Summer Cruise#1 – Days 15 – 17

 

Alrewas, such a nice place to be, so we stayed another day, didn’t do much, so no blog! We paid a visit to the King William IV – just to try their beers – Ringwood Red Boar, so so but at £4 for a pint and a half, pretty good value.

Next day, time to move on. Out onto the short bit of river then past Wychnor, through a few locks and then lunch stop at the Branston Water Park before mooring up for the day in Burton – opposite the Marston’s brewery.

The might river Trent enters here – nice & docile at the moment

And 50 yds later it exits – over a weir . . . nicely buoyed

Steve steers serenely through a narrow bridge arch and on to Wychnor lock

Here’s a piccie for Stephen & Lucia – a bridge 42!

A brief glimpse of the big Barton’s Turn Marina and no, they couldn’t help me with my bow thruster shear pins . . . . the search goes on

There are some very narrow squeezes on some canals – only an inch to spare

A brief pit stop for lunch and a walk around the water park for Toby

We moored up at the visitor moorings – opposite Marston’s brewery – a bit noisy but quite safe.

Brief visit to Shobnall marina & to thank Jeanette in the office for searching for shear pins for me but no luck here either . . .

A long walk into town, to find “The Alfred” – a reknown Burton Bridge Brewery pub, who, unbeknown to us, had just had a beer festival and there was beer left! Steve had a pint of Hopping Mad and Viv had some Shagweaver!

A really old-fashioned town pub, with even a space for the Dog . . .

No, Viv wasn’t happy with this photo – not sure why!??

After a noisy night we set off towards Willington, first, through Dallow lock

Beery murals of Burton

Ably assisted by Michael – a lovely lad who is just around to help boaters!  He helped us at Branston lock yesterday. and this morning, at Dallow.

Past Horninglow wharf (note the RCR rescue team helping a boater)

Some greylag geese on a nest

Always a bit odd and unnerving when your boat which is in a water channel, goes over another water channel – this time it’s the famous river Dove.

And after a pleasant morning’s cruise, we stop at Willington . . . outside a pub of course.

This is the famous Dragon – quite a posh & splendid establishment, serving beers from the Boot Brewery of Repton.

We were impressed by the Clod Hopper and Tuffler’s Old – both very full of flavour. Quite a compact village – with a good Co-op, Indian, Chinese and a chippy! Plus a tea room. A recommended stop but boaters be warned – adjacent to the railway!

After a stroll along the towpath to Mercia marina – no, again, no help from Midland Chandlers or Aqua boats re shear pins! But quite an eye-opening marina. Very helpful staff. Nice flower beds and excellent, clean facilities!

On arriving back at our boat, we had been joined by the narrowboat The Oak, from Ilkeston. I was chatting away when I noticed that in the back of his boat, he had a BCS control panel for a bow thruster, so I idly mentioned . .  Oh, do you have any shear pins and he said “Yes!”. What’s more he had spares and within minutes had laid his hands on them – he freely gave me one of his four spares! I was over the moon! A shear pin and one that was actually meant for my thruster.

An hour or so later, I had taken all the junk off the boards and had got down to the thruster compartment, taken off the motor and fitted the new pin . . . switch on and Voila! It works – we have thrust in the bow! Viv replied – I’ll happily drive again . . . success. Thanks to The Oak!

Saturday morning and The Oak is off early – they decided to keep going as they need to get back to visit family. We were supping our morning tea & coffee, so got up to wave them goodbye (0700) – thanks John for the very vital, shear pin and for reinforcing my belief in the altruistic behaviour of the boating community! I hope we can pass it on.

Hope we meet up again, later this year.

Summer Cruise#1-Day 14 The National Memorial Arboretum

 

With early sunshine due and in keeping with our Hodma’dod  existence; we aimed to stay put today, let the solar panels soak up the energy and perhaps embark on the long walk to the National Memorial Arboretum, just a few miles away. Alrewas is such a pretty little village and we marvelled at all the blossom on the trees – not sure what the trees are (answers please!):

However, getting to the Arboretum is another matter – there’s no public transport and the “getting there from the canal” instructions had a convoluted walk along the A38.  There is a gap to walk across the A38 – but why on earth is there no bridge? There is a memorial garden to road traffic victims – maybe a bridge too?? Ironically people have been injured and even killed crossing this road.

