Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Collieries and steam pumps.

Looks like them darn sarf copped the worst of the storm. We awoke this morning to blue skies and light airs, just the merest zephyr wafting the trees. So off we set, as usual we had changed plans, we are now going up to Atherstone for a couple of days before heading onto the Ashby.

We were soon passing the old Wyken Colliery arm, now in use as moorings by Coventry Cruising Club. The mine it connected to was worked out by 1881 but the nearby Coventry Colliery continued to have an effect on the local canals.

At Tusses Bridge the old fishing tackle shop and the Elephant and Castle have both closed.
Suttons Stop is little altered from the canal carrying days.

The Greyhound still presides over the junction and

boats still work through the stop lock that separates the precious waters of the Oxford and Coventry Canals.

Originally the Oxford carried straight on, through where the facilites block now sits behind the trees, centre, and the junction was a mile further on. This was because of some very complicated toll arrangements in the original Parliamentary Bills for the canals. Eventually common sense prevailed and the junction was moved to its present location, under the bridge to the right.
As we sat at the waterpoint by the lock we were alerted by the "Tonk tonk"of a working boat's engine and into the lock glided

Corona, a Harland and Wolff, Woolwich built, Star class motor. Built in 1935 for the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company and originally paired with the butty Coronis.

Number One in my book. Jill had called me over as the lock emptied, all six inches of it, to see

some extreme knitting adorning the gate beam. Love it.
I made the 180 degree turn onto the Coventry in one arc, didn't have to go astern, still feeling chuffed.

Ahead is the old pump house that was home to a Newcomen steam engine called Lady Godiva that pumped water from an underground stream to keep the canal topped up. The engine came from the nearby Griff Colliery where it had already worked for about one hundred years before it was installed here in 1821. In 1913 the sinking of the Coventry Colliery went below the level from which water was being pumped and from then on the water pumped from the mine replaced that from the engine and Lady Godiva was decommissioned. In the 1960's she was moved to the Dartmouth Museum and is still occasionally steamed.

We passed Charity Dock in all its glorious decrepitude.

That's the Ashby heading off into Leicestershire, going up there next week.

Once one of the side arms into Griff Colliery. There were once at least eight separate pits on the Newdigate Estate. They had their own internal canal and railway system and were major players in the local mining industry.
Moored on the hillside above the Anker Valley.

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

Monday, 28 October 2013

Who nicked the storm?

I hope everyone else had as calm and peaceful a night as we did. Having lashed and stowed everything lashable and stowable we battened down the hatches and prepared for Armageddon. Woke at about 0300 to the sound of heavy rain, peered out of side hatch, rain we had, but wind? It was as still as a graveyard. Back to bed.
Woke at 0700, still raining and a stiff breeze. So that was the storm of the century.
And now the sun is shining.

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

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Nearly at the northern end of the Oxfrd.

Through Newbold Tunnel yesterday none of the (in)famous lights were on, have they finally given up?
The stretch of the Oxford from there on is not one of our favourite lengths, blighted as it is by

the railway, alongside for miles and

the M6, a truly horrid road. Though not as bad as the M25, a.k.a. the biggest car park in the world.

Through the cutting just north of All Oaks Wood, at the moment the worst stretch for leaves around the prop., although they were a nuisance for long stretches. I seemed to spend as much time going astern to clear the blasted things as I spent going forward.
Now waiting for the storm that is heading this way. Between Ansty and Suttons Stop we know a short stretch of armco, well sheltered by high hedges so here we are, the M6 one way and the M69 the other but the noise is surprisingly muted and the towpath little used. Tuesday looks a good day to move but:-

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

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Hillmorton, paddle gear and poetry.

A quick flashback to yesterday, for several years bridge 80, Wise's bridge, was notorious for it's decayed, indeed semi-collapsed, state. Well all is now made well and repairs are complete but it has left it in a rather bewildering condition.
The southern side looks like this,

all fresh brickwork. However the northern side

has a more aged aspect. Doesn't even look like the same bridge.

This morning dawned bright and clear so it was off down Hillmorton Locks. They were doubled in 1840 to alleviate a traffic bottleneck on what was then a major transport route from the midlands to London.
I had never noticed before but the paddle gear on the towpath side locks

is of a completely different design

to that on the offside locks. Presumably dating from the doubling? Seems unlikely that even something as robust as paddle gear would last two hundred years.

Originally the locks were connected so that they could act as side ponds to each other, the gear is still there but is long disused. I have seen it mooted that the system be reinstated but, having seen the difficulties some people have coping with normal lock gear, I feel it would probably be a counterproductive move. The amount of water saved would not compensate for the potential for disaster introduced.

A contentious issue, the addition of poetry to the lock beams. Jill seemed to find the words, in close proximity to yours truly, amusing. Personally I can take it or leave it, the poetry that is, as long as they don't carve it so deep that the beams snap.

I suppose it does, except it's a gate not a door.

