Ashby canal

i have lots of pictures taken on the camera of Charlie’s visit, but unfortunately our 12v charger for the laptop has broken, so I’m having to blog on the phone. I did think I wasn’t able to blog at all, as the pictures weren’t uploading; but my computer guru has added more space and done something to minimise the picture size. Shame j can’t blog on the computer!! Anyway since last time we have made our way slowly along the Coventry canal and reChed the Ashby. We were last here in 2011 on a hire boat. On the way we had to stop and clear the weed hatch which was full of black plastic. It’s the first time we have had to do this in a long time. Granddaughter Charlie was collected on Wednesday. We had done fishing, play parks, craft and bubble chasing; some of it in the rain. She had a good time anyway. We now have our grandson Noel. He isn’t so out doorsy!! And has to do without his playstation whilst he’s with us.  

 
We swapped children at the Lime Kilns pub, and we are now at Sutton Cheney Wharf, which is a short walk from The Battle of Bosworth museum and park. One of the memorials in picture above. We didn’t visit the museum this time as we did it in 2011, but walked to Shenton station and ride on a heritage train (diesel again), to Market Bosworth and Shackerstone. 

 
It turned out to be a hot day. Picture above shows Noel in the carriage. I should have packed a picnic as he is constantly hungry. Grandad has done some fishing and caught this perch so he is happy. 

 
We are heading up the ashby to Snarestone as this is as far as the canal goes. Next weekend there is a big family festival at Shackerstone so we have decided to hang around and attend this. We have booked a visitor mooring in the new Bosworth marina and we can hand Noel back as well as attend the festival.

Now on waters new

Since my last blog we have an extra crew member on board in the shape of my 8yr old granddaughter. She was dropped off on Wednesday whilst we were at Fradley junction, and is staying for a week. Then we will have her 6yr old brother for a week. We moved from Fradley on Thursday.

Through the lock toward the junction at Fradley. Have help this time.

Through the lock toward the junction at Fradley. Have help this time.

Passing the Swan Inn and shop at Fradley Junction

Passing the Swan Inn and shop at Fradley Junction

Making the turn onto the Coventry canal

Making the turn onto the Coventry canal

Little Charlie on the swingbridge at the entrance to the Coventry

Little Charlie on the swingbridge at the entrance to the Coventry

Breakaway's crew waiting while we top up with water

Breakaway’s crew waiting while we top up with water

Our first mooring on the Coventry canal near Whittington.

Our first mooring on the Coventry canal near Whittington.

We topped up some shopping at the local co-op in Whittington, and had two nights here as we were feeling rather tired and the weather wasn’t too bright. There was a park locally so I took LC there. The zip wire was a favourite. I’ve managed to see some more wild flowers (not seen any for a while). So here goes.

Ivy

Ivy

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle

Think this is Black Bryony. The berries are poisonous.

Think this is Black Bryony. The berries are poisonous.

I thought this was Black Bryony too, but the flowers only have 5 sepals and not 6.

I thought this was Black Bryony too, but the flowers only have 5 sepals and not 6.

And some strange nutty looking things on what looks like an oak.

And some strange nutty looking things on what looks like an oak.

Today we set off and the forecast was for rain. So far it has been sunny and very muggy. We stopped at Fazeley junction to fill up again with water, empty the cassette (we have one broken at the moment and need a replacement blade), and tip out rubbish.

Sanitary station Fazeley junction

Sanitary station Fazeley junction

Crane at what was once a wharf and now sits in front of flats next to the sanitary station

Crane at what was once a wharf and now sits in front of flats next to the sanitary station

Same sanitary station different view.

Same sanitary station different view.

We have turned left at the junction and remain on the Coventry canal. We were going to head for Birmingham, but have again changed our minds! So now heading for Hawkesbury junction and maybe the Ashby canal.

Shugborough to Rugeley

Yesterday we had our promised visit to Shugborough Hall. So after an early lunch we set off in the sunshine. As NT members we had a discounted price for entry. As it is run by Staffordshire County Council there are admission charges. It was given to the trust in 1960 by the 5th Earl of Lichfield,( who we all know as Patrick Lichfield, the photographer), as there were death duties from his fathers estate. He continued to live there until his death in 2005. Charlie took many pictures of our visit, and I am going to post a sample of them (hope it’s not too boring for my readers!).

