A Blog at last!

I have found 5 minutes to update the blog at last, as we have had a mad couple of weeks. On Saturday 16th July the grandchildren were dropped off to us at Stratford. We spent the day in the sunshine, and had a walk along the towpath into Stratford basin with the children, partaking of an icecream whilst we were there. Our daughter and son in law left early afternoon, and they were to return the following Saturday to collect the children. We left Stratford on Sunday and headed back toward Wilmcote. We filled up with water and did the necessary sanitary at Valley Wharf and we were on our way. We had help through a few of the Wilmcote locks by volunteers. This flight is where we had a problem with one of the paddles the week before, but all went well this time. The weather was glorious and we decided to stop after lock 43 (within a 12 lock flight), as it was midday and getting hotter.

the grandchildren helping with the locks!

the grandchildren helping with the locks!

The children had helped with the locks and we all needed a shower to freshen up. It was a handy place to stop as along the flight of locks is a good concrete towpath so they could ride their scooters downhill along it. Later in the evening when we went back for playtime scooter riding, we helped another boat through, and they moored in front of us for the night. We had seen a hire boat go down earlier dropping the paddles as they went. Even my grand daughter knew this wasn’t the correct way to lower the paddles, and she is only 9! Monday and we had 3 locks to do before stopping at Wilmcote and Mary Arden’s Farm. 1  boat coming down and 2 of us going up. Should have been easy but one of the lock gates took 4 adults and 2 children sitting on the beam to get it to open. Many of the locks along the Stratford canal are either broken or leaking or both! Anyway we eventually made it to the 48hr mooring for access to the farm. I had promised the children I would take them in the afternoon, so leaving Charlie behind we set off, purchased a family ticket and proceeded to look around. Weather getting hotter!!

Tuesday and Charlie came with us to the farm this time. He was in charge of the camera so now I have many pictures to share. The children were amused by the falconry display, the goose herding, tudor dancing and the play area and woods. The latter being a lovely cool place to have a picnic.

Mary Arden's farm. Supposedly Shakespeare's mother was thought to have lived here, but in recent years it has been found she lived 30 yards away at Glebe farm. The buildings seen as her house weren't built until after she died.

Mary Arden’s farm. Supposedly Shakespeare’s mother was thought to have lived here, but in recent years it has been found she lived 30 yards away at Glebe farm. The buildings seen as her house weren’t built until after she died.

Maid working in the kitchen

Maid working in the kitchen

Cooking range

Cooking range

Dining area

Dining area

Upstairs bedroom  with cot at the foot of the bed

Upstairs bedroom with cot at the foot of the bed

communal sleeping area. The floor in this room was very bowed

communal sleeping area. The floor in this room was very bowed

Back of the house

Back of the house

Basket making area

Basket making area

Hay rick used for drying the hay. note the granite mushrooms.

Hay rick used for drying the hay. note the granite mushrooms.

Wednesday we moved the boat along further as we had stayed 48 hours on the previous mooring. The towpath was a bit wider here so we had a BBQ. I took the children to the farm for a couple of hours. I now know this farm very well, and have memorised the times of the activities!  Thursday back again to the farm as the weather was still very hot, and the children were enjoying the activities. In the afternoon Noel was invited to demonstrate the Barn Owl  with the falconer; unfortunately I didn’t have the camera.

Millie the Barn owl

Millie the Barn owl

Talia the Eagle Owl. The children did have their picture taken with this magnificent bird

Talia the Eagle Owl. The children did have their picture taken with this magnificent bird

Blacksmith

Blacksmith

Milking the cow

Milking the cow

As you can see everyone working at the farm dresses in Tudor clothes and take on the tasks as they would have been done in Tudor times, even talking in a Tudor manner.

Friday we didn’t go to the farm much to the children’s disappointment, but moved to Wootten Wawen ready for them to be collected at the weekend.

Back to Wootten Wawen

Back to Wootten Wawen

We moored just before the winding hole with no time restrictions. When my daughter arrived on Saturday we went to The Navigation Inn for lunch, which was very reasonable and the food was good, also a children’s play area which helped to keep kid’s amused. The family stayed overnight and left on Sunday after a huge cooked breakfast. We stayed there until today. We washed and polished one side of the boat on Monday. Turned in the winding hole and washed and polished the other side on Tuesday. Wednesday saw our first day of rain for a while, so we cleaned the inside thoroughly, and did some washing. Today we topped up with water at the Anglo Welsh hire base and are now back at Wilmcote, ready to meet our friends from London who are coming on Friday for the weekend.

Quite pleased with myself today as I steered the boat over the big aqueduct without having a panic attack as I don’t like heights. Think the concentration helped.DSC02266

Only 1 lock today, but had to clear the weed hatch after it as the contractors have been cutting the edges and most of it is in the canal. Also had word from our son that our computer is fixed and back with him (faulty power pack).

