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Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Fradley to Hinckley

Our cruise from Fradley on Friday afternoon was in improving weather and we stopped short of the pub where we were to meet our friends at Huddlesford ( 52deg 41'05.21N, 1deg 46' 36.93W ), there was a large railway line there! But there were not many trains running and there was a great deal of construction activity. Delight of delights, the line was closed over the weekend, they are upgrading it, the West Coast Mainline, to 4 tracks at this point and obviously this weekend was one when major work was to be done. So a quiet night and then boat cleaning followed by watching qualifying for the Japanese GP. We didn't set our alarm to watch this live at 4 am, so it was on at 10.30, and curses, I just caught a brief word about Hamilton being on pole on a radio news summary. There will be no radio or TV on tomorrow before we watch the race, our friends are also GP watchers.

Stan & Libby arrived after a very simple journey from their home, taking around 30 minutes, and we had another superb soup for lunch, with fresh baked bread, thanks to the bread maker. We then cruised to Fazely junction and back in reasonable weather, but it was chilly. We had booked in to The Plough for dinner and had a very good meal. It was not normal "pub grub" but an interesting menu we all enjoyed. It was not cheap but was worth it and the Timothy Taylor bitter was very enjoyable. I gather from Libby that Stan joined me in snoring well that night!
The morning, Sunday 30th dawned brighter and with less wind. Carol & I wandered round the hamlet that is Huddlesford whilst our guests dressed etc and had an interesting chat with a lady who had been given a week's canal holiday by her brother for a birthday present. She was loving it, and in fact almost everyone on the hire boats and timeshare boats equally have said they were doing so too.

Back to breakfast, a little slopping around then the GP, with just the right result, and the we cruised to Fradley. I tried to find a copy of the Sunday Times but without success, and we just had to grab a couple of pints whilst Carol finished off preparing a very wholesome Shepherds pie and Apple Crumble lunch. It was a pleasant cruise back to Huddlesford and fond farewell to our friends.

Monday morning, we had rain overnight, it was overcast but milder and we cruised to Tamworth and moored at the point that Google Earth showed was likely to be nearest to the town. We were not greatly impressed by the place. I was wandering along a fairly busy road when my phone rang and it was my cousin from Australia calling about her forthcoming visit. Back at the boat we slowly cruised to near Alvecote Marina where we stopped overnight. This day brought an unwelcome incident in that we picked up an old jumper and wrapped it around the propeller. This involved stopping the engine and me clambering under the rear deck to open the "weed hatch" which gives access directly above the propeller and I was able to unwind this unwelcome addition. It didn't take too long and the water, whilst cool, was not cold unlike some years ago at Easter when on time had part of an interior sprung mattress around the prop.

I enclose a couple of pictures showing how the camera can lie. In one the setting looks lovely. The next shows why it is not as the busy A38 is right alongside. A distance before this I was walking along and had a glimpse of something near my foot out the corner of my eye. A rat, only inches away, and then a yard or so further on another sitting bold as brass outside its burrow. When we returned with our friends we saw these rats both ways, clearly a rodent problem!
Not so with the lovely clump of cyclamen not far away, nor where I snapped Carol cruising gently along in the countryside.
Tuesday we set off towards Hinckley and spent a fair bit of the day climbing the 11 locks that form the Atherstone flight. We came upon an unmarked Canaltime boat at the bottom of the first lock, fortunately, as they had no idea what to do. About 3 locks further on they were puzzled as to why the lock would not fill. I pointed out that they had not completely closed the paddles at the other end of the lock and water was flowing out as fast as it flowed in. They nearly drained the pound of water up to the next lock.
They decided half way up they would turn back, which allowed us to complete the climb, passing many boats descending the flight, they were not enjoying their holiday unlike every other set of crews on all the other hire and timeshare boats we have met. The boat leaving the first lock was crewed by two New Zealanders, couple of Australians were on a boat part way up, and just past the top lock two Americans were heading the other way. All relish our canal network.
At the top lock we stopped for water and services and we bought some fresh eggs from the lock keeper before heading on. The railway is a near companion along much of this next stretch and I had planned a stopping point that was further from the railway than much of the canal, however about a mile before this the propeller became fouled again so we stopped for the night. This time it was a large heavy duty polythene bag that had wrapped itself around the blades, reducing propulsion and giving a terrible shudder to the rudder. It had been a day of improving weather and was getting warmer, the mooring was lovely and quiet too.
We have arranged for two friends from Chesterfield to join us on Thursday and are off to see our daughter and grandchildren over the weekend, her husband is off to Chile for next week as a prize for his efforts promoting sales of their wine. So Wednesday morning we cruised to the bridge nearest to the Asda in Nuneaton to get food for their visit. I have found Google Earth most useful finding such places, I just punch in the search details and am able to see where they are in relation to the canal otherwise our cruising maps only show a narrow width either side of the canal, and do not give details of where to find things.
Not the greatest store but job done we set off on a very gloomy, if mild, day It rained for a short while after we had turned off the Coventry canal onto the Ashby canal, but once it stopped, out came the sun and it was a lovely late afternoon. We moored at Trinity Marina overnight, but they are not able to offer moorings over the weekend so we shall move off to the towpath side after our friends leave tomorrow. Nothing round the prop today, instead a diesel leak! It is coming from a filter near the diesel tank and I haven't touched it for over 18 months so why should it leak now? I can't stop it by tightening so have placed a tin under it to catch the drips and hopefully I will be able to get new gaskets over the weekend, but I hate working with diesel.
So now it is Thursday morning, David & Sandra are due at around 11.30 and the sun is out and the forecast is for a lovely day, and for the weekend too with luck.

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