Four lanes of 70+mph A38 plus a slip road to cross!

It’s about 30 minutes on this route.  The Arboretum sits on 150 acres and has 300 memorials with more than 30,000 trees. The rivers Tame and Trent meet (see top of diagram) and there are cafes and restaurants – a splendid set up indeed. We walked (over 17,000 steps!) around the whole site, popping in to visit some of the memorials – especially the ones we sort of were involved with – such as the Falklands conflict – Steve had just joined the Combined Cadet Force and as a little, naive temporary-acting Sub Lieutenant, was on an army camp in north Wales when the Falklands were invaded! He thought he would be whisked off to war! A lot of military personnel were – civilians too. Some didn’t come back.

Obviously, lots from the two world wars – some grouped into campaigns, others by the regiment that took part. Beautiful but chilling.  The whole park is exceedingly well laid out – even has a dog path.

More poignantly for us – the Falklands one:

And the Naval memorial – beautiful . .

When I did my “advanced” training – it was just one week at a curious place called HMS Royal Arthur – now long since demolished.  It was where they trained Petty Officers for leadership . . . it was a tough week!

This is a second World War memorial to 47 squadron (I think) :

There were memorials to folk who lost their lives whilst involved in non-military service, such as the RNLI, YMCA, or even as civilians resisting invaders – like the Falklanders:

We walked our socks off! Toby too. But he enjoyed a game with the ball here at the confluence of the Trent and Tame.  Odd to think we’ll be on the Trent soon .  . . .

One of our friends served with the Paras – here’s their wonderful memorial

These next two photos are ancient and modern. The ancient part is the “Shot at Dawn” memorial to the mainly, boys who were shot for desertion or perceived cowardice.  The modern bit is the government who only recently gave a pardon to these sad guys.

Each post has the guy’s name, rank and age – if known – usually 17 – 26 years!

Back in the main hall there was an exhibition of war pictures, using mixed media (?) with large ceramic poppies – very striking:

         

This the big Armed Forces memorial – to those losing theirs lives since the Second World War.

Looking back to the main hall.

And on a much lighter note – the famous butcher’s was open in Alrewas – Peter Coates. Where we bought in more supplies, including a kilo of mince for £4.95! Smashing little shop.

 There’s an Alrewas Fryer in town too – so chips could be on the menu tonight.  We can wholeheartedly recommend a stop here for a few days – there’s a Co-op, Indian & Chinese as well as those three pubs.

The Arboretum is also a must-see and free to visit.

 

Summer Cruise#1 – Day 13

 

With the prospect of a dull day, washing needed doing plus batteries down to 65%, we decided to move on to Alrewas – just 2.25 miles and 5 locks away.  The next day, Tuesday looks set to be fair and sunny, so a good day to stay put.  With 3 lock volunteers on and boats coming up the locks, we sailed through . . .

Lock 16 – Junction lock

You have to watch your stern – too close and you get that damp feeling in your trousers!

Lock 17 – Keeper’s Lock – looking back at the busy Fradley junction.

Viv gets to work & Toby just takes it easy

Nice to find lock volunteers – always friendly & helpful

Less than an hour later and we reached Alrewas (Ol-ree-wuss), lock 13, Bagnall lock and into the cutesie-pie village.  Twas famous for it’s basket weaving. It has a famous butcher, post office, Co-op and three pubs (we scrutinised each one with an intense scrute – none seemed worthy of a visit having mainly ales that didn’t float our boat!)

Adagio rests up at the visitor moorings.

An amazing amount of ancient and mainly thatched properties.

Here’s where we be . . . last year we went all the way to the end at Preston Brook and beyond.  This time it’s to Shardlow . . . and beyond.

One slightly dodgy piece of navigation ahead of us – the Trent makes a very brief appearance, as it enters the canal and then leaves. The “danger gauge” is to the left of the lock – all calm & serene and in the green now. This can cause the canal to be closed when in flood . . meanwhile, here’s a photo for me Dad – a very wee bowling green!

And here’s the mighty river Trent . . . flowing under this walkway

Along the “canal” for a bit and then exits right, over a large weir.

