Sunday, 29 June 2014

Coventry Transport Museum

This morning we spent a couple of hours in the Coventry Transport Museum. It's free to go in and is really well laid out and very interesting. Here's a few of the exhibits we saw

This was a 1882 Chelesmore Tricycle which was very popular with the ladies of the time as they could ride it in comfort even wearing their fashionable big long skirts

1934 Triumph Gloria

1929 Singer Junior 

350cc Rudge Motorcycle - not a manufacturer I'd heard of before - built in Coventry

1937 Dennis Ace Fire Engine

Field Marshall Montgomery's 1943 Humber staff car - again built in Coventry - used from D-Day to the end of the war and covered over 60,000 in one year

1937 Daimler 'Straight Eight' owned by one of the Ladies in Waiting to the Queen Mother. It had an aluminium body which was unusual at the time

1977 Triumph 2500TC Police Car

and something totally different - a 1960's Indian Rickshaw

My favourite exhibit was this immaculate 1935 SS Airline 

Roger's favourite was this "concept" Jaguar - gorgeous

The fastest vehicle in the museum was "Thrust 2" which holds the world land speed record at 633.468 mph set in Black Rock Desert in Nevada in 1983

One exhibit I found particularly interesting was a video display of all the road safety "advertorials" shown on TV. Do you remember this one? It was the "Tufty Club" in the early 1960's and taught road safety to under 5 year olds.

I had a badge and a certificate and remember it I'm really showing my age

(photo courtesy of Google)

We left Coventry basin after lunch to give a couple of other boats the mooring spots and are now moored in the middle of nowhere. If you ever get the chance to visit Coventry I can definitely recommend it, both for the shopping centre and the museum.


Saturday's blog

Have you ever seen a pub as boat friendly as the Barlow Mow at Newbold? You can hire a bathroom as well as get the laundry done. I don't miss having a bath during the summer, but it could be very inviting after a cold and wet winter day's cruise.

The canal width is quite restricted in places just after Newbold due to landslides and slipped trees.

It was a grotty day yesterday and we got caught in a very heavy thunderstorm, unable to pull over as we couldn't get into the bank. By the time we managed to moor up we were both soaked to the skin, despite wearing full waterproofs. They were so wet I had to put them in the washing machine for a good spin before I could hang them up to dry.

We moored for the night by Bridge 15 at Ansty. The moorings were very busy but that didn't stop the speed boats wizzing past. We were almost rammed by a boat at 9.10pm. The steerer and his mate - private boat - had lots of empty bottles on the roof which may have contributed to his inability to steer a straight line. They were closely followed 10 minutes later by a hire boat who was going so fast he couldn't turn the bend and rammed into us, bouncing off and hitting the boat moored in front of us as well. To top it all off, we were rudely awoken at 4.15 this morning by a boat racing past!  If they have to cruise at stupid o'clock you'd think they'd at least have the decency to pass on tick-over.  I'm really glad we've now left the Oxford Canal.  I don't know what it is about this section but from Braunston to Ansty we met so many inconsiderate, miserable boaters that surely there can't be any in your area.

Today (Saturday) we left the Oxford Canal and turned left at Hawkesbury Junction onto the Coventry Canal. We haven't been this way before and it's a pretty section lined with Buddlia bushes in full bloom. It reminded me a lot of stretches of the BCN but minus the rubbish in the water.

Just before we arrived at the basin at the end of the canal we passed under the very ornate new foot bridge.

There aren't very many mooring spaces down here as the ones just past us in front of the shops have "no mooring" signs.

There are actually two arms in the basin but the main one is taken up by Valley Cruises Hire firm. It was one of their boats that had rammed us on Friday night.

This beautiful bubble car was parked in the basin. I don't know if it belonged to someone or was just here as an advert for the Transport Museum

Once we'd had lunch we went walkabout into the city. It's easy access over a pedestrian bridge over the busy ring road directly outside the basin.

