Monday, 22 February 2010

Winter Cruising

Saturday 20th February 2010
I just love cruising the canals, I was going to say cruising the canals in winter, but then realised I love it at any time of the year!!
But in the winter it's so different; the light quality for photographs is outstanding, the frost and snow making photography almost obsessive.  Moorings are easy to find and are usually quiet and it's rare even to see another boat on the move. Wrapped up warm on the back deck, hopefully with some sun on your back, taking in the sights and sounds around you, you could be the only people on the planet!  Good days.
I took these pictures today at 16:30 about 45 minutes before sunset, the light in the trees was incredible, rather different from the sunset yesterday

yet more of the white stuff

Friday 19th February 2010
We upped sticks yesterday and continued south stopping to fill the tank at the water tap just before Autherley Junction - this must be the worst water point ever - it's always wet making the ground thick, slimy and goey and there are only two rings to moor up to, neither in the right place to tie up properly!! Enough ranting .... we turned left onto the Staffs and Worcester and continued northwards to Cross Green and moored up outside the Fox and Anchor (click here to see pub review by Captain Ahab).
The snow started just after we moored up but didn't last too long.
this was the picture this morning at 8:45 - when will it end?
We decided to take a walk back the way we came yesterday as over the last week or so we've been seeing some very small shy ducks as we've been cruising. As soon as they see the boat approaching they dive a couple of inches under the water and resurface several meters away ... far too quickly to take a photo.  Anyhow we saw some yesterday and wanted to see if we could find them again and hopefully snap them.
We'd seen this on previous visits to this area between the M54 and Forster Bridge - it looks as if it will eventually be a very enjoyable walk but it needs about 12' to reach the towpath.
it appears to be a wetland area with viewing platforms to watch the wildlife; it's been well planted with trees but doesn't seem to be open to the public yet ... perhaps 'they're' waiting for it to mature more before it does open.  The towpath in this area is absolutely perfect in all weathers, it's obviously part of the whole scheme as it is all very wheelchair friendly. We saw a sign just off the towpath and thought that it would tell us what it was all about, but it didn't.
under Forster Bridge where the very narrow cutting starts (or ends of course)
I think Molly is wondering how far we're going today.
We walked to the end of the narrows towards Autherley; we'd not seen sight of the ducks so decided to turn back.
a peaceful scene through Marsh Lane Bridge
passing the wetland walk again and saw this buzzard being bullied by two crows
and here we saw them - tiny little things - it was so difficult to get a picture as the kept to the opposite side of the canal under the overhanging vegetation.  We discovered via the RSPB site that they are Little Grebes - mystery solved and photograph obtained!
a cheerful Robin
back at the boat to see the trees burning - sun seting at 17:15

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Oh no......... not again!

Wednesday 17th February 2010
woke up this morning to a very hard frost
the weather forecast for today is for a 'moderate' chance of 2" of snow
and as I type this 14:10 it's coming down thick and fast!

41 years married!

Monday 15th - Wednesday 17th February 2010
15th February 1969 - Our Wedding Day
wouldn't change a thing!

We moved a few hundred yards down to the bottom of the steps to the Boat Inn to await the Tesco man and once all stored away moved another few yards to the other side of bridge 14 to wait for our son Mark to collect us and we enjoyed a very pleasant anniversary.

Tuesday - woke up to a very bright sunny day to move a little further down the Shroppie
(I'm not at all keen on last nights mooring in the cutting below bridge 14 - it's so dark and no telly picture!)
we moored once again between bridges 8 and 7
and decided to take a long walk
turning right over bridge 7
across the field where this great tit was singing at the top of his voice.
This walk is a very short section of The Monarch's Way which is the 615 mile long excape route of Charles 11 after the battle of Worcester in 1651.
perhaps he could have hid in here - there is plenty of room!
wild snowdrops growing in the hedge - I love these signs of spring so much
the view of Brewood before we turned right towards back towards the canal
and Avenue Bridge (10)
Molly wants to know why we've stopped
the path continues from the bridge, but we're returning to the towpath here
Molly want to see what's going on over there (her meercat pose)
back down a very muddy towpath - nearly there - there's Rock n Roll in the distance
5:30 and BBQ no.2 of 2010 is doing nicely
a pretty sunset (that's smoke from the BBQ in the bottom left)

Brewood and Louise' Birthday

Sunday 14th February 2010
It's our eldest grand-daughter's 15th birthday today - Happy Birthday Louise!!

