Thursday, 31 March 2011

Gnosall and lunch.

Forgot to mention yesterday that we had moved on as far as Gnosall,

If it wasn't for the road signs this would make quite an interesting picture with all the roof lines. It was a quick nip up the Co-Op and back and plan A was then up to High Onn (I've done all those jokes as well), wind and then back to a favoured mooring out in the wilds. Our glorious weather decided to have fun and blew half a gale, wind at High Onn, not 'arf. By the time we got back to intended mooring we couldn't even get into the bank for the wind so we have ended up back at Gnosall,

via Cowley Cutting

and tunnel.

Gnosall has the most brass necked ducks I have come across.
It also has The Navigation where we decided to comfort ourselves with lunch, their steak and ale pie is amazing, all 20 ozs. of it. Along with a couple of pints of Wadworths 6X I felt comforted. They have live music there tonight, sounds like a good idea.
Tomorrow it's back to the Anchor and Sunday down to Market Drayton ready for round two with the dentist on Monday, my life is just one round of pleasure.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Thoughts of mint sauce and yet more graffiti.

Service complete, thanks to Simon and all his merry men, usual good job done and the bill didn't hurt, well not too much.
We had a couple of walks while we were at Norbury. Up the cut to High Bridge and then around the lanes and back via Norbury village. Spring is now in fast forward,

this sycamore was just coming into leaf/flower.

In Sussex, as a kid, we used to call them pissybeds. They do have a diuretic effect so we weren't far off.

Oh see the little woolly lambs
All dancing on their gay toes.
How my heart does yearn for them,
With green peas and potatoes.
N.B. In this context gay means happy and carefree.
We wandered on

to the parish church, locked, it's a sad comment on Britain today. Around the south door I found some interesting graffiti.

Good old T E B.

This appears to be a demonic head but is rather badly weathered, perhaps it's just a portrait of T E B.

This is definitely a sun dial, the idea was that the parishioners could just put a stick in the central hole as a gnomon and then they had no excuse for being late for the service, hard luck if it was cloudy. It could well date back to the 15th century. Does it count as graffiti?
If you've seen Loynton Moss mentioned in Nicholsons

this is it, it's a swamp.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sunday forenoon.

Just had two most enjoyable evenings in The Anchor, one of the last pubs on the waterways, no food, no piped music, no totally incomprehensible fruit machines, just good beer and fine people. Just feeling a wee bit fragile right now.
Being a good person I've dutifully filled out the census form, I wonder what they will make of "Bridge 42 Shropshire union Canal" as our address. In the section that requires information about your last job and what was your main function I put "Selling tat to the gullible", well I worked in a garden centre and that just about sums it up. The whole thing appears to just be a bureaucratic exercise in prod nosing, but the local live aboard boaters seem to have taken a robust attitude to it, it has largely been ignored.
Everybody has been moaning about losing an hours sleep because of the clocks going forward, I solved it very easily, I just didn't get up at my normal time, I stayed in bed for that extra (theoretical) hour, simple.
It's off to Norbury tomorrow, all of forty five minutes down the cut, another strenuous day.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Retracing our steps.

Backtracking towards Norbury Junction for our spring service. Diesel engines are a total mystery to me, in fact if an engine has more than one cylinder and it doesn't say B.S.A. or Norton on the fuel tank then I'm baffled, therefore I let someone else do the technical stuff. That way if something does go wrong I can blame everybody except myself.
Also no dentist until Monday week.
The first feature you meet after leaving Market Drayton is Tyrley Locks, one of the more attractive flights and with only five in the flight not to strenuous.

The approach is through the bosky environs of Tyrley cutting, the red sandstone still shows the pick marks from the navvies who hacked it out.

The next pound is still under the trees and has a rock shelf projecting out below water level on the right, there is no way you can get a boat in against the towpath, this can make life a little difficult, especially at busy times.

You then have a couple of pounds through open fields and at the top

the mellow red brick of Tyrley Wharf. Then it is into the gaping maw of Woodseaves where the rock fall still sits smugly in the channel. Apparently the plant that the contractors will use to shift it has developed technical problems, so whatever inchoate plans they had are now even further up in the air.

For any sceptics out there this is proof that there is a new (non functional) water point at Goldstone Wharf. Makes you proud of B.W. doesn't it.
We are now at The Anchor, perhaps a small libation this evening.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Wot we did today.

