Monday, 31 August 2009

Still at Warwick.

No pictures today but maybe a bit of navel gazing to be done.

Sam has gone home today and left her mum in the same state I was in when we left Drew.

What is this all about? we are going to be no further away in the country than a lorry drivers days work, yet, we get all emotional.

Perhaps it proves we are still human after all.

Six months in to our trip now and we both cannot believe how much we have seen and how much this has changed us.
That return to Leamington really gave us a jolt.

Anyway, this is actually the first time that we do not have a plan.
Since we left Whilton marina we have always had somewhere to go and head for, Sam & Joe at Worcester, Drew at Leeds, Paul & Dee at Birmingham and Sam again at Warwick.

This is a slightly odd realisation as when we set out we were supposed to be free spirits with nowhere to go and two years to get there.

So..................where to tomorrow??????

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Up and Down Outside Warwick.

We had a very quick run into Leamington yesterday (Fri) as the weather was doing its normal thing of blowing a gale and threatening to soak anyone who dared venture forth.
A very speedy trip to the shopping centre and then an afternoon of listening to the rain pound the roof.

Suuummer time, and the raaain is faalling, fish are jumping, and the cotton is high..............apparently if I sing that one more time something is going to happen to me.
Best I shut up then.

A very young Moorhen on its daily scrounge, but they are soooo cute, who can resist giving them all our daily bread.
I can for one, as its my brekkie bread disappearing down its neck.

Another "fine ship", this little gem was moored behind us the other day outside of a pub that is half a day away from its permanent moorings at this house.
Saves driving home I suppose.

We have been past this garden three times now and each time I think it is worthy of a comment on the Blog. The sun house is turned away from the canal as are all the garden benches, this seems very odd to me as all they are looking at is the back of their own house and missing out on the waterway and all it can offer.

Passing the Kate Boats hire yard whilst it is in full changeover mode, this was completely devoid of boats on Monday. They must now all be refueled and cleaned etc ready for the next lot of hirer's this afternoon. Three have passed us while I have been typing this, all full of the next lot of happy holiday makers.
Those boats have a hard life.

Now, hows that for a warm welcome to a canal branch. We did venture in looking for a nights moorings but very soon left again.
You wanna stay for the night? Drawled a man with great big hoops in each ear.
If you do, get right dahn the end, arwight?

Errr, no thanks we are just turning,

Until next time................................................

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Middle of nowhere to Long Itchington. 5 locks. Long Itchington to Leamington 14 locks.

Yesterday found us setting off into the teeth of a force 6 to 7 wind with the threat of thunder storms later.

Don't you just love the English summer?

Although Sam is with us for the week we are mooching up and down this part of the Grand Union and every day has to be used to get us back. We watched the clouds build once again through the day. We are now quite weather wise so we knew the time to stop and moor before it hit us again, and hit us it did, all afternoon.

Above is Sam's first staircase lock, only two this time but still different all the same.

The gates are always huge and impressive in these type of locks giving you scope for lots of pictures.

Looking back and down from inside the top lock never fails to make you wonder how you got up there in the first place

Shortly afterwards we passed this pair heading for the locks.

This is a man with his hands well and truly full with two seventy footers to get along with.
Here he is giving instructions to the young girl on the tiller of the Butty as to which way to turn to avoid us whilst steering his boat with his hip. Bearing in mind how much wind is blowing he is doing well.

Off he goes.

A very much different day today, it is almost nice, well...... it is nice.

Blue skies and warm, better make the most of this.
A very good days chugging followed seeing us almost back at Leamington, leaving us all set for a day at the shops and an exploration of Warwick itself tomorrow.

An evening feed of Sams new friends.

Until tomorrow............................

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

No chance whatsoever of uploading anything today.

Connection speed is zero.

Will try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Royal Leamington Spa to The middle of Nowhere. 4 Locks.

It seems very strange being around here again.

We were along this stretch five months ago going the other way and we were all wide eyed and bushy tailed at this, our new experience of life.

What a lot of living we have done since then, we took Sam into Leamington Spa as it was the first large place we had stopped at on our way up the canals and it had bowled us over in comparison to our home city of Canterbury and the surrounding areas.

