Sunday 24th April 2016 After a lovely sunny start to our Sunday, yummy in our tummies toasty soldiers & eggs, an Ansty walk & we are a-cruising with our Bart getting wet on & off. Tis April ya-no !! Last twisty waters of the Oxford Canal flow Bart onto ‘Sutton Stop’ lock where we all (together we be) descend over 6 inches into the low waters of the Coventry Canal.
Hawkesbury junction is perfectly framed by a wonderful cast iron bridge. Following Bart’s tight U-turn, through/under the delightful bridge, crew are wondering how far we still have to cruise to find a decent mooring location. This can be a busy boaty place. Bart decides to practice the old reversing technique. It’s good to practice such things on occasion. Even when an-udder narrowboat decides to come through the next (behind us) bridge & moor only just past it, just at the wrong time for Bart & co.
Not to worry. Bart laughs (ha ha ha) in the face of such danger. We go for it anyway. A few strange looks seem to be the norm for those witnessing such manoeuvres. Intended mooring position is ‘blown out the water’ as ‘no mooring’ signs adorn the towpath. Silly place to have a marina entrance on opposite side of canal. We keep going aft until we are allowed to moor. Very good position. Plus – good doggy friendly adjacent play area. Fab. Just in time. precipitation it is again. Lines secured & we, the crew can be dry & warm back inside our Bart. Job Well Done. Lovely Jubbly as Del Boy would likely say.
Monday 25th April A fine example of April weather at it’s very best today with a mushy mushy mix of lovely sun then cloud & rain, lovely sun then cloud & rain, so-on & so-on. Bart & Lister are rested today. Roxy goes for a walk with Skip, staying under cover dodging rain showers as & when.
Later, Roxy enjoys ball games outside with skippet. Rain stops play, inevitably.
Tuesday 26th April Good Morning everybody. A fine start to the day & following a creepy forward & re-water stop Black Bart & the merry crew are cruising forward this time. No moor of that reversing stuff (for an hour or so at least). We safely negotiate the ‘narrows’ as Bart slips by the old engine pump house & then a fair-thee number of moored boats. Craft of all shapes & sizes. A sight to behold !! Hawkesbury soon disappears behind us.
Bedworth comes complete with canal side ‘Charity Dock’ which makes an interesting sight for boaty & towpath passers-by alike. ‘Junk yard’ this is not.
The combination of mannequins, boats,vehicle parts & many other items complete a fascinating assemble. Sum-Tym later, Bart now be sliding by Marston Junction. The Ashby Canal will have to wait for another day. If Bart can even swim those particular waters as depth is reported to be insufficient for the likes of Bart & other like minded deep drafted boats. Although history has already proved similarly identified shallow waterways can be ‘Barted’. Will Black Bart be Brave (stupid) enough to try. We will have to wait with baited breath. Aaaaaaarrrgggghhh !!!!! Aye Aye Skip. Aaaaaaarrrgggghhh !!!!! Actually avid Bloggers & Bloggetts. Don’t hold that breath for too long. breath deeply & repeat (continuously) or you may find thow-self(s) falling ill & we do not want any of you chums to suffer such a fate. Aye Thankyou !! “There is nothing like a tangent to help relax the mind” was a saying by a very famous mathematician. or was it a physicist. One cannot always remember these things old chum. Anyway, tangent we went, now we are back (almost, but never quite completely) my friends.
Bart is cruising, slowly (never be fast in our Bart, even compared to other boats) so we pullover (buoy, it’s starting to get cold now) on a good-n-clear straight to let an-udder who be catching Bart up, to blast by, to infinity & beyond (mayhaps ??). We might never know. Well we do actually. Tortoise & the hare thing-emy jib/whatcha-ma-call-it. We cruise very slowly by them (as required by common decency law) an hour or so later when they are found to be moored on the cut. Some people never learn. Slow down. That’s what it is all aboat mate !! Back in the room.
The sun has gone, covered by plentiful cloud. Snow (yes you read correctly sir & madam), snow showers are a blowing in, on the cold winds from the North.
