Category Archives: Knitting

Cover Up. 5th April.

Lockdown Mooring 3

The forecast for today was for sun, warmth and maybe a bit of cloud, but no rain. Would our towpath here in Calveley fill with dog walkers and others out for their daily exercise? Or would we be able to take over a strip alongside Oleanna?

Tilly out for a prowl

As we had breakfast Tilly was allowed an hour of shore leave, as soon as she returned all the doors would be closed for her own safety. The disinfectant spray bottle today would be needed for a different job. The contents were rinsed out very well and then the days chore started.

It’s a year since we last had a go at our boat covers. In that year they have turned quite green in parts and because they get folded down whenever we cruise muddy ropes get laid on top of them. So they were in serious need of some attention. Last year we took over some benches at Pollington Lock on the Aire and Calder right beside a water point to give them a soapy scrub. This worked but was serious hard work.

Pram cover turned green
The cratch not quite as bad

Naughty Cal had suggested we tried Wet and Forget a product that you mix with water and spray onto your covers, then once dry the elements do the job for you. Sun, wind and rain gradually clean off the muck and green. I thought this a wonderful idea and ordered a bottle to give it a try. I picked it up from my brothers a year ago and it has sat gathering dust since then. Today it was time to dust it off!

As recommended by Naughty Cal

The towpath here is reasonably wide so I wouldn’t be blocking it. The cratch cover was first to be laid out. 1 part wet and forget to 5 parts water mixed and I started. A good soaking spray was required , so this took quite some time. Decision made soon after starting, if this works I’ll be buying a pump spray bottle for next time, my poor hands can only take so much of a spray trigger.

Marked up for ease of mixing

I was being so interesting that Tilly came to have a look. Not a good idea! Wet and Forget isn’t so good on paws that will get washed. She was very quickly whisked up and handed to Mick through the hatch. Lockdown time for Tilly. I also kept an eye out for dogs and made sure people knew to keep their woofers away.

The spray lingered in the air a touch so I decided to see if I had a dust mask anywhere. A good look in amongst the boat painty things and I found one. It had been in there so long that the elastic had stopped being stretchy and was just long, too long! This now necessitated a knot being tied to keep it in place. So for an hour or so of spraying the rest of the covers I joined the mask brigade. Have to say it did help to keep walkers away from me.

Laid out getting sprayed

My faithful assistant passed me a bucket of soapy water so that the cratch board could have a good wash down before the covers went back on. There was a lot of soapy suds so I couldn’t see them go to waste. Oleanna’s horns had a scrub. Then I got a touch carried away!

She’s still smiling even under the suds

I was meant to be pacing myself doing boat jobs, they usually make my back ache and lets face it there will be plenty of time this year to get them done. But here I was with a bucket of soapy water and a very muddy boat bow and well deck. It would have been daft to leave them for another time.

A quick soap down

The well deck was emptied and there around the anchor in amongst the torn off tops of coal bags I found autumn! Autumn had moved into our well deck and concealed itself for a few months. A good sweep, the bow thruster locker lid was lifted (repainting of this added to the list as it’s got a touch rusty), washed around, down below was still nice and dry just how it should be.

The bow got a wash, round to the sides, then all that is the well deck, rinsed off, windows cleaned. Job done.

All rinsed down and drying

By now the covers were just about dry, so the pram cover went back on whilst the bow dried off nicely for the cratch cover to go back.

The look of the covers is exactly the same as before, so it looks like I’ve done nothing, we just have to wait now and let nature and what ever I’ve sprayed on them do their magic.

Identical to before it was sprayed. The roof will be a job for a few days time

More loads of washing passed through the machine today and the whirligig was kept full until the breeze grew too strong and the sail effect of duvet cover and sheet was too much, so they had to come down and wait till later.

A shoulder of lamb headed for the oven late afternoon and was ready for just after the Queens speech. An actor friend of mine found himself just by chance eating a Christmas pudding as the Queen asked us all to be good and follow the guidelines to Stay at Home during this challenging time.

