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October 17 -20th

Saturday October 17th – Hopwas to FradleyJunction


We left Hopwas as planned on Saturday morning, fortunately the weather was clement!  It was a very uneventful cruise and it wasn’t long before we were on the approacht o Fradley Junction.  There is a little swing footbridge immediately before the junction so I hopped off the boat and went and opened it, Clive brought the boat through and after shutting the bridge I hopped back on board.  At the junction we left the Coventry Canal behind and turned onto the Trent and Mersey Canal heading North - it was like the M25 on a Monday morning!  There weresooooooooooooooo many boats passing backwards and forwards plus moored boats on either side, it is such a busy junction! After queuing behind another couple of boats and two boats coming down we finally got into the first of the two locks. When we got through there was another boat waiting to come in and another boat in the lock in front, it really was unbelievably busy!


Once through the second lock we saw the moorings up ahead and there was plenty of space for Lady Arwen.  We soon got tied up and the first thing Clive did was put the TV aerial up and check the signal.  We weren’t very hopeful really as the moorings are right at the entrance of a tree lined cutting and we were expecting the trees to break up the signal. However we were in for a very pleasant surprise – 101 digital channels and the picture was so clear it was almost like high definition – amazing!  Clive was absolutely delighted as it meant he could watch the qualifying and the race itself with a really good picture. 


Because the Grand Prix was taking place in Brazil this weekend the TV coverage didn’t start until 5.00pm so we decided to pop down to The Swan for a drink and a bite to eat as we hadn’t had lunch.  It’s a great pub and has been a boater’s watering hole for many, many years.  It is very canal oriented with lots of paintings and canalia in the bar.  There is also a canal shop and chandlery next door.  Once refreshed we headed back to the boat to get settled in before the GP.  We made the decision to stay at Fradley for two days and leave on Monday morning as we have made excellent progress and now don’t need to worry about not getting through Stone before the lock flight closes on November 2nd.


Sunday October 18th – Fradley


As we weren’t going anywhere today there is nothing to report.  We had a lovely relaxing day doing absolutely nothing, well except Clive walked down to The Swan for a pint after lunch! 


The GP started soon after 5pm and Clive was absolutely thrilled to bits when Jenson clinched the world championship.  I must admit I’m a bit thrilled myself –Jenson is the same age as our son Gareth and I have followed his career with great interest ever since he started in Formula One so I am delighted that he has won and of course he’s a Brit, which makes that two Brit’s in a row to become World Champion as Lewis Hamilton won it last year.  Next season is going to be fun as I am sure the pair of them will be battling it out again!


Monday October 19th – Fradley to LittleHaywood


This morning dawned cool but fair and we set off at a reasonable hour. The woodland passage through this part of the canal is still quite green with only a hint of the coming autumn colours, squirrels busy up and down the towpath, doing whatever it is they’re doing…


Some may remember a year ago that we passed the huge factory of Armitage Shanks, the renowned porcelain makers of sinks and toilets. Even travelling in the opposite direction, it is just as enormous; it covers a vast area with pallet after pallet of white goods, waiting for shipment. After about an hour we stopped at Rugeley to do some shopping.


There is a Morrisons close by and it served its purpose admirably, although getting the boat close enough to carry bags back to easily is always a challenge. Mel managed to find a small, compact set of weighing scales, so a more accurate bread-making routine might be in the offing!

The cruise along this stretch was quite pleasant, accompanying a surprisingly small River Trent over on the left and the open expanse of Cannock Chase beyond. The villages of Colwich and Milford drifted past and eventually we reached the village of Little Haywood, where we parked up for the night. Unfortunately, there was virtually no TV signal, so we couldn’t pick up the usual news, but as we are watching a great series, downloaded onto the laptop, it didn’t really affect us too much.


One bright addition to the boat’s menu – Mel has baked!


We have admired and enjoyed Anzac Biscuits, which are available from certain supermarkets. These are oaty, coconutty, golden syrupy biscuits that are simply gorgeous. One of the bonuses is that 4% of all sales go to support war veterans and they are supported by the British Legion. The origin of these yummy biscuits stems from WWII, when the Aussie and NZ womenfolk made biscuits for their troops with whatever they had to hand and sent them off to the front. They played a vital role in keeping the home fires burning for their lads and have since been taken up as a fund raiser for the Red Cross.  When we can, we buy them.  Unfortunately, we can not always get them and as we eat them rather quickly, it’s a problem!


So, with an internet recipe to hand, Mel bought in all the ingredients and made some!

Home made Anzac biscuits

Now, I have to say that they are not quite like the originals – Mel followed the recipe to the letter but....could be too much oats, or not enough syrup or something else entirely but the recipe clearly had something wrong so Mel improvised! Mel’s variety are definitely more crumbly! They are, however, very tasty, so we now have a biscuit barrel full of homemade Anzac biscuits, until we can pick up more originals.


Tuesday October 20th – Little Haywood to Shirleywich


We knew today was going to be wet as we had heard the wind getting up quite early and the sky dawned grey and damp. The radio had warned about increasing rain so after breakfast, we reluctantly set off, waterproofs already on in anticipation. The plan was to move up to Great Haywood junction and call at the Marina there. Last year we had called here and got very good service and we were confident of the same again.


Rather damp, we arrived about 11.00am and one of the service guys helped us moor up and did the Pump out for us. Poking my head into the workshop, I found the guy who had done the engine service last time around and asked him a favour; I need a pair of angle-iron brackets made to fit on each side of the stern; he was happy to do it but it would have to be a few days to complete. We have decided to order a Pram-Hood cover; As you will have gathered, we met a guy walking his dog last year as we negotiated the Atherstone Lock Flight and we still had his business card. AJ Canopies who made the front cover are not talking orders until after February so we are happy to give our new friend Terry Ryan at Viking Hoods a go.


The brackets are needed to help attach a stud that will hold the dodger (bottom half of the hood around the stern) in place. If all goes well, I can drill and tap suitable holes for them in the stern and then paint them up to match the boat.



As we are planning to hire a car and visit Huddersfield this weekend, we plan to call back here next Monday to pick up the final bits before giving the car back.


While we are sitting at Great Haywood, Mel has made use of the good Laundry facilities, so we are in good shape again.


As it is still drizzling, we didn’t want to travel too far, so we are now only about a mile further on near the village of Shirleywich; a bottle of wine open and a great chicken curry bubbling away, so that’s it for now.





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