Sunday, September 08, 2019

Back to Brinklow marina

Sunday 8th September

Graham was up and at-em before Brenda had woken up. A cuppa on the side prompted consciousness just as Jannock arrived at 'plum central'.

Scrumping commenced with lovely golden plums as our prize. It's not the most convenient place, plums, blind bridge, shallow sides and a boatyard just the other side of the bridge, so of course, there appeared a posh boat in the crumple zone. He had a bow thruster but all it seemed to do was make his boat swivel, & not neccessarily in a useful direction. With Jannock firmly aground now, he managed to get off and away. Once the harvest was complete, Graham had to fetch the long pole to push Jannock back into the channel and away. Brenda was more concerned that the approaching willow would sweep all her precious plums off the roof, luckily that was avoided.

We arrived back at Brinklow in what was the first real Autumnal morning. The air was chill, the sun high and the sky a wonderful bright cloudless blue.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

A good Indian restaurant at Hillmorton

Saturday 7/9/19  -  sorry no photos.

We drove to Willoughby wharf where Graham had left Jannock on Thursday.
Before we had time to load, untie and set off nb Grace with Terry and Christine aboard came under the bridge so they hove too and we started the day with a cuppa and a chat.

At Hillmorton top lock the back pumps were working very hard which made getting Jannock into a waiting position very difficult. Word came back from the locks to change to the offside as the towpath side lock was not in use.
The water level was very low in the next pound and steering was difficult. Word came back to change to towpath side as the paddle had dropped off a bottom gate in the next offside lock so that was now out of use.

Everyone had been avoiding the towpath side lock due to the hazard tape all around it but apparently that was only to indicate that the lock walkway was broken so it was still useable. Whilst trying to manouvre Jannock across the low level pound to the towpath side, the boat behind (with the help of his bow thruster) managed to close the gap that Brenda was trying to get Jannock into. She gave up and just bobbed about in the middle until it was our turn to go down.

Only one lock working on the bottom pair as well so the chaos continued - lets hope Hillmorton gets some much needed attention during the winter stoppages. No hops to harvest here this year either :^(

Once through the flight we moored up on the visitor moorings ready to try the Indina restaurant, Exotica Bengal Quisine, in Hillmorton tonight - we have smelt their cooking so often during our walks around the village that tonight's the night!

We went in at 6:30 and it was busy already, diners & takeaway meals. Our meal was tasty and then some, served by cheerful efficient staff. We had brought our own drinks as the restaurant does not serve alcoholic beverages. Brenda felt too full for dessert so while Graham ordered an Ice-cream confection, she decided to steer clear of the Nutella Paratha and ordered a mango lassi. What she hadn't realised that her 'dessert' was served by the pint. With full tummies we wandered back to Jannock as dusk took over. A 15 minute walk from the bottom lock, doggy bags seem routine due to portion sizes so if you can't finish the meal, just ask!

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Solo boating to Willoughby wharf.

Thursday 5th September 2019

With all work completed, the dry dock was refilled on Thursday morning and Jannock reversed out looking splendid in the daylight.

I reversed down through Braunston bottom lock and then reversed all the way to the second Braunston marina entrance to wind. During this manouvre the stern went hard aground just before the entrance and I had to be towed off by a passing widebeam.


Once winded, I set off through Braunston looking for a mmooring for a couple of days but there were no spaces available to I had to single hand to Willoughby wharf before I could find somewhere suitable to moor up. It was far too windy to consider taking Jannock back through Hillmorton locks on my own so that would have to wait until our next trip.

I returned to Braunston on the Di Blasi and fetched the car to unload all my washing etc. before locking up and heading home for a nice soak in the bath. It was great having hot water in the dry dock due to now having an immersion heater in the new hot water tank but you cant beat a soak in a bath the relieve those aches and pains gained doing blacking yourself.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Jannock’s 10 top tips for DIY blacking #1

Remember - although its good to experience everything at least once you can always pay someone else to do it

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Jannock’s 10 top tips for DIY blacking #2

Don't spend time trying to work out who was responsible for the evidence of rapid deceleration - its designed take the occasional knock.

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Jannock’s 10 top tips for DIY blacking #3

Say hello to Mr Rudder and Mr Propeller while you are down here - you don't get to see them this close very often.

