Thursday, 30 July 2015

From Sunday roast to all you can eat breakfast!

On my last post I said we were staying at Fradley for Sunday. Unfortunately our batteries needed topping up, so, since the sun was not shining on the solar panels it seemed sensible to move on, as we would have to run the engine anyway.
It started dry but the rain they forecast arrived by mid morning and continued all the way to Rugeley where we stopped and hot footed it to Wetherspoons for a sunday lunch.
Monday was a better day and, after topping up supplies, we set off to Great Haywood. As we left Rugeley we spotted this boat up on the bank. Is this what happens if you don't slow down at the bends?

The showers continued through Tuesday so it was not until Wednesday that we moved on up the lock and moored on Tixel wide, a very loveley spot, almost like a lake which was created to improve the view from the hall through whose estate the canal was dug. The hall is long gone but the gatehouse still remains, an impressive building on three floors.
In the afternoon we visited nearby Shugborough Hall which was the home of Patrick Litchfield, a sixties icon and photographer to the royal family.
It was unseasonably cold last night but we set off at 7.00 am in hats and gloves,in order to get to the Radford Bank Inn by 9.00, thus taking advantage of their 'all you can eat breakfast' for £3.99
Suitably gorged, we walked into Stafford for a few bits and bobs. I have been nagging the Captain for an extra shelf in the cupboard, so a trip into B&Q was needed.
Now moored in an idylic spot above Deptmore lock, new shelf fitted and sun shining at last on the solar panels. How long for I wonder.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

More Rubbish!

After our day out in Coventry we have moved on as far as Fradley Junction.
The first nights stop was half way down the flight of locks at Atherstone, the best place for access to the supermarkets. As we moored up the rain started, clearing up just enough to let us walk into town and do some shopping.
Next day the sun was shining again and we had a very pleasant cruise as far as Polesworth, where, after passing under a bridge, Oakapple lost power and we drifted to the bank. The Captain delved down the weed hatch and after some rummaging, (and cursing), pulled out a workmans jacket from round the prop. Bright orange, (the jacket, not the captain), with a mesh lining. Pity the workmans wallet was not still in the pocket. How do these things end up in the canal? Usually under bridges.  Starting up the engine again, we carried on to Fazeley junction where we moored for the night. Soon after, the rain returned, continuing through the night and into the next day. We had hoped to reach the Trent & Mersey Canal that day, but by the time we got to Huddlesford the rain won and we decided to stop.
This morning the sun was shining once more and we got to Fradley Junction by midday. The plan was to stop for a coffee, fill the water tank, and move on towards Rugeley, however, the'White Swan' proved too much of a temptation and we ended the afternoon with a pint, after a stroll down the canal as far as Alrewas. This is a village with some very atractive thatched cottages and a fine old church. Just past the village the canal crosses the river Trent, past a long weir, calling for some caution after heavy rain.
With just such weather forcast for tomorrow it looks like we will stay put and watch the last day of the Tour de France. Rubbish on the prop, rubbish weather, I wonder what else the summer has in store!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

In Search of Lady Godiva

yes, we have been to Coventry. After our incident reported in the last Blog we have now started to head north again. Resisting the temptations of 'The Greyhound' at Hawksbury we motored on past Marston Junction and found a quiet countyside mooring just south of Nuneaton to cook our Sunday lunch.
On Monday we moved on to Hartshill visitor moorings. The old BW yard is a gem of canal architecture, with its dock, workshops and clock tower. Just a shame that the grass and weeds have been allowed to take over some of the paved areas, particularly since an excessive amount of attention is being payed to mowing and strimming the towpaths these days.
With the sun shining we took a walk around some of the Quarrymans walk, a footpath which takes in some of the remains of the quarries around Hartshill. The path took us up past some very deep workings and by a traditional farmyard with some old barns and stables around a yard with chickens strutting around.
Yesterday we took the bus into Coventry. First call, after coffee in 'Spoons', was a visit to the canal basin, much more of a boating atmosphere there now with the hire fleet in residence. Next we made our way to the transport museum. It is the finest collection of old vehicles to be seen for free anywhere. A must for anyone visiting the city. The Captain is always interested in the collection of motorcycles, and I spotted a gold Hillman Avenger, identical to the first 'family' sized car we owned in the 1970s.
Leaving the cars behind we went to see the remains of the old Cathedral, destroyed by wartime bombing. We would have liked to also visit the replacement, but with a list of prices displayed, we have an issue with charging people to visit a place of worship.
Making our way back up the hill we found the statue of the naked lady Godiva mounted on her horse in the shopping precinct, (Perhaps the first recorded incident of streaking?), before returning to 'The  Flying Standard for lunch. This Spoons is named after the badge of the Standard motor company which was based in Coventry.
After two steaks and a bottle of wine (£15.99. bargain!), we caught the bus back to Hartshill to put our feet up and watch the sun going down over the canal.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Rose Narrowboats, RUBBISH!

