Friday, 30 September 2011

Family visit.

IMG_0033 duck siesta time

On Monday we had a lovely surprise visit from our daughter. She had asked our grandson what he would like to do that day and he had replied,’Grampy, boat’, so that is what they did. Luckily we weren’t in the middle of nowhere and there was a road quite nearby. Travelling is made so much easier with the aid of Sat-nav too. It was a beautifully sunny day so Grampy was able to take him toddling down to the tunnel where the towpath runs under the bridge. He seems to be fascinated by bridges and tunnels at the moment. On the way back he was galloping sideways and said,’ I’m a Kangaroo’! He understands so much and is able to delight us with these funny little comments occasionally.  I cooked lunch on board and we played and read many, many books until he dropped off to sleep on the rag rug. Then it was time for a nice relaxing cup of tea. It was so nice chatting and catching with what we had all been up to, but it also tired us out.

IMG_0001 Teddesley Wharf

On the move again we called in at Teddesley Wharf  for a £20 pump out, ahhh that’s better! The chap was playing with his Priestman Crane as we pulled in. He was just checking it over as it has to be inspected annually. It has a large chain link cradle attached, don’t think we would like our boat lifted out of the water with no covering over the chains. Then we passed by this house which has twenty solar panels dominating it’s roof, I wonder if that’s enough?

IMG_0004 twenty solar panels

  We have had temperatures of 28* to 29* here at Radford Bank so have been taking it easy. It’s so nice to watch people busy gardening when you no longer have one to tend. Not so nice when they get their lawnmower going though, especially when it sounds like an annoying demented wasp! I’ve had to wait until the boat cooled down in the evening to be able to give it a wash and buff up. Hope you are all able to take advantage of the sunny week ahead, take care out there.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Stafford trip.

IMG_0014 Stafford Sherrifs Office    IMG_0017

We caught the bus from Penkridge but weren’t quite sure when we had arrived at Stafford, so I asked a lady who seemed to know the area well. We started off going up a little cobbled lane past the old Sheriffs Office and The Soup Kitchen, although they didn’t have any soup on their menu! It seemed expensive and there was a compulsory service charge of 15% too, so we gave that a miss.

IMG_0016 Fruit Store b1610    IMG_0015_ Coaching Inn

This tiny thatched fruit shop had a date of 1610 and looked very tempting with it’s gorgeous displays of flowers. The Bear Grill was once an old coaching inn, but I suspect the food on their menu was more enjoyable than Bear Grylls ever eats on his TV expeditions.

IMG_00018 High House side-view    IMG_0020 HH oldest timberframe building in country

From the alleyway we could see the splendid side High House, built in 1595 and reputed to be the largest timber framed house in the country. Unless you know different of course. Anyway it is now a museum with period room settings, a herb garden and a Staffordshire Yeomanry Regiment  museum at the top floor. I had to wait to let about 50 school children come out before entering. As I was interested in the herb garden I asked where it was. The lady opened the back door and showed me the tiny bit that was left with a small  box hedge and one or two bedraggled plants, so that didn’t take long!

IMG_0021 Stuart Bedroom    IMG_0022 tapestry wallhanging

There were some remains of the original old hand painted wallpaper on the stairs and educational rooms on how timber framed houses were built. The four poster bed in the Stuart Room was heavily carved. The tapestry wall hanging and hand stitchery on the bed coverings were amazing.

IMG_0023 Mr Marsons Edwardian Shop    IMG_0024 Bank Passage

Mr Marsons Edwardian Shop had been splendidly recreated in one of the rooms. Notice that whoever set it up had a sense of humour as under his hand there are four candles! I also liked the carved sandstone on the archway of the Bank Passage.

IMG_0025 The Picture House Wetherspoons b1914-1995

Guess where we ended up? Yes it was a Wetherspoons in the old Picture House which was built in 1914 and had remained in use until 1995. All the original features remain, except that the seating had been replaced with tables and chairs. We liked the art nouveaux style stained glass along the frontage which probably looked brilliant when lit up at night.

Sunday, 25 September 2011


IMG_0012 Old Gaol

On arrival we went to explore the village passing the Old Gaol which is on the way. It has been beautifully restored and is now used for The Penkridge Heritage Centre. 

IMG_0013 Penkridge Heritage Centre   IMG_0010 Penkridge

This is one of the little cottages which survives in it’s original condition. As we walked by we were being watched from the window by a Golden Retriever reclining over the back of a sofa. There is a Co-op and a variety of useful small shops, the busiest one being Jasper’s the Bakers.

