Monday, 31 October 2011


There had been heavy rain all evening and through the night, but we left Polesworth at 9.30am in bright sunshine. Cruising along was very slow going as the canal was so shallow. Water was in short supply when we reached Atherstone Locks too. They have been closing them from 4pm until 8.30am and workmen have been clearing out the sludge and rubbish that was blocking one of the side ponds and culverts. Boats were grounding in some of the pounds. We spoke to a worker and he told us that a cottage and pub below lock five had flooded three times last year and had claimed compensation from BW. I wonder if this is because they have dispensed with the services of the lengths man/lockkeeper here who would have known how to keep the water levels under control. I wonder which is cheaper, a resident lenghtsman, or paying out compensation for flood damage?

IMG_0180 Grendon DockThis is Grendon Dock (Narrowcraft) and next to it are these two cottages. What a shame that the one on the right is looking so forlorn.


IMG_0182Rothen’s coal carrying business have vacated the lovely little wharf overlooking the top lock basin. We were knackered by the time we reached there. As some boats had grounded in the pounds we had to queue and slowed to snails pace! So after six hours and doing eleven locks we had travelled five and a half miles finally mooring up in a quiet spot near Mancetter. Rain set in just after we arrived and continued all day on Thursday, so I made some tasty cheese scones and took it easy for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


IMG_0175 spoilheap   IMG_0173 Pooley Pithead Wheel

Cruising past Pooley Fields Heritage Centre we saw a monument atop the large spoil heap and the large coal pithead wheel which are part of the heritage trail.

IMG_0178 Pooley Farmhouse former Chapel A little further on we passed Pooley Hall, Farmhouse and former Chapel which are all now private residences.

IMG_0165 Pooley Hall c1509    IMG_0166 canalside poem

Pooley Hall was built c1509 and the whole group here are Grade two listed buildings. This lovely canal-side poem on a copper cut-out of a coal miner was written by Raymond Hendy.

Memories of Pooley Mine.

I stood and watched as they pulled it down,

The blackened gear head of Pooley Mine,

The big black wheels rock and stumble,

And part of history began to crumble,

Locked in this twisted steel,

Were memories of men and coal,

Who gave their sweat and blood

To hew the coal that lay below.

I stood and watched them cap the shaft,

And thoughts went deep below,

like some blackened hand with fingers

Burrowed deep into my soul,

Gone this once proud mine.

We thought the poem was rather beautifully written and worthy of sharing with you.

IMG_0170 Abbey Gateway 15c

This is the 15th century Abbey gatehouse which has been restored and is occupied.

IMG_0169    IMG_0168 Polesworth Abbey Church

Walking through the gateway and down the drive the Abbey Church comes in to view.

IMG_0172 Nethercote School

It is a shame that this old school building in the town centre is not in use. We popped into the busy little P.O. Stores, there was also a Green Grocers opposite and a Fish and Chip shop around the corner. Returning over the River Anker bridge we were commenting how clear the water was when we saw a couple of large brown rats. There riverside existence must suit them as their fur was lovely and shiny.

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And on the other side of the bridge there was someone shouting “Look at me”

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Monday, 24 October 2011


As we were in a cutting by Tamworth we moved on to moor in a nice light open spot just short of Alvecote. We are trying not to moor under trees in these winds if we can help it.

IMG_0147 old boat Alvecote    IMG_0146 TIT Paris,New York Peckham

On a very windy Monday morning we decided to stay put, but we had a walk along the towpath towards Alvecote. There was an old boat out of the water at the boatyard which was in a sorry state. This is it’s engine, unfortunately we couldn’t see a makers name on it. (edit: magnifying the photo we have found Enfield, bottle) Trotters Independent Trading van of Paris, New York and Peckham was hiding nearby.

IMG_0153 Kangaroo Australia, Samuel Barlow InnMoored outside the Samuel Barlow Inn we saw two working boats Kangaroo, and Australia which was heavily loaded down with coal.

IMG_0152     IMG_0157 latest fashion

Continuing on along over the canal bridge we arrived ay Alvecote Priory ruins. The remains are kept in good condition and the walls were about three foot thick. There was a fantastic wild pear tree there which was laden down with little fruits. We liked the designer fashion jacket that this horse was wearing.

IMG_0154 Woodlandpath    IMG_0158 Autumn

We found another route back through the mainly deciduous woodland which ran between the railway and the canal. There were signs of spoil heaps from the coal mines that were around there in the past. It was nice to amble back out of the wind in the peacefulness that being among the trees offered. Here is the view through the round window when we arrived back on board for our lunch.


