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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Back on the Grand

Yesterday during our drama, we also knocked the tiller out of alignment so instead of holding the tiller at the twelve o'clock position to go in a straight line , I must put the tiller in the ten past position, which make it a bit awkward to steer, once we are back in the marina I will be able to sort it out

Any way back to today its grey and raining as we leave our overnight mooring we have five locks to operate on the Stratford which we do and then that's the Stratford on Avon canal finished with for the time being as we turn back on to the Grand Union.

A couple of miles lock free as we pass Turners Green and under the 433 yds Shrewley tunnel again and then the first lock of the twenty one lock Hatton flight is in front of us the first four we do by ourselves and then we are joined by two helpful lock keepers Ralph and Brian who help us through the rest of the flight. And then the skies went black and lighting and thunder started and then the heavens opened, and boy didn't it rain. We were ok as we had wet weather gear to put on but the poor lock keeper were getting soaked. I offered them a coat, but they refused anyway ten minutes later the sky brightened and the sun came out. So we got down the flight and we thanked and left our helpers before we moored up for the night.


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

What a day !!!

The weatherman said it was going to be sunny with showers,....he lied, as its raining again and cold,saying that it did brighten up in the afternoon. We attempted to set off but unusually the engine didn't start first time, so after a few attempts it eventually started,and off we go. Denise must open two lift bridges by winding them up the first is easy for her but the second is a struggle for her but she manages it and under the boat goes.

Denise operating the lift bridge :)

We go under the M42 and pass the village of Hockley Heath with its expensive butchers, then its the first four locks of the Lapworth flight and then its into the main flight of locks fifteen in all and no help today from volunteer lock keepers, but we get it a good rhythm and we are soon getting through them. We clear five more locks then disaster strike, the throttle won't work, it gets stuck in reverse so no forward motion, we right it he middle of the locks so the only option was to turn the engine off and drag the boat through the next five locks, like the old days but instead of a horse,it me doing the pulling.

So we mange to get the boat to a mooring area, I have a quick look in the engine compartment, but can't see anything that looks out of the normal, so we have to phone RCR (river canal rescue) the equivalent of the R.A.C and they send out an engineer.

About thirty minutes later a engineer, a young lad called Kerry turned up, we explained what happened and he proceed to fix the throttle, it was the same problem we had when we were on the Thames a little ball bearing had jumped out of where it normally sits.He fixed it in no time and then I explained that this morning I had a problem starting the engine, so he had a look and found that our fuel pump had packed in. Firstly we were going to stay put for a few days as he had to order a pump from the engine dealership, but luckily he had a spare on his van, so he replaced the fuel pump and we had to pay £50.00 excess but its worth it as we can be on our way again tomorrow.


Monday, 6 October 2014

End of the canal in the rain

Today we awoke a bit late, so we didn't leave our mooring till 10.30 am and its pouring down with rain as it has all night. Denise must operate a electronic lift bridge, she turns a British waterways key and then pushes a button and the bridge lifts I move the boat through and Denise lowers the bridge by pushing another button and then we are all on way.

We wouldn't of moved today in the rain normally,but our batteries are run low because the last few days we have only moved short distances and not enough engine running hours to recharge the batteries. Anyway we are moving,and its tipping down with rain whilst we travel through through five miles of residential areas on the outskirts of Birmingham. No locks to operate today,only the 352yds Brandwood Tunnel to negotiate and then we reach our goalKings Norton junction,which signifies the end of the Stratfford on Avon canal , so we do a 360 degrees turn and return back down the canal.

Prior to leavening this leg of our journey we were told by a couple of other boaters to beware of youths throwing stones at the end of the canal but luckily we didn't encounter them,I think the rain might of had something to do with our good luck.

So back through the tunnel, then at Dickens Heath we stop and visit the local shop to top up with a few supplies, and then its through the electric lift bridge and on a few miles before we moor near Lady Lane Wharf, we light the wood burner just so that we can dry our clothes that we were wearing today and some washing which Denise had done earlier today. The only thing it's make the boat so warm....


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Another short move

Weather this morning is back to sunny, but a defiant chill in the air,we leave our mooring once again,we have decided not to travel a great distance, the reason is just that we want to take our time, and we are now entering the outskirts of Birmingham and its becoming more urbanised and we rather be out in the countryside. So we only travel for an hour before we moor just before the Shirley lift bridge which is electronically operated, we are near the newly formed village go Dickens Heath.

Dickens Heath was a agricultural hamlet for 150 years until it was develop in 1997 and was transformed into a modern village providing much needed housing for Birmingham and the Midlands.

The trip today even though short was a nice trip the canal travelled through tree lined banks and the canal water was covered in a green algae that our boat cut through leaving a trail in the rippling water.

