Sunday, 20 September 2015

Increase in speed

Sunday 20 September.

Tonight we are in a wide bed and have access to a shower with running water. All the lights are on and the TV is going but not necessarily being watched.

Tomorrow we catch the flight towards home. Farwell Northern Summer 2015.

PS. An Indian summer is predicted for the next couple of weeks

Friday, 11 September 2015

Home at Furness Vale

Friday 11 September. 5 1/2 miles.

In to Marple this morning to buy the last few things on my DIY list. Diana did her favorite Marple, Charity shop. Made it back to the marina by 1600 to a welcome from members of the Furness vale Boat Club (FVBC) and others on the Marina. Tonight was the first FVBC meeting of the winter which we attended to hear stories of others travels. Once again we had done the most miles and been away the longest this summer. I received devastating news. the local chippie closed down a month ago and I had been looking forward to a couple of their meals this week. It was one of the best we have tried in England. I wonder what will close next year as the Post office/corner shop closed last year while we were traveling.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Top end of the Macclesfield

Tuesday 8 September. 8 1/4 miles.

Headed off north with a stop at Macclesfield. Diana wanted to go to a couple of the larger chemist chains to stock up on product to bring home. I checked out a DIY to start filling the list of what I need to get Molly ready for winter. Carried on to Bollington for the night.

Wednesday 9 September. 3 1/4 miles.

Walked into Bollington. Wanted to go to the butcher there. Before that we climbed the 500ft up to "White Nancy" A great lookout where we could see almost all of the area we covered last year and across to Wales this year. Walked down again to see the butcher. Sorry, half day Wednesday. Had a late lunch at a cafe we have passed before but has always been closed. Very nice. They have a gold award for their sandwiches. Back to the boat via a Charity shop. Moved on up to Higher Poynton for the night.

Thursday 10 September. 4 miles.

Caught a bus to Poynton. Only 2 miles away but up hill all the way back. Diana had heard she would find the best Charity shops there as it was on the edge of the "footballers triangle". I didn't look in too many so can't comment but I did find the best small town DIY shop so far. Found a number of goodies that were on my list. We also found a place to mix the paint to match across the back of the boat. It has been bugging me for the last 2 summers. I hope to get it on this coming week. Moved on to Marple, where the second best DIY shop is although there aren't many things on the list now. There is an old Cinema here so went to the movies tonight. They still have an interval with the ice cream girl moving through the theater. The movie was "45 years". Not bad but wouldn't put it on the must see list

Monday, 7 September 2015

Top of the hill

5 September, 8 miles, 1 lock, 1 tunnel.

Away from Stoke after a quick farewell to Peter and Jennifer. Arrived at the Harecastle tunnel entrance with the expectation of a bit of a wait. As we pull up the lock (tunnel) keeper arrives to give us the briefing about the transit, A little more detail since last years incident when a bloke fell of the back of his boat and drowned. How long before we go? your on your way now. Took a few minutes to set the boat up for the trip and we were away. 40 minutes later we were out the other side into sunshine. Turned up the Macclesfield canal and motored through delightful countryside to Congleton. Wandered around to Marian & Alan's where we were invited for tea and to use the washing machine. Back to the boat for a not to late night. The autumn evenings are starting to get a bit cool so the heater was run for an hour or so before bed.

6 September. 0 miles.

Went down the hill to the town centre and their Sunday car boot market. Not a lot there but a big variety. Diana picked up some Art Deco stuff and I picked up a couple of prints. After lunch and a bit of food shopping I left Diana in the Charity shops and went back to the boat to do a bit of maintenance. Walked to the bowling club where Alan was in a competition and Marian was making cups of tea. At the completion of the bowls we picked up Diana and went to the Young Pretender. A boutique bar/restaurant. They have award winning pies which are something special. This was our second visit and I expect it will be a regular stop in Congleton. Alan & Marian's son, John and Grandson Harry were also there. We have heard a lot about the family so it was great to meet a couple of them. Back to the house for tea & coffee before returning to the boat.

7 September. 5 1/2 miles, 12 locks.

A beautiful day. Set of mid morning and stopped for lunch at the bottom of the locks. Nobody was coming down so thought we had better start. I went to empty the first lock and was pleased to see a boat a couple of locks away. We waited for them to come down so we could go straight in. This set the trend for the rest of the day except for 1 lock which we had to empty. Part way up we chatted to a couple who were at the next table when we were having coffee yesterday. A bit further up we got chatting to a couple walking towpaths. They opened gates for us and generally made the day easier. After the top lock we stopped for water and they walked on. On their way back we offered them a cuppa tea which they willingly accepted so we had a good old chat on the towpath  for an hour or so. The weather remained nice so we had dinner on the towpath as well. "Top of the Hill". We are now at the same height as the marina so no more locks this year.

Friday, 4 September 2015

These Potteries have us in their grip

Friday 4 September. 2 miles

We are off, heading to Congleton hoping to make it in time for Fish & Chips with Marian and Alan. Well that didn't happen. Moored up outside Burleigh Pottery and went in for coffee. Left Diana working her way through the factory shop while I did a couple of jobs on the boat. Cut off time to get away is 1400. This will give us plenty of time to get through Harecastle tunnel if we just miss a northbound convoy. As we pass Westport Lake I spy a familiar boat belonging to a couple from Tasmania. Pull over and chat to Peter until Jennifer arrives back from the charity shops in Tunstall. By this time we wont make the tunnel tonight so socialise some more. Great to catch up with friends we only see occasionally. Maybe Congleton tomorrow!

Thursday, 3 September 2015


Wednesday 2 September. 5 miles. 6 locks.

Set of on a 30 minute walk to "World of Wedgwood". We were here back in 2015 and the route was almost direct to the museum/factory. Since then the place has changed hands and a developer is building a large estate of quality housing so we have to walk around this to get there. Talked to the reception about the changes. The Museum is the same. The Factory tour is booked until 1200, that's a bit late and once again we are in the potteries during factory close down week. So we decide to do the Kiwi thing and look around all the free bits. Their new display area is brilliant. The designer of the whole complex has shown off the quality and elegance of the Wedgwood name to the highest standard. The place has only been open 2 or 3 months so there is a lot still to be done around the fringes of the complex. Will visit again in a couple of years. Had lunch on the move as we continued north towards the Macclesfield. The last few locks took longer than expected so cut short today's journey at Etruria. While we were in the top lock I stuck my nose around the corner and saw a couple of spots to moor. Turned the corner and decided stop for water. So while there two boats appear from nowhere and grab my spots. That turned out to be a good thing as there was a boat "Whio" flying the NZ flag so asked to Breast up, which we did. A very social couple of hours with Don & Val from Auckland who are in their 3rd year of no winters.

Thursday 3 September. 0 miles.

The day is a bit grey and cold. Lunchtime before we are organised. Take a walk to Stoke to visit the Portmeirion pottery. On the way we see a sign for the Spode Visitor centre. It is closed but we wander in as the door is open. Get some funny looks but after we say we have come from NZ to visit we are invited to have a look around. One of the Trustees of the preservation society takes us under his wing and explains what they are trying to do. Turns out he retired a few months before the receivers moved in. He was their top engraver so got a very good insight into that side of the operation. Most impressed. We did get to Portmeirion but it was just a factory shop. I had thought we had been to all the potteries but we seem to keep finding more. Diana has at least 2 to visit next time we are passing.


Monday 31 August. 5 boat lengths.

Wet, Wet Wet. Mid morning took a walk down a muddy towpath to see if there were any moorings closer to town. No but there was a concrete path a bit further along. Lunch on board then with a bit of a break in the weather wandered into Stone. Had a coffee and used their internet. Rachel rang to see where we were as they were looking at the option of a night with us. Did some food shopping then back to the boat to see where they could park their van. Moved the boat down to the area of sealed path and found a carpark about 100 yds away. Rang Rachel with the details and they turned up after 6. Spent the evening on the boat chatting about where they had been and done before they went back to the van for the night,

Tuesday 1 September. 4 1/2 miles, 8 locks.

Rachel & Trevor joined us before breakfast before they headed off to Liverpool. Better weather today so after watering and a Pump-out we joined a queue of 3 to start up the locks. A good day as there was traffic the otherway emptying locks for us. Still passing through places we have seen before but have to look back to recognise a lot of them. Going to have a look at the new Wedgwood World tomorrow so moor up opposite the factory

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Sunday is Roast day

Sunday 30 August. 7 miles, 3 locks.

Still cruising up the Trent valley towards the Macclesfield canal. Stopped so we could go to the village of Salt. Why? Because it is Sunday and the "Holly Bush Inn" is there. Reputed to be the oldest Inn in Staffordshire, dating back to the 16th century. A quaint thatched roofed black and white. Nice roast but not a patch on last Sunday's in Willington. Other than the Inn, the church and one row of old cottages the rest were 20th century plus. Have moored up tonight a bit out of Stone. Being Bank Holiday weekend the place is full. The upside is that there was enough traffic on the canal so at every lock there was a boat to come down and empty the lock for us.


