Give My Regards to Broad Street

Wednesday 16th May

We spent this morning wandering up to find The Bullring as we had to visit a bank and explored the adjacent markets. In New Street I bought a couple of short sleeved shirts in Primark, as mine seem to have shrunk since last summer, Joy got a couple of tops too and on the way back we discovered Cherry Red’s Cafe Bar where we sampled a swift half each of Hogan’s Cider and Salopian Brewery’s Divine Comedy (a dark mild)

On our return to the boat I tried on my shirts and found that despite being the same size one was too small so I had to go back and exchange it (“Oh that will be because it’s a ‘Muscle Fit’ Sir” … “What, you mean it’s cut too small???”)

Paul and Rosemary arrived mid-afternoon feeling exhausted having had a much harder time coming up the locks than we did.

Thursday 17th May

We declared today a Rest Day, but Rosemary and her daughter still managed to hit the shops whilst we contented ourselves with cruising up to the water point and turning around, a short walk to Tescos and washing & polishing one side of the boat.

Friday 18th May

We left in convoy with nb Henry Chichelle at 9:20 this morning, through Gas Street Basin & Broad Street bridge taking the New Main Line out of Birmingham. This was the M6  of it’s time, with toll island to charge boats for the privilege of the new direct, often die straight, route.

The only locks today were the Factory Three which we reached about lunchtime and in less than another couple of hours we were at another Broad Street bridge, this time in Wolverhampton where we winded and moored up with all the other boats taking part in the BCNS Explorer Cruise, which starts tomorrow.

After an informal meeting we repaired to The Great Western a proper ‘real ale’ pub with believe it or not a railway theme!


Berthed at Birmingham

Monday 14th May

Up and away by 10 past 9 today and we had the remaining seven Curdworth locks under our belt by 11:00. We found these locks quite heavy and offset some way from  the towpath, it was then an hour’s cruise into Minworth. It’s hard to believe you are so near Birmingham as the countryside was still very rural, and as we approached Minworth we had farmland on one side and a lorry yard on  the other.

The three Minworth Locks were notable by the amount of rubbish in them and as we left the last one and went under a bridge we stopped dead, investigation found the cause to be a hi-viz jacket around the propeller!

We were now definitely surrounded by industrial buildings, which was the reason for the canal in the beginning, we actually passed under one factory.

Salford Junction was reached at by 2 o’clock and we reversed 500 yards into the  Birmingham and Warwick Junction Canal and found ourselves the only boat on Star City visitor moorings for a while. These are secure moorings with gated access to the attractions of Star City where we got ourselves a selection of Southern Indian street food for tea.

Tuesday 15th May

Off at 8:15 this morning as we had 24 locks to do but we hadn’t moved a 100 yards before we had a fouled prop again! That cleared we turned left at Salford Junction back onto  the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and the eleven Aston Locks. All these locks were empty for us and we didn’t see another boat until we reached the top at 10:30.

After just about half an hour’s respite we were at the bottom of Farmer’s Bridge flight and were pleased to be greeted by a Volunteer Lock-Keeper who offered to help us up the whole flight, an offer we gladly accepted.

From the bottom we could see the BT Tower and we wended our way between and even under buildings most of the way up.

Reaching the top we thanked our helper and shook him warmly by the hand. We then turned left passing Gas Street Basin to find ourselves a mooring just past Worcester Bar, NOT a pub but the site of a trans-shipping point between rival canal companies.

According to Wikipedia: The Birmingham Canal, completed in 1773, terminated at Old Wharf beyond Bridge Street. When the Worcester and Birmingham Company started their canal at a point later known as Gas Street Basin the Birmingham Canal Navigations Company (BCN) insisted on a physical barrier to prevent the Worcester and Birmingham Canal from benefiting from their water. The Worcester Bar, a 7 ft. 3 in. wide straight barrier 84 yards long was built perpendicular to the run of the two canals. Cargoes had to be laboriously manhandled between boats on either side.

Once moored  up at 12:40 we treated ourselves to tapas and drinks at Bar Estilo at The Mailbox.

Tomorrow we will have a rest from boating while we wait for Paul & Rosemary to arrive.

A Sociable few Days

Hello! It’s seems like it’s time for a catch up post as we have had a sociable few days.

