Monday, 30 May 2011

Hello, goodbye

Arrived back on board Caxton Sunday evening - went and said hello to the crew of Nb.Matilda Rose.  Monday morning, teeming with rain, Nb Matilda Rose left Birmingham.   Was it something I said?

Weekend away...

We arrived back in Birmingham yesterday evening/late afternoon having diverted to the Crick Boat Show on our way back from Norfolk.  We have been to see my brother David in Bressingham Norfolk, then on to Hopton-on-Sea for a 40th birthday bash at Potters - a night of Tamla Motown music, good food and drink and even better company.  The next morning we stayed on with our 'land friends' and played bowls for the first time; Joe won so getting his head back in the hire car was problematic..

We arrived at the Crick Boat Show shortly after ten and left at four.  Things seemed to be very well supported with plenty of exhibitors and enthusiastic narrowboaters and, importantly, prospective narrowboaters about.
A number of our blog readers recognised us - No that is not entirely true; they recognised Fletcher and Floyd and us by association.   Lovely to see you folks.

We had arranged to meet David and Amanda, Caxton's  'stalkers extroadinaire' who were at the show with their friends David and Lisa who are having a boat built by Fernwood.   Joe and David spent time discussing batteries and then hybrid engines, pouring over products on display and asking searching and meaningful technical questions, Amanda and I went to look at boats.

L-R Lisa, David, Joe, Amanda, David

 We saw Adam and Adrian of Nb Briar Rose (Adam was busy doing boat reviews) and Dougie and James of Nb Chance who were showing people over their new boat.

I didn't come away empty handed either,  from Evelyn Booth of Lockside Antiques I bought the first item for our new boat, a three bell terret that will adorn the top of the pigeon box!  As we are having a more traditional boat I thought we needed some traditional adornments - I can see it might be worthwhile investing a couple of pounds in The Brasso Company at this rate!

Three bell terret

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

In the centre of Brum, again

We are now moored up on the 14 day moorings in Birmingham awaiting the arrival of Graham and Jill in Nb Matilda Rose.  Graham is going to be crewing in the BCN Challenge, a 24hr marathon voyage around the Birmingham canals. Jill is going to be boat sitting two boats for we are off for a few days to see family and friends AND cramming a visit to the Crick Boat Show!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Worcester to Hanbury Wharf

A sculpture adorning Sidbury bridge - or at least the bridge by Sidbury lock.  The Sidbury lock is the first you come to as you leave Worcester for Birmingham, adjacent to the Kings Head, where we enjoyed a meal with Stuart and Anita on Wednesday evening and on the other side of the lock, The Commandery, a museum dedicated to the story of the English Civil War - hence the pikes and roundhead helmets of the sculpture.  We have promised ourselves that we are going to return to Worcester and spend time poking about this lovely canal and historic City, for now we are pushing on towards Birmingham and our rendesvouz with NB Matilda Rose.

I shuffled the two dogs back onboard Caxton as we came across these contractors cutting vegetation, of which there is ann abundance - vegetation, not contractors...

I could understand why the contractors were failing to cut the vegetation right up to the canal side so at the next lock I had the chance to ask them. And the answer, "Don't know, but this is what BW specify."  The team were all ex BW who had been 'TUPE'd' a few months before and were now happily doing the same work though for a  different employer.  So BW, why do you cut the vegetation for walkers and cyclists but not for boaters?
No easy mooring along here and the veg cutters following us now are not going to improve things.
Having stopped for lunch we are now moving off towards Hanbury wharf and the sun is shining on us again.
I am just so impressed by the Worcester and Birmingham Canal - again, we are new to its charms and it is CHARMING..

Approaching the busy Hanbury Wharf.  It is here that the soon to be reopened Droitwich canal joins the Worcs. and Birm.
Caxton moored up for the night at Hanbury.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Hanbury Wharf to Hopwood

We left Hanbury Wharf early on Friday morning with the intention of getting ourselves to the top of the Tardebigge flight.  That would be 42 locks away - were we mad?  We had made a bit of a pigs ear of  the trip planning but one learns.. Anyway, off we go first stop Stoke Works and a water tap.  There are six locks to get through, a water tank to fill and rumours that there is a shop at hand for those essential supplies. 

Approaching Stoke Works I came across Nb. Khayamanzi, Andy Edward's former boat.  Looks OK Andy.
Caxton passing through Stoke Wharf - the large Black Prince hire boat fleet being prepared for their new crews.

