Sunday, 27 September 2015

Huddlesford to Atherstone

Mon 21st September

Huddlesford to Tamhorn Park

Very wet this morning.  Even so, quite a number of boats left.  The rain didn’t stop until early afternoon, and we went to say farewell to Barbara and Malcolm and exchange contact details.  We hope to see them again at Middlewich Festival next year.

We set off, and as it was getting late in the day, we thought that the Hopwas moorings might be full, so we stopped short, at Tamhorn Park.  We still had the railway, but we had a good view of farmland.  There was a large log drifting about. It looked as though it had been in contact with several boats.

 Moored at Tamhorn Park

Big log

Ships cat

With all the cloud there was a lovely sunset. It was chilly in the evening so we lit a fire.

Evening light at Tamhorn Park


0 locks, 2 miles

Tue 22nd September

Tamhorn Park to Fazeley

There was a lot of dew this morning as we prepared to leave.  As we cruised through Hopwas there were no boats on the visitor moorings, the first time we have ever seen it like that.

 Empty moorings at Hopwas


We found some damsons on the off side just before Hopwas Bridge, so we gathered a few. They were perfectly ripe and very tasty.

Just after Hopwas there was an oak tree with branches hanging down to helmsman’s face level, so we tried out the loppers we had bought in Aldi in Rugeley.  When we had finished, it was much clearer and easier, with less danger of wafting fish hooks.

At the facilities in Fazeley, there was a boat already using the water point, so we maintained our position in the centre of the canal, waiting for our turn. There were several boats from the Huddlesford gathering on the opposite bank, including Tee-Jay.  After a while we heard the sound of a boat coming from behind, and it turned out to be a motor and butty. We moved into the entrance to the small mooring basin there to let them pass.

A passing pair at Fazeley

When we finally tied up at the water point we emptied three cassettes, lots of rubbish, and took a while to fill the water tank.  We also went to the office to pick up a list of winter stoppages. We noticed that there is one on the Aylesbury Arm starting on 2nd November, so we mustn’t be late for our winter mooring.

We went round the corner and through the bridge onto the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, mooring up a little short of David and Mary’s house.  We went to Tesco for a few basics plus a pudding.

We invited David and Mary for a meal on board, and had a good time with them.  David had to go to a meeting afterwards.

0 locks, 4 miles

Wed 23rd September


We took a number 16 bus to Ventura Park, where we had hoped to go to Sainsbury’s, but it was closed for refurbishment.  They had also sealed off their car park, so we had to walk round on the road to visit Pets at Home for some cat biscuits.

Walking back towards Aldi we went into Pet Hut and found another scratch pad to fit on the wall for Hugo.

Reaching Asda, we decided to pause for a hot chocolate before the daunting task of shopping.  This store is massive so it was not easy finding everything.  It was also very noisy, with refrigeration units and extractor fans, coupled with unrelaxing music, interrupted too frequently with announcements over the loudspeakers about special offers and products. The words were muffled so we couldn’t hear them if we had wanted to. They certainly didn’t make us spend any more. We just wanted to finish the shopping and make our exit as quickly as possible.

When we reached the checkouts there were long queues, except for the self-checkouts, so we went for one of those.  Mostly it worked OK, but when it came to the fresh veg and fruit, the scales produced a weight and a price, but when we moved the item to the bagging area, it came up with an error message saying that weight needed to be checked. A lady with a supervisor card had to come and swipe it before we could continue.  This happened about eight times. The whole process took much longer than if we had queued for a checkout person.

When we finally emerged from ASDA the timing was perfect, as we caught our bus back within two minutes.

Mary visited and brought vegetables and fruit from her garden.

We set off to turn the boat round. Half an hour later, when we returned, our mooring had been taken, so we stopped right opposite David and Mary’s.

Autumn Colours at Fazeley

In the evening we went to an Indian Restaurant, Fazeley Park, where the food and service were very good.

0 locks, 1 mile

Thu 24th September

Fazeley to Alvecote

Three boats came past at around midnight, heading for Birmingham. We guessed that they were trading boats going to the floating market in Brindley Place.

