Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Tixall Wide

Well it has been a while since our last post, due in part to the author suffering from writers block aka bone idleness. To be fair though, the past couple of weeks have been decidedly unusual, as far as UK weather goes, and are reminiscent of the summer of 1976, so at the end of a day cruising, the choice between a cold drink and an ice lolly, or writing a blog is an easy choice to make. Anyway, here is the update. Friday 22/6. We headed for Marbury which was 7 miles and 9 Locks away. This included the flight and staircase locks at Grindley Brook, a known choke point. As we arrived at the top lock, the crew nimbly alighted from the boat, and went off to help work some of the boats ahead down the flight. I joined the back of the queue. The normal routine is to let three down, then three up, and we were fourth in line. This meant a long wait. The lock keeper however appreciated the crew help, and so we were allowed down immediately. The boat behind us who hadn't helped, had to wait. After Grindley Brook, we cruised on until reaching Willeymoor lock and pub where we stopped for lunch. Following refreshments we set off again for Marbury, where finding a shady spot was the order of the day. Saturday 23/6. Our destination was to be a mooring between bridges 5 and 4. This was a trip of 5 miles and 6 locks, and also included two lift bridges in Wrenbury. One of these is a mechanical road bridge, and stopping traffic is required. It is quite funny watching cars speed up, when they see the crew walking towards the control terminal. I mean, they would only have a wait of about 3 minutes at most. Sunday 24/6. After a short cruise we arrived at the top of Hurleston Locks. We filled with water then began our descent. At the bottom of the fourth lock, which is also the very narrow one that boats sometimes get stuck in, we turned right onto the Shropshire Union Canal. The Llangollen Canal was pleasant, but I suspect it will be a few years before we are back, as we have other places to visit. We stopped in Nantwich for lunch, then carried on up the 2 Locks at Hack Green and on to Coole Pilate. This trip had been a distance of 7 miles and 6 Locks. Monday 25/6. Our destination was the bottom of Adderley Locks. First we had fifteen Locks at Audlem to navigate. The weather had been getting steadily hotter, so a decision was made. We had set the alarm clock, and by 7.30 am we were underway. The intention, was to be at the top well before midday. We were successful, we also arrived at Adderley to find the mooring spot by the solitary tree was vacant. We filled it, and then spent the afternoon relaxing in the shade. Tuesday 26/6. We had a relatively short day to Market Drayton, a distance of 4 miles and 5 Locks away. The journey was uneventful, but we did encounter a lot of boats at Tyrley Locks. It seems everyone else is moving early to avoid the midday sun. Wednesday 27/6. The plan was to aim for Norbury Junction, but as we were a bit ahead of ourselves, approaching High Offley we spotted a nice shady spot and stopped. It was also very handy for the nearby, old boatmans pub The Anchor, where we went for lunch. 
The famous Anchor Pub
Wandering along the canal, we could see the village of High Offley a distance away, up on the hill. Normally we would have walked up to have a look, but it was so hot, a photo from the canal would have to suffice.
High Offley Church
