Perfect Harmony

Perfect Harmony
Moored at Huntingdon

Saturday, 22 August 2015

22nd August '15

We had a bit of an 'incident' at Alrewas. We were woken at 12.15 with a series of bangs on the boat. I put the lights on and John went out at the back but whoever it was had disappeared. In the morning it appeared that we'd had apples thrown at us, as they were along the mooring next to the boat. Morons. We've moored all over the place, often where others have told us not to but we've never had anything thrown at us before.

We left after breakfast and had good luck with all the locks but it still seems such a long stretch back to the marina. We came up behind a day boat meandering slowly along, enjoying their day out. We got up fairly close and I went up to the bow, the chap on the boat asked if we'd like to go past, I said that we wouldn't normally overtake, but we'd been out for 11 weeks and were only an hour from home. They happily waved us past and we headed off. Then just as we were coming into Willington, there was a hire boat across the canal with no one aboard. I got up to the bow of ours again and managed to climb aboard the boat, only to find that the middle rope plus the stern rope were both in the water with mooring spikes attached. I got them free but the boat was so badly tied up that I couldn't get to land, so John had to nudge it a bit with ours so that it went towards the shore. That meant that I was able to jump off and pull it in. Without anything to moor it to, I just tied the stern rope to the boat behind it and got back on ours, they could sort it out when they got back.
Getting back onto the marina was lovely, but I'm not so sure about our new mooring, we are no longer next to Keith and Karen and I'm missing them!

We spent Tuesday cleaning the boat, Wednesday John took the motor home to get it's MOT and I cleaned the boat. Thursday we went shopping and Friday the car had it's MOT and I cleaned the boat. We've paid our mooring fees and taxed both vehicles, just the insurance to go. Expensive time.
We're off to London on Monday to celebrate our wedding anniversary, so when we get back I'll hopefully have some pictures and I'll try hard to keep the blog going, but now I'm busy with the book, I want to get on with some patchwork and I've got some dressmaking to catch up with.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

16th August '15

Sorry about the lack of blog, various reasons as shall be told.

13th. We descended the Atherstone Flight. After seeing no one as we headed towards the top, when we arrived it was busy, but there were volunteers at the first couple of locks which helped thin everyone out.
We managed to get down in just over 2 hours, which is pretty good since there was a boat ahead and not that many coming up so we had to wait for them to fill and they tend to do this quite slowly, but they empty fast to help compensate!

Some rather cute alpacas we saw on the way to the locks. That in fact was the only photo I took that day. The weather was overcast and rain had been threatened but it stayed dry for us. We filled with water just beyond the bottom of the locks and John emptied the cassette and then we simply pootled over to the tow path side and battened down the hatches as the forecast was awful. No blog as I had poor reception.

14th. We didn't move all day as the rain was constant and it didn't seem worth moving, so we stayed put and watched DVD's. No blog as there was nothing to say unless you want a review of the DVD's?

 15th.  The weather had improved and although it was very windy and quite cold, we headed out and came to the Glascote Locks, there's only 2 of them and the first one was open for us and a boat was emerging. As it went past we realised it was Martin Ludgate, of Canal Boat fame and also known for setting quizzes for the IWA boat shows.

The second lock wasn't as obliging but once we'd done that it was straight on to Fazeley Junction.

For those of you who haven't been through Fazeley lately, they've really tidied up all the old boarded up buildings and it's quite smart there now. This is looking towards the Coventry Canal going up to Fradley with the Birmingham and Fazeley canal on the left.

They've also painted these on the building between the Coventry and the B&F arms which help brighten up the area somewhat.

We moored just before Balls Bridge at Hopwas and there was no blog because I was busy with the book! and there just wasn't time. Here I am now though and bringing you up to date.

Today. Fradley Junction was manic, even for a sunny August Sunday. We arrived and I had to moor on the side of the junction as there was no room in front of the lock even though lots of boats seemed to be going the other way and several came and turned. I had to wait for 3 boats to go down and 3 to come up before it was my turn. I was (am) immensely proud of myself as I turned the boat from the direction is was in as above to the one it was in as below with no problems at all and in fact got complimented for my helmsmanship, by the boat I breasted up against.

