Friday, 18 July 2014

A complete circle.

Well that's the main line of the Shroppie ticked off.  We turned right today onto the Middlewich branch which links this canal with the Trent and Mersey.  Because we are off to Bath on Sunday to go and stay with clever clogs daughter for her graduation on Monday, we have put the boat into a marina.  Its full circle as its the same marina we bought her from last April.  Last time it was snowing, today is meant to be the hottest day of the year so far and I can believe it.  When we get moving again we will be repeating the frantic trip we made last Spring to get to Manchester in time for the birth of grandchild number two. This time we will take it just a bit slower.  There is the famous 'Heartbreak Hill' flight of locks which is actually rather pleasant and then its onto the Macclesfield canal where we now have our permanent mooring arranged.

Things you see on the canals 2:

Er - putting up a bloody great sign saying its a secret just isn't going to work now is it!!  (actually its a museum from the Cold War - an old nuclear bunker)

Now forgive me if I'm wrong but putting a garden shed on top of a tiny little boat was never going to work.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Rush rush rush (not)

So, a slow week pootlin' down the Shroppie.  The weather has been great and I even managed to get my extremely expensive (£8 from Sainsburys) barbecue out for the second time and almost asphyxiate myself in the process - why does the smoke always blow in your face not matter where you sit??  We arrived in Market Drayton two days ago and I had been scouring Autotrader for a while looking for a cheapy car as we will need one when we go home. Getting one now means we can go to Lindsay's graduation without having to hire one for three days.  So now I am the proud owner of a thousand pound, twelve year old, low mileage, one previous owner, FSH, little Fiat.  I do wonder why peeps buy new cars these days.  A few more locks to do tomorrow and Tuesday - 21 in all but having been up Caen and Hatton we laugh at flights of locks with disdain.

Sunday lunch scores - last week it was the Round Oak at Wombourne and despite claiming to be the best Sunday Lunch for miles - it wasn't - a disappointing 6.5.  however today we went to the Red Loin in Market Drayton which is part of a brewery (Joules) and it was very good.  A carvery, so you could see what you were getting and decide on quantities - plus the beer was excellent.  A good score of 9, only let down by the spuds and insufficiently cheesy cauliflower - best this trip so far.

Things you see on the canals:

Pickled and bottled young girl anyone??

Nice bridge but why the telegraph pole in the middle?? Especially as it didn't actually have any wires going to it.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Another week another canal

So, as the title suggests we are now in another canal - the Shropshire Union to be precise.  And what a difference in character.  Its quite amazing how one canal can be so different to the next.  The Staffs and Worcs was a very early canal and this one was quite clearly built much later.  Not the least because its straight and wide, which is much less exciting (or should that be dangerous) and far more relaxing.  Oh and someone has actually cut the towpath so you can moor  just about anywhere.  The 'plan' is Market Drayton for the weekend and then on to Nantwich so we can leave the boat for a few days for our daughters graduation the next Monday.  As the only member of the family now with two degrees we will be there to cheer and whoop and generally embarrass her.


Been trying to get a photo of one of these pesky critters for ages and if you can't quite make it out - its a Kingfisher.  I've decided that Kingfishers are like flying fish - er, in that if you see one and shout it out to someone else, it will have disappeared by the time they look.  Just for once this guy actually stopped on a branch long enough for me to get a blurred long focus shot.

So spot the difference between this and the Staffs - straight, wide and you can actually see the tow path.  Oh and there's a Kingfisher in the bushes to the left.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

In the weeds

The Staffs and Worcs has been very pretty so far.  However in some places it is very twisty with some very tight turns.  For the first time I have had Fi in the bows with a radio acting as early warning in case someone is coming the other way.  We would have had at least two collisions if we hadn't done this.  One of them with an idiot who thought it was a good idea to go flat out down narrow and overgrown sections.  And that's the real issue with the canal.  The towpath is horribly overgrown.  We've spoken to several CRT staff and they all tell us that a contractor is meant to cut them and hasn't.   One has to ask why they aren't being held to account.  Until now we have had virtually no television as the canal is steep sided with rock or trees or both.  Dammit we have even had to resort to talking to each other!!  However we are now above Bratch locks, with full TV (British GP tomorrow), a pub in walking distance (Sunday lunch tomorrow) and  a field for Tigger to chase his ball in - narrow boat perfection.

