Category Archives: Wildlife

Pigs Not Ponytails. 19th March

Coole Pilote to Nantwich Aqueduct

Over the last couple of days we’ve been discussing whether we should wear gloves whilst working locks now. Apart from when we venture to the shops this is when we might be in contact with the virus. So far I haven’t bothered, making a mental note of what I touch when back on the boat and giving those places and my windlass a wipe down.

Shhhh!

Mick however today decided that he’d wear gloves to protect others as well as himself. Doing so makes you a touch more aware of what you touch. He wore his rubber coated gloves and I pulled out a disposable pair for working our way down Hack Green Locks.

Bstruction

I’ve also changed how I tie my hair up. A ponytail doesn’t quite keep it all away from my face when working locks and this gets quite annoying when you are trying to avoid touching your face! So today I decided to revert to pigtails. All good so far, except my hat doesn’t quite sit on top of them.

A few boats had come past this morning and the lady from the boat behind us had been out for a walk with her dog and cat. We pushed off at nearly midday, well Tilly had been out finishing off her friends!

Tilly’s work of art from yesterday!

The communications mast from the Secret Bunker hid behind the trees for much of the mile to the locks. We wondered how much toilet roll was stashed away down there in the cold war and if it still might be there.

There’s the mast

Our new modus operandi for working the locks seemed to work well. That was until I spotted bedoingee lambs in the field alongside the locks and had to take a photo!

Baa!

My camera would now need a wipe down. One little lamb obliged when a bedoing was requested and both Mick and I bounced up and down to keep it company.

Over kill maybe, or better safe than sorry

The locks were easy work, followed by wiping things down and disposing of gloves. I think the top of the cabin sides of Oleanna will end up being very clean at this rate.

A zoom in to the hill tops just in view confirmed that we could see Mow Cop on the horizon a familiar sight from the Trent and Mersey and Macclesfield Canals.

Mow Cop

Then a dart of blue, quickly followed by another! Two Kingfishers sprinted ahead of us. We kept our eyes glued to where we thought they might have landed. The camera worked overtime pointing in their general direction and I was lucky to get one reasonable shot with the two of them. I wonder if they were by their nest as it’s now breeding season.

Two in one photo!

We pootled along soon reaching the outskirts of Nantwich. A long line of boats greeted us, did this mean the embankment was full? No it meant the usual boats that stay in one place for a fortnight were doing just that, close to a bridge and away from visitor moorings.

Jellicoe

Along the first stretch of 2 day moorings we spotted Jellicoe the butty for NB Mountbatten. Here is a possible mooring for a supermarket delivery, but as none are available we decided to continue on towards the aqueduct. Last time we passed here NB Valerie was moored along the embankment. Today another green boat sat on the same mooring.

Nantwich Aqueduct

As we rounded the bend of the embankment we could see that there was plenty of space up ahead near the service block and the ramp down to the roads below. We crossed the aqueduct and found ourselves a place, furthest away from the road as possible.

Not so sure, it’s a bit dry round here!

Our shopping trip was put on hold until tomorrow when we’ll face others in the queues at the tills. So Tilly got to reacquaint herself with the hill we’re sat on. Too much footfall for her liking, but better than BUMingham.

Just need to stay on my toes here

During the afternoon I received an email that I really hadn’t expected. Dark Horse have decided to continue with The Garden. They don’t know when or if it will get to be seen by an audience, but want to continue as if it will be. So this afternoon I have scanned my drawings and emailed them off to my friend Graham for a quote. I will colour up the model and in April we’ll have a virtual production meeting via Zoom. Depending on when the show goes ahead will depend on how much I can achieve of my design as I’m not sure charity shops will be open for me to start collecting costumes.

Pink sky

Late afternoon the laptop was handed over to the IT department. It’s all very well arranging for meetings to take place over the internet, but you really need to have a working microphone and camera for such things. After an hour or so, both were working. Mick is now going to see if he can connect my camera up to the laptop at the same time so that I can walk people through the model more easily than with the laptop.

2 locks, 3.93 miles, 2 outsides, 0 friends, 4 muddy paws, again! 1 job to continue, 2 Kingfishers, 2 pairs gloves, 2 antibac wipes, 2 pigtails, 1 last of everything fresh stew, 1 sister-in-law in Australia, 6 weeks lock down in China starting to lift, 0 new measures here.