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Jannock’s 10 top tips for DIY blacking #4

Dont forget to extend your waste water outlets - otherwise that nice cup of tea or relaxing bath can ruin hours of work.

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Jannock’s 10 top tips for DIY blacking #5

Try not to get an ‘ear worm’ whilst working- ‘paint it black’ by the Stones is driving me crazy.
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Jannock’s 10 top tips for DIY blacking #6

At the end of the day don't forget to take the white spirit in the bath with you.

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Jannock’s 10 top tips for DIY blacking #7

Choose a nice indoor location with good lighting - it can increase the length of you working day.

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Jannock’s 10 top tips for DIY blacking #8

Try and wear lightweight waterproof footwear as you have to keep clambering over these carrying paint and roller etc. Heavy duty wellies are a mistake.

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Jannock’s 10 top tips for DIY blacking #9

Pressure washing is going to get messy so wear something suitably waterproof.

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Jannock’s 10 top tips for DIY blacking #10

Wear old clothes that can be thrown away. Brenda said 90% of my wardrobe were suitable.

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Monday, September 02, 2019

And into Braunston Dry Dock

Monday 2nd September 2019

Graham was crewing solo and was up at at-em at 07:00 leaving his overnight mooring at Lower Shuckborough to arrive at Braunston bottom lock for 09:00.

The original plan was to reverse up through the bottom lock to enter the dry dock forwards but that was foiled because there was no room to turn around due to boats being moored in the way.


With Jannock in the dry dock and her bottom pressure washed off by 12:00, the car was fetched from Lower Shuckborough after lunch before the paintwork repairs started whilst the bottom dried.

The next 3 days were spent either putting another coat of blacking on below the gunnels or touching up the paintwork on and above.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Farewell Blue Lias

Sunday 1st September 2019

After a fun weekend we set off on late Sunday afternoon towards Braunston. It was a real pleasure to meet up with so many special friends that we rarely see these days - mostly on the internet - not the same as a handshake, a smile, a hug.

Dawn and Sean were married last week, but agreed that they should be properly wed in canal tradition. So before lunch Steve, our club Commode d'or officiated, Dawn wore a boat woman's bonnet and carried a bouquet, Sean sported a top hat and together they jumped over a broom to much cheering and clapping. It was wonderful to see so many lit up and smiling faces, their friends.


We had to ascend Stocton and Calcutt locks on Sunday afternoon in order to meet our drydock appoinment. we were very lucky that a number of our fellow Cutweb members volunteered to work us and nb Peddler rapidly up Stockton to get a good start. We also shared Calcutt with Dave on Peddler before parting at Napton junction.

We moored for the night at Lower Shuckbrough where Graham had positioned our car early this morning.  Jannock and Gaham are going into Braunston bottom lock dry dock tomorrow morning, so I'm off home as there is not much that I can do to help.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Blue Lias for the Cutweb rally.

Friday 30th August 2019

  A quick ascent of two locks and onto the Blue Lias moorings without time to take any pictures.

It's Cutweb's 20th Anniversary get together - shame that only 5 boats & 2 campers could attend for the full weekend although Sunday will be very busy with day visitors coming for lunch.

Once we had moored up and the other boats had arrived, we convinced the crew of nb Harnser to talk a walk up the Stockton lock flight with us to see if there were any ripe blackberries and plums. We managed to harvest loads and so Brenda spent an hour or so cooking up those that we found - yum!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

A short day moving towards Blue Lias

Tuesday 27th August

A day to move Jannock nearer the Blue Lias ready for the Cutweb rally occuring at the end of the month. Mostly locks today! Luckily nearly all were in our favour with plenty of northbound boats coming the other way. We caught up the boat ahead of us and shared the last four locks with them.
We both pulled into Bascote wharf to fill with water. The tap was so slow that we managed to swap life stories with the other crew as well as getting our lunch before our water tank was full. We then moved onto the moorings just before Cuttle bridge to leave Jannock ready for next weekend.

