Thursday, 29 November 2012

Atherstone Dickens Night - a bit of a washout!

Another reason for hanging around Atherstone (apart from the rain) was to attend the annual Atherstone Dickens Night, which happens on the last Saturday of November.  Unfortunately this year it rained, and rained and rained.  Such a disappointment for all those concerned, who take such a long time to organise such an event.  We huddled under the umbrella while the Mayor gave a speech and turned on the Christmas lights. 
There were lots of stalls, bands and the like all the way down Long Street, but alas, not enough punters. 
Local kids' steel band - in their wellies.

A miniture Arriva bus provided a welcome shelter for the kids being dragged round in the rain.
The evening concluded with a firework display, for those still brave enough to be outside!  We had retreated back to the boat, but re-emerged long enough to see the display from just below lock 2...
All together now - aaahhh
Ok - you had to be there for the sound effects to work
On a different matter completely, the C & R T sticker-putter-onner person, hasn't yet got to Atherstone, as all the signs around here still show British Waterways.
And finally .......  random photo of the day .....
A rubber crocodile in the donkey field between the canal and the TNT depot. Why?!?

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

VIP calls in for tea

We had a visitor the other day - Maffi, who stopped for a cuppa on his way down the Atherstone flight, in a howling gale I might add!  We had a nice chat for an hour or so, before he headed off back into the wind, hanging on to the tiller with gritted teeth.
Milly M
My last blog showed pictures of rising, and falling water levels on this bit of the Coventry canal.  Maffi also encountered rising water whilst he was filling up with water at Fazeley Junction, CLICK HERE to see the water coming over the towpath at the water point, compared with this pic....
taken of NB Rock n Roll when we saw them at the same spot the week before.  Now I know it's not much of a rise, compared with river levels, but this is a canal, way above the nearest river, with lots of weirs and run offs to control the water level.
And today's random photo ......
Nemo (I'm not going out in the rain, when I can just lie on this furry rug in the warm)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Rising Water

We were moored between locks 9 and 10 on the Atherstone flight in the long pound.  Even here the water level was fluctuating, and we woke up on the tilt and had to slacken off the ropes.

The water level had risen to just below the bolt of the piling

The following morning, the water level had gone down

and continued to do so over the next couple of days.
Looking towards bridge 47 just above the bottom two locks at Atherstone,
Water had come up onto the towpath...
.... and drained into the River Anker below, which had a flood alert on it.

Looking across to the River Anker which had flooded into the fields below

As I said before - I'm glad we're not on a river!


Musical Weekend in Kenilworth

I spent last weekend in Kenilworth with my sister Rachel, as Nia (my niece) had promised to make a cake for my birthday.  Yes - I will travel miles for such a thing!  As we had arrived in Atherstone, well near the bottom of the locks at least, it was easy to get the bus into Coventry, where Rachel picked me up & took me to her home for a few days, where Mum also joined us for a birthday dinner.  My three nieces are all musical - but (1) hate people hearing them practice their various instruments, and (2) hate it even more when people take photographs of them doing it.  So, sorry about the blurred pics taken on my phone but I was trying to do it without them noticing, in between shouts of "Ahhhgg Aunty Sue" etc.  So to embarrass them even more, here are the pics....
Iona with her violin

Nia the piano - electric in this case 

Rhiannon with her guitar

Mum. No musical instrument here (though she does play the piano very well), with a very slavvery Cole the dog on a walk through Crackley Wood. Not many leaves left on the trees here!
Mum kindly drove me back to Grendon/Atherstone on her way home again on Tuesday, so we'll hang around here for a few days to sit out the rain.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Filling up with red stuff

We had a couple of days moored at the Dog & Doublet, then moved down a couple of locks to near Kingsbury Water Park , the RSPB reserve, where Dave could hopefully look at a few birds as they came in for winter.  He took loads of photos, many of which I will bore you with in the next few days!  We do like this spot, so decided to stay a bit longer.  I'm afraid I haven't been blogging as much as I should, as I have a rather large rag rug commission to complete before the end of November, so it's been head down for me.  After a few days, we moved to Fazeley to get water, and ran into ........
Rock n Roll.  We exchanged hello's and a quick chat.

