Monday, 30 April 2012

Fradley to Wolseley Bridge

After using the services and sweeping all the willow debris from the roof, we left the Coventry canal and turned onto the Trent & Mersey in sunshine this morning and straight into a queue for the locks,  it seemed everyone had decided to move on today.  There were three boats in front of us and no one coming down until the last lock when suddenly there was a parade of boats heading towards us, we soon discovered why, there had been a tree down above Wood End lock so everyone had been delayed.

We had a pleasant cruise, the wind was gusty at times but it was good to be on the move and especially with the sun shining.   We expected more branches in the canal due to the high winds yesterday but it wasn't too bad.  We passed through Handsacre and Armitage (passed the loo factory), I got off and walked through the Armitage tunnel to make sure it was clear as it is only wide enough for one boat, there was a boat exiting with 2 men chatting away on the back, they obviously had not sent anyone through to see if it was clear and had just taken a chance, we then passed through Rugeley.  As the canal turns away from Rugeley it crosses over the River Trent on Brindley Bank Aqueduct, the river was flowing really fast and although not in flood not far off and much more water flowing than when we passed over last year.  We continued to Wolseley Bridge where we have moored for the day.  We have been for a walk around the Wolseley Nature Centre this evening and we were very impressed, it would be great for children but we really enjoyed it as well.  It is the former landscape gardens of the Wolseley family home now managed with wildlife in mind.
Fradley Locks

Ravenshaw Wood

The obligatory photo - Armitage Loos 

Armitage Tunnel

Hawkesyard Priory

The River Trent 

The view from our window tonight

Taken at the Wolesley Nature Centre
Canada Geese Goslings (the first we have seen)

 Our Moorings

10 miles 3 locks

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Fradley Junction

As planned we have stayed at Fradley Junction over the weekend.

On Friday, we caught up with the washing, cleaning etc and did some jobs on Triskaideka as the weather wasn't too good, the Swan Pub has a couple of washing machines and dryers (although one is out of order at the moment), we didn't use the washer but made use of the dryer and thought it was good value at £1 for 20 mins which dried nearly a full load in the 20 minutes.

On Saturday I set off for Birmingham to have a 'girlie' shopping day with my sister, best laid plans and all that, I got to Lichfield train station to find all the trains had been cancelled due to a signalling fault.  They had no idea how long it would be before they started again so I headed for the bus station across the road.  Now anyone who knows me, knows I suffer quiet badly from travel sickness, so over an hour on a very hot, full bus is my worst nightmare but I survived just!  I met Jane about an hour later than planned, but we had a lovely day, didn't buy much, a couple of birthday presents for my great-nephews, which Jane very kindly took back with her.  This is about the third time we have been shopping to Birmingham and we still don't seem to have found our way around, think we will just have to keep going to try and suss it out.

John decided to make the most of the better day whilst I was off shopping and walked to the National Memorial Arboretum. It was a fair walk from Fradley, but worth it. The walk there was made a little longer as when he reached Alrewas, he asked a local the best way. Said local must have thought he was driving as sent him down the A38 ! The walk back was a little shorter...

The Arboretum is a moving place. Some of the architecture is stunning. The trees need to mature a little to enhance the ambiance.

Today the weather has been as forecast, blowing a gale, according to XC Weather gusts up to 45mph around lunch time, and I wouldn't of been surprised as it has been really windy and heavy rain most of the day.  The wind has abated a little although we are still having heavy showers.  We are moored by a willow tree and have bits of it all of the roof, it sounds like a branch landing on the roof and when you look its a twig, the ladder has been rattling in the wind as well.  We have had a chill out day, reading, listening to the radio etc.  I cooked us dinner, we might have ventured out for a Sunday Roast but after a poor meal last night at the Swan we preferred to stay on Triskaideka.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A break in the weather

Yesterday we stayed put, the rain was horizontal at times, John was measuring the weather on the mast that we could/could not see from the porthole.  Most of the morning we could hardly see any of the mast, occasionally you could see a bit more, sometimes none of it, and it was only a couple of fields away.  About 2:30 the sun came out and as the sky looked to have cleared for a while, we (well John) thought we should move on a bit.  I had my doubts, but we set off heading for Whittington, we were being chased by a big black cloud after a while, which caught us before we got to Whittington, by the time we moored it was throwing it down and blowing a gale again.  We moored right at the point of the stone marking the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal changing to the Coventry Canal.

