Thursday, 30 September 2010

Long Itchington

Making the most of the last of the holiday we travelled, mostly alone, up the few locks to Long Itchington.  Leaves are starting to turn now, and some were quite spectacular like the Virginia Creeper growing up through other shrubs by the Bascote staircase.  A walk into the village to find somewhere to eat was achieved before the monsoon overnight and most of the next day set in.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


A slow chug along the sump to the other side of Radford Lock today, visiting the various retail opportunities Leamington has to offer.  Having never visited The Moorings we stopped there for lunch to find it closed for refurbishment.  Handy for a retail park though for us to visit a DIY store to buy stuff to fix the shower.  We looked in at the Tiller Pin to find it packed with not a table free, so ended up lunching on board.  Nice sunset though.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Hatton and the Cape

On a surprisingly quiet day we made a solo passage down Hatton flight, remarkable only because of the assisted passage down the first few locks because BW workers wished to get us through before draining a pound for maintenance.  Walking back up to see what was happening and have lunch at the Cafe was pleasant enough, but by then the work was over and all back to normal.  Overnight at the visitor moorings at the Cape of Good Hope, which seemed quieter than on previous visits.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Shrewley Tunnel

Our slow perambulation between watering holes, aiming tonight for the Waterman at Hatton, took us through Shrewley Tunnel.  And this picture marks the retirement, (subject to establishing the feasibility of repair), of my camera which shortly after took an unscheduled bath.  At least it's an excuse for a new toy!  Pictures may be less frequent for a while though.

Arriving back after dinner a little before nine o'clock, the visitor moorings in the cutting before the locks were rather noisy.  A furiously revving engine on an Anglo Wesh boat turned out to be the cause, apparently a reaction to some battery charging problems.  Still, after a polite request to stop the engine, we all settled down for a very peaceful night, and next day as we passed them in the locks there was an engineer wheeling in new batteries to fix the problem.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Duck's eye view

Heading back north again, the Edstone aqueduct is one of only a couple with the tow path at a lower level than the trough carrying the water.  It is curious because although by no means as high or long as its Welsh cousins, not seeing the ground on either side really adds to the sense of height and exposure.
It also makes what is really quite a small dog look rather more intimidating.  On to Lowsonford for the night and dinner at the Fleur de Lys.  The moorings were crowded as we arrived with a fleet of Anglo Wesh boats, so we booked a table.  However this proved unnecessary as before long several crews of superannuated pirates arrived back from the pub and set off giggling down the locks.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Duck whisperer

OK, so Stratford does have its moments when you wake up in your boat in the middle of town on a gloriously sunny morning.  With a food festival and various food markets open today I think the locals were outnumbering the tourists for a change.  After some more shopping we set off back up the locks, only just fitting under some of the bridges with the water tank empty, so just as well we're still carrying those old batteries.  
As we stopped to take on water a particularly engaging family of ducks arrived to relieve us of some bread bought for this very purpose.  Supremely confident, they came closer and closer until the inevitable happened and in the excitement a finger was mistaken for food.  Nothing more from us after that, but they soon spotted another opportunity.  After a cool and windy, but gloriously sunny day, we moored at Wilmcote for a generously proportioned dinner in the Masons Arms.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Lazy days

The day arrived, chilly, grey and wet. For the first time on a cruise we decided to stay where we were, and spend some time doing the traditional tourist thing.  So a day spent in Stratford, which everyone assures you is dripping in history, but strangely doesn't really feel like that.  Perhaps all of the very many visitors seeking that sense have carried it away with them...

Back on the move again tomorrow.

Thursday, 23 September 2010


Yesterday we started down the many, many locks between Lapworth and Stratford in the autumn sunshine.  The forecasters warned of rain tomorrow, and we weren't the only ones making the most of the sun - this chap was on a sunflower growing by one of the locks.  We aimed for lunch at the Crabmill, which never disappoints.  Table service included a server bringing a bowl of water and a couple of biscuits for each dog with diners!

On again down the locks in the afternoon we ended up at Wooton Wawen for a look around St Peter's, (reputedly the oldest church in Warwickshire dating to Saxon times), and dinner in the Navigation.  Next day we went on down the Wilmcote flight, turning nearly every lock, except the really leaky ones.  We only met one boat, just above the bottom lock. 

Stratford is an interesting town to approach as you drop through a variety of locks in the industrial area characteristic of a midlands town.  This lock was my favourite, with a stone clad bridge parapet resting on a girder, and a lock gate with a ninety degree bend to fit into the space.  Moored for the night in the tourist circus that is Bancroft Basin.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

An early start

Hatton flight lies between a busy road and a commuter rail line, but even so it can be very quiet in the middle of the night.  So quiet in fact that you can start to hear unfamiliar noises on the boat.  Having got out of bed to check all was OK at about 5 am, I felt a bit chilly so turned on the heating.  Then there was definitely a funny noise, which was the pump running with no liquid in the reservoir.

To make a long story short I found the leak at the joint in the Hep2O piping I had used to drain the system.  A little research revealed that rather than reassembling it like a copper joint, I needed to reassemble the connector, then push the end of the pipe into it.  Who would have thought that push to fit piping was assembled by, erm... pushing it together.  Around 5.30, an hour before first light, I heard a runner pounding past on the path.  I thought it was an odd time to be running, but I was sure it was a strange time for plumbing.  I always decide that next time I'll read the instructions before tackling a job, but I doubt I ever will.

Still, we were all sorted and refilled by about 6.15, and on the move on a beautiful foggy morning by 7 am.  As soon as the sun was over the trees the mist began to burn off, but before it did the dew was highlighting the many cobwebs on the lock gear.
It's great how visiting a flight of locks done many times before but in different conditions can make the whole thing seem like new.  Moored on the South Stratford after a good lunch at the Boot.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Autumn cruise

We drove up to the boat on Saturday, and the downside was that it was our worst ever journey with long delays or closed roads with every route you tried.  On the upside we ended up on minor roads broadly following the line of the southern Grand Union and had lots of glimpses of the canal and the neighbouring villages.  We already knew a lot of nice canal side villages, so it was interesting to see that a lot of their neighbours are just as pleasant.

Concluding that our domestic batteries were reaching the end of their useful life, (when the TV and fridge stopped working mid-evening), we decided to stop at Leamington Tesco for the night to get to the shops on Monday.  It's hard to miss this shop, and although it looks as though it will be close by, Lidl and the Co-op further to the east are a shorter carry.  There used to be room for two or three boats at Tesco but some enterprising soul has cut back a load of vegetation to make more space. 
Shame about the rubbish all over the bank though.  Monday dawned bright and sunny with lots of joggers and cyclists on the towpath opposite.  The lady at Kate Boats pointed us towards Warwickshire Batteries on Birmingham Road, very handy for the Saltisford Arm.  They had just what we needed, and even loaned a sack truck to get the batteries across the road.  So about £200 lighter, (and 90kg heavier until we dispose of the old ones), we set off up Hatton after an hour or so of wrestling heavy objects in confined spaces.  We stopped for the night about halfway up the locks in one of the longer pounds where someone had trimmed the overgrown edges in two places about 58 feet apart.

Tomorrow we'll be off towards Stratford and maybe a few days on the Avon if we have time.