Friday, 31 July 2015

A bit about Barby.

On Wednesday, the weather being slightly more clement, we accoutred ourselves in our walking shoes and set off for Barby.

At bridge 81 we left the towpath and struck off on the footpath up the hill.

If one can describe it as such.

It was well supplied with thistles of admirable proportions that leaned, triffid like, over the path.

But if they seemed a nuisance to us they were a welcome resource to an array of insects. Lots of butterflies as well but the little devils wouldn't hang around long enough to have their images preserved for posterity.

It's a fair old hike up the hill but the views out over Warwickshire are well worth the effort.

Despite the views we were glad to see the crossroads that marked the top of the hill.

There's not a lot to see in Barby, although the church is of noble proportions. Disappointingly the hands of the Victorian "restorers" lay heavily on the interior.

Imposing but somehow lacking in character.

Although one of the stalwarts of the congregation was kind enough to lift a trapdoor in the floor to disclose what is believed to be a Saxon grave marker. Local legend has it that a Saxon princess is interred beneath.
Must mention that there is a shop in the village, not exactly handy for the canal but we did purchase an ice-cream apiece.
The return journey to the canal is down a back lane and then a track to bridge 79.
Yesterday we moved up  to the top of Hillmorton and today we will do the short hop to Rugby. Then it is preparation  for the arrival of the grandsprogs.

Watch this space...

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Unusual sight at Braunston.

Weatherwise Sunday was a rerun of Friday but Monday dawned grey and windy, at least it wasn't chucking it down.
Next Sunday we have two of the grandsprogs arriving for the week so we are now heading for Rugby. Good place to top up the victualling stores and Brownsover Park is convenient for picking up prospective crew members.
We had programmed a stop at Braunston for water into our itinerary but on approaching the turn it was obvious that the waterpoint was in use so we took a quick right and headed for the other point by the old junction house. To our amazement we were greeted by a sight we had not seen before;

the forty-eight hour moorings were devoid of moored boats, in fact between the turn and Butcher's Bridge there were only three boats moored towpath side.
Having watered and ditched the gash we winded and headed north,

back past the Horseley Ironworks bridges over Braunston Turn.

Even the fourteen day moorings were sparsely populated. I'll lay money that next time we decide to stop here it will be wall to wall boats.

I think we'll spend a few days here, girding our loins for next week.

Watch this space...

Sunday, 26 July 2015

A stroll in Warwickshire.

Having sat out Friday's rain between bridges 103 and 102, in the lee of Bush Hill, by Flecknoe,

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear with just a breeze to contend with. So, having broken our fast with an Arbroath smokie, we set of for a walk in almost summer warmth.

The blue sky had just a scattering of small clouds and in the shelter of the hedgerow we came across this gorgeous chap, or chapess.

We have seen very few damsel or dragon flies this summer, presumably due to the lack of heat.

Whilst on the natural history trail, anyone any idea what these rather large fungi might be? I am unable to find anything like them in our field guide to fungi. Could the cracked upper surface be due to the sudden large dousing they got on Friday?
We walked down the towpath to Lower Shuckburgh and then took the lane up to the site of the old Flecknoe Station. This was on the same line as Braunston. Opened in 1895 by the London and North Western Railway, it survived until 1952 as a passenger station and until 1956 for goods. No trace remains of the station but the course of the line is still clearly visible.

Viewed from either side of the bridge that still carries the lane across the old line.

One of the coping stones of the bridge, Joseph Hamblet's brickworks specialised in blue engineering bricks and was active from 1851 until 1915.

In the far distance Braunston Church and the old windmill were just visible.
Like many country stations Flecknoe's was about a mile and a half from the village but we set off in that direction and having crossed the canal and climbed the hill we found

the Old Olive Bush where we enjoyed a light lunch, just a cheese and onion roll. Jill contented herself with orange juice and I was delighted to find they had Poachers Pocket from the Church End brewery.

Watch this space...

Friday, 24 July 2015

A little known canal. I don't think W.R.G. have much hope here.

Can there be anything more tedious than being stuck in a marina? Especially when the reason for being there is a need of dental treatment. Then finding out that the dentist's booking system has cocked up and the whole lot has had to be put off really puts the tin hat on it. Back there in October, oh gloom.
But we did take the opportunity to nip off down to Plymouth for a weekend.
Now Plymouth is noted for many things nautical but in general canals are not part of the tourist route in that fine city. But interestingly "Nettleton's Guide to Plymouth, Stonehouse, Devonport and to the neighbouring country", published 1836, has a description of a canal in the dockyard, it is described as being, "Nearly sixty feet wide, and 820 feet long, at the end of which are the boat house pond, (about 80 feet wide, and 360 feet long), slips and sheds." It was crossed by a wooden swing bridge. If it is the one I am thinking of it runs between the frigate complex and Ferry Rd. Not much of a canal but there is one of rather more interest, in Plymbridge Woods runs the Cann Quarry Canal.
A family walk on the Saturday took us to Plymbridge and much of our stroll took us along the side of it.