This morning it was raining when we got up but did brighten up after a while, we set off for Fradley Junction, there were a few boats on the move, obviously making the most of a break in the rain.  When we came through Huddlesford last year there was a boat gathering and we only just managed to squeeze through, today there were hardly any.  We came past the new Kings Orchard Marina, it does look like some work has been undertaken over the winter but not a lot, I think it is due to open during 2012.  At Streethay we were alongside the A38 which looked busy, but it was definitely noisy and we were glad when we parted company a bit further on.  We have managed to moor up just before the water point at Fradley junction and with a bit of extra hosepipe we can fill up without moving!  We have been for a walk around the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve/Reservoir. The reservoir site has been classified as a Site of Biological Importance for the floral composition of the woodland and lake, there are tree sculptures, and a great bird hide that is thatched, there are loads of different water birds nesting around the reservoir.

John's weather mast

Plaque of the joining of the canals

First flowering Wisteria of the year

BW Van from 1954

The thatched hide on the reservoir

Sculptures around the reservoir


Squirrel at the side of our mooring

We have not yet ventured into the Mucky Duck (For the benefit of Karen & Pip) but I am sure we will be doing at some point over the next few days.

Yesterday 2.5 miles
Today 5.5 miles no locks

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Making the most of the weather

We left Springwood Haven at about 9am this morning as the weather forecast was for rain later after topping up the water.  We were heading towards Atherstone when we came across NB Free Spirit we both realised at the same time that we were fellow bloggers so it was a quick hello, hopefully we will get chance to meet up properly at some point.  The landscape is turning yellow as the oil seed rape fields are ripening.  When we got to the top of Atherstone locks President and butty Kildare were moored, it was lovely to see them but unfortunately the steam wasn't up, they were telling John they had had a problem yesterday so were not planning on cruising far today.  They are heading to Little Venice and will be part of the Queens Diamond Jubilee Flotilla.

We followed a boat down the locks so most of them were against us but we did pass a couple coming up about half way down.  We made fairly good time just over two hours.  Our plan was to stop in Atherstone and do some shopping but we decided to continue on through Tamworth as the weather was so much better, then sun had even come out.  We saw lots of ducklings today a few moorhen chicks and our first bluebell wood.  We stopped by  Sutton Road bridge and did a quick trip to Sainsburys to stock up as I couldn't carry much yesterday when I walked into Nuneaton.  We have continued to Hopwas tonight and as we have had a long day we went to the Tame Otter for a beer and some food.

Hartshill Yard 

Blue bells

President and Kildare


Acrobatic Moorhen
 (bet the householders spend a fortune on bird seed!)

The weather forecast isn't good for tomorrow, but we will see what it is doing, if its pouring down we will stay put.

16 miles 13 locks

Monday, 23 April 2012

Final day of respite.

Today has been our last at Springwood haven. Hopefully, the cold I seem to have acquired has abated somewhat. Feeling a little better, time to get a few small job's done.

The drawers in the bathroom never seem to have recovered from the damp of winter and had swelled to a point were they were impossible to close fully. This was also true of a lower drawer in the bedroom. Surprisingly, it is the Oak fronts that appear to be the worst affected. Since de-winterising we have heated and dehumidified to no avail in an effort to resolve this. Time to get out the trusty sander whilst we still have shore power. Ali obviously decided she was going to make herself scarce whilst I sanded and decided to walk into Nuneaton to do a little food shopping. She knows how messy I am and this gave me the chance to complete the work and tidy up before she returned. Job done, all now fit like a glove.

This marina is really pleasant. Small, with few residents. Very friendly and helpful staff and an immaculate fleet of hire boats. Ali commented on just how comprehensive the handover was. We would have no hesitation in popping in again should the need arise.

It is our intention to leave tomorrow and continue north. How far we will get before the weather deteriorates is uncertain. We do not travel if it is hammering it down as we see little pleasure in this. Looking at the forecast, we may not be putting many miles under the boat in the coming week!