Paw Hygiene. 18th March

Cool Pilots, not that I’ve seen any!

Paw Hygiene

Tom cut into the bread She made yesterday.

Nice looking loaf

She seemed to be quite pleased with it, it looked a touch boring to me, no good crunchy bits at body temperature. She and Tom decided to have a cooked breakfast and with that I was told I had 8 and a half hours. Woo Hoo!! Brilliant!

Not enough meat for my liking

Blimey it’s squelchy this outside! Last night it had rained and it kept trying to today, but that didn’t matter I was too busy to notice. I decided I’d have a treat dingding too, so went off to see who was around in the sideways trees.

Look at that squelchyness

It took a while but I managed to have a first and second course for morning dingding, a snack late morning too. She wouldn’t let me stock pile though, I’m not allowed to bring friends home and not allowed to leave them on the roof for later, Pah! What happens if we tie up BUMingham again!?

This stretch was particularly good

Tom spent sometime trying to find the lady up our chimney. He took everything out of the stove. Cleaned the glass so much that it disappeared!

Look it’s gone!

Put the in/outy bit back together with the hope that he’d be able to tickle the lady out. He then prodded the big brush down from outside. That didn’t work either, so he tried the vacuum cleaner!

Will she come out of there?
No sign of her yet

Still nothing, he eventually lit the fire again. Either she’d vanished over night or Tom would smoke her out. At least she’s stopped whistling.

How did that happen?

She is very unhappy with my paw hygiene. I was told I had to come home every now and then to show myself, so I did, several times. I get some Dreamies too, which I just managed to squeeze into my tummy. Lets face it there’s always room for Dreamies.

I didn’t do that!

She blamed me for the table getting all dirty. She blamed me for making the cushions all muddy. She blamed me for a filthy floor.

Paw hygiene included between your toes apparently

Then when I sit down to have a good wash I’m instructed to make sure I wash between my toes and to sing a song whilst doing it. I’d rather recite poetry. The first verse is all you need though!

There are lots of things people are doing to try to keep busy. You can watch the stars now during the day. Listen to radio programmes from around the globe. Watch plays. Listen to folk music (you may have to join the group). Have a walk around art galleries whilst sitting down!

All my own work

I decided to create a painting. She wasn’t happy with that either! Little does she know I did one on the bathroom window too!

An hour before my curfew we all settled down in front of the stove to see what was to be said today on the TV. More about social distancing and kids not having to go to school anymore. Have to say I’m not doing too well on the social distancing bit, it is so hard as my friends are just far too tasty!

It’s dry under here

Having exhausted my friends and myself, I decided to take it easy for the rest of the day. She finished making a lasagne for their dingding. She was quite proud of it, all made from scratch. She says she doesn’t need pasta from the shops anymore. What she does need is flour that isn’t flour and that apparently is in short supply too.

Totally homemade

As much as my dingding smelt nice I was just a touch too full to enjoy it.

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 aviator shades, 2 boats gone, 3 friends, shhh it was 5 really, 1 long sideways tree, 1 squelchy outside, 0 lady up the chimney, 1 loaf bread, 1 lasagne, 15,000 and something in Ocado queue, 1 well deserved Mrs Tilly Stamp of Approval.

Woodseaves. 14th March

Goldstone Bridge to Beeton Wood Bridge 66, then a bit further on.

Time to see what has been blocking the way ahead for a while. I’ve started to get bored of photographing every tree that gave up it’s will to stand upright during the storms, but today going through Woodseaves Cutting the camera was out.

Two years ago it was so magical along this stretch, today it still is, it just shows the scars of the February storms.

Heading in

By Cheswardine Road Bridge clumps of snowdrops filled the banks, these have long been past their best in less sheltered sites, and daffodils covered the tops. We now entered the cutting. Vertical rock hugs the canal and towpath either side, cut through around 185 years ago. Just how did Thomas Telfords navies do this? How long would it take us now to do the same with our diggers and lorries?

As we cruised along patches of red earth showed where things had slipped and every now and then there would be a pile of logs and sawdust.

High Bridge

Two walkers with their dogs could be seen up ahead by High Bridge clambering over something on the towpath. The colour gave it away, this must have been where the main landslip had been.

