|This Month's Totals and Average|
|87.15 miles||71 locks||46.79 hrs||3.38 lmph|
Still initially cloudy with a moderate breeze in the morning. On the move promptly, to get to Brewood before 10:00. Minor difficulty getting off the mooring due to wind, but eventually away. Noted a water vole swimming next to the bank just after we departed. Arriving at School Bridge 12, we moored up quickly and walked up to church. Made most welcome again, with several people recognising us from last year. Sun had come out again by the time the service ended.
Liz, the senior steward, visited us aboard during the afternoon for tea/coffee and a chat.
|1.73 miles||0 locks||0.81 hrs||2.14 lmph|
After yesterday's slightly longer than usual day, we pottered this morning, catching up on the e-paperwork and a few other loose ends. Moved off mid-morning, turning at the winding hole 150yds round the corner, and headed back to Autherley Junction. Once again another boat was coming the other way at the narrows, but we weren't towing this time and there was no problem. At the Junction, turned right onto the (old) Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal (now the southern end of the Shropshire Union), ascended the stop-lock and moored just short of Bathurst Bridge for lunch and a quick walk to Morrison's.
Returning to "Paws", we continued northwards, re-crossing under the M54 motorway. Moored just north of Hunting Bridge 7, a marked visitor mooring which we have used before. Sun still blazing down - very hot.
The evening clouded over and a strong breeze got up. It felt like it could rain, but none came.
|6.52 miles||1 locks||2.99 hrs||2.58 lmph|
Another lovely morning so on the move promptly, continuing the climb up the hill. Headed up through Penkridge and Filance Locks, then up through Otherton Lock. A long straight follows, running beside the M54 motorway, before a set of four locks, each spaced at about 10 minutes (Rodbaston, Bogg's, Brick Kiln and Gailey Top Locks), bringing us to Gailey.
Serviced and nipped into the Round House gift-shop. Had intended to only come this far, but it was a nice day and we felt refreshed, so decided to continue to Slade Heath. Lunch on the move, continuing southwards.
Just past the "no-stopping" section at the chemical works at Calf Heath, we met up again with "Sans Souci". We had met him just before the aqueduct over the River Sow earlier in the week - he had broken down, but thought he could fix it. Saw him again yesterday under tow by "Betty Brown" - he was eventually headed for Oxley for an engineer. Today, he asked for a tow as far as we could. We strapped him behind (with the agreed intention of stopping over at Slade Heath and finishing the trip tomorrow) and continued past Hatherton Junction. At Slade Heath, we realised we could make the whole trip on an extended day, so continued on. We had 'fun' in Autherley Narrows as a boat was coming the other way. We managed to squeeze past and finally arrived at Oxley Marine, where we let "Sans Souci" go, with our hopes for a speedy conclusion, and all the best with his new girlfriend.
We reversed up to Autherley Junction, winded, and returned to Slade Heath for the night.
In our thoughts and prayers particularly today are Peter, whose wife passed on earlier this month with funeral today; and John & Barbara - John is in hospital for an operation today. Our thoughts with all family and friends.
|14.18 miles||7 locks||7.29 hrs||2.91 lmph|
Beautiful sunny morning, albeit with a cool breeze. Pat made return visit to pharmacy - they rang 'NHS 111' who said to attend at the local medical practice. On arrival, the practice couldn't find the 'NHS 111' appointment, and said to await the doctor ringing her.
Just before lunch, doctor rang back - all sorted, "return to surgery at 15:00 for prescription" (so we're going nowhere today).
Duly collected late afternoon.
Drizzle had died out overnight. Heard a woodpecker in the trees over breakfast. Cloudy start, but dry. On the move promptly, moving up through Haywood Lock and stopping at the services point just past the junction.
After servicing, reversed back to the Junction and headed onto the Staffs & Worcs Canal. Passed through Tixall Wide - just as scenic as usual, but almost devoid of moored boats (surprising) and very little of the usual waterfowl to be seen. Continued up Tixall Lock and onwards through Stafford, and out into the countryside, following the railway for a good distance. Ascended Deptmore Lock (the deepest in the area) and continued through Acton Trussell. Shutt Hill Lock came next, then Park Gate Lock beside the Teddesley Boat Company and Midland Chandlers. Passed under the M6 motorway and, ascending Longford Lock, entered Penkridge. Unusually quiet so found a mooring easily.