A rare sight of the boat through a gap in the towpath weeds!

Entering the first of three Bratch locks.  Originally a staircase which means they opened onto each other, they wasted too much water and so large side ponds were dug and now they are three locks that operate as normal but with a gap of about three feet between them - very odd when you first see them and also very deep.

And through the power of atomic fusion, up we go - the sun is fusion powered and creates the heat to warm the water and cause the rain that goes into the canals to lift us up -so there!!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

A few days orf

As promised to ourselves, we've stayed in Stourport for a couple of lazy days.  Lazy that is if you count servicing the engine, polishing the new paintwork, fitting a new tachometer, and a good general clean up.  There's a chandlers nearby as well but I've managed to avoid spending a fortune in there which is an achievement in itself.  There's also a LIDL which means once again we are stocked up with booze and scoff.
Our plans now, such as they are, are to head on up this canal until it joins the Shropshire Onion which we will go along to Middlewich.  Depending on the timing we may well then head off down well trodden territory to get to Macclesfield by the middle of August.  Or maybe not.

A couple of shots of the basins at Stourport.  In the late seventeen hundreds the canal was built to connect Birmingham to the Severn and hence Bristol - rather like the Oxford canal joined Brum to London via the Thames.  There are four large basins here that served to take the produce from the narrow canal to the bigger river and now are a very pretty site with a marina and picnic areas.

The top pound at Stourport with the good ship Amelie May in the distance.  Very quiet and convenient and our setting off point for the next great adventure inland.

And just behind us is the 'Blossom' Café where, once again the current Mrs J-C was found stuffing her face. Not that I had any of course.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Back to the ditches

The forecast weather duly arrived but in the end it wasn't enough to make either the Avon or Severn turn into raging torrents.  After leaving Pershore we went on down the Avon to Tewskbury but being moored next to an abandoned mill wasn't much fun so the next morning we locked out into the mighty Severn.  This is a much wider river and all the locks are manned, unlike the Avon ones which require no little effort and sometimes even a bit of imagination to get through them. The lock keepers are all very chatty although what one tells you to do is immediately contradicted by the next one.  One night in Worcester was enough and we are now at Stourport on Severn, a delightful little town and the start of the Staffs and Worcester canal.  Fi and I were walking about having a look when we suddenly realised we had been her before.  It was one of the places we visited last year when we were boat hunting.  Things look very different from a boaty perspective.  So we are really going to have to slow down now.  I have some maintenance to do and we need to give the boat a good clean so we'll be here a few days before setting off into the wilds once more.

The old bridge just south of Pershore a lovely place to stop but guaranteed had we gone through the lock then someone else would have been on it and we would then have had to go miles further before we could find a mooring.

A shot of the Severn, wide, straight and with virtually nowhere to stop.  Not our favourite bit of water and we're both quite glad to be off it.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Avon calling

We escaped Stratford yesterday and headed down the River Avon - err that's the one that goes down to Gloucester, as to my knowledge there are at least four Avons's in the country.  'Avon' means 'river' in celtic or old Saxon or somesuch.  Clearly our forefathers had rather limited imagination.  However, this particular Avon is absolutely stunning, not the least because we are heading downstream, which is a hell of an improvement from going upstream on the Thames a while ago.  It's forecast to rain tonight.  I have all my fingers and toes crossed that when we turn up the Severn on Saturday from Tewksbury, that the rain hasn't turned that river into a raging torrent - the ground is still very wet and not a lot of rain will end up in the rivers very quickly.
We're currently in Pershore a very pleasant town having stayed in Evesham last night.  For some reason Tigger likes it as we are moored by a large park and I can chuck his ball until his legs fall off - he's really happy.  I've been accused by someone who will remain nameless (Linds my daughter) of being cynical and always negative - bollocks - Shakespeare was a fraud and I still hate him to death.

Escape from Stratford on the 'River'  'River'

A friend of mine once said  'I wonder what the poor people are doing today?' and then pointed out that he wasn't talking about money (Revington).  That was in the Caribbean - nah this is even better.