Chocolate Box. 11th April

Shobnall Fields to Fradley Swing Bridge, Coventry Canal

More news came through yesterday from my cousin in Ukraine. They have managed to visit their home in Chernihiv to board up windows and doors and sift through to see what the looters might have left. Not much really other than heavy items of furniture which leaves them with the two suitcases they had packed when they fled. The house had triple glazing most of which is now shattered across what is left of their lawn, a lot of shards to pick up before their dogs can play out again. There is still no power or gas and very little in the shops, so it will be sometime before they can return to rebuild their home.

“Hopefully things don’t deteriorate again but when will it all end?”

Reversing in

Here in Burton we pushed off and made our way to Shobnall Basin, thankfully there was nobody already filling with diesel so Mick swung Oleanna round and reversed in through the narrow entrance. He managed this without touching the sides, an audience and wind! He was quite smug about it too.

At £1.20 a litre we wanted to leave with the tank full and we were surprised that the tank was full after only 81 litres considering we’d been pushing upstream for several days. A new bottle of gas too, the price of which had just gone up, but today they would charge us the old price. In the shop we looked round for some Marine 16, here there was a large bottle at about the same price we’d have got half the amount for in Nottingham. Glad we waited.

Branston Lock

Time to move on. There are more new houses in view near Branston Lock. Looking one way it is still quite green, the other way and huge distribution warehouses are going up.

Chocolate box lock

Next Tattenhill Lock, the chocolate box lock. It always looks so pretty in the sunlight the cottage a B&B. What a different place this must have been when the cottage was first built, no builders merchants along the way where huge clouds of dust blew across the canal, pile driving noises and the constant road noise from the A38.

Breath in!

We held our breath going through bridge 36. I sent a photo to David, his boat would certainly not make it through such tight bridge holes, it wouldn’t make it through the narrow locks either.

The moorings were full below Barton Turn Lock so we had to ascend it before stopping for lunch. The end of a beam is now painted red and at some time the handle has been moved so that it is over solid ground and not just air!


Now the mile and a half where the A38 clings to the side of the canal. We always wave to lorries along here. At first today it seemed like everyone was miserable, but then we got our first wave back, then a beep beep, even a flash of lights from one driver.

Mick lending a hand when he can

Wychnor Lock we caught up with a boat that must have come out from the marina. The lady was a novice learning the ropes, the chap an old hand. Mick came up to lend a hand setting the lock once they’d gone.

Now we were on the stretch with the River Trent, the navigation more windy than before. The boats moored here have rings that can slide up and down on scaff poles for the changing height of the river. There is a weir and several bridges to help keep the towpath from getting flooded.

Alrewas was semi busy, we’d have found space for ourselves, but wanted to get further today, catching up with our schedule. A new boat is aptly named on the off side mooring where the canal narrows.

Another sitting swan

At Bagnall Lock Mick held the gates closed with the aid of the boat hook, one of them naturally wants to open itself but thankfully I only had to return to close it one extra time.

Closing up behind

Now the locks up into Fradley, passing the new marina which now has a few boats in residence. Late afternoon meant there would be no volunteers, they may not have started back yet anyway. But it did mean I got to work all the locks myself, which is why I love boating.

Hello Ian and Irene!

Between Keeper’s Lock and Junction Lock there was only one space free, each boat socially distancing themselves and not one shared mooring ring. We planned to ascend all the locks today so carried on. NB Freespirit was the second boat in line. Mick said hello as he passed as did I from the towpath, but no reply came back, Bridgerton must have been very captivating.

Entering the top lock was a shiny new hire boat, the maximum length for these locks, with six on board it would be a cosy week. We swapped and ascended our last lock of the day as a giant teddy walked down the road.

Last lock of the day

Last chance to change our mind on route. We turned left keeping to the quicker plan. I swung the bridge and we pulled in to the first space available, the water point already commandeered by an ex-hire boat. It was late so despite her protestations Tilly was not granted any shore leave, instead she had to sit and watch me make up a chicken pie.

Obligatory photo

10 locks, 9.35 miles, 1 windy reverse, 81 litres, 13kg gas, 1 chocolate box, 1 narrowboat holding it’s breath, 18 waves, 10 horns, 1 lights flash, 0 queues, 1 maximum length boat, 0 shore leave, 1 narrowboat topped pie.

2 thoughts on “Chocolate Box. 11th April

  1. Irene

    Ah, but unfortunately, the rings at Fradley are all wrong for certain lengths of boats. For us to share a ring in front, meant not being able to secure the stern. I believe this could be the reason why no one was sharing. Xx

    1. pipandmick Post author

      Very few places have the right spacings for mooring. I suspect there was a mixture of people, those like you who’d not be able to secure the stern if you shared a ring and those who’d never dream of sharing one! There is also the factor of boats moving off and leaving odd sized gaps. Please note I didn’t call them ‘git gaps’. xx

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