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.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

25 locks and 11 miles today.

As Friday’s weather forecast is not as good as todays, we decided to try and pass through all the Audlem, Adderley and Tyrley locks so that we’d be left with more than one days lock free cruising should it decide to rain tomorrow.AudlumLocks
Once again we set off at 9am and the trip to Audlem bottom lock took almost an hour. We found ourselves in the queue behind two small boats but as they were sharing the single locks they made good progress. We followed them up the fifteen lock flight, passing a northbound boat coming the other way at all but one lock.
At lock 3, Graham purchased two scones from the ‘honesty box’ cake stall outside the lock cottage and then also purchased two pork pies from the stall at lock 1 (the top lock) During the one-mile cruise from the top of Audlem flight to Adderley locks we had lunch on the move which included devouring the two scones. we then ascended the next five locks still following the two small boats.
TyrleyWharfOn our approach to Market Drayton we moored at Victoria bridge (65) and then walked up the road to the Morrison supermarket at the top. Provisioning completed we then continued on into M.D. to stop at the sani-station and dispose of our rubbish. Then on to the Tyrley lock flight where the bywash outfalls at the bottom two locks were so fierce that we had to use the front rope to keep Jannock’s bows in line in order to enter the narrow lock.
Additionally, the top three locks of this flight seTyrleyWharf2em to suffer from top gates that refuse to remain closed when the lock is full. At the penultimate lock, Graham even walked back, closed the gate and let a little water out of the lock to make sure it stayed shut. By the time we were ascending the top lock it was open again.
Incidentally, the 3 bedroom house in the picture above is for sale, with mooring, for £390k.
We moored for the night, above the top lock on the 48 hour moorings, at 6:30 pm after a tiring day for both of us. Brenda photogaphed this wonderful bracket fungus on a tree stump in a CaRT workboat moored above the toplock.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sssshh–it’s a SECRET Nuclear bunker

We set off at 9am and cruised past this exceedingly cluttered boat into Nantwich. It RubbishBoatmust be an illness that makes people retain so much rubbish and not throw anything out. Even the back deck, under the cover was full of bags of stuff.

We stopped at Nantwich canal centre and refilled the diesel tank with 160 litres. I also checked through their stock of fan belts and managed to get another 1025 as a spare.

HorseStatueThe chap who served us diesel told us of a dreadful accident he had on his own boat when he’d only owned it for 3 days. He admits to not concentrting on the Wigan lock flight and breaking his leg very very badly as a result. The funny thing was that no-one could get to him to get him to hospital until they called . . . . mountain rescue . . . . in Wigan!

We then continued on through Hack Green locks to WorkingBoatmoor next to bridge 85 so that Graham could have access to the road for a car shuffle. He went and collected it from Middlewich and positioned it further down the Shroppie before returning to the boat just before the rain started.

MuffinsWhile he was shuffling, Brenda decided to get all boat-wifey and bake some cake. Lack of planning and relying on ‘historical’ supplies meant she had too little marg – muffins then (see Cut & Pastery). No tinned pineapple – nectarine muffins then. And then I remembered why I cook and bake less in my Italian Bompani boat oven. Unlike a British gas oven, it heats a metal plate in the base so that the hottest part of the oven is at the bottom. No doubt brilliant for Pizza but a good old british bun is almost toast before the top looks vaguely cooked. Does chocolate spread cure anaemia?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Complaints about hirers.

Last night, whilst we were moored up just after Faulkners bridge, we had a couple of Anglo-Welsh hire boats go past heading north. They slowed down nicely to passBeestonCastle Jannock and we decided that they must be a school group as there were a couple of adults and numerous teenagers on each boat.

A while later they returned, trailing another boat. They slowed down to pass us but soon caught up with the other boat again, which continued on at a snail’s pace, once past us. There was plenty of room and so the hire boats pulled out to overtake but rather than let them past, ‘snails pace’ pulled across to stop them. Then when they tried to pass on the other side he pulled back across to stop that manouvre as well.BeestonCastleSignalBox

This continued until they were out of our sight and we commented on how un-cooperative and daft the first boat had been.

This morning we set off at 10am, once the rain had stopped and the sun had come out, and started the long drag pass the continuous on-line moored boats between bridges 115 and 113 before starting our ascent of 6 locks to Calverley.

The pound immediately above Beeston Iron lock was very low due to the restriction of only one boat at a time to pass through whereas all others along here can cope with two boats. The pound level was drained everytime a pair of boats passed through.