Took a walk into the village for minor stores and a pharmacy. On return, caught up with all the e-paperwork not able to be done with the lack of internet over the past few days - now back up to date. Weather remained cloudy and cool all day, but with no rain. Had Skype® call with son and grand-daughter in evening - great to hear and see them.
|5.45 miles||0 locks||2.30 hrs||2.37 lmph|
Heavy rain overnight continued through the morning. We decided not to get wet, and stayed put for another day. More baking was forthcoming. Rain turned to misty/drizzle in the afternoon. Another two groups from Shugborough OEC came past.
Warm, muggy morning. Lazy start. Walked up to the Canalside Farmshop mid-morning, stopping for a chat with the team on "Constance" whom we had met yesterday at Colwich Lock. After doing the shopping, we had lunch in their café - (Staffordshire oatcakes, as usual ) - before returning to "Paws". Decided we couldn't be bothered moving so stayed put for the afternoon. Routine chores. Very busy with passing traffic. Group of youngsters on a course at Shugborough Outdoor Education Centre passed in canoes - appeared to be having great fun.
Cloudier morning, but fine and warm. Walked up to St Paul's Methodist Church for their morning service - turned out to be a baptism. Large congregation, but I think maybe only supporting the baptismal party (we'll see on future visits), but very friendly. Returned to "Paws" for lunch.
Let go and headed through Rugeley town, heading for Great Haywood. Tried to phone Peter & Julie at The Taft, but appeared not to be in. Moorings around the Taft area very busy. Thought to moor at Wolseley Bridge, but again very busy. Continued up through Colwich Lock and moored on the straight overlooking Shugborough Hall . Light rain starting just as we arrived.
Unfortunately, no internet or phone signal at this mooring, so uploads will have to wait until we move again.
|5.45 miles||0 locks||2.30 hrs||2.37 lmph|
Lovely sunny morning for departure. Let go mid-morning and turned northwards. A lot busier with boat traffic today. Headed through Handsacre and Armitage, and into Rugeley. Very busy at the eastern moorings but one boat was leaving so took their place near to Leathermill Lane Bridge (66).
|5.45 miles||0 locks||2.30 hrs||2.37 lmph|
Up promptly to go for haircut when Rachel opens. On way back, turned onto A38 for chandlers - and got stuck in a queue again! Accident involving tailshunt with two lorries (1 ambulance, 1 paramedic car, 2 fire engines, 2 police cars, and a heavy-lift breakdown to tow away the second lorry). Finally got the engine oil and returned to "Paws" for lunch. Meanwhile, Pat had done more shopping and gone for her haircut in Handsacre. After lunch, did a run with the loo, then did the engine service and got rid of all my waste. Heard that the river section is down, but still in the 'yellow', so will wait another day before heading east. Snailmail arrived, kindly forwarded by daughter.
Car trip to Alrewas for prescription (arrived with yesterday's mail) - as usual, they didn't have everything so will have to return tomorrow. Water level down somewhat so no problem by the time we get on the move. Completed the cabling in rear cabin postponed from last month. Looked into the bowthrust fault and found anti-surge fuse blown - replacement circuit-breaker in the post. Pat did more washing and ironing.
Car trip to Alrewas to collect medications, then to Lichfield for shopping. On the return trip, stopped at Bromley Hayes Garden Centre for lunch (very good), and to get more plants for our tubs (they had been annihilated by the heavy rain recently). By the time we had finished there, the parcel containing the circuit-breaker had been delivered so collected before returning to "Paws". Fitted the breaker as soon as we got back, but found it was tripping regularly - electrician needed .
Contacted David Varney at Trent Lock about gearbox - he doesn't have a 'used' spare and couldn't work on it for about a month. To buy part and him to recondition would cost same as reconditioned gearbox (and he still couldn't do for a month). We agree that, if properly tight, there should be no movement therefore no further wear - keep an eye on it, and use it (he'll look out for 'used' part). Plans discussed over lunch and the following decided - Great Haywood, Staffs&Worcs and Shroppie to Chester (possibly Ellesmere Port), then return via Middlewich Branch and Harecastle. There could be a few deviations on the way. Final clearing up before departure. Carry-out from Delhi Divan at Alrewas (by car).
Cloudy morning, but bright and warm. Relaxed departure, heading towards Fradley. Turned left at the Junction and ascended Middle and Shadehouse Locks with Volunteer assistance. They reckon another two to three days for the river to drop sufficiently to reopen. Ascended Wood End Lock, and stopped for a short chat with Terry & Linda from Fazeley Marina, who had an engineer in attendance for a breakdown. Continued on to Kings Bromley Marina where we moored up on our own berth.
