Saturday, 26 January 2013

Water points - covered or not?

How come some taps are covered up, and some are not....
This is the tap at Brinklow - it's not out of order - it's been wrapped up very well against the ice with it's winter coat on so it doesn't freeze, with a notice pinned to the hedge to ask people to please replace all the lagging once they've filled up.  Brilliant, great idea. 
However, it's only the taps around Brinklow which were covered - that I saw.

Every other tap is just left to the elements.
Is this CRT policy or is it not?  Why some taps and not others?  Who decides which taps should be lagged against the cold and which ones are not?
We are trying to keep this tap at Fradley Junction flowing, so we can use it, as we must have the smallest water tank in the history of boat building, so need filling more often than we would like!  There's alot of "one pot" cooking on Beefur at the moment!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Unfortunate drama in the night

A sorry drama unfolded at 3am last night.  Dave jumped out of bed to the sound of splashing outside the boat.  Initially thinking it was Nemo cat who had fallen in, but thankfully he was fast asleep (as usual) on the bed.  Dave went to investigate, and the splashing was coming from the front of the boat, between the boat and the bank/piling.  Thinking it was a dog stuck there, he thrust his hand into the water to pull it out, only to be bitten by a fox.  A re-think was called for.  So we got the brush and tried to prise it out onto the bank, all the time the fox was thrashing around and crying pityfully trying to get out.  Unfortunately the brush head broke off, so we got a towel and tried to get the fox to come to the towel, but it was too late at this point, and the fox moved away from the boat towards the other side of the canal and disappeared under the ice.  We couldn't think of what else we could do, apart from jumping in, which is not something to do when one is standing in the snow and ice in just your pants.  So we just came inside, and hoped the fox made it to the bank on the other side.  Sadly it did not, and drowned against the bank, it obviously just didnt have the strength left to get himself out.  Dave is gutted.   It's always so special and exciting when you see a fox, and to watch helplessly as one of them suffers is just awful.  In the cold light of day this morning, why didn't we just get a thick pair of gloves on and grab hold of him?  Too late for "what iffs" now.  As for the fox bite, we washed it in TCP and put some savlon on it.  I looked it up on the internet, and apparently, "a fox bite is painful but offers less potential for infection than a domestic cat bite or scratch".  Small comfort though.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

He's not going very far...

The boat Olympus came passed us yesterday from the junction towards Br91.  The ice from the junction as far as our boat wasn't very thick, due to a bit of a flow coming down from Middle & Shadehouse locks, and from where we carved it up visiting the water point the other day - and of course from running the engine in gear for a few minutes each day to break it up.

Sure enough, ten minutes later he was reversing back as he came to a complete halt, the ice was just too thick to break, all the snow and slush had frozen solid on top of what we'd had already.

He didn't even get to the bridge.

He's now moored between the couple of boats behind us - and likely to be here for a good few days yet, especially after last nights freeze, and it seems we're in for a couple more very cold nights before it warms up over the weekend. Fingers crossed! 

Monday, 21 January 2013

Fradley - here come the snow pics!

No apologies for the snowy wonderland pictures here - my Mum wants to see them! 

Well, it's snowed here at Fradley for 3 days on and off.

Which makes it such a beautiful landscape, all nice and clean with all this white stuff.

The canal didn't seem to have that much ice on it, so we decided to risk it and get to the tap - the tap which Dave has been monitoring every day, morning and evening, making sure it's ever so slightly on, so as not to freeze up (like water tap no.2 next to it).  He told the continuous moorer, the first boat past the water point, what he was trying to do, as some "helpful" soul had been turning it off, and thankfully, it remained usable and unfrozen when we came to use it.

The ice was quite a bit thicker than we thought, but as we only had a few yards to go through the thick bits, we persevered, and thankfully reached the tap.  As you can see, there isn't any ice from the taps and around the junction.

Unfortunately, Nemo cat WILL NOT go outside.  He does not like the snow one little bit.  We keep throwing him out the front door, but he just runs round to his cat flap at the back in again.  So that's something else we now have to cart from shop to boat - cat litter.

