Sunday, 31 January 2010

The sleep of ....

Last night Joe and I sat in front of the goggle-box and started to watch Dan Snow's Empire of the Sea's. Twice I woke himself and once I he woke me.  We gave up and went to bed at 8.30pm where we remained undisturbed until 7am this morning.  The mooring in Warwick was fine with no disturbance at all.

Saturday, 30 January 2010


A ten mile walk and 23 locks so I think I am entitled to be feeling just a wee bit k..knackered.  The sharp frost this morning had left the towpaths solid so no mud to deal with thankfully but of course the canal was also frozen again.  Off we went though, Caxton following the dogs and I and mashing the ice as she went.

Arriving at Shrewley Tunnel, Caxton disappeared into the depths of the earth and the dogs and I headed up the horse tunnel which climbs up from the canal cutting through a seperate tunnel on to the top of the rise, crosses a road and wanders off down a farm track until it drops back down into the cutting and rejoins the canal.

I just had to snap this notice.
Hello cyclists, it's official, I am MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU!!! No more leaping into an adjacent ditch to allow you to speed past me, through me, or at me. Well that is the theory anyway.
We arrived at the top lock of the Hatton flight, 21 locks spread out below us and a water tap that was frozen.  Joe had passed a boat that wanted to know if we were going the flight,  we were, so Barry and Sue of Nb Esther opted to join us in the adventure.  We soon got into a rhythm and managed the 21 locks in 3 hours 20mins which was pretty good for a couple of puny middle aged lock wheelers!


Everybody photographs this so why shouldn't I?

We are now moored in Warwick, slobbed in front of the box/PC, digesting a homemade veg lasagne and a bottle of claret, so until tomorrow...

Friday, 29 January 2010

Three and a half, is that all?

It had rained overnight so things were a little sticky underfoot this morning as the walkers in the Caxton Crew set off in the general direction of  Kingswood Junction.  We planned to move down towards the Hatton flight so thet we could have a clear run down the locks tomorrow but at the same time we didn't want to moor too close to the railway line that accompanies the canal hereabouts. I know, picky, picky, picky... 
The day started a bit overcast with a threat of rain which as it happened it didn't come to anything.
Above the finger post at the Lapworth link - the link of canal between the Stratford and Grand Union canals.  We only continued on for less than a mile beyond this junction and moored up at Turners Green having covered a mere 3.5 miles today. Having moored up we got a text to say the a series of photo's had been sent for us to view  I booted up the laptop, checked the emails and found thet I had been sent a message from Paul of NB Waterway Routes to say that he was awaiting us at the top of the Hatton Flight, 'where were we?'  I called Paul to say thank you but sorry, we were going to 'do' the flight tomorrow.  So I have lost a valuable set of experienced helping hands but we have exchanged telephone numbers so next time Paul....

When we had secured Caxton we all set off in the direction of the Stratford canal and worked up the locks to the Kingswood junction.  There is lots of BW working parties replacing gates etc. on the flight. 

We called into the village shop for milk and a paper before finding the local for a pint. 
The dogs made themselves at home ...whilst we got chatting to local a couple who are enjoying their retirement by travelling the world. 
We then dashed back to the Village shop to pick up the freshly made, newly delivered samosas.  'Do you like indian food' the lady in the shop had asked - 'Who doesn't?' I replied and like Arnie, 'I'll be back' I said and I was and lunch wasjust lovely..

Blogging Dogs

While we were stranded at Great Haywood we met up with Ann of NB. Moore 2 Life and her dog Molly.  Ann was dog sitting for Sue of NB No Problem - are you keeping up? - and Sue's dogs, Lucy and Meg, were staying on Moore 2 Life with Molly.  So on a couple of occasions we all got together, three women and seven dogs, and went walking up in Cannock Chase.  From the left - Meg, Ann,Lucy, Molly, Jill, Baxter, Mudlark, Floyd and Fletcher.  All the dogs got on famously and were a joy to watch rummaging about together.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Yours truly, knackered of Knowle

We had a lazy start this morning, well we weren't that lazy but we did take our time over breakfast and reading the paper before we set off.   As you can see from the photo below we were blessed with some winter sunshine on our cruise/walk to Knowle locks.

