Storm Hannah

They were right. Heavy rain and blustery winds of > 40 mph ! Perhaps not the best place to moor – on an open landscape, on a vast open expanse of water – Napoleonic weather = we’re all gettin Blown-apart (geddit?). Serendipitously, there’s a superb farm shop back at the Great Haywood junction, so Steven strolled off, all togged up in his Gill Ocean sailing rig and a big bag to glean some goodies from the shop – 3 sorts of black pudding (one in fact a white pudding), bread from their bakery and dry cured, double smoked bacon plus local honey and other “essentials”. I was chatting to a lady from the boat “Old English” who keeps bees and has her own honey – might be worth a visit later. There is a small glimmer of sushine, so the batteries make get some comfort.

Nice day for it

Day 22 – Pun Day

Well, the forecast gets worse. Rain later, then gales on Saturday with almost constant rain. Time to move and move early (for us) – off by 0820! No time to shave or eat (and that’s just Viv 🙂 ). Beautiful morning and this first stretch of the T&M is wonderful – I saw our first Kingfisher – a flash of brilliant blue and then he was gone. Pun Day? Well, we went thru Armitage and Rugeley – can’t say we’re hugeley Rugeley fans, then our final destination was Tixall Wide, a lovely wide expanse, probably made to give the landed gentry a better view but for us, it Tixall the boxes!!

Oh, and Viv reminded me there was a third Pun. Our compatriots for the day were on a boat called Paradigm. They were occupying the water point at Armitage but they were about to leave so I called out, come on Paradigm, Shift. Well, I thought it funny.

It Rained

It rained as promised but only after we had moored up, Camelot weather indeed. The Mucky Duck (Swan Inn) was only a few hundred yards behind us, so that was lunch sorted. The sun kept coming out again as per the song:

It was just a garden in the rain – and then the sun came out again . .

A much nicer pub all round (I know two pubs in two days, what will people think?! But then we haven’t eaten out at all on this trip, so catching up. Oink). I often write TripAdvisor reviews – I think I’m a senior reviewer with over 75,000 views of my reviews and level 21 restaurant reviewer – so watch out! To be honest, I tend to only give positive reviews, unless something is really dire. It is quite a magnet for canal users, being at Fradley junction:

Beers weren’t that great – all Everards but they did have Thatcher’s Gold and Viv had Purity Longhorn (keg and £2.30 for a half!). But the lasagne was terrific – a good homemade portion with seperate bowls of chips, salad (with a dressing and all the seeds removed from the tomatoes and cucumber, very restauranty?) and garlic bread. Good value at £9.95.

Today’s quiz and to test if you’ve been paying attention. We are at the red arrow and plan to get to the yellow arrow but which way?
Final spot – Viv & Toby peeking out. Just above Shade House lock, now on the Trent & Mersey canal.
Poor Toby – getting on a bit. Nice picture of the cleaned TV screen – usually covered in brown spots – thanks Toby.
A break in the rain . . . time for a ball game

Some sunset pix . .

Wonderfully calm & clear after the rain – would make one of those “inspirational” posters?

On the Move

We had a nice selection of photos today & yesterday – as we chugged from the bottom of the Atherstone flight round to Tamworth and the Glascote flight of locks. But Skipper will insist on selecting ALL and then CUTting the images rather than COPYing them from the camera chip to the laptop and he lost em all, gone, into the cyber void. So just a few from late today. Thursday 24th April.

We picked up water at Grendon Wharf then chugged on towards Tamworth on St George’s Day (used to be St Edmund – our thanks to Stephanie on Raven for that info). Thru Polesworth and then down the two locks at Glascote, round the corner and moor up just past the aqueduct over the river Tame see – 2017’s cruise, exactly the same route & mooring place! Steve hurtled off on his Bickerton Bike – one of the best things we’ve ever bought for the boat. Having had a puncture on Sunday (fully repaired with a puncture kit – thanks JH for that), he was determined to head off to Halfords to see if could find a remedy – either some Kevlar reinforced tyres or goo to go inside. It was a trip of some miles to the wonderful (?) Ventura retail park, yep, don’t’ we love em but he returned with bike stuff and a wee shop from Sainsbury’s. Not an amazing mooring and about as far as you could get from Tamworth. We also discovered that Fazeley had lots of shops and settled down for fish n chips for two (small portions at £9.80 for 2).
Rain was forecast for Thursday, p.m., so we got going earlish, 0845. Pausing briefly after 20 mins, for Steve to yet again cycle to Sainsbury’s – as this is the closest point at Sutton Road bridge and they have put moring rings in here too. The Admiral required chocolate! Above is the bridge too far for today – No 85. For pix of the route, you’ll have to follow the link in the paragraph above – through Hopwas & Whittington – very pretty if a bit narrow & shallow at times
Moored just along from this marina and a short walk from the Plough, where we had a marvellous lunch (£13.95 for two courses). Steve had whitebait followed by Tom’s S&K pie whilst Viv had chicken parmigiana followed by affogato. All washed down with their excellent beers (Backyard brewery Blonde, Velo and Landlord). We did sit outside but it started to spit with rain and later on it really chucked it down but by then the crew of Adagio were all snoozing inside. More rain to come over the next few days.

