Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A brilliant day and good deeds ...

(Tuesday) Just the same as yesterday … as we were about to untie the ropes ...
… a boat comes past!
… old working boat Aquila - built by Harland and Wolff in 1935 exactly the same as Corona which coincidentally was the one that past us yesterday!  Not only that, a hire boat went past too!
We waited a while before leaving our mooring at 09:30 to give them chance to get through the first of today’s locks …
… but when we got to Minworth bottom lock Aquila was on the landing.  They were having problems getting the boat into the lock as the bottom gate would not completely open.  He asked if he could stand on our counter to try to move rubbish from the gate recess with his boat hook.  After a few attempts the gate seemed to open further and we ascended the lock and left them to it.
Whilst stopped at the Minworth services Aquila cruised past us so we were pleased with our good deed of the day.
Into Erdington Hall Tunnel … and out again ... looking back it doesn’t look half as impressive as its name!

Hugh power house as we cruise through Neachells …

… and scum on the water

Approaching Salford Junction ...

… we need the second turning on our left

Straight ahead leads onto the Tame Valley Canal but it doesn’t look very well used.

First left goes through Birmingham and onto the Grand Union Canal … we’ll be able to come up to Birmingham on WB Still Rockin ...
… and second left under Salford Turnover Bridge … there’s a boat coming through the narrows!

Our turn ...

A lovely old ornate bridge crosses the river (Tame?) below

A lot of men digging a hole in the towpath, as we cruised we saw these holes very half mile or so but have no idea what they’re for.

Doesn’t have quite the same ring  or views as Canary Wharf!
Getting closer to Birmingham now
A queue at Aston Bottom Lock where we were caught in quite a prolonged shower of ash from what sounded like a building site over a high wall on our right and was the cause of the ‘scum’ we’d seen on the water earlier.  It was hoods up and don’t let it get into your eyes - it wasn’t very nice at all.
Looking up Aston Locks in the bright sunshine
The top few locks of the Aston flight I found quite unusual with  huge pounds (stretch water between 2 locks)

Our original idea was to moor up for the night at Aston Junction but when we arrived we decided it wasn’t such a good idea.  A hire boat that had been following us caught us up as we were discussing whether there was enough time to continue up the Farmers Bridge Lock flight.  I asked them how far they were going and they told me that they were going up to Gas Street and continued on to the first lock, I asked if they would help us by opening a sluice as they left each lock and they agreed - Brilliant!

There was Mum and Dad ...

… and 3 young teenagers ...

… and between them they not only opened the sluice for us but the gate as well!

It was now just after 5pm and the sun was amazing on the water and the buildings …

… as we continued to climb into Birmingham with such fantastic help from that family and also the lady in red you can see here who also helped by closing gates after I’d entered the locks.
Top Lock at last after 8 hours, 8 miles and 29 locks!
We found a peaceful safe mooring at Brindley Place on the Oozells Loop, tired but happy and hungry and very grateful for all the help we'd received from strangers.  George went out on a mission to find a take-a-way and came back with the best chicken and chips we’ve ever tasted!
What a brilliant day!!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Hunkering down ...

Friday morning ... always the case when you set off in a morning to lock … another boat passes as you start to untie your ropes!  Not to worry though we’ve got all day.
Weeds and overgrown trees make getting a straight line of sight on the first lock of the day difficult
 The wetlands continue on our left
 We catch up with the boater in front at Marston Lane
 Looking back, a very pleasant day but a bit breezy as we climb the locks
Looking back at a single handler working the locks, her boat is currently in lock 5 and she’s walked down to set the lower lock.  Here she is walking back and will open the bottom gate then walk over top lock’s top gate and down the ladder on the left, bring the boat out, make it secure again while she closes the gate, get back on her boat and repeat the process at the next lock.
Approaching Curdworth Tunnel. We continued to cruise through the next 3 bridges and moored up beyond Wiggins Hill Bridge to await the storm forecast for Sunday night/Monday morning.  We could have moved further during the weekend, but not having been this way before we were unsure of mooring deeper into Birmingham for longer than one night, especially over a weekend.

So .. we hunkered down in the lea of the hedge, no trees close by to fall on the boat when the big wind comes ... and waited!

Saturday brought a phone call from our son to say that they were coming to find us ... and we spent a lovely few hours in their company.

Sunday night when we retired to bed the rain was hammering down on the roof of Rock n Roll but we slept soundly until about 6 am when were were woken up by the plank and pole rest was rattling on the roof in the increasing wind.  George went out to stop the noise with an old towel and we went back to sleep, by 7 am it was calm again, by 8 am a boat cruised past us … and that was it … the big storm was over for us … a bit of a damp squid really, we were luckier than those further south.

Moving off again today - 14 locks to do!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Money Spiders ...

 A beautiful clear blue sky greeted us on Thursday morning ...
 … as we leave our mooring above Shadehouse Lock at Fradley on Trent and Mersey Canal.  If you’ve got a cool £650k you could buy the much extended lock house
 Waiting for an upcoming boat below Shadehouse, after which we turned right at the junction onto the Coventry Canal
 Harvesting the sweetcorn
 Seen at Streethay Wharf
 New marina but not quite finished yet ...
 … perhaps they’ll be able to spread out a bit soon.
 It’s been bright and breezy today as we’ve cruised through spider threads which glinted in the sunlight streaming across the canal and catching on anything in the way - including Molly’s ears!  For most of the journey she’s had one caught between the tips of her ears and streaming behind her.  The white dome of the satellite dish ended up being covered in baby money spiders and we were flicking them from our hair and faces as they landed on us. click here to watch this phenomena with David Attenborough's BBC video of ‘Life in the Undergrowth - The Silk Spinners - Flying Spiders’.
 A peaceful cruise, not many boats on the move today

… until now, that is ...

Star Class Corona built in 1935 by Harland and Wolff for GUCCC

Approaching Fazeley Junction
 … where just one portion of the unfinished building is now occupied!

 New waters for us now as we turn right once again onto the BCN Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.  At the water point near Coleshill Bridge we managed to say quick hello to Roger of NB The Cat’s Whiskers.
Passing Drayton Manor Footbridge and the now disused swing bridge ...
 … and huge lakes to our left.
 We moored up just after 3pm not far from Fishers Mill Bridge with wonderful views ...
 … I especially like this one of himself cleaning off those spiders and tiny seeds from our newly painted roof!
The lakes to our left I understand now to be Kingsbury Water Park - it was beautiful.

It’s been another good day’s cruising as we make our way south towards Droitwich and the start of our wide beam build Still Rockin’.