Thursday, July 26, 2012

roasted eyeballs on toast

(late posting as internet connection Wed was very poor - between “no service” and 1-2 bars, and I need at least 3 steady bars to upload and 4 to get photos on)

Omigod !!!   It’s too hot ---- we had roasted eyeballs on toast for tea last night and tonight the boiled, bit-to-death ankles!!!    Ha ha - we Brits can do “moan about the weather” dead good!!!    No, seriously, it is just lovely to have a couple of days without rain (thunderstorms expected in a day or two) and be able to wear next-to-nought clothes (don’t worry, at least I am covered but ----- Dai is quite stripped off !!!).

Had a really lovely time since last blog as Amy arrived last Wednesday and then her boyfriend Andy joined us Saturday morning and they both departed Sunday afternoon.
The inside of Jandai was scrubbed, dusted, de-Foxxie-haired and gleamed like a new pin - thanks Amy!!   I have to smile though cos when a teenager at home, then getting her to just put dirty clothes in the laundry bin was a Grand Feat !!!     Of course, Amy was here before the Summer, so she slaughtered me at Scrabble more than once - just proves my brain is on a go-slow more and more since retirement !!

Had another great meal out at Samuel Barlows at Alvecote - well recommended when you are around there.  

Since last week we haven’t moved far - down Atherstone Flight to Polesworth; to Alvecote; Fazeley, and now we are moored at Whittington.    Need to be in Alrewas for Saturday evening for a long-time-arranged meet up with old friends.   We’ll probably do from here, through Fradley to Alrewas in one go tomorrow or Friday.    Alrewas is very popular especially at weekends as lots of “weekenders” journey there from Barton and Mercia marinas (we know, we were once one of them!).

Since last blog we have done … 18 miles and 13 locks  
Total since Setting Off ….. 1925 miles and  1569 locks

looks like an orignal !
We have cassette loos so don't need to see if this is functional
every little helps - thanks Amy
baby adder basking in the sunshine on the towpath
bash, bash, bash
Andy, Amy and a lethal weapon !

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

visitors galore

Fred and Lisa came to see us at Shackerston and we had nice meal at the Rising Sun pub (and a few beers!!).   Their boat is coming along really well at Kingfishers.

Then Dai’s daughter Nikki came out when we were at Hinckley and took us to see her new house which is lovely - so another nice night out.

And today Amy has come for a few days on the train to where we are today at Atherstone (ha ha, 11 locks tomorrow!).    Amy’s boyfriend is a veggie so we’re treating her to steak dinner tonight (back to pasta and pasta and more pasta next week Amy).   Foxxie went mental when Amy arrived - singing for hours!!!

So, done the Ashby Canal and now back on the Coventry heading towards the Trent and Mersey.    Not going to mention the rain ---- lovely sunshine as I write this.  Yes really!

Since last blog we have done … 34 miles and 0 locks  
Total since Setting Off ….. 1907 miles and  1556 locks  

pineapple on a stick.
sexy mooring post !

new swingbridge since we were last at
Ashby Canal terminus
Ashby Canal terminus -
looking back from current end
even the pylons are shrinking in
this bloody rain !

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Clarted Undercarriage

We are now on the Ashby Canal - we’ll go on to the current terminus (this is one of the canals under restoration), turn round and come back!    Got mixed feelings about this canal ---- a) very open countryside which is lovely; b) have to trek for miles to a town/village for any supplies (so we came thru Hinckley where town centre is at least a mile away which is ok except when you are trolley-ing bags of supermarket shopping); c) mooring is quite difficult as the canal is fairly shallow and therefore hard to get into the side and impossible most of the time as reeds line the majority of the canal towpath side ; and d) lots of boats around because this canal does get a good press because of its countryside location, therefore mooring even more difficult!     There are “designated mooring sites” but most of these are full to the brim with boaters who have obviously decided “we’re in, so we’re staying put” and to top it all, not really enough space for number of moorees (is that a word??).

Oh - and there are no locks which some boaters find a welcome relief - especially after doing Atherstone Flight of 11 which are so, so, so slow to fill (but relatively quick to empty).

We went to the “Samuel Barlow” at Alvecote Marina on the Coventry Canal last Thursday for the first (of several) celebrations for Dai’s 60th birthday.    It looks like it’s the marina’s clubhouse as just a boxxie, red brick, newish building but we were reassured that it was a pub and everyone welcome.    We had a meal and must say that it was really very good.    A good choice on the menu with some dishes you don’t usually see in a pub, as well as the usual pub grub.    The chef, Paul, came out when we sat down and talked us through the menu - and we weren’t disappointed with the food which tasted good and plenty enough of it.    Excellent, friendly service and good beer --- and didn’t break the bank.    Suffice to say, we will call in again on the way back and that is as good a recommendation that we can give.

