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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!!
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
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.