Thursday 28/6. We a very short hop of 3 miles to Norbury Junction. On arrival we stopped at the Wharf for services, and filled the diesel tank to the brim. Then it was over to the water point, before we finally found a shady spot on the 48 hour moorings. We stayed put for a couple of days. Sunday 1/7. Church Eaton was our destination for the day, just 4 miles away. We had marked in the Nicholson guide book there was a nice mooring here, but had never actually used it. One small concern we had, we normally moor away from trees in the open. This way, we maximise our solar electric generation. In the current heat though, shade wins over free solar power. As we approached the point we had marked in the book, we were pleased to see that there was a choice between full sun and partial shade. We opted for the latter. The journey had also taken us through Cowley Tunnel, which at only 81 yards, is really just a long bridge hole. Monday 2/7. Just south of Brewood was our destination today. A distance of 9 miles and 1 Lock.
Cruising towards Brewood
  Tuesday 3/7. Today we would leave the Shropshire Union behind, as we joined the Staffs and Worcestershire Canal at Autherley Junction. Prior to navigating the stop lock, we filled with water, then turned left at the junction heading for Coven. We were soon in the very narrow cutting at Pendeford, and this time, unlike previous transits, we met oncoming traffic. We managed to slot into one of the few passing places, and then just sat there, till all had passed. Shortly after emerging from the cutting, we arrived at the Fox and Anchor PH. There was a mooring spot, directly outside the outdoor seating area, and it was lunchtime. It was fate, so we stopped. After lunch, we travelled the remaining mile or so to our intended spot, once again opting for maximum shade. Wednesday 4/7. Today we had a bit of a trek, 10 miles and 10 Locks. Our destination was Acton Trussell. It was another scorching day, and not only were all the locks against us, but all the bottom gates were left wide open. This doubled to work for the crew, and we were later told by an oncoming boat, that there was a single hander ahead of us, leaving all the gates open when he exited the locks.
Approaching Acton Trussell Mooring
Thursday 5/7. This would be our last day of moving for a while. We were aiming for Tixall Wide, a distance of 6 miles and 2 Locks away. Myself and the furry crew will be staying with the boat, whilst the first mate nips home for the weekend. Due to our extended stay, the priority for the mooring spot would be, the maximum amount of shade, whilst being able to receive a satellite signal for the TV. A very important football match was pending. We found our spot after a couple tries, and secured the boat.
Side hatch view of mooring Tixall Wide
  During our stay at Tixall, the football went well and we are now in the semi finals of the World Cup. We have enjoyed eating and shopping at the deli and cafe at Great Haywood Junction just under a 1 mile walk away.
  • Totals Friday 22/6. 7 Miles 9 Locks
  •          Saturday 23/6. 5 Miles 6 Locks
  •          Sunday 24/6. 7 Miles 6 Locks
  •          Monday 25/6. 4 Miles 15 Locks
  •          Tuesday 26/6. 4 Miles 5 Locks
  •          Wednesday 27/6. 9 Miles 5 Locks
  •          Thursday 28/6. 3 Miles
  •          Sunday 1/7. 4 Miles 1 Tunnel 
  •          Monday 2/7. 9 Miles 1 Lock
  •          Tuesday 3/7. 7 Miles
  •          Wednesday 4/7. 10 Miles 10 Locks
  •          Thursday 5/7. 6 Miles 2 Locks
  •          Running Total 346 Miles 170 Locks 9 Tunnels

