Thursday, 28 June 2012

Stratford upon Avon

This morning the crane boat came past and stopped in mid-stream to lay a mooring buoy for some of the festival boats to moor up to.

We're now moored further down-stream, closer to the lock and weir, in our official spot for the weekend and two other boats have also arrived and breasted up with us.  There doesn't seem to be as many boats here as last year, no doubt some people have had second thoughts because of the recent floods on the Rivers Avon and Severn.

The weathers been amazingly hot and sunny today, although we did have a short,sharp thunder storm at lunchtime. Once that had passed though, the sun soon came back and it's been up in the high 20's this afternoon. I'm sure Stratford has it's own micro-climate as we had good weather here last year, when the rest of the country was suffering with rain.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Messing about on the river

Let's have another go, see how Blogger behaves tonight.............

First thing this morning we walked up to Morrisons and almost cleared them out as the fridge, freezer and cupboards were empty.  It's just under a mile and normally we'd walk both ways, but the granny trolley was full to bursting and we had 5 other bags full as well, so we got a taxi back.  It only cost £4.40 and the taxi driver even helped carry our bags back to the boat for us.  The service we've had recently from both taxi drivers and supermarket delivery men has been amazing, so much better than the surly miserable ones we used to get stuck with when we still lived in the house. It seems that as soon as you mention you're on a boat they can't do enough to help!

The weather's improved tremendously and it's been hot and sunny again, so as our River Avon Festival licence started today we moved down the lock and onto the river.  This has to be one of my most favourite moorings ever.  Stratford is a beautiful city and the moorings beside the Recreation fields are particularly good, with plenty of interesting things to watch both on the river and on the fields.

The rain's done wonders for my tomatoes, the only thing they need now is lots more sun..........

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Stratford upon Avon

Is anyone else having problems with Blogger?  This is the third time I've tried to post tonight and the programme keeps altering the font and adding unwanted effects, so I'm sorry if it looks strange but I've given up trying to get it right.


Well the sunshine didn't last!  The rain's been quite torrential at times but we just donned the waterproofs and carried on down 16 locks towards Stratford upon Avon where we are now moored.  We tried to get a mooring in Bancroft Basin but it was full, so Roger reversed back out through the bridge and we've moored beside the pub. 

reversing back out of the basin

There's supposed to be a 48 hour mooring limit in the basin, but it's well known that boats seriously over-stay here. There are quite a few here who passed us days ago, so it'll be interesting to see how many of them move on tomorrow.

Just after we moored up Chico fell in.  He was on the lead but was so busy being nosy as he stepped back onto the boat he just misjudged it and went in.

a soggy dog

Monday, 25 June 2012

Edstone Aqueduct

What a glorious day it's been today. I'm back in shorts and a strappy top and have dug out the sun screen again. I'd like to think it'll last but won't be holding my breath.

We set off late morning and moved on to Wootten Warwen to moor in the basin while we went into the village, to the Aladdin's Cave that is the village shop. This place isn't cheap but the range of stock they carry is very extensive and the fruit and veggies were much better quality than those for sale at the nearby farm shop.

After lunch we pulled onto the aqueduct at the Anglo Welsh hire base and filled up with diesel (95p/l domestic... ouch...) emptied the toilet tank, replaced an empty gas bottle and filled up with water. After all that we carried on down 1 lock and are now moored just before Edstone Aqueduct which is a cast iron trough taking the canal over the railway lines.

looking towards the aqueduct

the cast iron trough

looking back towards our mooring

Sunday, 24 June 2012

A nice lazy day

It was very showery this morning so we decided to stay here in Preston Baggott and I spent most of the morning on the computer catching up and reading almost 2 weeks of blogs.

This afternoon has been lovely and we took Chico out for a walk.  Funnily enough we ended up at a pub! It was the Navigation in Wootton Wawen where we'll be calling tomorrow for diesel, water and a pump-out.  Roger has an App on his phone that tells you how far you've walked AND how many calories you've burnt off.  It was 1.91 miles to the pub and the app said we'd burnt off the equivalent of a peach and a banana. We settled for a pint and a packet of crisps......much better.

