Monday, 30 April 2018

15 items of clothing! 28th April & Shore Leave 29th April

Saturday 28th April 2018
Branston Water Park to Wittington
6.5 miles, 2 locks

We woke to rain, rain and yes, yet more rain, plus it was a lot colder than it had been yesterday, so serious layers were required to try to keep dry and warm.  A few days ago Sue (Boatwif) from nb Cleddau commented to me that on one occasion recently, had her clothing needed to be removed in an emergency she had on 19 separate items.  I cannot claim that many, but was quite impressed with 15 (not including my glasses).  I am glad to report that neither of us required such intervention.

First job - a walk round the lake with Monty whilst Chris got the boat ready to go.  It was too wet for photos, but it is a good walk of just under a mile and a half and good surface all the way round, hence not too much mud.

Fully togged up, off we went.  It was a miserable, cold and wet trip with the very noisy A38 very evident for a lot of the way.  We were surprised that there was so much boat traffic with short queues at both locks.  Most were going our way.  It meant help at each lock with the bottom double gates - something that is always appreciated.  I discovered that we were in a line of 13 boats from Lichfield Cruising Club that are all heading for the Erewash and today's destination was Willington.  Thankfully they were all mooring up on the outskirts as we needed to be in the centre as our daughter in law is arriving tomorrow to take us to their house for the day. 

A bit of an obstacle at Shobnall Basin

We spent the afternoon in front of the fire thawing out!  A day off tomorrow and hopefully Monday will be a better day.

I had a conversation with a single hander boater a day or so ago.  I was helping him through the lock and, as you do, we started to discuss where we were off to.  He was heading west along the Trent and Mersey on his way to London.  Nothing unusual in that, but he then added 'Yes the wife said she wanted to go to London this year and when I said okay, she said 'that's great, thank you - give me a ring when you get there and I will get the train''!!

Postscript - the misshapen cake tastes good and a new 2lb loaf tin arrived courtesy of Tesco on Friday.

Sunday 29th April 2018 - Shore Leave

Jo came to collect us mid morning as arranged and took us to their house.  Dirty sheets and towels travelled with us and came back clean and dry - a huge bonus with the current weather.  We were taken to Go Outdoors and Boots. We then had a meal with Jo and the three grandchildren (our son is away on business) before settling down to watch Paddington 2.  It is a film we have seen before, but it is so good it is no hardship to watch it again and again.  If you have not seen it, then put it on your wish list.  Early evening Jo dropped us off at the boat for a quiet evening (no cooking) before we head off again tomorrow.  It was a blissful interlude and we look forward to seeing them all, plus our son, next weekend. 

Typically it was dry all day with the odd burst of sunshine and tomorrow it is due to rain again.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Above and beyond the call of duty - 27th April

Friday 27th April 2018
Alrewas to Branston Water Park
5.75, 4 locks

We are very lucky to have so many good friends who are willing to subject themselves to a many 'layers' day with full waterproofs to come and 'enjoy' a day on the cut!  Today was just such a day.  Jane, Chris and 'part-time boat dog', Kiera were due to arrive mid morning having parked their other car at Branston Water Park.  They duly arrived plus a Tesco delivery for us and full wet weather gear and were soon kitted up and out helping first to water up and then at the first lock of the day.

Definitely the only 'fashion' to be worn on such a day.

This made a very uncomfortable locking partner at one of the locks, but unfortunately we did not spot it until the boat was in the lock.  We dropped the water levels very slowly and managed not to get wedged.  Once the boat was out of the lock I opened a top paddle before we shut the bottom gates to flush it out.  We were not, however, able to retrieve it from the canal.

 I cannot remember which bridge this is, but it definitely needs some tlc.

We popped in to Barton Turns Marina for some diesel.  It is huge.

As ever Monty needs to supervise - just to ensure it is done correctly.

65 litres of diesel and 2 bags of coal later and we moved over to the visitor moorings where you can stay for 4 hours to avail your self of the shops and eating places.

We ate lunch on board - the Alrewas' Fidget Pie' (their version of a pork pie which has won awards) and scotch eggs were really good.  After lunch Jane and I went for a nose around the shops.  Most are high end fashion and gift shops (several do have a great range of 'different' cards for all occasions), so we contended our selves with just looking.  We did not get all the way along the line- our final destination being the farm shop, which is huge and would be a great place to stock up if we had not had a Tesco delivery and shopped at the Alrewas butcher.  It is a great place to stop and I am sure you could buy a good lunch there.  I am not sure, however, that I would want to be there overnight due to the incessant noise from the A38.

This was on one of the doors - we would have been failing in our duty had we not gone in.  Sadly we failed the interview and left empty handed.

The signs heading up to the marina state that all facilities can be found in there, sadly that is no longer the case - the rubbish has been moved further along past Barton Turn Lock some 100 yards or so past the water point.  If you need an elsan, well you are out of luck.