Always a big sign but I note the symbol in the triangle is a narrowboat!

Ship’s Log: 2.25 miles and 5 locks today. Engine hours read 2432.6 hrs.

 

Summer Cruise#1 – Fradley

A longish day today – we didn’t set off until 11 – we’d phoned ahead to Streethay Wharf and yes, they did have a replacement radiator cap – yippee! They also would have a look at the busted bow thruster. So we set off, through Fazely junction, the delightful Hopwas . .  the very slow and shallow section (Hopwas onwards!) and then past the Kings Orchard marina until we reached Streethay. Quite an Aladdin’s cave and full of helpful people. We picked up the new cap (£8 and not the £16 note RCR) and had a few head scratchings about the BCS bow thruster. Yes, they could have a look (£48/hr) but in their experience, the bottom pin usually goes and not the top one. Hmm, and they didn’t have any pins either, so onwards. Skipper will take off the motor head and see if the top shear pin is indeed sheared, then at least we will know what’s what. Meanwhile, we is sat at the delightful mooring just before Fradley junction. Rain tomorrow, so will stay put for a while – anyone for a pint in the Mucky Duck?

At the Fazely junction
Here’s your choice! Fradley & the North or Birmingham.
Out into the countryside.
Through shallow but scenic Hopwas.
And our final resting place for today – end of the queue at Fradley junction.
A well earned pint of Shefford Plum mild in the Mucky Duck
Viv’s treat from M&S, chocolate “quail” eggs
A rare pic of Steve!    Sunday now – all seems very quiet for Easter Day. Rain is forecast but not much in evidence. Managed to get the bow thruster motor off. All these somewhat magical and alien bits of kit no longer hold their allure once you’ve “had a go at them” with tools. Just 4 allen bolts and the motor was off . . . then I heard the dreaded noise of a “bit” falling down, down, down into the void that is the bilge. Hmm, that must be the motor bush. Yep, it was. And I saw within the sheared pin. The shaft linking to the propeller still rotates, so hopefully that bit – below the water is OK. All I need now is to replace the shear pin and all will be well. So, what is a bow thruster, you ask – it’s a sideways propeller in a tube at the front, making you go, er, sideways and on a 65 foot boat, it comes in handy at times! Steering round corners and getting into a lock on a windy day etc.
This a similar beastie – the top motor unscrews and is above the sealed-in propeller bit . . .
Here’s my kit – under the seat at the front. Showing the motor removed – just 4 screws! You can see the  sealed horizontal tube and all the heavy duty cabling (takes 250 amps you know) and the bush – normally held on the motor by the shear pin – the remains of which can be seen in the photo. Still that’s sorted. Half the problem is knowing exactly what the problem is . Ok let’s put it all back together and head over to the pub for lunch  . . . . a nice carvery . . . good idea says Toby:

This pub has had mixed reviews over the years but a new couple have run it for 18 months or so and it’s really good – 4 or 5 beers on plus a huge variety of food. They also travel up to Grimsby on a Tuesday to shop for fresh fish – indeed monk fish kebabs and a fish stew were on t’menu.

 

 

Summer Cruise#1 Day 10

A murky start. No bow thruster and no replacement radiator cap but we bimble on. Water point Bradley Green. Then fuel at Alvecote but no cap, alas. Lunch at Tamworth then on to the aqueduct – closest point to the exciting Ventura shopping park/mall/hell-on-earth. Lots of pix, including the Muppets on Jacob’s Creek II, a wee yoghourt pot,, breaking two rules – don’t moor in the short lock pounds and don’t moor on the lock bollards!