Blimey

A short distance on from the bridge a large red scar came down from near the top of the cutting. Red earth and large red boulders covered the towpath all very straight edged as if they’d been precut. The boulders were large and we’re sure some must have fallen in the water, but we sailed on past at our sedate speed, no bumps from below.

More trees had come down and there was another large red scar with tree roots by Hollings Bridge. Thank goodness the wet and windy weather seems to have eased as I’m sure there is a lot more that could have come down in the cutting given half the chance.

Still magical

On reaching the top of Tyrley Locks we were slightly relieved, we’d made it through without incident.

More red roots

The house at the top of the locks is up for sale. Built by Thomas Telford in 1837 it really is a picture. Three bedrooms and a private mooring for £385,000. Exposed beams and a bathroom with a walk in shower that looks like Tilly stepped in a pot of blue paint before doing circuits.

A great looking house

A change of footwear was obviously needed with the amount of mud and standing water around the top gates of the top lock. Quite a lot of branches and twigs accompanied us down where the next lock sat waiting for us with it’s top gate open.

Glorious mud

From Lock 3, I could see there was a boat below the bottom lock, were they coming or going? We knew there was a boat ahead of us, but I could have sworn there had been one heading for the locks. The pound between the bottom two locks is where we got stuck two years ago. Signs, now very worn, warn you not to stop in the pound.

Tyrley Lock 1

I hesitated to go and set the next lock, but Mick and some walkers said that the boat was heading away from the bottom of the flight. I had another look and sure enough it was. So as Mick descended I walked down to fill the next chamber.

Hang on! There was someone at the next lock. Then I could see the roof of a boat rising, there had been a boat coming towards us as well as one going away. I closed paddles and lifted others to empty the lock so they could use it. Swung the gates open and waved them in, then headed back up to let Mick and Oleanna out of the lock above.

NB Bessie Surtees

Walking back down the lady recognised me. ‘Are you Pip?’ The boat was NB Bessie Surtees, our paths have crossed a few times over the last few years, but I’ve never met them before, sorry I don’t know your names. They come from Scarborough too, so it was very nice to finally meet them. Having said that we both kept our distance, something that will be common practice over the next few months.

Bye bye

As the boats swapped over we waved farewell and continued downwards. Normally Mick loiters in the throat of a lock and closes the offside gate for me, but not here, I wouldn’t let him. The bywash is a torrent and could easily have pushed Oleanna onto rocks on the offside, so it was much better for him to just gun it out of the lock and into the next one, leaving me with the gates.

Phew!

Phew, no getting stuck!

A family were walking up the locks so I enlisted their help to open the gate and close it again. We pulled up short of the first bridge into Market Drayton, pulled out the shopping bags and walked into town to stock up on fresh food. Our walk felt like we were walking into the lions den, Corovirus just waiting to pounce. Normally a busy supermarket is just that too busy, too many people, but today this had a different edge to it.

Only expensive pasta left, or an open bag

Luckily the things we wanted were on the shelves, fresh veg, milk and bread along with our Saturday newspaper. We don’t see the need to stock pile, also we don’t have the space. We did however check the loo roll isle, nothing. Pasta, only the really expensive stuff left, opposite the gluten free fusilli, we picked up a bag just in case! Long life milk, none.

A box of white wine was added to our trolley to make up for the missing one the other day. There were plenty of people about, only one face mask though. This was a home made version worn by an old chap. I’m not certain but it was either made from a white cotton vest or from a pair of new pristine white underpants.

Cheese Twist mountain

A quick call into Lidl where Mick was very pleased that there hadn’t been a run on cheese twists! We were done now and headed back to be away from the crowds again.

Betton Mill Wharf looks like it is now being used by C&RT for it’s work boats. A much better use than a few years ago! This is where we came to talk to Stillwater about the build of our narrowboat that wasn’t in October 2012. For those who don’t know the Crown Prosecution Service took the boat builders to court last year on two counts of fraud.

