|This Month's Totals and Average|
|106.83 miles||94 locks||59.35 hrs||3.38 lmph|
Another rainy night, leading to a driech morning. The forecast said we would get a shower around lunchtime, then rain after 15:00. Decided to get going and see how far we got.
Left Mancetter and continued generally southwards, through Hartshill and into the northern suburbs of Nuneaton. Leaving Nuneaton in the Hilltop suburb, we continued south towards Bedlington, turning left at Marston Junction onto the Ashby Canal. Moored before Bridge 3 for lunch.
Later than planned departing as we got a phonecall from Fhi. Continued northwards, making good time, towards Hinkley. Having only had a couple of short showers during the morning, drizzle set in as we were mooring between Bridges 13 & 14 (about a mile short of Hinkley).
|11.91 miles||0 locks||4.53 hrs||2.63 lmph|
Woke to showers and rainbows, and a continuing brisk breeze. It was also considerably cooler than recently - we finally had to resort to the heating going on before getting up! On the move promptly headed through Bradley Green to Atherstone Bottom Lock. Ascended the first 6 and moored along the King's Head Pound just before lunchtime. Pat did a quick trip to the shops for stores, while I contacted Paul from Waterway Routes with some questions.
After a late lunch, we moved on up the remainder of the flight (a further 5 locks) with assistance from the volunteers on duty. Pulled in at the services berth for the usual items, then moved on to get a berth for the night. This proved a slight problem as there were no spaces in the sections between bridges 41 and 39. Eventually got a good mooring NW of Bridge 36.
Although we were expecting no rain according to the forecasts, we got a few short showers, nothing to cause problems. The temperature did come up a bit during the day, and the heavy jackets were eventually discarded after lunch.
|4.12 miles||11 locks||4.03 hrs||3.75 lmph|
Yesteray's forecast for today suggested heavy rain from late morning. We decided to write off today, have a video conference with Fhi, and clear a few jobs. The day started moderately sunny with a strong breeze. Noted "Sonflower" passing but Peter obviously didn't see us waving. Our call with Italy lasted nearly 2 hours, but covered a lot of ground. The rain eventually arrived after lunch, but we would have been soaked if we had been locking. Useful afternoon, and quiet evening.
The wind had increased and there were heavy squally showers overnight, but the day started sunny (despite yesterday's forecast of rain all day). My plans went out the window as the Admiral decided that we should move as far as we could before any more rain set in. Let go and headed for Fazeley Junction, calling our farewells to those teams still left.
At the Junction, we turned right onto the Coventry Canal and headed eastwards through Glascote, ascending the 2 locks, then Amington, Alvecote and Polesworth. The wind was still increasing but the rain held off. Said a brief hello to the team on "Tamworth Piglet" as we passed, but didn't get a chance to chat. Moored at one of our favourite spots, just before Meadow Lane Bridge 50 for a late lunch. The promised showers had arrived by then, so tucked up for the day.
|7.08 miles||2 locks||3.24 hrs||2.80 lmph|
Initially on Friday I cleared the outstanding e-paperwork from arrival (it didn't get done last night as a result of chatting ). I then prepared a route plan for Fhi, based on our discussion yesterday. Then I collected my meds from the pharmacy. Meanwhile, Pat went for a longer walk to Ventura for stores. During the afternoon, we assisted with preparations for the weekend. Later, we all gathered at St Paul's church hall for an evening of catching up, over snacks and drinks.
Saturday started with bacon butties for breakfast in the church hall, before we gathered in the church for worship and a talk/discussion about "God's Armour". Packed lunches in the hall garden was followed by chat, games and puzzles during the afternoon. The evening was spent in entertainments provided by ourselves - songs, recitations, quizzes and mini-plays.
We had a small communion service in the hall on Sunday morning before joining the congregation at St Paul's for their normal morning service. We then repaired to the "Fazeley Inn" for lunch - excellent meal. Those who were here by car drifted off after the meal, along with others who needed to get somewhere.
The weather held out during the day on all days although there was a little rain overnight. A great weekend.
