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Monday, March 03, 2008

From Stone to Below Atherstone.

Tuesday 26th February 2008.

So the journey we have longed for begins on a cold, windy but bright morning. We left Stone and the boat yard, saying goodbye to our friends as we headed south. It was 9.45am and already as we left we were in a queue behind a Challenger boat. It made Roger laugh; he could not believe that we would have to queue as we set off on our dream cruise and the season has not begun yet hahahahaha.
Having negotiated the locks through Stone with them in front they pulled over below Star lock to chat to another owner of a Challenger boat, due to the collapse of the company Challenger share ownerships have a lot to talk about at the moment.
We stopped at Weston for lunch before heading off again at 1.50pm. Having had a quiet cruise we stopped for the day at Great Haywood at 3.30pm. It was nice to stop as the wind had increased, meaning it had begun to get chilly. Having warmed up with a coffee, we took a walk over to Anglo Welsh to see if Viv the owner of Monarch was a round, but just our luck she was on her day off, oh well such is life, we will no doubt catch her some other day.
To end the day I made an Orange sponge cake, as there is no cake onboard, just as it was cooking the gas bottle ran out grrrrrrrrr.
It is wonderful to be underway at long last. This is fulfilling Keith’s dream of almost 40yrs and that makes me so pleased for him.

Wednesday 27th February.

The morning was lovely, bright, but a little chilly. Before heading off from Great Haywood, Keith and I polished the brass, we also got chatting to a gentleman from N.B Whintangle. 9.40am and we set off down through Great Haywood Lock and onward past Shugborough Hall. The second lock of the day was Colwich Lock, the cottage there looked as though it was having a lot of work done on it, BW have also put new gates on the lock.
On such a beautiful morning, it was a surprise to not see any boats on the move; we seemed to have the cut to ourselves. Passing through Rangeley made me think of where we got Paddy (collie) from, he came from the Border Collie Trust. Rugeley has seen some changes since we last passed through in 2006, they have a new bypass now which looks quite impressive. At Armitage we passed under the narrow tunnel, it was nice to see all the rubbish we saw in 2006 had been taken away. Shame on boaters for dumping their rubbish. It could only be boaters, because there is no footpath through the short tunnel. We reached the locks at Fradley which would be the end of our day. Woooo we had boats coming up through the locks, the first we had seen on the move all day. Fradley Junction was hectic with boats moored 2 deep both sides, but Keith had no problem turning into the junction and onto the Coventry Canal, whilst I opened the swing bridge. We then moored up for the day in front of N.B No Problem which belongs to friends Sue and Vic. Having had a quick natter with Sue and Vic we were meeting Pam and Andy friends from the boats and canals forum at the Swan Pub on the junction. We settled down with our drinks outside and enjoyed a couple of hours of chatter, time flies when you are having fun. At which point a voice called out “Hello, what are you doing here”, I looked up to see Jackie standing there. She and her husband have a share in Challenger Boat Vulcan and were heading to Kings Bromley, but would moor above the locks over night, so having said our hello’s Jackie was off to do the locks. We said our goodbyes to Pam and Andy and made our way back to the boat and dinner. Our evening was spent in the pub with Sue and Vic, it was a most enjoyable evening, catching up with news over a pint or two. A really enjoyable day of cruising and catching up with friends, what more could anyone ask for.

Thursday 28th February.

We said our goodbyes to Sue and Vic on N.B No Problem, before untying the boat and setting off at 9.20am on what was a chilly, frosty morning. The sun was doing it’s best to warm the chilled air.
Yesterday we had seen hardly anything moving, well today was the complete opposite, everyman; woman and their dog were out on the move it seemed, thankfully in the opposite direction to us. Where ever we looked there was so beautiful views, even with the railway dominating the countryside, it was still lovely. We cruised past the disused airfield and were soon joined by N.B Greenwood behind, who seemed in somewhat of a hurry, but with bridges and narrow places we could not allow him to pass. Streethay Wharf was on our left with the marina full of boats. It was then onward through Huddlesford, where they were still working on the railway. At Hademore we could finally pull over enough to allow N.B Greenwood past, so he could go on his merry way. As we were passing through Tamhorn Park, coming towards us on N.B Aslan was Pauline and Trevor, who we got to know which in Stone, they were pleased to see we were on our way. Due to the Army firing ranges you cannot moor in this area. We were then approaching Hopwas and stopped at 12.40pm between the Tame Otter and the red Lion. Later on we took a walk around what is a tiny village, they no longer have a shop, but they do have a beautiful church which was built in 1879. We had a visitor to the boat; she was a small tabby cat, smaller than Marmite but ever so pretty. She loved it on the boat inviting herself on through the engine room. Mog and Dog did not meet her, I am not sure they would have appreciated her visit. The evening was spent in front of the TV, before an early night as we were both tired.

