Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Into the City

Sunday 16th September; Dickens Heath to Birmingham

It was so chilly, even at 9.30 when we set off, that we needed woolly hats and fleeces to start with.  There were no other boats on the move and not much traffic on the towpath either, just a few dog-walkers and runners.  They must all sleep in round here on a Sunday.  At Shirley drawbridge I only managed to catch 3 cars and a bike.

1 shirley drawbridge

The new bridge controls seem to be reliable and work well.  There wasn’t  much going on as we cruised, though the sun did come out and it was 2 hours before we saw our first boat on the move.  We topped up the water tank at the water point near bridge 5, as the water pressure is so good.  The Brasso boat was out on the hardstanding at Lyons Boatyard.

2 brasso being blacked at lyons boatyard

It is definitely autumnal now – not only are the mornings cooler and the evenings shorter, but leaves are beginning to fall – it won’t be long before they are clogging our propellers again.

3 leaves

We were making the turn onto the Worcester and Birmingham at King’s Norton by late morning – no pictures, as I was steering and I’m nowhere near practiced enough to do both at the same time.  We haven’t seen any kingfishers yet this trip, but there are plenty of herons.  This one was high up in the trees.

5 heron

At Bournville station, where the fencing and so on is tricked out in Dairy Milk Purple, I noticed for the first time the decoration above the archway over the path from the towpath to the road.  It’s hard to see against the trees, but it shows the railway on the right and canal on the left, complete with narrowboat.

6 bournville station

As we came through the railway bridge at Selly Oak we could see a boat on the Sainsbury’s moorings; with no way to tell if there was room for us too, we pulled in on the Armco near the bridge. I power-walked up to get a few essentials before we had lunch – it’s only 3 minutes longer.

We carried on after lunch to the city centre, still passing very few boats.  We pulled in at Holliday Wharf to empty the cassette, so we wouldn’t need to go down to Cambrian Wharf, then found ourselves waiting for the trip boat to turn in the Mailbox before we could move off – with the way the wind funnels down the cut near the Mailbox it was hard for us both.  Then as we made the turn the Water Taxi came along just as a gust whipped across – everything was ok, they must be very well used to the local conditions.

The was another wait while the trip boat got tied up beyond Worcester Bar.  It gave us the opportunity to admire some of the planting – the planters are in the new CRT colour (with that silly logo) but look good with attractive and mostly insect-friendly flowers.

8 new planters worcester bar

9 with new signage

There is even a  small fruit tree.  I hope it gets properly watered by someone.

We moored on the left round past the Sea Life Centre, opposite the Arena’s car park.  There was an Arctic Monkeys gig about to happen – when we went off to get a burger at the Handmade Burger Co, the merchandise vendors had their wares all laid out by the bridge.  The evening was not quiet – we weren’t sure if the booming noise was bass guitar or extractor fans.  It was even noisier by about 10.30 – the cars were queueing to leave the car park and tooting cheerily as they went.  Eventually they had all gone home and we had a quiet night – apart from the usual noisy group strolling by at 2.30am!

11 miles, 1 guillotine stop lock (open), 1 powered drawbridge (Shirley), 2 tunnels (Brandwood and Edgbaston), 2 junctions (King’s Norton and Old Turn).












Monday, 17 September 2018

Last of the work for a while

Saturday 15th September; Kingswood Junction to Dickens’ Heath

We didn’t plan an early start, and didn’t get one;  the single-hander moored in front of us left early and there was no other movement, but we thought she was going up the Lapworth flight so there was no point in hurrying just to catch her up.  It was chilly when we left at 9.30, though the sun was out.  I walked over to set the lock for Dave;  lock 20, which boats coming from the Grand Union normally use instead of 21, was out of action, so he had to breathe in through the narrows and use 21 instead.

1 lock 20 out of action

The paddles on lock 20 were encased in black plastic, and red stripy tape festooned the gates.  A sign on the next lock explained there were ‘paddle issues’.

