Tuesday 29 September 2009

Down Memory Lane….

Last Sunday we moved from Penkridge to Gailey.  It was absolute mayhem when we arrived – boats waiting for the water-point, waiting for the lock, an generally milling about all over the place.  By the time we had cleared the lock it had all calmed down a bit, and we managed to find a mooring spot where the 5 day moorings change to 48hrs – it was a bit dark as it was partially under a tree, and it was a dull and cloudy day, but not too bad

Boat Course-34 Gailey Round-House, looking as it always has – it never changes!

It’s about 8 years since we’ve cruised the Staffs and Worcester, so it’s been nice to become reacquainted  with it.  We decided to stay yesterday as well.  We have been a bit indecisive about where to go next – the plan was to carry on to Stourport, but as we have to hang around for a couple of weeks while our pram-hood canopy is made, we changed our plans and decided to head up the Shroppie as far as we can go before turning back again.

So this morning we set off from Gailey, heading for Autherley.  It was a real trip down Memory Lane, as we bought our first boat from Otherton, just a mile or two back from Gailey, and out first mooring was at Hatherton Marina, which we passed this morning.  All the time after we had set off, Rog said he had a feeling of depression as if we were heading home and had to go back to work!  It’s strange how these feelings take a long time to leave you, and can be triggered so easily!  He cheered up after we had passed though. 




It’s still just a hole in the ground, filled with water, with minimal facilities!  However, there are signs of a few electric points now, but the Elsan Disposal point is still just a foul-smelling manhole cover.  We paid £60 a month to moor there back in 1999 (ish!) I’m sure that it would be much more these days.

A little further on we passed some children in double canoes – they were having a great time, and all stood up, saluted and shouted ‘Aye aye, Captain’ a we passed.  It was lovely to see them enjoying themselves so much..

SDC10345 SDC10346

We negotiated the half-mile narrows of Pendeford Rockin’ without any trouble – Rog and I had a bet on how many boats we’d meet coming the other way – I said 4 and he said 2.  We were both wrong – we didn’t meet any at all – that must be a first!!



We soon reached Autherley Junction and turned onto the Shroppie – another of our old haunts as readers who were following our blog this time last year will remember, as we did our Boat Handling course further north.  Unfortunately we wont be able to go all the way to Market Drayton this year because of the stoppage at Shebdon Embankment.

We are now moored between bridges 7 and 8 just a short hop from Brewood (pronounced Brood).  It’s a lovely spot, with views over the fields – pity the sun didn’t shine for very long!  We may stay here tomorrow as well.


Saturday 26 September 2009

Another bloggers meet….

While we were at Great Hayward we were moored next to another blogger – Eric and Elsie and nb Bendigedig - Elsie was just leaving for a few days trip to see family, and Eric was going to take the boat up to Tixall Wide ‘out of the way’ to await her return.



It was lovely to meet you both, and we will look out for you on our travels.

Also spotted at Barlaston, just before we left was Bruce on nb Sanity - sorry we didn't manage to have a natter, will catch up with you some other time, I'm sure.

Playing catch-up……

It’s over a week since I’ve blogged – the connection hasn’t been the best, so I’ve now got to play catch-up and remember what we’ve done the past week.

We moved from Barlaston to Stone on Sunday morning and just managed to squeeze into a mooring spot amongst the Boaters Christian Fellowship bods.  We were waylaid several times and asked to go to their rally, but we declined.  I managed to get an appointment on Monday morning with the local vet for Cassie’s booster jabs, and also for her sore ear.  She needed some drops, but it’s all cleared up now.  After her appointment we moved on again, this time to Great Hayward, where we spent the majority of the week.

On arrival we were pleased to see an old friend – Terry, of TR Boat Handling, who took us for our Handling Course last September.  His training boat ‘Shropshire Lass’ was moored there as he was just finishing off a course.  He usually works up and down the Shroppie, but because of the stoppage at Shebdon Bank he has had to change his route for the being.  It was lovely to see him, and he came aboard to admire the boat and have a cuppa. SDC10325

On Tuesday morning we went for a wander around the village while the engine service was being done at Anglo Welsh.  We were pleasantly surprised at the reasonable cost.  We also filled with diesel.

On Wednesday morning we were just about to set out for a visit to Shugborough Hall, when we got chatting to a lady on the towpath.  The outcome was that she recommended a local couple who make boat canopies who were currently fitting one on a boat just the other side of the junction, so we went down to have a look and get a quote for the  pram-hood canopy that we have decided to have, to give us extra weather-proof room when we are moored up.  The quote was several hundred pounds cheaper than Wilson’s, and AJ’s and the work was of the best quality, so we decided then and there to ask them to make ours.  We made an arrangement to meet the following day not far from their boat.

We then made our long awaited visit to Shugborough – we’ve been this way many times over the years and never been able to spare the time before.

SDC10338The front, which used to be the back, before the wings were added

SDC10337  The back, which used to be the front

SDC10339Essex Bridge – a fine example of a ‘packhorse bridge’


The canal by the entrance to Shugborough, very peaceful and pretty

We enjoyed our visit, but had to admit that we’d been to better ‘stately homes’.  The servants quarters and the kitchens were the most interesting, and there were ‘guides’ in costume, talking about their ‘lives’ – a kitchen maid, a laundry maid, and a footman.  Rog liked the brew-house, and we both had a taste of the latest brew – a bit strong and hoppy tasting for me.

