cottage and the neighbouring cottage too. The started in 1959 when some members of the Coventry Canal Society with moorings at Fradley moved their boats to the silted up Wyrley and Essington Canal where the lengthsman would keep and eye on them. They were part of the Tamworth Cruising Club until 1978 when they split so as to be able to afford better support for each location. Tamworth at Kettlebrook and Lichfield here at Huddleford. I wonder what they will do when the through route to Ogley Junction gets completed?

This looks an ideal spot for a bench with the well tended hedges and fields and a farmhouse nearby along
side a slightly reedy canal, except that the traffic of the A38 thunders past just to the left of the picture. Not a spot I would really want to linger.

A little after Streethay Wharf, between Bridges 87 and 88, there was this large sheet of plastic submerged under the canal. At first I thought it was a tarpaulin that had blown off a truck or from a farmyard, but the road cones made it look official. I then though there must be a leak in the canal bed, but the surrounding country side did not appear to be sodden, but there was a pump in the field. No real idea of what it was doing, but it is fairly recent and there doesn't seem to be a notice from C&RT yet.

The pumping station at Brookhay opened in the 1890's and very quickly became controversial as it was thought that very quickly the local water table was lowered so much that peoples wells and springs stopped flowing. This was doubly irksome as the locals felt they were being forced to buy water from the water company!

As we approached Fradley the sentinel trees on the towpath always make me think of Lord of the Rings for some reason, especially on a bit of a gloomy day like today. There were no spaces at all on the moorings leading up to the junction, so it was a good job that we weren't hoping to stop there. We went through the swing bridge at about 4 PM, just after the volunteers lock keepers had left, if they had stayed that long, as it was cold and quiet so I expect they had gone home early for a warm.

Instead of more pictures of the Swan pub I thought I would take a picture looking back at the cottages at Junction Lock. No boats and no people. It was very quiet everywhere. Both Middle and Shadehouse locks were our way, although Shadehouse need a bit of water dropping before I could enter. As we came out at the top we could see a boat a distance away heading towards us. We weren't sure if they would moor or continue so we waited to see so we could leave the gate open for them to drive straight in. The sun was directly in our eyes, but when it became obvious that they weren't mooring we set off. They never said a word to us as we passed!

A gate was open at Woodend Lock so we were staright up. Helen did her best to get a cutting of a sedum in the garden, but the HS2 fencing prevented her getting to it. As we have been going around we have been looking in the Charity shops for replacement pots for the niches in Woodend lock. The teapots that had been there got broken and disappeared soon after the cottage was boarded up. 

They look a little lost at the moment so if you see a cheap teapot or other suitable  stoneware please feel free to add to the collection. I'm not sure who placed the originals there and painted the alcoves, but I am assuming it was the lock keeper, or the tenant.

Feel free to add to the collection as pass. We didn't pay anymore than £1 for any item, and there is plenty of room for more. It is nice to keep 'traditions' going if you can.

We moored at the top of the lock, with one other boat. It was quite blustery across the canal as it is open on both sides, which is why we like it I suppose. This gives us a short run back to Kings Bromley and our base so we can get a good time to set off home with another cruise completed. Always a sad time, but one more blog to go too.

Tuesday 4 October 2022

Retail Therapy?

 We went to see 'Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris' last night and we both thought it was very good. This morning we went for a walk to Ventura Retail Park to have a look at a bit of furniture that Helen has her eye on, and apparently needs my approval to go ahead. Of course there are lots of other shops on the park so it would have been bad form if we didn't have a look in for bargains etc. I was absolutely surprised to see just how many people were out shopping on a Tuesday morning. The car parks were very full, and it was taking time to get in and out. What would it be like on a Saturday!! Hell on earth I'm sure.

We came home and have a cup of tea before heading off down the Glascote Locks. I was wondering if the curved wall that is near the wooden gazebo indicates where the basin was found from my  Previous blog Unusually there were no boats around, up or down, as we descended.