Now a C&RT yard

Since we went to the sentencing hearing last April, not much has happened. When we left court further hearings had been arranged to confiscate funds to be used as compensation to the victims, us being only one of several. Late last summer I contacted the lady who’d been looking after us to see who we should contact regarding what had happened. This is when she informed us that the hearings had been cancelled. She could give us no reason for this and was of a similar opinion to us about how ridiculous this was. We always knew we’d never get our full money back, but the court had suggested we’d get something. But it appears that you can fraudulently take money from people and get away with it if you keep your nose clean!

It appears nobody would have told us about this and we haven’t been told officially either. Maybe things were said in court for our benefit then not to be acted upon. What a joke our underfunded legal system is!

Blimey! That’s a big one

Anyhow back to today. Soon we came across the biggest tree that had been across the cut and to some extent still was! The jagged crack on it’s trunk suggested the force at which it had fallen.

Crack!

We pulled in about a mile further on where the towpath was relatively green and dry. A herd of cows watched our every move from half way across the field on the off side. They made comments and I’m sure would have given us marks out of ten if they had hands.

Moo
along with many more!

Tilly and I played stick for a while and then she was left to her own devises, climbing trees, pouncing, she doesn’t need me for such things.

Tree

Shortly before sunset, Tilly came home a touch hungry. The teenage bovines in the field across the way had managed to get to the canal and were running around kicking and mooing, goading us. Then they were joined by another gang of teenage boys in the field alongside the towpath. We were surrounded with mooing and noises that sounded like several were elephants in disguise.

We looked at each other, then at Tilly who no longer was looking longingly, watching the birdies, but was warily keeping an eye on lip licking cows through the hedge. ‘Lets move’ we said to each other. Tilly agreed.

As we moved along the cows followed us, even more amassing behind. They must have such a boring life. Will this be what human teenagers occupy themselves with should/when the schools close? I suspect we’ll find out.

5 locks, 5.61 miles, 4 landslips, 7 trees down, 1 big bird, 1 high bridge, 9 boulders, 2 Scarborough boats in 1 pound, 1st meeting, 1 box of wine, 1 packet gf pasta, 1 loaf bread, 2 cheese twists, 1 joint pork, 1 cabbage, 4 carrots, 4 parsnips, 0 toilet roll, 1 newspaper, 1 y front mask, 2 boaters wanting to wash our hands, 0 compensation, 326 teenagers, 472853245 moos, 2 moorings, 1 quiet evening at last.

Hitchhiker And 1000! 13th March

Norbury Junction to Goldstone Bridge 55

Tilly was allowed some shore leave as we had breakfast, thankfully she returned home before we’d finished so no mad cat woman required on the towpath. Mick made a call to his dentists in Scarborough, they were still seeing people. However where we are right now isn’t the easiest place to do a day trip from, so he has moved his appointment to May when we hopefully should be nearer.

Up at the junction a boat was already on the waterpoint, they nudged back and made room for us to pull in. Water topped up, yellow water emptied and rubbish disposed of we were ready for our days cruise.

Good job there is room at the junction as there isn’t by this bridge!

What has happened to the etiquette of not mooring close to bridge holes? Just through Norbury Bridge on the off side is a permanent mooring, on the towpath there is normally a short distance before the 48 hr mooring sign, leaving a space by the bridge. This seems to be happening more and more.

Scaffolding
The other side

On we pootled in a northernlyish direction. Our next bridge was High Bridge, the bridge with the double arch and telegraph pole right in the middle of it. Just how many photos have I taken of this bridge? But my photos today would be different as the south face was covered in scaffolding.

That one will have been in the way

Evidence of more trees that had come down in the storms. One huge trunk turned out to be just a limb that had peeled itself away from the main part of the tree.

A Green Fergie

On through Grub Street cutting. The boats are still here along with the beautiful blue Daimler half under wraps.

Get that roof mended please!

I think the roof of the shelter will need some attention very soon!

Well worth a stop if you’ve never been, of even if you have

The chap on the fender boat stuck his head out to ask if Tyrley was open again. Past The Anchor, too early in the day to stop for a pint of 6X.

Boats, boats and more boats

Lines of moored boats slowed our progress, not quite as bad as at Goldennook up towards Chester. Sheep grazed in fields above and below the canal, some chomping away on crops laid in lines where they had grown.

Still no bedoingy lambs

We passed an immaculate NB Percy, Nev had been on board a few days ago but there was no sign of life today, we waved anyway.

Please would you come and give Oleanna a polish?

