Monday, 31 August 2020

Blue Sky Again - 30th August 2020

 Sunday 30th August 2020

Bratch Locks to Swindon Bridge No 40

2.5 miles, 5 locks

What a pleasure to wake to blue sky and some sun again.  

Nothing of particular note occurred en route.  There was plenty of traffic going both ways.  Enough to find boats at most locks, but not so much to create a queue.

Not the best picture in the world (it declined to turn round and pose), but there is (to me) just something rather appealing about a donkey

The little fisherman on the shed roof just below Swindon Lock has a new hat this year


And he (or maybe she?) has caught a wheel

We moored just past Swindon bridge 

Almost opposite this immaculate garden

Monty and I headed off for a wander back to the lock and then into Swindon itself to find a small row of shops - a fish and chip shop (open Wed to Sat), a tanning & beauty salon, a hairdresser and convenience store.  It would also be a good mooring to get a Tesco delivery.

Once back on the canal we walked on to the next lock.  As we progressed I became aware of the unmistakably sound of leather on willow.  Yes another cricket club - this time with a match in full swing.  Suddenly there was a cry of 'Howzat' followed by suitable clapping and cheering.  Such a delightful sound and sight on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

To add to my visual delights on the way back to the boat I spotted a hot air balloon.

A long held dream that Chris and I achieved on Lake Tahoe around the time of our 30th Wedding Anniversary.  At the time (and it may well still be the case) it was the only hot air balloon that took off and landed on a boat.  

Before we took off - it was very early in the morning and quite chilly despite being a glorious day.

Inflating the balloon

Up, up and away

The boat was long and thin, but that was the only resemblance to a narrow boat!

We are nearly back

Safely guided back onto deck

Deflating the balloon

It was certainly a day to remember!

Sunday, 30 August 2020

My Mission of Mercy (Failed!) - 29th August 2020

 Saturday 29th August 2020

Wightwick Bridge 57 to below Bratch locks

3.5 miles, 6 locks

We woke to no rain and a blue sky!  What a relief after the last few days.

Although we had 6 locks to do today, the last three were the Bratch locks - 3 locks with a 6 foot pound in between each and two lock keepers to assist and ensure things are done in the correct order. 

At the other three locks there was plenty of traffic up and down which meant there was help at each one, but not so many boats that there were queues.

Just before Bratch locks there is a very large cricket ground where they were preparing for an afternoon match.

We paused for lunch at the top of Bratch locks and moved off when there were no boats going up or down, so an easy passage for us.

The moorings just round the corner after the Bratch locks are rather nice - good armco and we ended up with them all to ourselves.

Not long after we arrived two men appeared on the opposite bank at the far end of the photo above.  There was a lot of effort put into inflating what we thought might be canoes, but turned out to be two paddle boards.  Off they went never to return, so we assume someone met them somewhere, that, or they are still going!

Monty and I went off for a walk and an explore. We found a footpath off the tow path. It was rather narrow with a lot of nettles and only came out a bit further along just passed the next lock (Bumblehole).  A note for our future reference and anyone else who has a dog - there is a small field just before where the footpath joins the tow path again.  Perfect for a game of ball.

I walked on a bit further before turning round and when I got back to the lock there were three young men there - one of whom was in the water desperately searching for something.  It transpired it was his fishing rod that had gone in and he was really quite distraught.  I gathered he had only just bought it with birthday money (12th August) and he was determined that he was not going home without it.  I returned to the boat to fetch the magnet and went back to see if that might help.  

The lad whose rod it was (this end of the photo above) and the lad at the other end went back to the car as the rod owner's Mum was coming over with a large rake.
This left middle young man and I to continue the search.  Not that I did much apart from ensuring I still had the end of the magnet cord attached to my wrist!

Lots of bits of rusty metal were found, but no fishing rod.   After about 40 minutes we gave up in the hopes that they might have more luck with the rake.  I did impress on the young man who was in the water that if he had flu like symptoms he was to go to the doctor and to tell them that he had been in the canal.  It transpired that the young man left to do the magnet searching knew all about leptospirosis.  He had studied ecology and conservation at college.  He had some 300 hours of voluntary service behind him, but was working making doors in the meantime as it is very hard to get paid work in that sector.  I encouraged him to keep trying as our son was in the same situation some 23 years ago.  After several voluntary jobs in the sector he secured a post as a ranger in Derbyshire, then another and then became and Ecology Consultant.  Ten years ago he and two colleagues set up their own Ecology consultancy business.  They now have a few employees and have worked in many places in the UK and overseas including Mongolia, Africa, Saudi and Europe.  From little acorns.......  

My mission of mercy was a failure, but at least I tried.  Of course while all this was going on it started to rain again, but I knew Chris had been lighting the fire when I left, so I could soon warm up.

Saturday, 29 August 2020

We wimped out again! 28th August 2020

 Friday 28th August 2020

Autherley Junction to Wightwick B57

3.25 miles, 3 locks

When I took Monty out for a stroll yesterday evening I came across a boat belonging to one of our Canal Society members - I, of course, stopped for a chat.  It was good to see you John.