Nuneaton slowly passes by, to the East of our quiet calm canal of water. Hartshill Yard is along side slightly longer than intended as Bart reverses back from under a bridge to allow nb: Infinity (& beyond??) to pass through heading South. We get moving again, keeping Mancetter & Atherstone to our right. Starboard side for those in the know Skip. Well done matey. Aaarrgh !!! To Atherstone we do arrive. Intended upper port is not as good as this crew hoped so Bart slips forward readying oneself for some Atherstone Locks. a boat is soon leaving upper lock having arisen, but we hold off, letting nb: Merlin (as she just been tapping at the water point) take the lock. They be most thank-ee sir. “Pleasure” we reply. With lock chamber re-filled again, following Merlin’s descent Bart is gliding inta chamber.
Suddenly those cold North winds bring down snow a plenty. Biggest one yet. Darned impressive. Unfortunately Skip’s photograph does not do it the credit it deserves. As the white fluffies continue to fly down onto us & the surrounding scenery we make good progress with kind assistance from three lock keepers. Lovely, helpful chaps. Thanks again guys. And their friend who loved Bart, particularly with her (greedy) two names. The onslaught of snow just finished the poor chap off. He was soo happy. As the snow fall diminishes (big word there) (quite big, anyway) (actually, that’s wrong fool. Means sum-it like getting less/smaller.That’s not big at all idiot !!) our lovely narrowboat & we three
make steady progress descending the first five Atherstone locks before we find a most splendid mooring position in the pound before the next two locks. They, plus the final four below them can wait until tomorrow, maybe. Only time will tell. Well folks, what a marvellous cruise Black Bart has enjoyed today. Now moored, we become excited at the next few snow showers repeating on us. Snow turning to sleet, getting getting very heavy.
Weather eventually backs off for a while & for a treat (it is Tuesday) Skip walks to the local (Dolphin) chippy & all is well with the world. Bart World at least. Hope your worlds are good & well too, all peoples out there, somewhere…….. Good Night……. Sleep Tight….. One & all.
Wednesday 27th April Rise & Shine Bart. Lovely sunny start to the day. Crew take a walk into our lovely local town (for the mo) Atherstone. A fine array of proper little shops including a fabulous hardware store. Didn’t, but could have bought loads of tings. Bart’s wardrobes managed to acquire a couple of fine additions though. Fab !! Some stocks for the larder & back for lunch. With crew content Lister warms up & we attack the next few lock descents. As Bart enters our fourth chamber of the day the snow returns. As we depart our water lift the snow quickly turns to very heavy sleety rain. Delightful. We abort the intended progress to Atherstone’s remaining two locks. Nappy pins out lines secured & we make for cover. Inside our Bart. The rain eventually stops & the Sun’s hat is back on, peaking from behind the fluffies up there. Occasionally anyway.
Roxy goes for a walk & remembers to take the camera this time
And manages to get some pics of her mate, our Bart.
Although it looks like the evening is going to be splendid Bart decides to stay put.
Thursday 28th April A Beautiful Bright day. We are up early & Bart is swimming moor of the Coventry Canal’s waters following our shortened cruise of yesterday.
The final 12th & 13th lock chambers of the Atherstone flight are soon (trying to be funny are you ?) descended & being left in Bart’s wake. Three days & 80′ (foot/feet if you no understand). Never has we four taken so long over two handfuls (+ a smidge) of H2O chambers. Narrow or wide.
Today is a mix of interesting sights & Wonderful colours.
Steady (what Bart does best) progress moves our strange collection of beings (the crew of three) through luscious green countryside (difficult to understand with all this dry incessant heat) passing all manner of interesting scenes & places including Polesworth & ultimately Tamworth, local(ish) to Glascote locks 1 & 2.
The clouds have taken over the blue above again. It is not if. It is when. Not long we wait, although at least is it only light & occasional droplets descending from above. We don’t mind this. Fazeley Junction could lead us in the direction of Birmingham, but not today.
We remain routed, making our way towards Fradley Junction & the Trent & Mersey Canal that awaits our attention again. See you soon T&M.