Saturday 29 August. 11 miles, 3 locks.

A day of cruising through the Trent valley. Passed through Handsacre, Armitage, Rugeley with a stop for lunch at Wolseley Bridge. Took a walk into Little Haywood to look at an Abbey but you couldn't get passed the front gate. Moored up for the night a couple of miles passed Great Hayward.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Another tick

Friday 28 August. 5 miles, 8 locks.

We went to the butcher in Alrewas to stock the fridge. Then off towards Fradley Junction. This is a place we remember well. Back in 2010 on Llanarrow as we approached a lock I lost reverse gear. Thats not too bad except when you put the controls into reverse the throttle is opened. Here I am approaching a lock, wanting to slow down so into reverse I go and the boat accelerates, something wrong, try again and we are going faster instead of slower. Leap off the boat, grab the centre rope and struggle to stop the boat with brute force. Once we have stopped I noticed that the prop was still turning. I now have some idea of what has happened so kill the engine. Well that is why we remember Fradley. The other significant thing about Fradley is that passing this point means we have now navigated the entire length of the Trent and Mersey canal. Tick in the box. Travelled on up the canal until it started getting very windy and uncomfortable so pulled over for the night. Moored up amongst the weeds. Happens that it is the same spot we  moored up on 6th July 2010 with friends Robert and Mary, from New Plymouth, on board.

Touristy things

Monday 24 August. 7 miles, 2 locks.

Took a walk up to Mercia Marina which I am told is the largest inland marina in England. Talked to a broker about the process of selling, not that that is the plan just yet but a bit of preliminary research. Talked with the Marina staff about their conditions of mooring there in case we decide to move the boat further south. Back to the boat for lunch then set off south, up the canal. Passed through Burton upon Trent as we hadn't read anything about the place that made us want to stop. Finally moored up next to Branston Water Park. The sunset was so spectacular that all the boaters were out to watch the fiery sky.

Tuesday 25 August. 2 miles, 1 lock.

We took a walk around the perimeter of the water park expecting to see a lot of wildlife but we probably see more on the canals every day than what was there. Perhaps there is more to see during breeding season. Walked into Branston, a town cut in two by a major highway. The smaller part, nearer to the canal was older while the other side was being developed with a large housing estate and new shopping centre. We set off again for the short trip to Barton Turn where we were going to stop only for a short time to visit Barton-under-Needwood. We had read that it was worth the 1 mile walk. Another lovely village with a variety of buildings worth looking at. On the way back the rain came down so we stopped at Barton Marina for a coffee. This and Mercia have been developed as places for the public to visit. Large restaurants, Pubs and farm shops are there to make it attractive for other than boaties to visit. Too wet to move on so here for the night.

Wednesday 26 August. 2 1/2 miles, 3 locks.

Still raining when we woke so no rush to get going. Late morning the sun started to poke through so off we go straight into the first lock. The next lock is a couple of miles away as we follow alongside the same noisy highway that had a continuous stream of traffic all night. At the second lock we moored up well back and Diana went to set the lock. The heavens opened so I leave the boat and take the brolly up to her. Through the lock, back on the boat, rain stops and the sun is out for the rest of the day. Interesting how the heavy showers know when Diana will be standing beside a lock. Next stop is Alrewas where it is reputed to have the best butcher on the canal system. After lunch we walk the mile or so to the National Memorial Arboretum. 150 acres of woodland with 300 memorials to groups and individuals. There were two memorials that got my attention. "Shot at Dawn" 306 posts representing the British and commonwealth soldiers shot for cowardice or desertion during WW1. They have recently all received a pardon. The other was the Armed Forces Memorial with the names of all service personnel who have died on duty since the second world war. There were thousands of them and the sad part is that there is room for thousands more names to be added. I found the name of a family friend from New Plymouth who died in a Jaguar crash while a member of the RAF. Returned to the boat via crossing that busy road just after 5pm. Dual carriageway with a safety zone in the middle. Waited 6 minutes to bet to the safety zone and then another couple to make it all the way across.

Thursday 27 August. 0 miles.

Decide we would take a bus to Lichfield today. The bus runs every hour and we missed one by 5 minutes. Spent the time looking and photographing some of those typical english village houses. One was having the final touches of a new thatched roof being put on. Looked so fresh. In Lichfield we visited the Cathedral. Probably not quite as big as Liverpool but most impressive. Wandered around taking in the variety of well presented old buildings. Visited Erasmus Darwin's house and museum. He was the grandfather of Charles Darwin. I think they promote it the wrong way around. It should be that Charles Darwin was Erasmus's grandson. I had not heard of him before and was fascinated with his inventions. Now back on the boat for the night.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Last of the biggies

Saturday 22 August, 4 1/2 miles, 3 locks.

I walked to the Marina below Shardlow on the River Trent. Plenty of boats and a great variety of narrowboats, cruisers & sea going  launches.  A bit of a tidy up around the boat and some R & R before we went to visit the Shardlow Heritage Centre. Once again a small museum that excelled in the displays because it was operated by enthusiastic volunteers. Set off on a beautiful, warm to us, hot to the locals, day. Meandered along with pleasant surroundings but nothing spectacular. Due to the heat of the day the thunderstorms started to build up about 1600 so we watched them closely. Continued motoring through the edge of some rain until a big one threatened. Moored up just in time. 20 minutes later we could continue on but decided not to. Nice evening followed although a bit noisy. Commercial airfield and race car circuit within 5 miles. The farmer was disking the field next door till late in the night. I guess he was trying to beat the storms that are forecast. The odd coal train rattled by and the dogs in the pound stopped barking after dark. The police helicopter was not far away searching for something about 0100. Despite this it was a nice place that felt like it was out in the sticks, to spend the night.

Sunday 23 August. 6 1/2 miles. 2 locks.

A lovely morning to continue our trundle through Derbyshire. At the first lock there was a bit of traffic so we waited our turn which was lucky as another boat arrived in time to join us through the lock. They then followed us the three miles to the next and last double lock. The two lockies went up to the lock and then came back with smiles on their faces as there were a couple of lock keepers on duty and they wanted to do all the work. It should be a bit easier from here on as we are back into single locks again. As we approached Willington the drizzle threatened so Diana walked ahead and found a big enough slot just 4 boat lengths away from one of three pubs in the town. Sunday Roast sounds good. Checked out the first pub which was more a restaurant type overlooking the canal. The second one advertised food but when we went in they didn't. Third time lucky. Went in to what had a nice english pub atmosphere and asked for a menu. "Don't have a menu, all we have today is a Roast". Well I have to say that was the best Roast so far with the tenderest cut of beef I have had for some time. So with belly full of roast and a pint the rest of the day was very relaxing.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Anchor Away

Friday 21 August. 11 1/2 miles, 4 locks

A day of travel. First 3 miles were on a wide deep canal which took us to Beeston where we locked up about two feet onto the River Trent which we followed until locking up onto the Trent & Mersey Canal just past the intersection with the River Derwent. Moored up in Shardlow. Now we are off rivers the anchor can come off roof and be stowed below.


Wednesday 19 August. 0 miles.

Touristy things today. I went into town early to the information centre then did a bit of a scout around to hind the Castle etc. Took a wrong turning and ended up back where I started. We both set off later and walked to the Robin Hood statue. Took a look at the, so called Castle. There has been a building in some form here for centuries and the sandstone rock it stands on gives magnificent views around the area. The latest building on the site is now a museum. We took the tour where all we did was walk around the outside and hear the history of all the previous owners and what buildings had been there. The second part of the tour took us into the caves and tunnels of the rock with some gory details of what had happened down there. After lunch went to the  Nottingham Contemporary gallery where there was an exhibition about Chatswood house and its furniture. A house to visit that is on Diana's bucket list. The next two recommended visits didn't make us want to rush in so gave them a miss. Back on the boat for tea.

Thursday 20 August. 1/4 mile, 1 lock.

A bus trip today to visit Wollaton House. The very impressive  house of the Willoughby family whose fortune is from coal mining and other industrial enterprises. Massive gardens which now belong to Nottingham council and are free to visit. We also took a tour of the Victorian Kitchens. They were closed up many years ago just as they were. They have now been renovated to as they were. Wandered around Nottingham taking photos of a big variety of buildings. Back on the boat we turned it around, came up one lock the moored up again. I now have a 3 mile run in the morning without needing Diana for locks. We had not been to the oldest Inn in England , "Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem" so went in for a drink and stayed for a meal before returning to the boat.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Book 6

Monday 17 August. 8 1/2 miles, 4 locks.

Up Early and polished the side of the boat I washed yesterday. Set off Northeast through countryside keeping clear of weir's that are just before each lock. Called into Loughborough where there is a large Tesco's beside the canal basin. Leaving the townscape behind we trundle along until we moor up at the last available spot. Happens to be opposite a nice pub, That's a positive. Over a mile each way to the nearest bridge to cross the river. Thats a negative. Sat on the towpath watching the wild life, picked a few blackberries then washed the other side of the boat. We are right under the final approach to East Midlands airfield and Ryan Air are doing circuits in a B737.

