Tue 20th Sep Fradley to Whittington
Moored at Fradley
We started by trundling a cassette and some rubbish down to the facilities. We reversed the boat to the water point to top up the tank.
The Coventry Canal curls round the outside of what used to Fradley Aerodrome, the WW11 site of RAF Lichfield. The original hangars are still there, but not easy to see from the canal.
Then there is a very noisy section alongside the busy A38 dual carriageway. At Streethay Wharf we spotted Chartwell, a boat from our flotilla into Liverpool Docks in early July. Also a very nice looking pair of working boats.
Starling and Ethel at Streethay
The Eastern end of the Wyrley and Essington Canal
A little further on, by Huddlesford Junction we spotted Ragtag moored at Lichfield Cruising Club.
We stopped just before Bridge 80, near Whittington.
0 locks, 5 miles
Wed 21st Sep Whittington to Fazeley
As we left our mooring and rounded the corner, there was Firoza, with BCF members Derek and Judy Hunt. They had only just arrived.
We waved to Eric as we passed his house in Whittington, know as Whittington Wharf. We once sang in his garden there on a BCF mission.
Passing Whittington Wharf
We noticed that the badger setts at Hademore were obviously very active, with fresh earth and footprints showing. One day we will stop near here and try to see them.
We cruised slowly through Hopwas without stopping, noting a few damson trees just by School Bridge. We planned to gather some later.
Old Quarry in Hopwas Woods
We found a tree had fallen across the canal near Fazeley, but there was still a passage through.
Hugo takes an interest
Tree down near Fazeley
As we drew into Fazeley, opposite the C&RT office, we were hailed by Alex and Jane on About Time, a couple we had come to know in Aylesbury during our first winter there. We stopped just beyond them and went on board for a welcome cuppa and a catch up. While we were there, Stronghold went past, so we had a brief conversation with Ray, who wasn’t stopping. He is travelling a bit quicker than we are.
Next to About Time
We walked to Fazeley Mill Marina, where we were hoping our vacuum cleaner battery might have been delivered by now. We had been unable to reach them on the phone but we had had a text from the delivery company to say it would be delivered between 2m and 3pm.
When we arrived, there was a pair of gates across the entrance and they were padlocked. We knew the phone wasn’t being answered, and wondered if they were perhaps closed on Wednesdays. If so, where would our parcel have got to?
We decided to walk to where the road crossed the canal, and see if we could get into the marina from the towpath. Then we found their second entrance, with gates standing open. The lady was busy helping another boater with a pumpout and fuel. We had a look into the office, and could see Hazel’s parcel sitting there. Good News! We bought some toilet blue for Alex and Jane, but they had no grease, which we need.
As we passed the first entrance, we found it was open, and we met Tony, from Paws 4 Thought (BCF), who moors his boat there.
We called in at Tesco Express for a few items before returning to Gabriel. We put the Dyson battery on charge, and we now had a continuous green light instead of a flashing one. It looked promising.
0 locks, 5½ miles
Thu 22nd Sep Fazeley to Hopwas
Our mooring in Fazeley
It was sunny this morning as we moved sideways across to the facilities to top up the water tank and empty cassettes. We turned the boat there and waved to About Time as we departed north once more.
We paused at Bonehill Road Bridge and walked through to Ventura Park, where we visited Black’s for Hazel to try on a waterproof jacket. We ordered one in a different colour in the hope that it will arrive before we leave the area on Monday.
We then had a good value lunch in Sainsbury’s before shopping for some groceries and returning to the boat.
Bonehill Road Bridge
We moved on to Hopwas, where it was not convenient to pick the damsons, so we moored up on the visitor moorings by the school.
Moored at Hopwas
View across the Tame Valley
After having the Dyson battery on charge for nearly a day, we now have a working vacuum cleaner. Hooray!
In the evening we went to the folk club, where we were treated as old friends. We have been there three times before. Alex and Jane arrived later as promised. There were a lot of singers, so everyone had just two songs. We sang Push Boys Push and Miles and Miles of Poly. It was nearly midnight before the music stopped. A good evening.
Chequemates Folk Club at Hopwas
Back on the boat we put the central heating on as it was chilly.
