Another week gone

And it has been glorious weather. I counted today we have had 16 days of sunshine; not all have been warm, but so nice to see the sun and blue skies. On Monday 14th May we moved up 2 locks to be nearer the shops, and walked to Aldi to stock up on the Portuguese wine we had enjoyed the day before. The afternoon was sunny so I cleaned the brass again. It stays reasonably clean when it hasn’t rained.

Tuesday 15th May and we were up early and got through the rest of the flight of locks at Atherstone (5 in all), meeting a volunteer at the top lock who had arrived for his shift early. Once through we stopped for breakfast, then off again as it was a lovely day.

noticed Dr Who had landed in someones garden

We wanted to get to Hawkesbury junction. There were lots of boats on the move. Passing through Nuneaton our cruise was marred by a disgusting youth spitting at us as we went under a bridge. Shame he wasn’t in reach otherwise I may have retaliated. Anyway this is something many boaters are having to put up with of late. Going past Starline boatyard was interesting, as they have many boats double moored which has restricted the navigation. One being a wide beam boat right on a bridge.

restriction of canal passing Starline boatyard

good job nothing was coming the other way

a lovely house up for sale. I think it was once a pub

and a rather swish boat house

We passed the entrance to the Ashby canal but weren’t venturing up there this time, though we do love it as there are no locks to negotiate. Our final stop was Hawkesbury junction. On Wednesday 16th May the weather though dry and suddenly turned cloudy and breezy, and it was alot colder. We decided to stay as we were both tired. Even Izzy didn’t want to get out of bed.

just peeking out of her new sleeping bag

On walking to the junction we noticed some fire crew on excercises.

Coventry fire crew practising with their hose!

Hawkesbury engine house

We ventured round the junction onto the Oxford canal and spotted another boat from the FB group to which I belong. Had a little chat with them before going back to the boat and relighting fire to keep warm. We then had a quiet afternoon. Later in the day a brand new Aqua built narrowboat moor behind us, looking very swish and shiny. I found out later that they were heading to Crick boat show as one of the boats on display. It had multiple fenders on it, which got me wondering if they were lifted going through locks.

Izzy hibernating in her new duvet. She is somewhere in there!

Thursday 17th May and we were up early again to get through the small stop lock at Hawkesbury. We had breakfast on the move and were just remarking at the lack of boats travelling the other way.

under the M69

It all became apparent when we approached All Oaks Wood. An oak tree had fallen across the canal the day before so no one was going anywhere; nothing had been posted about it from CrT, but as we weren’t in any hurry, managed to moor up temporarily in a queue.

in the queue waiting for the tree to be cleared

Once we had the all clear to move there was a mass exodus of boats going both ways. We had decided to stay if we could as Hilmorton would be busy if the amount of boats going that way was anything to go by. I walked ahead and found a small space in which we could squeeze, which was lucky as Charlie had noticed we had stuff wrapped around the prop.

tree cleared and everyone away

Charlie extracted a bag of cloth, fishing line, rope and other goodies from the prop, and after all the excitement we settled in for the afternoon. We were surrounded by trees (obviously being a wood), so the solar panels weren’t picking up anything in the morning, so we decided to set off again for Hilmorton. A bit later than we normally do but we didn’t want to go through the locks there, so thought it would be quieter than the day before.

passing through All Oaks wood

We have seen alot of new shiny boats this trip and some of them are headed for the boat show at Crick for the B/H w/e. Never mind we love our little boat. The night time temp has dropped considerably so we have kept the fire lit. As the days are going on though it is warming up. Passing through Rugby the moorings have changed somewhat. No longer can you moor by the retail park where M&S is, but they have put in extra rings further along past Bridge 58 where the picnic spot is on the other side. It was full both sides and it was fun negotiating the canal, especially when boats coming the other way don’t slow down. Anyway I was steering and got through without any bumps.

new sign at Rugby

Passing Clifton Cruisers we noticed Petroc (belonging to Geoff and Gill from St Merryn). They haven’t made it out yet.

passing Petroc

The other big change here is the work going on developing a new housing estate which is virtually going to take up the land right up to the locks. Should be interesting to see it in a couple of years time.

looks like a bridge being built here

moving along more land cleared

and more

and more in the distance looking up the canal.

We stayed at Hilmorton on Saturday and managed to watch the Royal Wedding. We couldn’t get a TV signal so tethered up the kindle and watched it on that. It was hot and sunny all day. Charlie managed to get a shot of a bird we believe to be a Dunnock.

local wildlife

And a lovely sunset.

evening sunset

Sunday and I was up extra early, and we were away by 06.20. The locks at Hilmorton are paired, and we were lucky that one side was in our favour through the 3 locks. It was very busy on the moorings above the locks, with little space. We were through by 07.10, and had a lovely quiet cruise toward Braunston.

lovely to see the wild flower hedgerows

vibrant yellow of the rape seed field

Barby straight passing under the M45

new marina at Dunchurch just opened

We got to one of our favourite moorings after Bridge 87, and can just see Braunston church spire in the distance. We were all moored up by 09.30! Good going even by our standards. Lovely hot, sunny day. Even had some visitors in the evening.