I know that many boaters wouldn't think twice about this but for me it felt like a big deal.

Luckily there were some volunteers on the locks which helped speed everyone through

One of the lowest bridges you have to go under coming out of a lock on the T&M. It's nice to be nearly home. Tonight we are moored at Alrewas and surprise, surprise we're going to have an Indian take-away. Then tomorrow we'll be heading back to the marina and home.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

12th August '15

No internet yesterday, sorry.

We went just a short distance and moored up near bridge 30 as we wanted to get a plaque for the canal and also go for lunch at the Dog and Hedgehog, which John had read good reviews about. So we set off with Paddy and found the Ashby Canal Centre, which was a small shack behind a workshop that didn't sell anything of interest at all, in fact it didn't appear to sell much of anything, but they were able to say that Ashby Boats just down the canal would be likely to have them, so we continued on our way. The pub we wanted to go to was in Dadlington, which was just across from where we were moored but since we were rather early we were happy to continue walking along to bridge 25 where we were about to cross the canal and go to the Ashby Boat wharf.

The plaque on the wall of the wharf showing when it first opened. I was able to buy not only a plaque for the boat but also a mug (didn't tell John about this until a lot later in the day) and also a new Pearson's guide to the canal so now we'll have slightly more up to date information.

We found ourselves in Stoke Golding, the names along this canal are wonderful, Shakerstone is my favourite I think, but Sheepy Magna is also a good one, anyway we then were on the right side of the canal for the pub so continued our walk around in a circle until we found ourselves in Dadlington and at the Dog and Hedgehog.

Here it is and there's a nice patio around the back where we enjoyed a sumptuous roast lamb dinner each, no thought of pudding, it was that good. Apparently they let dogs inside but it was nice and warm so we were happy to eat outside.

We made our way back to the boat, which was only 5 minutes away, and started off again for bridge 23 where I wanted to visit the farm shop that looked as if it had some really interesting stuff.

Going back a bit, on our walk, this family of swans were on the towpath and were guarding it rather fiercely. We were warned by one couple with 2 dogs that they'd turned back but we got close and John picked Paddy up and we sort of stood there, trying one way around and then the other, finally deciding that we could get through, which we did, but very nervously I might add. A lady coming the other way watched us and decided not to try it, so we felt bravery medals were in order. Naturally when we're going past in the boat they are now on the water and doing there best to look benign, but we knew better!

Incidentally, the road you can just see in the background was the one we ended up walking on, just across the canal from where we'd been - it was quite a circuit!

Anyway we got to the farm shop and talk about disappointing. There was very little for sale, the bacon was far too thick for our taste, the pears looked very overripe and so apart from some bread rolls, chocolate biscuits and pork scratchings (that weren't anything like as nice as the ones we'd had in Oxford with Simon and Abby) I left empty handed.

We ended up mooring almost exactly where we'd been on our first night on the canal, knowing it was only 5 miles before the Coventry.

Today we awoke to blazing sun and it's been lovely ever since. We got back safely onto the Coventry and only then realised how clean the Ashby had been. Unfortunately going through Nuneaton you see the worst side of the canal, rubbish in the water, rubbish along the tow path and no bins anywhere.

This is Hartshill Yard and we are moored just beyond it. You can see how lovely the weather is, but the forecast for tomorrow is dire. Thunder and rain pretty much all day, which is a shame because we are only about 2 miles away from Atherstone Locks. Not sure what we'll do if it's horrible. I'm now ready to get home. I couldn't continuous cruise, even though I love the life and really enjoy all the travel, once I know we're nearing home I just want to get there. We could be there in a bit under a week, but not if the weather's horrible.

Monday, 10 August 2015

10th August '15

No blog yesterday as I cooked a big roast and by the time we'd cleared up I just didn't feel like it so there!