I raised a paddle as Dave made the turn, dumped the recycling and returned in time to open the gate for him and left him to come up on his own.  I raised the paddles on the next lock before nipping across to the shop for the paper, getting back in time to open up for him.  A volunteer turned up at the next lock and gave us a hand up the next few, as we were having to turn them all, then disappeared as we entered the longer pound below lock 14.  As I went to turn lock 14 I could see him ahead with the single hander.

2 towards lock14

He did a sterling job, locking ahead for her then coming back to raise a paddle for us on the lock she had just left.  Luckily he had a bike!  Once we had a short wait for a boat coming down, then carried on making speedy progress till the two short curving pounds between locks 9, 8 and 7.  We could see several people milling around, couldn’t even tell if a boat was coming down to start with.  It turned out to be a 70-footer, a trust boat used by the Guides, and 3 new skippers were having a training weekend.  Not the best place for us to meet them, but what a training opportunity for them!  They passed the single-hander between 8 and 7.  Luckily she was short enough to sit out of the way while they negotiated the curve.

3 pound betweem 8 and 9 70 footer

We sat in lock 9 and waited.  The instructor came down and asked us to pull in to give them the clearest run we could; it was a very slow and careful manoeuvre by the novice skipper and he did well.  I’m not sure what would have happened if we had been 70’ too; we would probably have had to move across into the side pond.  Things were complicated by the strong bywash pushing them into us, and then us against the side.  

Changeover accomplished, we went up the next lock for another merry dance above it, this time with a 65-footer.  It was a simpler manoeuvre this time, with them pulling in and giving Dave an easy passage.

4 passing 65 footer in pound below lock 7

The volunteer went back down at the next lock, leaving us with time to get the kettle on and a brew made before the last two pairs of locks.  We met boats at each of the first pair, and the crew at the second was keen to discuss the architectural merits of the house above.  The yuccas in flower were rather splendid I thought.

5 stylish house above lock4

As we cruised by we could see the people inside having their coffee and ignoring the boats completely.  It all looked a bit sophisticated for us.

At the last but one lock a gentleman was opening the bottom gates for us.  It turned out to be the American (whose name I have forgotten) who used to live in the house at the top lock and was often around as an unofficial volunteer.  Though he moved back to the States after his wife died, he decided he much preferred it in the UK and now lives in a house in the village.  The single-hander was in the top lock; she was on her way to Swallow Cruisers for blacking the hull, which she was going to do herself.  it wasn’t long before we were up too, and met her at the first lift bridge.  The original plan had been for her to open it and go through, then for me to get off and close up, but access was poor especially on the upstream side so I did it for both of us.  It’s not a difficult bridge, just a lot of winding – 40 turns up and 40 turns down.  She moored up at Swallow Cruisers and we carried on by ourselves.  The last bit of work was another lift bridge; 24 or so turns, very easy – at least till it came to close it, when strangely it was much harder work than opening it.

We slotted into a space at Hockley Heath for lunch, then I went to the little shop for some cream and yogurt to have with the summer autumn pudding I made last night.  The little shop at Kingswood doesn’t do much in the way of dairy, just milk really.

We decided to move on a few miles; usually we like to stop just a few hundred yards further on, but today we wanted to get a bit closer to Birmingham.  So we went on to between bridge 15 and the first footbridge at the mostly new-build settlement at Zombie Town Dickens Heath, though I think its official name is Forshaw or something similar.  We had a quiet country mooring, close enough for a few strollers and dog-walkers but away from the built-up area.

6 moored at dickens heath

6½ miles, 19 locks, 2 lift bridges.

Time for a rest tomorrow.