Tuesday 18 August. 12 1/2 miles, 8 locks.

Polished the other side of the boat before heading off. Caught up with a boat and went through the next 7 locks with them. Although the mileage was high for the day we were on rivers where the speed limit is 6 and 8 mph. Molly can produce a mighty bow wave. I have decided that we are a few hours travel in credit to get back to Furness Vale so at the Junction of the Rivers Soar and Trent we turn right heading down the Trent to Nottingham, where we are now moored. As we approach Nottingham Jim, from Preston rings to find out where we are. He and Ann are in the area and join us for dinner in town before they continue on their way.

The title refers to the Waterways guides I use. We have not been on the River Trent before so I had to open book 6 as my guide to where we were going.

Monday, 17 August 2015


Sunday 16 August. 1 1/2 miles, 1 lock.

Beautiful morning so chated to the neighbors for a while. Walked back to the village and Farm shop. Nothing great in the farm shop but there was an attached Motor Museum. No one was around to get information from but I think it is one guys collection. He was into Austin's so that made it very interesting to me. The one lock we did was easy. Went through with a family and the kids were keen to do everything. During our long travels between villages to day we stopped for water where there was a lot of activity which meant dodging families in row boats, canoes, bicycles on floats and a pedal power dingy. Stopped before the next lock and walked into "Barrow upon Soar". Another delightful village.Visited a pub for an ale on the way back to the boat where it was domestic time with Diana washing cloths and I washed one side of the boat.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

On the River Soar

Saturday 15 August. 10 miles 8 locks.

The only boat going our way was breasted up with us but got away well before we were ready. Sun's shining and off we head. As we are about to close the gate at the first lock Diana sees a boat coming so we wait. It is a 28ft cabin cruiser that had been behind us on the moorings but was facing the other way so had not considered them as company in the locks. The difference is that at 28ft they could do a "U" turn. Today we had company on all 8 locks. It was a lovely run on the River Soar with deep water making the boat work better. The only hitch was a rubbish filled section where the cabin cruiser got stopped with a plastic bag around the prop. As we went past we picked up a plastic bag and part of a pack which stopped us in our tracks. We both got the props cleared and carried on. Moored up tonight at Mountsorrel. Took a walk into the village where there are a number of stone buildings. this probably because there were a number of Quarries in the area. Walk to the top of a hill where you could see for miles. Nice to be up a bit and get some idea of where you are and have been.

Rain Delay

Friday 14 August. 0 miles.

Although the forecast was for heavy rain and thunder not much feel on Leicester overnight. At the first lock we drop down onto the river . There are warning boards to tell you what the water level is and whether one should proceed or not. The difficulty is that you don't know till you get there. I phoned a lock keeper and he said that there was no warnings at the moment but it was bucketing down where he was and the river could be in flood in a couple of hours. After further discussion we decided to stay another day as where we are is secure from water level changes. Found a good sized Tesco supermarket two blocks away so did a big shop. I went back again just before tea to top up the cellar. The day was drizzly and after pottering around town we gave up, found a very good local museum and then came back to the boat by 1700.

Thursday, 13 August 2015


With VJ Day celebrations this weekend there was the added pleasure of motering down the canals with a Spitfire doing aerobatics overhead and then looked like it joined up with three others in the distance. The next day a hunter jet passes overhead in it's way somewhere. No photos, just enjoyed the experience.

On our own.

Monday 10 August, 11 miles, 3 locks, 2 swing bridges, 1 tunnel.

Rachel & Trevor are all packed up and waiting for their rental to arrive between 9 & 10. After a few delays it arrived and they were on their way by 1100. We set off just before 12 and motored back down to Foxton where we turned north. A nice rural run with many twist and turns. As we were going through the Saddington tunnel, which is two way, I missed a great photo opportunity. The reflections were perfect and the exit portal was a complete circle. Half way through I could see the shape of a narrow boat on the other side of the tunnel. As we got closer to the other boat, still outside the tunnel, it looked like it was suspended in the middle of the portal circle. Quite eerie and confusing on the brain. Did three locks after the tunnel then moored up between locks for the night. That proved to be a good decision as there were no places to moor during the following days run.

Tuesday 11 August. 4 1/2 miles 9 locks.

We set of for Kilby Bridge, the recommended last place to stop before the run into Leicester. On the way we pass the only small village for miles. There is no where to moor up so I sit on a lock mooring while Diana takes a walk into the village. While she is away I help 3 boats through the lock. Diana returns disappointed as she didn't find anything interesting. We continue on to Kilby Bridge, Fill with water and moor up for the night watching for boats that may be going to Leicester tomorrow. The local pub is recommended and it is Curry night. Very nice it was. Back to the boat and there is one moored up pointing our way. No, they are having a day off and not going our way in the morning.

Wednesday 12 August. 8 miles, 12 locks.

Away at a reasonable hour and plod off by ourselves. Beautiful warm day. After 7 locks we stop under some trees, get out the chairs and enjoy lunch on the towpath. Not a common activity this summer. The next lock takes us down onto the River Soar where the water is a bit deeper and Molly is happiest. Finally we arrive at the mooring alongside Castle Park. All spots taken and nobody around so we breast up alongside a boat we had been through 3 locks with yesterday. Of the 24 double locks we have done in the last three days these were the only ones we paired up for. The moorings we are on are fenced off from the park and the gate is locked, also the park is locked at night so feel safe here. After tea we take a walk into to town to see what's there. Locate the market, Cathedral, and part of the shopping centre. Found a Gelato shop, one of the top 6 in the country. Prices reflect that but the quality was superb.

Thursday 13 August. 0 miles.

Shuffled the boat around to let others out and end up attached to the pontoon. Into the market where it was interesting listening to the banter of the sellers. Mid afternoon friends from Bristol join us in town for lunch and then they come back to the boat where we chat for a couple of hours before they resume their journey to Sheffield. Nice to have a bit of a gentle day.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

You never know who you will meet.

Wednesday 5 August. 0 miles

A bit of a late get up. Walked into Braunston to see what the Chandler had. Bought a couple of LED's to try and replace the fluorescents in the kitchen. Visited the Church, Butcher and supermarket before walking via the marina back to the boat. NB Lady Esther was moored up with nobody on board. The adjacent boat said they were at the pub so off we go and as we walk in the door Angie leaps from her chair with instant recognition. Spent a couple of hours with her, Dave and his sister before back to the boat for tea. Later on Diana, Rachel Trevor & I wandered back down the towpath to spend another couple of hours with Dave & Angie on Lady Esther.

Thursday 6  August. 9 miles, 13 locks (inc a staircase of 4)

As we got side tracked from leaving yesterday it was an early start and away by eight. The first 6 double locks we did by ourselves and had to empty all locks to set them. An odd bit of drizzle on the way up. Moored up for breakfast and then a boat coming the other way pulls in behind and it is Geoff and Debbie who moor a few berths away at Furness Vale. They are travelling with the boat that lives next door at Furness Vale. After breakfast we head off into the Braunston tunnel with Trevor at the helm. Past a few boats coming the other way. At Norton junction we make the left turn. Pretty tight so Trevor takes a couple of goes at getting round the corner. Next feature of the day is the Watford locks with a staircase of 4. We check in with the lock keeper and there is about an hours delay. The hour is spent having a very enjoyable lunch on the tow path in warm sunny weather. When it is our turn we are first in and quickly rise to the top of the locks. Next lock is 20 odd miles away. Through the Crick tunnel then moor up for the night. Into town for a look around, an Ale at the pub & resupply from the food store. Back on the boat for tea when the couple we came down the Hatton flight with wander past and have a chat. Got some tired crew tonight.


Friday 7 August. 17 1/2 miles, 10 locks, 1 tunnel.

Set off planning to call into the Crick Marina for a look around this well known boating centre. At the last entrance to the marina we found an empty berth on the canal. Shortly after a local queries our intentions. Then just before we are to walk in Management arrives and tells us there are no facilities to look at and sends us on our way. The first part of today we are not going any where near villages and the view is a bit obstructed by trees. Later on it is great views over the farmland and a beautiful day. A joy to be boating. We arrive at the Foxton Locks about 1700 and moor up well back from the top so I can walk forward to see what is happening. Talk to the lock keeper who says we can come down but be quick as there are boats to come up. By the time we get back with the boat the situation has changed and we will have to wait for three boats coming up. At 1800 we are on our way down the first 5 of the staircase where we wait so three coming up can pass. Down the last 5 and out the bottom by 1845. Moor at the bottom and have a great dinner that has been prepared and cooking for a couple of hours. Finish the evening with a visit to "Bridge 61", a very traditional Pub.

Saturday 8 August 5 1/2 miles, 2 swing bridges.

