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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas with Family

My Christmas was spent with family this year. My brother Pete and his wife Raelene came all the way from Australia and joined me, my step mother and two other brothers, James and Doug, together with their wives and kids. It involved me driving around 500 miles in all.. not all of it at speed..Xmas drivingHere I am parked on the M40 for no obvious reason.

We were also joined, to my utter delight, by Doug’s new puppy, a working Cocker called Oreo…Oreo and Eileen

And here are most of the family enjoying Christmas. We were only missing my sisters Romy and Penelope and their families.family xmas 2014

New Year will be a much quieter affair. I am not a fan of New Year’s Eve parties so I will hide and come out on New Year’s Day to share it with Stan and some of his friends. Happy 2015 to you all!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Happy Xmas to all my readers!

arty woodpecker

This is one of my many winter visitors, a lesser spotted woodpecker, working out how to reach the fat pack. He comes most days and is a pleasure to watch. A different sort of Xmas card to you!

Since last writing,things have progressed. I decided to go with my heart rather than my head and did not leap straight back into full time employment. Instead I advertised myself a little and kept my eyes and ears open. As a result I have one regular lady I now clean, garden and occasionally dog walk for. On 2nd January I start work at Kings Bromley Marina, cleaning their loos and showers. It is only for 90 minutes a day but it is 5 days a week, all through the year. I can go whenever suits me, which means I can fit it round other jobs. It also entitles me to various really useful discounts on diesel, coal, gas and pump outs which helps. Both cleaning jobs have a better pay rate than I received at the wedding venue I worked for and it also feels like I am self employed and hiring my time out to various people, rather than just working for one. There is also a chance of more hours at the marina once the hire boat season starts.

I need to find one or two other little jobs to entirely keep my head above water, but at present things feel pretty darned good! Even Bonny is a working dog again as she is welcome at the marina. I have also started writing the book that has been in my head for 6 years or so, but that is going rather slowly and I haven’t finished the first chapter yet, but I hope to persevere. It all feels like I am going with the flow and the flow is good.

Christmas will be a mixed blessing this year. On the positive side I am going to visit family which this year includes my brother Peter and his wife from Australia. I am driving down to my step mum’s in Lymington on Christmas Eve, where I shall meet up with Pete and Raelene. Then we will all descend on my youngest brother, Doug on Christmas Day. On Boxing Day I shall drive in convoy with the rest, up to another brother, James, in Sevenoaks, Kent. The next day I shall drive round the dreaded M25 to get home; one of the negatives! The other down side is that I have to leave Bonny behind. We are rarely apart these days so it is a bit of a wrench but she will be very happy at Stan’s. He isn’t too happy that I am going either, but understands about family.

I hope you who read this have a wonderful Christmas and that 2015 is the year that all your dreams come true!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

All Change

I returned to work a few days after the end of a wonderful cruise to a huge shock. On my first day back my boss announced, in front of other members of staff that he didn’t want me to do any of the ordering or stock taking any more and that I should hand over my file to a newer staff member immediately and then go clean the marquee. My job involves various tasks but the most satisfying was ensuring that the wedding venue didn’t run out of wine, or any of the hundreds of other items it needed to function.
I asked if I had done something wrong but he said I had done a good job at the ordering but ‘had no time to explain his decision now’. For quite some months I had been insisting on being given holiday pay, as I was legally entitled to. He had been resisting and this finally came to a head whilst on my cruise, with increasingly tense texts flying between us. Finally four months after first raising the subject, he finally accepted he had to pay what was owed. Then I came back to this and couldn’t help wondering if there was a link. He further announced that I was to accept a pay cut in real terms as he was going to start taking money off for meal breaks. Even though we never get meal breaks lasting more than 20 minutes, he said he would be taking an hours pay off each full day worked.
The final straw came at the beginning of November when, for the second month in a row, I wasn’t paid the correct amount. A very fractious meeting followed which resulted in some swearing and shouting from him and a loss of temper from me, at which point I walked out. I returned later that day for a more sensible discussion but it became clear that that neither he nor his wife were willing to address any of my concerns and expected me to do a less fulfilling job for less pay. They offered no guarantee of hours of work and wouldn’t even fix a regular pay day. So I resigned.
Now I am free again with endless possibilities in front of me. It feels exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. My sensible, security loving self has been trawling the internet for jobs; looking at supermarkets and seasonal work. My freedom loving, creative self has been dreaming dreams. I have, for some time, had the idea of writing a book about my journey from the land based, career driven, safe life I once lived, to the single handing, boat dwelling, sometimes perilous life I now enjoy. I started the first chapter some months ago but the idea of it being rejected and unread was too much for my ego. I even have a title.. “Single Steps”, taken from a quote from the Tao Te Ching “A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step.”
Now, I wonder if I should put me ego to one side and do it. I have enough savings to last certainly for the next year and I am thinking of supplementing those by offering myself as a cleaner / gardener / dog walker etc. I am not entirely decided yet, but I know that my spirit quails when I consider returning to a slave job. mind you it gets pretty shaky when I think of starving too!!

