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Our Nige

Author Archives: Our Nige

55 years old. I work in registered care as a care assistant and have my house up for sale and when sold will be buying a narrowboat of some kind to live on. Been a bit of a dream of mine for many years. Don't know for certain if I'll like it but I'm really looking forward to it and think that I will. I have been looking at boats and reading and talking to people over the last 6 to 9 monts and sometimes I feel like I might know what layout I want. I will be on a restricted budget of about 25 to 35k and will be looking for advice and tips to help me make a fair start on the water.

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Steppin’ Out; World Tour 2014, day 12 Saturday. Branston back home to Mercia marina, Willington.

P9130991Good evening as I write this and apologise for the lateness off the final instalment of my World Tour but settling back in and things, you know how it is.

I arose reasonably early Saturday morning and  got myself organised then checked if John my neighbour was up. I wasn’t sure so didn’t knock but shortly he came round I offered him breakfast of milky coffee and a couple of bacon cobs which he eagerly accepted. So we did a bit of catching up and chewing the cud as he’s off out continual cruising for a while now so probably won’t see him for a while.P9130993

I weighed the anchor, far too heavy, spliced me main sail, untied a couple of ropes and I was moving by shortly after 10.30. The day was overcast but warming up quite nicely and I felt at peace with myself and the world. This feeling needs to occur more often, I’m working on it. While autumn colours aren’t in abundance yet some of the trees are starting to change and a few leaves leaving anchorage too. Down passed Shobnall marina and Shobnall fields where there were several P9130994Saturday morning football matches under way and this leads onto Dallow Lane lock where one boat just coming out and another waiting to come up so I was straight in and helped through again. The timing of my arrival at the locks on this trip has been highly fortunate almost spooky some would say. This is a bye product I think of selling my soul.

I am just dawdling along and enjoying the run for home and feeling like I’m glad to be back and looking forward to some of the things I need to do and meeting up with neighbours and friends again even though it’s only been twelve days. I feel well refreshed and have enjoyed my time out tremendously but now there are new ventures to start rolling and enjoyable work to continue as well as not so enjoyable work to go back to on Thursday but it pays the bills.

Back to the meandering along the canal and as I reached the river Dove there were breaks in the clouds and bits of sun and blue P9131007sky. Still quite a bit of traffic and a couple of Avante hire boats passed me, they are based at Mercia. I’d passed quite a few over the last few days heading North so hopefully they’ve had a decent season. I turn a corner and the cooling towers are stood tall and proud and I know I’ve only a couple of miles left to travel. Willington village and a little negotiating under the bridges and down passed the gardens, which face onto the canal, that belong to a row of terraced houses where mostly they grow vegetables and fruit. P9131008There seems to be a good supply of fruit and a couple are busy digging something out or digging it over ready to plant. Under the railway bridge round the corner and I follow the marina trip boat through the tight entrance and I make the turn and never touch a twig. This makes up however for my negotiation of my mooring where we have two boats moored between a pair of jetties and my neighbours are away so I have a double berth to aim for which due to me being very relaxed P9131015and the breeze being the opposite way to normal I miss completely and end up with my nose on the end of the far jetty of the two and my boat across the front of the boats moored on the bottom. I used the end of the jetty as a pivot and got my stern back out into open water, reversed up and quickly tied myself to my mooring. No one saw me so it doesn’t count.

I’d forgotten but there was a free hog roast on over the other side of the marina with drinks and entertainment today. This was to say thank you to the moorers for the inconvenience while building the new Boardwalk which is now partly open. Looking forward to the opening of the bar which P9131026shouldn’t be too long.  My neighbour Ken reminded me and we went and had a look. It had been on since 1 pm and it was now 2.30 so I didn’t fancy our chances of finding anything left. There wasn’t but many were still enjoying the entertainment of a few moorers and friends playing, very enjoyable. Lightning Pete who I know from the folk clubs was leading some of it and he’s a good singer and a really good harmonica player. If you like bluesy, skiffle style good time music Pete and a few others go out as “The Chilli Dogs” and are well worth a visit if playing anywhere near you.

That brings me to the end of my outing which set out quietly and yet came home to a party. I hadn’t realised how much they’d missed me. I can dream. I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings and I’ll try and blog a bit more often and keep you up to date with what’s happening locally and at the marina too.P9131021

Many thanks for reading and the comments.

Take care, God bless you

OurNige

Photos; 1. Looking back as I enter Burton.  2. A lovely tree beginning to change.  3. Shobnall Fields and the football.  4. Pillbox on the river Dove.     5. More blue sky and trees.  6. Over hanging Willow and out of shot left are the couple digging their allotment/garden.  6. Mercia marina with the new Boardwalk building.  7. The merry band of entertainers with Lightning Pete fronting.

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Steppin’ Out; World Tour 2014. Day 11 Friday. Fradley Junction to Branston via Alrewas, stop for butcher, and Wychnor.

It’s good Sunday morning as I write this so apologies but I’ve had a bit of trouble logging onto the site but all seems well now. P9120944Friday morning dawned and I was up fairly early and after popping over to use the CRT facilities I was ready to move by about 11 am. The facilities are kept nice and clean and are well serviceable. The cafe looks quite good too but I didn’t sample their wares so I can’t offer you an opinion.

I poddled off my first lock which was the fourth one of the Fradley flight and someone coming up and a volunteer locksman too. I pulled over and shortly floated in and bid him a good morning and thanked him for his help. They don’t normally do the bottom one I think but as there was no one waiting behind me he went and opened the top gate for me before sorting out the P9120946previous lock. The help we get from other canal users and the volunteers does help to lift your spirits and my opinion of our society.

