Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Cliff Wood To Derwent Mouth Lock.
Derwent Mouth To The Erewash Canal.
Erewash To Swarkstone.
Swarkstone To Burton Upon Trent.

Catching up again as we end our Pennine ring quest.

Lock number one on the Trent and Mersey, that's the whole of that canal cruised then, only a short way down the Trent to Trent lock left now and then the culmination of our Pennine ring adventure.

Here we are!..... success.
Four months later and we are back where we started, pouring with rain and blowing a gale.

What to do now?
Lets nip up the Erewash for a few days as we are here says I.
Ok then says D.

Lets turn around and get as far away from here as possible would have been a better thing to say............ a much better thing as it turned out!

This is the second lock on the canal at Long Eaton, beyond this lock the whole canal is devoid of water. No winding holes (turning places) for miles in front of or behind us.
BW know the situation but are still allowing boats up here, we did catch sight of an employee but he vanished like the morning mist before we could get to him.

Much draining of the upper pounds later we managed to get Ubique through two more locks and winded (turned around), a very bad bottom scraping and propeller crunching experience later and we were back here for the night.

Trying to get off the canal the next day and we had to laugh at this.
It is about the only thing that will float up here properly, maybe it is a new design of BW service craft........ it is nearly the right colour after all.


I will fill in the blanks tomorrow or this blog will drag on a bit.

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


Friday, 27 August 2010

Mercia Marina To Cliff Wood, 2 Locks.

Why do they do this?

This is the aftermath of the idiot "driving" the beige coloured boat.
He has just hurtled out of the entrance/exit to Mercia marina straight into the path of the purple boat plodding along the canal.
No sound signals, no look out in the bows. just a "I am coming out and that is that" attitude.
Fair play to the purple boat as he just managed to stop, but even as he was squeezing past, the beige idiot was still driving on.
I do hope someone from the Marina can identify this twit and put him straight. 

Our first lock of the day..... and it was a wide one.
This was the slowest filling and emptying lock we have come across so far, that, with the addition of a few "Hire A Canalboat" hire boat crews just standing and staring at the gates and paddles made this a very long term exercise.
These crews are sent out with no instruction as to how to work a lock whatsoever and have to rely heavily on people like us.
The woman on the left back of this picture in the light blue, refused point blank to help them as she has been "caught out" before.

This, to me, is not the attitude............ Help don't hinder.

What an example of an old Bedford truck, probably towing the caravan to a vintage rally.

"Mind the gap"  lining at Swarkestone, not quite the average towpath.

What is this all about? don't drive half your car in the canal.
In this world of equality, I want to see a sign telling you not to drive half your Narrowboat on the road.

This part of the Trent And Mersey is flanked by a motorway type road on one side and a high speed rail link on the other.
Carefully choosing a spot that is the furthest distance from both of them for our overnight stop we were both in "smug mode" until the aircraft from the Midlands International airport started flying overhead.

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


Thursday, 26 August 2010

Burton Upon Trent To Mercia Marina, 1 Lock.

Dismal, dismal, dismal, that just about covers it.

Our mooring last night was dictated by the proximity of a bridge to the Brantano chain of footwear shops.
We had shoes to exchange and this was the closest point, as it turned out it was an expensive stop as we both bought our winter boots ready for the coming season.

The mooring also turned around and bit us as it was next to an all night lorry pick up/delivery point for one of the local brewery's.
I just love the sound of reversing alarms in the morning.

Canal picture with a bit of sun in it....... Lest we forget.

It did rain with a vengeance last night but slowed to a very fine drizzle this morning, you know the kind of rain, the stuff that gets you really wet. (Peter Kay again)

We had to move on as another sleepless beeping night was out of the question, much wetness later and we have pitched up outside of Mercia Marina.

This is a hot bed for hire craft leaving this afternoon, the wind is howling, the rain is falling, but this is their summer holiday, so with fixed grins and a steely look in their eye they are sallying forth to enjoy themselves........ as they must.