Woke to a damp morning, which turned to light rain by after breakfast. Checked the weed-hatch from yesterday and found a large ball of plastic round the prop. It came out quite easily, thankfully. Got a phone call from Fhi asking about the potential to visit for a week, possibly mid-November. By the time the call was over, the sun had come out.
Let go and started down the Curdworth Flight (11 locks) towards Fazeley. Although there had been two boats down ahead of us, and all the locks were against, we made good time, stopping below Lock 8 for lunch.
After lunch, got on the way again, descending the last three locks to Kingsbury. Continued northwards, noting that there has been a lot of offside bank clearance since we were last along here - there are only a couple of clumps of reed, the majority has been cut back to the original bank line. Arriving at Fazeley, we stopped outside Fazeley Mill Marina for water, loo and rubbish to tide us over the weekend.
Servicing done, we moved along to Tolson's Bridge where we moored up with the other BCF boats. Went to post office for mail, then to pharmacy to lodge script for meds. A fair amount of chatting went on with friends we haven't seen for some time.
|5.48 miles||11 locks||3.99 hrs||4.13 lmph|
Surprisingly quiet night considering there was a 2-lane dual-carriageway running above us (A34 Walsall Road). Woke to a lovely sunny morning. Not a good start, however, as a CRT worker at the yard opposite found the top pound empty so started 'running down', and went to check the remainder of the flight.
After the slight delay in getting moving, we let go and started down the hill with the assistance of the worker (he was supposed to be on another job). He helped us down to Lock 5 (there was a small delay here running extra water), then he returned to the top to run more down, while we continued down Locks 6 and 7. We noted the construction work taking place on our right for the stadia for the Commonwealth Games next year. There was less weed than the last few days, and considerably less rubbish than previous years as we continued down. There is a slightly larger space between 7 and 8 (the M6 crosses here), then 8 to 11 come quickly again. A half-hour space then comes before 12 and 13, the M6 crossing again.
Completing the Tame Valley Canal, we emerge from under the Gravelly Hill Interchange (Spaghetti Junction) at Salford Junction, continuing ahead on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. We immediately noted the increase in speed for the same revs - less weed, deeper and wider canal. Lunch on the move. The canal now follows Tyburn Road / Kingsbury Road through Erdington, Bromford and Tyburn to Minworth. There are 3 spaced-out locks here. Leaving Minworth, the canal becomes more rural as we approach Curdworth. Having passed though the short Curdworth Tunnel, we moored at one of our favourite places, just above Curdworth Locks.
The sun was out most of the day, and despite the slight delays during the morning, we made very good time over the day.
|9.09 miles||16 locks||5.92 hrs||4.25 lmph|
After a good night's sleep, we were woken early by the weed-cutters starting up - they headed down the flight to work pounds further down. Had a telephone call from Kenney (on his birthday) and we had a good catch-up with info on his lorry-driving theory test (didn't happen), family, how his ice hockey was going, and possible sponsorship prospects for his fitness company. Afterwards, cleared the loo and rubbish, and topped up water.
Once ready, started down the Rushall Flight (9 locks) - Pat driving and me on the locks. Although the locks were against us, all went well until we caught up with the weeders at Lock 5. They gazumped us into Lock 6 with both the cutter then the barge, the lower gates then failed to close properly and the pound above dropped level, stranding Pat on "Paws". It took nearly half an hour, with help from the cutting team to clear the gate, run down enough water to refloat "Paws", and refill Lock 6 (this time is not included in the running time as it was a stoppage). We completed the flight without further incident, and got a late lunch on the move.
Turning left at Newton Junction onto the Tame Valley Canal, we continued southeastwards, the weed far better in this area. The canal runs along embankments and through cuttings until it reaches Perry Barr where we moored up for the night.
|5.09 miles||9 locks||3.93 hrs||3.57 lmph|
Up promptly, but took our time getting on the move. Pat took a quick walk to Tesco for emergency stores, Boat tidied from the weekend. Said goodbye to Peter, and John & Judith, then finally got on our way around 10:30, headed eastwards.