Should have a lot to write about tomorrow as we enter into the outskirts of Birmingham.


Saturday, 4 October 2014

Not far again,again

Weather is atrocious this morning with rain and wind, we decide that we would make a break for it as we were running a bit low on water, so we donned our wet weather gear and off we set. no locks or lift bridges meant our trip was also an easy one, though the rain makes it a bit miserable, the canal alternates between open land and tree lined, soon we are under the M42 a motorway between the M5 and M6 with everyone rushing in their cars,lorries,coaches and other forms of transport oblivious to our peaceful mode of transport.

Next we take on water at Swallow Cruisers boatyard who charge us £1.00 for the privilege,we were going to moor by here as the local pub was near, but our boat couldn't get near the bank due to the silt building up next to the bank, normally I would perceiver but as its tipping down with rain I decide to carry on.

A little further on near the Earlwood we pull,over to moor and the skies break and the sunshine pours through and stay dry for the rest of the day, just our luck, still we managed to dry our wet weather gear, not a lot else to say today see you tomorrow.sorry no photos today due to rain.


Friday, 3 October 2014

Not far again

Winter is coming, a definite change in the weather, though today is not too bad, but rain and high winds are promised over the next few day,and the leaves are falling off the trees into the canal, towpaths and the top of our boat. We leave our mooring after a quiet night, and we have the last four locks to operate on this canal, but Denise has also to operate two lift bridges before we can moor at Hockley Heath.

We had a bit of drama whilst mooring, I was going to reverse about 200 yards into a mooring when a hire boat came around the corner, but instead of slowing down or stopping untill I had completed the manoeuvre they proceeded right up to the last moment which by then he had ploughed into another moored boat, the lady of the boat jumped off and slipped onto her bum, she was wearing white shorts, and she then proceeded to shout at me, in the mean time I had got stuck...... All good fun of boating.

We had stopped at Hockley Heath because we were running low on provisions, so we visited the local shop where we topped up on bits and bobs and then we paid a visit to the butchers where we bought a small chicken.........wait for it the price of £11.87, we were so shocked that we just paid for it, and it was when we got outside we looked across the road and noticed a car showroom that was selling Rolls Royces and McLaren cars in a small village,no wonder the chicken was so expensive.

On the bright side they have a local chippy, so its fish N chips tonight for dinner, that's if we can afford it .we could afford them a little bit cheaper than the chicken, and very nice they were

See you.



Thursday, 2 October 2014

Not far but up in height.


Up this morning after a bit of rain in the night, but bright this morning, we leave our mooring and straight away into a lock one of sixteen known as the Lapworth flight, we were going to stop half way up but as luck has it we are helped by three volunteers lock keepers, so we carry on to the top. With their help its a breeze and it not to long before we moor up for the night, we make the volunteers a cup of tea and a few choccy biscuits as a thanks for the help.

The village of Lapworth sits between the Stratford and Grand Union canals with three pubs, a village store and Post Office,notable residents include Bob Davis aka Jasper Carrott, Andy Townsend ex-footballer and TV pundit and Tony Iommi, the guitarist and founding member of Black Sabbath, who currently resides near the village, also Robert Catesby of Gunpowder Plot fame lived in the area.


A ghostly tale from this part of the canal is in the big freeze of January 2002 a narrowboat owner was sitting in his warm canal boat reading when he heard a loud crack and a muffled thump it sounded like the ice had split opened and also the sound of someone thrashing around in the water.He investigated fearing that someone had fell through he ice he went outside with a torch and was unable to find nothing out of the ordinary with the canal frozen from bank to bank.The following morning he spoke to a waterway employee of his concern and was told that he was not the first person to experience this, and then told him that a many years ago a man had fell into the water through the ice after a night of drinking and had died, and since then many persons have told of this ghostly sound.


Also at the now closed British waterways office at the Kingswood Junction footsteps were heard walking around in the top room but on investigating no one was in the room and on one occasion during an office meeting the door to the computer room opened and to then slammed shut with no explanation as how or why it had happened.

Sleep tight...



Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Two day of retracing our waterway

The last couple of days the weather has been great, nice and sunny, we left our mooring at Wooton Wawen and the canal makes its way through open farmland, and its  not long before we are passing the village Preston Bagot and Yarningale aqueduct again. Then we reach Lowsonford where the Fleur de Lys pub is and this is where we tie  up for the night, we don't visit the pub this time bit have dinner on the boat.

This morning we got up and its a loads of locks again before we moor up at Kingswood Junction,prior to mooring we have a pump out after a long trek trying to buy a card to operate it, this pump out is a self operating one and uses a card to start it pumping once  emptied we moor and have a clean of the boat before settling down for the night.


Take a close look at this picture try to spot the car in the tree

See you tomorrow