Wednesday, 13 June 2018

A discovery right up the Ashby

What a pretty canal!  We are almost at the top as I write and it must be one of the most picturescue canals in the country as well as being the most rural. Mind you it didn't stop some idiot not stopping when I was half way through a bridge and pushing me into the arch.  Minor damage in the end but totally unnecessary.  A minor panic last night when we added up the amount of scoff we have on board compared to the likelihood of finding shops.  Luckily my trusty folding bike came into play and I cycled twenty miles up the worlds steepest hill into Market Bosworth to find a shop (slight exaggeration there).  Yesterday we had a great walk around a certain battlefield site - see photos below:

I bet no one looking at this can work out what happened here in 1485.  In fact the area was a marsh and to the left was a dastardly usurper (Henry Tudor) and to the right a dastardly hunchback (Richard the 3rd). Yup this was the actual site of the battle of Bosworth and Richard got his comeuppance withing a few hundred yards of the canal and as we all know ended up in a car park in Leicester for his pains.  Also the actual battlefield site was thought to be in a different place until archeological discoveries of cannon balls and other detritus was discovered here.  

How to recover after a long walk through history.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Sunday entertainment

Saturday saw us moored up at Hawkesbury junction which is where the Oxford canal meets the Coventry.  There is a small basin with a very nice and very busy pub with good outside seating.  The junction requires a very sharp turn under a bridge once you have left a lock, So strangely enough we ended up sitting outside on Sunday waiting for lunch and indulging in that world renowned boating activity - 'watching others cock it up while smugly drinking beer.'  At first there was little traffic but then a boat named 'Elegance' made up for it all.  He came out the lock at just about full throttle which was a little odd and then made absolutely no attempt to turn and rammed the stones below the bridge a high speed.  No one could work out what the hell he was doing but it was great entertainment.  I saw his bow later that afternoon and there was an impressive dent in it - I suspect a fair amount of damage below as well.  It wasn't quite so funny today when we met the same boat coming the other way on the wrong side of a blind bend.  We missed him but no thanks to the idiot on the tiller.
And Sunday lunch was a mere 8, all the food piled on top of itself so you had to 'deconstruct' it, cauliflower cheese with no cheese sauce and once again roast spuds that looked totally anemic.
We are now on the Ashby canal which is a 20 mile dead end and very pretty.  The aim is to be back at our new marina on the 22nd or 23rd.

The Greyhound pub and great boating vantage point

This chap got it right - 'Elegance' elegantly smashed right into the base of the bridge

Mind you at one point I did wonder just how strong the beer was!!

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Just cruzin' on

We said goodby to Warwick on Monday and headed off down the Grand Onion to Napton junction which is where the Oxford canal joins.  We then turned hard to port and headed up to the famous Braunston junction which also had a very large chandlery.   I even managed to go in and only spend twenty quid - something of a record.  After that we've been heading north and hope to go up to the Ashby canal before having to turn around and tie up in the new marina - which we passed the other day.  We are currently at Hawskworth junction near Coventry which has: a water point, rubbish disposal, a chemical toilet facility - oh and a really nice looking pub.    --  narrow boat heaven!!

A really pretty spot to moor somewhere in Narnia

And there were other things to do to pass the time

And also the dangerous three headed swans were about scrounging bread.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Alas poor Warwick

We knew it well.  But it was odd to go back because it was three years ago that we visited and we couldn't remember a thing about the place until we walked into town and it all came back - a very pretty town with an eye-wateringly expensive castle to visit  (so we didn't).  To get here on Friday last we had to come down 16 locks of the Lapworth Flight and then 21 double locks on the Hatton Flight.  Nearly as many as if we has stuck to the original plan and gone the other way.  Mind you we had CRT volunteers on both flights and they weren't really a problem.  Actually looking at timing and the state of the rivers after all the recent rain I think we made the right decision.  So we are now off to the the famous junction at Braunston and thence past our new marina further up the Grand Onion towards Coventry.  Whether we have time to nip up the Ashby remains to be seen as we want to be home by the end of the month.  Oh and Sunday lunch was in a local boozer called the Globe not too bad a it got a 9 but I'm thinking of changing the Sunday challenge from the best lunch to the best roast spuds as I have yet to have a decent one!!!!!
The bottom of Lapworth after 16 lock s- only 21 to go