Entrance to Shugborough Hall

Entrance to Shugborough Hall

The house was built as a gentleman’s residence in the mid 1700’s by the Anson family (one of whom circumnavigated the globe). It was gradually added to over the years to become the mansion it is today.

Dining room

Dining room

Living room. Apparently the Queen used to visit her cousin, and she took tea in this room.

Living room. Apparently the Queen used to visit her cousin, and she took tea in this room.

Lots of treasures in this room from  travels around the globe.

Lots of treasures in this room from travels around the globe.

Bathroom in Patrick Lichfields private apartment

Bathroom in Patrick Lichfields private apartment

Sitting room in same apartment

Sitting room in same apartment

Guest bedroom, again in the private apartment. Olivia Newton-John stayed here

Guest bedroom, again in the private apartment. Olivia Newton-John stayed here

Library room

Library room

After the trip around the main house, we ventured to the servants quarters (we always joke that this is where we would be in days gone past)

One of the many carriages on display. This one attended the Queen's coronation.

One of the many carriages on display. This one attended the Queen’s coronation.

Range in the kitchen area where all the food was prepared and cooked for the gentry

Range in the kitchen area where all the food was prepared and cooked for the gentry

The servants were given a gallon of beer a day as part of their wages; there was a brewery on the estate for this purpose

The servants were given a gallon of beer a day as part of their wages; there was a brewery on the estate for this purpose

Servants eating hall

Servants eating hall

Laundry area. The working day started at 5am, and finished at dusk. The servants got 1 day off a month.

Laundry area. The working day started at 5am, and finished at dusk. The servants got 1 day off a month.

The dairy where cheese and butter was made

The dairy where cheese and butter was made

Schoolroom (I remember desks like these)

Schoolroom (I remember desks like these)

Stable area (with pretend horse)

Stable area (with pretend horse)

Also on the estate is a working farm with many rare breeds

piggy wiggies

piggy wiggies

Long horn cattle. This breed was developed at Shugborough and has thrived there since the 1800's. The cattle live out all year long, and survive on the grass and scrub around the estate. Only 3 cattle are finished each year, and this meat is sold in a local farm shop. Their bull is called Buckden magic; and each animal born has a name that starts with Sherborne (the name of the stream that skirts the grounds)

Long horn cattle. This breed was developed at Shugborough and has thrived there since the 1800’s. The cattle live out all year long, and survive on the grass and scrub around the estate. Only 3 cattle are finished each year, and this meat is sold in a local farm shop. Their bull is called Buckden magic; and each animal born has a name that starts with Sherborne (the name of the stream that skirts the grounds)

Carriage horse

Carriage horse

And whats this?? It's amazing what you find in these country houses

And whats this?? It’s amazing what you find in these country houses

Today we set off heading for Rugeley. A stop at Aldi was needed.

through Haywood lock first

through Haywood lock first

Bullrushes in abundance along the bank

Bullrushes in abundance along the bank

Passing Wolseley

Passing Wolseley

Rugeley power station in the distance

Rugeley power station in the distance

Trent aqueduct our stop for the night (just before not actually on the aqueduct)

Trent aqueduct our stop for the night (just before not actually on the aqueduct)

And finally the sign telling of the murder of Christina Collins that I reported in February when we passed the last time

And finally the sign telling of the murder of Christina Collins that I reported in February when we passed the last time

After a shower we walked to Aldi for a few items. I phoned the Plum Pudding restaurant and we are booked there for tomorrow eve for a belated birthday meal. They have moorings outside that we can use as we are eating there. So tomorrow it’s off to Armitage.

Great Haywood junction

We were last here on the 4th of March, and didn’t think we would be back here so soon. It’s only a short stretch on the T&M until we get to Fradley junction and the Coventry canal, where we will be turning. Today is my 61st birthday so forgive me if there are any spelling mistakes, but we have shared a bottle of my favourite wine in celebration, accompanying home cooked fish and chips (I forgot to add the veg even before the wine came out!).

A narrow stretch on the Staffs and Worcs with overgrown reeds. There are many stretches like this along the way. Why is it we always meet boats coming the other way!!

