Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Surprise, surprise!

After the thunder storms yesterday afternoon we had a glorious evening………


…….. ending with a superb sunset.  It’s a pity our camera can’t quite give the true picture.

Today was another fairly early start for us.  The canal was very quiet, boat wise, and the weather was great for the whole journey with some very warm sunny periods (until later).  At Tamworth we were surprised, and very pleased, to meet up with Tony on nb ‘Lydia’ who was moored at the top of the Glascote Locks.  We had a quick chat with him as he very kindly helped us down through the two locks.


We left Tony at the locks as we said farewell until our next meeting. Good luck Tony – keep in touch.


Leaving Glascote Locks we were soon passing over the River Thame aqueduct, having coffee and muffins in the process.

Our second surprise of the day was to meet up with Emma and Nick on nb ‘Marpessa 2’ just after Fazeley.  We moored up with them for a short while as they told us there was a B & Q just down the road and James was in dire need of some clear silicone sealant (sad!).


They kindly gave us coffee and we had a couple of hours of “properly get to know you” chatter and had a look around each other’s boats (another mutual admiration society!).  We’ve met up very briefly with Emma and Nick a couple of time before but this was an unexpected pleasure to spend a little more time together.  Doug with Emma and Nick and their lovely two year old Labrador, Murk.  Hope to see you all again soon!

A bit further down the canal we decided to moor up at the pleasant village of Whittington.  A walk into the village centre via Whittington Bridge (the last of the 15 or so bridges since Fazeley Junction which have names rather than numbers) and we came across some very nice properties ………..


……. the grandest of which was Whittington Old Hall.


Among the plethora of recent builds, there are still some quaint survivors.


Walking back along the canal from bridge 80 (back to boring numbers!) we spotted probably Whittington’s best kept garden.  Not a blade of grass out of place!


Returning to ‘Chance’, right next to us is the stone which marks the exact division of the Birmingham and Fazeley and Coventry Canals……….


……. and, back to the previous reference about the weather – within seconds of getting back on board ‘Chance’ the heavens opened!  It was to be the only shower of the day, so we think ourselves lucky.  Our neighbours on the other side of the canal are very nice and,  like most of the people of Whittington, keep their gardens beautiful.  So we’re in a very pleasant spot for this evening.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Dogs and dodging thunderstorms.

Yesterday evening our friends Rose and Pete, and their greyhounds Bella and Toby, came to see us.


This is James having kisses from Bella while Toby waits his turn.  They’re not so sure about narrow boats!


Rose, Doug and Pete enjoy a glass of bubbly before going out for a meal.  Annoyingly, The Greyhound at Hawkesbury told us they were serving food all day on Sunday but when we got there we were told they stop taking orders at 7 o’clock.  Never mind, we all went by car and we had a brilliant meal at  The Pheasant at Withybrook.  Thanks Rose and Pete for your company amid your very hectic schedules, it was lovely to see you.

We had a early start at 6:00 this morning as we were both wide awake and raring to go.


We soon passed the tempting entrance to the lovely Ashby Canal but, sadly, we don’t have time.


There are some very beautifully kept gardens along the canal side as we pass through Nuneaton.


A dazzling display of “Lucifer” crocosmia in someone’s Nuneaton garden.


Getting to the Atherstone flight of eleven locks we soon got down the first five and moored up for a walk into the town.  We spotted this gem of a spill weir on one of the lock sides.


Getting out of lock 5 looked a tight squeeze – but all the other boats have done it!


Further down the flight we had a great surprise when we met nb ‘Hudson’ with Heather and Mick on board.  ‘Hudson’ was the showboat next to us in the Crick show 2011 and is, without question, at 70 feet, one of the finest boats on the system.


For all the “mechanical heads”among us, ‘Hudson’s’ 3 cylinder Gardner engine is orgasmic!


This, out of sequence, photo of Atherstone’s railway station and house doesn’t require any description, its now a veterinary surgery, with the station still behind.


We were lucky to get down the Atherstone flight without being rained on but as we motored on a bit the storm clouds started to gather.


Before our luck ran out we moored up in a lovely remote spot just after Bradley Green where we’ve spent the afternoon enjoying a couple of jolly good thunderstorms amid the glorious sunshine. 

Chance 1

Going back in history a bit, we’ve received some great photos from Martin and Karen on nb ‘Aria’, taken by their friends while we were gadding about London.  Spot the boat!


….. and this one of the two of us looking as though we were about to set sail across the Atlantic!  It’s definitely ‘Chance’ but we don’t know where all the rigging has come from!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Went to Coventry.

Leaving Brinklow Marina yesterday we embarked on two very short days of cruising which brought us to our mooring today at Hawkesbury Junction. 


As we left the marina we soon entered the gorgeous dappled confines of the wonderfully named “All Oaks Wood”, where Doug jumped off with the bike and peddled down the road to Brinklow village for milk and the Saturday paper.


James carried on towards Stretton Stop to meet up with Doug again – but getting held up in the process, and being overtaken by two canoes (!), Doug was there and waiting 15 minutes before he arrived.  Such is the excitement of boating.


