23. May, 2019

NOWT AS STRANGE AS FOLK

I meant to post this blog a couple of days ago, unfortunately in the meantime our old lady Sam has crossed the rainbow bridge to join her sister Tiggy and Bubbles and Puss in the happy hunting ground.

At the end of my last blog we were heading for Atherstone, but the first night we spent in the middle of nowhere, and an incident occurred which show you are never ever far from idiots. We were sat quietly when we heard voices and a splash, someone, somehow had managed to roll a large JCB/tractor tyre down through the offside woods and into the canal, unbelievable. Not having the power to remove it we have reported it to CRT.

We got to Atherstone and spent an extra day there, the weather was not good and we tend to be fair-weather boaters. We called in at Bates butchers, and had a few pints in the Angel and met up with Eric off of NB Cherrie, we had met him in the Angel once before, and it was great to catch up.

Before we went to the Angel we called in at the New Swan, and this is where I decided I must be getting old. Although it is not the most genteel of pubs, we have been in before and I have found it ok, but on this occasion the cliental really got to me, they were swearing loudly for no good reason and I felt uneasy. They were all in their late teens, early 20’s, but that is no excuse for that kind of language. When we went to the Angel I looked around the people in there and they were all of a mature age, sitting quietly at tables having proper conversation with their companions and I felt I fitted in better. But don’t worry it won’t stop us trying many a pub on our journey.

 Next day and the rain had cleared, so we set off down the 11 locks and on to Polesworth. There seemed a lot of boats going in the opposite direction to us so I had many a chat with their crews whilst helping out with the locks.

Polesworth has a couple of decent pubs, but we decided to give them a miss this time and had a quiet night on the boat. This is when, whilst watching the Gadget Show, we discovered there are a number of apps for identifying bird song. As we cruise along we hear many birds singing, cheeping and in some cases just being downright noisy. I can recognise some, but my knowledge is not that broad. So of course we had to download them and have a little play. It was not always that successful but it was fun. And whilst on the subject of birds, we have had a great start to our bird watching for this year. We have already seen 2 Kingfishers, Sand Martins, Woodpeckers, Song Thrush, and a Lapwing. We have also had our fair share of Herons, Mallards, Swans, Moorhens and Coots and many first year and newly hatched water fowl.  Robins, Long Tailed Tits, Blue Tits And Great Tits. Blackbirds, Magpies, Goldfinches and Chaffinches. A Kestrel and Buzzards, to mention but a few.

Tamworth was our next port of call, and after a gentle walk into the centre, and a little shopping, the pub called again. I had discovered 2 micro pubs that we had missed on our last visit, so off we went to find them. First The Tamworth Brewing company, a lovely little place with a great selection, but terrible cushions on the bench seats, which would not stay still. Then on to the Kings Ditch, which was a much more quirky place. The beer is fetched straight from the barrel in the back, and you can watch it being poured on CCTV. 2 great finds, both worth a visit. And to top off a great day the Captain treated me to a Chinese takeaway yummmmmmmy.

But next day I made up for not cooking the night before and went on a major baking session, making a banana and choc chip cake, a corned beef and potato pie and pasties, a leek and potato soup, a quiche, a cauliflower cheese, and a full roast dinner. It kept the Captain happy all week.

The weather changed  for the better, and it was a real pleasure cruising in the warm sunshine. We stopped at Huddleston and tried the Plough, nothing dark on, so the Captain had to make do with a bitter which was brewed especially for the pub. I checked out the menu (as I always do) and found it a tad on the expensive side for my taste.

The weather forecast for the next day was just as good, so we got up and got going early heading to Fradley junction, which is where we leave the Coventry canal, and join the Trent and Mersey for our journey up north.

Of course at Fradley is the Swan, I had raved about the food at this pub a couple of years ago, but on our last visit it seemed to have lost its mojo a little, so I was interested to see if it had got it back. The Captain was even more eager than me to get there and we had a very early session. The choice of beer had improved on last time, and there was a very nice mild on called Black Dog by Elgoods. We had to sit outside on such a glorious day, and so become gongoozlers for a time. There was a friendly group sat next to us and we fell into conversation. They all worked at the same bar in Walsall and were on a works outing. They had some food and it looked wonderful, and the portions were most generous. I checked out the menu and the prices seemed reasonable too.

The young girl in the group said she had never been on a narrowboat, and wondered how tiny they were inside, so I invited her to come and have a look, and she was, I am pleased to say, impressed with our layout.

After a couple of weeks cruising we were getting ready for a little shopping so we decided to stop at Rugeley (there is a Tesco by the canal). I knew Yvonne Plant had her boat Rogue III moored somewhere in the Rugeley area, so I was keeping a look out for it.

We met her last year in Nottingham, she came to visit Sam on her bench after seeing my post on face book, about having to put a note on the bench so no one thought Sam was lost or a stray.

I spotted Rogue III and Yvonne was sunbathing by the boat, so we had to stop and have a chat. She will be out cruising later in the summer, and hopefully our bows will cross at some point.

Unfortunately we couldn’t moor outside Tesco so we went a little further on, we found there was a Aldi, also near to the canal with plenty of room. A happy ending to the story, Aldi had a good selection of gins in, and I got a Seville Orange and Persian Lime one, and its very tasty.

Now for the reason for the title of this blog. As we were setting off the next morning, another boat was coming towards us called Pegasus, our tiller pin is a brass Pegasus and I was looking forward to having the craic with the Captain and crew, but it was not to be, as they passed us, both the Captain and his lady stared resolutely at the far bank never even glancing in my direction. My Captains happy ‘good morning’ also went unacknowledged. Like I said ‘there nowt as strange as folk’.

That’s all for now folks