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Duddleston Bridge

Having failed to write a blog for a few days, this entry will be a brief catch up including some pictures taken to get us back on track.     Sunday 10/6. Travelled from Nantwich to Hurleston Junction. Through Hurleston Lock onto the Llangollen Canal then moored between bridges 12 and 13. Total distance 5 Miles including 4 Hurleston Locks and 2 Swanley Locks.
Looking back down Hurleston Locks
Mooring by bridge 12 Llangollen Canal
Monday 11/6. Travelled to below Grindley Brook Locks a distance of 8 Miles and included a total of 7 Locks. We had a brief stop at the Willeymoor Lock Tavern for lunch and then due to it being a scorcher, took a mooring under some trees which cooled the boat by about 5 degrees.
Shady mooring below Grindley Brook
Tuesday 12/6. We travelled to Duddleston Bridge 4 miles away which included the 6 Locks at Grindley Brook, and 3 lift bridges which the crew had to wind up manually. Wednesday 13/6. Our journey took us through Bettisfield which we remembered was very shallow last time we passed this way. Just beyond the village we stopped for lunch at a nice spot so stayed there for the night. Distance travelled 6 Miles.
   
Mooring and views at Bettisfield
Thursday 14/6. Took us to Ellesmere where we planned to stay put for a few days. This was a distance of 4 miles and at the junction with the Ellesmere Arm we turned left and moored opposite the Wharf. We were allowed 72 hours here rather than the usual 48 and this suited our purposes.
Ellesmere Wharf Buildings
Side hatch view back to Junction
Friday 15/6. and Saturday 16/6.  We entertained friends who had travelled from Kent to visit us. We went on a cruise up to Frankton Locks and back on the Saturday which was a total distance of 6 miles. Sunday 17/6. Our friends having departed we needed to visit Blackwater Marina for services. Had to wait outside for several hours whilst they turned round their hire fleet before letting us in. In the end the wait was rather annoying as when they finally did the job we just held the boat in the entrance whilst they pumped it out. This could easily have been achieved three hours earlier. Then we cruised to Frankton Locks and took a mooring on the lock landing. We would be first in the queue. Total distance 3 miles.
Mooring above Frankton Locks
  Monday 18/6. We descended onto the Montgomery Canal and set off for the end of the navigation 6 miles away. We stopped at Queen's Head the halfway point for lunch then carried on the final 3 miles. We winded at Gronwyn Wharf and took a mooring by the Canal Central cafe in Maesbury Marsh. Total distance 6 miles which included 7 Locks.
Mooring Maesbury Marsh
A frequent feature of the Montgomery is that it is ludicrously shallow in places. What might not be visually evident in the photo above is that the back end of the boat is 2 feet from the bank, and this is at a dedicated mooring location. Tuesday 19/6. We wandered off to beyond the end of the navigation to see the efforts being made to restore to unnavigable bit.
The end of the current navigation
Some heavy engineering
Overgrown canal bed
Judging by the photos above it will be some time before this sees any boat movement. After viewing the restoration works we returned to the boat and headed back towards Lower Frankton. We moored in the short Weston Branch below the main Locks for the night, taking the opportunity to wash the boat whilst there.
Weston Branch mooring Montgomery Canal
Our journey had not been uneventful. By bridge 78 we came to a complete stop, hard aground and for fifteen to twenty minutes we wondered if we would even get through the bridge hole. Entry into Aston bottom lock was also rather difficult. We expected this canal to be shallow but run aground mid channel has warranted an email to the navigation authority. Wednesday 20/6. We moved up to the lock landing below Frankton Locks for our pre booked ascent. We couldn't get into the landing area and we're again stuck mid channel. The crew notified the lock keeper of our difficulties, and once we had ascended the flight he asked us to make an entry in the visitors book. Once through the staircase lock we turned right onto the Llangollen Canal and travelled to Ellesmere. Our previous spot was full so we ended up mooring in the arm close to the junction. Total distance 3 miles which included 4 Locks. Thursday 21/6. The longest day. Today we travelled to Duddleston Bridge which included passing through 2 lift bridges. Total distance was 10 miles and the sun is beginning to make an appearance. The wind however is blustery and cold. Running total 261 Miles 111 Locks 8 Tunnels

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Nantwich

So, Thursday 7/6. our time up at Coole Pilate we moved off. The weather was fine, and we soon approached the top lock at Hack Green. This is the location, of the not so secret nuclear bunker, that we visited the last time we passed this way. We descended both locks, meeting boats coming up at each. Then settled into the relatively short cruise into Nantwich.
View from Hack Green bottom lock.
On arrival at Nantwich, we picked out a mooring spot on the embankment section, with a very steep slope leading to the town below. In his excitement, four legs bounded from the boat, before realising stopping was going to be a problem. His four little legs were back peddling furiously. We settled into our spot, but it was not long before other boats started to arrive, and the whole stretch of mooring was full.
Nantwich mooring before it filled up.
The next day Friday 8/6. entailed a trip to the dentist to repair a cracked filling. We used the Riverside Practice, which the crew had visited before, and again this time they were really helpful. On the way into the town centre, we spotted a sign for a bar, but as the furry one had been left behind on guard duty, we didn't go in.
Four legs has his own bar.
For those who read these ramblings and may not know the significance, four legs, aka the furry crew member, is actually called Oscar. Today, Saturday 9/6. There was an antique fair in the market square we wanted to visit. We spotted a few nice pieces, but it was more posh jumble than fine antiques. Whilst here we have had lunch in a small cafe by Nantwich Marina, which has been very pleasant, and today we nipped into the adjoining Chandlers to purchase some white spirit.
A robin waiting for food
The robin above was also a visitor to the cafe, and looks like he might be part of the mural on the wall. In fact he was sitting waiting to be fed by hand. He seemed to like bacon rind, and was lightening quick in taking it, if you held some out. Tomorrow we head for the Llangollen Canal.
  • Totals Thursday 7/6. 4 Miles 2 Locks
  • Running total 201 Miles 78 Locks 6 Tunnels 

