Monday, 28 February 2011

Heading North up the Coventry.

Long day today, left the bottom of Atherstone at 0900 and arrived here, just north of Hopwas Wood, at 1430, cold, wet and fed up.
After watering at Bradley Green we passed Grendon Dock

with this wooden motor obviously under restoration.

Just past Polesworth Pooley Hall looms over the cut

and a brightly painted pit head winding gear wheel marks the site of the nearby colliery.

Landscaped spoil tips are a reminder of the vast tonnage of coal dug from this area

and the array of working boats at Alvecote remind us how it was transported.

By the time we reached Glascote Locks the rain had set in, Jill waits for the infamously slow top lock to fill. On lock flights we now use walkie talkies, it saves the stentorian bellowing to each other and the misunderstandings that so easily arise.

Fazeley Junction(It started hailing on us here) and the Birmingham and Fazeley heads off towards the mysterious environs of the B.C.N. In fact the we are now on the B.C.N. as can be seen by the typical Birmingham practice of naming,

not numbering the bridges. The Birmingham actually constructed this stretch of the Coventry as that company had run out of money and seemed to have lost interest in heading north whilst the B & F was desperate to hook up with the Trent and Mersey, so they got stuck in and made the connection and so it remains, an eighteenth century anomaly.

Saturday, 26 February 2011


England beat the cockerels, time to break out the plonk!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Atherstone flight.

I was going to do this last night but I fell asleep in my chair, it must have been the fatigue engendered by working down the locks.

At the top of the locks Rothens old coal yard stands disused and derelict, even the lamp post seems to have given up.

Sadly the lock keeper has gone from his cottage, no more fresh eggs, weather forecasts or lockside dioramas. I suspect we will soon see a decline in the standard of upkeep here.

We watered at the top and then tackled our first lock since November. As I sank into its chthonic depths my nose was assailed by that damp, dank smell that seems to be peculiar to narrow locks, strange how certain smells stir the memory.

We were quickly into the swing of it and soon passed out of the urban environs.
At lock seven I had to go down the weed hatch, just the usual polythene but, oh my, that water was a tad chilly, all forms of flexible plastic are now in my top ten hates.
Just above lock ten we passed Moore2Life and not long after mooring at the bottom of the flight No Problem with Sue and Vic, visiting family and assorted canines arrived. Just time for a quick greeting and they were off to moor above lock ten. It's always good to see Sue and Vic, the doyens of waterways blogging.
Six nations this weekend, good TV reception and pleasant moorings here, no moving until Monday.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Armadillo v. the Post Office.

I'm proud of this photo, it's the first time we've been at Hartshill Yard and it hasn't been full off cars so here is the yard as it should look, although perhaps a little more activity would be good.

At Atherstone the Barge and Bridge has reopened and this chap, obviously a hangover from the festive season, is standing guard, we didn't try the pub though, The Maid of the Mill is our watering hole, it's a proper pub, decent beer and friendly locals.
We had arranged for our daughter to forward our mail to the sub post office on Coleshill Road, guaranteed 1 p.m. delivery, needless to say it wasn't there, total disinterest from the staff. back at the boat I tried the P.O. website, it told me the mail had been delivered. Tried 'phoning customer services, after battling through the usual "Press 1 for more bullsh*t" I found a real person, a Geordie who obviously thought I was some kind of weirdo for expecting to get the service that had been paid for and gave me the wrong number for Atherstone sorting office. The next attempt actually produced a nice lady who sorted it, our mail was at the sorting office and she gave me the correct number! Yes they'd got it but it wouldn't be delivered to the sub post office until 3.30p.m. Delivery by 1p.m., don't be silly, we might have to get off our backsides. In the end we walked to the sorting office and guess what, when confronted with a rather unhappy customer it was sincere apologies and it was every bodies fault but theirs. Privatisation? What a good scheme.
Tomorrow the locks!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Onto the Coventry.

Marston Junction, a sharp right and we were out on the Coventry

and heading towards Nuneaton.
On the way we passed

the remains of the Griff Arm, this used to serve Griff Colliery, one of the last working collieries in the area.
Nuneaton, to us, will always be allotment city, they seem to stretch for miles.

I love allotments, the eclectic collection of sheds, boundaries and water containers are a tribute to the ingenuity of the gardeners, never mind the varieties of vegetables on display.

Mount Judd, a spoil tip from the old Judkins quarry, at one time they had an agreement that the washings from the quarry could be discharged directly into the canal, this meant that the canal here was so shallow that at times it took two motors to pull a butty through the shallows. Apart from the usual urban debris (A settee, water butt and the normal plastic bags, tins etc.) the canal was quite navigable so there has been an improvement here.
It was a miserable day, cold and wet and we are now moored just before Springwood Haven, Atherstone tomorrow.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Rain, a soggy horse and signs of spring.

Well it's another February day, we're at Hospital Bend near bridge eight and it's heaving it down.

This is the hospital, after which the bend is named, in the early morning rain. I'm not even sure if it is still in use, never seen any signs of life.

This chap is in the field opposite and looks about as impressed with the weather as we are.
Despite the rotten weather spring is definitely here, some of the willows are coming into leaf and this morning, when I dragged a very reluctant dog out for a walk, two cock blackbirds were strutting and squabbling in their surquedry while the concupiscible hen, the object of their disagreement, gazed at them with beady eye from the top of the hedge.
One of B.W.'s latest updates informs us that Atherstone locks have opened a week earlier than planned so our path is now open. We haven't worked a lock for nigh on four months so the flight will test our backs but oh won't it be good to be moving.
Jill has got a loaf of bread baking at the moment, I am dribbling on the keyboard as I type, the aroma that permeates the boat at the moment, you could put on weight just smelling it.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Illicit Snooker.

