Where’s the post?

I did write something on Saturday. But it doesn’t seem to have made its way to cyberspace. So I guess I’ll do it again!

Moored at Tixall Wide

Saturday was a beautiful day. It started very misty, but soon the sun came out. The picture shows the beautiful location at Tixall Wide and the lovely spring-like conditions.

Before I left, I had to investigate the memorial that I spotted next to where I was moored. I hadn’t noticed it when I arrived, and when I did, thought maybe it would be for a boater who had died on his boat, or maybe someone had drowned, or even worse been attacked on the towpath. On further investigation I was a bit relieved that it was for the 2 rats – Ant and Dec. “In loving memory of our rats 2000-2003. We loved and treasured you both loads”.


My original plan had only been to come up to the boat until today, but with the weather being so fantastic I decided to stay up for the weekend. I gave one side of the cratch cover a good scrub, and then late morning turned around (nice and easy here!) and headed back to Milford. Being such glorious weather there were quite a few other boats on the move and I found myself in a queue of 4 to go through Tixall Lock. A lady from the following boat kindly helped me lock through and was probably pleased to hear that I would be mooring at Milford and not going on to the next lock!

As I needed a few things for the boat, I jumped in the car when I got back to the mooring and headed down to Ikea. I have a love-hate relationship with that shop. They sell so many ‘handy’ things that I always end up spending more than I intended. They have cornered the market in things that ‘look useful and aren’t too expensive’. I got various storage bits and pieces and also some bits for the kitchen. This included a sieve, which I discovered the night before that I needed when I tried to drain some rice! I also popped into the B&Q next door for a few bits and bobs.

As I had originally intended to return home on Saturday, I treated myself to fish and chips on the way back to the boat. Yummy. And fattening. Never mind.

On Sunday there was a frost when I woke up, due to the clear sky overnight, but I was too lazy to jump out of bed and take a photo. Soon the sun was out again heralding another beautiful day.

I spent much of it pottering. That’s something you need to do when you have your own boat – you spend lots of time pottering. I installed things from Ikea and B&Q, including a second optical smoke alarm (prompted by my own post from Friday!) I also washed the other side of the cratch cover and did some cleaning and tidying inside.

Then it was time to pack the car up and head back home thoroughly relaxed after a few gorgeous days away.

Fire Safety at Great Haywood

Today I decided to stay put at Tixall Wide. It’s a nice spot and I want to do some bits and pieces around the boat and also I need to get a bit of work done. Tomorrow I can then easily turn to head back to my home mooring.

I cycled along to Great Haywood and spotted a sign near the boatyard.

Staffordshire Fire & Rescue will be providing fire safety advice and fitting smoke alarms at the Great Haywood Marina on the 23rd February. Unfortunately the fire & rescue website doesn’t seem to mention it.

Anyway, it’s got to be worth taking advice if you’re in the area. A fire aboard a canal boat isn’t good news and fatalities have occurred in the past. The problem is that fitting a smoke alarm presents its own challenges. The type recommended as most suitable for boats are optical alarms, but these aren’t the most commonly available. Also you need to bear in mind that the usual recommended location on the ceiling might not be good in a boat where cold from outside might prevent smoke from reaching the alarm. The BSS website gives good advice on smoke alarms – see the BSS Fire Advice Portal. But I’m sure that professional advice in person is even more valuable.

A short trip out

Milford Wharf to Tixall Wide

2 hours, 1 lock

It’s been a few weeks since I last went out on Esta Mora, and we’ve had some windy weather, so I thought I’d pop out and check up on her (is she female? I don’t know – but it sounds right!). So, I jumped in the car and drove up, making good time. I had wanted to get up to the mooring in plenty of time to go out for a short trip to charge the batteries and build up some hot water. As usual though I was running behind and it was early afternoon by the time I arrived. No matter, I quickly loaded up, topped up the water, checked the boat over and made her ready before setting off.

I decided to head toward Great Haywood and moor at Tixall Wide. However this means reversing up to the winding hole first – I can’t seem to get the hang of this maneuvere, though I’ve only done it twice so far. Hopefully it will come with practice! Anyway I was soon away and should be able to make it to Tixall with plenty of daylight left. First though, a milestone to be crossed – my first ever single-handed lock. Fortunately Tixall Lock is only a 4′ drop and pretty easy to do alone. Just before the lock I saw No Problem moored. I waved to Vic, but Sue and ‘her girls’ were nowhere to be seen. Out on a walk no doubt!

I was soon through the lock with no problem. Or maybe I should say with no difficulty as No Problem was staying moored above the lock! Then it was down to Tixall Wide which is a lovely spot. Last time I came past in December (on my inaugural cruise on Esta Mora) there was just one boat here. But today there were about half a dozen including an Anglo Welsh hireboat and a Challenger share boat. I think it’ll be very busy in the summer!