0 locks, 2½ miles
Fri 23rd Sep Hopwas to Fazeley
There was a heavy dew all around this morning, and it had been quite cold in the night. We found ourselves in the shade, so were pleased we had set the heating to come on which helped. Very soon it was a lovely sunny day.
Morning sun but not on the boat
Reflected trees (photo upside down)
Several boats went past before we set off towards the winding hole near Tamhorn Farm Bridge. The Hopwas Woods were lovely in the sunshine. We saw three red admiral butterflies which we guessed had just hatched out. One was sitting on a branch just above our heads as we passed.
On the way back after turning, we slowed right down and were able to get some pictures. These butterflies are just as lovely as ones you find in tropical climates.
Red Admiral on a tree
A closer look
We went back through Hopwas, and attempted to pick some damsons, but we couldn’t get in to the side, and another boat was close behind, so we had to abandon the idea. We also passed some fields where we could see mushrooms growing but there was nowhere to stop. Sad to see free food going to waste!!
We noticed that the fallen tree had been cleared away. Well done C&RT.
In Fazeley again there was a queue for the facilities so we got rid of some rubbish, and left the water and cassettes until later.
We waved to Alex and Jane (again!) as we passed, and then turned right into the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, mooring up opposite David and Mary’s house, where we could dry the washing in the sun.
Sandra came round at about 6pm and we all went to the Ivory Tusk Indian restaurant at 7pm for a welcome curry. Very good food, and very popular. We were pleased that we had booked, as every table was taken and there were people waiting.
Ivory Tusk Indian Restaurant
Back to Gabriel for hot drinks afterwards.
0 locks, 5 miles
Sat 24th Sep Fazeley
It was chilly this morning, so we lit a fire, the first of the season.
We had a lazy morning, doing some odd jobs and relaxing. Then we had a phone call from Fazeley Mill Marina to say that our second parcel had arrived. This was a new fleece for Hazel.
We went by boat this time passing Sandra's boat Maranatha and then the Old Mill, which textile manufacturer Sir Robert Peel opened in 1790 for cotton spinning and calico printing. It was water powered. It is now divided into several units with various smaller companies installed.
Sir Robert Peel Mill
While we were at the marina we took the opportunity to empty two cassettes and top up with diesel. We needed to run the engine and turn the boat anyway, so we achieved all these things in 30 minutes.
Facilities pontoon at Fazeley Mill Marina
Fazeley Mill Marina
We moored back in the same spot, but facing the other way.
0 locks, 0 miles (just a few yards)
Sun 25th Sep Fazeley
There was some rain in the night, as correctly forecast, but it had stopped by the time we went to church. The 11am service time allows a leisurely start to the day.
Apart from Sandra, who we knew would be there, we met Vic Mortimer, another friend of ours from BCF. Also a guy called Dave Roberts, who was a contact made during the last mission we had in Fazeley. He now attends here regularly.
St Pauls Fazeley
James Sandra Hazel
We went to the Plough for lunch, which was good value, but a little slow. Apparently there was an apprentice chef on today. When we emerged, we found that a heavy rain shower had taken place.
We called in at Tesco for some milk on the way back. The path back to the towpath provides a good view of Tolsons Mill, which was built in 1886, and was steam driven. Products included webbing and narrow tapes. This was where red tape was produced, for tying up legal documents. Not a lot of people know that.
No boating today
Mon 26th Sep Fazeley
A rainy day was forecast so we did not plan to move.
We phoned Black’s and discovered that Hazel’s waterproof jacket had arrived. We took a bus to Ventura Park and collected it. We then took another bus into Tamworth, where we had a good look around, having a very reasonable lunch in a cafe. We were disappointed with our visit to Morrison’s, as it was a small store, and did not have everything we wanted.
We managed to get a new screen protector for James’ phone in a specialist parts shop, and some buttons for Hazel’s new fleece (She didn’t like the ones that came with it).
Then we returned by bus to Fazeley. We had a look inside the saw mill yard, where they deal with whole trees. Their crane looks historic.
Crane at the saw mill
No boating today
Next: we set off down the Coventry Canal via Polesworth and Atherstone, heading for a church at Hillmorton near Rugby for Sunday.