Monday, 30 December 2013



Just a short blog this week I’m afraid ‘cos we haven’t done much since last Monday,other than enjoy ourselves that is,and we have only done a little bit of cruising,mainly on bits that we have cruised before.On Tuesday we moved from the mooring in Birmingham and,after filling up with water etc.,we headed up the New Mainline to Albion Junction where it connects to the Gower Branch. The Gower Branch links the New and Old Mainlines at Bradeshall Junction after it ascends the three Brades Locks. Albion Junction is a nice quiet place to moor and we didn’t see another boat until a couple of hours before we set off back to Birmingham on Friday.Christmas was great with just ourselves and Andy and Di off NB. Fenakapan,we had plenty of food and drink as you would expect and just chilled for a couple of days.

On Friday afternoon we left Albion Junction to get back to Brum. where Lisa and I had a train to catch on Saturday to go and visit our Daughters and Grandchildren with their Christmas presents.Sunday had us cruising down the Farmers Bridge Flight on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal and then on to the Digbeth Branch and the moorings next to Aston University.We’re going to stay here till tomorrow and then move on again to somewhere nice and quiet for the New Year.We’re all stocked up again so bring on the celebrations and Lisa and I would like to wish everyone all the very best for 2014.

Farmers Bridge 007 Farmers Bridge 010

The Craven Arms in Birmingham at the back of the Mailbox.A lovely quiet pub with some nice real ales.Chyandour decorated for Christmas.

Farmers Bridge 020 Farmers Bridge 021

On our way to Albion Junction on the BCN New Mainline.The first bridge is Chance’s Bridge,the second Hartley Bridge and in the distance is the M5 and Steward Aqueduct.Some of the remains of Chance’s Glassworks,they had works on both sides of the canal and the two bridges connected the two sides.

Farmers Bridge 037 Farmers Bridge 052

Lisa negotiating some of the locks on the Farmers Bridge flight,she did twelve of the thirteen before giving me a go ‘cos she was so cold.See ladies,it’s not all easy peasy on the Tiller while you’re doing the locks.

Farmers Bridge 058 Farmers Bridge 061

Lock number 12 on the flight with Livery Street bridge after the bottom gate,then the magnificent Snow Hill rail bridge towering over everything else.Looking back up the flight with a picture of what I think is John Smeaton who was the Engineer in charge of building the Birmingham & Fazeley canal and the Farmers Bridge flight of locks.

That’s all for this week folks,since last week we have done 13 Locks and 15 Miles giving us a grand total of 548 Locks and 977 Miles since we left Trent Lock in October 2012.Take care everyone.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Home for Christmas


We are now back on Chyandour after spending ten brilliant days with the crew of NB. Swamp Frogs,Rob and Suzie Conroy,in Paphos on the island of Cyprus.We had a few interesting experiences while we were there and also on our journeys too and fro.I mentioned,in my last blog,the situation we found ourselves in when we were heading out to Cyprus,well,or journey back was equally eventful.Everything on the return flight went smoothly until our approach to Birmingham at the height of the storm last Wednesday night.It was just after 20.00 hrs.and as we came into land the plane was being buffeted and we could hear the wind as it hit the fuselage,it was a bit unnerving.The pilot pulled the plane up just a few seconds before we would have landed and with engines at full power we climbed away back into the clouds.After taking the plane around the pilot brought us on to another approach but this time we didn’t get as near to the runway before he pulled up again.The pilot explained after this attempt that,on the the first approach the wind had been too strong and on the second,there had been another aircraft on the runway and the Control Tower had turned him away.Of course as you can imagine,by this time things were getting a bit stressful and a lot of people were holding on tightly as we made the third attempt.The ground did look uncomfortably close as we came in but we landed safely and there was a round of applause for the pilot and crew who were very good throughout.The next day we discovered that the plane on the runway on our second attempt had had to make an emergency landing

Our journey from the airport also had it’s moments,again because of the storm,the trains into and out of Brum’ were all over the place. We finally got back to Chyandour at Alvechurch Marina about midnight and then had to set about lighting the fire,turning on the gas and water,and firing up the central heating for a bit to take the chill off the cabin.Next morning we said our farewells to Kate in the Marina office and headed to our next rendezvous in Birmingham.Our plan is to spend the next few weeks in the company of Andy and Dianne,off NB.Fanakapan,cruising some of the BCN,weather permitting of course.All the food and drink we are likely to need,and a lot more besides,has been loaded onto the boats and tomorrow we will be heading to places that Lisa and I haven’t been.Originally our plan was to head off today but the weather forecast is a bit grim so tomorrow will do,we aren’t going far until after Boxing day anyway,we’re just going to find a secluded mooring somewhere.

