|This Month's Totals and Average|
|114.62 miles||52 locks||55.29 hrs||3.01 lmph|
After a very good night's sleep, woke refreshed to a cool and rather foggy morning. Fog burned off quickly to a nice sunny day. Leisurely start, but eventually let go and headed through the village. Ascended Bagnall Lock, then Common Lock with the assistance of the grass-cutting team (they apparently try to get through 40 miles per week). Continued on and ascended Hunts and Keepers Locks with the assistance of CRT Volunteers. Pulled over at the services berth for the usual jobs, then moved across to the visitor moorings for lunch. Day heating up well.
After lunch, ascended Junction and Middle Locks with the assistance of the Volunteers, then up Shadehouse and Wood End Locks. Arriving back at our marina, we pulled in for a short stop-over (depart maybe tomorrow, maybe Thursday) before continuing to Birmingham. Noted that the Canada Geese had goslings (furballs). Trip out by car for stores, then topped up water.
|4.70 miles||8 locks||3.12 hrs||4.07 lmph|
Up early to ensure we were ready when the lads arrived - they came just after 08:30, and almost immediately started filling the dock. Dock full by 09:00 and we were first out, reversing through the entry bridge, turning, and on our way westwards towards Fradley. Sun managing to poke through occasionally, but the light breeze still a little cool.
Ascended Branston Lock, taking a short break to check for leaks, then continued on, up Tatenhill and Barton Locks. Ascended onto the river section at Wychnor Lock, then off again at Alrewas Lock. Very quiet today in comparison to when we went down. Moored above the lock and had lunch.
After lunch, went for a walk round the village, picking up stores on the way. Dinner (carry-out) from Delhi Divan (they were very late opening due to accident on A38 holding up staff - nearly lost 3 sales). Food was as good as usual, despite the wait.
|6.61 miles||5 locks||3.37 hrs||3.44 lmph|
Gearbox man (David Varney, of Trent Lock) was on-site in the morning. From his, and Steve's, assessment of the situation, we have agreed that it can be left for a few weeks. We will head to Birmingham for our commitments there, then come back round to the Erewash afterwards to get the work done. This will reduce our summer cruising, but at least the work will be completed properly - plans to be updated once discussed.
Went for a walk in the afternoon to the chandlery, and to the local mini-store, then a quiet afternoon on the computer and knitting. Warmish, mostly with sunshine, throughout, although cold in the shed. Water topped, and loo cleared, ready for tomorrow.
Overnight very windy, with heavy showers. Steve arrived at 08:30, toting our new fridge which he had collected for us, and advised that the part had already arrived by courier ('someone' looking after us today ). Fridge fitted and commissioned before lunchtime.
New Cutlass bearing and shaft reinserted after lunch, but found that studs attaching to gearbox were badly worn (may be the root cause of our troubles, possibly from day 1). Slackness in these studs must have also been missed by Barrus engineers doing services and by RCR engineers doing healthchecks (both of which also cover couplings and mountings). Steve himself said he thought they were tight before he started dismantling. Replacement studs procured from Midland Chandlers, but the flange on the gearbox will need work at some point - up for discussion later as gearbox will need to be removed and insufficient time during this docking.
Shaft re-connected, prop re-fitted, seals replaced. All fit for refloating Monday. Awaiting info on gearbox.
Rain most of the day, some heavy, otherwise drizzle. Wind remained strong and cool. Some sunshine even while raining.
Bright enough start to the day. Poor sleep overnight due to a bunch of guys camping opposite having "fun" until 03:00. Moved back early to outside the basin, ready to enter dock, and were taken in just before 10:00. No problems with the docking. The team started work on us almost immediately, but had difficulty getting the old Cutlass bearing out. Damage to shaft and bearings similar to that in Jan 2016. Having got it all stripped, they found that Tides Marina had sent the wrong size of replacement bearing - panic! A phonecall managed to get Tides Marine to send another one by UPS (£ carriage) to arrive tomorrow (we'll see).