Another boat was approaching as I pulled out but I wanted to top up with water and there is a tap on the lock mooring at the bottom so headed for land and the bit of breeze caught me so I had to do a bit of reverse and shuffling but made it safely in the end. Now this was a bit strange this tap. There were two locks a Squire and a Yale. I have keys for the Yale which took a bit of opening so was liberally doused with WD40  but after turning the tap no water was issuing from the bit of hose pipe dangling down or from another long nosed type of tap which wasn’t really easy to attach anything to as it was sat in a cut out in the metal. I should have took photos I realise now I’m trying to describe it. I didn’t appear to have anyP9120973 keys on my boat bunch that fitted the Squire so thinking I realistically should have plenty of water to last me a couple of days I gave up and set off. I must send an email to CRT in case it needs repairing or something.

Off we set in the beautiful warmth of another hazy summer day. Listening to the birds and watching for whatever wildlife was about and admiring the general beauty of the trees and plants. It was a pleasure just to be alive and experiencing the day as it unfolded. I was beginning to feel that I was unwinding at last. A short hop down to Common lock which if I remember rightly I had to do all by myself as there was no one there. Shock, Horror. P9120950Down to Alrewas where the stanchions of the road bridge have been graffitiised, I think legally and authorised, I’m not sure whether I like or not. Bagnall lock and a good morning to a fellow boater who then walks past lock and offers to help when he sees I’m on my own, so many good folk about, I decline as I feel I need a bit of exercise and it’s only a shallow one so no real steel ladder climbing.

Down through the lovely village of Alrewas where quite a few boats were moored with gaps between which I kept looking at and wondering if I could get in. If they had moored closer to each other there would have been lots of room. Gave the impression of inconsiderate mooring. Not everyone is helpful and friendly we have to accept that but not join in with it. A little further down I found a space more than big enough and P9120952I pulled my boat back up about six feet of the boat behind. I’m glad I did as later someone else moored up in front of me and there was plenty of room between me and the boat in front.

Shopping bag in hand I set on the long expedition and dangerous expedition to find supplies. I was accosted by two nice ladies who wanted to know where the town centre was and could they get a coffee and I duly pointed them in the direction of the shops and a couple of pubs which I thought would be more than happy to supply them with a couple of cups instead of glasses unless they changed their minds and went for a tipple when they got there. It was past noon on the old sundial. The butchers, Coates I think it P9120956was, had real beetroot outside so I snaffled a bunch of that along with a bunch of tomatoes still on the vine and went inside. An extensive array of meat from the usual animals and different cuts laid out along with breasts and steaks that had already been marinated in various solutions. Me I wasn’t going to do much real cooking so smoked bacon, 1/2 a pork pie, 1 lamb burger and a pasty which looked like wholemeal pastry, I should have asked, which I had for lunch on my return to the boat. A quick walk a little further along to the Co-op for a dozen of the small wholemeal cobs, these are rolls, bread cakes, baps or other names depending on your place of birth, they exceedingly good as they are quite solid and not just light and fluffy. I like my wholemeal bread to have substance.

After devouring the very tasty pasty for lunch and a short rest I set off again and found help in the form of other traffic going P9120957through the bottom lock and the boat and owner to go in as I come out was from my home marina of Mercia, he recognised the front of Steppin’ Out and I’d seen The Navigator before as we live on opposite sides of one the bays in the marina but hadn’t spoken before so good to get to know another fellow moorer.

Out on to Alrewas river section and into the wilderness of the reeds and tall grasses that line the first hundred yards or so of the canal/river as you turn off the river proper. I suppose this is customary of rivers to canals as the banks are tended on the rivers. I was thinking back to when we were on the broads many years ago, about forty or more years ago to be precise, it adds a charm and variety but does limit the view much more than on the canals. Down through the canal side moorings which look good and are in a P9120959peaceful setting. On to Wychnor lock which again I had to do myself and then the first of the stretches of canal that run alongside the A38. The birds still sing and there is still a sense of peace amongst the roar of the traffic fifteen or twenty yards away. Barton Turn marina with it’s waterfront pub and shops. I will have to call in to sample the quality of their goods for reporting purposes one day.

I am now approaching Barton lock and there is a boat in the mouth of the lock having just come out. There are many people milling about and doing lock type things, raising or lowering paddles and pulling, pushing gates, I’m a bit far away to see exactly, but I can’t make sense of it. Why are they filling the lock behind a boat that has come through and with a boat coming down the canal towards them. I am for a moment non nonplussed, in fact my plussed hasn’t been so nonned for a while. As I get closer I realise what is happening but it’s the first time I’ve come across P9120962anyone who is actually towing another boat through a lock.

Into and out the other side where I again don’t moor up to close the gates but leave the boat in the mouth of the lock while a quickly close the gates but keep a watch on my boat too, just in case, but this has a long mouth so not much likelihood of it wandering away anywhere and off we set again. Now we’re back proper in what is familiar territory for me heading up to Tattenhill lock where I have helpers again who do the lock for me which I know makes it quicker for them too but is much appreciated. Before you get to the lock there is one of those bridges which is only seven foot wide gives you the opportunity to see how good your aim is, I got straight through with out touching the sides this time.

P9120970Now the day is turning into a lovely evening and no thoughts of a sweatshirt yet. On through Branston water park till the Bridge Inn appears which says Italian Pizza and Pasta Restaurant again I don’t know how good the food and service are but quite often a few boats are parked there so I think it’s popular. I sail on through Branston lock and look for my friends boat which is where I’m going to moor. He’s visiting friends in Derby otherwise we would have gone for a drink but we spoke about having breakfast instead as he’s off out travelling the cut shortly. After mooring up and a tuna fish salad with a portion of delightful pork pie I sit down to write my blog for you and horror. I am Forbidden access to the site. What has Paul found out about me? All the skeletons that are lurking in my closet I mull over but while I have done many things I’m not proud of I can’t think of much that would be get me banned. I’ve never even peed in the canal on my way back from the pub. I don’t leave litter, I don’t leave lock gates open.

It turned out not to be me but a bit of problem with spam so here we are again. One more blog to do for this trip after this one and I will try and blog a bit more often this coming year.P9120984

Cheers and good health.