Water tank filled, shop located and essentials purchased - though not fresh veg or fruit as the local store only had three dried carrots and some yellowing cabbage - we were off to find the next half a dozen locks.
Caxton entering the second of the Stoke Locks

It is now 1.30pm and we have reached the first of the Tardebigge flight.  I got the bike off of the boat and kept the dogs with me to 'help' with the locks.  It was then a case of getting Caxton into a lock and the filling started before I head off on the bike to the next lock to get it prepared. Cycle back to Caxton, gates open, boat out, gates closed and then beat Caxton to the prepared lock to start the process all over again.
Stoke Pound lock cottage now owned by the Landmark Trust and rented out for holidays.  We lunched here in February with our favourite 'stalkers' David and Amanda when they had a 'narrowboat fix' by having a weekend break here.  
It took us three and a half hours to 'do' the flight by which time Floyd was demanding to be carried or left to sleep on the towpath, Fletcher had climbed back aboard Caxton and I aware of a bunch of muscles that I didn't know I had.

The last lock

Next morning we were up and on the service point at Tardebigge before anyone else had stirred.  Once serviced we pulled off and made our way through the Tardebigge tunnel.  I stayed aboard getting off with the dogs once we were through the tunnel. 

Moored at Hopwood in time for the qualifying session of the formula 1 on Saturday.

Down River to Worcester

Caxton moored on the floating pontoon on the R.Severn at Stourport
Thursday morning we waved farewell to Stourport and headed down river towards our next stop, Worcester.  The previous day we had crossed the basin and descended to two staircase locks (four locks in total) on to the River Severn where we moored up on the floating pontoon. Wednesday afternoon I had walked the dogs south along the towpath and 'discovered' that the locks on the River Severn were manned! Forgive my ignorance but this is all new territory and I had assumed that the locks would be like those of the R.Avon, large, deep and powered by ME...  Greatly relieved at this unexpected bonus I was eager to get started on Thursday morning.
We passed a variety of craft, some rather elegant and some....
less so...
We skirt our first weir, Lincomb weir, and head for the lock.  These locks are controlled by traffic lights and at each of the three locks we were met by the gates gently opening as the lock keepers spotted our approach - what a pleasure.
Himself has got the camera so here am I clutching the wire hawser that keeps us from bashing about.  In this instance though it was to ensure that we kept Caxton 'away' from the side wall as it slopes in an narrowboats can be tipped over - according to the Lockie anyway.
Farewell Lincombe Lock
We travelled down river through wooded countryside until we reached Worcester.  As we were not familiar with the City we moored on the town moorings along by the racecourse - the first we came to.  Not to be recommended  if you have a narrowboat unless you are equipped with a plethora of giant plastic buoys to keep the boat away from the concrete.  We paid our £3.50 to the park keeper and headed off to look for Diglis basin, the entrance to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.  Having found the basin and sussed out that there were plenty of places to moor safely we scuttled back to Caxton and continued south to Diglis lock.
The first of the barge locks into the basin at Diglis
Caxton approaching the 1st Diglis lock from the river.
Caxton on the visitor moorings in Worcester
We moored up on visitor moorings only a matter of yards from the main basins and awaited the arrival of Stuart Harper (Caxton's boat fitter) and Anita his partner - we were off out for dinner together.  Caxton got the once over and a nod of approval before we headed for the Kings Head and a pleasant evening together.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Along the Severn way to Bewdley

Yesterday we dropped down into the basin at Stourport, serviced Caxton and found ourselves a visitor mooring for the night.  I left Joe to run Widow Twanky's laundry - have tank of water, must use it - and I headed off with the dogs - destination, Bewdley, approximately four miles upstream from Stourport.  It was  lovely walk along the Severn Way - that will be the towpath to you and I.
 Bewdley with its Georgian merchants houses fronting the river Severn.
 Taken from the town bridge looking south.
 Again, from the bridge looking south

 Town bridge

I finally got back to Joe and the laundry just after 7pm - Joe had just started to put out the bunting as he thought I had left him though he was a bit concerned about the dogs...  We ended up with a takeaway meal and sat and watched a great programme about canals called The Golden Age of Canals on BBC4 - cracking programme with Joe and Keith of NB Hadar featuring towards the end.

This morning we upped sticks and moved through the two staircase locks on to the River Severn - tomorrow we are off to Worcester to find some sauce....
Caxton moored on the River Servern.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

A p** on cyclists...

I met a jolly pleasant and considerate cyclist today.  Just the one.