A beautiful day. The morning is spent looking around the Foxton locks and the remains of the old boat incline. We had been told by others that this was the prettiest set of locks. We would have to agree. It just felt nice to be alive on the canals in England. In the afternoon we set off up the branch to Market Harborough and moored up in the basin at Union Wharf. Pleasant surroundings with residential housing, small businesses and a restaurant. Rachel and Trevor head off to town to locate a rental car company and buy a B & B book. Diana and I went in a bit later and meet up for Fish & Chips sitting on a bench in the square. One of the things Trevor wanted to do back here in England. Spent the evening sitting on a bench outside the Canal Club office using their wifi.

Sunday 9 August. 0 miles.

Trevor has been using his mechanical skills to check out and give me advice on looking after Molly Rose's inner workings. I then made a horrible mess doing an oil change. Trevor and Rachel skyped home and sorted out transport for the next 3 weeks. Diana went to the antique market in town. We followed in later for lunch and food shopping to restock before heading off on our separate ways tomorrow. It has been great to have them on board for the last 10 days. they can now understand why we are over here.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015


Tuesday 4 August. 8 miles, 13 locks.

A nice but windy day. Double locks all the way. The first two we paired up for then we stopped for water. Good that we stopped for water but then did the rest by ourselves. With two extra crew on board we made good progress at our pace not having to worry about others. The wind made it tricky getting into some locks with a bit of crashing the sides at times. After the first 10 we had a lunch break before getting to the last 3. Between 2 and 3 we pulled into a boatyard for a pump out, gas & diesel. Then Trevor took the tiller and brought us through to Braunston. Following a busy day it was into the pub for drinks and dinner. A short walk through the town then back on the boat for an early night. All pretty tired.

Long Itchington

Monday 3 August. 4 1/2 miles, 10 locks.

A bit grey to start but a nice day overall. Started of with 6 reasonable spaced locks and then finished with a couple close together and then a staircase of 2.
Moored up at Long Itchington. Had lunch then walked into the village which we had been to in 2010. returned to the boat via a public path through the fields. Few drinks on board before dinner. An early night required with a flight of 8 locks to start our day tomorrow.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Leaving Warwick

Friday 31 July. 0 miles.

Made our way to Warwick Raceway to meet Rachel & Trevor off the bus from London. Back to the boat for lunch, followed by a walk into Warwick to look at St Mary's Church, Lord Leycester Hospital, Walked around the outside of the Castle then back into town for tea at a pub in the square before back to the boat to show the guests how to make up their bed.

Saturday 1 August. 0 miles.

Market day. Late breakfast so called it Brunch. Then into the market which although a lot of stalls, there was nothing spectacular. A visit to the museum was followed by a visit to 45 High street. This is the house my Granny lived in before the family emigrated to NZ in 1906. Diana and I have been there twice before. It was great to be able to take Rachel there and have Shirley show her around. Tea on the boat tonight. Made contact with Regan to wish him a happy 21st birthday.

Sunday 2 August. 4 miles, 2 locks.

Headed off before midday and made our way east. Trevor & Rachel had their first lessons on locks befor mooring up in Leamington Spa. Took a walk around town and visited "The Art in the Park" event. Moved on to a country location, adjacent to a field with poppies, for the night. It was one out of the box with sunshine and warmth while we had snacks and drinks on the back of the boat.

Thursday, 30 July 2015


Thursday 30 July. 0 miles. ?? op shops.

Well not quite 0 miles today. we were breasted up last night and this morning the other boat wanted to move. I untied the front and pushed the bow to the other side of the canal. They slid their boat out the gap and I pushed the bow back and tied up again. Ballet on water. A quiet day after yesterday's locks. In the afternoon we wandered into Warwick where I went to the library and found a book about the house my Granny lived in as a teenager before the family emigrated to NZ. Managed to photocopy the relevant pages. Got in touch with Rachel (daughter) who flew into Heathrow last night. Her and Trevor are arriving by bus tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing them and showing them the warwick connection.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Hatton flight to Warwick

Tuesday 28 July. 6 1/2 miles, 15 locks, 1 Tunnel.

Down another 15 locks today. stopped after 9 for lunch. The canal guide said there were some useful shops so hoping for a bakery or similar we set off. Well if you wanted to buy some tiles or have your looks improved then they were useful. After looking around a bit it was back to our regular "Molly Rose" cafe. Finished off the rest of the locks and took the link from the Stratford Canal to the Grand Union Canal and moored up at the top of the Hatton Flight.

Wednesday 29 July. 2 1/2 miles, 21 Locks.

The Hatton flight is one of those well known/talked about places on the system. They are double locks, first for us this season. We went up them in 2010 so now it is time to go down. We are not a fan of going through doubles by ourselves as the boat can get thrown about a bit if you are not careful. Also the gates are twice as heavy. We left our mooring and went to sit on the lock moorings with the intention of waiting up to an hour for someone to join us. The couple who we had moored behind last night were taking on water so we arranged to go down with them. It was about an hour later that we all had our acts together and set off. As we entered the first lock 4 other boats turned up and the next 4 hours were spent with these crews chasing and pushing. Must be new to boating as they certainly don't understand "Canal time". The weather was fine but cool except for the one heavy summer shower that got us wet and running for rain coats. We ended the day reversing up an old canal arm at Warwick for a bit of slow time for a few days.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Going down again

Monday 27 July. 2 miles, 4 locks, 2 Draw Bridges.

A brief glimmer of sunshine to get us motivated this morning. Walked into Hockley Heath to visit the McLaren showroom. Had a bit of a dream as I sat in a McLaren 650S Spider. 
In my colour too!
Maybe I could afford this bit?
Then next door was the Rolls Royce showroom so kicked a few tyres there. I reckon I could afford one of the second hand ones: if we sold the house and lived on the boat. The McLaren was the pick of the bunch. Left the mooring in dry but threatening weather. Stopped after 4 locks so we could visit Packwood house, another National trust house. Diana had been there in 2010 but this was my first visit.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Looking for positives

Sunday 26 July. 4 miles.

Another one out of the box. "Yeh right". After enjoying a reasonable day traveling on the canals yesterday we were looking forward to a bit more of the same today. Didn't happen. Rained all morning then reduced to drizzle so headed off to The Wharf Tavern at Hockley Heath for Sunday Roast. Not too bad in the drizzle but arrived cold. Managed a mooring only 3 boats away from the tavern so that was a positive for the day. We had a nice Sunday Roast, not the best ever but another positive for the day. Stayed a couple of hours in the warm before returning to the boat in more rain. I don't expect to venture out again today. When we went for lunch we entered via the towpath and car park. Before we left I put my nose out the front door and there across the road was a McLaren showroom. Millions of pounds worth of exotic cars on display. Will go and have a look tomorrow when the show room is open. Another positive.

Saturday, 25 July 2015


Saturday 25 July, 11 miles, 1 Draw bridge.

The promise of a rain free day was thwarted with a couple of showers in the morning. Moved off the mooring at 1100 and after a many point turn got the boat turned and then moved 50 yds to fill up with water. Probably the lowest pressure we have struck. There is a sign in the shower that says hot water is not available when a boat is taking on water due to low pressure. In the 45 minutes it took to fill the tank I managed to wash the side of the boat. We left Birmingham slowly as the run down past Gas street is worth absorbing. Just a nice place to be. Then we headed south towards Worcester before turning east on to the Stratford-on-Avon Canal. At this point we are still in Birmingham and not the best place to moor. We travel on and get a pump out at a boatyard who advise we should go past bridge 8 before stopping. Soon after bridge 8 we are into a cutting with overhanging trees which make it a bit dark. At the first bit of canal with no trees overhead we moor up between bridge 11 & 12 for the night.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Still in Birmingham

Tuesday 21 July. 0 miles.

Diana is back from Scotland this afternoon so a domestic day inside and to the supermarket to stock up on supplies. Meet her at the station then stopped on the way home for a coffee. In the evening we went to Brindley Place which is full of restaurants and bars. Diana's choice, as it is the first time we have been alone together since her birthday. Nice meal plus desert.

Wednesday 22 July. 0 miles.

We have a booking for the 1015 tour of "Back to Backs". A National Trust property. There are 6 three storied house, 3 face the street and 3 the court yard. In the yard is the washhouse and the loos. All shared by the 90 people that lived there in 1840. We went through 3 houses. One representing the 1840's, one the 1930's, and the last one as it was last occupied in 1970. A good insight into living conditions in the industrial age.
The Fish and Meat market was close so we wandered through there. If we had a freezer on the boat I could have filled it with stuff that Diana wouldn't touch. Great selection of Crustaceans and offal. After lunch we walked in a different direction to visit the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter. It was the last tour of the day and got a bit rushed as the guide, obviously had to have us back to the shop before it closed. We were taken through the smelting, cutting, stamping, soldering and polishing of silver and gold products. A factory that was closed and left as it was until opening as a museum.

Thursday 23 July. 0 miles.