This weekend we’ve had the pleasure of visiting Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market again,this time with Janice,formerly of NB.Jandai,who came out to see us for  a few hours on Saturday.It was nice to see her looking so well and it was great to meet up again,Jan and Lisa barely had time to breath as they caught up on the gossip.On Sunday our lovely little Granddaughter Beatrice brought her mum out to see us,we haven’t seen her for three weeks and though she isn’t walking or talking yet she has changed quite a bit.I’ve also had the chance to look over some of the old Ordnance Survey maps of the Birmingham area in the new library.It’s great to seek out the old canal arms and basins that are now hidden or filled in.As you cruise the BCN there are loads of bricked up bridge holes that used to lead somewhere,perhaps to a wharf,to a foundry or to an engineering works,all of which no longer exist.Bridges still cross the canal, once connecting parts of businesses that have long gone,now no longer serving the purpose that they were built for,nor any other purpose at the moment.There’s Chance’s Bridge and Hartley Bridge just before Steward Aqueduct,they served Chance’s Glassworks which was one of the pioneers in glassmaking but closed in the 1980s after over a 150 years.

009  023

Lisa and I in the Avakas Gorge and a boulder firmly (thankfully) wedged in between the sides of the gorge.As you can see we’re wrapped up well,the weather turned rather cold a few days after our arrival in Cyprus and they had snow for the first time for 20 years,though not where we were.

Cyprus 4 005  Cyprus 4 020

Rob,Suzie and Lisa strolling along the waterfront in Paphos,the weather was starting to get warmer at this stage.Part of the Paphos Archaeological park which is close to the harbour.It became a World Heritage site in 1880 and there are loads of things to see there.

Cyprus 4 024  Cyprus 4 029

Rob and Suzie taking in the culture and the Paphos Odeon which was built in the 2nd.Century AD.

Cyprus 4 041  Cyprus 4 050

A couple of the many mosaics at the Paphos Archaeological site.Some were under cover,others outside in the open.

Cyprus 4 052 Cyprus 4 054 

A couple of boats moored in the harbour at Paphos.

Cyprus 4 062  Cyprus 4 072

A couple of pic’s of the sunset from Paphos Harbour.I’m starting to get the hang of the new camera now.

Cyprus 5 025  Cyprus 5 032

Aphrodite’s bath,she wasn’t in it but she’d left the water and it was still warm.The view over Polis on the North Western coast of Cyprus from Akamas where we walked from Aphrodite’s bath.

Cyprus 5 006 Cyprus 7 017

The four of us at the monastery of Ayios Neophytos,9 km north of Paphos. Founded at the end of the 12th Century by Cypriot hermit Neofytos.It got warm enough for us to get into the sea on the last couple of days of our holiday,quite a change from the previous week.Here Suzie is pointing to an Octopus which turned rather aggressive just after the pic’ was taken and attacked her,she rushed out of the water and so it turned it’s attention on Rob before he managed to get out too.

Cyprus 7 046  Cyprus 7 093

See,we did get a swim in the end,in spite of the earlier cold weather and the man (or woman) eating octopus.Oranges growing at the side of the road,there were loads of these as well as Banana plants all around Paphos.

Well,that’s all for this week I’m afraid.Since our last blog we have again done no locks and only 11 miles,giving us a Grand Total of 535 Locks and 962 Miles since October 2012.Take care everyone and have a very Merry Christmas.

Monday, 9 December 2013

We’re illegal Immigrants.