Monday, August 12, 2019

The descent of Hatton

Monday 12th August

We set of from Lapworth in diminishing sunshine, Hatton flight was the challenge for today. As we approached Shrewley tunnel we watched two walkers progress being severely impeded by the biggest flock of ducks we have ever seen on a towpath. On the other side of the canal was another flock, all in the water, heading towards the towpath side. Obviously a mega-flock, they were all youngsters in their first adult plumage. More ducks than Waitrose!

 IMG_4324       IMG_4325

As we entered the top lock at Hatton a dog walker was telling her companion that this was the last of the flight. She smiled and asked us "how many of these locks have you done today?" "None, I answered", "why's that then?" she enquired. I tried very hard not to be sarcastic and just said "this is the first one of the flight". "Oh yes" she agreed - ho hum!

The Hatton cafe is looking resplendant, hanging baskets all blooming. It's a shame that vandals chose to trash all their lovely bedding plants the other night. Gits! Lets hope they were captured on CCTV.

Volunteer Ron was working today - a locksmurf! - thanks Ron. John (with his bike) took over from Ron and stayed with us for the whole flight. At the point the pounds started lengthening he announced that he was going for his lunch but would be back. We pulled over and had our lunch as well. John arrived back just as we were entering the next lock after our lunch. Thanks loads John, you helped for the whole flight.

As we were leaving Leamington spa we met many on-coming hire boats - usually at bridge holes. The novices manouvred well considering the bends and shallows. I spotted what looked like a Wyvern shipping boat with a huge RAF ensign fluttering on the front. I chivvied up through the bridge and then slowed as he was moving across the cut. It seems it's not a hireboat but now a live aboard, so the skipper should know better. He yelled at us for not hurrying up through the bridge to get out of HIS way as his boat doesn't steer very well when going slow. His beer can fluttered about as much as his ensign. Perhaps he should become a little more skilled and less gobby, and not bring the RAF into disrepute with his flag.

Funnily enough, the Trafalgar, the Royal Navy's own narrowboat wasn't far behind. What a cheery and polite bunch they were (as always). We moored up at Radford Semele fourteen day moorings and Graham fetched the car from Lapworth. The ‘no knead’ bread that Brenda made yesterday was really good for our lunch today.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

A day off from boating

A day off today - due to rotten weather.

We went by car to Earlswood reservoirs and had a nice walk. We had planned to visit Baddesley Clinton but when we arrived there even the overflow car park was full up with no spaces what so ever, it was puddletown and heaving. We left immediately and went in search of a quieter location - less history, house and hassle but very nice.

Another successful no-knead bread made today. Back to Lapworth and on the boat by 5pm for dinner.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Wot no water?

After a stormy night Graham set us off towards the Mailbox to fill our water tank and dispose of our rubbish. Round the corner and head towards the water point but the IMG_4321strong wind had other ideas and pushed Jannock across the canal away from the mooring bollards – so, no point in trying to recover that manouvre so we continued on towards Edgbaston instead – we can get a water fill later.

At the University some enterprising individuals have added to the collection of innovative boats. The Hydrogen powered boat is still at its usual mooring, we hope its being used as a floating classroom as the brambles growing through the cable trunking on the roof tell that it hasnt needed any Hydrogen for a while. The Pod boats are the shiney new interesting ones. Todays weather suggestsIMG_4323 that wind and waves are also worth a look  ;^)

At 10:00 Graham pulled onto the Bourneville moorings for a change of clothes, which included proper waterproofs and then we were off again. At Kings Norton we turned round the exceeding tight turn and through the gillotine lock onto the North stratford canal.

As we approached the top of Lapworth flight the weather improved all except the stron sideways gusts of wind which made moving into the next lock very difficult. Hidden in the wall alongside the top lock we IMG_1507found a painted stone which we’ll have to move to another towpath location on the canal.

Towards the bottom we found ourselves following another boat who had pulled out from visiting the cafe but they were experienced and did back set some locks for us – unfortunately we didnt get chance to thank them properly as they went down towards Stratford.

We stopped below lock 18 to fill our water tank and Brenda walked the rubbish down to the skips in the CaRT yard before continuing through 19 and 20 to moor for the night in the GU Link. We also took the opportunity of using the shower in the sani-station instead of the one on the boat – it’s nice to have some elbow room.