A lazy morning till after lunch then off to the Coffin Museum. A bit different. Newman Bro's closed down in the 60's and the place was the way it was then. They didn't make coffins but did make all the bits and pieces to dress a coffin. We were shown how all the handles, name plates, etc were stamped and polished. Then into the sewing room to see the shrouds and linings. A comprehensive tour of how it was, including how the orders were processed and who made the tea. The cups were still on the kitchen sink. The guides name was "Cornelius" and looked like a character from The Munsters.
Next was the "Pen Museum". The guide here was half blind and almost totally deaf resulting in some interesting answers to questions we asked. Once again we were taken through the process of how a nib is pressed and bent, in fact we made a nib ourselves. Then we were taken through a large collection of pens, nibs, nib boxes, ink. wells, typewriters, stamps, stenography and braille machines. It is great that all these collections are being saved. Not sure who will look after them when the present generation of volunteers die. We split up then as Diana wanted to go to the Rag market and I had been told about a model train museum. My museum was still being developed. It had a number of train sets running but no museum type stuff. It looked a bit like Train World in Napier. Heaps of potential for a tourist destination. Diana's Rag market was just as exciting.

Friday 24 July. 0 miles.

It had been our intention to leave Birmingham so we were away from the noisy bars before the weekend. Woke to a cold and drizzly day so decided to wait for the promised improving weather around lunch time. Still waiting. After a relaxing morning and lunch on board we put on the wet weather gear and walked into town for a coffee. If we didn't I think Cabin fever could have got the better of us. Back home for a nice dinner of fresh pasta and greens. Recharged the batteries, turned on the heater and settled in for the night.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Kiwi Bachelor's

Sunday 19 July. 0 miles

A bit of a sleep in followed by a tidy up of the boat and a couple of hours of engine running to bring the batteries up. After lunch I set off on the tow path down the Birmingham & Fazeley canal  to Aston  junction then followed the Digbeth branch to the Science Museum. They had a new Spitfire gallery that sounded good. There was a Spitfire and Hurricane hanging from the ceiling which was good to see but the rest of the museum was in the new style. Interactive for kids. Nothing wrong with that but not my kind of museum. Took a wonder through Digbeth then made my way back to Snow Hill station where a steam train excursion from Stratford was due. Great to see this old locomotive come into the station pulling a great line of antique carriages. I had earlier contemplated doing the trip to Stratford and back but not something to do by yourself. Back to the boat for tea and to bed to the sounds of confrontation from the pub across the water. Didn't expect that on a Sunday night.

Monday 20 July. 0 miles.

Late start again. Did the weekly checks on the boat and dried out the bilges. Recharged the batteries on the boat, PC & tablets. After lunch walked a different area of the canals and into town where the Rugby world cup road show was on display. Reminded some that we were the holders. Pity I wasn't wearing my RWC shirt. Passed Are'n'are and chated with Barry. Sampled some home brew and then set off for the pub. Sandra is off the boat at the moment. Two Kiwi bachelor's spent a pleasant night together.

Saturday, 18 July 2015


Tuesday 7 July. 5 1/2 miles, 1 Tunnel.

On the way south we stop at High Onn Bridge and walk a mile into Church Eaton. Nice little isolated village with the usual variety of buildings. Got talking to a local about the buildings and he asks us how old we think a Black and White building is. Turns out to be 30 years old. When you look at the Oak closely it is all symmetrical and has regular saw cuts. He also sent us down a side road where the old vicarage has been renovated and now on the market for around 8 million. Back to the boat for lunch then off we go. No cooling water coming through the engine so back onto the bank for a look see. The pump belt is so loose it is not driving the pump, A bit of rope and cable tie sorts the problem out and we cautiously head off to Wheaton Aston where there is road access to the canal. Ring the River Canal Rescue (AA of the waterways). Very good service over the phone and will have an engineer with us in the morning. We have been here before but nothing much to see.

Wednesday 8 July. 3 miles, 1 lock.

The RCR engineer arrived and after a struggle to see how the pump was tightened he managed to finish the job and get rid of the rope and cable ties. At least I know how it is meant to be tightened so will be able to do it myself if it happens again. Moved down to Brewood as that is where Alison & Keith will join us tomorrow. A very friendly village and happy to spend a couple of nights here.  Walked familiar roads and repeated the photos taken in 2010.

Thursday 9 July. 0 miles

Tidied up the boat to make room for extras. Stocked up the fridge. Keith & Alison arrived by taxi mid afternoon and once all their gear was on board we went to show them some of the highlights of Brewood. They had traveled from Cornwall to London the day before so were happy for a quiet night onboard.

Friday 10 July. 7 1/2 miles, 1 lock

We travelled up the Shroppie to the Autherley Junction. Introduced them to a lock. As it is a stop lock I told them it was a special training lock for beginners. Turned East onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal traveling to Cross Green where we moored up to walk into the village of Coven, Nothing there but when we got back to where the boat was we stopped at the Fox & Anchor for a drink which led into dinner, it was Diana's birthday after all. Stayed the night moored outside.

Saturday 11 July. 7 1/2 miles, 6 locks.

Yesterday a local in Coven said the only place around here was Penkridge and Saturday was market day. Off we go through mostly country side and a bit of industry. Keith and Alison get to experience decent size locks. Penkridge had some nice buildings to view. The market was nothing to write home about and it wasn't long before we were back on the boat for the evening.

Sunday 12 July. 7 1/2 miles, 6 locks

Before we headed off we went back into town for some items for tea. Alison & Keith are on tea duty tonight. Ready to go. Turn the boat around and head back the way we came. On the way we stop to introduce the visitors into a "pump out" and taking on water. Tomorrow we are heading into Birmingham and the nearest safe mooring before there is back at the Fox & Anchor. Drinks and dinner on board tonight.

Monday 13 July. 10 1/2 miles, 21 locks

Early start with a bit of drizzle about. Get to the bottom of the 21 locks at 0800 and start on up. Not much drizzle at the moment. It is a long slog up. About two thirds the way up it starts to rain heavy so we pull over for a cuppa. Two boats go passed before the conditions improve  and we continue on to Wolverhampton where our visitors leave us and Murray will join us. Shortly after we set off again Murray walks down the towpath to meet us. Stop for lunch at the top of the locks then Murray takes Keith & Alison to the station he has just come from. With the change of crew complete we continue on to The Black Country Museum as we know it is a safe place to moor behind locked gates.

Tuesday 14 July. 0 miles

We spend a good part of the day in the Museum. A new street has been built since our visit in 2006. It includes a traditional F & C shop cooking in dripping. A cone of chips each for lunch. Just before closing we get a call from friends from Napier to say they have found the boat and waiting there. We leave the museum and enjoy an hour or so with them.

Wednesday 15 July 8 1/2 miles, 3 locks.

Today it's into Birmingham City. Last time it was via the Wolverhampton Level which was grubby and all sorts floating in the canals. It also took us under motorways and generally made us wonder why we were there. This time we took the newer straighter Birmingham Level. Wide, Deep and very little rubbish in the canal. Eventually we are back onto a familiar canal again and moor up short of the city as the place is busy. Walk into town and note there have been some changes with new buildings up and demolition in full swing. Dine at a very good Thai restaurant.

Thursday 16 July. 0 miles

Diana has not had a good nights sleep. Body covered in a rash and been itching all night. We guess an allergic reaction to something in the Thai food. Decide to go to a medical centre associated with Boots the chemist. That proved a waste of time so Murray suggested we need to go to a walk in centre. The nearest one is 3 stops away by train. Once there we only wait for 1 hour before Diana has been seen and a prescription for an anti-histamine is given. By the time we are back in town we stop at Selfridges for an Italian meal. A bit average.

Friday 17 July. 0 miles

Diana has had a better night's sleep so we are back in tourist mode. First we visit the new library. A great piece of architecture. Modern, functional and an icon for Birmingham. The only got one thing wrong. They were over budget so sacked half the staff so they can only open it for about 6 hours a day. What a waste. Then it was on to the Art Gallery where there is a special exhibition of William Morris and Andy Warhol. Well the William Morris stuff was well worth the visit. Still can't figure out why the Andy Warhol stuff was there. That took most of the day so back to the boat via a walk through town. The evening entertainment is the party boats going up and down the canal.

Saturday 18 July. 600 yds.

Last night Murray did something to his back. This morning he can't get out of bed. I take a walk down the towpath to see if we can move a bit closer to town. I find a 14 day mooring at Cambrian wharf so moor up there before calling an ambulance. Eventually they find us and whisk Murray, us in toe, to A & E. Four hours later Murray is discharged with painkillers and a walking stick in hand. Movement is slow. The decision is made that it will be difficult for Murray to get back on the boat and if he did he would  not be that comfortable. We take a cab to the railway station and arrange travel for him & Diana to Glasgow this afternoon. Diana and I leave Murray at the station while we walk back to the boat to pack Murray and Diana's bags. Then walk back to the station where they eventually catch the 1715 to Glasgow. So tonight I am moored next to a pub with loud music.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

English Summer

Monday 6 July, 4 1/2 miles.

