Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wot no railway?

Well not a lot anyway!

A very busy weekend and yet another weekend that I have successfully managed to avoid starting to write the 36 reports that need starting soon!

Almost every moment of the weekend has been spent working of some form or another except for a short period yesterday where I rewired some lighting on the railway.

Nothign else to report really. Looking forward to heading down London for the bank holiday weekend next week - oh another excuse not to write reports!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Back to routine!

Life as normal again now! The 2nd load of washing is in the machine, the hoovering is done and I'm back to routine getting ready for work on Monday.

Spent the last couple of days on the railway fixing my birthday presents and the buildings that we made on holiday. The pub is now lit...
....and sits on the village green waiting for the cricket match to begin....
The roads and pavements have been laid; my father did an excellent and very patient job of laying every individual paving slab which has made it safe for the children to get too and from school....

....and the 9 street lights have been put in and connected. Here you see the early morning deliveries in Little Foxwood...
Today, I bought some dimmers so that I can lower the lighting to make it slightly less bright. I now have atoatl of 4 transformers running the lighting and I want to put each one on a separate dimmer pack to be adjustable.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Back home!

Well, back in the marina now.
Arrived back in at around lunchtime after re-fuelling from Iain & Allison on NB Gosty Hill having met them half way between Rose Narrowboats and home. Just as we got in and completed our pump-out, the rain started and it's been miserable all day since! One of those days I'm glad we're snug and safe in the marina and not out cruising.
Popped in to Homebase for some electrical bits and then onto the railway shop this afternoon for some more bits. When we eventually arrived back we spent a while changing the lights in the railway shed so I now have spot lights and a dimmer switch. Just popped back for dinner before going back up to connect the lighting on the school and the pub - pictures to follow.
Tonight, the historical picture is Cropredy - also 1979.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Last day out!

This morning was cold - very cold; grey and hazy to boot!
We set off for Atherstone and arrived in good time. Not a single boat on the entire flight and every lock was in our favour - the whole flight was completed in 1 hour and 50mins! Onwards and upwards with the plan to moor at Sutton's Stop for a roast chicken dinner - best laid plans again!

I have never in my life seen so many boats moored there! I realise now why we didn't pass a single boat from Atherstone to the turn - they were all moored at the turn! We were forced to continue and finally moored just before bridge 11 opposite a farm. We haven't got much water and need to use the blank as you can see and we have a constant roar of the M6 nearby but it will do us for the night and the roast chicken dinner more than made up for it!

Tomorrow we head back in. Only about an hour and a half and we're home. I then need to get a pump-out and lots of diesel, (unfortunately not at Wheaton Aston prices!) before settling back in and spending a day or two in the railway shed. Sorry boaters - the next few blogs will probably be railway based again!!
An finally for tonights historical offering. What was called 'Napton Marina' on the slide - 1979!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A long day!

The title speaks for itself! Not all boating but today seems to have been a very long day! It's amazing what little secrets you find on the waterways. It turns out that last night we were moored right alongside this.
Amazing to see the way the tree has grown right over the archway. Closer inspection revealed a beautiful brick 'cave' which backed right out ontot he River Trent. A little historical detective work and we guessed it was once the boat house of nearby Bishton Hall before the compulsory act of parliament drove a canal right through the middle of their sweeping lawns thus cutting them off from the river. A fact proven by looking at the picture on the homepage of the website where you can clearly see how it used to look!

Onwards towards Rugeley where a coupel of hours saw us getting a mammoth load of shopping and having a pleasant stop and chat with Derek & Dot from NB Gypsy Rover again.

Our journey continued to Fradley Junction where traffic was light and the passage was made more pleasurable by meeting some interesting people. The ex-serviceman who had fitted his own 40ft boat out to a very high standard and who was having to hassle BW to get his licence due to the fact that his own morals wouldn't let him go off cruising without a valid licence dispalyed - how refreshing! Not to mention the passing 'hi' to Nev from NB Waterlily - meeting fellow bloggers seems a steady feature of this trip! Not a great picture but the best I could get as I grabbed the camera and avoided the moored boats!

As we approached Hopwas, the clouds loomed and our planned evening BBQ seemed more unlikely. It produced an amazing sky but only a few spots of rain. We finally managed to more just before Tamhorn Park Bridge opposite the military danger zone and exactly 7 days since mooring here on the way up! A BBQ was had, (a record - 2 in one Easter trip!) and a very pleasant evening.
Now for my historical pictures! A delightful image of Bourton Lock and cottage. I know this is a particular favourate of Bones and something she blogged about recently, (April 11th post - A cottage of dreams.)