During conversation, I mentioned that we would be needing a new fridge as current one not cooling too well - how would one get old one recycled? Steve said he would order one (just tell him which), and would deal with the recycling. Took him up on his offer.
|0.21 miles||0 locks||0.33 hrs||0.63 lmph|
Cool and cloudy start to Wednesday, although it clear to sunshine by lunchtime. Tool a walk into town for a few stores. Lunch at the "Boat & Butty" café before returning to "Paws". Reported to the drydock to say we had arrived - they confirmed they had the parts. Just got back before the heavens opened!
Spent Thursday alongside just along from the basin, ready for docking Friday. Quiet day generally, but available to yard staff if they had any advance questions. Worked on some errors I had found in the stats for the diary (mostly finger-trouble when entering data manually). Although a sunny start, rain arrived by lunchtime. Phonecall from son mid-evening told us that our new grandchild is to be another grand-daughter, expected mid-September. All well at the 20-week scan today.
Cloudier morning, today, but still with the sun occasionally peeping through. Moved back and took water before moving off.
Descended Alrewas Lock onto the river section, then Wychnor Lock back onto canal proper. Noted the colony of long-tailed tits flitting about below Wychnor Lock. Continued down through Barton and Tatenhill Locks, and moored at Branston Water Park for lunch. Still a steady stream of boats in both directions.
Suitably refreshed, we continued the 2 miles and 1 lock into Burton, descending Branston Lock with the assistance of the crew of a boat coming up - they insisted they would work the lock for us (very many thanks to them). Passed the entrance to Shobnall Basin, and moored just opposite the start of the sports centre playing fields.
|6.79 miles||5 locks||3.60 hrs||3.27 lmph|
Decided to stay put for the day. Pat took a walk into the village in the morning to post mail, then spent the rest of the day on routine chores. I generally pottered, clearing loose ends.
Another beautiful morning. Easter Sunday service at Alrewas Methodist Church - Family communion, all the family was involved from youngest to oldest.
Walked back along the towpath and noted there had been a clear-out during the morning. Moved "Paws" the half-mile to the other end of town (far better mooring) and decided to stay put. Lunch aboard. Pat decided a quiet afternoon was in order, so I went to assist boats through Alrewas Lock - total of 12 boats in the 2.5 hours I was there. Quiet evening.
|0.39 miles||0 locks||0.22 hrs||1.77 lmph|
Fairly prompt start on another sunny morning. Left Streethay and continued towards Fradley. Very busy with traffic. Turned right onto the Trent & Mersey Canal and dropped through Junction Lock with the help of a volunteer. He was the only one on duty - apparently they have difficulty getting anyone to work weekends. Pulled in at the services berth for loo, water and rubbish (second in queue).
Once done, moved across to the visitor moorings for lunch before setting off again.
After lunch, attacked the remaining locks to Alrewas. Getting busier still - queues in both directions for Keepers and Hunts Locks. Final two, Common and Bagnall, had other boats at them so exchanged. Word was that there was little mooring available so we took the first we came to, below Bagnall but before the winding hole (unfortunately on a tight bend). Took a walk to the other end of the village to confirm no other moorings. Researched services for tomorrow morning. Assisted a group of first-time hirers who were well out of their depth with little info from their hire-base. I think we left them with a little more confidence.
|5.01 miles||5 locks||3.22 hrs||3.11 lmph|
Slightly more leisurely start today. Beautiful and sunny. Set off along the straight to Fazeley Junction and continued through towards Fradley. Moored at Bonehill for Sainsbury's, then moved off again and had lunch on the move. Beautiful display of bluebells at Hopwas Wood at the firing range. Continued past Tamhorn and Hademore to Whittington. Got very busy here, with a wait while four boats came through the bridge'ole. All the good moorings between here and Streethay were busy, but we found only one boat on the mooring outside Kings Orchard Marina so moored up for the day. The other boat was doing some power-sanding which they are not allowed to do in the marina, but the noise didn't really carry to the other end of the mooring, and they returned to the marina later on. Steady stream of boats passing in both directions after we moored.
|7.80 miles||0 locks||3.43 hrs||2.28 lmph|
Today started with a light mist hanging over the fields, and a slight cool breeze. The mist quickly burned off to another sunny warm day.