I also met a lot of selfish, thoughtless, ignorant gits that think anyone and everyone using a towpath should leap immediately out of their way.  They couldn't have had those new fangled brakes fitted because they don't appear to be able to slow down let alone come to a halt.  Mooring up today on the York Street visitor moorings at Stourport,  wind blowing the boat away from the bank type of day, and I had cyclists weaving around me and the ropes to get past.  I couldn't step back to pull the boat into the side because some middle aged tosspot was determined to ride his 'mountain bike' along the path come hell or high water and some silly  boater wasn't going to impede him.
I said nothing, but I seethed.
I am beginning to loath the sight of  bicycles and I bet I am not alone.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

May Baby

 Thank goodness my Mum decided to have me in this nice warm weather...

We have stayed out of Stourport today though we we likely go in tomorrow as the annual raft race is being held and that promises to be a spectacle.  So today has been taken up with a few chores and a lot of surfing the net for white goods for the new boat. This afternoon I took the two dogs out for a walk and came across a lot of traveller ponies with the usual selection of foals at their sides.  The little filly is probably barely a week old and is enjoying a bit of sunshine.
Here I am posing for the camera..

LED blubs

I have been researching bits and pieces for Caxton's replacement and came across the following site -  How things have come on in the last three years when we first went down the route of a totally LED boat!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Landlubbers aboard

Moored at Wolverley
 We had positioned ourselves at Kinver in anticipation of a visit from longstanding friends, Val and Alan.  They were away in their caravan and only an hour away by car so a visit and small cruise were arranged.  The two dogs had managed to get mud on both Val and Alan before they had even stepped aboard Caxton so things were off to a flying start - V&A are NOT doggie people I might add.  We planned to amble down to Wolverley and lunch in The Lock pub a moderate distance for Alan to then use my cycle and return to Kinver to collect their car; the offer of the bike was declined in favour of a taxi however. 
As we approached Wolverley lock we came across Nb Rome moored up on her home mooring, several blasts of Caxton's horn brought Graham and Evelyn out from the peace and comfort of their home to ensure that 'rabble' from Caxton kept going...  Good to see you both again folks!
We stayed overnight and moved off this morning into Kidderminster where we shopped for doggie goodies and a couple of M&S meal deals - I should have been looking for an outfit to wear for a birthday do at the end of May but my heart sinks at the thought of clothes shopping - it will be a last minute panic buy yet again.
We are now moored at Pratts Wharf just south of Kidderminster and talking of 'pratts', who lost her grip on the windlass today and is now sporting a rather fetching lump to the side off the face with a bluish tinge to enhance the battered look? Answers on a postcard...

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Prestwood to Kinver

 Caxton moored below the lock at Kinver
We left Prestwood at 10ish this morning and ambled down towards Kinver.  Everything was fresh from overnight rain and the canal fringe is looking verdant.  The walk was pleasant and uneventful until Fletcher spotted a couple of slices of white bread just sitting there winking at him - the couple of slices of white bread were just sitting next to an angler but Fletcher seemed to overlook this additional detail and one lunge later the couple of slices of white bread had changed ownership!  I at once got myself into Abject Apology mode and this practiced grovelling seemed to do the trick because taciturn angler was amused rather than furious.
 Hyde Lock in the sunshine.  I had just opened the lock gates for an approaching boat and was heading off up the cliff along a bridleway to walk the dogs.
 Where does this go then?
When I got back to Caxton we had neighbours..fellow bloggers, Eric and Elsie and Ben on Nb Bendigedig

Moving South and dodging showers

 We moored up just outside Brewood (pronouced Brood) for the weekend to catch the F1 Turkish Grand Prix and to continue my recovery from the vilest cold I have ever had, ever.  I am now well on the road to normality but Himself has now been struck down by the same germ.
Eric and Elsie and Ben of Nb Bendigedig were moored up a couple of boats from us but we kept ourselves to ourselves given the bacterial threat we were posing.
Leaving the Shroppie
 Monday morning we pulled pins and moved off south, servicing Caxton at Autherley junction before leaving the Shropshire Union canal and turning left on to the Staffs and Worcs.  This has been our first visit to the Shroppie and we have thoroughly enjoyed our time on this,lovely canal.  We pulled in at Compton and visited Limekiln Chandlers for a few essential boaty bits before getting a supply of groceries from the local supermarket.  When we arrived back at the boat Nb. Bendigedig was moored behind so we were able to have a chat and then work down through a couple of locks together.
 Moored at Prestwood last night on these lovely five day moorings

And now we are off for our last walk of the day.