Friday, 17 April 2015

New signwriting gets an admiring glance

Before setting off this morning Jan and I mounted our folding bicycles and made a tour of one of the lakes by Curdworth Bottom Lock. I'm glad Jan used her bike - it justifies the two bikes taking up space on board.

I rested the camera on a gate and managed to get this photo of the two of us. The ten seconds the timer gave me was only just long enough for me to dash to the bike and get my feet off the ground.

As we cycled back to the boat a Kate Boats hire boat was just leaving the lock. This was one of only three moving boats (apart from us) we saw all day.

As we came up the lock a mallard perched on a wheelie bin looked admiringly at our new signwriting.

The tail of Lock 6 of the Curdworth flight has a curious curve to it. I couldn't work out why.

The second moving boat was a CRT work boat tying up in the pound just above this. A new coping stone was being cut to size with an angle grinder.

The cut off bits are behind the gleaming white stone. The three workers disappeared as we came up the lock.

We stopped for the day just beyond Butler's Bridge where there are some bollards. The stretch above Minworth Top Lock to this point has been tarmaced to the coping, so this was the first opportunity to tie up for Tyburn House, where we enjoyed a two-for-£6.50 meal deal (steak and ale pie (with proper pastry), peas and chips and fish, peas and chips).

This is where we saw the third moving boat, Telemachus, on its way to Star City.

Now I wonder how much sleep we'll get tonight. We seem to be directly under the flight path to Birmingham Airport.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

On the move with a plan

We said our goodbyes to our friends at Fazeley this afternoon and set off on the next part of our 2015 cruise. We're heading towards Birmingham, so we're still on the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.

It has been another sunny day, not as warm as yesterday, but good spring weather nonetheless. This is Fisher's Mill Bridge.

The birds were twittering away, especially just before the winding hole at the foot of Curdworth Locks. We tied up just before the lock landing, ready for a cycle round the waterpark in the morning before starting the climb towards Birmingham.

The plan is this:
  • Birmingham, where I will knock off one of the only bits of the navigable BCN I haven't done - the Titford Canal. (I believe the only other part I haven't cruised - or should I say legged - is the Dudley Tunnel. One day ...)
  • Wolverhampton
  • Shroppie to Barbridge Junction
  • Middlewich Branch to Middlewich
  • T&M to Anderton Lift
  • River Weaver to Weston Point and back to the lift
  • T&M to Fradley (might squeeze in a visit to the Caldon Canal on the way)
  • Coventry Canal to Sutton Stop
  • Oxford Canal to Braunston
  • GU to Crick for the show, where we'll help at the BCF stand
Of course, things might change, but I feel happier now we have worked out a rough schedule.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Jubilee - signwritten at last!

Yes, today has been very exciting; at long last we have had our boat signwritten. We can remove our temporary "Jubilee" signs from the windows, as the boat's name is now emblazoned on each side in letters six-and-a-half inches high (not including shading).

Boat painter Dave Moore met us at 0800 and started work immediately. First job was to put some marks on the paintwork, then stick on some plastic tape.

In the bright sunshine Dave then painted the basic letters.

The sun eventually heated up the panel so much that we had to move to the shade provided by Tolson's Mill.

The problem was that the merging of the two colours used in the shading wouldn't have been possible if the colours had dried too quickly.

The last job on this side was to paint on the licence number. Dave asked me not to ask him to paint the CRT swan logo, which he dislikes, so I didn't!

And here is the finished article. Jubilee feels complete!

We are very pleased with it. It was a real treat having Dave Moore with us for the day, and he's done a super job.

Now we can REALLY go boating!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Postal voting from a boat - how is it going to work? And excitement ahead.

Jim's recent post on the joys of living in a marginal constituency reminds me that I don't quite know how I will be able to exercise my democratic right and vote in the forthcoming General Election.

We have applied for postal votes, a first for us, and asked that they be sent to our daughter's address, but how are they going to be forwarded to us? I think this will involve the poste restante system, but we've not used it before and don't know how it works. Is it a case of finding a post office where we happen to be, checking that they "do" poste restante and getting Ally to send the letters to the post office? And, presumably, we have to send the votes back to our electoral registration officer in time to be counted on 7th May.

This is our current mooring in Fazeley; we are the second boat up on the right. There are several BCF boats in the picture, crews from which attended the spring conference on Saturday; the boats are Kew, Maranatha, Chyandour, Jubilee, Essence, Thingvellir and Amy Em (the boat heading to the junction).

The junction cottage looks splendid (sorry my photo is slightly wonky).