Saturday, 15 September 2018

A gentle bimble (not) up Hatton flight

Friday 14th September; The Cape to Kingswood Junction

We didn’t rush this morning.  The boat moored in front of us left for Hatton locks while we were still having breakfast, and as there was only one other boat left on the moorings we thought we’d take our time.  Anyway, the later you start the flight the greater the chance of boats coming down and leaving empty locks for you.  NB Firefly, who we came up Cape Locks with yesterday, were still having breakfast when we left at 9, so we were all on our lonesome.  Chuffed entered the first lock at about 9.30.

1 first hatton lock

We took it easy and it soon became clear that we had made the right decision – there was nothing behind us.  The locks were all against us to start with until we met a boat which had spent the night above lock 4.  They confirmed that two boats were going up ahead of us.  We briefly had the help of a volunteer before he went down with a boat we passed.  I nipped through the gap in the hedge to get a paper from the garage at Ugly Bridge, and then when we got to the ‘thick bit’ where the locks are close together another volunteer appeared.

2 in the thick of it

You can just see Warwick between the trees.  We had the volunteer’s help for a few locks, then he went on down with a hire boat which seemed a bit confused.  The last 5 locks were in our favour, or at least had only filled a bit from the leaky top gates.  As we came into the third from top I could see a boater come down, assess the situation then go back, leaving the lock for us.  We passed them in the second pound from the top - two boats, one of which was NB Silver Melody, the favourite boat at Crick 2 or 3 years ago.

3 passing silver melody near the top

We were pulling onto the water point at the top by about 1, so a pretty good time considering we were on our own with locks against us for a fair bit.  The paddle gear and gates are heavy and relentless, and I felt pretty tired, even though Dave had done half the top gate work.  We filled/emptied and I had a speedy shower while the water filled.  We moved up to the end of the moorings for lunch, which was very leisurely with an extra cup of tea.

We set off again at about 2.30.  We had the umbrella ready for the always-raining Shrewley tunnel – how can it be so wet when there has been so little rain? – and I took the compulsory photo of the moss at the north end.

4 shrewley tunnel moss north end

It never looks as drippy in the photo as it is in real life.  The horse tunnel takes the towpath over the top.

5 shrewley tunnel north end

We cruised quietly along towards Kingswood Junction, passing a couple of moored boats which had come up the locks as we had lunch.  The canal goes through a cutting with some fantastic fernery on the slopes.

6 ferny cutting

There were a few painted numbers of fishing pegs from long-gone matches, cunningly painted upside down so they could be read easily from the bank.  Just a short isolated stretch remains after neighbouring sections of the towpath edging have been replaced over the years.

7 historical fishing peg

We stopped briefly at the Tom o’ the Wood moorings, not to moor but for some damsons.  I didn’t find the tree I thought I remembered on the Hatton flight, but this one had plenty of fruit although they were very high up – we needed the boat hook to pull the branch down.

Our favourite mooring at Kingswood Junction, by the picnic area, was free – well, it’s Meg’s favourite anyway.  After a speedy scavenge round the picnic tables it was time for a game with a football we hooked out of the canal some time ago.

8 fun at kingswood junction

It’s just deflated enough for her to pick it up, but inflated enough for us to play football.  It’s hard tackling a speeding dog, far safer to take a photo.

9 faster than a speeding bullet

She’s so fast …. I think I should have been pointing at her, not Dave.

Later Dave took her off for a walk and to pick some more blackberries.  I made a summer pudding – well, more an autumn pudding with blackberries and damsons! as we have a loaf of white sliced to use up.  We never usually buy white bread, except for baguettes, but I had to buy it for Meg’s pills’n’paté regime.  One slice lasts her two days so there’s a lot left.  It’s wrong to waste food, so we’ll have summer pudding first then we’ll see what else we can do with it.  Bacon butties with sauce is a distinct possibility.

7½ miles, 21 locks, Shrewley tunnel.