After 10 mins, we reached Catshill Junction where we turned south on the Daw End Branch. This wanders along a green avenue of reeds and trees through the alternating houses and industrial units of Brownhills, Shelfield, Aldridge and Rushall, before coming to the fields north of Longwood. Although the weed was less thick initially and we got a better speed, it thickened again, reducing the speed to under 2 mph on the approaches to Longwood Junction (where the branch changes to become the Rushall Canal).
Moored on the visitor section above Rushall Top Lock and had a late lunch. Emptied the loo cassette ready for a change this evening, then had a quiet afternoon. Mid-afternoon, a weed-cutter and barge came up the locks and cleared the area above Top Lock. We thought it a little ironic that they arrived after the festival had finished.
After last night was cooler than of late, today remained warm and sunny throughout.
|5.25 miles||0 locks||2.60 hrs||2.02 lmph|
This year the festival is hosted by the Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust . A selection of trading boats, stalls and historic boats were on site. They hadn't initially thought that private boaters would want to book, but said they would mark spaces for us and "Serena" at no charge (they will get a donation in thanks).
Saturday was a hot sunny day with a large footfall. Heavy rain overnight lasted until mid-morning Sunday when the sun came through for a lovely day.
We spent both days "open house", inviting the public aboard to see our way of life and what a modern live-aboard boat is like. There was a good uptake, with our visitors being very surprised by what they found. We dropped in at Doncaster for their last 'broadcast' Sunday service and coffee (they hope to continue with an evening one midweek, but are back in their church building from next Sunday). Generally a good weekend, and we have enjoyed it.
Had a long lie this morning - the only sounds overnight were foxes calling to each other. Pat took a load of towels/bedding round to the laundrette, while I caught up on e-paperwork. During the afternoon, we got our banner up again and cleared the weed-hatch (plastic bag and more weed). Had a video call with daughter in Italy as it is her birthday tomorrow and we would both be busy at our respective ends. Peter moored astern of us on "Granville" later in the afternoon.
Woke to a lovely sunny morning. On the move promptly, reversing out of the short arm and continuing eastwards on the Wyrley & Essington through Wednesfield. The route then passes through the eastern suburbs of Wolverhampton to Bloxwich. At Birchalls Junction, the Walsall Canal cuts off to the right as the main route turns north for Pelsall. There are a number of local nature reserves and areas of common ground here providing a haven for wildlife. The rubbish problem which has been associated with the Bloxwich area was better than in past visits, but the lack of dredging and the large quantity of weed made for very slow progress (loss of around 25% speed). Leaving Pelsall Common (where the Cannock Extension Canal turns off left) we continued eastwards to Brownhills. Stopped briefly at the services berth to top up for the weekend, before mooring opposite the town just west of the Market Footbridge, astern of "Serena".
The day had remained bright and sunny all day, and we had a quiet evening in the setting sun (the weed hatch can wait until tomorrow!).
|13.40 miles||0 locks||6.22 hrs||2.15 lmph|
More rain overnight, but again it had cleared by breakfast and it looked a promising day. When ready, reversed into the museum basin and moored on the services berth for loo, water and rubbish.
Services complete, we left the basin and headed back through Tipton, turning left at Factory Junction towards Wolverhampton. Weed was again a problem, both that growing from the bottom, and that which had been cut up and was floating on the surface - a considerably slower passage than it should have been. Noted several families of little grebe (dabchick) around Deepfields Junction. Nice to see the colony thriving. Fought our way on to Horsley Fields Junction and turned right onto the Wyrley & Essington Canal. Weed was slightly clearer here and we got on a little better for the ½-hour run to Wednesfield Junction. Turned into the arm which used to be the Bentley Canal, surprised to find only one boat moored. We moored up on the pub side and had lunch aboard.
The sun had come out by the time lunch was finished. Pat went shopping while I cleared the weed-hatch again (again weed only and easy to remove). I followed her with the trolley when she finished.