On Thursday we moved to Milford for our measuring up session with Tim and Lisa.  Tim did some measuring up and made sure that he knew exactly what we wanted, then went back to his boat to bend the poles to fit. He then brought them back and put the fittings on -  I must admit to a slight qualm as he drilled into the boat!  By the time he had finished the wind had got up, so he decided to wait until morning to make the paper patterns for the canopy itself.  So, at eight o’clock on Friday morning, they came back and made the patterns.  As usual, I forgot to take photographs, but  I will remember when they come back to fit it in two or three weeks time.

We left there at about 9.30 and made our way to Penkridge, where we are at the moment.  We went to the Co-Op yesterday afternoon to replenish the store-cupboard, and then, this morning, we went to the market.  Rog bought two new pairs of trainers, and I bought new socks.  Also purchased were another couple of  identity tags for Cassie (she’s always losing them), a couple of small rugs for the bedroom, and a few other bits and pieces.

We will move on to Gailey tomorrow – one of our favourite places on the whole canal system – I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

Friday 18 September 2009

More bloggers met…..

While we were up at Leek we met Paul of Waterways Routes fame.  Paul was up the Caldon filming for a new DVD.  Not much filming going on then as he said he was trying to film only when the sun was out – we haven’t seen much of that this week!


We have also been also stalking Adam on nb Debdale.  After corresponding intermittently for several months we finally met up today – 3 times!!  We were moored at Milton last night, ready to make our dash for the T & M today, and Adam and friends came past us at some ungodly hour this morning.


We then caught them up and passed them at Hanley as they were dropping off a crew member to go and get a hire car.  Then they caught us up at the water point at Etruria.  We were beginning to wonder who was stalking who!!  No more meetings now, however, as they turned north at Etruria Junction, and we turned south, travelling back to Great Hayward, where we have an engine service booked for Tuesday at Anglo Welsh.  They are Isuzu experts as all the hire boats have one. We have decided that while the engine is still under guarantee, we will have the servicing done by the experts.  If anything goes wrong with it we don’t want to have invalidated the guarantee by Rog doing it.

We had a trouble-free run off the Caldon this morning, and are now moored on the T & M at Barlaston for the night.  The moorings are fairly rammed here as there isn’t much available at Stone.  We hear that the visitor moorings and beyond are all taken up with Boaters Christian Fellowship boats, all there for a meeting over the weekend.  We had hoped to stop there tomorrow afternoon as we need to do a supermarket shop, but that may not be possible now – we will have to wait and see.

  A few more photos:


SDC10319Two pretty footbridges at Hanley Park – there was also a bandstand, but too much in the way for a photo

SDC10320Various flora growing on the gates of the staircase lock at Etruria

SDC10321Rog heading for the water point

Wednesday 16 September 2009

The Leek Arm of the Caldon…

On Monday morning we left Consall Forge – we decided not to go all the way to Frogall as we knew we wouldn’t get through the tunnel.  We went past Hazelhurst Junction to go to Endon and use the facilities, and then moored there for the night. 

We turned around on Tuesday morning, and made our way back to Hazelhurst, and turned up the junction.

SDC10301 These are the locks on the main line as the Leek Arm travels parallel, but above, for a while

SDC10302 Pretty Cottage – pretty price tag too, I suspect!

 SDC10303 Leek Tunnel Pool


SDC10305 Inside Leek Tunnel

We continued on to the end of the Arm, and were lucky to nab the last but one mooring.  Cassie decided one again that we were stopping here


We took a walk back to the tunnel pool later on to get some photos as it really is a lovely spot – after hauling ourselves up a 1 in 2 slope to walk over the tunnel we came across a farmer loading a bull into a truck – he had a poorly foot and needed to see the vet for treatment



His lady-friends were none too happy to see him go, and were voicing their disapproval in no uncertain terms in the field behind us!

 SDC10311 The Peak District in the distance

SDC10314 Steep path

Photos taken we returned to the boat for a well earned cuppa.  We have stayed here today as we needed to do a really good clean-up, having been far too busy socialising and cruising last week to bother with anything as mundane as house(boat?)-work. We will move back down the arm tomorrow and moor for the night near Milton – I feel the need for a Chinese take-away coming on!

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Onto the lovely Caldon

On Friday we had a good run through Stoke and Hanley and onto the Caldon


Statue of James Brindley at Etruria Junction


And up the staircase locksSDC10284

Old and New – bottle kilns and new housing at Hanley

We stopped for the night at Milton, and made a fairly early start as we planned to be at Consall Forge by teatime.  It was a gorgeous day, the sort that makes you remember why you do this boating thing! The countryside was beautiful, and we had a lovely days’ cruising day.