The weekend weather turned out much nicer than predicted on the weather forecast, so on Sunday we moved on down.

IMG_0125 Glascote Bottomlock

Up through the two locks at Glascote to fill with water at the top. See how still the water is as there was  no wind whatsoever.

IMG_0128 filling with waterThere were quite a few boats moored in Glascote Basin where S.M. Hudson build their boats.

IMG_0130 Glascote BasinThere have been so many ‘desirable’ canal-side housing estates sprouting up absolutely everywhere. Soon our towns and cities will all be joined up together.

IMG_0133 St Edithas tamworth    IMG_0131

We moored up a bit farther on and walked into Tamworth. This is St Edithas which has been built of a mixture of red and yellow sandstone. Opposite was parked this scooter which seemed to be a bit top heavy with mirrors and lights!

IMG_0142    IMG_0141

The footpath into town through the parkland is very well marked. The ducks and geese on the River Anker are bulging with bread as they were continually being fed. We strolled around Anker Shopping Centre, but many of the shops were closed. However Wetherspoons was open so we popped in for a lovely leisurely roast lunch with a couple of pints all for £13.80, fantastic value. There was also a shopping centre called Ventura but we were too tired to walk that far.

IMG_0135 Tamworth Castle

Strolling back through the park we saw Tamworth Castle on it’s mound and this Knight at the entrance which was cleverly constructed from red and green House Leeks.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Fazeley Junction.

We cruised along on beautiful sunshine, in fact it was just like a summers day on Thursday. Stopped off at Sutton Road bridge where Sainsbury’s was within walking distance from the canal. One of Duncan Bannatyne’s Health Clubs (he of Dragons Den)was en-route, but we didn’t go in. We get all the exercise we need for free doing locks and walking everywhere. After a snack aboard we carried on to turn left from the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal onto the Coventry Canal and moored up a little further along.

IMG_0123_B76    IMG_0106 Crane sawmill

I left Oakfield moored all on her tod and went to explore. There is a huge crane in the timber yard nearby and many large oak tree trunks waiting to be manoeuvred ready for sawing up.

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Canalside is Tolson’s Mill which was built in 1883 and BW were working on replacing the stone edging along here. Looking back through Watling Street Bridge is the old Junction Toll House which is now lived in.

IMG_0105 Tolsons Mils B1883Another view of this impressive mill.

IMG_0108 B1854

This lovely chapel was built in 1854 with lovely brick patterning, beside the canal bridge

This is the view from the Toll House, the chapel is hidden behind the new house which is part of the new development stretching all along Peels Wharf.

IMG_0120 Fazeley Junction old newHere is the old and new together, a great deal of new dwellings have sprung up all around Fazeley, but there are very few shops here. To the left is a large busy industrial estate covering quite a few acres.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Fradley to Hopwas.

As we needed some diesel we reversed back around the corner and down through the lock to moor opposite the cafe to be near the road. I baked a couple of boat cakes while we were there and we rang Graham on 07970 893245 as he delivers ‘Diesel-in-a-Can’ direct to your boat in his van. He turned up and emptied the 20 litre cans into our tank, how convenient is that at 85p per litre? Bill the elderly chap in the boat moored in front of us said that Graham had had been a life line for him over the winter months when his boat was iced in.  We learned that he had lived on his boat for twenty four years and has now reached the ripe old age of 84! Bill was such an optimistic boater and  had made many improvisations on his boat over the years which worked well. Before he left I gave him some boat cake and he was overjoyed and gave us a few useful tips on boating that he had picked up as a longstanding continuous cruiser. Jan came up for afternoon tea and we said our goodbyes to her and Graham and gave them a boat cake, we had such a fabulous time with them and look forward to meeting up with them next time.

We left quite early next morning as we had to reverse back through the lock. Things were going well, but we didn’t reach the lock as the engine suddenly cut out. Bottle threw the centre rope and i pulled the boat into the side. he donned the ‘pond gloves’ and grovelled about down the weed hatch to find a tyre on one of the propeller blades. With a bit of prodding and manoeuvring with the boat hook luckily it came off. Back we went, turned onto the Coventry canal, filled with water. Hot drinks were needed as we cruised along towards Streethay Wharf and Boatyard.

IMG_0002 Streethay Wharf


They seemed to have quite a bit of work on the go and four workers waved while sitting outside on their coffee break as we cruised by in the sunshine.



IMG_0004 St Chads Hopwas

We moored up at Hopwas and went for a walk up the hill to St Chads Church which had a beautiful stained glass window.