Friday 29th February.

The mooring overnight between the pubs was lovely, it was very quiet. We were awake at 7am so got up. Having had breakfast, I took Paddy for his walk whilst Keith got the boat ready for the off at 8.20am. It was a very chilly morning, overcast and with a breeze. So I was wrapped up well in my donkey Jacket, gloves and hat. We made a stop at peel’s Wharf to empty the toilet. There are good ring moorings there and a lot of development with new apartments and a few private basin moorings. We noticed that Euphoria and Blue Rinse Menagerie were moored up; we knew them from Stone as I had sold them coal a couple of times. It is a small world on the canal I have found. We said our hi’s and bye’s and headed off for Fazeley Junction. At Fazeley the Coventry meets the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. Over the impressive Tame Aqueduct, where there are good views of the River Tame We were then at the Glascote locks, the only two locks I would do today. The area has changed somewhat with new apartments being built along side the canal, but somehow it still looks sad and always has. We passed by the Hudson Boatyard, where there were a lot of Hudson shells built ready for fit out. Next was the Alvecote marina, where you can also see the remains of a Benedictine Priory. On approaching Polesworth, there is a piece of reclaimed scrubland which is now a golf course, and we became the target of a golf ball of course hahaha, it flew over the boat and just missed the boatman’s cabin Stove, before we heard the plop as it dropped into the water, it passes Pooley Hall. We decided not to stop at Polesworth, so continued on, the wind was getting strong and had become very gusty, so we decided to moor up above bridge 49 a mile and half from the Atherstone Flight, which will be done on Monday morning weather permitting. We are going to stay put for the weekend.

Saturday 1st March.

1.45 am and we were woken up by the extremely strong winds. The rudder was flapping around in the water creating a racket, so Keith got up and secured it, whilst I got up and made a cup of tea. Not only did we secure the rudder, we also removed a large JCB oil drum which was banging up against the stern, we have no idea where it came from.
The wind continued to blow right up until we woke up at 7.45am, having got up I walked Paddy in the howling gales, and he was not for staying out to long. On returning to the boat the fires were tended to and the back cabin stove was dampened down with ash to stop it roaring away, as it had been doing over night. Keith cooked his usual yummy breakfast as we will not be moving over the weekend.
As it was the 1st of the month Keith did the maintenance checks on the boat, only to discover that we had diesel in our oil grrrrrr. So we set about stripping the engine down to check the fuel pumps and piping only to discover that their was a blockage in the pipe work so the diesel had over flowed into the oil, not to difficult to sort out and give the engine and oil change, but a little frustrating that if anything is going to happen it seems to happen to us hahahaha. I managed to get a load of washing done and cooked a turkey casserole with dumplings for dinner. Even though we have had sunshine all day the wind is still blowing a gale, so it will be another evening in front of the TV for us.

Sunday 2nd March.

Having woken up early again to the rudder again. We did eventually get back to sleep on yet another night of high winds, it will not give in. We were up at 8.30am to sunshine and yes you guessed it strong winds. But Paddy needed walking as always, so it was a quickie as he was not that impressed to be running the towpath in the winds. As we would not be moving, I set about doing my Sunday baking; on today’s menu was a lemon meringue pie and a chocolate cake. Keith was in engine cleaning mode, I had the brass work to do outside, but the wind was putting me off hahahaha, it would get done later in the afternoon however, I hate looking at dirty brass. I know there is more to life hahaha but I like to keep a tidy boat. We spent the rest of the afternoon watching TV movies and drinking coffee. There were still boats struggling out in the wind as we stayed put. Later in the day the wind did drop and Hare and butty Fazeley passed us by. We had a lovely day, so here’s to week 2 of our journey.

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