Coventry and The Ashby

  We left our moorings in Rugby quite late in the day on Monday 28th, having done a good shop in Tesco first. We didn’t go far and stopped at Newbold-on-Avon as we had an Amazon delivery going to the Post Office on Tuesday 29th. The towpath was not in a very good state along this stretch – very muddy and squelchy, but at least it stopped most of the cyclists – every cloud! Parcel duly collected (although computer said “NO” and we left a long queue of about 10 people in our wake!), we cruised a short distance again, stopping for diesel and coal enroute, and moored in a very nice spot next to a cow field. The days are shorter now, of course, so we are mooring up before 4 and one of us often walks Sal along the last part of the journey whilst the other steers – kills two birds with one stone!

On Wednesday 30th, we had a longish day and pushed on, mooring just before Hawkesbury Junction. It was easy cruising – there are no locks between Hillmorton and Hawkesbury Junction. We moored up and walked with Sal to the junction to have a look – tight turns and through a fairly narrow bridge! This is where the Oxford Canal and the Coventry Canal meet.

On Thursday 31st, we made our way to the junction and took the Coventry Canal southwards, heading for Coventry Basin, a cruise of five miles. We arrived in the Basin and moored easily – it was a lot smaller than I’d imagined and there is mooring for only a few boats. However, as it’s out of season now, it wasn’t a problem. We took advantage of being in the city to pick up some bits of shopping, although we came to the conclusion that it’s still easier to order online so we arranged another Amazon delivery – including 4 litres of antifreeze!! We enjoyed Coventry; it is an interesting city with a sad war history – the mix of architecture between ancient buildings, pre-war buildings and post-war rebuilding is thought provoking – in particular the bombed Cathedral and it’s 1960s replacement. I’m not really one for appreciating architecture generally but I did enjoy the architecture of Coventry. We also found a little fenced-in park area where it was safe to let Sal off – it does your heart good to see her running free and playing – we went there a couple of times and she loved it!

We stayed in Coventry for 3 nights. There were a few fireworks being let off for Halloween each night (when did that become a thing??) but happily, Sal showed no great reaction to them – all the bumping and strange boat noises has desensitised her, it seems! So pleased about that! On Sunday 3rd, we made the return journey to Hawkesbury Junction. Unfortunately, here, we experienced our first act of vandalism towards our boat. I was just settling down to watch the Strictly results when there was a terrific bang! Tony shot outside but didn’t see anyone, but there was a child’s bike on the towpath – according to a nearby fisherman, a group of kids decided it would be fun to throw it at our boat! We think they were aiming at our porthole but lucky for us, it didn’t break and the only damage was a bit of paint knocked off. We learnt, the next morning, that two unattended boats further up had been broken into and trashed, but whether it was the same low lifes, who knows?

We carried on our journey northwards up the Coventry Canal on Monday 4th, having had another Tesco delivery to the towpath first thing. We stopped at Bedworth  and stayed for Tuesday night, too. We  moved on Wednesday 6th Nov, having picked up Sal’s latest prescription from a friendly vet’s surgery and after looking round the town – small, but well served with all sorts of shops. Whilst there, we came across an apple tree with gorgeous big red apples right next to the bridge over the canal – apple crumble was in order, and enjoyed! It was a short cruise from there to get onto the Ashby Canal, our next destination. The Ashby is another lock free stretch – we are being spoiled! We moored just south of Hinckley as we had another Amazon pick-up from the Post Office (yes, another one!) This time it was a fandabeedozee coat for Sal – full raincoat with all four legs and tummy covered. We were getting a bit fed up of having to nearly bath her after every walk, with all this rain and muddy towpaths! She looks a proper bobby dazzler and gets some looks – ranging from a slight smile to a full on giggle! Tony was a bit reticent about it at first but the promise of not having to clean her off after the walk outweighed any embarrassment during the walk! I’ve also, over the past couple of weeks, knitted her a jumper in readiness for any really cold weather for when she’s sitting on the back whilst we’re cruising. She’s a well dressed dog! We stayed on the mooring for Thursday as well, only venturing out to walk Sal. We followed my footpath app and ended up wading through thick mud across a field – but then it’s muddy everywhere!

On Friday 8th, we moved to the other side of Hinckley – just a short cruise but rain was forecast again so we didn’t want to go too far. We walked to Aldi on Saturday and got a few bits including a stove top fan (great reviews on Facebook – £15.99 – bargain!) It’s silent and more effective than the Valiant one we bought, and that was a lot more money, too! We also bought a doggy advent calendar!

On Sunday, we continued on up the Ashby, mooring just south of Market Bosworth. We walked up to the Bosworth Memorial on Monday – lovely views over the countryside from the top of the hill on which the memorial is sited. We stayed on the mooring for the Monday night.

On Tuesday, we moved from Market Bosworth, stopping at Bosworth Marina for diesel and coal on the way. The wind was playing games with us again and I thought we’d made a right hash of getting into the marina mooring but on speaking to a permanent moorer there, it seems we didn’t do too badly! However, on leaving the marina, with the flow and wind broadside to us, we had a bit of difficulty with another boat coming towards us along the canal. If it had been me, I would’ve stopped or at least slowed down when I could see a boat coming out of the marina entrance, seemingly without much control, but he just kept a-coming which resulted in a couple of bumps into him. He didn’t seem too bothered and bumps always sound much worse than they are! We stopped at a pretty spot just south of Shackerstone bridge.

