Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Autumn Glories.

The Hedgerows and Autumn Fruits.
Well, here we are. finally at the end of another marvellous summer cruise. In the last three weeks, we cruised down to Braunston and back to Aston. We were blessed with some wonderful autumn days when the colours in the hedgerows were at their best in the late sunshine.
So, rather than signing off on a sad note, here are some of M's favourite "glories of the hedgerows":

 "Traveller's Joy" (or "Old Man's Beard")

  Autumn Leaves

 Hawthorn Berries

 Mossy Rose Gall on the Wild Rose

Rose Hips

 Elder Berries

 Sweet Briony

Sloes on Blackthorn

More Hawthorn Berries


What a beautiful note on which to end this summer's cruise!

See you in the spring!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The End of our Summer Cruise.

Wednesday 21st October, 2015 at Aston Marina.
Never moor under trees in autumn - even beautiful beeches! Heavy rain overnight brought the leaves showering down on MM's roof and R had only washed it the day before. Bother!
The rain eased up by mid-morning and we were delighted to welcome Bridgett and Peter on board for coffee. We hope to meet up again soon on one of our visits to Aston.

We set off at midday, with only five miles and one lock before us. This year, Sandon lock was our first lock of the trip in June and now it is the last lock in October - how fitting, and how poignant...
Nice to see a bull running with a herd of cows in a large field - but he was a really big fella! M saw some sloes in the field but decided not to risk invading his space!
The last mile-post with just one mile to go.
And finally through the very last bridge of our trip.

A22, MM's mooring spot awaited her, although a strong wind made backing her in "interesting". (note from M - R did splendidly, as always!).
We moored up at 2:00pm and walked up to the Bistro for a coffee.
So here we are, at the end of yet another marvellous summer cruise. Feeling "happy/sad", we said to each other. Happy to be going home for the winter, to friends, family and lots of lovely things planned. Yet sad that a wonderful cruise is finally at an end.
Many precious memories of spectacular scenery, some great people and lots of fun.
Next year? Who knows?
We look forward to being back in the spring.
Today: 5 miles, 1 lock and 3.9 hours.
Trip: 514 miles, 345 locks and 382.7 hours.
Since MM was launched: 2,109 miles, 1,451 locks and 1,660.1 hours.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Dinner with Bridgett and Peter.

Tuesday 20th October, 2015 at Weston-on-Trent.
M was up early and the morning mist was lingering over the fields but not over the canal.
The resident swan family came eagerly looking for breakfast and squabbled over the food M threw them. "Gerrofff"!
It turned into a beautiful day, with lovely autumn colours and reflections. We set off after second breakfast at the café.
The fallen leaves made a colourful carpet by the bridge.
Our first lock of the day was Hoo Mill, where MM had to wait for another boat to come out of the lock. To our amusement, the boat was boasting pumpkins on her roof in readiness for Halloween.
Weston Lock was the only other lock today. The paddles produced a lot of turbulence in the water.
A lovely sight awaited us after Weston Bridge - a perfect mooring spot (one of our favourites) right at the bottom of Bridgett and Peter's garden. They were diligently working in the garden and came out to greet us.
We had a wonderful tour round their garden before joining them for tea in Jubilee Cottage. Even at this time of year, when everything is dying back, their garden is still a picture.
They had very kindly invited us for supper, so we closed up MM and walked back through their garden gate to the house. The setting sun cast a golden light on MM and, high in the sky a half-moon was surrounded by a beautiful misty halo.
Today: 3 miles, 2 locks and 4.3 hours.
Trip: 509 miles, 344 locks and 378.8 hours.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Rugeley to Great Haywood.

Monday 19th October, 2015 at Great Haywood.
Early morning visitors, ever hopeful of sharing a little breakfast. You can see how the cygnets' grey plumage is gradually turning white, giving them a marbled effect.
Rugeley is famous for its power station; the cooling towers and chimney dominate the skyline.
We have passed this way several times but have never walked in to the town centre. So, today we did. St Augustine's church was the original parish church but fell into disrepair and sadly the nave had to be demolished.
A new parish chrch was built on the other side of the road to replace it.
All that remains of the former Town Hall is the tower, which now is part of the market building. The Town Hall must have been a very impressive building in its heyday.
Of course, no town centre visit would be complete without...
The brick "accomodation" bridges on this stretch of canal are always very attractive.
Although it is now definitely autumn, the leaves have only just begun to turn.
Colwich Lock is one of our favourites. Again it has one of the lovely brick bridges and we have often seen cows wandering across this one. M was disappointed that none were in evidence today!
The handsome and much photographed junction bridge at Great Haywood is even more charming because of the irregularities in its construction.
Looking down the Staffs & Worcs; a delightful canal - but today we will continue on up the Trent & Mersey towards Aston.
We moored up tonight just south of the junction bridge and walked up to the farm shop and we just caught the café before it closed.
Today: 5 miles, 2 locks and 3.8 hours.
Trip: 506 miles,342 locks and 374.5 hours.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

A Tunnel Without a Roof on the way to Rugeley.

