I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Brittany - May 2018 (Part one)

Sunday 13th May

We are in France with our caravan.  We arrived on Thursday 10th having caught the overnight Brittany Ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre - we choose this crossing as it is the only one that has dog friendly cabins.  We had a very smooth crossing and arrived in Le Havre at 8am. We had a wait to go through passport control, when it was our turn I handed the three passports to the Gendarme. He looked at mine and said Melinda (yes my real name is Melinda) - I smiled at him.  He then looked at Richard’s passport and said Reechard - Richard smiled at him.  He finally looked at Muffin’s passport and said Moofin, where is Moofin!!  Richard and I tried so hard not to laugh!!

We had a 295 mile journey to our destination in Brittany which passed quite quickly.  The whole trip was on at least a dual carriageway except for the last few miles - and there wasn’t a pot hole to be seen!  

The caravan site, La Raguènes Plage, is near to Nevez and very nice and we had soon had our camp set up which is to be home for 10 days.  We tried the campsite’s takeaway for dinner, I had a pizza which was OK but Richard had a lasagne which looked more like cheese sauce with sheets of pasta - it definitely got the thumbs down.

In the evening Richard and I took a walk on the local beach. The camp site has a special gate which leads to it and we found a lovely sandy beach but the waves were a bit big for Muffin who declined a swim!

Friday was a quiet day as I had been poorly with a very bad tummy upset the weekend before - it went on for 4 days!  I hadn’t really had chance to recover before having to pack up to come away.  We took a trip to Nevers to do some shopping and bought ready meals for the evening - that was the highlight of our day!

Penny and Jim arrived on Saturday and have a chalet just up from us.  Muffin was thrilled to see his “cousin” Freddie again and there was lots of dashing around in circles and play fighting!  We went out for a meal in the evening for an OK meal in a restaurant that had a great view of the sea.  I had a burger and the others had moules all of which were served with fries which were flat and, to my mind, weren’t cooked enough.  I was the designated driver so we drove on up the coast a bit to Pointe de Trevignon where we found an “old” fishing village which has been spoilt by making all the buildings into restaurants and bar however the little harbour is still there.  (I forgot to take any photos but will post some when we next go back).

Sunday was another quiet day to allow Penny and Jim to recover!  We decided to have lunch out and drove to Nevers but it was dead so we headed to the coast at Trevignon where we had seen a creperie the night before.  The crepes were amazing and we ended up by having a savoury one followed by a sweet one.  In the evening we had a bread and cheese supper in P & J’s chalet followed by Murder on the Orient Express on DVD.

Sightseeing starts tomorrow!!

This very old London bus towing a car  was on the ferry with us. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Dunchurch Pools (North Oxford Canal) – Monday 23rd April

We were up early as we had two appointments to see boat painters.  Mary H has never been repainted and is now 10 years old – so the time has come.  Also, she is Flag Blue which has faded really badly. 

It wasn’t far to Hillmorton Locks where we moored up and went to see Hillmorton Boat Services.  We had a look round and were very impressed with what we saw.  They spray paint the boats and the finish does look good.  It was then up the locks (I don’t know how anyone could do a lock in 1 minute 20 seconds (see Sunday’s post).  Our next stop was Willow Boats.  We were equally as impressed with them.  They hand brush the boats and the finish is equally as good.  So, which one will we choose.  I’m not going into prices.

We had a fun time getting into our berth.  Dunchurch Pools is an excellent marina but what they can’t control is the wind!  There is an island in the middle, so Richard went around it and in – it was a bit scary and I’m glad I wasn’t steering!

We went to the Boat House for dinner – it has always been good food in there – nothing special just well cooked.

11.22 miles
3 locks

Tuesday – 24th April

Time to go home.  It was raining but fortunately it’s not far from the boat to the car.  Packing is easy, but the cleaning is harder!  But why is it that I always leave something behind?  I have a list which we checked off as usual, but I hadn’t put down the lead for the Bose speakers – just the remote, so another addition to the list!

We were away about 11am and home at 2.45pm – that included a stop for lunch.

To sum up the time spent on the boat.  We did 98.97 miles and 8 locks.  I reckon we had more rain than sunshine but the sun was hot on those days. 

We are forsaking Mary H in 2 weeks time and are off to Brittany with the caravan.  Richard will be back in the first week of June with a friend while I help my Step-father sort out his flat and get rid of the things he no longer wants.  Richard and I will be back in July for a couple of months – where to?  Who knows!!!

Here are my two favourite photos taken this time – favourite for different reasons.  This one as it epitomizes Spring for me.

