Sunday, May 30, 2010

UK Secrets

Friday 28. 0 miles, 0 locks
We stayed put in Audlem for the day. Bank holiday weekend and they are having a music festival. Intended to go to a couple of pubs last night to listen to the local talent. In the end it was so cold out and we had the fire on so we stayed in.
Friday we wondered around the village and did a walk through the country side. This is secret #1. It is so different to be able to walk across paddocks and cultivated fields owned by some unknown farmer. Couldn't help feeling like a trespasser. Intend to do it more. We got to a couple of gigs. Nice music if your ears could take it. Were a bit disappointed to see 75% of the patrons were not interested in the music and talked all night. Suppose it's the same in NZ but we don't go to the pubs there. Met a local who is a friend of someone Diana knows in Napier.

Saturday 29. 3miles, 3 locks (Raining)
If we hadn't need to empty the loo's we wouldn't have moved. Also filled water tank and cruised on to Hack Green, moored up, lit fire and settled in for the day. Mid afternoon rain stopped so we walked the 200yds to the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker. Fascinating museum in the underground complex which would have been the centre of regional government in the event of Nuclear war. Fires on again. Forecast better for tomorrow.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Polish the brass

Thursday 27. 2 1/2 miles 12 locks.
We were not looking forward to a wet day with a flight of 12 locks in front of us. Turned out cool and passing clouds but no rain. A bonus. Dave and Lynn, boat owners, came to join us for the day. This was a great idea as having rushed through how the boat worked on day one there were a few things that we needed to have a chat about. I also had to find the paint to touch up a scratch down the side. We enjoyed the day with them as we went for a pub lunch at the "Shroppie Fly", voted 3rd best pub on the English canals. Another big bonus was that Dave and Lynn joined us at lock 3 and helped through the last 10. I also had the chance to wind some paddles up and down, open and close a few gates while Dave drove the boat. Normally I sit on the back while Diana does all the work.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

English weather

Well it had to happen but are pleased it took 10 days. Other than a bit of drizzle when we arrived from Dublin the days have been glorious with temps in the low to mid 20's. Just like back in Napier before we left.
Wednesday 26th. 3 1/2 miles, 5 locks.
Started off cold, I , l even put longs on. It was market day in Market Drayton so we spent the morning looking and buying local food. Wondered around the village, looked in their local museum as Diana clicked buildings, doors, flowers and all sorts of other pictures. Back to the boat for lunch about 1430. with rain on the horizon we set off for todays short run. Started to rain just before we hit the locks. Wet and cold so once we hit the bottom of the locks we moored up for the night and lit the fire. The sun has just shown itself as it dips delow the horizon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Down the Shropshire

Saturday 22. 4 miles, 0 locks.

Well we are right into the swing of things now.

Today were mostly straight canals through bush-lined cuttings and rolling farmland. Passed a moored narrow boat called Water Gypsy. She was owned by a couple who did 6 months on the narrow boat with paying guests on board and 6 months in Auckland yachting. Well this is the couple that got us thinking about doing something similar after they had an article in the Air NZ magazine.

Stopped at Brewood (Brood). Wondered through the village and meet a bell ringer. Stopped at the butchers and had a chat. They brought out a staff member who had lived in NZ for 17 years. Back to the boat for cheese and crackers on the towpath.

Sunday 23. 3 miles,1 lock

Straight bush lined and rolling farmland canals. Crossing over a motorway watching cars racing by confirms the delight of our slow pace. While racing down the canal at walking pace we started to talk to a couple walking on the tow path after about an hour we stopped for lunch and asked if they would like a cuppa, well they did and it turned out we met her sister at the butchers yesterday. Small world. It even got smaller when we stopped for water and spotted another kiwi flag. They had been doing the last 8 summers on the canals. She said her name was Brenda from Whangaporoa so I said that must be Brenda & Tony. They were a couple we had had contact with 5 years ago when researching buying a boat. Tonight we are at Bridge 20, Wheaton Aston.

Monday 24. 10 miles 0 locks.

A lovely bit of canal to putter along, with no locks it is called the long pond. Bushy cuttings and high embankments where you can see out over the countryside. Stopped at the village of Gnosall Heath. 15th C Church. Next stop at a marina for an ice cream. We walked into a “floating bog” at Loynton Moss where they are doing work to restore the bog back to its original state. Then to finish the day it was less than a mile to the Anchor, voted “2nd best pub on the canals”. Tied up looking forward to a Night in a real English pub. Closed! Met a couple of locals that were also looking for a drink so we followed them down the tow path for a mile or so to the Wharf Inn. Home made food etc, sounds good. “Closed Mondays”. Back to the boat we walk. Anchor now open so in for a pint and cider. Real quaint but no idea how they make a living. We were the only customers. No food though.

Tuesday 25. 9 miles, 5 locks.