So not fair

0 locks, 0 miles, 1.5 hours shore leave, 1 cat in lockdown, 4 covers well and truly sprayed, 3 loads washing, 1 well deck lovely and clean, 1 well deck in need of a repaint, 1 dust mask, 16 paws still safe to lick, 1 paint list growing, size 10 socks on the go, 1 Queens speech, 1 shoulder lamb, 1 bottle crabbies, 1 sunnyday.

Drifting On By. 25th Marc

Lockdown Mooring 1

Lockdown Mooring 1

The mornings are filled with sunlight at the moment and sleeping past 7am is getting hard, this will help next week not to feel too lazy when the clocks have jumped forward. Our mooring is close ish to the railway but with the reduced time table we rarely hear them, instead the world is filled with bird song. That is until a boat comes past, I can hear them from quite a distance at the moment.

This morning we were expecting at least one boat, NB Briar Rose. Adam and Adrian had set off almost three weeks ago from their marina on the Grand Union and had headed for the North. Sadly most of the north is still closed due to storm damage. Now Corona-19 has stopped all but essential navigation of the network, they’d been feeling the lock down approaching in the water too, so had turned round a few days ago. NB Briar Rose is being left at a marina and they will be returning home, four weeks early.

Adrian and Adam

They were the first boat to come past this morning and we managed to have a chat with them as they drifted past at a safe distance. Tilly was a touch disappointed not to see Adam as last summer he visited us in Guildford and brought her lots of treats. But she was far too busy in the sideways trees to even pop her head out to acknowledge them. We wished them a safe journey home.

What’s that over there?

Tilly spent much of the day outside. Luckily there seems to be a lot to keep her occupied and today she managed to keep to the newest rule of using shore based facilities. She’s a touch exhausted so you may not hear from her for a while.

I continued painting my model and then in the afternoon moved onto a new project that needs to be done for Friday. My stocks of card are kept low on the boat due to lack of storage, but an old pad of tracing paper provided me with enough card for my model. Tomorrow I’ll finish it and be able to post some footage on line.

The basic bits cut out

Mick started on his list of jobs. Today to grease the hatch doors and locker lids. As the weather gets warmer a lot of our hinges (Oleanna’s not ours) start to creak and we always intend to give things a good grease. Well today the side hatch doors were take off and some stern gland grease applied. The two bow locker lids also had the same treatment.

It came off in my hand

These took a bit of removing so Mick dug the Hebble Spike out from a locker and used it to cushion the hammer blows to nudge the lids along their hinges. Sadly the locker lids are in need of some attention from me as they are not quite central to the opening. So as they get opened and closed any grit down the side has worked the paint off and now rust is working it’s way along. These have been on my list of jobs to do for a while.

Hebble spike coming in handy

A walk to the chandlers on the off chance of some milk. The café window was open but nobody was around to serve. The lady at the chandlers hadn’t been able to get any milk for the last few days and any bread she’d got had been snapped up first thing. Rumours were that the shops were chaos in Nantwich with long queues still.

The café serving hatch

Walking back the two chaps moored near the lock asked if we had everything we needed and were we alright for shopping? A better community spirit than on other stretches of the towpath around the country.

Watching the world go by

During the day we counted eighteen boats go past. The first being NB Briar Rose and the last NB Halsall in the dark.

I’ve had a wash time to go out again

0 locks, 0 miles, 9.5 hours, 18 boats, 1:55 ish model, A4 sea, 1lump hammer, 1 Hebble spike, 2 hatch doors, 2 locker lids, 1 gas locker hinge greased, 1 heel stitch dropped, 70% spent pouncing not sleeping, 2 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval.

Hop, Skip And Slip. 15th March

Beeton Wood Bridge to Coxbank Visitor Moorings.

Turnover bridge Shropie style

A touch of shore leave for Tilly whilst we had our breakfast. Three boats came past, two heading towards the locks, oh well, we’d have to reset them for ourselves. As we made ready to push off the cows could be heard in the distance, at least they hadn’t been audible all night.

Top of the flight

The Adderley flight is an easy one. I’d expected all the locks to be empty, but the second one down was full due to a paddle that had been left halfway up, good job there’s plenty of water coming down!

How did someone miss this?