Having moored I set about finding the ‘dot in the sky’ in case I wanted to watch any TV, when along came a familiar face and her 2 border collies – yes, it was Sue from No Problem out for a walk. We had a quick chat – it was lovely to meet you in person Sue.

Got the stove fired up and soon the boat was nice and cosy – it did get a bit breezy and we’re quite exposed here, but we’re well tied up so it shouldn’t be a problem; just rocking a little bit more due to the cross-wind.

Tomorrow I’ll probably stay put as I have some work to do, and maybe I’ll cycle down to Great Haywood to explore.

Licence has arrived!

My new licence has arrived at last from British Waterways. The previous one was due to run out at the end of December so I applied as soon as I could (which was in sufficient time to get the discount for early payment) but with a move to a new office licences seem to be taking a long time to be processed (as reported by many other bloggers too).

One of the obvious problems is that while, like your road tax, you can take out a BW licence at any time of year, a ‘gold’ licence which allows you to use the rivers can only run January to December. So once any Narrowboat has had a gold licence, all their subsequent licence renewals will be at the end of December. Surely this is a daft arrangement – to have the peak licence application period at the same time that many people will be taking weeks off work for a holiday!

Back home

Penkridge to Milford Wharf
4 hours

Today we headed back to the Wharf, stopping briefly for lunch. A good morning cruise, then it was time just to tidy the boat and make it ready to be left for a few weeks until the next visit.

Try another curry

Today we headed back to Penkridge, to try out the other Indian restaurant. On the way we stopped at Gailey Wharf to empty the elsan and took on diesel at 55p a litre from JD Boat Services.

Having moored up early at Penkridge on the 5 day moorings, we went and explored – finding the Co-op, the restaurant, and for some reason lots of hairdressers!

Well the important news is that ‘Flames’ is an absolutely brilliant restaurant. The food was excellent, and you can bring your own drinks too. We were lucky to get in as it is quite small and was very busy (especially as it was Friday night). I’d therefore recommend booking a table in advance.

It all went wrong!

Penkridge to Bridge 72
5 hours, 6 locks

The started well enough. Well, once we had got out of bed anyway! A pleasant cruise with a few locks, including Rodbaston Lock, which the boat I had a share in was named after. Had lunch just past Gailey Wharf and continued through the chemical works (lovely!). That’s when things went down hill a bit – but it makes it the most memorable day of the trip!

We could have winded at the junction with the Hatherton branch. But there was plenty of space there, so we decided to go on a bit further to the winding hole between bridges 74 and 75. It looked plenty big enough, but was silted up. It nearly went round, and felt like if we tried ‘one more time’ it would probably go. But having gone forwards, backwards, tried different approaches, used the rope, used the bow-thruster and having filled the stern with twigs and nearly getting jammed across the canal I decided to give up as it was getting dark.

So we went on to the next winding hole about a mile further. Having turned successfully, it was time to find somewhere to moor as it was now getting dark and cold. We found a nice spot opposite a nature reserve so stopped to put the pins in. Which would have been fine if the hammer didn’t decide to snap in the process! So now tired, cold and wanting to stop, we had to find somewhere to moor with some piling, so that we could use the piling hooks. We were slightly naughty as the only place we could find wasn’t on the towpath side. Never mind, we did no harm and would be away in the morning.

Looking for Curry

Milford Wharf to Penkridge
4 hours, 5 locks

We set off rather late, having slept in! But we still wanted to get to Penkridge and go for a curry. So off we set in the late morning. It was a calm but cold day, so we stopped for lunch and to warm up with a bowl of soup just past Stafford boat club. It was getting dark as we neared Penkridge and we went through Penkridge Lock using the tunnel light to see where we were going. We moored up and later went to search out one of the 2 indian restaurants.

‘Flames contemporary cuisine’ sounded a bit pretentious and ‘Spice Mahal’ sounded much more traditional, so we chose to walk to that one. Spice Mahal is a small place in a parade of shops with a chip shop and supermarket nearby. Unfortunately we agreed that it was one of the worst indian meals we had ever had. We won’t be going back there. We decided that when we come through Penkridge on our return journey we might try Flames to see if it is any better.

New Year’s Cruise

So, the first ‘real’ cruise on Esta Mora started on New Year’s day. Well, we didn’t go anywhere but drove up to the boat and stayed overnight, ready to set out the next morning. I was joined by my friend Gareth and we just plan to spend the week pottering – we’ll see where we get to and turn around in the middle of the week.

I own a boat!

Today I took possession of my own boat. Yipee!

The old adage is that the happiest days are the day you buy a boat, and the day you sell it. I hope it will be some time before the latter comes.

We took her for a little spin up to Tixall Wide and back. She handles so well – I’m very happy 🙂