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Coole Pilate

So after a week of relaxation, well doing maintenance tasks, today Saturday 26/5. was the day the crew returned to the boat. I winded in the entrance to Kings Orchard Marina and took the boat the short distance back to Huddlesford Junction where I winded again and took up a mooring close to the Plough PH. Not long after securing the boat the crew arrived and we had a spot of lunch in the pub. Then it was back to the boat for the short journey to Fradley. The moorings at Fradley are generally busy and we were lucky to find one spot vacant. The mooring area is tree lined and having moored here several times previously we know the one solitary spot where it is just possible to line up the satellite dish. Unfortunately we were not in that spot so there would be no telly that night. One last throw of the dice was to link the sky box to my phone hotspot and see what happened. Success, we had access to the on demand services and it later transpired that an evening of streaming tv only used 2.5 gigabytes of data allowance. After securing the boat we wandered off to the cafe close to the junction with four legs and had an ice cream each. Four legs ate his tub of vanilla ice cream really quickly and then thought he could have a lick of ours. He was wrong. The next day we set off early, well for us it was and passed through the swing bridge before turning left onto the Trent and Mersey Canal. We navigated three locks meeting a volunteer at the last, Wood End Lock.  
Trent and Mersey ahead    
Looking back at Fradley Junction
  Passing through Armitage famous for its toilets, we navigated the narrow ex tunnel which is now missing its roof. The crew hopped off the boat here to stop any oncoming traffic as this narrow is single way working only. Shortly afterwards we arrived at Rugeley and took a mooring near bridge 66. This was only to be a short stop to allow the crew to replenish supplies at the adjacent Tesco store. Next stop was to be Taft Bridge 69 by the pig farm and diesel barge. We found a spot on a solitary stretch of piling just long enough for one boat, so no neighbours. Monday 28/5. Our destination was Stafford Boat Club. We were not going to stay at the boat club moorings as previously, but we do know there is nice mooring just beyond Hazlestrine bridge by the club. First we navigated the two miles and two locks to Great Haywood Junction. We stopped for water then made our turn from the Trent and Mersey onto the the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. It was close to lunch and so we moored for a short period at Tixall Wide. After lunch we continued the remaining six miles and one lock to our chosen spot.   
   
Mooring Hazlestrine Bridge
  Tuesday 29/5. Would be a more gruelling day. Eleven miles and eleven locks would be the tally, and a lot of the journey would also include close proximity to the M6 motorway. We passed through Penkridge with its Midland Chandlers store situated right next to the canal, rather like placing sweets next to the checkout. We got through wallet intact. Just prior to Gailey near Boggs Lock we stopped briefly for lunch. Then in the afternoon continued on towards Coven our intended mooring spot. First we had to navigate a stretch of canal which passes by a chemical works. Warning signs are in abundance prohibiting any stopping or waiting for any reason. Holding our breath we passed to two to three hundred yards of unspecified hazard before arriving at the Hatherton Branch. One more mile and we moored for the night just beyond bridge 74, Moat House Bridge. Wednesday 30/5.  We travelled four miles to Autherley Junction navigating a very narrow cutting without meeting any opposing boats. We turned right onto the Shropshire Union and passed through Autherley stop lock. It was about now that the rain came so we took the opportunity to stop and fill with water waiting for the shower to pass. More ominous were the forecast thunderstorms that were impending, and we wanted to settled before they arrived. Initially we were aiming for the village of Brewood, but settled for a mooring between bridges 7 and 8. Thursday 31/5. No thunder or lightning came during the night, although we did think we heard the odd rumble in the distance. The forecast was similar, thunderstorms later in the day, but no rain before 2pm. Well the Met Office got that wrong. Literally within a minute of casting off the drizzle started. Fortunately it only lasted for a couple of miles and once beyond Brewood it stopped. At Wheaton Aston we pulled in to Turners Garage for diesel. Reportedly the cheapest on the entire canal network. Not sure about that but at 68.9 per litre we filled the tank to the brim. After that we trundled on until arriving at Norbury Junction. Here we moored within the five day section then wandered off to the Junction Inn for lunch. I had the steak and ale pie and it was huge. We later found out they do half a pie for lunch and this would have been plenty. We had planned to stay put for a day, but then we heard on the towpath telegraph about a stoppage at Audlem Locks. 
   