On our return it was a bit of a damp squib, we seem to have been totally spoiled by the bright lights and atmospheres of Cities like Leeds and Birmingham without us even realising it.

The "Wow" factor of those Cities is amazing......... and all visited by boat.

A little bit of evening sunshine to round off another day.

Up fairly early to move to Leamington and do the touristy thing, mother and daughter here, taking in the sites.

It seems we have exchanged Ducks for Pigeons.

Ooooo that's nice, this whole area has been planted and strung with hanging baskets and floral displays. A lot of time, effort and money must have been ploughed into getting everything looking this good.

Back to business, the wide open spaces are once again only a stones throw away, Leamington is there but you just cant see it.

A day with the sun dappling the water, these are few and far between at the moment and yes it did rain as soon as we were moored with the Brasso tin out.

Moving on up to Napton junction in the morning, not too sure about this, as from recollection, the amount of Marinas along there could mean we are entering the lions den.

Time will tell, until tomorrow.....................................

Monday, 24 August 2009

Back to Hatton bottom lock then off we go. 4 Locks.

A bit of a short Blog today as we are just retracing our steps.

Passenger safely loaded aboard.
How much stuff can one use in a week?

A lovely aqueduct over the Avon,

and an Alpaca farm, not something you see every day.
We will try to get some better pictures on the way back.

Now we are back onto an easy canal there are a lot more boats around again. Hire craft abound at high speed.
We are moored for the day and have had to put out extra ropes and fenders to cope with the wash.

That's it for now as we have to entertain our guest, who has supplied the new mouse, what a difference.

Until tomorrow.........................

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The Hatton Flight Revisited. 23 Locks.

Once more unto the breach.

Off we went at "silly o'clock" to venture once more down the Hatton.


Is it because it's there?, Is it because it's fun?.....could be, or is it because we have to as we picking Sam up in the morning?..........That's the one!

Lock two and the water started to pour over the top of the gates as we were emptying it. This could turn into one of "those" days.

By lock six it was worse, this meant that both paddles had to be opened each time to get the water out. Double the work load for one of us.
The tiller was weighing heavily in my hands.

An unusual statue/sculpture/object of interest was this Dragonfly opposite the BW yard at the top of the meat of the flight. It could scare you onwards or make you give up.

At the top of the steep bit with Warwick cathedral in the distance. This is eleven locks in quick succession and thankfully we passed another boat coming upwards half way down leaving the rest set for us........which was nice.

Three hours and we were down, someone is a bit stiff this afternoon.

A new mouse and a spare should be with us by tomorrow giving me proper use of the
computer again so until then.........................

Friday, 21 August 2009

Messing About on the Grand Union. 12 Locks.

Another broken mouse!!!!

This is the second one in six months, I have done the surgery and it is working now but very badly.

Our guests have left us now and we are on our way to Warwick to pick up the next one.
This will be Sam for the second time this year. Glutton for punishment.

This is D's brother Paul and his wife Dee. Two D's on one boat was interesting, until we got used to it.
A strange object was in the sky above the boat giving off heat.

Is "Tiller Terror" a legitimate complaint?

Aaaarggghh this is how you do it.

On our way back up the Knowles flight of five and the sun had once more relinquished to showers, cloud and wind.

We have had over a four hour return trip just to turn around after we had dropped them off at the Taxi pick up point due to a severe lack of Winding holes (turning points) around these parts.
This is another very under used piece of the canal system, that could be linked to it being a difficult approach to Birmingham itself.
There is a surfeit of canalside Inns though.......... which was nice.

Back down the Hatton tomorrow dodgy mouse and all.......................

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Catherine de Barnes to Kingswood. 5 Locks.

It rained, it had too, a day without rain is as rare as hens teeth at the moment!

Our passengers have arrived, unfortunately they lost a morning thanks to airline delays on an internal flight.

Everything normal at the airport then, their bags did arrive with them so that's a plus!

Still, they are here now and just getting ready for the first few locks, this small flight is unusually heavy to work through, definitely not a soft introduction to the art of locking.

They looked a bit strange to us as well, we have not been in a wide lock for months and they seemed huge. Lots of water here as it was falling over the top of the gates on every lock, must be all that rain.

Only a few miles from the bulk of Birmingham and the wide open spaces are back with us.

A quick visit to a local Inn before finding a night mooring.