    IMG_0007  Molly

Moored next to us is ‘The Chimney Man’ and this is Molly his lively three year old spaniel who wanted us to throw her stick nonstop. We got chatting to Kym who set up his Little Chimney workshop after being made redundant as a fabricator. He made one for himself, then a friend wanted one and it took off from there. What an entrepreneur, who has found his very own niche in the market and may it continue to grow. He lives aboard with his family and they tow the little butty workshop called, ‘Molly’, wherever they go.  So if you are in need a well designed stainless steel chimney that will last for years as we did, call him on, 07876654120 and he will make one for you. They are made from a heavier gauge stainless steel than those we have seen in chandlers. You can see two examples on the butty.

IMG_0005a Chimney Mans ButtyIMG_0006 Chimney Man Nameplate

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Fradley Folk.

IMG_0073 Mel Edwards,Fendermaker MBEThursday night is Folk Night at The Swan Inn and everyone is welcome especially if they can play music or sing. I was keen to go but Bottle wasn’t, so we agreed to go and have a drink and stay for an hour. We met up with James from nb Marquis and sat at the bar, then the musicians began to trickle in.  There were eight of them eventually, 4 guitars, various whistles, 2 accordions, a concertina, Irish Pipes, a Hurdy-gurdy, Bodrum, and a Greek Bouzouki.  They took it in turns to lead with one of their own choice of folksongs and everyone joined in. It turned out to be such a great friendly evening that we stayed until it ended.

IMG_0078 Greek Bouzouki    IMG_0074 Pipes

We had a walk down to see if Jan was on board nb HUFF ‘N’PUFF and met her walking her little dog Bernie, so she came and joined us for a cup of tea.

IMG_0083 BernieBernie seemed to like my rag rug and was very well behaved while we had a long chat. We met up with them for a couple of drinks in the evening at The Swan, it was good to catch up with our canal exploits during the year.

IMG_0086 below Fradley JunctionWe were asked to go for coffee with them which we did. Although their boat is eight years old it looks as good as new, it’s amazing.  Jan kindly made hot bacon rolls with egg and mushrooms for us all which was absolutely delicious. After lunch we all walked Bernie and ended up on Oakfield chatting over an alcoholic bevy. Graham had us in stitches telling us all about his childhood inventions and miss-haps, what a lad he was!

Well, time has just flown past while we have been here and we have enjoyed every minute!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Fradley Junction.

Woodend Lock and Bridge 53 are very well kept and quite picturesque, so couldn’t pass through without photographing it.

IMG_0037 Woodend Lock B53

IMG_0039 Oakfield in Woodend Lock

As there were no spare moorings before the junction we turned right onto the Coventry Canal and luckily found one just around the corner, busy place this. The little footbridge is a joy to work as it can be so easily swung with the lightest of touches. We liked the little wooden Duck House in the garden next to the swing-bridge. After mooring up we wandered round to the old BW yard Cafe to treat ourselves to a snack, yum.

IMG_0042 approaching Fradley Jnct    IMG_0045 Lucky Duck House

Fradley seems to be surrounded with beautiful Oak Woodland all along the canal-sides. I awoke to watch the Squirrels, out of the bedroom porthole, chasing each other all around the branches, up and down tree trunks. Bottle was dong the engine oil change today while I was cleaning and washing the floors over etc. Then we saw some familiar faces passing by on a nice shiny boat. We went along to see Steve and Denise who had pulled in to take on water.

IMG_0062After chatting about all things ‘boaty’ and putting their hose away we were invited aboard for a look around. What a fantastic boat they have, so well thought out with such a light and airy feel to it. Although we may share similar solid woodwork design features, both of our boats have quite a different look. 

IMG_0068As it was quite busy around the junction I went down to help them with the  lock and while we were waiting I happened to snap this old Bugatti coming past The Swan Inn, luvly jubbly. Wouldn’t mind a spin round the country lanes in that!

IMG_0069Riverside Escape had to await it’s turn by the side of the pub for a while before passing through to moor up opposite the Cafe. We were invited to join them there for a snack which was very nice. There two little dogs are so friendly and well behaved, but haven’t quite got fully used to their life on board yet?

IMG_0070 Riverside Escape dogs    IMG_0071 Hide by lake

Here they are sharing their bed in the cratch wondering what is going on in the lock. After we said out goodbyes, Bottle returned to finish his oil change and I wandered around the woods and lake. This beautiful little thatched hide overlooks the lake, it’s so cosy  inside I think I could easily move in! What an unexpectedly eventful and enjoyable day that was!