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Friday, October 31, 2008

Fazeley to Hartshill.

Thursday 30th October.

Fazeley, to the bottom of the Atherstone Flight. 8.3 miles and 2 locks

The body clock is still unsettled, so we were both awake at 6.30am, just lying in bed listening to the silence of the morning. When we did rustle up enough get and go to slide out of bed, Marmite was making her self known with constant meowing. Hoping that if she kept on meowing long enough, she would get her breakfast early. Not on this boat she doesn’t, she has her breakfast when Paddy has his, and that is after his morning stroll, so she would just have to wait. Keith and I had breakfast, with our usual cuppa, Paddy then had his stroll and Marmite finally got what she wanted, her breakfast. Peace at last reigned whilst we prepared to leave Fazeley. The first job of the day was to pull in to Peel’s Wharf to take on water, empty rubbish and empty both of the toilet cassettes.

What was a pleasure to see were the recycle bins, for plastic, paper etc. Wouldn’t it be nice of all BW sanitary stations had them?
As we moved off of the wharf, we were flagged down for coal, which was duly delivered to three boats. It seems that some boaters find it hard to believe that the coal business is run by me and not Keith. They do not think that it is right that I should be carrying 25kg coal bags on my shoulder or doing any of the unloading.
It is because I am a woman.
It seems that some do not see it as a job for a woman, despite the fact that I love the job, and I am more than capable of lifting and carrying 25kg bags of coal. When it comes to paying for their coal, they always hand the money to Keith, who then explains that I am the coal woman, that I am the one who takes the money, he tells them that he just steers the boat ha ha ha, which is true as he does 99.9% of the time. Carrying cargo on a working boat has been a dream of Keith’s for many, many years, and now he has achieved that dream, with our new working boat. We love carrying and selling coal, it feels like we are helping to keep a tradition alive.
So having done our deliveries, we were on our way, leaving Fazeley and Fazeley Junction behind. The weather looked set fair, although it was a little chilly, so we both had our hats and gloves on.

Whilst passing under the bridge to Kettlebrook Wharf, we saw this great sign,

and the first bonfire of the year being built, and if it’s size is anything to go by, they will have a fabulous time. We then arrived at Glascote locks, and this time there was no queue to sit in for 1 hour and 20 minutes. We cruised past the boat yard of S.M Hudson, where several grey primered boats were sitting waiting for their turn in the queue to be finished for their new owners. It was onward past Amington and Alvecote, where most of the Canaltime hire boats were out on hire. Now that the leaves are dropping off of the trees, we got to see the remains of the Benedictine Alvecote Priory, although there is very little left of it now, it still looks quite impressive. It was not long before we were under the M42 motorway bridge and into Polesworth. We noticed that from Alvecote to Polesworth the veg pledge, had been taken very seriously, with neatly cut grass and beautifully trimmed hedges.

We were fortunate enough to see the men and the tools that had been given the job. Who ever has the contract to do this section of the canal, is certainly doing a lovely job. So often boaters moan about how the towpaths and hedges need cutting back etc, well we were more than impressed by what we saw.

The Coventry Canal at this time of the year is really lovely, with the leaves on the trees changing colour. The canal at times it is joined by the River Anker and the railway following the canals path, so there is always something to look at. The area is also covered by arable land and some old and impressive oak trees line the canal. We decided to stop at 1pm below the Atherstone Flight for our overnight mooring. Earlier in the morning I had put a couple of Cornish Pasties in the back stove, so they were ready for eating, along with a nice hot cup of coffee. Our day ended listening to a generator running on the back of the boat behind us for three and half hours from 5pm till 8.30pm. I kept thinking if this carries on till 9pm, I will have to go and say something. As all good boaters know that engines etc. should be turned off by 8pm. But at 8.30pm it did eventually groan to a halt.

Friday 31st October.

Bottom of Atherstone Flight to Hartshill. 4 miles and 11 locks

Oh what a fabulous morning we woke up to. Jack Frost had sprinkled white dust everywhere, it was glorious. Keith and I were both a wake at around 5.30am. I was woken by an owl calling, a cockerel then joined in with his own version of the dawn chorus. Because we were both awake, I got up made us a cup of tea and stoked the back stove fire, to revive its dying embers. Having drunk our tea and lay in bed thinking about getting up, we did crawl out from under the covers, fold the bed up and hide it in the cupboard. 8am and we were ready to leave the overnight mooring and head up the flight of 11 locks. With there having been such a hard frost, it was a little slippery in places, so I did have to be careful around the lock.

Special care was taken when pushing open the gates, because the engineering bricks with the locks are paved with were slippery, they prove very little grip for the feet. Having exited lock 1, Keith headed on to lock 2 whilst I shut the gate behind him.

It was a breath taking morning, and so peaceful for most of our journey up through the flight. As we arrived at lock 7, we were surprised to see Brian Jarrett’s narrow boat Kyle, out of the water at Barry Hawkins boat yard. Brian was on the BCN Explorer Cruise with us. We did not see him around, so carried on our way. Coming out of lock 6 was a Canal Cruising hire boat, with Peter and Karen the owners of the Canal cruising onboard with George their dog, they had been out for a few days and were heading back from Banbury. It was lovely to see them as we will not get another chance until we are back in Stone next autumn. At lock 5 we encountered N.B Gleemaiden going in the same direction as us, and in front of them was N.B Black Pearl, who was single handing. N.B Gleemaiden bought two bags of coal off of us whilst they were working the lock. With us all together, we helped each other out as you do when working locks, and it was not long before we were at lock 3, where N.B Black Pearl managed to catch his rope around his propeller, so pulled over to let us both by and to untangle his rope. We arrived at the top of the flight, where Tony the lock keeper greeted me with a good morning. He even called me Princess, awww how sweet, now I feel special. We decided to moor up so we could go and have a look around Atherstone. The last time we did that was back in 2005, when we had our other boat, so it would be nice to see if anything had changed. Our visit to Atherstone was a brief one, nothing new to be found. We looked in all the charity shops and walked on smartish as a couple of foreign lads started throwing punches at each other. I suppose in an ideal world someone should have intervened, but not one person went over to stop them, instead they just stood and watched or like us moved on. In an age where you do not know what someone is carrying on them, you do have to think before you take any action. As it was, within a few minutes a police car turned up and they were both then sorted out. We made our way back to Hadar, where we found a note under the back hatch, asking if we could deliver another two bags of coal to N.B Gleemaiden, which we were happy to do. Keith then got us underway as I prepared lunch, which we ate on the move. We did not fancy staying in Atherstone overnight, with it being Halloween, the last time we stayed in Atherstone with our other boat, youths tried to pinch our bikes off of the boat's roof. We made our way to Hartshill, which is home to a pretty British Waterways Yard, with its splendid clock tower (someone needs to change the time). So this is our mooring for the weekend, whilst here we shall take a walk in to Hartshill.

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