Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year.

What a contrast to yesterday.
Short post today, done whilst I can still focus.

                                                   Happy New Year.

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

Monday, 30 December 2013

A spot of roughers on The Wide.

It has been a touch draughty here.

The Wide has been a bit choppy.

Even tied in we've been rocking.

Somehow I get the feeling we'll be here for another day or two.

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

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Four junctions, two aqueducts and a bloody murder.

Just one thing after another, after sitting out the gale on Friday we started moving yesterday. The canal is full of the debris from the storms, if it wasn't leaves and twigs round the prop it was great heaps of branches etc. round the front end.

That's one lot we shook off by reversing for a few yards, just before Whittington. That's where we passed the first junction.

Somewhere between these two bridges is where the bit of the Coventry that is really the Birmingham and Fazeley joins the other bit of the Coventry that is the Coventry with an end on junction. Note that Whittington Bridge has a nameplate and the next one is just bridge 78. It really is just easier to regard the whole lot as the Coventry Canal.
A bit further on we approached Huddlesford Junction where the Wyrley and Essington originally joined the northern B.C.N. to the Coventry, dropping down from the Black Country through thirty locks. It was abandoned in 1954. Restoration is currently underway but there is a long way to go.

This is the junction house, we also took some brilliant photo's up the remaining arm, unfortunately a little gremlin had snuck into the camera, and although it appeared to be working, the next ten pictures didn't make it onto the memory card. But that was the second junction.
The third was, of course, Fradley where we stopped for water and some more brilliant pictures were taken of The Mucky Duck and that little swing bridge across the end of the Coventry. They were part of the ten.

Luckily, as we made the turn onto the Trent and Mersey I took a shot looking back and the camera deigned to come back to life.
We stopped just past Kings Bromley Wharf and it was then, when I downloaded the camera card to the computer that I discovered, or rather I didn't, the missing ten piccies. I also found that there was no signal for the dongle so I couldn't even post what I did have. Oh gosh, altogether annoying.
This morning, after a splendid fried breakfast, we set off through Armitage. One has to take the obligatory picture of Armitage Shanks canalside works.

Toilet humour, I thought the sign announcing local facilities in front of the pallets of their well known products had a certain appropriateness. Please yourself.

At Rugeley local volunteers have been clearing the area around the Bloody Steps. On or about the 16th of June 1839 the Pickford's narrow boat Staffordshire Knot left Preston crewed by four men, James Owen, captain, William Ellis, George Thomas and a young lad, Isaac Mann. There was also a young female passenger. Christina Collins who had taken passage in order to join her husband in London. The three adult crew members were notorious for their drunkenness and general bad behaviour. When they arrived at Stoke Christina complained to the Pickford's agent about their behaviour but no help was offered. It seems that somewhere around Colwich Lock she was raped and murdered by the adult members of the crew. Once it was realised she was missing a search was instigated and the canal dragged, her body was discovered wrapped in a chain and was carried up these steps to The Talbot, a pub close to the canal. It is claimed by the more credulous that her blood still stains the steps and that her ghost is sometimes seen on them.
 The three men had by this time fled the scene but were eventually arrested and tried for the murder. All three were found guilty, Owen and Thomas were condemned to death and publicly hanged at Stafford Gaol, for some reason Ellis was reprieved and sentenced to transportation. The lad, Isaac Mann was not charged. For the full story click here.

The first aqueduct, Brindley's over the River Trent, adjacent to the Bloody Steps.
Further to tie in with the story,

The bottom gates of Colwich Lock and Jill leaning on the top gate.

The fourth junction, we turn onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire at Great Haywood and just through the bridge and past the hire base we cross the second aqueduct,

recrossing the Trent.
Moored on Tixall Wide. Probably the loveliest mooring on the system at this time of year. Not so good in summer when you are lucky to find a spot.
Incidentally, the card in the camera just fell to pieces so I'm falling back on the Nikon Coolpix I bought in Teneriffe.

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

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Through Fazeley.

Just to round off yesterdays post,

Christmas spag. bol. Would a sprig of holly stuck in the top have improved it? I think not.

Rather more traditional, Jill's own mince pies with clotted cream. A couple of glasses of red just finished it off to perfection.
Today we pushed on towards Fradley Junction.
Looking back at Glascote Locks,

the bottom one of them used to be notorious for the time it took to fill, most of the water that went in at the top leaked straight out the bottom, now fixed.. Today we were helped through by the resident in the lock cottage who popped out, windlass in hand, and set to with much gusto. Really nice chap, makes a living as a balloon bender.

Then over the River Tame, still well up, and onward to Fazeley Junction.

