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70 now and our five wonderful years aboard our narrowboat Skyy seem along time ago. Jacquie, allowed me to build my replica three wheeler kit car, which was a great success. Now it's time to start on a bigger project and that is to make a good Triumph Stag even better, here goes.

Sunday, 25 September 2011



We are so fortunate, whenever we venture out onto the river the sky is always blue and soon after leaving Shardlow the sun was glinting on the wide expanse of the River Trent and its new footbridge.

We briefly stopped just after Sawley Marina, with the massive Ratcliffe on Soar power station as its backdrop. Taking care off essential services we headed to the junction of the Erewash Canal, the River Soar and The Cranfleet Cut section of the Trent. We rejoined the river at the end of the cut and what a beautiful four mile stretch it is from there up until the Beeston Lock. Here we are back on a canal and three miles later we tied up on the extensive visitor moorings, just passed Castle Marina, in the centre of Nottingham. We trotted off to do a little exploring of the city; disappointingly no outlaws or Sheriff’s men came our way.

As we left the mooring the next morning we passed an impressive Magistrates Court, still no sheriff, and many renovated canal building, before turning sharp right under a railway bridge. Half a mile later we re-entering the River Trent, right opposite the Trent Bridge cricket ground and Nottingham Forest football stadium. Unfortunately the good weather deserted us and it was wet and windy as we cruised the eleven miles to Gunthorpe, but the river and riverside homes were still magnificent.

Both the large locks were manned and with the lights set at green we stomped straight in and sooner than expected we passed under the stately road bridge at Gunthorpe and moored at the secure BW visitor pontoon, right alongside Tom Browns restaurant which aptly is set in an old school house. A little while later, friends Ann and Brian who live at nearby East Bridgeford and are regular cruising chums, came to collect us for a couple of days of luxury living in their home. Duggie loves it here as they have a beautiful garden that he does his best to wreck; fortunately both Ann and Brian love Duggie and would forgive him almost anything.

Thursday, 22 September 2011



The steam boat President turned into The Coventry Canal as we dropped down the first lock after turning onto the Trent and Mersey Canal early in the morning. By the time we arrived at lock fourteen a queue of five boats had built up and it took over an hour to clear, the last boat coming up before we went in was a group on a Hireacanalboat.com boat who suddenly realised it was SKYY that was ahead of them, they then reminded us that we had chatted whilst we had been moored at Selby when they were walking the towpath. They had been followers of this blog for some while and have now hired a boat themselves and if the Goolies (they come from Goole) are reading this we hope you really enjoyed your holiday.

At one point a steam traction engine and trailer trundled over a bridge, it could have been Fred Dibners, but sadly he is no longer with us. The village of Arelwas was recommended to us and we stopped for lunch at The Crown Inn, the hot filled bagette and cheesy chips were good but the pub was a little sad. However the village is full of charming cottages and it boasts an excellent butchers, the rib eye steaks were delicious as was the ice cream from the Rainbow gift shop. The busy A38 road runs alongside the canal for several miles, but as soon as we moved away from it we moored up for the night.

The next day we bypassed Burton and its breweries and the Willington power station and a very impressive canal side house before mooring just beyond Swarkestone Lock. A final shower of rain caught up with us and the last rainbow of the day arched across the sky.

Before casting off on Sunday morning we walked into the village of Swarkstone passed a strange, twin turreted building, the summer house of a now demolished Tudor mansion, restored and now available to hire through the Landmark Trust. We didn’t intend to travel too far today, Shardlow was our destination and there are still many attractive canal related buildings surrounding the cut. We were fortunate to get a mooring between the two pubs and we joined another couple, who we had accompanied them through several locks, for a drink at The Malt Shovel, when it started to rain they come on to SKYY for coffee. You really do meet some lovely and interesting people on the cut and Pat and Norman were no exception.

Later that afternoon Jacquie’s cousin, Russell and Andrea his wife, who live nearby joined us for tea and biscuits, what a lovely sociable day it was.

Monday, 19 September 2011



Enough stooging about, although it has been lovely spending time with chums, but today it was time to move on. We made it as far as Nuneaton, but the very strong winds and the need for lunch had us mooring at bridge 21 where the convenient laundry was very handy.

The next morning we moved onto the top of the Athertone flight of eleven locks, but because of low water levels the flight is only open from 8.30 to 4.00 and today the bottom lock will be drained to allow BW to replace a broken paddle rod, once again the Aldi store allowed us to stock up ready for the ‘big push’.