So where are we? Day 20 so far. We are moored just past the entrance of the Lichfield canal – under restoration. This will link up with the Birmingham canal navigations.

Staying put for five nights

So, the forecast was spot on – I use the Met Office 5 day forecast. Normally quite good and I think they change it around 0900, when they get to the office and kick the computer I guess. We generally stay put on high days & holidays – toooo many boats and cyclists and walkers etc. We’re old & wise enough to let em all go by. It also means we don’t have to run the engine – no, not once, in all the five days. The 400W of solar power kept us all topped up, despite watching TV and showing some DVDs…

Short video of why we don’t get going when the sun shines . . .
Someone left the paddles slightly open on the bottom lock and caused the pound above to drop a couple of feet!
Here’s the base station for the weather station – note the inside/outside temperatures! It also shows the UV (factor 6) and 802 W/m2 – gives me an indication what we should be harvesting.
And here’s Viv’s little friends! Normally heard, rather than seen – dabbling at our boat, around 0500 in the morning!! We have a huge bag of duck food and Viv feeds them, often. I’m sure they follow us along the canal.
And now sleeping it all off!!
Another hot day and a good sunset. Such a still scene.
Our old doilies are looking a bit tired. They get snagged on the clasp and we keep bleaching/washing them but Viv got it into her head “I can make those!”. So off to the craft shop in Atherstone – one crochet hook and a few bundles of cotton later. I think each one takes 150m of cotton!
And here’s one Viv made earlier. Neat
Not quite a David Attenborough but I’m spotting lots of wildlife along the canal and in the the small sections of woodland – seen lots of butterflies: orange tip, common blue (above?), speckled wood, peacock a small tortoiseshell. I also saw a Jay in the woods.
And here’s the happy stitcher – 2nd one on the go. Keeps her quiet – as would a Margarita!

But I don’t like Spam

Yeah, I opened up the option for comments and all I get is Spam! So, I’ll just go ahead and close them again. The email address is on the main page, should you really want to contact us.

Days 15-17

We decided to move the boat down the two remaining locks and get away from the prospect of listing again. CRT know there’s a problem with the leaky locks but they have to prioritise their work and I guess this one is way down the list. We enjoyed our pint in the New Swan (Church End’s Goats Milk, £3.30 and it’s a dog friendly place) and Viv got her crochet kit. Poor Toby was trekked around the shops but got his reward in a swim in the river Anker, close to the new mooring. The forecast was spot on and in fact the boat recorded 30.9 degrees – might have been influenced by the hot roof but it was Scorchio!

The levels had remained low all day, so we moved down through locks 10 & 11.
Toby found his “Flubber”, the floating toy
And had a brief splash about – chance to cool down
Final spot – good views – lots of solar, no one else about and plenty of water
Time for the Naked Chef (?!) to get about his business and cook up his signature dish – Paella. With smoked haddock, cod, salmon and prawns. Using Paellero (well the Spanish use this stuff – it’s a sachet containing all the ingredients you need – turmeric, saffron, cinnamon etc). A prawn cocktail to start with cherry fruits in jelly and sauce anglais (i.e. custard!) to finish. All washed down with a nice bottle of Puglia. Hard times eh?
It got pretty hot today and we were rewarded with a decent sunset too. This’ll do us here for a few days – rains due next week (but only in the afternoons!)
Here’s the short video of that leaky lock gate – No 10

Day 14 – All Fixed – Onwards

Today is the day. Lee from Cox Autos is due this morning to install the fixed alternator & control box. It did look nice and shiny – the stator all rewound. It’s been a trying time but by lunchtime we were off – our dues paid to Springwood Haven (3x £10/night plus £20 for the pump out) and our goodbyes said to a few of the inmates – still there for their solar installations. (Del & Ali on Derwent6 and Simon & Carol on Kestrel). Plus Stuart on Aecern, who was setting off . . . heading North! All the best. We were bound for Atherstone, some shopping after lock 6 and then a quiet mooring for Easter. After lock 9.