Less than a mile on, as we pass under Bonehill Road Bridge As ever A ‘Lert’, Skippet spots an obstruction ahead across the cut. It be a narrowboat in a predicament we thinks. One of crew on towpath pulling stern rope. One of crew at fore pushing bow with end of emergency escape pole. Not much effect be ‘happening though mate. “Narrowboat Ahoy !!” “Narrowboat Ahoy” Skippet calls repeatedly through the mist & dense fog. A rescue plan is efficiently deployed with Bart gently gliding in. Now (wonky like) nose to nose with nb: Idle Allyce’s Bow Skippet takes IA’s fore line and ties onto BB’s fore dolly. Bart & Lister combine with ‘real power’, reversing (BB’s favourite manoeuvre) & successfully pulling the stricken vessel off the mud flats. Hooray !!! all crews shout together in most splendidness of relief & happiness. With fore line untied from BB IA is safely pulled over & lines are secured. Bart moves on past & moors a tittle further along the cut. After much difficulty & good old fashioned persistence IA Skip manages to remove what appears to be a narrowboat’s canvas stern door cover from it’s hold round the propeller. After spending a considerable amount of time & effort headfirst down the weed hatch. Not always the most pleasant place to be as most Skips would likely agree. Well done sir. At least the offending article which caused the incident & subsequant complete loss of control at the helm has been removed & there doesn’t appear to be any damage done. Thank Goodness !! (Photographs of the rescue were unavailable at time of growing to print). Earlier in our cruising day a strange craft passed our Bart motoring the other way. We now witness the same returning North. A Caraboat. Very Interesting. Very weird at the same time.
Little Chimney Company After assisting fellow boaters in difficulty Black Bart moored behind a narrowboat & associate Butty of the ‘Little Chimney Company’. Skippet had been in contact with ‘Molly’ the Butty & her team of skilled peoples in recent days concerning (shock, horror) chimneys. Chimneys for Bart to be exact. We knew Molly were somewhere on the cut, in these ‘ere waters but we is pleasantly surprised to see her soo soon.
After rain delays play we soon seek out the experts evolving wonderful stainless steel delights from this lovely craft. Molly & her boaty companion are floating examples of the array of Wonderful delights the skilled of this world can create.
It’s in the detail if you don’t know. It is not long before the old, rusty, disintegrating chimneys are removed fore & aft. Yes, Bart is greedy (again) with two. Oldies flat-packed ready for another world. Not Bart World anymore, although the extra paint had held them together longer than anticipated. New chimneys soon in position. Looking Gooood !!!
Friday 29th April Hello. Hello. Is there anybody out there ??? Ah ! There you are. Yesterday evening was Very Wet. This morning is Very Windy with numerous onslaughts of moor heavy rain. We is holding on tight boys (& girls). Weather forecast is investigated and we is able to carryout manoeuvres from mid-afternoon. Skippet has been working the old magic on the support shelf woodwork for the pullout bed extension. Prepped & first coat of stain successfully applied. Already looking better. Fab !! Still a strong old ‘Breeze’ out ‘ere but not too bad, and apart fora couple of spit spots we is staying dry. A Very pleasant meander along this lovely canal is enjoyed by narrowboat Black Bart & friends. Our late eighteenth century waterway tracks the olde River Tame as we near the village of Hopwas. Tis a likely a mooring location for the future, but not today. We shadow the Tame for a while longer on our way through this beautiful countryside of Staffordshire.
We eventually pass through Whittington mooring just on the outskirts of the village. Great position. End of the day’s cruise chores are carried out as usual. All you Skips, Skippets & Crews out there ‘Know what I mean’ nudge nudge wink wink. Roxy is in very playful mood & wide tow path is perfect for plenty-a-plastic stick throwing & chasing. Great Fun ! !! !!! Then that Very Heavy Rain starts again & the wind builds up too. We don’t care. We’s fine & dandy in ‘ere buddies. Ciao for Niao.