Departed from Meadow Lane and headed back towards Fazeley, through Polesworth and past Pooley Hall . Continued through Alvecote, Amington and Glascote, stopping before the locks for a bite of lunch. Moved up to the water point above Top Lock to top up, then descended the two locks. Very busy today, with traffic in both directions. Cleared the aqueduct over the River Tame, and moored for the night.
|6.57 miles||2 locks||2.97 hrs||2.88 lmph|
Beautiful start to the day, lovely sunshine and considerably warmer than of late - jackets definitely not needed. Let go and continued for Atherstone. Quickly arrived at the top of the flight and started down. Volunteer on at Top Lock, but on his own so had to stay at their cabin. Were lucky with boats coming up so we could move directly into each next lock. Clearing Lock 5, we moored just by the road bridge and took a quick walk into town. Noted that the 40's style café had completely changed. We knew that new owners were taking over, but had understood they would be keeping the theme - apparently not so. Very disappointed.
On returning to "Paws", we had lunch and a chat with Steve & Sheelah on "Perfect Solution" (they used to moor with us at Fazeley Mill). Sweatshirts also dispensed with as we continued down the remaining 6 locks. Lock 6 was empty and had to be reset. We then found we were in a convoy going down, but with plenty boats coming up, so plenty manpower to work the locks. The assistance disappeared after Lock 9, with 10 and 11 against. Completing the flight, we passed the services at Bradley Green and moored again at Meadow Lane Bridge (50). Had a long chat with the team aboard "Dragonfly II" - only had the boat 2 weeks, boat 7 years old with only 550 hrs on the engine.
Lovely warm evening, hope they continue.
|5.04 miles||11 locks||3.84 hrs||4.18 lmph|
Awoke to a 'warmer' morning, with a watery sun. Slightly more leisurely start. Let go and slotted in at the back of a 3-boat convoy heading north. Slow run as far a Marston Junction, by which time another boat had tagged on the end. At the junction, everything ground to a halt while the front two boats made the turn onto the Ashby (not easy from this angle), then we remaining two got ahead. Very easy and pleasant run up through Nuneaton and out past Hartshill Yard. We pulled over just before Bridge 34 (where we had been a few nights ago), and the boat behind promptly did the same.
Late lunch once moored up, but disturbed by a heavy contact around the stern as two boats tried to pass at the same time. A little less speed may have helped both of them.
|8.83 miles||0 locks||3.31 hrs||2.67 lmph|
Up slightly early for a prompt start. Finally looks like spring has arrived - warm most of the day, sunny throughout, plenty of birdsong, saw our first bluebells of the year.
On the move, continuing for Coventry. Passed Hawkesbury Junction (known as "Sutton's Stop from the family who ran the toll office for many years). We knew that CRT had been doing a lot of dredging on this section, and this was evident from the fact we rarely felt the bottom and produced a better speed than usual. Very uneventful day - only saw one moving boat for the whole of the trip.
Coventry basin was quite busy (not least because only half has been available for a few years now, with Valley Cruises renting the other half for their hire-boats). Only one berth left when we arrived, but we managed to squeeze in. Walked to the market for stores, then returned to "Paws".
Let go again and headed back for "Sutton's", with lunch on the move. Stopped just before the junction for the services berth, then moved north of the junction for a mooring. Noted that Tony & Jacqui on "Timewarp" were moored so, once we had moored ourselves, we walked back to buy some of their fudge and for a chat.
|13.27 miles||0 locks||4.96 hrs||2.67 lmph|
Another repeat of the weather conditions of yesterday - frost overnight, beautiful sunny morning, clouded by lunch, windy and cold by late afternoon.
