Saturday 2 September 2023

Gt Haywood to Hawkesbury Junction - a segmented journey of seven days...

Day one's segment
We left Great Haywood early after a lovely phone call with Kirsty as noted in the last post - repeated here because it was such a pleasure. She does make us laugh, as well as having a very wise head on her shoulders.

I set the washing going and we headed for Rugeley as a way-point (shopping). And I was determined to be disrespectful as I passed the headquarters of the BCF (Boaters Christian Fellowship) - their signage that says 'BCF Members Welcome Here' really gets up my nose as it epitomises what I see as exclusionary behaviour from the christians.  

On the way to Rugeley we had two snafus (which may indicate that there is a god who objects to my lack of respect ...):

  • once again, when I asked what the batteries were at because we had washing going and the reading had dropped to below 80% having been at 85% when we started out, we realised the alternator connection had come off. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! So we stopped near Bridge 69, tied up temporarily and David crimped the connection slightly before putting it back on - fingers crossed, it'll be staying on in future and no more depletion of the batteries as we cruise
  • the right angled turn at the end of the aqueduct by Brindley Bank - I got pulled over to the right hand side, just as I did coming the other way a few weeks ago! I am not sure whether it's because it's silted up on the corner or what, but I am tired of looking at the canal ahead of me through a curtain of willow branches!


I think this place is on the way into Rugeley. People have some really creative ways of expressing themselves on the canal side of their properties - things they would probably never display on the street frontage are fair game for those of us trundling past on the canal or on the towpath. Some of the displays are blech! but then there are some like this which really make me smile.

In Rugeley I yelled loudly at an obnoxious owner who abused some hirers who had very successfully and calmly got out of his way., i.e. as he approached the hire boat the grumpy guy was yelling 'What the hell are you doing?' As it happens the hirer had reversed, pulled back right out of the channel, hard up against the building wall on the offside. When I told the grumpy boater they had been getting out of his way, he yelled that they were doing a bad job of it. He got the sex and travel message from me. David was restraining me - he worries that I will get attacked by an angry boater. I was already casting about for the windlass in case I had to take the man's knee out ... 😇😂😜

He then proceeded through the bridgehole without any contact with the hire boat, and promptly had an altercation with another boater who was trying to moor up on the other side of the bridge. Clearly he's an entitled owner who was a pain in the proverbial... Or maybe he was having a no good, terrible, very bad day. If so, he should have stayed in bed.

I think this is definitely me ...
I headed off on a shopping expedition to Tescos and David had an expedition to the recycling centre to get rid of the second boiled battery... I bought treats of some description - can't remember what, but treats are obligatory.

Somewhere near there just after a waterpoint and a long straight with permanent moorings on the off-side, there is a really narrow section with only three passing places. A woman was stationed at our end and told us there were two boats coming through, but we knew there were places to pass. As it turned out, we were nearly through when the two boats appeared from under the bridges, so we reversed a little bit and got off to hold the boat steady. And while we were hanging on to the ropes on a very narrow towpath, a cyclist came steaming along. I was very tempted to move right across the narrow towpath and have him career into the rope I was holding ... I too must have been in a bit of a grump. However, I didn't give in to the temptation, even though he did give David the sex and travel message when asked to slow down a bit.

The weather packed up as we headed south west (is that the direction as per the way it shows in the Nicholson's guide?), but we kept going and got a really good mooring above Shadehouse Lock at Fradley. It had been a good day's boating and quite long for us. And in spite of the snafus and a grumpy boater and a grumpy cyclist and the rain, it felt good to have got that stretch done.
At both the Plum Pudding and Shadehouse mooring the hirers said how good it was that I had stood up for them at Rugeley and for David's encouragement that they were doing magnificently. That kind of appreciation really does help!
I had made veg lasagne for dinner - there was leftover mushroom sauce (the sauce that Little Neill and I forgot to serve at the Market Drayton/Women's World Cup Final breakfast) and it needed to be used up. David made the tomato mix (onion, garlic, capsicum, broccoli, cauli, can of tomatoes, smoked paprika, vegeta stock powder), and I assembled the lasagne. It is so very yummy!
Enough for two helpings - twice!

Day two's segment 
We had an early start (AGAIN!!) the next morning and the rain started as we turned into the Coventry Canal and stopped to fill with water. I stopped on the swing bridge mooring - I couldn't get on to the waterpoint mooring because the stoned guy from Penkridge was moored there - no sign of life and no hose out ...
This semi-submerged boat was moored not far from Whittington - sad to see.

