NB Muleless

NB Muleless
Moored at Alrewas Sept 2013

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Another week goes by!

Where does the time go? Wednesday last week we were at Fazeley Junction having our first engine service – and now we are at Braunston!

Right then, what happened this week? We left Fazeley Junction on Thursday after Mark and Rachel spent a good few hours with us servicing the engine and making a few minor adjustments.

We passed the turning to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal – we will do that another time!


It wasnt long before we reached our only locks for today – Glascote.


The Little Chimney Company boat and butty had just come down, so they were set for us.

We passed a house with amazing plants outside – they were plastic!


We only managed to get to the Samuel Barlow/Alvecote Marina and the heavens opened, so we decided to stop and wait out the rain – by the time it stopped we decided it was too late to move on, so stayed for the night.

Friday saw us moving on, passing the multi-coloured pit wheel by Polesworth.


We passed some strange looking ducks -


And the Virgin train sped past reminding us of the “real world”!


We found the water point below Atherstone locks – so of course we had to fill up!


Atherstone was our first proper long lock flight, so we decided to try out the electric drive to save fuel.

We started up the flight at 12.30 and reached the top at 3 pm. We only used 2% of our electric power in all that time, and Gary enjoyed the silence whilst traveling and waiting in the locks – which meant he could chat very easily to the people that asked how the boat was so quiet!


We stopped at the top of the flight for some restorative fish and chips, and to wait out the rain showers, and then decided to move out into the country and moored for the night at Hartshill Green.

We have been staying put for the weekends so far, but decided to keep moving this weekend so that we could get onto the Oxford Canal to meet up with family.

As we passed through Nuneaton, Muleless decided to do an impression of “Free Willy” as we passed over “something” in the canal – we really did nearly leap out of the water as we ran over the obstruction and slipped off sideways! This was just after bridge 21, travelling south! Watch out if passing that way!

We started breathing easier again when we left Nuneaton behind!

We passed the turning to the Ashby Canal – another one to do later!


We have only done this stretch of the Oxford canal one other time (there and back) whilst one one of our hire boat weeks, so as we approached Hawkesbury Junction and saw the water point, we thought we would stop to fill up (!) and check out the junction at the same time!


For anyone that doesnt know this junction, it is a complete “U” turn, in front of a pub, and straight into the stop lock! Gary was confident he could manage the turn in one go, so he set off, and I nipped up to the junction to take pictures and ready the lock!



Gary made a brilliant job of the turn, and we were soon through the stop lock and on our way.

The family had decided to walk down the canal to meet us and were waiting at Bridge No. 5 – unfortunately the canal was too shallow at that point to pick them up – so they had to walk back up the canal until we found a point that we could get the bow of the boat near the bank so that the younger members – Riley (who wasnt feeling well) and Freddy could come aboard with their Nan (Yvonne) to save their legs!

We managed to find a mooring at Ansty Bridge, as the family were parked there and we decided to go for dinner and a drink in the Rose and Castle, after the youngsters were taken home!

Next morning, whilst I was in the shower, Gary discovered the local swan had a liking for soapy water – and decided to have a shower too!


As it was a lovely sunny day, but we were moored in the shade, we decided to move on to find a nice open spot to spend the day. We moved about a mile and found the perfect spot – so I soon had some washing out!


Although we were fairly close to the railway line, it was a lovely spot to do some washing down and (later, when it cooled down) some polishing of the boat!


After all, we do have to keep up with “Chance”!

Monday saw us on the move again,  passing under the M6 – all those poor people rushing about!


Then we did our impression of “African Queen” as we passed through some rather overgrown stretches of canal!


We stopped for water (!) at Stretton Stop and were closely watched by a couple of residents.


We moved on, with our eyes peeled – looking for some fellow bloggers that we knew were around here somewhere!

We passed through our first tunnel – Newbold – shame about the coloured lights mostly being out!


At the moorings just past the water point (no we didnt stop to fill up again), we spotted Waiouru – and decided to moor there ourselves for lunch and pop along to say hello.


Whilst we were eating lunch, Tom had spotted us, and popped down to invite us for a cup of tea, so as soon as we were sorted out, we walked down to pay a visit to Tom and Jan.

We spent a very pleasant couple of hours chatting about all things boat – toilets, builders, batteries etc and Tom and Jan seemed impressed with our battery capacity!

As darkness was falling, we left and returned to cook dinner on our electric appliances!


Next morning when we pulled away, we spotted Jan at the side hatch, but no sign of Tom – thanks for a pleasant afternoon guys, and if we dont see you for a whilst have a good winter!


We decided not to stop for shopping in Tesco, as the moorings at Brownsover were full, so we continued on to Hillmorton Locks, where we found a water point!


As I said earlier, we have been this way before a long time ago, but neither of us remembered the twin locks at Hillmorton! But we glided through again on electric drive – Gary is really getting the hang of it now!


We pottered on, making fairly good time, promising ourselves a drink when we arrived at our destination, when we passed this boat! What a brilliant name – and thought!


Just round the bend was a familiar sight – even if we were more used to seeing it from the road than the canal!


We had reached Braunston! During the summer we remember people saying that there was loads of mooring space free – but not today – it was choc-a-bloc!

We ended up turning round in the Marina and just as we passed the Gongoozlers Rest we spotted a free space that someone must just have left – so we nipped in and moored up!

Here we are right up the top of the picture – just past the water point!


