Tuesday, 27 August 2013

An Excellent Weekend.


Well,as the title says,we have had an excellent Bank Holiday.The Alvecote Historic Boat Gathering that we came for has been brilliant,we’ve seen some wonderful friends and made a few more,with a particular mention for Jo and Keith on the coal boat Hadar,as well as having a great time with Heather and Steve,who visited us for the weekend.The gathering itself has been memorable,thanks to all those who have been involved in its organisation,and also because the weather has been superb,with very little rain.We’ve eaten some lovely food,courtesy of Paul at the Samuel Barlow and drunk loads of everything,courtesy of the wonderful staff behind the bar there.There has been plenty of traditional boats here,a number of floating stalls and some events where boaters got the chance to demonstrate their skill at handling some very large boats.All in all,a very enjoyable weekend.

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A couple of shots of Alvecote Marina and the moored boats ready for the gathering.This was the site of the Tamworth Colliery.

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Just two of the boats in the Winding demonstration,unfortunately it was very windy which made a lot of work for the crews in the confined space.

Last week our blog came from Alvecote and this week it will be the same.We hadn’t moved from our mooring here until yesterday morning,when we took Chyandour for a cruise back up the Coventry Canal so Steve could practice his helmsman skills.We went through the two locks at Glascote with Mike and Marianne of Cast off & Blast off fame,on their boat Doormouse, before going our separate ways at Fazeley Junction.Then,a few miles further on from the junction,a bit past Hopwas,we called it a day,moored up, got out the BBQ and sat on the towpath watching the sunset with a glass of wine or three.This morning we Winded Chyandour and with Steve again at the helm we retraced our steps back here to Alvecote,stopping briefly for a snack with Geoff on Blue Buzzard just before we got to Glascote.Heather and Steve left this evening and are on their way back to Ferndown,so,that’s it,all our friends have left us.We are all hopeful of meeting up again in a few months time though,so there’s something to look forward too.

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After the BBQ on the left and my poor attempt at photographing a sunset,Sorry about the kitchen roll.

A large part of the last week has been spent walking around the local area and some of the time we have been foraging for fruit,as a result,Lisa,with the help of Heather,has been making pies and jam.There are loads of Blackberries,Apples and Plums in the hedgerows and it seems a shame not to make use of them.There used to be a lot of coal mines in this area but now most of the land has been landscaped so there is very little of the old workings left to be seen.What is left has been turned into nature trails where it is just possible to see traces of what used to be here as nature reclaims the land.Alvecote Marina itself is dug out of the site of the old Tamworth Colliery and further along the Coventry Canal is the Pooley Country Park where once was Pooley Hall Colliery.

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The monument on the top of the old slag heap for Pooley Hall Colliery.It’s a golden tower of leaves which is said to represents,amongst other things,the plant material that helped to form the coal beneath this area.There’s Heather,Steve and Lisa coming down the heap the hard way.

That’s all again for this week folks.Since last week we have done 4 Locks and 16 Miles,giving us a grand total of 468 Locks and 660 Miles since last October.Take care everyone.

Monday, 19 August 2013



This week finds us moored a few hundred yards from Alvecote Marina on the Coventry Canal,a couple of miles East of Tamworth in Staffordshire.We’re here for the Historic Boat Gathering this weekend,August Bank Holliday.For three days there are going to be loads of Historic Boats,floating stalls,live music and………….yes you’ve got it,a beer tent with quite a few real ales and ciders.We’re going to have a good look at what’s on offer and also to meet up with the odd friend or two who may be here.Also we are having another visit from Heather and Steve,Lisa’s sister and brother in law,who’re obviously gluttons for punishment.Meals are booked for Friday and Saturday nights in the nearby Samuel Barlow,we’ve been informed by the chef that booking is essential.

Last weeks blog came from the Trent & Mersey Canal at Shobnall near Burton on Trent,the brewing capital of the world.We had a few things to sort out in Burton that couldn’t be done online and so required a personal appearance from one or t’other of us.We stayed until lunchtime Tuesday when,having got everything sorted,we left Shobnall,and headed West,intending to get to Alrewas for a day or two.As is usual for us though,it didn’t quite work out like that.About a mile and a half along the canal and just after the Bridge Inn at Branston,as we were squeezing past a line of moored boats at Branston Water Park,we spotted a familiar boat and we couldn’t just go on past without stopping.It was the Blue Buzzard belonging to Geoff,a boater we’d met earlier in the year and for months we found ourselves as neighbours wherever we went.He cruises single handed,in other words,he travels around the system on his own,and that can have it’s own set of problems,particularly with lift bridges and some locks.Anyway,after mooring up and waiting for a short while,Geoff appeared from walking his dogs and as you can guess,we arranged to go into the aforementioned Bridge Inn for a glass or two and then went to Alrewas the next day.

