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Thursday 6 April 2023

Holes and Niches.

 Predictably after trying to make sure No.1 granddaughter was tired out we did the same to ourselves and we were in bed early and woke up a little late. It was a nice day, little wind and the odd sunny periods.

The Laughing Duck opens at 0930 and there was a steady stream of elderly folk in bright Lycra heading over the speed bumps on their bikes to have a coffee or something edible. Cycling has really become mainstream these days and electric bikes are spreading the age groups too, along with their range

Of course as soon as we were ready to set off, everybody else was too, as well as others coming up the locks. It was a bit of a delay before everything was sorted and we headed off up the locks ourselves. There was other boats arriving from the Coventry Canal too but it gave me a time of sitting and waiting outside the Swan for the almost obligatory photo.

On our way to Fradley on Saturday No.1 daughter saw something that I hadn't noticed in all the times I had passed this way, and I remembered to take a picture on the way back. I hope you can see that there is a hole right through the trunk of this tree. I think it may be a beech tree. Looking around the internet this is called a natural graft (I think).  I can't work out whether it is a tree that has had a split and then regrown into one trunk, or it is two saplings that have grown together.

Unbelievably having pointed out the first just a few metres further on we saw a second! (This was actually the first we saw, but as were are retracing our route is now the second photo!). This one appears to much more clearly two saplings that have grown together as the hole starts at ground level. The width of the trunk above the unification appears to be larger than the single trunk trees nearby. One cause could be that as the surrounding trees develop shade is thrown on these saplings and they then grow in different directions and but into one another. As these pictures are pointing almost north the two trees in question would be facing south across the canal so would be relatively unshaded.

Wood End Lock is becoming a bit of a bind. At the lower approach, where the moorings were on the off side, it has been quite shallow over about half way across the channel. Given there is often a bit of congestion here, if you drift too far over towards the old moorings you are in fear of going aground. We were aware of this and stayed over. As another boat came up astern of us as we were waiting we moved up the lock landing to allow them to hang on the end rather than drift about. When we came to move into the lock we were fast aground! I did the usual things but in the end had to use the pole and a fair bit of effort to get the stern off. I can only think that the mud from the other side has moved across by the passage of boats, or the by-wash has brought silt down from the upper moorings. We had been looking in charity shops to see if we could find anything to leave in the niches in the lock bridge, and we left a couple on the off side. It will be interesting to see how long they stay there.

We swung round to go stern first onto the fueling berth. We had a bit of a wait for somebody came to serve us, but this gave us time to load up the car which was closer than where our mooring was. After 40 odd litres taken on we headed off, swung round to head to our mooring and then did a great reverse into our slot, stern first. The wind was very helpful as there was very little! Whilst Helen and I got the boat empty and readied for leaving the younger generations went off in search of a nesting swan. Perhaps luckily they didn't find it but they did wave to us from opposite the fuel berth. I have often wondered why on earth the marina would put up this sign, to be read from the water, when you would have thought that a boater would know it was deep water. One would have thought that it should have faced the other way to warn people on the land. It is not a new sign and has been changed since Aquavista took over the marina.

We were soon packed up and were off. We had a good run home and it was quite sad to leave our new recruit at her house with little brother, Mum and Dad, but she enjoyed herself so we hope to have her for longer in the summer. It maybe a different kettle of fish when No.1 Grandson can also come along. We will be even old then!

We have no idea when we will be back at the boat due to various factors but we love it so much that hopefully it wont be too long.

Wednesday 5 April 2023

There and Back Again.

 We weren't very early to get going, and we weren't going far so need to be.

When we were ready to leave an empty working boat 'Fenny' pulled away from the moorings just below us so we followed her. As they left Keepers Lock they promptly got stuck aground. They were empty but with a big stern trim so not sure what their draft was. Rather than pushing and shoving they asked for the water from our lock full to be used to flush them off. It worked and they sped off. I think that driving a working boat sound to be great fun, like living ion a wide beam boat, but I can't see either being very good for keeping low stress levels.

