Monday, 29 June 2015

Whitby in Fazeley

Narrowboat Whitby passed us at Peel's Wharf, Fazeley, this afternoon, on its way back from Braunston.

They were behind us going down Glascote Locks a little earlier.

We left Polesworth just before 10.00 this morning, winded at Grendon and came to Fazeley. I've been doing some tests on our battery bank using a borrowed "Intelligent Battery Tester"; I'll blog about the results another time.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Coppers racing frogs in Amington

What do you think these members of the Staffordshire Police are doing to give them so much amusement?

They are racing frogs at the Boaters' Christian Fellowship stand at the Amington Fete yesterday.

And here's the winner.

Today marks the end of the BCF events in the Tamworth area; I might now have a bit more time in which to write up what we've been doing.

Friday, 26 June 2015

A record on our boat

There we were on Jubilee at Amington on the Coventry Canal enjoying post-prandial natter with friends Henry, Lin, Elaine and Jack when four people we didn't know, carrying a bottle of wine, saw Henry and Lin and asked where two other friends were. We invited them in and, before long, the wine was flowing and the ten of us were chatting away.

Then Hayley's daughter appeared on the towpath with her friend so they had to come on board too, making a never-to-be-surpassed number on Jubilee.

Elaine, Halfie, Lin, Chloe, Sophie, Leah, John, Jack (standing), Rachel, Hayley, Henry, Jan

It was lovely having you all on board. 12 is the maximum allowed on our narrowboat. I wonder if/when we'll have the same number on again.


We're still at Amington with the Boaters' Christian Fellowship "Come Aboard" event; we certainly kept to the theme!

(From Alrewas we went to Fradley and Hopwas and Fazeley blah blah blah ... I'll update in fuller measure later ...)

edited to correct spelling

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Spectacular warehouses in Burton-on-Trent and a knitted narrowboat in Alrewas

Monday 15th June 2015

In the morning we walked to Barrow-on-Trent; after coffee and hot chocolate in the pub we stayed on the Ragley Boat Stop mooring while we had lunch, then we set off.

The deep and fierce Stenson Lock was being operated by volunteer lockies so I steered in, tied my centre line onto the rope lowered down to me by one of the volunteers and twiddled my thumbs as they opened the ground paddle on the side opposite me. It took an age to fill, but at least I wasn't being bashed around. Stephen and Elaine on the white boat had made it to here to try to get help from the boatyard; they borrowed a plug spanner and we managed to remove both plugs ... but they looked in good condition. We left them heading back towards Shardlow, still with the borrowed plug spanner and still lacking power.

We tied up at Willington; I went to the Co-Op to get some food for the barbecue half-wondering if I'd see Andrew Denny. I was crossing the zebra crossing on the way back from the shop when crossing towards me was Andrew Denny. He was just about to go to see Bruce and Sheila on Sanity Again in Mercia Marina with a sample of Scrabble bunting, but he did come to Jubilee later in the evening. It was good to have a chat.

Tuesday 16th June 2015

Burton-on-Trent was our main destination today; after visiting the town we went on to Alrewas. We hadn't visited Burton before so we tied up between Dallow Lock and the footbridge at Shobnall Fields and walked to the town centre. It's quite a way; what I thought was going to be the centre from looking at Nicholson wasn't. It's another half mile the other side of the railway. Still, we got to see some spectacular old warehouses, including the Midland Railway Grain Warehouse No. 2, now a Travelodge hotel.

On the other side of the tracks was this amazing brick building - a brewery? Warehouse?

And so on to Alrewas for the night. We met up with Rob and Trish on Mistol who invited us for a meal on their boat - very good, thank you.

Wednesday 17th June 2015

We had a whole day in Alrewas, so we walked to the National Memorial Arboretum which we hadn't visited before. I think this would have been better for us if we had some specific family connection to find; as it was we were suitably impressed by the curved walls with the names of those from the forces who had died since the Second World War.

Walking back through the village I spotted a canal-themed window display with a difference.

Knitted canal ware, anyone?


I'm only a week behind now. We are at Amington for a couple of days.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

To the aid of a stopped boat at Ragley Boat Stop

Friday 12th June 2015

Our tickets for Bletchley Park were still valid after our first visit last September, so we took the train from Wolverton up a couple of stops to Bletchley.

We concentrated on the parts we'd missed the previous time. I was particularly interested in the amateur radio station in touch with a satellite it had sent into space two years before. There was a full-size model of the satellite; I was amazed by its small size. It was a cube of 10cm side with two half-wave dipole aerials sticking out. I used to be a radio amateur myself, but other interests took over. Now it appears that you have to be a computer buff to get the most out of it. (No photos of the satellite ground station, sorry.)

Saturday 13th June 2015

Ally took us back to the boat at Shardlow in the afternoon (I drove); our time on the 48 hour mooring was up so we moved to the pub mooring by the Clock Warehouse and had a meal there.