Sun was up early but we chose to linger in bed for a while. When we did get up I put the generator out to run the washing machine. Drizzle started followed by rain so the generator came back on board. Brightened up a bit before lunch so off we go. The break in the weather didn't last long so with wet weather gear on we continued to Norbury Junction. First pump out since Market Drayton. The rain stopped at an opportune time on the way as I wanted pictures of Molly Rose under the High Bridge. There was a que for the pump out, that's OK not raining. After the very full tank was emptied we moved off to a mooring for lunch and a small engine repair. The weather has been OK for a while so off we go again and on que the rain starts so on goes the wet weather gear again. As we approach Gnosall I pull over and leave Diana with the boat to see if there are any moorings ahead as I particularly want to walk into Gnosall. Diana has memories from 2010 of lots of the buildings. I have non. No moorings so we stay where we are under trees with a muddy towpath. Walk into town and I still don't have any recall of the place until we return to the tow path down a different road and I recognise "The Boat Inn". Hope to get away at a reasonable time tomorrow as getting close to Wolverhampton to meet friends on Thursday is not looking good.

The Rain stopped soon after

The Boat Inn

Monday, 6 July 2015

A two pub day.

Sunday, 5 July. 9 miles, 5 locks.

Moved off under a bridge and tied up to pump out the black tank. It's a DIY which the previous DIYer didn't know what to do. I opened the door took one look at the floor and closed the door again. The tank is getting pretty full so we are now being cautious until the next pump out is available.
A mile along the way we are into the 5 Tyrley locks. Once through these we pull over for lunch happy that there are only 2 more in the next 25 miles. Well it is Sunday and the sign says only a 10 minute walk to "The 4 Alls". It was worth the effort with a very reasonable carvery, when on the plate looked like a Sunday Roast. Back on the boat we travelled through some deep, dark cuttings covered in trees, over long embankments giving great view of the country for miles around. Could just about see where we have been in the last couple of months (excluding Scotland). Pulled over when a heavy shower was threatening. It passed and we we off again. Well, about knock off time I see a note in my travel book about the Pub, rated 2nd best on the Canals. We stopped here in 2010 so thought it deserved another look. Hadn't changed a bit since then, in fact I don't think it has changed in a century or 2. Spent a delightful hour or so listening and trying to understand the local conversation. The Anchor is an old boaters pub. The landlady is 80, her late husband was one of the last boatmen. Another character had been plying the cut up until the end. He now has a traditional working boat moored across the canal from the pub. Then a couple who used to live in the area turned up for the first time in 30 years and the stories started. What a privilege to be part of reminiscing the boating stories of the past.
Sunday Lunch

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Catch up

Friday 26 June, 7 miles, 5 locks,

First away from Queens Head and meander up to the Frankton locks. Stop for water on the way and are there waiting for the lock keeper to unlock so we can proceed. After we are up and back on the Llangollen we stop for lunch. I ring the Coal boat. This boat operates on the canal every other week providing coal, diesel, grease, oil and a number of other items for boaters. I guess they are just in front of us so we delay lunch and push on. I do some more calculations and think they may be behind us so reduce to our normal 2mph. Not long after I see them coming around a corner behind us so pull over, wave them down and take on 100 litres plus of diesel. That done they move on and we have lunch. Soon after we pass them again refueling another boat. Then it is into Ellesmere for a shop at Tesco's. Had a good mooring so stay the night.

Saturday 27 June, 7 miles.

Another meandering day passed the mere's and through tree lined and open farming countryside to moor up at the junction with the Prees Branch. The branch is 1 mile long and with 2 lift bridges we decide to walk it. After the first mile the canal is unnavigable so we continue on the towpath until the canal ends before returning the same way. This part of the canal is quite different with weed and tree encroachment.

Prees Branch Lift Bridge

Sunday 28 June, 8 miles, 8 locks, 5 lift bridges.

Wet morning so waited for a clearance around lunchtime. A pleasant run through the countryside arriving at the Grindley Brook locks around 1700. They include a staircase of 3 locks so are manned by lock keepers. They were still there so we went on down and continued through 2 more locks which brought us alongside a pub. Time to stop after a long day.

Monday 29 June, 9 miles, 7 locks, 3 lift bridges.

This was a lucky day. Every lock was set for us and every bridge was up. We were also lucky not to sink the boat. Here's what happened.
We arrive at Baddiley #3 lock, gates have been opened by a boat coming up so we sailed straight in. Both lock girls are struggling to lift the paddles even with two hands. I go forward to help and as I am about to start I notice the front of the boat is hung up on the lock. I ask the two girls to drop the paddles as quick as possible to stop the rear of the boat getting any lower. Now the problem is that these paddles have been modified so you can't throw the ratchet device off, you have to hold it up to turn the windlass. Remembering it takes two hands to move the paddle up 1 notch at a time it becomes very difficult to move it down again with one hand when the other is holding this modified devise. Meantime while the girls are struggling at the front of the boat I have gone to the back and have opened the paddles to let water in. It was our lucky day as there was more water coming in than going out and the back of the boat rose up again onto an even keel. Our luck continued with the remaining 2 locks of the day set for us.

Tuesday 30 June, 1 1/4 miles, 4 locks.

What a coincident that last night me moored by the bridge that leads to Snugbury Farm. Our 20 minute walk was rewarded with lovely Honey & Ginger ice cream. Around the corner we fill up with water then down the Hurleston flight and turn south on the Shropshire Union Canal. Stop for lunch. Heatwave day, fall asleep and that's it for today.

Wednesday 1 July, 2 miles.

Move on to Nantwich where there are a number of op/charity shops that Diana missed last visit. We have been having internet problems again so decide to take a bus to Crewe. We found the shop we hoped would be there and they sorted the problem and gave us some extra advice on who to better achieve what we are trying to do. By the time we got back to Nantwich the op shops were closed so a few grocery items were picked up before the walk back to the boat. Originally we had planned to move on today but that all changed when as we approached our boat a head pops up "Like you hat" I try to wear an NZ hat whenever off the boat. "Nice tee shirt I reply". She is wearing a "Tui" shirt. We drop the shopping on the boat and join them. They are a professional couple that have a house on the Thames and often come to Art Deco weekend in Napier. They have a daughter living on Waiheke Island (off Auckland). They also enjoy wine, make their own fruit wine which I can vouch for. A very pleasant evening. We are starting to establish a group of Narrow boaters who may get-together in Napier at Art Deco weekend. Impressive thunderstorm before bed.

Thursday 2 July, 4 miles, 2 locks.

Nice morning so Diana does the op shops while I do an oil change. As Diana starts her walk back to the boat there is another thunderstorm so a coffee is in order. Early afternoon the weather is looking OK so off we go. We do a couple of locks then a bit of drizzle starts. Thats OK as I would like to get to the bottom of the Audlem flight to be ready to go up the 15 tomorrow. Soon after the heavens open, thats OK for a short time then with moorings available we moor up. The weather cleared after an hour or so but we are here now so we will stay.

Friday 3 July, 4 1/2 miles, 15 locks.

Into Audlem, up the first 2 locks and there is a mooring just before the water point so lets stop and check Audlem out again. 5 years since our last visit. Still a lovely village with a few additional shops. Last time we were here there was bunting all over the streets. They have gone and almost every building has a large Union Jack flying. Quite different and better. Lunch at the tea shop. fill with water and off up the remaining 13 locks, stopping shortly after for the day. Nice enough to have tea on the tow path. Early evening a calf fell in the canal opposite the mooring. It was getting quite distressed so I went in search of a local but by the time they came the calf had managed to find a low bank and climb out.


Saturday 4 July, 3 1/2 miles, 5 locks.

The flight of 5 Adderley locks weren't so bad after the 15 yesterday. Diana had some interesting conversation with others lockside. One boat had just been bought by OAP's, had there daughter and grandchild on board. The Kid was having and had been having a tantrum all morning. Things were a bit stressed. She was warned by one boater about the boats behind. They were moored up with them the previous night. 19 girls on 2 hire boats. Only one had been boating before. One fell overboard last night. This was a good warning as we got to the top lock they were going to close it on me but a good honk on the horn brought them into line. When I enter the lock there are about 14 girls/woman hanging around with windlass's in hand. I'm watching like a hawk to see who's going to do what next. All's well we got through then stopped for lunch before trundling into Market Drayton for the night. A walk into town reminded us of why we only spent one night here last time. Tonight we have had an outdoor music concert not far away which ended with a spectacular fireworks display.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Llangollen Motorway

Monday 22 June, 3 mile, 1 Aqueduct, 1 Tunnel.