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


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Alrewas To Burton Upon Trent, 5 Locks.

Not an average day, but then we are not the average boat........... Boo Boo.

The weather guessers were all unanimous in their guesses yesterday in that the whole of the bottom half of England was going to be under water by four o'clock this afternoon.

This, combined with the fact that we were probably due another run of sheep all coming through at the same time in the morning and totally clogging the lock, led us to book an early start.

Early doors soon arrived and off we went into this idyllic morning, T shirts on but you could still see your breath though.
Into the first lock and half way down I noticed the number two alternator light was glowing, then, also that the instrument panel was dead.........great!

Refilling the lock and reversing out brought a bit of an Hokey Cokey flavour to the morning.
You put your boat in the lock.... you take your boat back out the lock....you do the Hokey Cokey and you turn............Ow, ear slap.

Much unnecessary investigation later and it turned out that I had knocked the battery master switch to off for that system when I took the tiller arm from its overnight clamp.

I have been taking that tiller arm from that clamp every day for more or less a year and a half with no problem,........ but this morning I knocked the switch to off.
As Del Boy would say, (as well as someone much closer) ....what a plonker!

It's very, very busy through here as we leave our spot, the moorings on the left are private so that gap could not be filled.

One major problem when boats repeatedly pack together like this is the diesel scum on the water. It's clearly visible in the previous picture as well.

Unbelievably (for this time in the morning) whilst I was trying to find and fix the problem a boat came by and took the lock. This turned out to be a female single hander, D helped her through the lock which, with the benefit of hindsight, might have been a mistake as she was waiting at every lock from then on.

The above weir is the end of the river section, canal to the left, river to the right, you do the Hokey Co.................

Things are not all they seem to be here, this looks so tranquil, so peaceful and rural but no more than thirty feet on your right the A38 dual carriageway traffic thunders by.
It was a bit surreal though, we were chomping bacon sandwiches travelling at three miles an hour as the lorry drivers looked down at us from their seventy mile an hour eyries.

We have arrived at Burton Upon Trent before the supposed rain storm and have got ourselves all battened down.
It is now five fifteen and it is (in the words of Peter Kay)........ "Spitting"

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


Tuesday, 24 August 2010


Not again.

The rain stayed away until this afternoon but it let the wind take over for the morning and did it blow.

It is so busy here that we didn't even want to drop back to the water point as we would have lost our mooring almost instantly.
Out came the winter extension hose which was pounced upon and borrowed by the boat in front of us who didn't want to chance it either.

Not long after taking on water the rains came back again, any thought we had of us moving on today evaporated very quickly.
Some boats have even got their fires alight...........Ooooerrrr.

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


Monday, 23 August 2010

Great Haywood To Alrewas, 2 Days 11 Locks.

Catch up time again.

Friday was a staying put type of day as we had a very good TV signal and the final of Masterchef was on.
Moving on and losing the signal might have seen me losing something as well.

Saturday arrived with everything intact so off we went. All nice and sunny........for a while then it was coats on, coats off, coats back on for the rest of the day.
We managed to dodge the worst of it to pick up vittles from Rugely, not fancying an overnight stop there we moved on, and on, and on, and on. There are not that many places to pull in along this stretch of the Trent And Mersey so as six o'clock arrived we grabbed the first spot we could.

This as it turned out was a bit of a mistake as the family in the boat ahead of us spoke to each other with their voices on full volume.
Dad,..... Dad,.... DAD,

and so it went on all evening. The lad did catch a fish but I think it was stone deaf when he put it back in the canal.

Leaving the Munsters on a bright, sunny and warm Sunday morning we started passing boats with some very miserable looking people aboard. No cheerful greetings or waves just blank looking stares.

It was all cisterns go as we bowled past the enormity that is the Armitage factory.

Not long after, we found the reason for the glum faces......Fradely Junction in all its organised chaos.