The new buildings at Fazeley junction are still unfinished, with no sign of any work being carried out - sign of the times I suppose.
Fazeley junction, where the Birmingham Fazeley Canal meets the Coventry.

The house at the junction is up for sale again.  Its so nice to see it being occupied again, after years of being abandoned and boarded up.
Once full and empty (you know what I mean) we retraced our steps back to Kingsbury, turning at the winding hole at the bottom of the locks and reversing up the bottom lock to have a few more days in the quiet (apart from the faint buzz of the M42!)
After a few more days, we needed to move (somewhere), and took a right turn at Fazeley and onto the Coventry canal.
As we came past one of the last bits of the RSPB reserve, there were loads of twitchers taking photographs of something, so we looked at Tame Valley Birding Blogspot, and found it was a white rumped sandpiper.  Well, there you go.

Dutch barge being lifted at Drayton

Another dutch barge, this one under construction at Steve Hundson's yard at Glascote

We stopped for diesel at Alvecote - thanks for the comments and emails regarding coal/diesel boat on this stretch of canal - it seems there isn't one, now Gosty Hill is no longer trading.  So that's one of the red tanks full.  We also got a couple of bags of coal from a boat moored at Fazeley, I took the bloke's telephone number but there was no name on the side of the boat to let you know who it was!

Ah - marvellous idea - "L" plates!  Perhaps they could be introduced to the Anglo Welsh day boats up our way on the Llangollen!

I love this cottage, at Grendon wharf, although each time we come past, it seems to be getting more delapidated.

Gates at Grendon services.  Pretty normal gates you'd assume, worth a photo?   You bet - just look at the gargoyle gate posts....

 We emptied and filled at Grendon services, and whilst attached to the tap, took advantage and washed the boat down - whilst waiting for a Tesco delivery.  Good old Mr Tesco.  We are now replenished with the other the red liquid.  I know Atherstone isn't that far away, but it sure beats carrying it!
Loads of spaces at Grendon moorings.  It seems to be a hot spot for oiks breaking into boats, so alot have just up sticks and gone.  Hence the space.  Another lock flight, another set of gates left open, however, this time they were in our favour.  We just came up the first two and will moor here for a few days while I visit my sister Rachel and her girls, as I've been told there is a birthday cake with my name on it waiting for me in Kenilworth.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Is there a coal/diesel boat between Atherstone & Rugby?

Does anyone know if theres a diesel/coal boat operating between top of Atherstone and Rugby area, now that Gosty Hill isn't trading?  We'll be heading that way (slowly) and always try and buy diesel from a trading narrowboat where we can.  Please leave a comment or email me at  Thanks very much.

Sheila's Vodka Christmas Cake

Thanks to Sheila from Chirk for this recipe: 
1 cup sugar,
1 tsp. baking powder,
1 cup water,
1 tsp. salt ,
1 cup brown sugar,
Lemon juice,
4 large eggs,
1 bottle Vodka, 
2 cups dried fruit.
Sample a cup of vodka to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the vodka again to be sure it is of the highest quality then repeat. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point, it is best to make sure the vodka is still OK. Try another cup just in case. Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eegs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Pick the fruit up off the floor, wash it and put it in the bowl a piece at a time trying to count it. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit getas stuck in the beaterers, just pry it loose with a drewscriver. Sample the vodka to test for tonsisticity. Next, sift 2 cups of salt, or something. Check the vodka. Now shit shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window. Finish the vodka and wipe the counter with the cat.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Very long day to the Dog & Doublet