Anyway yesterday we continued up the Ashby and found it a bit shallow in places! We went past all the Bosworth Field stops, we tried to stop at what was shown as moorings in our book but it's 11 years old (note to self, buy new Pearson's before setting out in future) and what I presume were the moorings have overgrown, they were supposed to be next to Richards Field, the site where it is presumed that Richard of York died but there were no signs anywhere.

This is where you can moor and walk across the fields to the Bosworth Field information centre, but we thought we'd probably stop on the way back, this was before discovering the moorings by Richards Field were no longer there.

I seem to be in a bit of a senior moment phase, because I've forgotten to mention what happened the previous night when we went for our meal.

As usual, I'm always interested in people around me (John says I'm nosey, but I'm just a people watcher!) and got chatting to the table of 4 next to us. One of the ladies said she thought she knew me and I told her my name and she said she definitely knew the name so we spent some time trying to work out the connection. She lived about 10 miles from where we used to and our children went to the same secondary school, we knew a few people around and about in common and finally I said that I'd worked at Yeovil College. That was it! We'd both worked in the same department, me in child care and Jo in health and social care and we'd been in and out of the staffroom. What a coincidence. They were up here visiting her husbands niece and husband and whatever the odds were that we'd be eating in the same pub, at adjoining tables in Leicestershire that night must be astronomical. Small old world isn't it?

This is the pub in question, no Lime Kilns to be seen anywhere and it used to be called the Plough apparently, no idea why it changed it's name.

We moored out in open country, just before Bridge 38 and these were our neighbours for the night. During the afternoon after we'd moored, a couple came past and we started chatting, they were boaters as well and they told us that there was a height restriction on the tunnel at the end of the canal. Something we didn't know about. So John checked and sure enough it's 75" max and we are nearer 80" so we will only be able to go up to the winding hole a couple of miles before the tunnel and won't make it to the end.

The connection is quite slow tonight so I'm not going to be able to put as many pictures on as I'd like.
The weather forecast last night wasn't good and said it would improve from about 10.30am so we weren't in a hurry to get away today and the skies were very heavy when we set off. We kept saying that at the first sign of rain we'd pull in since moorings are plentiful along here. There was a brief flurry of about 6 drops and that was it, the day continued overcast with very heavy cloud cover and strong winds but stayed dry.

We went and turned and came back to more or less opposite where the supposed moorings were and went off for a walk, as the map showed a pottery about a mile away. The pottery was long gone but there was a glass blowing studio instead. It was shut.

Anyway we walked on and came to the Battlefield. The horrible weather of earlier broke and we had beautiful sunshine, although all around us in the distance we could see clouds and showers of rain.

While we were there we read all the blurb and looked at the maps and found that we'd actually walked past Richards Field on the way so were determined to spot it on the way back. I'd been to Bosworth when Robert was a baby in 1981 and my overriding memory of the place was carrying him in a sling when he filled a nappy with the most disgusting bright yellow smelly curd-like substance that only a 6 week old, breast fed baby can do. He was wearing a disposable nappy and they weren't that sophisticated at that time and he was covered from his neck to his toes, the sling was bright yellow as was my tee-shirt. Because of this I wasn't surprised to not recognise any of the stuff there, Then on the walk back I realised that they discovered in 1985 that they had the wrong site, so where I went wasn't the same place at all.

On the way back we found Richards Field.....

....and this is it. Not exactly inspiring, plus I realised that the overgrown moorings on the off side that we'd seen were in fact next to this but since there was no notice-board or plaque it wasn't obvious what it was.

Tomorrow I want to stop at a rather nice farm shop that we spotted on the way up here and there's also a pub that John has read good things about so we'll probably do them and the next day get back onto the Coventry and head for home, still no real hurry though,

Saturday, 8 August 2015

8th August '15

No blog yesterday, mainly because when we moored John said there was no internet, by the time I realised he was wrong it was getting a bit late and in any case I took very few photos yesterday. This was mainly because I had a creative burst and wrote about 7,000 words on the book, no idea if they're any good, but I had a great time writing it!