 Maybe a warm Sunday afternoon was not the best time to try and negotiate this mess.
A plethora of a certain hire boat fleet named Hire A Canalboat were doing their best to totally jam everything up.
Mooring at the service point and going to the pub, amongst other things, were causing tempers to flare, and I can see why.
We were glad to get away from there and back out into the country.

I was a bit surprised to find this sign alongside a lock, River section? what river section?

Note to self: Read the Nicholosons book properly.

Alrewas, very busy but we got in on the end.
We spent the afternoon and evening with our table and chairs on the bank, soaking up the late sun whilst chatting and having a drink with the people from the boat in front.
You have to make the most of any gap in the rain.

It is now Monday and the rain is falling again, in fact it fell all night and so heavily it kept us both awake. Such is the British weather.

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


Thursday, 19 August 2010

Stone For Another Day Then Off We go Again.

Nothing like a bit of hot stuff to make you think.

Another little problem has showed it's head above the parapet recently.
The temperature gauge was creeping slowly upwards for no reason that I could see, other than that is what it wanted to do.

Half a  black sack was around the prop upon investigation and there was a small amount of air in the skin tank, this - it seems - was enough to cause the anomaly.

We have had far more than this around the prop at any one time and the amount of air removed from the skin tank seemed insignificant, but four hours running under load today proved that that was the problem.
We are now back to a nice normal engine temperature.

These things are definitely sent to try us. 

They must have dropped all the levels and rulers when they built this one.
Friday afternoon job?...... It's all good.

We are now on our way to completing one of the biggest canal rings in the country.
Trent Lock to Trent Lock.
This is now impossible for other boats as they have shut the Leeds Liverpool canal from Leeds to Wigan.
BW finally closed the bit from Leeds onwards this morning, we are very glad that we have got through all the troubles up there, but where might be next?

Sitting here typing this with the rain falling onto the roof as it does almost every day at the moment?  where is the problem?

I think every boater knows the answer to that question.

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

On a completely different but quite depressing subject.

On an innocent sorte into a local shop, what did they have all over the shelves?

Christmas cards...... AArrrghhh......... it begins!


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Stone To Tixall Then Onto Acton Trussell And Back.

Busy doing nothing.

Our guests arrived on Saturday afternoon after enduring the car park AKA the M5.
A mountain of shopping and clothes were embarked and we were off out into the country,  straight into the teeth of a huge thunderstorm,...... welcome aboard.

Sunday was so much better, lots of sun, not too many locks and a nice lazy day.

Monday morning found us at Tixall Wide, I think it must be me but I don't really see the attraction here.
It is always packed with boats moored nose to tail (which we will avoid like the plague if we can) just to get this view.
The place is a small broad such as you would find in Norfolk, but no one seems to moor in it with a mud weight as you would on a typical broad, they just cram in along the edge day in and day out.

Fittingly, there was this broads type cruiser moored alongside. A real labour of love to keep that woodwork up to scratch. I suppose scratch is a word that owner does not want to hear......ever.

My master plan.
I'll just hide behind this....... and then jump out.

A trip up the Staffs and Worcs and unbelievably we were dropping Ian and Sam back at Stone.
Time, where does it go?

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


Friday, 13 August 2010

Back To Stone, 5 Locks.

Some strange chats at the locks.

This morning was looking very good as far as being dry was concerned, but, and this is a big but, the very second I opened the sliding hatch, the rain (that must have been waiting just outside) let itself in.

Just spitting then but it got gradually stronger as we moved along........which wasn't nice.

Here's a terrible picture of a Robin, I thought they were just a winter bird.
Here endeth my degree in ornithology.

Now I did tell you that you were taking that corner a bit too fast didn't I ?

This is the service point at Stone, there is one place to pull in for water etc and also whilst you wait for the lock. Can you spot the emerging boat?

Its in there somewhere, that emerging boat wanted to be where we are now to take on water, there is also another boat behind us wanting to be there as well to wait for the lock.
This has to be one of the worst thought out sanitary stations on the whole system.

