Monday, 28 February 2011

The Kinver weekend

Caxton moored at Kinver
 Thursday morning we pulled pins and headed south on the Staffs & Worcs canal towards Kinver.  We planned to stay here for the weekend as Graham going called back to Grantham to see his mother.   Jill and Graham have not been this way so we thought that a trip to Stourport before we turn and head towards Chester would be just the ticket and indeed it has been.  What a lovely canal!!  This was our first canal in Caxton as she was launched in Stourport and our maiden 'voyage' was up the Staffs to Gt. Hayward, some two and a half years ago now... 
 Between heavy showers Jill and I got the dogs out for some lovely walks but our first was a saunter south along the canal to Cookley and back.

Kinver Grammar circa 1510
 Kinver village is vibrant with a good assortment of shops and pubs/restaurants.  We took advantage of a mid-week offer at one of the Indian restaurants and enjoyed a starter, main and dessert for £8 - result!   We didn't manage to make it to Kinver Edge and the rock dwellings (NT) but maybe next time.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Stourbridge to Stewponey

Going back-wawbs
I collected our post from the Post Office in Stourbridge on Tuesday morning and then we pulled foward into the town basin to get water from one of the mooring stantions.  The BW water point had been turned off because of a leak so the boat yard allowed us to pull alongside one of the moored boats and use their services - thank you Black Countryman Co.

 This bridge was cast in Coalbrookdale - now an open air industruial Museum called Blist Hill.
 Still going back-wawbs towards a winding point

 Floyd is bored having to hang around waiting for his Dad to turn the boat around
 Still turning
 At last , we're away back along the town arm through the remains of the glassmaking industry
 Glimpsed from the towpath, the remains of a bottle kiln, reroofed and pressed into use for another purpose.
 Caxton turns west out of the town arm towards Stewponey
 Taken from Wordsley bridge as we set off along the westerly part of the Stourbridge canal
 This was a lovely walk through countryside, the canal embankment follows the course of the R.Stour
 Puts a smile on your face doesn't it?

Caxton follows us along to our new mooring just above the four Stewponey locks

24 and Counting - Delph to Stourbridge

Sunday morning dawned, dull but DRY, so off we set at 7.45 to tackle 24 locks that would take us down the Delph 8 and then Stourbridge 16 and on towards Stourbridge town.
Looking down the Delph flight
The dramatic overflows on the Delph locks.  An extra pair of hands through this flight would have been beneficial.  The double bottom gates have no hand rail so my usual locking method of standing on one gate, gripping the handrail and 'kicking open' the other gate didn't apply, or at least not if I wanted to stay dry and safe!  The lack of boater bridges across the lock also meant that having opened one bottom gate I then had to scurry back to the top gates, cross over and scurry back to the other bottom gate to get it opened. This then repeated to close the gates before moving on to the next lock.  Still mustn't grumble... Especially as half way down the flight I received a text message from Adam and Adrian Nb. Debdale to ask where we were and could they visit? Could they visit, too right they could visit - as I mentally reviewed where the extra windlasses were!
Here we go, the first of the Stourbridge 16.
Looking down the flight towards Dadfords Shed and the bottle kiln of the Redhouse Glassworks.
At lock eight I spotted the terrible two, Adam and Adrian, approaching us up the towpath, the cavalry had arrived!

Adam and Adrian working hard, well hard..ish
Dadford's Shed a restored wooden warehouse located between lock 10 and lock 11and I believe, Phil Speight's place.
Caxton fitting VERY snugly in lock eleven
Redhouse Glassworks bottle kiln.  This would have just one of the many (17) in the area as Stourbridge was a centre for the glass making industry.
Caxton moored up on the town arm
After completing the lock flight we turned on to the town arm and headed towards Stourbridge.  Leaving Joe to helm Caxton, Adam, Adrian and I climbed aboard and got the coffee and tea underway.  Thank you for the assistance gents, lovely to see you again!

We stayed here in Stourbridge for a couple of nights which enabled us to get in some provisions, fill the water tank and collect our post before we continue our journey.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Windmill End to Merry Hill

The remains of Cobb's Engine House at Windmill End.  This housed the engine that pumped the water from the deep mines operating in the area, now all gone.
Heading along the Dudley No.2 canal towards Park Head Junction, the junction with the Dudley No. 1 canal.  This is a stretch that needs a bit of TLC as the reed is gradually encroaching on the cut.  We had no diificulties but then we didn't see another boat until we got to Merry Hill so we were not having to pass anyone.