Saturday 30th April Hi Guys & Gals. Doggies & Cats. Have we missed anyone ?? Anything ?? No. Good. Then we shall begin. Good morning all persons & beings that pay any interest in this ‘ere tittle storey of nb: ‘Black Bart’ & ‘the crew’ that be joining Bart on thow travels. Waffle !! Waffles. Haven’t had a waffle for a fair few years. Brugge Dec 2016 may be the time to revisit such splendour for the old taste buds. Not just any old waffle, as any experienced Bruggite would have to admit. Weather. Wether we slip those lines & ‘set sail’ or do we remain secured for all of our safety. Who shall decide ?? Static is what our Bart will be today. Lister is not having it any other way. Heavy rain showers throwing water over us regularly throughout the grey hours of the day. Dodging ‘showers’ Roxy takes a walk inta vill-arge to ‘ave a pog aroand mate. That’s all guv’. Nice looking place it be. Back-ta Bart we trog via road, bridge & towpath.
Skippet has been back to the support shelf woodwork for the pullout bed extension. Second coat of stain really bringing out a great colour. matches the original woodwork from when Bart was born at Orion Narrowboats way back in the year 2000 AD.
Sunday 1st May Crew is up sharp like. Lister is OK today for a jaunt through the old water. Skippet’s off for a few wee stock items as the Co-op looked quite satisfactory on brief inspection. Bart is readied for today’s lo-onnngggg cruise. Skippet is back & Bart’s nappy pins are off !! We are sliding gently by many a moored narrowboat this day my friends. We traverse through Huddlesford Junction. Now a short arm for long term moorings. Originally the course of the Wyrley & Essington Canal to Ogley Jnct. After many hours, days even we are finally nearing a small settlement bearing the name Fradley. Fradley sits to the East of the canal between bridge Nos. 89 & 90. We must make an effort to visit the village of Fradley one day as we have been through and/or turned at Fradley Junction on several occasions now. Anyway, as is very rare, Skip has been tangentalising again folks. Sorry ! !! !!! He’s not really though. Bart’s previous Custodians, Cap’ns P&S Howarth have arrived. Not a surprise visit. We knew they were coming this time. Te ! He !! Ma-J & the Lovely Bella (Roxy’s pal) have come too. Fantastic !! After refreshments we pile in the cap’n’s strange four wheel vehicle & speed off at almost scary-ness. This craft is not as relaxingly moderate in her pace as our Bart is. What we is moor used to as one might say. After many hours at almost warp speed the craft slows suddenly to a stop. We have moored.
Time to visit a Wonderful place. The National Memorial Arboretum Alrewas, Staffordshire. We recommend any one who can, to come here one day. Although a day is not sufficient time. There is so much to see, witness, read. We only breathed in a small dose of the wonder of this memorial to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. A thought provoking place composed of many memorials to thousands of people killed. There are over 200 dedicated plots on the site to individuals and organisations including the military, civilian victims of war, the police, fire brigade and ambulance services, charities, local and overseas organisations.
Unfortunately, the engraved Portland stone, Armed Forces Memorial (dedicated in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen on 12th October 2007) is currently closed due to works on the site incl. building a new visitor centre.
The National Memorial Arboretum
The rain inevitably starts again, eventually getting the better of us. We enjoy coffee/tea, a viewing of the shop & pay a visit to the chapel before we climb back into the strange modern (fast) transport & return to the olde’ worldie’ slow boaty that be Bart. Delicious-curry-ness is enjoyed by crew & guests alike. After spending a most pleasant of enjoyable days with our friends we have to bid them a fond farewell & kick them out & off Bart. Gently, of course. Don’t want any broken toes. Good night. Arrivederci mon ami.
Monday 2nd May Yesterday were a faster start in comparison with a ‘usual’ Sunday morning for Bart & crew so we be treating Bank Holiday Monday as an extra Sunday. Standard fare of the eggs & toasties muchly enjoyed by Skip & Skippet. Joyous way to start a day. A Real Treat. Skip & Roxy are off for a walk to find the CRT bins east of Fradley Junction as the big rubbish bag in the fore-well is overflowing. Could even have become a health hazard. Sum very interesting aromas is floating aroand out in that well area.
Then a tittle wander round the three locks on the Trent & Mersey canal’s run east from the junction. Not very busy at the junction or the locks today. Even the cafe down here & The Swan ph at the junction are quiet. Such a shame it’s not a lovely sunny day. Then it would be busy everywhere.
