Tuesday, July 30, 2019

On a bit before the rain came…

We got the Tesco delivery last evening, but it was too late to move by the time everything was away so we just pushed back across the canal and tied up again.

The day started fine and bright, but by the time we’d got going this morning clouds had started to roll in and the breeze had picked up a bit.

Heading past the long line of permanent moorings at Hawksyard Priory
There are a lot of spaces along here now. It doesn’t seem to be as popular a mooring as it once was.

At the end of the moorings is Armitage Tunnel, or at least it was originally a tunnel. In 1971 the roof was removed because of subsidence of the sandstone through which it passes, leaving just a narrow cutting. It’s a good idea to check ahead to see if anything is coming before starting through.

The busy A513 crosses the cutting, and since it was widened, has almost returned it to being a tunnel, albeit quite a bit shorter.

There are another couple of awkward sections a little further on, a blind bend under Bridge 60 below…

…and a narrow bit just before Bridge 59.

We pulled in a little further on, just before the rain started. Not sure whether we’ll move tomorrow or not.

Locks 0, miles 1¾

Monday, July 29, 2019

Summer's back - for the day!

Yesterday it rained all day, tomorrow it’ll rain all day, but today we’re back to warm dry and sunny. Lovely.

We didn’t move from Taft bridge, but there were still a few boats about, braving the elements. Instead I spent most of the afternoon taking an image of my Windows 10 installation, making Recovery Discs and then backing up all my data. So if this HP laptop crashes, goes into meltdown or actually explodes I’ve got everything I need to re-install on a clean machine. Hopefully…

This morning was like those we had last week, bright and sunny from the off. A little cooler though, and that’s a good thing.

We pulled pins and set off towards Rugeley before 10:00, enjoying the sunshine.

There were quite a few boats heading the other way, presumably after leaving the Rugeley moorings.

The rain has swollen the waters of the Trent, visible as we crossed the aqueduct onto Brindley Bank.

We chugged gently into the town, surprised that the moorings near Bridge 66 were still so busy even though we’d seen seven or eight boats going off up the canal.

Didn’t bother us though, we’d no intention of mooring for shopping today, only going through and mooring on the other side of town near the water point at the Hawksyard moorings.

Pulled in near Hawksyard.
Later we’ll push across to the water point and fill the tank while waiting for a Tesco delivery. Then we’ll head a little further up the canal to moor and see what weather tomorrow brings.

C&RT has published the draft for the Winter Stoppages programme here. This is the plan for the maintenance and repair of infrastructure that requires sections of the network to be closed during the winter when the waterways are quieter.
As Continuous Cruisers we have to take into account any closures that may affect our winter plans, but this year, so long as we’re on the Llangollen by the end of October, we shouldn’t have too many problems. The rebuilding of Hurleston Bottom Lock means that we will be stuck on there till the end of March though, but with only a couple of shorter term stoppages further up we’ll have most of the canal to use for those four months.

And I’m sure you’ll all have seen the new C&RT advert featuring Well B, the baby Michelin Man. No, well have a look…https://youtu.be/3iRFOwFo22I
At first I was a little miffed that the charity had decided to spend what must be several hundred thousands of our licence money on an ad to be aired on prime time TV, but when I looked a bit deeper it seems that it may be money well spent. DEFRA support CRT to the tune of £10m a year, but to keep the money coming the charity has to meet certain Key Performance Indicators, one of which is to raise public awareness of the Trust’s responsibilities and aims. Failure to do so may result in the funding being cut. So there you go, speculate to accumulate.

Locks 0, miles 3½ 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Drippery wetfullness

Well what a change! Two days ago we had all the doors and windows open, trying desperately to stay cool, today Mags asked me if we could have the heating on for an hour as it felt so much cooler. Of course I said no – not!

We woke up to rain and it’s been continuous all day, only just letting up now. More due for tomorrow though. We decided to move anyway, yesterday afternoon we were fed up with folk walking past and peering in the windows, so decided to head for the sticks.
I made a quick trip up to the shop to get bread, milk and a paper, then we unpinned and set off at around half-ten.

