Climate Change? What Climate Change?

It was forecast and lo it did get Scorchio indeed. Records broken . . .34.7°C and nearly that inside the boat too! Bedroom was a sauna. All the boats around us stayed put. Wednesday night Steve went to the Anchor with Simon & Charlie – food OK, usual 40 minute wait for a burger & chips! Thursday was the hottest – and our 38th anniversary, so we stayed put and cooked a chicken madras curry with a diy trifle to follow and lots of gin & fresh limes (run out of tonic! Gasp!!). Our closest neighbour Matt joined us a drink (his boat is Contrazoom, interesting . . ). Not much sleep that night.

Simon, Charlie and Toby2 – with Simon standing on the gunwale, as Charlie is now slightly taller than his Dad!
The next day – we moved off at 0845 – a tad cooler and the open road beckons us
Yes, with reference to the title . . . records broken in just 7 months!
And ere we be . . . again. An historic site
Ah, poor Viv . . . hobbling along with her bad knee and twisted ankle. Current medical practice is to keep walking on these injured limbs . . . especially when . . .
. . . there’s a pub in sight! Here’s the famous Greyhound – time for the promised anniversary meal
Very friendly (note the bar staff!) and served very promptly – Purity “Bunny Hop”, followed by a pint of Thatcher’s Cheddar Valley. Viv had one of their famous pies (Chicken) and Steve had their beef rib on horseradish mash – yum.
final resting place – dog on towpath with one of his toys, as usual
Here for a day or two . . . maybe . . . stores getting low . . .

Scorchio – Staying Put

Good grief – temperatures nudging 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 C) are forecast – so we stayed put or rather, moved on round the corner under the trees – still gets a bit of sun (solar for 5 hrs). Our old mate, Simon on Empress plus son, Charlie turned up – so nice to see them again. On moving the boat, Viv found a hole to misplace her foot in & did a double act of wrenching a knee and twisting an ankle – “Bloody Boat!” Poor Viv. Maybe stay put for a bit longer?

Not normally a place we’d chose to moor but the boat does get so very hot. Even under the trees it still got beyond 30 degrees inside!
And here’s Simon’s Empress
And here’s the “Boy” as our good friend & neighbour Gail calls him – all a bit too hot!

Moving On – Grim Day

We stayed put for a few days, then moved up, just two locks, inbetween locks 9 & 10. Just for a change of view and to be 2/11 locks done. Last time we were here, at Easter, the pound kept dropping as the lock gates were leaky. This time it seemed OK – the next lock up was leaking, so that’s alright then. We think the whole network is getting worse – it’s creaking and what will become of it when the government money finally dries up?

An amazing sunset – with rain!

Saturday was a grim day. Viv set off for the town, to do some shopping on her own. Steve was to join her an hour or so later for luncheon in the Red Lion Hotel – they allow dogs in the courtyard, do good food and stock Goat’s Milk beer! Grim? Well, on walking past lock 8, there were police gathered round as a lady boater had fallen in . . . and hadn’t come out. They couldn’t lower the ground paddle . . . so that’s probably where she was – very sad. Lots of fire engines, ambulances and even the air ambulance arrived. I walked on. None of the CRT volunteers had be told, so I wandered up and told them the grim news.

I didn’t linger – the boat was called Liberty and the boaters were in their 70’s. Very sad.
The Red Lion was great, if the mood was a bit subdued. We didn’t feel like rushing back, past that scene again, so we moved round to the CAMRA famous pub, the Angel – Steve had a pint of Hairy Helmet (yes, really) and Viv, rather unusually, chose a medium cider. Toby was fed several biscuits and had his own bowl of water.
The pub had a few signs . . .
Not true, surely? Well, not yet . . . .
Quite a splendid place with six real ales and about 10 ciders. They also have a big collection of LPs or vinyl as they now call it.
That was Saturday – we listened to James Burke on the wireless, now 82 but recalling the exciting times of the Apollo missions where he was one of the presenters. Sunday morning and time to move . . up through the 9 remaining locks
Yes, we were Inside No 9!
Bit of a poignant moment as Viv crosses over the top of lock 8
Some flowers were left – we donated one of Viv’s roses
Boat still looks a bit shiny
Toby & his pig
Goodbye lock 8
Lots of helpers around today; both CRT volunteers and private boats who saw us coming and helped us through.
Viv gets to do the locks which always includes a good natter with the vollies
Less than 3 hours to Springwood Haven – a very familiar spot – remember we spent a week in the marina here on the way out, getting that alternator fixed.
Staying put for a few days whilst this heatwave passes thru. This was our second spot as the first one had some wasps nesting by the hatch!

