Sunday, 6 September 2015

Have you missed us?

Hi There

It's been an embarrassing 4+ months since I last posted, how bad is that? The excuses reasons for this come in many shapes and forms.

There is the 'I can't find the time' one. . . but then I'm retired, get up (for some strange reason) about six in the morning whilst Nicky's banned from showing her face until nine so I can have my 'Me Time' so I don't think that one can really hold water.

There is the 'I struggle with my internet data usage'. . . which actually happens to be partly true. Our two year contracts with Three for our phone and 15g internet were up so we did contracts for another two years. Both came with 4G at no extra cost, what a bonus, not. Since then we've struggled with data, but each month we'd maybe have Skyped more, watched a bit more catch up TV and put it down to some other factors. Nicky kept saying maybe it's 4G, silly woman, what does she know, backtrack, clever girl, she was right. . . One month when we'd used up our 15G allowance we went and brought a 3G PAYG sim. Nicky at this time said that we'd really been struggling with data and the guy said that 4G does in fact use about 25% more data. So for the last few months we've fiddled about with some phone settings (stopping automatic updates, disabling both 4G and 3G and sticking to the basic internet access option, changing some settings in Facebook so videos don't automatically run and thinning out some of the rubbish that turns up as well as a few other bits and pieces) and on our 15G contract sim I simply took it out of the 4G modem that came with the new contract and put it back into the old 3G one. Consequentially, Nicky's not data watching/limiting what she does on a daily basis and I'm still sitting with about 9G of data and about twelve days to use it up.

Anyway, I digress, so back to my  excuses reasons for being a bad blogger.

There is the 'Have we really done anything that'll make it an interesting blog and worth someones time reading'. . . this I think comes down to sometimes taking what we've got for granted. Coming up to having lived aboard now for three years and you sometimes forget to appreciate what you've got outside your window on a changing basis and the lifestyle that we're in the fortunate situation of being able to live. This comes home sometimes as hire boats wizz past, actually quick side issue about boats wizzing past, I actually find boat owners far worse than hire boats for cruising past faster than they politely should, you know the ones, the ones that find anything else better to look at that's not through the window your sitting at, but not all boat owners I hastily add. Quick side issue over and back onto This comes home sometimes as hire boats wizz past. . . and you think of the many hundreds of pounds they've parted with and a week later they pass you on the way back and we've probably only moved about three hours in that time! So whilst this is maybe a weak excuse for not blogging, there is some basis of fact and maybe our norm might be interesting to others.

Anyway, starting to get bored of making excuses now and believe me there are more, but I think I'll just accept that I'm a bad blogger that 'could do better' and that sounds like something out of one of my school reports!

So then, onto some boaty bits. My last blog found us just outside of Walsall on the Birmingham Canal Navigations. Since then we've moved onto and down the Staffordshire and Worcester canal to Worcester. Doubled back a bit and went up the Droitwich Canal, up the Worcester and Birmingham Canal to Birmingham, out of Birmingham on the Birmingham and Fazeley canal, the Coventry canal, the Trent and Mersey canal, the Bridgwater canal and onto the Leeds and Liverpool canal where we find ourselves at the summit by foulridge. And in the 127 days that this journey has taken us, we've cruised for 165 hours, covered 306 miles during which time we've (Nicky) has worked 283 locks. So in terms of lock miles, (miles+locks divided by hours) that's 3.56 per hour that's about the norm.

And now I'd best do some pickies for those of you who have stuck with me this far.

Some Graffiti, or is it canal art, on the Staffordshire and Worcester canal.

A lock pound overflow, different to what you'd normally see.

Hoping that nobody comes round the bend.

Lucky, only us.

Me and thee or is it thee and me.

And of course The Boys.

Moored at (I think) at Kidderminster.

 Just onto the River Severn at Stourport

Worcester Cathedral.

Now, we had A bit of excitement in this lock on the River Severn as the side of our boat caught on the lip of some bricks and as the water went down the boat didn't and tipped at a worrying angle. The lock keeper hit the emergency stop just as we slipped off the lip and we certainly rocked and rolled quite a but before settling down. Only one breakage inside, a vase, but loads of stuff to put back on shelves and in cupboards. As you'll see from the next photo, there's not much to get caught on is there!

On the Droitwich Canal and encountering the lowest tunnel so far. As we were coming up to it a guy said that the marker board for the tunnel height is very accurate, but as the chimney only just nudged it I knew we'd be alright, right?, no wrong, it is really a very accurate guage as our chimney found out.

Time for blacking, so into the strops we go for lifting out.