Coventry has to be probably the biggest shopping centre I've seen so far, maybe even bigger than Birmingham and the Saturday market was really good.  Lady Godiva watches over the shoppers

There are some beautiful old timbered houses in the city

This is part of the Medieval Spon Street which is home to shops and businesses occupying a range of historic renovated medieval buildings. They are fascinating, although the fairy lights and signs detract a bit from the authenticity.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Hillmorton Locks

We're still travelling with David on Wye Knot 2 and yesterday we carried on our journey passing Thomas The Tank Engine hiding in a garden.

It was another nice day, although you can tell the weather's changing as it was quite a bit cooler. It was the perfect temperature for working down Hillmorton Locks and both boats moored up for lunch at the bottom at 12.30. We had an easy passage with just a short hold-up as one of the pair of middle locks was having a rotted beam changed. The whole flight is very well maintained and the locks are easy to work which is why we were a bit surprised by this post on

Hillmorton Locks failing
thursday, 26 june 2014 11:55
WE HAVE just travelled through Hillmorton Locks on the Oxford Canal. On each of the bottom and middle pair of locks, one of the pair is out of order—one with a balance beam missing and all taped off! Emma Payne tells us.
We are on our way to Liverpool, so have been paying careful attention to CaRT's stoppage page, but there is no mention of these locks being out of order.

No warning

We were so stunned to find the flight in that condition with no warning. Luckily we came through at 7pm on a Wednesday, and it was quiet!
How can we rely on a system, ie the website, when such fundamental restrictions are missing?  It could be a long way to Liverpool.

It's this sort of sensationalism that is giving C&RT a bad name. A couple of miles above the locks we were passed by a very fast boat and the woman steering screeched at us that there were HUGE delays at Hillmorton as ALL of the locks were down to singles not pairs. Talking to the volunteer Lockie at the middle lock she told us that traffic had been steady all morning but with no real delays. What is wrong with these people? Mind you, judging by the speed that boat had passed us, they must ALWAYS be in a rush, either that or they have no patience whatsoever. They'll probably be the ones who don't/won't slow down for moored boats and yet have "TICK OVER" signs on their boats.

The only thing about Hillmorton Locks that I really do not like is the so-called "poetry" that has been carved into the lock beams. In my opinion it's just a total waste of money that would have been better spent on veg-cutting or other maintenance. But that's just my opinion and I'm quite sure someone will disagree. 

We recently reported problems with Somerton Deep Lock to C&RT as it's almost impossible for one person to open/close the top gate, but we were told that they are aware of the problem and want to install bricks in the floor along the arc of the beam to push against but have to get the approval from the Heritage people first. Did the Heritage people approve the "poetry" as I'm sure if you or I carved words into a lock beam it would be classed as vandalism.

This morning it's raining, the first real rain we've had for three weeks. I think we'll just sit here catching up with emails etc. and drinking coffee for a few hours as the forecast is better later. 

Several of the huge old working boats have been past this morning. The steam boat Adamant was moored just a few boats in front of us and was quite a sight as it let off a load of steam just before it set off. If it hadn't been pouring down at the time I'd have gone out to take a pic.  They're all heading for Braunston Historic Boat Show which is on this weekend.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Napton Water Buffalo

Yesterday we came down Napton Locks in the baking sunshine. It was very busy but we passed other boats at almost every lock which speeded things up a bit. Our friend David was moored on the visitor moorings at the bottom and walked up the locks to give us a hand. What is it about men who haven't seen each other for a while? The pair of them talked and laughed non-stop all the way down the flight.......and they say women gossip! When we finally got to the bottom we moored behind him and adjourned to The Folly pub for a really pleasant lunch in the garden - good food and good beer and even more gossip.

The water buffalo herd half way down the flight have now had their babies. They seem tiny compared to their mothers and are really cute. The Folly Shop near the bottom lock sell gorgeous ice-cream made from their milk and you can also buy buffalo cheese, steaks and burgers.

Does anyone know what this little bird is? I saw quite a lot of them in the bushes as we came down the locks. At first I thought it may be a chaffinch but it's different to the one's shown in my book. It's very similar to a coal tit but they have black bills and this is pale yellow. I've got a feeling it may be a gold finch.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Fenny Compton in the heatwave

I really do LOVE Cropredy. There are lots of quirky little things all around the village, like these flower pots on the canal bridge. If you can't read the blurb it's a "flower bomb" and you are invited to add your own flowers to it.