Market Drayton lives up to its name, on Wednesdays it has one of the best markets going, the entire main street is lined with stalls, everything from fresh vegetables to smoking paraphanalia, and not necessarily tobacco from the look of some of it, each to their own I suppose. After a stroll up and down the length of the market we came away with two small torches, just right for finding our way back down the towpath after a visit to, well anywhere really. There is a little stall that sells the best Staffordshire oatcakes and Jill bought me a dressed crab for my lunch at the fish stall and I've got a kipper for brekkies, good result. I would have had a few more fishing floats but Jill spotted what I was up to and kiboshed that idea.
This afternoon we bit the bullet and got the cleaning gear out and the left side of the boat now gleams. It was lovely working in the sunshine, after the long winter and the recent grey weather I was starting to feel a somewhat etiolated, a bit like a stick of forced rhubarb, pale and drawn out.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

One swallow doesn't make a summer.

I always seem to be at least a day behind. Yesterday, Monday, we left Little Onn and headed north, just before Cowley Bridge (32) we saw a true harbinger of summer, the first swallow of the year, he seemed to be glad to be here. On through Gnosall and on to Norbury Junction where we got rid of rubbish, watered and raided the book swap, the usual collection of turgid romantic novels with a few gems sheltering among them. I now have to read Robinson Crusoe; and I thought it was a pantomime.
Through Grubb Street cutting with the well known High Bridge

but no sign of the resident spectre, claimed to be a black, ape like creature, ooh'er. All we saw were several Brimstone butterflies, their primrose yellow wings flashing in the sunlight. We passed the Anchor, you won't see me write that very often, and eventually moored at Goldstone Wharf for the night. They have actually fitted the waterpoint that they have been threatening for at least a year, it's a replacement for the one at Tyrley which went belly up a couple of years back, it's there but not connected, oh well.
This morning we tackled Woodseaves with it's famous rock slide,

and the as yet uncleared obstruction in the canal, is it possible that they pinched the warning buoys off of a fibreglass cruiser?
We are now at Market Drayton as Jill has broken a tooth and needed to see a fang cobbler. We found one and next thing I'm in the chair and booked in for a filling and a clean and scale so it looks as though we're stuck in the area for a while, never mind, back to the Anchor on Friday, well it's not far.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Aliens, frost, birds and a presumptuous bumble bee.

Me and my big mouth, England played like a bunch of ............(Insert non pc description of choice). at least we have the championship.
But what a beautiful day yesterday was. I woke up to see that an alien spacecraft had landed, but by the time I had my glasses on it had turned into an animal feed silo, clever chaps, these aliens.

The early morning walk was a glory of white,

Even the coltsfoot was rimed with frost.
After breakfast we set out to stretch our legs, up the towpath to be greeted by

this chap, shouting his joy to the world. Actually he was saying "This is my tree and I'll thump anyone who comes near it", but why let facts get in the way of a bit of whimsy?
Up the towpath and over the graceful arch of the turnover bridge at bridge 26.

It was here that we encountered the first bumble bee of the year, in fact it made a determined effort to to crawl inside the collar of Jill's shirt but was rapidly evicted and buzzed of, presumably to find somewhere more welcoming. We also saw a small tortoiseshell butterfly, another first for the year.

We left the canal at bridge 29 and wandered down country lanes to Church Eaton and then back to the boat.

They don't like bends on the Shroppie.

Powered by WebRing.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

We move to Little Onn and I've done all the jokes in the past.

My goodness, how time flies. On Wednesday we walked up and around to Avenue Bridge.

 From the canal you don't realise what a large structure it is.

Its balustrade stretches out in an elegant curve,

its ancient stones bedecked with lichen

and well carved with graffiti. I wonder who R.H.W. was and what he was doing in 1899. I must admit that I find it fascinating.

Brewood for shopping, when in Brewood you just have to take a photo' of Speedwell Castle, a classic of taste and design, I didn't say good taste now did I.
We had our meal at the Curry Inn, superb as usual, thank you Sam.
Yesterday we moved on, stopping to top up the diesel tank

at Wheaton Aston, 74.9p per litre, domestic. Then on to Little Onn

where we are waiting for this afternoons rugby, go England!! Dare we even think grand slam?

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Bridge 8, Shropshire Union and the probable future of red diesel.

These are great moorings at this time of year, apart from the bird scarer that goes off every few minutes. Just a few boats at the moment, come summer it will be nose to tail moorers but at the moment there is even room to fish without annoying anyone.

