Friday, 29 June 2012

Too much to list in the title, you will just have to read it all.

Good grief, is it really four days since I sat down at my faithful laptop and put another gripping instalment of our wild and adventurous life into the public domain? So what has been going on?

Well, we continued on our way up the Staff. and Worcs. Debdale Lock hides in a rocky cutting surrounded by foliage reminiscent of the Amazon, this year it's definitely rain forest.

Cookley village sits above its diminutive tunnel. Everything on this canal seems to be built to a smaller scale than normal.

Anyone fancy a restoration project? Could be a bit of a challenge.

The Bratch from the bottom of the middle lock, really gloomy down here.

Just above Dimmingsdale Lock we came across Waterlily and stopped for a quick chat with fellow blogger Nev.

He was awaiting the arrival of R.C.R. with a new alternator belt. I hope they eventually turned up, he didn't seem to be having a lot of luck with his search for a belt. Hope you're all sorted now Nev.

We made it round to our favoured mooring near Brewood where there is normally a good signal but the night before last? Zilch. Yesterday morning we set off for the leg to Gnosall and went past a Sea Otter boat with one of those weird paint jobs you see on some cars,

it changed colour as we passed, very impressive but it will be a real ouch! the first time they get pushed into some offside herbiage by an inconsiderate boater.
Hardly were we over the A5 aqueduct when the first rumble of thunder alerted us to changing weather. I appreciate that everyone will have their own story of yesterdays weather but here is ours, hardly had we struggled into our waterproofs when down it came, I have not seen the like of the rain since a Singapore monsoon many moons ago; but it was the thunder and lightning that was gobsmacking, for an hour and a quarter it was continuous, the lightning a continual display and the peals of thunder ran into each other to make an unending crash, it was awe inspiring, and my awe isn't easily inspired.
We arrived at Gnosall with the water running out of our boots and adjourned to The Navigation for a bite to eat and a well earned stiffener. We were back there for the evening as Thursday is Open Mic. night. Always enjoyable, the efforts varied from the brilliant to the frankly awful but at least they got up and did their party piece, more strength to their elbow I say.
Family visit from the eldest and tribe tomorrow.

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

Monday, 25 June 2012

We survive a night at Kidderminster.

How I love the bucolic charm of the English countryside, especially the bit that says mobile 'phone signals are an optional extra, but you don't get the option. So a brief update.
We thoroughly enjoyed our fish supper at Kinver and the next day headed of to Kidderminster and a top up of the store cupboard. Sainsburys' took a hammering and after raiding all the charity shops in town for reading material we decided, against all advice, to stay overnight. Being next to Sainsbury's car park is not the most scenic mooring but next morning we awoke, throats not cut, mooring lines still secure and roof accoutrements still there. So merrily we set off for Stourport, the sun shone

and even the usually dour church above the lock positively glowed. Mind you,if you look the other way at the lock

it's a whole different ball game. Unusually there were three boats moored by Tescos, generally considered a no go area but they had spent a peaceful night; is Kiddie in danger of losing its reputation as the wild frontier?
Having seen all the publicity about the dangerously low fitting of the new handrails at Falling Sands Lock we were almost disappointed to find that

a modicum of common sense had prevailed and there was now plenty of headroom.
We moored at the Bird in Hand, just opposite the cemetery. Definitely our preferred mooring at Stourport.
It's about a ten minute walk to the town and as we had two objectives we soon set off but, as is a must, we made our first stop the canal basins.. The old power station basin has been redeveloped as des. res. with plenty of moorings, presumably available for the occupants.

Pity none of them are taking advantage of the facility.

The locks and basins are as attractive as usual, the river was just in the green then but the level has gone up and today, once again, the Severn was closed..

I sometimes feel that Stourport Yacht Club is trying to give all we narrowboaters an inferiority complex.
First stop in town was Allcock's Outdoor Store for a fishing tackle top up, it's a fact, more anglers than fish have been caught by gaudy floats.
Next stop was Gough's butchers in the high street, cherry smoked local bacon, home made sausages and real local meat. We will eat well for the next few days.

Spot today's anomaly, canalside signs could get quite interesting in the near future.
We're now heading back up the Staffs. and Worcs. Kidderminster was back on form,

took this lot off the prop. just by Tescos and on setting off again bounced off of what felt suspiciously like a submerged supermarket trolley.
Tonight we're at Wolverley and, as I write this, overhead are two visitors.

We now have a booking in the paint dock at Norbury Junction, I've given up trying to paint the roof, at least their dock is covered. So it's a trip back to the Shroppie.

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

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Could it be a Shakespearean Actor?

We're sitting here at Kinver watching the rain and I cast my mind back to yesterday, we had the second dry day in a row, if it had not been for my usual cunctation we would have had two days of dry travelling, oh well, we enjoyed the walk on Tuesday.
The Bratch with its toll house and side pounds.

With the help of the friendly lockie it didn't take long and it was on to

the best named lock on the system, it has an almost Dickensian ring to it, "Bumblehole Lock", or it could be a Shakespearean actor. It would be great if he was knighted," Sir Bumblehole Lock", has a definite air to it. The mind is inclined to wander, I worry that one day it won't find it's way back.
At Botterham Staircase we had a clear run through

and so onwards to our next stop at Greensforge and

The Navigation. I do wish, in pubs, that when they put Steak and Ale Pie on the menu they served up a pie, not a bowl of stew with a sheet of pastry placed on top. It was very tasty but it wasn't a pie. This morning it was off again, passing the Stourbridge Canal,

another route into the Black Country, and so to Kinver.

