Thursday, June 28, 2012

Detox Day Necessary

I know, I’m a day late posting but there is a good reason - just not very exciting!   Laptop battery died about a week ago so I ordered replacement off the internet and got it delivered to Dai’s brother who lives close to Birmingham.   So it was delivered to us Tues evening - oh no, more pub visits necessary!   Only thing was that we didn’t have to run the engine yesterday cos lots of solar power - hence no blog last night.    Note that I am not allowed to have the engine running just for things like charging new laptop battery.   Dai has just turned engine one cos we are in the middle of a god almighty thunderstorm so he is thinking “ar, no sun today, so I’ll have to run the engine for a bit.”

Yes, we have moved from Alvechurch and are now moored in Birmingham City Centre just opposite the National Indoor Arena - just about the nicest, quietest moorings around here.    I must admit I do like a couple of days so close to a big city to go shop-sighting and get my fill of hustle and bustle, then am dying to get back to open countryside.   At least we managed to buy some essentials not available so readily in the countryside like a new lens for Dai’s camera, some embroidery threads I was missing, new zip for one side of the cratch and great, cheap meat, fruit and veg from the Bullring Markets.

Had a great few days in Alvechurch catching up with our boatie friends Martine and Philippa - those of Cool Canals fame.  Who, incidentally bought their narrow boat shell from John and Mick of Kingfisher Narrowboats when we were at their boatyard at Trent Lock last year getting Jandai’s bottom blacked.     Mindyou, yesterday was designated a detox day as we had more than our fair share of sherbets both on the boat and at the pub all the while we were with them!     

While here we have met up again with Narrowboat Free Spirit - we last saw Irene and Ian at Kingfishers when they were having some work done by John and Mick whilst we were there last autumn so was nice to have regular towpath chats!

Next phase of our cruising is down Farmer’s Bridge locks here in Birmingham and onto the Birmingham and Frazley canal as we make our way slowly back to Trent Lock for blacking.

Thunderstorm abated now, but not looking like I’ll be out with my chair catching some rays anytime today - o well, one days sun then 6 days cloud, rain and totally iffy - that’s the English summer for you!

Since last blog we have done … 10 miles and 0 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1826 miles and  1505 locks

no - come back, still room for some more
well, it doesn't mention "dirty boaters" does it .... so ......
come on Foxxie
yea, made it
umm - wouldn't like to be living there
in middle of today's thunderstorm
Dai tells me that the hangie-down thingies
under this bridge were for carrying
telephone wires up and down the canals
and, another thing you see a lot on the BCN
are these "doors" in the bridges which were
cut out in case fire fighters needed water
straight out of the canal
This is the new library in Birmingham taken from where
we are moored which is due to be opened in 2013 -
am looking forward to this as it looks like
it will be a fab building inside as well
poor old Foxxie - no grass for her to lie on
here in middle of Birmingham and no
hedgerows to mo-zzy about in


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Anyone for croquet??

Ummm - not much to report today.    Been a quiet week waiting for the sun to shine.  I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that it’s the Longest Day tomorrow so all downhill from Thursday folks.    Mind - I’m keeping quiet so I’ll say it very softly “the sun is out today and it is pleasantly warm.”   --------- there, said, so I won’t go on about it.

Had a super meal at The Queen’s Head at bottom of Tardebigge Flight on Saturday with Glyn and Linda.    The food has always been good whenever we’ve stopped here and again was impressive.   They do a bit more than the usual Pub Grub (although you can still have variations on that if you want) with quite a lot of choice.   We all had something different and were all very satisfied.   Black Sheep beer too so everyone happy!    They have a big canalside garden - such a shame it hasn’t had much use so far this year.

Did our usual trek to Morrisons from there - Dai did find a short(er) way but meant a very thin, very muddy track for some of the way so trolleys were out, therefore did a trek Sat and Sun with shopping bags instead.

Had help up the second half of Tardebigge Flight on Monday when our pals Martine and Philippa from Cool Canals joined us ------------ although Dai pronounced it took us longer to do second lot of locks than first 15 for all the yakking going on.    He always shows off with an audience so 3 women to shout at meant he was in his element!!

So now we are at Alvechurch at a super mooring as there is plenty of grass for us to set up loungers, picnic tables and rugs, barbies, cricket pitch, croquet lawn, etc etc  ---- and Dai will have chance to try out his new garden shears purchased at Morrisons for just this situation where the mooring is very grassy and needs a bit of pruning.  The official grass cutting misters are still toiling through Tardebigge locks and probably won’t get up here for a few days by when, naturellement, the sun will have disappeared again and summer activities will be curtailed.

Since last blog we have done … 6 miles and 36 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1816 miles and  1505 locks  

goo on Phillippa - nearly up
now what do I do with this?
it's not going to go down by glaring at it Dai
that's the way to do it !   Lady Power Rules

coming out of the top lock of Tardebigge Flight
BW have built a dam to work behind
to fix the leak
and here's the dam as we go by ever so slowly

no sooner requested than done!
nice area of mooring sheared

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wait for it ------

----- it’s not raining today!!   Big Shout!!   Bring out the bunting (oh no, can’t --- it got soggy and saggy the other weekend and not dried out yet).   No socks on today but dare not shed any more clothes - you know what happened last time.    It always makes us quietly smile (or should I say, snigger gleefully) when we see those men (and, yes, sorry, it is invariably men) who must chant to themselves “I’m on me holidays, so I’m wearing me shorts and jesus sandals - and I have to keep me socks on otherwise me feet'll get burn.”   Nine times out of 10 it’s hire boaters but then we must think charitably and assume it is their annual holiday so obviously you have to bring out the sun wear.