OurNige

Photos; 1. Leaving my first lock of the day.  2. Moorings just below Fradley bottom lock.  3. The Wildlife. Question do you A. write a book about said wildlife, B. produce a film? or C. Make a pie?  4. The bridge art.  5. nice garden at Bagnall lock.  6. Alrewas, if you’re going to have a summer house you might as well have a good one.  7. Alrewas bottom lock.  8. Approaching Wychnor lock.  9. Looks idyllic from this angle and is lovely but the A38 is twenty yards the other side of the boat. 10. One of those narrow bridges.       11. My nights mooring, a bit too close to the main road but I still slept well.

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Steppin’ Out; World Tour 2014, Day 10, Cannock Chase to Fradley Jct, Including, excitement, near death and sun.

Good evening everyone. I did nothing yesterday and today it’s been jam packed with excitement and incidents. I rose relatively P9110879early and was under-way before 11 am. There seemed to be lots of traffic moving in both directions as I’d sat and had breakfast and that was sort of the order of the day. However shortly after setting sail and taking a bearing on the Shetland Isles, I do need a new map book, I came across a Heron stood at the side of the canal, not too unusual I agree, and he stood there as I approached and with camera in hand I thought I might get a decent picture and indeed I did. He stood stock still and as I passed plunged into the water and came up with his own breakfast. A rather pleasant start to my travels unless you happened to be the fish.

P9110885I meandered along at a very sedate pace and met a few boats going north but none thankfully following me so I could cruise at my leisure. A sharp right turn and across the aqueduct which brings you to the outskirts of Rugeley and a 90 degree left hander. A straight run of houses all about 50 ft above you and gardens that drop down to back onto the canal. Here I was visited by more wildlife. This time it was a black butterfly with red on it’s wings. Not a Red Admiral as I can recognise those and I haven’t looked it up P9110886yet. I’m sure one of you here will know what it is. Now we are beginning to hit the town centre and I’m thinking of stopping to do a little shopping but after arguing with myself I decide not too. Is it me or do we often look to shop when actually, in my case anyway, I have enough to do what I want to do tonight. Sausage and mushroom sarnies. These are the Cumberland ones I bought from the canal side shop at Great Haywood and I P9110888raise my hat to them, they were fabulous. I’m going to work on shopping less and using what I buy and trying not to buy things on impulse. This will be a struggle.

As I said on my way up I find These three little towns very pleasant. As you pass through the town centre area it does narrow down and if boats are moored then a bit of care is needed if you meet anyone coming the opposite way. Today I didn’t and slowly meandered my way through say morning to people and waving to others who were hanging their washing out in their gardens. The sun on my back and warm with out burning. This was turning into a rather appealing sort of day and was only improved when God spoke P9110889to me. No there wasn’t a peal of thunder and no I don’t and didn’t here a direct voice but I know it was him. I have a habit of complaining about others who aren’t courteous, or don’t slow down proper when passing, or don’t slow down when you meet under a bridge, or push in at the bar and that sort of thing. You may on occasions do this yourself. Well I got to this bridge and I was halfway through and someone came round the corner and they did slow down a little but by the time I could move right and get out of the way there wasn’t much room between us, a couple of feet, and I just thought why not slow down so you’re not almost threatening the other boat and as they passed and I shook my and said “Oh Lord is it me???” The answer popped up and he said “actually yes it is you. These numpties will continue being numpties so stop whingeing smile and get on with it.” I thought well that’s fair enough.

P9110910Now we leave Rugeley and visit Armitage, another lovely stretch of canal and up past Spode priory there are some allotments which I think look grand and I noticed today an old washerwoman scarecrow waving at me. Should I cut down on the drugs I wonder. A little further on and we come to what may be the only tunnel in the world that doesn’t have a roof. Did they build it for people who are claustrophobic I wonder. It does have a bridge P9110898built over it now which makes it like a tunnel again but apparently due to subsidence they had to take the roof off.

Next we have near death at the hands of a Buzzard, or should that be “wings of a Buzzard”. I digress but as I left Armitage hit Handsacre’s lovely waterfront bungalows and a very sharp left hand bend I spotted a Buzzard circling and he wasn’t very high so I grabbed my camera and slowed down and took a few photos of him and with my head up hadn’t seen this boat coming the other way. He however had seen me and slowed right down too. So I apologised and blamed the Buzzard, as you do, and he smiled and we continued our journeys.

P9110904The stretch of canal from leaving Handsacre down to Fradley junction is to me a sheer joy. Tree lined and meandering with reeds and grass. Today with the sun shining down, the birds singing and something feeling just as it should it seemed to take on a new shade of elegance. An abundance of different shades of green. Water swirling behind and the sun high in the sky. If you can’t enjoy boating when it’s like this then it’s time to go home.

I met some more wonderful people at Woodend  lock who helped me through, they were walking, so I offered them a lift down to Fradley, Jeff accepted but his wife Annie declined, I think she remembered what her P9110914mother had told her about accepting lifts from strange men. They had hired boats for years but were thinking about buying so we had a good chat on the way down to Fradley. Jeff helped through a couple more locks and I left them at the Swan pub and dropped a further lock and was pleased to find a mooring waiting for me so I soon joined them outside the pub with a pint of Outlawed, for me a very nice pint indeed. Pint number two and then back for the sausage sarnies and to write this blog.

This has been a truly enjoyable day. I feel at peace with myself and some of the world too.P9110943

Take care and may God bless you.

OurNige.

Photos; 1. Heron catching his breakfast.  2. First garden as you turn into Rugeley,  3. A fore said butterfly.  4 and 5 Rugeley town centre area.               6. A beautiful bridge.  7. Armitage tunnel.  8. Allotments and Mrs Scarecrow. 9. The Buzzard and 10. My Fradley junction mooring.

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Steppin’ Out; World Tour 2014. Day 9 Wednesday. Lazy Wednesday afternoon.