We were impressed by the skills of the steerer of a Viking afloat hireboat who managed to reverse his boat through the narrows and past us to moor infront of us – very well done and didn’t touch any of the craft moored on either side of the canal.

Friday, August 09, 2019

A whole day in Birmingham

GasStHaving taken account of the weather forecast and engineering dept’s needs we decided to stay put and walk into ‘town’ to visit the markets. Graham got the switch he needed as well as a spare hi-viz waistcoat for motorcycling. Onto food - £4.50p purchased two large punnets of strawberries, three small mangoes, two avacados, four giant apples and two pears.IMG_4320

The cheese stall sold us chilli-cheddar – a huge lump for £1 and a similar lump of apricot Wensleydale for the same price. So far so good – then I spotted pale green cheese with brown bits in it. It seems that mint-choc-chip stilton exists. Eeee-BrumRoadworksyew. Did I want to try a bit? No! Of course I did and . . . . . of course I bought some.

Lunch started as a sit down cuppa but we added roast pork/roast beef sarnies with all the trimmings – door stops plus two teas and change from a tenner. Then back to the boat so Graham could do jobs.BrumWater1

I went for a walk through Symphony hall to Paradise square to find the area one big building site. They do have pountains that the children were enjoying playing in and the Town hall was covered in scaffolding and plastic sheeting.


Thursday, August 08, 2019

On into Birmingham

We set off at 9:20am and retraced our route back through Gosty Hill tunnel and IMG_4303Windmill End junction where this time we turned right into Netherton tunnel. Quite a busy place because we met two on-coming boats, the second of which had two headlamps both pointed straight into our eyes so that we were unable to see properly to steer past them. We certainly didn’t make out the oncoming walkers on both towpaths until we were upon them.
The first pair, a man and a child, seemed all kitted out for their (nearly) two mile walk in the dark. High viz jackets, head torches and a rucksack – probably full of fizzy pop and fish paste sandwiches (oh IMG_4304no – that’s the famous five!) What they lacked were wellies or waders as the towpath was flooded further into the tunnel. We warned them of deep puddles and uneven surfaces – keep safe!
Then an elderly gent appeared out of the gloom wearing beige slacks and a cream shirt, carrying a 1/2 candle power torch. We tried to warn him about the flooded towpath but were not sure he heard us as we got no response. Lets hope that he doesn’t fall over in a deep puddle and that he told someone where he was going.
At Dudley port junction we turned right towards Birmingham but then turned right again at Albion junction to climb the three Brades locks to get onto the Old Mainline as Graham prefers that to staying on the boring new Mainline.
Whilst looking for blackberries as we approached the bottom lock Brenda spotted a TempleBradesHilllovely building beyond the hedge and trees alongside the canal. It turned out to be the Shri Venkates (Balaji) temple but we couldn’t get a better view than this from the canal. Graham managed to harvest a few very nice plump blackberries from alongside the middle lock and so we had them inside a split custard doughnut – yummy!
Once on the Old Mainline we found ourselves amongst the scaffolding, plant and machinery that is being used to renovate the raised section of the M5 motorway. All the way along here are signs that state “ do not moor boats against the scaffolding “ however we laughed out loud when we spotted that one sign had been vandalised to read “do not moor GOATS against the scaffolding” – excellent.
M5WorksWe came into central Birmingham via the Soho and Icknield loops. Part way round the former we could hear trumpet type music and assumed there was a concert or party on locally. Through the next bridge we happened across the said musician and his yound boy walking along the towpath with Dad practicing his trumept as they walked - excellent!. We started to moor up opposite the NIA but the building noises coming from within the car parks encouraged us to move round to the Oozels St loop for a quieter night. Near the CaRT yard on the Icknield loop we spotted yet another lovely religious building ThaiTemplewhich we decided was more Thai than Indian – Google told us that it was the Birmingham Buddist Vihara temple.
Once tied up raham went down the weedhatch to investigate what was around our prop and causing us hassle with going in forwards and reverse – it turned out to be a Cagoule! Best quality rip-stop nylon complete with heavy duty zips, toggles and a hood. It took his trusty serated carving knife to get it off the prop. Whilst doing that one of the security guards stopped for a chat so we know we’ll be safe here tonight.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Merry Hill and Hawne Basin

Up the Delph flight with no problems as an early riser had come down and set all the locks in our favour. Once we were out the top we continued to Merry hill where we IMG_4287moored outside the shopping centre.

