Monday, 30 June 2014


We stopped short of the town of Stone last night in order to enjoy tranquillity before tackling Stone and Stoke on Trent.
Stone is where our first boat was built by Roger Fuller back in 1985. It was side launched from near the garden of his house where she was built.

Anna's launch site now somewhat overgrown

The first lock you come to in Stone is Star lock the home of the famous Star Inn where each room is on a slightly different level.

Approaching Star lock

In Star lock

The "Star" lockkeeper

An interesting tree stump carving

The home of the Stone Brewery now a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) workshop
Roger's Yard
Roger has a great love of trains and he has laid a narrow gauge track around it complete with signals and a signal box. Great fun was had back in 2003 when he held a "Fuller Fest" at which the owners of all the boats he had built were invited. We all had goes of being hauled around the yard by a hand operated buggy. (I'm sure there is a proper name for it)
The signals
And the signal box
It was great to meet Roger and his son Jo again as we mellowed about old times over a cup of coffee.
On we went towards Stoke on Trent only to come across this ideal position of a house with its own dry dock!
Dream on!
We passed the Wedgwood china factory before mooring up for the night just short of the Britannia football stadium, home of Stoke City. 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Old Friends

Saturday 28 June

As this was old stomping ground we sent Martin a text to see if was still managing the Kings Bromley marina as we would be passing by later today. We first met Martin on the Coventry when we owned Anna of The Five Towns and he painted the pigeon hatch for us. Since then he worked at Streethay Wharf and he completely repainted our boat and made a wonderful job of her.
Back came the reply that he is now the manager of the new Kings Orchard marina that is less than a mile away. Come on in he said. So it was good to see him again after such a long time. Sad to hear that he had recently lost one of his two dogs, Jasper, due to kidney failure though.
After a longer than planned stay we headed for Fradley Junction and to have lunch in the famous Swan.

Then it was off through the beautiful Woodend Lock that is to be the proposed site of the HS2 crossing of the Trent and Mersey canal. Who was moored there but BCF member Peter aboard March Mole. Good to see you Pete!

Had to take a photee of the Armitage Shanks factory as we passed by
And of Rugely power station
We moored near Wolesley Bridge with the intention of having an Indian but when we got there it was heaving and a 40 minute wait for a table; should have booked. So we went to the Wolesley Arms, that was again busy, but were able to accommodate us in a pleasant part of the restaurant.

Sunday 29 June

It is Izzy's birthday today, Keith's Grandaughter; Happy Birthday Izzy xxx.
We set off early today for the short hop to Colwich where we attended the communion service at St Michaels and All Angels.

Prior to the service we were welcomed up the tower where we able to ring a touch or two of Bob Doubles. It is very strange that whatever we church we go to on the cut we always meet someone who has connections with Bristol. This time two of the ringers went to university there. Small world!

Before setting off again Keith applied the final coat of red paint to the spots where the horses had bitten on the handrail. We will see the results tomorrow when the masking tape comes off.
Keith made his regular checks in the engine compartment and discovered a fair quantity of water in and around the engine bearers. This was easily sucked out with a vacuum pump that revealed itself to be engine cooling fluid. This was substantiated by its feel and that the level of the coolant had dropped significantly. Two litres were sucked out! Turned out to be a screwed gland that became loose so a simple fix. Fortunately we were very near to the Anglo-Welsh yard at Great Haywood junction so Keith went off and bought 5Ltrs of antifreeze whilst Dianne went off to the nearby farm shop. Strawberries and ice cream tonight!

Half finished!

Friday, 27 June 2014

The Coventry Canal

Thursday 26 June

We were soon back at the beginning of the Ashby canal where C&RT were dredging the junction so we turned right and re-joined the Coventry canal. We passed through Nuneaton where, many years ago, we took our last boat, an early Roger Fuller's trad to a canalside carnival. There was a festival of boats on the programme at which we won 1st prize and was presented with a lovely framed print of the wrought iron bridge at Hawkesbury junction by the Nuneaton Carnival Queen. (Have to admit though, we were the only boat to enter!). Anyway, there has been a lot of canalside building since then and was sad to see a playing field that now sports three storey flats.
We sopped off for lunch in the Anchor at Hartshill before passing the old BW Yard that contains a 19th-C carpenters workshop and blacksmiths' forge.


We descended nine locks in the Atherston flight before mooring up for the night in a very nice spot; then it rained!

Friday 27 June

It was a damp start to the morning that gave Keith a chance to squeegee one side of the boat to get rid of the dust that had accumulated over the last two weeks. It wasn't long before it began to rain again though and it continued for six hours. Oh well, erect umbrella and plough on, at least there were no more locks until we reached the Glascote, the home of Hudson Boats. Every time we pass through these locks, we have to que and today was no exception. One consolation though was that we met fellow BCF members Hazel and Alan Dilmot on their narrowboat Dilly-Dally coming up the locks.
We arre approaching an old stomping ground now as we moored for six years with our last boat at Fazely Mill Marina at the junction of the Coventry and the Birmingham and Fazely canals.

To reward ourselves for putting up with the inclement conditions today, we booked a table in the Plough at Huddlesford. We found a tight mooring that FOTV just slotted into but since we last came this way the main West Coast railway line has been updated, and an additional bridge across the canal constructed with the resultant increase in through trains. I am sure tonight's beer will take care of the noise though!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Barbeque Weather

Wednesday 25 June

The weather just gets better so this morning we got the bikes out and cycled around the battle site of Bosworth Fields (August 1485: Henry Tudor vs Richard 3rd. Since we last visited 11 years ago the visitor centre has been much improved thanks to Lottery funding etc and now reflects all that has happened since Richard 3rd's body was discovered under a car park in Leicester in August 2012.