P9100849Hi folks doesn’t have the same ring as Lazy Sunday Afternoon by the Kinks but I’ve decided to recharge my batteries and have a day lounging about. I didn’t surface till 10 o’clock. Bone idle no excuses. I think it will do me good as I feel quite worn out after yesterday. Only 3 locks but a lot more pulling and holding the boat while queueing. My knee was giving me a little trouble last night and I couldn’t see why at first then realised I’d probably done more yesterday than other days.

Wall to wall hazy sunshine and very warm.  What to tell you about as I haven’t done lots. Half hour on the guitar this morning. Then decided to mop the bird poo off the top of the boat and cleaned out the cruiser stern asP9100851 it had got a bit untidy and dusty over the last week or so. This isn’t major surgery let me tell you, just a quick flick. I have however refilled my stern greaser and mopped the water out of the engine room. I get a bit of leakage when I’m moving I think it’s the age thing.

P9100854The big question today is what do I take pictures of as I’m not going to be travelling and one field of sheep looks pretty much like another. I think I found 6 to keep you entertained or might be 7 and I’ll pinch one from late last night.

While out travelling this last week and while washing the poo from the roof P9100866it has brought home to me how much in need of a paint job she is. The windows need taking out while painting too as there are rust bleeds coming through. So while I don’t have many leeks yet, I’ve found one recently, sanding and undercoating and generally sprucing her up ready for next year has to be a priority over the autumn, winter, spring and early summer. Also having some hooks to hang windlass, mooring pins, chains, pegs and hammer on so everything is at hand when required.

Organisation that’s what I need to do. Put things where 1. I might know where they are and 2. might be able to lay hands on them when needed, especially if in a little hurry. This sounds very helpful and similar to what I probably thought after last years trip out but progress could be made on my return to base.

P9100868It’s been a relaxing and yet mildly productive day. Another session on the guitar and I think I’ve sorted out one of the songs I want to record. Read a little more of Andrew Marr’s History of the World. Only just started it but I’m finding it very interesting and thought provoking. Seems to be leading P9100875me down the anti establishment route in fact I may be revolting. Not sure I’ve phrased that right but there you go.

The sun is just sinking down now and I shall be poddling through Rugeley and Armitage tomorrow. Might stop for a bit of shopping. Sorry it’s a bit short but normal service may be resumed tomorrow.

P9090838Thanks for reading.

Cheers, Nige

Photos; 1. The crack of dawn. Well 10 o’clock actually.  2. A nice boaty pic.      3. One of the windows showing the rust. Not horrendous yet but needs tidying up.  4. My own little recording studio. Modern technology is an amazing thing especially when living in a smaller space.  5. The power station peeking out at me.  6. A lovely evening sun.  7. Last nights burning bush.

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Steppin’ Out; World tour 2014, Day 8 Tuesday. The danger of water and more good folks.

Hi anyone. All the blogs should now have photos. I think I’ve found a cure but it hasn’t solved the problem. The last 2 days I put captions on theP9090791 photos and it wouldn’t show them. So I took them off. Today has been a belter of a day. Wall to wall sunshine a little hazy but that stopped it burning so much. It’s now nearly 6 o’clock and it’s still lovely and warm. A lot of traffic today and a few of us were wondering if it is because the school kids have gone back and everyone is rejoicing. I’ve only done 3 locks today and have queued at them all.

P9090801I actually managed to get moving before noon today. I think it was about 11 o’clock when I set out. Hoo Mill lock was a bit further than I thought it would be and rounding the corner I found someone waiting. There isn’t a lot of mooring there, about a boat and a half so I hovered for a little while before I could moor up and join in the fun. Someone right behind me once I did get it. All good kind folks and after a bit of a wait I continued on my way and enjoyed the warm sunshine. Moored up at Great Haywood and set off with rubbish in hand and a shopping bag. Rubbish dropped off now to find more supplies. I like the worst bits of meat really but like only the best so I had a couple of their own home made faggots, 3 links of their own cumberland sausage, mushrooms and a fresh wholemeal loaf, oh I nearly forgot  I had one of their pork and shropshire blue sausage rolls which I had for lunch and it was delicious.

Now the days acrobatics and excitement. I moved down a hundred yards to the water tap. I decided not to spin round and moor with water cap P9090802to the bank but manage with it on the canal side of the boat. I have 2 pieces of flat hose for watering 1 short one and 1 longer one but I still had to pull the boat back a little from  where I had first moored. It is also very warm and I’m sweating like a garden hose to be polite. Anyway moved it back and the long one just about reached. Removing the cap was a little problem holding on with one hand while bending down and unscrewing with the other hand. I’m not as yound and agile as I used to be but the job was done. Now to get the hose in the top and do I switch it on first or not. If I put it in and turn it on and it flies all over and goes in the canal not very good or hygienic so I thought I would try it with the water on. Now if you’ve used a flat hose before you will know they tend to do a fair impression of an angry cobra doing a jig and it was nearly in then lept out then one side then shot over the other then miracles of miracles it went in and stayed in. Hooray, for Hollywood.

P9090811I have a list now from this holiday so far of things to get or things to do or organise ready for my trips out next year. A proper hose on a real is on this list a long with a pole and plank rack and a few other things to help keep the roof tidy. I managed not to fall in the canal either when I put the water cap back in place.

Now I can venture forth again and join another queue of boats waiting down at P9090814Shugborough lock. I have to hover again as I’m fourth in the queue. It isn’t particularly breezy so it isn’t a problem. Now we all know there are some grumpy people about but these were all good folks and made it a pleasure to pass the time of day with them while we all waited and worked together. This applied to those in front of me and those coming up behind who would wait a little longer. The day was enhanced rather than detracted from by this. Through Shugborough lock and off into the great wide open all the way to Colwich lock where we all met up again and did the same once more.

P9090815This would be most peoples last lock for the day that I’d met as I was hoping to moor up before Rugeley. The two boats in front of me were heading for Rugeley and they were son and wife in one boat and mother and father in the other, they weren’t live aboards so had bought two boats that fit in one lock at the same time. Saves time when your out cruising together. Very clever my dear Sherlock. The couple behind were heading for the Plum Pudding as they eat there whenever they are this way. Another recommendation for their Italian cuisine.