This morning we’d pin pointed two possible moorings, depending on when the rain arrived would determine how far we got. Black Flat Bridge arrived and we only had a touch of drizzle in the air, so we continued.

Looking out for fish

A couple of churps. A Kingfisher. We both looked up as a blue flash passed us at the stern. Normally a Kingfisher would carry on skimming the surface of the canal to quite a distance up ahead to find a perch. Not this one though!

Oleanna trying to keep quiet behind the bags of coal

He swooped up onto our cratch cover and caught a ride with us for a few minutes.

Thankfully there was enough time to get my camera out and take a few photos.

Look at those markings

Being only about 50 ft away I managed to get some good photos showing off his plumage. Wow! What a treat! We felt like we’d been chosen. So beautiful.

Just Wow!

Then he took off and headed back to where he’d come from. Thank you for spending a few minutes with us.

The rain was now trying harder, so we had a go at pulling into possible moorings on the embankment, with great views. But the Shropie shelf thwarted that idea.

Great views along this stretch

Soon we reached the next visitor mooring with rings at Goldstone Bridge. No view but a suitable place for Tilly to keep amused and us to stay dry for the remainder of the afternoon.

I browned off a pack of pork mince, then split it in two. One for the freezer, the other for a bolognese sauce which will last us a couple of meals. This sat on the stove top gently bubbling away the afternoon as we watched the news regarding the virus.

Okay

It doesn’t seem like it will be long now before numerous events will be cancelled and everyone’s life will be contained to some degree. What a strange time lies ahead for us all. Stay safe and well my friends.

0 locks, 7.74 miles, 1 straight, 5 trees, 1 bridge, 2 kingfishers, 1 hitching a ride, 2 outsides, 1 damp day, 70% rent, 500 grams when cooked equals 360 grams, 1000th Oleanna blog post.

Magnet Fishing. 11th March

Shushions Bridge to High Meadow Aqueduct, Norbury Junction

Look what Mick caught this morning!

He’s caught something!

Our ash pan. Last night when he was emptying it into our ash can it slipped off the handle thingy and dived into the depths of the Shropshire Union. It apparently made a very good noise as it hit the water, instantly cooling down in a sizzle. Luckily our Sea Magnet did the job of retrieving it from the not too deep depths.

Careful
Yay! Our ash pan

A sea magnet is a very useful thing, when we were at Sandford Lock on the Thames, a shareboat moored nearby somehow dropped a side hatch door into the cut. Our magnet managed to hold it’s weight for it to be pulled out. You hope never to use it, but when the time comes they are very handy.

Tilly was allowed shore leave before we set off, she found her own breakfast and then returned for a snooze.

Stocking up for next winter

Whilst still in bed the first boat went past, then as we had breakfast several more. Has the boating season just suddenly started? We’ve seen more moving boats today than in the last few months! Just as we were pushing off one appeared through the bridge hole behind us, Mick pulled us back in quickly to let them go first.

Our route took us through more wooded cuttings, one boat had stopped to fill his hold with large chunks of tree, suspect he’ll keep warm for quite some time.

Magical yet scary

Looking back the arch made by the trees and ivy were a fairytale, sadly waiting for the next windy day to topple a few more of them.

A day boat came towards us, pulled too far over to the side and got stuck. Mick suggested going into reverse to help pull the stern away from the bank, they were soon free again.

Caution whilst cruising the Shropie

The approach to Cowley Tunnel, all 80 yards of it was a haze of branches just starting to turn green at their tips. Through the tunnel cut from stone with trees clinging on for dear life above.

A magical twiggy haze

We considered stopping here, but first checked out the two canalside pubs menus. With plans on meeting friends tomorrow I wanted to see if I could have anything other than steak or gammon. Sadly neither The Boat or Navigation menus on line gave many options, so we stuck to our original plan and continued.

Cowley Tunnel
Clinging on

Just through the bridge a dog ran back and forth, checking either end of it’s boat. We knew who this was, the plant boat. A couple of years ago we bought a Thyme plant from them which is still going strong, we told the chap, he was happy but it did mean no sale. I’m considering trying to grow strawberries this year, wonder when I should plant them? Have to look that up.

Mandarin Spring Roll Duck

Now on embankments we got views, views stretching to the Wrekin.

