Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Usual and Unusual - Monday 19th August

What a difference a couple of days make, as we returned through Hawkesbury Junction the moorings were back to their usual full status on both sides of the stop lock.


When we moored at Hawkesbury on Thursday night we were puzzled as to why a single Swan with her four Signets would allow a Canadian Goose to keep company with them as they swam up and down the canal by the boat. Usually the Swans would not allow them within several yards. As we came back through the Junction the Swan and Signets were on the bank preening themselves with the Goose next to them. We did not see any other Swan with the group and so must assume that it has died and the single Swan has allowed the Goose to take over the second parents role. I have never seen this before and have not found anything on the internet about them living together.


We followed this unusual craft to Ansty where it pulled in for water. It is a steered from the front with a wheel steering system and has a fully enclosed forward cockpit come saloon. It was a new boat and looked very nice inside. Unfortunately I was too busy navigating the boat whilst taking this picture that I did not get its name.


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Back to Marston Junction - Sunday 18th August 2013

Today we had a leisurely cruise back towards Marston Junction where we moored up just after bridge 3 to enjoy the afternoons sunshine. A short walk down to the junction to take some photographs as normally I am too busy to negotiating the blind turns to take a picture.
1 Marston Junction
Looking back up the Ashby Canal towards Bridge No.1, a lovely rural canal.
As we left this morning the Mallard family came to be fed with one less chick than they had last night, now down to 8. We also passed this interesting tufted duck which looked as though it had a carbuncle on its head. We had seen it last night whilst out walking, sitting on its nest with 4 yellow chicks tucked under her wings. The Moorhen chicks would not leave us alone and kept begging for food at the hatch. When not doing that they spent their time preening themselves balanced on Bulrushes.
2 Ducks

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Shop Closed at Stoke Golding - Saturday 17th August 2013

The forecast for today was for heavy rain and strong winds arriving just before lunch time so we made an early start so that we could wind at Sutton Wharf and moor up at Stoke Golding to buy a Saturday paper and a few provisions from the village shop. This we did before the having a few spots of rain as we moored up at 9.30am.
We walked up into the village and whilst it has 2 pubs (The George and Dragon, The White Swan), an Indian and a post office open, the village shop had closed a few weeks earlier, through lack of support according to the notice. Fortunately the owner of the shop in Higham on the Hill is hoping to buy it and as an interim was selling papers, bread and milk from the back of his estate car in the car park of the Stoke Golding Club.
1 Stoke Golding Pubs
As we walked up to the village we passed the church and a farmyard with this cute little face looking out at us and these lovely Golden Retrievers in the yard.
2 Stoke Golding Goldies
Later after an early lunch I took the No.86 bus into Hinckley to buy some provisions and have a look around this old market town.  The bus runs every hour and takes about 15 minutes calling into Dadlington on the way. This is a spread out village on the hill overlooking the canal and has a large village green where the bus turns around to head back to Hinckley.
On the outskirts of Hinckley is a large Morrisons supermarket and a cluster of other shops including Halfords.
Hinckley was busy, the Saturday Market in Castle Street had stalls selling all sorts at reasonable prices and a good range of shops. The town is well known for its hosiery manufacturing and the hansom cab which is a kind of horse-drawn carriage designed and patented in 1834 by Joseph Hansom, an architect from York. The vehicle was developed and tested by Hansom in Hinckley. Originally called the Hansom safety cab, it was designed to combine speed with safety, with a low centre of gravity for safe cornering. Hansom's original design was modified by John Chapman and several others to improve its practicability, but retained Hansom's name.
h Hinckley
Returning to the boat the wind had picked up but the promised heavy rain had not materialised and we had a warm sunny afternoon with the odd spit of rain.