As we left Rugby we went under the bridge with this rather good mural celebrating the game of Rugby, which is apparently quite popular!

That does actually seem to be the only photo I took! Anyway, while I was beavering away at my computer, John took us along the final stretch of the North Oxford and we moored at Hawkesbury just before the lock (anyone who knows this will know that it's barely a lock but you still have to work it). We were amazed at how quiet it was, we had a good mooring and apart from one boat that came in behind us later on, there were moorings almost right around to the lock, very surprising given the busyness of Rugby the day before.

Naturally this all changed when we wanted to leave this morning, boats everywhere! We had to wait for a boat filling with water, as we wanted some and in the meantime, 4 boats went through in our direction. When we were ready I called to the boat waiting that if they wanted to go through then we'd follow them, they replied that they were travelling  with the boat behind them, so cheekily I said that maybe we ought to go first. They agreed! Lovely people.



Hawkesbury Junction navigated safely! We still have nightmares about coming around here when we were first bringing the boat home and the wind caught us and we were stuck across the canal. No bow thruster and we lost our chimney cover in the canal, nearly lost me in fact, just wet up to a knee and
some impressive bruises!

No idea why this one shifted across!

Marston Junction, the entrance to the Ashby canal, as from 11.30 this morning we are in new territory, we bravely go where we haven't been before!

It's a dinky little canal, very rural (at least so far) and a cross between a small river and the Shroppie!

Nice clear mile markers along here, this is obviously the first and we are moored just along from the 5th.

Pylons marching along the side of the canal! They seem to go on forever, but we have lost them now, we must have turned a corner somewhere!

We have had a bit of a scare with Paddy, he's been limping again and worrying one of his paws, so for the last couple of nights I've given him doggy painkillers and soaked his foot. Last night I noticed that he had a bad tangle of fur in his paw and he let me cut it out and voila! today he's much better and just asked to go out for a walk. I was all ready to take him to the vets.

Talking of Paddy, the lovely couple who we towed to Fazeley right back at the start of this trip, have been in touch and have painted a wonderful portrait of him. When we get it I'll put a copy on here and give everyone their details. It looks brilliant, such a nice couple.

Well we're moored just before bridge 15 which coincidentally has a pub next to it, so we're booked in for a meal tonight. I've been good all week and need a treat (well apart from the chocolate in Rugby). We're just outside Hinkley, apparently next to Watling Street, so I shall look out for Romans marching later on.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

6th August '15

I dosed myself up heavily last night and slept well so my back is a lot better today, thankfully.

Last views of Braunston Church. For those of  you who don't know, this is the Church that is used most by the boating community, it's pretty central and is such a landmark. Braunston is a real boaters place, a marina, plenty of moorings, a couple of chandleries and at the bottom of the Buckby Locks where the famous water cans originate (still painting mine, not very well I might add).

It was pretty busy by the time we left (late as I slept in somewhat) and we pulled out behind two boats. The first was a hire boat, one of Kates' from Warwick, there are a lot of them around here. Anyway it has to be the slowest hire boat in Christendom, nice to see but a 1.5 mile section according to Pearson's maps, was closer to 2.5 and there were no locks involved! It was lovely to see them moor up for lunch and they have just gone past our mooring and we counted 4 adults, 4 children and a dog in a very small boat!

Real geese, lots of them across the field, so lovely to see after all the Canadian ones that seem to be everywhere now. I hope our indigenous ones manage to survive, we've seen a lot of evidence of interbreeding along the way.

This is just for my mum, she always had lavender hedges in our gardens and it always makes me think of them, so Mum if you read this, enjoy!

This is the mooring at Barby Wharf that we were interested in on the way down, still not sold we noticed and at £96,000 we're not surprised! Lovely position but no electric, just water...really????