 Richard 3rd Drinking Well

Henry VIII

Keith ready to do battle with the horse that drew boat blood!

We then cycled on up to St James church in the adjacent village of Sutton Cheyney. The story is that Richard 3rd heard Mass on the day before the battle and there is a large modern plaque erected to him by various Richard 3rd societies.

Someone has lots of friends

The cheapest diesel on the system is at Wheaton Aston on the Shropshire Union canal that we will be passing during our return leg. We couldn't get there on what is left in the tank so we pulled up at Trinity marina to take some on board. Whilst we there we spotted some boys with their toys in the marina all radio controlled.

There was one model speed boat out on the canal that was clocking up almost 30mph with its brushless electric motor revolving at a staggering 28,000rpm! Incredible.
We were able to moor at a particularly nice spot this evening so decided to have out first barbeque of the trip.

Keith doing the business

An unusual phenomena before the sunset 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Shallow Waters

Monday 23 June

We were beaten to the post this morning as Ethlron came past us at about 8:30am after being launched very early. Was able to exchange a few words as they passed by. Good to meet the owners albeit briefly.
The Ashby is still shallow in parts although it has been dredged in places. This makes for slow progress, but we were in no hurry. 

We soon passed the spot where we spent Christmas day in 2004.
Building a huge marina at Bosworth
Sheep shearing at lightning speed!
After passing through Snarestone tunnel, with a kink in it, we reached the end of the navigable section of the Ashby canal. The intention is to extend it on through but currently the last 8 miles are missing. About one and a half miles have been restored between Moira and Donisthorpe. Work is now starting at Snareston. We were just in time to talk to the volunteer warden before he finished for the day telling us that all the metal from the nearby pumping station was being sold off for scrap when a local enthusiast stepped in and bought the operating beams. These have been restored and will be displayed on top of a newly constructed blue brick plinth.


Tuesday 24 June

After taking advantage of the facilities we retuned to the Southern portal of the tunnel and unloaded the two Bromtons in order to explore the route of the proposed canal extension. Try as we may we could not find the route so we pressed on by road to Measham to suss out the shops so that we could stock up on provisions on the way back to the boat. We then cycled over to Moira Furnace that was a coke-fuelled, steam-engine blown blast furnace for the smelting of iron from local iron ore, with an attached foundry for the manufacture of cast-iron goods.
We had a very interesting conversation with an off duty warden taking his dog for a walk who told us all about the local area.
It was easy to trace the restored section of the canal as we were standing next to it this time.

Proof of the coal minings
Time was getting on so it was back to the boat before setting off to moor at the newly installed Bosworth battlefield moorings just in time to witness England's last stand in Brazil. Suitably unimpressed by their performance we booked in to the Hercules Revived Inn at Sutton Cheney. So named after a famous horse in the village circa 1800s that is reputed to be buried there with a commemorative statue. The pub had been left abandoned for a few years until a couple, who ran a luxurious restaurant in London, took it over and made a very tasteful restoration of the property. The finest meal that we have enjoyed thus far on this trip!
A view from our table this evening

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Back to No Locks

Saturday 21 June The Longest Day

It was certainly the longest night last night as at 4:45 in the morning there was an almighty bang on the boat that woke us both from a deep sleep! Out went Keith to investigate, as it was already light by then, to find nobody about but, bizarrely, a bicycle upside down on its handlebars in the middle of the towpath. We peered out the back of the boat within another minute and it had disappeared. Must have been a disgruntled England supporter!
Just four hours motoring saw us at Hawkesbury Junction the home of the famous Greyhound pub. We moored up short of the junction adjacent to some common land where there were a number of tethered horse grazing in the heat of the day. Their leashes were long enough to allow them to quench their thirst in the canal. We were fascinated by one who took great delight in admiring himself at his reflection in one of the porthole windows. Whilst enjoying a cup of tea away from the heat of the sun inside the boat we were aware of a strange sound coming from the side of the boat. It was one of those charming horses gnawing away at the paint of the handrail. He taken it right back to the steel the little b.......! We quickly moved the boat back out of harms way and Keith set about treating the damaged paintwork in two places.

Sanded and primed Keith went off on his bike to pedal away his annoyance of what had happened.
During today's trip we rang the Greyhound to book a table for an evening meal but they were fully booked so decided to take our chance in the bar. When we got there it was jammed outside with Gongoozelers soaking up the evening sun and it was just as busy inside. Keith, just like when he is looking for a parking space for the car, always finds one at the first attempt. So it was in the bar, a table became free just as we walked in! A fine meal was had and so back to the boat for a bit of footy.

Sunday 22 June

The sun soon warms the boat up in the mornings these days and so it was an early breakfast and Keith then attended to the boat scars again by applying one of many coats of undercoat in order to make up the deep scratches left by Dobbin.
There is only one stop lock at the junction but by the time Keith had finished there were five boats waiting to go through so we made use of the time in the queue to top up with water at a handily placed tap and to empty the loo.

Old Engine House
Just before we approached the junction for the Ashby canal we came across some delightful garden art at Charity Dock.

Lunch was had in the garden of The Limekilns and we were able to purchase some of their lovely Battlefield Blue cheese made at Sparkenhoe Farm in Leicestershire that we sampled when we came along here last year.
Moored up at Stoke Golding and Keith went off to explore again and visited the mooring where we spent Christmas Day on our previous boat back in 2004. It was adjacent to the Ashby Canal Centre and low and behold, sitting on a ramp ready to be re-launched after blacking, was Beacon Boat's No4, Ethlron. Must pay her a visit in the morning!