After dropping down Keepers, Hunts and Common Locks we winded below Bagnall Lock and moored up opposite the cricket football pitches on the off side. The resident bird life was so engaged to keep No.1 grand daughter amused. She didn't like the fact that the mallards were chasing of the only white duck and made sure that it got preferential treatment. 

Just by where we had moored somebody had carved an owl in the top of this topped tree. There was something lower down but I can't remember what it was! Obviously fairly recently as the wood hasn't weathered.

We crossed the bridge into the village centre and then went off to the right down a ginnel that led to the playing field. Down there were some cute little houses and again this tree carved with a couple of foxes/wolves.

We were heading to the playing fields as on an earlier trip we had spotted that there was a children's playground there with swings, climbing stuff, slides and the like and as the weather was excellent it would spend a pleasant hour or so tiring the grand daughter out. This was the view of the boat as wiled away the time.

The plan to use up some energy worked too well as she now decided that it was craft time and she would ride on the bow of the boat with her Aunty doing drawing and the like. For 4 years old she is extremely good at it, and that isn't just he very proud Pop Pop saying it.

We moored up again opposite the visitor centre and were in good time to pop over and have an ice cream each as a reward for a good day. It was lovely to see this sign at the apex of an old garage next to the first cottage on the way to the junction. 'Dencroft Fireproof Garage, Batley Yorks.'.

The company started in the early 1950's with this prefabricated asbestos sheet clad out buildings. I wonder how many of them are still erect today. The company is still in business today, still with the same name and in the same place, and still making fireproof garages, but now from sections of concrete. I should send them these pictures.

No.1 Grand daughter enjoyed watching the world go by from the side hatch, especially as the sun was feeling lovely and warm in the shelter of the boat.

After tea we went for another walk to make sleep come more easily and the boats up at the top of Shade House Lock were bathed in the late evening sun. It's a shame the fence was there ot it would have made a great picture.

Of course we had a turn round the reservoir on the way back and it made me think about three generations of Porter girls as we wandered along the boardwalk back to the boat.

The sun had just gone down as we got back to the boat and it was getting quite cold, so it was a good job that the stove was in. The dinette was so made up and No.1 Grand daughter readied for bed. For the second night I hadn't got past page three of the book before she was spark out. The trouble was that for the next few hours the three adults were battling to keep the eyes open too. We didn't fight it for too long I can assure you.

Tuesday 4 April 2023

New Recruit.

 After our visit home for the opera, which was excellent and a nice contemporary staging of it all, we were getting ready for our visitors to the boat. Friday night we had No.1 daughter and No.1 granddaughter to stay overnight at home. First thing on Saturday we were off down to Kings Bromley. We loaded up the boat and filled with water and then we were off.

From the right; granddaughter, grandmother and daughter (Aunty Mammy) doing the business at Wood End lock

She was soon wanting to do it all herself, and on some of the gates she could. Even had a go at winding the paddler gear but not quite so successful there. Not bad for 4!

Further instructions from the professional.

After the trip to Shade House Lock she decided to show me how to get in and out of the lock, and once again her way was obviously better, as it worked.

We went down through the locks to moor by the visitor centre having received information that there was plenty of moorings.

Our spy was non other than the No1. Volunteer Lock keeper at Fradley who had been working in the visitor centre and had waited of us to arrive. It was great to catch up again as it has been over a year since we had got together.

After tea it was out and about for a walk round the reservoir and a ride on the dragonfly whilst we were all thinking of 'How to Train your Dragon'.

The footpath was edged with cowslips, daffodils and violets and was a lovely end to the day, especially as we had it all to ourselves.

The fishing platforms made great playgrounds and gang planks etc. The bird hide opposite had two duck nesting on it's roof when we got round that side.

The dinette was transformed into a bed and made up. This impressed her and she was excited about going to bed. I'm not sure that Aunty, who was sharing, was looking forward to it quite so much, but after 5 minutes she was in deep sleep and slept through until 0530 when a fox was making a hell of a row by the boat and woke us all up. We collectively nodded off again until 0800.