We had intended to be first in the lock when the BW guy removed the padlock on Wednesday morning, but as usual our bed was too comfortable to leave at first light so we were about forth in the queue. Fortunately as soon as we were through the first lock the queue disappeared and almost at every succeeding lock a boat was coming the other way and we were through them in about two and a half hours. We carried on another seven miles and moored just before Glascote Basin and the two adjacent locks at Tamworth. Many of the moored boats hereabouts had protective screens over their windows to protect from flying objects, but apart from a tennis ball landing in the cut next to SKYY which I through back over the fence to it’s apologetic young owner, we had an undisturbed night.

It is good to not be in a great hurry and on Thursday we stopped for a lunch time drink at the Tame Otter in the cute village of Hopwas. There was me thinking that the pub was named after the landlords tame otter before I realised that the River Tame runs nearby, silly me. Another eight miles and we reached the end of the Coventry Canal and we stopped just before Fradley Junction. The Mucky Duck AKA. The Swan pub right on the junction is apparently the most photographed pub in the UK, so no apologizes for including my own one and also one of a giant dragonfly from the nearby nature reserve.

Saturday, 17 September 2011



I had been invited to the annual reunion, on Tuesday, of several of my colleagues from my past business life, all 65 years old now and drawing our State pensions. I missed last years gathering and was determined to make this one; London Midland sped me efficiently from Coventry to London and back for lunch at the RAC Club in Piccadilly, very posh!

Wednesday, and we started back to Hawksbury Junction, where Angela and David visited us for the day on Thursday. They have just traded up to a twin engine 31ft sea going cruiser, which they keep on the Great Ouse at Bedford, but David found the handling of a single screw boat that is nearly twice as long and probably twice as heavy quite a challenge on this windy day. At least it didn’t rain and we returned to the junction for dinner on board before sending them on their way.

The next day we again relaxed before Janice, Kevin and Finley, their miniature Schnauzer arrived on Saturday for the weekend. It was Finley that helped us decide that a Schnauzer was the right breed of dog for us and what a good decision that was. Once all was onboard we set of North and soon turned onto the Ashby Canal, it is over two years since we visited the Ashby and it is still as delightful as we remembered. We turned around and overnighted just short of Stoke Gold and in the morning Jacquie set us up for the day with smoked salmon, bagels and scrambled eggs.

Once again a table had been booked at the Greyhound Pub at Hawksbury and we moored up in good time to make ourselves look beautiful before enjoying another excellent meal. Both the dogs had been left on the boat and seemed quite content when we got back, but they soon had to say goodbye when we walked Janice and Kevin, by torchlight, back to their car and waved them off.

Friday, 9 September 2011



We remembered that there is an Aldi Store in Atherstone and that was our destination and on the way we passed The Welsh Cheese Boat and pulled in alongside, unable to resist the temptation of some unusual flavoured cheddars. We didn’t get as far as Atherstone, but spent Wednesday night just beyond the attractive BW yard at Hartshill and enjoyed a lovely walk over the fields and into the village of Mancetter before returning via the towpath. Jacquie was feeling a bit sore by the time we got back as she had taken a tumble inside the boat whilst I was mooring up and had badly bruised her ribs on the left side.

On Thursday we moored near the top lock at Atherstone and with shopping completed we relaxed and waited for the arrival of Marilyn and Brian and they arrived bright and early on Friday morning. We had previously decided not to go down the locks, because of the water shortage and it was a good decision as there was a substantial queue of boats waiting to go down and a lot of historic old working boats coming up, on route to the festival at Shackerstone on The Ashby Canal; caught in the midst of them was our friend Jane and Michael on Moody Blues returning from a little holiday cruise. The weather was much better than expected and dress code for the day was shorts and after a short cruise we again moored near Hartshill Yard and repeated our Thursday walk.

Saturday had us turning onto the Northern Oxford Canal by The Greyhound pub and retracing our way back to Brinklow, where Marilyn, Brian and I, plus Duggie walked into the town for a drink at the smart Bulls Head pub, happily not so smart that they weren’t pleased to allow Dugs into the bar. Jacquie didn’t join us as she was really suffering from her fall, but the six hourly painkillers were helping to make the pain manageable.

After a wet start to the day we were back at The Greyhound in time for a late, but excellent Sunday Lunch and sat outside enjoying the sunshine and gongoozling the activities of all the other boats as they swung under the bridge.

By late morning on Monday we were back in the Coventry Basin and Brian being a bit of a petrol head, we all trooped of to the Motor Museum, the girls left us to visit the new and old cathedrals and we met up on SKYY to collect their luggage and a short walk later we saw them off on the number 48 bus to return them to Atherstone and their car.