Later I kicked myself that I had forgotten about the Indian restaurant just down the road. Oh well. Next time perhaps.

Sunday 14th June 2015

We went to the parish church in Shardlow with Eric and Sue from Remus, who were moored immediately above Shardlow Lock. Bit of an early service at 0900; rather a woolly sermon but the natives were friendly. Bought a jar of marmalade.

After church we set off up the Trent and Mersey. It was busy! We had become used to the peace and quiet of the Erewash; now there were queues at locks.

We stopped at the Ragley Boat Stop with its moorings on the offside and ate in the pub. (What? Two meals out in a row?) A couple who had just bought a white boat were having engine problems so we tried to help.

Stephen and Elaine's engine was lacking power so I wondered if it might have been a spark plug issue. It took ages to work out where they were, then we didn't have a plug spanner to fit. They wanted everything to work properly before taking the boat onto the Trent to Nottingham.

That's all for this post; more later. Meanwhile I'll say that we are now on the Coventry Canal above Glascote Locks (and have just said hello to Paul on Waterway Routes as he went past delivering his leaflet on a litter picker through our side hatch.)

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Langley Mill to Shardlow

Wednesday 10th June 2015

We left Great Northern Basin, Langley Mill, sharing locks with Gabriel.

At Hallam Fields we had a very enjoyable meal on board Gabriel - thanks, Hazel and James - before walking to Ilkeston Rugby Club for a folk evening. We were down to be the first act after the interval; meanwhile we enjoyed some talented musicians playing the guitar and singing.

The guitarist above played some intricate stuff very well; the man in the photo below played some mean rock 'n' roll on his slide guitar.

Thursday 11th June 2015

There are some lovely views from the Erewash Canal; this is Sandiacre with St. Giles Church on the hillside.

After emptying/refilling at Trent Lock we popped out onto the Trent. Ah - depth at last! That's Gabriel in front.

We had lent Gabriel our jerry can with diesel in it as they were concerned that they were low on fuel. They stopped to refill at Sawley Marina while we continued to Shardlow.

Here we tied up on the 48 hour moorings and met Ally and Ben who had come to drive us back to their house for a couple of days of gardening!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Up the Erewash and beyond

Whoah! Where has all the time gone? My last post was eight days ago. Then I was desperately trying to play catch-up and get up-to-date; now I am woefully behind again. So ... I'll try again. This time I'll be stricter with myself about the number of photos I publish. But first, where we were on Monday a week ago two weeks ago (eek!), using photos I had already resized.

Monday 8th June 2015

We left Cotmanhay and continued up the remaining locks to Langley Mill, the head of the Erewash Canal, and Great Northern Basin.

Some of the bridges are on the low side.

This was the second time we have been through the top lock; the last time was Easter 2013.

We tied up on the left beyond the lock in front of Remus. Eric and Sue came for a meal on Jubilee; during the meal I leapt out to take a photo of the Nottingham Canal Toll House lit by the setting sun.

The next day we explored our surroundings, finding a large charity shop next to B&M near the station. Walking in the other direction we looked for and found some remains of the Cromford Canal still in water. I stood on an old railway bridge to take this picture.

And this is the railway bridge from under the lattice girder bridge.

In the evening we ate at the Great Northern pub with James and Hazel from Gabriel, who tied up behind us.

Halfie, Jan, Hazel, James
Right, I'm only 13 days behind now. At this rate I might have caught up by autumn!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Bennerley Viaduct and Nottingham Canal (unnavigable section)

Last Monday we explored by foot the land to the east of where we had been moored at Cotmanhay on the Erewash Canal. The unmissable edifice striding over the River Erewash and its flood plain is the Bennerley railway viaduct, now devoid of rails and ending almost in mid-air.

It is now a listed structure and there are plans for it to carry a cycle path. I believe a certain Gustav Eiffel had something to do with its creation, but I don't know which wrought iron lattice construction came first.

A little more walking brought us to the start (end?) of a watered section of the Nottingham Canal which used to run from Nottingham to the Great Northern Basin at Langley Mill where it joined the Cromford Canal and Erewash Canal.

The Nottingham Canal was known as the Top Cut as, for the last few miles, it ran more-or-less parallel to the Erewash Canal but at a higher level. The Erewash Canal was the Bottom Cut.

As we walked past this fisherman we saw him land a large fish (well, it looked large to us non-anglers!)

He told us the best fishing was to be had at night (see sign!)

Our route back to the boat took us the other side of the viaduct. The water in the foreground is the River Erewash.

Cotmanhay events end with Indian fare

Last Sunday was the final day of the BCF at Cotmanhay event. Eric and Sue carried on with taking small groups of excited children and adults on mini boat trips; I assisted with Remus winding above Stenson's Lock, whizzing up and down on my bike (and clearing the towpath of all litter).

We served cream teas in the afternoon; there were enough for the helpers to have one - they were very good.