Friday, 14 September 2018

On the trail of the Phantom Snipper

Thursday September 13th; Long Itchington to Cape Locks

At 7am it was sunny but very chilly, and mist was rising golden along the canal.  I walked back to the little shop for some milk and the paper, and we finally were on our way at 9.30.  Lovely and warm in the sun, but cold in the shade.  We didn’t meet any other boats and when we reached Bascote locks they were deserted too.  Someone had either gone down ahead of us some time ago, or they had just emptied themselves overnight.  I left Dave bringing Chuffed down the second part of the staircase and walked down to set the third lock, but as a boat was just entering the fourth one, I opened the gate for them instead and went back to the track leading away from the staircase to look for damson trees.  I didn’t find any, though there were a couple of apple trees.  But we brought some of our own with us, so I left them for someone else.

1 leaving bascote locks

Eventually we were through the Bascote locks – look at that blue sky! - and, with a few boats coming towards us, found the rest of this morning’s locks in our favour, though mostly needing a paddle raising to top them up.  Below one of the locks, can’t remember which, a large tree or bush is blocking half the width of the canal.  As we descended, the hire boat below was sensibly waiting beyond it.  Then, as I opened the bottom gate, it moved up onto the lock mooring leaving barely enough room for us to pass.

2 not the best positioning

But we made it, just gently brushing past the tree.  We stopped for lunch below Fosse locks with the sun streaming through the windows.  I took Meg for a wander along the towpath, still on the hunt for some damsons in case the trees I know about – which we should pass tomorrow – have been picked already.  There were some wild plums, which weren’t quite ripe but I think they’ll cook ok.  None of them were on their tree – the branches had all been cut, and the leaves were all shrivelled, but the stems had retained enough sap for the fruit to survive.  I wondered if it was the work of the Phantom Snipper.  All along the towpath from Calcutt - and on the last trip we noticed this from the top of Napton locks – someone has snipped small branches, often laden with fruit, from the hedges and left them on the ground.

4 phantom snipper evidence

This one is hawthorn, but we have seen sloes, blackberries and now plums.  The strange thing is that none of them seem to have been big enough to have been causing any obstruction.  When we were moored at Napton a few weeks ago I did see a boater wielding a pair of secateurs and snipping randomly at the hedges, so maybe it’s him.

Near the old railway bridge is a clearing with a memorial painting on one of the trees and a swing hanging on another.  Yes, I did have a swing and it was still moving when I took the picture.

3 swing at offchurch

We carried on down Radford Bottom lock and past the permanently moored boat at bridge 34, which has been joined by a couple of caravans, one bog standard and one traditional gypsy-style and gaily painted.  Someone was sitting out, and it seemed rude to take a picture, so I snapped their take on Charity Dock instead.

5 at bridge 34 below radford lock

We cracked on past the pleasant moorings near Radford Road bridge towards Leamington Spa.  We have a rather urgent reason for shopping in Tesco.  But the photo-opportunities kept coming.  How’s this for a figurehead?  (There were no little girls on board, just oldie hirers).  The  dazzling white has unfortunately made it a bit over-exposed.

6 interesting figurehead

Along the way we passed NB Oleanna – we knew they were in the area but weren’t expecting to see them so soon, and we almost failed to notice them at all  - we were too busy looking at the new art college buildings which were being built last time we were here.  But no-one seemed to be at home.

7 oleanna at leamington spa

To our surprise, the Tesco moorings were empty.  Now, the reason for stopping was largely for Meg.  She started scratching towards the end of our last trip and when she got a raw patch on her face we obviously took her to the vet, and she was treated for fox mange.  A little white bread and a good splodge of paté got the tablets down her without a problem.   But the problem didn’t clear up, so back we went and she is now on a two-week course of two antibiotics, as well as steroids.  She stopped itching/scratching, so at least the funnel-collar could come off before we came back on the boat – that would not have been fun.  The bare patches are healing up now, but she had got wise to the paté trick.  And the bread must be white and soft, stale bread is no good!  Hiding bits of pill in some left-over sausage worked at tea-time, and for breakfast it will be smoked mackerel pate.  If that doesn’t work, I’ll have to buy more sausages.