watery sunset

Friday, 24 October 2014

Home Safe

We got back to our mooring just before the ex hurricane struck! I was glad to be back in one piece, but at the same time, sorry that it was over.

After Chillington we stopped at Tixall Wide again, here is a picture of the

gatehouse there…68 Tixall Gatehouse

Then we stopped again at Wolseley Bridge. It was a beautiful spot in the trees, right by the river (Trent), and popular, as soon after I tied up, a chap in camouflage gear, a bike and a dog came and sat on a log near the boat and didn’t leave for 6 hours! I decided that, instead of being anxious about him, I would introduce myself instead. I ended up giving him a whisky and listening to his views on astral orbs and the dangers of TV aerials. It takes all sorts!

70 mooring Wolseley This was the mooring site and just to the right of this tree was his log and the Trent

74 bon in Trent

The next day, the wind really started to blow and I hauled on my tiller all the way to Kings Bromley. I really had to fill up with diesel and empty my poo tank and the only way of doing that is to turn 360 and reverse onto the marina dock. Doing that manoeuvre in a gale is frankly terrifying, but I was proud that I managed it. The diesel man said he gave me 9 out of 10. he said he couldn’t give me 10 as I was a woman!!!

So we are back and in a few days, back to work. But I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to cruise again, on my own and to have managed it all safely.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

More cruising joy

We are moored at Chillington Wharf for the weekend, right by Chillington woods. The wharf isn’t one any longer, just a winding hole and a handful of moored boats. We are moored in glorious isolation just beyond the wharf.

49 perfect for us at Chillington

The woods are ancient and stunning and Bonny is practicing self control as I have let her run wild after the squirrels and then called her back. She is graduating with honours!

51 ancient trees

50 perfect for Bon at Chillington!

She even came when I called this morning when we found her greatest terror looming out of the mist – a horse and rider. In the past she would have run away and hid and it would have taken me hours to get her back. Now she is finally seeing me as her safe place and she practically leapt into my arms with every hair standing upright with fear!

Here is my little Autumn Cairn

43 My beautiful girl

Monday’s weather is looking grim so I am planning to stay till Tuesday and then make the trek off the Shroppie and up the Staffs and Worcester to Gailey. I suspect we might get wet but it is all worth it.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Loving this cruise!

Yes Autumn has arrived and yes I have got wet and the boat has been blown about a bit and yes it’s a bit chilly, but I love this cruise!!

We are currently moored in the most beautiful spot near Knighton Woods, on the way to Market Drayton. There are fantastic walks in every direction and so far I have had the mooring to myself. We arrived yesterday afternoon and as we did, the sun came out (after a very wet and windy morning). This is what it looked like…

27 peace at last

In front of us

26 best bridge pic

Behind us (the best bridge pic I think I’ve taken)

21 view one side mooring

And beside us. Not bad eh? The forecast isn’t great for the next couple of days so we are staying put and will explore the area. This morning we were walking in the woods at around 7.45am in the rain, when I came across a man sitting in a truck. The headlines immediately flashed through my head… “Decomposed bodies of woman and dog found in Knighton Woods”. “She should never have been out walking alone”, a spokesman said.

We walked on up the track and after a few minutes heard the truck approaching from behind. My heart picked up pace but all was well. It was only the local gamekeeper tending to his pheasants. He helpfully pointed out the right footpath to take and went on his way. Phew!

Back on the boat, and brewed a cuppa. I listened and the loudest noise I could hear was the wing flaps of a passing magpie. No road noise, no voices, perfect peace. Bliss.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

At last!!!