IMG_0011 The White Hart

Friday we caught the bus opposite the White Hart and went into Stafford for the day. On Saturday there was a very large outdoor market selling just about everything. I bought a book on The Thames and Severn Canal by David Verey at a much reduced price! What a wonderful way to spend a warm sunny day while Bottle stayed on the boat.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Gailey along we go.


As it was a bright breezy day there were quite a few boats on the move. We were heading a convoy of four which caused a bit of congestion at this bridge. Oakfields horn is given a blast when we can’t see what is around the corner. Luckily the oncoming boat hovered to let us all past, poor chap. We pulled over just short of Gailey under the Oak trees with acorns occasionally bouncing down onto our roof.

IMG_0002 Gailey Roundhouse ShopWe strolled along to the Roundhouse (circa 1880) Shop which has all kinds of wonderful tempting goodies which I succumbed to.  Timewarp came along so we helped them go down the lock as several boats were watering up and queuing.

IMG_0005    IMG_0004 Wharf Cottage 1805

Bottle did a bit of contemplating while I wandered about to find a letterbox. The Wharf Cottage of 1805 faces the busy Watling Street was delightful with it’s arched cast iron pattered windows.

IMG_0009 Gailey Roundhouse circa 1880    IMG_0009a Gailey Roundhouse circa 1880

This is a view of the roundhouse from it’s courtyard and when I took it I tilted the camera to give it some perspective. Then Bottle modified it, so, which image do you prefer?

Thursday, 22 September 2011


IMG_0003 B10 Chillington Wharf    IMG_0002 B8

Leaving Brewood behind we passed under the grand balustraded sandstone Bridge 10 which led to Chillington Hall.  It was a very short cruise for us just along past Bridge 8 to moor as recommended by Tony and Jackie and what a lovely spot it was too. On a long straight stretch with views of the country all around with no  noise of the worlds transport whizzing anywhere near it. After listening to Sounds of the Sixties on Saturday it was a bright breezy day so I gave Oakfield’s exterior a wash and buff up. On Sunday we rang family members for a chat and e-mailed pictures of the weekend when we had seen them. In the afternoon we went for a stroll, then relaxed reading our books.

IMG_0001 Turnover B3 nr Autherley Jnct Monday we untied and made our way along to Autherley Junction. After filling with water we joined the queue for the stop lock, then turned left to moor just past it to go along to Morrison’s. We had now joined the Staffs and Worcs Canal and soon found ourselves negotiating a very narrow cutting through shear rock. luckily the hire boat coming towards us held back until we got past them. Then it was on to moor near Coven. Tuesday we took the path along the edge of the field, over the duel carriageway past the Church and down another footpath to the shops.

IMG_0006 path canal to Coven    IMG_0005 Coven footpath

We posted our cards, letters and photos off and called in to The Fox and Anchor for a drink on the way back. It was a tad posh and pricy so we just had one drink and left. Along the towpath we saw that nb Timewarp had caught us up and were invited aboard for coffee. Their Alsatian ‘Calli’ welcomed us, then settled down on her bed for a snooze. As we were departing the old folks moored behind them were moving off when we heard ‘man overboard’, so Tony and Bottle ran along and fished him out while Jackie and I pulled their boat in and secured it. He seemed OK and said that he had been in a few times over the years.

We spied a boat coming towing another, so had a look out as they passed by. It was Peter on nb Futurest who was being taken to have his big end fixed.(No not Peter his boat engine) Good Luck Peter, we hope that all goes well for you and your lovely boat.

IMG_0007 Coven    IMG_0003

This is the beautiful black cat who keeps an eye on us from the boat moored next to ours.

Friday, 16 September 2011


How nice to have less wind and more sunshine, except that many other boaters thought so too and were on the move. While cruising along we passed over the ornate Watling Street Aqueduct which looked a little bit rusty in places.

IMG_0003 Stretton Aqueduct Watling St    IMG_0004 admiring my reflection

These cows seemed to be admiring their reflection in the canal.

IMG_0008 B16    IMG_0016 Steps in style

Workmen were out in force cutting the grass along the towpath. These lovely sandstone steps led up the side of the bridge to a stile at the top.

IMG_0017We passed the lovely steam boat ‘Emily Ann. Stroud’. Emily Ann is steam powered and fired by coal.

