Thursday, 30 June 2011


Safely in Plymouth. We went for a drive up onto Dartmoor today, a stop at The Plume of Feathers at Princetown was deemed essential as part of any trip to that esteemed town.

This was always the walkers pub, full of damp people with mud on their boots and coats that steamed in front of the fire, noted for excellent beer and hearty food such as hamburgers and chips and the good old west country staple, the pasty. Today it was full of smartly dressed, elderly couples indulging in a Trio of Smoked Fish and Roast Pork Belly with apple mash at eye watering prices. Mind you the beer was still good and the food was excellent, just that the whole atmosphere was gone, shame but I suppose that's what they call progress.
Other buildings remain,

this is the High Moorland Visitor Centre, originally the Duchy Hotel and then the prison officers social club, certainly had a varied life. Of course one building dominates the whole town, indeed it is the reason for the towns existence,

Dartmoor Prison, long the most feared gaol in the land, now just cat.C prisoners and all the comforts of home.

The entrance to the infamous quarry where those miscreants sentenced to hard labour would spend long days pointlessly reducing blocks of Dartmoor granite to gravel just using sledge hammers, now long disused.

Just a couple of the many Tors that are such a feature of the high moor, weathered stumps of ancient volcanic activity and off in the distance

the conical hill of Brent Tor with the tiny church of St. Michael de Rupe perched on top.

I borrowed this picture, but it gives an idea of the size. The hill is solid granite and in the past they had to use gunpowder to blast the graves as digging was impossible.
We stopped at Pork Hill car park for an ice cream and to take in the view, on a clear day you can see far into   Cornwall,

unfortunately today was not overly clear.
Since moving onto Armadillo Dartmoor is about the only thing I really miss, its thousands of years of human habitation has shaped but not altered the brooding presence that is The Moor.

Watch this space.........

Monday, 27 June 2011

Norbury Junction (Yet again).

We had our curry at Brewood (Pronounced Brood) and moved on toward Norbury Junction,

over the A5 aqueduct

we passed the boatyard where this shell has resided for at least four years. I think if it was fitted out it would make a brilliant boat, shame, just checked my pockets, not enough small change to do it.
Through a typical Shroppie cutting

to Wheaton Aston where, as we worked through the lock, it started to chuck it down, again. We stopped below the lock to water and when we left I took this photo',

yes it is the services block at Wheaton Aston and IT WAS FULLY FUNCTIONAL.  We also passed this boat,

the idea is, that by camouflaging half the boat, B.W. will be confused as to its length and the licence will be cheaper! No? Oh well.
Sunday was spent at Little Onn, hottest day of the year and not before time.

The day ended with a truly spectacular sunset, these pictures do not do justice to the colours.
Now at Norbury, weather is hot, sticky and trying to rain with thunder storms forecast, back to normal then.

We went down the cafe for a bacon butty when we arrived and, as we crossed the bridge, we could hear the wonderfully syncopated beat of a Bolinder approaching, it was

Spey, one of Clayton's old tar boats.
Tomorrow we put Armadillo up the side arm and on Wednesday we pick up the car and off to Plymouth, so posts may be a bit irregular over the next week or so.

Watch this space............

Thursday, 23 June 2011


Is this deja-vu? We are back at bridge eight in the Shroppie, year plan A is definitely a dead duck. Once the trip to Plymouth is out of the way perhaps we can rescue a bit of it, down to the Severn, a look at the Droitwich and then Tardebigge. It will then be time to head back to Norbury Junction to leave Armadillo while we are in the good old U.S.of A. She's then in for bottom blacking and after that it will be time to scuttle off to find somewhere to winter. It can't be as bad as last winter, can it?

The junction bridge at Cut End (Autherley Junction), through this bridge lies miles of the loveliest canal ever. (My opinion, you don't have to agree.)
After mooring we took the chance of a gap in the showers to take a stroll, we crossed bridge seven and

were knocked backwards by the sheer colour of a field of poppies.

They were blooming in a field of oilseed rape.

I think the white flowers are scentless mayweed, whatever it was it added a subtle background.

I can't think of anything to say about this, just Poppy.

A small toirtoiseshell then allowed me close enough to get this shot, I was honoured by his trust, or perhaps he's just a poseur.
Tomorrow it's Brewood (Pronounced Brood) and, hopefully, a curry at The Curry Inn.

Watch this space.........

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Black Works and a black bird.