A narrow stretch on the Staffs and Worcs with overgrown reeds. There are many stretches like this along the way. Why is it we always meet boats coming the other way!!

We set off from Acton Trussell reasonably early, and decided we wouldn’t stop and visit Stafford after all (hubby was pulling faces at the prospect of a shopping experience!), so headed for Great Haywood instead. It was a better day than yesterday anyway, and the sun as shining.

Canal view

Canal view

Are we going the right way?

Are we going the right way?

Aqueduct crossing the River Sow

Aqueduct crossing the River Sow

The journey was uneventful although Tixall lock became busy as we approached.

Railway running alongside the canal in places. Virgin trains going much faster than us!

Railway running alongside the canal in places. Virgin trains going much faster than us!

After the lock at Tixall the canal proceeds through a very attractive setting and opens out into a wide expance of water. There are various views on how this came about. One being it’s a natural lake.

Tixall wide as it is known

Tixall wide as it is known

Great Haywood was just beyond so we wanted to get through the junction and moor if possible just beyond as Shugborough Hall is beckoning tomorrow. We promised a visit if we ever passed this way again.

Tixall gatehouse. All that remains of a once great hall where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1586.

Tixall gatehouse. All that remains of a once great hall where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1586.

Aqueduct crossing the Trent just before the junction.

Aqueduct crossing the Trent just before the junction.

We have reached our destination for today. I have had many birthday wishes and a few cards. I have decided my birthday meal will be at The Plum Pudding brasserie in Armitage, so will be a bit belated but hopefully worth it as it has good reviews and is right by the canal (and is Italian, and we do like a good Italian).

Moving along to Acton Trussell

Yesterday heavy rain and thunder was forecast, so we were up early as usual and set off from Penkridge to get settled before the weather turned in. Along this stretch the M6 motorway is never very far away

M6 motorway

M6 motorway

We did 5 locks in total and a brief stop at Midland chandlers shop, and our total cruise time was just under 4 hours. Weather so far overcast but no rain, so we carried on.

My turn to do the lock

My turn to do the lock

At Strutt hill lock an iron post that shows it was once a wharf. The post was used to turn the boats into the dock.

At Strutt hill lock an iron post that shows it was once a wharf. The post was used to turn the boats into the dock.

Himalayan balsam which lined much of this route. Very pretty, but can be invasive

Himalayan balsam which lined much of this route. Very pretty, but can be invasive

We decided to stop just after Acton Trussell. Not much here except for some very posh houses, and a very posh restaurant! We found a quiet mooring (or so we thought), as we knew the weather was definately arriving, and we won’t be travelling if it does arrive!

View from our mooring

View from our mooring

Mmmmm blackberries are starting to ripen. I have already picked some for the freezer

Mmmmm blackberries are starting to ripen. I have already picked some for the freezer

Breakaway's garden. I obtained these 3 pots in Tesco at Ellesmere about a month ago. I fancied some pots, as many boats are laden with them this time of the year. I am quite pleased with how they are fairing as they were reduced to half price! Anyone who knows me well will appreciate that I love a bargain

Breakaway’s garden. I obtained these 3 pots in Tesco at Ellesmere about a month ago. I fancied some pots, as many boats are laden with them this time of the year. I am quite pleased with how they are fairing as they were reduced to half price! Anyone who knows me well will appreciate that I love a bargain

Today is raining heavily so we have done some minor chores on the boat. Thankfully no thunder as yet. Our quiet mooring has been shattered by another boat who moored in front of us last night (why do they have to moor so close when there is plenty of room further along?)., and today has been running the engine for nearly 2 hours so far….gggrrrhhh. My birthday tomorrow and we will move further toward Great Haywood. I would like a trip into Stafford, but Charlie not sounding as keen. We will see when we get closer how we feel.

Local wildlife

Local wildlife

Penkridge

Yesterday we left Gailey Wharf for Penkridge (so called because it skirts the River Penk). It has been very warm these past few days, and it was broadcast that the Midlands had over 100% humidity. No wonder we are melting. We are used to the cooling breezes of Cornwall! We negotiated 4 locks; one of which sits beside the M6 motorway.