We set off from Lock 10 but there was a wee boat in the way – boat AI says “viable target”
Yep, Jacobs Creek II, illegally and dangerously moored.
We cope by being considerate. Smoke gets in yer eyes.
Even CRT say don’t do this!
Pooley?
And under the M42 – best way, I think. Nice murals on the walls

Stopped at Alvecote – I did phone em just in case they had a rad cap but no. They had fuel and we topped up 66 litres (75p basic). Checking our logs and yes, we consume 1.5 litres per hour. Not bad.
On the outskirts of Tamworth, we pass Adagio (again)
Glascote locks – in the rain! And no, they didn’t have a rad cap either!
On and on to the Tame aqueduct. Moored just beyond and off to the shopping place for Halfords.
Hmm, a WWII pill box, guarding what?
The aqueduct over the river Tame. A very scenic spot.
The river Tame
On the walk in . . . Tokyo or Tamworth? Some glorious cherry blossoms.
Yes, it’s Tamworth alright
You often go past boats which one could describe as skanky or worse and how that would never apply to us but with a lot of kit now inside the boat . . . it’s beginning to look a bit, well, skanky! With the bow thruster kaput, we may spend Easter taking it apart. Such fun!

Summer Cruise#1 Day 9

 

No pix today see blogs passim, on from Springwood Haven to Atherstone. Slight pause as a Skipper Steve found that the radiator cap came apart in his hands when checking the coolant level. Hmm, they are not all the same. The adjacent marina couldn’t help,us as there were too many to chose from. On to Atherstone. Luckily, the auto shop helped as they scratched their heads and ordered one. Be here 0830 tomorrow. Oh good. It took me a two mile walk to get there and back. So, same again tomorrow. Luckily, the Angel was open (N. Warks. Pub of the year last year) and made it worthwhile. Still, it is a nice spot between locks 9 and 10. Viv did good by driving ALL the locks. Unfortunately, I think she has had enough and this may well be our last . Me too. I’m not finding this enjoyable and having a partner who hates it doesn’t help. So anyone want to buy a boat?

And then my tooth fell out – looks like an old crown plus bits underneath, yuk. Is there a dentist in Atherstone?? Tis Thursday now (Maundy Thursday) and Viv admits it was a bit of a Black Dog day, yesterday, when there were toooo many boats coming towards her and the wind kept pushing the boat away the lock she had expertly lined up! So maybe not sell up just yet then? 🙂  The nice chaps at Denplan (for which I pay nearly £1 a day) said they’d help, even though we are (unbelievably) less than 40 miles from our home surgery. So all good – ish then. OK here’s some pix then . . .

Not too early for bluebells?

The best view when approaching a flight of locks – volunteers at the ready and paddles up! The top of Atherstone flight of 11 locks – with help through the top five.

And on to the long gap between locks 9 and 10 – ideal mooring spot

Very quiet but also a fair way back . . .!

A few passing boats – including this friendly, single-hander  . . .

And just for completion . . . the offending items – radiator cap in 3 pieces plus tooth!

 

Well, the end of Maundy Thursday, some success today; I walked the long walk into Atherstone but the “auto equip” order was toooo small. Shame. Denplan came good. A nice Jordan phoned around and got me an appointment for 1230 and even though we are less than the stipulated & won’t pay, 40 miles, they agreed to cover us as we couldn’t easily jump in a car and get back to Long Buckby! And I can say, it all worked. Dentist saw me 10 minutes early (a first ever in 40 yrs) and did a bit of drilling then put a dressing on . . .10 minutes and £20.60.  I think Denplan can manage that.  Hopefully we can find a supplier for my radiator cap – Alvecote yard (a few miles ahead of us) couldn’t help but were very friendly. If we moor near the Tame aqueduct tomorrow we can walk to Halfords in Tamworth – such excitement!

Talking of excitement – we just seen the Easter bunny, no not really, just about 6 boats all full with scouts, then guides . . . a bit late (1900?) and with 9 locks above them, a challenge! Steamed salmon fillets, fresh greens and homemade savoury rice (basmati, chinese 5 spice, peas, mushrooms, red pepper and fried egg!).

As my TV keeps telling me . . .    Life’s Good!

 

Summer Cruise#1 Day 8

 

0930 start – Ansty thru Nuneaton and on to moor near Springwood Haven marina.

We pass Gordon on Cut Loose, back from the Ashby and on his way back to Yelvertoft.

The long straight, approaching Hawkesbury junction

If you know the area then you’ll recognise this – it’s the beginning of the super grid and pylon city!

After a complete balls up of turning at the junction, which I normally do in one smooth action, I bashed the nose and the stern this time, Muppet! No, photos thankfully. We move on to Nuneaton:

We have never stopped here before but fancied a pie & a pint. I notice a small sign showing that this project was part financed by the EU – you can kiss this goodbye Brexiteers!