Dinner out at Cosmo World Buffet .
|6.72 miles||0 locks||2.86 hrs||2.35 lmph|
Heavy rain overnight continued into the morning, but had cleared by lunchtime. The forecast rain for the remainder of the day never materialised, although it remained cloudy and damp.
Our 'Cruise Director' decided we should stay put for the day, so 'housekeeping' got on with cleaning and ironing, and the IT department worked on a method by which daughter could access files on my website without public access to the folder.
Traffic in and out of the museum basin continued heavy throughout the day - a lot of disappointed moorers.
Heavy rain overnight had cleared to a cloudy morning. The hoped-for lie-in never materialised due to a call of nature . After a lazy breakfast, we cleared the boat from the festival (banner down, leftover paperwork filed etc), said our goodbyes and moved forward to the junction with the Bumble Hole Branch and winded. Returned back through the festival site and on to the Netherton Tunnel.
A lot brighter when we emerged at the northern portal, but the cloud still remained. Turned left at Dudley Port Junction, continuing west on the New Main Line for the short run to Factory Locks. Very busy here, with one going up and one down ahead of us, then one following and one coming down as we ascended Top Lock. Turned left and passed through Tipton to the Black Country Living Museum. There had been a lot more rubbish than last year, and the bottom weed was starting to get too long, slowing progress.
On arrival at the museum, we found all the moorings full so decided to defer the services until tomorrow and moor at the green area just outside - if a boat came out, we could quickly reverse in (but it never happened). I caught up with paperwork and Pat took a walk to the 'corner shop' just up the road for essentials.
The sun did manage to break through in patches later in the afternoon. A lot of traffic in and out of the museum basin, and we did a stint as boat-park attendants when 3 other boats decided to moor at the stretch we were on - they all got in! Cleared out the weed-hatch - it was just weed,but there was quite a lot, which came out easily.
|4.97 miles||3 locks||2.87 hrs||2.78 lmph|
Woke very tired on Saturday morning. We had volunteered to cover on the Bradley Canal Restoration stand so I went there for 10:00, and ended up staying until about 13:30, Pat had joined me at 11:00. When the live music started, the volume was turned up and within 30 mins I had a sore throat from shouting over it. I went to the event organiser and requested it be reduced again. His reply was that it was a 'festival'. I asked whether it was a 'boating festival' or a 'music festival' - his response implied he felt the music was more important than the boats. Had lunch from one of the food-stalls, then took a wander round. Thought about moving the boat for the remainder of the weekend, found out the music was to stop at 17:00 Sunday so decided it wasn't worth the hassle for just one night improvement and stayed put. As it turned out, the evening's music was actually quieter, and didn't last as long - we listened to the Last Night of the Proms.
After a far better night's sleep, Sunday's events started with a service on site led by Primrose Hill Community Church. Afterwards, I ended up on the Bradley stand again and Pat helped at "Kew". After a sunny start to the day, the rain set in around 16:00.
Spent the whole day out on site, assisting the site crew prepare for tomorrow - erecting marquees, distributing chairs and tables, filling in potholes etc. Managed to mostly work round the heavy rain showers which persisted throughout the day. "Jubilee" and "Lady Blatherwick" both arrived during the day.
Tired after the day's heavy work (heavier than usual for me ), we elected not to go up to the site for the evening - beer-tent and music opened at 18:00. Unfortunately, the entertainment came to us - the music was so loud we couldn't hear our own TV, or get to sleep until after 23:00 when they closed up.
Heavy rain in the early hours of the morning, dry again by breakfast. Up and ready to go for 09:00, but beaten to the fuel berth by another boat. Obtained fuel and gas, then headed off westwards along the New Main Line. Initially this goes through industrial areas, but opens out more to scrubland once past Smethwick. Graffiti rules all the way along. Turned left at Dudley Port Junction and continued south through Netherton Tunnel. Met two boats coming the other way. All the way, I had the feeling the water level was down on normal. The amount of rubbish in the water is on the increase again, unfortunately.