Hawkesbury and up the Ashby - Friday 16th August 2013

The rain stopped just before 11.00 am so we cast off and headed through the stop lock and onto the Coventry canal heading for the Marston Junction. We could not believe how much mooring space there was on the other side of the junction as usually it is full and in the past we have had to moor by Hawkesbury Hall Farm some half mile from the junction.
a Hawksbury
The old Navigation Inn which was burnt out some while back is now being transformed into a very smart building which looks as though it could be an Inn or private dwelling.
Charity Dock has been updating its garden with new scenes as well as some new narrow boats but it still looks like a boat scrap yard.
At Marston Junction we turned up the Ashby Canal, which is a very tight turn as you have to go back on yourself and passed Nb Paris moored close to the junction. We met the lovely couple who own the boat on our first trip on Autumn Myst on the Coventry going down the Atherstone flight and have seen them on several occasions since.
The start of the Ashby is very rural despite being close to Nuneaton and Bedworth and in one part very narrow as it goes through a cutting with smart mobile homes built up high on the bank.
d the Ashby
Motoring on we decided to stop for lunch at a lovely spot mid way between bridges 6 and 8 and chatted to the guy and his collie on the next boat. He has lived on it for the last 23 years and 2 wives and is still enjoying boating although somewhat poorer.
Moving on after lunch we decided to stop the other side of Hinckley and found an ideal spot just before bridge 19. However after a while the throbbing we had thought came from the engine of a nearby hire boat turned out to be a factory some way off behind the hedge. So it was up pins and off to bridge 22 where we had a lovely mooring for the night. The sky was so clear and the stars so bright we wished we had been here last week when the Perseid Meteor Shower was in full flow as it would have been a great sight.
Moored next to us was an interesting boat called SHARPNESS, built by MITCHELL NARROWBOATS - Length 13.71 metres 45 feet.
b Sharpness
Later as it was a nice evening I walked up to Higham on the Hill. Just a little way down the lane there were several clusters of Lords and Ladies and in the field a new foal with some Shetland ponies.
3 Higham on the Hill
Walking on up the hill there are some super views over the Leicestershire countryside and Higham proved to be a interesting village made up of old cottages and new houses. There are two churches, the Methodist which and the Anglican.
f Higham Churches
The Fox Inn had been closed but the Oddfellows was open and looked popular. The village shop run by and Indian was still open at 8.00pm so if you don’t mind the half hour walk you can obtain your provisions even at this hour.
g Higham Inns

Friday, 16 August 2013

Hawksbury Junction and Coventry Canal – Thursday 15th August 2013

We had a late start today leaving the marina at 9.00am and following Nb Icebreaker from a well know boat builder. We soon reached Stretton Wharf home of Rose Narrowboats and met two other boats coming the other way as we came to the swing bridge. Luckily it was open so no problems in an area which can be congested at the best of times.
2 Rose Boats
Passing the moored boats we could not help but see these giant Sunflowers in one of their gardens.
1 Sunflowers
These 6 lovely gypsy type horses are in the field opposite the Ansty Club.
3 Gypsy Horses
We made good progress passing the Coventry Cruising Club arm and finding a nice mooring at Hawksbury just before the lock. After lunch June decided to give the windows a good clean whilst I went off to explore.
4 Hawksbury
The sun and warmth had brought out the lunch time drinkers at the Greyhound pub. I can never resist taking a photo of this delightful building which would have been a hive of activity in the heyday of the canal.
5 Greyhound Pub
I decided to walk down the Canal towards Coventry Basin passing Exhall basin which is now a residential marina.
6 Exhall Basin
The Greenway along which the canal runs is known for its Canal Art and is one of the largest outdoor art galleries. These metal fish and birds on bridge 11 and stone settee are examples of the types of art which can be found along its 5 mile length.
7 Collage
Some bright spark has decided to add their own art on stones and posts along the route and I must say it the Kingfishers and Herons are very good, so look out for them next time you travel this route.
8 Cov Art Collage
Passing under the noisy M6 Motorway is an experience in itself as you can see a very long way through the pillars of the elevated section. A work of modern art!
9 M6
A short walk further on brings you to Longford Bridge and a wide stretch of canal which was the original Junction of the Oxford and Coventry canals. They continued in parallel until they reach the current Junction at Hawksbury. This duplication of canals came about because the two companies could not agree on the tolls for the section of canal so they ended up building the two. The line of the original Oxford canal can still be seen through the undergrowth until it reaches the lane down to the Greyhound pub.
9aa Longford Collage
A little further on these modern apartments have been built on the site where the canal was first started in April 1768 and within 16 months the first boat sailed along the canal to Coventry.
9b Coventry Coal Wharf
Leaving the canal you can walk along a parallel path close to the East stand side of the Ricoh Arena, home of the troubled Coventry City Football club, to the Arena shopping complex with its gigantic 24hr Tesco. I counted more than 40 Checkouts.
9c Ricoh
9d Tesco