It rained the whole way to where we moored up at Whittington across the cut from a row of semidetached houses. It's a lovely spot and no one else was moored there. A warm shower to restore my body temperature to normal and all was well with the world. Leftover lasagne for dinner - yum again!
Day three's segment
In the morning (the Bank Holiday), we met a lovely rottweiler called Bruno and his owner's boyfriend John. 
Bruno was much more interested in being patted than in having his handsome face photographed. He reminded us of Eva, the McPhee's dog that we loved when we lived in Cherswud.

Isn't he beautiful?

And we finally had a rest day - it wasn't what we had intended but I got thoroughly chilled while we were talking with John and patting Bruno, so I got back into bed to warm up and just didn't get out ... Lovely. I read and slept all day and had lunch and dinner delivered. I saw today on fb that staying in bed past the accepted hour is called hurkle-durkling, and I am an acknowledged expert!
Day four's segment
Shortly after we left Whittington (I think...) we came through a section of the canal that had been narrowed significantly by reeds and bullrushes on the offside and weeds/reeds on the towpath.
The tree that is just visible on the left of the photo shows the far edge of the towpath; the buildings are on the other side of the road. Those reeds are very very tall, and the towpath has probably about a one foot width of path available for walking on.
The following day we made it all the way to Polesworth - we hadn't intended to do that, but while we were in Whittington we had a call from Liz to say they could not come to stay as Barry had tested positive for Covid. Bugger!! So all of our planning was moot. Our intention had been to meet L&B at Polesworth on the Thursday morning and put them to work on the Atherstone Flight and let them leave when we got to Hawkesbury Jct. But with that plan scuppered we decided we would push on.
Glascote Bottom Lock
In Glascote Top Lock, I think
We have never explored Polesworth - mostly moorings have not been available and we have passed it by. This time we thought we would go to their Coop and to an Indian restaurant. But when I looked the Indian restaurant up on-line, it was a takeaway. And the rain came down - hard. So I decided, without consultation (David was having a nana nap and it would have been unkind to disturb him, especially as he had been so kind to me the previous day), to prepare dinner on board: I had previously bought samosas and potato and pea patties that each came with 2 chutneys. So all I had to do was thaw the chutneys, bake the samosas and patties, plonk some yoghurt into a bowl and serve. David was delighted to learn that there are still 8 potato and pea patties and 4 more samosas ... And another sachet of each chutney.😇😀
Day five's segment
We had an extremely early start the following morning - we left Polesworth at 6.15 (yikes, it was not long after dawn ...), and filled with water at Bradley Green Bridge; and while the tank was filling, I mixed the flours and water into the poolish for the bread. 
I think this floating garden/repurposed boat is near Grendon Wharf, which is close to where we moored on our way up this canal a few weeks ago - mooring up just before the rain came lashing down!

And we were in the first Atherstone lock at 7.50am. A few locks up, another boat had started off just before we approached. David helped them, and from then on they cracked one set of paddles for us as they left the lock ahead of us. It was very helpful indeed.

As we ascended the locks I did the periodic lift and fold turning of the sourdough. I had to clean the tiller handle of dough when we arrived ...

The pound below the top lock was very low!
See what I mean?

We were in the top lock at 10.40 and moored up by 11am. I made brekkie (baked beans and an egg on toast), shaped the loaves of bread, and had a lie down. I woke with plenty (relatively speaking) of energy and decided to head to the Coop for shopping - I left David behind because the list was short. BUT the trolley got filled with lots of stuff that wasn't on the list - how does that happen, I wonder?
I decided that I was looking particularly shaggy in the hair department, so I went to the Turkish barbers again - the result is not my usual spiky style, more like Pink without the shaved sides... David likes it. I'm not sure that it will survive through the next cut with the lovely Michelle in Churton Park, as I do like it spiky.
Not a spike in sight ...
And that evening David confessed that he had lost one of his £84 ratchet windlasses - he put it down beside the boat when we were mooring up and didn't pick it up again, and someone else has. 👎👎 Bastards! The person who nicked it, not David. 
However he is getting closer to my invoking the 'straight to the home' clause in the marriage contract: later that afternoon, he removed his barstool from the back deck, leaned it up against the wall beside the towpath, and checked something in the engine bay. In the evening, I looked out the galley window and what do I spy with my little eye? A barstool, looking for all the passersby as if it is free to a good home! AAARRRGGGHHH!!! 👎👎👎

I think David was already in bed, or at the very least he was getting ready for bed. So I went and rescued said stool and then asked him where it was... I am a bit of a bitch, I admit it.
I am now following him around checking what he is putting down and making sure he picks it up again. 😈😖 (Note: today's towpath item was the hearth brush - discarded and left...)