Meeting two different boaters with wild ideas today was a bit strange. The first was a hire boat crew who have one and a half days to get back to Napton junction to return the boat.
Stone to Napton in a day and a half???...... not without wings.
The second was a pair who had just bought their boat and thought they were on the River Trent on their way to London...........Whoaaaa.

We are back in Stone now and it is coming down in sheets whilst I am typing this, D nipped out to the shops to get a paper before this started..............oh dear.

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


Thursday, 12 August 2010

Stone To Tixall wide, 8 Locks.

Out and back we go..........

As it is sooooo busy here at Stone we thought we would get a jump on the day and set off early, we needed to collect water and this seemed to be the best plan as the water point is packed all day long at the moment.
06.45 and we are ready to drop the two locks to the water point........not as ready as the boat who came past us as we were letting go.
Lots of  disbelieving stares between us later, we followed him down through the locks and guess where he was moored when we arrived........yup.

It was a glorious morning though and a few other boats were out and about making the most of it.
We are just moving down to Great Haywood Junction and back to check out the canal ready for our guests. Along the way we passed NB The Old Bovine and Armadillo both of whom we met at Braunston last winter. A quick catch up and we are on our way back to Stone.

It is absolutely pounding with rain at the moment, this had better stop soon.

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


Monday, 9 August 2010


Still hovering here, and yes it's my fault.

Leaving the Caldon the other day we spotted two quite thought provoking actions being taken by some other boaters.

The first was a boat gathering logs, It's August!
The second was a boat with a few home made paper bricks for the fire drying on the roof.

These sights were slightly depressing for us, so we have decided to ignore them.
There will be no mad running around piling as much wood as possible onto the roof until it is absolutely necessary.

This is by order of..............The captain.

The polishing has started as we have some guests coming for a few days next week.
Yes the Brasso tin is out again, and yes it started raining exactly twenty minutes after we had finished.
Everything normal there then.

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


Friday, 6 August 2010

Froghall Back To Hazelhurst Then Onto Eturia, 15 Locks And 1 Staircase. Eturia To Stone, 10 Locks.

Catch up time.

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping.
As of one gently rapping at my chamber door "Tis some visitor", I muttered, tapping at my chamber door "only this and nothing more".

It's the rain hitting the roof you idiot,
Quoth the Raven.

And so another day began.

Leaving Froghall I just had to reverse through the final bridge to see the end of the line, we didn't expect to find a trip boat moored in there though. I wonder when that moves?

Moving back to Hazelhurst Junction for the night there was a lot of very narrow canal to negotiate. Not the least of which is the station platform at Cosnal Forge, they have built the supports and braces well into the canal space, this, combined with a very overgrown bank leaves very little room for the passing of boats.

Leaving Hazelhurst on a very wet morning we had the misfortune of being in front of this boat........ Beatrice.
I know it was a wet and miserable day but even so it was not as miserable as this bloke.
He owns the canal, or so he thinks, and every other boat should just not be there.
He travels at twice the speed of everyone else and demands you get out of his way.

Well, we beat him to the first lock (not by speeding, it was just that the canal was too narrow to pass)  he actually got off his boat and threw his windlass onto the towpath with such a clang and stomped around.
In eighteen months out here this is the worst one we have come across so all in all it's quite funny really.

Setting off early from our Eturia mooring we got as far as the top lock, which was all of a hundred feet away, and we were stopped by the men from BW. 
It seemed that the high fore headed knuckle draggers had been messing with the flight overnight and had managed to drain the pounds.

To our rather strange delight Mr Grumpy turned up behind us while we were waiting and his face was an absolute purple picture........... Relax.

It was a beautiful morning but by nine o'clock the Sky's darkened over and down came the rain again. 

Reaching the top lock of the Meadford Flight just outside of Stone, we found we were at the back of a queue of four boats. It turned out that the men from BW had been rapidly fixing a dislodged paddle that a boat had hit earlier in the day.

With the men gone we were soon on our way again.
Kudos to the men from BW..... this time.

We may stay here for a few days, a selection of shops and a garage can be a blessing to an itinerate  narrowboat and it's crew.

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