Thursday, 30 August 2012

Around Calcutt.

IMG_1971 Rose     IMG_1970 Rosehip

There were quite a few sunny intervals when I pottered around trying out the macro setting.

IMG_1956 Macro     IMG_1968 Deadlt Nightshade 

This ‘flying creature’ was nicely camouflaged against the yellow flower and deadly Nightshade ambled amongst the garden plants.

IMG_1972 Woodland shadows     IMG_1986 Sunset

There were a few footpaths to go exploring along and a surprisingly dramatic sunset.

IMG_1997 SunsetThis is why we are enjoying our life afloat continually cruising!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


IMG_1951     IMG_1962

At the top of Calcutt Locks we could see the storm clouds gathering in the distance. I very much enjoyed strolling around the area, especially Napton Reservoir. I presume that this delightful barrel-roofed hut was the old pumping station.


Nb Oakfield nestling behind the reeds from across the reservoir.

IMG_2005 Horse

We also spotted a man who seemed to be training his horse.

IMG_2006 Drink Delicious Ovaltine for Health

Loads of boats of all shapes and sizes past us by, fast and slow, in both directions.

IMG_2010 'Little One' with seagull engine 4mph

Well I suppose we were near to Calcutt (250 boats), Ventnor Farm (250) and Wigrams Turn (220) Marinas as we saw the same boats go forth and back. A large number of hire boats were making the most of the end of the school holidays too.

IMG_2009 boating dogsTwo more little boating doggy characters were not able to jump off in the lock for a stroke, unfortunately!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Onwards to Calcutt.

   IMG_1903    IMG_1931

In a sunny snap between the showers we decided to move on up through Calcutt Locks to gain better signals for our radio and mobile phones. Luckily we were able to stop just above the locks by the Marina and Napton Reservoir in a nice open space. The flowers have been brilliant this year. There is an abundance of Blackberries which are very small and still red, unfortunately I don’t think will they will ripen now.

The machine above was in the pub and for £1 you could obtain two chewable toothbrushes.

We have now worked our way through 63 double locks on the Grand Union from Birmingham. I wonder if I will have lost any weight when I try out those scales in Rugby. Lynn?

My biceps and ‘six pack’ have grown, ha ha!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Warwick to Birdingbury.

IMG_1932 Cape,Warwick IMG_1933 Temeraire=Tenacious

While we were moored at the Cape of Good Hope, Temeraire towing butty Tenacious went by. ‘Traditional Engine Specialists RN’ was painted on the side, nice pair of boats. Plenty of joggers, dog walkers and cyclists pounding the towpath constantly along here. As a consequence the boat got rather dusty!

IMG_1934 Bywater Hotel Boats IMG_1935

We descended the two Cape locks with a lovely family of four adults and three teenagers on a hire boat. Then we stopped at the bottom at the water tap and the Bywater Hotel Boat and Butty came down past us. We briefly stopped at Lidl, then on to Leamington Spa to moor.

IMG_1940 Leamington Spa

It is only a short walk into the town which has an interesting mix of grand buildings with a lovely park. The shops are well spread out though and there is a large shopping arcade too. Having sampled the Warwick Wetherspoon’s we popped into the Jug+Jester at Leamington to try their toasted teacakes and coffee. We can report that their food is consistantly good in all their establishments! While we were in their it poured with rain, but the sun came out for us to walk back to the boat.

IMG_1936    IMG_1941

The carved wood ornamentation on the back doors of this boat was different. I liked this seed-head and thought it looked rather like a fire-work! We passed a warehouse selling ‘Elegant Clutter’, I suppose this has become popular because of the lack of antiques nowadays.

IMG_1942 IMG_1943 sharing Radford Locks

We cruised on to moor at Radford Semele to rest up before tackling the 6 locks. We waited for a hire boat to join us with four adults and two teenagers on board. They were so unorganised and were happy to leave the work to us, or so they thought. Anyway we were held up by low water levels for about half an hour so we put our feet up and had coffee while C&RT back pumped some water up the locks. There was a small boat waiting at the Bascote Staircase locks so we graciously let the hire boat go ahead with him, as we had been with them far too long! All the boats moored by the towpath were tilted over at a jaunty angle for a while.

IMG_1944 Teasel=Herbie IMG_1947

The ten Long Itchington Locks we shared with nb Tess and their delightful little dogs entertained us en-route. Teasel was well named as he had a rough springy coat and was well used to boating. He had to put young Herbie in his place a few times while playfully bounding about up the tow-path.

IMG_1948 Birdingbury Wharf IMG_1950

We had to squeeze through a narrow gap between all the hire boats moored at Birdingbury Wharf. Then we cruised on a little further as we had spotted a wide grassy towpath to spend the weekend while all the hire boats shoot past us.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Small Heath to Warwick.

IMG_1898 Wood&Ivery Albion Brickworks West Bromwich

Wood & Ivory, Albion Ironworks West Bromwich.

I found another one of those tough blue engineering bricks set into the lock-side. Catherine de Barnes was to be our next place to moor. As we were near to where my cousin lives we phoned to say that we had arrived. They came to visit early one evening bringing some lovely flowers and suggested we go back to their house to join them for an evening meal. The evening passed all too quickly looking at family photos and chattering over glasses of wine. What a wonderful surprise that was for us.The Boat Inn at Catherine de Barnes is a fairly large busy place which we didn’t venture into. There was a small Spar shop opposite it which sold basic food items. It was a nice place, but unfortunately spoilt by being under a noisy flight-path. 

