Thursday, 26 January 2012


Don't take any notice of our location on the Waterways Explorer map - Dave has been plotting journeys from previous years to try and get a log up to date, and it shows we're in Llangollen Basin at the moment - which we're obvisously not!  He's spent months doing it, and it shows he's near the 10,000 mile mark! 

We've had a leisurely few days meandering towards Fradley, where I've got a hire car booked to travel to Mum's for the weekend.  The plan is to load up the car with the wood we have sitting in "storage" .  Not much point in having a load of wood in our summer mooring when we don't have the fire lit. 
Strange one this:- an old WW2 look out post in the middle of the field, protecting the canal and the railway I guess, the railway line was all rebuilt a couple of years ago to accommodate four tracks, with long bridges over the River Tame, which is prone to flooding.   The 6 blocks of flats in Tamworth are visible to the left, which dominate the skyline for miles around here, as there's not many hills round here.

Moored near Hopwas

We've got all the bird identification books out since visiting Kingsbury Water Park, trying to identify the interlopers, like this goose - not a canada goose, but not much of anything else either!

Picture taken out of the window of one of the bird hides in the water park.  There is an egret dead centre of this pic, which can be seen when you display the photo on the computer, but not much good when it's this small size.  One day we'll buy a proper camera!

Haven't seen this one before.  There's all sorts of traders on the canals these days, selling everything from coal and diesel to cheese, but - nope - never seen a floating hairdressers!  (Moored near Hopwas if you're in need of a short back & sides)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Blast from the past

On Wednesday a BW work boat came down Atherstone bottom lock & past us.  Great, an ice breaker!  So we quickly untied and followed him as he bounced off the sheets of ice towards Grendon road bridge.  After 3 attempts of him trying to get through the bridge and going every which way but straight, we decided perhaps it wasn't such a good idea after all, and retreated (backwards) to where we came from.  Incidentally, the BW blokes spoke to Matey on boat stuck at the bottom and said he was free to travel up the first few locks.  He still couldn't get all the way through due to works being carried out on the top locks, but at least he was nearer to the town, so off he went.

Thursday morning saw the ice on the canal all but defrosted, so after a Tesco delivery to Grendon wharf (yes Hazel - Ogio half price again!) we were a few inches deeper in the water, but were off!  We have a rendevous in the Dog and Doublet on Sunday with John and Mary from the Market Tavern.

We stopped for diesel at Alvecote, and blow me, Del Boy's car was parked in their car park - complete with "Trotter's Independent Trading Co" emblazoned on the side.

Just after Alvecote, we came across an obstacle in the water.  Is it a dead sheep? dead body? traffic cone? No, when we got closer we could see it was a space hopper, you know the ones - bright orange with ears for handles, with an sinister smiling teethy grin on the body of it.  I had one many years ago, and had to fight my sisters to get possession of it.  Talk about a couple of blasts of the 1970's!!!

Now this is a busy garden - there's everything in here as well as the kitchen sink, which I suppose is used for a swimming pool for all the knomes.  And on to Fazeley .....
New buildings at Fazeley junction.  

Where have all the boats gone??  Fazeley, like Grendon is bereft of boats, I've never seen it so quiet.
We stopped off at BW Fazeley to do the recycling before turning round and going up the Birmingham Fazeley canal.  Another rant about recycling coming :-  I lifted the lid of the glass recycling bin, only to find a black bin bag full of - glass!!  Duh.  So I duly emptied the bottles into the GLASS bin, and put the plastic in the PLASTIC bin.  Next to the paper recycling bin, yep you guessed it  - a black plastic bin bag full of .... PAPER!  So I emptied that out as well, which was full of BW's own bits of paper.  Yes, I did shout out loud, but I refuse to give up!!!

Passing through Drayton Manor fancy footbridge.  No queues for the fun/theme park today.  Moored near Kingsbury water park so we can have a look at the birds there, but the weather hasn't been that good.  Unfortunately Nemo has taken to running along the outside gunnel (water side), and like an accident waiting to happen - it did - and he duly fell in good style last night.  I heard the splash and quickly opened the side hatch, fished around in the dark and yanked him out.  How many lives as this cat got???  Note to self:  Buy more bath towels.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A babble of bloggers head up the Llangollen

I've spent the last hour or so catching up on boaters' blogs, and it seems the Llangollen is very popular at this time of year.  NB Armadillo is leading the advance party, followed by NB Rock N Roll, Moore 2 Life, and NB Seyella, with NB Jandai bringing up the rear.  Give 'em a wave as they pass, or leave a comment!

