Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Back on the Stratford Canal

We completed our ring at Birmingham, yet another one, but again covering new water. Once again heading south. Cruising the Grand Union. Along the way we managed to collect some wood for the fire. There was a longish stretch where you could see several trees had been cut down. Also there was quite a bit floating in the Canal. On Saturday we moored back at Knowle so Paul could watch all three matches of the Rugby. Still good result with England winning the Six Nations.

To make sure we know where to go!

Sunday we moved on through Kingswood Junction and back on to the Stratford Canal. Actually met 3 boats coming the other way, so it seems the softie boaters are coming out of hibernation!
Plenty of water here! Can you see the swan?
Yesterday we reached the dreaded bridge 28, for once Paul went ashore and I took Falcon through. Afterwards he said although he was expecting it to be hard, I don't give up easily, it was more difficult than he had expected.
Paul taking a break whilst raising bridge 28
On a better note I emailed Canal & River Trust about it and they have swapped the pump and sent it away for inspection so hopefully at some future point it will be better.
A week today we are heading to Devon, firstly to Ilfracombe to see our nephew-in-law Phil set off on his  chopper to cycle to Plymouth to raise money for St Luke's Hospice.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Back in Birmingham!

We made it into Knowle for shopping on Saturday and Paul enjoyed all 3 of the Six Nations matches at the weekend. Moving onwards Monday saw us cruising through Solihull. Here there was quite a bit of debris in the Canal. The usual plastic bags and bottles, but also lots of logs and branches. We did find a launderette which was really close to the Canal with a lovely little cafe 2 doors down. So we were able to have lunch whilst the washing was doing!
Looking down the Aston flight

Entering the top lock

Yesterday saw us going down Camp Hill Locks in the morning then up the Digbeth flight in the afternoon!
This morning we have turned back on to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and come down 8 of the locks to moor in the same spot we were 2 weeks ago! Off now to find Aldi!

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Continuing along the Stratford-on-Avon Canal

First lift bridge, this one is electric, so it's just push button.
Doesn't show too well but this is a field of tiny Christmas trees!
How many shopping days to go?
There are ten miles of lock free cruising, although there are 3 lift bridges to prevent boredom! We soon reached the first one which was easy. I do like making all the cars stop! On Monday night we moored at a little place called Illshaw Heath. Not a lot there, but we were recommended the bakery/deli by a couple of boaters. So on Tuesday morning we felt obliged to try the cooked breakfast. It was VERY good and filled us up all day! Just as well as we had the other 2 lift bridges. Bridge 26 was fine, operated with the windlass, lots of exercise for me!
Cheerful wave.
 As you can see Paul waves as he passes through! Just a short distance to Bridge 28, this one was so hard we had to stop after so I could have a cup of tea!
Thursday saw us dropping down through the 15 locks to Kingswood Junction. Hence on to the Grand Union Canal.
Yesterday we worked up the 5 locks at Knowle. Being the Grand Union these are double locks, not been on them for a while. The paddles and gates were heavy so were glad to moor yesterday.
Today we are staying put, Paul will be watching the Six Nations later. Meanwhile it's get the bikes down and cycle into Knowle for some shopping.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Stratford on Avon Canal

In the end we didn't leave Birmingham until Saturday! We went back to the indoor market near the Bullring for some meat then the outdoor bit for some fruit and veg. Spent Saturday night at Bournville, right opposite the chocolate factory! Bournville is a lovely village, but as we have visited twice before, we didn't venture there again. So Sunday saw us heading southwards towards Kings Norton Junction. This is the furthest we have been previously, using the junction to turn.
Guillotine Lock

Tunnel entrance

This time we turned on to the Stratford-on-Avon Canal. A new direction for us. No locks for a while, then 21 close together! The first lock was put to separate the 2 canals so boats had to stop and pay the toll. As the water levels are the same this is now permanently open.  We came through Brandwood Tunnel and cruised about a mile before stopping for the night.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Back in Birmingham

Moving on on Monday we cruised underneath Spaghetti Junction, much less traffic down there. In fact, just us! Turning on to the Birmingham and Warwick Canal we moored by Star City. A big cinema and casino complex. Good mooring though on a pontoon with a lockable gate. The next morning, before setting off thought I would just check the stoppages only to find one posted the day before just 3 locks ahead! So we walked up to have a look only to find one of the gates off the top hinge and no sign of workmen! So back on board, time to get the map out.
Once again a chance of plan. With no room to turn we had to reverse back to the junction, luckily not too far. We then turned on to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. This will bring us to the same point, but we have been this way before, where as the other Canal was new water for us! Wednesday saw us cruising in the snow! Not that it was laying. Too wet for that! More concerning was the wind. The remaining 8 locks on the Aston Flight weren't too bad, but then came the Farmers Flight of 13. Having worked them before not my favourite set. Some of the time you are under concrete office blocks! For a couple of locks I had to haul on the bow rope to stop Falcon being blown and crashing into the building support pillars. We finally made it safely to the top to moor where we had left two weeks ago! And that's where we are now! Moving on later today!