We had left our hood down, as the weather forecast was dry. However, we had heavy rain in the night, although it was sunny in the morning.

Tony and Pat from Paws 4 Thought walked past. They keep their boat in Fazeley Marina.  We asked them to take some photos of us in Canal Ministries uniform for some display boards that Peter and Lin are preparing.


Then we had a visit from Peter Thorn with our magazines. Finally we have them.  We provided a cup of tea as a reward.

We set off, and cruised first to the facilities point.   Tee-Jay was still there, moored opposite.


For a pleasant change there were no queues at Glascote Locks. One boat was coming down in each one, so we didn’t even have to set either of them.  We looked out for Alan and Joan as we passed their house but they were not in sight.

Glascote Locks

We paused to prune some very low hanging willow trees on the Amington stretch. C&RT don’t seem to manage to get it all done, so we may as well give a helping hand.  We also snip off protruding brambles and nettles at the bridges as we pass.

Willow prunings

We moored earlier than panned, just before Alvecote.

James stoned the damsons in preparation for making jam, and we lit a fire, as it was getting chilly.

2 locks, 3 miles

Fri 25th September

Alvecote to Whitley Bridge

A lovely morning, with very wet grass. We think it is called guttation, when the moisture comes out of the grass, rather than settling on it. “Dew drops” sounds nicer but is not accurate.

Morning reflections


We are still on the lookout for some boat paint and some Owatrol, so James walked forward to the boatyard opposite Alvecote marina, but they have no chandlery there.

Hectors House went past. We saw them in Kinver – apparently they know Gill and Geoff on Petroc.

A working pair were fiddling around in Alvecote as we passed. We are not sure what they were trying to do.  

Pair of boats at Alvecote

There was beautiful sunshine as we cruised past the slag heap monument, under the M42, past Pooley hall and through Polesworth.

 Pooley Hall in the sunshine

There is a very narrow section and a bend just after Polesworth, and we met another boat there, causing lots of reverse gear and stirring of mud. We passed Grendon Dock, where there is always something going on, usually with restoration of historic boats.

Before and after at Grendon Dock

At Bradley Green facilities we chucked some rubbish, before moving on to the Atherstone locks.  There was a volunteer on the bottom two, which was helpful, as he set the second one for us.

Atherstone Locks

We moored just after Whitley Bridge, which has no floor.  James walked back to the locks to pick plums from the trees there, but they were past their best, and very tasteless, so he abandoned the idea.


The view from Whitley Bridge

Bottomless Whitley Bridge

Looking east from our mooring

It was a lovely sunny evening, but when the sun went down it turned chilly, so we lit a fire.

2 locks, 5 miles

Sat 26th September

Whitley Bridge to Atherstone

Heavy dew this morning, but a sunny day.

 Morning mist

Is this art?

Whitley Bridge in the mist

A boat (A) went past heading up the locks, skippered by a man on his own. We went about 15 minutes later, going up locks 9 and 8, which were by now against us. We could see boat (A) going fairly slowly ahead of us as we rose in lock 8.  Then another boat (B) left the moorings in front and followed boat (A). We were now third in a line. 

A lovely day for the Atherstone locks

As we were rising in lock 7, another boat (C) left its moorings opposite the marina entrance, so we were fourth in a line – A, B, C, and Gabriel.  When boat (C) was ascending lock 6, THREE BOATS pulled out in front of them. They were travelling together, using walkie-talkies to communicate. We were therefore now seventh in the line.  Meanwhile, boat (A) had pulled in on the lock bollards and gone to buy milk, or a paper. He had left his engine running, and the chimney was smoking away, and boat (B) thought he was setting the lock ahead (lock 5), which was under a bridge and out of sight. So seven boats were sitting there in a queue, with no one doing anything to operate the locks!!!!

Lock queue

Meanwhile two other boats caught up behind, so we had a convoy. Eventually someone realised that nothing was happening and two boats overtook boat (A) and things started to move once more.  It took us three hours to go up the 9 locks, instead of the usual two, and we moored on the visitor moorings at the top. Only two boats had come down. At the top lock, there were two volunteers.  If one had been at lock 5 it would have been more helpful, but, hey! They are volunteers and their help is appreciated.