A man alone with his thoughts and his pipe (and a pink gin!)
Forecast is for some excellent sunny weather – days of 20+ degrees and full sunshine
Lee turns up on time and sets to putting all the gear back – first the control box – two wires for the a.c. output and three for the energising of the stator. Box all sealed and with a warranty for a year too. Thumbs up to Cox Autos.
including the shiny refurbished alternator – stator coil rewound, relaminated, new brushes, new external wiring and painted
in situ – a tight fit and now all belts tightened
Note to boaters: these bits of kit need a service every 4 years. The brushes wear down, the alternator runs at 800 Volts, yep, that’s why there’s a control box to transform it down to 230. So look after your kit!
a happy Lee – invoice paid!
and away we go . . . the upper Coventry canal is quite scenic
a mightily relieved skipper – maybe just a bit happy? Maybe? Just a bit?
Yes, you meet em all on the canal . . . so where are these Alpacas?
Ah, there’s one! We have a Karma Llama on board . . .
Hmm. Them again.
Time for bluebells
and frollicking horses
then it’s the 11 locks at Atherstone – doing just 5 then shop, then 4 more until we stop
Viv opts to drive and Steve winds
always with lots of cheerful help from the volunteers
Another one for Lucia – bridge 42
star of the day – Viv!
Are we watching Viv’s effortless driving or the dogs?
After Steve shops at the local Co-op, just a few hundred yards from the canal – we swop over and Viv does the winding…. lock 9 then stop, a good rural spot and still within walking distance of the town. A very long day but the end of the frustration of boat failures . . . for now!
The final resting place photo
One of our favourite sites to moor
We locked up and went back into town – for some Church End beer and for Viv to get some crochet stuff to make some doilies for the windows plus restock our liquor cupboard, getting low on gin, whisky and wine, which won’t do.
However, by the morning we had a slight list – the pound down by a foot! A leaky lock ahead.
Listing to port? Hence the phrase, rolling out of bed . . .

Days 11 > In for repairs

So, Monday morning and at 0830 we chug the 100 yds along to the marina to let Cox Autos come and take out the Travel power to test & repair.

Lee turned up farly sharpish and in under an hour had the kit off and returned to base to run the tests. Some time later we had the dreaded phone call . . . there’s two problems a module duff on the control panel and the stator in the alternator is faulty . . totals £664 with VAT! Time the saw the arm & a leg off then?

So marooned here until Thursday when hopefully we can be on our way again, with a fully refurbished generator plus a year’s guarantee.

What else is lining up to go wrong? Still, count ourselves lucky that we are in the right place – a cosy, friendly marina with electricity and the generator specialists just 5 miles away.

A circular walk on Sunday
Across the fields of oil seed rape
Toby enjoyed a different walk
Back on the canal and a bit of heritage – how many phone lines did this telegraph pole support? And why so many?
Ah, the bothersome Travel Power control panel
And the big alternator
And here’s Adagio, nestled in amongst the boats – home for four days.
View from the bank above

Days 9 & 10 – Le Weekend

Chance for the glumness to subside? Moored up near bridge 27 on the Coventry. A quiet weekend, not moving at all. Lots of sunshine – the solar panels doing their job and taking the batteries to 100%. Viv cleaned all the windows & Steve polished some of the boat. Visited the marina to see about Monday – saw Kevin (the Victron guy – who helped to install the batteries last year). Seems they are going to be very busy next week, so Cox’s will have to come out & remove the gear themselves – suits me.

I bought the descaler – Leescale (£23!!) but it is designed for the purpose of descaling toilets so, job done(!). Still feeling extremely depressed but I guess this is a shakedown week and it’s all about getting things sorted. The forecast for Easter is 18 degrees! About double what it is today. So that looks good.

A couple of boats moored here – one called Chloe – rings a bell and so it should as we met Steve on his boat on the Ashby last Summer. He even came round for tea!

Took some more pix . .

Saturday night – time for tapas & Cava
Sunday morning stroll up the hill – taking photos of the boat – middle picture? Then zoomed in:

20x zoom
Chloe too, although I heard Steve say he wanted to rename it Voyager 3
Fields of oil seed rape plus a Virgin train
The weather station – I’ve made a rod for my own back with this device. Always having to put it back up when moored – having to find which way is north and then the base station won’t talk to the computer . . . a pain but it is a useful hobby – see
A good buy these solar panels – they have more than paid for themselves – we reckon, on the back of an envelope, that they would have to generate 32,000Ah to balance their cost when compared to running the engine. Well, we’re over 35,000Ah now and going strong. A good installation from Onboard Solar, by Tim Davies.
A neighbour – two boats in fact – the wee one at the bow was a rowing boat on the Thames. Now rescued and converted. It has a 5 hp engine and is very useful for a run to the shops as you can turn it around quite easily.
And their dog . . . Dill