SDC10287 Art Work at one of the Stockton Brook Locks

SDC10286            Stunning countryside

SDC10296                                                                                    Hazelhurst Junction



                                                                        Serenity working  Hazelhurst LocksDSCF0010                       The Hollybush pub in Denford


Aqueduct carrying the Leek Arm

We got separated from Serenity as we passed the Boat pub at Cheddleton, as three boats travelling together pulled out in front of us after  they had passed by.  Serenity decided not to wait for us but to go on ahead and find us both a mooring spot at Consall Forge – good job they did as we got the last two spaces!  We all adjourned to the Black Lion for a well-earned bevy or two! The Churnet Valley Railway was running, with a wedding party on board


Rog made us a curry on Saturday night, and we had a ‘last supper’ with Karen and Ian.  On Sunday morning, at eight o’clock, while the mist was still on the water Karen and Ian pulled the Serenity’s pins and headed up to the very end of the Caldon at Froghall.  They returned several hours later for a quick stop to say goodbye as they had to get going on their return journey.  Before they left we had a bit of excitement – an old wooden working boat had become stuck under narrow bridge and her skipper came to ask if someone could tow her clear.  Karen, being ‘boatwoman extraordinaire’ volunteered.  They reversed to the bridge and tied up to the working boat.  With much heaving and straining, she was finally through.




Through and on their way, KAren certainly made a good job of it! 

We were very sad to wave them goodbye, as we have had a brilliant week travelling with ‘Serenity’ – we all got on like a house on fire, with the same warped sense of humour.  We made a pact to do it again next year sometime. We certainly made an impressive sight, and attracted lots of admiring comments – we made sure everyone knew who had built the shells and fitted them out – hopefully we have been a good advert for Beacon.

DSCF0025 Windsong – all lonely without our ‘twin’

I will blog again in a day or two with our adventures down the Leek Arm.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Fradley to Stone…

Sorry I’ve not blogged for a week, I’ve been too busy socialising and having a great time!

We got a lovely mooring at Fradley on Friday lunchtime, just a couple of minutes from the Swan.

SDC10246We ate there on Friday evening, and had a lovely meal.  On Saturday morning we went for a stroll around the Nature reserve, to walk off our ‘Full English’ breakfast that we had at the Kingfisher mobile homes site cafe!

SDC10247Herons wood carving


            The bird watchers hide across the lake

SDC10250 Tree skeletons


                                                                               ‘Jemima Puddleduck’


On our way back to the boat we spotted this – now that’s a motor-bike that I could be a passenger on!

We had our Sunday lunch in the Swan as well as we waited for Karen and Ian on ‘Serenity’ to arrive, which they duly did at about 3.30.  Of course, we all had to go back to the pub to celebrate meeting up.

On Monday morning we set off towards Great Hayward, but had to stop at the ‘Plum Pudding’ for a pasta lunch



                                                            Karen driving ‘Serenity’ (boatwoman extraordinaire!)


                                                                          The ‘twins’ outside the Plum Pudding

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                                                                              Lotsa loos at Armitage Shanks!

We moored up for the night near Colwich.  It was such a lovely evening that we got the barbecue out, and sat out on the bank until well after 10’oclock




Tuesday morning was one of those ‘mist on the water’ mornings – I’ve been waiting ages to take one of these photos, but never been up early enough before.  We got to Great Hayward about lunchtime and went to the Farm Shop, and then continued on to Weston On Trent where we moored for the night.  Karen cooked us a lovely meal and we staggered back to boat in pouring rain.

Wednesday lunchtime saw us at Stone, so we had a wander around and did a bit of shopping at Morrison's – we were both running short of cider and beer by this time!  We stayed the night there as we had a good mooring spot and didn’t want to struggle later on.  The Trent and Mersey is very busy at the moment due to the stoppage on the Shroppie.  We had to queue for more than an hour on Wednesday morning for Sandon lock

SDC10271                     Cassie helping Rog to hold the boat                                 

SDC10272Karen taking a photo of me taking a photo of her!

This morning we had a slow journey to Barlaston to meet Ali and Neil from Beacon who came to sort out our problem with the pressure relief valve on the calorifier.  They found out what the problem was – the company who supplied the calorifier had reduced the pressure that the valve goes off at without telling anyone, and we have a stronger than usual water pump, which coincidentally delivers water at the same pressure!  This was why the valve sometimes went off and sometimes didn’t!  Anyway, the valve has now been changed to a higher pressure one and hopefully this will sort out the problem.

Tomorrow, we will make a run through Stoke and Hanley onto the Caldon and get far enough up it to moor safely.  Probably no more blogs until we have parted company with Karen and Ian, who sadly will have to turn around after the weekend and head back to their base at Kegworth on the Soar as they have to go back to work!  Never mind Karen, not long now until your ‘two year odyssey’ – only the winter to get through and then you can be away.

We encountered two more bloggers today – Jo and Keith on nb Hadar, and nb Indigo Dream - (sorry, can’t remember your names)  Sorry we couldn’t stop  but we were late for our meeting with Ali and Neil.  Hope to meet up again sometime and have a proper chat.  Of course the camera was inside the boat so no photos.  We also spotted nb Phyllis May, Terry Darlington of ‘Narrow Dog’ fame’s boat, moored at Roger Fuller’s yard in Stone.