Oct 28

Lots to report, but first, thanks to all who post replies or comments. I appreciate your interest and input!

The church in Hartshill was a surprise. The interior was enormous, white, with a false ceiling, installed in the late 1930’s. Very startling and different from the Victorian exterior. Very friendly and welcoming folk there.

A large storm of hurricane proportions was forecast for Sunday night, so we decided to find a well sheltered part of the canal for the evening. I knew of a well sheltered space that I have been to previously (and posted pictures- see Oct 19.), but we were just too far up the canal to get there, so found a place just outside Nuneaton. Storm didn’t materialize until about midnight, then lots of rain and wind- we felt the rain, but only heard the wind- such was the protection offered by the trees and hedges along that part of the canal.

Off we went this morning, and the canal was bursting full of water (the automatic level control run-off places in full use). The weather was blustery and rainy, but our waterproofs worked, and we had no issues, making very good time. We arrived back in Braunston, just as the light from the sun faded into the cloudless sky. Moored up, and then prepared to go to the local pub for supper, in the now dark evening. Dad stepped out of the boat, saw the streetlight, and made for that. Unfortunately, the light was on the opposite side of the canal, and we have definite proof that he has not yet mastered the skill of walking on the waters yet. We fished him out, and the only casualty was his hat which floated away until he reminded me of that, and I saw it going down for the third time. Glad that was only his hat, though!

The Old Plow pub was a warm and welcome place to have our evening meal.

Tonight is a clear, starry sky night: that fall image that is so welcome after a storm. Reminds me of those nights, far from towns and lights, that are so special: crisp fall air, geese flying south (Canada geese- bet the Brits wish we had kept them at home!), and clear starry skies. A great end to a great day of fall canal travels.

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Oct 26

We have proceeded south, back down the Coventry canal, having turned off the Trent and Mersey. We went into Atherstone after doing the 11 locks on the way there. The weather had been predicted to be lousy: rain and wind, and cold, but we had a great day. There was wind, but sunny breaks and no rain at all until 8:30 this evening as we walked back from the pub (the third we had been in- and that is saturday night- the first two were rowdy, crowded and no fun at all). We ended up at the Anchor Pub, along the towpath, and had a great meal and evening. Rain on the towpath as we walked back- but of little impact. We’ll go back to Hartshill tomorrow morning for church, then on our way smartly as there are hurricane winds predicted for tomorrow evening, and we know of a place to shelter from nasty weather- about 5h from here. We’ll advise as to progress and results.

Hartshill is a quarry center, where the area has been exploited for stone since Roman times. We could have moored a little further up the towpath, near the Anchor pub (see above) but that is right beside a monster stone processing place where they make granite stuff in all shapes and sizes. Noisy, too- all that rock breaking!

We are continuing to have a great time. Mom and dad are wizards in the locks- and yet they appreciate finding the locks set for us (which means that they are ready for us to directly enter, instead of having to empty or fill the lock first to adjust to our level(canal talk)).  The weather has really been overall kind to us, given this time in late October. Having clear skies, and not yet freezing cold, is certainly appreciated. It is amazing how much better the day is with sunny breaks!


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Oct 24

We decided that we should retreat from the flood waters, and have returned up the trent and Mersey canal, back to Burton on Trent last night, and on to Alrewas through another, very small section, of river/canal. The water was very high, Dad stood by with the anchor in case we had engine troubles, and we powered through the fast current. All good, and it was a lovely day to continue. Rain was forecast for the night, and we thought, better go when we can.

We are in Alrewas, a very pretty village, with a great pub for supper (William IV). We intend to return as we came, back to Braunston and then examine options (there are 5) for touring from Braunston in a different direction. All good, because a canal, toured from a different direction, is actually quite a different experience.

We are still enjoying the boating experience, and Mom especially appreciates the narrower locks that we have for the rest of the journey back. I think both of them found the wide locks a bit of a struggle: the gates and paddles are just that much tougher to handle, so not doing the River Soar isn’t that much of a disappointment!


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Oct 22

Lots to report today: this was an eventful one. Clare joined us yesterday in Burton upon Trent. She came by train from London, and we hustled along to be able to meet her there. We had been able to attend church in the little village of Wittington, where the people in the church were very friendly and welcoming. They even invited me to assist with the bell ringing- but I’m not ready for that yet. The bell ringers are certainly keen to include visitors!