We passed boats coming up hill in the bottom two locks of the flight, one a familiar boat from a couple of years ago. They have a cat, Tilly had had a stand off over whose territory the benches were in at Nantwich.

One coming up

At Hawksmoor Bridge a boat we’d been following was just settling onto the visitors mooring. New stop planks all numbered up had been left by the bridge. There was a stoppage here until recently which caused a shortage of water down into Audlem. But today the levels are back to normal, just a shame that the canal under the bridge is very shallow. Oleanna made a big lean as we came through, it was like being back at Ryders Green!

Labelled stop planks

On to the top of the Audlem flight. There’s a handy mooring just two locks down which is where we planned to moor for the day.

It’s a bit lumpy through that bridge hole

Works at the top lock cottage are all completed now. The lower half of the very big extension is brick with the upper half timer clad that has had time to silver. Mick wasn’t too keen and I think it swamps the original cottage somewhat, the silvering timber will never make it fade into the background.

The lock cottage

No goodies for sale, here today. I didn’t bother checking in the fridges as I didn’t fancy a chilled medication.

I hitched a lift back on Oleanna to get round a muddy patch on the towpath on the way to the next lock. Down the lock and then we had a choice of where to stop as the moorings were empty.

Our first lamb this spring, certainly not a new born

We chose the first stretch just before a very very muddy length of towpath. It was just long enough for Oleanna and neither of us would have to wade through any mud. Just after we’d tied up it started to rain, perfectly timed.

Tilly came and went during the afternoon and I had a catch up phone call with my brother. Jac my sister-in-law had been planning to fly to Melbourne last Wednesday for the rest of the month to visit her Mum and family. I’d wondered if she’d gone, she had. My brother is quite calm about what is happening, he just hopes he gets his wife back sometime. It was good to have a catch up and hear news from London.

New tyre fitted

A few days ago Oleanna had caught a tyre whilst we were moored, so Mick set about replacing one on our wheels that has had a puncture for ages now. It fitted, we just need Oleanna to catch another one sometime and not around her prop!

As the tyre was pumped up a boat came past up the locks. I could hear Mick talking to a lady asking if she was alright. I bobbed out to see what was happening. The lady was walking between the locks windlass in hand and had come across the quagmire on the towpath. She’d tried to get round it, only a mountain goat or Tilly could do this up the steep bank, and had slipped onto her hand. Nothing broken thank goodness as her husband sailed away up to the next lock.

The ladies boat by the next lock

Only one thing for it, we’d give her a lift. Shoes back on, cratch rolled up, Tilly back onboard as their dog ran to find Mum on the towpath, we untied and got the bow just past the muddy section where the lady could hop on the bow with me. She was very apologetic about her muddy shoes, but really that didn’t matter, we’re muddy as anything at the moment! Mick reversed us back up and the lady could hop off and walk on up to the next lock. Her husband was closing the bottom gates at the lock about to start filling the chamber, wonder if he got an ear full?

It rose another inch before it went back in the fridge

My sourdough starter had come out of the fridge earlier with the aim of waking it up to make some pasta for a lasagne tomorrow. It warmed up and after a feed sat on the dinette table slowly growing all afternoon. Just a shame it ended up back in the fridge as we have sausages that will need eating tomorrow. Oh well it can come out and be woken up again tomorrow, I might make a loaf too.

As a joint of pork cooked away in the oven the sun set in the cloudless sky. What a wonderful sight.


7 locks, 2.82 miles, 3 uphill boats, 0 baked goods, 1 starter woken, 1 sister-in-law out of the country, 1 starter put to sleep, 1 new tyre, 4.5 hours shore leave, 1 muddy lady rescued, 1 joint pork, 3 year old balls of yarn, 1 bag of socks I really must update my etsy shop.

Dynamite! 24th February

Bumble Hole to Coombes Bridge

Last night we were aware of people on the towpath across the way from us. Nothing too rowdy, but when we heard a small bang Mick had a look out through the windows. As he moved from one end of the boat to the other we could hear someone running away. Then there was no sign of anyone again. We thought nothing of it.

