Christmas On A Bike. 21st, 22nd December

Sutton Road Bridge to King’s Orchard Marina, Coventry Canal to Common Lock 14, Trent and Mersey Canal

Christmas on a bike

Mick headed off with the bike this morning to see if he could find some engine oil no luck. But he did return with one of the B&Q Christmas Trees, possibly the smallest one they had. This morning they had been reduced again to £3! Bargain. It stands at about the same height our old tree had grown to, but has been potted in a very haphazard way. The old tree had one side that was angled in line with Oleanna’s tumblehome (angle of the cabin sides), the new tree has only one face that looks straight, any movement to one side and it has quite a lean. If it copes with life onboard, when it gets repotted I’ll try to straighten it up. But then I don’t want to encourage it to grow too much otherwise it won’t fit inside next year and may have to be retired after one festive season!

All this meant we had a later start than planned, but at least we now had Christmas on board with us. Time to pootle along the long pound towards Fradley.

Our usual mooring

Very few boats were in Hopwas. We passed where we normally stop, I’m sure Tilly was looking longingly out of the window at all the trees, but stopping here wouldn’t get us to our Christmas bird in time. A lady passed by on her horse. We were surprised to see a boat moored along the length opposite the danger zone. Here a wide concrete edge tends to put most people off mooring, maybe it was intentional. But this boat had taken it’s ropes a good three foot in on the towpath to find somewhere to hammer into.

Sunny day

The clouds cleared and we soon had blue skies, lovely if a touch chilly. Fields are newly ploughed and sewn, some with shoots of a few inches high, obviously enjoying the wet weather.

One of my favourites

Approaching Whittington I waited for the weathervane of the Grey Fergie. It has to be one of my favourites and today I got to see how much detail there is on it.

Our turn to go through

Just before the bend under Whittington Bridge there is a tree half way across the cut. This of course is where we met a boat coming the opposite way, Mick had just enough time to slam on the breaks to let the other boat through. Phew!

Huddlesford Junction

Past the Lichfield Canal the sun making the house at the junction look so picturesque. Behind it soon appeared the works for HS2. Red piledriver, Yellow piledriver, not the same as lorries but just as hard to say.

We don’t remember the huge pile of earth that must have been here a while opposite Kings Orchard Marina, it must be more to do with HS2. We pulled in just after the marina entrance and as soon as our ropes were tied I was inside reciting the shore leave rules to Tilly. She didn’t listen or care. JUST OPEN THE DOOR!!!!!

Hurry UP!!!

Sadly within two minutes of her paws touching the towpath a chap and his dog came from under the bridge and Tilly was straight back inside the boat. Then a walker too! So not fare! Tilly was good, came and went a few times and was back on board cleaning between her toes a little before 4pm, cat curfew.

It was too late to start putting the Christmas lights on the outside of Oleanna, well that’s the excuse Mick used. However there was plenty of time to bake the Lebkuchen and decorate the Christmas tree.

The Christmas hamper was released from the top shelf of a cupboard. Lights and baubles and silver ribbon hung and wrapped round. A star popped on the top of the tree, Lebkuchen iced. As soon a they were deemed dry enough it was time for a cuppa and biscuit. Christmas has just about arrived on Oleanna.

0 locks, WE 6.63 miles, Pip Nebo 6.6 miles, Mick Nebo 6.6 miles, 1 sad gits Christmas tree, 0 ice, 2 hours! 1 happy cat, 1 disgruntled cat, 250ml evostick,1st tidal stretch booked, 15 biscuits, 2ft decorated.

Thursday 22nd.

A grey drab day compared to yesterday. Padded trousers and layers with the top one being waterproof. We pootled our way towards Fradley Junction.

Signs on the towpath suggested there was work going on. Then two sections of fencing lay on the ground suggesting that the towpath had been closed. This was where there had been a closure recently due to a leaking culvert under the canal. The off side field had a muddy track through it and where the leak had been there was even more mud and a new manhole cover on each side of the cut. A couple of chaps were busy putting in new fencing along the towpath.


A short distance further on a group of chaps stood around one of those small tractor hedge cutters with big huge tyres, suitable for most terrain. Well apart from terrain that had recently been dredged to use as back filling behind some new wooden piling. The tractor had sunk on one side up to it’s belly. To get it out the chaps were digging the back filling out and dropping it back into the canal. Wonder how long it took them to get it out?

Not the last of the ginger today

Now should we stop for water before the junction or after? The tap at the services is extremely slow, the one before not so, but it is a longer walk away from the bins. As we approached the swing bridge was being opened by some paddle boarders, they left it open for us, so we carried on to the junction.

Fradley Junction

I stepped off, leaving Mick to close the gate and walked up to set Junction Lock. No queues, no boat coming from the next lock up. Mick pulled Oleanna in, a handy post box had caught his eye right by the lock landing, the last Christmas card popped in the post. Then Oleanna dropped down in the lock to the services.

Going down

Water, bins, shore based facilities, Santas, Christmas suits, present hunts, onion slicing and frying, bread chopping, plenty of time to get things sorted as the water tank filled.

Mick and I swapped over. Below Keepers Lock a boat was coming into the next lock, Mick waited to empty our lock until they were filling theirs. Our lock emptied quicker than theirs filled and they took their time exiting the lock, pulling in to the landing. Below a moored boat had come adrift and needed pulling back in before we emptied our lock. Mick headed down with the other crew to see what they could do.


The bow rope was still attached, the centre line passed to Mick and then the stern line, the boat pulled in. The mooring pins were thankfully still attached to the ropes (handy those loops on some pins) and somehow they were pushed back into the ground. We don’t think they’ll hold for long.

We dropped down Hunts Lock, our intention had been to do Common Lock too and moor up in the next pound for the night, but the lock landing had a boat length of armco before it, so we pulled in to make use of it rather than cling on with spikes below.

Bit damp his outside

1pm, 3 hours shore leave for Tilly. Pastry rolled out, filling mixed together (I don’t like the new sausage skins Sainsburys are using, they’re like jelly!), rolls rolled and cut to length, then baked. Warm sausage rolls for lunch, yum.

Whilst Mick attached our Christmas lights, I did secret things inside and Tilly made the most of the friendly cover and sideways trees. She also made the most of having very wet paws to trample all over the boat when she came in! Why can’t cat’s learn to wipe their feet! Because they have PAWS!!!

No photo today of the finished lights, I’ll try to get one tomorrow.

3 locks, WE 4.16 miles, Pip Nebo 3.1 miles (operator error), Mick’s Nebo 4.2 miles, 1 swing bridge swung, 3 paddle boarders. 1 all terrain vehicle stuck in the terrain, 1 canal being filled up, 1 water tank full, 8 sausage rolls, 2 more tidal bookings, 1 long line of lights, 5 presents wrapped, episode 2 of season 2 Happy Valley.

One thought on “Christmas On A Bike. 21st, 22nd December

  1. Dave(Scouts)

    Wishing you, Mick & Tilly a very merry Christmas, a happy new year and safe travels.

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