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!

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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.