At 1600 we started clearing up; packing away the gazebos in their various conditions, doing more litter sweeps and dismantling the games/crafts.

In the evening 23 of us invaded the Shah Jahan curry house - they didn't have a huge amount of warning - and enjoyed a final meal together. The food was good; the staff brought out complimentary poppadums and melon salads while the chef slaved away on our meals. We were there a long time, but it didn't matter at all as we had plenty to talk about.

I got one of the staff to take this photo - look, I'm in it!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Cotmanhay Saturday: massive effort to secure marquee against wind, but ...

Saturday 6th June started with a cooked breakfast in the Bridge Inn. Yum.

James's wait was rewarded when his belly buster turned up.

Triple bacon, egg, sausage etc!

The energy was needed for erecting the various stalls, gazebos and large gazebo/lightweight marquee. Once up, some of the roof struts came adrift. Henry and Chris managed to get these back.

It was very windy, but it was decided that the side panels should be added. The photo shows ropes - and gaffer tape - trying to give extra support.

At 1300 the punters arrived. There was a very good atmosphere; youngsters enjoyed the bouncy castle while parents had a drink, the gazebos didn't blow down immediately and people generally had a good time. Jan and I did a one-hour stint looking after the bouncy castle - I have seldom known sixty minutes go slower.

Hazel put her litter picker-upper to good use.

Andy from the Elim Church performed some magic tricks with a Christian message. I have no idea how he got the coin in the bottle nor how he did the rope trick.

Adrian took on a young competitor at the blowing-a-narrowboat race.

And then the wind got just too much for the marquee gazebo.

Oops! Two other gazebos had already been taken down and one of Bob's had been similarly destroyed.

As far as I know no-one was hurt and people went home happy. BCFers went back to their boats tired!

Ten BCF boats at Cotmanhay on the Erewash; back to school for Jan

We have been busy. That's my excuse for not blogging for the last week and more. We had joined up with several other members of the Boaters' Christian Fellowship for an event based on the Bridge Inn at Cotmanhay on the Erewash Canal.

The idea was to organise a family fun weekend for the local community where there would be opportunities to share a little about our faith. On Thursday morning, 4th June, we had the first of several 0800 briefing meetings.

The boats and personnel there were
  • Dilly-Dally (Alan and Hazel)
  • Essence (Adrian and Chris)
  • Gabriel (James and Hazel)
  • Gospel Belle (Peter and Lin)
  • Jubilee (John and Jan)
  • Mistol (Rob and Trish)
  • Remus (Eric and Sue)
  • Tumzel Cloud (Don and Celia)
  • Trinity (Henry and Lin with grandson Jack)
  • Ultreya (Chris and Di)
One job we volunteered for was to help in a leaflet drop to the nearby housing estate. The weather had certainly heated up by this stage.

Before the weekend schools in the area had been asked if they would like to visit some of the boats; on the Friday Adrian and Chris entertained several groups of schoolchildren on Essence with an interactive presentation on safety on the waterways.

Here's Jan on her way to take a school assembly (she might have thought all that was in the past - not so!) on the parable of the lost sheep.

We were at the Bridge Inn at the invitation of Bob, the landlord. He kindly provided us all with a free barbecue.

Some of our number provided an evening of folk music in the pub. Hazel and James graciously allowed Jan, on violin, and me, on recorder, to join in for the second set. We supplied some harmonies and the occasional twiddly bit.

That takes us up to the end of Friday; on Saturday there were activities for families in the garden. More to come.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Low pound on the Erewash but we get through

Today's weather has possibly been the best since we started in March. We had almost wall-to-wall sunshine and even the wind didn't seem to have quite the same bite to it. In fact, while sitting on a bench at Barker's Lock sheltered by trees but in the full blast of the sun, I actually got quite hot.

We did have one small problem, though, and that was at Long Eaton Lock. When we got there at about 0900 we found that the pound above was very low.

This is the bywash weir; the level is about two feet down.

I set off on my bike to see what was happening at the next lock; as I had hoped, paddles were open at both ends to let water down from the pound above. The low pound was a long one at over a mile, so refilling was going to be a long process. I carried on upstream on my bike, talking to towpath walkers who had never seen the canal this low before and reaching some other BCF boats tied up in a higher - and fuller - pound. They told me that CRT was on the case, so I returned to the boat and waited as the level crept up.

This was the predicament of two boats in the drained pound:

Eventually I deemed there to be sufficient water to risk venturing out of the lock, so I clicked into tickover and inched forward.

The CRT man on his bike zoomed up and down as we climbed the locks, assisting with them and making sure there was enough water for us.

Here he is (on right, windlass in left hand) on his way to the next lock.

We had no problems, we didn't touch the bottom and we didn't get anything round the prop, so it was a painless rest of journey to the Bridge Inn at Cotmanhay where we joined nine other BCF boats.

I don't suppose there has been as much concentrated boat traffic here for some time.

Tomorrow the reason for us being here begins in earnest.