Views for side hatch Norbury Junction
Friday 1/6. We took four legs for a walk back to the village of Gnosall,  little over two miles away. As we had passed through the other day we had seen a nice pub and wanted to check it out. The Navigation PH is dog friendly and the food was very good. The walk between Gnosall and Norbury takes you along the Shelmore Embankment, and the towpath is excellent for walking. Later in the evening the thunderstorms arrived. We had some torrential rain as the storms skirted around us, but an hour or so later it was all over. Saturday 2/6. The notice came through that Audlem Locks were open again, so we set off for Market Drayton. We had eleven miles to travel which included the five locks at Tyrley, and the very narrow and dank in places Woodseaves cutting. We also knew that friends of ours on Barolo No.3 were also at Market Drayton. We arrived just after lunch and then in the evening went with our friends to the Red Lion PH. This was my first visit here and they have a fine selection of ales. The food is also of a high quality and I can recommend the lamb shanks. On return to the boat we spotted this.
Cygnets getting a ride
  Sunday 3/6. We set off for a favourite location of ours just below Adderley Locks. If we were really lucky we would have it to ourselves. The weather was glorious and we had completed the four miles and five locks prior to lunchtime. At the top of the flight is a farm shop and there is a stall by the canal selling pies and cakes etc. Inside the fridge were some homemade pork pies, so a few purchases were made.
   
Mooring below Adderley Locks
A couple of years ago the crew spotted some otters in the early morning playing with a fish they had caught. No such luck on this occasion but the setting is perfect. Monday 4/6. Ahead of us were the fifteen Locks of the Audlem flight. The crew was going to be busy. As we passed a boat moored by the top lock we were told no boats had come up today. This meant that possibly all the locks would be against us. As we passed through Lock four we could see the repair that had been carried out a few days earlier. It seems a boat either broke or lifted out the heavy beam with the cast plate that protects the cill. It does not look much but it required some heavy lifting gear and substantial wedges hammering in to fix it.
  
Cill buffer beam
We moored at the bottom of the flight on pins and for the first time on this journey we encountered the 'shroppie shelf', a concrete shelf hidden below the water line that grinds on the hull every time another boat passes. Tuesday 5/6. We set off the short distance to Overwater Marina for services then took a pontoon mooring whilst we visited the cafe for brunch. I had some very tasty cheese oatcakes before departing for the moorings at Coole Pilate about a mile away. These moorings are a lovely setting but also have picnic tables and barbecues. The towpath is wide and grassy and will allow me to finish weatherproofing our boat plank and poles.
Mooring at Coole Pilate
We will spend a couple of days here before heading for Nantwich and an appointment with a dentist.
  • Totals Saturday 26/5. 5 Miles
  •           Sunday 27/5. 9 Miles 3 Locks
  •           Monday 28/5. 8 Miles 3 Locks
  •           Tuesday 29/5.11 Miles 11 Locks
  •           Wednesday 30/5. 7 Miles 1 Lock
  •           Thursday 31/5. 11 Miles 1 Lock 1 Tunnel 
  •           Saturday 2/6. 11 Miles 5 Locks
  •           Sunday 3/6. 4 Miles 5 Locks
  •           Monday 4/6. 4 Miles 15 Locks
  •           Tuesday 5/6. 2 Miles
  •           Running total 197 Miles 76 Locks 6 Tunnels
 