This post was scanned by my father and given the title - 'cheer up, things could be better'! It redresses the balance by showing Steve doing some work and me just contemplating life in general, (as much as one does at age 7!)

Tomorrow, we hope to get through Atherstone and as far towards home as possible before mooring somewhere; anywhere ready for the return trip in on Thursday.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Well - what an interesting day! This morning was grey and cloudy as we set off. The plan was to get to Rugely, stop there for some shopping before heading towards Hopwas for the night. Best laid plans and all that! Just as we were about to set off, the innevitable happened and a flotilla of boats appeared. Holding onto the ropes and passing a cheery good morning was fine until the last boat decided to go past flat out!. A loud 'twang' and this was the result.....The loop from the mooring chain dropped into the water and this link was all that was left, except for me standing holding the end of a rope yelling at the oblivious idiot. We followed him to the lock and against all our instinct and usual friendliness, stayed on th eboat whilst they worked through. As they left the lock, my father wandered down to help close the last gates only to discover they had already closed them - right in the face of an uphill boat! Oh I love bank holidays with all those 'very experienced' boaters!

Anyway, the rest of the trip was pleasant and uneventful until passing through Heywood lock, stopping for water and picking up on the 'jungle drums' that the next lock had a hold-up! Some hold-up; 13 boats was being mentioned as we plodded slowly towards the infamous Colwhich Lock. Fortunately we stumbled upon Henk and Coby from NB Double Dutch and spent a very pleasant half hour or so chatting to pass time.
We eventually arrived at the lock to discover we were boat number 9 but the gathered crowd was interesting.

I pushed forward to see what the excitement was about....

3 BW workmen, (actually there were 4,) all digging, shoving, pushing, poking and fishing for something stuck in the lock seal; never mind the upstream paddle that wasn't working at all, at least the leaking lock gate meant that the lock filled quicker. Once they 'fixed' it, it was slow to both fill and empty - well done BW!!

3 hours later, we got through the lock and decided to give up for the night and moor between bridges 70 and 69.

Just in time for dad to start making the coaching inn for the railway!
Standing on the back of the boat last night and we spent a happy time taking a trip down memory lane and being all nostalgic over our early days of boating. In the late '70s and '80s it somehow seemed so much more 'pioneering' and adventurous. It did make me think. From time to time and more frequently when shore based and back home, I'm going to publish by way of a kind of online archive a selection of pictures from some of my earliest boating memories! I'll kick start the idea with 1979 and Claydon Top Lock. Notice Steve, (my brother,) of NB K2 hard at work on the roof while I bring the boat into the lock!
....and finally me tucking into a boaters breakfast of porridge before a hard day ahead!
...more to come!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Chilly post!

No, no reference to the post content this evening; more a reference to where I am posting from - the sliding back hatch on the roof of Khayamanzi! Only a couple of bars of GPRS inside but up here on the roof I'm zipping along with 3 bars of 3G bordering an HSDPA connection!

So this evening you get full size pictures again!

Set off this morning and an hours run towards Autherley Junction and the turn onto the Staffs. and Worcester.

A chilly start to the day with the sun attempting to push through a very hazy sky. Wolverhampton Boat club were all out and so there was a huge amount of traffic around but spirits were high and queues at locks were all very pleasurable experiences with much merriment and laughter - just the way boating should be!

Queuing for one particular lock and a boat coming the opposite direction announced its arrival with a horn blast and an aim towards me! It wasn't long before it became clear to recognise the outline of Andrew Denny on NB Granny Buttons. It was great for him to be able to pull up and have a longer chat than the normal passing shout.

Onwards to our final mooring just after Acton Trussell. A beautiful evening with a bright sun and cloudless blue sky. a BBQ just had to happen, (hence the late post this evening!)

Tomorrow, on through Great Haywood, (stopping for water,) past Tixell, (that's unusual for me,) and towards Rugely where we need to stop for shopping as supplies are running dangerously low.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lovely day!

WOW! What a beautiful day with the weather! It's days like this that boating was made for. Bright blue sky, no wind, hot sun. Most of the day was spent cruising along in shirt sleves - amazing. Apparently further south it's been overcast and drizzly - such a shame but as it's so rare that it works out that way for me; you'll forgive me if I gloat just a little.