But this one is extra special.  4 months ago on Sunday Richard had his quadruple heart bypass.  He didn’t have a heart attack he just had angina pains, so the diagnosis was a great shock to us all.  I really didn’t know how he was going to be and what sort of life we were going to have.  This photo just shows that he is now back to his old self – 100% better 😊

Monday, 23 April 2018

Easenhall Lane Bridge – Number 34 (North Oxford Canal) – Sunday 22nd April

Well we didn’t get the forecasted thunderstorms during the night thank goodness.  We had some rain during the evening but not much.

I took this photo at Hawkesbury Junction.  I’m not sure why Muffin is up on the bridge and I don’t think he knows either!

We were staying put today so had a lazy morning followed by a lazy afternoon – well for me anyway.  Richard was crossing things off his list with gusto!  I’m so glad I haven’t got a list for the boat though my list for home is getting longer  

We found this bat box attached to Bridge 34.  We weren’t too sure what it was to start with but then noticed that it has a bat on the front!

Richard installed a water gauge during the winter of 2016/17.  It has made life a little easier as we always used to fill up with water every couple of days whereas now we can see how much is in there.  It means we are only filling up about every four or five days (we are hungry water users!).  In the shower this morning I was wondering how much time it has saved us, but we are on canal time and does it matter anyway?!

This blackboard was outside the Greyhound at Hawkesbury and amused me!

When the North Oxford Canal was straightened it challenged the capacity of the three locks at Hillmorton, the first on the canal after the stop lock at Hawkesbury Junction. The solution to the congestion was to duplicate or twin the existing locks at Hillmorton, creating three pairs of two parallel narrow locks, which allowed for twice the traffic to pass the lock at any time. The work to double the locks was completed in August 1840. Not only was the capacity to pass the lock doubled, but the time taken was decreased as the locks were narrower. Tests showed that the locks could be operated in as little as one minute and 20 seconds – I assume that is just one lock.  We are going up the locks tomorrow so I will have my stopwatch with me but I don’t hold out much hope!

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Easenhall Lane Bridge – Number 34 (Ashby / Coventry / North Oxford Canal) – Saturday 21st April

Another lovely morning to wake up to, however they are threatening thunder storms overnight.  That’s OK I hear you say but no, not for Muffin.  He hates loud bangs and even sometimes when Richard sneezes (he has a very loud sneeze!) Muffin will run and hide – usually under the spare bed at home.  He has been in a bad way while we have been away as there are so many bird scarers going off.  We quite often don’t hear them, but Muffin obviously does, and he scurries down below and into the bedroom – he can’t get under the bed so I don’t know what he is thinking.

I saw my first baby ducks this morning sadly I didn’t get a photo - they are quick little buggers!

At Marston Junction there was another boat coming onto the Ashby, so Richard had to come to a grinding halt to let him through.

We passed Charity Dock and there are a few more mannequins now.

Richard went passed Hawkesbury Junction to empty what needed to be emptied and then went to reverse back but a hire boat was coming through from the North Oxford, so he had to stop, thank goodness!  I could see the hire boat was going too fast and of course couldn’t get round the corner in one.  One of the crew shot to the front and tried to fend off the wall with the pole – which promptly broke in two!  I wonder how they will explain that one!

We motored on to Brinklow where we had stopped last Saturday.  We got the last space – well on the Armco anyway and moored up.  It was a lovely evening and we sat out on the towpath enjoying the aromatic smell of next door’s fire pit.  We had noticed when we arrived that next door had quite an encampment set up with included a fisherman’s type of tent which just took two chairs.  Later on, when it was dark, they had masses of pretty lights all around their camp and under the hedge.  I would have taken a photo but didn’t want them to know I was being nosy!

13.15 miles
1 lock

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Bramcote Road Pipe Bridge – Number 7 (Ashby Canal) – Friday 20th April

It was a very misty morning, but it soon burnt off to reveal a lovely sunny day.  We needed to decide what we were going to do as we have to go home on Tuesday and need to be at Hillmorton on Monday to see a couple of boat painters.  So, three nights, but where?  Maps, books and CanalPlanAC were poured over and eventually we made a decision!!  As it was going to hot again today we decided to just do a few miles and stop at Bridge 7 where we stopped on the way up and I could watch the lambs again. 

Even Muffin got involved!
We pulled over at Spinney Bank Farm shop (Bridge 23) – one of the best farm shops on the canals and I stocked up the freezer with the most amazing looking meat.

After lunch we headed off south-westwards.  I decided to do the small amount of ironing which I had got.  At home I always iron whilst watching the TV, but I can’t do that on the boat as I have to iron while are moving and the engine is running so quite often I will put music on – rather loud!!  So, if you ever see a navy blue (well Flag Blue) boat with loud music blaring out and a crazy woman jigging around whist ironing – give it a wide berth!!!