When we arrived at the top of the locks and the service point I noticed Button End moored against the Stephen Goldsborough yard this was the boat that Adam Porter had reviewed in the last Canal Boat magazine and is a facsimilie of Footsie 100 a previous SG build.

Caxton has been serviced and is now entering the first of the five Knowle locks.  These are all double locks, 80,000 gallons of water a time and double gates top and bottom.  The paddles are hydraulically operated by windlass and by the time I had completed the five locks\my puny musscalls were in revolt! 

Above you can see the peculiar mechanism for opening the paddles - that post thing in the centre... and below is the pawl that fits over the shaft to stop the gate winding down again.

Two down, three to go..

Caxton between locks.

And finally, four miles and five locks later, Caxton is moored up by the The Black Boy pub and a pint of 'Duck Soup' real ale is acting as an internal embrocation and the musscals are feeling better already...

A Spitfire or two

I failed to mention yesterday about the recycling opportunities there are along the Birmingham and Fazeley and the Grand Union.   You could build a couple of dozen Spitfires from the number of beer and cider cans dumped along the towpath.  It cannot be beyond the wit of man to come up with an incentive to stop this behaviour surely; how about instant death for anyone suspected of dumping their tinny? 
I was also shocked and dismayed (you naive sheltered little twit Lesley) by the huge level of fly tipping along the canal cuttings, I cannot grasp the mentality of the people that are prepared to dispoil their town in this way.  The BW Towpath Tidy in the first two weeks of March needs to bring in an army of volunteers to tackle the mess on this stretch of cut - shame.
Enroute we passed this. The 'Birmingham Energy Recovery Facility' - an incinerator to the likes of me.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Bye, bye Brum

Our mooring on the pontoon at Star City was just fine last night. We were not disturbed at all and though there is no access to the Star City leisure complex unless you are prepared to clamber across a fence we didn't feel hard done by: the attractions of a Casino or a Frankie and Benny's eaterie were not so great that we felt the loss...
This morning, woken by a snoring Brad Pitt that subsequently turned out to be a snoring Joe in his pit, I got up very, very early and roused the rest of the crew.  We breakfasted and were on the move at 7.30 in the half light! I think we met three joggers and one BW work boat that was on its way to Atherstone by the time we had completed the first five locks.

Caxton between locks against a typical industrial background.

At lock 6, the first of the Camphill locks I removed four assorted wheels, lengths of timber and large plastic holdall.  Joe removed a further couple more wheels and a sheet of plywood.  The obvious result when people have to pay to recycle spent tyres - fly tip them, it's so much cheaper.  You might also notice the artistically decorated wall in the background  and there is miles of this to enjoy along this stretch of the canal.  Joe was dreaming up places where a spray can could be placed that might limit its use - all of which were likely to be painful I fear!

Above is a disused warehouse, with shelter for boats being loaded/unloaded, adjacent to the first Camphill lock.
We arrived at Camphill services having completed eleven locks and here we serviced Caxton and then set off again to cover the next eight miles, lock free eight miles to Catherine de Barnes.

Enroute we passed this submersed BW work boat - an expensive mistake this!

Caxton moored at Catherine de Barnes.  Eleven locks and eleven miles but we have cleared Birmingham and are well on track for Braunston.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

This pontoon looks nice...

We enjoyed a quiet night at Curdworth, no TV signal, no traffic noise and no towpath walkers either..  Joe toddled off to the Post Office and got a paper first thing and by 9am we were on the move.   The shot below is typical of the countryside/canal just beyond Curdworth.

Approaching the second lock of the day,  Minworth Three Locks.  Some of the anti-vandal devices on the lock mechanisms were not operating but we encountered the BW lengthsman at the next lock so I mentioned the fault.  The water was surprisingly clear and the towpaths in good condition, if somewhat festooned with special Brew cans and the like, but then we are now firmly in an urban environment.