The weather has been showery, and so we try an arrange stops somewhat with an eye to those rain showers. However… We toured along, and had a break for lunch, but found that the locks changed to wide locks and the gates and paddles are much heavier. Mom has managed brilliantly (she will come back with awesome upper body strength!) Clare had a great time exploring the boat and the many sights and sounds that canal life offers. She helped with the locks, but had twisted her knee, so the variety of unplanned, irregular activities of the locks proved challenging.

We had a pub and mooring in mind, but they were full and so pressed on until the last vestiges of daylight left us with fewer choices of where to moor. There IS a pub in Barrow upon Trent, so we braved an ‘interesting’ mooring spot (plank, spikes, and the near side in the mud), and then through the rain, wandered into the village to the pub. No food… So, the nearest village was a mile away (??) so we walked along a busy road, in the dark, raining, and Clare with a bum knee. We made it, and supper was fine, but hired a cab to get back to the boat.

Today, on we went, arriving in Shardlow, at the junction of the Trent and Mersey Canal, the Derwent river and the Trent River. The light was red, so upon investigation, realized that the recent rains had swollen the 2 mile stretch of the Trent River we needed to travel, to get to the Erewash Canal to get to Long Eaton, so Clare could catch her train. No passage! So, we are moored in Shardlow, and will either have to wait out the flood waters, or to turn around and return along the Trent and Mersey, to choose another path. We’ll advise.

Here is Clare, Mom and Dad, enjoying the liquid sunshine just outside Shardlow, as we continue our British canal exploration. All part of life aboard!mom and dad with clare1

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Oct 19

Coventry Canal is almost history, as we have toured north, through Nuneaton, Tamworth, and are presently moored between Coton and Hopwas. The day started grey, but got much nicer as things went on, until late in the day as we were going through Tamworth. We finished the two locks, and then a downpour/thunderstorm, of Canadian Parairie vintage, followed as the sun was setting with a total clearing and THE most spectacular, long-lasting rainbow(s) that we have ever (or at least in memory) seen. The photo really doesn’t do the image justice.

momndad1 momndad5

That was a great ending to the cruising day, then we went into the village to the Red Lion and had a wonderful meal. Walking back, we again had the full moon to light the way. Pity that we couldn’t see the eclipse the night before, as we certainly had the mooring place that would have been spectacular, but there were clouds last night.

Dd has been driving the boat, and both have enjoyed the locks, with the photo from the Atherstone flight, which we did this morning.


We’ll continue up the Birmingham and Fazeley canal (which becomes the Coventry Canal again) hoping to get ‘around the corner’ onto the Trent and Mersey canal and along there to Burton on Trent to meet Clare on Monday noonish. So far, all is well, and the canal pace has appealed to both Mom and Dad: they seem to be thriving on the locks, the mooring selection, and the experience of canal boat life.


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Oct 17

Sorry, it has been a while since the last post. I spent the week in Braunston and environs, getting boat parts, setting bits of the boat to rights, etc. I am now more ready for cold weather, with insulation in strategic places, and have other small jobs dealt with.

My parents arrived from Canada yesterday (I fetched them from Heathrow- not myt favourite British place). All good, however, and they are installed. We started a cruise this morning, north on the north Oxford Canal, towards Nuneaton. We are moored on a delightful stretch of the canal, just outside the village of Brinklow. We are going further north tomorrow, and will join the Coventry canal, then further north through Nuneaton. We’ll have to keep an eye on the rain, in case the Soar River gets too full, in which case we’ll chose an alternate route.

green tunnel (now changing colours) ouside Brinklow on the North Oxford Canal.

green tunnel (now changing colours) ouside Brinklow on the North Oxford Canal.

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Oct 10

The wind, she blew. There has been a dramatic change in the weather. The wind is from the northwest, is damp, and 10 degrees colder. The leaves are starting to swirl and will soon be a nuisance on the water. However, the sun was our for a few minutes today, and the evening couldn’t have been more interesting: I had the opportunity to join the local bell ringers in All Saints Church, Braunston, who invited me to begin to learn how to ring changes in a traditional English bell tower. The experience was exceptional, and Peter (85 years old) showed me carefully and explicitly what and how to ring the 400kg bell I was to use. No, DON’T hang onto the rope (you’ll go splat on the ceiling), instead, find the rhythm of the bell and the system, and it is all easy. HAH! Like most cordination, physical tasks, I don’t find that easy, and the learning curve will be steep. However, they did invite me back, and I didn’t break anything.