The Wrekin

Then we could see the end of moored boats, we pulled in behind one leaving no git gap. But then looked around. The wind was strong and we were under a large tree, at least we knew the size of gap to leave for a 58ft boat, we pulled back to avoid trees should they fall.

From one tree to the next

Tilly spent the afternoon up the trees. One route up, across three tops to a suitable route down again. Mick climbed into the engine bay again to finish off the engine service, this time the smelly fuel filters.

The Garden drawings finished

I got the drawing board out and spent the afternoon measuring and drawing up my design for The Garden. Three sheets of drawings, 1 for a carpenter, 2 for me. The whole show drawn up in a couple of hours.

I’ve not been in here before

0 locks, 6.06 miles, 80 yards of tunnel, 0 mysterons, 1 tasty friend, 1 mandarin spring roll, 1 very fit dog, 2 noninclusive menus, 1 changed fuel filter, 1 cleaned fuel filter, 2 outsides, 1 ground plan, 3 sheets working drawings, 2 much sewing to do, I’d best buy some fabric soon and start.

The Verdict. 9th March

Hunting Bridge 7 to Wheaton Aston

Tilly headed out this morning and managed a whole half hour before returning home. We’d decided she would dictate when we moved on today, we needn’t have worried as she was home long before we’d finished breakfast. Despite there being very little footfall here it was deemed too unsafe to go to the toilet, so she came back to use her box instead! This mooring doesn’t seem to have floated her boat quite as much as last time so no Mrs Tilly stamp. It’s the lack of trees! Anyway I used it all up last time.

A little bit dense at the bottom

After cereal my loaf of bread was sliced open. Maybe a little bit too dense at the bottom. Once sliced we toasted some each. Gluten free bread always takes an age to toast, especially homemade. Hope we have sufficient gas to last this one loaf! Verdict, well a little bit heavy but maybe that was because I think my starter is a touch too liquid and I had to add some extra flour to the mix to help clean the dough off my hand. I’ll have another go at this recipe and see what happens.

Is this an orchard? Or vines near Chillington Bridge

Nature seems to be conspiring against our trip north, along with the canal system not playing ball. Our original plan, Trent and Mersey, Macclesfield, Huddersfield Narrow, work, then Huddersfield Broad, Calder and Hebble, Aire and Calder, River Ouse to York has been out of the window for a while due to the destruction of The Figure of Three Locks in the storms.

No they’re not, but neither are we!

We’re in no rush so had planned another route. Shropshire Union, across the Middlewich Branch, up the Trent and Mersey to the Anderton Boat lift and onto the Weaver. Back onto the Trent and Mersey, up to the Macclesfield, Peak Forest Canal onto the Ashton Canal. Then the Bridegwater to Leigh and the Leeds Liverpool, at Wigan we would turn right and head over the top to Leeds. I’d go to work then we could carry on to York.

I’ll be needing my walking boots back out! No urban towpaths anymore

However there is a new stoppage on the Macclesfield near Marple, an unstable embankment. We were really looking forward to cruising the Macc again, but this may no longer be possible.

Bet that made a good noise

The winter stoppages on the Shroppie are due to finish soon, but the storms have brought down numerous trees. Most have been cleared quickly, but at Woodseaves Cutting above Tyrley Locks trees have come down along with some of the cutting. Reports were that there were trees stood upright in the middle of the canal! Woodseaves is a magical place, a steep damp cutting. We’ve been waiting for a couple of weeks now for news that the way ahead is clear. A notice on Friday said

Engineers have inspected the affected area and are advising contractors the best way forward, to safely remove the trees that are blocking the navigation. A further update will be provided next week.

Crabbing along against the wind

Then Filance Lock on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal has been closed for much of this week due to concerns from boaters. So even if we changed our minds, there would be no point in retracing our steps and heading that way, well not until the end of the week and we’d rather carry on up the Shropie if possible.

Plans are having to remain fluid, but at the moment we can’t go far, so we’re taking it slowly.

Avenue Bridge

Not far today. Just to Wheaton Aston where we hoped to get a mooring on the services side of the bridge to get a delivery.

First Shropie Kingfisher

The Shroppie for the most part is made up of embankments and cuttings, it’s course quite straight with flights of locks. Today we saw plenty of the destruction that the storms had wrought. Every cutting we came through had evidence of trees having given up and fallen across the cut.

