Saturday, 30 April 2011

Going downhill slowly

After a night when the temperature dropped way down, we set off for the top of the Hatton flight around 8 am.  The day soon warmed up, and a fairly slow passage meeting only three boats saw us at the Cape in time for lunch.  Ended the day in glorious sunshine moored in the pound above Radford bottom lock, having secured a drifting boat in the pound below.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Nice day for a white wedding

Nature notes:

We travelled today from Catherine de Barnes to Hatton, via lunch at the Boot in Lapworth.  Lots of herons around this morning.  I tend to think of them as a rural sight, but this one had chosen the M42 viaduct as a suitable place to go fishing.  This afternoon we spotted this fox gazing out at us from the security of the cutting just south of Shrewley tunnel.  I tried to get a little closer for a better picture, but suddenly there was a flash of fur and he was gone.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Curdworth to Catherine de Barnes

It's along time since we've been along this route, probably 15 years, and time has taken its toll.  Some factories are still working but lots more look derelict, or are now building sites for the sort of new industrial multi-purpose buildings that some investor presumably hopes will get snapped up as the economy improves.
Approaching Salford Junction the motorways assert themselves once more, and as you can see from the bridge pillars it is perhaps not the place to overnight if you don't fancy acquiring some new and unsolicited signwriting for the boat. 
Our first issue with water levels was in the pound by the Cincinnatti works, (or ex-Cincinnatti works), where we could get through just fine but a BW man asked us to wait while he refilled the pound.  Garrison Locks were also low, and you see us here waiting above the bottom lock for enough water to be let down to be able to make it through the shallows ahead.  A personal record here - two trips down the weedhatch in a single pound; once for a pair of trousers and then for a shirt.  It was even less fun at Camp Hill Locks when we reached there.  Although the bottom paddles seemed to be down, some of the plentiful rubbish must have been holding one open as the lock just wouldn't fill.  Eventually we reopened them to flush it out, but by that time the pound above was well down.  At the top lock a duck with one duckling left was agitated when she found herself stuck in the lock unable to get her offspring out.  Fortunately the duckling was more resourceful and made a raft out of discarded take-away food boxes that happened to be handy, as we slowly filled the lock. 
We were much more fortunate than than the boat following, who didn't arrive at Catherine de Barnes until 10.30 having struggled through the locks.  All in all though, still an enjoyable if slightly challenging day.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Tamworth to Curdworth

After  a push across the canal to use the services, we set off steadily towards Birmingham.  A shorter day today, and in better weather, as we only wanted to get as far as Curdworth, after which the city begins to intrude a bit and it isn't so pleasant to moor.  The first of the days low pounds wasn't a problem for Caracol, but became one for Annie after running up and down the flight and getting thirsty.  Wanting a drink she took one risk too many and tumbled in - funny how she never minds being hauled out by the collar.
As we climbed the flight with the increasing roar of the M42, the weather improved, and we were back into the bright yellow land of oilseed rape.  We reached Curdworth in time for a late lunch and a wander around the village to look at the church and some other attractive buildings.  Hardly any boats seemed to be moving, surprisingly enough.

Huddlesford to Tamworth via Fradley

A gray, cold day had us back in fleeces and gloves as we chugged up to Fradley to use the facilities.  Too early for lunch at the Swan, so we retraced our steps to Huddlesford as the Plough had been closed last evening and we fancied trying it.  Onward back for a visit to Tamworth town centre and the shops to restock.  There is a large memorial in Church Square to Able Seaman Colin Grazier who died retrieving Enigma code books from a sinking submarine.  It is very striking but as you can see I couldn't find an angle that would eliminate that pesky street light.  Moored near Fazeley Junction for a quiet night, (until the building site opposite starts work early in the morning).

Monday, 25 April 2011

To Huddlesford Junction

Well ahead of where we needed to be on the Warwickshire Ring, we decided on a side trip out to Fradley.  The weather is back with us again, seems more like high summer than April.  We thought we'd be at Fradley tonight, but moved slower than expected so stopped a few miles short.  We may try the Plough for dinner tonight.  We're off through Birmingham in a day or two so need to plan moorings a bit more carefully than usual as it is apparently unwise to stop just anywhere in the city.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

To Polesworth

On today through a post industrial landscape still showing some of the signs of an intensely mined and quarried history.  One thing that stood out were the bluebells in the clumps of trees in the parkland above Atherstone - normally you have to be in the woods to see them.  We crossed with much of the Lichfield cruising club in the locks, seven boats being out together.  While the sun didn't make a showing, still a good day's cruising for the time of year.  Finished the day at a favourite mooring just west of Polesworth, where what was an industrial site is now a glorious huge area of woodland.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Newbold to Coldecote

We looked into all three of the pubs in Newbold, before deciding to take fish and chips back to the boat.  After a quiet night we set off fairly early, pausing at Rose Narrowboats chandlery along the way.  After lunch in the Greyhound we pottered on through the glorious afternoon.  The picture shows the M6 soaring above the canal at some point on the journey.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

What's left to say?

Just another beautiful weekend out to Braunston and back.  We couldn't make our minds up whether to travel or not, probably having got out of the habit, but so glad we did.  On the way back on Sunday we shared the locks breasted up to NB Elizabeth, (a historic boat converted for leisure use in the 1930s), and found that actually you can't steer a 30 ton boat with a 15 ton one.  What can you say about a trip you've done before, but still enjoy every time...
... perhaps you just have to be there.