Canada geese goslings

and one of 5 cygnets shown to us by mum and dad swan

Staying still today we will probably go to Braunston tomorrow, hopefully there should be a mooring spot we can squeeze in to; if not we only have 5 miles to get back to the marina.

Still have a phone signal

Bank holiday Monday and the hot weather continued. Nice to get shorts on at last. So I took the chance to clean the brass and wiped the boat down. We managed another evening sitting outside in the sunshine.

relaxing outside

Izzy amongst the dandelions in the sun on our towpath garden

Hawthorn starting to bloom and we have seen our first swallows

Tuesday 8th May and we set off quite early at 7am. We got to Radford Bridge and spotted a new Aldi store so we stopped for breakfast and I popped along for some fruit and salad. This is the closest I am going to get to Stafford, as once again we are bypassing it. It was a sunny start but became overcast and rained in the evening. We managed to get to Great Haywood before it rained. We were watching a farmer load his sheep and lambs into a trailer, and Charlie took some photos but somehow the camera has lost them. I also had a good early morning misty photo of Great Haywood but again it seems to be lost.

Wednesday although sunny was very cold and breezy; we had another early start and made it to Fradley junction. We were leap frogging with 2 boats who were also flying the flag for Cornwall. Thursday we moved down 2 locks and turned at the junction onto the Coventry canal and stopped for breakfast. Managed a little chat with Lorraine (The Mad Hatter) and had a look at her hats. Made from cotton and dyed and embelished all in her narrowboat workshop. She had sold alot of her hats over the Bank Holiday, but if I see her again I think I may buy one in a lighter colour. Off again and we got to Kings Orchard marina entrance to meet up with another FB friend who had made a dog sleeping bag for Izzy. We met Linda in the evening and shared a glass of red, and Izzy seems very happy with her new bag. Also filled up with diesel from Fuel boat Auriga who was returning from the Norbury festival.

Friday 11th and it was sunny but again very cold and breezy. We had a short cruise to Sutton Road bridge so I could take Izzy to the vets in Tamworth for her annual vaccination. Along the way a message had gone on FB from Tracey (The Little Chimney co) about 2 men wandering along the towpath claiming to be homeless but also looking to see what they can steal. We stopped to chat to Tracey and her hubby, found out more, then set off for our final stop of the day. I managed to get Izzy’s injection done in the afternoon., while Charlie stayed with the boat. We heard from our friends Mary and Stephen who have gone back to Corfu for a week for more sun. Maybe we will see them before they start their boating travels once we get back to Napton.

Saturday and off again early. It was sunny but not so breezy. Our final destination being Atherstone (last here on 25th March); stopping just after lock 8. I had a walk into town and took an oversized jumper to the charity shop and went to Co-op and Aldi. It rained in the evening.

Today it is lovely and sunny and very warm so we are staying still. I even managed a lie in which is unusual for me. We have a lovely spot which was quiet until this afternoon when 2 other boats joined us! I had bought a bottle of Portuguese wine from Aldi which went down very well with pot roast beef and veggies. We will shuffle up through 2 locks tomorrow nearer to the shops as we would like to buy some more wine and more fruit and salad. Just hope I don’t lose any more photos.

Alot of catching up to do

I last blogged on the 10th April, and one would think that I haven’t been bothered to update it; but we have been on the moon! Well you would think we had looking at the phone signal. The journey we are taking we have done before, so it’s difficult to know without looking at the 2015 blog, at what pictures we already have. Anyway today’s blog is all about catching up on what we have been doing.

longhorn cattle

We moved from our mooring opposite the longhorn cattle in the rain again! We wanted to get to the Shropshire Union canal so we could slow up a bit. By the time we stopped we were both freezing cold as the weather really isn’t warming up. We stayed put for a couple of days due to the weather being wet and cold; meeting up with  fellow boater’s from a Facebook group we belong to.

ornate bridge on the Staffs and Worcester canal

Saturday 14th April and the weather was better, at least it was dry with sunny intervals. We cruised to Brewood and stopped briefly so I could walk to the Co-op for bananas. The towpath here was lagged with mud and not very pleasant at all; so when I returned we moved along a bit to a quieter mooring before the Stretton aqueduct, and the sun was still shining!

a passing workboat

milepost sign on the Shropshire union canal

Stretton aqueduct taking the canal over the A5 road

date of the aqueduct

lovely bunch of wild primroses on the towpath

We stayed on this mooring until the 16th April and walked along to look at the aqueduct on foot, another marvelous feat of engineering that has lasted the test of time.

one of the many cuttings along this canal

hewn out of solid rock by navvies in the 1700’s. We wonder how many lost their lives building it.

