Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Tuesday 31 March 09. Tibberton to the outskirts of Worcester. 12 locks.

A very late start today found us creeping under the M5.

What a noise! you adapt very quickly to the different noises of the country side and none are as bad as that. (not even the Ducks or the shotguns).

The reeds start to get thick along here bringing back memories of the Northampton arm.

We are pressing on now as our water supplies are getting low, we were spoilt for choice on the Grand Union for water points but here the nearest is one day away.

Water Water everywhere but not a drop to do the washing in.

Canal Picture......

This has got to be the best use of a small garden onto the canal side we have seen so far, It was only about 12ft across. Very neat. The water level is really low through this set of locks, it should be covering that brown line up to the stone work. We have been bumping along the bottom at some points.

A lovely lockside cottage, no signs of occupation though.

We have made it to the water point but it is in a boatyard that is shut for the day.
So until tomorrow..............

Monday 30 March 09. Staying put.

No movement today just lots of cleaning and maintenance.

This is the top gate paddle mechanism on this canal, it really looks like something from a Jules Verne novel, push this on here, press this bit wind that bit and off we go.
I deserve a cake after all those locks. (160 since they opened the Buckby Flight.)
All gone.

Should be moving on again tomorrow.......

Monday, 30 March 2009

Sunday 29 March 09. Astwood Bottom Lock to Tibberton. 1 Tunnel, 1 lock.

What a difference a day makes, twenty four little hours, the sun and the flowers........

Ok then no singing.

Set off into what seemed to be a different world from yesterday,

blue skies and sunshine aplenty, these field just seemed to roll on forever. We believe those hills top right are the Cotswolds, could be wrong though.

It wasn't too long before we found another tunnel, this was the Dunhampstead version, its claim to fame as far as I am concerned is it is very low.

That ridge of brickwork ahead is about eye level, even D was ducking.

Back out into the sun and the chief wood collector is on the case. The only thing is I have to cut those with a Bow saw, when they get that big it makes me dream of chainsaws.
Stop yer whingeing says D, Summers just around the corner.

Looking at that sky its arrived. These cows ran to that fence to watch us go past, the ones on the right are still on their way. Their heads followed us along like a slow motion game of tennis.

That's it for now, I think we will be stopping here for a day or two as we are waiting for a phone call and there is a signal on our phones!! Whoopeee.

So until tomorrow.........

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Sorry no reception tonight.

This bit has taken an hour so far.

Will try tomorrow.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Saturday 28 March. Tardebigge Bottom Lock to Astwood Bottom Lock. 11 locks.

Another new way to wake up this morning!

This time it was the boat going hard aground at her moorings. It turned out to be the crew of the hire boat that came through late yesterday evening had lost the ability to close paddles and gates, therefore draining the "pound" (The stretch of water in between locks) where we and three other boats were moored.

We wandered off to the supermarket for vittals (half hour walk EACH way). Wheres the bus? Wheres the Taxi? Wheres the CAR?
You sold it says D.
Hope it dosn't rain then.

It did.

Some of the coping stones at the locks have this makers impression. Joseph Hamble 1897 West Bromwich. Been there 112 years then! not bad.
How about this for countryside? This was ten minutes before the hailstorm hit, three locks to go and nowhere to moor, we got wet,... very wet..... soggy.

I took this just before I started the Blog, Weather is a bit changeable at the moment.
Fires on though ,
Sunday again tomorrow................

Friday, 27 March 2009

Friday 27 March 09. Tardebigge Top Lock to Tardebigge Bottom Lock. 29 locks 6 hours.

Bit of light rain this morning as we politely let a hire boat go past before we set off.

This turned out to be a big mistake as a few locks into the flight a boat came the other way.

The hire boat then had all the locks set for them whilst we had to refill each one before we could empty it and move on. Such is life.

This is a really nice piece of the countryside to be sliding down hill through, this house was just there, in the middle of nowhere, no roads just a towpath.

A windswept D in another great view.

This is a rare bridge across the bottom of a lock, they help you get across easily without risking life and limb doing the balance beam "dance". Maybe if D had seen it wasnt actually fixed to anything she might not have been so keen.

A really sad sight this, the boat didnt seem to have been sunk very long and I just hope they didnt get back from work to this. There was a BW man at the scene as we approached

This last gate of the day had so many things growing on it, if I was a Botanist I could tell you what they all were, but Im not so you will just have to guess.
Today was another day all about locks, 29 to be precise, after mooring at a convenient Pub located at the bottom lock we dragged our weary bodies inside. I didnt want to go and had to be dragged. (Honest).
Till tomorrow..............