Somehow we ended up with a trolley-full of purchases (wine may have been included). On our way out we were slightly horrified by this ad outside the store.

8 how is this a little help

Mother’s little helper, updated?  Or just cynical marketing.  I think I know which.  And they have the cheek to have the ‘drinkaware’ thing in small print at the bottom.

We continued to Cape Locks, where the lovely crew on board NB Firefly had spotted us in the distance and waited.  We went up together, and both found space on the visitor moorings.  We ate in the Cape of Good Hope – excellent as usual.  I had a pint of the guest beer, very nice.  I like a bit of word-play too.

9 wordplay

9 miles, 12 locks including Bascote Staircase.






Thursday, 13 September 2018

The weather is holding …..

Trip 51

Wednesday 12th September; Calcutt Marina to Long Itchington

Now the schools have gone back the roads were free of holiday traffic and we arrived at the marina by 2.  By 3 we had unloaded, paid the mooring fee and left the marina.  A young great crested grebe was fishing as we left.  It was managing to stay down as long as an adult and had clearly learnt to swim underwater as it popped up from its dives quite a way away from where it disappeared.  It didn’t catch anything though.

1 young GCG at calcutt

It’s still got its baby stripes, though its tufty bits on top are starting to grow.

Every now and then a boat or two came along from Stockton locks, so we thought if there was anyone ahead of us they would probably be on their way down by the time we got there.  The arm at Willow Wren was being extended last time we were along here, and now it looks finished.  The steam-boat Adamant is now moored in the arm rather than online.

2 willow wrens extended arm

Two boats were emerging from Stockton top lock as we approached, which was lucky.  We knew there was nobody behind us to share with, which was not so lucky, but never mind.  The sun was shining and the locks weren’t leaking much so we soon got a good rhythm going with Dave doing some of the work while I went ahead to open a paddle to top up the next lock.  There was a slight hitch when one lock had emptied – one of the boats going up hadn’t fully closed a bottom paddle and it was a little while before I noticed.  How they managed to open the top gates without realising I don’t know.

We had another slight delay when a single hander had locked ahead - with a bridge obscuring his view he hadn’t seen us coming down the lock above.  But it wasn’t long before we were cracking on again.  Should we stop at the Blue Lias?  There was just about room, but two boats were emerging from the next lock so on we went.  There were a lot of people on the gates – I recognised one of them, the skipper of the hotel boat WB Tranquil Rose.  It was below the lock – pointing away from the lock, having just descended – and he and his crew were waiting for a chance to turn round and go back up again!  Tranquil Rose had been stuck a bit further on, under bridge 24, for an hour and a half.   He has travelled up to Warwick many times so it was quite a surprise.  CRT had attended and they thought there might be something underwater that had prevented them getting through – Tranquil Rose is 11’ wide and the bridge is 12’, so it doesn’t have a lot of space.  They had managed to get out backwards, as even if they had got through they didn’t want to risk getting stuck again on the return journey.  So they were helping boats through the lock till there was a gap in traffic and they could turn.

3 tranquil rose lock 12

He was letting the narrowboat which had arrived just as they got free go up ahead, which was a very decent thing to do.

We could have moored outside one or other of the pubs below the bottom lock, but it’s a bit close to the busy road for our liking.  There was room after the bridge further away from the road, so we stopped there.  Dave went for a walk with Meg and found plenty of blackberries just near bridge 26.

3 miles 10 locks.




Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Not planning to cruise the Basingstoke canal were you?

My sister has just sent me the following two images of the Basingstoke canal  - a lock and the nearby cut trickle.  I’ll update the post when she tells me which lock it is.  It’s near Pirbright.  She said there were plenty of other puddles she could have sent!

basingstoke canal 2018 2


basingstoke canal 2018

And I thought the South Oxford above King’s Sutton lock was shallow …..