Traffic quite heavy this morning. Opened the back door to see our neighbours had left and we hadn't heard a thing. While mucking about before heading off it was fun to watch boats going aground on the first corner. We walked into Trevor as I wanted to have a look at the Aqueduct from below. As we passed the troublesome corner I took a good look at where the problem was. In Trevor we went to the information centre then I walked under the aqueduct then down the river Dee a short way. It is an impressive structure but there was no where that you could see it all at the same time. Back to the boat for lunch and then on our way. Remembering what I had learn't this morning I was very conscious of having a clear run at the corner. OK nothing coming, all ropes released and the flow has us moving. A boat then appears coming up stream and then stops (grounded) I have no where to go and then find myself grounded. This all happens in time for a second boat to appear coming upstream. After heaps of pushing and shoving we all continue our journeys. Before leaving I had put the Gopro on my head so I could get some pictures over the side of the Aqueduct. I am looking forward to seeing how the "being grounded" will come out. Moored up outside the Chirk Marina again as it is the last place you can get sun before Chirk Tunnel. Just after we moor up another hire boat joins us. Kiwis from Tauranga.
Checked out the Gopro movies. (Note to self: push record button).

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct from the River Dee

Railway Viaduct over the River Dee further down stream

Tuesday 23 June. 2 miles, 1 Aqueduct, 1 Tunnel.

Moved off reasonably early to leave the boat just before Chirk tunnel for the day while we visit Chirk Castle. The Castle is National trust and the previous owner still lives there some time. We sat down for a coffee before our tour starts and at the next table the owner is being interviewed by a National Trust person. Only got snippets of the conversation but made us feel a bit connected to the Castle. A great tour and then back through the Castle at our own pace and taking photos. Finishing with a walk through the gardens and numerous topiaried Yew trees. Walked back to the boat for the next drama of the day. Must remember that we are on the heaviest trafficked hire boat canal. So we are preparing to leave and go through the tunnel and across the Chirk Aqueduct. Gopro on head and recording. A hire boat passes and there is a drunken conversation about the light in the tunnel, three people tell the helmsman not to go in but he insists that the light is only a torch. He enters and two others follow. 1/3 the way in they meet the torch, attached to a narrow boat coming the other way. He is adamant that he is right and altercation occurs. To defuse the problem the boat that was nearly through the tunnel backs out. The third one in from our end wants nothing to do with what's going on so backs out to our end of the tunnel. So after a 40 minute delay and the boat that was originally in the tunnel makes it through with one behind. we set off in an accumulated flotilla of 5 boats. Later on that evening we pass the offending boat with the crew on the towpath having a great old time. We had intended doing a couple of locks but a pub we had stopped at in 2003 is too inviting to pass.
Checked the Gopro. Interesting conversations recorded but footage over the Chirk Aqueduct not that good.

Chirk Castle
The Chirk Viaduct from the Chirk Aqueduct 
Wednesday 24 June. 9 1/2 miles, 7 locks.

Away at a good time as we are booked to go down the Frankton flight onto the Montgomery canal today. They are only open 1200 to 1400 each day. Arrive at the top lock just after 1200 and are the second boat down. The first 2 locks are a staircase and lock keepers are there to help. These are followed closely by 2 others. We have heard that the Montgomery should not be missed by some and others who say it is a ho hum sort of canal. At the moment there is a breach part way down so we can only go 4 miles. It is very Rural with high reeds on both side in places. Not that interesting. Get as far as we can turn and moor up. As we have been told there are lots of places to watch the wildlife further down I go on a recky to see if Diana's foot can make the trip and if it is worth it. 3 miles there and 3 miles back with not much wildlife to be seen. Not worth putting extra strain on the foot.

Thursday 25 June.

Yesterday we meet the secretary of the Furness Vale Boat Club we are members of. They had been to Shrewsbury for the day so we took their advice and caught the bus. An interesting place to visit with Black and White buildings, Stone churches, Market halls an Castle and a many other variations. There was a circular church, quite different. Shrewsbury is a bit disjointed. the old buildings are interspersed with modern stuff so doesn't have the same impact as the places that have all the old buildings together. Well worth the visit though. Back to the boat with the intention of moving back towards the Frankton locks. Such a nice sunny night decided to wait till tomorrow. Meet a bloke from Hastings who was on a hire boat.

Monday, 22 June 2015


Saturday 20 June.

Didn't get off the boat until after lunch. I spent some time at the station watching the comings and goings of vintage railcars (DMU's) and one tank engine. Diana went into town and did her shopping thing. On the way back to the boat we walked the towpath to the end of the canal. The only boats allowed past this point are the horse drawn tour boat and canoes. It was a trek of close to 2 miles to the weir that diverts the river Dee into the canal and forms the Horseshoe falls. Near this spot is the Chain bridge which ends up at the front door of the Chain Bridge Inn. A beautiful spot for an ale. The view across the Dee included a few trains going past. The walk back seemed shorter.

Sunday 21 June. 4 miles.

I set off in the morning up the tow path for nearly a mile to visit a motor car museum. They had some Austin's so was hopeful of getting a bonnet badge for the A7. On arrival I find a note to the effect that they were opening a couple of hours late today. Back o the boat and into town to visit "Plas Newydd". The home of the "ladies of Llangollen". So much of the building was covered, inside and out, with carved Oak making the interior very dark. Diana had read a book about the two ladies so she was pleased to follow their story. The gardens were graced with a number of Topiaried Yew trees. Our time on the moorings expired at 1700. That was unfortunate because just before 5 a couple from Lower Hutt passed for a chat. They were sailors and we knew a few of the names they mentioned. Out of the basin into a traffic jamb of tour boats, day boats, horse drawn boats and narrowboats that must have known that moorings became available at 1700, trying to get in. Once past the traffic a relatively fast trip, going down hill now, to stop just before Trevor as the day was starting to get a bit cooler. As we moor up the couple that were next to us in the basin pull in behind. Happy hour finished about 2300.

Friday, 19 June 2015

To the top of the LLangollen

Tuesday 16 June,

We had visitors from Gisborne/Bomere Heath join us for morning coffee. Pete and Pole live in the UK and spend the northern winter in NZ. After a good catch up they took us to Cole Mere to meet friends of theirs who live in a thatched cottage in beautiful gardens. A delight to be shown around by locals. Had lunch overlooking The Mere before being taken back to the boat.

Wednesday 17 June, 11 miles, 2 locks, 1 tunnel, 1 Aqueduct.

We set off early (early for us) and backtracked a couple of hundred yards to a marina to empty the black tank. Retraced our track and filled up with water in preparation for a couple of days down the Montgomery canal. There is a problem on the canal and you can only go 4 of the 7 miles but am told it is still worth it. Talked to CRT when making the booking and they say it could be some time before the problem is fixed. Received advise by email that night to say they were monitoring the situation and hoped to have a resolution by Monday. Talked to a boater at the water point who tells me it is very exposed. There is a good breeze today and it could be unpleasant. Any way we head off to the locks at the top of the Montgomery and have a chat with the lock keeper. The real story is that the problem is not large and easily fixed. The holdup is that a bird's nest has been found that is stopping getting the machinery in to do the job. Until there is an environmentally friendly solution the canal will be limited to 4 miles. In view of the strong wind we elected to cancel our booking and headed towards Llangollen. Local advice is go in on Friday and leave on Sunday to keep away from the congestion of hire boats. After crossing the Chirk Aqueduct and going through the tunnel we moor up for the night. On the way we pass a Kiwi couple who noticed the Kiwi roundel on the front of the boat and asks if I was in the airforce. By now we are out of conversation range so hope to meet up some where as his face is bugging me. We also passed another couple who live about three blocks away in Napier
Thursday 18 June. 1 mile.

With the Chirk station close and a direct train to Ludlow we put on the tourist hat and head off. I had been there in 1990 but Diana hadn't. First a walk through town with camera clicking on our way to the castle. I didn't really remember much of it so both of us had a good look around. Back to town where there was a market. Lunch in a nice restaurant before heading of to St Laurence church. Another magnificent building with fine stone and wood carvings. Diana had her eyes on all the possible photos, so much so that she didn't see the last step in a flight of 3. Down she goes and lying on the floor her first statement is "don't touch me I have to see if my camera is broken". Takes a photo which is OK so now we can see to her. I find her a seat and one for her foot while a couple of ladies come to assist. One has a compression bandage and puts that on her foot. While she is resting I climb to the top of the church tower for a panoramic view of the town and surrounding countryside. We leave with plenty of time for the invalid to hobble back to the station. Arrive back on the boat with plenty of daylight to spare. As the boat is in a deep cutting we move the mile to get into sunlight.

Friday 19 June. 6 1/2 miles, 1 tunnel, 1 World Heritage Aqueduct.

Diana's ankle is surprisingly good but sore. there are a couple of lift bridges to pass. One was chained up, the other was up for other boats so she didn't have to get off the boat. She chose to get off half way over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to record that we had taken our boat over it. Still a magnificent structure 13 years after first crossing it. Arrived in Llangollen for a late lunch. Since last here a mooring basin has been built for 33 boats so there was plenty of room. A quick walk into town for a look around and to check out the vintage railway trains and station.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Canaling Kiwis

Tuesday 9 June, 5 miles, 3 locks. 2 lift bridges.