Long Day

Seven hours – yes, a long day for us. Why? Because we were delayed at Glascote – a queue of 6 boats but wanted to reach Atherstone . . .

Viv drives for a few hours – very hot today
A work boat – making it a tad narrow
The canal from Fradley to Fazeley is quite pretty
I think the military firing range helps to keep this area quite rural
Yes, the red flags were flying . . .
The shady trees help cool us all down – not many would call the Coventry Canal at first, beautiful . . ?
Ah, Glascote – a bit of a queue, I think we are No6 – always a pinch point here – the bottom lock is notoriously slow to fill. So . . . an hour later . . we got thru. A brief lunch stop and a trip to the Co-op for more Stuff and then off, yes, let’s go on . . .
Steve gets thru – note the port side is still shiny!
Past Alvecote
Ah, the big farm with alpacas and these geese . . .
And there are the alpacas – they look freshly shawn
Lovely fields of poppies
Ah, you may spot a bit of deja vu – we were here at Easter, where we stayed put (it was a scorcher and Viv did her crochet work). After the long day we think we’ll stop for a bit.
I struggled through the weeds to get the photo from the other side!
Eleven locks, that’ll have to wait for another day . . .
Time to go shopping (twice on the bike) as well as fix a few chores . . .

14th July – Sport, beer & BBQ

Stephen & Lucia moved off early-ish, we waved them goodbye but would catch them up later at Fradley bridge. In fact we leapfrogged them at Rugeley when they stopped to visit Tesco. Just one lock, Wood End today plus the excitement of two very narrow stretches near Rugeley and Armitage.

The narrow, rocky bit – just room for one boat – luckily we followed a guy . . . so it must be clear!
Hmm, rocks!
Surprisingly quiet this Sunday morning – the Trent & Mersey looking good
Still following that same chap . . . past the Armitage Shanks factory
This doesn’t help the waistline but is rather nice
Final Stretch down to Fradley
Final resting spot – taken Monday. Sorry no pix of Sunday evening, when we were obviously having toooo much fun! A pint in the Swan followed by a MrD BBQ – with his fancy fan driven BBQ machine – producing excellent results – belly of pork strips plus Bratwurst & sausages. Lots of nibbles, a super Lucia salad and some quantity of Sicilian wine followed by either Zubrowka vodka or Navy strength gin! All this with the background of the British Grand Prix (British win & a record set!) plus probably one of the greatest cricket matches ever – the World Cup, going to a tie and a tie breaker! Well Done England and well done Mr D & Mrs D for a lovely evening. We got up to see them off on Monday morning, helping them through the two locks. Hopefully we’ll meet up again back in Yelvertoft.

Four’s Company with Two’s Company

A lovely morning’s cruise down through Great Haywood – just three little locks and moor at Wolseley Bridge to await the arrival of Stephen & Lucia on Twos Company.