Friday 11th May

We left Hawkesbury at 10:00 am and had an uneventful journey to Atherstone.

Near Mancetter we noticed that one of the moorings was for sale, Garden Farm, complete with boat and a smallholding, but out of our price range I’m afraid. We were tied up at Atherstone by two o’clock and later went down the town for some shopping and came back via the chip shop.

Saturday 12th May

We invited our (land-based) neighbours, Deborah, Jon & Izzy,  from our Grendon mooring to a trip down Atherstone locks as despite living next to the canal they had never been on it by boat.

We left Atherstone about 11:30 and made our way down the locks, with help from the volunteer lock-keepers, stopping at the Kings Head for lunch. The pub has been renovated since our last visit but we sat outside and enjoyed our panninis.

After lunch we tackled the rest of the flight with Jon taking the helm and Izzy working the locks with me. We dropped our guests off at their house and moored up near Linda & Cookie’s boat where they had prepared a barbecue to share with us. They came into us for the evening for more tea and chat.

Sunday 13th May

Up and away by half past nine, we topped up with water and collected our post and we were on our way to another lunch appointment.

At Ammington we saw our first signets of the year, I Iike Ammington as it seems to embrace the canal with most properties looking good from the canal. This morning was sunny but there was still a cold wind but by the time we got to Fazeley Junction coats were off but it was not quite shirt-sleeve weather.

At the junction we turned right and moored opposite the old C&RT offices, and more importantly opposite our church friends Peter & Chris’ flat overlooking the basin.

Chris was waiting to help us moor up and soon we were sharing a gammon joint with them which Joy had been cooking as we travelled along. After a three hour lunch break we turned in the basin entrance and headed back to the junction where we joined the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal and started the ascent into Birmingham.

It seemed hard going up to Curdworth Locks where I decided to take a look down the weed-hatch where I found a piece of very pretty green material wrapped around the propeller, after removing that progress was a lot better!


After three locks we moored near the Dog & Doublet and had another visit from Chris & Peter who brought along Charles & Anne (also from church) and we enjoyed a nice evening with them. Anne brought a print for us, we need to frame it now!

Meanwhile we have been kept updated by Paul & Rosemary on their progress, they are catching us up having reached Springwood Haven, but realistically I think it will be central Birmingham before we see them.


The Best Laid Plans…

Who’s stalking who?

After I posted the last episode of our blog and Mr Morrison had made our delivery, there was I minding my own business when a familiar boat passed our window; it was Ian & Ali AGAIN, this time towing a decrepit wooden boat behind their boat Truro so I went and helped them work the boats through the bottom lock.

The boat in question was originally a ‘butty’ (unpowered) but at sometime in it’s past had been converted to a ‘motor’ by having an engine fitted and the back end modified. They were delivering it for it’s new owner to a mooring in Braunston where we trust it will restored to it’s former glory.

Wednesday 9th May

On this morning’s schedule was a short hop to meet up with our friends Paul & Rosemary at Calcutt top lock. We set off fairly leisurely passing Napton Windmill, the obligatory photo was taken and we turned left at Napton Junction and who did we spy???
Ian & Ali walking along the towpath carrying two trays of eggs!

On arriving at our rendezvous point I sent Paul a text to say we’d arrived and shortly after he rang to say that they had been delayed and couldn’t leave until Saturday so suggested we went ahead and they would catch us up.


After some deliberation we decided that we wouldn’t tackle the broad locks without them so turned at the adjacent ‘winding hole’ and made our way back to the junction and headed for Braunston where we found Ian & Ali had delivered the boat to it’s new home.  At Braunston Junction we took another left and made it as far as Hillmorton top lock where later, you guessed it, Ian & Ali caught up with us again.

Thursday 10th May

Bright and early! We were away before 8:30 and by 9:00 we were down all three locks with another boat in the parallel set so were able to help each other through. We had decided to make for Hawkesbury Junction today and we did the seven hour journey non stop, Joy made cheese, potato & leek pasties on the way for our lunch and Greek, lamb  Giouvetsi for our tea.

