Wednesday, 3 October 2007
Burton to Fradley
Thursday 27th September:- Cool this morning, I put the heating on for a short while, but eventually we were ready to depart...........just as it started to rain so we decided to wait and I walked up to what used to be Jannel Cruisers. I needed an extra door handle, I had bought several in August 2004 when we were here for the IWA National Festival, but was one short. Jannel is no more, it is now Shobnal Boat Services, and fortunately they had just the sort I needed. They were also able to make a couple of spot welds for us to re-attach the top of our front fender. It was not easy turning into their basin, especially in the strong wind, but for a grand total of £6 all was right again.
As we approached the next lock, Branston, we met Maurice & Jo in Helaire, who have been to the forefront in the organisation of the Loughborough Boat Festival each year. If you haven't been, it is held over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend and upward of 100 boats gather along the towpath for this event which s free to boaters and to visitors and these number, it s estimated, up to 40,000 over the Saturday and Sunday. The other amazing thing is that for the past few years the weather has been mostly bright and dry. Boaters, there is no booking, but the organisers reserve certain moorings for trading boats.
Maurice & Jo were heading back to Loughborough Wharf for the grand Re-opening following redevelopment. Carol was invited but had to decline as we are determined to complete this ring, but the IWA Leicestershire Branch was represented by our Secretary, David Hastie, and two other members of the committee attended too, though they were also wearing the hats of other boating organisations. We have had many misgivings over this development, though have had to reluctantly accept that given the somewhat parlous state of British Waterways finances they needed to take a commercial decision that will aid their future income. The wharf has now been reopened, but there is still one building to be completed, and this could plunge the waterspace in gloom as it is to rise to 8 storeys, though the development alongside the river in Leicester is planned to rise to 38!!!! Caroline Killeavy, the area manager for BW did very well in getting the new Waterways Minister to come along and do the business.
Anyway, our cruise on Thursday was from Burton to Alrewas, and it was very dull, cool and with a cold wind. There was quite a number of boats moving, surprisingly so given the time of year, many being Canaltime (time share) others being Shakespear Cruisers, based at Barton Turn Marina. Upset to find the Sanitary Station at Barton Turn was no more, next one is at Fradley. We arrived at Alrewas at just before 4pm having exerted ourselves working 5 locks and cruising 6 miles, and moored just above Alrewas lock.
Alrewas is a lovely village, and has useful stores, though the delicatessen has now closed due to the owners retiring, I believe. There is still a wonderful butchers shop where they offer all sort of home made sausages, plus a good if small Coop pubs, Fish & Chips plus other takeaways. I spoke to a charming elderly lady who saw me wandering with my camera and asked if I liked her village. She bemoaned the prices of houses there, pointing out a couple of examples, and they certainly reflect the picturesque nature of the place and its good communications with the A38 dashing past to the East. I enclose pictures of a couple of thatched houses and was very pleased to see the quality of the repair that had been made to one of them. I also spoke to a chap who was carefully painting the black woodwork of his old half timbered home. He was well wrapped up against the cold and agreed with me that he wished he had painted it earlier in the year.
Friday 28th, and after shopping in Alrewas, we set off to Fradley. We have two friends coming for the weekend and it requires careful working out as to where we could meet and cruise to and from, as well as having the necessary provisions. Another cool day, but brighter and around mid day we set off to Fradley where the Trent & Mersey Canal meets the Coventry Canal. The locks on the T&M around here are narrow and easy to work, but when ascending the top paddles generate a strong undertow pulling the boat hard onto the top gate/cill if they are raised too quickly. Just before the top lock there is a BW maintenance yard & facilities unit, and this has been improved recently to include a canal shop/information centre plus a cafe, so of course cappuchino was needed again! I avoided the Swan this day. It is a great canal pub and well worth a visit. It is about 3 miles rom Lichfield and 1 mile from the A38. Worry not, I got here on Sunday!
It started to rain and as we have an aversion to this, we turned into the Coventry Canal & stopped for a lovely bowl of hot soup as made by Carol. The other day we were in a Tesco store and talked to the checkout girl who said she never ate vegetables & didn't know what to do with them, whilst saying she liked soup. Whilst she was scanning in the groceries Carol told her how to make wonderful soup very simply. Carol and I like spicy food so our soup had a fair amount chillis in it, we needed it this day. By 3pm it had stopped raining and we set off for our planned meeting point at Huddlesford.
Fradley is at 52deg 43'25.32 N 1 deg 47' 36.27W