We wanted to stop at the same place as we stopped on the way up – opposite the lamb field.  It was such a lovely afternoon, so I lay on the bed and watched our progress from there (we are reverse layout).  I don’t like sitting in the sun, so it’s a wonderful way of travelling!  There was one boat on our “mooring” so we pulled in behind it.  I was soon sitting out on the towpath with my book while Richard did a few jobs on the boat before joining me.

The lambs had me in stitches later as they were playing right opposite the boat.  There were five of them and they were playing at “who can butt the hardest!”  The smallest lamb wasn’t joining in, but I don’t blame it – the others were quite a bit bigger.  Sadly, the photo doesn’t show the little lamb, but you can see two having a go and the other two eyeing each other up!

6.66 miles
0 locks

Friday, 20 April 2018

Dadlington Bridge Number 28 (Ashby Canal) – Thursday 19th April

What a glorious morning we woke up to and a big decision had to be made – what to do today!  In the end we decided to go up to Shackerstone winding hole, turn around and head back to Sutton Cheney but would there be any room on the pontoon/jetty there!

I put pontoon/jetty in the last paragraph as Richard and I have a difference of opinion as to what it should be called!  I am talking about a wooden structure that is put in the water for boats to moor up to.  The Oxford Dictionary says the meaning of pontoon (me) is

A flat-bottomed boat or hollow metal cylinder used with others to support a temporary bridge or floating landing stage.

And jetty (Richard) as being

A landing stage or small pier at which boats can dock or be moored.

Damn – Richard is right! 

We stopped briefly at Shackerstone Aqueduct to see what was underneath!  It is the River Sence. The river rises on Bardon Hill and travels about 12 miles before joining the River Anker at Mythe.  On doing my research I came across a couple of villages which I would just love to live in!  Sheepy Magna (Great Sheepy) and Sheepy Parva (Little Sheepy)! 

Richard was hailed by one of my blog readers this morning – Beaujolais.  Sorry I missed you, but I was busy writing this post!

There was a spot on the jetty, so we moored up and walked along to the café for lunch –   just a panini with a sneaky bowl of chips!  It was very hot but we were sitting under an umbrella. 

We walked back to the boat and found it really hot – 34°.  Last time we were there it was in August and all the leaves were on the trees which kept the boat cool.  Sadly, we decided to move on and see if we could find a mooring on the right side of the canal where is would be shady.  We found a nice one and moored up – the trouble was we weren’t far from a bridge which carries a fairly busy road and almost every car hooted at least once as they approached it!!  We realised that we couldn’t cope with that so moved on to just before Stoke Golding visitors moorings which were in the sun.

We spent a very pleasant early evening sitting on the towpath – I didn’t need to cook as we were still full from lunchtime.

9.85 miles
0 locks

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Terrace Bridge Number 49 (Ashby Canal) – Wednesday 18th April

We woke up to a much brighter cabin than we have been waking up to.  On drawing back the curtains it was still grey, but the sun was trying it’s hardest to break through.

I asked Richard where he was heading for today, but he said that he didn’t have any plan – so we started off on a magical mystery tour though I’m not sure you can do a mystery tour on the Ashby Canal as it’s up to the top, turn around and then back down!  By the time we stopped at Sutton Cheney Wharf to empty what needed emptying, the sun was out, and it was warming up – I even opened the side doors!

We stopped for lunch and then moved on but only for about half an hour as I saw a nice place to moor which we did.  I had done a load of washing and was keen to get the airer up and get it dried!  Our afternoon was spent sitting on the towpath and reading – it’s a hard life this canalling! 

The Ashby Canal was opened in 1804 to transport coal from Moira to the Coventry Canal.  A number of tramways were constructed at Moira to service collieries, one of these being Rawdon Colliery.  This colliery was sunk in 1821 and was one of five collieries at Moira owned by the Earl of Moira. For many years it proved to be a troublesome colliery and operations ceased in 1844. With apparently some optimism the Rawdon shaft was deepened in 1868 to reach the Stanhope seam at 362 yards, and the colliery re-opened in 1874. Further difficulties ensued, and mining ceased again in 1877.  In was reopened in 1889 on a small scale.  

Rawdon Colliery’s seams extended 6 miles from the shaft, and some had been worked twice, recovering lower grade coal. The pit survived Britain's pit closure programme in the mid 1980s that followed the miners' strike but eventually ran out of viable coal seams.  It finally closed in 1986 after 165 Years.

The two photos should really be the other way around but I wanted Muffin to headline this blog!!

7.02 miles
0 locks