Colwich lock and a fairly quiet cruise
We only had 2 hours to get to Wolseley bridge, so we were there about 11. Another hour later and . . “They’re here!”. They were doing the Leicester Ring but had spurred up the 4 – 5 hrs from Fradley Junction to meet up with us at bridge 70 – so very nice of them . . . just so we can all go to the Shimla Palace restaurant. They needed to turn their boat around, so they shanghaied me to help them do the 3 locks (twice!) . . .
Yes, they do hail from Syracusa
Bye Steve! See you in an hour or so.
Our final mooring spot – chairs out for cocktails at 1845 – time for a “Bitter Lady” – very nice
Here they are moored ahead of us.
It turned out to be a very nice evening
Speaks for itself
And there’s the mighty Trent – yes, Toby get his promised swim earlier on but he’ll have to be a good boy and stay on the boat tonight.
Here’s the Indian restaurant, Shimla Palace
And curiously, a Wine Loft, formed from the former bull pen, moved brick by brick from Bishton.
A veritable Aladdin’s Cave of wines, gins etc
And here’s the team after the splendid meal – having had their fill of Tawa’s, Achari’s and Naga dishes – highly recommended.

Stone to Ingestre

Our glorious chums, Stephen & Lucia, known by all as those Sicilians! Are back. And they’re out on their boat, Two’s Company, doing the Leicester Ring. We hope to coincide . . . somewhere and that somewhere is Wolseley Bridge (No 70) on the Trent & Mersey for the sole aim of dining together at the Shimla Indian restaurant. So we slip our moorings at 0845 and bimble a few hours to just beyond bridge 78 and adjacent to a rare nature reserve – an inland salt marsh.

We slip away . . . no one notices . . leaving the two lovely ladies on Lazy Days . .
Another M&S purchase (2 for a tenner) – got to keep the old girl sweet! 😉
One of those “awfully nice” hi-ziz a rind har
Some wild geraniums (meadow cranesbill?)
And some more wild flowers – wild sweet peas
You do meet some lovely folk on hire boats – here are some Netherlanders from Zeeland – yes, a new flag for me! Such grace, they all speak such excellent English… how’s your Dutch? I did say there’s a song from OMD but I don’t think it’s that Zeeland.
And after letting out the Zeelanders, in comes Steve
Three locks today, all well spaced out. Aston, Sandon and then Weston
There are some lovely bridges on the cut – such a lot of work went into these and probably by guys upside down for most of the day?
Um, as we used to say in Nottingham, “it looks black over Bill’s Mother”, luckily the rain really did go away . .
Final mooring point.
Oh, that restaurant notes to follow . . . Tripadvisor review to follow . . .


Perhaps, just perhaps, our favourite stop is the town of Stone. Decent, quiet and all so convenient moorings. Convenient for shops, water, refuse, pubs, shops, pubs . . . Chance for a good stop. A few days of rest and recuperation and beer. And a new shop – a mirage perhaps? No, it’s a real M&S foodhall, right by the canal. Yes, we’ll stop here for a bit of R&R.

You get a lot of wildlife on the canal
A view of the bar in the Plume – a good range of beers
And then, the open road . . . .
Meadowsweet . . used… to flavour mead and to strew on the floors, plus the first herb to give us aspirin, used to treat fevers . . and a lot more see
Going down the Measham locks
Some very sweet locks . . . Toby’s happy
Going down . . .
And welcome to Stone . . . the birthplace of the Trent & Mersey canal
the final locks down to Stone
Best moorings are past all the locks and then some . . .
And another welcome to Stone – the usual CRT overflowing waste bins
Ah, many a pound spent here – that M&S foodhall, just past the last lock
Centre of town
Quite a few more closed down shops and the Co-op has gone . . .
A photo of the rush hour . . reminds us of why we’re on our boat! I haven’t driven a car for over 3 months! Viv & dog wait patiently . . . I thought we were going to the pub?
Ah, our target for today, the Royal Exchange, a Titanic brewery pub. Not perhaps the best icon for boaters and I had a pint of Iceberg beer!
A great welcome. A great variety of beer – very dog friendly pub.
And a good slogan too . . . .

I almost enjoyed it

Sunday and time to move on. Six more locks – through Etruria, Stoke, Hem Heath and then Barlaston. The sun was now out.