It opened in 1829, is about two miles long, and was built to carry slate from Cann Quarry down to Marsh Mills. It was a tub boat canal taking its water from a weir on the River Plym just above the quarry. The weir is still there but unfortunately we didn't have time to walk the full length. The loaded boats were floated down on the current and presumably hauled empty back by horses.

It still holds water in some stretches. It was only in use for about ten years and then a branch from the Plymouth and Dartmoor horse tramway which ran down from Princetown, was built from near Marsh Mills to the quarry. The canal then was used as a mill leat for the mills at Marsh Mills. In the quarry itself the water was used to drive stone saws and other quarry machinery and later to generate electricity. The remains of the wheel can still be seen in the old buildings.

At Plymbridge it tunnels under the old turnpike road that ran from Plymouth to Plympton, long before the A38.

One of the old water control sluices, it made a fine spot in which a small boy could get grubby.

The various fallen tree make a fine, if challenging, climbing frame.

Watch this space...

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Ducks and a poem, including notes on Old English.

On our last day on the G.U. we passed steam tug Adamant. She's definitely an impressive looking beast. Actually she is a replica of a steam tunnel tug, the hull is made from the stern ends of two B.N.C. "Joey" boats with a new cabin and counter. The steam plant is a Cochrane of Birkenhead two cylinder compound from the end of the 19thC. The boiler is of the vertical fire tube type built in 1986.

After negotiating Wigram's Turn we moored out in the country near Flecknoe for the weekend.

Lovely moorings but absolutely no 'phone signal and therefore no internet. I'm getting as bad as the kids, no mobile and I start twitching, missing my daily dose of Facebook etc.
The stretch of G.U./Oxford between Wigrams and Braunston Turn must be the busiest on the system, a continual stream of boats all weekend.

Didn't seem to put this little family of though, every time we poked our heads out of the side hatch they headed for us like miniature speed boats. Sorry kids, no bread, it's not good for you. they did love Rice Krispies though.
On Monday we managed, by dint of standing on the roof, to raise enough signal to contact the local dentist, both of us being in need of dental sorting, and fix up an appointment. So we moved down to Wigram's Turn Marina, expecting to stay for a few days. It turns out that the course of treatment is going to last for several weeks, usual routine, a succession of appointments. So it looks like we will be here for a while.

Amongst the surfeit of Mallards around the marina we have a Tufted Duck and her solitary duckling, it really is the scruffiest looking duckling we've ever seen.
Yesterday, whilst shopping in Southam we purchased some eggs, described on the carton as "Happy Eggs", which gave me pause for thought and, from some deep recess of the mind, there sprang a poem, possibly written by Chaucer.

"How sad ye life of ye new laid egg,
His fate is dark and dire.
For he cometh out of the frying pan
And goeth into ye fryer."

It should be noted that "y" is not a Y but actually "Thorn" an Old English character pronounced as "th".

Watch this space...

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Long Itchington plus a pirate ship.

Long Itchington has always been one of those places we pass through without bothering to actually walk up to the village. This time we decided that we would make the effort.

On the hottest July day on record we found some rather nice half-timbered buildings

and a rather more modern one that sported a rather interesting English Heritage blue plaque.


The church proved to be the only cool spot on a sweltering day.

Boards like this, detailing charitable donations left in a will are not unusual in churches but the donations recorded on this one were a bit different to the usual cash gift. Both Elizabeth and Edmond had left one share in the Warwick and Birmingham Canal, the dividends from which were to go to the trustees of the Long Itchington charity school to support the school. Sorry about the reflection on the board. It was right next to a window and was catching the light.
Just by the church there is a rather fine old pub, The Harvester. We partook of a refreshing pint in this most friendly hostelry and having perused the menu decided to return in the evening for dinner. It was a good decision. The Fillet Steak Rossini was amazing and Jill says her Sirloin Chasseur was equally good. So if you are ever feeling peckish in Long Itchington that is the place to head for. Good beer as well.

Jill's latest cross stitch. Another masterpiece. One day we will get them framed although I don't think we have enough wall space to display them all.

A couple of details from it.

Watch this space...