We found the Three Horseshoes, 300 yds west of bridge 20. An Everards pub but nicely run and with 6 beers on plus some home cooking, brilliant! Steve had 2 pints of Plum Mild (3.8% from Stefford) and Viv had a nice Ruby ale.

Less than an hour on and we get out into lovely countryside and approach Springwood Haven Marina. A nice spot to walk the dog and chat to the Onboard Energy guy about new batteries, solar power and the vagaries of the Victron invertor/charger! They also do ice creams too!

And here’s Adagio and that over-used star filter !

Captain’s Log 1719 11/04/2017: 11 miles +1 lock+ 4.3 engine hours

 

Summer Cruise#1 – Day 6?

 

 Getting a bit behind here, what with staying put from Friday thru to Monday morning but it was soooo nice to not to move when it was soooo hot. And being a weekend a lot of the world chugged by but not us, neither Hodma’dod nor Twelve and a bit moved at all.  Anyway, Monday came and we all moved off. We met up at the Rugby visitor moorings (not very welcoming – toilet block all boarded up and only just room to fit in for water), where the crew of all boats tramped off to Tesco’s et al,

Not as well taken as David’s from Hodma’dod but here’s my bridge 69 pic!
More of bridge 69 – seen better days . . .
All stop at the Rugby visitor mooring for water and vittles . . . (i.e. more gin!)
Ooh, look, another Adagio!
The lovely avenue of trees at All Oaks Wood – a great place to stop but we didn’t and couldn’t as it was stuffed full of “permies”, so we chugged on.
I actually like this straight bit – under the M6 and then along by the railway line plus you get some odd flora – here there be Butter Burrs!
Is he enjoying this? Well, vest, shirt and two tops on! Def. a change in the weather.
Our destination – Ansty. Here’s a view from the pub garden – we did’t, nay couldn’t go in as they don’t allow dogs in. It is a rather foodie place and doubtless fantastic but not for us.
Hmm, Steven tries out the star filter on the camera. It will take a lot to enhance Ansty in our opinion. Somewhat highly coloured by our non beer experience.

With the engine running we can use many electrical appliances (up to 3.5 kW!) and one of our favourites is the Slow Cooker – here is the Morphy Richards one, note how the heater/controller fits neatly inside – handy to pack on a boat.

 

And here it is unpacked. The pan is removable – handy for using on the hob to brown meat and get things boiling and also for washing too.

. . . producing a beef curry (cooked for 6 hours!). No need to brown the meat or do any frying – all the meat, onions, potatoes and sauce goes in at the start – bring to the boil and set for 6 to 8 hours.

Captain’s Log 1700 10/04/2017: 11 miles + 4.5 engine hours

 

Summer Cruise#1 Day 4 – HOT!

Aah! Ickle ducklings – count them = 8!
Our quieter mooring but in the sunshine – we were right to stop over as there’s been a constant stream of boats all day.
A stroll up to the pub – some 20 mins away. A pub we have been past many times as it’s next door to the vets! And despite it’s rather plain appearance, is very well appointed inside with a good range of beers and a restaurant.  The garden was amazing too – lots of room, dogs welcome.
Plenty of tables and the menu looked really good – they even do breakfasts!
A fish pond
Aah! Ickle ducklings, oh, count them again, only seven now 🙁
Meanwhile back in the boat – 28 degrees in the cratch and over 25 inside!  Phew! Hotter tomorrow.

Summer Cruise#1 Day 4

 

So nice to hear birdsong, albeit a blackbird at 0428 this morning and then skylarks! It’s Saturday and probably a busy boating day with hirers setting off. It’s also set for a cloudless, warm day, so we’re staying put, soaking up them rays, well the PV cells are. We may skedaddle off to Hillmorton later for a stroll.

Meanwhile, we made a list of the boats on the move yesterday, which was a quiet day really:

  • Clent, Cape Warbler, Eliza, Horus, Dragonfly, The Andrew, Phyllis May II, Penarrow, Olivia, Apprentice, The Bowman, Brendon, Pandeford, Vanyar, Solitude, Barleyadola and our friends on Hodma’dod.