Yes,as the title suggests,we were illegal immigrants for just a few minutes on Sunday afternoon and it was completely my fault,as I will explain shortly.

Since our last blog we have spent our time in Birmingham browsing the shops and the Christmas Market,just getting the last few bits and pieces for Christmas while we had the chance.A couple of friends from the good ship Fanakapan,joined us on Tuesday and our evenings have been spent with them enjoying some very fine Real Ales in some of the nicest pubs in Birmingham.On Friday morning we left Andy and Di’ and made our way down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to where we have moored Chyandour while we set off on the next stage of our travels,this time though a bit farther afield.

Another couple of our friends,Rob and Suzie Conroy,from Swamp Frogs,went of to Cyprus a few weeks ago and before they left they invited us to fly over to join them for a week or two.We took them up on their offer this weekend and that was when we got into a bit of a pickle at the airport and,temporarily,became illegal immigrants.We wanted to get to the airport early and get everything sorted so we could relax,explore and watch other planes leaving for various destinations.It was our first flight out of the UK for many years and we weren’t familiar with the procedure so,seeing the Departure Lounge sign,that was what we made for.We went through customs,got scanned and I had a body search ‘cos the alarm went off.I hadn’t heard the instructions on what to take off my person and it took three attempts to get through the scanner and this frustrated the customs officer.From there we went through the duty free shop and had started our exploring when our names were called over the loudspeaker,asking us to return to customs.When we got back it transpired that we had missed checking in at the airline desk on the ground floor so this all meant that we had to go back out of the airport and start again but that’s not easy.

We had to get an escort from the airline,thank you Richard,to take us back through immigration while our luggage was escorted by two customs officers back to the airline check in without going through customs.It sounds easy,but at the time it was a bit worrying and we were thinking we might miss our flight.Anyway,after checking in properly,we were escorted back to customs to get scanned again and this time I was wiser and did it without a glitch.As a result we arrived in Larnaca safe and sound to be met by Rob and Suzie at Arrivals who then drove us here to Paphos and their villa.

Cyprus Paphos 005  Cyprus Paphos 008

A Monarch Airlines plane being serviced,we flew with Monarch but not this aircraft.One of Ryanair’s planes taking off in the background.

Cyprus Paphos 027  Cyprus Paphos 028

A couple of views from the patio at the villa in Paphos this morning.

Cyprus Paphos 031  Cyprus Paphos 035

The Edro III, an 83 meter long, 2,517 ton freighter that ran aground in stormy weather in the Sea Caves area of Paphos between Coral Bay and St. George’s Island on 8 December 2011.She was carrying a cargo of Plasterboard to Rhodes when she was disabled about ten miles out and then drifted to here.A view of the Sea Caves from the point where the Edro lll is aground.

Well,that’s all for this week folks,sorry it’s a bit on the short side.Since our last blog we’ve done 0 Locks and 13 Miles,giving us a Grand Total of 535 Locks and 951 Miles since we set off in October 2012.Take care everyone.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Our first Brazilian.


Well,as the title says,we have finally enjoyed our very first Brazilian and what an experience it was,but,more about that later,first of all let’s get on with our life on Chyandour over the last 7 days.

Last Tuesday we walked from our mooring at Merry Hill and made our way along the highways and byways of Brierley Hill to the bottom of the Stourbridge flight on the Stourbridge Canal.It’s only a couple of miles along the roads and it took about 45 minutes,whereas on a narrowboat it would have taken us about 5 hours to cruise through 24 locks and along the 5 miles of canal.Anyway,the reason for our walk was to help our friends Andy and Diane up the said 24 locks and we had a great day,arriving in plenty of time to enjoy the Steak Night at the ‘Spoons on the Waterfront at Merry Hill.Wednesday was spent roaming around Brierley Hill with Andy and Di’ and we found a nice pub called the Blue Brick where they were doing two courses for £4.25 and the food was very good.In the afternoon we had a visit from Marianne and Mick from the good ship Doormouse.Marianne is the lady from,and founder of,Marianne’s Tarot and she’ll be more than happy to give you a reading should you meet up with her on your travels.