On Friday (13th) I blogged that a boat had arrived at the bottom of Grendon, hoping to ascend the Atherstone locks - which were padlocked.  Dave also showed him a photo taken on his mobile phone of the works in progress on the lock above.  We later left to walk into Atherstone to get some shopping, it was around 4.30pm by now and starting to get dark.  We arrived back a couple of hours later by taxi to Grendon (as we had shopping to carry, and nothing to do with visiting the Market Tavern), only to find the newly arrived boat had disappeared.  Ah well, we decided he'd backed up to Grendon winding hole and decided to move off - somewhere.  On Saturday morning however, we see him backing out of the bottom lock.  It appears that a fibreglass cruiser approached the lock (in the dark) removed the lock from the gates and ascended.  Our man didn't need any more encouragement and immediately followed said fibreglass up the locks, only to find fibreglass boat coming back towards him as he exited the second lock up, and proceeded to descend the locks again.  It was only then, on approaching the third lock that it dawned on Matey that - yes - the locks are actually shut!  Duh!  So he than had to reverse all the way back to where he started.  Apparently he had phoned BW Fazeley who had told him that they would try and lock him through, if and when the work was completed.  The arrival of a fibreglass boat at the locks was Matey's ticket to Atherstone.  Yeah - that's likely at 4.30pm on a Friday afternoon!

Backing out of the bottom lock

Broken padlock on the bottom gates

Matey - back in position on the lock bollards - not as if anyone's going to be using them any time soon!

Unfortunately, Matey's maiden voyage continues to be rather fraught - we're now iced in here at Grendon and he's short of fuel, so Dave lent him our 2 jerry cans so he could get some diesel, along with the stack-truck.  However, his biggest problem was that his batteries were flat, as he'd only run the engine for an hour or so for the past couple of days.  Dave had tinker, then decided to disconnected one of our batteries, so he may do a 'jump start'  which thankfully worked.  Dave did tell him he needed to run his engine for longer - alot longer.  After an hour of engine running, he switched it off, so it'll probably be the same problem tomorrow. 

As for us, we're just fine.  We checked the weather forecast and knew ice was on the way, so moved up to the Grendon services and did the necessary filling and emptying, so we're ok for a few days at least and moved back to where we were at the bottom of the lock in the peace and quiet.  We thought we'd rather be in sight of a tap - than not - in the ice! The temperature is due to go up into double figures again Wed/Thurs, so we'll move on then.  We've also had a delivery of logs from Carl in the pub (Market Tavern) - yes - we've finally used up the logs on the roof which we've been carting round the country for the last few months. 
It's pretty cold here this morning!

Nemo keeping busy, catching mice....

(Action shot this one)  This is the mouse making a break for it - and succeeded!

Ah, that's better,  I've had such a busy day .......

Friday, 13 January 2012

Grendon Blog Update - A boat appears!

Within an hour of me posting my last blog, saying how quiet it was here with the lack of boats - blow me a boat turns up, expecting to go up the locks!  Now 'aint that typical when you're trying to black the boat?

Dave went over & had a chat with boat owner and his mate, who at first didn't believe Dave when he told them that the lock was shut and had been listed in the stoppage programme for several months.  After (unsuccessfully) trying to open the padlock on the lock gates with his BW key, blokey phoned BW fazeley Office for confirmation of the stoppage and the news finally sunk in.  He had just bought the boat from somewhere round Birmingham, and was on his way to Middlesex - not this way you're not!  Even if he got up these locks, there's more stoppages en route.  All together now ..... "That's another well researched start to life afloat then".  Friday 13th just isn't his day.
Strangely enough, the boat is an ex-hire boat from Chirk Marina (2004-ish) Dave - the anorak that he is - spotted it immediately as ex hire boat "Jenny".   I know - he should get out more.