We decided to stay at Braunston for a couple of days, so Wednesday morning we treated ourselves to a cooked breakfast at the Gongoozlers Rest – they were very busy, so we had to wait a whilst, but it was worth it.

We then had a walk up to the Co-op and butcher to stock up, and after unpacking the shopping decided to walk up to the locks and tunnel – as we have never been through them on a boat but will be doing them sometime soon we are sure.

We were just about to set off, when a passing boater stopped to ask about the hybrid system (we have a magnetic sticker inside the cratch and he had spotted it as he walked by). We had a quick chat, then walked up passed the water point where his wife was just packing away the hose, and we realised the boat was The Cats Whiskers – so stopped to say that we read their blog, and just then there was a blast on a horn and Free Spirit swept by – they pulled in to chat to the crew of The Cats Whiskers and we left on our walk. Unfortunately when we returned they had both moved on and we didnt get a photo.

The lock flight and the Admiral Nelson pub looked quite attractive, but we decided to wait until we were actually doing the flight to stop for a drink.


We have to stay at Braunston to wait for an engineer from Beta, as we have been experiencing some problems with the diesel engine not running smoothly, so we probably wont move on until Thursday afternoon (after pulling back on to the water point of course first!!).

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Where did that week go?

I had intended to blog twice a week – I think it might take a whilst to get into the habit!

So what has happened this week?

Last Tuesday night we were moored by Spode House, so on Wednesday our first stop was the water tap! (I see a pattern emerging here!) After a quick fill up we plodded on towards Rugely – passing the power station, which looked a bit grey and ominous.


We moored at Rugely town centre to do some shopping in Morrisons – the new Tescos didnt look open yet.

We  pottered on and headed for the aquaduct over the River Trent after the sharp right bend!


We moored up at Wolseley Bridge for the night – along with loads of other boats!


During the evening there was a load “crack” and the sound of a tree crashing down – everyone rushed out of their boats and we discovered a very large branch had broken off of the tree in the left of the picture above and was still caught in some of the branches – but was looking very precarious! Boats were shuffled along and a gap was left opposite the tree – just in case! But in the morning the branch hadnt moved – keep an eye out for it if you are mooring there!

Thursday saw us moving on towards Great Heywood Junction – we found this “floating garden” along the way!


Of course, we cant pass a water point without stopping – so we paused to fill up and then carried on up the Trent and Mersey, passing Great Heywood Marina, and Hoo Mill Lock and then mooring up just past Bridge 77 – our destination for this first leg of our great adventure.

We walked over the railway footbridge towards Hixon – and found our destination – Nick Thorpe Boat Building – We had promised Nick and Wendy when we saw them at Crick that we would bring the boat up for them to see!

There was plenty to see in the workshop – both a wide beam and a narrowboat, both sailaways, just about finished. Nick is then expecting the steel for his next build – another boat for MGM!


Nick and Wendy came over to the boat and had a look around and stayed for a natter – by then it was 6pm so we decided to stay put for the night.

On Friday there was a change of direction. Since we had reached our destination, we had to turn around, so just after bridge 78 we found the winding hole (turning point) and made our first turn!

First you put the nose of the boat into the winding hole and then pivot on this point bring the back end right round – easy – not!!!


Gary concentrating hard – and doing a fabulous turn! Well done!


So having travelled 39 miles from Shardlow, we now started to head back!

We decided to pop into Great Heywood Marina for a (toilet tank) pump out, so had to negotiate the tight entrance!


Phew! We did fit – but then once we were done, we had to get out again too!!

With an empty loo tank, we just needed one more thing – a full water tank – so again we stopped to fill up with water at Great Heywood Junction, and then slipped down the lock and found a mooring just a bit futher down, overlooking Shugborough Hall where we could stay for the weekend!

Lots of boats arrived during the afternoon and by Saturday morning there wasnt a mooring spot to be had!


We picked a nice spot in the sun, so that I could hang some washing out – but after a while discovered we were on a bit of a tilt, so had to let the boat move away from the edge a bit to stay level!


We had a walk up to the Canalside Farm Shop, but didnt buy anything and whilst we were out managed to get to the other side of the canal to get a good picture of our mooring.


Gary had to hold the bushes out of the way for me to take the picture!

The weather was fantastic again – Sunday was sunny and hot all day!

Monday we moved off again, the batteries needed a good charge up, so after another quick shopping stop in Rugeley, this time trying out the new Tesco, and stopping for lunch whilst we filled the water tank, we thought we would do a full day cruising and go all the way to Fradley Junction.

We had hoped to be able to moor above Shadehouse Lock, but unfortunately the moorings were full. We moved on to the Junction and turned onto the Coventry Canal, hoping to stop there – but again the moorings were full – apart from the odd half a boat gap being left between boats. We tried to pull in on the end, but the bank had collapsed into the canal and we couldnt get close enough to moor – so with dark falling we had no choice but to move on.

Luckily we found space on some armco  below bridge 90 and pulled in as the light was fading in front of “Comfortably Numb”.

Tuesday we were on a mission to get to Fazeley Junction, so that Mark from MGM could come to do our first engine service.

The Coventry canal is not new territory for us, but we dont know it as well as the Trent and Mersey, and we havent travelled it for a few years.

We passed Huddlesford Junction (where hopefully the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal will be restored one day).


We passed some nice spots on the way through.


We reached Fazeley at about 2pm – just in time for lunch!

After lunch, we walked around to the CRT Office and water point, whilst checking where Mark could park his van to come and do the service. Here we are moored at Fazeley – where there arent many boats moored at the moment.