Rodbaston lock beside the M6 motorway. Glad we are on the canal. You can just see the motorway sign.

Rodbaston lock beside the M6 motorway. Glad we are on the canal. You can just see the motorway sign.

We always like to cruise early so we can get a good spot after everyone has moved on. At Penkridge we found a reasonably quiet mooring despite being surrounded by houses. We had a walk into Penkridge to see what the town had to offer, and we were told of a market that would be there on Wednesday.

The top of Penkridge village

The top of Penkridge village

and the bottom of the same street

and the bottom of the same street

one of the many pubs that the village has to offer

one of the many pubs that the village has to offer

Today we walked again into the town to the market, and it was very impressive. There were many stalls selling almost everything from hardware, cakes, plants, clothes, fruit and veg. The only other market that has been as lively was when we were in Stone. Penkridge village has a range of shops including a large co-op and a lovely butchers that has locally sourced meat, makes sausages and pies and also faggots. Us southerners aren’t too au fait with faggots; we know of them as my daughter used to make them when she was running a pub; but these were recommended by another boater so it would have been rude not to try them, as they are made daily in the butchers shop. Dinner tomorrow sorted. We will probably move tomorrow as there is a Midland Chandlers closeby and there are some things we need to get there; but heavy rain and thunderstorms forecast so we need to move early and get moored before the rain starts.

A lonely swan that has been cruising up and down near our current mooring

A lonely swan that has been cruising up and down near our current mooring

And finally Izzy soaking up the sunshine on the stern (possibly looking at the swan!)

And finally Izzy soaking up the sunshine on the stern (possibly looking at the swan!)

Gailey Wharf

Back on board after our brief visit to Cornwall, although our journey back to Wolverhampton was a slow one due to excess traffic and roadworks. Glad we don’t drive on roads much anymore!! We returned our hire car on Saturday (a rather smart red Seat Leon diesel automatic), and had a relaxing afternoon watching the shenanigans at Autherley stop lock; very entertaining and better than watching the telly! It was a hot afternoon, so nice to sit outside supping a beverage. Sunday we started early to get through the junction and also to negotiate a section on the Staffs and Worcester canal called the narrows; which is only wide enough for one boat to pass due to the fact it is cut out from solid rock. It never ceases to amaze me how these canals were built using only shovels, picks and manpower. So we are now cruising the Staffs and Worcester canal and heading toward Great Haywood. The canal so far has been very twisty and windy in places, but we have made it to Gailey.

The roundhouse at Gailey top lock that once was a toll house but now a private residence and shop selling canal ware

The roundhouse at Gailey top lock that once was a toll house but now a private residence and shop selling canal ware

Sanitary station at Gailey Wharf

Sanitary station at Gailey Wharf

DSC00705

Breakaway in the lock ready to descend

Breakaway in the lock ready to descend

Looking back at the top lock from our mooring below, and seeing it in action with a boat exiting and one waiting to enter

Looking back at the top lock from our mooring below, and seeing it in action with a boat exiting and one waiting to enter

Today we have been doing a few jobs and I have been baking. Rain was forecast but we didn’t see any until 2pm when we had what could only be described as a cloudburst; sunny again now. I have managed to sell our deceased greyhound’s lifejacket by advertising it in the boat window (result as only put it in window today). I still have 2 new folding bicycle covers to get rid of now. And by chance whilst negotiating the lifejacket deal, started to chat to a lady waiting to enter the lock.It turns out that her husband is from Truro, and they live near Liskeard, and that she is a practice nurse at Liskeard surgery!! Small world. She had noticed our cornish flag. Tomorrow we will cruise to Penkridge. We can go steadily now as no more visitors planned as yet.

The end of the Shropshire Union canal

Yesterday we made the effort to get to the end of the Shropshire Union, and a visitor mooring at Napton Narrowboats, so we can leave the boat secure whilst in Cornwall. It was a very windy day and in places the boat was difficult to handle as many open spaces. The canal continues to be rural virtually to the end. Hard to believe we are on the outskirts of Wolverhampton, except for the accent of course! It always amazes me how accents change within such a small area. Here follows some pics taken along the route.

Lucky to see a heron who stood still for the picture

Lucky to see a heron who stood still for the picture

Stretton aqueduct, floating over the A5.