I chugged off again thanking all of them for their help and hoping they had a great time. P9090822The sun was still shining and still nice and warm I cruised up through bridge 70 where there are some good moorings and took the first of the three single moorings just up from there. It gives you more of a feeling of solitude. Lovely views and the evening sun shines on you till it finally retires for the day.

I have sat and done my blog after dining early today at 5 o’clock. I had the same as I did 2 days ago to finish the bacon. Real bacon, real free range egg with mushrooms and tomatoes. I did get my egg to perfection this time as I managed to poach it spot in. All the white cooked and the yolk runny so you can dip your bread in it and the tomatoes run in with the yolk and make it perfick.

I’ve no doubt that a glass of fine cider and a tot of the finest of whiskies, Talisker, may accompany my reading or guitar playing later after watching the sun go down. Tomorrow will no doubt bring something else of interest and value.

Remember we are all like narrowboats. We cannot be guided if we’re not moving forward, even if only slowly.P9090829

May your God go with you.

OurNige

Photos; 1. Morning from the back of the boat.  2. Great Haywood moorings opposite the canal side farm shop and cafe.  3. the flat hose running across the front of the boat. Sorry I couldn’t dangle there removing the cap and taking a photo at the same time.  4. The view back up towards Shugborough lock.  5. A house with the largest rhubarb I’ve ever seen.       6. Some of the good folk I’ve met today who helped me and each other.   7. I just thought it had charm. I hope it didn’t empathise with me as it felt it had met a kindred spirit or I might not be in as good health as I think.  8. My mooring for the evening.

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Steppin’ Out; World tour 2014, day 7 Monday. Stone to Hoo Mill lock

Good evening to you all. The sun is still burning the sky but I’m moored up by 17 o’clock as I want  a bit of time to myself. I’m very selfish like that. I am in the middle of nowhere or it feels like that but after mooring up a man came past with his dog and then I spotted an articulated lorry followed by a car then followed by a bread van. These were about 50 yds away and now I have another boat mooring up with me. Bugger. I’m not really unsociable just fancied a night of total solitude. I shall try for that tomorrow then.

I rose about 8 am and cheese on toast and coffee for breakfast. Had a walk into Stone as I’d spotted a shop with the title Yesterdays and a few bits in the window looked OK. I had a look in some of the other shops and then went back and treated my self to a wooden fruit bowl, a knife and spoon, 3 DVDs about or taken from the Hubble telescope, I hope they are good and I couldn’t resist a DVD with 1 episode of The Prisoner starring Patrick McGowan. I know how to push the boat out. £8.50.

Stone is in my opinion from what I’ve seen a good place to moor if you

want somewhere pleasant down by the water and not unpleasant in the town part. Shops Banks and plenty of Italian restaurants. I wonder if this is a feature of the area as there seem more where I’ve moored up since up Great Haywood, Stone way than there is Derbyshire way where it seems more Indian restaurants. Choice is always good. On the way out of Stone there are a lot of properties that look out or back onto the canal and mostly modern with a few nicer older properties so those who prefer the land and can afford the prices can have nice home too.

Some one coming up as get to the first lock of the day and when negotiating coming out I leave the boat in the mouth of the lock and nip up the stairs to close the gates, keeping an eye on the boat let me tell you as this, for me anyway, is a daring new adventure as I’ve always moored up and walked back to shut the gates. This is so much quicker. My first attempt going down which means you have to climb steps so are away from your boat. I did use this as well when I was coming up the locks and it works a treat but you are much closer to the boat if anything were to happen.

As we leave Aston lock the marina is on the left and it’s a fairly straight bit

of canal down through Burston where there is a sign on the bridge advertising the Greyhound Pub then on again on again to Sandon lock which at the moment has a damaged bottom gate paddle so looks like it’s open even when it isn’t. It will still fill enough to let the top gate open properly. The gear mechanism on the damaged paddle works OK. Help again from some really nice people. There are some idiots and grumpy bums about but generally many more good people than bad I would have to say.

Lovely scenery as there is mostly and heading for Weston on Trent where I was half thinking of mooring up for the night. There are some decent moorings top side of Bridge 81 and a couple of gorgeous moorings between 81 and 80 which I managed to hesitate over as I was trying to take a photo at the same time and missed them, sod, and comfy walking distance to the Saracen’s head too. I’m a bit of a f…..ool sometimes. I was going to say fart but thought it might be too rude for the boating community. There are some more moorings bottom side of bridge 80 but no room was to be had so I soldiered on.

I came to Weston lock were a boat had come through but I missed the

drop as there were 2 waiting to come up so caught the next one and had a chat with some people from Langley Mill and some from Shardlow. They helped me through so again an easy day. Now I’m looking at bit more earnestly for a mooring but some which looked OK only had wood and I was feeling idle and wanted armco to save using the hammer.  I meandered along taking the odd photo and keeping a look out and then I found a guy pulling off a mooring opposite a line of trees, deserted and armco and rings set in concrete. The sun shining on the bit I was about to moor up on so what could be better. Moored up and looked around, not a soul in sight and you remember the rest from the beginning of this blog

and now there are a line of 4 boats. Well if I’m honest it’s not my canal and I’ve only paid about the same as everyone else and it isn’t like it’s intrusive or any of them are making a great deal of noise. I’ve just had a good listen as I write this and I can’t really hear any of them at all and 4 of them are out BBQing.

There has been quite a lot of traffic passing between 5 pm when I moored up and now which is 7.20 although it has dropped off. There are a few clouds drifting over and the sun is slowly sinking. No fabulous sunset to

take pics of but it’s been another great day and I’m fair dinkum tired Bruce. My plan for tomorrow is to try and move a little earlier and call at Great Haywood’s canal side farm shop then hope to find one of the three moorings on the edge of Cannock Chase and have 2 nights there so I can have a leisurely day and get a few songs recorded so I can put them on my YouTube site. This site has 2 of my own songs on already with a slide show background making it like a video so if you want to have a look then go to YouTube obviously and type in OurNige and the songs are called Sometimes and The Emptiness. More will follow once I can get them recorded then put the photos to them which also take a bit of time.