For an idea of change ringing, search you tube for English change ringing, and you’ll get lots of examples: some good and others obviously recording made when people like me are learning.

I’m still in Braunston: installing winter insulation, anti-freeze and other routine tasks that are part of learning how to live on a boat in changing weather. What is easy and idiot proof (I’m still here!) in spectacular weather, is more challenging in damp, colder, and windy conditions. However, I have heat, am installing draught prevention in lots of places, and all is well.

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Oct 6

Sorry, it has been a while.

I am back in Braunston, having met the boat painter I think I will be using to paint the boat completely, likely during my Christmas sojurn to Canada. Came back down the Ashby Canal, then the Coventry Canal, and finally the northern Oxford Canal, back to the home base in Braunston. The weather wasn’t all that nice: rain, lots of wind, but not cold: it was tropical air, but not the nicest. I chose stopping places based on the shelter, rather than the scenery.

Got back to Braunston late Friday, and was moored by the bridge just outside the marina.

This has to be one of the most photogenic places anywhere.

Saturday I went to Northampton for some bits and pieces for the boat. Why Northampton? I hadn’t been there before, and it was only 20 minutes away. Some fixups when I returned, then a gentle evening under the start: the clouds went away, and so did the wind.

This morning: wow.

my favourite bridge, beside Braunston Marina, on a gorgeous October morn

my favourite bridge, beside Braunston Marina, on a gorgeous October morn

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The photo on the left is the marina where I likely will be based for the winter, about 8 boats up from the right. The right side is the peaceful mooring along the canal itself in Braunston. Wandering Canuck is the boat on the left with the funny white stripes on the bow.

Today was gorgeous: 22 degrees, sunny. Bike ride weather. Polish brass outside, read a book, go for a walk, bask in the autumn special day. Before church this morning, they were ringing changes , and invited me to observe, then join them on Thursday. Guess where I’ll be Thursday?

It is days like today that make this odyssey especially rewarding, memorable, and wishing I could share it with you all.

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Sept 29

IMG_0507The peace of an autumn day of the canals.


The northern Oxford canal- a tunnel of peace and tranquility.

I am now back on the move, having spent a couple of days in Coventry. Plumbing is no longer a mystery, and I have a new radiator to replace the leaky one. Getting ready for cooler days. Was in Coventry Cathedral for morning service: their patronal festival, so everyone was in fine form. The new cathedral is stark and modern, but has the longest reverberation time I have experienced. This was also the last service for the assistant organist who is taking up a new position, and so he really dusted out all the pipes! Was quite magic.

I intend to continue up the Coventry Canal to Nuneaton, checking out a boat painter there, and then perhaps back to the solitude of the Ashby Canal. We’ll see.

This ophoto is just at the marina in Braunston, in the evening: a really magic place and one of the reasons I have chosen this as my base for exploration.


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Sept 25

Well, sorry about the lack of pics.
Internet issues…

I am back on the move, after a number of days in the Braunston area. Karen has returned to Canada, and promised a review of the experience for prospective gap year applicants.

I have spent a couple of days pausing to regroup, to deal with boat issues (coal, diesel, a pew parts ,TV antenna, etc). My  car had an interesting issue: the passenger window suddenly disappeared into the interior of the door. I tried to retrieve the thing, to no avail (expert body work advice needed to take apart a door!) No luck so dredged into my Volkswagen past, and manufactured a new acrylic window as a temporary fix, as  I had done 10 or so years ago on a very cold December day when the driver’s window shattered all over me. Took to Coventry repair shop and all fixed appropriately, at reasonable cost (just took the best part of a day to do so).

I’m now north of Braunston, on the Oxford canal, a stretch of canal I now know quite well (3rd trip). Will go slowly, getting boat details addressed, but weather is spectacular, so bike rides, short canal trips, and general enjoying the lovely autumn is in store. There is no rush. Installed further sound insulation, and will also install hospital silencer (big muffler) when I get that tomorrow at the Hillmorton Canal Shop chandlery ( a favourite place- they are great, provide service, advice and are really cost effective compared to the cold, more expensive, Midland place in Braunston, that I don’t really like.) The place looks like my Vancouver office, but the people are great, and I really like going there. They have the best diesel prices too, though I like to support the travelling fuel barge.

I’m going to see the lay of the canal system to see where to go next: The Coventry canal is interesting and I might spend some time exploring the Ashby as well. We will see.


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