Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Embarrasing Christmas Sweater

There has to be one; it's in the rules. Bad luck Annie.

Mud everywhere...

...and Exhibit A, the most effective device known to mankind for spreading mud over everything in the whole wide world.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Farewell my Wellies

Many women get excited about Manolos or Jimmy Choo shoes. But six-inch heels are no use to you in the middle of a muddy walk watching yer dog disappearing over the horizon. Me, I like my wellies, and sadly both my favourite pairs have worn out in the same week as the result of extended Christmas walkies. I shall miss them.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Walk in the woods #2: Working up an appetite for Christmas Dinner...

Mud is flying
All around us
Annie's jumping
Having fun
'Tis the season
Sprouts & spuds & turkey...
Merry Christmas, Everyone!

(to be sung, very quietly under your breath, to the tune of that ghastly Paul McCartney Christmas thing. Sorry.)

Looking forward to Mum & Big Brother arriving tomorrow... lots more celebrating the festive season still to do. Ho ho ho!!!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Birthday Lunch we didn't make Sunday Lunch canalside at Napton as we had planned, but we did have stormingly good seafood lunch at the restaurant by the pier.


Happy Birthday P!

We were supposed to be spending a long weekend on Caracol to celebrate P's birthday with a family lunch with S&R on Sunday. But the snow has beaten us - hardly any snow to speak of here at home, but further afield the motorways are closed. Annie the dog is spending her weekend keeping warm and so are we.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Saturday 21st November: Back home's been a lovely week but there's a lot to catch up on...

Friday 20th November: around Braunston

Into Braunston for supplies, mooching and another pub lunch. There's a couple of examples of this graffiti (graffito??) dotted around the footpaths and towpaths at Braunston, which I rather like...
Then back on through lovely low sun and a glass-calm return to the marina, thank heavens.

Thursday 19th November: Buckby again

Okay, this is beyond a joke: I can't even move some of these gates on my own. Carried on through Braunston Tunnel and moored by the Admiral Nelson for the night.

Wednesday 18th November: around Stoke Bruerne

...where the old trackway over the hill above the tunnel has been decorated with some exceptionally good wire sculptures. Did our exploration on foot then set off back north...

Tuesday 17th November: Weedon to Stoke Bruerne

The moorings above the church at Weedon Bec are always nice but spectacularly so in the Autumn sun this morning.

Monday 16th November: Buckby Locks

Buckby Locks are absolute bu&&ers, every one of them. Especially this one, where someone has carved a nice little kingfisher on the balance beam to take your mind off your tearing muscles and aching joints.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Gorgeous Autumn Sunshine this is more like it. Amazingly beautiful day, and lots and lots of fruitless attempts to capture how lovely the scenery looks in the low winter sunshine. Plus Sunday lunch in the (thankfully now re-opened) Admiral Nelson. What's not to like?
Here: The ridge and furrow scenery as pictured by a rubbish photograher...

Saturday 14th November: Huge Waves

Okay, so they aren't six-foot breakers. But they are the result of 35mph winds, and even here in the marina the water is distinctly choppy. nbCaracol has all of the aerodynamic elegance of a Gloucester Old Spot so we've decided to call off our plans to cruise today. We drove over to Hatton to look at the lock maintenance work instead.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Ridge and furrow

Granny Buttons was writing today about Shuckburgh on the GU being one of the best places to photograph ridge and furrow. Here's our humble attempt from close to there on a crisp November morning three years ago. I remember it well: it was that weekend out that absolutely definitely convinced us that we needed our own boat to spend more time on the canals. So after the weekend we returned the Ownerships boat to Stockton, and set off around the brokers.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Bank Holiday Weekend

Back to the boat for the weekend - not cruising anywhere this time, just doing some spring cleaning and painting and using the boat as a base to travel to the IWA festival at Radcliffe on Soar on Saturday.

We moored overnight at this spot at the foot of the power station in the middle of our trip in June, just before we joined the River Trent. Looks completely different this weekend.

Friday 14th and Saturday 15th August: The end of the Holiday

We shared the Hatton locks on Friday morning with a nice couple who, like us, decided a slap-up lunch at the Cape of Good Hope Pub was well deserved. Said goodbye to our new friends who stayed at the moorings above Cape Locks to spend the afternoon with a brisk bout of indigestion, and went on down through Leamington. There's a new Lidl right by the towpath on the spot that used to be a garden centre (used to be handy for gas cylinders, now handy for cheap but yummy wine - no contest) and I stocked up on all sorts of stuff I didn't know I needed.

