Streethay

Quite a bit has happened since the last post, so here is a quick update. On Bank Holiday Monday 7/5. we departed Shackerstone aiming for Market Bosworth. This was an unplanned move, to facilitate a visit to a dentist the following day. We did wonder if there would be any space to moor at Bosworth, being a holiday weekend and with glorious weather, but to our surprise, we had our choice of spot being the only boat there. Wednesday 9/5. Visits to the dentist complete, our destination was Stoke Golding. The heat of the past few days had reduced, but it was still pleasant cruising weather. It was also much quieter, now all the workers had returned to their day jobs. On arrival at Stoke Golding we secured the boat, and after lunch wandered off to the farm shop at bridge 23 for supplies. Our evening meal was once again taken at the Mango Tree Indian restaurant, I can see this becoming a regular haunt when we pass this way. Thursday 10/5. we had a non moving day, instead taking four legs on a longish walk to Sutton Cheney Wharf for lunch. This is a round trip of about five miles, so it gave our legs a good stretch. The following day, Friday 11/5. we had a short hop of about one hour to Hinckley Marina. We were leaving the boat here for a couple of days, to attend a family Golden Wedding event near Newbury over the weekend. On returning to the boat, we took a further few days restocking the supplies and moving cars around, before finally getting underway again on Wednesday 16/5. Our intended destination was to be close to Springwood Haven Marina. As we navigated through Burton Hastings we spotted Nessie, a couple of hundred miles south of where he or she should be.

Nessie bobbing around at Burton Hastings

Turning right at Marston Junction, rejoining the Coventry Canal, we continued our journey north. We had to pass through Nuneaton, which as per usual meant encountering an increasing amount of rubbish dumped in the cut. As we approached Springwood Haven, we spotted a boat moored in our usual spot so we carried on on a bit. We found a nice spot just prior to a winding hole with some cows for neighbours.

Mooring near Springwood Haven

Thursday 17/5. We had a relatively short distance to cruise, but this did include the eleven locks of the Atherstone flight. We must have been righteous that day. Not only was the sun shining on us, and not so hot as to make it uncomfortable, but at all bar two of the locks we met oncoming boats. This meant nine of the eleven locks were set in our favour. At the bottom of the flight, we plodded on until reaching a usual spot for us, about a mile before Polesworth.

Mooring prior to Polesworth

We only stayed here one night before moving on to Whittington. So Friday 18/5. after breakfast we moved off. The weather was much cooler than it had been for the past couple of weeks. Our journey was going to take us by the birthplace of our boat, at Glascote Basin. We stopped above the top lock of the Glascote pair, at the water point. Whilst waiting we had a look into the Basin from the bridge. We will be back here in July for a boat gathering, which this year includes a hog roast. Once the water tank had been replenished, we set off again descending the two Glascote locks, and then continued on towards Whittington. We passed through Fazeley Junction, bearing right and joining the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. One feature of this canal, is that the bridges are named instead of being numbered. We only had a couple of miles to travel on this canal, before rejoining the Coventry Canal (detached section) at Whittington. Approaching Hopwas it was lunchtime, and the mooring directly outside the Tame Otter PH was empty. This was a sign, so we stopped for refreshments. After lunch we carried on for the remaining couple of miles to Whittington, and found our intended spot vacant. Securing the boat we took the opportunity to try out a new purchase, a sun parasol. Unfortunately, the nice shady seating caused four legs to misbehave, and following a disciplinary hearing, he has been demoted to third mate, for the offence of stealing the captains chair.

Four Legs committing a heinous crime

The demotion in rank also entails a restriction of privileges, meaning no Bonios for a week. A loose plan was to remain here for a week, whilst the crew popped home to do some dog sitting duties. This would give me the opportunity to complete some necessary maintenance tasks, including varnishing and wood staining. Wednesday 23/5. I moved the boat up to Kings Orchard Marina for services and took up a mooring just beyond the Marina entrance. Me and the third mate, will wait here til the crew returns on Saturday.  

  • Totals Monday      7/5.   3 Miles
  •          Wednesday 9/5.   6 Miles
  •          Friday        11/5.  3 Miles
  •          Wednesday 16/5.  11 Miles
  •          Thursday    17/5.  7 Miles 11 Locks
  •          Friday         18/5. 12 Miles 2 Locks
  •          Wednesday 23/5.  1 Mile 
  • Running total 125 Miles 32 Locks 5 Tunnels 

Shackerstone

Knowing fine weather was forecast for the next week or so, and it being a Bank Holiday Weekend, we expected it to get busy on the canal. With this in mind, we decided we wanted to be settled in our chosen spot well before the chaos ensued. We were also approaching the end of our 48 hour limit at Snarestone, although, we could have taken a mooring just beyond the small footbridge for a further seven days, being members of the Ashby Canal Association. So, on Thursday 3/5. we slipped our lines at about 9 am, and moved up to the water point. We had a nearly empty tank, so even with a fast filling tap, it would still take forty minutes or so to fill up. We said our goodbyes to the staff at the Wharf and winded, just as the first of two boats arrived. Back through the crooked tunnel, and then on towards Shackerstone, about three miles away. The sun was up and there was a gentle breeze so it felt warm even by mid morning. Not wanting to end our cruise too soon, we chugged along just above tickover, taking nearly two hours to cover the three miles. We passed beyond our usual spot, this time opting to moor opposite the festival field. This side of Shackerstone is much quieter with foot traffic on the towpath, it seems. On Friday 4/5. we walked four legs to Congerstone, to visit the Horse and Jockey PH for lunch. Today, Saturday 5/5. the glorious weather arrived. On waking there was not a cloud in the sky, and it has remained that way virtually all day. After our morning walk, we wandered up to the railway station to see the steam train which is running this weekend, and also to take lunch in the station tearoom.

