Thu 17th May Hawkesbury Junction to Springwood Haven
We noticed some very tidy log piles on the permanent moorings opposite us.
We left our sticking out mooring and went into the stop lock they call Sutton Stop. Scruffy Fox had gone through and left the lock gates open. Another boat came down the Coventry Canal and turned the corner under the bridge at the junction and came into the lock. They closed the gate behind them, and must have thought James was a lock keeper, for they got onto their boat and waited to be locked through. James did so anyway, and as they left, Hazel took Gabriel in and we used the lock.
Scruffy Fox meanwhile was having difficulty under the bridge and then we realised that they were turning round to head south again. They spent part of the winter in Aylesbury, but it is a shared boat, and we didn’t know this crew.
We went under the bridge onto the Coventry Canal, and reversed to the water point by the footbridge adorned with very ornate art sculptures. We filled up with water, emptied cassettes and disposed of rubbish before heading north towards Atherstone and Fazeley.
Into the Coventry Canal
Artwork on the bridge
The water point
The 1821 engine house
The hawthorn blossom this year has been quite extraordinary, which is why we keep taking photos of it.
We passed Charity Dock at Bedworth, which has scrapped cars and boats, as well as lived – on boats. There are also life size mannequin figures around the site and art pieces. An extraordinary place.
Then the junction with the Ashby Canal, where we found later our friends Andy and Sue had been moored a short distance along the canal
We passed the boatyard at Boot Wharf, where we had filled up with diesel on the day of Princess Diana’s funeral. Today we saw a widebeam boat there – most unusual.
Widebeam boat on a narrow canal
That telegraph pole again
We moored in a rural spot just before Springwood Haven, where we had a pleasant view. BCF friends Derek and Judy came past on Firoza.
Moored near Springwood Haven
1 lock, 7 miles
Fri 18th May Springwood Haven to Atherstone
We had a pleasant journey into Atherstone, past the picturesque Hartshill yard.
On arrival in Atherstone, we had difficulty finding a TV signal, most important for tomorrow’s wedding. We moved twice, but still had no signal. We thought we may have to go back out into the countryside for a mile or two, but we needed some shopping first.
We met a lady called Anne on Tagula Blue. We had travelled some of the Rochdale Canal with them nine years ago. Her husband Adrian had since passed away, and she was relying on friends and relatives to help her with lock flights. She gave us some cake, without realising it was Hazel’s birthday.
It was very hot, and Hugo stretched himself out on the floor in the passage where there was some breeze, (and where he was likely to get trodden on again!).
We wandered into the village, and found a beautiful Tamarisk tree. We also discovered that the Red Lion were going to be showing the wedding on large TV screens. We decided that we would watch the event there.
We took a taxi to Sheepy Parva, which sounds like it is featured in Midsomer Murders. We went for a meal at San Giovanni’s, which had good reviews. The food was excellent. We had Tagliolini Lobster plus all the trimmings – nibbles, starter, dessert, wine, coffee, and liqueurs. Well birthdays only happen once a year.
Sunset over Atherstone
0 locks, 4 miles
Sat 19th May Atherstone
We saw our first swifts of the year today as we walked down into Atherstone. We met an interesting guy called Dan on a boat called Brenda May, which is covered in weird and artistic items, such as swans made out of bicycle tyres.
We also had another chat with Anne on Tagula Blue, who was waiting for crew to help her down the eleven Atherstone locks.
We had a very nice breakfast at the Red Lion while watching the Royal Wedding on telly. George and Amal Clooney stole the show as far as celebrity appearances go, but the preacher was on fire and brilliant.
After the newlyweds disappeared into Windsor Castle in their open carriage we decided we had seen enough, so we went shopping. Everyone probably had the same idea as it was crowded in Aldi.
We returned to the boat, and had some nibbles later.
No boating today.
Sun 20th May Atherstone
James woke at 5.3am – ducks were padding about on the roof. They went when they saw James in dressing gown and slippers, waving his arms at them.
We walked to the church for 10am service, which we hadn’t realised started at 9.50 with some worship songs. The songs were a bit of a time warp: Blessed be the name of the Lord, Our God is a great big God, We are marching in the light of God, Majesty. It was Pentecost, and there was a special focus on the Girls Friendly Society. We hadn’t heard of it but it was formed in 1875. The international president was there from South Africa, and many of the girls were being enrolled.
Girls Friendly Society
Revd Michael Brandsma led the service. We had met him before, about two years ago when he had just arrived. His congregation has grown.
We had time for more shopping at Aldi and the Co-op before returning to the Red Lion for a very good carvery lunch.
It was a very hot day, and we walked back to the boat. We ran the engine and put some washing through the washing machine.
We had had a text to say that our daughter Amanda was in hospital with an infection. We tried to call her but we got her voicemail, so we left a message.
Then a strange thing happened. She rang back, and Hazel answered “Hello”. “Oh hello,” came a voice from the towpath. It was Sue Naylor walking past with her dog. We know her and her husband Eric from Little Venice Cavalcade, and a cruise on the Leeds and Liverpool in their boat Cherie. If Hazel hadn’t said Hello at that moment, we may never have had that conversation. They now live in Atherstone.
No boating today
Next plans: Eleven Atherstone Locks tomorrow, starting early before the sun gets too hot. Then Polesworth, Fazeley, Hopwas (on Thursday for a folk club), ending up in Rugeley for Sunday.