Towpaths on here are pretty muddy (surprise surprise I hear you say!!) and Foxxie is now sitting on the back deck, banned to come inside until she dries off a bit.   Her legs and undercarriage are clarted up with mud - at least the rain is somewhere else right now and the sun is shining in a blue sky enough to sew a sailor suit (although I expect it will rear its black cloud here again before much longer as it must be all of 2 hours since last downpour).

Since last blog we have done … 28 miles and 11 locks  
Total since Setting Off ….. 1873 miles and  1556 locks

A Historic Moment
Yes, Janice at the tiller - for real !!
.... and yet another river bank burst
this time the River  Anker as we
came through Poleswoth on Coventry Canal
just had to show you this!
posted at Atherstone Top Lock Cottage
Quite right too !!
"His" doesn't need to be as big as "Hers"

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

White Gold

You may remember me saying last week how much we had saved in the Birmingham Bullring Markets ------ well, last Saturday in Curdworth I thought I had at least purchased a mammy cow in the village shop.    We are used to paying around 89p for litre of milk in the supermarkets and around a pound in villages - well, this took the biscuit (or perhaps I should say “cup of tea”).    I guessed it would be around a pound cos there were no prices marked at all on anything in the shop but we needed some cow juice (one of Dai’s many quaint sayings!!) so I fetched a carton out of the fridge and proceeded to the counter.   Guess ------ (clue in the title of this blog) ---- £1.20.    Perhaps they package wine in milk cartons in this part of the world?    £1.20, it is so true.   Talk about being ripped off.    I still can’t believe it as I tell you.

What other excitement this last week?    Well, we had some luck with the weather on Friday (no rain until we moored) as we moved from centre of Birmingham down Farmers Bridge Locks (13 of them), then down Aston Locks (11) onto the Birmingham and Frazley Canal, then 3 more locks at Minworth - yes, all in one day - and couldn’t find anywhere we wanted to moor so proceeded on and finally moored just before the flight of 11 locks at Curdworth.   We were looking directly at the M6 Toll Road but no vehicle noise at all ----- instead it was coming from the M42 which was a bit over to our right but not enough to deter us as we certainly didn’t want another load of locks before mooring up!   27 in one day is quite enough thank you!

Then we met up with 2 sets of boaters (must be a special name for a “set of boaters”?) in one day while still in Birmingham City Centre - unbelievable!!    We can go weeks or even months  without seeing another soul that we know.    Bit like those buses who all arrive together!     So we had a great night in the pub with Irene and Ian off Freespirit and Roger ’n’ Pat from Cat’s Whiskers (who had the next full build slot at Kingfishers after us).    Poor old Roger took some stick but coped with all the teasing about not being real boaters (as they are fleeing the UK for next winter for much sunnier climes).

Was first time this last week that we ever heard of a canal being closed because of too much water!!    Yes, the Birmingham and Worcs was shut between Worcester and top of Tardebigge Lock Flight for a day after all those thunderstorms.    Whatever next?      Well, we moored last two nights right next to Kingsbury Water Park which is a 600 acre landscaped park with 30 lakes and pools created from gravel pits worked over the last 50 years and it was way too muddy and boggy to explore all these water features!!

Today we are now moored opposite Alvecote Marina just through Tamworth.   We haven’t planned terribly well though as it’s Dai’s birthday tomorrow and nowhere nice to go out for a meal within miles and miles ----- we’ll just have to pretend he’s not 60 on Thursday (Dai doesn’t want to remember anyway!!) and wait till we get somewhere else.

Since last blog we have done … 19 miles and 40 locks  (this is NOT a misprint!!)
Total since Setting Off ….. 1845 miles and  1545 locks

Start of Spaghetti Junction of motorways at
Gravelly Hill in Birmingham taken as we passed under

Canal's version of Spaghetti Junction??
Enlargement of signage you can see in pic above.
We came from City Centre and turned
towards Tamworth

the next couple of photos show you that we aren't
always in the countryside!!
We quite enjoyed this part of our journey
because it was so different ---- but, yes, glad to
get back into open countryside at end of the day

Factory built over canal - solid on one side
and you can see the pillars on the other side

just how wierd is this footbridge??
Must have been built by the
Drayton Manor Park owners as it is
pretty close to the theme park which
we passed but only the entrance.
Dai wouldn't look for a way we could sneak in!

----- looking from canal over some of the Kingsbury Park lakes

looks lovely doesn't it - but knee deep in mud on footpaths