After lunch, I set off for chandlers, while Pat went for stores. I only got as far as Alrewas - stopped to see the water level (in the red), then found a large tailback on the A38 so returned to "Paws".
|5.88 miles||3 locks||2.77 hrs||3.20 lmph|
Church in the morning. Had intended to have lunch on the move but, on leaving church, heavy rain shower came down so had lunch before moving.
After lunch, and in drier conditions, let go and continued for Fradley, intending to go back to base. One more heavy shower broke the sunny, warm afternoon, but the wind started to rise. Slowed up in Whittington for a quick chat at "Galliard" (we had first met at Alrewas Church). Noted large numbers of swallows around the Huddlesford Junction area. Running quite behind expectations by now, we elected to skip the late arrival at base, and moor outside King's Orchard Marina at Streethay (a favourite spot) - we can do the rest tomorrow as we are in no hurry till the river section at Alrewas drops.
|5.00 miles||0 locks||2.02 hrs||2.47 lmph|
Bright start (at 06:00) but dulled down by breakfast. On the move fairly promptly, but not first to the lock . With another boat ahead, going was slower but not too bad. Met a couple of boats coming up but were then behind the leader again after one lock. Arrived at Bottom Lock (11) at lunchtime so moored just below, at Kingsbury Water Park. A few very slight suggestions of rain during the morning, but nothing significant.
Moved off again after lunch and continued round to Fazeley Mill Marina (getting drowned on the way due to a very heavy rain shower) where we stopped outside for loo and water, then went inside for fuel while Pat went for more shopping. Continued from there to Fazeley Junction, turning left towards Fradley. Stopped for the night at Hopwas, outside the church back door, just as another short downpour started (managed to get inside dry this time).
|8.22 miles||11 locks||5.13 hrs||3.75 lmph|
Still rainy-drizzle over breakfast, with a forecast to clear later in the morning. Took our time, and finally got on the move mid-morning. Returned to Aston Junction and turned right, down the flight (11 locks). All the locks were against us, but our system meant (for the first 8) the next lock was still full by the time we reached it. The remaining 3 are too far spaced out to prep the next one ahead, so had to wait while they each filled. Sun predominant by the time we reached the bottom.
Turned right at Salford Junction, heading for Minworth. Lunch on the move. Noted some socially-challenged youths dumping a shopping trolley into the cut at Wood Lane Bridge, but were too far away to do anything about it. Occasional light showers as we continued through Minworth, with its 3 locks (all with us for a change), and on to Curdworth. Moored at our favourite point just above Top Lock mid-afternoon, having made good time and not got too wet.
|8.00 miles||14 locks||4.96 hrs||4.43 lmph|
The rain eased by breakfast, to a drizzle, but our forecast suggested heavier showers through the day. With the number of locks to do, we decided to stay put until tomorrow. Oven on for a baking session in the morning, ironing in the afternoon.
As it turned out, the showers never materialised, and the drizzle fizzled out late morning. Showers returned again late afternoon.
Another wet and windy night. Woke to a steady very light drizzle and no wind. Went for our walk to the markets in the morning, then early lunch. Drizzle just about cleared.
Let go after lunch and moved round to the services at Cambrian Wharf, then set off down the Farmer's Bridge Flight (13 locks) assisted by Mike (one of the CRT Volunteers). Made very good time indeed, breaking our record for a day's speed. Turned right onto the Digbeth Branch at Aston Junction, winded and moored for the night at our usual place.
Heavy rain returned just after dinner and continued well into the night.
|1.74 miles||13 locks||1.98 hrs||7.46 lmph|
After a wild, wet, and windy night, the rain and wind had eased somewhat, and the forecast was better than expected. Pat made a quick walk to a local shop for essentials, before we headed to the local Costa to meet up with Tim & Tracey for coffee. Great meeting up with them again, and better because we could take our time chatting, rather than passing comments on the towpath. Got a bit of BCF business discussed as well as catching up on our respective travels.
Since the chat had continued well past lunchtime, we elected to return to "Paws" for the remainder of the afternoon, and go for our walk to the markets tomorrow morning before departure.
Another very poor night in store weather-wise!
Awoke to a lovely sunny day - very surprised considering the last forecast we had seen! Decided we would try and beat the rain, so winded, serviced, and got on the move. In order to change the scenery a little bit, we elected to use the Gower Branch (Brades Hall Locks) so headed east to the junction and turned left. The top two are a staircase, followed by a singleton. Returning to the New Main Line once again, we continued east back to the centre of Birmingham. The morning had turned to light drizzle, but we still managed lunch on the move, outside. As we passed the Icknield Port Loop, the rain came on heavier, but still not the proportions suggested in the forecast. Passed "Sola Gratia" opposite the end of Oozells Street Loop, and waved to Tim. Moored up at Symphony Court again, almost the last space left.