Saturday was a leisurely tootle through Bascote and Stockton locks back to the marina.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Lapworth and Lunch

Carried on through the Lapworth flight and stopped once again at the excellent Boot Inn for lunch.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Gas Street Basin

Woke up in the centre of Birmingham this morning on busy but very peaceful moorings at Gas Street. Bit of a wet start to the day but still a wonderfully atmospheric mix of very new and very old. Stopped for a leisurely lunch at Warstock then started the first 3 locks of the Lapworth flight before tying up for the evening.

Black Country Museum and on to Birmingham

Spent a terrific morning at the Black Country Museum. Low-carb diet or not, there was no way I was missing out on the traditional fish & chips fried in proper beef dripping, cooked in the reconstructed 1930s chippie, and judging by the queues neither was anybody else. Travelled through the old, winding route into Birmingham and really enjoyed the contrast between the old and new architecture; the motorway takes its cue from the old canal route and follows the contours of the canal for a long way. It's eerie and surprisingly peaceful in the tangle of canals and roads and the columns that support the motorway above.

Monday 10th August: Compton to Tipton

Through the Wolverhampton 21 flight this morning and on to moor at the Black Country museum; arrived at closing time so tied up for the night to wait for opening time tomorrow.

Sunday 9th August: Bratch Locks

...very, very pretty and lovely weather.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Saturday 8th August: Kinver Rock Houses

Took an excursion away from the canal to visit the very pretty village of Kinver and the refurbished Rock Houses - carved into the sandstone at Kinver Edge a short walk uphill.

Friday 7th August: Worcester to Stourport on the River Severn

Gorgeous 12-mile stretch of river with huge, huge locks, then into the delightful basin at Stourport. Then on through Kidderminster to rural moorings at Wolverley.

Thursday 6 August: Arrived at Worcester

Moored up for the day at lunchtime in Diglis Basin then explored Worcester on foot. Huge amounts of regeneration going on here - it looks pretty good but I wonder what will be left of the history of the basin next time we're here.

Tuesday 4 August: Taaaarghdebigge Flight

Finished the Lapworth locks on Monday and turned left at King's Norton junction to moor at Alvechurch. Tuesday morning in heavy rain saw us working through the Tardebigge flight of 30-odd locks ...

One of the things I love most about the canal is the sense of history. These puddles are the result of about 180-odd years' worth of boat people standing with both feet in exactly the same spots to wind up the paddle gear. Most of them were probably swearing under their breath, same as I was.

The rain eased off and we rewarded ourselves with a gorgeous dinner at the Queen's Head in Stoke Prior.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Hatton Flight and Lapworth Locks

Early start on Sunday morning up the - very busy - Hatton locks. It's a jolly good workout and a cracking bit of canal landscape - the recent bit of canal art is pretty cool, too.

We could quite creditably have tied up for the night at the top of the locks (23 of them - all double - I'm feeling tweaks in muscles I haven't used for a bit) but we carried on through Kingswood Junction and the first of the Lapworth Locks to the very excellent Boot Inn.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Stourport Ring

Caracol has just had her bottom blacked and is looking very smart. We set off on Saturday morning for our trip on the Stourport Ring canals.

First of all we need to get to Birmingham so we worked down Stockton locks in on-off rain to the outskirts of Leamington Spa for the evening. Hatton Locks and Warwick tomorrow! The important thing, travelling through all of these locks, will be to keep as much of the blacking stuck to the hull as possible.

Monday, 27 July 2009

We've got pig flu...

In fact we've probably had it all weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek.

No really; it's not all that bad, but it's not much fun. Thoughts to everyone out there who is suffering more than we are.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Couch potato

I have just spent the whole of Saturday morning watching all 5 episodes of this week's Torchwood. Bloomin' marvellous.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Retail therapy

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Been back in the real world for nearly a week now - still feeling a lovely sense of relaxation from the break on the canals, though. Ventured into Canterbury for some essential supplies yesterday. Seriously considered buying a shopping basket on wheels for our next trip out on the canal in August - I am getting a bit too middle-aged.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Nearly home

We're back in familiar waters now, on our way to Braunston to turn back off the Oxford Canal and on to the Grand Union and home moorings. I've been quietly impressed by how the blogosphere has made it so easy to load snippets from the trip: the next one will be two weeks in August on the Stourport Ring (floods and canal breaches permitting - we tried this one last year and had to re-organise) and I look forward to better snapshots and better blogging!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Coventry Canal to North Oxford Canal

Two (virtually) lock free days yesterday and today; only the single stoplock at Hawkesbury Junction where the Coventry Canal joins the northernmost tip of the North Oxford Canal. We're well on our way back to base now, so today has been a leisurely day with a chance to stop and walk into Brinklow (very pretty) but it's mighty odd, after two weeks travelling at walking pace, to walk along roads used by ordinary traffic. Stopped up early for the evening and had a potter on foot around Newbold-on-Avon. This is the view back through the tunnel from our mooring this evening - it's a very compelling view through a long straight stretch.