Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Heading south again

I had to do a couple of amendments to yesterday's blog, I had lost a day somewhere ( blame the Black Russians) and my photo wouldn't upload, both corrected now.

Today, which is definitely Tuesday, we headed up to the junction with the Trent and Mersey to buy gas cylinders and turn round. On the way Ray and Kathy had fun on the Wide going round in circles!

Ray and Kathy playing on the Wide

After the necessary purchases at the boatyard and a quick trip to the farm shop which sells excellent cakes we started off back towards Penkridge as we all want to go to the market there tomorrow. We made it as far as Midland Chandlers but far too late to shop so we moored up and will go there first thing tomorrow. We need an engine stop cable and Kathy wants a light for Scott's boat.

We have all had a smashing day in the sunshine but are all shattered so an early night.

Today's journey 9.1 miles and 3 locks

So far we have travelled 585.1 miles, 510 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

Monday, 30 August 2010

Still on a canal, honest!

Saturday was Kathy's birthday, we just did a short run up to Tixall Wide so we had space to let the animals roam and a wide enough towpath to set up Kathy's gazebo without stopping people getting past. We had to moor just before the Wide as there were already to many boats moored. The name says it all, it is more like a lake than a canal.

This is why they call it The Wide

We had a nice day, Scott, Kaia and I had made a chocolate cake as a birthday cake for Kathy. We all had an alfresco meal together and were joined by Kathy's friend Martin from Gailey. I gave up at about midnight after several glasses of red wine, followed by a couple of Black Russians, I think it was gone two before Ray came to bed.

Today, Chris left us to head south to continue his mission of scattering his late wife's ashes on the entire system and tomorrow the rest of us will head up to the junction with the Trent and Mersey, turn round and head back southwards, Kathy is intending to stay within about a week's cruise of  Wheaton Aston, I think but we may head all the way down to Gloucester.

Yesterday's journey 6.1 miles and 2 locks

So far we have travelled 576 miles, 507 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Lazy days

We have had a very lazy week. I've lost track of the days but after our stop for sugar plums, which weren't quite ripe, we moved on to Gailey where we spent the weekend. We generally mooched around doing not a lot. The kittens enjoyed it as they had space to play and trees to climb. Gwynie went wandering about 250 yards down the towpath to make friends with the boaters who were filling up their water tanks and waiting to go through the lock. She is far too adventurous! I managed to get a cold from somewhere, so have spent a week feeling pretty rough.

Before I was feeling ill, on Sunday we treated ourselves to a carvery lunch at the Spread Eagle, nice but a bit pricey compared to the last one we had. On Monday "The Bead Boat" came past, Ray the Bead makes and sells lampwork glass beads on board, so I spent some money with him. He was heading for the Stourbridge Glass Festival, I would like to go, but not this year, I'm too broke!

Tuesday saw us move on to Penkridge for the inevitable shopping stop, there is quite a nice market there on Wednesdays, including a livestock auction of poultry, I saw three nice bronze turkey chicks that would have fattened up nicely for Christmas but I'm not sure where I would keep them on a boat!

Yesterday we moved on to a mooring just beyond Acton Trussel where there is a bit of space so the cats can roam, they were beginning to get a bit stir crazy as they had been confined to quarters while we were in Penkridge as we were to close to roads and gardens where they could have got trapped in a garage or shed. Acton Trussell is obviously the place to live if you have money in this part of the world, every house we could see was detatched with a double garage. The only problem with this stretch of canal is that it virtually follows the same route as the M6 so there is constant traffic noise, apart from that it is a nice spot.

Last Thursday's journey 4.6 miles

Tuesday's journey 2.3 miles and 5 locks

Yesterday's journey 3.2 miles and 5 locks

So far we have travelled 569.9 miles, 505 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Doubling back and catching up

Since last Thursday we have, as the title says, been doubling back to meet Kathy and Chris. I now need to do some catching up as I have been very lazy and not blogged.

Thursday was a day for shopping and cleaning, the weather was fairly horrid so I wouldn't have travelled anyway. On Friday we headed back north to the junction with the Shroppie and then up the Shroppie to Brewood.

Brewood is a nice village, well served with shops and pubs, we decided to stay there on Saturday as we were only about three miles from Wheaton Aston where we were meeting the others on Sunday. I recommend the bread from the bakery in Brewood.

Sunday saw us do the three miles and one lock to get to Wheaton Aston. On the way I saw a kingfisher, but didn't have my camera to hand, luckily he was in the same spot when we came back today.

The garage beside the canal at Wheaton Aston has the cheapest diesel I have seen anywhere on the canals, and a pump on the canal side. It was closed on Sunday but we filled up before leaving there today.

Kathy and Chris joined us mid-afternoon and so we spent the rest of the day chatting and catching up on the gossip.

Today we moved on back to the Staffs and Worcester but this time headed north towards Penkridge. Kathy knew a good place to moor with some sugar plum trees nearby, so we will go foraging!

