Sunday, May 03, 2015

A day of two halves…

I thought we were in for a soggy Sunday. After heavy overnight rain it was still a bit drippy when we pulled pins this morning, heading for Fradley Junction.

A damp start to the day…

Cannock Chase in the murkIMG_4521

Young lambs wondering what they’ve let themselves in for. IMG_4522
You don’t know the half of it, kids!

We were off bright and early, we had a fair way to go, and also wanted to avoid the inevitable queue at Colwich Lock. This is the first encountered after leaving Great Haywood, and there’s usually a tail-back of boats as they all arrive together. Not today though; we were first away, first to arrive at the lock and able to take advantage of a full lock with the top gate already open. Result!

Colwich Lock, invitingly open.IMG_4524

It was below this lock last December that Mags made an unconventional debarkation…

The rain turned to drizzle as we approached Rugeley, the power station just visible through the gloom.

An unusual black sheep family…

Surprisingly for a Bank Holiday there was plenty of space of the moorings either side of Bridge 66, so we pulled in for me to make a quick dash to Tesco’s. Then it was on the move again, out of the town, intending to stop at the water point near Hawkesyard. But there was a boat already filling; having only just started he reckoned he would be at least 25 minutes so we didn’t bother. There are plenty of opportunities for water further on.

I hopped off to check for oncoming boats at Armitage “tunnel”, all clear, and we toddled on through Armitage and Handsacre.

I resisted the urge to take a picture of toilets stacked up at the Shanks sanitary ware factory, instead recording for posterity my lunch-on-the-go.

Tiggy’s pork pie and stilton with apricots. Courtesy of the farm shop at Great Haywood. Top hole nosh! General verdict – Yum, Yum. (Anybody else remember The Fall and Rise…?)

Carol, I didn't go back for the steak and kidney pies, just too much indulgence!

By the time we reached King’s Bromley Wharf the sun was trying to make an appearance through thinning cloud and it was getting warmer.

The trip through Ravenshaw Wood was a delight, with the shafts of sunlight beaming through the fresh leaves.IMG_4540

Woodend Lock is, as you would expect, at the end of the woods…IMG_4541
I reckon it’s the prettiest on the T&M. It should stay this way too. The second phase of the HS2 was intended to pass within a hundred yards of the cottage, but an alternative route has now been proposed and accepted.

Around the corner the Fradley Locks starts with Shadehouse.

Shadehouse LockIMG_4543

We’d caught up with boats at Woodend, but with a steady stream of boats coming up passage was swift down to the moorings opposite the service wharf. Volunteers on Middle and Junction Locks helped a little, too.

So we got tied up after a long day (for us) at about a quarter past two.

Mags had to hold off while I shooed a mallard family out of the way…IMG_4545

Fradley mooringsIMG_4546

The satellite dish set-up has been bugging me since I could only get German channels the other day. With a clear line-of-sight to the dot in the sky I set the dish up to see if I could sort it out. I did! Not using it very much these days I’d forgotten that you have to allow for an offset to the east if you’re west of the Meridian. Doh.
It was just flukey that at 28.2º east of south, at our current longitude, is Astra 1, the satellite that transmits mostly to Europe. A 9º shift anticlockwise from the normal compass bearing picked up Astra 2 and all the UK offering. I had a bit of sorting out to do to tune in all the more obscure channels, ‘cause I’d reset the box to factory defaults while trying to sort it out. But we’re there now. Not using it tonight, the DTV signal is fine here, all the way from Sutton Coldfield.

Mainly dry tomorrow, it seems. Good. We’ve more locks and less miles to do. I don’t mind travelling in the rain so much, but locking in the rain is a bit miserable, for both of us.

Hi to the crews of Rosemary (I think) out of Stone, and the Canal Cruising Club boat today, both of whom read my efforts!  Thanks guys, it's nice to be appreciated!

Locks 5, miles 13½ 


Nick said...

Hi Geoff and Mags

It was really great to pass you today, having read your blog for last year - your story kept us inspired while we searched for the right boat. We are travelling incognito having bought the Ex Canal Time boat City of Durham, and enjoying being mistaken for hirers!

Nick and Anne

David Foster said...

And Hi to you Seyella! It’s the 4th time we’ve been on Rosemary and sadly we had to hand her back Saturday but just as the rain started. We’d been to the end of the Ashby over the fortnight. Your blog is indeed very much appreciated by us regular hireboaters especially for the photography and good places to moor. David & April, Chesterfield.