IMG_1902 SolihullUsing our bus passes we popped into Solihull, with it’s  Morrison’s and Sainsbury’s and huge variety of shops there. Many were specialist shops and there was a posh indoor shopping arcade too. Even the toilets were posh, can you spot the washbasins here? Neither could I immediately as the taps protrude from the wall over a long sort of gulley, very easy to keep clean I imagine. Anyway we liked the town very much, even the bus was luxurious and comfy! We descended Knowle Locks sharing with another boat and stopped by The Black Boy which they recommended to us for lunch. Then we went on to moor at Kingswood Junction, or Lapworth Bowl as it is known locally. There are many nice areas to walk all around here.

IMG_1908 No, this was not lunch, just a black Labrador sunbathing on the table!

IMG_1910 Shrewley TunnelThis is the approach to Shrewley Tunnel with the towpath tunnel to the right where the horses went to rejoin the boat they were pulling on the other end. It was very wet inside the tunnel and unfortunately the oncoming boat  got the worst of it.

IMG_1923We chose a nice open space above Hatton Locks to moor and walked down for an ice-cream from the little cafe. It was lovely sitting in the sun being the gongoozlers for a change.

IMG_1917    IMG_1926 Hatton Farm Village

If only cyclists could comprehend this sign! I wandered up to Hatton Farm Village where there was something for everyone, even a Peacock on patrol! The farmyard buildings are now all small individual shops, there is an antique centre, two eateries, farm animals and a wide variety of children’s activities. Oh, a camping field and special seasonal themed weekends. There was an interesting vintage car gathering in one of the small fields that I walked through.


After a fairly restful weekend building up our energy levels we set off to tackle Hatton’s 21 double locks. Luckily we met some boats coming up which made things easier. The paddle gearing was the ‘bevelled worm type’ where after 20 ish heavy turns of the windlass the lock fills quite quickly. You have to do the whole flight in one go too. Because of the leaky gates it was hard work to get them moving. You had to wait for just the right moment before starting to push. Rather like giving birth really!

IMG_1929From our mooring at The Cape we walked up into Warwick to replenish the victuals that we had run out of. This puddle-jumper looked like good fun, we wondered if it would suit Bones and Boots?

Monday, 20 August 2012

Goodbye Birmingham.

IMG_1856 President&Kildare IMG_1861

When I went for my early morning stroll I noticed the steam powered boat President leaving her moorings. She had been breasted up with butty Kildare overnight and had to be manoeuvred to attach the ropes to tow her along.  The stoker had been up since 6 am and said that the boiler kept fairly warm overnight which made it quicker to build up the steam needed to move on.They contemplated using their whistle when negotiating Old Town Turn, but it was far too early to wake residents from their Sunday morning slumbers. Especially if they were recovering from a late night out!

IMG_1871  IMG_1873 

  Away they went on their way back to the Black Country Museum.


 IMG_1883 IMG_1885

We had really enjoyed our weekend in and around Birmingham and our 48 hour mooring time was up so we turned  left onto the Union Canal towards Fazeley. To our surprise a man appeared with his windlass and set the first lock for us. Before we could thank him he had sped off to the next one. You may be able to see a fleeting glimpse of his blue shirt as he whizzed ahead setting the locks.  

IMG_1886  IMG_1891 

There were many derelict industrial sites still waiting for some sort of utilization. Down in the bowels of the past industrial areas there were many wharves that had been used for unloading raw materials from barges, then re-loading with manufactured goods for transportation along the canals. Some areas were already converted for residential use and a few had been taken up for small industrial use or storage.

IMG_1889 IMG_1890 Mural

Some places were rather shady and covered in graffiti, however there was one imaginative mural to brighten things up.

IMG_1887 IMG_1896

Eventually we did catch up with our helper with the boundless energy as we approached the BT Tower to find out that his name was Jim. As we were turning right down the Digbeth Branch we asked him if he would be heading back, but no he accepted a lift to the next set of locks at Ashted.

IMG_1894 Ashted Tunnel IMG_1895 old Hospital

As Jim and I sat having a well earned drink we passed through Ashted Tunnel and past this derelict building. Jim was very knowledgeable about the area surrounding the canals and said this was a Hospital that they began to demolish before they found that it was a protected building. So after helping us with the  19 locks Jim said he must walk back and gave me one of his cards, he was in fact Jim Shead the owner of that well known website! So again a very BIG THANKYOU to Jim who helped us on our way in double quick time!

IMG_1897 IMG_1898 Wood&Ivery Albion Brickworks West Bromwich

Old Austin car in hiding and a brick impressed with, ‘Wood & Ivery Albion Brickworks West Bromwich’.                   

After turning left onto the Grand Union Canal the moorings along this stretch were not inviting, so we ascended the 6 Camphill Locks. Eventually we moored just past the secure boaters facilities at Small Heath. Having completed 25 locks we collapsed in a gert heap with a drink while we waited for our dinner to cook!