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Geoff with Sam and Sally on the bows of his boat,Sam on the right,you can just make out the Blue Buzzard in the background.The picture on the right is one that I took on Sunday afternoon here on the Coventry Canal.It’s a guy on what looked like a surfboard,with his daughter,as he paddled along

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A very narrow Bridge 36 on the T&M just before Barton Turns and a view over Branston Water Park as we walked with Geoff and his dogs,it looked as though we were in for a good soaking but the clouds passed over.

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Above is a sequence of photo’s of Lisa as she brings Chyandour into Branston Lock on the T&M.This was her first lock on our own boat and as you can see she did it perfectly.

After spending Thursday in Alrewas we set off on Friday morning and made our way the two and a half miles to Fradley where we had arranged to meet up with another crew,that of the Mary H.Linda and Richard had paid us a visit while we were at the Middlewich Festival and now we were heading in opposite directions but passing at Fradley and that’s all the excuse one needs to go for a beer or three.So,that is just what we did,this time in the Swan.I must add though,despite the way I write this blog it is not the tale of one continuous pub crawl.We do other things you know,though exactly what,escapes me for the mo’.

Today has been one of the days that I devote to Chyandour.She’s our home and I like to keep her up together the best that I can so I have spent the day doing various little jobs.Just general tidying,cleaning and reorganising,it’s surprising how much room can be found when I start moving things about.All I have to do afterwards is remember where I have moved things too,not always as simple as it sounds.While I’ve been busy,Lisa’s been making Blackberry Jam.She went off this morning to pick the berries and then got back here and made the jam.It’s delicious.

That’s all again for this week folks.Since last week we have done the magnificent amount of 11 Locks and 24 Miles.This gives us a grand total of 464 Locks and 644 Miles since we set off in October.Thanks for reading and take care.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Kingfishers,Dragonflies & another Chyandour.


This week we’ve seen all of the above and more.The Kingfishers are a fairly common sight but trying to get anything like a half decent picture seems just about impossible.They wait while you search for the camera and then fly further along the canal,teasing you,settling on some canalside foliage and then,as you get closer,they’re off again.We’ve also seen loads of Dragonflies and Damselflies and,did you know,there are about 30 species of Dragonfly and 20 species of Damselfly in the UK,though I’ve no idea how many of each we saw.One of the other delights that we have enjoyed while staying on the Erewash Canal has been the fish.In some ways it’s like having our own pond,shoals of fish can be seen weaving about in the clear waters of this canal and it puts me in mind of a nature programme on the TV,though I will admit,the shoals here are not as large or as colourful.

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Trent Lock and Kingfishers dockyard at the bottom of the Erewash Canal on a beautiful evening.A slight delay at Sandiacre Lock as a couple of C&RT workers do some repairs to the gate paddles.They were fitting new baffles to deflect the water when the paddles are opened.

That brings us to the sighting of the other Chyandour.We were aware of this boat as one of the couples who crew her had been in touch when we first gave that name Chyandour to our own boat.Also,we had seen it on it’s mooring on the Staffs & Worcs Canal near Wombourne when we were on a hire boat in January 2011.Anyway,we had spent a lovely couple of days near Hallam Fields lock on the Erewash with Pete & Val from the good ship Tadpole 2 and were on our way back to Trent Lock when out of the mists Winking smile came this other Chyandour,it was quite a suprise to both crews I think.Then,yesterday,while we were moored above Swarkestone Junction on the T&M,what should come by but the very same boat.This time we were able to exchange a few pleasantries before they continued their journey.We’re sure to meet up with them again sometime.

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A couple of shots of what was the Nutbrook Canal Junction with the Erewash.This canal was only 4.5 miles long with 13 locks,it was opened in 1794 and it fell into decline in the 1890s.A short section to here through the Stanton Ironworks,which straddled the canal,was still being used by the ironworks in the 1940s with the last boat using it in 1949.

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A short stretch of the Nutbrook Canal still in water but unnavigable and the derelict lock chamber of Old Furnace Lock No.3.

Right,back to our adventures since last Monday.On Tuesday we had another Solar Panel fitted so that now gives us 400 watts to play with and I’m hoping we will start to see the benefits of this quite quickly.I scrounged some paint from the lads at Kingfisher Narrowboats at Trent Lock ,who fitted the panel,and I covered some of the scars that Chyandour has acquired over the last 10 months.She still looks pretty good,almost as good as the day we took her over in fact.Our friends Pete and Val had set off to their home mooring at Hallam Fields on Monday,so first thing Wednesday we set off after them,getting assisted through the six locks by Pete,who had come down to us on his bike.On our arrival Val had a delicious roast dinner prepared which came as a much appreciated surprise to us.We spent a great couple of days with Val and Pete,enjoying the delights of the former Stanton Ironworks Institute and the Carpenters Arms in the nearby village of Dale Abbey.On our final night,Thursday,we also enjoyed the company of my Sisters Brother in Law Keith,and his wife Pam,who we haven’t seen since our last trip up the Erewash back in October.