Luke Perry land

This morning it was still breezy, was it too breezy to reverse to the water point and then back to the junction? Or should we go under the next bridge, wind and come back? As we would be going through Gosty Hill Tunnel Mick decided to reverse, meaning that the chimney would be on the towpath side whilst at the water point and he could swap the tall chimney for the short stumpy one. This also meant we could empty the yellow water tank with ease.

Waterpoint unusable without a male adaptor

The water point at sometime in the last month has had the very handy adapter removed, the bit you screw your connector onto before attaching your hose. We hunted through all our possible hose attachments to no avail. Then the chap from inside the visitor centre also had a routle through his box of bits. Sadly there was no means of attaching our hose today. This would have to wait.

As I got ready to push us back off I noticed something that certainly wasn’t on our bow yesterday when we’d moored up. Then another one.


Sticks of dynamite! Admittedly mini sticks. The green fuse hadn’t ignited the sticks thank goodness, but maybe this is what we had heard last night. Someone throwing fire crackers at us!


At the junction we turned towards Hawne Basin and made our way along the Dudley No 2. The engine was put into neutral to coast under the bridges, especially those we’d had trouble with before. Then our progress slowed right down as we made our way into Gosty Tunnel.

Get ready to duck

This passage took us 18 minutes, I wonder if anyone does it in the 10 suggested on the C&RT sign at the entrance? Then we made our way towards Burton Bridge the narrow entrance to Hawne Basin.

Today the wind didn’t help, it didn’t help at all. Mick managed to negotiate the bridge very well but once in the marina it was impossible to cruise in and position the stern at the diesel pump. He brought us in facing the wrong way and then we let the wind push the bow out, the stern was pulled round by Mick and a lady, whilst I apologised to the couple of boats our bow bumped into.

Filling up

Diesel. A fill up of 90 litres. As we’d come in under the bridge we got the cheaper price 59p, 10p cheaper than if you come through the gate. So very much worth the trip. Three bags of coal the use of their water point and disposal of our rubbish. Here is where I laid Mick’s umbrella to rest.

old friend

We’d planned on returning to Bumble Hole today, but we both decided that maybe we’d stay outside the marina here instead. We didn’t really want to be a target for a second night. So instead we watched the very first episode of Vera and I sorted out a mistake I’d done on a pair of socks, meaning unravelling around 100 rows! By the end of the evening they were back on track.

Squeezing our way back under the bridge

0 locks, 3.06 miles, 2 sticks unexploded dynamite, 0 attachment, 1 reverse, 2 lefts, 1 right, 1 wind, 90 litres, 10p discount, 1 empty wee tank, 3 bags coal, 0 rubbish, 0 umbrella, 1 full water tank, 1 quieter evening.

Over Budget. 12th February


A tidy up today, rationalising my work things. This always happens when we’re expecting visitors. Our friend Ali was in Birmingham for a few hours today, but the window of opportunity to meet up ended up being too short, so sadly we didn’t get chance for a catch up. On the plus side Oleanna is tidy again. We hope all is well with your Mum today Ali.

New socks

During the evenings I’ve been knitting some new socks for my esty shop. The yarn I used to use is no longer available, so I needed to knit up some new examples, which will all be for sale. With some daylight I wove all the ends in and took some photos. Hopefully over the next couple of days I’ll get them listed in my shop. I especially like the Kingfisher pair.

Mismatched stripes
Bold stripes

During the afternoon I made a start on costume drawings for The Garden. Drawn out in pencil, then the outlines inked in. I’m hoping to get them coloured up soon as right now is the prefect time to pick up some winter coats in charity shops, but I’ll need the thumbs up from Amy the Director first.

Sketch costume drawings

Mick did a trip to the bins and came back with a suggestion. The Malt House at Old Turn Junction is a Green King pub and at Christmas Kath, one of Mick’s sisters, gave us a gift card for the chain so that we could have a night out on her. A very thoughtful present that would only fill our bellies and not take up space in Oleanna.

With smarter clothes on we crossed bridge after bridge and made our way to the pub. We’ve been in once before with Bridget and Storm a couple of years ago. As ever the choice for me was between Hunters chicken, Tikka Massala or Ham egg and jacket potato. Well that was the official gluten free options. A jacket potato instead of chips means their deep fat friars are used for onion rings or things that contain gluten as well as chips. Luckily for me that isn’t a problem, so I had a couple more options.