Not hard to decide which way to go

The centre of Warwick, there was a big market here the previous day which kept Fi happy

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Change of plan (that's assuming we had one in the first place)

We left Gas Street, in Brum, in the pouring rain after a rather refreshing alcohol free night (never go boating with doctors on board!!) .  The original plan was to head out and go  to Worcester down the notorious Tardebigge flight of a mere 56 locks - 36 in one flight.  However, Fi has a stinking cold so I started to look at alternatives.  In the end we turned on to the top of the Stratford canal and are heading to its junction with the Grand Onion so that we can hopefully moor up in Warwick for the weekend.  We've been there before and its really pleasant.  Mind you thats 21 locks of the Hatton Flight and a previous 22 on this canal - hang on I thought I was trying to minimise the locks!!  Still the BCN challenge was fun although we are not sure we will 'do' Birmingham again, The centre bit is great but getting in an out is a chore both in numbers of locks and in lack of 'ambience' (to be polite).
After that - who knows?? Although I have in mind to go up the Ashby canal, the other side of Coventry which  is another dead end but looks really pretty.

Gas Street basin, derelict for many years but now fully restored and with more restaurants than I've ever seen in one place before (shame there were no shops!)

More Gas Street with the old and the new

Meanwhile the dog continues to take it all too serioulsy

Monday, 28 May 2018

The challenge of Brum

After Fradley we headed south to yet another junction (Fazely), where we met up with our 'Scurvy Crew' Matt and Penny for the next adventure.  This was the Birmingham Canal Navigation 24 hour marathon.  The idea is that you cruise various parts of the Birmingham system and get awarded points for distance, locks, photos of certain places and answering treasure hunt type clues.  Despite intending to start out at Fazeley junction which would have given us maximum points for distance on our chosen route, we opted instead to move a bit further to where there was a rather good pub, which sort of summed up our approach.  There are 120 miles of canal in the system and it was obvious we weren't going to only do part of it but some canals were worth more points so we made an effort to go up these.  It started at 0800 and finished at 1400 the next day.  You are required to have at least 6 hours rest - we managed 15!  Partly because we had no intention of traveling at night and partly because of the mother of all thunderstorms overnight and nothing to do with wanting to stop and have few beers and a good sleep.  In the end 36 boats competed although one of them never finished as he sank in a lock!!  He was the only 'yogurt pot'  otherwise known as a fibre glass cabin cruiser and the only one on the event.  Apparently he hit something going in to a lock and punctured his hull.
We had some fun talking to other boats as they passed the other way although the fleeting look of horror on one ladies face as I shouted that the they were going the wrong way was a bit cruel (but quite funny).   One thing I found out is that the M5/M6 junction heading north has an aqueduct over it and it was quite a sight to look down on all the traffic.  I must have been up that road hundreds of times and not realised that narrow boats were passing overhead.  Another section goes completely underneath the raised section of the M5 as you pass through the city.
The finish was at the highest part of the system at Titford although I wasn't really sure whether we were floating in water or neat engine oil by that stage.  In fact many of the canals were pretty polluted and I need to have a session through my weed hatch soon to see what I've collected on my prop.  However the organisers were great as was the beer and the Blues band that evening.
We will be back to just two tomorrow and will head out back into the countryside. although one little bijou challengette will be the trip down the Tardebigge Flight of locks to the river Severn.  A mere 53 locks and 30 of them in one flight, oh and another 2 mile tunnel - can't wait.
The scurvy crew at the start looking far too happy.

One of the regular delights of the Birmingham system

One of our regular views of the M5 from a decidedly odd vantage point

Despite being less than 2 miles from the town center, this is the view as you approach via the water

Monday, 21 May 2018

Another Sunday another Sunday lunch

A restful few days at Fradley in glorious weather culminated in Sunday Lunch at the Mucky Duck.  Although it was a carvery it only got an 8 because the veg was overcooked, the Yorkshire was soggy and the spuds pretty average.  Still the ambience was good.  The pub's been there for over three hundred years and its nice to see it hasn't been ponced up as a modern 'gastro pub'.  Off to Fazely junction now to meet up with scurvy crew (Matt and Penny) so we can to the Birmingham Navigation Challenge starting on Saturday at 0800 - starting that early is going to be a shock to the system but we are not intending to take it too seriously - unless we all get a competitive streak at the last moment!!

A photograph of one of the most photographed pubs in the country