Another amble along day through some nice bushy areas. Diana lucked in with the locks today. As we went down 5 boats were coming up which meant all locks were full of water, gates open and others to wind the handles. Long may that last. Weather a bit cold this morning. First day of cool temperatures since being on the canals. Sun came out later and warmed up a bit. Parked up at Market Drayton tonight. Think we will stay for a couple of days and do the town tomorrow.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

On the Shropshire Union

We had lunch at Wightwick Manor and then the tour of the house. Diana was thrilled to get inside at long last. We had a very good guide. Back on the boat just after 4 and then motored for three hours to avoid overnighting in Wolverhampton. we are now into new territory and looking forward to the next 20 miles, no locks.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Paid our dues to the English Canal Gods

We are parked up for our fourth night out just south of Wolverhampton. Diana has a need to visit Wightwick Manor, a historic home. Last trip here we passed it by road twice but couldn't stop or it was too late. Then when on the canal we realised we would go past. Closed Monday's & you guessed it it was Monday but she had a bit of a look around the gardens as they were making a film. Well tomorrow is Friday and after another three locks she will get the chance to visit.

Wednesday 19th. A quiet gentle day with a stop and wonder around historic Kinver. Met a couple who were painting an old Elizabethan house and they showed as through some caves behind their house that had brick frontages and doors. It was the old Jail cells.

Thursday 20th. Snails pace again. We are doing about half the distance per day that we did last time on this canal. So nice not to have a timetable to get the boat back in a few days.

My reference to the title:
Tuesday - Diana discovered she was missing one of her Pandora bracelets. Had it on in the morning and after one lock discovered it missing. Went back to the last lock to look but who knows when it came off.
Wednesday - I know exactly where my camera is. Bottom of the Bumblehole lock. It was such a nice setting that I needed a picture as we got to the top. Grabbed camera looked down to check the gap to the side of the lock, stepped off, knocked arm, dropped camera, camera floated, was going to pick it up and decided if boat moved I get crushed arm. Grabbed boat hook and almost got it out but it slipped again and that was enough to remove any floatation that was left.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We are on the water

Sunday 16th. Once again we lucked in with ash clouds. Due to leave Dublin at 1030 with the airport due to close at 1200 due the ash. While waiting at the gate the "flight canceled" sign appeared on the board. General panic amongst the waiting passengers. Diana was involved in something else and didn't notice. I wasn't that impressed with the idea but decided that Air Lingus would tell us sometime what was happening. Next thing the board changes from flight cancelled to a gate change. Pick up all the gear and off to the new gate which wasn't that far away. another delay while we load the aircraft, settle in and the pilot blames ATC for a 20min delay for the new slot time. In the end we leave Dublin before the ash closes the airport. The ash is not expected to effect Cardiff today.

Dave and Lynn, the owners of the narrowboat met us and take us the couple of hours back to their place in Herefordshire, stopping on the way for a picnic. Spent the afternoon discussing boat things and getting to know Dave & Lynn.

Monday 17. Up a bit late. Getting over rushing around Ireland. Loaded the car again and drove through some lovely Herefordshire villages, arriving at the boat over an hour later. Diana was shown all she had to know about the from half of the boat while Dave took me through all the man bits about operating the boat and systems. I'm sure I will figure it out in the next 3 months.

The Boat is on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal north of Kidderminster so the four of us head to Tesco's next to the canal in Kidderminster, several locks are en-counted on the way. Dave unfolds the bike and cycles back to get the car, Lynn goes shopping and we stock the boat with food. We are now on our own. Two more locks and we stop for the night.

Tuesday 18. Another sleep in (we are on holiday after all) then turn the boat around in a winding hole. Winding hole is about 80 feet across and the boat is 70 feet, we did it. Back up the canal with a stop at Tesco's to buy the bits we forgot yesterday then up to where we started from. Interesting to travel the same canal as we did 4 years ago. We came past a pub on a busy highway at rush hour. It wasn't until later I realised that it was the delightful little pub that Des and I went to watch a football world cup game at on a quiet Saturday. Not sure if the memory has discounted the ugly bits or 4 years development have made the changes.

The tourist bits of Ireland

10 May touring Northern Ireland

now it was let’s see Ireland in the few days left. Back to Greelough to walk around the graveyard again an take some more photos then east we go. Through Ballymena to Carnlough on the coast then north stopping at various beauty and historic spots. You can guess how many photos Diana is taking. First well know tourist spot was Carrick-a-Rede, The rope bridge. Got tickets but was not anticipating Diana needing hers. Walked the mile or so to the sight and having seen it Diana wasn’t interested so I went on over the bridge onto the island. Soon after I see a group of tourists give a cheer. The man (Billie) at the gate had convinced her that she would later regret not going so he walk backwards across the bride and talked her over. Had to do the same going back. Next the Giants Causeway. It’s as good as the photos show. Stayed the night at Bushmills, Famous for its distillery.

11 May, back into the Republic.

Followied around the coast visiting Dunluce Castle, ruins. Mussenden Temple & Downhill Demesene. Crossed Lough Foyle by small ferry to Greencastle, County Donegal. From here it was just drive with a few quick scenery stops to Donegal for the night. The B&B sent us off to a little pub that has music. Great night with locals giving impromptu turns. Some really good talent and some drunks.