Palm Sunday service at Stoke Golding Methodist Church - made very welcome, even though a fairly small congregation. Pat stopped off at the farm shop on the return journey while I went on to prep for departure.
On the move as soon as Pat was back, then lunch on the move. Headed back to Marston Junction, turning left to continue for Coventry. Getting cold again so stopped short of "Sutton's" at Bridge 14. Managed to sort out a glitch on the tracker and get everything back to normal once the signal was restored.
|8.71 miles||0 locks||3.37 hrs||2.58 lmph|
Yet another night below freezing! Another sunny morning - still cold. On the move and continuing towards Coventry. Passed the CRT maintenance yard at Hartshill, and worked our way into Nuneaton. After commenting last year that it appeared cleaner, this year it seemed back to 'normal' with a lot of rubbish floating around. Usual bottleneck at Boot Wharf, with the moored boats breasted up leaving only a single space, on the bend, and therefore blind. Had to reverse back to let two other boats clear before we could get through.
At Marston Junction, turned left onto the Ashby Canal just before lunch, then had lunch on the move. The cloud cover had increased, along with a biting wind. A note of hope, though - saw the first swallow of the year. Reached Bridge 22 by mid-afternoon, with the intention of visiting both farm shops (at bridges 23 and 25) having winded. Decided that the next winding hole was too far, winded at Bridge 22 and moored up. Walked along to the shops (arranging to collect some Dexter steaks tomorrow. On return found there was no internet connection so this diary will be one day late.
|14.58 miles||0 locks||5.75 hrs||2.54 lmph|
After another cold night, the morning was bright and sunny. Took a leisurely breakfast, then let go for the day. Continuing southeast, we passed the services berth at Bradley Green then started up the Atherstone Flight (total 11). Another boat was just leaving so we had a good run for the first two (11/10), then we met another, giving us 9 and 8 easy. Slight delay at 9 as we were chatting to the crew on a hire-boat who were thinking of buying. Met yet another boat at 7 so again an easy run up through 7 and 6. Moored on the straight for a bite of lunch. Quick walk to supermarket for milk, but saw these in the field adjacent to the mooring.
On the move again, and continuing up the flight. First lock was against us, but a boat coming down cleared the way for the rest of the flight. Volunteer on Top Lock assisted us through, then we pulled over to the services berth for loo, water and rubbish. Day had clouded over by now, and was getting chillier.
Decided we could get another hour before stopping so continued towards Hartshill with the intention of stopping at the first available point after 45 mins. This happened to be just past Glebe Farm Bridge (34). Not sure why, but although the satellite dish had a clear view to the SE, it refused to lock into a signal - "council tele" tonight!
|5.10 miles||11 locks||4.15 hrs||3.88 lmph|
Beautifully quiet night. Very cold overnight, going down to -2°C. Were woken to the first real 'dawn chorus' of the year - blackbird, robin and chiff-chaff all competing. Minor problem with the laptop before setting off - ground to a halt while Microsoft supplied me with a pile of probably unwanted bloat. Once downloaded and installed, normal service was resumed and we were on the move with the tracker functioning.
Headed out of Fazeley through Kettlebrook and ascended Glascote two locks before a short stop at the Co-op for a couple of things forgotten yesterday. Quickly on the move again, with the sun doing its best to get through. Still cold under the cloud cover. Continued through Amington, Alvecote and Polesworth, noting the new estates on the east side of Polesworth (a lot of houses have gone up since we were last this direction). Lunch on the move as we went through Polesworth, but decided to stop shortly thereafter at out usual place west of Bridge 50 (Meadow Lane). It gave me a chance to monitor the Microsoft updates on the other computers after the trouble this morning (none this afternoon!), and Pat cleared some ironing (whatever that is). Sun well out by mid-afternoon, warmer, but not actually by much.
|6.60 miles||2 locks||3.12 hrs||2.75 lmph|
After a noisy night with the proximity of the busy railway, we woke to a sunny but cold morning, with little wind.
