Thursday, May 30, 2013

Back at Tixall Wide

I think that this is one of my favorite places so far on the canals.  I love the wide canal here, feels like being on a pond and surrounded by fields.

Unfortunately there was no barn owl around this time, but it is still lovely and quiet even though there are rather a lot of boats moored here.

But back to yesterdays travels.  We eventually made it through the 2 locks in Tamworth.  There was a bit of a queue as the paddles on the second lock were not closing properly due to a car tyre getting in the way.  C&RT (Canal and River Trust who look after the canals) arrived while we were waiting for the first lock and were able to clear the obstruction, helping speed up the waiting queues from both sides.  I was hoping to stop for the day by the Hopwas Forest but the only mooring spots were all taken up. As we continued on, the rain started. Raining on and off for the remainder of the day.  Eventually Andrew moored up, at least 40 minutes after he said he would!  But it did not worry me, I was quite dry and warm inside :)

Fazeley Junction, Tamworth

Just had to get a shot of this baby narrowboat  so cute

Bath Time

in the communal bath

Heading into the sun

the only bit of yellow we have really seen in a few days now

We left our mooring near Streethey Wharf this morning arriving at Fradley Junction in another queue of boats waiting for the locks.  Lucky for us, and a couple of others, it turned out that we were only behind the first 3 of a group of 20 boats :)   It only took 2 hours to get through 3 locks.  I really do not know what those people were doing, we got through the Atherstone Flight of 11 locks a couple of days before in less time than that!

As usual our plans changed on the fly and instead of stopping in Rugeley for provisions we continued for another hour or so to Tixall Wide :)  This is not on the canal we want to be on but I really wanted to stay the night here.  We will turn around tomorrow and go back to Great Hayward, stock up at the farm shop and continue to wherever we feel like stopping tomorrow.

another Pheasant

still no decent sunset - Tixall Wide


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It Would Seem That Summer Has Arrived !

After 3 glorious days, for the UK at least, reasonably warm with a slight cooling breeze, we have had another wet and grey day.  But I still took some pictures -

Looking out the window
and out of the side hatch

who would have thought a stinging nettle could look interesting?


water droplets

For the past few sunny and dry days, we slowly made our way back down the Ashby canal.

see it was :)

We stopped for the night at Sutton Cheyney Wharf and seeing as it was still reasonably early, decided to walk the 15minutes to the Bosworth Battlefield Centre.  Fairly interesting considering all the hoopla about King Richard III but it turns out that after they built the centre where they thought the battle had taken place and then did further research, the assumption is the battle actually took place about 2.5 kms away.  But in reality the landscape has changed over the last 527 years and it is just another spot on the gps map :)  But still of significant historical importance as King Richard III was the last king to die in battle.  I guess all the kings and queens since then have sensibly decided to let others do the dying for them :P

As luck would have it the working narrowboat Callisto came around the corner and being in need of some coal, who would have expected that in May >:( , Andrew was able to hail him over and we stocked up on not only coal but also refilled the diesel.

I was hoping to finally spy a badger and as we had a lovely meadow next to the moorings AND it was a full moon, I kept popping out to have a look, binoculars in hand.  But still no luck, not even an owl hooting or anything.  Very disappointing but I will keep looking.

We did see these odd looking ducks, must be a recessive gene as we only saw female ducks with the top knot. Unfortunately I did not have the camera ready for the older females but saw this little one and it's mum did not have a little tuft, so as I say remembering my science, a recessive gene.  Plus they were all only in the small area around Stoke Golding.  I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that this is where Henry Tudor was crowned after defeating King Richard III, becoming King Henry VII.

a 'crowned' queen
Not sure I would use this for a boat name but after checking on the internet it is also a raw egg drink cure for hangovers !  but not my initial thought :)

different boat pets - they did have an aviary on the canal side

Lovely bridge near the start of the Ashby canal

Forest bluebells


Another stockup of groceries the following day from Sainsburys in Nuneaton will see us well fed for the next 5 days or so.  We could however run out of biscuits and I still have not sorted what I might need for baking.  It's not like I don't have the time, just the inclination :)

C&RT Hartshill maintenance building - Andrew wants to buy it!

Obstruction - been there for a while as it has been photographed fairly often since March 2013

I slept really well again last night even though we are right by a railway track. I suspect it had a lot to do with the walk into Atherstone for a visit to Aldi (Andrew was after a special which was a few weeks old, so no luck there but I did get a large terracotta pot and compost for re-potting the rose that Gina gave us) followed by the 11 lock flight (passing nb Uccello near the bottom lock) and then the walk around the nature reserve because I had spied yet more bluebells in the woods.  As you will see I have been trying to get some pictures of the bluebell carpets in the woods that we have passed but it has not been that successful while still on the move on a boat, even if we are going only 4 mph!

These bluebells were lovely going all the way up a hill from the side of the canal.
More bluebell carpets

again but closer

The remains of Alvecote Priory

Alvecote Priory

I just love the gnarled and twisted branches of the oak trees

More bluebells

I cheated a bit with these, the wind was blowing so much that I ended up picking them off the tree and photographing them in the boat.  Still was a bit difficult as the boat was rocking in the wind too but at least we were rocking together and in the same direction
A bit of close-up of chestnut flowers

Friday, May 24, 2013

Another Quiet but Wet and Windy Day on the Ashby

With more wild wet and windy conditions forecast for today we remained moored where we were.  With having no schedule to stick to it makes making these decisions really easy.  Had there been any traffic we might have moved but there was none, what a surprise.

The downside is that there is only so much tea, knitting, reading, watching tv and the wildlife one person can take :)  I think that I am going to have to set up for some baking aboard :)  Especially considering the amount of biscuits we get through in any one week.