The wood opposite looks magical with the snow.  Lots of owls about, but no good for trying to get a photo.  Same for the fox we saw last night, I did try taking a photo, but it just came out as a black blob in the wood as the light was fading.

We put the feeders up as soon as we arrived here, and the local birds are very grateful, although the robins seem to spend most of their time chasing each other off, rather than just getting on with eating.  I hope you've got your feeders up!  I know most of you won't carry bird seed around with you, but crushed up cornflakes, the odd raisin, porrage oats, bit of the old Atora suet, fruit, even an old apple core thrown at the base of a tree will provide great sustenance to our little birdies. 
Birds on the feeder blog coming soon! (We had a pair of spotted woodpeckers today, but someone came past & frightened them off before I could whip out the camera).

A big buzzard opposite.  No doubt eyeing up the birdies on the feeders! 

Friday, 18 January 2013

In Fradley with rubbish signal & rubbish blogger

Just a short blog from Fradley, as I've lost patience with Blogger & not being able to up load pictures direct, together with an internet signal which keeps disappearing for no apparent reason - there - it's just gone again.  Grrrr.  Blogger says they're "working on the problem and sorry for the inconvenience".  So hopefully, we'll be able to upload photos direct in "browse" rather that via Picasa.  I did have some lovely pics on our journey into Fradley, and will may go back to them.

We arrived in Fradley with full tanks (front & back) of diesel, full tank of water, and empty loos, feeling quite smug, and ready for the icy blast which was forecast.  All the washing is up to date, courtesy of the laundrette next to the Swan - or the Mucky Duck as it's better known by.  Dave gave me some pocket money, so waiting inside the pub seemed a much better option than watching the spin cycle.  Look who we found in there - the famous Mal of the Canal - or to give him his correct title Malcolm Edwards MBE - or just "Sir" to his friends.  We had a lovely couple of hours catching up.  Dave and Mal go back well over 20 years, when Mal operated the disabled trip boat out of Trevor Basin and Dave had just escaped from the RAF.

Fradley Junction, the Swan pub is the painted building in the middle of the pic.
Despite the ice, we have had an escapee.....

We run the engine in forward and reverse gear for a few minutes each day, in order to break up the ice around the boat.  This absence of ice helps passing boats, and minimises the amount of ice scraping against your hull as the boat goes past.

NB Jack the Lad made a break for it, before the ice got too thick.
(Jill, Graham - remember him from our trip down to Oxford? he has a VERY hairy old dog, called Jack strangely enough, and we kept finding large clumps of dog hair at locks, where he was grooming the dog whilst waiting for the locks to empty/fill)
I don't know how far he got, he was getting twitchy about not having much diesel, and didn't want to get frozen in, he told us, when he stopped for a chat the day before. 
Unfortunately, we haven't seen a coal/diesel boat since before christmas, and we couldn't even buy a bag of coal here at Fradley.  Thankfully, our pals Dot & Dave from NB Lace Lady, who moor in Wychnor came to the rescue there, and the two Daves' got coal, logs and sticks, while Dot & I caught up over cups of tea in the warmth of the boat.  Dave No.2 also took me to Aldi for a shop, so we're full in that department as well.  Thank you Mr. Smith.  Bring on the snow ......  we're ready for it! 
Got LOTS of snow pics, so I'd better take a chill pill before I try and do another blog tomorrow.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

To Atherstone..... and beyond....

I too am having problems with loading pictures onto blogger.  Elsie NB Bendigedig posted of similar problems, and Adam NB Briar Rose commented with a way round it - which works - hence the blog!  Does any one know why blogger won't let you up load photos any more?