A quick update

As I’m sure I won’t get time next week with the grandkids being with us. From Wilmcote we moved on Sunday towards Stratford. We had the 12 Wilmcote locks to do so left early to avoid traffic. It’s a good job we did as 5 locks down we hit a problem. The mechanism on the bottom gate had been temporarily fixed with jubilee clips, but this wasn’t holding so we couldn’t raise the paddle. I phoned C&RT to report the problem, meanwhile Charlie climbed onto the gate and managed to tighten the clips, this enabled us to raise the paddle and exit the lock. The operatives arrived and said they knew about this problem, and the clips were a quick fix option. We carried on through the rest of the locks without a problem. The C&RT guys caught up with us and reported that the temp fix had failed again. This will probably be an ongoing problem till they can shut it down to repair it properly. We stopped for water after the locks to find a private boat already filling up. We pulled behind and filled when they had finished, but instead of them moving off the water point they stayed sipping tea and biscuits; tiller arm removed they weren’t going anywhere; meanwhile 3 hire boats were coming up, 2 of which needed water. Chaos ensued until we moved off. Private boat still there!! We arrived at Valley Wharf (one of the Valley cruises hire boat base), and emptied our cassettes, then down to the winding hole before the lock and turned around. Moored opposite private linear moorings and we are still here today! A bit of a rough mooring but no restriction so we decided to wait here for grandchild collection on Saturday. After we had moored Charlie hacked down the weed so we could get off the boat easily and see where we were stepping; in doing so his knife caught the coach side and we now have a small dig to repair. Why do men always have to do things so roughly?

Tuesday we took delivery of an Asda home delivery as there is the Premier Inn car park adjacent to us. We are only 10mins from the shops but had some heavy items to order so I was being lazy. Always rains just as the delivery arrived! Charlie meanwhile has been working out the fitting of the new battery monitor; a trip to Halfords for new battery leads. There is a big retail park so I’ve been checking out the shops with Asda clothes sale and M&S food (picked up some reduced fruit items the other day as well).

Yesterday I walked to the town centre on my own as Charlie really doesn’t like looking around shops. I checked out all the charity shops (my favourite), noticing that most had sections for designer labels and vintage. A noticeable difference from other less affluent towns. I managed to help a novice hire boating couple who hadn’t noticed the pound they were about to enter after exiting the lock was very low; I advised they let some water through from the next lock otherwise they would have been stuck on the bottom. 

Today Charlie has fitted the new battery monitor and after a couple of hours and a phone call to Multicell (the battery people) it is working. After lunch he will be off to B&Q to get a hole cutter to ensure the monitor is safely fitted properly, particularly with little fingers arriving. 

No pictures today as blogging on the phone to catch up but I promise I’ll have lots the next time.

Wootten Wawen to Wilmcote

We stayed at Wootten Wawen for 4 days as we wanted to see if we could sort out the computer problem. After many emails and phonecalls on Tuesday and Wednesday, we managed to get the proof of purchase sent through and the warranty updated (as only had a week left before it ran out), and instructions of how to get it back to the Acer team for repair. We had already tried the troubleshooting ideas that they had recommended to no avail. Wednesday afternoon I walked to the post office to purchase a box, and was very cheeky in asking a few of the local shops if they could print the shipping label for me. A nice lady at the pet store did me the honours, so I purchased a toy for Izzy as a thankyou. Thursday we hopped the bus to Stratford (the quickest way there), to find the local UPS pickup point. It was raining and we got off the bus in the town centre. We stopped for a coffee and very expensive cake, so we could get our bearings; and it transpired that if we had got off the bus at the retail park we had passed it would have been nearer! Never mind because we took the opportunity of visiting the Avon Navigation trust barge for information and cost of navigating the River Avon, which we hope to do in August after all our guests have gone home. Laptop dropped off safely, a little browse around Asda Living store, then the bus back to the boat, by which time it had stopped raining and was extremely muggy. We had already explored the area prior to all of this, and luckily I now have some photo’s to share.

Wootten Hall a 17th century mansion was once owned by Mrs Fitzherbert, a mistress of George 1V. This building is now owned by a mobile home company and is used as offices; there is a static  caravan park there, and the post office where I purchased the packing box.

Wootten Hall a 17th century mansion was once owned by Mrs Fitzherbert, a mistress of George 1V. This building is now owned by a mobile home company and is used as offices; there is a static caravan park there, and the post office where I purchased the packing box.

St Peter's church is of Saxon origin, although there was originally a wooden church on this site from 720-740ad.Most of the tower and part of the walls survive from the Saxon period, and later additions were added in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is the only church in Warwickshire that derives from Saxon times

St Peter’s church is of Saxon origin, although there was originally a wooden church on this site from 720-740ad.Most of the tower and part of the walls survive from the Saxon period, and later additions were added in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is the only church in Warwickshire that derives from Saxon times

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Picture showing the small  Wootten Wawen aqueduct over the A3400 road.

Picture showing the small Wootten Wawen aqueduct over the A3400 road.