Any way it’s getting near to bed time so I shall go lay my weary head down.

Take care and God bless.

OurNige.

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Steppin’ Out; World tour 2014, Day 6, Grt Haywood to Stone

Ha good evening I’m just settling down to write this alongside a glass of Capt  Morgan’s spiced rum having consumed a fine meal

of thick sliced smoked bacon, this butcher, Parr’s in Sutton in Ashfield, smokes it himself and it doesn’t produce white gobbets of water when it’s grilled or shrink hardly as it hasn’t been pumped with water in the first place. A friend I know keeps his own chickens so my egg was truly free range and rather delicious, grilled mushrooms and smothered with chopped toms with cinnamon, mint, and Italian seasoning. The hardships I have to endure in my quest for simplicity. Oh and a couple of slices of wholemeal bread and some brown sauce.

Right then. Where were we. I didn’t surface till gone 9 o’clock this morning and a light breakfast and a coffee and took my rubbish down to the bins for boaters near the Anglo-Welsh boatyard. Steadily got myself organised. Dropped my pram-hood. Another benefit of which when out cruising is a little extra security, sort of. I know it doesn’t stop anyone but with the hood up and putting the side nearest the tow path in place it gives a bit more privacy people can’t see everything I’ve got lurking under my seat.

The sun is beating down and the forecast is for the same all day and tomorrow then dry and warm but a bit cloudy till at least Thursday. I hope you all appreciate the suffering I’m enduring just to bring this scintillating report to your breakfast/supper table. Sun cream applied, bandanna secured, camera in place and a bottle of coke at hand we are ready to depart. So of we jolly well go. Plenty of private moorings along side the canal at Great Haywood so a while admiring or wondering at the condition of some then the moorings stop once you pass the entrance to the marina and it becomes more at peace with reeds, trees and rushes. Then Hoo Mill lock appears. Someone comes out so I go in and someone waiting to come down so I don’t have to do anything at all to get through the lock apart from thank this wonderful couple for the help they’ve given.

Off up the cut again and it’s lovely just dawdling along in the warm

sunshine. There is a noticeable breeze though which does affect you occasionally but no real hardship. A lot of wonderful open country side to travel through and some interesting and lovely houses to add variety to the journey. Weston lock then Weston on Trent which looks a nice small village and then a line of beautifully situated moorings. They may not have all the facilities but they do have the outlook. Turned the corner and a row of about 20 or so anglers. I thanked most of them as I went past very slowly. Some spoke, some were pleasant and none were rude. Boaters and fishermen have to learn to get along as in the end we need each other to keep the canals and rivers in the best condition for all of us to continue to enjoy.

Now Sandon lock. Oh a bit of good fortune for me again as at the last lock and again here the boat behind as caught me up helped me through the locks so I’m still not doing them on my own really. In fact I’ve hardly done any in the 6 days I’ve been out. Again nice people. Many, many thanks. The country side rolls on as do the miles and the sun keeps beating down and I apply more sun cream to the side of my face which now feels a little hot under the continuous sun. We of the Cloud Appreciation Society see the benefits of our friends the clouds not just to add beauty to a dull all blue sky but a little respite from the blazing sun we continually get in the summer. ??????

Down towards Aston lock and the Aston marina which appears to be quite

large and offers a butchers, a shop and a bistro with short term, long term moorings and over night stay if required.  Well that’s what their sign says. Looks modern and well equipped from what I could see. Now at Aston lock my friends are not behind me so I have to empty the lock then cruise in and close the gates. The bottom gates here are ridiculously easy to move so be careful with them. I raised the ground paddle slightly and waited for the boat to go back a little then forward, I’d left it in gear to keep the nose on the gate but it wasn’t coming back to the gate. It was a foot off it????? My friends

arrived and as they got their windlass out I realised I hadn’t dropped the paddles in the bottom gate. If I’d been on my own I could have been there for a while. She did agree with me that I shouldn’t really be let out on my own. Anyway through the lock then into Stone. It is quite a way from this lock up to next lock and the Star public house and a mooring was to be had about 400 yds down from it.

Get the home in order, a quick shower and a walk into town to find a cash

point. I walked past the star and sort of headed left then followed the road round and eventually found a couple of banks to withdraw some loot. A walk through the now deserted shopping area and back down to the Star where I tried a pint of the Bank’s Sunburst which advertised a  light fresh citrus flavour and indeed it did deliver. A really clean, tasty and wholesome pint it was then back to base for the previously described bacon, egg and tomatoes and write this blog.

Who knows what tomorrow may bring. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll love you tomorrow, it’s only a day away.

I could write for musicals you know if I tried.

Oh well good night.

Nige

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Steppin’ Out; World tour 2014, Day 5 Sat, Cannock chase to Grt Haywood

Good evening folks I’ve just had a really good day as I’ve been joined by a couple of friends and their eldest son, who is off to live in America very soon and it’s been lovely.P9050687

A gentle start and it really is a lovely place to moor between Rugeley and Little Haywood with the Chase open on your left, lovely. I set off to meet up with Tom, Julie and Richard and meandered up the canal just enjoying the countryside, the birds and life in general. When I got to Colwich lock I pulled over on the lock moorings but someone coming down so just held her there for a few minutes and straight in. A couple coming down so I didn’t even have to get off the boat or do anything. Lovely people and many thanks.

P9060706I’d arranged to meet them at Shugborough lock but then changed it to the canal shop for ease of parking and dropping them off after a day out. When they arrived we had a look round the farm shop and bought some P9060707things for lunch. It might not be the cheapest place but local veg, good butcher and they bake their own pies and cakes and bread. I have a fondness for real faggots and love the different taste from one butcher to another, provided they do their own. Faggots are some times called savoury ducks too. The faggots at Great Haywood farm shop are excellent. We also had a free range pork pie which was excellent as well. If you like quality food it is a great place to shop. The ice cream is worth a try if you like that sort of thing.