Happy man with burger and a pint

Mick chose a Loaded Burger and I had chicken and chips without the bread and butter or curry sauce, this was okay but a touch bland even if they gave me extra chips to make up for it. A glass of wine and a pint of Abbott Ale went down very nicely, Mick however wasn’t allowed a second pint as Oleanna is still moored with tyre fenders at the moment and he might miss judge getting back on board!

We went slightly over budget, so after our food and the one drink we headed back to keep Tilly company with another glass of wine and a game of pawball.

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 visitors, -1 cataract, 3.5 pairs socks, 11 costume sketches drawn and inked, 1 wine, 1 pint beer, 1 burger, 0.5 chicken, 1 mound of chips, 1 Happy Christmas meal, 17p over budget!

Wading Through Trolleys. 2nd February

Lower Ocker Hill Branch to Cast Iron Roving Bridge, Birmingham

Heading back out onto the canal

We popped back out onto the canal shortly before 11am, heading eastwards towards Birmingham. The hope was to get up Ryders Green Locks before too many people were about, the area has a reputation.

At the bottom of the locks

Below the locks had far less rubbish than I remembered when we came through in June 2018, it being earlier in the day might have had something to do with it. The bottom lock was empty waiting for us, a good sign, maybe.

The first pound on the flight is longer than the rest and goes under several bridges before reaching the next lock. Mick took it steady under them. The middle bridge is a foot bridge leading across to Poundland and Asda. Asda may have a shortage of trolleys at the moment as most of them seemed to be in the canal! A few more stood close to the bridge awaiting their turn.

Here we go!

Wheels and legs of trolleys appeared just below the surface a couple just rising far enough to grasp a gasp of air. The sedimental trolley layers seemed thicker towards Asda, deeper water could be found towards the centre. However the depth wasn’t quite enough for us to just glide over the tops with the occasional bump or scraping.

A few attempts of forwards and reverse were needed to help settle the metal wheeled cages below to give us just enough depth to pass on wards. It took a little while but we made it. C&RT will be well aware of what lies below the surface here, but we’ll double check with them when the office is open.

At the next lock I walked through the boat to reach the bow to get off, not wanting to risk getting stuck on more trolleys. Here the local drinking club had already convened. As I walked up I said a jolly ‘Morning!’ to them. One chap congratulated us for having got through the last pound, but wanted to show me something. He walked me to the top of the lock and pointed across to a low wall by Poundland. Here a fence had been broken and part of it was floating just above the lock. ‘When we left last night it was dark, but the fence was still there’. ‘I’ve tried to get the wood out of the canal, but not managed yet’.

The drinkers

He was very familiar from when we came through last time. Chatty, helpful and on at least his second can of Scrumpy Jack of the morning! As I opened the gate he and his two mates managed to pull the fencing to the side and lifted it out. ‘I’ve looked for the rest of it, but it’s nowhere. Just be careful’ as he put his rubbish in a bin bag by the bridge.

Back in 2018 the locks were locked by C&RT over night and we’d arrived at this lock heading downhill just as it was about to be padlocked. The boys in blue helped us down, they were playing an everlasting game with the local youths of cat and mouse. Lock beams being lifted, pounds drained, trolleys, general vandalism, so none of what we were encountering was unexpected.

The chaps insisted on closing the gates behind us, meaning I could walk on ahead to the next lock. Here I found some more of the fence, now burnt by the bottom gate. At least it hadn’t been used to try to burn a lock beam, a foot thick of oak beam takes a lot of fire to get it going thank goodness.

That’ll have been some of the fence

As I started to fill the lock I found more of the fence, sitting by our bow. Once the level rose we lifted it out. No doubt tomorrow it’ll be back in the cut, we just didn’t have enough space on the roof for so much fence.