  
Mooring at Shackerstone

This afternoon it was time to tackle some of the more onerous tasks, polishing the mushroom vents. The portholes have already been done, but the mushrooms hadn’t been touched since last summer, and to say they were heavily tarnished would be an understatement. In circumstances like this, Google is your friend. I googled tarnished brass and got a multitude of results. One however caught my eye, as it had pictures to support its descriptions. To cut along story short, the web page had conducted many tests on tarnished brass, with various substances. The overall winner for ease of application, and the lack of elbow grease required, was tomato ketchup. I half imagined an individual somewhere in the world, laughing his head off, at the prospect of dozens of people smearing their brass with ketchup. Anyway, hating the task enough to try anything, here is the result of a small test area.

Patch test

I was amazed, a small dollop, left for ten minutes then wiped off. It really was that easy. Next was to tackle a whole mushroom.

Before tomato ketchup
After ketchup applied

  As can be seen above, a mere ten minutes of ketchup with no rubbing required, most of the tarnish has been removed and it is now ready for finishing with Brasso. Credit to https://www.littlehouseonthecorner.com/ultimate-guide-how-to-clean-brass/

The finished result

It was in fact so easy, that the whole process from the initial application of the ketchup, to the final buffing of the last of five vents, took no more than half an hour, including the ten minutes of doing nothing, with very little exertion. What is even better is, it does not have to be premium Heinz tomato ketchup either, this was done with Tesco own brand. One member of the crew thought even this amount of work unnecessary, and found himself a nice shady spot in the grass to watch the proceedings.

Oscar being lazy

Now all that is left to polish is the Houdini hatch and the fairleads. Just one final benefit of this glorious weather is the amount of power we now generate from our solar panel. Today we achieved 100 amp hours for the first time this year, which is approximately two thirds of our daily consumption, and its free.

  • Totals Thursday 3/5. 3 Miles 1 Tunnel 
  • Running total 82 Miles 19 Locks 5 Tunnels 

Snarestone

Following our roast dinner at the Rising Sun PH on Sunday, we had another wet day to endure on Monday, although we did manage to give four legs a walk into Shackerstone before the rain arrived. Tuesday 1/5. the weather finally turned, and got to see the sun once again. We set off after breakfast for the end of the canal, a little over four miles away. As we passed through Shackerstone, we noted that there were not many boats visiting, and so it would be at Snarestone as well. We trundled along at just above tickover in the warm sun, the wind however, was still biting.

Cruising towards Snarestone Tunnel

  The tunnel at Snarestone is fairly short but very crooked, and as such only single way working is permitted. We approached slowly, as it is not until the final few yards prior to the entrance, before you can see through to the other side. It was all clear so in we went, remembering to duck as we proceeded, due to the roof lowering towards the northern end. 

   
Cruising the final section beyond the tunnel

Once beyond the final bridge, we found the mooring empty so had our choice of spot. Several boats did arrive after us, but did not stop long, so we have had the place to ourselves.

                        

   
Mooring at Snarestone

We are moored about 50 yards from the winding hole at the end of the canal. There is a Wharf here run by the Ashby Canal Association, and beyond the winding hole is a newly restored section of canal. We disposed of some rubbish, and popped into the association office for a catch up. Last year we took out membership, and we have since updated this to become life members of the association. The next major project in the restoration, is to build an aqueduct over Gilwiskaw Brook, which is hoped to be commenced this year. Once that is done there is only the small matter of two miles of canal to reinstate, some of which, is having to take a new route to that of the original cut. I was told that they hope to be in Measham in about five years. Today we wandered off to the Globe PH for lunch. I had the steak and ale pie, with proper shortcrust pastry. I can definitely recommend it. Our plan tomorrow is to fill the water tank, wind, and head back to Shackerstone settling for the Bank Holiday Weekend. We expect it may get busy as some fine weather is forecast.

  • Totals Tuesday 1/5. 4 Miles 1 Tunnel 
  • Running total          79 Miles 19 Locks 4 Tunnels

 

Shackerstone Update

So this morning after breakfast, we headed off to Shackerstone railway station. As you would expect, it has an old world feel to it, complete with a proper ticket office staffed by a station master, no such luxury with modern stations. We purchased our tickets, 2 adults and a dog, and in exchange for our money, we received the old style card tickets that could be clipped by the guard. The furry one was a little put out, as his ticket was for either a dog or a bicycle, and for carriage in the luggage wagon.

Ticket Office

Once on the platform the carriages were already waiting, and at the far end, the engine, hissing and puffing away. First order of the day, was topping up the water tank.

Water tank filling

The furry one, still not happy about his relegation to the status of luggage, so we relented, and allowed him to travel in first class with us. He had to settle for the floor, as the plush seating was out of bounds.

Oscar in first class

Prior to our departure there was an opportunity to visit the footplate. The engineer and fireman were both busy making final preparations. As an interesting fact, the engine today would consume three quarters of a ton of coal, during its eight trips up and down the line. I also thought that the training to be an engineer would be fairly long, but was informed that the process can be completed in twelve months, with the right aptitude.

Footplate
Hitched and ready to go

The journey to Shenton takes about 35 minutes, with a stop at Market Bosworth on route. On arrival at Shenton we walked up to the site of the Bosworth battlefield information centre, and enjoyed a pleasant lunch in the warm sun. Returning to Shackerstone station, we visited the museum, where one of the staff shared their boiled egg lunch with Oscar.

   
Railway artefacts of a bygone age

Tomorrow we head off for services at Market Bosworth Marina, and then onto Shenton for a couple of days. Needing to enter a Marina will almost certainly guarantee some windy conditions.