Merry Hill 2 003  Merry Hill 2 006

You don’t see many of these knocking about.It’s parked at the entrance to a small Industrial Estate,could it be to deter burglars? Redhouse Bottle Kiln at the former Stuart Crystal works,alongside the canal,just outside Stourbridge.

Merry Hill 2 017  Merry Hill 2 020

Looking down the Stourbridge Locks as Andy brings his boat up,assisted by Lisa and Di’ on the paddles,I’m setting the next lock. Andy going under Brockmoor Junction Bridge as he enters the Stourbridge Extension Canal.This canal is a couple of hundred yards or so long and is navigable right to the end.The Fens Branch,from which Andy is turning,is said to be unnavigable from this point and so we didn’t try it,this time.

Merry Hill 2 001  Merry Hill 2 002

Looking down the Delph Locks and then looking up.These locks were just a short walk from our mooring at Merry Hill and the last we did on Tuesday.

I finally managed to prise Lisa away from the shops at Merry Hill on Thursday and we made our way back to Windmill End where,instead of going through the Netherton Tunnel,we continued on down the Dudley No.2 Canal to Hawne Basin.We had heard that we could get diesel and coal at the boatyard in the basin so,never having cruised that way before,we set off into the unknown.This stretch of the Dudley No.2 is about 3 miles long and lock free with only the very low Gosty Tunnel to give us any concern.We made it through the tunnel with no problems,ok there’s a short stretch that required me to keep my head down,but other than that it was fine.There was also the very tight turn through the narrow bridge hole and into the basin but it was worth it.We bunkered there and then decided to stay the night as it was getting on a bit.The boatyard kindly allowed us to make use of the Washing Machine,Dryer and Showers so it was a well scrubbed crew that left Hawne Basin on Friday morning to cruise the dozen or so miles to our next destination.

Merry Hill 4 043  Merry Hill 4 042

The North Portal of the 577 yard long Gosty Tunnel,with the lay-by on the left,this was used by the Tunnel Tugs that pulled boats through the tunnel.Inside the tunnel with the low bit clearly marked,it was still just possible to look over Chyandours roof.Can you see Draks face?

Merry Hill 4 037  Merry Hill 4 035

Fancy this in your front garden? It’s the ventilation shaft for the Gosty Tunnel.The entrance to Hawne Basin and Coombeswood Canal Trust boatyard,it was well worth the effort to get Chyandour through this bridge hole.

We were expecting visitors at the weekend so our plan was to get to the 14 day moorings at St.Vincent Street bridge,on the BCN Mainline,where we hoped to stay for a few days.There was space for us when we arrived so we have been able to enjoy the company of our visitors and now we can stay another day or two before heading off back down the Worcester & Birmingham canal to Alvechurch and the mooring we have booked for the following two weeks.Heather and Steve arrived at Lunchtime on Saturday and since then,all we seemed to have done is eat and drink.We mooched around the Christmas Market every day,sampling the food and drink and then we have the reason for the title of this weeks blog.On Sunday night we had booked a table at Rodizio Rico,the Brazilian restaurant,in the Cube at the Mailbox.To put it simply,the restaurant has a cold buffet for salads etc.,from which you help yourself,then,the meat is brought to your table on long skewers and carved onto your plate as you wish.There are a number of different meats and to indicate that you would like more you have a coaster which is red on one side and green on the other,green for yes please,red for no thank you.Obvious really,then as a result you can eat as much as you wish of everything and,I can assure you,we did.From there it was but a short walk to the Tap & Spile,just before Broad Street Tunnel and opposite Gas Street Basin,for a beer or two.Sunday was a doubly good day for us because our recently arrived Granddaughter brought her Mum over to see us for the afternoon,she’s lovely and she’s grown quite a bit since we last saw her.

St Vincent St 002  St Vincent St 007

The Bull at the Bullring,bet you didn’t know that,and the new Library at night.

We got a chance to spend a bit more time in the new library here in Birmingham and I’ve discovered we can enjoy all the facilities there just by registering.That means I will now be able to satisfy some of my curiosity about the canals here as well as the industries that were able to become world leaders as a result of the benefits the canals brought.