It was getting a little dryer as we headed to Tattenhall Lock, the last for the day.

Result - the hoods are down!

The rather lovely lock 'cottage' is now a B&B

It looks as though the by wash for the lock runs through the garden and under the house.

 It was at this lock that we found the notice about the re-siting of the bins - not a lot of help to us as we had gone way past by then!

We arrived in the dry and secured a good mooring at Branston Water Park that was fairly close to the entrance and therefore convenient for the car park.

Just the other side of the towpath is a good view of the lake itself.

 Just to round off the day along came a duck with 13 ducklings - the first we have seen this year.

A quick cuppa and change into dry, non muddy gear and Jane and Chris took us to The Three Horseshoes in Barton under Needwood for dinner.  The company was excellent and the food okay, but probably not good enough to prompt a return visit. Then it was back to the boat for them to collect Kiera and the start their journey home via Alrewas to collect the other car.

Thank you both for your help and company today.  We hope to see you again soon, but suspect it will be September when Kiera becomes a boat dog for a two week holiday.

The day was good due to the company, the weather was not and the big downside was the never ending presence of the A38 which at times was so close you could not hear yourself think.  Not a place to dally and admire the view!

Friday, 27 April 2018

April Showers

Wednesday 25th April 2018
Fradley Junction to Alrewas
2 miles, 4 locks

The day dawned bright and sunny, but with a sharp bite to the wind.  Between the showers after dinner yesterday the three of us went for a walk round Fradley Pool and Monty and I pottered round there again this morning and this time I had my camera with me.  It is a scant half mile circuit, but what is loses in length of walk it makes up for with delights round many corners. When we were moored here four years ago we were at the other end of this walk and went in by the other entrance, so missed this information board.

With a dragonfly to welcome you in

A peaceful scene on a sunny morning

There is a fabulous looking bird hide, which, sadly is shut

such a sad reflection on society

I love this heron to be found near the hide

Quiet and leafy before many walkers are about

It was also too early for the fishermen

Nest boxes and bird feeding trays are there in abundance

And what a fantastic pond dipping platform

Even a picnic table for when the weather is slightly more clement

and a board walk taking you right onto the lake

This was originally a reservoir to top up the canal.  It has certainly been put to good use - a 'must do' if you are around this way.

We pushed off across the canal to deposit the small amount of rubbish accumulated overnight and empty the yellow water container - neither particularly necessary, but it is wise to take advantage of facilities whilst you can.  It was around 10 am when we headed for the first lock a couple of hundred yards away.  Now I know this is April, but about ten minutes after I took this photo just as we reached the lock a really ferocious shower hit us.  There was nowhere to go to wait it out, so there was nothing for it, but to get very wet.

It was just a short journey today.  Two locks together, then a short gap - time to start the kettle boiling, but not to make the tea/coffee before the third lock.  The next gap was long enough to make the drinks and I nearly had time to finish mine before we got to the last lock of the day.

 Rape is certainly a popular crop round here.

I suspect this is a redundant sign about the previous occupants of this field

or do builders turn nasty if fed!!

To our surprise we had the pick of the moorings, so stopped on the 14 day rings near the church - it is very peaceful out here and the walk to the village centre is very easy.

I don't think the neighbours will be bothering us

Thursday 26th April

Last time we were here the war memorial was decorated with knitted poppies (it was 2014, so the start of the Great War).  This time the WI are celebrating their centenary and it is now decorated with

knitted bunting

Alrewas is a lovely village, not that we did much exploring despite the fact that we were here all day.  There was no rest for the wicked - we had a domestic day as well as a bit of exploring.  It has a well equipped Co op and a great butcher - we parted with quite a lot of money there, so hope it all tastes as good as it looks!

All Saints Church which not open when I went past.

On the domestic front I rinsed down the port side of the boat and roof and cleaned all the windows that side.  I was lucky I spotted the dog deposit that some thoughtless dog owner left so close to our boat that it was almost touching it.  Not happy.

Whilst I was busy outside Chris was busy inside - he wanted to make a marmalade cake.  Everything was mixed when I got asked 'where is the 2lb loaf tin'??  Despite a search in all the likely places it was not to be found, so we must, for some reason best known to us at the time, have taken it home.  So what to do?  We had the loaf tin liners, so he used 4 of them sat them in a brownie tin and then wedged them in with a couple of smaller tins.  Not perfect and the cake is an odd shape and slightly brown (we think the layers of liners slowed down the cooking), but sometimes needs must and you have to make the most of a bad job.  A new tin is on the Tesco delivery due tomorrow.

After lunch we walked along the canal with Monty, passed where the River Trent joins the canal for a short time.  The boards at the lock are in the green, so no problems getting on our way tomorrow.

Looking back at the lock just before the river joins the canal

There was a public footpath that might have tempted us,but not with all that mud,

 I guess the name says it all

Back at the boat we had a visitor!