This part of the Oxford canal seemed much busier today, lot’s of ducklings about now and a few moorhen chicks too. On the way we passed this smart little Stewarts & Lloyds tug, Vesta.
It was sunny all day but a biting, cold wind.
We moored up at 5:20 pm next to Tony & Jacqui on nb  Timewarp who used to work at Oxfordshire Narrowboats with me and now sell brass tiller pins & fudge from their boat.


At Napton Now

Sunday 6th May

Having secured a nice spot here at Fenny we decided to stay put to avoid any Bank Holiday traffic jams. There was more traffic than normal but nothing excessive, I managed to do a few small jobs on the boat, we did a load of washing at The Wharf’s laundrette, oh and while Joy was hanging out the washing to dry she managed to fall off the new step and hurt her foot. Doh!

Monday 7th May

We topped up with water this morning about half past eight and were on our way soon after, the summit pound was remarkably quiet and we hardly met another boat until we were getting near to Marston Doles. There was a short queue for the locks but we only dropped down  the first two before mooring  near Old Engine House Arm Junction.

Tuesday 8th May

Today we waited until 10 ish when we saw the first boat come up Adkins Lock so we put our cunning plan into action and found all the locks were set in our favour and more boats coming up to take our place in the empty locks, a win-win situation.

Down the six locks in just over the hour, passing the famous Napton Buffalo herd and mooring before the bottom lock at 11 o’clock.
We have a Morrison’s delivery scheduled for late afternoon and this is a good vantage point to watch for their arrival.

Back at Fenny Compton

Quick rewind to Thursday evening. We went to Ye Olde Reine Deer Inn to take part in their quiz night and were doing quite well, for a two person team, until we came to the last round which was on Music. While we recognised 4 out of the 10 tunes we had little idea of the artists and even less of which two films they featured in!
Top Gun & Cocktail, with Tom Cruise being the common factor would have earned us another 30 points and put us in contention. None the less our 38 points didn’t make us last so we were not disappointed with our efforts.

Friday 4th May

We got away around 10:30 this morning after a quick foray into town. We saw Dusty on their way back south just before we left and headed off for Cropredy.

The relocated roof boxes posed a bit of a problem for Joy judging her entry into locks (I thought it would make it easier!) so when we arrived at Cropredy I made a step out of some decking I had on board so we will see if that helps.

Saturday 5th May

A trip to Cropredy Stores for bread, jam and croissants and a respectable 9:15 start today, great weather and surprisingly few boats on the move. The Step was deemed to be a success, so now we have to to remember it’s there and not fall off of it.

At Claydon Locks we met Ian & Ali who were walking their dogs and helped us through a few locks by closing a couple of gates for us.

At Fenny Marina we stopped to get a pump out and another boat passed us and we hoped they wouldn’t take the last mooring.
We needn’t have worried as a boat was just moving off and we were able to take their place.

It was in easy reach of the pub garden so we were able to enjoy a beer with our sausage sarnies and sit outside in the glorious sunshine… and on a Bank Holiday weekend too.

A Few Days in Banbury

We spent a few days on Tramway moorings finishing off modifying the wiring for the solar panels, making brackets for the boat pole sanding down said pole and giving it a dose of Danish Oil.

Tuesday 1st May

We spent the afternoon and evening with Barry & Ruth today who kindly drove us up to Atherstone to move our car. We called in at Braunston on the way as Barry needed to visit Midland Chandlers so we also visited The Boathouse for lunch.

This evening Dusty, the coalboat, arrived but had sold out of diesel so an early morning call was agreed so they could moor alongside us and get their tank replenished.

Wednesday 2nd May

Just before 7:30am I head the sound of Dusty reversing alongside us in the early morning sunshine, as the fuel tanker had arrived. Fortunately I was dressed, and in no time they had diesel and so did we.

Not long after, it started to rain heavily but about midday the sun came out and we were able to make a dash for the town where we got water & disposed of rubbish, went through the lock and found a spot on Castle Quay for a couple of days.

Thursday 3rd May

Today is Banbury’s market day so we bought fresh fruit and veg, and then I caught the S4 (Oxford) bus and visited Sainsburys to get a few more items.

This afternoon Joy has gone to a Watercolour Class at The Artery.

Tomorrow we plan to head off to Cropredy.

Life as Liveaboards