Friday, 7 September 2018

The ropy lift bridges of the South Oxford, Mikron Theatre gets stuck, and Tixall Hall revealed

I passed on the details of a leaking lock and 3 poor lift bridges on the South Oxford canal to CRT.

I got this response about the lift bridges;

Thank you for contacting Canal & River Trust, I can confirm there is a long term programme planned to repair several lift bridges on the Oxford canal including  bridges 233, 231. Shipton liftbridge [this is the warped one] is also planned for a larger scaled repair.

I emailed back saying they didn’t seem to be part of the stoppages for this winter. This what they replied ….

These works are not due to be taken place this winter hence not being on the stoppage list. They are however being prioritised and notices will be put online when they have been finalised.

So there you have it.

You may have heard that NB Tyseley, the Mikron theatre’s boat, got stuck in lock 9 on the Napton flight, the one notorious for being a bit on the narrow side.  This link is the video of how they got out.

https://www.facebook.com/mikrontheatre/videos/679580702409113/

Last month the Guardian had an article about the buried traces  of settlements and buildings of the past.  One example was the of original site of Tixall Hall, of which there is now nothing to be seen apart from the gatehouse – that is, apart from the site of the foundations which will be visible until the grass has grown again.  But you won’t see it if you moor at Tixall Wide – the images were all taken from a drone.  Here is the link;

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/aug/15/millennia-of-human-activity-heatwave-reveals-lost-uk-archaeological-sites

There is also something about Eynsham, which is on the Thames.

Happy boating!

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Back to Calcutt

Saturday 25th August; Napton to Calcutt Marina

We spent a couple of hours cleaning and packing before making our way back to Calcutt.  We much prefer doing this by the towpath, where you usually have a pleasant view and room to breathe.  The boats waiting for the locks to open had long gone and the one behind us – which had an illuminated duck on the roof last night – had also left.  It was a lovely sunshiny morning.

1 moored at napton

Our return to the marina was fairly uneventful to start with.  This steep field near Napton hill often has horses in it.

3 horses

There was still a fair bit of floating vegetation around, apparently from the strimming that was going on yesterday afternoon.  The towpath further on from the moorings is pretty narrow and not in the best of conditions, so this has to be done, though it’s a shame the bits all seem to end up in the water.  A couple of years ago we reported a collapsing stretch of path near bridge 112.  Red plastic fencing soon went up to mark the holes but nothing more has been done.  The fencing appears to have been damaged by a strimmer and is probably destined to end up round someone’s prop.

4 plastic rubbish to be

All was going smoothly till we came round a bend and suddenly there was something in the way!  We weren't expecting a widebeam this side of Napton junction!

5 whats that doing here

Dave was slowing and adjusting our line to see what was behind the tree when another bow appeared right beside the widebeam.  After rather a lot of reverse gear and manoeuvring by both boats – and the one behind them having to stop too – we all agreed that this was once of the most inconsiderate choices of mooring spot we had seen.  I’m not sure we would moor here even if the overhanging tree had been removed though if you don’t actually meet anyone it is ok.

7 and no-one on board

The widebeam is being fitted out – not a lot was inside and it was all locked up.  Is the owner aware they can’t go beyond Napton?  Do they even know whether they will fit through the bridges and narrow bits and get round the bends to the only winding hole long enough for them?  Or are they intending to reverse back to the junction?

After that little hold-up we were able to share the descent of Calcutt locks with a single-hander and he didn’t even need to get off his boat after he closed the first top gate as there was plenty of crew from the boats coming up.

We didn’t rush to start the drive home, not leaving till mid-afternoon.  Our son had sent us details of the massive hold-ups on the M5 - it’s bank holiday weekend, after all – but by the time we hit the motorway everything had cleared.

2 miles, 3 locks

Trip stats

98 miles 6½ furlongs narrow canals, 1 miles 3¾ furlongs broad canal, 100 miles 2¼ furlongs in total.

76 narrow locks, 6 broad (actually 38 narrow and 3 broad, twice).