Oh yes, something is due to happen tomorrow that is very exciting. I'll tell you more later!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

BCF Spring Conference, ducklings and curry

Jan has been putting in a huge amount of work over the last few weeks organising a "Spring Conference" for the Boaters' Christian Fellowship. This was held yesterday in St. Paul's Church, Fazeley. 56 BCF members attended, most having driven, with one who cycled through the rain from Edgbaston. Some, like us, had come by boat, mostly those who had been on the Easter Cruise a few days earlier. I expect there will shortly be a report on the day on the BCF website.

Jan addressing the conference
Afterwards 16 of us enjoyed a curry in the Ivory Tusk across the road. My food was excellent. A bonus is that, as the website and menus make clear, you can bring your own alcohol even though the restaurant is licensed.

On board Jubilee between the conference and the curry there was lots of discussion with Martin and Peter about solar panels, current meters and batteries. And this mummy duck with its brood of 16 ducklings swam past.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Visitors: boats and dinner guests

The boats came thick and fast during the day, BCF ones that is, arriving for the Spring Conference which Jan has organised.

Here is Essence, crewed by Adrian and Chris.

I know of at least eight BCF boats here at Fazeley; there may be more. Most BCF people who are coming will drive.

It was lovely to have Andy and Helen over for a meal this evening. We think they will be somewhat relieved when their house move is complete, handy though it is for them to have their boats to live on meanwhile.

Oops - you're in the shade, Andy. Sorry.

Inspired by my taking of this self-timed photo, Andy started fiddling with his camera as he'd not taken a self-timed photo before. Unfortunately he managed to get himself locked out of it; something about Setting Q. I hope you get it sorted, Andy.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Middleton Hall: the birds and the ... butterflies

We went on an excellent walk this afternoon. 1.75 miles up the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal to Fishers Mill Bridge, then a superbly signposted RSPB walk to Middleton Hall.

The first part of the walk was through woods with signs telling you what you might see or hear.

We heard the rooks only moments before reaching this sign. It reads: "The rooks. You can hear the rooks busy in the rookery staking claim to an old nest and making any repairs needed, using moss, leaves, wool, hair etc."

We saw herons in the heronry and pheasants in the fields. It was time for a cup of tea, so we patronised the Café 180 in the courtyard in the sun (through the archway).

Middleton Hall itself looked splendid.

Now my wildlife photos don't come up to the standard of Irene Jamieson's, but here are two I grabbed with my compact camera.

First a robin by a sign explaining about robins being fiercely territorial. Bird seed had been scattered on a tree stump nearby; we saw blue tits, great tits, more robins, chaffinches and a wren - all in the space of a couple of minutes.

I managed to get as close to this comma butterfly as my camera would allow. Usually such creatures fly away if they think I might get a half-decent pic!

When you find yourself on the B&F we can thoroughly recommend stopping by Fishers Mill Bridge and doing this easy walk. The other side of the canal (towpath side) has acres of wetland with as much waterfowl as you could want.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Stuck boat: BCF to the rescue; and a blogger visits

Jan received a text message from a friend on board Amy Em yesterday which alerted us to the fact that their boat was stuck in a winding hole above Glascote Locks. At the time we couldn't do anything to help as we were in Sheffield, so this morning I cycled along to see what was going on, fully expecting Amy Em to have already been rescued.

When I got there I found that Amy Em was still grounded, and that March Mole was trying to pull it off. March Mole wasn't quite up to the task, though, and Amy Em, in astern in the mud, had just got a builder's bag round the prop.

The winding hole is, in fact, an old wharf used to tranship between narrowboats and trains, and I was able to cycle round to the other side to lend a hand (and take some more photos).

To be fair to Amy Em, Rex and Margaret had gone to visit Alan and Joan who live by the old wharf; they weren't merely trying to wind. I think that's why they had gone in so far.

Contact had been established with another Boaters' Christian Fellowship member (all the boats involved were BCF) who came from half-an-hour away to assist.

John on Ichthus getting in on the action
Rex, meanwhile, was down the weed hatch cutting away the builder's bag.

Then Ichthus tried pulling March Mole which was attached to Amy Em. This didn't work as the boats were pulling in different directions.

When the two rescue boats started pulling together, and with me pushing/trying to rock the bow, Amy Em finally began to move.

As far as I am aware, no other boats were held up during the operation.

This afternoon Brian and Diana on Harnser called in for a cuppa and a chat. Jan had just invited Sandra from Maranatha, so there were five of us for a group photo. Now I just couldn't decide which of the two photos to put in, so here they both are.

l - r: Jan, Halfie, Diana, Sandra, Brian

In the first photo we're all smiling, but Jan and Diana are looking at the camera and the pic is slightly overexposed. In the second one we're all looking a bit serious, but it doesn't look posed. (For what it's worth, I prefer photo 1; Jan prefers photo 2. That's why you've got both of them!)