Monday, 14 March 2016

Hartshill (first butterfly of the year)

We were up early on Friday to drop Karen off at work before seven and then drive down to Fleet by nine.  It was Jake’s moving day – he has rented a flat in North Camp near Farnborough - Sophie and Polly also helped with the move.  It’s a great flat and we spent most of the day assembling and moving furniture, well Buddy spent most of the day lying by the French doors in the sun. 

Assembling Jake's desk (or sleeping in the sun)
The northbound M40 had been closed most of the day near Warwick so I decided to go back via the M1.  Unfortunately that motorway was closed when I got to Luton and I was delayed by an hour.  It all rather reminded me of my work days and glad that I no longer have to do the daily commute.

On Saturday morning Karen & Buddy drove to Atherstone to find somewhere to park the car and I started taking the boat in the same direction.  I was on the lookout for Karen as they were walking back along the towpath to meet me and fortunately saw her as she completely missed me as I was going past a line of moored boats.  On the walk to meet me Karen spotted our first bluebell of the year…

…and this unusual use of old lock balance beams – we fancy a bench like this when we get our ‘final’ home.

We went up the 11 locks in the Atherstone flight – most of the locks were set against us but we weren’t in a hurry so it didn’t matter.  We passed this guy between two of the locks – he has bought a new boat and had it fitted out as a coffee bar.  He is on his way to Stourport where he has got a licence and mooring to run the business in one of the basins there.

Buddy completely ignored the horses at one of the locks.

We had forgotten how rural most of the Coventry canal is - I suppose the name conjours up different ideas.

As it was such a warm spring day we kept our eyes open for butterflies and were rewarded with a sighting of the first this year, a Small Tortoiseshell.  These butterflies overwinter as adults so the warm sunshine had encouraged it out.  We moored up above the top lock at Atherstone in time to see the afternoon rugby matches.  The top lock had a pair of lock keepers so they had the lock ready for us as we arrived.

Lock keepers at Atherstone top lock
Sunday promised to be another fine day and as we needed water we set off for Hartshill where we knew we could park the car near the canal and get water.  This is Buddy in his normal position when we take on water.

Buddy guarding the hose pipe as usual
Whilst filling up with water I heard the playing of a banjo and soon afterwards a 70 year old came out of the cottage (in the photo above) and we chatted a while.  He has been a session musician most of his life and often has other musicians round and they play to the passing boat traffic.  Just in front of his house you can see where coal wagons used to be unloaded onto barges.

Unloading point for wagons from the local mines
This is the parking spot and we moored next to the bridge that is in the distance.

Typical parking spot in a lane by the canal
It’s amazing to think Karen has been back at work for two weeks already.  Buddy and I plan on moving the boat most days this week as the forecast is fairly dry.

Here are the other 10 locks we went up on Saturday.

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