Sunday 18th October, 2015 at Rugeley.
Immediately before Fazeley Junction is a small pedestrian swing bridge ("Easy", said M).
And immediately after the bridge was a boat selling rope fenders of all descriptions.
You cant' pass through Fazeley Junction without a nod to the "Mucky Duck" (As the Swan Pub is known in boating circles).
Now on the Trent and Mersey Canal, there are two locks to negotiate.
We moored up above the second lock and walked back to the C&RT Café for second breakfast. The Café was closed when we passed two years ago, so it was pleasing to see it so well patronised, especially with cyclists today.
The C&RT Office was running a children's workshop with lots of activities for the children to do.

They also had a very interesting display of the way to paint the traditional roses that feature on so many narrowboats. They make it look much easier than it really is!
When we walked back to MM, we saw a large Claas combine harvesting maize from the field next door. The cobs hadn't matured sufficiently for them to be used, so the entire plants were being pulverised for cattle food.
Judging from the huge field on the other side of the canal, there will be no shortage of Staffordshire cabbage in the shops next spring!
Bridge 53 and Wood End Lock is one of M's favourite locations; she likes the lockside cottage a lot. The cottage owner had put freshly baked madiera cakes with an honesty box. We bought some - of course!
Armitage "Tunnel" had its roof removed many years ago, so it is now just a very narrow passage. Not a lot of room either side!
As we approached Rugeley, its massive cooling towers made these houses look as if they had huge chimneys!
We moored just beyond the power station, a surprisingly attractive stretch of canal.
Today: 7 miles, 3 locks and 5.5 hours.
Trip: 501 miles, 340 locks and 370.7 hours.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Good Progress to Fradley Junction.

Saturday 17th October, 2015 at Fradley Junction.
A dry morning, if decidedly cool - so we wrapped up warmly. We set off to do the two Glascote locks. They are known as "Piggy Bank" locks because they are extremely slow to fill but very quick to empty!
M needed to visit M&S in Tamworth, so we moored up and walked the half mile into the large shopping centre - where there just happened to be well known store opposite the large M&S.
At Fazeley Junction, we were delighted to see another Kingsground boat, nb "Locksley". We were able to have a brief conversation as the two boats passed each other. The current owner, David, had fairly recently acquired it from the original owners and is very pleased with it. He wanted to make some changes inside and our good friend, Richie, did the interior woodwork for him.
Many of the old bridges on the Trent & Mersey Canal have small doors in their sides (on the right); these are designed to hold "stop planks" that can be inserted into slots in the narrow bridge hole to make a temporary dam to allow a section of the canal to be drained for maintenance.
A brief spell of sunshine picked out the pretty approach to Hopwas village. The sun was warm but the air was still very cold!
Beautiful autumn colours - you would never think that there is a military firing range in the woods on the left!
There is a stone marker to define the boundary between the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal (on the right) and the Coventry Canal (on the left). Originally, due to financial difficulties, the Coventry Canal stopped at Fazeley Junction, at Tamworth, where it met with the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal that connected it to Birmingham. But both the Trent & Mersey owners and the Birmingham & Fazeley owners were impatient to link their canals together so the T&M started building from Fradley Junction and the B&F started building from Fazeley Junction and they met at the point marked by this stone. Later, when it became rich, the Coventry Canal owners bought the T&M bit - so the junction is now between the Coventry and the B&F! Canal construction politics are fascinating but never simple!
We called in briefly to King's Orchard Marina to fill up with diesel and received a warm welcome. "Nice to see you again", they said. We had called in for a couple of nights two weeks ago on our way down to Braunston.
Opposite King's Orchard Marina is a small airstrip and, what looks like, a very upmarket livery stable. As we left, we couldn't help smiling as we passed two people on horseback, one wearing a high-vis jacket bearing the delightful legend "Caution, Old Bloke, Young Horse".
Our mooring tonight is just short of Fradley Junction. We made good progress today and are delighted that we have seen three Kingsground boats in as many days.
Today: 12 miles, 2 locks and 5.5 hours.
Trip: 494 miles, 337 locks and 365.2 hours.