12 May, Driving.

We needed to get south so it was Main roads to Westport. Sorted into B&B and he suggested we go to Achill Island and drive the Atlantic Road. A couple of hours he said. 5 hours later we got back. The most rugged coastline and isolated location you could imagine but there were cottages everywhere. Fascinating. The nearest thing to what I imagine Eskimo’s live. The B&B owner said we should go to the last beach on the island as the next stop was the Brooklyn Bridge. Beautiful, pristine, cold and they had lifeguards.

13 May, Connemara.

A long day on the road driving south the coastal route to Kylemore Abbey. Nice spot but didn’t get to see much in side the Abbey. Followed on around the Connemara coast to Gallway and through the Burren to Doolin. Had to spend a night at O’Connors Pub. Nice meal and then there was the music. Must have got spoilt at Donegal, as this was a bit bland.

14 May, To Tralee & Dingle.

Started the day with a look at the Aran Islands from the ferry terminal. Not enough time left to make the trip. Spent some time at the Cliffs of Moher. A very well presented tourist attraction. Through to Killimer and the ferry to Tabert and then Tralee for the night. Booked the B&B and off to the Dingle peninsula via Connor pass. Don’t think I would take the 5th wheeler there. Stunning topography. The Atlantic side of the peninsular was very rugged but not to the same extent as Archill. Fascinating ruins of “Beehive Huts”, built of flat stones and clustered into small communities. Wondered around Dingle with bright coloured buildings before back to Tralee for the night.

15 May, Motorway to Dublin

Had been told 3 hours. Locals say that’s right except for on Saturday, need to allow 5 hours. Had an hours stop at Foynes to look through the Flying Boat Museum. Interesting information on the main flying boat base for trans Atlantic flights. Shannon airport is just up river a bit. Then M7/N7/M50/M1 to a hotel on Dublin airport. Return rental, repack, eat, sleep & check the news on ash clouds.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Clady we were looking for.

Success today. Did a bit of country lane driving to get here. Loverly scenery so didn't consider ourselves lost at all. Arrived outside the church where Diana's Grandfather was baptised in 1885. Met a lady in the cemetery who insisted on taking us across the road to the Greenlough Bar, the local pub. When I say local pub thats all there is there. Church on one side of the road and Pub on the other. This was at 1200, we left at 1600. The publican and wife had been in the pub for 27 years and lived in the area all their lives and new the Madden name well. Any way the publicans wife got on the phone and within 30 minutes a lady her brother and a cousin turned up with so much information on Madden's. In the end Diana has now meet a new relation, got contact details for another in Perth WA. and expects a mountain of papers via post. Shortly (2100) we are off to see the parish priest and check out some of the church records.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Clady, Claudy, Clady

Today has been a day of wondering around Ireland looking for the Birthplace of Diana's Grandfather. We headed for Clady on the Border to the Southwest of Londonderry looking for the church where grandfather was baptised. No churches there so ask a local. No this is Clady, Strabane - you want Claudy not Clady. East we go to Claudy and find the village, not very pretty though. Getting a bit late so look for a B&B and get sent to a country hotel to the east of Londonderry. Diana asks some questions of the staff and told. "No you don't want Claudy you want Clady, Magherafelt. "Very helpful staff Googled the place another hour east of here and have provided maps and instructions.
There's always another day tomorrow, especially in Ireland.


The Icelandic Volcano Gods were on our side. Arrived in Heathrow to read the headlines that Dublin Airport had been closed in the morning because of the ash. Flew out on time with Air Lingis and enjoyed my first taste of the Irish. Sat in the row behind the emergency exit to see that the "remove before flight" tag was in during the whole flight. Arrived in dublin and then by bus and a 10 minute walk collapsed into the hotel bed absolutely bu---red.

Loved Dublin. Toured the city sights by hop on hop off bus. Stopped at the Guinness factory for a free pint. Diana only had a taste of hers, how sad. Did the tour of Kilmain jail and learn't a lot more about Irish history. Did the pub and show night, great music and food. Did a lot of walking, Probably too much as both of us were stuffed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hong Kong

We had a reasonably smooth flight from Auckland arriving in Hong Kong 0630 local (1030) nzst.
A trip through security was a bit of a walk and then the return walk has us back in the departure lounge. Total on the ground time is 2 hrs. First time into here in daylight. Looking forward to being in daylight over Asia and Europe.

Monday, May 3, 2010


First leg was just fine.
Aircraft Captain was the daughter in law of a fellow retired Chief Controller.
The passengers in the row in front of us were the Pilot for the next leg and air hostess through to London. I suggested an upgrade but not holding my breath.

Leaving Town

On our way, almost.
Taxi due any time now to take us to Napier Airport for the first leg of 4 through to Dublin. Looking forward to going, looking forward to arriving, not that fussed about the 34 hours in between