I have been trying to get my blog dashboard to recognise me on my tablet for ages but it kept reverting to a google email address and then said I didn't have any blogs. It was driving me crazy!
Today I tried uninstalling both google plus and google email and have finally managed to sign in with the right details. What a relief!

Autumn Cruising

I love cruising at this time of year. The scenery is lovely – especially when its not raining! There are no lock queues and the boaters that you do meet generally seem to know what they are doing. Moorings are plentiful and it is easier to get away from the crowd. It is, as they say, all good.

Here are examples of what I mean…

7 autumn GHAutumn colours at G Haywood9 tixall mooringMooring at Tixall Wide10 happy cruising dogA happy, off the lead cruising dog!

We are on the Shropshire Union now, on a lovely mooring near the Chillington Estate where there are beautiful woodland walks. We woke to our first rain today, since we came out so that has given us an excuse to light the first fire of the season and stay put. Tomorrow (Sunday) is forecast dry so we will stop briefly in Brewood for provisions, Wheaton Aston for rubbish and possibly the cheapest diesel in the country and then hopefully moor near the Cowley Tunnel where there are more lovely walks.

By the way, if anyone asks the difference between the Staffs and Worcester Canal and the Shropshire Union, here is one…

13 narrow S and Wnarrow S and W

14 wide ShroppieWide Shroppie

Friday, 26 September 2014

Google Gripe but happy holidays

I love my tablet and very rarely use my laptop any more. However I have had to dig it out to post anything at all on my blog. Google won't let me sign into my blog with the right email address. Instead it keeps reverting to a gmail address which I do have on the tablet (and can't get rid of) and of course my blog doesn't recognise the gmail address. Grrr. I have told Google to butt out but with no joy. Any advice would be welcome!

On a brighter note, my friends took my boat out, went all the way to the Peak Forest Canal and back in 9 days and brought  the boat in one piece. By the way, they met a lady on the Maccy with a broken arm who said she follows this blog. Hello, lady boater with broken arm. Hope you mend soon.

Meanwhile Stan and I visited the Rochdale Canal...

Then, after a night in the Forest of Dean, we went to my friends house in Devon and had a cracking time.
This is me at Hartland Quay

This is Bon hiding under an old bridge from the Bude Canal.

This is Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor where we simply had to talk like pirates. Aaarr!

Now I am home. I have been racing around doing chores before I embark on my next big adventure... a cruise up the Shroppie. Yes!! We leave on Sunday. I hope to keep you updated on our cruise if Google let me!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

sensible madness?

Having a few days out cruising was a bit like giving just a tea spoon full of food to a starving person - it just reminds them how hungry they are!

So I mulled over my options and looked at how much work was going to be on offer in October. It turns out there is not much at all as there are very few events booked. So I asked my bosses if I could disappear for the month and they said yes!!

Deepest joy I can go for a proper cruise. Yes I'll be even poorer than a church mouse, but for a month I'll be free! The Shropshire Union Canal is calling to me, but I haven't made a final decision yet. I have a holiday booked in Devon first, with Stan, while my friends Roger and Shirleyann take my boat out. They are almost certainly going to my other favourite canal - the Macclesfield, so give them a wave if you see them.

For me, it is more important to grab life now than to save up for a secure future, because who knows how long I will live. Mind you I may regret it when I run out of money, but, hey ho, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Out at last

No, I haven’t discovered a new sexuality, I’m out on the boat! A whole four days to mooch about Handsacre and indulge Bonny after her operation.

She had two teeth removed under general anaesthetic on Tuesday and came back all dazed and drugged up. I carried her to her bed and popped outside to fetch something off the mooring. Being Bon, she hauled herself up the steps after me, somehow managed to jump out of the boat and then staggered up the mooring – mostly sideways – all because she hadn’t had her walk!

She was so much improved the next day, that I cast off our ropes and toddled up to Kings Bromley to do the usual pumping out and dieseling up. Then, instead of retracing our steps, we carried on to Handsacre where there is one of our favourite walks. We could have gone further, but with us both needing some recuperation time (I have had a stinky cold), I decided just to enjoy having a different view and still having time to rest.

I had forgotten again just how perfectly cruising suits both Bonny and me. We adore exploring new walks, having time to watch squirrels and to shelter from the rain when necessary. We don’t need to be near pubs or people. We don’t need any more entertainment than the hedgerows afford us and it has been such a joy having her all to myself after a long and busy working summer.