We passed this unusual boat.  Instead of towing a butty behind it, it's configured to push one in front.  Sounds like a good idea and I'd like to see it in action, maybe tomorrow as it's heading in our direction.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

I've been away

Last Monday I decided at very short notice to go to Newcastle to visit our daughter. She's been very ill recently and with a 7 week old baby needed a bit of  "Mummy's TLC".  As we were moored near Lapworth train station it seemed a good idea, so as soon as the Asda man had brought our delivery I caught a train into Birmingham and then another up to Newcastle, leaving Roger and Chico behind on the boat.  It's the first time I've ever travelled anywhere on my own and the journey took 5 hours with the train being absolutely packed. I managed to get a seat but for some people a lot of the journey was standing room only and at Durham there was an announcement asking people to check their luggage as some had been stolen en-route. As the luggage racks had been full when I'd got on the train I'd kept my small case with me squashed between my legs. It made the journey a bit uncomfortable, but how awful must that have been to have your case stolen?

I stayed for 3 nights and the journey home was much less crowded. Our daughter is much better now and the baby is doing well too, putting on lots of weight and hardly ever crying. I had lots of cuddles and hope to get back to see them both, and Dad, soon. The best thing about 10 hours on the train was that I managed to knock up another baby cardigan.

We moved down to Lowsonford yesterday where we paid a visit to the farm shop.  They may have rare breed beef and pork but it was all frozen and VERY expensive.  I bought a dozen free range eggs but when I got them back to the boat they are tiny. I suppose I should have checked before I bought them, I just hope they are good to justify the cost.

There wasn't any Orange phone or 3mobile internet signal in Lowsonford so we decided to carry on today and are now moored at Preston Baggott where we'll stay for a couple of days.

Saturday, 16 June 2012


We're now moored at Lapworth but the internet reception isn't good and we're having to take turns for the connection as it's not strong enough to use on wifi.

We came down Knowle Locks on Wednesday. They're wide locks and have to be the hardest paddles I have EVER  done.

This type of paddle gear is usually easy to operate although you do have to do lots and lots of turns to raise the gates, but the these are extremely stiff to work, which I think is simply due to lack of maintenence.

The pounds between the locks are very wide.  Knowle locks used to be single width but in the 1930's depression they were converted to wide locks.  This served 2 purposes, increasing the boat capacity so 2 boats could use the lock at a time and providing much needed employment.

You can still see the old disused single locks beside the newer double ones.

We moored for the night at the Black Boy pub and went in for a pint.  The beer wasn't very good though, far too cold, so we didn't stay long.  The food looked good although we didn't stay to try it. The menu was basic English pub grub with a few specials and the portions were HUGE.

We had torrential rain and hail on Wednesday night and it got so cold that I had to dig the chimey out of storage and light the fire!  The bad weather's carried on ever since and my poor plants on the roof are starting to suffer.

We carried on to Lapworth on Thursday and are staying here for the weekend.  There's not a lot here to be honest, just a small village shop, a wine merchant / post office and a hairdressers. The Navigation pub opposite our mooring was closed for refurbishment but re-opened at 6pm last night so we'll pop in later this evening and have a look.

The towpath here is very overgrown. Last year a friend gave us a battery powered strimmer which we've never used and were just about to dispose of, so we thought we'd charge it up and give it a try.  It's brilliant and we've decided to keep it and maybe use it more often.

In the meantime I've been busy hooking again.  I made these 2 jumpers for my baby granddaughter and I'm just off to the post office now to send them to her.

I hope you all have a good weekend, where-ever you are.  Hopefully we'll get better internet reception when we move again on Monday, see you then.......................

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Weed hatch

Roger hardly ever has to go down our weed hatch, but when he does he always wears these long arm pond gloves.

Unfortunately the seams leak, so while they protect against cuts he still gets a bit wet.  Normally this isn't too much of a problem, but when we were on the BCN we spoke to a guy who'd got something on his prop and went down the weed hatch to clear it without wearing gloves.  Later in the day he developed chemical burns on his arm from the pollution in the water. That got me thinking how I could make sure it didn't happen to Roger, so I tried coating the seams in the gloves with Storm Seam Repair glue which I'd had in stock in case our waterproofs ever got ripped. He hadn't used the gloves again until we got onto the Grand Union the other day and I'm now happy to tell you the glue worked.

If you're interested, you can buy it in outdoor/camping shops or on Amazon HERE

Having used this glue on the gloves, I also think it'll work well if we ever need to repair the cratch cover.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Cherry Brandy

On my last visit to Birmingham Market I bought a load of cherries. At only £1 per lb they were a real bargain, but there's only so many cherries a person can eat so I used the last pound to make some cherry brandy for later in the year.

Wash, dry and de-stone a pound of ripe cherries and put in a Kilner jar.

Cover with 200g of sugar and shake well.