Moored up this evening just before Autherley Junction again, having turned at mid day just after the famous bridge 39, (High Bridge,) in Grub Street Cutting - one of may favourates. Not only do we have no satellite signal as we're in a cutting but I also have next to nothing on the internet so I'm afraid very little pictures again if they'll upload at all! A short stop at Norbury Junction for supplies and an ice cream; as you can imagine, a hive of activity on a day like today!

Then onwards through more cuttings and wooded glades.

One feature of the canals I've noticed on this trip is the amazing amount of tree felling and clearance that BW have obviously done during the winter. We noticed it first along the Coventry but it's been everywhere. Hats off to BW for this as it only really benefits boaters and they get a lot of, (often justified,) bashing most of the time so it's nice to address the balance and give a little praise. The 'place' looks lovely and very tidy!
Right now - I'm off to light the BBQ!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Day 005

OK, so the phone says 5 bars of GPRS but the laptop refuses to have any of it! Last night I got 3 bars of signal and I was zipping along and this evening 5 bars and no pictures are uploading so I've given up and am writing a text only post! If the pictures decide to upload - you'll see them otherwise this will simply be waffle. Thanks Orange and can anyone please explain how this can happen!!
Nope - nothing, zilch, not a dicky bird - I give up! Text only it is.

Set off this morning towards Autherley Junction and the turn onto the Shroppie. This is why I love the Shroppie!
I have reduced the pictures to almost nothing and they seem to be uploading now!
A long water stop at the junction before heading towards Wheaton Aston for diesel - 46p per litre!!! I don't know how he does it but he's totally legit and has a very fancy computer system used for registering you and your boat details and declaring the percentage directly to whovere needs to know; and you can declare the genuine and legally acurate percentage split for your boat and usage.
Onwards and upwards and it wasn't long before Khayamanzi ground to a shuddering stop with warning alarms going off everywhere and zero steering - heading straight for a very large bush! It was obvious something was round the prop and whatever it was - it was extremely large and very tough!
This is what it was!
An entire re-enforced Travis Perkins builders bag. Boy it took some cutting and the frontof the boat took a serious pounding from the bush! The chimney fell off, the front tunnel light smashed and the boat was littered with bits of branch, leaves and buds. Hats off to AJ canopies though as the cratch cover took the brunt of the force and stood up with no more than a few scratches.

Our final mooring between bridges 30 and 31 opposite a field of sheep and lambs.
Only a few showers and only one was hard so not a bad day. The bonus was that the wind has eased. Tomorrow they say it will be good and fine weather over the weekend.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Mixed day!

A mixed day today! Woke up this morning and it was raining. A 'should we, shouldn't we' decision had to be made. A quick look at the forecast on the BBC website for the area sugested that today would be better than tomorrow so we set off. Sure enough the rain eased and only the occasional shower dampened spirits as we headed towards Autherly junction.

Finally mooring just after bridge 73, Latches Bridge on the Staffs. and Worcester. Not a bad spot; an acceptible satellite signal, a couple of bars of GPRS and a decent towpath.
Spotted at Gailey - worth noting the 'keep to the right' sign if you need to use the BW facilities. If you pee to the left you'll find it's actually the wash basin!!
The waterway landmark, (is that an oxymoron?) of The Roundhouse at Gailey.

Worth mentioning a couple of dampers to the day.
If you ever see this delightful pair, (probably still moored under the same bridge - Woodbank Lane Bridge; 87a) do say hello from me! Bless them, I think they spoke in English but it certainly wasn't a form of the Queen's language I was used to as I passed by on tickover. I did recognise the words 'slow down' amongst the rest of the somewhat limited vocabulary that was grunted from behind his fishing rod. It even stirred my frustratingly patient father's inner annoyance as he blurted out the fantastic one liner, 'you sad little people - are you boaters or do you just sit there all day?' Laugh? I nearly choked on my minestrone until I noticed the lock waiting area just beyond and realised we had to venture forth from the relative safety of our little steel floating shell!

Fortunately the passage passed with no further hindrance and the only other minor frustration was the elderly gentleman and his grand children who pulled out right in front of us, (I mean less than a boat length,) as we emerged from the top a lock. His actions were clear when we realised that the next lock was just round the corner and he was clearly in too much of a hurry to want to let us go first!