Friday, 25 May 2018

Streethay

Quite a bit has happened since the last post, so here is a quick update. On Bank Holiday Monday 7/5. we departed Shackerstone aiming for Market Bosworth. This was an unplanned move, to facilitate a visit to a dentist the following day. We did wonder if there would be any space to moor at Bosworth, being a holiday weekend and with glorious weather, but to our surprise, we had our choice of spot being the only boat there. Wednesday 9/5. Visits to the dentist complete, our destination was Stoke Golding. The heat of the past few days had reduced, but it was still pleasant cruising weather. It was also much quieter, now all the workers had returned to their day jobs. On arrival at Stoke Golding we secured the boat, and after lunch wandered off to the farm shop at bridge 23 for supplies. Our evening meal was once again taken at the Mango Tree Indian restaurant, I can see this becoming a regular haunt when we pass this way. Thursday 10/5. we had a non moving day, instead taking four legs on a longish walk to Sutton Cheney Wharf for lunch. This is a round trip of about five miles, so it gave our legs a good stretch. The following day, Friday 11/5. we had a short hop of about one hour to Hinckley Marina. We were leaving the boat here for a couple of days, to attend a family Golden Wedding event near Newbury over the weekend. On returning to the boat, we took a further few days restocking the supplies and moving cars around, before finally getting underway again on Wednesday 16/5. Our intended destination was to be close to Springwood Haven Marina. As we navigated through Burton Hastings we spotted Nessie, a couple of hundred miles south of where he or she should be.
Nessie bobbing around at Burton Hastings
Turning right at Marston Junction, rejoining the Coventry Canal, we continued our journey north. We had to pass through Nuneaton, which as per usual meant encountering an increasing amount of rubbish dumped in the cut. As we approached Springwood Haven, we spotted a boat moored in our usual spot so we carried on on a bit. We found a nice spot just prior to a winding hole with some cows for neighbours.
Mooring near Springwood Haven
Thursday 17/5. We had a relatively short distance to cruise, but this did include the eleven locks of the Atherstone flight. We must have been righteous that day. Not only was the sun shining on us, and not so hot as to make it uncomfortable, but at all bar two of the locks we met oncoming boats. This meant nine of the eleven locks were set in our favour. At the bottom of the flight, we plodded on until reaching a usual spot for us, about a mile before Polesworth.
Mooring prior to Polesworth
We only stayed here one night before moving on to Whittington. So Friday 18/5. after breakfast we moved off. The weather was much cooler than it had been for the past couple of weeks. Our journey was going to take us by the birthplace of our boat, at Glascote Basin. We stopped above the top lock of the Glascote pair, at the water point. Whilst waiting we had a look into the Basin from the bridge. We will be back here in July for a boat gathering, which this year includes a hog roast. Once the water tank had been replenished, we set off again descending the two Glascote locks, and then continued on towards Whittington. We passed through Fazeley Junction, bearing right and joining the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. One feature of this canal, is that the bridges are named instead of being numbered. We only had a couple of miles to travel on this canal, before rejoining the Coventry Canal (detached section) at Whittington. Approaching Hopwas it was lunchtime, and the mooring directly outside the Tame Otter PH was empty. This was a sign, so we stopped for refreshments. After lunch we carried on for the remaining couple of miles to Whittington, and found our intended spot vacant. Securing the boat we took the opportunity to try out a new purchase, a sun parasol. Unfortunately, the nice shady seating caused four legs to misbehave, and following a disciplinary hearing, he has been demoted to third mate, for the offence of stealing the captains chair.
Four Legs committing a heinous crime
The demotion in rank also entails a restriction of privileges, meaning no Bonios for a week. A loose plan was to remain here for a week, whilst the crew popped home to do some dog sitting duties. This would give me the opportunity to complete some necessary maintenance tasks, including varnishing and wood staining. Wednesday 23/5. I moved the boat up to Kings Orchard Marina for services and took up a mooring just beyond the Marina entrance. Me and the third mate, will wait here til the crew returns on Saturday.  
  • Totals Monday      7/5.   3 Miles
  •          Wednesday 9/5.   6 Miles
  •          Friday        11/5.  3 Miles
  •          Wednesday 16/5.  11 Miles
  •          Thursday    17/5.  7 Miles 11 Locks
  •          Friday         18/5. 12 Miles 2 Locks
  •          Wednesday 23/5.  1 Mile 
  • Running total 125 Miles 32 Locks 5 Tunnels 

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Shackerstone

Knowing fine weather was forecast for the next week or so, and it being a Bank Holiday Weekend, we expected it to get busy on the canal. With this in mind, we decided we wanted to be settled in our chosen spot well before the chaos ensued. We were also approaching the end of our 48 hour limit at Snarestone, although, we could have taken a mooring just beyond the small footbridge for a further seven days, being members of the Ashby Canal Association. So, on Thursday 3/5. we slipped our lines at about 9 am, and moved up to the water point. We had a nearly empty tank, so even with a fast filling tap, it would still take forty minutes or so to fill up. We said our goodbyes to the staff at the Wharf and winded, just as the first of two boats arrived. Back through the crooked tunnel, and then on towards Shackerstone, about three miles away. The sun was up and there was a gentle breeze so it felt warm even by mid morning. Not wanting to end our cruise too soon, we chugged along just above tickover, taking nearly two hours to cover the three miles. We passed beyond our usual spot, this time opting to moor opposite the festival field. This side of Shackerstone is much quieter with foot traffic on the towpath, it seems. On Friday 4/5. we walked four legs to Congerstone, to visit the Horse and Jockey PH for lunch. Today, Saturday 5/5. the glorious weather arrived. On waking there was not a cloud in the sky, and it has remained that way virtually all day. After our morning walk, we wandered up to the railway station to see the steam train which is running this weekend, and also to take lunch in the station tearoom.
  