Friday's journey 7.3 miles and 1 lock

Sunday's journey 3 miles and 1 lock

Today's journey 11.4 miles and 2 locks

So far we have travelled 558.8 miles, 495 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

There and back again

We have just had a lovely couple of days, Mandy, Tony, Mikey and Dani have been visiting us. On Tuesday we had a picnic lunch, then went into Wolverhampton for a meal in the evening followed by a few drinks in the hotel bar. Luckily there is a good bus service between Wolverhampton and Compton.

Yesterday we took them all for a little trip down the canal, I wasn't sure how the kids would react but for the most part they enjoyed it. We only went down through three locks then turned round and came back, with a stop for lunch en route.

Tomorrow will be a "catch-up" day on shopping and cleaning, then Friday should see us on our way back to meet the others. I haven't managed to chat to Kathy since Monday so I'm not sure where they are!

Today's journey 5.6 miles and 6 locks

So far we have travelled 537.1 miles, 491 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

Monday, 9 August 2010

Wolverhampton, almost!

Today we carried on southwards to Compton, which is about 2 miles west of Wolverhampton to meet Mandy, Tony, Mikey and Dani tomorrow. We could have taken the boat right into Wolverhampton but that would have meant working up through 21 locks to get there just to turn round on Thursday and work back down the flight again! I didn't fancy that idea!

It was another fairly uneventful day's cruising, there was a lot of traffic which we always seemed to meet at bridges and as it was windy slowing down to allow another boat through the bridge meant getting lined up for the bridge afterwards was "interesting" at times. We also encountered a boat about to enter a  narrow cutting with a blind bend but luckily they sounded their horn before entering and held back after we responded.

We are now on the Staffs and Worcester canal, undecided about what we are doing next. Kathy and Chris are quite a long way back, so we may head back to join them again. We want to be with Kathy for her birthday at the end of the month, then we may head down towards Gloucester, with a diversion, by road, to Peterborough for Mikey's birthday.

Barry was trying to convince Ray to spend the winter in this part of the world, but we are undecided at the moment. We only need about three weeks to get back to Watford so don't have to make our minds up until late September.

Today's journey 12.1 miles and 3 locks.

So far we have travelled 531.5 miles, 485 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Heading south

After a few days to sort out the boat safety inspection, which we passed thankfully, and another lovely visit to Barry and Alex we are on our way again.

After sleeping in rather later than planned we headed off up the Shroppie hoping to get somewhere between Norbury Junction and Wheaton Aston. Luckily we were the second boat in the queue for the five locks at Tryley so not too much delay, although the Tupperware (sorry, cruiser) in front of us grounded his outboard and we had to let more water down to give enough depth for him.

The canal is very narrow in places as it passes through deep cuttings, we had a minor collision with another boat, no damage done. We were both going slowly with just enough room to pass when the other boat hit an underwater obstruction which moved him sideways into our side.

Very narrow

Interesting place for a telegraph pole

The rest of the day went smoothly and we reached Rye Hill cutting just north of Wheaton Aston to moor for the night. as it is a cutting the phone and mobile signal is virtually non-existent so this probably won't appear until Monday.

Today's journey 17.5 miles, 5 locks and 1 tunnel.

So far we have travelled 519.4 miles, 482 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

Monday, 2 August 2010

Weekend ashore

We have just spent a lovely weekend with Barry and Alex. On Saturday moring we moved Morgana onto the 48 hour moorings above the first lock of the Audlem flight.Barry and Alex came over on Saturday afternoon and suggested that rather than going for a pub meal that we go back to their place. We took the kittens with us and they attracted a lot of attention when we stopped at the Shroppie Fly for a drink on the way to the car. We all had a mad weekend surrounded by over 25 dogs and puppies, chickens and geese. The kittens were brilliant, very well behaved, a bit miffed because the chickens ignored them instead of running away and totally overwhelmed by the manic behaviour of the dogs, theyare so full of energy!We had a very late night, or early morning depending how you look at it. Barry fed us extremely well, so much of it home produced too! A gold star for Alex's trifle too!

We went over to Chick car boot sale on Sunday but didn't spend any money. We did come back laden with bits and pieces that Barry had which should prove useful on board and a couple of jars of home pickled onions. I got back to a message from Kathy saying they would be up the Anderton Lift yesterday but when I rang her I discovered they had been a bit too late, but they should be on their way up the Trent and Mersey

This morning we left Audlem intending to just do Audlem flight but we got through it so easily we decided to carry on to Market Drayton today. At least Ray now has two days to check everything for the boat safety inspection. We are moored on the 5 day moorings which shouldn't be too bad a spot for Martyn Ross to get to us on Thursday. Hopefully we can see Barry and Alex again before we are out of range.

Saturday's journey 0.3 miles and 1 lock

Today's journey 5.9 miles and 19 locks

So far we have travelled 501.9 miles, 477 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 14 tunnels.