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Thursday 26 March 09. Alvechurch to Tardebigge Top Lock. 2 Tunnels 1 lock and a soaking.

Into the village again for a paper just making it back before the heavens opened with a vengeance. That was lucky says I, Wuss says D.

The sun came out and we were off, into a strong wind but it was pleasantly warm and the trees sheltered us as we approached yet another tunnel.

This one is the Shortwood Tunnel, quite short and very dry. The sign informed us it takes 20 minutes to pass through, we were through in 10 at our normal plod.

Leaving the tunnel the clouds had built up and the wind was freshening all the time, just as we got to a clearing the squall hit us. The wind made a full gale knocking the boat sideways and forcing me to use a good three quarter throttle just to stay in one place, then the rain hit, you could see it sweeping over the fields towards us.

D was now in the engine room which is nice and warm and dry. Apparently this was to allow me all the room I needed on the stern to swing the tiller. Mmmm........Wuss.

Another tunnel! this one is the Tardebigge. Unusual inside though as it has no brick or concrete lining for most of it, just the bare rock it was carved out of. This made for some wierd shapes in the boats light, at one point I had to duck as the walls closed in.

This is the start of the monster! Tardebigge Flight, 58 Narrow Locks down to Worcester and what a lock to start with, one of the deepest Narrow Locks in the country. That's Dees head peering over in the top left

This is the back view, imagine all those tons and tons of water being held back by that little gate.

That is as far as we were going for today, being cold and wet had no influence on that decision whatsoever. Found a nice quiet mooring in the shelter of some trees, cut some logs for the evening fire and we are cosy again.

Tomorrow then.........

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Wednesday 25 March 09. Staying put.

The wind is absolutely howling this morning, so we are going nowhere.
It has managed to lift the TV aerial from its mounting and dump it in the cratch. This is no mean feat as D cant move it normally and I have to give it some real "Welly" to shift it when we are ready to move on. The power of nature!

We walked to the village for a paper and when we returned a hire boat had moored two feet from our stern. "Of all the moorings on all of the canals you had to choose ours". They soon went though when I started the genny.

This is our view from the kitchen (or should that be Galley) window at the moment.

As that's about all we've done today, apart from the crossword of course, Ill leave it at that until tomorrow........

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Tuesday 24 March 09. Kings Norton to Alvechurch 1 tunnel.

Thinking that we had found a fairly quiet mooring last night, we noticed this morning that the boat in front was chained to the rings and was fitted with shutters over the windows.
Can't win them all.

We spent the morning chopping wood from the roof and collecting kindling from the hedgerows. Hard life this.

Far enough North now to be told:
With an accent like that you must be from London!
(accent? accent? what flipping accent? I ain't got no accent guvnor).
No we are from Kent.
Oh, that's even further south.
Best you don't go to Cornwall then or you might just fall off the edge.
Here there be Dragons!

Here we go again, this one is the Kings Norton/Wast Hill tunnel. Slightly shorter than the shower tube but much drier.
There are stalactites on the roof....honest.

You really feel like you have been swallowed by something very large and this is the rib cage.

We emerged from the south portal to a different world, a completely out of scale bridge ahead, but look no Graffiti!!. Back to normal all the way through here.
That seems much better than daubing spray paint all over it. No I'm not going soft in my old age, it is better.

Got one at last, these Herons have got to be as stupid as our cat back at the house. They see you coming and then fly ahead of you 200/300 yards then settle. This they carry on far too long for a bird that must know by now what boats do.
Fly to the back of the boat.
The first Heron that learns to read will find this helpful.

Lambs! here we go again, ahhh, so cute. This one had the No 62 painted on its side.

Lottery day tomorrow..............

Monday, 23 March 2009

Monday 23 March 09. Bridge 19 to Kings Norton, 1 lift bridge, 1 tunnel and another canal.

The other day there was a road sign above a bridge you could read from the boat, it was Warwick 8 miles, 8 MILES? we had left Warwick three days ago. At 4 miles an hour you could have walked back in 2 hours, oh well, no rush.
This was the start of one of the biggest and very new housing estates that we have ever seen, it went on for miles.
Very posh too, this bit just led to the canal but I think that centre bit is a waterfall when it is working.

Now this was fun! a lift bridge with a difference. having the correct key enabled you to press buttons and lower the barriers across the road to stop the traffic then to raise the bridge for the boat to dawdle through. Hope no one was in a hurry.

Now... how do I lower it again?