Arriving at Bumble Hole, we stopped at the water point to top up for the weekend, then moved to our assigned berth on the park side - this is a novelty as we have been a good way out on the section towards Hawne in previous years. Moored in front of "Serena". Noted that "Kew" had already arrived, and "Chyandour" arrived shortly afterwards.
Rain showers set in shortly after mooring. Pat registered our arrival, then went to the chemist for her tablets.
|8.93 miles||0 locks||3.25 hrs||2.75 lmph|
Up promptly. Pat walked to Post Office to collect prescription, to be told that any mail not for them was immediately returned - so much for Poste Restante! Their delivery today was due about 13:00 so we would have to wait until then to see if it did actually turn up. Meanwhile, I reversed "Paws" out of Oozells Street Loop, turned and headed to Cambrian Wharf for services. Pat returned here with the full story. Met up with John & Judith who were also servicing.
Having serviced, moved forward to the "Malt House" mooring to wait for the delivery.
After lunch, Pat went back to the Post Office, and they had found our mail. We decided to get the script made up when we got to Netherton, and moved off to get fuel/gas at Sherbourne Wharf. Arriving, we found they were only open 09:00-12:00 - annoying. Moved back to the 1st available mooring, just east of Sheepcote Street Bridge, for the night. Got a little shade as it had become very hot.
|0.54 miles||0 locks||0.64 hrs||0.85 lmph|
A baking-hot day all day. Took a walk into town in the morning - Bull Ring and St Martin's Markets (including Denise for spices), and the Chinese supermarket. Had a visit from Ellie on her lunchbreak. Walked back up to the Lego shop in the afternoon, but managed not to buy anything . Got the repairs done to the BCF banner ready for the festival at the weekend. "Constable" left us late afternoon as his plans had changed - we'll see him again at Netherton.
Lazy start on a bright sunny morning. Pat involved in that mysterious pastime of "ironing" before departure.
Got away at 10:00 and headed round to Wast Hills Tunnel. Initially thought it would be a slow run through as a hire-boat was ahead and it appeared to be dawdling. Once he got into the tunnel, he took off and it was a normal run. "Serena" followed us. Leaving the tunnel, we emerged into the dappled light of the tree-lined avenue taking us to the graffiti-emblazoned industrial units at King's Norton Junction. From here, the canal follows the railway all the way into Birmingham.
We both moored up at Selly Oak for stores and lunch, before continuing in to Birmingham centre ("Serena" heading off first). We had a very brief chat with Dave on "Constable" as we passed him at the Vale. On arrival in Birmingham, we managed to squeeze in the last berth in Brindley Place. We later heard that "Serena" had moored across at the Arena moorings.
Went for a short walk, finding the Lego shop closed, before we waved "Constable" in to breast-up late afternoon.
Actually went out for dinner, something we haven't done for nearly 2 years - to Zizzi's , who have opened a new branch at Brindley Place next-door to the Sealife Centre (right on the doorstep ).
Hot sunshine during the morning, but by afternoon the light breeze had died leaving an oppressive evening.
|8.82 miles||0 locks||3.43 hrs||2.57 lmph|
Woke late again (getting to be a habit ). Pottered around till time for the service from Doncaster, then 'coffee'.
After lunch moved off, heading for Hopwood. Took our time and just bimbled along. Caught up with John & Judith (they had moved off during the morning) just east of Bridge 67, by the water point, and moored up for the night. Once moored, visited them for tea/coffee.
Lovely sunny morning, but it was getting oppressive by afternoon and we were glad to have a bit of high cloud to put a little shade on.
|2.02 miles||0 locks||0.78 hrs||2.60 lmph|
Woke later than planned, but refreshed. Decided to get a load of washing done before departure so that we could top up water after. Eventually let go 11:15 and moved forward to Top Lock. This lock is to be left empty so had to drain it after we got through. Squeezed into the services berth (the ABC day-boat was moored having a picnic), and got the water, loo and rubbish cleared.
Moving off again, we passed through Tardebigge and Shortwood tunnels, before arriving at Alvechurch. Located "Serena" with John & Judith, and moored up next to them between Bridge 61 and the railway.