Lock 3 – two more to go

Thankfully everyone was good-natured and the sun was shining.  Historic boats Nutfield and Raymond went past later.

Nutfield and Raymond

James went for a walk via a footpath across a recreation ground to get to the shops for some milk. On the way back there was a dog barking at nothing for a long time in a canalside garden. Hazel had been relaxing in the bows and said there were several snarling dogs on leads going past.  What is it about Atherstone and dogs?

Our Owatrol search is coming to an end. We have tried phoning several marinas and boat yards, and most have never heard of it. Knowing that Mary and Jim are bringing their boat back from Stone, James contacted Stone Boatbuilders and discovered that they have Owatrol, so we have asked Mary and Jim to bring us some back when they come.  Result!  We still need some appropriate paint, which we will try to get at Springwood Haven or Trinity Marina.

9 locks, 2 miles

Next week:

Sunday: the local Anglican Church

Monday: Twyford Zoo by bus,

Later: heading through Nuneaton to the Ashby Canal.
Mary and Jim should catch up with us by about Wednesday. They have longer cruising days than we do.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Huddlesford Heritage Gathering

Fri 18th September


There was an early mist and a heavy dew this morning.

Early morning

James walked to the Junction for a welcome pack. It was too early for the programme, as they hadn’t been delivered. He was given the rest of the welcome pack by Eric and Doreen Wood from Whittington Wharf, whose boat Cre-Dal-Wood was moored by the footbridge.  We sang in their garden during the 2005 Mission to the Heart.

He walked back to meet Hazel who had gone in the other direction to the Co-op in Whittington.  It is not easy to walk quickly at events like this as there are so many people to talk to. First there was Lion Star, with its BCF sticker, with Sarah and Berni, whom we met at the Taft last year.

Then there was a man who was trying to persuade the smoke from his fore to up the chimney instead of into the cabin and out of the windows and doors. He was using a long piece of barbed wire folded in three to scour the chimney, but there was a blockage low down. James left him trying another long tool, a pole with a flat end to scrape with.

He met Hazel coming back with the shopping, so he never visited the shop. As we passed a second time the man with the fire challenge had resolved it and smoke was coming up through the chimney again.

We chatted to Heather and Gordon who were moored behind us on Sentinel. Heather was making colourful knitted rag rugs.


Rag rug

We had heard informally that there would be a jam session in the club later, so we had an afternoon zzzzzzz. 

David and Mary arrived from Fazeley on Kew, and headed for their designated mooring. Then they walked back to Gabriel for a chat and a cuppa.

James went a spoke to Barbara on Ampere to see if she knew anything about the jam session. She had been here last year, so knew what to expect. It seemed that no-one was really running it, and we should just turn up ready to participate.

There was a lovely sunset later

Sunset at Huddlesford

In the evening we went to the clubhouse, picking up a programme from Eric on the way. In the club we met BCF friend Peter Ekins who kindly bought us drinks. The jam session was dominated by some ukelele players, and they wanted everything played in the key of C. This made some songs very hard to sing. Barbara was there with her accordion, and the man from the cheese boat was playing a guitar.  It was very crowded, but a lot of fun.  David and Mary came in for a while but there were no seats so they left again.

Sat 19th September

Huddlesford Heritage Gathering

A pleasant dry day.  We took two chairs and a table up to Kew for the use of any passers-by.  Richard Alford was there.  We went on the site and met BCF members Roger and Pam McLelland, also Peter and Pam Ekins.

 Boats moored near the junction

It was interesting to hear one of the bands play “Long Way Down”. We have never heard anyone else sing it.  Another band was Claret, who run the folk club in Hopwas. It was good to see them perform, as opposed to running the club.

The cruising club were offering hot dogs and burgers so we had a burger at lunchtime, and wandered round the site.

Romany caravans

Classic cars

On the way back to the boat we saw BCF boat Puteri Intan moving past - Derek and Edwina Wallace. We also saw Thistledown moored up but sadly we didn’t get to know them – John and Veronica Potter, also BCF, although they have no sticker.