Up by the moorings at Brownsover they are busily working on the side of the canal. Possibly rebuilding a culvert? Looks as though the chap on the right should be a plumber.
We topped up the stores at the handy Tescos. They've opened a path through the hedge so you can now walk through the new housing estate to get to the store, much less muddy than the towpath here.
According to the Met. Office there's a big storm coming this way at the weekend.

Watch this space........

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Passing through Braunston.

Having enjoyed rain in just about all its various forms for the last few days, this morning we bit the bullet and set off. We were getting short of water and Jill was somewhat keen to flash up the washing machine as I was running out of clean nether garments.

At the Braunston puddle banks we came across this strange looking craft, obviously far too wide for the Oxford, I can only surmise that it had arrived via the G.U. Actually it looked as though it would be a bit of a squeeze getting it into the wide locks. Couldn't work out which way it was facing either.

Braunston Church and the stump of the old windmill were looking splendid amidst the autumn colours of the trees. As were the Horseley Iron Works bridges

at the junction. We stopped for water and a quick dive into the chandlery for a few essentials, stern gland grease, toilet fluid and anti-freeze, then on up the North Oxford.

A short way further on we came across the local hunt out in full force. Nice to see that some English traditions still survive despite the best efforts of certain politically motivated groups. The hunt of course was following an aniseed drag, not chasing a fox.

C&RT were out trimming back the edge of the towpath, I know it can't be prevented but I wish there was a way of preventing the cut bits falling in the cut, getting enough problems with leaves around the prop at the moment.
Stopped above Hillmorton Locks, wonder what the weather will do to us tomorrow.

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

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

It's still raining, with a touch of thunder for variation.

This is why you have holidays in the sun, so when the rotten weather is getting you down you can remember what sunshine is like.
Tomorrow we will move on.

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

Monday, 21 October 2013

Weather report for Flecknoe.

Still at Flecknoe, yesterday was sunshine,

albeit somewhat intermittent,

and showers.
In the evening it was friends over for dinner, fresh tomato soup, roast beef with Yorkshire puddings and all the trimmings and then a home made lemon meringue pie, my dear lady was once again superb in her culinary skills. We then had a most convivial time over a drop of red wine, mulling over times past. Unfortunately by the time I got the camera out neither it nor I could focus.

Lovely weather for ducks? Not according to this pair this morning. It is heaving it down stair rods, in fact not so much down as horizontal. We might move on through Braunston tomorrow, weather permitting.

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

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Life returns to normal.

Back out on the cut, enjoyed our time away but always glad to be on the boat again.

After returning the car we loaded coal and slipped away from the pontoon that had been Armadillo's home for three weeks. We're now happy boaters, diesel and water tanks full, effluent tank empty, plenty of fuel for the stove and on the move.

The sign post gives you three options as you leave the marina.

Straight ahead the Grand Union heads off to Warwick and Birmingham, to the left is Napton and on to Oxford, but we had just come that way so it was a quick right turn and head for Braunston and the North Oxford. Our aim is autumn on the Ashby, maybe even Christmas. Then over to the Shroppie until spring arrives. Next year? Your guess is as good as mine.

We didn't go far, stopped at Flecknoe, one of our favourite places to spend a few days. Weather looks pretty gloomy for the next few days so I expect it will be a day or two before we move. Especially as our old mates Chris and Jude on Theathenia have now turned up.

Looks as though I caught them by surprise. Anyway we had a most convivial evening and they're over for Sunday dinner tomorrow.

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

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Castles and Winnie the Pooh.

Back on the boat after a couple of weeks. We've been staying in Lewes for a few days, must be fifty years since I walked the streets of the old county town of Sussex. We stayed at The White Hart,

a hotel with a flavour of Fawlty Towers. Must admit the food was ok, until the manager got involved in the service.

The reason for our stay was a visit from some long lost relatives from Canada, actually not so much lost as temporarily mislaid. I caught them unawares as they visited Mile End Cottages, Partcham, where one of the ladies had spent her childhood.
Lewes is a splendid old town on the slopes of the South Downs, the castle dominates the town,

and the High Street has a collection of buildings of all ages.

They are wonderfully Sussex, brick, wood framed, tile hung and, because of the lack of any other decent building stone, flint.

both knapped

and unknapped.
The Sussex Ouse runs through the bottom of the town,

passing the Harvey's brewery. The river carried commercial traffic, mostly cement from several works along the river valley, until, I think, the 1980's.

Jill and cousin Mary seemed to be enjoying themselves, never did find out what the joke was.
Also took a trip out to Hever Castle, childhood home of Anne Boleyn.

More a fortified manor than a castle, it was one of the homes of the Astor family up to the 1970's.
On the way, in the village of Hartfield, we found "Pooh Corner", a most impressive tourist trap.

SNAP, the trap closes on some more unsuspecting tourists.

Shouldn't laugh Jill, just because we are immune to the bait.
The village is in the Ashdown Forest which, as we all know, is the original Winnie the Pooh territory.
Today we returned to the boat and now we are relaxing, stove lit and feet up.

Store ship tomorrow, on our way Friday.

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