As much as we loved being in Birmingham, it was time to move on, so with 35 locks to do to get to a decent mooring on the Birmingham & Fazeley canal, we got up early (for us) - in the rain - and went to the top of Farmers Bridge locks to fill up with water & do the necessary. We were on a mission to get to the Dog & Doublet.   I took a walk down the locks to have a look.  Fantastic. The first 5 locks were full, so ready for us to go down.  I opened the lock gate at the top lock & reported back to Dave.  We were really looking forward to going down the flight with all (that I could see) the locks 'with' us.  The water tap at Cambrian Wharf must be the slowest we've come accross, and would you believe it, just as the water tank was full, a Viking hire boat came past us and straight into the open lock.  They did ask if it was OK to go in, and as we were still attached to the tap, we waved them through.  B****r!  Now every single lock would be 'against' us, and at 8.30am, not much chance of anyone coming up the flight.

Viking hire boat in the top lock at Farmer's Bridge flight.
Now I'm very conscious of not rushing people at locks, I know I hate being pushed & know how it feels when 'helpful' people wind up the paddles when you - and the boat- aren't ready for it,  but blimey these were SLOW!  The couple on board (him driving & her doing the locks) insisted on doing just the one lock at a time.  In a flight like this it can be so easy - while waiting for the lock to empty, walk ahead to the next one, just a few yards in front and prepare the lock.  Here, it was just a case of opening the lock gate, then walk back up to the lock the boat is in, and let it out.  Boy they didn't half make hard work of it.  I resorted to walking in front of them and opening the odd lock gate ready for their boat to enter, but they still didn't get the hint.  So what should have been a very easy lock flight turned into a bit of a saga.  I was opening and closing gates for them all the way down, then returning to Dave and the boat & doing the same.  I now have arms and thighs like Popeye's.

New buildings going up around the old ones

Past the Post Office Tower

He's as surprised to see me, as I am him - heron under a bridge in the middle of the city
 Eventually we descended the 13 locks.  The sun came out, and we turned left at Aston Junction.  thankfully the Viking hire boat went right, down the Digbeth branch, and we continued down the Aston flight. 
High rise Birmingham buildings in the background.  It was just past here at the next lock that I met  Andrew Denny, he of Granny Buttons fame.  He said he had been stranded in the pound between lock 7 & 8 over night with a piece of wood wedged in his prop, and also stuck on the mud as there was no water in the pound & had to call out CRT.  I then walked between locks, so Beefur could remain in the middle of the channel & reduce the risk of running aground.  The pounds were low but CRT had sorted out the problem - for now - unlike a few others coming down in the days behind us who were telling tales of how long they were stuck for.  24 locks done, 11 to go.

Another unexpeted sigh at Holborn - I think it's Boadicea holding a trident on a roof.  Bizarre.
Under spaghett junction, where three canals meet - Birmingham & Fazeley, Birmingham & Warwick Canal and Tame Valley Canal 
Well, they come in threes - unexpected sight no.3 - a gaggle of photographers under spaghetti junction.  They were clicking like demons at the boat going past.  I have no idea what they were doing there!  A comedian on  bike was cycling towards them & shouted to us "blimey mate - you're popular!"

This barn of a place was The Kingsley Arms, it's now an Indian restaurant.
The amount of rubbish floating between each lock was awful - loads of it.  People are still chucking alsorts into the cut, this as well the added leaf fall problem at this time of the year!  The lock gods were not with us at all today - at Minworth bottom lock the bottom gate was shut, with a paddle up, but with no boat in sight approaching.  Shut the paddle & filled the lock.  This was how we found the next 7 locks!  Sometimes the bottom gate was open, sometimes closed, but always with either one or two paddles open.  I asked a cyclist coming towards me if he'd passed a boat moving, in either direction, he said not.  Oh, and the anti vandal locks hadn't been re-engaged either.  This is the epitome of bad boating.  If you can't be bothered to do it properly - don't do it at all!  So thanks to a numpty boater, every lock took extra work.  We were tired and hungry, but managed to get to the Dog & Doublet just as it was getting dark where we had a warm welcome from Jim & Trish - as always.