Cover and put in a cool, dark  cupboard for 3 days, shaking every day until the juice comes out of the cherries and dissolves the sugar.

Add a 750ml. bottle of brandy. It doesn't have to be the good stuff, I used Tesco Everyday Brandy.
Put back in the dark cupboard and leave for at least 3 months before drinking.  You can then eat the fruit if you wish.

We've had quite a long day's cruise today, by our standards anyway.

After leaving Cuckoo Wharf we turned right at Salford Junction onto the Grand Union Canal and went up the 5 Garrison Locks.  These were all set against us and are definitely in need of a bit of TLC,  some oil and grease wouldn't go amiss either.  After lunch we carried on up the 6 Camp Hill Locks and finally left the industrialisation behind and found some countryside again. Amazingly, there's more litter and rubbish in the canal here than we encountered on any of our trips round Birmingham and the BCN and Roger has been down the weed hatch twice today, which is unheard of on our boat.

We're now moored in the village of Catherine de Barnes.  When we arrived there were 3 boats already on the visitor moorings, all leaving half a boat length between themselves so we reversed back to the bridge and squeezed in on the end. 

We've got a satellite signal for the F1 tonight and the dinner's in the oven, time to put my feet up.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

It's finally stopped raining!

We'd planned to leave Birmingham on Thursday but the rain was so awful we stayed put. To keep myself busy I made this kimono style jacket for my baby grand-daughter. It's far too big at the moment but should fit her by Autumn.

Most of the plants on the roof have taken a battering in the heavy rain and strong winds, but the violas have flourished. Not bad for £3 from Morrison's.

The rain finally stopped this morning so we set off down Farmer's Bridge Locks. They cut right through a residential area, down towards the Jewellery Quarter.

One of the locks takes you down under Newhall Street.

It's like a lock in a tunnel and is quite a tight fit.

Further down, the locks take you under a large building and we met some Australians on a hire boat coming up.  They hadn't met any other boats at locks before and started panicking that there wouldn't be room to pass, but with a little coaxing and directing we managed to calm them down. There was loads of room and the boats didn't come anywhere near close enough to touch.

Several of the bridges in Birmingham have these red doors in them. Apparently they date back to the war when they were used by the fire brigade to get quick access to water in case of bombs and fires.

We'd walked down the lock flight 2 weeks ago when we first arrived in Birmingham and this building was scaffolded off with painters working on the gable.  This is the result.  Such a waste of money as no-one will ever see it, other than us boaters that is.

This cavernous bridge had Snow Hill rail station above.

After 13 locks we turned towards Salford Junction and carried on down the next flight of 11 locks.  These weren't as interesting as the Farmer's Bridge flight but were a lot easier as every one was full.

One thing that did stand out however, was this beautiful brick wall.  The boat is called the Lady Maria.

We're now moored at Cuckoo Wharf in Nechells. It's BW secure moorings next to the service block.  Once we'd got moored up we walked just under a mile to the Birmingham branch of Costco Wholesalers to stock up on beer and wine.  The taxi back only cost £5 and the whole round trip took less than an hour but the best part was that I didn't have to carry any of it as the taxi driver also unloaded it all for us. Service with a smile, don't you just love it!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Jubilee Concerts

The sun shone today but I'm afraid Birmingham's Jubilee celebrations haven't improved very much.  We had a booklet from the Tourist Information Centre listing all the events across the city centre but many of them seemed to have been cancelled. At least we got plenty of exercise walking from venue to venue looking for the ones that were still on.

We only managed to see 3 groups.  One was a jazz band on the steps of Jury's Inn hotel, another was the Central England Concert Band in Oozells Square

and the other was The Pin Ups, who were a 40's & 50's dance troupe/burlesque act. You can watch their act HERE

Sunday, 3 June 2012

It's a wash-out

Our son arrived for the weekend yesterday. He doesn’t drive so cycled here instead……80 miles!    I doubt I could cycle 8 miles never mind 80. Oh to be young.

You can tell it’s a Bank Holiday weekend as the weather’s been atrocious.  This is the underpass near The Mailbox. It’s been so dismal you could see the fancy lights which normally only show up when it’s dark.

We went out to watch a 50’s review show but it was cancelled due to the weather and half of the stalls at the Food and Craft Market had either not turned up or packed up and gone home. It was such a shame but there were hardly any people about.  At the bandstand this group of youngsters were bravely carrying on but the audience was only about 30 people.

The rain didn’t stop these street performers though.  They were absolutely soaked but were carrying on regardless.