Past the moorings heading for Haywood Lock

I had to fill the chamber as a boat had dropped down in front of us, but didn’t close the bottom gates as a boat had just turned up at the bottom as the lock emptied.

Massive rhubarb at Little Haywood.

A dozen football-sized strawberries and I could make enough crumble to last a month!
( I’m only joking, it’s actually Brazillian Gunnera Manicata, a non-edible decorative import. The football-sized strawberries sound like a good idea though…)

We trudged along to Colwich Lock, no-one waiting at this lock either but I had to fill it of course.

Mags had followed my suggestion of staying inside through the trip, having a wet dog and one set of wet clothing would be bad enough.

Half an hour later we pulled in on the piling just past Taft Bridge.
We’ll stay here for the rest of the weekend now.

Locks 2, miles 3

Friday, July 26, 2019

It’s all a question of timing…

After sitting out the last couple of sweltering days with all the doors and windows wide open, it’s been cooler today so we decided to move.

A fine sunset the other night…

One problem with having the windows open but no fly screens is the flies. We leave the lights off until just before we’re ready to go to bed, but as soon as they go on there’s swarms of tiny midges circling around them. It’s unfortunate, but the only way to make sure they don’t invade the bedroom is to give them a squirt with Raid (other fly killers are available…). Then in the morning I have to go round vacuuming up all the corpses…

We left it till halt-ten before setting off, hoping it wouldn’t be too busy at the junction.

Turning around at Tixall Wide.

The canal crosses two aqueducts before the junction, the first over the Trent and the second over the mill stream that used to drive a waterwheel at the mill.

The timing worked out well, the service wharf was empty when we pulled out onto the Trent and Mersey and reversed to fill with water. But within 15 minutes it was full.

Topped up and rubbish and recycling dealt with, we motored across the junction, had a quick debate then pulled in on the 48 hour moorings. I don’t generally like the moorings here, they are under the trees further round, and TV is poor. But the space we got into is in the open. An hour later and we wouldn’t have had the option anyway.

We’re only stopping one night, we’re heading off to Taft Bridge tomorrow.

On an entirely unrelated subject, I see that Boris has achieved his ambition to get hold of the keys to No 10. With him in charge over here and Donald in charge over the pond at least politics won’t be boring for a while.

Locks 0, miles ¾

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A really rather splendid day.

It was about a quarter to nine when we pulled pins and left the good moorings at Weston.
Our erstwhile travelling companions had moved out an hour before us, though! They wanted to get water at Great Haywood, and hoped that an early arrival would avoid the queues. As it turned out they didn’t need to, there weren’t that many boats about.

Passing Weston Wharf

Alongside the wharf is a short arm to the north, now filled with the work boats of Canal and River Services but it’s original use apparent from the name of the lane leading to it, Salt Works Lane.

Never as extensive as that in Cheshire, Staffordshire had a small salt production industry. It was well established in the hamlet of Shirleywich by the middle of the 17th century, and the opening of the canal helped exporting of production from evaporators nearby. The wharf and adjacent arm were constructed for loading the salt, and presumably for unloading coal to fuel the brine tanks.

Filling Weston Lock

There’s a proposal in the pipeline to build a new marina in the meadows just below Bridge 78…
…somewhere around here.

Hoo Mill Lock

We didn’t need to stop for water ourselves, but we could have done, the service wharf was completely empty. Instead we turned right under the towpath bridge, crossed the two aqueducts carrying the old mill stream and the main Trent channel, and arrived at Tixall Wide at a quarter to eleven.

Our destination, behind What a Lark at the edge of Tixall Wide.

We joined George and Carol for lunch, then later enjoyed a glass or two with a splendidly-prepared barbeque courtesy of George the Barbeque King.

Too hot to sit in the sun…

All in all a very good day.

