Thursday, 19 July 2018

Retracing our steps

We're getting into a routine with Elanor and Sally on board. Sheila and I get our breakfasts, walk Sally and give her her breakfast, then start boating. This lets Elanor have a lie in, being on her hols, but if she wants to get some steering, she has to get going before we finish for the day...

We've come all the way back to Kings Orchard, it being a very pleasant morning for boating, so Whittington was too soon and we decided we'd rather have a bit of road noise here rather than a lot of train noise at Huddlesford.

Elanor did a good chunk of steering, including the tricky stuff through Huddlesford with a fair bit of traffic the other way. It's a good mooring here and we've had only one untoward incident when a rather scruffy Serenity (one of the many) scraped all down the side of Sanity Again. When I remonstrated (quite calmly) the steerer said "It wasn't that bad"!!!

Must have been watching a TV programme featuring a pair of ageing actors...

We managed to get the roof, bow deck and well deck washed before lunch and have been taking it easy this afternoon. Tomorrow, on to Alrewas.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

A curious pub and heading back

We walked the mile back up to the Dog and Doublet for dinner last night. I'm left with mixed impressions of it. The food was very good – two excellent pieces of pie and a sirloin steak, all with chips – and I had a decent pint of Abbot Ale. But Sheila's Kipling was newly tapped and a bit cloudy and the only dark beer available was Guinness.

It's very much a locals' pub and the smallish bar was full of large men and their dogs. In days of yore, no respectable woman would go in a pub by herself and even when accompanied would expect her companion to enter first. Those days are long gone, and quite right too, but it felt as if the old rules applied in the Dog. I didn't feel that much at home myself.

So we ate outside, with Sally quite on edge with so many other dogs around, and didn't stay for a second drink. I doubt if we'll go back.

We had a straightforward run back to Fazeley and have tied on the exact same rings we used two nights ago. A bit more shopping has been done in much more comfortable weather. In fact, as Sheila and I came out of Sainsbury's, some wet stuff started falling out of the sky.

There's a name for that, can't quite remember it...

Tomorrow, back to Whittington or Huddlesford or Kings Orchard. Somewhere, anyway.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Kingsbury Water Park

We reckoned two and a half to three hours from Sutton Road Bridge to the foot of the Curdworth flight and Kingsbury Water Park, so left just after eight. We expected the short moorings to be pretty busy here, though when we arrived a bit before half ten, there was only one other boat tied.

Before that, we'd stopped at Peel's Wharf to water. That's the only service available there now, since the much lamented loss of the CRT office. Before, there was the full range of customer services except pump out there. A rather tatty notice cable-tied to a fence indicated that services were available in Fazeley Mill marina, so having made it round the junction with Sheila on the helm, we stopped on the towpath outside the marina.

The services consist of a) the water point on the towpath and b) access through a gate to a couple of skips in the marina. There's no recycling and I suppose there must be an Elsan sluice somewhere, but if the gate is locked out of hours, you're stuffed, basically. In general, I'm a supporter of CRT, but this is a disgraceful reduction in amenities for the licence paying boater.

It's even worse if you are staying on the Coventry, as the next rubbish point will be at Grendon, at the foot of Atherstone. That's a long, long way from Fradley, CRT.

Rant over.

Arriving at Kingsbury, I took the tiller to make a complete hot malted drink of winding. In my defence, the winding hole cannot be seen from the stern of the boat even when the bow is level with it, and it's very square and narrow. It took me two goes to get Sanity Again round and even then I had to have a lot of help from the traditional bow thruster, i.e. Sheila and 14 foot of ash pole.

Having got turned, we reversed onto the moorings, tying 60' from the other boat. There's room for four average boats here – if full, you can either lock up and tie in the long pound above the bottom lock, or head back towards Fazeley, past the huge length of soft edge now becoming overgrown with reeds and tie beyond.

We've had a walk up to lock 9 to check out the Dog and Doublet and have put in some solid work this afternoon cleaning the boat inside and out to remove all the straw dust from yesterday.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Exciting times at Tamworth

We've had a steady morning's boating to Sutton Road Bridge, just under three hours of very pleasant cruising along the Coventry. The stretch just after Whittington is greatly in need of dredging – Sheila happened to be steering whilst I made some coffee and had an African Queen experience with a bare boats width between the reed beds.

Elanor took over for the run through Hopwas Woods and on through the village nearly to Tamworth. Her steering skills have not deserted her and she coped well with an encounter at Hopwas School Bridge made more tricky than necessary by a GRP cruiser tied, in breach of the no mooring signs, far too close to the bridge.

I took the boat back for the final bit to a deserted mooring at Sutton Road Bridge. Sheila and I did some food shopping before lunch, then Elanor and Sheila went off in search of tops afterwards. Not long after they'd gone, a combine harvester showed up in the field opposite, as a result of which the boat has been well dusted over with minute bits of chaff.

After a while, billows of smoke started pouring up from the corner of the field nearest the boat. I was just pondering whether I could move the boat only assisted by Sally when the shopping party returned, alarmed at the sight of smoke right where the boat was tied.

Whilst we were bow hauling her out of the way, blues and twos could be heard and seen and a fire appliance parked just by the bridge. They didn't in fact need to pump water out of the cut, the use of a spray from the on board tank was enough to deal with the blaze.

Combining is once more occurring as I type this. We've been joined by at least one more boat now. Tomorrow, on to Kingsbury Water Park.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Hot mini blog

Boating was good today, though very hot. Sally especially doesn't appreciate it, makes it hard to keep cool when supervising. We got away from Branston in good time and had a straightforward run to Alrewas and on to Fradley.

Not a lot of traffic about for the first couple of hours, but it got steadily busier after Alrewas. It was my turn to lock, ably assisted by Elanor and supervised by the hound.

A sign of age creeping on: we've bought a GO Windlass, the ratchet one. It's very good indeed, working well both in ratchet mode and as a long throw windlass. In addition, the extra fixed socket below the ratchet one makes winding down very easy.

The only lock we were a bit slow through was Junction, where the volockie had his own pace of working. Sheila managed the turn onto the Coventry with no problem. It was getting on towards lunchtime, so we decided to stop at the bit of Armco just beyond Fradley that we remembered as being signed not to leave a boat unattended there overnight. It's now signed for CRT boats and loading only, so we just stopped for lunch and have come on to Kings Orchard for the night.

Tomorrow, Sutton Road Bridge and some retail therapy.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Off again

We're out for a week with Elanor and Sally, just an amble up to Kingsbury Water Park, probably. I was going to get Sally to do this post, but she's spark out, what with the stress of getting ready yesterday, all the supervising today and the heat.

Also, we cruelly made her walk to Branston Co-op this afternoon and all she got out of it was a white Magnum.

Actually, I know how she feels...

I'll keep you all posted with progress but don't expect too much. It's too hot.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Home again

We set off at seven and got back to Mercia just after half three, having stopped for lunch at Branston. This is slower going than our usual rate, but the cut was very busy on a sunny Saturday.

Highlights were meeting Mick off Three No Trumps at Alrewas – he very kindly helped Sheila with the lock – and Sheila spotting a mink at Wychnor. It carefully considered where to enter the water, then swam across just submerged.

Elanor cunningly met us at the marina, having expected us to arrive earlier, and gave invaluable aid in the initial sorting out. Daughters are wonderful.

No more blogs for a bit, a couple of weeks in fact, until we go out again to give Elanor a holiday break.