Here's the pub just south of Hilmorton locks, that we've had meals in with both the sons and their families, one momentous occasion when the Nellie was just walking and Halden was not quite, we had a meal there and the pile of food under the table was about ten times the amount that they had on their plates! It was like the magic porridge pot all over again! Luckily we had a lovely waitress who was completely unfazed by it all. Ironically it's about an hours drive home from here, we're likely to be out for the next 2 weeks still!

At the top of the Hilmorton Locks. The weather has just got better and better today and was really hot by the time we got here. Everything went fairly smoothly, apart from someone taking our lock despite the fact that we were in plain view, but heigh ho, some people are just like that.

We are now moored at Rugby, on the side of a park, which is nice. We've been to the Tesco just a few minutes away and so I'm now about to cook a prawn curry, one of our favourites.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

5th August '15

photos from yesterday...

The top of Napton Locks, the wind is whistling around the corner and the ripples on the water don't look half as bad as they were! Honestly. We'd got to the head of the queue here and were just waiting for a boat to come through.


Chronologically this should have come first. AT the summit we'd spotted this on the way down, but at the time I couldn't add pictures to the blog but now in all it's glory is a boat in it's own rather large puddle. We can't work out what's happening with it. Strangely enough just before we got to it there was a sign by the field that said moorings available....not if they're like this thank you very much!

These are the water buffalo grazing about half way down the locks. They don't look at all like the ones I saw in Africa but apparently there are different types. In any case I can say unequivocally that they taste delicious! The burgers were worth every penny. There are still 2 in the freezer and I'm looking forward to having them in the not too distant future.

Staying with the animal theme, here's one of the Highland cattle that we saw on our way up to the windmill. Such lovely animals, although I wouldn't want to be in a field with them......mind you I don't want to be in a field with ANY cow. I'm a bit of a wuss.

Here's the windmill from the top of the hill. There were amazing views around the whole 360 degrees. I don't know if I mentioned yesterday that you can see 7 counties from here, I'm not sure which ones they are but it's pretty impressive all the same.

Also at the top of the hill was a plaque showing where a former WWII observation post was. In case you can't see the details it says that people were able to see the blitz on Coventry from here. It certainly was an ideal spot for it as the horizons are a long way away.

This is just one of the views from a bit further down the hill, looking roughly south I think.

Last night I couldn't sleep and so got up and did some writing (I'm trying to put a book together) and stupidly I sat on the settee with the computer on my lap. It wasn't until I went to move that I realised I'd locked my back, so I spent the rest of the night in agony.
It's not that brilliant today so we haven't done too much, just come to Braunston and are now moored on the North Oxford.

We've just had a shower of rain but are tucked up cosy inside and don't care, as long as it stops by the morning!

As we were leaving Napton I got this shot of the windmill from the canal, it doesn't look that high, but having climbed up to it, I promise you it is!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

4th August '15

Three words to describe today: Windy; windy; windy.

It was really windy today! Typically we were negotiating lots of bends but managed not to hit anything or end up in the weeds - unlike other boats we saw!

I've just discovered that the internet connection here is appalling, so I'll add pictures tomorrow as long as it's better then.

We have come down the Napton Locks and are moored just above the bottom lock. We've had a good explore around the village and been up the  hill to see the Windmill up there.

We went past a Water Buffalo farm and have bought some burgers so guess what we're having tonight?

Very busy today, we were third in the queue to come down with 2 boats behind us while we were waiting to come down, most of the locks had boats coming up and there are 9 locks so in the wind we had some interesting experiences!

Braunston tomorrow and hopefully some internet.

Monday, 3 August 2015

3rd August '15

A lazy start today, there were so many boats going in both directions that we knew it was going to be a slow progress.

When we arrived at the foot of the Claydon Locks it was obviously quite busy, we had a single handed one in front and one behind us, and obviously some coming down.

When we got up a couple of locks we realised that there was a bit more to it. We'd had a boat go by us last night a bit after 9.00pm which we thought was going to moor around the corner from us, but apparently it had continued, as people coming down were complaining about the noise they were making and the latest they were reported was at 11.40pm. That's a pain in itself, but they had left one of the bottom paddles open on one set of locks which had practically drained the pound. Boaters were trying to let more water down to the pound than was going out, and things were improving when we got there, but I still had to keep to the middle as it was very shallow on the off side.