We're heading for Norbury Junction again. We have to be in Plymouth for the start of July, family gathering, and Simon has kindly agreed to look after Armadillo for us. Hire car is booked for the twenty-ninth, hopefully all logistics are in place.
Today's trip is one we have done oft times before, heading from Penkridge toward Cut End, stopping somewhere in the country.
Through seven locks to Gailey where the round house dominates the scene,

  after Gailey it's through the Black Works,

with its pipe bridges and assorted buildings, then through Long Moll's Bridge (I still have not discovered who she/he was) and we have stopped near bridge seventy-four. Spendidly isolated, just a farm visible in the distance.
On the way we spotted a crow struggling in the canal so, being kindly people, we scooped it out with my landing net and returned it to terra firma, it didn't look too healthy but at least it's in with a chance.

This is a crow, not the one we rescued but as not much has happened I'm trying to bulk the post out a bit. Yes I know it could be a rook but in my vast areas of ignorance ornithology is right up there on the leader board.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

A fete worse than death, don't you love a good pun?

Tixall to Penkridge, about four hours and four locks. Also had a good downpour and arrived damp but unbowed.

The cottage at Deptmore Lock is coming along nicely, extension out the back, all new windows, looks good. Must be costing a fortune.
After arrival at Penkridge we walked up into town and discovered that today was the Church Fete. You have to have a look don't you.

The usual collection of stalls, I bought six books for £1.50, not great literature but I don't do that sort of book.
There were some good cars though.

An Austin 1100, I had one as my first car, terrible things, no wonder the British car industry went belly up. The Rover was only marginally better.
Actually my first car was a Reliant Regal, you could drive one on a motor-bike licence and at the time that was the only licence I had, the 1100 only came along after the R.N. kindly provided me with a full licence.

An American fire tender, how did that get here?

Daimler Ferret scout car, 1958. Love the sun shade.

Oh dear, another great British design, rapidly consigned to the dustbin of history. Just think, an electric "car" years before they invented global warming. It might work if they introduced it now.
But best of all

a genuine Punch and Judy show,

forget p.c., the traditional violence was there

and the little ones just loved it. "That's the way to do it."

The happy couple, the bits with the crocodile and the sausages were just too horrific to publish.

Such a gathering would not be complete without a fairground organ, embarrassingly I can remember when you could still see these working on fairground rides. Sounded good though.
Only in England could you get an event like this, no one else would dream of actually displaying

 an Austin A30?
We loved the whole atmosphere of the afternoon, long may such events continue.
British eccentricity,

Watch this space............

Friday, 17 June 2011

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Return to Tixall.

Having enjoyed our stay at Salt we upped sticks for Great Haywood, at Weston Lock there was a queue, well there was a boat ahead of us and then one came in behind.

The canal's version of Reuters, all the news being broadcast, it's amazing the speed that information moves along the cut, quicker than the interweb.
There seemed to be more boats about than we have seen for a while, visions of the usual chaos at Gt. Haywood, especially as we needed water and that must be the busiest waterpoint ever. At the junction nothing was moving and even the waterpoint was empty. Water acquired, rubbish disposed of and still not a boat in sight, we moved off and turned onto the Staffs. and Worcs. without incident and headed for Tixall Wide.

Jill got a good shot at a heron, she says the chairs in the background spoil it, no pleasing some people.
We moored at the start of the Wide, this would be a lovely place to moor if it wasn't for the fact that everyone else thinks so too.

I do like waterlilies.
We walked down to the village, had to post father's day card, and look who was walking down the towpath ahead of us.

It didn't seem to be bothered by our presence, must see plenty of people around here.

Above the lock Monarch and butty were working through.
It was a pleasant stroll but having looked at today's weather forecast I don't intend sticking my nose off the boat.

I even took this photo from the side hatch. We may move tomorrow.

Watch this space..............

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Stone to Salt plus a fishy tale.

We crept quietly out of Stone yesterday morning before the rush started. Once again I was duty lockie.

The Stone flight appears to have been designed to be worked by long legged, skinny acrobats, wrong on all counts as far as I'm concerned.

The Star Inn alongside the bottom lock, sorry but this is no longer a proper pub, it is more like a theme park idea of a pub. From all accounts the food is pretty indifferent as well. If you are in need of a decent beer in Stone just cross the bridge and The Swan is just across the road, real ale heaven.
We made our gentle way down to Salt and moored just before the bridge, although it's not marked as a mooring there are mooring rings here. The west coast main line is right next to the canal but as the Pendolinos only take four seconds to pass it's not that bad.

Five minutes up the road is The Holly Bush, not so much a pub as a restaurant with well kept real ale. Trust me the food is superb and not overly expensive. I had the venison casserole, delicious and an ample portion. Worth a punt if you're on the T & M.
This morning I was up and fishing by 05.30. My trusty split cane rod and wooden reel were deployed and after a few minutes

a nice little chub.
I also had bream and two, count 'em, two, carp.

I gave up about 10.30 as the boat traffic was building up, who do these boaters think they are? Anyone would think the canals were built just for boats.
Oh, were they? gosh.

Watch his space................