In the evening we took our trolley with music stands, guitar stands and songbooks, in preparation for the service in the morning.

We had a meal in the marquee and listened to another band.

No boating today

Sun 20th September

Huddlesford Heritage Gathering

The central heating didn’t start this morning as the batteries were low. We didn’t run the engine yesterday.

We went with our guitars and song files to set up with PA on the field. Tony the PA man was there to help us get plugged in. Our extra musicians arrived with little time to spare to run through anything or have a practise, so it was straight in with three or four warm up songs, and the service itself began at 9.30am.

We did not have time to catch up with anyone afterwards as we were packing up instruments. We were invited to Peter and Pam Ekins boat March Mole for drinks, and it was good to spend some time with them.

We had a burger from the BBQ and listed to Homity Pie for a while, before taking our trolley back to the boat.  There we ran the engine and fed Hugo.

We went for a meal in the Plough with David and Mary.  There were several other boaters in there. The food was good, but perhaps a tad pricey.  There was a good cider – orchard pig.

We went to the boat club for another music session, with Barbara and Malcolm and the man from the cheese boat.  It was not so crowded as on Friday, and it was possible to sing and be heard.  And we could choose sensible keys to sing the songs.

No boating today. No photos either.

Next week: Further on down the Coventry Canal, heading for the Ashby, looking for paint suppliers and someone who sells Owatrol.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Rugeley to Huddlesford

Mon 14th September


Just one crayfish this morning.

It was not as wet as forecast.  We moved the boat up through one bridge and found a mooring near Tesco. We met Ken on a boat called Ayup.  He moors in Middlewich and gave us advice about the Folk and Boat festival next year.  We also met a BCF couple on Ursinity.  And another boat had a dog that was asking to be photographed.

 Dog at Rugeley

We went shopping and discovered that the markets were closed today, as well as the fruit and veg shop near Morrisons.  We got Hazel’s medication from Boots, and some diary pages from Smith’s, and found where Wetherspoons is. After getting some bits from Morrison’s (No cider!) we went back to the boat for lunch.

Then a visit to Tesco for various items we hadn’t managed to get elsewhere, including cider and fire lighters.  We found Christmas items on sale already!

Christmas has come early

We lit a fire. James cooked the crayfish and put them in the freezer.

Only two traps out as there were other boats moored close to us.

We had an email to confirm that we were booked in for the Huddlesford Boat Gathering. Also one about songs for Sunday.

0 locks, ½ mile, 1 crayfish

Tue 15th September

Rugeley to Shade House Lock

There was just one crayfish in the traps this morning.

Several boats were moving quite early. Thankfully there were no locks for a while or there may have been a queue.  As tomorrow is forecast wet all day with the remains of a tropical storm, we thought we had better move on down to Fradley so that we are within range of pubs, caf├ęs, rubbish, elsan points and a water tap.  We waited for a gap in the boats, and then departed.

 Rugeley Towers

We stopped at the water point near Spode House moorings, as this is a high pressure tap.  Hawkesyard Hall is nearby, and a little research has shown that Spode House and Hawkesyard Hall are one and the same place.  It was originally called Hawkesyard Hall, and then Josiah Spode bought the place and renamed it Spode House. Later, when it became a friary, it reverted to the old name. It is now an event venue.

Hawkesyard Hall

Just before Armitage Tunnel there is strange sculpture which looks plastic. It could be meant to be Wee Willie Winkie or perhaps Ebenezer Scrooge.  Thankfully the tunnel was clear for us to go through this time.

Scrooge or Wee Willie Winkie?

Armitage Tunnel

Bridge 60

Although showers were forecast, we had no rain during our cruise. The only lock we negotiated was Wood End Lock. There were two boats waiting to come up. Two boats also behind us including Vic Mortimer with Connie’s Gift.

Emerging from Wood End Lock

We moored above Shade House Lock, just as a heavy rain shower started.  Vic Mortimer, two boats behind, also moored up.