Stretton aqueduct, floating over the A5.

Brewood church

Brewood church

Vintage boats at Brewood wharf

Vintage boats at Brewood wharf

Ornate bridge along the way

Ornate bridge along the way

Lucky to see another heron much further along

Lucky to see another heron much further along

Travelling under the M54.  We prefer our speed.

Travelling under the M54. We prefer our speed.

The end of the Shroppie at the junction with the Staffs and Worcester canal. A small stop lock to go through first.

The end of the Shroppie at the junction with the Staffs and Worcester canal. A small stop lock to go through first.

Breakaway on a linear mooring opposite Napton Narrowboat hire base.

Breakaway on a linear mooring opposite Napton Narrowboat hire base.

Signpost showing the way

Signpost showing the way

When we return we will be heading back toward Great Haywood, as we want to get onto the Coventry canal at Fradley junction. This will be back onto the T&M again for a short while (we know it well). The reason for this is we have booked the boat into Streethay Wharf in December (to coincide with returning to Cornwall), to be repainted and blacked, and a few minor jobs as well. This will then feel that Breakaway is truly ours, with our stamp on her. Question is what colour and do we change her name? The chappie I spoke to when booking asked to see the boat before we took her in, so we can do this on the way down the Coventry and heading to Birmingham.

It will have been 1 year this Friday since I retired. Where has the time gone? We have had quite an adventure since and hope for many more years yet. To anyone who asks do we get bored…the answer is NO definately not. Keeping fit, and seeing the country from a different perspective; checking out history along the way to keep our brains active (what brain), what could be better in retirement.

Off to Cornwall tomorrow. Hire car ordered and bags packed ready.

Wheaton Aston

I can’t believe it was last Tuesday when I wrote my last blog. I just don’t know where the time goes. Sunday again! We met our friends on Tuesday at Market Drayton, and made us of the fact they had a car and popped to Lidl to stock up on the items my granchildren had eaten or drunk. On Wednesday we went to the Wedgwood museum near Stoke-on-Trent, as it wasn’t open when we passed it in March. Hard to believe we have been on the move for 20 weeks and really gone in a circle!DSC00636

Charlie took a few pictures at the Wedgwood museum; the one above shows the canal which was built to transport the pottery to Liverpool. The museum had only been open a few weeks, but it was packed with items from Josiah Wedgwood’s early days, up until the modern ware made today. There was so much information it was hard to take it all in. We went out for a pub meal in the evening to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary (belated as it was in May). On Thursday we moved along the canal through Tyrley locks; had a BBQ and then turned and returned to Market Drayton so our friends could pick up their car.

Tyrley Locks

Tyrley Locks

Top of Tyrley locks in the converted wharf buildings

Top of Tyrley locks in the converted wharf buildings

Our friends left us on Friday and we are making our way rather quickly (for us) to Autherly junction, as we received some sad news this week. A very good friend passed away at the age of 60 from cancer and we are returning briefly to Cornwall for the funeral on Thursday. It makes you realise that life is for living while you can, so enjoy it! We will put the boat into a boatyard at Autherly junbction whilst we are away and hire a car from Wolverhampton. Today we have made it to Wheaton Aston, and tomorrow another 3 hour journey to Autherly junction and the boatyard. Luckily the Shropshire Union is quite rural along this stretch and very beautiful; but not much to see in between, so exploring put on hold until we return.

Embankment cut through solid rock; amazing to think all done with hands and hard graft

Embankment cut through solid rock; amazing to think all done with hands and hard graft

Shropshire Union lined with tree's as there are many embankments along this route

Shropshire Union lined with tree’s as there are many embankments along this route

Izzy snoozing on our travels

Izzy snoozing on our travels

Another plant encrusted rock

Another plant encrusted rock

One of the many high bridges along the canal

One of the many high bridges along the canal

Cowley Tunnel

Cowley Tunnel

And finally a stowaway!!

And finally a stowaway!!

ps.new phone all up and running and all passwords retrieved (phew). Hubby banned from touching the new phone. Since we left Market Drayton we haven’t had a 3G signal until today. Hopefully once we get going again and into Birmingham the signal should be okay for frequent blogging. Watch this space.