Watering at Park Head.  It was whilst here that I saw a bearded collie and thought it looked a little familiar and when said bearded collie turned up with bearded owner I realised why the dog looked familiar to me, it was Meg and Geoff of Nb.Seyella.  We had never met but because of the blogs we were aware of each other.  Floyd and Fletcher were much taken with Meg and all threev dogs proceeded to demonstrate to Geoff how to play tug with a stick - Geoff lost of course.

 Playing tug-the-stick
Looking down from the embankment towards Merry Hill shopping complex.
We had no intention of staying the night here but the presence of Nb Seyella and Nb Rock n Roll changed our plans.  The mooring here was pleasantly OK..
Caxton moored at Merry Hill.

Jill and myself took advantage of the presence of an Odeon cinema and took ourselves off to see The King's Speech on Saturday.  We thoroughly enjoyed the film we were engrossed from start to finish and the plaudits it is receiving are well deserved.

The benefit of blogging

You might have seen from the blogs of Seyella and Rock n Roll that we had a MEET at Merry Hill on Friday and Saturday and, but for the blogs, we would have passed each other by with a greeting and no more.  But, the benefit of blogging is that you feel part of a community and it is always just so easy to stop and get to know your fellow bloggers.

Saying our farewells on Saturday -  here is Geoff and Megs the dog and Mags the Wife!
George and Carol heading off - apparently than CAN rock and roll but they refused to give us a demo, spoil sports!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Will we, won't we

It's only taken 24 years but we have at last got round to making a Will.  Prompted by the recent TV programmes and a nag from our friend Val we have finally got round to doing it.  We used a will writer rather than a solicitor, paying £99 rather than £200 - £300 we were being quoted by the legal fraternity...  Having discussed what we both wanted, I drafted our requirements and emailed them to . Two days later we have a Will, how simple is that?  We were very pleased with the service we got from Matt Walkden of MW Legal Services and for those thinking of getting round to putting their affairs in order we recommend this simple route.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Ma Pardoe's

With a toot of their horn they arrived last night, NB Matilda Rose is now moored up behind Caxton and ready for a bit more cruising.  Joe went off to a retail park today to buy a replace lamp for Caxton's defunct tunnel light and get some bits I need for the new curtains I am making.  Having given the dogs a run I wandered into Netherton with Jill to get a paper, make an appointment to get my hair trimmed and have a general look around.  That 'general look around' also included a visit to the famous Ma Pardoes, or The Swan inn.  Much of the Victorian interior is still in place and they brew their own beer on the premises so how could one pass up the chance of a visit; you can't and I didn't.

The beer was good and the original features in this typical town pub are atmospheric.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Birmingham to Bumble Hole

Caxton heading out of Birmingham on the New Main Line
 The last two nights we have moored in Birmingham where availed ourselves of the Away2Service boat and filled with diesel - we used Away2 all the time we were stuck in Brum and they were very good so we opted to use them again.  It was Away2Service that changed Caxton's engine oil in January - Joe usually does it himself but we already had ten litres of waste oil from the previous service so we didn't want to add to it - and they only charged us £12.50 labour! We were going to leave on Sunday but it was raining and we took one look and pulled the duvet over our heads again, sod that, tomorrow will do nicely...
See, why travel in the rain when you can travel when the sun comes out?
 A lovely bridge over the cut to nowhere - formally this would have led to a loop or wharves but now the canal beneath the bridge has been truncated and it destination lost to time.
 You pass a lot of industrial heritage along the Main Line
 It took me a few minutes to realise that the items hanging in that elevated cage type thing were moving, moving very slowly but moving; it took another moment to recognise them as newly cast cranks.  Nice to see we still have some industry in these parts..
 Caxton skuttles past Smethwick Junction

 We turn off the New Main Line towards Netherton Tunnel with me now back on the boat - I didn't fancy a tramp through over a mile of cold dark, damp tunnel - I know, I'm a wuss
 There is the North Portal of the tunnel just ahead through the bridge
 See that pinprick of light in the middle of the tunnel, that is over 3027 yards away
 And 30 yards into the tunnel our tunnel lamp died so I got to stand on the bow with a torch - an hour later I was chipped off of the bow as an ice statue or frozen figurehead!
 Caxton moored at the Bumble Hole on the Dudley No.2 Canal

Look what came out to greet us..