P9060702We pottered up the Trent and Mersey my friends loved the views and the pace and Tom was picking out the places to fish as he’s a keen angler. I had to do a little reversing again meeting another boat at a bridge with not a lot of room but no problems. We only went up to bridge 78 then wynded, is that a real word or not I ask, and came back down. Just a thousand revs most of the time and some good conversation. We turned into the Staffs and Worcester and turned back again at Tixall wide. Then moored up opposite the new cafe next to the farm shop.

Time for a spot of dinner now so we walked in to the village where the Fox P9060701and Hounds is boarded up so we ended up at he Clifford arms where I called in last year but wasn’t too impressed. Two good things this visit. The main course of steak, mushroom and ale pudding was fine nothing special. The pint of Spitfire was excellent and for a starter I had the creamy garlic mushrooms. Absolutely fabulous. If I call again I might just have two portions of the mushrooms and leave it at that, they were gorgeous.

P9060713A walk back up the side of the canal and waved my friends goodbye. So I’m afraid not that much to tell you about today. Oh I’ve just remembered. When I got to Shugborough lock this morning a boat came by and they said something then said they read livingonanarrowboat and occasionally blog so I said I would give them a mention. I hope they won’t be offended if I get the names wrong but I think it was Phil and Wendy on narrowboat Top Notch. It’s really nice when you get to meet other site users so if you see me out and about please speak up and introduce your selves. They were heading south as I was going north so I wonder if I’ll see them again on my way back.

God bless you all.

OurNige

Photos, I’m sorry they don’t always appear alongside the words that relate to them, I try but with out going mad it’s not feasible. Photo 1. This was last nights mooring I may try to get there again on the way back.  2. garden at the side of the lock.  3. the lovely people and their boat that helped me through the lock.  4 and 5 some lovely scenery. 6 I’m sorry. I know I may get excommunicated for this picture but I just love the look of wooden cruisers. This one moored at Tixall.

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Steppin’ Out; World tour 2014. Day 4, Friday Armitage to Cannock Chase.

Good evening to you all and a lovely day it’s been. I haven’t travelled far but have got one of my jobs done that I wantedP9050655 to do in fact maybe nearly two. If you count swabbing down the side of the boat on which I was moored, I might do the other side in a bit or tomorrow as I’m moored on the other side now if I’m making any sense.

I officially changed my boat name at the beginning of Aug when I renewed my boat license so it is now on my license things you have to display and I’d sanded and scratched one side off and learned how to remove transfers and sticky letters eventually so now I’m out and can P9050656get at the other side I decided to get Forty Winks removed all together. A much easier task now I know they are sticky letters and transfers and about an hour of scraping and peeling and the name is no more. A little sad perhaps but Forty Winks meant nothing to me so now she is called “Steppin’ Out” I did consider others but I’ve stepped out in a few ways again lately so it really had to be that and of course all my blogs from the start have been Steppin’ Out so that’s what she’s called now.

P9050660After breakfast and coffee I moved from the Plum Pudding down through the Armitage tunnel, which has no roof?, then moored up opposite Hawkeshead Priory while I remove the stickers and sanded a 4 or 5 bad rust blebs and gave them a spot of primer. I rang and confirmed my booking for bottom blacking in November at Shobnall marina, tidied things up, had a quick shower then went and filled up with water and we were ready to roll.

I’m not sure I can keep this level of excitement up but I’ll try. Nasty little bend with bridge as you pull of the water with the Ash Tree pub just on the other side of the bridge. It looks quite nice, a bit modern, theme pub type I think, Brewers Fare or Hungry Horse or something but looks nice.

Dawdled up through Brereton where I was nearly involved in a head on crash but they stopped and I stopped with only P9050662about 12 feet to spare, my nerves were on edge, my life flashed before me and OK I might be exaggerating a little to raise the viewing figures. I did the gentlemanly thing and reversed back and we all passed pleasantries and we went on our way. Just after this there is someone who keeps birds and he had a couple of Falcons on stands at the bottom near the canal so I took a couple of photos. They are lovely birds, great to see but I’m never quite happy to see things in captivity but they might have been rescued I don’t know.

The canal meanders through Brereton, as canals have a habit of doing, and at 2 mph everything looked quite nice and all felt right with the world. Nothing of outstanding beauty just good old canal type corridor through a little suburban area. Then comes a new bridge straight on top of a high arched old stone bridge which marks the start of Rugeley.

P9050664As you go through the bridge and negotiate the corner the canal narrows a little and boats normally moored all the way into the town centre it can be a bit of hassle if there are oncoming boats. There were plenty of spaces to moor today and no one coming the other way so an easy passage for me. A good place to stop here if you want to shop as there are a couple of good sized supermarkets only 2 or 3 hundred yards from bridge 66. Again it is a pleasant passage through the town centre with an array of different houses backing onto the canal.  Up past the graveyard then there is a stretch of houses all high up with gardens running down to canal. probably about 40 or 50 foot drop and I found it very interesting to see how each one had tackled this problem and how pleasant it made the last northward part of Rugeley.

The last thing before you leave is a wonderful old Weeping Willow tree on the waters edge where the canal turns 90 P9050668degrees and you pass over the river Trent on a good sized aqueduct and out into the country again.  Under a road bridge then round a corner, a little canal bridge and as you pass through turn left and the view just opens out in front of you. Apparently all this on the left is Cannock chase.

P9050669There are some nice mown and planked single mooring spots here at nicely spaced intervals. I stopped here for a cuppa last year when I came up this way so I’d decided to overnight here this time. There is another boat in the next one down from me but a good hundred yards and half hidden by the reeds so no problem. I’m sat here writing this and it is so lovely and peaceful with just the odd train passing. The railway line is only a few hundred yards away but again not a real problem.

I shall sit back and relax, a glass of something, a strum of the guitar maybe, a few pages of a good book, a nice salad for P9050678tea and perhaps an early night and a second glass of something. They don’t write edge of the seat dramas like this any more you know……………… and pleased we all our about that aren’t we boys and girls.

