Sunday 24 August

We left Tixall wide early and reached Great Heywood soon after where we turned north up the Trent & Mersey. Our progress to Stone was slow due to the number of boats moored canalside which we have to pass at tickover speed, and also having to queue for locks.  

We filled up with water again in Stone before continuing on towards Stoke on Trent. We are keen to make as much progress as possible while the weather and daylight lasts.

We managed 15 miles, 13 locks today before rain stopped play and we moored up in Trentham for the night, just north of the Wedgewood Factory.

We’ve seen a number of kingfishers today but they enjoy taunting us and fly off just as we’re lining up a decent photograph.  Storm wins the prize for the clearest photograph today as his camera has a better zoom lens than mine.SONY DSC

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Saturday 23 August

We left Cross Green before 8.30am. I left on foot so I could walk with Max for a while and Storm picked me up after a couple of miles before we got to the first of the 12 locks of the day.   It was my turn to do the locks and we had to queue at Galey Wharf while two boats went down and two boats came up before we could proceed.

We made it to Penkridge for lunch and moored up and went off to explore the town.   We toured the open market there and on the way back we shopped at The Co-Op abandoning our plans to shop on-line for the time being.

After stowing the food way, we continued our journey, still having to queue at each lock.   We had several interesting encounters en-route though from one very grumpy lady who couldn’t understand why I would like to help her, one hire boater who narrowly missed a head on crash as he forgot which side of the canal he should be on, and a very nasty growl from the prop at one point as we hit something submerged.

Anyway we finally moored up at Tixall Wide at about 7pm and enjoyed a home-made Thai Green Curry.

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Tixall Wide looks more like a lake than a canal and is well populated with kingfishers apparently.

Friday 22 August

We left Birmingham at 8 o’clock and headed along the BCN towards Wolverhampton.   The weather wasn’t sure what it wanted to do today and we donned coats for the first time in months.

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Cheerio Birmingham

Whilst we were motoring, I decided to give Samsung a quick call on Storm’s phone to request they send out a jiffy bag to Laura’s address in Chester so I could deal with my phone next weekend.   However, this call led to further frustration, as Samsung weren’t willing to send out a jiffy bag without knowing more.  

I’m not familiar with Storm’s phone and it is impossible to see anything on the screen in bright sunshine and the screen goes blank anyway after a few seconds when idle so when I was asked to press 1 for this and 2 for something else, I struggled to locate the keypad. Eventually though I got through to a human and he asked for the serial number of my phone.   I asked where would I find that. The answer was ‘inside the phone, under the battery’, so I’m resting Storm’s phone on my shoulder while I try to force the back off my phone, removing the battery, only to find that the lettering is so small I can’t even read it with my glasses on, so then I’m trying to locate a magnifying glass in the drawer whilst still balancing the phone on my shoulder. I’m then told to ‘return my phone to factory settings and if I don’t know how to do that then I should log on to the Samsung website where I will find full instructions and I should check that I have saved all my personal information to the sim beforehand’. I’m then offered a customer reference number to quote, so that when I call them back to let them know whether that has cured the problem, they can record whether they still have a dissatisfied customer and only then if the problem still exists will they send me a jiffy bag.   Arggggggghhhh!!!

By this time I am beginning to wonder whether I actually need a phone!!   Anyway, I decided I would wait before doing anything else towards getting my phone repaired and instead I took over the steering while Storm went ashore with the windlass to prepare the flight of 21 locks out of Wolverhampton. We entered the first lock at 1.30pm and spent the rest of the afternoon working our way through the locks. We followed another boat down the flight which meant we had to refill each of the locks before we could enter which slowed us down a bit.  

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The last of the Wolverhampton 21.

We had cleared the locks and stopped at Oxley Marine by 5pm to fill up with diesel and water, both tanks being almost empty and after exchanging a bit of boating banter, we headed off along the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal, stopping briefly at Autherley Junction for some chocolate to keep us going until supper time.  

It is 29 years since we last travelled along the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal and neither of us can remember anything about it.   Our first treat was a very narrow section cut through the rock where it is only wide enough for one boat at a time.  