There was plenty of room on the moorings and the village was nigh on deserted. Tonight it's fish and chips from the local chippie, not had a fish supper for quite a while. As a point of gastronomic correctness, you have mushy paese with fish and chips, NOT tartare sauce.

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

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Wombourne station and the Monarch's Way.

Sometimes a simple suggestion leads to the unexpected. This morning Jill suggested a walk and after the usual, "Where do you fancy?", "No, you choose", we spotted, on the map, the old railway line that runs up parallel with the canal. In the past we'd seen the Station Cafe signposted so that was where we set off for and no, we didn't stop for a snack. The surprise was that the cafe is actually the old station.

On checking I was surprised to find that it was built by the G.W.R., the line ran from Stourbridge to Dudley. The station opened in 1925 and closed in 1932, not exactly a long life.

Like most railway lines it's dead straight but it runs through some attractive farmland. Once we left the track we headed off across the fields following The Monarchs Way,

now please forgive my scepticism but, even in this jubilee year, I don't reckon Her Majesty has ever been along this track.

I'd say it hasn't seen any royal feet since about 1651. We followed it as far as Mopps Farm Bridge, well it goes as far as Shoreham in Sussex and we couldn't fit it all in before lunch, joined the towpath

and headed back for the boat. Just above Ebstree Lock Bletchley and Argus were fully loaded

getting ready to head off for the Grand Union.
The temporary hand rails at the lock are even better than usual.

That really improves safety.

At least it has one of Brindley's circular weirs to compensate.
Tomorrow it's The Bratch.

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

Monday, 18 June 2012

O.K., I was wrong. No change there then.

I should have known better than to argue. So it's a humble apology to Geoff and to Ditchcrawler.

With reference to my post of the 10th. of June, they were right, I was wrong, the strange collection of scaffold poles is B.W.'s attempt at temporary handrails. This one was at Wightwick on the Staffs. & Worcs.

This is the finished handrail at (I think) Dimmingsdale Lock, a triumph of 'elf and safety over common sense. I must grudgingly admit it isn't too obtrusive.

Today, having survived the deluge, we headed off onto the Staffs. & Worcs., heading towards Stourport.

Aldersley Junction and the bottom of the Wolverhampton Twenty One, the route up to the Black Country. We headed past and down to Compton where, in the old boatyard, there was this amazing display of lupins.

I don't know about you but I think this blog has been getting a bit too flowery lately, I will have to stop it before I burst out into poetry.
We eventually stopped above The Bratch and it was noticed that the bank was low, so one side of the hull got some swift attention with a pot of matt black and a paint roller. the left hand side no longer shows the winter's ravages. Of course I expect that when we emerge from the bottom of The Bratch half of it will have been scraped off again.

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

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Today has been cancelled due to lack of interest.

As we are still sitting out the current excess of weather I can only offer a few odd pictures from the last few days.

This boat has been moored under the M6 for several days, a few days back the occupants were sitting on the towpath close by, noise and fumes, strange delights some people enjoy. Now I'm not critcising their choice, if that's what they like good luck to them, but it does seem to lack a certain charm.

I believe that cows lying down is a sign of rain, can't go wrong with the forecast at the moment.

That's a bumble bee just taking off from some vetch. Why is it that they always go into launch mode just as you press the button?

I think this is ground ivy, pretty little flowers whatever it is.

Normally I am forbidden access to the kitchen for anything more technical than mashing the tea, I was a chef for several years and Jill says I make too much mess and expect a k.p. to clean up after me, but yesterday I was allowed to play. I produced a steak and kidney pudding that was, not to boast too much, sublime. Really pleased that I have not lost my touch. Shouldn't we be eating salad in June though, not winter comfort food? I will add as a footnote that I left the kitchen immaculate.

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

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Honeysuckle Rose.

We had our curry at Brewood, as usual it was superb, King Prawn Naga, spicy but not heavy, loved it.
As we were at Brewood

we thought we might as well go another couple of miles down to Wheaton Aston and top up with diesel, as it turned out when we got there they were queuing so we carried on down to Little Onn for the night and this morning we had an early(ish) start and arrived back at Turners Garage before others were moving. Topped up, where else can you get red diesel at 71.9p a litre (domestic)?
Whilst at Little Onn we had an afternoon stroll up the lanes around Church Eaton, the hedgerows were full of honeysuckle,

and dog roses.

Hence the title of this post, Honeysuckle Rose was the title of a song which, in my misspent yoof, we used to sing of a weekend up the local working man's club in Sarf Lunnon. Used to go up there with me old gran, Nell, she introduced me to beer and fags (That's cigarettes to anyone from the USA). That was in the days of sing-a-longs and knees ups. I gave up the fags long ago but still have a strong affection for the occasional pint of ale.

July's Canal Boat has a report of the outcome of the Judicial Review of B.W.'s revised Mooring Guidance for Boaters without a Home Mooring. The National Bargee Travellers Association applied for the review on the grounds that the guidance was contrary to waterways law and in breach of the Human Rights and Equality Acts. Well to cut a long story short Mr Justice Eder kicked it into touch and ruled that B.W.'s guidance is in line with the 1995 Act and said that assertions concerning the Human Rights and Equality Acts were misconceived. B.W. was awarded £15,000 costs. So, depending on your point of view it's either brilliant news for continuous cruisers or it's plainly an establishment attack on the rights of continuous moorers. I know where I stand.

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