Brenda set off to have a look around and found it to be a much larger place than the last time Jannock passed. The layout seemed designed to confuse and disorientate the shopper. Despite Brenda’s obvious need for therapy it seems that retail is the not the one. Shame that the huge Asda is at the very far end and not near the canal like the old Sainsburys used to be.

Graham stayed aboard Jannock and did useful technical things (as well as having a shower ;^) We had lunch and then set off into the sunlight for a pleasant afternoon’s cruise. Along to Blowers Green lock where Graham dumped our rubbish at the sani-station located in the old pumping station. Then round past Lodge Farm reservoir where we could look down on Birmingham from the top of the ridge. Just after this we found ourselves being observed by a couple of goats on the steep slopes alongside the canal.

Graffiti                 GraffitiDetail

At Windmill End junction we decided to turn right and continue on the Dudley No. 2 canal all the way down to Hawne Basin. There are interesting scultures along the towpath on this canal and we really liked the ‘Graffiti Artist’ S&LPlaquewho was supposedly painting ‘Toll Man was here’ on the side of the old Toll collectors house – shame modern yoof has also graffiti’d there.

Along this canal old industrial areas have been replaced by new housing estates although the industry returns before Gosty Hill tunnel and continues on after. Immediately after the very low (in places) tunnel was the site of the old Stewart and Lloyds steel works which closed in 1967.

We reached Hawne basin after 6pm so just winded in the entrance and retraced our path back to the entrance where we moored for the night on the edge of an industrial estate.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Thirty three locks today

We set off just after 9am and cruised down to Bratch locks where we passed through with no delays and two ‘volockies’ assisting Graham. We’ve always got a ‘soft spot’ IMG_4274for these locks as we have a picture of them over the fireplace at our home. Today was the first time Jannock has ever passed through going South – all previous passages have been Northbound.

Then onto Greensforge with all but two locks in our favour. We stopped for water at reensforge, a very fast tap that was so close to our filler cap that Graham didn’t need the full hose reel, just the detachable end piece, in order to fill the tank. Beside the tap is the Greensforge IMG_4277memorial garden which was dissapointing. CaRT seem to have built it, and keep the grass trimmed, but there is no clue as to whom it remembers or why. Someone must have asked for the garden but no one seems to be gardening there.

When the tank was full, there was a hireboat coming up through Greensforge lock so we had an easy passage through that lock before the skies got very dark so we pulled over for lunch and were sat inside when the heavens opened. Then on through the nextIMG_4278 two locks to Stourton junction.

We ascended the four locks at Stourton, passing through the top lock which was where Jannock was nearly set alight many years ago when being used by Simon and then decided that as it was only 2:15pm we would press on and try to get to Black Delph to moor for the night. A friend, Terry, had mentioned that he would be celebrating his birthday in the Vine that evening and so Graham wanted to get there as well.

IMG_4280We started the sixteen Stourbridge locks at 3:30pm and had a good run up, with most being in our favour and only meeting one boat coming down. Luckily the rain kept away but it also wasn’t too warm. At one point we had a couple of small boys helping Graham with the lock gates and so we gave them a ride in the front of the boat as a reward. Once out the top lock we noticed that there was a tree down blocking the Fens branch at Leys junction so Graham tweeted CaRT to let them know.IMG_4281

We continued on hoping to moor immediately below Delph bottom lock. As we passed the visitor moorings at Farmers bridge, Graham smelt Fish and Chips and so suggested we get some for our evening meal. He stopped and reversed back onto the morrings and Brenda went to fetch tea. The chippie there is excellent. Their special was small cod and chips for £4. This came with a choice of mushy peas, beans, gravy or curry sauce. We had mushy peas and they were fresh made, not tinned, soaked marrowfat peas like yer gran used to make.IMG_4282

Packed in a cardboard box and a half minute from Jannock, there was no chance the crisp batter could steam soggy. Another ‘best ever’ award.

At Delph we could not find a suitable mooring for the night below the bottom lock so we passed up through and moored in the side pound adjacent to the lock.

