Thursday, June 28, 2012

Out & about

Well what a day weather wise. Torrential rain for most of the day and as I type this, the sun is trying to break through. Gladly, our trip which we are due to commence on Saturday doesn't take in any rivers. Again work has taken me out and about today and the flood lock at Sawley is closed and I would guess the river levels will rise quickly overnight. You have to feel for those looking forward to their boating holiday who may be affected.

I also went past the new Staveley Basin today (which I do quite regularly) and they were busy preparing for this weekends festival with two narrowboats on the back of lorries ready to be craned in. Unfortunately we will be cruising, but it looks like a nice little local festival for another year. 

Unfortunately the camera on my phone is useless at present as the phone won't recognise the fact that there is an SD card in it, even though it has been in there from the very beginning, so no pictures I'm afraid. 

One more shift to go and then we'll be off - can't wait.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ready... Steady...

The 'Go' will have to wait another week, but we're getting prepared for our departure next Saturday.
Well not much to blog about really as the last two weeks have been taken up by work (how I dislike that word). Fortunately I do get the chance to combine a bit of boating with it and have criss-crossed the system quite well over the last fortnight, taking in Llangollen, The Ponty, Whitchurch and Audlem to the west and also the Fossdyke and Witham over to the east. Closer to home I have seen the Ashby (again), and lunched on a couple of occasions at The Kingfisher Cafe at Fradley. It's not the same as being on the water, but it keeps me sane (for now anyway).
Today we have been down to Kings Bromley and taken bits and bobs back to Blue Moon, and done a couple of bits of tinkering, such as check and top up the batteries in preparation for our fortnight trip starting next Saturday. We are pretty sure that we will be heading for Bugsworth Basin and hope to meet some friends up there for a catch up. From there... well, who knows. We just hope for some decent weather.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Great weekend - We're still standing !!

Yesterday saw us travel to Chesterfield with a group of friends to attend another long awaited concert... this time by Elton John. We have been waiting for almost 9 months for this to come around, and after the success of Coldplay recently, the old man needed to be in fine form. Louise and I have seen him many times over the last few years and with Louise being in the 'fan club' we are lucky to be able to acquire seats front and centre and close to the stage. We were also lucky to get tickets for our 9 friends near to the front and not too far away from us, so anticipation was high. 
Great day with great friends
We had a great time before the concert lubricating our vocal chords and joined the packed crowds inside the ground around 7pm. The support act of '2 Cellos' were impressive and I never imagined listening to ACDC's 'Highway to Hell' being performed on such instruments, but it really worked. They were a cracking support act - but then Elton has a habit of finding them as we have seen James Blunt and The Scissor Sisters supporting him in the past before they became well known. Watch out for these lads.
The main event didn't disappoint. Elton & the band rocked the night away as true professionals, getting the crowd going and singing along to many of the old favourites, whilst adding the odd lesser known album tracks, including the wonderful track 'Levon' which we have never seen him play live. We danced in the aisles only a few feet from the stage and by the time the encore of 'Your Song' finished the night off, we left the stadium having had a wonderful day which we will remember for some time.
'Your Song'
This morning we were still buzzing from the night before and decided to take Jasper out for and walk and take in breakfast at Stenson Lock coffee shop - a little Sunday morning treat we have now and again. The weather was lovely and there were plenty of boats moored up at Willington as we began the walk. We stopped off and chatted to a couple on nb Renown who were moored just above Stenson and Jasper had the delight of meeting their two laid back Great Danes. I'm not sure who was more confused - Jasper getting to grips with their size, or them getting to grips with the fact that he took it on himself to board their tug deck and make himself at home.
Will I be this big one day Dad ??

Monday, June 4, 2012

An early start back to base

Our final day of this trip started early... very early in fact. At 12.35 AM, we were woken by nb Emu (an old working boat in South Midlands livery) firing up its engine and leaving Polesworth. It had moored up at about 9.30pm, double breasted behind us and the crew scurried off to the pub, but it was a total surprise to be woken at this unearthly hour. I love the sound of traditional engines... I really do, but maybe not on this occasion. It had to pass a line of about 8 boats and then we heard it chugging off into the darkness (it didn't have a tunnel light) for some time.
We left our moorings ourselves at a pretty unsociable time (7.20am) and began the journey back to Kings Bromley. Soon after leaving I was lucky enough to see a kingfisher perched on a branch just above the water with its breakfast secured in its beak. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera to hand, but a lovely sight to start the day.
We passed nb Emu moored outside the Samuel Barlow pub at Alvecote. I was tempted to give it a blast of the horn as we passed, but there were plenty of other moored boats in the vicinity, so we passed quietly on tickover... much to Louises disgust.
We got straight through Glascote locks and then moored just beyond Fazeley and enjoyed a good cooked breakfast. Lots of boats moving in both directions and many with their flags proudly blowing in the wind.
We had a really nice run up towards Fradley and Jasper seems to have really taken to this boating lark and has become quite content to sit and watch the world go by from inside the lifebuoy on the roof, much to the amusement of walkers and boaters alike. Not bad for a 4 month old dog !!