Every one of the residents we've spoken has been really friendly and seem to enjoy having visitors to their village. Next year we're coming back to do the Fairport Convention Festival. I spoke to one of the villagers who told me that almost everyone takes the week off work and either party's or sets up stalls selling food and drink to the festival goers.

The band which was on in The Brasenose Arms last night are the best we've seen so far this year. The Greg Coulson Band - that's Greg in the middle - played for almost 2 hours with a short break in the middle.

The band had a couple of missing members and the rhythm guitarist had only played with them three times previously, but for me he was the star of the group. Joe Jeffery may only be 20 years old but boy can he play guitar. He's definitely one to watch in the future.

The Brasenose Arms will be getting new owners in July and I hope they won't change the place.  If you're coming to the Fairport Festival this is the line-up for music at the pub (double click on the photo to enlarge it)

Today has been another hot one and we stopped for lunch and a breather after Claydon Top Lock. Once it had cooled down a bit we continued on to moor at Fenny Compton and then took Chico for a walk into the village. It was further that we thought but on the way back we found a short-cut through Fenny Marina which saved us over half a mile.

The hot weather seems to be taking it's toll on some of the privateers. They have almost all been miserable today, whereas almost all the hirers have been happy and smiling. We crossed with one guy in a short pound who was screaming at his wife over their walkie talkie despite the fact that they were no more than 100 yards apart . Poor woman.....I'd have pushed him in to cool him down a bit!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Cropredy revisited

It was another glorious day again yesterday and the canal was busy with queues at most of the locks. We cruised for almost a mile past fields full of a lilac flowering crop. It's linseed and grown for use in health foods and animal feed. It's not quite as stunning as the yellow fields of rapeseed but at least it doesn't smell or trigger my hayfever.

At Lock 28 we had a real "Oh Bugger" moment. As usual Roger had checked that there were no obstructions on the front gate to snag the front fender and let the water in relatively slowly so there was no real turbulence in the lock. Half way up I noticed that the bow wasn't rising although the stern was and stuck the engine hard into reverse while he went to close the paddles. That was enough to free the bow and we carried on up to the top. I moored up and, as there was no-one waiting for the lock, we emptied it again to see what had caught us up.

Our bow stem post must have got caught in this metal plate

which should look like this.

It's definitely an accident waiting to happen and we'll report it to CaRT when they get in work tomorrow.

When we finally arrived at Cropredy we saw that there's a lot of new towpath work being undertaken.

The house beside Cropredy Lock has fitted ready-made homes for swallows which I've never seen before.

Last night there was a band on at the Red Lion so we went over after dinner. It was such a warm evening we sat in the beer garden closely watched by the pub dog from one of the bedroom windows.

The band were called Steamroller and were superb. They were billed as a "power blues rock band" and played for almost 2 hours.

Tonight we're heading for the Brasenose Arms to see The Greg Coulson Band.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

King's Sutton

My friend and her husband came to visit yesterday and we had a lovely slow, peaceful cruise to Lower Heyford. They haven't been on a narrowboat before and by the time they left he was making plans to buy one to live-aboard. She wasn't quite convinced, although she did fancy the idea of a holiday boat. We adjourned to The Bell  in the village for a late lunch, knowing that as it was one of the CAMRA 2013 pub of the year finalists the beer was going to be good. The food was pretty good too.

Today we stopped for lunch beside a field that was being mown. Six huge Buzzards were circling around the tractor hunting for whatever small mammals were being disturbed.

They made a spectacular sight and came really close to the boat.

As we came through one of the bridge holes - sorry can't remember which one - the towpath had been recently rebuilt and looked like it had been planted with wildflower seeds as a stretch of about 100m was full of poppies, daisies etc.  If only the rest of the overgrown towpath vegetation was this pretty!

Since we came down the Oxford Canal back in early May the cottage at King's Sutton Lock has been put on the market. It's getting new fencing a has a new life-ring and is up for sale at £495,000