There’s some more

Each lock now was empty, apart from the very top one. I signalled to Mick that I needed to empty it, a touch hard when there’s a bridge right over the bottom gates. He pulled back a touch and I lifted the one paddle I could unlocked. The surge of water was doing it’s best to drag Oleanna towards the gate, but Mick would engage reverse and keep her away…. wouldn’t he….?!

The flight behind us

I could hear the engine doing it’s best, but still Oleanna kept coming. I dropped the paddle as quickly as I could, but she’d got momentum behind her now. Luckily there was only a slight biff to the bottom gate, no damage done.

Oleanna had picked something up around her prop again, hence the prop not doing what was asked of it. Luckily the wind wasn’t going to affect us today as we were in a bridge hole. I held onto the centre rope to stop her from drifting back and forth too much whilst Mick got down and at one with the weed hatch.

Stopping her from drifting back to the lock below

The prop mate did it’s job, thankfully removing a length of twisted razor wire, the pond gloves would not have survived this. Plenty more came away from the prop and filled the stern deck. This was all put on the roof to dispose of later in a bin, if we’d just left it on the towpath it would only end up back on someone’s prop and they might not have a prop mate!

Rusty razor wire and a couple of shirts

Now with power restored I could empty the lock safely.

To Pudding Green Please

At the junction we resisted the temptation to go down the arm, we’ll save that for another day if we feel brave enough. On to Pudding Green Junction where we turned towards Birmingham City Centre.

There was work to be done and as all Mick had to do was continue in a straight line I bobbed down below to bake some sundried tomato bread and finish off my costume reference for The Garden.

You’ve just got to love some of the names round here

Familiar landmarks went past. Three central reservations and the round pillars holding the M5 above our heads. Then the Soho Loop and Oozells Street Loop, time to have a break and help moor up. We winded and returned to where we’d been a couple of weeks ago with the hatch on the towpath for Tilly to make a hasty return to the boat should she need to.

The bridges were full of people, plenty of youngsters all heading to the Arena to see Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live! Blimey they were a rowdy bunch, buying checker flags and horns. Think we preferred the Strictly Come Dancing Audience of a couple of weeks ago.

8 locks, 7.37 miles, 7 straights, 1 right, 1 left, 1 wind, 1 tunnel, 2 times under, 2 layers of trolleys, 2.3m razor wire, 2nd Scrumpy Jack by 11am, 1 coconut, 1 broken fence, 8 actors with reference, £20 over budget, 1 sundried tomato bread loaf, 1 pair socks finished.

Coconut Record. 24th January

Wolverhampton Tunnel to Pelsall Junction

Back to the junction

The alarm was set this morning. Once it had gone off we were up to have our cuppa with breakfast instead of in bed. You would think mooring right next to a ring road would be noisy, but last night and the last time we moored here we got a reasonable nights sleep.

The last bit of reasonably arty grafitti

Last night Mick had been reading his Pearsons Guide on The Black Country Rings, it had suggested that the first mooring we’d have come across on the Wyrley and Essington Canal would have been a secure one, we’d see what we thought as we passed this morning.

A nice place to moor

We pootled back up to Horseley Field Junction where we turned left onto new water. A short distance on we passed the Urban Moorings, some facebook friends of ours have just spent a few months moored here. A nice little community, they have just started selling coal and gas at reasonable prices.


Where once an old railway bridge spanned the canal there is now an arc of mirror. This catches you as you pass underneath. On a sunny day I suspect our reflection would have been brighter. A shame the other side faces upwards and has turned green.

Wednesfield Junction

At what once was Wednesfield Junction a short arm sits next to a pub, mooring rings on both sides. One side against the pub, the other a car park, Tilly would not have been allowed out on either side. Who knows how noisy the pub would have been last night, but we might have treated ourselves to the pictures which is right next door.

A handy barrier

We carried on a touch before squeezing ourselves onto some bollards. A quick top up shop of veg and milk was required and this was the closest we could get to Sainsburys. Mick stayed with Oleanna and I headed to do the shopping returning with a little bit more than intended!

Knight’s Bridge

No stopping for long today, we wanted to cover some miles, so we pushed off again. After three miles we had reached Knight’s Bridge. Here a solitary boat sits on it’s home mooring, one we’ve shared the Wolverhampton mooring with before. We could hear the pack of Pekingese from inside the house.