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The Hermits Cave at Dale Abbey,this is said to have been hewn out of the sandstone by a Derby baker who chose to be a recluse.The Chancel window is all that remains of the Abbey,the rest appears to have been shared out among other churches and large houses in the surrounding area.

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Close to Dale Abbey village is the Cat and Fiddle Windmill,built in 1788,closed in 1952 and only recently restored.Lisa at the helm as we travel along the River Trent from Trent Lock to Shardlow.

We got back to Trent Lock on Friday,spent the night moored there then set off Westwards first thing on Saturday to make our way back to Swarkestone Junction.On our way we made a stop at Shardlow to get our own paint to touch up Chyandour and I can tell you,if you think Crown or Dulux Paints are expensive ,try buying some boat paint,the cost is eye watering.We’ll be ready for you this time Steve.Open-mouthed smile  After a leisurely day yesterday we left Swarkestone this morning and made our way here to Shobnall Basin near Burton Upon Trent.We’ve one or two things to get sorted here before we move on again tomorrow.

Well,that’s all again for this week folks.Since last week we have done the monumental amount of 22 Locks and 31 Miles,giving us a grand total of 453 Locks and 622 miles since we set off back in October.Take care everyone.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Back to Trent Lock.


This week finds us back at Trent Lock,the place from where we first set off on our travels.We got here on Thursday,as we had planned,so that we could spend the weekend with Janice,formerly of Jandai fame,and Mandy and Shaun at their 25th wedding anniversary party.To say we had a fantastic time would be a bit of an understatement,Mandy and Shaun really went to town and put on a wonderful spread of homemade Indian food,together with loads of drink of every kind,everyone had a great time.We also enjoyed our stay with Janice in her new home,and we caught up with everything she had done since we last saw her back in February.

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Could this be the fate of those poor souls who continuously moor?We saw this as we headed away from Willington.The first sight we had of the tree that was blocking the canal near Weston on Trent.

We set off from Willington last Tuesday and made our way slowly to Swarkestone where we found a great mooring with plenty of space for a BBQ in the glorious weather.Then on Wednesday,what a change,off we went in the pouring rain and headed for Shardlow,just 6 miles further along the T&M.Our journey was interrupted just as we were preparing to moor up because we don’t really have to cruise in the rain.There was a fallen tree blocking the canal so it was on with the kettle and wait for C&RT to come and remove it,or so I thought.As we were at the back of the queue,it became my duty to warn the next boat that came along.This turned out to have a crew who,after some discussion,were happy to pull up to the said tree,and with the aid of our Bow Saw,proceed to cut a way through.An hour or so later,we were all on our way again,just as the contractors arrived to see what the problem was.They didn’t appear to have any tools that could be used for cutting wood so perhaps they too would have asked for a loan of our Bow Saw.

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Everyone “ mucks in “ as a way is cut through the fallen tree.Nearly everyone who was held up came to lend a hand,or,in some cases,give further instructions.

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The last limb was a bit more difficult but the guy worked hard and it was soon hauled out of the way.

The rain finally stopped just as we were mooring up in Shardlow and already moored there was Tadpole 2 who’s crew we had met at Alrewas Festival.After a quick chat it was decided that we go and get our insides wet at the nearby Navigation Inn and a great night was had by all.The next morning,in company with Tadpole 2,we continued the rest of our journey,along the River Trent,through to here.

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On the River Trent with Tadpole 2 ahead and one of the “road signs” as we approach the M1 Motorway bridge that spans the river.

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On the left the weir where the Trent continues it’s journey and we go right to enter the Sawley Cut,a canal that bypasses an unnavigable stretch of river.On the right is Sawley Locks which are at the Eastern end of the Sawley Cut and we are now back on the river.They’re electric locks where everything is done by the push of a button,Lisa loves them.

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The entrance to the Erewash Canal from the River Trent straight ahead,we go past and then turn back so that we enter against the flow of the river.An interestingly named boat on the Erewash,this is,incidentally,owned by the lady who did the signwriting on Chyandour.It is,I believe,the back half of a larger boat with a new bow,hence the name.

We are now going to stay here for another day or two because I would like another Solar Panel fitted and there are some minor snags that need sorting.It’s been almost ten months since we left here and there has not been a single problem with Chyandour in that time.Nothing is loose and nothing has leaked or dropped off which says a lot about the workmanship that went into her build.

Later in the week we are going to cruise a short way up the Erewash Canal to see some friends,before retracing our steps back to Fradley where we will turn down the Coventry Canal and head for our next festival.

Well,that’s all for this week folks.Since our last blog we have done the phenomenal amount of 9 Locks and 14 Miles.Giving us a grand total of,wait for it,……….431 Locks and 591 Miles since October.Take care everyone.