This meme jumped out at me for some reason...

Day six's segment
On day 6, we trundled from Atherstone to Hawkesbury Junction. There are parts of the journey that are pretty cool, and other parts that are a bit ordinary. I was surprised to see that there is a lovely place to moor in Nuneaton, next to a big open park - there were about 5 boats moored there with the owners we saw looking very relaxed. Nuneaton has a bad rep among boaters and I admit that some parts of it do look quite dodgy.

I have ranted before about the outsourcing of CRT's work to a private contracting firm. We came past the Rothen Group's yard, that several men were doing work on - not out doing canal repairs or strimming/mowing. And the equipment there is significant and all painted in Rothen's colours. Does that come from their CRT contract?
More of the works going on at their yard. Can you tell it irks me? Just outside Penkridge we had a long wait at the locks and got chatting to some of the few remaining CRT guys. One noted that Rothens bought the CRT boats and equipment at rock bottom prices, £1000 sort of prices, and now CRT rents them back from Rothen's at about £1000 a month. Where is the financial logic/money saving/cost effective service in that model?
We came past the entrance to the Ashby Canal and thought of Ian and Irene who are about to start their traverse down to the entrance - scraping the bottom most of the way, I gather.

A few yards short of the junction there was part of a burnt out hull sunk beside the towpath. Not a happy sight.
We had decided, after leaving Hawkesbury Jct on our way north a few weeks ago, that we would moor up before the junction this time - plenty of good mooring. But we couldn't visualise it all or where it started. We have had to give up on the interactive version of Memory Map, because in spite of the vendor's protestations to the contrary, the software doesn't work with the new version of the mapping software it's based on. So to sort out where we need to be aiming for we use:
  • the pdf of the Memory Map with the mooring and other info on it
  • the RCR interactive app which has a more limited range of mooring info
  • the Nicholson's Guide

It makes navigation complex: there is a hardcopy of a book, an app on the phone and the app on the laptop ...

Anyway, we moored up successfully after overshooting the range of the 7 day mooring (mistook the gap ahead for 7 day moorings but it was the waterpoint) and then reversing spectacularly about 4 boat lengths to our present position. I was dead impressed, but I bet I couldn't do it today ...

Lunch at the Greyhound: David's vegetable balti - I told him it had aubergine in it but he said it didn't... I can see courgette there though 😆
I had fishcakes which were mostly potato. Yummy salad and the chips were good.


Day seven's segment

There was no hurkle-durkling for us - we started on a mission of clearing and sorting the boat for our departure.

We were both up on the gunnels when two very cheeky men came past on their boat. Adam and Adrian on Briar Rose! Yay!!!

We inveigled them to stop for a cup of tea, and while the kettle was boiling, I got out a few cheeses and biscuits and jellies and chutneys. It was so lovely to see them, even though it was brief.

Adam, Adrian and David
Adam included on his blog yesterday the photo he took of us. It is very clear that we do not have a full length mirror on board as I looked like a Hobbit - well, more like a Hobbit than usual. Sartorially, the combination of below the knee jeans shorts and the socks above boots are not a good look on someone with very short legs - even if the socks are possum and merino!!


Jenny said...

Hurkle- Durkling guess you cant do too much of that when you have places to go, people go see and a boat to steer!

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

No hurkle-durkling at the moment, Jenny - none for you either right now with Robin requiring care with his new knee!
Hugs to you both, Mxx

Anonymous said...

Well.....I thoroughly enjoyed reading this interesting and amusing posting, thank you Marilyn.
What you have observed about men I can totlly agree with too.
Keith says that CRT maybe saving on admin, insurances, employing their own workforce etc.
However it does sound expensive now Rothens have taken it on and not keeping the towpaths clear of long grass reeds and shrubbery and stuff overhanging the canals. They will be liable for any claims by boaters/walkers, if the fall in unseen holes in the towpaths!
Take care now...more' Hurkle Durklin'g and chilling needed I think.
Ann and Keith xx