Without Touching The Sides. 1st December

Ansty Waste Bridge 12 to Springwood Haven, Coventry Canal

Was Tilly disgruntled not to be having shore leave this morning or was it the smell of Deep Heat that had her sit bolt upright and give me a Paddington stare. I promised that the outside we’d tie up today would be far better, she settled down and patiently waited.

You know you want to let me out!

Extra layers required today, thermals under the padded trousers and I seem to have found the shortest thermal vest I posses, annoying as it ruckles up under jumpers. But the layers helped to keep the chill out for much of the morning.

How many vans?

We pootled our way along to Hawkesbury Junction and Sutton Stop Lock, passing the campervan graveyard. The water point before the lock was free so we pulled in to top up the tank. At this time of year we like to keep the tank as full as possible and having just done a load of washing it needed a top up. Mick walked the rubbish over the bridge to the bins and we were soon ready to move on.

Sutton Stop

I don’t often take the helm, my choice, I prefer working the locks. The most often asked question from Gongoozlers is about why the men are usually at the helm whilst the women work the hard heavy locks. Well everyone has their reasons, mine is that I love working locks, I get exercise, I get to chat, I get to take photos, I get a walk, I find driving a touch boring to be honest. But right now most of the reasons I enjoy working locks are not good for my calf muscle, so no choice.

Mind the cill!

When I lost my little finger I helmed Lillian through many locks. When Oleanna was brand new I took her through her first locks down from Sheffield as I was recovering from a broken ankle, that was far more daunting than taking her through Sutton Stop Lock today, all of 10 inches deep. Mick went ahead to open the lock, I nudged the bow out and headed for the narrow entrance.

Mick waiting for the lock to equalise

With no-one sat outside the Greyhound I decided to have a go at turning Oleanna onto the Coventry Canal 180 degree turn under the bridge to head northwards. Mick sat down to give me a better view. Gently I turned her under the bridge, I knew I wouldn’t manage the turn in one go, not many do. More like a three point turn and the bow came round, neither end of Oleanna having touched the sides.

Not bad for the stand in photographer

This did mean passing the job of photographer to Mick, requesting a photo looking under the bridge towards the Greyhound, a photo I don’t think I’ve taken for a very long time as I’m usually on the bank, keeping an eye out for on coming boats, setting or closing the lock.

At least they still get a view of the canal from the top floor

Now in Frank country, our friend grew up in these parts. The big house, once a pub by Bulkington Bridge now has a high wooden fence cutting off the view of the canal. Past Avril’s old school, one of the first Comprehensive schools in the 1950’s.

Charity Wharf

Charity Wharf. Every time we come past I wait to see what the display might be this time. In our early days of boating there was always something new to see, a new group of mannequins dressed up suitably for the season, Halloween especially good. However the last few times we’ve been past there seem to be fewer figures on display. Stig has been stood in the same position for years. There is still plenty to see, but not the display it used to be, maybe the person who used to do it all has moved elsewhere.

The Morris Minor still sits on top of the mound of stuff by the dry dock, entrance blocked off by boats as usual. A little further on we noticed the ribs of a wooden boat sticking up from the water like fish bones left by a cartoon cat.

We’d considered heading up the Ashby for a few days, a visitor mooring being £18 a night without electric put us off somewhat, so we continued on past.

Diesel was next on our minds, keeping the tank as full as possible in cold weather a good thing. We pulled over at Star Line Boats. No-one came out to help us, Mick had chance to see their prices £1.60 domestic, maybe not thank you. We’d not even tied up before he pushed the bow back out.

Maybe the person from Charity Wharf has moved here?

Yesterday we’d had compliments at our passing speed, today a grumpy man shouted from within his cruiser for us to slow down. We had. A quick look at his ropes suggested that maybe it wasn’t our fault he was moving about so much, no wonder he was grumpy, he’d be shouting at every boat that went past!

Eagle or Sheep eyed?

A boat came towards us, quite a breaking wash behind them. Their engine making such a noise as we passed, then the throttle was cranked up, more noise, more wash, I found myself shouting, I couldn’t help it. Maybe there was an emergency somewhere! They’d certainly give the grumpy man something to shout about!

A mural with a bendy tree. The first flag we’ve seen held by a giant teddy. Then the obligatory telephone pole.


Soon Springwood Haven came into view, the basin a third full of hire boats, it’s now an ABC marina. We pulled in opposite, 14:30 not much day light left for our four legged crew. The doors were opened an hour and a half shore leave granted and off she went. She was right this was a far better outside! One of my favourites


Hire boats

A big batch of chilli was got going on the hob then moved to the stove to carry on cooking during the afternoon. Then a batch of sweet gluten free pastry was made up and left to rest in the fridge, I’m going to have a go at making some mince pies tomorrow.

Thank you for the good outside today

Tilly arrived home with fifteen minutes left of shore leave. ‘Thank you for coming home’ Dreamies were dispensed. As here is one of her favourites and I felt generous I allowed her out again. At 4pm, cat curfew, I called for Tilly and was ignored. At 4:30pm I called again and waggled the big torch about and was ignored. At 4:45pm I thought I heard her running along the towpath, but it turned out to be some percussion on the programme Mick was watching about Fleetwood Mac!

A coat of paint on the door

At 5:10pm when I’d run out of things to keep me busy, I popped on my coat and shoes, time to be the mad cat woman. Big torch in hand I called for Tilly once again. Before I even stepped off the boat I could hear her bell. Was she on the towpath or over the bank. After a few minutes Tilly arrived along the towpath, trotting along in the dark, very ready for her evening dingding followed by a snooze in front of the stove. Only 70 minutes late. If you knew what I’d been up to out there you’d have come and joined me!

1 lock, WE 9.99miles, Pip’s Nebo 9.4 miles (missing off the start of our voyage!), Mick’s Nebo 10.1 miles, 180 degrees without touching, 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish, 1 batch pastry (not for steak pie making!), 1 vat of chilli, 1st coat of dark on door, 1 very happy stop out cat.