So that will be my next mission, probably slightly easier to sort than knitting supplies.  Then I just need to re-organise the cupboards to hold all the baking supplies and tools. :(

Tomorrow's weather forecast is looking good so I guess we will start making our way back down the Ashby Canal and onwards :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ashby Canal

We made it to the current extent of the Ashby Canal early yesterday afternoon.  This is a lovely canal, especially the last 4 or 5 hours.  Some gorgeous landscape and beautiful woods.  It was quite serene and peaceful as the villages are few and far between and no major roads crossing the canal at all. 

We winded just before the terminus and snuck into a mooring as much out of the wind as possible.

Taken this evening. Yesterday there were 3 other boats here

This morning we decided that we would walk part of the old canal route, which is very close to being restored, to Illiot Wharf.  Not that we noticed any wharf anymore.  We then joined the road and walked into Measham.  The weather was windy but not to bad for a walk into town, even the odd shower did not put us off.  Measham was not quite the village that we expected.  No old buildings or any picturesque looking streets.  So no pictures taken as in really was quite ordinary.  So after our short look around, late breakfast and coffee, we headed back.

Our walk route

A bit of the view on our walk taken from what would be the canal route

Our intention was to start back to the Coventry Canal but with the weather turning very windy and rather wet the tiller master decided not to bother and we would stay here another night.  So snug by the fire we did our usual tv, tea and coffee, books, internet and knitting.  All in all, a very relaxing afternoon.  I needed it after the long walk this morning.  All 6 odd km's of it.

I was hoping for a decent sunset finally, seeing as I just cannot make sunrise :) but once again it was not to be.  But I did enjoy these little chaps who visit us a few times a day with mum watching them very carefully

A Heron visit too

and watching the swallows (try catching a picture of those on the wing !!!)  and as the evening falls, the bats come out to clear up the insects where the swallows left off.  Bloody cold outside but a great view from inside the warmth of the boat :D

A couple of views that I got before sunset:

Now don't you all work too hard.  Enjoy the quiet times  :))

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cheerio to Coventry and Hello Ashby Canal

We had a quiet night in Coventry basin, once the few youngsters left. It really could be a great place especially being so close to the town center.

This morning I ventured off to find the two knitting supply shops. Walking through town via various shopping malls.  I found the needles that I wanted at the first shop and bought them just in case. I decided to still continue on to the second shop which was only a 10 minute walk further on, as the wool was cheaper because they were having a 3 for 2 sale :)  I now have plenty of everything :P
Andrew meanwhile finally decided that his rather sore big toe - ingrown toenail :( - needed seeing to by a proper doctor.  Self medication was not working :))  So he now has antibiotics and instructions to see his GP (now which one might that be?) as, if it does not clear up properly he will need to have the nail surgically attended to.

Well with our various requirements met and Andrew finding the Sainsbury's supermarket on his wonderings, grocery shopping was next.

On the way Andrew showed me the 2 original town gates that he had also found. According to the sign the last 2 remaining of the original 12.  The 10 were destroyed back in 1622, by order of Charles II.

Cross St Gate

Part of the original wall still there too

Swanswell Gate and surviving walls

Essential supplies having being replenished and having seen everything that we wanted in the town, we have retraced our course to Hawesbury Junction and then continued on to the Ashby Canal.  Another new waterway for us.

Historic Coventry Basin warehouse with statue of Brindley in the foreground

Our mooring
What we have seen of it so far of the Ashby canal, it looks lovely.  I love it for its 22miles of NO LOCKS :D  and then we have too turn around and come all the way back and still no locks.

some local fauna
Water Vole


We are now moored up in the 5 spot of the evening as the first was full, well not really, we could have fitted there if all the other boats had not left large gaps between them.  The next few were to shallow and here we are.  Looking forward to another peaceful night on the cut.

Cheerio for now everyone. Sleep well.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Night in Coventry

Now I know the meaning of the term 'sent to Coventry' :)  There are NO other boats here in the basin. We are all alone.  It seems such a pity that more boats do not seem to want to stay in the basin.  We past at least 4 boats on our way in to Coventry from Hawkesbury Junction and one arrived not long after us but just turned around and left again.  I wonder if it was the look of our boat? 

But first to this morning.  I was able to take a bit of time to get some 'pretty flower' pictures.  The woods near to our moorings had lots of lovely bluebells. It would have been an aweful lot nicer of they were not felling trees in there, but then again it did sat the woods were private property. But I got what I could.

and along the towpath

and a fun one which I shall keep when feeling knackered or downright arsey :D

Back to Coventry :)

We wondered into town to have a look at the cathedrals, old and new.  We were not able to go into the old cathedral as it closed at 4pm and we only got there after 5.  Hopefully we might have a chance tomorrow to have another look.  Coventry town center though seems to be one huge big shopping mall.  Shopping heaven for me but a little bit boring for Andrew :)  Luckily for both of us the shops were all closed being a Sunday evening.  We did make our way down to Spon St though for a bit of a look at the restored medieval buildings.  Unfortunately taking decent pictures of them was not possible with all those cars and the ghastly plastic barriers.  It is also quite interesting to see the combination of old and semi-new buildings after the rebuild of large parts of the town center due to the blitz in November 1940.

Cropped so that you can see the stained glass that still remains

The still standing spire

the well known Lady Godiva

One of the medieval buildings on Spon St

Tomorrow I go in search again for the elusive special circular knitting needles as there are 2 possible places here in town.  Plus we need to restock the grocery cupboard.  Andrew saw a supermarket or something in town on our adventure but I missed it completely :)