I was cleaning the outside of the boat a couple of hours ago when we were passed by a lovely shiny boat called ‘What a Lark’. The lady on board said she was a reader of my blog and really enjoyed it. What a lovely comment. So I thought I better blog immediately! Ahoy there to What a Lark.

I have also finally given in and joined the Facebook generation – it is amazing who has popped up so far. So many people from my various past lives!

To conclude, here are some pics of our mini trip:

bon recovering

Bonny recovering

handsacre heaven

Handsacre mooring

improved bon

Bon much improved – in health and behaviour!

handsacre path

Our favourite circular walk

Thursday, 7 August 2014

work work work

Since this is chiefly a boating, cruising type blog, I have an excuse for such a long gap between posts... I haven't been anywhere! Instead I have been working endlessly and have nothing very much to write about. However I didn't want people to think I have drowned so thought I better check in.

One new thing I have done in the last 24 hours is to join Facebook. Its amazing and I am bewildered by it.

Another new thing is that I have finally had my shaggy dog clipped. Before...

...and after!

The wedding season is in full swing, hence all the working, but I have two weeks holiday booked in September. Obviously my first choice would be to take the boat out, but my friend Stan has been a total star, looking after Bon while I've been working, so we are going on holiday on land instead. We are visiting the Rochdale canal, before going to Devon to stay in my friends Roger and Shirleyanns home while they take my boat out cruising!

Hopefully I will be able to write about taking my boat out sometime before the end of the year!

PS. Do visit me on my Facebook page. I haven't got the lingo yet but I think you need to 'like' me or something like that!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

My Mooring in the Spring

I thought I would post some photos to show what a pretty place I live in.

nicely cut mooring!

This is my mooring with a garden that looks huge! I love it.

storm 3

This is the view from my boat at present. Unfortunately Bonny ran away into the rape field and when she came out four hours later, the rape had irritated her eyes so much that she had rubbed all the hair off under both eyes! I tried to feel sorry for her and failed!


These are the anemones I planted and that flowered from February till just recently – good value!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

home again

My pump out trip continued to be eventful. I tied up in the woods just prior to the marina and had a lovely relaxed afternoon, much needed after a really busy week at work and then the run in with the loon on the flight.

Bright and early the next morning I took the boat into the marina ready for my much needed pump out only to find their machine was broken! Fortunately the wharf close by is managed by Tom who did my blacking recently and he let me go there to be pumped out! However I had to manoeuvre into a very tight space at the wharf and then was told that in order to get diesel I needed to go back out and reverse in. I looked at the space available and the breeze blowing. I then dipped my diesel and decided I had enough to last me another month. What a coward!

My trip back down the flight made up for the trip up. I met boats at every lock and without exception their crews were friendly and helpful. One was also informative when she told me that the Napton flight of locks have just closed for 3 weeks due to 100 feet of bank falling into the canal! It has trapped boats within the flight and has caused particular problems for hireboaters as there is no road access.

I got back to my mooring by lunchtime and then went off to the supermarket as I needed a food shop before returning to work tomorrow. Tired now but happy.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Trouble on the flight

I had to take the boat out on bank holiday Monday, not something I would usually do, but I was overdue a diesel and pump out visit to Kings Bromley. It was predictably busy and I didn't start till about 9.45. However there were more volunteer lock keepers about than you could shake a windlass at so help was at hand.

All was well until I reached the third lock in the flight. There was a boat waiting to go through the next lock that was tied on the lock bollards in such a way that I would struggle getting in behind him. I slowed right up and saw the boater chatting to people on the towpath. I called out in my most friendly and polite manner and asked him if he minded moving his boat forward on the bollards so I could fit in behind. I saw him say something but couldn't hear him so I repeated my request. This time it was obvious the man was annoyed. His wife then had a word and reluctantly and making a great show of effort, they moved their boat a few feet so I could get in.

The wife went off to the lock and the man, in his 60's, stayed with the boat. I secured mine and then wandered up to have a word. I said I was sorry if I caused him a problem to which he replied "I don't like bossy females at the tiller" I was about to respond in kind when I noticed his boat (Rosy) was covered with Boater Christian Fellowship stickers. I asked if he was a member, he said he was. I said "well you aren't a great advert are you?" To which he asked what I knew about it. Well I couldn't resist and said "I was an evangelist for the Church of England". I paused and saw him thinking maybe I was part of his club and then said " but then I saw the light and left."