Could this be where Gran lived

This bridge is also where Vernons (the production Manager in Vienna) Gran used to live, one of the houses by the bridge. Two were visible, another hid behind fencing.

Short Heathe Branch, once filled with sunken boats

Then we passed the disused Short Heath Branch, this is where Vernon and his mates used to play on sunken boats in his youth. None were visible today, maybe they have been cleared away, we didn’t want to find out so continued on our course.

The secure spot already taken

At Lane Head Bridge moorings a boat was on the secure section, there would have been space for us should we have wanted to stop, but we had a better place in mind.

Builders vehicles

The going was slow, Mick not wanting to churn the bottom of the canal up too much and collect things on the prop. There was plenty down there that we could see, some large items, trolleys and barriers, others more pliable. Yesterday a boat had reported on picking up several items on their prop including a horse duvet, curtains and the like. Luckily we managed to avoid having to visit the weedhatch for such things.

The human race really is disgusting

We’d been expecting light industry by the side of the canal, but houses backed up to it on both sides for much of our journey north. Nothing much of interest other than plenty of rubbish! I suppose once you’ve tipped your rubbish over the garden fence it vanishes into thin air! Plastic kids umbrellas will degrade rapidly once out of sight and mind. We humans are disgusting!!


Along the side of the M6 for a while which gradually rose to cross the canal. At Sneyd Junction a set of locks used to rise up to Essington and Norton Cannock Collieries, the bottom lock now filled in with a culvert for drainage.

Once the bottom of Sneyd Locks

The water tank was topped up at Sneyd services and the weed hatch checked, nothing much but a couple of bits of plastic. I made lunch whilst the tank filled and then we were off again with cuppas in insulated cups.

Now we came across the light industrial units. G4S with what looked like armoured vans, is gold bullion moved in these with their escape hatches on the roof?

Scummy scum scum

Along with the industry came scummy water. Was this dead duckweed, some other weed or what happens to coconuts once the water breaks them down. Today the coconut count was nearly at two per mile, by far a record.

Watching us from on high

The scum went on for an age, both of us hopping it would diminish before our mooring for the day, if not then Tilly’s shore leave was likely to be suspended as she would think it a solid surface to walk on.

The old Brass works site

At Birchills Junction we passed the end of the Walsall Canal, we’ll venture down there at some point. The Wyrley and Essington Canal is known as the Curlywurly (or is it the Curlywyrley?) as it follows the 473ft contour doubling back on itself several times. One big bend now has a cleared site to one side where once the Elkington Brass Works used to stand. The area is earmarked for 263 houses.

The canal would head off between the trees here

Once through little Bloxwich the scum started to dissipate and the surroundings became far more rural. At what was Fishley Junction you can see the line where once the Lord Hayes Branch used to head off. This could be the start of the proposed new route of the Hatherton Canal which would gradually drop towards Hatherton Junction on the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal. Would this bring more boats this way? A new ring always attracts boaters.

Hmm, this outside might just do

Not much further and we ducked under Pelsall Works Bridge. Now very rural but once busy with iron works, the common known locally as ‘The Cracker’ after one of the huge foundry machines. Pulling in proved a touch tricky, me stood at the bow checking for depth which didn’t seem to be enough. Then close to the junction I couldn’t see the bottom anymore, we tried and succeeded. Spikes in, tied up, time to let Tilly out.

Not quite enough friendly cover to keep me covered

Great! But which way to go? This outside has trees, but they are distant. Normally this would not be a problem, but here there are woofers walking their humans, lots of them. She came out and we had a bit of a walk around until Magpies complained about me. Anyhow it was just turning dark so we decided to go back and warm up in front of the stove, tomorrow I’ll venture further to find friends.

Pelsall Junction

0 locks, 12.84 miles, 2 lefts, 4 straights, 1 cuppa with breakfast, 1 cuppa on the go, 1 lunch on the go, 1 full water tank, 1 joint pork, 2 bags flour, 2 pints milk, 1 scummy canal, 21 coconuts, 35 minutes shore leave, 1 pair socks finished.