Cowley tunnel

Off again and heading toward our final destination of Norbury. Through Wheaton Aston where we filled with water and also diesel at the cheapest place we have ever found so far on our travels. Brief stop at Gnosall for another banana stop, and finally stopped just before the Shelmore embankment at Norbury. Now the weather forecast was supposed to be getting warmer but we didn’t quite believe it; but hey presto on the 18th April it seemed that summer had arrived. It was such a lovely evening I took Izzy for a walk along the embankment in the evening. Thursday 19th April and we had the hottest April day for 70 years apparently, so we cleaned the brass and polished one side of the boat. It was lovely seeing the sun at last. We moved onto 5day moorings at Norbury ready for our slot on the 22nd. The sun was still hot, we had let the fire go out so we took the opportunity to paint it with stove blacking. We also did a deal with the boatyard to take a day boat out on Monday 23rd as we had to leave the boat whilst it was being grit blasted. On the Sunday the men from the boatyard came at 11am and took Breakaway into dry dock. I managed to make some bread in readiness for a picnic on the Monday.

out of the water

We booked Sunday Lunch at the Junction Inn which was very good value.

Monday 23rd April and the chap who does the grit blasting was ready bright and early; so as I had made our picnic we set off for our dayboat excursion.

our ride for the day

Bearing in mind that Norbury is a lovely place but there is nothing much there not even a bus service, the dayboat was our only option. The hot weather had abated by now and the colder, windier weather was back. Off we went and trundled down the canal toward Market Drayton, though we knew we wouldn’t make it that far in a dayboat. I took some pictures along the way there and back and we even managed to find a cover repairer for a little job that needed doing on our pram cover.

lots of new ducklings about

a badger sett eroding the bank

canal view through a bridge

old wharf building that used to ship milk products and chocolate crumb from Cadbury

notice on the building

nesting swan

think this narrowboat has lost it’s way!

High Bridge with the remains of a telegraph pole within its structure

We had a lovely day despite the weather turning colder. Strange to be on a hired boat though. Picnic was a success and Izzy had a lovely run along the towpath where it was quiet. We returned around 3pm and were allowed back on Breakaway.

hull after grit blasting

Charlie was well pleased with the state of the hull, and even the boatyard remarked how smooth it was with no rust or pitting. The next day we had some welding jobs done, new anodes and a new to us propeller., and one coat of two pack epoxy applied. 2nd coat applied the next day, so now we stay for it all to dry. Not very nice living in a tunnel.

new prop

new anodes

25th April and we met up with another boater from our Facebook group; managing a couple bottles of red in the evening.  Thursday 26th April and Charlie managed to wipe the boat down as best he could to get rid of some of the dust, and in the evening I went mad with the washing machine whilst we were plugged into the electric. We were being refloated on Friday 27th. Once back on the canal we stayed by the pub and managed 2 Sainsbury deliveries over 2 days. I even managed to give Izzy a shower as she came back from a walk absolutely covered in black mud! I had also contacted the cover repair man and made an appointment for Tuesday. Whilst on the mooring we were watching a hire boat trying to tie up and having great difficulty; we offered our help and once sorted it transpired they came from Melbourne and had the boat for a week as part of their UK grand tour

Tuesday 1st May and we were off to get our cover repaired. It was a small matter of the stitching coming undone which he repaired quickly for us; and he didn’t charge us anything! So a packet of dog chews for their dog was the payment. Once fixed we headed off and turned the boat round to head back to Norbury again; but we did stop overnight at the Anchor Inn pub as Charlie wanted to try it. It was quaint being a converted house, probably done when the navvies needed refreshment maybe. It was like being in someone’s living room. We both had a beer and chatted with a couple of boaters who were also frequenting the pub.

heron in flight

on the move again and stopped briefly at Norbury boatyard for a gas bottle and a couple bags of coal, as didn’t want to run out in case the weather stays cold. Along the way I got 2 washes done, and cooked dinner. The Norbury Festival was preparing for the bank holiday weekend (which I wanted to stay for, but Charlie didn’t), many of the mooring slots were being reserved for trading boats; so we carried on and stopped at Gnosall overnight. From Gnosall we cruised to Brewood as I wanted the post office; then carried on to the 3 mile straight just before Autherly junction at Wolverhampton.

lovely trees in blossom

Friday 4th May and we set off at 08.30 and had a lovely cruise to Gailey after turning left at Autherly junction, and back onto the Staffs and Worcester canal. At Autherly junction we met a boat whom we had locked down into Bristol with last year. Seeing lots of people on this trip.

Saturday 5th May and we were off even earlier at 06.45 as we knew we had 9 locks to do before the place we wanted to moor; we had one stop for breakfast at Penkridge, and a stop just after to go to Midland Chandlers for a couple of things.  Final stop just above Deptmore lock where we were back on 8th April!

cows partaking of a drink in the canal

The only difference is the weather has improved for the Bank Holiday weekend. This is a lovely spot and we are in full sun with the solar panels at 100%; so we are staying for the weekend to let the canal traffic die down. Hopefully won’t be too long before I can blog again, if the phone signal stays as it is.

dandelions in our towpath garden