IMG_0022 Brewood B14    IMG_0025

We were being watched as we went under bridge 14 to moor in the cutting beyond. The skipper of a boat already moored came to take my rope and pull us in, how kind was that! So, there are some very kind helpful people on the canals too. Then another friendly boater moored nose to nose with us and we exchanged boating experiences with him. After a snack we walked into town to the Co-op passing the fancy mock castle frontage of Swan Hotel. We arrived back to the canal to see Tony and Jacquie on nb Timewarp  to chat and catch up on each others summertime travels. The last time we met them was on the Oxford at Great Haywood.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Wheaton Aston.

IMG_0003  B40 Grub Street Cutting    IMG_0004 B39

On Wednesday we had a pleasant 10 mile lock-free cruise along to Wheaton Aston meeting quite a few others boats en route. There were some very high bridges over the Grub Street Cutting made from a mixture of Red and Blue Bricks and blocks of Sandstone.

IMG_0005 Norbury JnctWe passed Norbury junction en-route, we liked their trailer advertising their facilities which was in the form of a short narrow-boat called Judy.

IMG_0009 B36

We liked the curves of Plardwick Bridge 36, the bridge builders certainly had some fine skills as these bridges have stood the test of time well.

IMG_0012 Cowley Tunnel 81yds


Cowley Tunnel was only 81 yards long, but it was still quite impressive as it was cut through Sandstone Rocks.

IMG_0021 Diesel 72.9p litre    IMG_0024 B19

On reaching Weaton Aston  we pulled alongside the wharf at turner’s Garage to fill with diesel for 72.9p per Litre, brilliant.

IMG_0022 Turner's Garage  Wheaton AstonThis is the little garage viewed from up on the road, it reminded me of the one in the TV programme ‘Heartbeat’.

IMG_0001 B19

The iron sign of the Shropshire Union Railway and Canal Company is on bridge 19 by the garage. It reads, ‘This bridge is insufficient to carry weights beyond the ordinary traffic of the district’.  It makes us wonder what those weights might have been and what increased weight it has to bear with today's traffic. Just as we were mooring up fellow bloggers from nb Triskadeika came by and stopped for a long chat. It was nice to meet them and find how much they were enjoying their travels aboard their new boat. They cruise for about six hours a day, so have covered quite a few miles already.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Shebden Embankment.

IMG_0001 queueing Tyrley locks    IMG_0013 Butterflies on Cornflowers

As it was blowing a gale we stayed put at Market Drayton until Tuesday. When we reached Tyrley locks there was a queue of four waiting to ascend. The first pound was low and there was a wide sandstone ledge on the towpath side. Other boaters told us that a boat was marooned on it the previous day for a couple of hours, so everyone was being cautious. Anyway, it took us two hours to get up the five locks, then we stopped for about an hour on the services waiting for the water to dribble into our tank. Meanwhile I had spotted some hazelnuts on the towpath below the lock so I went back and collected up about 3lbs of them. So, there was and advantage to the high winds after all, they had blown all the nuts off. The front gardens of the top lock cottages are a delight and the butterflies were taking advantage of a splash of sunshine on the Cornflowers.


IMG_0011 Tyrley toplockThere were apples, pears and honey for sale here so we bought some, we like our stewed apple with custard.

IMG_0020 Hazelnuts    IMG_0024

Here is my hoard of nuts, some of which I shall Squirrel away ready for my winter hibernation. Fortunately Bottle doesn’t like them, so all the more for me. There are very tall bridges through the narrow Woodseaves Cutting and everyone passed each other at sensible speeds in, the few, wider bits.

IMG_0029 Knighton Wharf    IMG_0008

This was the once busy Knighton Wharf where churns of milk from surrounding farms were gathered to be mixed with sugar and cocoa to be turned into chocolate crumb. This was transported by canal to Cadbury’s at Bourneville. The last cargo of crumb was carried on ‘Mendip’ by ‘Chocolate Charlie’ Atkins fifty years ago.

When we reached Shebden we slid into a designated mooring space with rings, sharing one nose to nose with the boat in front. As I was preparing dinner we heard a raised voice saying ‘bloody bad manners’ so Bottle went out to see what the fuss was about. Apparently the bloke in front on nb Bradgate Oak didn’t like anyone mooring near to him. He told Bottle that it was not right to share rings and that BW rules said that you should not encroach on other peoples space. Then with the assistance of his wife pulled his boat back from us and tied up a couple of rings away! His boat now had about a thirty foot gap at the front and fifteen behind. So no room for anyone else to moor, how selfish and pig-headed is that?