40 (20, twice each) moveable bridges, some open, some key-operated, some absolute bu**ers.

Canalplanner says there was a small aqueduct or underbridge but I can’t recall having seen it.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Shuffling up

Friday 24th August; Priors Hardwick to Napton

We decided on an early start as rain is forecast for later on and we didn’t know how long we might have to wait at Napton lock flight; overnight closures are now in place because of the lack of rain, so we were expecting to queue.  Juggler and The Prattyflower had gone by yesterday afternoon, and Dolcie Blue and Tara early this morning.  We were away before 8 in glorious warm sunshine.

1 early morning priors hardwick

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the warmth.  This one didn’t even blink as we approached, just blissing out in the sun.

2 enjoying early morning sun

We arrived at Marston Doles and the top lock to find The Prattyflower just going in and Tara moving up to let us pull in.  We all worked together and soon Tara was going down.  As I went to close the second bottom gate they called back to warn of a boat just round the bend, so I opened up again.  There was a fair bit of this as we went down the flight, with all crews appreciating the need to save water and use the locks efficiently.  The water buffalo had what looked like a fairly new calf with them today.

3 baby buffalo

Once we had got past Napton Adkins lock, and the locks are closer together, we had volunteers to work us through and encourage people to wait for oncoming boats where possible; with some new hirers on their way up there was a bit of educating to be done.  There is a volunteer on the offside bottom gate in the picture, but you can barely see him against the hedge behind.

4 volunteers at napton

Yesterday, as if the lack of rain wasn’t bad enough, someone hadn’t closed the bottom paddles before opening the top ones at one of these locks so there were some delays as the resulting low pound had to be sorted by the lockies.

The wind had been getting up as we came down the locks and black clouds were looming as we made a quick stop below the bottom lock to empty a cassette and dump rubbish.  The water point is further on beyond the bridge – we went through and just got the hose running in time to dive inside as the heavy rain started. 

Luckily the rain eased just as the tank had filled – excellent timing.  We moved round the corner, passing Dolcie Blue before we moored up ourselves. 

5 dolcie blue moored

It was very hot again as I walked up to the village to get a few bits in the shop.  We had lunch, and then, as we are going into Calcutt marina in the morning, decided to stay here till tomorrow.  Meg told Dave she thought there might be a good field to play in behind the Folly so they went off and had a lovely time.  While they were out of the way I cleaned through the boat, which is much easier when she is out of the way! 

During the afternoon the moorings gradually filled up.  A 62’ boat tried to fit in the gap in front of us; we were already sharing the ring at the stern, but I went out to use a cladding pin to shuffle us up even further.  This isn’t so easy when there is only one of you. When I turned round to see if the waiting boat could fit they had disappeared!  Dolcie Blue, who had come round away from the bend to find a straighter edge, had also shuffled a bit making room a few boats further along.  Half an hour later a slightly shorter boat arrived and between us we managed to shoe-horn them in.  We had more room at the stern – about a foot!

2 a very close fit

There was a lot of floating weed in the canal – boats were coming up to the locks with it draped around their bows – and one family was making use of it!

6 floating weeds with riders

The youngster is growing its teenage feathers but still has some of its baby fluff.

7 still fluffy

There was another visitor at the side hatch – very insistent, and I nearly managed to get a snap right down its throat!  The dog heard it hiss and came rushing up but I wasn’t quite quick enough to capture the nose-to beak moment!

9 intruder

There were further heavy showers later on and there was a beautiful double rainbow during the evening.

10 double rainbow

I took some rubbish up to the bins after we had eaten, to see how many boats were waiting for the locks to open at 8am.  The boat breasted up had waited for all to be quiet before reversing back from his mooring on the bend to fill up with water.  Boats were on the water moorings as well as the one at the bottom of the photo, moored outside the Elsan block in pole position for the morning. 

11 waiting to go up tomorrow

12 notice but no padlock

4 miles, 9 locks