We are now drifting slowly towards Marston Junction and the big wide world beyond, the Ashby is fine but I really am feeling the need to travel.
In the last few days we've had

amazing cloud formations,

fantastic sunsets, but mostly wind and rain in over exuberant quantities.
We've made it as far as Hinckley and tomorrow intend raiding that well known supermarket before moving on.
By careful study of Radio Times (Other listings magazines are available) Jill has discovered that the Welsh Open snooker is being shown on BBC2 Wales, which we can get on Sky, so that is what we are watching. Somehow BBC2 Wales feels like something that should be watched behind drawn curtains but if Jill can find snooker, that's it. I must admit I quite enjoy snooker, takes me back to my misspent youth, I just never developed the skill that is supposed to accompany a misspent youth.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Back to Market Bosworth.

Two views from the moorings at Shackerstone. We stopped overnight and after a couple of beers in the Rising Sun at lunchtime we went back in the evening for a meal, well up to standard. According to local legend, during the war, an air raid shelter was dug into the old castle motte. It is claimed that it is still there with a rocking chair still enclosed. Why that should be thought interesting I don't know, but I thought I would pass it on, could be a conversation killer in the pub one night I suppose.
Atherstone locks open on the twenty fifth so it will now be a slow meander in that direction and the start of the wandering life once again. With signs of spring all around there can be no finer part of the year to be moving, before all the summer visitors descend on the cut.

On the way down to M.B. on a perfect winters day, sunshine, no wind and the trees outlined against a sky of blue and pale grey and people ask why we live this way, if only they knew.
Have you looked at Harnsers Travels?( Two short lengths of film from about 1948 with George and Sonia Smith working Cairo and Warwick, not to be missed.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The End.

Where else but England would you find a village with a name like that? It's not much of a village but you couldn't make that name up.
Today we have notched up a first, we reached the current end of the Ashby and actually found room to moor, so we moored.

The sun shone as we coasted by the enlarged winding hole and pulled in by the waterpoint. The plumbing has suffered badly from the freeze. To get water you have to turn on the stop cock nearest the floor in the elsan disposal and then dive out

as the entire edifice is filled with jets of water and spray, but you do get some water at the water point. Turning it off is even more fun but with my normal mansuetude I endured a free shower and a wade across the rather damp floor.
But this is what we had come to see, the newest stretch of navigable canal. I don't suppose we'll see it reach Measham but it's nice to think that it will happen.

This is the new stretch

and the bitter end and new slipway, all of which is guarded by the new swing bridge, (locked shut).

Quite pretty but I wonder what will happen to that nice alloy deck when the first over enthusiastic boater rams it?

The small print at the bottom reads"Permitted as part of a bona fide continuous cruise," gosh, thank you Leicestershire County Council.
Sorry if the heading seemed too good to be true, just the end of the cut, not the end of my blogging.

Monday, 7 February 2011


Made it as far as Shackerstone but have given up because of the wind. Yesterday our life ring flew off the roof into the hedge, today the satellite dish went over, so much for the mag mount, and the mop has entirely disappeared, I presume it is making its own way up the cut.
No chance of downloading photos' here, virtually no signal, been spoiled lately with good 3G reception, back to normal.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

A bit about pigs, the wind and other things.

It's a tad drafty at the moment so we have stayed put, in fact no one seems to be moving on the cut. We decided on a stroll yesterday and Marmite insisted that she accompany us; she has never been an enthusiastic rambler and with increasing age her enthusiasm has waned even further so walks with her are inclined to be somewhat curtailed, but even a short walk is better than none.
It's an old folk belief that pigs can see the wind, I often wonder what they would see, little arrows as on a weather map? Or maybe just lines of varying colour depending on temperature?
Churchill once said that he liked pigs because,"Cats look down on us, dogs look up to us but pigs treat us as equals," food for thought.
As is:
'Twas an evening in October, I'll confess I wasn't sober,
I was carting home a load with manly pride,
When my feet began to stutter I lay down in the gutter
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
I lay there in the gutter and my heart was all a flutter
'till a lady passing by was heard to say,
"You can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses,"
And the pig got up and slowly walked away.

The country around here is mostly arable and somewhat flat.

The canal winds its way across the landscape and because of the lack of orogeny in the area they never had to bother with expensive toys like locks, must have saved a bob or two on construction costs.
The last regular long distance coal traffic on the canal system was on the Ashby with coal being shipped south from Gopsall wharf until the 1970's. Would the old boatmen have allowed a bit of wind to stop them moving? I wouldn't have thought so, thankfully we can sit quite happily while it blows itself out.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Peace and mud.

The ice has gone, almost, so we watered this morning and set off. Only as far as Iliffe Bridge though, it's one of our favourite moorings, out in the middle of nowhere, lovely countryside all around and not a road in hearing distance. Unfortunately, last year, our friends at B.W. backfilled the armco with dredgings from the canal, in some places they scattered grass seed on the backfill but not here. This means that the bank is somewhat glutinous and not conducive to nice clean boots or dog. I'm not knocking the work they have done, just a little more thought would have improved the end result enormously.
We've seen more boats on the move today than we have for ages, Pickles No.2 has just passed heading south, nice to wave to another blogger!
We intend a leisurely journey to the end of the cut, curiosity about the new one hundred yards and the fabulous swing bridge is overcoming us.