Through the bridge and you are heading for Birmingham on the Birmingham and Fazely, we debated going through the second city but decided to go around, fewer locks.

Last time we came through the old junction house was boarded up and derelict, it has now been done up and is a very des. res.
History gets rather complicated here. Although generally considered to be part of the Coventry Canal, from the junction up to Whittington it was built by the Birmingham and Fazeley who had become fed up with the failure of the Coventry company to complete its authorised line and were anxious to connect with the Trent and Mersey. This is why the bridges on this section have names,

a la B.C.N., rather than the normal numbers. I hope that makes it clear?
Weather tomorrow not looking good so we intend staying put, just past the Hopwas firing ranges.

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

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

It was Christmas day on the lock flight.

0900 this morning and we were at the top of the Atherstone flight, ready to go.

Most of the eleven locks still have their side ponds, no longer functional.

Halfway down is Baddesley Basin, now a boatyard but originally serving Baddesley Colliery. It is believed that coal had been taken from open pits in the area since the fifteenth century. The final colliery was sunk in the 1870's and closed in 1989. Difficult to picture what this picture would have looked like if taken when the mine was operating.

Our first locks for two months but we were soon back in the swing and sailed down with much aplomb. To our surprise we met a boat coming up. Nice to know we aren't the only loonies.

Bottom of the flight and the River Anker was well up after the storms of the last few days but today was very different, just look at that sky. A perfect day for a bit of winter boating.

A contrast in the fate of old working boats at Grendon Wharf. A very sad looking butty and the pristine motor Kangaroo, no idea about the butty but Kangaroo is ex. F.M.C., built by Yarwoods in 1928.
We managed eleven locks, seven miles and one coal bag wrapped round the prop. Eventually moored by Alvecote Priory.

As we traveled dinner was simmering on top of the stove, Jill's take on Bolognese sauce. Turkey? what turkey?

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

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Sloe down for Christmas.

Preparations for Christmas now just about complete.


via this,

has become this.

Fruity and sweet but with a sharp edge. The gin that is.

                                     HAPPY CHRISTMAS

to you all.

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

Friday, 20 December 2013

Tunnel tug and mine alert.

Finally off of the Ashby, last view of

Stoke Golding church dominating the scene from it's ridge top position

and Hinckley, bustling with pre-Christmas shoppers.
This morning we set off on a beautiful calm morning but it wasn't long before the wind was back, boisterously blowing the trees about.

Strange pattern in the clouds, the bright bit was a highly coloured "rainbow". Not seen the like of it before.

 Not far from the junction we passed Sharpness, originally built as a tunnel tug for the Worcester and Birmingham Canal in 1908 she spent virtually her whole working life towing unpowered boats through Wast Hill and the other tunnels on the summit level. She was retired and sold out of service by the British Waterways Board in the 1960's.
Once through Marston Junction it was obvious that we were on the Coventry and heading into Nuneaton. A strange object was sighted ahead. Not having seen a U-boat or a Blohm und Voss mine laying float plane for a while we knew it wasn't a mine.

Oh, it was just the usual floating telly.

Watch this space.......

Monday, 16 December 2013

The roast beef of old England.

We left Market Bosworth this morning in a gale of wind,

the trees stark against a lowering sky.

The clouds scudded before the wind and hurled the occasional flurry of icy rain in our faces, a miserable day to be moving. So I threw my mind back to yesterday, 1800, Jill was just dishing up dinner. Bill the butcher had provided us with a rib of beef and Jill worked her magic. Now if you're having roast beef a decent Yorkshire pudding is essential:

now that is a proper Yorkshire pud.

Added to the beef, roasties and carrots, broccoli and asparagus, fit for a king. Forgot to mention the gravy!
Sadly today is a fast day on the diet, a poached egg for brekkies and now nothing until this evening.

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

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Santa by steam.

It's been a quiet few days, just meandered up the Ashby as far as Market Bosworth. A couple of days at our favourite small town and tomorrow we set off back down towards Atherstone locks which open on the twenty-first. Then it will be move on north(ish).
I think I've just about exhausted the photographic possibilities of this neck of the woods but today a chance arose.

Market Bosworth station with, in the distance,

a Santa Special, always fascinating, wondering what engine it will be.

Obviously G.W.R., just look at that tender.

Yes, it's 3803, one of the big old 2-8-0 freight engines, still on loan from the South Devon Railway.

Then she was gone, in a swirl of steam and a waft of that wonderful steam engine aroma. A mixture of steam, coal smoke and hot oil.

A relic of the time when machines still had a soul.
Jill just muttered that she knew another relic.

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