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One way working

In places they have provided passing bays where it is just wide enough for two boats to pass.   Thankfully we didn’t meet another boat and so continued on and moored up about 7pm at Cross Green having completed 18 miles, 24 locks, and two tunnels during the day.

After supper, I powered up the computer with the intention of placing a grocery order with Tesco and then logging onto the Samsung website to try to sort out my phone.   However, it appears that today is not my day for dealing with any matters relying on IT as I got half way through trying to place my order when the computer froze and after several further attempts, I gave up.    

Storm decided that he would take me to the pub to try to calm me down. I love computers when they work ….

 

Thursday 21 August

We’re back on board after enjoying two fantastic weeks in Menorca with our family celebrating Laura’s 30th birthday in temperatures of 27 degrees plus.

The temperature in Birmingham today is half that and we’re feeling decidedly chilly.

Anyway we’re looking forward to a week of hard work as we’re taking the boat back to Chester for Summer’s first birthday party a week on Saturday.   We’ve decided to go the long way round from Birmingham via the Staffs & Worcester Canal to Great Heywood, along the Trent & Mersey Canal to Middlewich and then along the Shropshire Union to Chester, a total of 97 miles and 95 locks.

Before we set off though, I need to try to get my Samsung Fame phone mended as it has developed a mind of its own since landing back in the UK in that it randomly decides when it will switch on or off and refuses to open any apps!

As I bought the phone in Birmingham back in March, we went back to the “3” shop only for them to tell me that I needed to contact Samsung direct to request a jiffy bag for me to return the phone to them for repair.

On the face of it this sounds simple but I have a nasty feeling that this may not be as straight forward as one might expect because I have no fixed address or easy postal address.   We stopped off at Phones For Us to see what a new handset would cost, in the hope that I could perhaps just switch the sim over, but as soon as I mentioned my contract sim was with “3”, they told me their phones were not compatible.

Feeling, a bit frustrated at my lack of IT savvy, we returned to the boat to unpack our holiday cases and prepare for the our trip north.

Saturday 2 August

Up at six and away by seven and it was fine when we set off but after an hour we’d donned waterproofs which we kept on for the rest of the trip.  We’d made it all the way to Gas Street Basin by 1.30pm and that included an hour’s stop to shelter from the worst of the rain.  I think this is our record number of locks in a day and probably in record time for us too, especially as quite a few were set against us and we had to empty them before we could enter.

The sun came out just as we did the last lock.   We filled up with water and then went in search of a mooring.  We’ve never seen so many boats here before but one boat spotted us looking and the skipper said he would be moving in two minutes.    Safely moored up opposite the NIA, the sun stayed  out long enough to dry the washing before another brief shower after which the sun shone for the rest of the afternoon.

 

Friday 1 August

August already. How time flies!

My sister and children camped last night only half a mile from our mooring and joined us for a cooked breakfast this morning after which we did a couple of locks together before waving each other ‘goodbye’.

Storm and I then carried on through a further six locks and moored up between Curdworth and Minworth ready for our cruise into Birmingham tomorrow. Late afternoon the heavens opened after several rumbles of thunder that forced us indoors earlier than expected.

We have eight miles and twenty seven locks to travel to reach Gas Street Basin and unless we find somewhere midway that is safe to moor for the night we will do all these tomorrow if the weather is fine.

 

 

Thursday 31 July

Max and I went to check how easy it was to find us by road and discovered that the pub, whilst being one of the busiest, was also one of the best hidden on the canal and obviously the locals knew of it by reputation as it was almost off a farm track with no obviously signage and whilst Sat Nav would locate the road, instinct would suggest you’d taken a wrong turn.

The Tesco delivery lady found us easily enough though as she told us that this was her partner’s famous fishing spot.

As the weather was cooler today and we weren’t planning to move the boat, we gave the inside of the boat a thorough clean.    

We were thrilled as my sister and her two children joined us for dinner and Max particularly enjoyed their company as he got very excited with two new playmates to run around with.

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