Decision was taken to stay put for the night. John & Judith came aboard for a chat over tea. A sunny morning gave way to a cloudier afternoon. After looking at the 'plans' for the next few days (2 days in Brindley Place, one of them Tuesday, before moving round to Netherton), we decided that we would make another break tomorrow at Hopwood (or stay put a second day).
|3.57 miles||1 locks||1.77 hrs||2.59 lmph|
The national day of remembrance for merchant seafarers who, in the course of their trade, lost their lives as a result of armed conflict. During WW1 and WW2, British Merchant Fleets lost 52,000 men, women and boys to the sea, and that is their only grave. September 3rd was chosen as the memorial day for two reasons -
1. it was the day WW2 was declared,
2. SS Athena was sunk by a German submarine on the first day of war, with the loss of 117 civilian crew and passengers - the first merchant ship sunk in the war.
Up early (call of nature), so got on the move. Attacked the Tardebigge Flight (29 locks today!). Most of the locks were against us although we did meet about 7 boats coming down. Had help for about a quarter of the locks from a young lad called Jack who was on his way uphill by bicycle with his mum. At half-way, a CRT volunteer, "Big Al", came out and took over from him, assisting us to our stopping point in the long pound below Top Lock (58). The trees are further back from the canalside along this part of the route, giving a more open feeling, widening again near the top when the reservoir comes into sight. Lunch on arrival. Met up again with "Guelrose" and "Jacqueline", moored in the same pound.
Although the day started with very light drizzle, it cleared quickly, but remained cloudy until mid-afternoon (ideal for locking). Cleared further to a lovely sunny evening.
|2.04 miles||29 locks||4.42 hrs||7.02 lmph|
Despite being next to a building site, the workers stopped at dinnertime and it was a very quiet night till 08:00 when work resumed (but we were up by then). Woke much more refreshed than over the past week, and set off up the Stoke Prior Flight. A short day planned today as tomorrow will be very heavy locking.
Headed round to Stoke Bottom Lock and ascended. There is a loo-point on the offside here, but no mooring offside (the cassette would have to be carried over the lock gate). As there were no other boats around, we stayed in the lock chamber for an extra 5 mins and did the 'necessaries'. Continuing on, we ascended the remainder of the Stoke Flight, a further 5 locks, in good time - they are at a good spacing and have a good view for working a lock ahead. We met one boat coming down, but still made good time. Moored in the Queen's Head pound between Locks 28 and 29 just before lunch. Unusually, there were no other boats on the mooring, presumably those overnighting last night had all moved on and we were the first in for tonight's 'fleet'.
Spent the afternoon finishing clearing up from the festival and river work (anchor away doe the forward hatch, banner properly rolled up etc. Chatted to other boaters as they arrived for the night - nearly a full mooring.
Heard yesterday that there is to be a festival at Brownhills 18/19 Sep. Have put in a booking form to attend.
|1.64 miles||6 locks||1.58 hrs||4.84 lmph|
After a good night's sleep, we woke late. Slowly prepared for getting on the move. Let go and headed off towards Dunhampstead. The canal is very overgrown with weeds along here, making passing other boats difficult - some pruning back is urgently needed. Eventually passed Hanbury Junction (where the Droitwich Junction Canal turns off), and continued northwards. There are fewer reeds from here on. Just before mid-day, we arrived at the bottom of the Astwood Flight (6 locks) and commenced the ascent, Pat and I sharing the locking/driving duties in order to get ahead faster as there was a boat behind. Clearing the top lock, we came forward to Stoke Works Bridge 42 and stopped at the water point for a top-up. We felt we had done very well to have got this far without running out, having been at the festival for the whole of the weekend with no supplies. Noted a canoe moored right on the water-point using a padlocked chain!
Having topped up on the water, we moved forward past the bridge and moored again for lunch, electing to go to the pub - the Boat & Railway . A few chores on return to "Paws", then a quiet end to the afternoon. Had a brief word with Jan & John as they passed just before dinner.
|6.22 miles||6 locks||3.29 hrs||3.71 lmph|