Wandered through a paddock of cows to the church at Wrenbury. Talked to a local in the churchyard who advised us there were also two bulls in the paddock. Another selection of old houses to photograph. Looked in the village store which was well stocked even if the selection was small. Took the alternative way back and called into a very good chandler at Wrenbury Mill. Set off after lunch and a couple of miles down the track we pulled over and walked to the village of Marbury. The church is situated overlooking a small lake, nice setting. Talked to the writer of walking guides who was researching walks in the area. A good variety of buildings in this village. Took a public track back to the canal through farmers paddocks. I do like this English custom/right. Further along the canal as we were coming up the lock at Willeymore I nipped in to the pub and checked at the menu. Moored up just passed the lock and enjoyed dinner at the pub.

Wednesday 10 June. 2 1/2 miles, 7 locks.

Domestic morning with washing of clothes, and a tidy up inside and out Molly Rose. After the first isolated lock we came to Gridley Brook. Three locks in quick succession then a wait at the 3 lock staircase. The locks are manned to assist with keeping things flowing. At a staircase one has to think well ahead to avoid boats meeting in the middle. Before we could start up we needed to wait for three coming down. While waiting and talking to those on the boat behind we find the owner of the boat is a Kiwi who has lived in the UK for 45 years or so and his sister from Kerikeri was with him. We caught up again in the evening when we moored up in front of them. Took a half hour walk into Whitchurch to buy a few bits and pieces and looked at some old buildings before heading back to the boat.

Thursday 11 June. 3 op shops.

Spent the morning washing the top of the boat and painting the boarding plank I repaired a few days ago. Into town in the afternoon with cameras in hand to check out the church, Heritage center & a bit of hardware shopping. The Heritage center had displays on the history of cheese making in Whitchurch and the story of Joyce, tower clocks. Fascinating how they kept the old traditional making well in to the 20th century. They have made some of the biggest clocks, in towers in the world. On the way into town we meet 4 Kiwis who were returning to their hire boat. I think we left them with a few thoughts about ownership. Maybe we will hear from them again. Had a coffee in a nice pub courtyard before the walk home.

Friday 12 June. 3 1/2 miles, 3 lift bridges, 1 op shop (saw something yesterday that was needed)

Friday is market day. Some fruit and veg, cheeses, fish and meat along with the crafty and junky stuff. I found a very tempting model shop which would have relieved me of many pounds if I could have carried the Drone, Model railway engine & large scale model aircraft home. Lunch in town and back to the boat to leave about 1600. Any of you that know the system here will appreciate that is not the best time to move from near a hire boat base on a Friday. Stuck with it for an hour and half with a bit of drizzle starting. First precipitation in over a week. Decide to moor up after the next bridge but before we got there a head pops out from a moored boat asking where we came from as they came from Tauranga. We pulled in behind them and had an extended happy hour.


Monday 8 June, 5 miles, 5 locks.

Had a bit of a tidy up and reorganisation inside the Cratch (sharp end of boat) this morning. Walked the 20 minutes for an icecream. Sat in the sun in Snugburys courtyard and watched the Swallows and Red Robins busy in their work. Made us so hungry we had another ice cream, called it lunch, before returning to the boat and setting off. Tied up at Wrenbury as the sky darkened. Inside with a rum in hand before the rain arrived.

Completed the Llangollen

Saturday 13 June. 5 miles, 1 lift bridge.

Morning started cold and drab so no hurry to move but move we must as we are out of internet coverage and in this modern age a day on the boat without contact with the outside world is hard to take. Just before lunch with a brightening sky we moved less than a mile around the corner and went for a walk around Whixall Moss. It is where peat has been cut until recently and now is protected so it can revert to it's pre-harvesting days. The area has a lot of military history. During the Boer War it was a training ground. In WW1 four rifle ranges were constructed. The army also harvested peat for horse bedding and moss for sterile wound dressings. During WW2, with 3 flying training schools and 2 fighter and bomber operational training airfields nearby the area was used for fighter pilot gunnery training and a bombing range. An unusual wartime feature was that a flare path was lit as a decoy and it was one of the Starfish locations. How it worked. When the Germans dropped incendiaries to mark a target it was put out asap and fires were lit here to make it look like the target for the bombing force. While we were there we had a battle of our own. You have heard about the West Coast sandflies, well we have experienced the biggest and hungriest mosquitos I have seen. As usual I was in shorts. A bad decision that I am still regretting. There was another walk I wanted to do a mile or so further on but having walk 4 miles on boggy tracks decided to do it on the way back. Late in the day the drizzle started but we continued until the clouds got dark and heavy rain was threatening, so pulled over for the night.

Sunday 14 June. 3 miles. 1 tunnel.

Cruised into Ellesmere basin having been told there should be plenty of room. At the end of the arm we turned and moored up in the only available slot, next to Tesco's. It will be easy to stock up with some extra heavy items before we leave. We have now done all of the Llangollen canal. Our first narrow boating experience was with Richard and Mel back in 2003 when we hired a boat from Trevor and got as far as Ellesmere before returning to Trevor. Had an easy afternoon with a wonder around later. Meet another couple of Kiwi boaters who are overseas for the first time and have been on the Union canal in Scotland, are now on the Llangollen and then off to spend a week on the Regent canal around London.

Monday 15 June.

Main purpose of the day was maintenance. With the town a couple of hundred yards away I can get the bits and pieces I need. Di managed to find a couple of op shops. We took a walk to the Mere, had coffee, walked back via the White Hart for an ale.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

In to Wales

Friday 5 June, 4 miles, 5 op shops.

As we went south down the Shroppie we passed the junction with the LLangollen canal an took a glance at the first 4 locks which will require attention in a few days. Trickled past heaps of moored boats at Nantwich before finding a 60ft gap to moore up for a couple of nights. Walked the mile into the town centre. We had been here 5 years ago and it took surprisingly little time to remember the buildings and where we had walked. Last time we were here it was a Sunday and Bank holiday weekend so most of the shops had been closed. This time Diana was into the op shops while I scouted around to find them all. She got to 5 before closing and there are another 5 to go. Back to the boat for an early night before tomorrow's adventure.

Saturday 6 June, 250 miles (by car)

0800. Jim & Anne are knocking on the door bearing gifts. They have driven down from Preston where they live on the banks of the Lancaster canal. We meet them last year and they invited us into their home. Today they have offered a mystery tour of North Wales. Off we go heading for Bodnant Gardens, a National Trust property in Tal-y-Cafn. On the way we see a sign for "Antique's. A side trip is in order. This proved to be very advantages later in the day. In the gift shop I saw a postcard of the Falls at Betws-y-Coed that my Granny had painted in 1906 and hangs in our hall at home.
The gardens were up there with the best of them. With a stream running through a tree lined gorge which included some massive specimens, it was a great place to wander around. After lunch the discussion was what else to see. We had been to a couple of the places suggested by Jim back in 2003 so when he mentioned Narrow gauge steam trains the choice was easy. What I didn't realise was how far away they were. West we go towards Ireland then follow the Menai Strait south ending up at Porthmadog. A quaint Welsh seaside village. It had a different feel about it from an English seaside village. I liked it. Down the end of the street we see steam so trot on down to the station where fascinating narrow gauge locomotives and carriages are preparing for an excursion. Unfortunately the round trip is 2 hours so the bucket list has an additional item added to it. Now we head for Betws-y-Coed. as I had earlier mentioned Granny's painting. The route took us up through an area where slate is quarried. Bleak and barren except, in the middle of this is a substantial town, Blaenau Ffestiniog". The railway goes through here as it's origins was the transport of slate and it's narrow gauge is because of the mountainous terrain it travels through. As we approach Betsy-y-Coed I spied a sign to Fairy Glen. This jogs a memory so I quickly look at the postcard bought in the morning and yes it is Fairy Glen where the painting is of, not the Falls at Betsy-y-Coed. Back we go, park, and tramp off over a farm through the bush and clamber down the rocks to this magical spot. Many photos taken so I can compare the differences 109 years later. I also took photos of a large rock with names carved into it. Haven't found "GET" yet. Now we are heading for home. Over the moor's through some lovely farmland with a stop for dinner at The Plough. Arrive back at the boat 2230. Jim & Anne stopped for a coffee before heading back to Preston. Their day ended at 0030. Thanks for a great day away from the wales.
 Tank engine
 Narrow Gauge
 Tunnel of flowers
Fairy Glen
Sunday 7 June, 4 miles, 4 locks.

Later start than yesterday. Headed south  1/2 a mile to a wining hole so we could turn around to go north again. Didn't go far before stopping in the country for lunch and to do the washing. Turned left onto the LLangollen canal climbed the 4 locks, topped up with water and after 2 bridges moored up for the night. Good choice, because when I went for a walk later I found the sign saying that the famous Snugburys ice cream farm is but a 10 minute walk away. it will be a late start again tomorrow as we gob out for morning tea.
2200 Sun going down