We left Hinkley wharf on Thursday morning to return our daughter, Emma, to her car in Brinklow. The Captain reversed Oakapple through the bridge to turn her at the entrance to the arm and we were on our way. The sun was shining and it was a pleasant cruise all the way to Hawksbury junction where we found a mooring just past the stop lock.
If you are at the junction a visit to 'The Greyhound' is a must so off we went to see what ales were on offer. A couple of pints and a chip butty later we were back on board ready to put our feet up.
Yesterday things didn't go so well. It was fine until we were aproaching Stretton Stop, the home of Rose Narrowboats. The canal narrows here where they used to guage the old working boats to calculate the tolls. As we entered the narrows there was a clonking from under the stern and the engine stopped! We drifted out and tied up alongside the hire boats at the yard. A quick look down the weed hatch confirmed that the prop. was solid.
Bearing in mind a similar experience last year the Captain phoned 'River & Canal Rescue' of which we are a member.
He then popped into the yard office to explain what was happening. To say that they were unhelpful would be to understate the case. He was told, "we don't let RCR on our site", and "you'll have to pull your boat through the bridge and moor the other side". Pretty poor since it was probably rubbish from the yard which had jammed the prop.
Still, we did just that, and while I walked to Brinklow with Emma to fetch her car, Captain waited for the RCR man to arrive. He was there within two hours, friendly, cheerful, and even willing to encourage his 'lad' to put on the diving suit and get into the water. As on the previous occasion, a chunk of wood had jammed between the prop and the skeg. With Oakapple being fairly deep it is not possible to reach the bottom of the prop through the weed hatch unless you have arms like a chimpanzee.  Twenty mins.  later the obstruction had been cleared and we were ready to be on our way, after saying our farewell to our guest. All that was left was to cruise through the cutting to all Oaks Wood where we spent the night.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Richard 111, Leicester or York?

Our daughter, Emma, arrived at midday on Monday, as usual bringing the rain with her. Still, by 3.00 ish. it had mostly stopped so we made a dash from Brinklow Marina and headed as far as Ansty before the drizzle started again.
After some heavy rain in the night we set off through Hawkesbury and made the turn onto the Ashby canal. The rain was patchy and we stayed mostly dry until we reached Hinkley and found a good mooring at the wharf. Not the quietest of moorings but this was our set out point for todays outing.
As Emma is a bit of a history buff, we planned to visit Leicester on the bus to see the new tomb for King Richard111 in the Cathederal.
We were impressed with the style and dignity of the whole thing, a fitting resting place for someone who was, after all, a King of England.
Yes, I know the debate still rages over whether he should have been interred in York, however since he was the Duke of Gloucester, perhaps they had an equal claim to his remains? Whatever your opinion on the matter, he at least deserved a proper burial somewhere.
By the time we left the Cathederal the sun was shining and we made our way to one of the three 'Spoons' in the City for lunch. Obviously the one we chose had to be 'The Last Plantagenet', a fitting end to our day out.
After a hot ride back to Hinkley on the bus we found the new solar panels had fully charged the batteries ready for us to watch the hi-lights of the Tour de France.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Bring on the Sun

It's been a while since my last post. We should have been going into dry dock last week, however, best laid plans and all that, it didn't happen. A text to the boatyard the day before to ask what time they wanted us produced a phone call to say there was a boat in the dock being stretched and they couldn't get it out in time. I wonder when they planned to tell us!
More positive, we had arranged for some solar panels to be fitted this week. The Captain has been resisting having them on aesthetic grounds but the idea of charging batteries while we are out exploring during the day finally won him over.
We chose 'M & R Controls to supply and fit three panels, potentially giving us 300w of power on a sunny day. I can recommend them for their good service. All our E Mails were answered promptly and the fitter turned up on time as arranged and did a fine job of installing the panels. Four hours later there were 12 Amps going into the batteries. We had popped into Brinklow Marina for a couple of nights while the work was done but cruised down to Hillmorton after to test the system in the sunshine. I sat around on the towpath eating strawberries while the Captain played the guitar. I even let him eat some in between tunes. The Amps poured in and even during the cloudy periods there is at least 4Amps going in, enough to run the fridge/freezer.
As Oakapple has no gas on board we have to rely on the batteries to power most things. Hopefully we won't have to run the engine nearly so often, that is as long as the sun keeps shining. Something not to be taken for granted in an English summer!
We are now back at Brinklow waiting for our daughter, Emma, to arrive for a few days cruising up the Ashby Canal. She usually brings the rain with her, so the pitter/patter of raindrops on the roof comes as no suprise!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

After the show

as the mooring suspension finished after the Braunston show we decided to move back into the village. Of course, this involved turning round, which took us nearly all the way to Hillmorton before the first turning point. Four hours later we were back onto a mooring near the old stophouse.
Some of the old working boats had gone but a lot were still taking up visitor space.
Walking along the towpath we recognised a 'Hudson' boat, William, which we had spent time with over the winter. An hour later Rob knocked on our boat and we caught up with each others travels over a beer.
Over the next two or three days the sun shone and it seemed like summer had arrived. We had a walk through the fields to the little church of St Peter, which was part of the medieval village of wolfhampcote which has long  since disappeared. We also spent a lot of time sitting out on the towpath, chasing the shade up and down as the sun moved around.
At the opening ceremony for the show, there was a plaque unveiled in commemoration of Sonia Rolt who died last year. She had been one of the wartime boatwomen and the wife of Tom Rolt, one of the leaders of the movement to save the canal system at a time when it could all have been lost. The plaque eluded us for some days, however, we eventually found it hiding behind a pair of back cabin doors on a workshop wall. A nice touch, and very fitting.
Friday saw my birthday come around again, ( not saying ), so it was off to the 'Boathouse' to celebrate which we did in fine style, returning to Oakapple in a very mellow mood.
We have spent the last couple of days making our way towards Hillmorton where we were booked into the dry dock. Unfortunately they seem to have a boat in there being lengthened which cannot come out yet so, as we have plans for next week, the work will have to wait.