There is definitely more water in the Tame as we crossed over the aqueduct again. 

The canal leading up to Fazeley Junction is quite dark and closed in so the bridge to the junction made me think of a gate into a stadium where it is open and light. No boats coming and no one on the water point but we didn't stop this time. I don't remember so few boats in Fazeley ever before either.

It always said on the radio that we need more house as none are being completed at the moment. This maybe true but as we pass down canals there seems to be loads of development going on. Dunstall Farm, near Fazeley/Tamworth is massive and there will be loads of new people here. So many that they are having to build two new schools to accommodate the children. I wonder if there will be pubs, shops, churches etc etc too

The old farmhouse is surviving still. I wonder what it will end up being in the end.  In the newspapers it has lived a life as there have been fires, the death of a newborn due to an untrained midwife. It obtained pipe water in 1904. There is also a warning in 1884 that anybody tampering with the Dunstall Farm osier beds will be prosecuted. In 1909 it was part of the land holders of the Peel family and made up the Packington estate of 820 acres bringing a rent of £1,060 per annum.

My eye was drawn to the TV mast at Hints. It is 1000+ feet high. You don't really get a sense of scale, but today I was thinking about the guy wires that hold it up. There is plenty of wire holding up the mast and fixing it and tensioning them must be really difficult as get it wrong and it will pull the lot over. I wonder if they 'sing' in the wind, and how often do they need to replace the wires, or grease and oil them. I remember sliding down the standing rigging on my first few ships as an apprentice in a bosun's chair, greasing the wires as I went. You tended to get as much on yourself as the wire as it was a bucket and a lump of waste to apply the grease then.

After Hopwas the woods were starting to look autumnal. I suppose another week and they will be in all their glorious technicolour. As we neared the edge of the wood we could hear the gun fire going off after having seen the red flags flying and the gates shut. They were really giving it a go. I thought it may have been at the Whittington Barracks but apparently that is now the Defence Medical Services planning and training centre since 2008.

This bloke does 'useful' things with old tyres, and not just fenders it seems.

We moored up just a little further on and found a spot not under trees and with a bit of shelter,just in case the weather is worse than expected. We decided that we would walk into the village, Whittington, for a drink and something to eat. We were going to go to the Dog that was being refurbished last time we stopped. We looked on line and found that it was closed tonight, so we ended up at the Bell and had a burger and a beer. We both feel full.

Monday 3 October 2022

A Lovely Day all round.

 We went for a bit of a shop this morning and had a nice coffee and early lunch at the Old Bakery Cafe. A quick round of the charity shops for what we are looking for and then some items that Helen wanted before heading to Aldi's for the last of the shopping.

Atherstone was built by the Trent Valley Railway in 1847. The full opening of line was delayed due to some bridges needing strengthening but it fully opened on 1st December 1847, the same day that GMT was adopted by the London and North Western railway, of which TVR was part. It became part of the London Midland and Scottish grouping in 1923 and then London Midland on Nationalisation in 1948.

Helen took us down the locks today. There was a fair bit of waiting for other boats to leave/arrive at locks but much smoother than when we were coming up.

Smoothly done, as nearly always. The sun had been shining as best it could, and when it did it was nice and warm. It was a pleasure dropping down the locks, and as there was nobody on the water point once again we stopped and topped up. All done in 10 mins.

There is a rare mile post on the Atherstone flight, 8 miles to Fazeley Junction and 9 miles to Marston Junction.

Grendon Wharf dry dock is a nice setting and always have boats in. However I have never, ever passed when anybody has been working on them. Is this just just my poor timing or do they work nights?

Just by Hoo Hill the canal passes really close to the railway, but you wouldn't know it, until a train passes that is, as the trees shield the view of it and it is very pleasant, again until a train passes!