Let go and continued southwards the hour to Sutton Road Bridge on the outskirts of Tamworth. Moored for the 10 minute walk to Ventura Retail Park for some stores, then let go again and continued round to Fazeley Junction where we turned right to go to our old marina for fuel and coal. Noted that the nuthatches were still resident at the marina.
After topping up, returned part-way to the junction where we had noted "Jubilee" moored. Quick lunch then walked round for a chat and coffee with John & Jan. Stayed longer than we had intended, but it was great catching up with them again - I had seen them at the BCF Spring Conference, but it was last year for Pat.
On the move again, we returned to Fazeley Junction, turning right again for Coventry. With the prospect of two locks coming very shortly, and noting the time, we decided that we would just stop for the night, so moored just before the aqueduct over the River Tame. Day remained mostly sunnt, but cool when out of the sun.
|4.89 miles||0 locks||2.28 hrs||2.15 lmph|
Up promptly, to a cloudy, dull and chilly morning. Last minute jobs cleared (loo, rubbish, water, a parcel collected, cars tucked up). Ready to go by 10:30.
Slipped out of the marina, manueuvring in a chilly breeze. Great to be back out again! Headed southeast for Fradley Junction as the sun slowly managed to force its way through. Were surprised (but pleased) to see a volunteer on duty - thought they would not have restarted until nearer the Easter weekend. He informed us that there would be delays on the route to Alrewas as there had been damage at a lock that direction this morning. Once we had descended Wood End, Shadehouse and Middle Locks, we turned right at the junction, passing through the swingbridge, onto the detached portion of the Coventry Canal. Sun was now quite warm when out of the wind. Realised that our 'planned' mooring for the night (at Streethay) would make a short day, and with the warm sunshine, we decided to continue a while longer. Quite a busy day boatwise. Heard plenty of birdsong, particularly chiff-chaff and great tit, but most couldn't be eyeballed despite the lack of foliage on the trees. Goldfinch and long-tailed tit were, however, spotted briefly.
By 14:00, there was more cloud and it had started to feel cooler again, so we moored just east of Tamhorn House Bridge.
|9.52 miles||3 locks||4.24 hrs||2.95 lmph|
Pat travelled south to rejoin me on Friday. Day here started dull with a few light showers. Pat had a good run down, arriving just after lunch. She drove into the showers around Stoke. Remainder of the day spent unpacking and settling back in.
Major storing on Saturday morning, followed in the afternoon by clearing of feet. Lovely sunny day although the slight breeze had a chill note in it. Planning meeting for the short period until the docking - leave Monday for a run to Stoke Golding and Coventry, then returning to Burton.
Forecast for Monday is heavy rain so plan to delay an extra day. Took a drive to Planters garden centre at Freasley (just outside Fazeley) to get our flower and herb plants for this year (they've always given us quality plants in the past). New gas bottle obtained at marina office, and loo cleared. Dull start to the day, but slowly improved to a warm afternoon. Showers had, however, arrived by late evening.
Monday was "Paws"' 5th birthday. Pat to pharmacy first thing with chesty cough and wheezing, referred to doctor (appointment late afternoon). After a dull start, day brightened into warm sunny afternoon. Doctor diagnosed viral infection, prescribed antibiotics - duly collected. The forecast 'rain' arrived at bedtime in the form of a light shower.
Lovely start to April with a nice sunny day on Monday. Forecast not so good for the rest of the week, though. A lot cooler on Tuesday, with heavy rain. Wednesday started lovely and sunny, although still cold, but deteriorated into heavy showers of hail. After a very cold night (+1°C) Thursday dawned with a thin layer of cloud, deteriorating again into heavy rain.
With Pat deciding to stay north an extra couple of days, I generally pottered, doing a few odd jobs. Quick drive into town for a few stores to last out the extra days.