Trying to teach The Boys to climb up the steps, but a bit steep so ended up carrying them up and down for the week we were out the water.

The annodes from a few years ago, plenty of life left in them so that's a cost saved.

And the business end of the boat.

Blacked and on the way. . .

Back into the water.

Anywhere will do.

Someone's homes got a bit wet.

In a tunnel on the way to Birmingham and the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

Hang on, now there's two lights, oh yes, it's two way traffic and we've got traffic incoming.

Oh well, that wasn't too bad I suppose, although the hire boat behind this one gave us a klonk.

Gas Street basin in Birmingham where we stayed for a few nights. Binks woke us up one night, but whilst drifting back to sleep the boat seemed to be a bit rockier than usual. Yup, we'd been set a drift. Only the one mooring line though, Binks must have made them think twice about casting off both.

You even get nice sunsets in a city.

 Back out in the country and time for a laze.

And just when we were thinking that we need to top up. . .

A fuel boat appears, how good is that.

Not many pictures after this as we were covering old waterways on our journey up to Burnley where we had an aborted trip a few years back when a wall fell in the canal and closed it. But my next blog will hopefully have some nice views as we cross The Pennines.

And so in signing off, 

Day 942 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 1910 miles, 1130 locks and 994 cruising hours further on from when we started.

Friday, 1 May 2015

A dead end to . . . .

Nowhere somewhere

Hi There

As our eventual mission is to cover the entire network, we need to travel up all the dead ends knowing that we'll need to double back when we get there.

All's not bad though when you come across places like Anglesey Wharf at the end of the line, but that's to do with the blog title so needed to slip it in first and will just quickly rewind a few days to get us to where we are.

Firstly, I'm pleased to say that we're a bit more back with our normal travelling regime and in the last ten days we've cruised for just five hours and the weather has been glorious. Well glorious as in sunny days, but mid range temperatures and a bit of a breeze has made it a bit cool at times, but hey, anything but rain is good.

We've only really just started out on the Birmingham Canal Navigation's (BCN) part of the network and whilst there has been some built up parts that we've just traveled to get through, there have been some nice scenic places to moor inbetween. I think I read somewhere that these navigation's cover a hundred or so miles of canals so should keep us interested for a few months yet and so far so good.

One of the walks we found was around Hay Head Woods at Longwood Junction on the Rushall Canal that seemed to cover a fair old area and many of the paths (as seen here) were lined with Wild Garlic.

Just up from here was another nice place to walk around called Park Lime Pits and . . . .

'Mums pointing that photo thingy thing at us again so make sure you sit up straight and look forward or we'll be here for ages'

And Benji ready for a snooze after a hard days work walk.

So another day another mooring spot that found us next to Clayhanger Common near Brownhills, although we were a little cautious as we were a bit closer to civilisation with quite a bit of passers by so only did a quick half hour walk around this one before setting off the next morning.

Now back to Anglesey Wharf. Coming into the basin it didn't look like there was going to be anywhere to moor, and the approaching canal didn't unfortunately offer up any particularly special spots so we thought it would just be a quick stopover.

The only possible place in the basin was in the water inlet from the reservoir above that you can see to the left of the house in this picture, but we weren't sure if it would be deep enough.

Luckily the water was  though so we were happy to reverse back slowly whilst being able to keep an eye on the depth of water.

It was only when we were almost up to the (possible) mooring point that we saw mooring rings so hopes increased and yes . . .

enough water, so safely in for the next few days.

Looking down from the dam above with . . . .

the reservoir called Chasewater behind. This took about an hour and a half to walk round and found adjacent to this was Chasewater Country Park

With trains and


We've also had a birthday recently as Binks reached the grand old age of seven. Birthday presents came in the form of a bone type treat that Nicky brought and a boiled egg, the latter being one of his favourite treats although these are few and far between.

We've moved on from Anglesey Wharf now and heading up another dead end at this junction that used to service a colliery.

And yet more good walks in the shape of Persall Common this time.

Oh and remember I said that the water in the basin at Anglesey Wharf was pretty clear, well, okay, maybe a bit of an understatement.

So we're just on the outskirts of Walsall now and heading towards Wolverhampton that we'll do over the next three or four days as there seems to be some recommended safe mooring spots along the way so we shouldn't have to do it in one hit. We are then apparently coming across the Wolverhampton 21 (according to a chap we were talking to whilst doing a Tesco shop at Brownhills) that's a flight of 21 locks in the space of two miles, but that was on page 50 and we hadn't looked that far ahead so Nicky, there's some exercise heading your way ☺.

And so in signing off, 

Day 815 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 1603 miles, 847 locks and 829 cruising hours further on from when we started.