His response honestly shocked me. He came up very close, poked his fingers at me and hissed in a low, vicious tone "get away from me you devil!" I said "devil?" He replied that if I was "an ex" then I was a devil and then he disappeared inside his boat, even though the lock was almost ready for him. I was stunned by the mixture of fear and fury that flowed from him and decided not to speak again as he was clearly unhinged.

But I still had to follow him up the lock flight and being that he was slower at the locks, I kept catching up with him. I noticed he was smiling and chatting and even handing out chocolate to the volunteer lock keepers but when he glanced at me, which he did regularly, his mask slipped and I saw what was underneath. At the last but one lock he got his camera out and appeared to take a photograph of me and then nodded as if to say he had me now. No doubt I should check their website in due course. I might find my mugshot on it with warnings about the devil!

I know I should just shrug it off but it still bothers me when I see such an ugly face purporting to be Christian. I also know he is in a tiny minority (although I have met two other rude members of the same organisation) but as I tied up in the woods I was very grateful again that I no longer have anything to do with organised religion!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Cruise End

Bonny and I had a well earned rest at Hopwas until Sunday morning when we mooched back to Fradley, stopping at the new King’s Orchard Marina where I filled up with diesel for 80p a litre which was a good rate for red diesel. I then found the last space on the visitors mooring on the Coventry at Fradley Junction, ready to take her into dry dock on Monday morning.

I had thought that if I get the boat up before 9am I could transfer my belongings at leisure into my car to be transported to Stan’s. However, when I got to the Junction Tom, the boatyard owner was already there so it was all a bit of a rush to get my bags etc off as well as remembering the jobs I wanted Tom to do on the boat while she was out of the water. As well as having the hull blacked (painted to keep the rust at bay – called blacking because of the bitumen based paint they use,) I also needed a small welding job to be done, the tiller bearing to be replaced and my tunnel bands repainted. All of that will cost me in excess of £550 and my licence is also due this month – costing another £770 so not a cheap time in my boating world!

Here is my boat in dry dock – I forget what a big bum she has!!


Then, reluctantly I left Don’t Panic in a damp shed and went off like a refugee to be put up by Stan for the week – and very kind it was too of him to put up with Bonny and I as lodgers.

On Friday there was a treat in the shape of a host of pre WW2 cars coming to the junction as part of a rally. Here are some highlights…

MaxwellA 1911 Maxwell – my favourite.

aston martinAston Martinstans jagSS Jaguar – Stan’s favourite.

I could go on! One of the cars apparently was recently sold for five million pounds!!!

I am also back to work now and the change from solitary cruising to living with someone else and being desperately sociable is a shock to the system! But since somebody managed to fall in a dry dock and die, we are not allowed to stay on board anymore, so I don’t know what I would have done without Stan offering me a roof over my head.

Having said that, I am very much looking forward to returning to my floating home. All the work is done but she will stay in dry dock for the weekend so the paint can dry properly (or cure). Then, promptly on Monday morning I will take possession, cruise to Alrewas to turn round and then, after 3 weeks, finally return to my mooring. Job done!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

A Bad day at Black Rock

I don't know if you remember that film but after it was on, whenever we had an awful time that's what we used to say.
 The day (Thursday) started OK with an early walk and cruising from 8am. It took 4 hours to do 11 miles and two locks but I arrived in Hopwas and found our favourite mooring vacant. I was so pleased with Bon as she had been so good and patient with all the cruising so I popped her on the towpath whilst I secured the boat. The time was 12.10pm. Having got the boat sorted, I fetched her lead and called bon to have her walk. Nothing. No sign of her at all. I assumed she had started without me and so walked the way we usually go. No sign or sound of her.
After an hour or so I finally spotted her at the bottom of the field, worryingly close to the mainline railway. I did my usual walking away and calling her but she immediately dived into the trees to the side of the field and that was that. I tried all the usual tricks to get her back but she had slipped into that mad state of mind where humans, particularly me, were the enemy and to be avoided at all costs.
I won't bore you with all the details of the endless afternoon but despite hail storms, wind and almost constant rain, by dark she was still on the run. I was fairly sick with worry, particularly when the trains flew by.
At 7pm I saw movement outside the boat. I made her supper and called Bon to come in. At 8.10pm, 8 hours after she went, my bleep bleep dog jumped in the boat. She was soaked through, covered with brambles and shivering with cold. I was not sympathetic, although I did let her warm up on my lap.
So we will be going to bed shortly as I am shattered. Fortunately I was planning to stay here till Sunday. Guess who won't be running free in the woods this time?!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Return journey

The plan came together and I had the best cruising weather so far for my journey from Hawkesbury to Mancetter. I managed to get the same spot and was untroubled by any neighbours for my entire stay, just the way I like it! Here is a picture I took from the top of the hill opposite my boat.