As you pop under the West Coast Mainline on the approach to Polesworth you pass the sewage farm and up on the flank of Hoo Hill is this monument. It is erected to record'The site of the chapel of St. Leonard'sat Hoo. Demoilished 1538'. It seems that when they were building the railway the discovered the burial ground of the chapel. The obelisk was raised soon after at the instigation of Sir George Chetwynd of Grendon Hall. When the railway was widened the monument was moved to a distance from the original site and further away from the tracks.

Lees and Atkins yard was started up by the Sephton family that were boat builders at Sutton Stop, Hawkesbury Junction. One of the five sons moved her to start up in business. This was later taken over by the Basset Green family and then in around 1912 Henry Lees Atkins took it on. They have built several boats that are on the historic register today, and they became well known for their painting of their Roses and Castles.

This seems a very nice oddity to find on the canal by Alvecote. Is it an old inspection barge, a new'ish build or an escapee from the Thames?

This was the scene of my head-on collision with a boater. I was heading in the other direction through the bridge. I feel sure she didn't even realise I was there until she hit me as she was still going belly to ground even though there is a boat moored by the house. I was going full astern but it was quite a bump. I was truely shocked as I would never have thought she would take no evasive action at all! The garden has had a few more things added since then. I'm pretty sure that the giraffe is new.

We have moored at the top of Glascote locks again as we have decided to go to the pictures again and it is nice and handy from here.

Sunday 2 October 2022

Retracing Our Steps.

 A plan was hatched that we would leave our over night mooring, proceed to the winding hole and head back to Atherstone. Unbelievably once again we were away at 0930!

The sun was shining and it was nice and warm as he set off. We were soon at Hartshill and this is the flying fish on the weather vane. As there was nobody on the water point we stopped and topped up before heading off towards Nuneaton, bridge 28 and the winding hole.

This was one of the four wharves that served the Hartshill Quarries by tramways, or may be even full scale track as it linked with the mainline too.

I am pretty sure that this is the same wharf as you can see the little rectangles in the concrete as there are today.

Just another of those autumn light pictures I'm afraid, but also has a hint of the turning of the leaves.

After winding we headed back to Hartshill and was struck by this little beauty.

The Hartshill yard is a lovely place with the clock above the dry dock and a suite of outbuildings around the yard. I especially like the rounded end of some of the buildings. It seems that they are rounded at the entrances into the yard, presumably so that wagon wheel hubs do not catch the brickwork. Of course wagon wheels are now not as big as they used to be! 

Helen was struck by the new paint job on this little Rothens tug, and I believe it is going to find its way into our sitting room when we get back home.

This fender hasn't been moved for a while. Mind you I don't think the boat has either!

This older paint job is s till quite nice. I would say that as it is the same colours as 'Holderness'.

There were keepers at the top two locks as we started down after a short wait for a boat coming up. As there are no bridges across the bottom of these locks it is easier if I do the locks heading down as I can stride across the gates saving a lot of steps round the lock to the otherside. Helen kept her usual eagle eye on the cill as we dropped down.

We were moored up in the pound between 5 and 6 by 1230 and were quite quickly changed and off. We decided to see if we could get fed at the Kin's Head and we found that there was a place for us and we had a full roast dinner with a couple of pints.

After being fed and watered we walked into Atherstone and found that it was busy as it was Atherstone Car show. Long Street was closed and cars were parked along the way, and came cruising past too. The Market Square was also full of them. Cars do nothing for me, I am happy so long as they work when you want them too, and I have never been into engines etc, although when younger I would strip them down, including gear boxes etc, to get the old bangers I had going. This one is for No.1 daughter who lusts after one of these.

Merevale House on Old Watling Street looks like it would be alms houses but it is actually a residential home for those that are living with dementia but don't need nursing care. It is a lovely building too.

Back to the boat and a bout of sitting and reading and watching the TV as I had to have it ready for Strictly tonight.

Saturday 1 October 2022

Basins are the Pits.

 After the wind and rain of yesterday afternoon/evening the morning was still and bright with the smoke from the many boat fires rising straight up in the air. We must have missed moving yesterday as we both seemed to want to be up and away, without it being said out loud. Mind you it wasn't that early as it was just a little before 0930, and a boat had passed already an hour earlier.