With no rain this morning it was possible to take some photos of our mooring - not in the least bit pretty, but we were safe and dry

We were almost opposite Oxley Marine.

The rain started again not long after we set off.  Boats came and went at the three locks and by the time we came to the rings at Wightwick we had had enough, so that was it for the day.  A bit closer to the road than we would have chosen, however once inside we could not hear any noise.

We were so cold and wet we succumbed

All that was left to do was put up my birthday cards - well the three I have on the boat

Our daughter had been to our house this morning and opened the rest which she kindly displayed on the mantelpiece ready for when we get home.

So thank you to everyone who sent me cards - they will stay displayed until at least a week after we get home.  

There was not even a special birthday dinner - we have some steak in the freezer but that will wait until Sunday when I have finished the antibiotics and can enjoy a glass or two of wine!  Good job it was not a 'big birthday' - that comes next year when I hope for better things!

Friday, 28 August 2020

Dry and then wet - again. 26th -27th August 2020

 Wednesday 26th August 2020

Roseford Bridge to Gailey Visitor Moorings below the lock

2.75 miles, 9 locks

We woke to glorious sunshine!  What a relief after yesterday.  I knew I would need the camera as we passed Acton Trussel - so many things were spotted on our way through, but the heavy rain had meant the camera was tucked up inside the boat.  I have found information on a 'scarecrow' competition in 2019, but nothing for 2020, but there are several around here to feast the eyes as you pass through.

Plus some delightful gardens to gladden the eye

On past The Moat House which I have been told does excellent food - not for us this trip as we do not feel comfortable eating in pubs just yet

Just as Monty and I decided to walk for a while we stumbled upon some fishermen - at first I thought the line would end soon....

I asked one man if it was a match.  'Yes' came the reply 'there are 25 of us'! With a dog that is fearful of fishing rods, so has to be on the lead, we got back on at the next bridge.  Eventually we reached the end of the match.

I would be interested to know what 'covid' precautions all boaters taking?  I did start off wearing gloves, but decided that it would be easier to wash or sanitise my hands after every lock rather than popping the gloves into our UV sanitiser at the end of the day.  I aim to keep 2 metres or so from other people and either opt to open gates alone or stand back if others are already on the beam.  The windlass gets a good clean when we end the day.  Today we were following a boat who (I feel) was taking things to the extreme.  She had a spray bottle in her pocket and liberally sprayed each lock beam, handle and all the paddle gear before working the lock.  From the residue left on all the parts I had to touch I suspect she was spraying either raw or a very strong solution of bleach.  When she got back on the boat there was a large bucket of soapy water which the windlass was plunged into and a cloth removed, wrung out and she wiped every surface she might have touched on the back deck.  Now are we being cavalier and taking risks or are they being over cautious?  Please let me know your thoughts.  

Whilst in the lock at Penkridge I popped into the rubbish compound just as the bin men were leaving, so nice empty bins.  However, when I got in there I found they had just been dumped back in any old way and that the glass bin was blocked off!
I put my windlass down on the bin on the right, shuffled them all about and managed to deposit the one bottle I had to dispose of and I re-joined the boat.  Thankfully we had only gone a short way when I realised my windlass was still on the bin!  I trotted back to retrieve it before we went on our way.

We were not relying on Penkridge for water which was just as well.

We moored up a little before the lock at Gailey - this is Chris leaving the next morning,  

With 9 locks to do it was a good work out for me after my few restful days.  We had everything crossed that I would cope, which I did, but it did necessitate a retreat to bed after lunch!  Still I did it which was the main thing.  Just no energy to do the blog!

Thursday 27th August 2020
Gailey to Autherley Junction
8 miles, 1 lock

The first job today was to go up the lock at Gailey - from here until Stourport we will be going down again.

The second would be to take on water and get rid of rubbish etc.  We were told it was chaos above the lock yesterday, so we hoped as it was relatively early we would be okay.  There was one boat on the lock landing taking on water which we thought was a bit odd as both water points were empty.  We were soon to find out why.

Both water points were out of use

and the only tap (which is not official) is the one by the lock landing, so back we went and stretched out the hose.  There was a C&RT man there who told me it was a Severn Trent issue and they were on site fixing it as we spoke.

Not the easiest of fill ups!

We were lucky that no boats came either way in the 45 minutes or so it took to fill the tank with a very slow tap.  As we moved off we passed four boats coming towards us in quick succession, so we had timed it right.  

At Four Ashes there are two bridges - the new

and the old - a little the worse for wear, but not as ugly as the new one.

It was soon after we passed here that the rain started and went on and on and on.  We had no intentions of stopping at Autherley Junction as it is not the nicest of moorings, however when you are soaking wet and the rain is incessant the sight of a hole big enough for us with handy rings to tie to was just too much temptation, so we wimped out , pulled over and tied up.

Although I had only one lock to work today I think I was still feeling the effects of yesterdays work out, so once again I retreated to bed for a couple of hours in the afternoon.  This really is not like me at all, so whatever infection I had, it was a good one!