You can see how far down the water is on the towpath side here.

This is just before the lock. Naturally this meant that the summit was a bit low, but luckily there is a huge reservoir there so things should be sorted.

Bridge 141, this is the last of the lift bridges on the Oxford. They aren't a problem in any case since they are all up like this one until you get further south where they are kept down for more frequent use.

We're moored out in the middle of nowhere on a random length of pilings, just long enough for us. Paddy's having a whale of a time, he's been for a long run with no lead so he's a happy, and quite tired, little dog.

....and finally, this is the view opposite us, a field being harvested. What a contrast from 2 nights ago.....happy with both.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

2nd August '15

Yesterday we moved up to the central moorings and found a spot easily, right opposite the shopping centre, which is exactly what I wanted!

This is the view opposite - heaven for a day!

We went into town to get a few bits and pieces and then found a nice place for lunch. We'd passed some nice pubs but then we went up past the cross (as in Banbury...) and I spotted the Church House bar and restaurant, and it looked interesting, the menu sounded OK so in we went.

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera on me but took some nice interior shots on my phone (which I haven't downloaded onto here as yet) but if you're a friend on Facebook, you'll have seen them!

The place inside was amazing and we asked about the history of it all and they had a folder with old photos and press cuttings about it all. It had been built by public subscription to give the Church somewhere to hold meetings etc. We were in a huge room that had a barrel roof and housed the most enormous old wooden bar that was far to tall for anyone to reach the higher shelves without a stepladder. It wouldn't have looked out of place in some of the old bars we went in whilst we were in Canada and Alaska last year.

We got back and had a lazy hour or so and then I decided that it would be a good idea to go back to the market to see if I could get any fruit and veg cheap while they were packing up. Somehow I ended up in BHS and Debenhams as well but it's an easy mistake to make.

I got back to the boat to find Darren and Michelle had come over for a surprise visit! It was SO lovely to see them, we hadn't seen them since we were on the Grand Union 2 years ago, so we had quite a bit of catching up to do. As well as that we've started to make plans to go over to France and hire a boat to cruise on the Midi canal next summer. It promises to be great fun and I think we'll make a good foursome.

Today we decided that we'd had enough of town and so set off again just to put a few miles under us.

This was Banbury moorings on Saturday afternoon, having been told by several people that on Wed and Thursday it was impossible to moor not only here but also in the moorings further out from the centre. Strange.

Its hard to get the perspective on this, but it's a field where the grass has bleached to white and there are islands of pink flowers, we think campions, and John especially was really taken with it. The M40 is in the background. I took this at the top of one of the locks.

We went into Cropredy Marina for a pumpout and to get a new bottle of gas. It's amazingly spacious but although the position is great they don't do residential moorings so can't tempt us, plus they have no bridge over to the towpath so the only way to get to the village is down the road, which isn't very pedestrian friendly and is quite a distance.

Here's Cropredy from the inside!

It's the annual folk festival in a fortnight and the canal is already full to the brim of moored boats all the way through and below and above the village. Apparently they totally ignore the 48 hour mooring signs and those that are moored there will stay until after the festival. Great for those of us passing through.

We have moored above Varney's lock, about a mile north of the village and it's been manic here since we moored at about 4.00 this afternoon, about 6 boats down for every one going up. Heaven knows where they're going to moor!

I managed to totally forget that I'd done some washing on the way up here and finally remembered and got it out after the Archers. I'd best get it in when I've finished this, but I don't hold much hope for it being dry. Tumble drier on tomorrow I think.

I also decided that I wanted to cook meat pies with a roast today, and it was hot. Why can't I do a roast on cold days?

It's also been the day that the flying ants have emerged and the canal is full of dead is the boat actually. Still presumably enough survive to make it all worthwhile.

Tomorrow the summit and mooring out in the depths - that's the plan.