On Sunday the rain had passed over and we had good weather for our short trip down to Braunston. Although it was quiet there was a volunteer lock keeper on duty at Hillmorton. The pounds were quite low so I let down an extra "lock-full".

Hillmorton Locks

As the day progressed the canal became more busy although relatively quiet compared with summer. I think a number of hire boats were out for the half-term week. We managed to find a good 14-day mooring in Braunston and tidied up Albert. Visits to the excellent Gongoozler's Rest for lunch and The Boat House for dinner followed. At the weekend we have to move Albert through Long Buckby Locks before the winter closure that starts next Monday so we can get to our home berth at Yardley Gobion.

Newbold on Avon

On Saturday it rained and rained. It was one of those days when, because we had to get south on a timetable, we just had to "grin and bear it". We left Atherstone under cloudy skies but no rain. However, it quickly degenerated and by the time we reached Nuneaton the rain had really set it for most of the day.

I noticed that at Mancetter, just out of Atherstone, there was an interpretation panel concerning the site Boudicca's last battle. As a resident of Northants I still go with the Dan Snow theory that it is more likely to be Cuttle Mill, near Towcester.

Hartshill Wharf

Passing along the section of canal between Atherstone and Nuneaton you are greeted by a site that once must have been familiar, a telegraph pole with a plethora of cross beams and conductors. I have photographed this item before, but passing by this time I wondered if this structure was actually worthy of listing. In a few years only a small proportion of the population will remember these iconic structures which lined railways, roads and canals. Is there (or should there be) a Society for the Preservation of Telegraph Poles?
Telegraph Pole nears Hartshill

We reached Hawksbury Junction (Sutton Stop) by lunch. Maggie optimistically suggested that the rain might be easing. Unfortunately within half an hour we had a deluge. With Albert's tradition stern the stern doors can be closed, the hatch drawn back. With the engine doors also closed warm air keeps your lower half cosy but the upper half is another matter!

Impending heavy rain near Ansty

Of course rain does eventually ease and by the time we reached Stretton Stop it was only drizzling. For some time I had noticed a boat in front with a steerer wearing a bright yellow fluorescent jacket. He stood out in the gloom as it got darker. By the time we got near to Cathiron we had caught him up and he was hailing us. His engine had quit in a cloud of smoke and he wanted a tow the moorings at Newbold; the other side of the tunnel. We obliged by hitching up his 60 ft Harborough Marine boat behind Albert on "short straps". It was getting dark as we approached the tunnel and for safety we waited until no boats were coming north. The tow was fine with Albert coping well at modest speed. Amazingly we managed find a mooring just south of the tunnel where both boats could moor so we avoided having to manhandle the disabled boat. 

Towing a broken-down boat near Newbold

That night we repaired to the Barley Mow in Newbold.  We both had a good meal of steak and chips. As we left for the night I decided to visit the gentleman's "facilities". I just had to take a photo of piano! I gather it does occasionally get played. The waitress moaned that the Ladies was quite boring with no musical instruments. Do the locals use "tinkling the ivories" as a euphemism for going to the lavatory. 

Urinals and Piano!

Atherstone and Yarn Bombing

A dull autumn day and locks - Glascote and Atherstone. A feature of autumn boating is leaves - lots of them. Over the last two days Maggie and I have given Albert a short burst of reverse to remove leaves around the prop on numerous occasions. No serious prop-fouling occurred but it felt like moving through soup and the engine began to work hard.

Grendon Wharf - Bradley Green

At Glascote Locks the bottom lock filled very slowly. The two locks were described by Mike Pearson as being like piggy banks - "slow to fill and quick to empty". However today I wondered if the bottom lock would actually fill at all. Unlike the incident we had at Sandon Lock when the bottom gates did no seat, there appeared to be no obvious reason for this. I suspect that the problem lay underwater in the cill.

The climb up Atherstone flight was straightforward, helped by a number of boats going down and a volunteer lock-keeper who helped us up the "thick". All locks up the flight had small heart-shaped knitted leaves attached to the lock beams. It appears that it is "yarn-bombing" and not unknown on canals - it is surprising what turns people on!

Yarn bombing - Atherstone Locks

We made the top lock around 5:00 PM and took on water. It took some time because the water pressure wasn't good.
A sign which could have several meanings!

We eventually moored up in the countryside just outside the town. A day of good progress.

Hopwas Woods

Tonight we are moored up close by Hopwas Woods looking out over the valley of the River Tame. Today the weather was an improvement over yesterday's with good periods of sunshine. The wind was fresh and waiting at locks required a bit more effort.
Autumn Colours at Woodend Lock, Trent & Mersey Canal

We left our mooring near Rugley and had a quiet journey through the town. We didn't meet another boat moving until we reached the narrows just after the "toilet" factory (Armitage Shanks). We caught up with two other boats just short of Woodend Lock. The boat immediately in front of us was powered by a Lister JP2 and we managed to have an in depth discussion of propeller design whilst waiting for the lock because their boat appeared to be "over-propped" despite just having a new prop fitted as specified by Crowther. At Shed House Lock we met Sue and Vic on No Problem coming up the flight and on leaving the sane lock we met Maffi  - three bloggers at one lock at the same time!
NB Dove at Fradley

Fradley Junction in Autumn Sunshine
We turned off the T&M at Fradley Junction and headed down the Coventry Canal (and the bit of the Birmingham & Fazeley which it incorporates) but paused at Streethay Wharf to buy some engine oil. In setting sunlight we made it to just before Hopwas Wood. A good days autumn boating.

Asparagus Crop near Hademore 

Wind Turbine and Setting Sun, near Hopwas

Homeward Bound

After a period at home, which has been quite challenging, we are moving Albert back to base in Yardley Gobion. Our period in Aston Marina has been very worthwhile and enjoyable but it is time to get Albert back to near our home for the winter.

A genuine T&M milepost

We got Aston late yesterday by train and taxi and it rained all night - very autumnal. This morning it was misty and wet. We picked up diesel and headed south. There was not much boating traffic until we got beyond Weston.

Having moored up for a late lunch on visitor moorings near Ingestre, a Steve Hudson boat arrived in front of us. It turned out to be our next door neighbour's brother and sister-in-law who we had been altered to look out for. No sooner than we had started a conversation with them than NB William from High House Marina, who is very familiar to us, passed by! Waterways can be a good sociable network.

The weather improved as we got closer to Great Haywood and the autumn colours began to brighten the day.

Autumn Colours at Hoo Mill Lock

At Hoo Mill lock we had a small incident when Albert got firmly stuck on an underwater obstacle right by the newly refurbished lock moorings. No amount of pushing, shoving and polling would move her. I have no idea what the obstacle was but judging by the boats behaviour it was not very long (the bows pivoted easily) and not very wide (the boat rocked), but it was firm! After around 15 mins the water levels in the pound rose sufficiently for Albert to just get off. We will probably never know what it was.

We continued south along the Trent & Mersey until we finally called it a day just south of Wolesley Bridge. I had trouble locating satellites for Freesat tonight because the App on my phone was playing up. Tried a new one but it strangely gave two results for the same satellite - the map was more to the south than the compass heading and both were wrong! These wonderful aids to modern life are still not reliable - particularly in rural areas.

Tomorrow morning we head for Fradley Junction and beyond.