Back to the blog .....
After loitering around the Brinklow area for weeks, we headed back to Atherstone in order to be down the locks before the stoppage on 7th Jan.  We had a couple of nights at the top of the locks, which gave me time to visit Rachel & Co while they were still on school holidays.  One bus to Coventry, then a second to Kenilworth.  Very easy.  We descended the locks on the Saturday before the Monday planned stoppage, and moored in one of our favourite places, in the long pound between locks 9 & 10.  After a flurry of boats up and down on Saturday and Sunday, needless to say, we didn't see another boat for days.  Not that CRT had started any work on the locks by the Wednesday when we left, but a couple of work boats had been moored with their equipment below lock 7, so I guess they've started working on it by now. 
Nice to see the geese still here between locks 5 & 6, they weren't here when we came up the locks back in November, and I had thought they'd gone the same way as the Chirk Bank geese (but that's another story)
Geese slipway

Above and below locks 6 & 7, there is always polystyrene pieces in the canal
(is it just a coincidence that Barry Hawkins' yard is slap bang in the middle of it)

More lingering polystyrene

Work boats below lock 7 waiting to start work, the white bits in the off side edge is more polystyrene

River levels back to normal - you can see the field now!

What a lovely day for crusing!

Loads of room at Grendon moorings

Oh oh - just what you don't want to see on an elsan point -
(the "out of order CRT aware" yellow tag - not the lamp)

Horah!!  Just what you do want to see when the elsan is "out of order" the effluent removal truck. 
We were about to leave the services point when this pulled up, so we thought we'd hang around & empty as necessary when the tank had been emptied.  However, we quickly changed our minds when the man hole lid was removed.  Jeeessss!  We scarpered very quickly & headed for Fazeley instead - we can last another day!  What an awful job for the poor driver.

Whilst we were in Atherstone, I went for my biannual hair cut.  Unfortunately I booked the wrong hairdressers in the Market Square (doh), so I missed out on the entertainment provided by the Hilda Baker sound alike hairdresser, who last time talked of "audience survey maps" and planes with "avian fluid" (or was it aviation flu).  You could make a wig with the hair left on the floor!  I did sweat a bit when I went to the till to pay, and saw shelves of shampoo for £13.50 and conditioner at £17.50.  Gulp.  I slowly handed over my £29.95.  That's my beer money gone for the month then.

What a lovely mooring ......
We're going to head to Fradley as the weather forecasters are talking of a "big freeze", with a quick detour to Kingsbury Water Park down the Birmingham Fazeley canal.  Hope we can get from there before it does freeze, as there's not much else there!  Dave want's to see the birds at the RSPB reserve, apparently there's a Hooper Swan about according to Tame Valley Birding.  So no next blog will be loads of pics of birds,and beer report from The Dog and Doublet, local imbibing spot!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Our Dear Leader Resigns

So, it seems Robin Evans has resigned [CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE]  in order to "pursue other interests". Let's hope he doesn't get a 6 figure pay off for his "services to the canals".  Perhaps they'll find a volunteer to take over his role ..... 

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Calendar Day

 Thank you for reading by blog in 2012, and hope you will continue to do so in 2013. Happy New Year to you! Wishing you health, wealth and some sunshine! Blwyddwyn Newydd Dda!

We're at Sutton Stop (Hawkesbury Junction), and now on the Coventry Canal, heading north. Dave nipped into the Greyhound on our way through yesterday, and asked behind the bar what time they were closing New Year's Eve, as we know that they always have a huge private function on. Helpful bloke behind the bar said they were open till 6pm, but everyone had to be out by 6.30pm, due to said private function. Great. Just the job. So got dolled up, put the roast pork in the oven and went for a pint at 4.30pm. Unfortunately the bar man gave Dave duff information, and the pub shut at 4pm. So we came back to the boat, opened the champagne, and ate hors d'oeuvres of pork crackling.

We did have an unexpected knock on the side of the boat at 10.30pm - a bloke of Irish persuasion asking us for £3 so he could get some diesel. Yeah, right, course it was for diesel. We're moored about 1/2 mile from the junction, up past the weir, away from the other 20 odd boats moored between here and the junction. It was worth £3 to let him know someone was at home. Just as well we were in really. He says he'll be back today, New Year's Day with our £3. I won't hold my breath. If i'm wrong, then I will of course eat my words and let you know!

Happy new calendar day to you all!