1 small footprint

It reminded me again what a small footprint I have, and am. My wee 50 foot living space looks so small in the large landscape, but it is more than enough for me. I may have a small home, but what a garden!! It made me think how insignificant I am in the world as well. No one in that town behind my boat knew of my existence. I shall move on leaving no trace that I was ever there. Having had two careers where being significant to a lot of other people was par for the course, I can honestly say that anonymity suits me better now.

Mancetter, a suburb of Atherstone has some of the best signed footpaths I have ever seen. Lovely circular walks and good posts so there is little risk of getting lost. I wish more parishes followed suit. Here is Bonny panting to get started on an excellent woodland walk…

2 entrance to brill mancetter walk

The plan to stay through Tuesday was a good one as it rained without pause from when I first woke up at 7am until we went to bed at 10pm! I did walk the hour round trip into Atherstone to buy supplies and of course walk Bonny – three times! But not cruising was a good option and meant that we could explore more of this hidden gem. The Midlands keep surprising me. When I first came here, I expected cities and dark satanic mills, but even close to places like Nuneaton or Tamworth are the most beautiful areas of countryside.

Today (Wednesday) I started off at 8am to tackle the Atherstone flight while it was quiet. I felt I had cheated a bit on the way up by accepting lots of help, so this time I faced the 11 locks alone. And I really was alone. I only met one boat, a working boat at lock two and then no one else until lock 9. It meant that most of the locks were in my favour which really helped, but because there were no other boats coming towards ,me, it meant I had to balance my boat at the tail of each lock and then climb back up to close the gates. I worked out that at each lock I opened or closed a gate 5 times and there were 11 locks, so that makes… my arms very tired!

I stopped at the bottom of the flight to water up and get rid of rubbish and then went on to Meadow bridge (is what it sounds like) to moor.

5 meadow bridge mooring

After a shower my arms still felt like limp spaghetti but I am happy that I can do 11 locks and 4 miles in less than 3.5 hours! It has hailed and rained this afternoon (after I was safely moored) but I am hoping it will dry up for our return to Hopwas tomorrow. My plan is to veg there till Sunday when I will very reluctantly return to Fradley to put my boat into dry dock for blacking and then return to work.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Alvecote to Hawkesbury Junction

Here is a picture of the working boats at Alvecote, mentioned yesterday…

4 working boats at Alvecote

I set off for Atherstone by 8.30am in almost dry but fairly chilly conditions. The wind which has been our constant companion so far wasn’t too troublesome. It took about 90 minutes of cruising before I reached the bottom of the Atherstone flight. I received unexpected assistance when I reached the fourth lock up in the shape of my mate Stan and a small herd of volunteer lock keepers. With their assistance I rose to the top lock with relatively little effort. Stan and I then visited the chippy and a local pub before I waved a fond farewell and carried on my cruise.

I moored only a couple of miles further on near Mancetter as it had started to rain quite hard, but after the bustle of Atherstone, it felt a lot further…


6 Mancetter mooring

There were some fantastic footpaths here and so I have decided to stop for the day here when I return to explore further. My ankle is almost recovered but just to remind me that suffering is good for the soul, I am brewing a cold!

Sunday morning, and after a lovely though chilly walk around the golf course and woods, we set off for Hawkesbury junction where the Coventry Canal meets the North Oxford and where you can get a rare picture of two canals in one frame…

8 Two canals in one pic

The Coventry is just visible on the left, the Oxford on the right and at the junction of the two, a pretty bridge and attractive pub…

12 Bridge over Coventry

11 Greyhound pub at junction

It took three and a half hours to get here and this time the wind was absolutely bitter and it felt like a lot longer. Still, once I lit a fire and had some tomato soup for lunch I felt sufficiently recovered to take Bonny for a walk. I had particularly wanted to come to Hawkesbury Junction as I had stopped here once before when cruising with my friends Roger and Shirleyann. It is an area where there used to be mining and once the pits were closed, the area was given over to nature and I had not had the chance to really explore on my previous visit. I had remembered a lovely wooded and gorse covered area with footpaths running all around. Unfortunately on our return I discovered the walk I had remembered was no more. The trees had all been cut down and the gorse pulled up, leaving behind a barren wasteland, suitable only it seemed for motocross judging from the churned up tracks!