We're still moored just north of bridge 14 in Brewood
with nice open views
on both sides
and took a walk into Brewood and saw my first
snowdrops in the church yard - a very hopeful sight indeed!
although the sun was shining you can see that it was bitterly cold!

That's Us!

We received this picture from George's Auntie Janet who lives in Stone and was having a clear-out recently and thought 'they look familiar'.  I contacted Stone Life which is a local free magazine and asked for a copy.  We were on the front cover of their first edition of the magazine!  Is that our 15 minutes of fame or what!  From our boat log we know that the picture was taken in Stone on Wednesday 17th November 2008.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Albrighton Hunt at Wheaton Aston

Saturday 6th - Saturday 13th February 2010
Saturday 13th - We left Wheaton Aston yesterday and cruised just a short distance to our current mooring after bridge 15 - not a bad mooring although we prefer to be on chains to piling - there's a ledge about 2' under the water which is typical on the Shroppie that makes the boat 'bang' against it when you step on and off or worse if a boat passes. The TV and Internet signals are good though.

We've just heard that our Grand-daughter Lucy's foot operation has gone well this morning and she is recovering before going home. She'll have to do lots of physio this coming week and should be back at school after half-term; she'll have her left foot done in approximately 6 weeks. - well done Luce! We shall stay in this area (between Brewood and Coven) next week in case in can help in any way.

On Tuesday 9th whilst taking on water we could hear dogs barking and I mentioned that there must be a kennels close by although we'd not heard them before today - then we saw them ...
... the Albrighton Hunt crossing the bridge to the Hartley Arms pub car park

We used to live in Albrighton many moons ago, but this was the first time we'd seen the hunt

it was a colourful and noisy sight!

and off they set down the farm track on the opposite side of the canal

taken whilst standing on the top of Rock n Roll
Once we'd got a full tank and returned to our mooring space we took Molly for a walk along the towpath to see how the contractors were progressing on the embankment

you can see from this picture how the lightweight plastic piling is held to the pile driver against the metal template whilst it's driven into the ground

they've made some progress since we came this way last Sunday, but I think it will take a while, in fact according to BW notices, the Shroppie will not reopen before 26th March

the plastic piling is fastened to the driver until it's gone a short distance into the towpath and then removed

a spirit level ensures that it goes in at the correct angle

we continued our walk and saw the Hunt again in a distant field

although they appeared to have lost their quarry!

When we got back to R'n'R we reversed through the bridge for diesel from the garage (only 56.9p as opposed to the 75p that we paid at Great Haywood) - these young daffodils were the first I'd seen - you can just see one flower bud - spring is coming??

Sunday 7th - Upped sticks and moved on ....
over Stretton Aquaduct

where the A5 was very quiet
and eventually moored at Wheaton Aston just before bridge 19 opposite the Hartley Arms

to stretch our legs after such an arduous (not) journey we walked up the towpath to see how the repairs to the embankment were being done - these pontoons were enormous!

the left half of the canal had been infilled up to about 3" from the top ...
... and at the other end of the site the right hand side was the same to allow the water to keep flowing and presumably prevent flooding.

an impressive piece of machinery!

two bundles of plastic pilings at least 20' long ready for use to fix the embankment

Saturday 6th - early start this morning and it's rather foggy.
We're on our way into Brewood to moor by the Bridge Inn
Still misty as we approach Avenue Bridge
Wow - a kingfisher sitting still!
I know the picute is a little 'fuzzy' as I took it as we cruised past - but I'm still pleased with it.
Once we were safely moored our son Mark collected us to take us shopping and then back to his house for the day - great!