Another short tunnel, this time called Brandwood. Note the graffiti, this was everywhere around here ruining these age old structures. We realised we might have to keep going far longer than we intended to as the boats moored opposite the tow path had their windows covered with metal and unbreakable plastic. That stops the stones, then they were chained and padlocked to their mooring rings. That stops them being set adrift, nice area this. At one bridge BW were painting out the Graffiti and told us they had to moor the barge opposite the towpath as it had been set alight in the past.
I'm feeling better already.

This is the inside with all the deposits from the water clearly visible. That bit in the bottom left is all that remains of the hand rail that was used to pull the boats through while the horses went around.

Another ruined part, this was a Guillotine type lock and known as a stop lock as it served to stop the water from flowing into another company's canal. It no longer works but as is the norm around here it has been "painted".

Another turn and we are on the Worcester & Birmingham canal, a little way down and we are moored for the night. The wind has been increasing in strength all day and is now a full gale, there are bits of tree hitting the roof with quite a bang.
Bring back the Ducks.
Until tomorrow..............

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Sunday 22 March 09. moored at bridge 19.

Maintenance day today, done loads but wont bore you with all that.

Should be away again tomorrow, weathers turning though....
Saturday 21 March 09. Bottom of Lapworth locks to the Cider house (Bridge 19).

After we had moored yesterday we noticed the field opposite had one of those gas powered bird scarers in the middle, these let off an almighty bang every now and then and are there to keep the birds away.
The funny thing here is the first time it went off hundreds upon hundreds of Pigeons leaped into the air as one big black cloud, then as the report rolled away over the hills they all settled back down again. The whole thing took about twenty seconds.
Ere Dad whats that bang for? it makes me jump.
Its to keep us off the crops son, now shut up and keep eating.

We reached the top of the flight in two hours which was quite good for thirteen narrow locks. A few boats were about today as we are nearing a hire company, this was great though as they were coming down and leaving the locks "set" for us.

This garden had plenty of the signs of spring in it.
This was a new one on us, a lift bridge operated with the windlass. We have passed two so far and a hire boat crew was there operating them for us. easy! The person is on the left and has to shut the bridge to get back to the boat as there is nowhere to pull in on that side once you are through. This must make it extremely difficult for "single handers".
The Cider House, what more can you say? it was great, very busy with two bars the good old fashioned public and saloon, men watching the rugby, playing dominoes cards etc etc. The cider was the type you cant see through and can stand a spoon up in it loverrrly.

Sunday tomorrow....cant be.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Friday 20 March 09. Top of Hatton Flight to the Bottom of Lapworth Flight. 3 hours 5 locks 1 tunnel and onto a new canal.

Woken this morning at 01:30 by a good old Duck giving the hull a clean along the waterline.

You just gotta love them Ducks.

We thanked the Duck in the morning with the contents of a twelve bore before leaving for the tunnel.

We have only seen a handful of boats in the past few days and guess where we met one today, yep right in here. This was a quite short tunnel with some light in it coming from either end so we managed to get a couple of pics. Ill post the other one soon.

This was one end of the Shrewley Tunnel, the dot of light is the other. The tunnel at top right is where the horses were led whilst the boats were "Legged" through. This is where two men laid on planks set either side of the bow, and walked along the tunnel walls pushing the boat along. This short tunnel took 15 Min's to pass with a diesel engine, they certainly earned their crust doing that job.

Carrying on we came across this, I have read about these but never seen one. It is a "Caraboat" you can just make out the wheel arches and see the lights on the back/stern. Apparently these are towed like a caravan and used like one but if you fancy a cruise up the canal or river just chuck it in and off you go! Simple.

The canal passes high above these country mansions, this is just one with the stables and grounds visible. Just think how many boats and caravans you could get in there.

We passed acres and acres of huge Christmas trees, these are far too big for the domestic market and seem too small to be logged, perhaps they are in mid growth.
At last! we have made it to the turn onto the Stratford & Avon canal, left it is then.

Look at the state of that bridge, its no surprise though as it is a difficult 90 degree blind turn to make (unless of course you are in a ten foot dinghy). Luckily nothing was coming the other way, with those long term moorings on the right it would have been a case of grease the sides, quick.

These bridges hark back to the horse era as well, that groove through the middle is to drop the rope from the towing horse through so there was no untying from the barge and speeding the passage up a bit.

This is some of our task for the morning, (there are more around the corner) these are all narrow locks and slightly harder for us than the wide ones so therefore will take a bit longer to do.

If the sun keeps shining who cares.

We have just been passed by the second boat of the day and he has recommended a cider house at bridge 19...........mmmmm shall we? shall we not?

Another day approaches......... (we haven't really got a twelve bore)