After lunch we went to dispose of our rubbish. We paused at the gallery to see paintings and artwork and a few meagre supplies.  Then on down to the refuse point to get rid of four bags.  Then a gentle stroll back through the nature reserve to the boat.

Vic told us that a lady cyclist with a golden Labrador had been knocking on our boat. The only person we knew fitting that description was Sue Smith, so we phoned her and sure enough, she and Andy had cycled past. Their boat was in Alrewas and the car was at the Taft, so they were cycling back to fetch the car.

We had a sunny evening and James saw a fox sitting at the side of the field. Shortly afterwards we had a beautiful sunset.

Sunset at Shade House Lock

We left the washing out on the line, as no rain was forecast.

1 lock, 7 miles

Wed 16th September

Shade House Lock

A disturbed night. First James woke up at 3am with cold feet, and had to put some socks on!  Then at 5am there was heavy rain, so Hazel brought the washing in.  Then as she finished bringing it in, the rain stopped.  Oh, well!  Then at about 6.30am a noisy boat went past. Hugo wasn’t bothered.


There were no crayfish this morning as James forgot to put the traps out!

We enjoyed some Aldi Croissants for breakfast, then James trundled a cassette down to the Fradley facilities.

Moored above Shadehouse Lock

We had no plans to move today as there was heavy rain forecast for later, the remains of a tropical storm.

Several boats arrived who are heading for the boat festival at Huddlesford.

There was another lovely sunset this evening. This time there were two foxes in the field. In the end there was no rain after all today despite severe weather warnings and heavy rain forecast.

Sunset at Shadehouse Lock

No boating today.

Thu 17th September

Shade House Lock to Huddlesford

We had a dry night, without even any dew.  There were several boat movements before we set off, and we found there were seven volunteers for the five locks.  They suggested that we both stay on the boat, so we had no beams to push or handles to wind.

Volunteers at Fradley

Turning into the Coventry Canal

Swingbridge and water point

We turned right into the Coventry Canal, went through the swing bridge, and tied up at the water point. We left the water tank topping up at the usual slow pace for this location, while we went to dispose of rubbish and empty two cassettes.

We had hoped to stop near bridge 90 to visit the Co-op, but, once again, there were no spaces available.

Historic boat going to Huddlesford

Mary and Jim

We met Mary and Jim Sibley going the other way on Penny from Heaven. It is the first time we have seen their new boat. Hopefully we will catch up them after they return from Stone where they are having the boat bottom blacked.

Our next planned stop was at Streethay Wharf, as we had been told they had an excellent chandlery.  We pulled in the wharf, but were told that a crane was about to be moving a boat around above our heads, and we should come back later.  We decided to move off to bridge 85, where the Nicholson Guide marked a public footpath crossing the canal and going under the railway, joining the A38 a few yards from the boatyard.

We passed Vic who was fishing by his boat, and we moored up as planned, and walked to the bridge.  We couldn’t find a proper way up from the towpath, but there was a small gap between the bridge and the hedge where people had obviously squeezed through. James managed to get through and onto the bridge.  He was trying to work out where the footpath went, when a lady with a horse said “Can I help you?” He replied that he was looking for the public footpath, and she said that it was private property, with no public footpath. 

Back down to the towpath, and back to the boat. We reversed back through the railway bridge, and slowly went backwards to the wharf. The crane work had finished, and we went upstairs to the chandlery.  They had no Owatrol, although they usually stocked it. They did not sell Hempel paints and had no equivalent to the Multicoat we had used earlier.  They didn’t have screws of the right size either.  They did have some toilet blue, so we came away with that. One out of four.

Streethay Wharf

Vic Armstrong and Connie’s Gift

As we approached the festival (a day early) we saw long lines of boats already moored. A man said there were no prebooked moorings except for historic or trading boats. We would have to find our own place.  We carried on past Huddlesford Junction and found a place within sight of Bridge 81 Cheadles Bridge.  By chatting to people we discovered that there is a jam session on Friday evening in the clubhouse.  We obviously need to get a programme.

2 locks, 5 miles, 1 swingbridge

So here we are at Huddlesford Heritage Boat Gathering. More details in the next blog.