A few words of wisdom I picked up recently which hit a chord in me.

Everything you hear is an opinion. It is not a fact.

Everything you see is a perspective. It is not a truth.

God bless you.

OurNige

Photos 1. how it was. 2 how it is. 3 how it might look next year when painted.  4. A bird of prey. Not really sure which.     5. a nice view and bridge Brereton.  6. The rather nice stone bridge.  7. the bit up through Rugeley.  8. The Chase opens up.

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Steppin’ Out; World tour 2014 day 3. Thurs. Alrewas to Armitage.

Good evening or morning depending. Day 3 started and finished well but had a little hiccough in the middle. A friend of mine joined me for today and he arrived at about 8.30 so we had a coffee and a bit of a chat to catch up on things.  I also tried to explain some of  what we would be doing with locks and things. We set off about 11.00, good job it was only a little chat. We negotiated Alrewas top lock and set of at a dawdling pace just to enjoy the scenery in the lovely P9040642sunshine. Nice and warm again and the world seemed good. We reached Fradley bottom lock and those coming down held the gates for us and we sailed straight in. I’m explaining as best I can about locks and how we do things as it was his first ever day on the canals. Through the second lock and we decided it would be unfriendly not to stop and sample the beer in the White Swan so we moored up.

It is an old country style pub with a proper bar and best side and a fine selection of real ales and a landlord with a sense of humour. We sat out side in the sunshine and watched a few boats go through and a couple of very nice old motorbikes came past too. A BSA and I think the other one was an AJS  if my memory serves me right. Both in really lovely condition and sounding just beautiful. A couple of pints and then head back for the boat which was moored opposite the CRT cafe from which came the smell of bacon. My friend had brought some bacon with him so we had a couple of bacon butties to soak up the beer. We had brown P9040647sauce with the bacon which is the only sauce you can have. None of this tomatoe sauce malarky, not on bacon. It’s perfectly al right to have red sauce on sausages, mushy peas, chips or anything else really but bacon has to be brown sauce. I’m not trying to start an argument, I’m just right.

After consuming the correctly condimented, afore mentioned sandwiches we set off on our travels. We passed through the next two locks and at Fradley top lock we had our little incident. My friend went up to see if the lock was empty while I held the boat and he let the water out and opened the gates and I was half way under the bridge in front of the lock when I could a strange voice shouting and threatening to knock my friend into the lock and a few other things. As I got nearly into the lock so I could begin to see what was happening I shouted up “there’s no need for this” but the chap was marching off still effing an blinding and my mate was stood with the lock gate looking calm if not a little non nonplussed.

It appears what had happened was my mate had seen two boats moored up just up from the lock and this other chapsP9040649 boat was well back from them and he’d assumed he was pulling in so had let the water out. This guy had then come down threatening and swearing and had a right go at him, which I’d heard some of. Once the lock had filled up a bit so I could get off I started walking off towards this guy and the angry man’s wife who was helping my mate with the locks said best just leave him he’ll calm down. I told her I wasn’t going to have a go at him and he was talking to two women coming down after him to come through. I apologised to him and explained it was my friends first day on the canals and though it wasn’t my first day I’d been explaining as we went along and that if he’d have explained to my mate what he’d done wrong and what he should have done it might have been more helpful. He had calmed down a bit by now and I went back and we bid Mr Angry’s wife farewell and even Mr Angry too. Apparently he had been moving other boats and this was the second time today it had happened.

Makes me wonder though if some of the breaches of etiquette that we may get upset about are just because people P9040651don’t know what should be done. Maybe we should enquire if they know what the right way is and if not to explain to them instead of either saying nothing or getting a bit angry inside. Shouting, swearing and threatening to drop somebody in the lock isn’t really the right way to do it. Or is it?

We poddled on amidst the lovely scenery and past Ravenshaw wood which I think is a lovely spot to moor up at if you like piece and quiet away from anyone. Through more lovely countryside which runs up past King’s Bromley marina all the way to Handsacre. The canal through Handsacre is quite pleasant even under the railway bridge and up past the factory and a little industrial estate. Just before the railway bridge there is another bridge and as there are a couple of turns too we met another boat coming the other way. He was up to the bridge and I’d just got my nose there when we saw each other. We both just about stopped and I started to back  up as I deemed I was in a straight enough line to back up onto the side of the canal to let him pass when he waived us on. Both boats moved forward very slowly and a little gentle nudging and we both on our way none the worse for anything. Attitude is a wonderful thing.

P9040652Anyway we trudged on a little further and there gleaming at the side of the canal was our planned destination.  The Plum Pudding watering hole. After mooring up and another coffee we decided to try a beer while we waited for my mate’s wife to join us. Inside it was nice and tidy with one side decked out with tables ready for eating. I asked for a couple of menus and the waiter also pointed over to the specials board. We went we looked, and we found out later both had the same though, shoot. The mains on the “special board” were all 5p change from a £20 pound note. I’m showing my class now, or lack of it, but I don’t normally pay that sort of price just for a main course.

We took our beer and the menus outside and perused. Not all the meals were that price and it was an Italian restaurant. I had moored on their bit which is reserved for customers so I felt obliged to eat there and the menu descriptions certainly sounded appealing. The young lady arrived and we ordered our meals. I had fillets of beef in a port, brandy and peppercorn sauce which came with sautéed potatoes and vegetables, my friend the lamb shank and his good lady a pasta dish. Everything was delicious if not over the top in size of the portions. Often the case it seems in the more up market establishments. So if you’re passing and want something a little special, they do Tuna steak and Swordfish steak and a good selection of other dishes oh and that includes calamari, or squid if you like. It is worth a look. Quality of food excellent, value a little pricey for me but I think it’s on a par with other Italian restaurants and similar standard places. Good service too.

Time for bed said Zeberdee, aah the voices return said OurNige and headed for the gin bottle.

take care

OurNige

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