Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Public Transport

We are moored at Snarestone which is as far as the Ashby canal gets. Snarestone is just north of Birmingham and Leicester. Sue & Vic on No Problem are with us and will look after our cat and dog so we can travel home. Sue made the bus schedule for us using the internet and even printed the ticket for National Express. It amazed us that a bus was passing this way at all. The journey to Southampton required just two busses and a coach. Considerably cheaper than train or hire car. This was to be an enjoyable trip with no driving on our part. Had two large bags and hand luggage which is travelling light for us.

No.7 arrived on time as did all the vehicles throughout the journey. So we left at 5 past 9 having changed into clean shoes after walking through the wet muddy tow path. Sue kindly returned our dirty boots to the boat. We were the only passengers on this dumpy little bus which travelled through several villages and Atherstone, on the way to Nuneaton. Picking up one other person on the way. Did some shopping as we had about an hour before the next bus. The next bus, No. 775 took us all the way to Coventry Pool Meadow Bus Station, arriving at midday. A clean place with shops and facilities. Just enough time to use them before the coach arrived. Several people with their printed tickets were waiting. After loading luggage and finding two seats two rows back on the left the comfortable coach left at 20 past 12. Stopped briefly at Royal Leamington Spa to pick up one passenger before heading for Banbury where the Oxford Canal passes through. We were able to eat our sandwiches on the coach while the driver tried to rest during his short break at Oxford. We caught sight of the River Thames and had previously passed under the bridge in our boat. Many young people here riding bikes in front of the coach as it tries to weave through Oxford. Then back on the open road and on to Newbury where we had started our adventures on the Kennet & Avon canal. The coach arrived at Southampton just before 5 so we got off and waited for a taxi to take us to our destination.

The return trip a week later left at 11:15. George n Ann getting us to the Coach Station. A slight delay was caused by one gentleman having too much luggage. He could not possibly carry it on his own. After much discussion he was allowed to get on board with his huge 'hand' luggage. It was getting dark by the time we reached Coventry. The bus station was full of school children and various busses were full up as they left. Our bus left an hour later with a few passengers heading for Nuneaton where we waited in the cold shelter for our last bus. Another short dumpy one with a conductor for our trip in the dark. "Oh the last bus for Snarestone left at 5. We don't normally go that far, but just for you we will." Another passenger travelled with us. The conductor kept telling the driver to go strait on rather than short detours to small villages. "There won't be anybody there at this time of night." The other passenger got off and we were transported through the darkness to Snarestone. We carried our luggage across the field over the canal tunnel where we met Sue and changed into clean warm boots. Back along the wet muddy tow path to the boats by half past seven and a welcome roast dinner.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A long walk

Moved the boats up to Congerston Bridge 47. A short trip on a mild dry day along a deep clear canal section. A proper 'Visitor Mooring' with rings and that horrible stony surface but at least it was flat and not all mud here. Set off on a 4 mile walk to Shackerstone, following one of Sue's walking maps. We headed off west to Bilstone where a fine old mill was being converted to live in. The water wheel long since gone but the mill pond, race and sluice gates still existed. Reminding us that 'renewable' power is not a modern idea. Local Millers used wind or water power directly to grind the grain. Turned north to reach Castle Farm only to find the footpath diverted away from our intended course. Eventually getting to Shackerstone across some very muddy fields. Once there we followed the canal back to the boats for a mile and a half.

Bilstone  Mill

Friday, January 06, 2006

Start of a new year

A bright sunny morning for the first day of the year. Our bird feeder full of nuts has been attracting the birds while we have been here at Stoke Golding. We are able to watch them through our galley window. Have seen our pet robin which was so tame it almost came on board. Then there was a blackbird, wren, chaffinch, great tit, blue tit and others hiding in the hedge row waiting their turn on the feeder. Bread crumbs on the ground soon go, but if the birds don’t get there first the dogs get it.

We are waiting for our friends Sue and Vic to return. Have been looking after their boat while they've been away. Lit their fire and got the boat cosy n warm. A kettle on the fire for a hot brew when they arrive. They had missed the bus from Nuneaton so an hour later we moved the 'Ferry' over to pick them up from the wharf.

It has been over two weeks since we had our diesel tank filled and found it to be only 3/8 full. The local boat yard is still shut and last we heard they were waiting for another delivery. 'Ghosty Hill' is due up here later if they can fill their tank! All is well because the boat yard opened next day and have fuel to sell. So we moved on down, filled up with diesel and water and asked about disposal of our old engine oil. They refused to take it.

Moved on further down the canal to the turning point and 'winded' the boat. The Tesco van arrived before we could get back to Stoke Golding wharf. Luckily Sue n Vic were able to sign for our delivery when they collected their own. So having stocked up again we were all able to travel up the canal together. While dumping our rubbish at Sutton Wharf we were told about a possible closure at Shenton Aqueduct. BW had been working up there before Christmas and they confirmed that the work is now finished. The going gets more difficult past the wharf due to shallow waters. Some dredging is actually taking place but not much coming out. Wet sloppy mud is being dumped on the tow path and grass seed spread over it.

Battle field mooring

We stopped at the 'Battle field' moorings which have not improved for many years. Mole hills all over the place and the ground lower than it could be. After a quick snack we walked round 'Richards Field' and the village of Shenton. Back in 1485 Richard III was killed by Henry VII marking the start of the Tudor Dynasty.

Richard's field this way