Saturday, 24 November 2018

Brinklow (where we sold the old Chalkhill Blue)

We awoke to ice inside the bedroom windows on Thursday morning which gave us a clue that it was frosty outside.  It certainly was frosty, but the sun was up at Fazeley junction as we left around 9.30am.

Getting ready to leave Fazeley junction on a gorgeous, frosty morning
One drawback of it being frosty on a boat is that the lines are frozen solid so are not so easy to handle and coil up.  With the sun on them they soon thaw out at this time of year as it doesn't tend to be freezing all day.

Karen and Buddy set off for a run and we arranged to meet up at Amington which is to the east of Tamworth.  They ran into Tamworth on their way to pick up some fresh pain au chocolate from Lidl.  Remember we think they sell the best out of all the supermarkets and they often have a special offer of three for £1.  An added bonus is that they reheat really well and still taste fresh when heated up several days later 😊

I turned left at the junction onto the Coventry canal and headed for Glascote locks.

Fazeley junction – right for Birmingham and left for Coventry

Going over the River Tame south of Tamworth
I was just going up the second of the pair of locks at Glascote when Karen and Buddy appeared.  She hadn’t finished her run but wanted to get rid of her backpack full of pain au chocolate 😉

A couple of miles later I picked her up as planned and we decided to cruise to the bottom of the Atherstone flight before stopping for lunch.  By now the sun had gone and it had turned quite murky and it stayed that way for the rest of the day.

As we cruised along, we discussed how we felt about travelling every day for practically five weeks in order to beat some lock closures.  We both felt it was a bit like being back at work.  Normally, if somewhere takes our fancy we can stop for a few days or so and have a good look around; not so with this schedule.  Still, we agreed it was still great fun and we were just as happy but in a different way and for different reasons.  I suppose it helps that we’re travelling a well-trodden path for us, so we don’t quite feel we are missing out on too much.

At one bridge we had to wait for a CRT workboat that seemed to be listing badly.  This was despite several guys (with cups of tea in hand) standing on the side to weigh it down.

  
It was only just after midday when we arrived at the Atherstone flight of 11 locks, so we decided to do the first four locks and then stop for lunch.  The schedule dictated that we stop for the day after the second lock, so we knew we would be ahead.

Coming up the bottom lock

There used to be a lock cottage on the right at this, the second lock up
We both really like the Atherstone flight as it is generally very pretty and varied, the first six locks being rural and open and the top five being near the town and closed in by tall trees.  They are also fun to do, with easy to wind paddles, gates that aren’t too heavy and nice long lock heads.  The long lock heads mean it’s easy to park the boat without tying it up and then close the gate while the other person is opening the gates of the next lock.

Over lunch we decided to do the rest of the flight and moor at the visitor moorings at the top.  In the end we carried on past the visitor moorings and moored up outside Mancetter in a nice rural spot we know well.

Moored at Mancetter for Thursday night
Getting ahead of schedule is good as it means we can take time off to do other things if we need to. For example, if we want down time or visit somewhere or if the weather is really grotty and we don’t fancy cruising.

This time it’s for a different reason, we’re meeting up with Chris & Sue on Saturday and Mike & Lesley on Sunday so being ahead relieves the pressure on getting to our agreed meeting points (pubs) 😉

We spent the rest of the day indoors and decided we’re going to have to bite the bullet and get a titre test done for Buddy in the next week or two.  A titre test is a blood test that proves he has the rabies antibody in his system.  If we remained part of the EU (or had a sensible exit if there is such a thing) this wouldn’t be necessary, but it looks more and more likely that the Brexit outcome will dictate that titre tests will be required. 

You may wonder why we don’t wait until March when we move to France, but the test shows up negative results in about 10% of cases.  The test also has to be done at least a month after the rabies injection so if there is a negative result then another rabies injection is required followed by another titre test a month later.  In addition, the rabies vaccination has to be done at least three months before the animal is brought back into the UK.

This is why the Government is recommending that titre tests are carried out four months before travel for those planning on returning to the UK on or after 29th March.  I know we plan on staying in France for longer but if there’s an emergency that requires us to come back to the UK then we don’t want the hassle of having to leave Buddy in kennels or quarantine.    

Breakfast view on Friday

The picture above shows how grey and murky it was on Friday morning and it stayed like that all day but at least it was dry most of the time and we got on the move soon after nine.  We had a pit stop for water at Springhaven marina after a couple of miles.  Water pressure there is really high so it saves a lot of time and as I had to buy a couple of things it was free (marinas often charge if you just go in for water). We then pressed on through Nuneaton and stopped for lunch at Hawkesbury junction which is where the top end of the Oxford canal meets the Coventry canal.

In the stop lock at Hawkesbury junction having come through the bridge onto the Oxford canal
Although the Oxford canal is rural for most of its 77-mile journey from Coventry it does run alongside the M6 for a mile or so at the top end.  We also went under the M69 and then the M6 itself before mooring up for the day just before Brinklow.

Between Ansty and Brinklow – still murky in the early afternoon
Just before we moored, we were slowly passing a line of permanent boats when we saw a boat skewed across the cut ahead of us.  We stopped to find out what the problem was, and it transpired that the guy had run out of diesel.  Unfortunately, we were heading in the wrong direction otherwise we would have towed him somewhere.  

I popped into the engine bay to check both of our jerry cans but they were empty, so we couldn’t help.  We left him on the phone to a mate who was on a boat a few miles away so hopefully it wasn’t long before he was sorted out.  

Moored for Friday night at Grimes bridge
We have moored at this spot several times in both the boats.  It was here that the guy, who bought our first boat from us, came to see it and we struck a deal there and then 😊

We've cruised 26 miles up 14 locks over the last two days.

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