Friday, July 11, 2014

A Fair Few Days Aboard

Fri 4th July – Mon 7th July

Andrew and I organised ourselves a day off on Monday, giving ourselves an extra day for the weekend.

Naturally we headed north to the boat on Friday evening.  As we approached Birmingham it started raining, only lightly at first. Once on board and settled in for the night though, it chucked it down.  Although the plan had been to cruise to Fradley Junction on Saturday morning, we started having second thoughts.

Saturday morning was still a bit drizzly when Andrew got up but by the time I rolled out of bed it was starting to clear.  The final decision was made and once we had filled the water and diesel and emptied the other tank, we departed the marina.  We arrived at Haywood Lock, 3rd in the queue to go down.
While waiting I saw a mass of caterpillars on the nettles.  Hundreds of the little beauties.



Turns out they are all pre-cursors to the Peacock butterfly.  I would love to be there again to see them all pupate and then emerge.  We will see, now I know where they are hiding.


Next through Colwich Lock and a long lock free cruise to Wood End Lock and Fradley Junction.  What a wonderful day it turned out to be. We pulled in to the last available space at the visitor moorings above Shadehouse Lock. Within a short time we were out in the deck chairs enjoying some liquid refreshments and sunshine.

Later as the sun was setting we went for a wonder down to the Mucky Duck but decided against stopping in.  Instead we drifted back to our own space and supplies.

 Sunset at Fradley Junction


Saturday morning I was up almost as early as Andrew.  As we needed to wind to return the way whence we came, I thought that it might be a good idea for us to get an early start. Seeing as I was already awake and up, we headed towards Shadehouse Lock at 8:30am.  By that time we were already in a queue to go down the two locks and once winded still in another queue to go back up. Once past those and Wood End Lock around the corner, it was another lock free cruise to our proposed stopping point between Rugeley and Wolseley Bridge.

Waiting at Wood End Lock

Chaffich at Wood End Lock

Female Chaffich

Going Up !

Relaxing Cruise

Bliss :)

Old building in Rugeley




We made it in plenty of time to get the tv setup so that I could watch the Wimbledon Men’s Finals.  Quite a match but by the time it got to the 5th set I decided that I was missing out on the beautiful sunshine outside which Andrew was enjoying on his own.  So on went the radio and I joined him outside until the clouds drove us back in.

Another lovely evening and I had a bit of a play with my camera again.


Through the window

Another sunset



Although the weekend was quite busy boat wise, Monday morning was more so.  Obviously all those lucky boaties who do not need to be anywhere and mooring up for the weekend to let all the weekend boaties go about their business. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that it was quieter on the water over the previous two days Smile

The weather was starting to look ominous. We were going to stop below Haywood Lock but as there was quite a queue of boats coming down, we popped up and made our way to Tixall Wide for a few hours.  Once again out came the deck chairs until the rain came over.  At this point we made the short trip back to the marina and were moored up before the rain really started.

Male Reed Bunting

A final clean and pack and we were in the car and on the road, after a short stop at the Canalside Shop to stock up from the butchers, by 4pm.

On the drive home we passed through a fantastic thunderstorm with lightning and very heavy rain.

Home again by 7pm and dinner on the go. 

All was well in the land of the Howard’s Abroad.  Until the next trip that is.

Rolling on the floor laughing   Turtle

Sunday, June 22, 2014

To the Coast and Back – in a Day

Sat 21st June

The decision was, go north to the boat or south to see something new.  As we are staying in the UK for the foreseeable future so that we can see more of the UK and eventually travel a bit further afield, we decided on south Smile

We were off early (9 am which is early for me on a weekend !) We plugged in the back roads to the GPS, heading for Mudeford, Christchurch along the Test Valley. Andrew was hoping to be able to stop and actually get a decent look at the River Test as it is his dream to be able to fish it, only thing is he needs to win the lottery to be able to afford it!  Some what different to what he was used to in New Zealand, where all you needed was a fishing licence and access to the rivers and lakes.  Here, in the UK, fishing rights are private or syndicated and very expensive if you just want to be able to fish for the day.

To get back to the trip.  The one place we were able to pull off the road, we walked for about 20 minutes but always parallel to the river and too far to get but a glimpse of the river. Maybe another day.

We then zipped through the New Forest and made our way to Mudeford and Avon Beach Smile . I just had a hankering for the sea, not having seen it for a while.  Once there though, along with hundreds of others and children, reminded me of why I do not go to the beach that often. Every car park was pay and display and not cheap !  plus pretty full too by the time we got there at 11am.  We found a spot at Mudeford Quay and popped in to the cafe for a drink and something to eat. It was a really beautiful day, with a cooling sea breeze but it was already starting to show it was going to be a really hot day!

After a wander around the quay and a peek at the coast line of the Isle of Wight we decided to move on up the coast a bit where it was not as busy.

Next stop Highcliffe Castle and down to the beach.  I just wanted to put my feet in the sea. Is was not cold like I was expecting but actually it was lovely, especially on such a hot day.

Feet in the Sea

We had been hoping to find a B&B or somewhere to stay the night but it seemed everywhere was full as all we saw were ‘No Vacancy’ signs outside the B&B’s we passed.
So once my feet were dry we carried on up the coast towards Lymington, where there were some old salt pans which had been turned into nature reserves. I was hoping for some photographic birds who did not mind having a camera stuck in their face.

Highcliffe Beach looking east

Highcliffe Beach looking west towards Avon Beach

Avon Beach beachhouses

Looking across the Solent to the Isle of Wight

Flowers in Highcliffe Castle grounds

Highcliffe Castle

Flowers again!

We stopped off along the way to seek out Hurst Castle, but once we saw that it was rather a long walk along the pebbly sea wall, we gave that one a miss too.  We are not that much into walking really Smile
But we got a great view across the salt marshes.

Salt marsh at low tide

Little Egret on the salt marsh - a bit far away for a decent picture

Lymington was having a D-Day festival and once we found a space to park, we started walking in the direction of the nature reserve. It took a while to realise that we were parked on the ‘wrong’ side of town. The sun was beating down by now as there was not as much of the sea breeze in town. We found a pub to recoup and deliberate the options over a drink. Andrew stuck to cider, as he was driving and a small bowl of chips.  They were great chips Smile just could have done with a slightly bigger bowl .
As we were only about half way to the nature reserve, AND still had to walk back if we continued. We have left that for another day and agreed that we would head back in to the New Forest and see if we could find a place for the night.

Lymington Quay Street

We have no idea what it was about last night, other than the summer solstice but EVERWHERE was full. We still had a great day though, driving around and seeing places and we have found a place that we will definitely go back to.  A lovely Inn, in the New Forest with nothing else around it but forest.

Donkey foal in the New Forest National Park

A small herd of New Forest horses

Mum and foal

When I hopped out the car to take a photo of this small pony foal he came trotting over to me :)

He was so cute.  I wanted to take him home.

Some other ponies. The foal was having a good roll.


and taking off

Even Andrew was enjoying it :)

Not many places where there were NO cars!

So all in all it turned out to be a reconnaissance trip to the New Forest but we had fun, walked for miles ( or so it seemed ) and have agreed that although the coast is lovely we would rather go to the very remote spots with not too many people.  A bit of a problem when we only have the weekends to travel, the same as everyone else who works Sad smile 

Another trip on the cards, is a weekend on the Isle of Wight.  Catching the ferry from Lymington to Yarmouth.