On Wednesday 13th, we continued our journey to the terminus of the Ashby and arrived in Snarestone fairly early. That was a lovely cruise, very picturesque! We moored up and had a walk round and decided to turn the boat and reverse up near the wharf.There is a winding hole at the very end but it is only 53′ so we had to wind just before the wharf and reverse up. We went for a walk to the village first – the towpath was a quagmire – so we returned via the road – a bit of a longer walk but much easier! The moorings here are only 48 hours (under the control of the Ashby Canal Association) but Tony had seen that they were having a working party today, so he asked if we could stay longer as he wanted to volunteer for the working party and, of course, they said yes! There are plenty of moorings so it wasn’t a problem to stay for an extra couple of days.

Thursday was a hellish day – it didn’t stop raining all day so we just hunkered down, only venturing out to walk Sal. It was a fairly short walk, too – the road was flooded so we could only go one way and the towpath was impassable, so up and down the road it was!

On Friday, we decided to have lunch out to celebrate our first 6 months – we were going to go out in the evening but there was no way I was going to walk to the pub in the dark on the towpath or unlit road!! Sal was a good girl and made friends with the waitress. Before lunch, we reversed the boat right up to the end as we wanted to say we had gone as far as we could and to take a photo at the end!

On Saturday, we ventured into the nearby village of Measham on the bus. We would have liked to go to see the small section of restored canal between Conkers and Donisthorpe but the only bus company that goes from Measham to Donisthorpe had a no dogs policy. If you won’t take my dog, I won’t spend money on your bus! There were no buses at all to either Conkers or Moira, which is about half way along the restored section. We thought about walking but it was a 10 mile round trip and neither my legs or Sal’s are up to that! Plus it was walking on busy roads which doesn’t float Sal’s boat! We did walk back from Measham, though; my app showed that there is a footpath, which turned out to be not too bad – only one section which was right across a muddy, ploughed field – we skirted round the edge!

Tony took part in the working party on Sunday 17th and I had my own working party on the boat – just me and Sal! 🤣 I have been trying to repair some water ingress – condensation is the very devil on a boat and it has caused some damage to my beautiful wood! It stains and it is really hard to get the wood looking as good as before! I’d already had a couple of goes at one patch on the ceiling where one of the ventilation mushrooms had leaked due to condensation dripping into the liner but wasn’t happy with the result, so I took a bit longer and tried again today, not sure how successful it will be, yet, but is better than my previous attempts! I will keep at it until I’m satisfied – or give up!!!

So, having had 5 nights at Snarestone, we moved today – the weather was quite nice, for a change! We cruised for a few hours in order to get a load of washing done and dried. Back down the Ashby and back on the Coventry, but north this time. We then need to decide where to go from there…….

As I said above, it’s 6 months since we left Newbury to start our adventure! And we’re still alive and haven’t killed each other – YAY!!

We are still amazed at how quickly the days go by – with having no reference to weekends any longer, the days all merge and we are always astounded, when we look back, at how quickly the time seems to go! The overriding feeling at the moment is our disconnection from reality – we are in our own little bubble. After a lifetime of working and being normal, responsible citizens, we are now relishing the complete change!

During our celebratory lunch in the pub on Friday we talked about what our expectations had been and whether our experience so far had lived up to them. We both agreed that the actual traveling wasn’t as enjoyable as we’d imagined (it gets a bit samey at times when you’re only going at about 2 miles an hour!) but we both like being in a different place every couple of days and doing different dog walks and exploring. I’m happy to report that one of my fears about being cold has been unfounded – we are toasty warm, even overnight, as we have now got the knack of keeping the stove going 24/7. One of the delights has been meeting other boaters and sharing stories and experiences – we have been lucky to meet some lovely people!

Of course, one of the joys has been sharing this experience with Sally. She has adapted to this lifestyle so well – to think that, just a little over a year ago, she was tethered in someone’s garden in Romania, probably rarely or never leaving the confines of the garden. She has had to experience so many new things and she has taken it all – mostly – in her stride. She is a joy! She is such a good girl (if she didn’t pull on the lead like a steam train, she’d be perfect, but we’re working on that!) and gives us no trouble whatsoever. The muddy towpaths at the moment are a bit of a pain, but she takes being washed off with such good grace – the resigned look on her face always makes me smile! And, of course, there’s her new coat!

There are some downsides to this way of living, obviously – the simple concept of popping to the shops requires major consideration for us – we seem to spend an awful lot of time organising ourselves in order to get food shopping and Amazon/eBay collections! We have discovered that finding an Amazon locker is sometimes really quite frustrating, when you have no idea where it is placed! And you’d be amazed how difficult it is to find a post box within walking distance of the canal! The other thing is the distance and separation we now have away from family and friends, although the use of Facetime and WhatsApp video chats dilute that feeling somewhat. We are, in fact, now nearer to Rhys than we’ve been for a number of years, though!

So, here’s to the next 6 months! If, as predicted, it’s going to be another snowy and icy winter, I wonder what the round-up post in 6 months will say!