Mooring at Shackerstone
This afternoon it was time to tackle some of the more onerous tasks, polishing the mushroom vents. The portholes have already been done, but the mushrooms hadn't been touched since last summer, and to say they were heavily tarnished would be an understatement. In circumstances like this, Google is your friend. I googled tarnished brass and got a multitude of results. One however caught my eye, as it had pictures to support its descriptions. To cut along story short, the web page had conducted many tests on tarnished brass, with various substances. The overall winner for ease of application, and the lack of elbow grease required, was tomato ketchup. I half imagined an individual somewhere in the world, laughing his head off, at the prospect of dozens of people smearing their brass with ketchup. Anyway, hating the task enough to try anything, here is the result of a small test area.
Patch test
I was amazed, a small dollop, left for ten minutes then wiped off. It really was that easy. Next was to tackle a whole mushroom.
Before tomato ketchup
After ketchup applied
  As can be seen above, a mere ten minutes of ketchup with no rubbing required, most of the tarnish has been removed and it is now ready for finishing with Brasso. Credit to https://www.littlehouseonthecorner.com/ultimate-guide-how-to-clean-brass/
The finished result
It was in fact so easy, that the whole process from the initial application of the ketchup, to the final buffing of the last of five vents, took no more than half an hour, including the ten minutes of doing nothing, with very little exertion. What is even better is, it does not have to be premium Heinz tomato ketchup either, this was done with Tesco own brand. One member of the crew thought even this amount of work unnecessary, and found himself a nice shady spot in the grass to watch the proceedings.
Oscar being lazy
Now all that is left to polish is the Houdini hatch and the fairleads. Just one final benefit of this glorious weather is the amount of power we now generate from our solar panel. Today we achieved 100 amp hours for the first time this year, which is approximately two thirds of our daily consumption, and its free.
  • Totals Thursday 3/5. 3 Miles 1 Tunnel 
  • Running total 82 Miles 19 Locks 5 Tunnels 

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Snarestone

Following our roast dinner at the Rising Sun PH on Sunday, we had another wet day to endure on Monday, although we did manage to give four legs a walk into Shackerstone before the rain arrived. Tuesday 1/5. the weather finally turned, and got to see the sun once again. We set off after breakfast for the end of the canal, a little over four miles away. As we passed through Shackerstone, we noted that there were not many boats visiting, and so it would be at Snarestone as well. We trundled along at just above tickover in the warm sun, the wind however, was still biting.
Cruising towards Snarestone Tunnel
  The tunnel at Snarestone is fairly short but very crooked, and as such only single way working is permitted. We approached slowly, as it is not until the final few yards prior to the entrance, before you can see through to the other side. It was all clear so in we went, remembering to duck as we proceeded, due to the roof lowering towards the northern end. 
   
Cruising the final section beyond the tunnel
Once beyond the final bridge, we found the mooring empty so had our choice of spot. Several boats did arrive after us, but did not stop long, so we have had the place to ourselves.
                        
   
Mooring at Snarestone
We are moored about 50 yards from the winding hole at the end of the canal. There is a Wharf here run by the Ashby Canal Association, and beyond the winding hole is a newly restored section of canal. We disposed of some rubbish, and popped into the association office for a catch up. Last year we took out membership, and we have since updated this to become life members of the association. The next major project in the restoration, is to build an aqueduct over Gilwiskaw Brook, which is hoped to be commenced this year. Once that is done there is only the small matter of two miles of canal to reinstate, some of which, is having to take a new route to that of the original cut. I was told that they hope to be in Measham in about five years. Today we wandered off to the Globe PH for lunch. I had the steak and ale pie, with proper shortcrust pastry. I can definitely recommend it. Our plan tomorrow is to fill the water tank, wind, and head back to Shackerstone settling for the Bank Holiday Weekend. We expect it may get busy as some fine weather is forecast.
  • Totals Tuesday 1/5. 4 Miles 1 Tunnel 
  • Running total          79 Miles 19 Locks 4 Tunnels