Beautiful sunset last night, though this mobile phone pic doesn't do it justice.  We never did get round to buying a new camera in the January sales.  Never mind.

Nemo cat is having a lovely time playing in the woods, unfortunately for us, he brought us a furry "present" yesterday, and we've been playing hunt the mousey ever since.  I hadn't realised he had brought one in, until it popped out from the side of the fridge to see what I was cooking for tea.  I had my suspicions after a couple of Nemo's cat biscuits had appeared near the fridge.  After removing the washing machine and fridge without success, we turned our attention to the cooker, where Mr Mouse had obviously set up home behind, after removing the cooker, Mousey made a dash for freedom into the wine rack.  Dave was not amused and started dismantling the rack.  At this point the mouse seemed to surrender, and ran into our mouse catching recepticle (a large plastic beaker) and stayed put, so liberating him wasn't as hard as it has been on previous mouse catching excersises.  Of course Nemo was extremely bored by now and had retreated to bed.

There's only one other boat here at Grendon moorings, which is wonderful.  Our only neighbour is the boat Jack The Lad, who's been travelling in the same direction(s) as us and who we've been bumping into since November on our way down to Oxford.  I've never seen so few boats here.  Dave's enjoying his 2 mile walk up to the Market Tavern, where he's treated as a local - probably due to the fact that we were frozen in at the top of Atherstone locks for over 6 weeks last winter!  It's nice to walk into a pub where people know your name, even if the Landlord has changed.  The real ale is still great.

Dave is taking advantage of the lovely weather, and the absence of any boat movements, and blacking the side of the boat. 

The bottom lock here at Grendon has been padlocked to stop any boats going up, due to the work being carried out on the locks further up.  We're going to have to move and do some cruising soon, 2 miles in over a week while we've had such lovely weather is a bit slow, even for our standards.  We've been hanging around here for the last 10 days as Dave has been having his teeth seen to.  You wait - the weather will change on the day we decide to move off!

Saturday, 7 January 2012


After a very jolly new year spent in Kenilworth, with Rachel (my sister), Bruno & the kids, Bruno kindly drove us back to the boat at Sutton Stop.  We were about to move off,  (it's not our favourite place if you hadn't gathered that already from the last blog) when Roy on NB Gerald came round the corner, so we had to stay and have a pint with him in the Greyhound (the only redeeming feature of Sutton Stop).  He had moved there in order to catch a bus & train to go to the funeral of Horace Foster - better known as "H".  Dave was also going to the funeral, but we'd planned to go from Atherstone.  Here's a lovely picture here [click] with H holding the horse - H and his father were one of the last horse boatmen.

So, we pushed on the next day.....

They're building a huge housing estate right next to the huge hole that is a quarry on the outskirts of Nuneaton - good luck with that one, I don't think i'd fancy the first house nearest the precipice.  I'm sure the safety fencing will keep the kids away from the edge.

Meandering through Nuneaton - allotment city - nothing round the prop this time, but we had a good game of avoid the obstacle in the water instead.  This one is part of a burned out cruiser boat.

Past BW Hillmorton depot, and into Atherstone, just before the nasty weather hit.

Above - a canal side house in Atherstone.  Why buy a house next to the canal, then do your utmost to mask the view of it?  It's not like the canal sprung up one night catching the owner unawares - it's been there for a couple of hundred years!

Lovely wooden canal side sculpture below the top lock. 

We waited above the locks for the storms to ease before stocking up at Aldi, and descending the locks.  En route, I spoke to a bloke on a boat coming up the locks towards us & I said unfortunately all the locks would be against him, as BW were moving equipment up the locks in front of him, probably equipment for the stoppage.  What stoppage he said - I havent seen any notices about any stoppages in this area.  I explained that the Atherstone flight would be closed till the end of January.  Just as well I'm going up today then he said.  Don't know how far he got, as there's another stoppage at Brinklow till 9th March, same comment applies to the Braunston Hire boat heading up the locks yesterday.   There's been a flurry of boats today moving in either direction to get through before Monday, one boat was the infamous "Reckless" - the boat that Guy Martin DIDN'T build on the telly.