And what about those Admiral Hats?      I think they are so cool and keep meaning to get one for Dai as he repeatedly retorts that he doesn’t want a crow-shitted, multi-coloured beanie hat when I am umming and harring  on a new crafty project.    And I must tell you that I nearly fell off the rear deck the other day when “Bouffant Man” was spotted cruising by - now there’s a man who looks good in shorts with his white socks halfway up his calves.    Obviously he misses out with the Admirals Hat as it would surely mess up his coiffeured white locks.

Anyway - where are we?     Came out of Worcester and spent a few days at Tibberton (nice mooring no doubt when the towpath isn’t under floodwater) and then today are at Stoke Works by the “Boat and Railway” pub between the 6 Astwood Locks and the 6  Stoke locks before the 30 Tardebigge locks (yes, all those locks we came down a couple of weeks ago, we now are poised to go up).  

When we used to hire narrow boats, then I was quite happy to take my turn at steering and Acting Captain through locks but must admit, since owning Jandai, I have turned into “must do the locks as it’s good exercise” woman.    This is not an excuse, it’s perfectly true plus you get the chance to socialise with other same-minded ladies.   However, fed up with Dai’s constant whinging, I did take Jandai through a couple of lock flights this last week - sheer stress.    Let me tell you, I am full of the upmost admiration for all you men folk who do this day in and day out - funny though, when you bang the boat “well, it is a contact sport” and when we ladies do it’s “you should have gone to Spec Savers you blind old bat”.     Ummm - I’m only doing in future if I get to wear an Admiral’s Hat.

Since last blog we have done … 12 miles and 20 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1810 miles and  1469 locks  

my style don't you think?

a lot of the Worcs and Birmingham Canal from Tibberton
to Stoke Works is like this - reminds me
of the Everglades.   On the lookout for crocs
as no doubt it hasn't been dredged for 60 million years

time for a bit of arty photography!
An Admiral's Hat to anyone who can tell me what it is
(and no, it isn't the same as pic above with
my fingers over each side of the lens!)

we spent a bit of time sitting in the sun
by lock 23 where there's a Black Prince
hireboat base watching one of their
new shells being lifted into the canal
(main reason I'm showing you this is
 proof of a blue sky today)

steady as she goes - almost in the water now

'scuse me - speed limit on a canal is 4 mph

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Serious yellow pencil *

------- cos we have now done the Droitwich canals!   Yip Hee!!   How exciting is that?  For loads of info on this restored canal, you could click here Droitwich Canals but in a nutshell:    there are two canals - (1) Droitwich Canal from Hanbury Wharf on the Worcs and Birmingham Canal to Droitwich, and (2) from Droitwich to the River Servern which is called the Droitwich Barge Canal - in practise it is just the one stretch of canal.    The entire length was formally re-opened on July 1 2011,  72 years after these were officially abandoned.   It is about 7.5 miles long with 18 locks (I think - you do tend to lose count after so many in the same day and can’t check in my Nicolson’s as the 2006 version obviously still has this waterway as non-navigable).    The locks are narrow up to Droitwich town centre and then double down to the Severn.    There are 3 swing bridges in the town (plus one permanently open and one over the lock!).     Droitwich is quite an interesting town - either modern monstrosities or Tudor buildings, quite a mix.    Huge new Waitrose right by the canal - well, the whole town centre is right by the canal so you can’t miss it.

The canal is certainly very lovely through glorious countryside but unfortunately there is loads of reed growth on both sides so you can only moor in the basin at Droitwich itself which has been done out with short finger jetties in a semi circle - didn’t count how many but certainly only about half full the night we stayed there.   Very shallow in places which is a bit of a challenge when you have to pass a boat coming in the opposite direction !   There is a water point in the basin and rubbish bins but no Elsan so make sure you take advantage of services at either Worcester or by the Black Prince boatyard at Stoke Wharf depending on which direction you are coming from (or you could, like me, make your man use natural “waste” disposal for personal needs and don’t let him have a drink before noon and after 6 pm)

Ooohh - and the bridge under the M5 motorway is fun!!     VERY low.    You go through a swinging gauge before you meet the bridge hole and we made it tremble a tad!    We had took the chimney off before and levelled out the logs and stuff but my pansies (and Dai) were almost decapitated!  

We done at least 60 million locks since last posting - and of course, all of them to do again now as we are in Worcester going back up into Birmingham - Tardebigge where we come ----- again!!


Since last blog we have done … 17 miles and 58 locks
Total since Setting Off ….. 1798 miles and  1449 locks  

Tardebigge Flight
 - on and on and on and on ......
but you do get to the bottom eventually !
start of Droitwich Canal off the Worcs and Birm canal
leading to Droitwich Barge Canal
brand new marina just after first three locks
on Droitwich Canal and hardly any boats in there
in second lock of 2-lock staircase on Droitwich Canal
swinging height gauge just before entering M5 motorway bridge
oopphhs - watch your heads!!
At this part of the canal, it is also river fed and if we had
had any more rain these last couple of days, then
we would have been wedged good and proper
in the M5 bridge - remote control on the tiller
long job
now, that's what I call "opposition" coming
straight at you on the River !!
nice pink Tudor building in Droitwich