Friday we moved along to Wilmcote. This is where we will be meeting our friends at the end of the month, they have booked a room at The Mary Arden Inn in the village. The weather although dry was quite windy. We had one lock to do, so I walked Izzy the mile to the lock before getting back on board. Shortly after the lock is the Edstone aquaduct.

Sign showing information on the aquaduct. There have been many of these signs along the way giving the history of the canal and surrounding area.

Sign showing information on the aquaduct. There have been many of these signs along the way giving the history of the canal and surrounding area.

The aquaduct is small in comparison to the Pontcysyllte (28 feet high and 475 feet long), but still has a dramatic effect on travelling over it (particularly in the wind which was knocking us against the cast iron side!). The aquaduct spans a byroad, a tributary of the River Alne, and the twin tracks of the Birmingham and Warwickshire railway. It is a cast iron trough carried on brick piers with the towpath running along the level of the bottom of the tank, so that pedestrians get a ducks eye view of passing boats. I managed a view snapshots as we were going over.

countryside view from the aquaduct

countryside view from the aquaduct

going over the railway

going over the railway

and the road

and the road

another countryside view

another countryside view

nearly across

nearly across

After much banging and clanging we were across. I expect we will go back over again when the grandkids come next week. They will probably enjoy the experience better than me.

We are now at Wilmcote, a lovely little village with a good general store that sells artisan breads (mmmm), 2 pubs and Mary Ardens Farm. We will probably bring the grandkids here as much to do, and another ticket that gives 12months admission. So I can see a few visits here will be the entertainment of the week. This village is also served with a mobile post office. A small van that arrives at 11.30 and stays for 2 hours. What a good idea. I think many villages in Cornwall could benefit from this service. We will be off again tomorrow as need the sanitary station and water. A few more locks then we can do some shopping and stock up before the little kiddies eat me out of house and home!!

Back in the countryside

Thursday saw us off and moving again. We stopped to fill with water and empty our cassettes at the wharf near the Mailbox, then carried on the Worcester and Birmingham canal, passing Birmingham university and its huge campus. Now I would normally be putting in pictures at this point of our journey but we have a problem with our new computer (just had it a year), and all the photos are stored on it! So I’m using the phone for today’s blog. Through Edgbaston and Selly Oak, and past Cadbury World at Bournville (I’m promised a stop on the way back). We turned left at Kings Norton junction onto the Stratford on Avon canal passing under the remains of a guillotine lock and steadily made our way along. We had 2 lift bridges to negotiate; one was electric which was easy until a car tried to beat the barrier and I had to stop and reverse the bridge to let it out! The next lift bridge needed a windlass to operate it, supposed to be hydraulic but I felt quite sick after winding the mechanism as it took 3 turns to the normal one to get it lifting. Safely through and we stopped at Warings Green where we had a countryside view at last.  

 
Whilst in the area I had contacted an ex colleague from my student nurse days. We arranged to meet at Lowsonford as there was a nice pub there by the canal. So Friday the plan was to move along towards the area. I was expecting to do about 15 locks then stop; but oh no Charlie had been told by the C&RT worker at the first lock that we would make it by early afternoon so now we were on a mission to get there in one day, good job we left early. We had done 4 locks with no other boat in sight. At the fifth one I noticed a boat coming up the locks (we were going down), so we stopped in the short pound to wait for them so as not to turn the lock and waste water. Unbeknowns to us a hire boat that appeared behind us suddenly hadn’t checked the situation and suddenly was exiting the lock behind us! There ensued a bit of shuffling to get them out, us In the next lock and the boat coming up into the lock behind! We then had to carry on through the Lapworth locks as they are very close together and no room for mooring in the pounds. We carried on at Kingswood junction (left here for the Grand Union canal)., and finally made it to Lowsonford and the Fleur de Lys pub, after doing 28 locks. Now we do share the work but even so I was feeling pretty uncomfortable and very teasy. Saturday we met our friends for lunch at the pub, partaking of a few bevvies and a rather lovely pie meal. Back to the boat for coffee and more chatting and by then it was nearly bedtime! We said we would catch up with them again on our way back later in the year. We had a quiet day Sunday and moved again yesterday for an overnight stop at Preston Bagot. Another pub here will be where we have arranged to pick up the grandkids in a couple of weeks, and when they have gone some more friends will be meeting us at Wilmcote at the end of the month. So we will carry on to Stratford and explore a bit then turn back for a the meeting up. There aren’t a lot of sanitary stops along this canal, although water and rubbish are reasonably plentiful.

Hopefully will get the computer sorted meanwhile; or its back to using the old one that we’ve had for ten years and given us no trouble! 

We moved this morning to Wootten Wawen and managed to get a reasonable phone and Internet signal; the first time since we left Birmingham, hence the blog update. There is a nice farm shop and retail outlet with antique shops, clothes and other up market goods. We bought a beef pie for dinner and some bread and teacakes. Oh and some blue cheese to go with the bread. Tomorrow I need to wash the side of the boat I couldn’t do last Friday, then we are going to investigate the oldest church in Warwickshire.