Ah, well - tomorrow Autherley and onto the Shroppie for a short trip before turnign for the journey home. We want to be back home by next Thursday ideally so that we have some time for work on the railway!
Many thanks to all those who wished me a happy birthday! I actually only put it on there to see if anyone responded as it would show me if anyone ever reads this drivel! I so enjoy playing little games and it massages my ego a tiny bit when I realise that people do!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Hapy birthday to me!

I have a smart new door to my railway shed! I got a guy from the marina to replace the rotten wooden door and frame for me and this picture was texted to me this afternoon! It now just needs a lick of paint and it will be smart, in fact I plan to paint the whole shed a dark subdued green at some point to make it blend in a little more and weather permitting, these jobs may be done on my return.

Wow, 3 days in a row and an internet connection on the canals - this must be a record, especially as I've also had a satellite signal 3 days in a row!!

I see BW are taking unlicensed boats increasingly more seriously! Maybe this will, at last, take an effect on the shere numbers we've passed this past few days.....

Still, we have a beautiful mooring spot this evening - just past the wide at Tixell. Moored up in lovely sunshine.

We're making quite headway with our training to get Simba to start working for his living - he's beginning to be able to help push the gates open. The next task is to send him on ahead with a windlass.

It was good to see at Fradley Junction that we're being well looked after by the BW H&S department. I did tell the guy in the white van who was installing them that he'd got it wrong. I asked if he could flatten the tops of them so that my beer didn't fall off when I put the glass on them whilst locking through; I think he saw the funny side!!

Spring is here at last, (perhaps!) Although the weather stayed dry all day the wind was a fierce feature that meant steering was very hard and I have ended up very windswept! Apparently that's it though - we have torrential rain from here on. Still, I spotted the first family of ducklings.

Passing Streathay Wharf and a tip-off menat that I was ready with the camera to spot the back end of Granny Buttons! No Andrew Denny around but work was clearly happening on the 'good ship Granny'!

OK, well, now I'm off to get a birthday dinner - spag. bol. with an M&S birthday cake to follow. If the weather really is that bad tomorrow - we may just stay put and build some railway model buildings!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

2 bloggers in one day!

Our very pleasant final mooring just after Hopwas.

Set off this morning for a VERY slow trip through the Atherston flight! In fact, it took us only an hour less than the Caen Hill Flight to do just 11 locks!!

A very pleasant interruption half way down was the meeting with Bruce and Sheila from NB Sanity. It's always lovely to meet fellow bloggers and although the locks and the flow of traffic kept us moving, it was a welcome 'catchup'.

Onwards and battled through the wind which at times made for very challenging and interesting boating before arriving at Fazely Junction. Who should we meet there but Derek and Dot Canvin from NB Gypsy Rover. Another fleeting chat - this time, the wind prevented a longer stop given that we were rapidly being blown across and into the wharf!

The occasional spots of rain but generally the rain held off and the sun made fleeting appearances although the temperature did mean that we were glad to stop by the time we made it to Hopwas.

Tomorrow - on through Ravenshaw Wood and towards Tixell Wide to celebrate my birthday!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Day 001

Due to the mobile connection images have been reduced - click on them if you wish to have a larger version.

First day! Set off this morning at around 10.30 after getting sorted and having a leisurely start. A clear run through with very little traffic moving at all. Finally moored just before Atherstone locks at bridge 33. A good satellite signal but only 3 bars of GPRS internet!

This made me laugh! I couldn't help wonder of the recession has bit hard with Railtrack and forced them to take desparate measures for any free electricity they can get hold of to help keep the trains running!

A while back British Waterways made a pledge to their share-holders. They were going to remove one online mooring for every 10 marina moorings created. A year back I phoned them to ask what happened to this pledge when I passed by the moorings along the bottom of Nettle Hill and by Les Wilson Narrowboats as it seemed that the farmer was embarking on the creation of another mile or so of moorings. Of course I never got anywhere but now plan to email them again with this picture and ask, as a share-holder, if this pledge is now officially worthless and defunct.

A dray day and really rather pleasant cruising but the rain is due in tomorrow for the next 3 days. We are planning at least one day of 'hunkering down' and not moving unless we get a miracle and the rain blows off course!
We did pass our 'fiends' on NB FUBB. We seem to pass them every Easter and it was great to get my annual barrage of insults from them - now I feel the holidays have really started!!