We are expecting a few rain drops at times today so Lister is resting for a few moor hours. How long you may ask. Request even. Well, we do not know that yet. Bart & Lister are yet to decide when a cruising day has or might come along again. Might tomorrow. It might not be tomorrow. That is one of the many joys of Bart World for us all to enjoy.
Tuesday 3rd May A Wonderful Sunny Wake up this morning. As we have a fine berth & are quite happy to hold-up for another day we can sort out a couple of tings that be best dealt with sooner rather than later. A dry day is ‘promised’. Skippet is off with our lovely Staffie Roxy for a jog to Fradley Pool nature reserve & then a walk to the Trent & Mersey Canal locks just West of the junction with the Coventry. Skip is brushing/scrubbing the green slim off Bart’s hull, that grows on the water line. Starting with the bow, both sides working forward from the cratch/well. It is coming off fairly easily. Leaves the black 2-pack-epoxy lovely & crisp again, just like it were when we left Debdale last year following Bart’s long term hull protection works. Now to the gas locker vent hole, starboard side just above the water line needs some attention. A light rub down with files & the magic paper of grit deals with the rust local to the hole. Gas bottles are then removed & base plate of locker is magic-papered and wiped clean, allowed to dry, in amongst the rain shower that ensues and the Hammerite (smooth) is found & readied. Smooth it might supposedly be but Skip is not best known for his quality of brush stroke so smooth is sum-wot optimistic. It’s ONLY a gas locker fortunately, so who cares. If any of our guests in the coming months (& maybe years) do not like it then Hard (crumbly, extra mature) Cheese is all one Skip can say. There be another shower as black gunk is being applied but with skip physically blocking the access hole at the top of the locker (head first down through the hole as usual) during the site works, the rain cannot cause as much trouble as it were intending. Fortunately, it soon stops again. Base plate is hopefully covered sufficiently to provide the desired protection, particularly with the gas vent hole close to the water line, which allows canal water to enter the gas locker regularly. Upon return of rest of the crew to Bart, Skippet finishes off the bed wood support shelf etc.. etc.. with aplomb with some very fine brush strokes (as is usual) of the clear stuff. A varnish it surely is. A Fine Result !! Skip re-attacks the water line green slime, working along the (only 70′) starboard side of Bart’s hull as we be berthed this side. Udder (port) side to be dealt with when position & location etc.. allow. The Stern which happens to be of a most splendid curved profile is also given some attention. Looking pretty good again. Super !!
Wednesday 4th May As crew worked very hard yesterday Bart allows them a rare lay-in. The slow relaxing start to the delightfully sunny day is Grand. Bart eventually wakes Lister up & crew are readied ‘for the off’. Only a short chug of fifteen minutes or so from our berth we are pulling in, queuing for the wet faucet. Lister is stood down for a while. We don’t wait for long & the BIG Long hose is uncoiled to save Bart moving forward & soon there be a joyful sloshing of H2O. Bart was a tittle dry in the throat. Problem solved. Tank full, water transfer equipment stored, Skippet opens the swing bridge blocking our watery path of departure from the Coventry Canal.
The narrow pass is dealt with & bridge is swung back for transfer of peoples again
& we wave a fond farewell to the ripples of the Coventry Canal, for now. Fradley Junction awaits. Lister continues to sit on slowest of the slow tick-over as Bart swings beautifully left, ready to proceed in a Westerly direction, heading for Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal. See you there folks. If you don’t know where ‘there’ is then What a Shame !! You may never know the continuance of our Most Splendid ‘Bart World’ 2016 Cruise. Your loss. We’re ‘ere anyway. Ciao for Now Bambinos.
Black Bart has cruised from Hawkesbury Junction (known as Sutton Stop by the real boat people) to the Northern end at Fradley Junction, swimming 33 miles of the eclectic Coventry Canal descending 13 narrow locks, swimming over the River Tame in the aptly named Tame aqueduct, passing under 107 bridges & gently sliding by 1 (open) swing bridge, just before the very end as we greet Fradley Junction.