Took a walk round to say hello to Tim & Tracey, and arrange for coffee tomorrow. Rain fluctuated between none and short periods of moderate for the remainder of the afternoon. Noted a number of the boats from the Explorer Cruise moored in the vicinity.
|8.51 miles||3 locks||3.61 hrs||3.19 lmph|
Beautiful sunny start to the day. Walked up to Dudley Port Methodist Centre with the crew from "Pipe Dream" - great service. Lunch on return to "Paws" before moving off. Continued west and moored at the Black Country Living Museum moorings. Chatted with other boaters until the rain came on late afternoon.
|1.20 miles||0 locks||0.61 hrs||1.98 lmph|
Rain continued intermittantly overnight and well into the morning. Boats from the Cruise started drifting off from first thing, we elected to initially wait in the hope the rain would clear. Quiet morning.
Early lunch to be ready when weather was better - it cleared around 13:30. Got away shortly after, winding above the Top Lock (difficult due to stronger wind). Headed down the flight in good time, turning left on the old main line towards Tipton. Turned in at Tividale Quays, noting that one of the Cruise boats had taken the chance to come in and moor. Spoke with the team from "Pipe Dream", agreeing to meet for church tomorrow.
Colder evening - actually put the stove on again!
|2.83 miles||6 locks||2.10 hrs||4.21 lmph|
Dull day, Sunday, with intermittent showers. Long lie after yesterday's problems. Checked in with Phil who organises the locking manpower for the Explorer Cruises, and got my arrangements for tomorrow. Took for water and loo. Otherwise a quiet day.
Up with the lark on Monday, meeting up with Phil at 06:30. Drive round to Longwood to prepare the Rushall Flight (9 locks) for the Explorer Cruise to depart at 08:00, but on arrival found the 'mile pound' almost empty! CRT on the way, but boaters had started running water down - it was still going to take a long time. Finally got boats moving by 10:30, and we worked them down as fast as we could. Last boat cleared Bottom Lock at 15:45. Back to "Paws", shattered. Pat spent the day cleaning, with a walk to ASDA. Reasonably fine day at Rushall, but scattered moderate showers at Titford
Another early start Tuesday to prep the Walsall Flight (8 locks). Top pound found dry, with paddles up on every pair of top gates. All reset in good time, and pound refilled ready for 08:00 start for the Explorer Cruise. Steady stream of boats coming out of the Town Arm, dispatched as quickly as possible up the flight. Minor trouble with a jammed gate at Lock 2, but quickly resolved by CRT. Managed to get all the boats clear of the flight before the rain came on, and repaired to a pub for a relaxing pint with the team before returning to "Paws". Pat used my absence for a major bout of cleaning.
Quiet day Wednesday. Mostly bright or sunny. Pat did that funny activity called 'ironing' in the morning, then we both went for a walk in the afternoon (she found she needed a couple of things she forgot earlier in the week). The cleaning plans got lost!
Apart from a couple of short light showers, another sunny day Thursday. Pat continued with her cleaning in between watching the TV. In the afternoon, we took "Paws" across to services again, which should last us into the weekend. Liaised with Phil to check all ready for the Cruise arrival tomorrow afternoon.
Sunny start (at 05:00) dulled over by breakfast on Friday. Took a walk down the flight mid-morning to check all pounds ready (one a little low so ran water down for it), then back for lunch. After lunch got the call the boats were on the way - by this time the rain had started. Very heavy rain mid-afternoon. Four boats had 'dropped out' for a variety of reasons, so only 16 to come up the flight. I generally worked the lower end, while Phil acted as Top Lock and Harbourmaster. "Uz Boat", who had been moored with us at Fazeley, came alongside "Paws". Rain cleared just as we finished locking. Had a walk up to the pumphouse in the evening for a chat with boaters, but didn't stay for the entertainment.
Lovely sunny morning. After chatting to a couple of locals, let go and continued eastward on the Old Main Line. No incidents this time. At Oldbury Junction, turned right onto the Titford Canal, ready for the flight of locks. Found we were going nowhere in a hurry! Pound 5 was almost completely empty. It took nearly 2 hours of careful running down to get everything where it should be. Lunch was put on hold until we got to the top. After all the prep work, we sailed up very quickly, doing the whole flight (6 locks) in around an hour. Moored up at the first available spot, finally got lunch mid-afternoon, then relaxed for the rest of the day.
|2.83 miles||6 locks||2.49 hrs||3.55 lmph|