How Mighty Oaks have Fallen - All Oaks Wood - Wednesday 14th August 2013

We decided to have a few days away on the boat and after calling in at one of the many Tesco Stores on the marina side of Coventry arrived at the boat in late afternoon. Passing through All Oaks Wood it appears that they are still continuing to thin out the trees and are taking away tons of felled trees. It is now possible to see through to the other side of the wood where before it was so dense that one could barely walk between the mighty oaks. It looks a drastic measure but I am sure that it will benefit the remaining trees allowing them to grow larger and faster with the better access to natural light.
All Oaks Wood
Whilst the woods may be reducing the Bullrushes growing at the entrance to our pontoon are putting on a magnificent show and helping to protect the boat from the prevailing winds.

Little Venice - Thursday 8th August 2013

We had a call from Carolann and Graham off Nb Autumn Years to say that they were in the Paddington Basin and would we like to go down and see them. So train tickets purchased on line and off we went arriving at the boat just before lunch. The basin is very easy to get to from Marylebone station and we were there in less than 2 hours.
It is a super spot to moor very close the London attractions and right outside the hospital where the new Prince George was born a  few weeks ago.
After lunch Graham and I went  walk along the canal and then up Primrose Hill to get a good view of London.
Little Venice
Permanent Moorings
One of the Properties Backing onto the Regents
Primrose Hill
Views over London from Primrose Hill
We had a great time with the Richardsons and put Paddington Basin on our list of things to do in the future. We bid our farewells and caught the 8.45 train back home again tired but happy after a delightful day in the capital.

Tesco and M & S–Monday 5th August 2013

This morning turned out to be a nice day again totally different to the forecast so we were able to pack up and leave the boat in the dry. We headed off to the Large Tesco and M& S store at the Ricoh Arena site and after doing some shopping decided to have a coffee at the new Tesco restaurant. It was their first day and they had lots of staff on but they still could not get the bill right and in the end I just had to leave them with the correct money whilst they sorted out the computer glitch. We had a good trip home on the motorway.

Short trip to Hillmorton - Sunday 4th August 2013

The  weather forecast had been good for today so we set sail early and motored up towards Hillmorton passing only one boat on the move. At Rugby we waved to Simon on Nb The Dross who was out of the marina for his usual summer vacation and sampling the local inns. Eric had been singing and playing guitar at the local on Friday and several people from the marina had gone along to support him.
We turned just before the first lock and headed back and just through Kent Bridge spotted this lovely Buddleia bush(Butterfly Bush) which June had just bought a plant for our garden. If we had known we could have taken a cutting. A little further on a twitcher was sitting in his chair with telephoto lens at the  ready waiting for sight of a Kingfisher which is nesting in the sand bank nearby.
We moored up for coffee and lunch by the golf course and it started to rain much against the forecast which had been for a nice sunny day. As the Monday was forecast to be wet we waited for a break in the showers and made tracks for home. There was still plenty of mooring on the towpath side at Rugby but the park was full.
We passed over the Avon Aqueduct which had been on the TV this week as the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust had spotted Otters along the river and under the bridge.
As we arrived at the marina the wind and rain stopped and we were able to moor easily on the pontoon.
The Swan family were now down to 4 signets after starting with 7
We had a nice relaxing evening aboard the boat finishing off one or two jobs and getting ready to leave the next morning. It turned out to be a nice warm evening and a I walked around the marina missing the company of a puppy.

Meeting Old Friends - Saturday 3rd August 2013

We had a call from friends, Jayne and Stephen on Nb Dolce far Niente, to say that they would be in our area on Saturday and could we meet up at Hawksbury Junction. We decided to spend the weekend on the boat and so after unloading our gear on the boat we drove back to Hawksbury and met up with them moored just before the stop lock. We had a great evening chatting away about all things boating and non boating. It was lovely to see them and hopefully we will catch up with them later in the year to hear all about the canal adventures.