Once washed and changed we walked the 8 minutes up the road to the Vine – the Bathams brewery tap (aka the Bull and Bladder) and met Terry to celebrate his birthday. An old fashioned pub and none the worse for that. No noisy distractions, just drinks, pleanty of chat and pies and rolls. As a change from peanuts they also did hot and spicy pretzels – very nice. A very enjoyable evening with a walk downhill back to the boat at 11pm.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Three locks to start the trip

As we arrived at Dimmingsdale there was some Police activity around a field just up from the bridge. Three cars were trying to surround the area. Graham said they need a helicopter just as G-POLC (or D - couldn't quite see) arrived and spent the next 20 minutes flying around trying to assist the people on the ground. We continued to unload all of our stuff from the car and stow it on the boat whilst all this was going on around us.

Once Jannock was tidy and ship shape we moved down three locks to Trysull so that we could moor for the night away from the busy road. Immediately below the third lock, in the pound above the Bratch we found a lovely quite peaceful mooring for the night.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

And so to Dimmingsdale bridge

We left Wheaton Aston and got a couple of breezy hours cruising in before the drizzle started. The bright spot, quite literally, was another sighting of a kingfisher. It was just sitting in a pool of sunshine on the end of a branch. We guess that the babies have fledged and the adults are tired and taking stock now.IMG_4270

We awarded this boat ‘the most neglected boat of our trip so far’ prize.

Just as we reached Autherley junction and our first lock of the day, the heavens opened, and Brenda had bread still in the oven – timing! She couldn’t work out why the loaves were taking so long to brown. As she put some falafel into the oven to warm for lunch she realised – no flame. The gas had run out, IMG_4272“Graham!” New gas cylinder switched on and the bread was baked OK.

We moored at Wightwick which enabled Graham to do a car shuffle whilst Brenda went to visit Wightwick manor again. Once he had returned to Jannock we continued on to Dimmingsdale bridge where we plan to leave the boat for 14 days whilst we return home.

Friday, July 19, 2019

oh boy! – did it rain!

Brenda fell asleep at half eight last night and was still asleep when Graham set off inIMG_4250 the pouring rain at nine this morning. Moored two boats in front of Jannock’s mooring was this little boat named ‘Spirit of Pheobe’ – Graham believes it used to be named ‘Sarnie’ and belonged to Orph Mabel.
The way through Woodseaves cutting is usually soggy but today it was a full blown bog – pedestrians would have a very hard time unless wearing waders. The ferns were magnificent however. IMG_4252We hope that our ‘land garden’ has had just a fraction of this rain.
Our old thermal mugs gave up after 15+ years service; the plastic just crumbled over time. We looked for replacements but the only half decent ones were over a tenner each and the thought of that going overboard in the breeze was a bit much. Morrisons had some at just over £3 each. Any good ? – Graham took out a hot cup of tea when he set off and then waited 30 minutes before drinking it. It was still very hot so we thoroughly recommend Morrisons thermal mugs.
IMG_4253A day boat passed us with the steerer wearing a tee-shirt and body warmer in the rain. He said that he’d expected better weather in July when they’d booked the boat. So, did he not check the weather forecast or even look out of the window before he set off today?
The Gnosal G-Fest is being held this weekend. Lots of traders and working boats were in evidence. I asked a moored boater what the ‘G’ in G-Fest stood for, he replied “Gnosal” -  Hmm, not so sure. Tried the Gnosal website, still no idea.
We spotted this magnificent garden opposite all the working boats gathered for the festival – what a exuberant whacky sight.
IMG_4259  IMG_4260
We had the pleasure of cruising slowly past two Kingfishers today, perched on IMG_4263branches in the offside bank, not more than a metre from us. Unfortunately attempts to photograph them were thwarted by needing our point and shoot camera on full zoom and so maximum shake.
We received two outage notices from CaRT about Wheaton Aston lock – it was out of use this morning and will be mended the first week in August. Therefore we continued on to pass through it before mooring for the night – just in case it breaks again and we’re stuck above it.
Once moored up Graham did an (overdue by 10 hours) engine oil and filter change before we had dinner. That should see us back to Brinklow before another is needed.