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.