This morning we bade our friends farewell as they set off to continue their trip up to Chester then back to Great Haywood before handing WaL back to Dave and Lisa. Enjoy the rest of your trip guys, and thanks for a great few days.

Locks 2, miles 4.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Damp and grey up to Stone, fine and dry back.

The less said about Friday’s trip from Sandon to Stone the better. It rained. I got wet. It dried up later and I dried out, almost.

Leaving Sandon, just a bit drippy at this point but it got worse. A lot worse…
In fact this is the only photo I took all day, the camera stayed firmly in the dry.

We spent yesterday in Stone, shopping to do and I had Mags’ meds and the mail to collect from the Post Office. Later, when the traffic had died down, I motored up to the winding hole, turned around and reversed back to fill the water tank below the lock before mooring again.
George and Carol made the same manoeuvre this morning.

Heading backwards…

As we were ready to go we pulled pins and set off, at around 09:00. Very early for us. WaL followed on as soon as they’d filled up, arriving at Aston lock as we were leaving it.

Heading out of Stone on a lovely morning.

A very sad tree… Big arrh.

No-one was waiting at Aston Lock, but I had to fill it before we could descend.

Aston Lock marks the half-way point on the canal, at least in miles. Coming up from the Trent though you’re only a third of the way through the 76 locks on the navigation.

Upper Burston Bridge sits at an awkward angle on a blind bend, so inevitably we had to meet a boat there…

A beautiful morning…

By the time we got to Sandon Lock traffic had started to build up, and there was a short queue waiting to drop down.

Twenty minutes later we were in the lock, and the line of boats waiting had grown.
George and Carol had finished up behind two other boats since Aston.

We fetched up at Weston at noon, surprisingly joining just one other boat on these popular moorings, and he left shortly after we arrived.

WaL turned up about 40 minutes later. We’re heading to Great Haywood tomorrow, turning right to spend the night on Tixall Wide. That’ll be the last night we have with George and Carol. We’ll be returning to the T&M heading east, WaL is heading down the Staffs and Worcs and onto the Shroppie.

Locks 4, miles 10¼

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Further up the valley – in company!

We were joined this morning by George and Carol, normally of Still Rockin’ but the temporary custodians of Dave and Lisa’s What A Lark.
They’ve done a boat swap for the next couple of weeks, Dave and Lisa will be zooming up and down the Thames on SR, while George and Carol are looking forward to a more sedate time on the narrow canals.

WAL was in Great Haywood Marina when they picked her up yesterday, so today they motored out onto the canal and pulled in behind us for a brew and a chat before we all set off.

It was well after 11:00 by the time we got going but at least we avoided the queue of boats leaving Great Haywood and arriving at Hoo Mill Lock in convoy.

Out of the lock and cruising slowly past the moorings above, we spotted a familiar boat heading our way. It was Dave and Barbara on Liberty Bell, returning to Burton after a trip around the Cheshire Ring.

A ten minute pause was called for as we caught up with the news, then we parted company with the promise to try and meet up again in September.

The next lock is the pretty one just south of Weston, spoiled a little by having steel gates rather than the original wooden ones. But they do last a bit longer…
I think these date from the 1970s. The life expectancy of wooden gates is around 20 years.

The moorings in the village were surprisingly empty, in fact there hasn’t been the boats about that I expected today.

Mum looking after the youngsters…

…while Dad makes sure that they’re not disturbed, even by large, noisy steel things!

There’s a three mile pound from Weston to the next lock at Sandon, but it is very attractive, apart from the section near Salt where the railway runs close alongside.

We dropped lucky at Sandon, with a boat just leaving the lock and another waiting above.

My tummy was grumbling a bit by now, so, instead of pushing on as planned to moor near Burston, we pulled in above the lock. The Rockers, (or should that be surrogate Larks?) pulled in behind us and joined us for tea and cake.

Meg has had enough, fast asleep in the cool of the long grass.

Tomorrow we’ll head up to Stone. Might be a little damp, though.

Locks 3, miles 5¼