The low sun shining through the trees on either side of the canal as we wiggled along the Coventry made me smile with the dappled light and the warm sun on more open parts.

When you see the trees along canals today it is in stark contrast to the photo's of old and even the film of the 1950's as it looked like the trees were deliberately removed to prevent leaves, branches etc falling in the water. Mind you on a windy it is really nice to have the protection of a hedge or wood as you wait for a lock or just trying to keep warm on the tiller.

Acorns were bouncing of the roof of the boat as we passed along, under the M42 and past the Pooley Heritage Centre and moorings and on to Polesworth.

By Bridge 54 is this set of lovely old buildings and in 1901 it was a blacksmiths shop and home. It certainly looks like it was too.

Just after bridge 54, on the off side, was a very busy wharf area. There was a basin with a tramway (from bottom left corner of extract) connected to the Birch Coppice mine that had two shafts from 1875, one near Birch Moor and one near Hall End. The bricks for the shafts were made on site at Hall End with fire clay from the mine. The pits were expanded during WWI and in 1957 the shafts were deepened and electric winding gear installed. In early 1960's Birch Coppice was home to an experimental smokeless fuel plant. When the method and recipe had been refined in 1963 the plant was closed and production started in Coventry. In 1982 improvements were made to ventilation of the pit and then in 1983 a new coal face was opened up. When this new seam came up to the expected fault in 1986 the pit became uneconomic and was closed.
The Wharf by the bridge was the Coventry Canal Co wharf and the Midland Sanitary Pipe Co. This seemed to start before 1870 and looks to have been a large affair with six or seven kilns.

This is what the site looks like today.

There is not much left of this swing bridge, but if rescued I reckon it could be reused at another location and with new timber. Of course we are lucky today as despite being close to the west coast main railway line all is quiet as the drivers are on strike. We did have one freight train pass, heading south, but that was all.

Yet another photo of light through trees.

We stopped for water at Bradley Green and dumped the rubbish. There was a boat just finishing so we didn't have a wait at all. So we were soon on our way. We were following a single hander up but we never really caught him up as we seemed to be waiting for boats to come down. On guy came down a lock and as the bottom gates wouldn't fully open he started taking his side fenders off. As he left he advised me to stop my engine as I entered as he had lost one of his fenders!! I told him that I never travel with fenders down as I have picked up far too many of other peoples. In fact I even picked up one as I was waiting for him to leave. Luckily it was a floating one.

At Lock 8 we met up with 'Percy' and fellow blogger Nev. I forgot to take a photo but in his blog today he apologised for being scruffy? After we had left I noticed I had a great smudge of chocolate on the front of my shirt as well as shorts I have had on for nearly two weeks!! Nev's blog is here Percy, Nev's blog

At Lock 7 is Baddersley Wharf. This wharf had been connected to some mines up near Baddesley Ensor. There had been at least three mines, Maypole, New Church and Home but by the time another shaft was dug, Speedwell, the other three had mainly closed or being retained for ventilation. 

It seems that a tramway was run through to the Coventry Canal about 1817. It was all formalised in 1871 after the new Baddesley Mine was opened in 1850. It the tramway was widened to standard gauge about this time to link up with the Midland Railway. In 1882 there was an explosion down the pit and 32 miners lost their lives.The basin seems to have closed for commercial use in 1965 but the pit didn't close until 1989. It is interesting to see that in this 1901 map extract the large part of the dock indicates it is full of weed!

It took us 2 hours to get to lock 7 and half an hour to get to the the top. It was that sort of a day. There were no moorings to be had at Atherstone, it was chocka so we steamed on to close to Hartshill.

Rothern's yard is always neat and tidy and it seems that they have spent some money on having a few of their craft painted too. Just down the way is their new marina that also looks neat and tidy.

All in all a nice day.