Ah well, never mind, a night here and then I shall mooch back through the fairly unattractive Nuneaton to Mancetter where I shall sit out the forecasted bad Tuesday weather. I am also fairly short of food so I shall wander into Atherstone for supplies.

Oh, I do wish I was well enough off not to have to return to work. The North Oxford looked so inviting, and then I could have followed onto the South Oxford, The Thames and who knows where I could end up! Ah well, seven more years before I get my police pension and then there will be no stopping me.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Hopwas to Alvecote

I’m glad I took another day before moving as my poor sore ankle got a bit fat…19 poorly ankle


But it got much better so this morning I took Bonny for an early walk and then made the most of the sunny morning by setting off by 8am.

We had a lovely but uneventful cruise through Tamworth to Alvecote, where we found a brilliant mooring near the ruins of an old priory and close to Alvecote Marina which is known for its collection of working boats. There used to be mines here but they are now nature reserves and Bonny and I were delighted to find some beautiful walks. We are close to the M42 here, but you would never know it as any noise is muffled by all the trees.

Tomorrow I will work a bit harder as a few miles ahead lies the 11 lock Atherstone flight. Thank goodness I have practiced sizeable flights quite a bit now and so it holds no fears for me. I just hope I don’t have to do it in the rain!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Exciting so far!

Well, so far sitting still has seen much more excitement than cruising!

I was very happy to tie up near the woods yesterday as the wind had really started to get up. It increased in strength throughout the afternoon, so that by 4pm it was blowing a hooley. I had just taken Bon along the towpath when I saw a hire boat coming round the bend with the crew clearly struggling for control. As I watched, he lost it entirely and, missing my boat by a whisker, ploughed full speed into the Canal and River Trust boat moored behind me. Why CART insist on using nothing but blue string to secure their boats is beyond me but predictably all three strings snapped on impact setting the work boat free. The hire boat was blown into the bank with its stern having unnatural relations with my stern and its bow jammed up the chuff of the work boat.

I returned having watched them struggle for a bit and offered my help which was accepted with alacrity. I tried to steer them off backwards but the wind was too strong, so I eventually managed to manoeuvre their boat so that it was alongside mine and then told them to gun it for all they were worth. It is just as well I am getting my boat blacked on my return as I must have lost several coats of paint along the stern! They shot off like a cork out of a bottle and I turned my attention to the work boat. It didn’t look particularly damaged so I rescued some strands of string and retied the boat to the metal shuttering – a little further away from mine just in case!

The next morning Bonny and I went for our morning walk. With much trepidation I decided on a trust exercise and let her off the lead.

Here she is considering her options…

5 trust exercise

6 even more trust!

You can still just about see her as a spot in the distance

7 Bon off piste

Waiting for me to catch up – trust justified!

These are the woods at Hopwas – beautiful even with no leaves yet on the trees…

13 no leaves yet

10 proper British wood

And here is one of many pill boxes that line the banks of the Tame. Apparently they were worried about Germans using the rivers to invade during the Second World War

16 pill box and bridge

Much to my relief Bonny and I returned to the boat together. I made a cuppa and then sat outside while she mooched around the towpath and then settled down to meditate on the rabbits in the field.

2 meditation time

All of a sudden her ears and tail shot up and she jumped to her feet. Fortunately I managed to grab her just as she started a bout of hysterical barking. Turning, I saw two horses approaching with riders. There is nothing in this world that Bonny is more scared of and she was beside herself. The horses didn’t look too impressed either, so I bundled her into the boat. Unfortunately she was struggling so much that I missed my footing and fell down the three steps into the boat, landing hard on my ankle. For one heart stopping moment I thought I had broken a second leg! But no, fortunately after the first shock of pain wore off, I found my ankle was just bruised. Bonny didn’t stop screaming with terror until about 15 minutes later!

So, that is the second day of our cruise. The weather is forecast to be wet and windy tomorrow and we are staying put so who knows what could happen!