Eight I caught altogether, this was the biggest, couldn't get pictures of most of them, I don't have a micro lens on the camera, let's just say whitebait/sprat.
Tomorrow to Brewood and, as usual, a visit to the Curry Inn, best Indian Restaurant on the cut and after that a hunt for diesel, tank getting below normal levels.
Did anyone see, in one of the Waterways Mags., that our dear friends in Brussels are now after stopping us obtaining red diesel altogether? It seems that the Belgians are already fining British yachts that turn up over there with any trace of red in their tanks and they are pushing the E.U. to ban all sales to leisure boats that don't have a separate domestic tank. Needless to say our Europeans overlords are right behind the suggestion. Let's see if this government has the guts to stand up to them or whether they will roll over and surrender, no prizes for guessing what will happen!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Rockin' in the West Midlands.

Having enjoyed a weekend of Rugby, we set of early on a frosty morning, leaving Long Moll's Bridge

basking in the dawn light. I still have no idea who she was, her name is immortalised in bricks and mortar and no one knows to whom the name belonged, it's a funny old world.

We passed Hatherton Junction and the truncated end of the Hatherton Branch, it used to be another route up to the B.C.N. Now it's just another restoration project.
We passed Coven and then it was onward and into the cutting

known as Pendeford Rockin'.

You can just about squeeze a narrowboat into it, although, as you can see, it widens out in places so you can manage to pass another boat. Just how they managed to pass two working pairs is beyond me.

It seems to resemble a mill leat more than a canal.

Escaping through Marsh Lane Bridge always comes as a relief even if it is only Wolverhampton's suburbs that lie beyond.

Autherley Junction, a.k.a. Cut End, soon appears and a sharp right under the junction bridge and you're on the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal better known as the "Shroppie".
Just beyond the bridge is a stop lock and a large hire boat base, this makes for some exciting moments on summer weekends, best to avoid it at those times.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

So who was she?

We collected our mail, including a letter from The Pension Service telling me it is time to claim my state pension.

No wonder I needed the support of the paddle gear at Otherton Lock, a man of my advanced years. We struggled with the wind leaving this one, why do the really strong gusts arrive at the most inconvenient moments?

Oh dear, the yellow peril at Gailey, best make the most of the time left before Easter when the hire boats start chasing rings and the marinas disgorge their contents for the summer. Don't get me wrong, we were hirers for years and I thoroughly enjoy meeting people from all over but, selfishly, we find queueing at locks and having to hunt for a mooring a bit of a bore.

As it's Six Nations this weekend we have moored just beyond Long Moll's Bridge, it's about a mile up the cut from the big chemical works but feels totally rural and we've got a clear shot at the satellite.
The works was known to the working boatmen as the "Black Works" because it originally produced lampblack. For anyone interested I checked it out and lampblack is a finally divided form of almost pure carbon which is has a plethora of uses including dynamo brushes, explosives, matches and as a pigment. So that is that explained but

does anyone know who Long Moll was?
We crossed paths with Ubique, truly sorry to hear they have sold the boat and are leaving the cut, we'll miss their blogging, it is always entertaining.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Penkridge, a stop for mail.

It was a bit blowy yesterday but we set out for Penkridge as (hopefully) there will be some mail waiting at the post office.

Tixall Lock gave the fore end a good wash and at Deptmore Lock

the old lockies cottage is getting a total transformation, including an extension out the back. I hope whoever is spending large quantities of cash realise that they will be the object of the curiosity of numerous boaters.
As we passed through Acton Trussel a boat came through Acton Moat Bridge, as we approached each other I edged over toward the towpath, he held firmly to the centre, I edged closer to the side, as we passed his wash threw us into the side while the chap steering looked straight ahead, I thanked him for leaving us so much space, he looked surprised that I was slightly put out at being pushed up the bank. We did not pass another boat before arriving at Shutt Hill Lock and surprise surprise! the last boat through had left the bottom gates open, so my nomination for skilled and considerate boater of the day goes to the chap on Aslan, well done. We didn't mind the gates being left as they were in our favour, it would have been a different story if we had been coming down, have you ever seen a boater turn purple?

This is the well known iron post at Shutt Hill, it was used to turn boats into a dock that was sited here, they realigned the road and the dock was buried so this is all that remains to remind us of past traffics.
 We decided on lunch in The Boat and a pint of Wells' Bombardier which proved to be the best kept beer I have had in a while and the Mixed Grill was ample and tasty, well done The Boat.