Ok,that’s all for this week folks,since our last blog we have covered 19 Miles and passed through 1 Lock.That gives us a Grand Total of 535 Locks and 938 Miles since we set off in October 2012.Take care everyone.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Christmas Shopping.


This week we are moored on the embankment above Merry Hill shopping centre near Brierley Hill in the West Midlands.At around the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th Centuries,almost all the iron making in the world was carried out within 20 miles of here and on this site stood the Round Oak Steelworks.Production at Round Oak was started by the Earl of Dudley in 1857 and the plant was closed down on the 23rd. December 1982.The site was redeveloped between 1985 and 1990 and now has over 250 stores with 10,000 car parking spaces.Since we got here Lisa has been in her element,she’s probably been in every one of the 250 stores at least once.

Lisa's Merry Hill 006 Merry Hill 2 001

The view over Merry Hill from our mooring.On the right is a photo’ of the dreaded weed hatch on Chyandour and  through this I have access to the propeller and whatever may be wrapped around it.The cover has been removed so I can get my arm down to have a feel around after the tiller started to vibrate,which is a dead giveaway that something is caught round the prop’. The BCN has a bit of a reputation for rubbish and this time it was a plastic bag or two.Difficult to tell for sure cos’ it was all well shredded and believe me,it was very cold down there so I wasn’t going to analyse it.

We left Windmill End last Tuesday morning to make our way the 4 miles to here so we can get our Christmas Shopping done,and we’re also due to meet up with the friends who we are going to be cruising the Birmingham Canals with over the next couple of months or so.We’re expecting them tomorrow and we haven’t seen them since the beginning of June when we were up the the Shroppie,so a good night is on the cards for tomorrow.Most of our week has been spent browsing around the shops here though we have had a couple of excursions.On Friday we walked back up the Dudley No 1 canal to the junction with the Dudley No 2 canal at Park Head and then on to the Dudley Tunnel.

Merry Hill 003 Merry Hill 010

A view up the Dudley No1 from Park Head bottom lock,with the disused railway viaduct in the distance and the old Toll House and Lockkeepers Cottage on the left.Park Head Top Lock with the former Pensnett Canal on the left and the entrance to the Grazebrook Arm across the top of the lock.The Pensnett canal was a mile and a quarter long and served the Northern side of the Round Oak Steelworks as well as a couple of the Earl of Dudleys coalfields,there’s very little left of this canal now as it has mostly been built over.

Merry Hill 016 Merry Hill 017

The approach to Dudley Tunnel with the Stop Lock in the foreground. This Tunnel is 3,154 yards long and emerges at the Black Country Museum.Sadly Chyandour is way too high to pass through the gauge at the tunnel mouth so we wont be going to Birmingham that way.

Merry Hill 023 Merry Hill 024

Blowers Green Lock at Parkhead Junction,the junction of the Dudley No1 and No2 Canals.One of the many signs alongside the canals giving information about the area.

On Saturday we used our Bus Passes for the first time.Some more friends,that we haven’t seen since last year,came over to Birmingham and we met up with them at the new library.Birmingham Library is amazing and we had planned to spend a day there when we got to Birmingham later this week but,having got to our rendesvous a bit early,we had a quick look around before our friends Pat and Rodger,from the good ship The Cat’s Whiskers,arrived.Oops,I nearly missed the “The” but the Editor put me right.

Merry Hill 032 Merry Hill 046

Me taking the sun at the new Birmingham Library and Lisa viewing the touch screen which gives details of some of the buildings on the skyline,that can be seen from the top of the Library.

Merry Hill 038 Merry Hill 047

A couple of views inside the library,the one on the left is looking down a couple of floors.Not good if you suffer from Vertigo.We had a great afternoon with Pat and Rodger and look forward to catching up with them again in the future.Less than a year till the next time we hope.

Well,that’s all again for this week I’m afraid.Since our last blog we have done all of 3 Locks,though I should say,the same lock three times ‘cos we went back up to Park Head Junction to use the services there yesterday,and 7 Miles.Giving us a Grand Total of 534 Locks and 919 Miles since we set off on our travels in October 2012.Take care everyone.