Much of the industry has now turned its back to the canal.  Where once this stretch would have been an artery running through the area it is now a quiet backwater the new factories and warehouses are serviced by the M6 and its connecting roads.

Here we are approaching Erdington Hall Bridge and  that large black structure that spans the canal is..?  The Nicholson's guide doesn't mention it and I saw no signage so ... does anyone know what it is please?

Here we are approaching the raised section of the M6 motorway just before Spaghetti Junction.  We had glimpsed the Dunlop Building across the roofs of industrial estates as we progressed along here and we were now looking for the Salford junction and our turn onto the GU.

Above, junction located and Joe turns Caxton a sharp left below the raised M6, over the R. Tame and onto the GU.

We had decided to moor up at Star City and have lunch before progressing so Joe picked me and the two dogs up from the towpath side and headed across the cut to the new pontoons that BW have installed.  Any a very nice pontoon it is too.  The dogs are NOT impressed but we were so we decided to stay here for the night as it felt safe and quiet.

Our early finish today meant that we could do some boaty chores - look what we did to the pontoon!  One well deck cleared out, washed and repacked and one engine bay cleaned AND, one oven thoroughly cleaned as, well. Take a bow lesley...
Tomorrow we will make up for our lack of miles, we will put in the hours and head for Catherine de Barnes

Monday, 25 January 2010

Fifteen lock miles

About 9.20 this morning we pulled pins and headed west towards Birmingham.  The Birmingham and Fazeley canal  (B&F) is new territory for Caxton and I must say that were rather impressed with the level of maintenance in the four miles and eleven locks of today's journey.  There seems to be ample moorings to be had and very few long term moorers to slow you down.  Of the eleven locks only one was in my favour but all the paddle gear was well greased and easy to operate, the towpath was in good condition and the vegetation cut back.  I spotted a BW chap on his ride-on mower and a little later saw him again at his canalside cottage - could this me a lengthsman and could this explain the excellent condition of  all things canal related hereabouts?
We stopped at Dunton Wharf to fill the water tank and here rather oddly the mooring rings are on the far side of the towpath meaning that mooring lines are stretched across the path. Fortunately we didn't encounter any cyclists or joggers while we watered or they might have had to practice a bit of limbo dancing to get under our lines.
We have now moored up just after the Curdworth tunnel and walked into the village for a paper and bread before trying the White Horse where we had lunch in front of a roaring log fire - rather pleasant too...

Sunday is a day of rest, ho, ho,ho

Well yesterday we stayed put but there was little rest - I must be very, very wicked....  Joe took the two dogs for a walk, postponing his chores until he got back which allowed me to vacuum the boat from stem to stern without the need of a trapeze to get around two labradors.  I then washed the floors, cleaned the galley and set about washing the side of the boat by which time Joe had returned and started to dismantle the rear deck in order to clean out the engine bay - it was at this point that it started to rain.   Joe, method acting 'the disgruntled husband' - and he had it bang to rights - reassembled the rear deck and got back aboard.  I kept my head down for the next hour and waxed the floors - well you would wouldn't you....

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Fazeley and beyond...

We set off at 10am this morning, - a much more civilised time me thinks - Jill and I walking the dogs the mile to Whittington where we met the two boats, moored up and went hunting for the local store.  The Co-op is about 15mins walk from the canal.  I needed a Saturday Times for my crossword fix and some fresh vegetables and Jill was after a bereavement card. Having arrived back at the boats I continued the journey on foot accompanied by Fletcher and Floyd. 
Arriving in Fazeley Joe decided to service Caxton at the Peels Wharf facility which was just as well because there was a contractors boat tied up at the waterpoint by the junction.


Graham hauls NB Matilad Rose around the turn onto the Birmingham and Fazeley canal, Caxton is following close behind.

Caxton's turn as Joe brings her round from the Coventry canal.

And here is Caxton just coming under Drayton footbridge. Battlemented and unique with spiral staircases in each tower...  We are now on new waters for us, the Birmingham and Fazeley canal headed into Birmingham.