Further on we got held up a second time – on this occasion by a hire boat with eight lads on board, none of which could keep it in a straight line!  They were good fun to watch for while and they did manage to keep the boat stationary long enough for us to pass them.  It was hardly a salute from the Company of the Ark Royal but it was much appreciated all the same!


After an hour and a half (just long enough to charge the batteries) we moored at one of our favourite spots by Ansty golf course, where we enjoyed the afternoon sunshine.


Until it rained!  And it DID rain, and the wind DID blow and then it rained a lot more.  So we went inside and had dinner and watched the TV with sound up high because the rain on the roof was so loud – very cosy.

Today, the short hop of another hour and a half took us through…….


…… animal territory.  A field of shire horses with giant Canada geese………


………. and a field with Jacob sheep and one with a proper herd of cows (hundreds of them).


We arrived at Hawkesbury Junction where the stop lock gave Doug something to do as this section of canal offers no locks for for miles and miles in either direction.


Doug got up on the bridge to take this shot of ‘Chance’.  The lock takes boats down all of one foot from the Oxford Canal to the Coventry Canal.


James makes the tight manoeuvre from the lock and through the bridge. On this occasion it was made even more interesting by the arrival of 3 hire boats coming from the other direction at the same time and converging on this very small and complicated junction.  However, we all managed to avoid metal to metal contact and we soon got ‘Chance’ moored up a few yards further on.


As we had the afternoon free, and the weather was sunny again,  we decided to take the bus into Coventry, where our first destination was the canal basin.  With seven boats moored there it felt quite busy.  Speaking to the crews from two boats, neither were very enamoured by their two hour trip from Hawkesbury.


Next to the ruined cathedral there are some lovely old buildings which escaped the terrible wartime bombing in November 1940 which almost destroyed the city completely.


The fabulous etched glass wall which all but separates the old cathedral from Sir Basil Spence’s new one, opened in 1962.

We bussed back to Hawkesbury after a spot of lunch and Sainsbury shopping and are now looking forward to this evening, when friends Rose and Pete will visit us from their home near Evesham.   We hope to have a meal at The Greyhound pub (the one in the background 3 photos back).

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Pleasure and work in Brinklow Marina

It was a short journey yesterday from the bottom of  Hilmorton Locks to last night’s destination.


We’re used to this stretch of canal and there’s much familiarity about it for us – there are these wonderfully elegant cast iron tow path bridges over the numerous old arms and, now disused, original parts of the canal.


We popped into Lime Farm for diesel.  To get the fuel filler near enough to the pump you have to back into this tiny arm of the canal with the bow sticking out into the main canal.  Quaint!

We took up an offer of a mooring in Brinklow Marina last night.  By chance we briefly met John, one of the harbour masters at the marina, a few days ago who invited us to stay.


James took advantage of the perfect height of the quayside and did some well overdue hull blacking – performing acrobatic miracles trying to reach the leading edge of the bow from the bank!   Doug decided to get the folding bike out and make sure it was in working order.


Our mooring in the marina was beautifully quiet with far reaching views towards Rugby. 


We sat out on the rear deck and had dinner as the heat of the day died down.  John came on board during the evening for a drink and ‘catch-up chat’  it was great to see him again and we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.


We awoke this morning to this view of the marina. Lovely open views and loads of space.  We’ve always enjoyed having the boat here in the past – it’s in a very good position for cruising to a lot of different directions. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Au revoir “nb Waterlily”!

Last evenings’ meal with Neil and Pauline was very much enjoyed.  The company was brilliant and the food was first class.  We can join the growing band of boaters who rave about The Admiral Nelson at bridge 4 on the Braunston Lock Flight. It truly is a top restaurant at pub prices.


James, Pauline, Neil and Doug enjoying our first course on the lock side before going inside for the main.  The best meal out this year!


This morning saw a very sad farewell to two lovely people.  Quite by chance (as always!) we met Pauline and Neil on one of the tideway cruises a couple of weeks ago and we’ve had an absolute ball as we met up with them again and again in the last two weeks.  Good luck and safe cruising to you both, we will see you again and thank you so much for the super coffee-mocha cake which Pauline (Mrs Cupcake!) baked for us as a parting gift.


Our last glimpse of Braunston as we journey on – the lovely church spire sits proudly on the hill.


Leaving Braunston, the offside canal bank with its sheep nibbled grass ending at the waters’ edge in a higgledy piggledy line.  


Another photo to add to our library of unusual and beautiful craft.


The bridge (80?) which we passed under last time was virtually ready to collapse into the canal.  It has now been fully and beautifully rebuilt – it’s very pleasing to see.


Reaching Hilmorton Locks - we were out of our lock before the boat in the left hand lock (which was half way down when we arrived), such was the efficiency of Doug’s lock technique!


Not wishing to go much further, we moored at the bottom of the Hilmorton Flight.  This evening has cooed off nicely after a very hot afternoon.  The sun’s rays are streaming through the clouds now which is infinitely better for us than the searing heat and cloudless skies we’ve experienced lately.