BeingFollowedWhilst waiting for Bunbury staircase lock, Graham got chatting to the Anglo Welsh (AW) base staff who were repairing a wall at the lock landing. G. happened to mention that we’d seen their two hireboats having hassle with ‘snails pace’ the night before. They were most interested in our report on the issue as it would appear that a complaint had been made to AW H.Q. about them by a woman from ‘snails pace’ who didn’t supply their boat’s name and only knew that it was being steered by a guy called Mike. The complaint was about bad behavior and language and poor boating skills.

Graham was happy to give a statement to the opposite, expressing how well behaved they were when they had passed us whilst we were moored and how we had IMG_4219witnessed the poor behaviour of ‘snails pace’ when the hire boats had tried to pass it. As we were ascending Bunbury staircase the AW manager came over with his phone and handed it to Graham and the head mistress of the special needs school thanked him for providing the statement. Glad to be of service!

So, although we’ve heard otherwise in the past, we now know that Anglo Welsh do take complaints about their hirers seriously – this one had gone through their HQ and was being dealt with by the base when we accidentally got involved.

We left Bunbury lock and headed to Calveley sani-station where we filled with water and took the opportunity of both having a, post locks, shower in a large spacious shower room.

Once past Barbridge junction we moored for the night  near Vickers bridge (98). Whilst eating our evening meal out on the foredeck the same two AW hireboats passed us again, correctly slowing down to do so, so we made them aware of who we were and how, from what we had witnessed, the complaint was unfounded.

FrisbyDogAs we finished dinner, we heard a clunk and then what seemed like a ‘scrabbling on metal’ sound coming from the back of Jannock. A dog walker with a Labrador had accidentally thrown the dog’s frisbee onto Jannocks back deck and the dog had retrieved it. They appologised profusely as they passed. They were throwing the frisbee into the cut and the dog was jumping in the bring it back. They returned past later ‘sans frisbee’ as it apparently sank down near Hurleston Junction.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Hello Albion, Farewell Chester

Time to go, but not before we actually got to “The Albion” for a drink. It was worth it! TheAlbionTime stood still at WW1. Beer prices, obviously not. The beer was good. We needed a sandwich as the dont open until midday and we’d spent a while reprovisioning,  ‘doing’ Roman ruins, watching a group of young school children being taught legionaire tactics, and watching the river. The sandwiches wre fresh, with a salad on the side and very tasty. They had good old RomanChildrenfashioned grub on the meals menu as well. Just check the opening times if you want to visit an excellent establishment.

On our return to Jannock we prepared for the off – only to have the restaurant boat go past InsideAlbionand head for the locks so we had a cup of tea instead. A while later we set off just as another boat, Windrush, was heading up from the staircase lock end of town so we’d have someone to share with. We met the restaurant boat in the second lock – it appears that they pass through the first lock, then go up in the second and tie up in the lock to allow their passengers to get out to explore, have a smoke etc. before emptying the lock to come down again and heading back into town.

GuestLagerSteady progress found us completing the locks and heading through Waveney to moor up just past Faulkner’s bridge, hopefully for a quiet night, immediately before the tedium of passing the ‘longest linear moorings in the world’.

It would appear that this is where nb Windrush moors. It was their first cruise, in 18 months of boat ownership, with a duration of longer that 48 hours. Their report of their cruise to Ellesmere, and the weed they encountered en-route, made us glad we decided to turn round in Chester.


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Another city break for Jannock

After a leisurely breakfast we wandered into town for necessities – a cake, new IMGP5274sunglasses, a phone charging lead & selotape – the usual boat gubbins!

The afternoon was taken up with walking the city walls. We took every opportunity to divert our attention. There was a band concert at the bandstand alongside the river Dee so we wandered down. There were a lot of motorcycles there but BloodbikesGraham’s attention was taken by the ‘blood bikers’ stand.

After a chat and a sit down listening to the music it was back onto the city walls for the next bit. All the hospitality tents and bits and pieces were being taken down after the races yesterday at the race course.

Onward to the staircase locks for a look-see. We’re not planning to go down them this trip so we’d already turned round in Chester. As our circuit was nearly done, we went for a beer at the pied Bull ( with IMG_4193microbrewery ). It was consolation prize as 17 years ago we tried to visit the Albion for food and beer but were unable to partake. As we passed it today it was closed – they don’t open on Sundays Doh!

The last distraction during our 2 mile walk around the walls was watching a falcon being exercised in the IMG_4198cathederal falconry centre. We assume birds of prey are kept there to keep the pigeon population at a manageable level.

Supper was taken at the Gate of India, on City road, which is an Indian restaurant that Graham fondly remembers from work visits to Chester. It did not dent his memories – delicious.