A quick snap of our nice new front chimney, another bargain as it had a couple of scratches and was a bit dull. Bit of polish, lick of red paint good, as new.

To the Hatton flight tomorrow...........................

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Catherine de Barnes. Staying Put.

The quintessentially English, Village Fete.

The arena,

the old boys with their even older motorbikes...... There were some gems amongst them!

The bouncy castle and games,

and even a wandering minstrel.

He was playing a "Hohner" and playing it very well, but was he french?

We have polished the paint off Ubique today as the weather has been just that little bit sunny, she is looking very smart.

If it rains tonight you will probably hear me going on a bit where ever you are.

The guests should be arriving in the morning and our travels will resume.

Until then..............................

Friday, 14 August 2009

Birmingham to Catherine De Barnes. 25 Locks and rejoin the Grand Union.

We knew this was going to be a long haul to get clear of the suburbs and the graffiti.

Our chosen exit route from the city was received with horror by another boater who says we should be armed before attempting it, he carries an Air Pistol on board his boat.

Personally I think that is the most stupid thing I have had the misfortune to hear since leaving my old job. We stick to a very early morning start and aim to be in a safe area by 2 in the afternoon, so far this has held us in good stead and we have now been through some of the roughest places on the canals.

Dropping back down through Farmers Bridge in the early hours of the morning we were surprised to find that the locks had been "set" (Filled with water and the gate left open) for us.

Our mysterious benefactor turned out to be a youth who comes to the flight every day in the holidays to help the boaters through by working the locks ahead for them.
We gave him a few quid as we were down in an hour and a half.
Thinking about that, if he helped five to ten boats a day through and they all "tipped" him as we did, he is on a nice little earner!!! Good luck to him.

These apartments have been built over the pounds in between the locks, they are a bit "square rigged" but probably cost a small fortune.

Out from underneath the buildings once more,

and it wasn't too long before we were amongst the trees again.

Our penultimate lock of the day, next to a main road where the cars and lorry's were pounding by, the noise!!!

We are now at Catherine De Barnes where we will be attending the Village Fete on the green this afternoon.

Little pinkie in the air, don't you know.

Until tomorrow...............................

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Birmingham. Staying Put.

A few more pictures of our trip up Farmers Bridge.

Through this enormous cavern below the shops were a lot of gated archways, as this is Livery bridge could they have been for the horses?

The top end had this over the top set of steps up to the place to spend your money.

This is a very small part of an elaborate mural next to one of the locks, this bit has the "Rocket" depicted and what might be a Bull.

Still some way to go from here, but it was a very interesting trip.

Reading the local paper, a lad who scratched the Bronze Bull with his key ring because he was bored, is being sent from the magistrates court to the crown court for sentencing.

The scratch is about a 3cm long, removing the Bull for repair is where the costs mount up.

That sort of anti vandal policy is probably why you can moor and visit Birmingham safely now.

On the move again tomorrow............................

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Birmingham City Centre. Staying Put.

A few pictures from the centre to prove we are here.

Hows this for attitude?

The Birmingham Bullring Bull in all its bad looking mood.

This statue must be the most photographed item around here, I had to rush to take this before another swarm of kids and parents with cameras descended on it.
His tail feet and nose are very highly polished from so much attention.

This is part of the "Flower Trail" leading to the Bullring shopping centre, this trail has all sorts of unusual things such as this Mini planted up.

Birmingham even has Its own beach complete with deck chairs, water fountain, bar, disco and an unlimited amount of advertising from Monarch Airways as they run it.
When I took this it was of course raining hence all the coats but when the sun came out it was packed, the kids even bring their own buckets and spades for the sand castles.

One very gaily painted trip boat, this one is an ex BW work boat with a few additions. The chap who runs this never looks left or right for a quick smile and wave as he passes by.
A tad embarrassed maybe?

We have moved to some 48hr moorings giving us until Thursday afternoon before we will have to move again.

This is a really great place to stop for a few days, so much to see and do and the people love Narrowboats, we have been photographed and filmed so much since we arrived, people have even got on the boat to be snapped from the bank.

Good news on the jury front, D now doesn't have to attend as it would cost the courts too much money to get her there. Thank goodness for that!!!

Until tomorrow...............................