I so hated cross country runs, think the chap with orange arms hates them too!

Most trees along here are covered in ivy, some creating a waterfall from branches all very atmospheric but adding to the weight of branches in stormy winds, no wonder so many gave up the fight.

Ow!

Others simply snapped with the strain. Several boats sadly had been moored in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up with trees on their roofs. Have to say we’d have moved Oleanna onto an embankment rather than hope for shelter around these trees!

A couple of hours after pushing off we arrived at Wheaton Aston Lock the wind was quite strong, so it took quite a bit of effort to get Oleanna away from the side to enter the lock. A lady came up to help with the offside gate as her boat was just winding to come back up, I loitered to close the gate for her.

Wheaton Aston Lock

The water tank was topped up and I walked to see where we might be able to moor. A space just after the winding hole had our name on it.

Just by the water point and service block there is this in the ground. Was it the base to a crane? Fixings for some mechanism of water control? Or the base for a gun in WW2?

What was this?

As we were tying up rain started, by the time the covers were all poppered back into place it was heaving it down. Once the online shopping was complete we watched another Morse story, Service of the Dead. We’d seen this one not too long ago, so I knew Morse shouldn’t have been getting too attached to that woman!

They’ve found us!

1 lock, 4.82 miles, 1 solid loaf of bread, 4 crossed legs, 1 cloud given the go ahead, 1 Joe understudy, 8 trees down at least, 2 routes north blocked, 1 way open back through Birmingham! 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish, 1 handy mooring, 1st helicopter, 4 murders, 1 suicide, 1 stumble, 8 Jag review, 1 very wet afternoon.

Apologies if you got this post yesterday and are getting it again. The internet on the Shropie can be patchy and play tricks on you, as it has done. So sorry if you get this post a second time. Due to uncertain internet I may not be able to post every day.

Skating

Tipton Medical Centre to Off Side mooring Wolverhampton

Ice!!! That hadn’t been factored into the plan for today!

Figure Skating

The alarm had been set, a full days cruise ahead of us, but we woke to Coots ice skating outside the boat. After breakfast Mick went to see how thick it was with a boat hook, too thick. Oh well, stand down everyone.

Filters ready for the next service

One job today was buying filters for the next engine service. So instead of picking them up as we cruised past Oxley Marine, Mick caught a train then a bus down to Autherley Junction just in case the boatyard there is closed tomorrow. The chaps said that they were always there and furnished Mick with all he wanted before returning back up to the Wolverhampton Level.

Bye bye Tipton

Not only did he return with filters but with news that at 132ft lower there was no ice, there was also no ice in Wolverhampton. By now the sun had worked it’s magic and melted the ice in Tipton too.

Next time

So after lunch we pushed off to get ourselves to the top of the locks ready for the morning. With a bit more time on our hands than originally planned we were disappointed that it was too late on a Friday to turn down the Bradley Arm. The C&RT Bradley Workshops are at the end there and needs to be open to provide enough room to wind, Fridays they knock off at 3pm, we wouldn’t get there in time. So that is one thing left on the list for next time.

The sun was out, warming everything. Bright blue skies, such a shame not to make the most of it going down the locks, but that’s boating for you.

The waterfall in Coseley Tunnel

Coseley Tunnel dripped at the northern end, buildings were being built. We tried to remember what this stretch was like when we first did it on NB Winding Down. Far more derelict factories and warehouses then.

It would make a fantastic set, not sure what for though

At Horseley Fields Junction we looked out for the old entrance to what is now Urban Moorings, a bricked up archway must have been where it was. The service mooring visible as we came past the junction, no need to do any washing today so we would cope with the ringroad noise for a night.

Was that the way in, now all bricked up

0 locks, 5.31 miles, 2lefts, 1 straight, 2 ice skaters, 2 oil filters, 1 fuel filter, 1 air filter, 2 buses, 2 trains, 1 sunny day, 1 pumpout tank taking root, 2 dabchicks, 1 sour dough starter ready for use, 1 more night on the plateau.

A slightly better photo

Day 8.

One starter bubbling away waiting to be fed. The discard jar is now full. Bread and pancakes this weekend me thinks.