Fradley was its normal busy self for a bank holiday, but we got through without too much of a hold up and also noted that the swallow chicks in the nest at Wood End Lock had fledged whilst we'd been out on our travels. We finally got back to base late afternoon. We have had a lovely break, the highlight undoubtedly being the Coldplay concert, but the boating has been terrific too...  and only 25 days until we're off again.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The good old British weather.

Exactly a week ago we were moored up in Polesworth in glorious sunshine. Today we have again moored there and seen nothing but rain
An early sighting this morning was of our neighbours at Kings Bromley, Reg & Trudy on nb Greylag. They are making a temporary move to Trinity Marina for a month or so to assist with travelling for Trudy. They passed us in the pouring rain ascending Atherstone locks at about 8.15am. Far too early for us I'm afraid, especially on a Sunday. 
We finally made a move about 11am, only because we needed to do a few miles to help with getting back to base. The rain and wind were not pleasant, but after a couple of hours we arrived in Polesworth and were lucky to get the only available spot as another boat was just leaving. 
We got the heating on and settled down with a glass of wine to watch the Jubilee Pageant which was a fabulous spectacle despite the corresponding weather in London. It was good to see the 40 or so narrowboats within the masses of boats, but would have preferred to have seen more of them. The whole event showed why Britain is great. 
Unfortunately the weather seems to be having an adverse effect on the Crick Boat Show too with reports of tiny crowds. Let's hope it picks up for everyone tomorrow.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Where are all the boats ??

Well so much for today being the best day of the weekend. We woke to light drizzle and it stayed with us for the majority of the day. We were up and about quite early and had done with breakfast and preparing dinner in the slow cooker by 9am. The run down to Marston Junction was pleasant and we were sorry to be leaving the Ashby, but we will return before too long we hope. 
There was a real lack of boats moving today, possibly due the poor forecast for the days ahead. We both did quite a bit of walking this afternoon to keep warm and exercise Jasper. Not a single boat passed us between Nuneaton and Atherstone, we began to wonder if there was a problem ahead at the Atherstone flight.
Kestrel & Northolt at Atherstone
However, when we arrived we were greeted with FMC boat Kestrel and butty Northolt (previously named Sunny Valley) negotiating the top lock. Northolt dates from 1898 and has just been re-painted and was being bow hauled into the top lock whilst Kestrel waited to pull her out. It was lovely to see them as they headed off towards Stoke Bruene festival. 
We then proceeded down the flight with the weather a little brighter and moored just below lock 9 for the night, thoroughly enjoying our previously prepared dinner.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Getting in the festive mood

We spent a lovely evening up at the terminus at Snarestone last night. We had a visit from Jim & Claire who eventually managed to locate us. Jim is a work friend of John and we spent a couple of hours chatting, laughing and drinking on Blue Moon. We then walked back to the village with them and the lure of The Globe proved too much. For such a small village it was lovely to see that the pub was the heartbeat of the community. We were all made very welcome, especially Jasper !!
This morning we didn't rush to surface and could quite happily have stayed put. We planned to have breakfast and then get into the Diamond Jubilee spirit by dressing the boat with bunting. We were about to put the pan on, when we had a phone call from David to say that they were moving up to Market Bosworth and would we like to join them for lunch..........of course we would. The bacon was put back in the fridge and we made do with a slice of toast and then put up the decorations before enjoying a trip down to Market Bosworth.
The flags are out at Snarestone
We walked up into town and decided on Ye Olde Red Lion, which happened to be serving Marstons 'Diamond Jubilee' Pedigree !! Well, we must get  into the spirit and all that. We had a lovely lunch and chat with David & Sarah before we said our goodbyes and left them to do some shopping, very envious that they will be out for another 4 months, but we hope to catch up with them again on their travels later this year.
We headed off from Market Bosworth, getting many positive comments about the flags - people generally seem to be in the mood for the holiday weekend, and why not. None of us reading this will see another Diamond Jubilee so let's make the most if it !!!
We decided to moor for the night at Stoke Golding intending to make an early start tomorrow, as the forecast beyond then is not good.