This must have been quite a busy place 100 years ago. Westport, Longport, Middleport . The heart of the Potteries . . . Spode, Wedgewood, PortMeirion…
Middleport pottery is still functioning and producing, well, pots . .
And here are some . . .
The place is open 10-5 every day and has a good cafe
I wouldn’t call this area pretty but they do try – some nice animal murals . . .
And the best showing of poppies yet
The Stoke water park . . I can’t see these things and not think of the Not the Nine o’clock News sketch where they emptied into a sewage outlet . . .
More wildlife – Toby didn’t get to see this rabbit.
Lots of new signs . . .
Etruria Locks (19 feet – 3 locks) – Stoke locks (50 feet in total)
It felt deep. And wet.
Out for a Sunday morning stroll – must be the second or third batch??
Lots of pottery kilns (dis.)
And ancient mariners (almost dis.)
No, this area is def. not pretty but it’s not long to the more rural bits
And interesting names . . .
Ah, the big Stoke incinerator – def. designed by a man, eh?
A big reminder of the coal digging past – Great Fenton & Hem Heath collieries
The last lock of the day – Trentham (nearly 12 feet)
Final stopping place – Barlaston – why here – see below . . .
This a good stop as Neil Morrissey has his pub, the Plume of Feathers here. Lots of real ale (Pedigree, Black, Sheep, Jaipur, Plum Porter plus his own brews). The food wait was over an hour, well, it is a Sunday! Beer will do us.
And here’s the man himself – with his dog. Could explain why the pub is so dog friendly.
Link to the pub:

Steve has put his back out – must be all those 32 locks – so a day off tomorrow. And why the title? Well, some bits of our travels have been a bit stressful, hard work, wet etc. So today was, yes, almost enjoyable. 😉

Rode Heath to Church Lawton

We met a nice single-handed chap, called David, on Snowgoose. He was out of Venetian marina and was heading for the Harecastle tunnel. We’d helped him up through some of the locks – just setting paddles and opening gates etc. I suggested we repeat the same today, only we’d planned just to do the next six locks only, just around 2 and a bit hours away. So we all set off – up the Lawton locks, Hall’s Locks and Church Locks – it was quite warm!

And here’s the sweet mooring at Church Lawton, before bridge 135
It was quite a hot day – the matt grey roof does make the boat hot but it also dries clothes really fast! (Did you really take a photo of your pants & socks, Steven?)
I went for a stroll to see this interesting church
It looked rather unusual – the main building burned down in the 18C
Hence the new-ish, brick work
It has quite a modern interior – with signs of quite a vibrant congregation
Some handmade things for sale
And even refreshments!
A longer shot showing how rural this little spot is.

Saturday, 6th July. It was so quiet – boat movement wise – that we thought we’d move – it did rain and it was still spitting . . just the 6 remaining locks and the Harecastle tunnel to do. So we went. And it did rain. Quite a few locks were out of action plus we got stuck in No42! The gate wouldn’t fully open. So a bit of argy-bargy and we did get the boat in. No pix here, cos it was too wet. The canal was turning more orange as the water from the tunnel contains iron minerals. We got to the top and met up with Snowgoose again. And luckily, saw 4 boats ready to go in the tunnel – here you have to wait. The tunnel master allows six boats in at a time, then shuts the door. It’s a 40-45 minute transit – 2.7km or 1.5 miles!!! Anyway, in we went . . at least it wasn’t raining!

Yes, nearing the tunnel . . . the ochre water!
And out the other end – notice to boaters: good water point here (also a fast one at Red Bull services)
Longer shot showing Viv looking after the business end of the water hose. Plus the nice house that was for sale last time we came this way.
CRT blurb . .
And a pic of the original, Brindley built tunnel, which subsided – as you can tell!
Just ten minutes further on and it’s Westport Lake – a good spot to moor with a large bird lake (note Viv is brushing the goose poo off the towpath!) and a huge visitor centre, all very eco as they have a sedum roof with solar panels plus straw bales for insulation and a ground source heat pump underneath!
View from the boat . . . lake in the distance and yes, the sun is trying to peep out.
Those lovely geese . . .
The Eco visitor centre
Note to boaters – looks like good services (for boaters) underneath
The lake – a reclamation site – opened by Ted Heath 1971!
And Viv gets to finish her masterwork! Hurrah. Marvellous